Haiku Friday: Kindness

Kill them with kindness

Heap burning coals on his head

Change your perspective

Oh yeah, we got Biblical up in here. Don’t worry, I hope it’s applicable whether you are faithful or not.

On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Romans 12:20 NIV

I’ve noticed an interesting thing about this. Sometimes, I really can just be kind even to those that have wronged me just because being kind is its own reward. Other times, I have to think about the coals. Sure, I want to send a terrible anonymous bag of inappropriate gummy candies to someone in hopes they will catch my meaning or even just be terribly offended.  (In real life, I’ve only ever pranked people I love. You’re welcome.) Honestly, it’d be less pleasant than embarrassing candy, but we’ve got to maintain plausible deniability here. If I don’t like you, there’s a greater than zero chance that you’re a miserable human being and a lot of people hate you*. #sorrynotsorry

Here’s the funny thing though, while I’m doing the passive aggressive nice thing and internally reveling in that giant front-end loader full of fiery coals, it’s my heart changing. Don’t get me wrong, I have a vivid imagination. I can see each red hot bit searing the flesh of my enemy. I can smell it, and it is glorious. Right up until it isn’t. Right up until that moment that I can see this person is just lashing out because of their own pain and trauma and being a miserable excuse for a human being is just the manifestation of their screwed up coping mechanisms. Now that doesn’t mean I have to take any of their abuse, but I don’t have to retaliate either. I might help with the weight of the baggage, but I’m not going to allow anyone to whip me into carrying it. My act of kindness is my choice and keeps me from becoming a sad miserable human being. Soon pity replaces the coals in my technicolor fantasy. Compassion replaces anger and I again want to be nice because that’s who I am, or at least who I want to be. What’s the old saying? There but by the grace of God?

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Genesis 50:20

Compassion isn’t weakness. It’s almost like an inoculation. Once you can see that people are lashing out due to their own weakness and pain, you’re free. You don’t have to take it personally. You don’t have to own it and let it tear you down. Instead, you see it for what it is, cracks in their facade. Their own brokenness. Will it save many lives? Maybe, maybe not.

I’m a long way from perfect, but I try to be a work in progress and see that other people are too. I’m pretty confident I’ve been that miserable human being to someone at some point. I’d fix it if I could, but I’m pretty sure I can’t in every case. Best I can do is keep trying and failing and trying some more. I’m tenacious like that. Yep, I’ve hurt people. There’s a pretty good chance they had it coming, but I still want to be better than that. I’ve only got one eternal soul to answer for, and it’s got scars. The least I can do is assume the others do too.

*I genuinely like people. I’m ridiculously social. I would bet real money that someone is already planning your slow and painful demise if you happen to be on the very short list of people I find to be terrible. In fact, someone was just about to post a comment asking for that list of people so they could do something about them. I won’t share. I don’t believe that even they are beyond redemption and unworthy of compassion. Besides that, someone else likes them even less than I do. 

Musing on Monkeys

So that little Dance, Monkey rant I wrote way back in 2010 has recently gained new life. You’ve probably stumbled across it since it has legs of its own now and walks free of its original creator (That’s called plagiarism, folks. If you see it, let me know). Sometimes it even picks up some extra words along the way.

Clearly, it resonates with people even still. I like that. I like when my words reach people. I like to think of all of you imaginary friends out there as real live people with thoughts, passions, experiences, opinions of your own. Something this response to my rant points out that I didn’t express well.

“You exist for my entertainment.”

Can you imagine saying that to another human being? I would hope that none of us could imagine it. Especially those of us who are Christians. The words go against the very foundation of our faith—the belief that God made us, loves us, and died to redeem us, and that His love gives us each worth.

She’s got a point, and I would never say that to another human being. Yes, my rant is worded personally, but it is directed self-important character these various celebrities play when they have an audience. Don’t get me wrong, I stand behind what I said in that rant seven years ago. The point is that despite what those in the public eye seem to believe, their opinions don’t matter any more than any other human being. Yes, they are human beings deserving of love and compassion with every right to their own opinions, but they do not have any authority to direct what you or I chose to believe.

My words were harsh and intentionally so. I make no apologies for them. I encourage you to read Gina Dalfonzo’s Rebuttal to me.  She takes a much kinder and gentler approach to reminding us all that no matter how many cameras are pointed at you or how much a platform you’re given, we’re all humans suffering the same human condition.

KaBoom! A Place for Play

Today seems the right day to tell this story, the one year anniversary of Amy’s overcoming.

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I’m not wearing that bracelet anymore. I wanted it to do something more. Something different than just becoming a thing that I wore or a keepsake in my jewelry box. Her memory deserves something special.

The answer started with a huge puddle of mud.

Which would soon become a playground, but we had a long way to go and a lot of work to get there.

There was a mountain of mulch

This hole seemed like a good spot

Mud and all

A little help from some friends.

And a swing-set is born.

Add some concrete

And a little on your host.

The overcomer bracelet became a permanent part of a place built for laughter and joy. It rests in the concrete at the base of the swing-set.

I’d like to think Amy would approve.

She Has Overcome

 

10296634_765089633525106_5060874179762599544_nI have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33

That’s the verse printed on the inside of this bracelet. It’s been on my wrist almost constantly for the last year. I took that picture April 30th of 2014. It’s in support of Amy. I’ve told you about Amy.

Early this morning, she ran out of tomorrows. She is cancer free now, and she has overcome this world. And this world is a colder, darker place today.

She leaves behind a devoted husband, 2 young girls, two siblings, her mother, father, and countless friends whose lives she enriched.

 

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Her daughters brought her this flower. I understand she held it until the end.

Amy,

You were truly a gift from God. A light that shone too brightly for this world. I am blessed to have been a part of your life and heartbroken that your role in mine has come to an end. I know, my tears will dry and I will be left with only the blessing, but today is not that day.

Claim your crown and your new body. Rest in the peace you so richly deserve.

Thinking of Brigid

I took a much needed vacation day on Friday and largely stayed off the blogs for the weekend so I was surprised and saddened to hear of the passing of my friend’s brother on Friday. I am honored to be able to call Brigid a true friend and my heart aches with hers in this time of loss. Fitting that it should happen over Easter weekend when we celebrate the greatest promise of the Gospel. The promise of resurrection. A reminder that this world is only temporary, our flawed bodies only shells. Like the thief on the cross, we have our place in paradise complete with perfect bodies free from pain and grief.

Brigid is a kind soul who never hesitates to soothe the hurts and comfort those that need it. Even to her own detriment. Knowing that it was her brother that she could go to tells me that he was a fine man, indeed. Please direct your thoughts and prayers to Brigid and her family in this time of mourning and celebration of the blessings his life gave to them.

They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love

Our love? Really? You mean, not by our cruelty towards those we believe to be sinners?

Huh.

So, who looks more like a Christian

Even after being targeted directly

And upon learning of his passing.

Funny, I first heard of the imminent demise of Fred Phelps from George Takei’s post. And I was touched. Honestly moved by the grace and mercy. I will humbly admit that had I heard it without his commentary, my reaction would have been far more along the lines of ‘good riddance’ and ‘hope it hurts’. Not especially Christian of me.

Even still, I think the world just became a better place for having lost that much hatred. It is hard for me to hope that God has mercy on his soul. I don’t want him to experience mercy! I want judgment! Hell-fire and brimstone! But that is my own failing and weakness talking. My lack of understanding. Only God knows a man’s heart.

As much as I hate the bracelets, when I ask ‘What Would Jesus Do?’, I believe that he’d act a lot like George Takei here. He would recognize the sin and show grace and mercy to the sinner.

We Aren’t Promised a Tomorrow

It’s all too easy to forget that all of our days are numbered, and no one bothered to tell us that number. We don’t think about it too much until there’s a ripple in your circle. I’m selfish, okay. I want my friends to have lots of days because I never want to lose any of you.

I told you; I’m selfish.

And I’ve already had more days than Amy has. She’s 32. She’s got two beautiful little girls, a 3 year old and a not yet 1 year old.

She’s also got cancer. A rare and aggressive one that’s already stage 4. Experts are being consulted and the fight is underway.

She can’t have too many prayers sent on her behalf. If you can spare some of yours, it’d be appreciated. I know, your lists are already a mile long. Mine too. So really, what’s one more?

I’ve known Amy her whole life. We’ve played in sandboxes and splashed in pools. She’s a strong woman with a good heart and a contagious smile. She’s also got big faith and knows this is all in God’s hands.

You Do Not Have To Choose Between Belief in a Creator God and Science

They are not mutually exclusive.

So there was some debate between a scientist and some young earth creationist that got the internet riled up recently. I haven’t watched it nor do I plan to. That kind of thing makes me embarrassed for everyone involved.

Choosing to believe in God seems obvious to me specifically because of the scientific wonders of the world. Yes, I believe God spoke the world into existence. I also believe He made it scientifically sound. Whether or not it was a literal six days is irrelevant because what he created was a fully evolved world requiring very specific balances of chemicals and conditions, forces and events. Just like Jesus turned water in wine in an instant; God made an old world.

I don’t buy it that it all happened by chance. Science has not nor will it ever prove or disprove God because science is in the business of the observable. It is not in the business of faith.The study of evolution is the study of the mechanics. The how the world was built. Science is no more a rejection of God than making wine is. Every time there is a scientific breakthrough, I stand in greater amazement at the world God created. A world so complex and interconnected with no continuity errors. Humans can’t even avoid that in our literature and video games. A world that continues to become more amazing as it evolves. It’s a work in progress.

The theory of evolution is far from perfect. It’s got holes. But it would be bad science to throw it out and replace it with ‘God did it’. I believe He did, but He did it scientifically. There is a lot we don’t know and can’t explain. Probably always will be. That’s no excuse to stop trying.

But I have brilliant and thoughtful friends that reject the idea of a Creator God. They too are fascinated with the complexity of the world around them. Honestly, some are far better versed in the science than I am.  Although I disagree, I respect their choices in matters of faith. Because I believe that they too are divine creations endowed with free will. God gave us a choice whether or not to believe. If we couldn’t choose not to, faith would be meaningless. And my friends respect my beliefs as well.

I would be a terrible Christian if I belittled my atheist friends for their lack of belief. Sure, I’d love for them to change their minds. I believe in an eternal paradise, and I’d love my friends to be there. But I can’t badger them into faithfulness. That would not only make me a terrible Christian but a terrible friend as well. Honestly, it would make me a terrible human being to think less of anyone for their personal faith or lack thereof.

Unfortunately, it seems the recent sensationalized debate has brought out the worst in some people on both sides. There are professed Christians lashing out at atheist and atheists taking cheap shots at Christians. It’s not the first time, nor will it be the last. At least no one is mounting a crusade or throwing anyone to the lions. It’s just sharp words and hurt feelings.

And it’s not everyone. Just a few blowhards that can’t see beyond their own pain and bigotry. In fact, if you’re reading this, chances are high that none of that applies to you.

Now, can we get back to badgering and belittling the people that really deserve it? You know, like progressives and people who don’t like bacon? 😉