Do We Have Anything in Common Anymore?

Five Minute Friday, COMMON
// indicates when my 5 minutes ran out and I kept on writing anyway!

After a year and a half in Nepal, I am returning to America for a 3 month visit in 10 DAYS. Someone asked me the other day what was the first thing I wanted to do when I returned aside from visiting my family. My mind went totally blank. I said, “Go through a drive-thru?” just because that, even after only 18 months abroad, seems like a total novelty to me.

But I also very much look forward to coffee dates and lunch meet-ups with my mom and other friends. I imagine myself sitting across the table, chit-chatting the day away, and I realize… my imaginary conversation is happening in my second language! I try to re-imagine, and I can’t think of anything to say in my first.

I wonder if they will think I’m as weird as I feel like I’m going to be. Will we still be able to hold a conversation free from several awkward silences? Will their babies I’ve never met be scared of me? I wonder if they will think the stories I tell are interesting or just strange and unrelateable. Will we have anything in common anymore?

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My husband assures me that these fears will be unfounded (although there is no guarantee their babies won’t be afraid of the crazy person declaring herself their aunt). My friends that loved me before I left have still loved me with all the distance and silence between us. We might not pick right up where we left off, but maybe that’s why it’s called catching up.

We may not find common ground in our recent cultural experiences, but we will find it elsewhere. Maybe this table where we sit needs a perspective only my strangely unique experience could bring. Maybe more, this friendship needs me to not worry and just show up. To sit across the table with my biscuits and gravy (Bob Evans, y’all) and sigh. It sure is good to see an old friend.

Engaging the Enemy- the Only Thing I’ve Left to Say

DAY 31, ONLY

I’ve learned over the years to look into the context and not just the two plucked out verses primed for memorization during my Sunday School years. I’ve noticed something as I’ve stepped back and examined from a wider angle the various places in Scripture that talk about living the Golden Rule. And I’ve found something. Something important. Something we need to know but don’t really want to acknowledge.

We can love other people until our days are done. We can exhaust ourselves in our efforts to serve others. We can do all the right things as we work for the Lord…and we will still be hated because we are followers of Jesus. We aren’t even guaranteed the love and acceptance of our family as we live wholeheartedly for the Lord.

And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved (Matthew 10:21-22).

 

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UGH… So, what do we do with these people who refuse the grace we extend and cross their arms to the love of Jesus? Well, we love ’em some more.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you (Matthew 5:43-44).

 

This whole “turn the other cheek” thing is just plain unnatural. The fight-or-flight response is to put up your dukes or run the other way. The godly response is to engage the enemy in love and pray earnestly for blessings upon their life.

He tells us that vengeance is His. We know nothing of Him but that He is completely just and that all His ways are right. We don’t have to daily subject ourselves to abuse, but when we encounter it, we are to offer back love in return.

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Maybe this just means holding back a sarcastic comment. Maybe it’s shutting the door quietly instead of slamming it as you calmly remove yourself from the situation. It could be praying blessings upon the man who left you and started another family despite your best efforts at loving and honoring him. Or it might be pleading the blood of Christ over the sins of a lost person whose broken path has wrecked up yours.

Scripture isn’t silent on how we react when the hatred spews in our direction… Please read to the end, friends. I really believe this is crucial to living the Golden Rule and why it is paired right along with it in this passage.

And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.  For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful (Luke 6:27-36).

 

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I’ve written for 31 days on living for the benefit of others and the glory of God. And I could write more. It’s so imperative to the glowing testimony of our marriages, parenting, and daily lives. There are certainly obstacles and reasons it’s just easier to withdraw or walk away.

I don’t know what you’re struggling with or who has hurt you. But I know that if you are here, and you are a true follower of Jesus, you’ll face these moments where you realize how the world sees you. And I know that it will be hard. I must remember He is worthy, and He holds our reward in Heaven. I have to believe that I will see my marriage and my family change and that I will see fruit in my ministry. Even if it doesn’t, I have to know beyond a reasonable doubt that God is good and my obedience is deserved for nothing else than blood spilled years and years ago.

Is there an enemy in your life?
Take time to pray for them today.

Talk to me in the comment section!

31 Days Cut & Paste Edition: God is the Hero of Golden Rule Living

Day 30, CUT

There are A LOT of blogs out in this world, and I’ve read a whole bunch of them. I see a common thread in the Christian blogging world- GRACE. Grace is good, and it is the heart of the gospel, but I often see something missing: how that GRACE moves us.  It doesn’t just tell us we’re doing a good job and to continue on as we were. The only reasonable response to the grace we’ve been given is sold-out devotion to Christ. Our devotion is often called to manifestation in service to others- in living the Golden Rule.

We can’t make it through the day without His grace, and we certainly can’t do good unto others apart from it. God is the hero of every single act of kindness story we have to tell. All glory goes to God.

I’ve cut and collected a few clippings from the last 28 days of posts to show this common thread throughout the series I have put together here. I would hate to have any reader walk away thinking that my daily life is glittered by the Golden Rule, and I’ve somehow mastered selfless living. SPOILER ALERT: I haven’t, and I won’t until my days are 100% consumed with singing of God’s goodness in glory.

God as the Hero in Golden Rule Living

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In the Mundane…

Living the Golden Rule means getting down to the nitty-gritty with God and dealing with it all before anyone is close enough to be affected by the bomb blast- Defusing the Time-Bomb of an Overstuffed Heart

As I silently seek Him through the Word written long ago, and as I sit under the instruction of faithful servants, I move forward to do unto others. But first I just have to BE. From Stir-Crazy to Strengthened by Stillness

Grace looked at us in all our filthiness and died to make us its own. That redemptive act moves us to say, “I will lay down my life for the least of these because I know Whom I serve.” The You of the Golden Rule

In Marriage…

God’s love for me has been tested and found to be 100% true. While my husband will never earn perfect marks, I can give him a break because I don’t need proof that I am loved. –The Test He’s Sure to Fail: Does He Really Love Me?

Humility is so rarely my first move in marriage. Remembering Christ who moved towards me in complete disregard of Himself, I am convinced it needs to be. –Humility: My First Move in the Fight for my Marriage

If I expect my husband to submit to the Lord, living the Golden Rule, I must also submit to the Lord’s work in my family. I must trust that, ultimately, He is the one who leads the way and that He will direct us as we strive to do His will. Post-It-Note Your Feelings, Please

Though he knows me better than anyone else, my husband really doesn’t know me at all. Not in comparison to the One who knows the numbers of hairs on my head and the number of breaths I have left in my body. –My Husband Doesn’t Know Me

My heart is so frail, and I think it might burst from the burden of this work. I surrender it to the only One who proved on the Cross his ability to carry it. –Shouldering the Weight of God-Sized Dreams

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In Motherhood…

Just like me, my children want to be known but may not always be able to express complicated emotions. The responsibility falls on me to study them and surrender their needs to Jesus. –The Learned Art of Awareness in Parenting

It’s tempting to act like I have a monopoly on molding the hearts of my children… It’s true God gave them to me, but being uniquely made by Him, they can benefit from all sorts of people who aren’t just like me. –Mail and the Mama Bear: Am I Monopolizing My Kids’ Upbringing?

God wants their hearts and every facet of their lives. And I want them to give it all to Him when they fully understand the life-wrecking, beautiful mess they’re getting themselves into. Two Tender Hearts and One Untrained Teacher

In the fear of all the ways humility will hurt my children, I am certain the love of Jesus will cover the multitudes of sins against them. Why Can’t We Live in Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood?

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In Missional Living…

It is God who judges hearts and opens the doors to heaven. The only job I am given is to love others and faithfully tell of the gospel of His sacrificial death and the Good News of His resurrection. –Kicking the Hypocritical Habit

Sometimes God asks me to wait. Sometimes He parks me in the lane that’s not moving. Sometimes He asks me to follow him inch by painful inch performing small acts of service to Him. I have to trust that God will use me where I am in all the little ways I’m able. –Finding the Mission Field Outside my Front Door

But the best I can live the Golden Rule unto others is by introducing them to Jesus, encouraging and reminding them of the steadfast love that completely wrecked my life in the best way possible. The Golden Rule for the Global Good

In times of transition, the criticism cuts the gospel worker like the sharpest of knives, but words of encouragement put the sharp knife to better work. The kind that crafts into tools fit for kingdom work and builds confidence in the Hands at work in their lives and ministry. The Knife that Cuts and the Knife that Sharpens

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In Moving Forward…

I deal graciously with others when I confront my nothingness and my inability to do good apart from the transformative work of Christ in my life. My Life as a Living Sacrifice: Confronting my Nothingness

Thriving in our Provider’s care, we worry less about surviving and more about serving.  Everything we are commanded to do is within our reach because we are connected to the boundless Vine. The Simple Secret to Being Super Fruitful

We will strive and struggle. It’s all part of this thing called sanctification. We need heaping spoonfuls of grace and answered prayers for the strength to do more. We make right the things we can make right, and we ask God to take care of the rest. Heaping Spoonfuls of Grace for When We Goof It All Up

Each person we encounter comes from a culture all their own influenced by their family dynamics, education, and peers. Sometimes, we will treat others the way we want to be treated and we will just fall flat. We have to rely on the truths of God’s word that apply to all people- Scriptural Social Etiquette Crosses Culture Seamlessly

What truths about God the hero of the Golden Rule especially touched you?
What would you add to this series on Living the Golden Rule?

Talk to me in the comment section!

 linking up:

Crystal Twaddell

Scriptural Social Etiquette Crosses Culture Seamlessly

Day 29, DATE

Where I live the date today is Karthik 13, 2073. So, I guess you could say I’m a time-traveler. Operating on a totally different calendar system certainly poses its challenges. Honestly, I hardly EVER know what the local date is unless I owe someone money. Even then, they usually have to remind me.

For convenience sake, the English standard calendar is used as well, but if I ask a friend what the date is, they can rarely tell me the one I’m hoping to hear. Head scratches and lots of thinking later, we usually come up with the wrong date.

I miss birthdays and special events because I’m stuck in my American ways of measuring time. It’s always on my to-do list to learn all the names of the months and hang up the calendar and actually reference it (not just let my kids take it down and color on it). It grieves me that such an important piece of their culture is totally lost on me just like so many other things.

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Proof that I try!

In culture, there are TONS of obstacles to living the Golden Rule because the people I wish to serve come from totally different backgrounds than me. They use a different calendar, celebrate different holidays, eat different food, and are offended by things I seem to just do naturally. I try to treat others the way I want to be treated and find out they don’t want to be treated like I do at all!

This isn’t totally specific to the foreign field, but it is certainly amplified here. Each person we encounter comes from a culture all their own influenced by their family dynamics, education, peers, etc. Sometimes, we will treat others the way we want to be treated and we will just fall flat. For instance, “Hey, happy birthday” (according to the English calendar) is met with “Gee, thanks, it was two weeks ago.”

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Because these kinds of things frustrate me to no end, I have to remind myself of the ways I am instructed to treat others with no clause for cultural differences.

  • And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32).
  •  Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; (Romans 12:10).
  •  If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men (Romans 12:18).
  • Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves (Philippians 2:3).
  • Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: (James 1:19).

You and I both know that there are MANY more Scriptures about how to live for the benefit of others and the glory of God. But it’s day 29, and I am running out of steam, friends! I hope you’ll share some below.

And if you need me, I’ll be living in the year 2073.

What cultural obstacles have you run into while living the Golden Rule?
What Scriptures speak to you about how to love others well?

Talk to me in the comment section!

Heaping Spoonfuls of Grace for When We Goof It All Up

Day 28, EAT (Five Minute Friday)
We sat hunched over half-full plates forcing spoonfuls of chicken, rice, and lentils into our mouths as our host sat watching us. We were doing our best to finish a special meal in honor of the Dashain holiday at our language tutor’s home. We had lost track of the courses but were sure this was the end.

With a sweet smile, she placed TWO GIANT, HEAPING bowls of Asian noodles before us. We stared at the remaining spread in disbelief. Our kids weren’t much help. Our daughter turns her nose up at anything that isn’t pizza, and our son was just over a year at the time but was given a grown child’s serving. My stomach was churning, telling me to stop. But with a forced smile and a feigned word about how delicious it was (nothing tasted good at this point), I kept eating. And then….she brought me some plain yogurt. Yay.

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The second time we ate at her house and reminded her, in advance, our inability to eat large amounts of food.

She asked me several times if I didn’t like it. I knew she wanted me to finish it and ask for more, to convince her once and for all that it was tasty and I was thankful. I knew how hard she worked to prepare this meal for us (slaughtering the chicken and all!). My desperate prayers for freed up stomach space went unanswered, and I had to admit defeat.

Sometimes our efforts to live for the benefit of others and the glory of God just don’t cut it. We are limited and unable to perform the tasks that spell out gratitude and love. We hope and pray that those whom we labor to love will see our efforts and know that we did our we will inevitably fall short.

We will let people down. We won’t be able to fulfill what we promise. We won’t find the strength to love like Jesus. We occupy bodies broken by the Fall and are unable to live perfectly and honorably at all times (or most of the time!). We trust God to work on our behalf, to communicate the words we fail to speak, and to show the love we fail to display.

We will strive and struggle. It’s all part of this thing called sanctification. We need heaping spoonfuls of grace and answered prayers for the strength to do more. We make right the things we can make right, and we ask God to take care of the rest. Sometimes that’s all we can do.

Do you struggle with guilt over your shortcomings in service to others?
Do you need heaping spoonfuls of grace (like I do)?

Talk to me in the comment section!