Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I'm right and you're $#*%)#!

I had a very interesting discussion yesterday with Junior, our housemate. He's only 21, but I think he has "an old soul."

Junior was lamenting the lack of civility and common decency displayed by his generation. (Yes, he actually referred to people his own age as "this generation.") He decided that just because we can put everything out there on Facebook or Twitter, doesn't mean we ought to. And just because we can comment or make [disparaging] remarks about someone's posts or photos or status updates, doesn't mean it's the smartest thing to do. Whatever happened to conversation? Whatever happened to kindness? This was refreshing to hear from a 21-year-old.

At first we thought it might be the internet that gives us this feeling of anonymity; it's a way to put our opinions out there without the responsibility of actually having a face-to-face conversation.
"I've said my piece, I don't have to listen to, or read, yours and that's the end of it. Ha! So there!"
But it isn't just the internet that gives people the idea that they have license to say whatever they want - there is this idea roaming around that words, beliefs and thoughts have no consequences. 
"After all, I have the right to free speech, right? I have the right to believe whatever I want, right? And if my beliefs have no consequences, then my beliefs are correct, and therefore my beliefs are THE TRUTH. And if my beliefs are THE TRUTH, then everyone in the world should agree with me and abide by my truth." 
It's a twisted logic, and it's dangerous.

At the dangerous end of the spectrum are the people who want to tell everyone else what to do, how to think, and how to live. They think their belief - their "truth" - is the only truth, and somehow God has given them the task of enforcing it. We all know who they are...the folks that picket funerals, the guys that shoot girls in the head because they dare to want an education, people that flip you off on the highway, or guys who want to make sure we all carry our birth certificates in order to use the proper restroom. It doesn't seem to occur to them that they might be wrong.

At the other end of the spectrum are those of us who shake our heads in disbelief and wonder, What on earth are they thinking?

So here's an idea: Let's have a civil conversation. With both parties actually listening to the other side. We don't have to agree on everything. In fact, we might just agree to disagree. We might learn something, or see an issue from a new angle. And we can even respect one another as people! Now there's an idea with consequences!

"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." 
Romans 12:18

Monday, March 4, 2013

Be Still

Be Still.

When was the last time you were actually still? (Not counting when you're asleep, of course.)

It isn't easy to be still. To not move. Not think. Not make to-do lists in your head, or rerun that annoying song from the 80's that is stuck in your head. Not to turn on YouTube and mindlessly watch videos of salsa-dancing chihuahuas. Not to surf Facebook - pretending to be still - but actually spying on your friends and wondering why they watch Duck Dynasty.


For people who are naturally gregarious, people who are "driven," have ADHD, the "Type A's"  and those with extroverted tendencies, being still can be a real challenge. For those of us who are naturally introverted, being still may come easier. (Please note: Introverts aren't shy, they just recharge by being alone, as opposed to extroverts who recharge better in a crowd or at a party. It has to do with our emotional energy levels.) Yet, we ALL need to occasionally disengage from whatever it is that makes us so busy, and become still.

Jesus was an expert at this. I believe Jesus was an introvert. If you look through the Gospels, you will find that in every single one, the writer reports that Jesus went off by himself. 

"When Jesus hear what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place." Matt. 14:13

"Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed." Mark 1:35

"Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples found him..." Luke 9:18

"Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself." John 6:15

Naturally, since Jesus was off by himself, none of the disciples or Gospel writers were witness to what transpired in those solitary places. I have to think that Jesus was an introvert and He spent time alone, being still, and praying in order to re-energize himself for the ministry tasks that were inevitably coming up in the next few days.

Peter, on the other hand, strikes me as more of an extrovert. Always wanting to plow ahead, to jump in with the right answer, to DO something, Peter only paused for prayer when he was reminded to do so. And yet, in Acts 1:12-14, Peter and the others "went upstairs to the room where they were staying...they all joined together constantly in prayer." Extroverts can pause and become still when the situation requires it.

Susan Cain, an author and speaker, says "Solitude matters. And for some people, it is the air that they breathe."
Be still. Don't put it on your calendar for next Tuesday, just do it. Right now.
Close your eyes.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat.
Be still.