Friday, September 18, 2015

Abiding The Differences

This is Tony the cat (hi Tony!)
Of the many cats that I've boarded over the years, he is the most loving.  When the dogs are outside and I let him out to stretch and explore, he immediately rolls onto his side for some affection.

Tony also has a thing for water.  Basically, he likes to drink from any bowl (or bucket) that is not HIS water bowl.  He also is fascinated by the hose that fills the water pitcher.  Fascinated.

Some may call Tony weird.  After all, he has a water bowl.  Isn't that good enough for him?  Does Tony have boundary issues?  Tony is NOT following the normal order of things.

Maybe you know people like Tony. Maybe you are Tony.  One doesn't have to look far to notice others have their own way of doing things, and some of them are pretty weird.  There's a lot of uniqueness in the world, and it may make someone uneasy to experience differences.

It reminded me of our pastor's sermon from this past week.  He challenged us to seek people who think, look, and act differently from our norm.  Wait, what?  Leave my comfort zone?  Where did THAT come from?

Oh, you know.  Galatians.  Galatians 2:11 to be more specific.  If you don't know it, there's this guy named Paul going to see his friend Peter.  They have been busy telling people all about Jesus and giving them good news for freedom and forgiveness.  But Peter started to feel some peer pressure and went back to his old ways.  Somehow bearing another's differences suddenly felt unsafe.  Let's just say Paul set him straight.

It's easily done.  We talk a big game about being accepting and tolerating.  Then we encounter someone and love flies out the window.  Dealing with others can be messy.  And difficult.  And really uncomfortable.  

Which is great, because God really likes to work in those situations when we are not in control and all-knowing.  We can still stand on truth and all that good stuff.  But learning from others, and them learning from our own brokenness and imperfections, is the humble attitude where we can be naturally supernatural.

So don't be afraid.  Get out there and be challenged and may God go before you.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Keep Your Cool

To think one of the reasons the boarding kennel was closed this summer was over concerns the air conditioning unit wouldn't make it through the season.  Considering the only dates the a/c in the house has been run was mid-may and now September 4, it's fair to say that fear was unnecessary (as most fears are).

But right now, we've had over a week of high 80s and high humidity.  Finally, summer has arrived, right when the schools are back - just as we all knew it would.
Tilly has been hiking the state parks this summer (with me), and our criteria lately has been access to water so she can cool off.  (Note to self:  bring retractable leash so I am not left on shore doing awkward balance poses.)

Keeping cool is important, physically, mentally and spiritually.  In case  you didn't notice, our little old country is becoming more and more shrill.  We look at each other, shake our heads, and think "the other guy" most be at best ignorant, and at worst, a monster.
When we post snarky things and comments that run down "the others", we may have a few people slap our backs and congratulate us.  And I know.  I've done that.  I like being snarky and sometimes I am even good at it.  But when we read someone who we don't agree with doing the same, some how it hurts.  A witty response that cuts someone off at the knees feels good.  For a moment.  Then you realize you've left the person without their lower legs.  And that's bad.
I've really paid attention lately to how I physically react when I read something alarming, disappointing, or hurtful.  Sometimes it's like someone just wanted to stick their tongue out at me or stick their finger in my eye.  It is unpleasant, to say the least.  Do I want to do that to someone else?  What's the point of winning the argument and losing their heart?
I don't want to do that anymore.  Even if it's not fun.  Even if I will not appear clever.  Even if it feels like sometimes I am just one big divine kill joy.  Hurting others I care about (and even those I don't care about) is not worth the cost of a "go girl" attaboy (um, can those words go together?).
Let's keep our cool out there.  There is much to divide us, and little to unite us.  But, let's remember when we start to view each other as the enemy (which, make no mistake, many people of all stripes wish us to do), all of us lose.
We have to scratch the surface, and go deeper.  Fact check the sound byte.  Check the state of your heart.  Most importantly, don't buy the lie that the other person is your enemy.  We're not all going to agree and we don't have to.  That's the beauty of it, isn't?
"Love one another" isn't a squishy statement Jesus said while patting the heads of his disciples.  He knew it was going to get ugly out there.  With His power, we can disagree without being disagreeable.  Because that's what it looks like when real love wins.