Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Eclectic Thoughts

I have had so much on my mind lately that I'm having trouble putting thoughts into writing. I don't even know where to begin. This may turn into an eclectic blog post of my jumbled thoughts.You've been fairly warned.

The other morning at work, we had the blessing of hearing Naghmeh Abedini, wife of imprisoned pastor Saeed Abedini, share her story. It's hard to complain about your life here in the USA when you hear a story like hers. I'm thankful that I can't currently be put in jail for giving a friend a Bible or talking about my faith in Jesus. I've never been beaten or feared for my life as a result of my faith. I pray this will always be the case, but I wonder, if that WAS a real possibility, how would I live? Do I know what I believe and why I believe it with enough intensity and confidence that I could, for example, have a Christian wedding with 600 people in the middle of a Muslim country like Saeed and Naghmeh did? Do I have enough boldness to stand up for Christ when the time comes. Do I do this now in small ways? Something to think about. Eye opening at least. If you are reading my blog right now, people pause and say a prayer for Saeed; that he would be released from the Iranian prison and that his body would be able to heal from the internal wounds he has sustained and isn't being treated for as a result of being beaten in prison. Pray for Naghmeh and their two children.

Love and Change seem to be ongoing themes in my life and in my reading lately. I've read two books recently speaking to these themes. The first is called Who Moved My Cheese which is an excellent and easy to read book about embracing change and not being afraid to step into the unknown. There are so many great little insights that encourages the reader (me) to step beyond fear and get excited about stepping around the corners into the unknown to see what good may come. Often times we build up the change so much in our head and in reality, none of the things we fear actually exist. Oh the energy we (I) would save if I would embrace the unknown a little quicker. Personally, I believe I am MUCH better at this than I use to be...but I'm still working on shutting down the dialogue in my head that blows up situations and causes unneeded fear.

The other book is called A Loving Life by Paul Miller, and my notes on this book are way too long to type out here (at least 8 pages of notes). I would seriously recommend you read this book if you want to understand love a little better. It takes a look at the book of the Bible "Ruth" in order to explain the Hebrew word for love "hesed". Everyone in my department at work are currently reading this book and we have once a month lunch meetings to discuss what we are reading. I find it fascinating the different ways people interpret the same book. I very much follow the book from an emotional level; what does it mean for my life in the situation I am in right now (single, looking/praying for a future spouse). Others read it from a theological perspective (is it accurate to history and Bible). And still others read it from the perspective of being married and strengthening the relationship they have. Beyond the personal, we also read it in relation to our ministry and how we and our volunteers relate to those that we minister. This book covers all of these things and is a really good read. Listed below are just a few quotes that I pulled from the book:

"Vulnerability is part of the cost of hesed. Love carries risk."

"When you endure in love unnoticed, and someone notices, it can be overwhelming. You’ve held it in so long and gotten so used to the loneliness, it becomes your normal. So when love breaks through for you, when someone really cares, it bowls you over. Ruth’s resurrection has begun."

Ruth’s whole being is hidden in God. That is the essence of faith. In the storm of hesed love, you hide yourself in God. He is your only refuge when you are enduring alone, without help. Faith is not a feeling-it is a place where you hide, close to the heart of God.”

“You don’t find community; you create it through love. Look how this transforms the way you enter a room of strangers. Our instinctive thought is, “Who do I know? Who am I comfortable with?” There’s nothing wrong with those questions, but the Jesus questions that create communities are, “Who can I love? Who is left out?””
“Thinking, planning, and problem solving are completely intertwined with romance, love, and audacity. Life is like this. When we separate love from thinking, love just gets weird and floaty, and finally tragic as lives are destroyed, all under the banner of “falling in love.” It’s good to think in love even as you are falling in love.”
“This gives us a third way in which femininity is defined as humility joined with power, sensitivity with guts.”
I think I've resolved myself to the fact that I am really bad at online dating. I have moments where I think I should give it another try, but I'm not really sure why. I just don't trust enough to believe that people are who they say they are, and also, I don't make the best first impression. It takes a while for me to open up with people because I need to feel safe first. I don't know if it's the horror stories I've heard, the whole "don't talk to strangers concept" or simply my increasing knowledge of the online world, but I just don't trust people. Also, online dating it pretty much all about first impression. Does my profile say the right things, do I have the right pictures, do I have enough pictures, if I "smile" at someone is it the right "smile", if I email someone do I lead with the right thing? It's just way too complicated and so far, even when I've given it a fair shot, I have been extremely unsuccessful. My hope, is that God will direct someone to me in real life that chooses to take the time to get to know know, the old fashioned way.
I have the best friends. Thinking back a few years ago I remember feeling so lonely. I had (and still have) two friends that are amazing and we've been through a lot together. I love them both so much. About a year and a half ago I decided to join a small group, then last year I started attending a new church with awesome people, and then a few months ago I got involved more with a community group and now...I have more activities to do than I have days in the week AND I have several of the best friends I could ever have. While quantity of friends don't necessarily mean anything, I am thankful for the quality of the friends I have.
Okay, I got a lot out of my head. That's probably enough for tonight!
- The Real Me

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