Home I (DOP #18 2017)

In May of 2016, I wrote a 6 word story in the spirit of Hemmingway that I published on my Facebook page.  The entirety of the story was this.

“Full fridge, nothing to hang there.”

I had returned to my apartment one evening to find a pink sheet of paper taped on my door.  I immediately assumed I was being evicted, but upon reading the sheet of paper, I discovered it was just a notification that my filters would be cleaned the next day.   This was much less terrifying than the previous assumption, so I walked inside and went to hang the notice on the fridge.  Perhaps I was feeling especially lonely that night, because I suddenly realized that I had nothing else hanging on my fridge.

Most families have plenty of hand drawn art, or photos, or calendars hanging from their fridge.  It is a bulletin board of sorts, filled with information about what everyone is doing, or accomplishments that the family is proud of.  Inside most fridges, are plenty of various foods that are for the family to eat and enjoy.  The family finds nourishment for the body and the soul at the refrigerator.  I had plenty of food, but I suddenly discovered that I had no one to share it with.  I had no one to share my life with.

I had filled my apartment with things.  I had a TV and a chair.  I had several musical instruments and plenty of books.  I could keep myself busy for hours while I waited for work to start the next day.  I had a shower, and a washer and a dryer.  I even had a microwave and a George Foreman grill.  I guess you could say that all my physical needs were taken care of or provided for.

I didn’t feel like I was well taken care of.  I felt like I was on the edge of giving up.  When a weekend would come, I would have grand plans of working on some personal project or getting out there and exploring the world around me.  Usually, I ended up staying in bed until 2 or 3 in the afternoon, going to get something to eat, and then returning to bed to read or just mope.  I wasn’t exploring the world around me, and I wasn’t getting pursuing any of my personal passions by completing projects I had started.  I was wasting away, in the lap of luxury, I was starving for peace.

Like I said, I was probably feeling especially lonely that day, but I feel like right now there are many people in the same place I was in on that day.  They do not lack physical provision, but their souls are starving.  There are many things that can take peace from us, having a physical or emotional need that is unfulfilled is one of them.  Not having anyone to share my life with really made that apartment a place I lived in, instead of a home.  While I was warm and well fed, I was not at peace.

At some point I began to finally take some steps to change my situation.  I got rid of my bed.  It was old and worn out anyways, but even then it was too comfortable, it was too easy to waste my life lying in it, and I decided it had to go.  So I threw it away, and I didn’t replace it.  I began to spend my nights on an air mattress I bought, and a foam pad my dad had gotten from somewhere, that I had claimed.  I was so sick of where I was that I started changing small things in an effort to find some sort of internal peace.

Getting rid of the bed was a start, but it wasn’t enough.

To be continued…

Other (DOP #17 2017)

other
adjective and pronoun
1. used to refer to a person or thing that is different or distinct from one already mentioned or known about.

verb
1. view or treat (a person or group of people) as intrinsically different from and alien to oneself.


Other is a dangerous word.  It is a descriptive word, used to delineate the difference between two things.   “Can you bring my my other jacket?” would be a good example of this usage.  The word other can, however, be used as a verb.  It can be an action.  People groups can be ‘othered’ by noting a distinction between us and them, and separating people into different sub groups.

I say that ‘other’ is a dangerous word because of its use as a verb.  When we ‘other’ people who are not like ourselves, we create dangerous divisions in our sphere of influence.  This can be seen in an elementary school lunch room, as groups begin to form based on social rank or special interest groups.  To an extent ‘other-ing’ is a natural action, resulting from shared interests and perceived equality.  A group of people who enjoy D&D will naturally attract others who enjoy D&D and will likely passively drive away those with little interest in the game.  Conversely, this group would likely accept new members who are interested in learning more about D&D.  This group isn’t particularly dangerous or harmful, as the separations are voluntary and peaceful.

When a group is actively ‘other-ing’ those around it, however, the practice becomes much more dangerous.  An example of this would be a group that requires members to be of a certain ideology or religion.  An elementary lunch table that decides that those with brown hair are not welcome to eat with them is a simplistic example of this kind of ‘other-ing’.   \

A perhaps even more dangerous example of ‘other-ing’ is our current political situation.  This is often done in such a way that we are lead to believe that it is for our own good.  “Those people are taking our jobs! ” is often a common refrain of this political grouping.  Another battlecry of this group might sound something like “We can’t trust those people to come in to our country.  They all practice a religion of violence!”

Groups like this build figurative walls (and perhaps the less imaginative ones try to build actual walls) to keep the other out.

Now, let me make an important distinction here.  Political ‘Other-ing’ is an action taken on a large scale.  I am not suggesting that refusing a person who is known to behead others, or a person who is known to desire to cause serious destruction to ‘us’ should be permitted through our borders.  What I am suggesting is that disqualifying an entire group of people because of the actions of a minority is inappropriate.

Here’s why.

When we broadly ‘other’ groups of people that are not like us, we create an incredibly dangerous precedent.  Even if we ignore the harm caused to the group we are currently ‘other-ing’ we are setting ourselves up for a fall.

What is to prevent you from someday being ‘othered’?  If we live in a world where ‘other-ing’ is an acceptable political or social tool, you have to accept that one day, you too may be judged to be something else and unworthy of the rights and privileges afforded to those who are not different.  In WWII, American citizens suddenly found themselves in internment camps, simply because of their ethnicity.

It could be as simple as the region you live in.  It could be the color of your hair.  It could be the slant of your eyes, or the accent with which you speak.

If ‘other-ing’ is an acceptable practice in the world we live in, you are at risk of being ‘othered’.  There will be no defense.

We even see an example of ‘other-ing’ in the Bible.  After Jesus accession, the church began to grow rapidly.  There were days when the church grew by the thousand after a single sermon.  It was a wild time, but the growth in the church was limited to those of the Jewish faith.  If you were a Gentile, a person who perhaps even lived in the same area as the Jewish people, but came from a different ethnic background, you could not join the church of the day.  Even if you wanted to live your life exactly like Jesus was asking you to, you were unable to join the church because of your ‘unclean’ birth.

Eventually, the Apostle Peter was given a dream of clean and unclean animals that God used to reveal to the church at large that ALL were included in Jesus offer of forgiveness.  God intervened to remove the division between the Jew and the Other.

Take a look at Acts 10, and then think about the actions our political leadership has taken in the past.  (I don’t just mean the current administration, but every administration.)  Judge for yourself if Jesus would consider those actions just.

 


Be sure to check out the other people on the journey with me at 254peace.org, or on our Facebook page.  There are some awesome people participating this year, and they all have something important to say.  





Time Travel (DOP #16 2017)

So you’re probably all familiar with the 3 dimensions of space.  Length, Width, and Height are how we measure and define an amount of space.  We humans also live in a half dimension of time.  In that half dimension, we can travel forwards, but so far we are unaware of an ability to travel backwards in it.

How many things would you like to change in your past with the knowledge you now possess?  I can think of several things I would change, there are words I would not speak, and other words that were unsaid that I would be sure to say.  I would change my focus in certain relationships, and I would be so much more kind than I was in my past.  There are many things I would like to change.

If you have ever watched a time-travel movie, you realize how quickly changing things in the past can mess things up.  Marty McFly nearly erases himself from existence simply by saving his dad from being hit by a car.  Do we dare risk travelling backwards to change the past, in order to change the future?  It never seems to work out quite how we expect it to.

At least it doesn’t work out very well in the movies.

What if I told you there was a way to change your past, and by changing the past affect your future?  I assume that you will think I’ve had a bit too much holiday eggnog, and write me off as a nut(meg) job.  What if it were true though?  What if we could make changes to our future?  Well, I am proposing to you that it can be done.  You can start here in the present, visit your past, and change your future.

Here’s how it works.

Have you really confronted your past?  Have you owned all of your mistakes, accepted that you ultimately bear the blame and are responsible for your actions in that moment, regardless of the circumstances you were in?  If not, do so now.  Take a moment to travel back to whatever that mistake in your past was, confront it, and accept the responsibility for what happened.  As you return from the past with this responsibility, you will find that your present choices are affected, and your future will be different.  You may discover that you are far less willing to hurt someone again, once you accept the full weight of the responsibility for your actions.   Perhaps you will think before you speak in the future, or alter the way you approach the same situation if it happens again.

You have changed your future by confronting your past.

There is one other method of time travel available to you.

Have you made peace with your past?  Have you accepted that those things that happened have happened?  Perhaps someone has betrayed you in a way you never thought possible.  Perhaps someone took something from you without asking and with no intention of returning it.  Perhaps someone has even stolen your peace through their actions in the past.  Again, return to those moments and confront them.  Make peace with each difficult moment, accepting it for what it was.  Forgive.  Forgive the person who hurt you, even if they haven’t asked for forgiveness.  Travel back to that moment where you felt the knife in your back most keenly, turn to the person who placed it there, and tell them that they are forgiven.  Forsake your right to revenge, and move on.

As you return to the present, you will find that you can approach the rest of your life differently now.  You have changed your future.  You have broken the power of the past to hold you on a certain course.   You have changed the past.

I don’t pretend that any of this will be easy.  There is also one more thing to be done.  It is perhaps the hardest single thing you may have to do.

Accept forgiveness.

Now that you have owned and confronted your past, Jesus is waiting with forgiveness in hand.  You can find the peace that was denied to you in the past.  Jesus has already done the work to offer you this forgiveness, and we are celebrating his arrival on earth those so many years ago right now in this season.  The present, right now, is the perfect time to change your future.  You don’t have to be stuck in the future dictated by your past, Jesus has opened up other paths for us.  You can find peace in the future, in spite of a troubled past.

Use the present, to confront the past, and change your future.  Travel in time.  Seek peace.

(Oddly enough, Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol” was the inspiration for this post.  Give it a read if you have a few hours this holiday and you’d like to be challenged.)

 


Be sure to check out the other people on the journey with me at 254peace.org, or on our Facebook page.  There are some awesome people participating this year, and they all have something important to say.  





Meteor (DOP #15 2017)

Last night, Samantha and I were out and about in Fort Wayne in the evening enjoying some Christmas festivities.  At one point we were between two events, and as I stood outside the car as she leaned back in to get something, I saw an incredibly bright meteor shooting across the sky for what seemed like 10 seconds.  It was an awesome thing to see, but in spite of me quickly and repeatedly shouting “SAM! SAM!” she missed it.

I wonder how many people missed it the night Jesus was born?

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in our own stuff, wrapped up in our own heads or hearts, and totally miss what God might be doing around us.  I just happened to be looking in just the right direction to see the shooting star last night, and I’m sure I’ve missed more of them than I have seen.  In the same way, I’m sure that I miss many of the peaceful moments God has planned for me.  It isn’t always something I’ve done wrong, but just looking the wrong way at the wrong time can keep me from seeing something special.

So how do we make sure we are not missing those moments?

I’m not sure that we can be sure to avoid missing those moments.  Each one could be totally different from every other one we have experienced.  I think we just have to make some sort of effort to stay open to what God might be trying to show us, but not always make it a regimented and strictly structured thing all the time.  Structure is good, and it can be a great way for us to learn regularly, but I guarantee you that no one was expecting a choir of angels to show up that night near Bethlehem.

On the other hand, the Bible tells us of the Maji, who because of their diligent and structured study, knew from the stars that something world changing had happened, and they pursued that event at great cost to themselves.  So structure certainly isn’t to be frowned on.

As often happens with these posts, I don’t really have a great life illuminating concept to pass on to you right now, but I can share my thoughts, as I wrestle with this concept of peace.  And perhaps more so every year, I wrestle with how God chooses to reveal it to me.

How has God revealed truth to you in the past?  Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear your story.


Be sure to check out the other people on the journey with me at 254peace.org, or on our Facebook page.  There are some awesome people participating this year, and they all have something important to say.  





A (not so) Silent Night (DOP #14 2017)

If you’re planning to skip any of my posts this year, it might as well be this one.  Seriously.  It may not be the most peaceful way to spend 2 minutes.  Ultimately I guess this is part of an exercise in finding peace with what I sound and look like.  It’s just a bit of stretching myself, so I can accept who I am.  It isn’t easy, and it may not be all that easy to listen too, but here it is, and I’m going to accept that this exists, that I purposely am putting it out there, and make peace with it.

Or at least I’m going to try.