I Dare YOU

Hello beautiful people!

I would like to start this post off by saying that I think that I am a loving person. I have gotten this far into my twenties and deep into some really awesome sister circles by following the Golden Rule that we all were overexposed to during childhood, probably on at least one Garfield poster:

 

garfieldIronic that Garfield is being used as the moral authority.

 

The rule, otherwise known as the ethic of reciprocity, is simply to treat others the way that you want to be treated. The hard truth, however, is that people are fickle. We have the best of intentions (sometimes), but we are only human, and we battle against things such as anger, resentment, jealousy, busyness, pride, and so much more. The hard truth is that sometimes we come across someone who challenges the freeness and openness with which we thought we loved. This person may be a friend who loves you with all of your heart. It may be a spouse or significant other who arouses all of that JUNK in you, the not feeling good enough, the wanting to know their every waking move for fear that they’ve found a better option–all those things that you thought that you were done with and healed from. Whoever it is, use them when they are presented. Use them as an opportunity to refine your love and make it more Christlike. I dare you.

For me, my person is my mentee. This is us:

sisses.jpg Check out my expression. I am IMPOSSIBLY cool.

Like I said before, I would consider myself, for lack of a more adult adjective: NICE. I think I am generous. I believe deeply in family and in friendships that value quality over quantity. I was never that girl that needed everyone to know her name. I prefer meaningful interactions, heartfelt words, and creative gestures. I revel in the random and the just because. Mentee here has often been the recipient of that. Everything that I have learned in 29 years, I pour into her 20 so that she hopefully can skip some of my aches and pains.

That girl up there? She is warm, and she is funny with an infectious laugh. She is principled, and she is open hearted. She is smart.

But does she challenge the way I love? Absolutely.

She does things that leave me scratching my head. She gives people a 1000th chance who have messed her over 999 times. She makes decisions that I honestly don’t follow. And lately, this relationship has been the one that challenges my insecurity, with whispers along the lines of ‘girl, you thought you were doing something? Pssh. You’ve made no difference whatsoever.’ And its times like that where my love for her can be misconstrued and filtered through all of the crap that she has had to deal with and it comes out feeling to her like she is being attacked and judged and put down. It is then that I have to take a deep breath, step back, normally cry to my own mentors, and…inevitably, I square back up. I rejoin the fight. I remember that when I did the foolishness that I did, God welcomed me back and He didn’t even ask for an explanation of my stupidity. I show her grace, and I do so remembering that there is no way and no minion in hell that can keep me from loving her. It reminds me of a post I saw on Facebook that I related to my students at first:

kidslove

We all need to be loved. The strength and the ferocity of that love might differ from person to person, but the Bible clearly states that we are in need of some love that manifests in the fruits of the spirit.

This week, I dare you to be reckless with your love. I dare you to love on somebody that is making it increasingly difficult and to stick with them through their storm if for no other reason than the fact that Christ loved us at our most unloveable  and we can come to Him time and time again bruised, broken down and dirty from the weight of the sins that we still choose to partake in while claiming to love Him–and in return, He offers us redeeming love. Grace.

I dare you to go out of your way for somebody. To love on someone that can’t offer anything in return, not even their heart. Love on someone who is so downtrodden that love itself sometimes seems like the most hopeless of causes, and feel free to come looking for me if the very power of your reckless love doesn’t make them bloom, however slowly.

I dare you to love using the fruits of the Spirit:

I dare you to be JOYFUL.

I dare you to be PEACEFUL right in the middle of an emotional Nor’Easter.

I dare you to show FORBEARANCE–in other words, be patient when they resist. And they WILL resist. Its what hurt people do.

I dare you to be KIND and GOOD to people this week.

I dare you to be FAITHFUL and stay in those trenches when everyone else has said “this is too much” and leaves shaking their head.

I dare you to be GENTLE–with both the person you are loving on AND with yourself. Baby, you deserve to be loved and understood with just as much of a soft touch as they do.

And I dare you to exercise some SELF CONTROL–to not snap when they snap at you, to not give up on them when things look grim, and to wait for the glorious unfolding that happens when someone feels secure in the calm waters of you.

Let me know how it goes, darlings. I’ll be waiting.

Be blessed,

StephTheScribe

 

Serve-itude

The-best-way-to-find-yourself-is-to-lose-yourself-in-the-service-of-others

 

“Let me reintroduce myself
As a man with a cause
I’ve had a lot of time to think and look at who
we are…
And I’ve got nothing left to say but we’ve gotta carry on
And I’ve got so much left to do but I’ll start with this song…”
-“Let’s Go”, Cartel

 

Why do you serve?

This is a question that the dream team leaders at church ask us fairly often. It may be phrased as a inquiry or as a directive: think about why you serve. See, it is quite easy to be a part of something bigger when that something bigger functions perfectly. When you get to own or wear something that signifies you as part of that something bigger. When, within that something bigger, you have formed smaller and more meaningful subgroups. That’s when it is easy to serve? But why you serve, why you choose to do this thing over and over again that really is NOT about you, that doesn’t earn you a gold star, really is a crucial question when things get tight. Why do you serve on the morning when you have to be up before sunrise and went to bed after midnight? Why do you serve when you just broke up with your significant other and you’d rather not plop a smile on your face and make nice? Why do you serve instead when your place of employment is offering overtime and you have more bills than take home pay and you could really use the time-and-a-half?

“So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”
He said, “I did, I created you” – “Do Something”, Matthew West

So often, I have wanted to apply that same rhetoric to other roles and responsibilities in my life and the lives of others, because I think that being restored to factory settings, not just “the joy of salvation” but also the joy of friendship, sisterhood/brotherhood, employment, etc is never a bad thing if it causes us to put down our cynicism and grab some gratitude. Do you see how the same logic applies?

It is easier to be a daughter when you and your parents see eye to eye, but why do you continue to be present when they are ailing or aging or simply being stubborn?

It is easier to be a friend when you hang all the time and the balance of effort feels equal, but why do you continue to be present when you can’t ever reach them and it feels like they have no time?

It is easier to be a teacher (OUCH) when your students are bright eyed, bushy tailed, positive and prepared, their parents are invested and the administration has your back, but why do you continue to be present when none of those things are true?

Why do you serve?

It is because you are a glutton for punishment? No.
Is it because you are stupid? No!
Is it because you are blissfully ignorant? NO!!

For those of us in the Body of Christ, the Bible gives a command in Colossians 3:23: “And whatsoever ye do , do it heartily , as to the Lord, and not unto men” (KJV) Another version in plainer language says “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people.”

So why do we serve and teach and parent and befriend and all that other stuff? Because when we work for God, the whole game changes. Because living for God means that you are not bound by the whims of people who are fickle like us. If you are living for pats on the head from people as a measure of your worth, you will always feel worth a little less than you are.

We think of servitude as a bad thing, but I am reclaiming the word, making it serve-itude and using it to mean the way that we carry ourselves when we are in the thick of this thing that God is using us for. There is a quiet joy that comes from knowing that you are aligned with His purpose for your life and it is something that lack of sleep, caffeine, or anything else can temporarily flicker but NEVER blow out.

Next time someone is getting on your nerves and you really don’t understand what God had in mind when He placed you in this season, go somewhere calm, immerse yourself in His word, and I am willing to bet that a few pages worth of His redeeming love will also redeem your serve-itude.

Be blessed,
StephTheScribe