Balloons in times of crisis

Remember when we were kids…or for those of you with kids, maybe you did this. You would take a latex balloon and rub it against your head. The static cling would build up so the balloon would stick to walls, or if you held it close to your head, your hair would stand on end to touch the balloon.

I have a theory that relates this phenomenon to relationships. First, let’s start with the science.

Balloons_(static_electricity)

If you have two balloons and rub them each against your hair or fabric, the friction causes each of them to become negatively charged. When this happens, the balloons will not stick together. In fact, they will repel one another.

On the other hand, when only one of the balloons experiences the friction and is negatively charged, the balloon that has not been negatively charged will cling to the negatively charged balloon. They will be drawn toward one another, and stick together.

There are times in our relationships when one or the other is going through a difficult time. When two people are not fully committed, the friction in the one’s life will also create friction with the other. This will cause the two to drift, or even push each other apart.

However, where there is love and devotion, the one without the friction will draw close to the one with the problem. They will cling together. When you have a relationship that is healthy and strong, that friction will not push you apart, but bring you closer together. When one faces difficulty, or friction, the other will be drawn to them. They will actually become closer than they ever were before. It’s easy to get along and enjoy a bond when things are going well. But what happens when the friction happens?

While difficulties are not something we enjoy, we can embrace them because by virtue of the friction, the bond between us will only draw us closer together. The bond between us is strengthened. It’s critical to stick together. When we are so drawn and committed to the person in need, our devotion provides strength and empowers the one in crisis. As this happens, we will get through it together. Our relationship is forged. But if we push the other away or shut them out by not being open and honest, we create more friction with our attitude. We will repel one another.

How liberating and unifying it is when you can say to one another, “I will stick with you, I will walk with you through it all, no matter what.”

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Sole mate

Several years ago, a couple from my church invited me to their home for dinner. They were friends, so naturally, I agreed to a nice, home cooked meal. During the course of the evening, the conversation turned to asking me about my, at that time, non-existent love life.

“What is it you’re looking for in a woman? Obviously, aside from her being a singer.”

They had assumed that since I was a singer, that this was some kind of “must have” for me. Not only was that not something I wanted or needed in a mate, I actually preferred that she wouldn’t be a singer. As much as I enjoyed singing, and it was a huge part of what I did, it wasn’t and isn’t who I am. It doesn’t define me. It wasn’t and isn’t some kind of foundation for a relationship.

All along, God was molding my desires. Not only what I do want and need, but what I don’t. 

Fast forward to present day.

In God’s infinite and undeniable wisdom, He has given me a woman who is precisely what I need for life. In short, her strengths are my weaknesses. At the same time, I have strengths in areas where she is somewhat vulnerable.

I have had conversations with single people about the topic of soul mates. Is there one person out there who is perfect for you? Is there more than one person who is perfect for you, and it’s just a matter of finding one?

I honestly do not know. What I do know is that I’m a month shy of my 49th birthday. I’ve never been married. I have had numerous relationships in my life, but obviously, we were not perfect for one another.

Perfect. There’s a word. You might be reading this and thinking, “well no wonder you’ve never gotten married. You’re as flawed as a marble boat. How can you expect to find perfection, never mind attract it?” Good question. I look at Facebook, and I see so many spouses touting their mates as “the most wonderful in the world”. Is that hyperbole? How can hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands or even millions of spouses all over the world be “the best”? That’s impossible. There can only be one best. And by what standard is this measured?

The key is finding “perfect” for me. And I have. Obviously, we have each been in other relationships. We were fundamentally the same people we are today. But we have each experienced excruciating heartache, and we have each broken the hearts of others. But in each other, we have found ‘perfection’. I certainly am anything but perfect. Good grief. I am riddled with flaws. But I have qualities that make me the exact right fit for her life. And she has qualities of which I am in awe.Picture-Quote-about-Love

Speaking for myself, this is not to say that those from my past are bad people. They are not inferior in any way. It’s just that we weren’t right for one another. I have no bad feelings about those in my past. I wish them unbridled happiness. It’s simply that I have found the one who, from the very beginning, understood me in ways that others who have known me for years don’t get.

Whether there are 1 or 100 “soul mates” for me out there, I have found my sole mate. No one has ever spoken to my heart, mind and spirit as she does. No one has confronted my deepest fears, and filled me with the strength to face and overcome them. No one has ever seen me so vulnerable, and responded with even more love.

It’s been a long time. There have been many heartaches. Being patient has cost me some life experiences that I wish I could have had. But I’m so thankful that I didn’t settle for someone for whom I was not right, and who was not right for me. We are all better off with the way things are turning out. No regrets.

God saved his very best for last. Sarah-Jane is absolutely perfect. For me.

No greater love

A new movie was released over the weekend. It is one I am so eager to see, I’ll actually go alone if I have to. I’ve never gone to a movie alone before. The only other movie I was willing to do so for was The Passion of the Christ. I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise to see the similarities in these two movies. The new one is Lone Survivor. Yes, one movie is about the sacrifice of Jesus for all mankind, and the second is the level of love and sacrifice of brothers in arms on the battlefield.

Most of us will never face situations where we will be called upon to lay down our lives for Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 8.20.53 PMsomeone else. John 15:13 tells us that there is no greater love than when we lay down our lives for our friends. Does this mean that we are doomed to a lesser love unless we’re facing a life and death situation?

Absolutely not.

It’s very likely that we are presented with this “no greater love” opportunity on a fairly regular basis. The simple application is when we love someone more than we love what we want for ourselves. As a man, as a steward over the heart, mind and body of a wonderful woman, it means that I show her I love her more than I love having my own way. It means showing her, not just telling her, that she is more important than my own desires. That she is worth any cost or sacrifice.

As a Christian, it frequently means making choices because I love God more than things that would damage my relationship with Him, or my reputation as a Christian.

As a friend and neighbor, it may mean that rather than spend a relaxing day or evening at home, or taking care of personal business, we make ourselves available to help or spend time with someone in need.

We are all blessed with opportunities to serve someone and something that is bigger than ourselves. By doing so, we put them, and ourselves, in proper perspective. In doing so, we bless others, and we experience and receive a greater depth of love in our own lives.

Today, demonstrate “no greater love” in some way, to someone.

Contentment

I must admit, I am not one who is easily content. It’s not that I’m so goal-oriented or anything like that. I’m not the guy with motivational quotes posted all over my home. It’s more like I’m just not easily or frequently satisfied.

I have been in New England since December 18. As I type this, I should be at the airport, waiting to board my flight back to California. Instead, I’m sitting in the kitchen at Sarah-Jane’s home, brain/heart-dumping into this post. A significant snow storm literally blew into the region yesterday and through the night, so I changed my flight to Monday.

As I sit here at the kitchen table, and as I’ve spent a relaxing morning and early afternoon with her and her boys, I find myself in an unfamiliar territory. No, not Rhode Island.

Contentment.

When I was showering this morning, which is often when and where I do my best thinking, a thought popped in my head. I often times get so caught up thinking about my past and the disappointments I’ve faced, and worry about how they might affect my future. But in doing so, I miss out on living in the moment. What I do in the moment, or what I miss out on by not doing, has much more of an impact on my destiny than worrying about what was, and how it might affect what will be.

be-in-the-moment_Snapseed

Even in the quietness of today, when we’re somewhat confined to the indoors due to the bitter cold outside, I find myself appreciating every detail of the moment. The future is going to be busy. The future is constructed by each current moment. Being so concerned with the enormity of what lies ahead can be overwhelming. But by taking in each moment, we allow ourselves, and God, to operate in our designed roles and abilities.

God is not bound by the limits of time. I am. I cannot live tomorrow today. He is already in tomorrow, in six months from now, in one hundred years from now. He knows the end from the beginning. Why am I worried or consumed by the past or the future? He will guide my steps. But my steps come in ‘the moment’. Thinking about what must be done tomorrow is good. Learning from the past, also good. Obsessing on it? Not so much.

Live in the moment. Enjoy it. Embrace it. Appreciate it. Maybe you’re not exactly where you need or want to be. I understand that. Believe me. Take this moment and do something with it.

The fact that you have ‘the moment’ is a blessing not to be wasted.

2014, bring it on

1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.

7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:1-8

As I have taken time this morning, New Year’s Day, 2014, this passage of scripture has risen to the surface of my heart and mind. Wiser, more learned people can speak to the historical and theological depths of this passage better than I. If that’s what you’re needing or expecting, be prepared for disappointment.

Instead, I am looking at it from my personal perspective. How does this apply to me? To me, how it becomes relevant to my life is that to move into my Promised Land, something first had to die. In Joshua’s case, it was Moses. In my life, it is my expectations of how my life should have played out. It is my preconceived ideas on how God’s promises should have looked, when they should have taken place, and where.

Had things gone they way I thought they should have, the admonition that appears three different times in this brief passage wouldn’t be necessary.

Be strong and courageous.

If I were the author of my own story, I control all the elements. It’s the lack of control that requires strength and courage. These lead to faith and trust. When God breathes into our lives, we can have a tendency to say, “Okay Lord, I’m good. I’ll take it from here.” That’s often where we get off track. But His plan requires we follow His instructions. That is where verses 7 and 8 come in to play. We need to follow the instructions.

For me, courage isn’t in making big decisions. It’s not in being responsible for others. It’s in making those decisions, being the leader when you don’t have a charted out plan. It’s in knowing the destination before knowing the route, or following the path without knowing the desitination. It’s in trusting your Resource, not your own intellect.

This passage concludes with these assurances from God. When we trust Him, when we accept the call upon our lives, He promises us prosperity and success. That may mean materially, but it most likely doesn’t. I am learning more and more each day that what defines a man is not what he owns. It is not what he drives. It’s in being a good husband, father, member of his community. It’s in helping those who need help.

As was the case in Joshua’s promotion, God’s promise wasn’t just for him. God had first made a promise to Moses and the Israelites. Moses made mistakes that cost him the blessing of seeing the promise fulfilled. But God stayed true to His promise to the Israelites. He chose Joshua. In my life, those I love and am assigned stewardship, they have been given their own promises from God. Others may have lost the blessing of seeing those promises come to fruition. At least, first hand. And God is offering me a promotion. The responsibility, and rewards, are mine if I stay true to the calling. dsc00536

That can sound intimidating. But God finishes this passage by saying, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

That’s all I need.