Tuesday, June 30, 2015

(Discipline + Edification + Admonishment) - Love = Rebellion and Defiance?

You say, "It sure isn't nature or nurture, though it sure seems to be pretty close to nature alone."  Then you turn around and say the opposite.  And I'm the same.  Sure, I value our conversation, but I want to be able to leave without the guilt.  You twist knives in my chest where I can't speak.  So I try to speak for the absent and have also been shamed into knowing I can't.  When is a house a home?  What is the difference between surrounding yourselves with those who support you and closing yourself off to criticism?

I had been having a mostly good day.  I can't blame you but will you let me speak please?  Please don't throw your morals at me.  Don't tell me you're white and everyone else is black.  I'm just learning to love.  When you tell me you've chosen to just forgive I am trying to figure it all out.  I respect your decision but that forgiveness looks less like action and more like resolution.  It looks like the words, "I can't change him so I might as well forgive him."

Why?  Why must you change him?  It's not our job to change others!  Can't we just love those around us where they are?  Sure, the judge cannot say to the criminal, "I forgive you.  I will show you mercy."  However, we're not called to be the judge.  We're called to live life alongside others.  I feel called to be the advocate of the broken.  The lover of the lost.  Not the lover of the "chosen."  I must remember my stain so that I am not too eager to jump on a man-made pedestal.

Yes, I do get a lot out of such heated debate and dialogue with those around me, but I also want a place where I can just be.  I want people who will challenge me in love, not shame disguised as love. I know that discipline hurts when it's happening, but it's not the end goal.  I know that edification and admonishment are invaluable, but lately it just seems that they are taking the place of love.  I believe that discipline, edification, and admonishment of others must stem from a root of love for them to be the most effective.  If they are implemented as a defensive stance or as a means to end an argument, they will not be sustainably effective.  Not now at least.

Teach me in love.
Correct me in gentleness.
Forgive me in mercy.
Love me in grace.

I don't know everything nor do I claim as much.  However, when all you do is correct me and challenge my views almost all I want to do is turn the other way, even if your views are valid and reasonable.

Lord, teach me to love through it all.  Teach me to love Your children as You do.  Give me the perseverance to be merciful as You are daily merciful to me.  Teach me to love without conditions though I am only human and I will never truly achieve such a lofty goal.  Teach me love and be gentle on me that I may carry that gentleness to those around me.  Love me that I might love You through as limitless a love of Your world as is Kirbyly possible.  May whatever I do be to point to who You are and what You've done, are doing, and will continue to do.  In Jesus' powerful Name, amen.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Continual Evolution of Success in Life

Some people write dictionaries.  Some determine doctrine.  Some are label makers.  What do I get to do?  What can I define?  My own success?  My own happiness?  What brings me joy?  What causes me shame?  Do I have a say in my life besides always following?  Is it enough to have an impact on someone else's life even if I was just pursuing another's goal's or ambitions?

When will I know I have arrived?  How will I know that I have succeeded?  I don't want to plateau at the top.  I want to always keep climbing.  Success, I would say now is learning and teaching.  I've said before that its key is knowing how to say what to whom, but the more I think about that the more I'm conflicted.  You see, I've thought fairly often about that definition recently and it sounds more like manipulation.  If my key to success results in manipulation, then can that really be success?  Perhaps, I've thought, that still is the key, it's just that it can be warped in the wrong hands.  Like a key to a door that someone is trying to use on their front door, it just won't fit.  Still, this thought warrants additional thought, something I know a lot about: thinking.

So, as those thoughts tumble around in my mind, sometimes ending up in the frontal cortex and other times bouncing between nerve endings, I analyze other outcomes.  I think other thoughts.  Maybe success can't always be measured.  Maybe success is sometimes abstract.  Maybe there are markers that can tell us we're on the right track, but those markers can look drastically different from one person to the next.  So rather than putting forth tireless effort in coming up with uniform mile markers I choose to ask others about themselves.

Tell me about you.  What is your life?  What are your hopes?  What are your dreams?  What terrifies you?  If you could do or be anything, what would you be?  How did you get to where you are today?

I don't always ask these questions outright, but I think that something inside me looks for them constantly.  I wonder about others.  Perhaps it's because I'm seeking those same answers in my own life.  Maybe my hope is that by hearing of the hopes, dreams, and fears of others I can find something shared.  Could it be that my hope in asking others how they define themselves is tied to my desire to find my own identity?

I don't need others to tell me who I am.  In fact, that is one of the easiest ways to shut me down: Tell me who I am.  Tell me you know me.  Tell me how to live my life.  These monologues from those around me are like master artists painting me with shame.  I know you have much wisdom to share and I truly value it.  Your amount of lived experience is not lost on me.  You've without a doubt earned your position in whatever domain you may be in.  However, to tell me that I must now follow all that you've done in order to get to the place where you are rather shortsighted of you.

I'll take your wisdom and even your sharp critique with me, but you must recognize that I am not you.  When I look at you eye-to-eye, I know I may look like a mirror to you, but that's not all that's there.  I appreciate your input.  I really do!  There are just some things that I have to find out for myself.  Like a prodigal son, sometimes I have to squander my life to find it.  Like a loving father, sometimes you have to let me go to love me.  Is all of this just delayed teenage angst?  Is it just my opposition to authority?  Perhaps it is, only time will tell.  However, in this moment I need to be allowed to be myself.

And please don't think that your input and insight is not appreciated.  That is far from the truth and I hope that I can make that clear.  I hope you can understand that success (and life really) just look different for me.  I like to think that much of this is universal and people reading it could relate to it on a deep level.  However, then I catch myself.  Then I remember that those are the thoughts I'm fleeing.  The thoughts that say, "I know your life.  I've lived it before.  Let me teach you how to make your better life best."

So rather than preaching to you about who you are and what you should and should not do, I'll leave that up to you.  I'll say, "live and let live and laissez-faire."  I'll do my best to be teachable and find a way to be teaching.  I won't assert myself without cause.  I will not tell you how to live my life.  Rather, I will seek out my biases and blind spots because awareness is pivotal to growth.  I will be open to what you have to say and seek greater understanding in the solid ground that I am standing on.  That way, I can begin to comprehend when it's becoming more about me and less about you or us.  Then, when it becomes about capacity building at the expense of another I can pull out the roots and throw those thoughts in the compost where they can have new life.

At the same time, I hope I will have people in my life who will have the courage to point that out for me.  The line is thin, but I'm willing to hear you out if you speak to me where I am.  Yes, we all know that fear, anger, and shame work when getting someone to hear us out or obey what we say.  However, just because something is effective doesn't mean it should be replicated.  Let's love those around us as they come to us, not as we desire for them to be.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

421 Lines and Still Deception

Dear Social Me-

I'm sick
of you.  You're
not quite my news
source.  You're more
often my blues

You're where
I go to send
my thoughts at night.
You're where
I read people
pushing sisters
and brothers
off their soapboxes.

"My turn," they say.
don't worry,
I've brought enough
shame for everyone."

I don't like
the pointing fingers,
the climbing pedestals,
"this is just
my view [but
you better
agree with me, or else]."

Social Media,
can I tell you
I think
you're like a magazine
article or a pict-
ure in time:
You tell
a beautiful

Here lies
John Smith,
pictured here
with his
three smiling children.
after the camera
flashed, his son
was murdered,
younger daughter stripped
from his arms,
and his
life forever altered.
later he ended
his own life
pain wouldn't subside.

"But look
how happy
he is in this photo!
What happened?"

"I can draw
my conclusions."
"I can paint
a picture with
421 lines.
It will look just
like him,"
but the picture
will lie.

We take
pictures to
remind us of
life lived,
but they hide
our true selves
until others
think they understand.

"Let me paint
a picture for you."

"The likeness
is uncanny!"

"He was never like

"Did I ever even k-
now him?"

But, Social Me-
dia, I must tell you
I could
never tell you
this because
the plank
in my right eye
is too grand
for me to
the splinter
in your left.