Monday, August 31, 2009

Whats the story?

So, early in the summer I had a wee revelation. Somewhere in my little brain a light turned on and I my eyes opened a little wider. I was discovering the importance of diversity in people. I was captivated as I walked down the street and people watched at my favorite local coffee house. My thought with every person I saw being... "what is their story?"

It is so small of me to think that people are not shaped by their life circumstances and social influences. As I asked God to open my eyes and give me a heart for His children like I have not experienced before I found that I had created my own fears. In my mind differences made someone less approachable when in reality someone who is different is more likely to challenge my perceptions and cause me to think more... thus growing more.

A friend of mine recommended a book to me about this time. It was made into a movie, though I have yet to see the film. "The Soloist" was another opportunity to challenge my "what is their story?" thought. In the book a brilliant man with a severe mental illness winds up playing at Julliard and then later on the streets of the ghetto.

My mom has been labeled as bipolar for ten plus years and it has taken me that long to discover that she has a story of her own. This summers circumstances (I will share more on that some day) allowed a greater understanding of how she developed her mental illness over the course of her life. It is so sad to think that people in her life purposefully abused her and made her to feel as less of a person. I hope some day that she will know how worthy of love she truly is.

It is easy then to think of judgment for those who chose to belittle her and take away her self-worth. Unfortunately and fortunately I have no right to that judgment. Unfortunately, because there are moments when I would like to tell someone that they deserve judgment and their actions are going to take them to a fiery place... and fortunately, because my actions occasionally merit the same thoughts and I know that God's grace so undeservedly abounds new every day.

So back to judgment. Why is it that I judge people as I see them each day? As I think about how I was raised (in my family and in the church), I see that it was taught to me to befriend those who are like me in faith and to stay away from those who had differences. It was said to me that if I was friends with kids who were different I would "get sucked in" to their crowd and be ruined forever.

So who did Jesus befriend? Did He find people that were like Him? Sure He spent time with the disciples... but were they really like Him? They were fishermen, a doctor, a tax collector, and several others occupations are unknown. He spent time with murderers and thieves, prostitutes and the sick.

I find it interesting that judgment was taught to my as part of my Christian upbringing and yet it so contradicts the lifestyle of my Jesus.

It is sad to me that I have lost several years of my life to narrow-minded thinking, however, as an eternal optimist I can turn it around and say that I am grateful for the grace that God shows me. That even though I chose to judge, He does not. He has taken away judgment with the gift of the Cross. Amazing! And I have the rest of my life to change that old way of thinking.

I hope that through new eyes, eyes that are similar to the Lords, I will be able to see and hear more of the stories of the people I come in contact with.

Ever person has a unique story. I challenge you (and myself) to find out someone's story before you stereotype them.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

God is bigger...

This year has been one for the books. Seriously, I could write a whole book about it if I sat down and mapped one out. So much has happened... and so much has not happened. And yet the year is not over.

So to get to my thought of God being so big.

God is bigger...

*than the boggie man (thanks to Veggietales for that one).
*than the economic crisis making it difficult to find a job.
*than my resume (which shows I was "let go" from a job a year ago).
*than I can even imagine.

One of "my girls" (aka one of my former youth kids that is now a grownup and has graduated college) and I met for coffee the other day. She was sharing about her recent adventures in YWAM. One particular story she shared from one of many speakers she heard said something that has popped back into my mind almost every day since.

The speaker was talking about how big God is. There is a passage somewhere in the bible that talks about God holding some stars in his hand. Stars are not little... though they appear to be from far away. And God would not be holding just little stars. The smallest star is ginormous in reality. And yet my God held more than just one. He is able to hold massive stars in His hands. WOW! My God is HUGE!

Sure He cares about the stars and that they brighten our night skies and delight our hearts to look and wish upon. But He cares so much more for His dear children. He can carry us all in His (perfect love) hands.

So knowing that I am in His hands makes the not knowing about tomorrow ok.

Here I sit replaying Proverbs 3:5&6 over to myself... trying to wrap my mind and heart around the words that are not foreign to me.

God is bigger. This I know.