The Sweetness of God

When I was in HS I was a huge fan of Days of Our Lives and I adored a super couple, Steve “Patch” Johnson and Kayla Brady. Every time Steve called Kayla “sweetness” my heart melted. It’s such an intimate name…indicating the delectable flavor of something that turns bread into cake, crackers into cookies, and lime juice into margaritas…with tequila of course!😜

The sweetness of God is the reason I’m still a believer. Just when I’ve rationalized God out of my life and begun to grieve over the crisis of my faith, God’s intimate sweetness comes in the form of an phone call, a special memory, a dreamed of job offer, a card of encouragement, a random song or line in a book that hits my heart with purpose and special meaning…some confirmation that God is involved and with me on my life’s journey…this is the sweetness of God. Little reminders (that some call god-incidences) invigorate my faith and keep me searching for truth, dedicated to love and hope and joy in spite of the darkness all around. Forgive me if I’ve shared this before, but I’m reminded of Puddleglum’s speech in CS Lewis’s The Silver Chair,

Puddleglum : Suppose… suppose we have only dreamed and made up these things like sun, sky, stars, and moon, and Aslan himself. In that case, it seems to me that the made-up things are a good deal better than the real ones. And if this black pits of a kingdom is the best you can make, then it’s a poor world. And we four can make a dream world to lick your real one hollow.

Green Lady : How dare you threaten me!

Puddleglum : As for me, I shall live like a Narnian even if there isn’t any Narnia. So thank you very much for supper. We’re going to leave your court at once and make our way across your great darkness to search for our land above!

When Puddleglum was lost in the caves of earth with the green witch, he remembered enough of where he was from to know what was presented as real before him was nothing but a counterfeit version of the truth. Ah this sounds familiar doesn’t it? This world with all of its governments, glitter, power, and gold distracts us from the longing in our hearts for home. Those special transcendental notes and nudges try to gently guide us back to where we belong….yearning for home.

I recently received an email from a long lost treasured friend who somehow has been reading my blog! I’m so tech illiterate I didn’t realize it was searchable…I had one of my sons help me make the account and have just been writing because I’ve always wanted to and realized I’m already in the autumn of my life without ever penning anything! The knowledge that even one person, especially someone I have known and respected, has been impacted by anything I have written is both humbling and honoring. Thank you to each person who reads any one of my musings. Not coming from a professional angle to writing, I almost see this blog as my diary of thoughts, and it’s very easy to forget anyone might be reading it. I have consistently prayed that God would use my blog to speak to any person who “has ears to listen.”

To have heard from a special friend from the past was another sacred moment, the sweetness of God. Know in your hearts my friends, you are remembered and loved by many who have crossed paths with you, and you are remembered and loved by God. Be looking for the eternal in the everyday and may you be blessed with your own intimate sweetness of God this week.

A Reflection of DNA

I’m sitting here thinking about the meditation I received today from Center for Action and Contemplation(Richard Rohr) concerning humans, you and I as the reflection of God. The quote referenced is as follows:

An image is not of itself, nor is it for itself. It rather springs from the thing whose reflection it is and belongs to it with all its being. It owes nothing to a thing other than that whose image it is; nothing else is at its origin. An image takes its being immediately from that of which it is the image and has one sole being with it, and it is that same being. —Meister Eckhart

The author then expounds on this quote, imagining the reflection wants to separate from its source. For example, while I am looking in the mirror my reflection decides it no longer needs me. I gently show my reflection that if I move away from the mirror it no longer exists. It then freaks and goes to therapy.😂

I was discussing this concept with my husband and confidante Mike this morning and he said the inconsistency of that analogy is that we are not just a reflection but we are actually made in the image of God…we literally have God’s spiritual and physical DNA. This was an ‘aha moment’ because it connected me to the truth that we never truly escape God’s love. As Scripture says ‘“neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”Romans 8:39

Even our personal choices cannot keep us from our own DNA. We are built upon a model of love. We have God’s ability to love, to forgive, to create, to care. This truly goes hand-in-hand with everything I know personally about my Maker, that “God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son that who so ever believes in him will have eternal life.” John 3:16

That it is His will that all shall be saved (1 Timothy 2:4) and all the world shall be restored(Acts 3:21).

Even those that don’t believe in God cannot get away from their own DNA. Whatever feeling, thought, or act of kindness and love one experiences has only one source…it can only be of the divine. What a comfort to think no matter what I do, no matter what I think, I cannot be without God’s love.

Now undoubtedly there are some that are are afraid of what I am suggesting because if this is the case then all your goodness really doesn’t make a difference in how God loves you. This takes away our measure of bad, good, better, and best! It can put fear in the heart to think all of our works are for nothing!

Our goodness still makes a great difference in the world to ourselves and to others but we need to learn to rest in the knowledge that there is nothing we can do, no incredible choice we can make that will make God love us more. This is GOOD NEWS! This is the good news that we are to be sharing with all. Yet somehow the good news got lost along the way and became the bad news. I am thankful for those who are proclaiming the good news, and it is my wish no matter what happens to me, no matter what calamity befalls the world, I am doing my part to share the good news that is in my DNA. It is in your DNA. It is in our DNA. We are not just reflections that go away when we can no longer see God, we are fully made in God’s image and carry His heart within our own. May we embrace our nature and be the change…be the good.

Normal

Be careful what you attribute to God’s will.

We are in the middle of a pandemic and every single person is frustrated and angry and afraid. We all want to return to normal. Normal feels good, normal is known and familiar. This craziness is unfamiliar and unwanted, and we’re all looking for someone else to blame. Unfortunately, normal isn’t available right now. We now have to find a new normal even if we do it kicking and screaming. Our whole society’s systems are falling apart and we are scrambling to hold them up as they’re clearly in disrepair. We’re faced with our society’s vulnerabilities and denial isn’t going to help us navigate the uncharted territory ahead. Pointing our fingers at each other, taking polar sides with strong unbending fervor and rage will not help us overcome and religious judgment really has no place in this time of uncertainty. Many religious Christians are confusing nationalism and politics with faith and are on dangerous ground, attributing their own opinions to God.

There are numerous examples in the Bible of people claiming their actions and their judgment of others are in the name of God, and one of the most known is the story of Job. Job had lost everyone and everything and was in utter despair, and his friends basically told him his suffering was because of his sins and he needed to repent. Yet God’s response to them was “I am angry with you, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” Job 42:7

The clearest example of this kind of harsh judgment is when the Sanhedrin convicts and sentences Jesus Christ to death on the cross. This was done in the name of truth, in the word of God as they knew it, and I believe they felt righteous as they watched our Lord die a thief’s death.

What can we learn from this? Reactive judgment and condemnation are fear based human responses, while compassion, forgiveness, grace, and love are divine. Which comes easier to us? Definitely the human response, so we must learn to identify it for what it is and consciously choose to aim for the more difficult divine response in ALL things.

There never has been a government fully based on God’s principles of love and grace and there never will be, because government is a human institution and however good intentioned humans are, we ultimately end up deceiving ourselves as we claim to see others as equal yet keep our hierarchical systems in place. I love America but my faith is not based on the country I live in or the government that runs it. We must recognize the minute we align our faith to an institution we are in danger of following a counterfeit doctrine. Religion and government are a dangerous combination because of the love of power. Power can corrupt even the most sincere heart, because we begin to believe in our own virtue and judgment which ultimately leads to self-righteousness which is anti-Christ.

Christians please be aware, beware, the spirit of the anti-Christ always, ALWAYS appears moral, just, holy, and righteous. He is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, never appearing as an easy to spot wolf…”there he is…that immoral sleazy crook who goes against everything we believe in and mocks our faith!” No…he appears as one of us, moral and righteous, and controls us by using our greatest fears dressed in holy robes quoting the laws from scripture.

It’s easy to live in fear and lash out with self righteous judgment…this is the human way, the more difficult path of kindness, service, grace, love, turning the other cheek, and forgiveness even while hanging on a cross is Christ’s way.

Normal is comfortable and our human way of survival, and as much as I personally miss that normal, my hope is to search for Christ’s normal which is far from that place of security and comfort I’m used to.

Dear Fellow White Suburbians

I’ve seen a lot of posts on fb about feeling upset that you’re called a racist seemingly for just loving the national anthem, supporting the police, and thinking historical statues are an important part of our history and shouldn’t come down. I’ve been in your shoes, so I understand where you’re coming from.

I have not consciously been racist and I don’t think I have been given everything I have. I certainly started out privileged in an upper middle class family, but I also have worked hard to be who I am both personally and professionally.

All of this talk is not to negate how hard you and I have worked in our lives to be who we are and have the things we have. I liken it to a relay where there are different starting points for each participant and then the different lanes are supposed to make up for those lag times, yet we white suburbians started further ahead and were able to keep our pace moving forward. As I stated before, I’m not intentionally racist, but I must admit I have been complacent.

Growing up in the very white suburbs of Wichita Kansas, I have been blind to others who have grown up in different circumstances and with different challenges. Our family had problems and struggles but whether or not we want to admit it, compared to others of different races and skin color, we were privileged in a country that was founded on white superiority. That is a part of our American history, and it still permeates almost everything in our society.

We are blind to our own privilege because we’ve never known anything different. For example, when I get up in the morning and go through my day I take for granted how invisible I am in the grocery store, at a fireworks stand, gas station, restaurant, really everywhere I go. I can move through my little bubble virtually unnoticed without disturbance or fear.

Change my skin color or race and suddenly everything feels different. If you’ve ever been out of the country alone you’ve experienced a smidge of what I’m talking about. Everyone seems to know you’re a foreigner, whether it’s by the way you look, the clothes you wear, the language you speak. It’s uncomfortable. And some will treat you as such…they’ve got preconceived notions about Americans, even prejudices against us, and might treat us accordingly. Try living with that for the rest of your life. If you are like me, white and living in a 99% white suburb of a roughly 75% white city in a 85% white state, you have no idea what it feels like to be a minority. I was at a fireworks stand in Park City and two trucks with big flags on the back drove up. Because of our present circumstances I imagined how I would feel if I was black right then, how I might be looked at by those guys, how I might be treated, and my anxiety level went through the roof.

No I don’t think you are intentionally racist. Neither am I. Racism isn’t really an either/or thing, but it is on a spectrum, and all of us regardless of our race, skin color, and experiences are somewhere on that line from 1 to 10. We white suburbians do work hard, yet we also are privileged and we need to recognize that and have compassion for those that experience life in more challenging ways. We need to ask ourselves why we feel so defensive and try to understand other points of view. We need to care enough for others that we stop talking and listen with open ears and hearts. We need to take off our own shoes and put someone else’s on for a long thoughtful mile.

In regard to the police, I am thankful as I have been helped many times by kind and dutiful officers. In fact, while in Italy our family ended up in a bad area of Rome late at night and tried to get help from the police but to no avail. We were ignored and felt helpless in a dangerous situation. I’ve never had that feeling in America, but I again am white, living in the Kansas suburbs. I have family members and friends who are police officers and I can’t imagine the difficulties they face and the horrors they see on a daily basis. I also think they, like teachers, are asked to do much more than they are qualified for and funds need to be diverted to more professional psych health and social workers to help deescalate many situations.

As far as the statues go, do we have Hitler or Stalin or King George statues in front of libraries and city buildings? Nope. Because we don’t accept what they represent. Why should we have confederate statues of those who wanted slavery to continue in America? Do we accept what they fought for? Nope. I certainly don’t and MY ancestors weren’t slaves but slave owners. Think how much more painful and offensive it is for someone whose heritage just a few generations ago is slavery!History belongs inside of museums and books to teach us so that we may learn from our past and not repeat the same mistakes. There is an appropriate way to tell our country’s true story but it must include views of all involved, the good the bad and the ugly, and every voice of the past must be properly represented.

So white suburbia, I am you. I understand where you’ve been and where you’re coming from, I just want us to uncross our arms and sit down and listen to those who are hurt and angry and are finding their voices. Compassion is God’s name. As we desire it from others, we must strive to give compassion and understanding over frustration and rigidity. Next time you’re in one of your everyday normal situations do what I do, imagine you’re of a different race and what it would feel like. How would those around you look at you and treat you? Maybe it’s not as comfortable in someone else’s skin.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”Colossians 3:12

Know Your Rights

Everything we’re experiencing right now, the pandemic, racial injustice, riots, face masks, polarized political parties, all of it is brewing up the ugly in us.

I simply cannot believe the hate and paranoia that is spewing out from people all over the internet, even from friends and family who I never would have believed could be so cold and hateful.

As Christians, this is our moment to shine…to rise above, to prove we wouldn’t have been the ones to call Jesus a blasphemer and have Him arrested, flogged, and nailed to a cross. This is the moment we could give cups of cold water to the thirsty, put clean cool wash rags to feverish foreheads, give food to the hungry, and comfort to the troubled. Are we making the most of this moment?

How many posts/articles/news casts/conversations have you had in the past week that didn’t focus on your American rights? As a Christian, do we have any rights other than to follow Christ? Would Christ argue that wearing a mask takes away His rights? Or would He simply wear one as He comforted and healed the sick?

As a Christ follower I have the privilege to love the way Christ loves. I have the honor to put others needs before my own desires, I have the calling to show all, regardless of race, skin color, culture, economic status, political stance, education, vocation, etc. that I see, respect, value and love them.

If you are a Christ follower, please remember He is not an American. His words concerning government are very few. His words concerning our calling are many…and focus on showing the world we are His by our love, not by our rights.

I have a right to my own opinion, but as a Christ follower, I have a higher calling to care for others, to wash their feet, to heal and comfort. I have a responsibility to protect and love others with my actions as well as my words, and right now, love is wearing a mask.

Fear is never of God…never of love. If we live in fear of losing our rights and of COVID19 and of socialism and of anything, we are not living in love. I challenge all of us to protect our hearts from negativity, hate, fear…let us not read the stories meant to divide and put anxiety in our hearts and minds but instead think of good things. Let us fill our minds and hearts with love and cast out all fear. We have no rights, no rights except those that Christ Himself denied, as He took all the world, ALL OF US, into His heart and died a criminal’s death on a cross, not out of fear but only of love and compassion and grace. This is our moment to show who we are, and whose we are.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

God is Love

It’s interesting how perspectives change when we open ourselves to new ideas. It is human to be fearful of the unknown, yet we are born knowing nothing. We learn from those who raise us, and during the early years, we blindly accept what we are taught. We just assume everyone else has the same experience. Some of us are so comfortable in our environment we stay there, even when life tries so very hard to kick us out. Others accept the challenge of the wilderness, and leave home to learn, to hurt, to experience, to grow. Still others choose to explore, throwing their fear and trepidation to the wind and find their own path with anticipation and excitement.

I was one who stayed home too long. Home was safe, easy, loving, and comfortable. Why did I need to leave? Of course I left physically but mentally, spiritually, and emotionally I stayed. My Christian upbringing taught me the biblical story of the prodigal son and I took note that the son who stayed was smart and stable, the son who left home was foolish and selfish. Luckily the father loved him through it all, but it obviously was best to stay home.

The Bible stories didn’t leave room for exploration, growth, and self discovery. I assumed if I strayed from what I’d been taught, I would be out of God’s will. That’s why it took me so long to trust God’s love and believe in God’s omniscience. If God made everything, then nothing surprises God. God knows more than we do, more than the church does, and maybe I should be bold and set out to learn beyond what I’ve been taught.

I still believe in God. I just believe God is much much bigger than any religion or any book, including the Bible. God is love and anything that is not in love cannot be of God. Any cruelty to anyone or anything is an act against God. Any disregard or disrespect is in direct opposition to the great I Am.

2020 isn’t really any different than 1968, 1918, 1860, 1776, or any other year. There are pandemics, there is injustice, there’s greed and the love of power, and there are people shouting loudly in the name of all they believe in. God does not love injustice, or hate, or indifference.

I’m tired of people claiming they love God but show hate and disgust for their neighbor. I’m weary of those who claim to follow Christ yet judge others who don’t believe as they believe. I’m thankful for Christians such as Richard Rohr, Bob Goff, Philip Yancey, Frances Chan, Suzanne Stabile, Natasha Sistrunk Robinson, and many others, who seem to try every day to put love first.

Faith isn’t a political party. Hope isn’t found in apologetics and arguing. Change comes when defenses come down and mouths stay shut while ears listen intently to those who are suffering. Love is open to learning and growing and changing. God is love.

Uncomfortable

Like many of us, I haven’t been able to find my words during this upheaval of unrest. Unrest. Discomfort. What is it wise people say about discomfort? We learn so much more when we are uncomfortable. Yet our base survival instincts are always seeking comfort=security. When we are emotionally, mentally or physically uncomfortable we begin to see things we haven’t noticed before. We are able to identify with others we have never even thought of, and when we identify our discomfort and sit in it awhile instead of follow our fight/flight instinct, we learn empathy. We grow beyond our limited experiences, we begin to learn and understand.

I am a white woman who was raised in the Midwest in an upper middle class bubble. I wasn’t taught to hate anyone due to their skin color, economic status, religion, sexual orientation, etc. but I rarely had the opportunity to even SEE anyone outside of my shiny bubble. When I was about six or seven, a black family visited our church and I was introduced to their daughter of my same age. I was so excited! I was entranced by her beautiful dark skin and I wanted her to like me…I wanted her to be my friend. I never saw her again.

My parents moved to the suburbs when I was 18 months old and I was a 13 year graduate of Goddard High School. When I first started elementary school, I didn’t know anything about segregation and the civil rights movement of the previous decade. I didn’t ever even think it might be strange that our school was 99% white. I was ignorant and remained so for many years. I was blind to my own racism. I sang Jesus Loves the Little Children-all the children of the world, red and yellow black and white they are precious in his sight…and I thought it was enough.

It wasn’t. It isn’t.

Jesus does love us all. Saying I do too isn’t enough. Love is patient and kind. Love does not dishonor others. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres.

Singing a song about loving others while I stay in my sterilized and safe bubble isn’t the same as loving them. It’s merely singing a song. To love is to be uncomfortable. To love is to be vulnerable. To love is to consciously choose to uncross and put out our arms and embrace another. To love is to seek to understand and to identify with each other. We are humanity. We need each other and we need to come together as humanity to identify the injustices and incongruences of our systems and our societies. We need to be the change, not just sing or talk about it. But how?

When my dad, Dr Jon Kardatzke, started the Museum of World Treasures in 2001, he began giving tours which were filled with engaging and funny re-enactments to visitors. One of his favorites was The French Revolution. He would tell the story of oppression and frustration of the people and share that the French had been inspired by the American Revolution. He would get the tour group to start chanting, even shouting, “POWER TO THE PEOPLE!” And then he would tell about the mistakes the French made as they turned their revolution into a bloody decade of horror. What began as a righteous movement for the people turned into a greedy fight for power.

I believe the love of power is the base of all evil. Racism at its core is about power and the fear of not being in control. Money gives power. The love of money drives greed and oppression. Throughout history every civilization has oppressed people. We fight for power and then we lord it over those we’ve beaten. What can start as a noble cause can quickly become corrupt as the focus of the movement shifts from justice to power. There’s an old saying that “you become what you hate.” Many brilliant leaders throughout history have warned that whatever we spend most of our time and attention on we will emulate and absorb. As Nietzsche said, “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”

This is why priests, politicians, police officers, teachers, and all leadership positions are in the greatest danger of abusing their power.

I’m sure most politicians start out as young idealists, desiring to make a difference for good, yet after a few years within our corrupt system of fundraising and lobbying they soon find themselves compromising their long held principles for prestige, money, and power. We begin to rationalize our wants and deceive ourselves as we continue to seek our own comforts and accolades. This is why things don’t change. Regardless of the political party in charge, we continue in the status quo. Each side points fingers at the other, shifting blame while both are responsible for keeping the rich richer and the poor and oppressed powerless. A revolution of thought is happening right now in our country. We need strong leaders who recognize what the root sources of our problems are so we can actually dig them out and be rid of them.

Regardless of their political party, many leaders have promised change, yet we are still here with the same conflicts and issues since America’s founding. Racism, economic disparity, and social injustice are severe symptoms of something that lies insidiously deeper.

The love of power.

It has existed within us since the birth of humanity. Until we identify this as the core of our greatest evils we will continue to feebly attack the visible leaves and stems of the weeds instead of digging them out from the hidden roots. All are created equal. All have the right to a roof over their head, food in their belly, excellent education and health care, and excuses to keep these things from happening just don’t cut it.

I hope you feel as uncomfortable as I do right now.

The Sacred Place

The Sacred Place is where we find Christ. For some, this means church. I grew up going to a building every Sunday morning and evening as well as Wednesday evenings with both familiar and unfamiliar people and learned to search for the Christ there. Sometimes I experienced Him but often I felt frustrated and bored. I kept diligently searching week after week and began to love the whole experience, much as I love my family, those with whom I am most familiar (fam-i-liar).

After many years and several different congregations, I no longer regularly go to a building to worship the Christ. I try to seek Him everywhere and when my heart is quiet (rarely😊) I find the Sacred wherever I am looking. My deepest richest moments are when I am with those individuals with whom my spirit connects.

My precious husband Mike who has truly grown with me on our life’s journey and wrestled with me through difficulties, sorrow, and pain, and rejoiced with me in times of happy fulfillment and peace.

My mother who has both taught me and learned from me, who has freely given me my first life’s example of Sacred love and devotion and mutual respect.

My children who I saw as my greatest gifts to nurture when they were small and now whom I continue to treasure with equal love and respect, and look to for honest reflection and understanding.

My cherished close friends with whom I share laughter and tears as we continue on our path of spiritual life long learning, iron sharpening iron.

My dogs Gracie, Wally, Lucy, and Creed who have been the Christ to me when words can’t express the depths of my heart, and they hear me anyway, and share God’s love, devotion and comfort.

And this place…this beautiful world of the Christ’s handiwork. The Sacred is all around us if we stop look and listen. This is the great mystery of the Spirit, who lives within us.

“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.”Romans 8:11

When we begin to really believe this, we find sacredness wherever we are, for the Spirit gives us the eyes and ears to see and hear what we have missed. The Sacred Place is wherever you are, it is you, it is me. And when we begin to see each other with God’s eyes, beyond the human flaws, we will show the love, honor, respect and reverence we all deserve as the very handiwork of Christ.

“For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.” Matthew 13:15-17

Dualism

Why do we humans think in dualistic terms? Why is our nature to label things good or bad, dark or light, white or black, right or wrong?

I guess it’s because the rules are easier to see in pairs though still impossible to follow. If I accept that Democrats are Demo-rats then I can feel better about myself being a Republican. If I say Republicans are Repug-nacans I feel better as a Democrat. Why does it have to be either/or?

The world has many colors beyond white and black, and the many shades of gray are made from mixtures of white and black. Daylight doesn’t dramatically change to night. There is a setting of the sun with many different and beautiful colors in between.

Many of the extremely judgmental people in this world, the dualists, have actually committed the so called crimes they claim to hate. We humans have a tendency to hate what we are. If I am showing disgust toward another, it indicates there is something about myself I absolutely abhor. Some of the most judgmental, hateful people are actually guilty of what they condemn. If they can deflect their own guilt onto another, they feel absolved. Unfortunately, I have seen this in myself. I now recognize when I feel strongly against another I have unresolved issues within my own psyche. I feel threatened by opposing views and feel like digging in my heels and fighting for what is familiar. Whenever I have this feeling I now see it as a red flag to something I haven’t dealt with in my own life. Something I’m afraid of…and fear is always the opposite of love. Jesus didn’t dig in his heels and fight those who resisted Him. He loved. He forgave. Even on the cross, “Father forgive them…”

During this difficult time of pandemic, I challenge us all to rethink every action, every word. Don’t do or say things just because you identify with a political party or a religious sect. Think before you act or speak. Put kindness and compassion before rhetoric and policies. There is a new virus on the rampage. Hopefully it will dissipate quickly and life will return to normal. Let us respect ourselves and others as we navigate this uncharted territory of reopening our businesses while still taking precautions to protect the vulnerable. Masks can protect…they are not a symbol of a political party. Every single life is important. I respect, heck I LOVE individuality! I’m a four on the enneagram and we fours are ALL ABOUT individualism even to a fault! But, America isn’t just built on individual freedoms. It’s equally constructed on respect and care for all…the whole of our society. It is not either/or, but us. It is not black or white, but us. It is not Democrat or Republican but US.

The next time you feel yourself unconsciously leaning too hard to the left or right, stop. Make a conscious decision to balance in between and see the truth all around you, on all sides. Being uncomfortable is an indication of personal learning and growth. Stay in the uncomfortable place of the gray….of understanding. Love and compassion are not political. There is no either/or, black or white, in a world of beautiful nuances and technicolor.

Choose Love

My heart is heavy.

Not because of the pandemic…or not seeing my students, or not living the way I did from birth until March 15. My sadness comes from the misrepresentation of Christ by so many. There is a movement within the evangelical ranks that is fueled by paranoia, hate, and fear and it has infiltrated through social media to a sickening degree. People searching for those to blame, stories circulating filled with deceit but also with just enough truth to confuse.

As Christ followers we are called to be the salt of the world not the judges of the world. We are not to live in fear but in love. We are not to join in politics but to show truth through our actions. Why then are so many Christians propelling hate and dissension, ready to go down rabbit holes of distrust and paranoia? We are all mentally and emotionally exhausted in the midst of this unprecedented adversity. However, we are still called to love, to hope, to believe, to strive.

I beg all believers, all atheists, all people regardless of faith color culture heritage or class to quit conspiring against others and move towards unity. Dualism is the thinking of us vs. them, you vs me. Dualism keeps us from God as all things and peoples are created and loved by God. When we label things and people as good and evil we go against the very nature of God. We don’t need to label a villain responsible for this pandemic. We need to come together for solutions, we need to uphold those who are giving their lives to heal and care for the sick and the wounded.

Politics are evil. God is not a politician, not a Republican or Democrat, nor is God a Christian, a Jew, a Hindu, a Buddhist, or any other defined religion. God is the God of all creation and God is who was and is and is to come. God loves more and better than any of us, and forgives until any sin is completely forgotten as if it never was. God loves….God is love…. therefore we as Christ followers are called to be love. If we are representing distrust, rage, paranoia, and hate with our lives we are not living as we are called to live.

Let us quit focusing on the chaos of the world and let us love. If I die today because of love, I die in Christ. Love casts out fear and judgement. Love serves and holds the hands of the suffering. Love hopes and heals. Love believes…if I have the mind of Christ, it is my hope that no one, NO ONE, should perish, regardless of their differences from me. If there is desire in my heart for another to suffer and die, I am worse than those I hate.

May each of us search our hearts during this reflective time. What are we filled with? Love or hate, grace or judgement, compassion or fear? May we choose love.

“Love is patient and kind, never jealous, boastful, proud, or rude. Love isn’t selfish or quick tempered. It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs that others do. Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil. Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting. Love never fails.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:4-7‬