Peace & Perspective

Living in Peace by having the right perspective. Peace – ˈpēs Noun: Freedom from strife; a state of tranquillity or serenity. Perspective – per·spec·tive – pərˈspektiv – Noun: A particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.


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The Culture of Offense

I admit it. I am easily offended. I am that girl. Am I proud of this? No. I wish I weren’t this way. I wish I didn’t take snide remarks, rude behavior, and people with no filter to heart. Truth is, I do. And, I know exactly why. It’s a combination of harsh environments, abrasive people, and incomprehensible ridiculous injustices I have experienced peppered throughout my life. And, quite honestly, people are offensive.

As I wrote in my blog, “The Culture of Me”  we are living in a time when everyone’s first and foremost concern is themselves. It’s easy to get offended simply by going out in public and interacting with people. Offense is easily triggered when kindness allows the car in front of you to effortlessly enter traffic – with no wave or thanks in return. Grace holds the door open and allows someone else to walk through first – with absolutely no acknowledgment. Self-control says nothing as distracted shoppers bump into you – while they turn back and give you a dirty look.

What happened to us as a society? I can never remember living in a time such as this. It’s not just public interactions either. It’s family, friends, and acquaintances as well. Blatant rudeness, disrespecting personal boundaries, zero filters, sarcastic or demeaning comments, and my favorite, initiating and provoking conflict. Yet, all become bewildered – and offended when the offensive behaviors are held accountable.

It won’t stop until one person steps up to be the bigger person. Either the offended person lets it go without incident or the one who has done the offending takes accountability for the offense. Rarely do we have a situation where both parties do their part in keeping the peace. Typically, it’s the offender who expects others to not be offended by their offensive behavior.

As a follower of Christ, I know we must show the love of Jesus to everyone including people who offend us. Most people who offend us don’t even know they’re offensive. They lack the social cues and missed the opportunity to learn and gain what is necessary to be a giving and selfless individual. For those who have a desire to grow, this can be remedied by discipline and a teachable spirit. However, some see no need to change as their self-centeredness is all they know and care about.

At times, I wonder if showing the love of Christ will make a difference in the lives of others. Will they even recognize my effort to overlook their offense or simply see it as permission to continue the offensive behavior because I did not oppose. I know that the hope is they will learn from it and show the same grace to others as well as recognize their own offensive behavior, however, it is not the reason why I should show the love of Christ. Showing the love of Christ to the unlovable does a work in me because it suppresses my fleshly desire to react naturally. This cannot be done without humility. It disciplines me on how to react on a supernatural level depending solely on the help of the Holy Spirit.

So, how do we navigate past another’s lack of self-awareness and insensitive offenses? By understanding that we are all dealing with some type of past hurt in our lives and a great majority of us are living with unhealed wounds. These internal wounds of offense that we all carry are sure to surface outwardly by our demonstration of offensive behavior or by our reaction to offensive behavior. Basically, we’re all a ticking time bomb of emotions ready to explode.

That’s where grace comes in as we discipline ourselves to stop our natural reaction and instead pause and do something unnatural – show love in return. Love can be as simple as practicing patience or it could be bold by overlooking the offense entirely. It sounds impossible. It even feels impossible. But with Christ, all things are possible. Matthew 19:26

Let’s start being better humans to one another. Next time someone is kind to you on the highway or holds the door open for you, stop and give them a wave, a thank you and a smile. It will make their day and I guarantee you’ll feel good about it too! Then next time, you be the one to go out of your way for someone with a selfless act of kindness and begin to plant seeds in them of what selflessness truly looks like.

Proverbs 19:11

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.


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Garbage in, Garbage out

Many moons ago (that’s a very long time ago for anyone who might be a Millennial, Gen X or Gen Z) when I was employed at a law firm, brand new computers were being introduced to the staff. In order to use our new computer system, we had to have weeks of very thorough training and were tested throughout to confirm that we mastered not only the new terminology but all the new equipment and computer programs. We were not able to begin using the new computers unless we had a proven comprehensive understanding of our new system. That’s a law firm for you – and quite honestly, the way things should be done if you want efficiency in your employees and in your workplace. Invest in them and they will invest in you! Our firm was well known for its high standards, quality employees, and top-notch performance.

We had the privilege of being taught all we needed to know about the new system by one of the best in the computer industry. We began our training by learning the basics of DOS. Yep – that is how long ago this was (mid 80’s).

Our trainer or as he was known, a computer wizard, began day one of training by explaining how we should view the computer. He heavily impressed on us that the computer will only be as good as the information you put into it. In other words, the computer will be an invaluable asset if the one who programs it programs it with accurate information. However, the computer will be worthless and highly inefficient if the programmer inputs inaccurate data. Hence the term, “Garbage in, Garbage out.”

I absolutely loved this analogy as it was a concept I could immediately grasp. Thankfully, we never had to do much with DOS and went on to learn the programs we would be utilizing daily such as Word Perfect, Lotus, etc. (I’m really dating myself now!) and left the technical computer programming to our highly educated and skilled trainer.

The concept of “garbage in, garbage out” had a profound impact on me and it has stayed with me all these years but with a much deeper meaning. I often found myself reflecting on it through various circumstances and felt that it is a concept that can and should be applied to anything in our lives. If we applied this basic philosophy to every aspect of our lives, we would be so very careful about what we expose our mind, body, eyes, and ears to because everything we allow to enter our bodies will either have a positive or negative outcome in our lives.

 


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The Culture of Me

Selflessness. Self-sacrificing. Preferring others. Those are all foreign terms in today’s culture of “me”. Are you personally familiar with them?

We are in the throes of an ugly epidemic of a self-absorbed humanity. Unfortunately, it is only going to get worse as the Bible does indeed predict it in 2 Timothy 3:2-5.

2 Timothy 3:2-5

2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

It’s visible on the roadways with erratic, careless, and distracted driving and the soaring amount of road rage incidents. It’s commonplace now to inconsiderately cut people off in traffic, ride their bumpers and push them off the road in order to be first or faster. Driving defensively has never been more necessary than today. It’s no longer just being a careful driver obeying the traffic signs, speed limits, and laws of the road, but being alert to who’s going to cut me off, flip me off, or tell me off on the highway!

In public, at home, in the workplace and in relationships, people have an immense sense of entitlement, are too offended, and don’t forgive easily or at all. Our culture is dominated by people refusing to compromise, be adaptable, be flexible, or prefer someone above themselves. It’s why marriages, families, friendships, and relationships are all falling apart.

There is no end in sight to the culture of me, only further perpetuation of it. A personal, internal philosophy of “Me first!” or even worse, “You don’t matter!” is indicative of too much pride and not enough humility in one’s life. Perhaps it’s a lifetime of zero consequences and no accountability. Maybe it’s that everything was handed to them with little to no effort so that is what they now expect from others (btw, thanks parents for poorly raising your entitled children for everyone else to have to deal with now!). It can also be due to resentment, bitterness, and an arrogant victim mentality of “Everyone owes me!”

Social media isn’t helping either as it dangerously contributes to the culture of me. We’re too busy filming brawls in Walmart for viral video status instead of responding with shock and disapproval with the encouragement to strive for better. Posting daily selfies, lengthy video stories, and going live in all we do is now the norm in order to show hundreds, thousands, and even millions of followers how fantastic we are. Our insatiable need to prove our worth and exploit ourselves for the admiration of others is doing nothing but fulfilling our superficial selfish needs.

How about the brave keyboard warriors? They spew hateful, demeaning comments with absolutely no filter. They post with such boldness as they cower behind the anonymity of a social media account. Their intentions are self-satisfying as their impulsive and unkind rhetoric has only one mission: to tear people down not once thinking how their cruel words might ultimately affect others because they just fulfilled their immediate need of self-gratification. Mission accomplished!

Note that in all these examples, not once is anything done for someone else. They’re all for the purpose of satisfying self. If people would spend half their time doing some self-reflection and seeking a deeper life, they would live a more rewarding life that doesn’t need to be played out on social media because when you live a rewarding life, you don’t need the affirmation from countless strangers to tell you are worthy of anything. It comes from within and that feeling satisfies you.

Individuals who are cognizant to the feelings, needs and well-being of others are a rare breed anymore. We are all born selfish so our lives must be a constant work in progress to improve and extinguish that innate nature within ourselves. We must recognize it and seek to change it.

Unless you are exposed to and taught a selfless life, most likely you will not produce a selfless life. I believe we begin to change when at some point in our lives, someone has or will cross our path and demonstrate what selflessness looks like and we understand how it makes us feel as a recipient. It is then we must pay attention. That feeling of gratitude we get when selflessness is directed toward us must be etched in our brains and fondly remembered so that the next time we have the opportunity, we can be the initiator of that feeling of gratitude in someone else by selflessly choosing to put them first.

Make today the day you choose to put others before yourself impressing them so profoundly with your selflessness that they cannot wait for their opportunity to impress it onto others.

Romans 12:10  

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

 


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His Mercies are New Every Morning

Happy New Year!

So, just curious. Which route have you decided to take to become a better you in 2019? Let me guess. Celery juicing? Low carb diets? Eliminating sugar? Purging clutter of unused and unwanted items in your house?

I must confess. I’m guilty of them all as I begin this brand new year.

It is beneficial and wise to want to improve ourselves. All of the above things are necessary for our physical and mental well-being as well as the environment around us. But, why does the excitement of ringing in a new year have such power to motivate us to make a change?  Why can’t this seasonal euphoric feeling be felt throughout the year? And sadly, why does all this hyped-up, end-of-the-year worldly pressure to improve ourselves slip by the wayside in about one month and we return to our habitual patterns of laziness, complacency, and mediocrity?

I’m exclaiming, “Not this year!”

As I reflect on my post, “An Alternative To New Year’s Resolutions,” I reiterate my philosophy that we should not need a celebratory yearly holiday to motivate us to improve ourselves. Yes, it is a cleansing feeling to leave behind the old year, especially if it wasn’t a great one. However, this is a good reminder that, should God bless us with the amazing opportunity to wake up another day, we get to intentionally decide on a daily basis how we want to live our lives and the choices we will make.

Our Lord says, “My mercies are new every morning.” Lamentations 3:22-23

What an encouragement! If the God who created the Universe and everything in it is this immensely gracious to his children each new morning, then I must meditate on this and allow myself to forget the flaws of yesterday and know that each new day is a fresh start. We don’t need a new year to change course, we just need a new day!

I really love this mentality and approach to life. It alleviates the pressure of being perfect and condemning yourself and allows the lessons of yesterday to wisely and deliberately fuel today’s choices and direction.

It’s never too late to right the wrongs of yesterday. Eat healthier, exercise, declutter, forgive, apologize, be kind, humble and selfless, be goal-oriented, and begin that project now!

Along with your personal goals for the New Year, I encourage you to add one more. Join with me in continuing to grow in a relationship with our Creator. Learn to submit to Him, be obedient to Him, and acknowledge Him in all your ways, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:6


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Christ Followers – Stop with the Karma!

I always cringe when I see Christians posting on Karma. Karma has nothing to do with God. Karma is a theological concept found in the Buddhist and Hindu religions. That fact alone should make Christians run but why do I see so many Christians wishing “Karma” on others or seeking any form of revenge?

First, as Christians, Karma is the last thing we should want on those who have betrayed or hurt us. Sure, our flesh may want revenge and for them to feel the same pain they caused us, but as Christians, we are to die to our flesh and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us with humility. Once you do that, your flesh takes a back seat and the Holy Spirit takes over and you begin to recognize the root cause of the lost soul who hurt you and how desperately they are in need of healing and prayer.

The Holy Spirit within us prompts our hearts to want the best for others – despite… Despite the pain they’ve caused, despite the betrayal, despite the unfairness. This is a great test to see where our level of spiritual maturity is. Wishing revenge or karma on someone who’s hurt you is a telltale sign of the level of your spiritual maturity.

  • Those with no spiritual maturity will wish karma and seek revenge upon those who have hurt them and will be at peace with that decision.
  • Those who are infants in spiritual maturity will wish karma and revenge on others but will feel that Holy Spirit nudge and know it’s not right to wish revenge on anyone and do their best to withdraw from these feelings.
  • Those who are growing in their spiritual maturity will reluctantly but obediently pray for the best outcome for those who have hurt or betrayed them. It’s difficult for them but they still do it and in doing it, they continue to grow spiritually and God rewards them for their obedience in giving them peace in the matter.
  • And lastly, those who are fully spiritual mature will have an automatic instinct to pray for someone that has wronged them and their heart will hurt for them because they have the discernment to know how badly they are in need of saving and inner healing that can only come from prayer and intercession. There is no wish to do them harm and all they desire is to see them healed and whole again. Because someone who is healed and whole cannot and does not hurt others.

Scripture is very clear that if we are walking the path of righteousness – not our righteousness but His, God will always vindicate us. I find comfort knowing that He knows my heart and my intentions always and I don’t have to explain anything to Him because He already knows and I can rest in that.

Patiently waiting for God to vindicate us means we must trust in His timing and that is very difficult. It means He alone will bring truth to light and expose darkness without any effort from us.

We must remain obedient and silent, not seeking to vindicate ourselves while we wait. We must understand and recognize that through the waiting, He is doing a work in everyone involved, including us and by being obedient, He will vindicate those who are walking in His righteousness and He alone will deal with those who are not. This brings me peace.

Once you have reached this peaceful realization that the bad behavior of others has nothing to do with you (assuming you’ve done some self-reflection and have owned your part of any conflict), give it to God and just wait. Soon peace will come, not by wishing punishment on whoever hurt you, but because you know a greater power is in charge of the situation and you can finally let go of all the exhausting effort in vindicating yourself. By waiting, trusting, and handing it over to God, you’ll not only receive righteous vindication, but it will be the purest form of justice you will ever receive without one bit of effort from you.

Take it from me because this is where I am now, receiving Godly favor in all areas of my life. Be sure to recognize what vindication may look like…sometimes it’s not as obvious as you have envisioned it. Vindication may be good health, good fortune, wonderful children, a blessed marriage, peaceful and joyful living, restoration of your reputation, or the emergence of new, Godly friends. Just be sure to recognize the blessings in your life…they are God’s favor for your obedience.

Psalm 17:2
Let my vindication come from you; may your eyes see what is right.

Romans 12:19
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

I’d love to hear your thoughts! If this blog has helped in any way, please share with others.


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Drop The Rope!

Did you know you have a choice of how to respond in a conflict contrary to your instinctive reactions to participating in it and making it worse?

Seems like a silly question, but I think that many of us feel that when conflict arises we must initially fight back at the same level, contribute to the nastiness, and participate in the escalation in order for our viewpoint to be heard. How refreshing to know that we don’t have to do this.

Before I even heard the term, “drop the rope,” at times, I was already doing it without being aware of the concept.

However, at times I didn’t drop the rope. I felt compelled to continue on with battles filled with utter nonsense. Battles which should have never been battles to begin with and I fought them until the point of mental exhaustion.

In healthy relationships, dropping the rope is easy as neither side desires for a conflict or disagreement to escalate to the point that it threatens a friendship or relationship. Each side attempts to practice innate self-control and would never overstep boundaries to intentionally hurt the other person. They understand that whatever is being discussed is certainly not worth jeopardizing a friendship or relationship. Disagreements end when both sides respectfully agree to disagree and the moment is over.

In healthy relationships, both sides are subconsciously “dropping the rope” because it’s a natural instinct in good, decent people who do not want to fight and understand people are allowed to have a different viewpoint.

Is important that you quickly recognize when you are in a situation that is unresolvable. Not because you are unwilling to resolve issues, but the other party is unwilling.

So, what exactly is dropping the rope? It’s a beautiful mental tool to utilize when conflicts arise and how to keep yourself peaceful. Think of the old-school game of “tug of war.” If one team should “drop the rope” in the middle of the game, what happens? The game is over. In the case of tug of war, the team that dropped the rope loses. However, the exact opposite is the case when you drop the rope in any conflict. The person who drops the rope wins!

The concept of “dropping the rope” simply means you refuse to continue to engage in an argument that is bouncing back and forth with no end in sight. You assess the situation and determine that is not resolving and getting too heated. Rather than escalating the conflict further by continuing to contribute to it, you calmly and respectfully diffuse the situation by changing the subject or ending the argument altogether. You do your part to achieve peace for both you and the other party.  In healthy relationships, everyone wins and there are no demands. You walk away with the same level of relationship as when you entered into the discussion.

Notice I said your goal is to achieve peace for both you and the other party. It’s not meant to be a demonstration of your dominance over the disagreement. When done correctly and lovingly, it is good for both parties.

So yes! You are winning because by dropping the rope, you have just achieved peace for you regardless of whether or not the other party does their part in dropping the rope! You have sent a clear message that you wish to no longer engage in a conversation going nowhere and your relationship and your peace are more important than proving a point.

Understand that it’s okay that if you dropping the rope and walking away for your peace makes them think they won. Make it a goal to get to the point where winning means you are secure in your convictions, you no longer need to provide extensive explanations for your beliefs and peace is your ultimate goal.

Dropping the rope is not complying or submitting, it’s recognizing you’re in a no-win situation and your peace is more important.

So my friends, when you are involved in your next conflict, whether it is disagreeing on political opinions or a difference of opinion on any hot topic, do yourself a huge favor and drop the rope! The best way for you to win is to not play.