Poverty- Timber

It was black. No color, no light, simply blackness. It took me a few moments to figure out and process what had just happened. This was due partly from the concussion and partly from the oddity of the event that took place…… wait, what did just take place?

I was cutting wood with my brother and dad in my parent’s woods. I was flipping over a small dead tree so that it could be easily cut into smaller, more manageable chunks, and so that it would be easier to fit all the wood in the wagon we were using. As I flipped the tree vertically, the top of the tree broke off about 20 feet up, and came plummeting back towards the leaf covered ground…all 10 or so pounds of it. With my eyes looking down at the ground and not paying attention, the chunk struck my right temple, and I instantly hit the ground.

My dad seeing what happened, threw the chainsaw down and ran over asking if I was ok. But like I said, all I saw was….nothing. My glasses had flung off when I was hit, and so all I could see was brown and yellow blurs from the leaves…out of my left eye. But out my right was black- the empty, hollow darkness of nothing. Over the course of a few months, my vision would regain, mostly. I am still slightly color blind in that eye and have blind spots, but they are minimal.

From my experience, we in the West tend to look at the world only from the perspective we were born and raised with. This is not the truth for everyone, but more often than not this is how we view the world. We get comfortable in our worldview. And like a really good sofa, when we get comfortable in it, it’s hard to get out of it. social-icons-01

I mentioned a few posts ago that I believe all of us are truly impoverished. Maybe not financially, but I do believe we can be impoverished in our understanding of God. In the last post I mentioned that in the parable of the Widow’s Mite in Mark 12, that maybe the story revolves more around the scribes and pharisees than it does the widow herself. They created systems that oppressed those below them to the point where, financially, those lower classes were in poverty. But I’m not sure they actually saw it. Blinded by their own greed and lack of generosity, they couldn’t see the system they had created. And I wonder how much we are like that today.

We have massive amounts of information. Far more information than they did in biblical times. CNN, FoxNews, BBC, Google news feeds, newspapers, journals, magazines and more, are constantly presenting information for us to digest. We have so much information, yet in terms of understanding, it seems that we can’t see the poverty that we are in. We are blinded by the log in our own eyes, only focused on the specks that everyone else may have. We cannot see that we don’t understand what the pain of a war across the ocean, or the stink of the squatter town in the dumps, the fear of the minority or oppression of the label of terrorist. We are in poverty in regards to ignorance.

Either we want to remain ignorant of these different perspectives, or we simply are so stuck in our own ways we can’t see…I’m not sure. But, from my experience, we have a hard time understanding that the way an Asian (and even that is a broadly different term depending on where you are in Asia) looks at God or culture or politics or love, is different than white Americans. Or how an African (and again, that varies differently on what cultural microcosm, religious beliefs, gender and country you are talking with) views community development programs. Or how a European (lots of different ethnicities, in Europe as well) views nationalistic pride.

We will  never be able to fully understand in complete entirety of everyone’s perspective in this unraveling world, just like we will never fully understand the depth, width and height of God’s love for us. But…..we need to try as hard as we can to understand better day by day. Not gain more knowledge…no. That’s what the Enemy would like. No, I mean gain in understanding…in empathy…in love.

be blessed today

Photo Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

Do You Know How to Love Fiercely?

To love is to lose it all. To love is to willingly accept pain.

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.    -C.S. Lewis

Our only daughter finished up her kindergarten career this past Tuesday. The school she attended was entirely in Mongolian, made up of mostly Mongolian kids, a few Korean children and her. There was only one other classmate that spoke English and that’s because her parents spent considerable time in the States studying. She had her final concert performance the week before and did simply awesome. But now it was Tuesday, her final day. Because it wasn’t a state run kindergarten, most of the kids will move on to other schools. But not hers. No one from her kindergarten will be attending her new school in the Fall.

As we walked out the door of her school, the contents of her locker and all remaining art work of hers in tow, the sobs from this little six yer old began to take over. We hopped into the car, she got buckled, and we began to drive out of the parking lot onto the main road. Her sobs became louder, her tears bigger as grief began to set in. Mourning this time in her life and all the friends she will miss and probably never see again, was where she was. She was fully engaged in it. She was fully embracing her losses. As Iris puts it, our little girl loves fierce. But with such fierce love comes a just as fierce pain of loss. She is six and thankfully she hasn’t learned defense mechanisms that hold her back from embracing such grief. At least I think she hasn’t learned them. Perhaps she has chosen to embrace the grief  instead of putting up walls, putting p her defenses or  running. Perhaps that is the case which makes her far more mature than I.

Oh to have her courage.

When we decide to love someone, we decide to lose. Lose what things we want for selfish gain and pride, to simply love someone other than our self. We decide to let down all barriers and accept that pain will now be a part of our lives. We can only love to the extent that we are willing to lose. We can only love to the extent that we are willing to accept pain. In order to love someone, I mean truly love them, we must be willing to lay it all out, bare it all, give the scalpel to the other person trusting that they will return the same openness, honesty and raw courageous love that we are giving them.

This means that we are accepting pain. We are accepting that no one is perfect and we will be hurt by them, just as they will be hurt by us. And it means that we are willing to walk through the path of pain to the joy of reconciliation and peace on the other side.

With this kind of love and pain comes a joy deeper than anything else. Jesus did this. He really did bare it all because He loved us. When He was on His knees pleading with the Father to not let what was about to happen, happen, we are not told if the disciples heard his ongoing prayer and plea. But, we are told of this. How intimate of God to reveal this to us.

To experience more of the fullness of God, His joy, His love, we must love Him like this. The more courageous we love Him, the more we understand the depth of His love. We are not meant to live in this world alone. God has called us to Himself and to those around us. In order to experience and understand more of God’s love, we must also love others just as fierce.

That cost is heavy as it comes with the price of pain. And the reward is something far greater than what we’ll suffer. This life is far more painful to live alone, never having that kind of openness, vulnerability and humility with others. The pathway to peace, they say, is hardship. My hope is that we, myself included, may we all live and love so courageously. Living how Christ lived to those around us. Living to the depth that He created us for.

Do you love like this? I know that when I begin to tell people I’m fine (which is an acronym most church folk may not like….I can tell you later) or OK, and brush it off like no big deal, I am not loving ferociously. In fact, we have banned that word from our house. I’m not being honest with them, and perhaps not honest with myself. When I begin to “not show up” with all of who I am, I am not allowing the other person to see me. I’m guarded, I’m defensive. These are walls I’m putting up. I am not saying bare everything to everyone around you. Some people are simply not in a place where they can handle that information well, nor treat you well. I am saying set up healthy boundaries where you are still showing up, being honest and vulnerable with others and using wisdom to determine how much is appropriate to share. But to not show up at all is based in the fear that we don’t want to get hurt. That is fear based, and our God is not a God of fear.

It takes being brave to love that courageously. Brene Brown says “It often takes just a single brave person to change the trajectory of a family, or of any system, for that matter.” Love is how we change the world.

Be Brave. Be Courageous. Love Fierce.

be blessed

 

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/k2i4n6g8/6471148825/in/photostream/