Thursday, July 26, 2012

Love is Losing ... To Win

 I don't like losing.  Never have.  Ever.  Elementary school playground games and races.  Grades.  Track and Field.  Monopoly.  Volleyball.  Capture the Flag.  I am very very very competitive.  I remember during my senior year in my high school track and field career, winning every hurdle race in my district......until the district championship race where I lost to my best friend by .02 of a second.  Does anyone actually like losing? Is there anyone honestly out there who is like, "yeah, I love losing! It's one of my hobbies." I would love to meet you!  You know what the hardest aspect of losing is? Love. Forgiveness.  Compromise.  I am still struggling with this concept even as I write it so bear with me.

I think the act of losing in regards to love and forgiveness is inconceivably selfless.  Jesus tells us to forgive 70*7 times or in essence, just continually forgive! Oh so often, I continue to think that if a person continually wrongs me, or doesn't learn, after about 10 times (or like 3 depending on the situation) . . . . (ok more like 1) ... then I should not have to forgive them.  Whats the point if their not going to learn?  When selflessness and selfishness end up in the same bowl, they separate like oil and water.  I know I've had instances in my life where this has occurred - Where you continually forgive and apologize and rectify situations with someone who doesn't care.  It's hard.  I really have nothing else to say about that.  I'm sure we've all been there.  It's in those instances where we feel used, neglected, one sided, even trampled, that we want to take up our pride and our anger and fight back.  That happened to me today.  Dealing with scenarios like that, it feels like losing.  over.  and over.  and over.  How many times do I have to continue to forgive that person? How many times do I have to keep losing?

And then Jesus answers and says keep going.
"Because I'm still forgiving you. and you haven't caught me yet."
"I momentarily lost everything for all of you.  But I want you to know, that losing brings victory! I know you can't see that right now, but keep going!"

That's basically the convo I had with God earlier today during my prayer.

There won't always be compromise.  Some times people, (usually we most often notice it in others, but we all have it in ourselves) will continually wrong you and not give anything back.  They will only want to serve themselves and not bring anything even remotely resembling humility to the table.  That's when losing is the hardest.  Nothing about that feels like winning.  I have had one relationship in my life that comes to mind where criticisms would be brought up.  They would criticize me and initially I internally wouldn't like it, but eventually I would take it and think about it and grow.  There would never be a conflict or quarrel.  But the minute I would ever criticize them, a scenario would explode that caused the two parties to get upset and escalate the situation.  And it wouldn't be until I got back to losing did anything ever resolve.  I could never expect them to lose.  Believe me, I tried.  It's hard to continually lose that one-sided conflict every time.  But I also know that God took my one-sided relationship with Him and loved me anyway! no matter what! He knew the secret to winning.  Love and forgiveness.  He conquered it all and gave us all victory even though we didn't deserve it.

I know I have been that selfish person a lot in my life that continually just wants to win those small battles and doesn't secede.  Let's be honest, that's the side that we most often find ourselves on and the side we often want to be on.  And even when friends say "sayonara" and give up losing, God never does.  So no matter what side of the spectrum you are on, you can glean from what Jesus did for you! This short video Journal by Tenth Avenue North speaks right to this post...

Here is how most of that song that he is journaling about goes.  I couldn't write it out any better so I will leave you with these lyrics.  - -

"I can't believe what she said
I can't believe what he did
Oh, don't they know that it's wrong
Well maybe there's something I missed
But how could they treat me like this
It's wearing out my heart,
The way they disregard.
Well it's only the dead that can live
But I still wrestle with this
To lose the pain that's mine
seventy times seven times
Cause Lord it doesnt feel right
For me to turn a blind eye
Though I guess it's not that much
When I think of what You've done.
This is love or this is hate
We all have a choice to make. 

Why do we think that our hate's gonna break a hard heart?
We're rippin' arms over wars that don't need to be fought
Cause pride won't let us lay our weapons on the ground.......
.....Well truth be told it doesn't matter if they're sorry or not
cause freedom comes when we surrender to the sound of Your mercy and grace...

Oh Father give me the grace to forgive them cause I feel like the one losing. "

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Love is Patient (and will overcome)

In 1 Corinthians 13, this section in verse 4 has a lot of different wordings.  Love is patient.  Love suffers long. Love endures long.  Love never gives up.  I have been dealing with this concept a lot in my life lately - in conversations, in actions with people, in friendships.  So often in life we are in a rush.  I'm pretty sure I ate my lunch yesterday in grand total of 8 minutes because I had to rush to get back to work.  We are always on the move from one calendar appointment to the next, from one place to another.  It's hard to sit still in one place for a long period of time in complete serenity and peace with everything we seemingly have to get done.  There's always something right in front of us that keeps us moving.  And believe it or not, this concept has seeped into more than our schedule.  I mean look at our cultural relationship phenomena.  Society just wants to continue moving.  40-50% of first marriages end in divorce and it only gets worse from there - And that doesn't even count the ones that live together but don't get married.  So many people seem to not be committed enough to be patient and endure, instead just ending up moving from one relationship to the next, one friendship to the next.  When times get rough, give up.  When feelings fade, leave.  The more impatient we get, the more stupid and devastating decisions we make.  

I think there is a reason Paul started his list with patience and enduring and never giving up.  This is the foundational base to every relationship.  What kind of friendship is going to last if one just leaves when there's a fight?  or what relationship is ever going to last if you don't know that both parties can endure patiently through every life trial?  It's like Paul is saying, if you can be patient and endure, then as the last part of the list says, your love will never fail.  

Patience is a hard thing in a relationship.  Especially starting out.  But I am realizing more and more that the more patience you exercise at the beginning, the more you realize you can endure over time, and the more you are likely to never give up.  This is the essence of agape, that no matter what insane situations happen, no matter what someone does, no matter what lemons life hands you, that you still love through it all, just as God endured the hardest trial of all and loved us the entire time.  

Maybe you're like me and you've struggled with patience in the past and you've seen those consequences.  You might even think there is no hope of changing the mistakes you've always made, and you constantly live in fear that you will continue to make those mistakes again and again.  But I have a secret for you.  We don't have to live in that fear.  We have overcome by the word of our testimony for our Savior is worthy of honor and glory and all of our praise and He has overcome ALL.  He can change you, he can give you the strength and power to conquer any struggle you have.  He loves you and overcame for you, so that you might be able to overcome and love him, and spread that love to a world whose love is a complete mess.  Our goal is to love the world, not have the world love us.  John 15:19 says "If you were of the world, the world would love it's own.  Yet because you are not of the world, but i chose you out of the world, the world hates you."  Are we being a thermostat to those around us, loving others, constantly controlling the temperature of the room, or is our relationship with God more of a thermometer where the world controls our temperature and has the ability to rule how intimate of a relationship with God we have?  That is a dangerous spot! 

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble, But take heart! For I have overcome the world." John 16:33

It's time patience and endurance were added back into the way we love. Let us overcome!