Wednesday, August 31, 2011
My “Ask Jamie Jo” question in reverse (since you have no questions for me, then I’ll ask one of you!) is: How do you live with the consequences of hurtful words once spoken but never forgotten by those who took offense?
Particularly, how do you hold your head up and continue in fellowship with loved ones and/or coworkers, who choose to hold a grudge, yet may never let you know what it was you did or said that was so unforgiveable?
The thing about being imperfect is that I can freely forgive those around me, at least for insignificant little offenses. One of my virtues is that I really truly “get” what it means to be loved unconditionally and to be completely and forever forgiven. Thank You, Jesus!
Because of that (and a very forgetful nature in general, which in other contexts is anything but a virtue), I can forgive myself when I blow it. I hate my sin, but I know where to take it for daily/hourly/ continual washing. That’s the greatest blessing in this life as a Christian – being bathed in love and forgiveness.
Being forgiven, I can then forgive myself, and being aware of my constant struggle against this sin nature (and careless tongue), I can easily extend grace to others when they sin against me. Usually.
Ironically the one sin I hate the most is the sin of unforgiveness. I just don’t get it.
How can Christian workers and family members grow old and bitter, daily revising a long and ready list of offenses people have ignorantly committed against them? Maybe they really don’t “get” it – the whole gospel message of forgiveness, redemption, setting the captives free, healing the broken-hearted and all that. In that case, what is the point of their missionary zeal?
What message are we conveying if we don’t demonstrate love and forgiveness?
Help me out here. I want to understand. You see, lately I have been convicted of my role in some broken relationships. When I’ve asked, “Was it something I said?” more often than not, I’ve discovered that yes, in fact, it was. Sometimes the offense was so long ago, I can’t even recreate the scene of my crime to possibly untangle or rectify the damage of my careless words.
All I can say is “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”
Mostly I just carry on, making new friends, hoping and praying that they are the forgiving type, knowing that eventually I will likely offend them in some way, too. I choose to embrace my friends’ humanity along with all their oddities, and to forgive when they fail to love like Christ.
If only I could more easily forgive when they refuse to forgive me….
Tell me honestly now: What do you do in these situations? Become a paranoid people-pleaser, and keep everyone at a pseudo-happy distance, never saying much for fear of causing offense? Or...?
IRL* Tempting though it is, this seems like a lonely road to becoming un-real.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Now the rest of the “family” is returning, and I am exhausted.
After a week in the U.S being spoiled with hospitality and meals by my new ddil’s family and friends, I was inspired to more fully use what I have to bless others.
Last Thursday I hosted a dinner party for a couple who recently returned from furlough. Included were the couple they are staying with while they are house hunting. Before I knew it, the kids insisted we also invite their youth leaders (plus their two babies). The husband’s mom was visiting from the States, so of course, we included her, too.
That’s how it happened that amid my 3-hour naps to conquer the effects of Dengue, we ended up with eleven plus a high chair and an infant around our table. It was great catching up with those three couples, especially since my dishwashers (aka “dc”) were working.
Two days later, my heart went out to two families who had just arrived after a summer in the U.S. and hadn’t possibly had time to drive to the city for groceries; so yes, we had another dinner party on Saturday night. Believe me, this is not typical for me, but a new obsession with hospitality.
Monday was our first day of school. Jonny (his real name, by the way), my ds, left at 7:00 AM for the MK school in the city, and I started our official year of home schooling the two remaining girls at home. All was fine until dh reminded me that Monday was the day the missions pastor from our kids’ church in California was coming with his wife and a local pastor. You guessed it. They stayed for lunch.
Be patient with me; I’m not quite done.
Then finally there is another family heading out to do their translation and linguistic work in a village, so we agreed to keep their son for six weeks since he is attending the same school as ds. Remembering how hard it was to clean and close down an apartment before going back to the village, I, of course, offered to have their family for supper before they leave.
I think I have possibly gone a wee bit overboard. What do you think?
It all goes to show how one family’s willingness to host and feed my family, extending hospitality during the week of their daughter’s wedding, has drawn out the good in me, causing me to strive to be more generous with my own heart and home. Who knows but maybe their kindness will trigger a whole movement of people blessing others even when it’s not the most optimal time?
And maybe, just maybe, moderation is overrated when it comes to hospitality.
IRL* If I can’t have my own twelve family members around my big ol’ table, it’s still fun to fill it with other people we love.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
This past week was an amazing outpouring of love and family fellowship. A year ago I was bawling my eyes out, not knowing when, if ever, my whole family would be together again after my son’s wedding. Who would have imagined that this summer another wedding would be the happy excuse for another reunion?
As my firstborn and his expectant wife drove away from the hotel on Sunday, I pointed out rather proudly that I was not crying. The simple fact is that I can handle good-byes when I know when I am going to see that person again. Just after I explained this (rather boastfully), my other son said, “Yeah, but when are you going to see Mike and Amy again?” True, the bride and groom were leaving for their honeymoon in Mexico before moving to California, with plans to go to the Middle East in the future.
On that note, it was as though the faucet was turned on. I cried for real with that one. To quote a df, I feel like I am on the emotional spin cycle this week.
One thing that really struck me was how relaxed things were at the beginning of the week, and how progressively complicated they became as more family members arrived on the scene. I had to consciously allow myself the freedom to live and talk and risk offending people.
It was crazy how I struggled to not hurt anyone’s feelings. By praising one person’s wedding, maybe the others would feel I didn’t like their ceremonies. By hanging out with my kids, maybe my dmil or dmom or dsis felt neglected. By caring for my dmil, dmom, and dsis, I ran the risk of ignoring my own children who would only be together a few short days. By doing one thing, I was forever making a conscious or subconscious choice to NOT do something else.
In the midst of all of it, I was still fatigued with the lingering effects of dengue fever, and rather wishing I could withdraw from the whole crowd and just relax for a few minutes. With prayer warriors lifting this particular need for my daily strength and energy, I just kept pushing ahead, trying to stay medicated enough with Tylenol so that I could continue to function.
When it was all said and done, I have to say that I have a deeper appreciation for the way God cares for the entire universe all at the same time. By my over-concern for each person’s feelings, you’d have thought the Creator had suddenly stepped down from the throne and delegated to me personally the responsibility of assuring the happiness of each and every loved one. Let me just say that it was a useless and exhausting experiment to try to keep everyone content when there was plenty of joy and fun to go around without my help. It was a wonderful, fabulous, beautiful, joy-filled, magical week. I am so thankful for every minute spent with my family, and getting to know our new extended family.
IRL* Once I gave up trying to make sure everyone was happy, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole event. I even danced at the reception.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Then he formed man in his image; male and female he created them.In the middle God birthed His New Testament church. Then he commissioned them to go into all the world; anointed with his Spirit he sent them.Near the end, God hastened his task. Then he formed a cookie-cutter shaped missionary; identical he produced them, for the harvest was great and the workers were few.And they rarely lived happily ever after.The end.
Written by Lax N. Site for the “Myths, Lies, and Twisted Truths” anthology.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
With the anticipation of many joy-filled reunions coming up, I’ve been on the Lingo phone and Skype a lot more than usual. Suddenly we can’t wait to see each other, so we are chatting almost daily. After the wedding, I’m sure the visiting will continue at a higher pace than usual, until it gradually tapers off to our norm, which is a couple of weeks between communication. Eventually real life consumes us all.
It’s like going to see the dentist. Before a check-up, I tend to pay a lot of attention to my teeth, trying to get them cleaned up before getting them cleaned. (How dumb is that?) Then after they are professionally cleaned, I am super diligent to brush and floss for the first few months, but when it’s time for my next appointment, I find myself digging out the floss again.
It’s inexcusable how neglectful I get the more time that passes between visits, whether with friends, family, or dentists. I might even argue the same applies to household help. We dash around tidying up the house if a maid is coming to clean, and then we work hard to try to preserve the clean house once she leaves. That never lasts long, though, unless we are expecting company. Clutter eventually reigns (or rains?).
Unfortunately, the same principle also applies to my times with God. The more I hang out with Him, the more I want to. Then if I am not super careful, I can easily fall back into bad habits of rushing through “mandatory” conversations with Him each day, allowing clutter to take over my daily agenda.
This summer I took the 90-day challenge with one of my readers I am blessed to know IRL. (Thanks, Inky’Spot!) We’ve been reading through the whole Bible since June. It takes me over an hour most days, and even longer if I journal, pray, and think over what I have read. It’s been a fabulous experience. The more time I spend with Jesus, the more time I want to spend with Him, just like with my family and friends.
Today is day 57, and I up to Jeremiah. I have no idea how I will carve out time for this luxury once I fly up to be with my family next week, but for now I am hooked.
IRL*Keeping up with adult children, cleaning house, flossing teeth, diet, exercise, daily Bible reading, and warfare prayer…. Discipline is such a virtue worth pursuing and maintaining.