Share the Love

Two quotes from what I read in The Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell this morning.

“The good news, which the World Redeemer brings and which so many have been glad to hear, zealous to preach, but reluctant, apparently, to demonstrate, is that God is love, that He can be, and is to be, loved, and that all without exception are His children.”

And “The World Savior’s cross, in spite of the behavior of its professed priests, is a vastly more democratic symbol than the local flag.”

Why are we so reluctant to demonstrate this truth? I honestly believe it’s because it is so difficult to give up our human ego. It’s tangible and makes us feel safe. I’m reminded of a man I met while visiting a church this past weekend. I was representing the pro-life pregnancy clinic in our town. He said, “I just try not to think of this stuff (meaning abortions being done). It makes me too angry and I just want to kill them.” I was shocked into silence and then said, “It makes me sad too.” That’s all I could say. Sitting here, twenty-four hours later, I know what I would want to say if I heard those words again. “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” “They have been deceived and our only call is to show them the love of Christ so that they know the truth of ‘Thou shalt not kill.’”

Why are we (Christians) so quick to condemn others? It breaks my heart. And then I read this one,

“If the God is a tribal, racial, national, or sectarian archetype, we are the warriors of his cause; but if he is a lord of the universe itself, we then go forth as knowers to whom all men are brothers.”

That’s where we go wrong as Christians. We read the bible, call Him OUR God, and take up His cause ourselves. We are not judges of this world. I am not His warrior, I am His child just like you, whether you know it or not. I have sinned no less than anyone else born in this world, in God’s eyes. I see the gift of salvation and I know I am not worthy of it. It is given in love and I accept it.

Everyone sins every day in a multitude of ways. Love your fellow men. They are children of God and do not realize it. I want to be an example of God’s love in every act, every word, every thought.

“I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13

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Be Excellent

“To learn from the best, you don’t need to meet them, you just need to absorb them. This can be through books, audio, or single powerful quote.”

“If you want to have more, do more, and be more, it all begins with the voice that no one else hears.”

These are two quotes from the very last chapter of Tim Ferriss’ “Tribe of Mentors” that just floored me. I devoured this book and I’ll be reading it again over the years for sure. I’ve added tons of books and blogs to my reading list and underlined some profound thoughts. As I flipped through the pages I’d read, I wondered what I should do with all that info. I get grand ideas about writing them all out and categorizing them according to a theme and then condensing them into life focusing ideas, but we all know I’m not going to do that. What I will do is put the shelf on the book (“Wait. Strike that. Reverse it.” My Dad found my typo but it’s just too perfect a place for that quote!) and set a reminder to start reading it through again next year or pick it up and read one interview a day. That’s more my style. And that’s why that first quote above really resonated with me. I absorb authors. I don’t memorize what they wrote, I gather the bits and pieces I feel strongly about at the time. Sometimes, like today, I write about why it grabbed my attention. In a year, I may not remember that I wrote this and when I read that part again I will see the underlined sentence and think, “Wow. I must have really liked that. I wonder why? I mean, it seems so obvious that everyone should think this way. It’s like underlining, ‘the sky was blue’ in a book.” I used to worry about my memory and my sanity, but I get it now. I’ve absorbed the information and have been using it as my own. I’ve never been much of a memorizer.

The second quote is even more glorious to me because of my blog description. “Finding my voice, whether or not anyone is listening.” I’m listening. When I write, I’m thinking out loud, following a mental rabbit trail, and seeing where it goes. If you’re reading this, I hope you are finding the journey inspiring to you, or at least interesting! I want to do more and be more, or at least a little better than I am right now. So, I read, I listen, I experience, and then I write. Talking would be my first choice, but I’ve yet to find anyone around that has that kind of time every day and there are dishes to be washed and dinners to make! So, I write out my thinking.

I’m also reminded that the “voice that no one else hears” is just between me and God. When I’m running down my dream, I’m not to be concerned that no one is following me. It doesn’t matter if other people think that I’m a bit nuts. No one else can hear that voice that I’m tuned to. And you shouldn’t worry either. Find that voice that only speaks to you and tune into it. It’s the only way to get your mission. When I read a book, listen to a podcast, or watch a movie, I get my own message from it. It fits into my puzzle in its own special way. That same input fits into yours in your own way. We can marvel at the differences or the similarities.

Where will all this go? I’ve lately begun to feel the need to focus, to hone in on what my point is. I wrote that down on a piece of paper yesterday. “What is my passion? What is my focus?” What is the one (or two) things I would love to pass on through my writing?

I just don’t know. That learning who you are and becoming a better person is a lifelong process? That you’re only done learning when you are dead? That children, left out of the school system, can live the same learning lifestyle? That you don’t need to be mean and hard to raise wonderful people? That loving relationships are vital to survival of our kind? That you, right where you are, with what you have, are enough? If something hurts, see if you can figure out what is hurting and if you can stop doing that? That “you’re good enough, smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like you!” See? Kind of a wide net there. I guess my focus is to share my journey and let you decide if there are nuggets of greatness to glean.

It sounds to me like I’m focused on exactly what the great Bill & Ted said, “Be excellent to each other.”

Pacifism

In my reading this morning, someone said they live by the motto, “By any means necessary.” Do they really mean that? Or is there a limit. If you want something to come to fruition, would it be ok to hurt someone to make that happen? If I say I want to have that fancy car I’ve always dreamed about “by any means necessary,” would it be ok to steal it from someone else? That’s what the saying means.

It goes along with the idea “the ends justify the means.” I really do not think that is true. There is no end that can justify evil or immoral means. We cannot say we are doing evil to do good.

We went to see “Darkest Hour” over the weekend and afterward, my son brought up killing people to “save the country.” As a Christian, I am commanded to not kill. We live for another purpose. There is no government or nation I would kill to save. The means (killing other humans) is not justified by the ends of spreading democracy.

Abortion is the same in my mind. Killing one human in the effort to save myself pain or struggle is not justified.

It’s not a popular position these days. I know. Am I a pacifist? I guess so. Would I defend my life in an attack on my person? Yes. If you throw a punch at me, I will duck and try to stop you from hurting me further. If you come into my house with the intent of harm, I will try to stop you. Is that still pacifism? Will I sign up to go somewhere else and kill a group of humans because another group of humans says they are coming to take my stuff or invade where I live? No.

An Obstacle?

I sometimes worry that I may be a tad insane. Probably not in a bad way, but just a tad on the deranged side. One part of me wants to reach out and offer what I have, the other part of me is afraid the offer will be misunderstood and rejected. What to do? I’ll be praying for clarification, although my prayers so far have led to one pointer after another into an area littered with landmines. I keep looking in that direction and thinking, “I’ll just pray for guidance again.”, like rolling the dice over and over again to get the results you’re looking for. I am not equipped for this kind of stress, but I know the Lord is my strength. I’m just having trouble seeing my way to leaning on Him fully.

Two things came to mind yesterday as I moved through a stressful day, tentatively putting my foot out into the waters of our local homeschool group.

The first was “The Obstacle is The Way.” It’s a book on my reading list and part of the Stoic philosophy I’ve been thumbing through for the past year. I found a very nice (short) video that lays out the idea and shared it to the group. You can find it on YouTube HERE. I’m going to be watching it several times over the weekend and the book has already been moved to the top of the reading list.

Also, just before I go to bed each night I read from “The Daily Stoic.” Last night this was the page I read to myself three times before turning it over on my nightstand.

“Seneca’s advice to someone studying the classics is to forget all that. The dates, the names, the places – they hardly matter. What matters is the moral. If you got everything else wrong from The Odyssey, but you left understanding the importance of perseverance, the dangers of hubris, the risks of temptation and distraction? Then you really learned something. We’re not trying to ace tests or impress teachers. We are reading and studying to live, to be good human beings – always and forever.”

I have a feeling that this is what I’ve been working towards, “to be a good human being,” and to ignore the call to share what I’ve learned, to mentor others wanting to give independent home education a try, would be to hide my treasure. Two things have changed my life. Jesus and home education, specifically leadership education and the principles of unschooling. They are my passions and I want to share them. I’m just afraid of looking crazy. As my sons constantly remind me, I can’t avoid that so I might as well have fun with it.

Book Treasures

I picked up a gem of a book recently and I have to share how awesome it is! It’s Dick Van Dyke’s memoir called “My Lucky Life in and out of Show Business.” Honestly, I only knew him growing up watching “Mary Poppins” over and over again, and the occasional 80’s TV show. My oldest son reintroduced him to me a few years ago watching “The Dick Van Dyke Show” on Netflix. I’d seen one or two of them in the past, but watching them all in order, I just fell in love with it. So when I saw his memoir on the bookshelf at the thrift store, I had to have it.

It’s a wonderfully upbeat book. He seems to have lived just like he comes across on TV. Simple, kind, and honest. He isn’t innocent or perfect, just a sincere human trying to do his best.

Today, the opening of the chapter I read had this quote from his brother, Jerry. “You know what Dick’s problem is? He always wanted to be smarter than he is.” Insert my name in that one! I’ve always longed, not only to know more but to understand more; to have an intuition about things and really see the bigger picture. I feel like I get close to an idea and then it’s whisked away. At this point, I’m starting to understand that this may be God’s way of getting me to focus on what I really need to know. If I had more information on hand, I’d probably use it in the wrong way or take the wrong path. I’ve learned to let God hold the big picture and let Him lead my steps instead. It’s been enlightening and freeing to look to the Lord for guidance, instead of wishing I were smart enough to lead the way.

The end of that same chapter gave me this, “Like it or not, life is a never-ending confrontation with bouts of uncertainty and chapters of self-discovery. As I was about to learn, it is a series of fine messes that we enter, some wittingly, and others not.” Isn’t that the truth? Just when I think I have it all together, a curve ball comes in and knocks all my milk bottles down. As a kid, I firmly believed I’d eventually figure it all out and things would run smoothly. The older I get, the more I wish I had let go of that idea long ago. Life never runs smoothly and we never know what we’re doing, but if we look at the world like a giant yarn ball that can never be untangled, we can sit back and enjoy working on it just for the sake of working on it. We can even stop trying to untangle it entirely and use the rest as a ball to bat around instead of a string to knit into a sweater.

Taking A Step

In keeping with my plan to write SOMETHING for thirty minutes every day, here I am…with nothing to write about except having nothing to write about. It’s strange because I had something earlier this morning and didn’t write it down to come back to and now it is gone. So sad and it happens way too often for me to be comfortable with.

Here’s something interesting from Rachel Mary Stafford’s “Only Love Today.”

“Sometimes I need to be reminded that my daily efforts make a difference. Sometimes I need to be reminded that there will be rewards in the toil, and when that day comes, I will be grateful I chose to carry on.”

I guess I should keep toiling then. I can’t be rewarded for the effort I don’t make, right?! So here I am trying to put words together in the hopes that someone, somewhere will be touched and connected to the world.

I should have saved my morning social media time for AFTER writing. I feel like looking around at what’s going on in the world before I calibrate my own thinking is not helpful at all. Oh, that reminds me of Tim Ferris’s podcast the other day, “How to Handle Information Overwhelm.” There was some great stuff in that short podcast!

Have you ever seen “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”? There’s a great scene that has been on my mind in several different ways this week. It’s here on YouTube. At church, the pastor talked on Colossians 3:1-10. Verse 2 is “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” And again in Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” This past couple of years have brought our family many changes and looking ahead I know there are more to come. Looking back on my life I can see so many places where I worried and fretted over what to do next; from who to date, marry, and have children with, to where to work and where to live, choices we all face throughout our lives. Only recently have I begun to look toward God for help instead of relying on my own thinking and reasoning and it has been such a relief. It isn’t that everything is going as I believe it should. It’s more that I have confidence that the path I’m on is the best one for me. And I’m enjoying where I am much more than I have in the past, instead of ruining the present with anxiety.

It’s like this. If we keep our eyes on God, if we keep in prayer, study, and fellowship, God will lead us on the path that is best for us. It’s like Indy looking out across that cavern and not seeing a way across other than to jump. He looked up (to God) and took that step and landed right where he needed to be. I’ve had it happen several times lately and I’m always amazed. In every situation where I believed there was no good choice to make, I looked to God and took a step in any direction and the next step was revealed to me. I’ve learned to have faith in God’s goodness. Where I end up may not be where I thought I would go, but it will be where I need to be.

Now, if I can only remember that the next time there is an obstacle in my path!

Control

“As long as everything is exactly the way I want it, I’m totally flexible.”

Isn’t that the basis of so many of our problems? We don’t give our loved ones the freedom to be who they are or make the choices that are best for them. We give them a list of acceptable choices. We don’t move through the day and take what life gives us, mulling over what is presented and using it to our advantage. We grumble over what didn’t happen that we had looked forward to.

I posted the quote above on my Facebook page and so many people resonated with it. It’s funny how we can all have that in common. It’s as if it is in our nature. If it is, should we fight against it? I know that attempting to control others or expecting things to go my way makes me unhappy in the long run. And one of my goals is to be happy, so I struggle to allow the world to move around me as it sees fit.

There is one thing we can all control (with practice) and that is our reaction to the reality we live in. We can be angry with a person because they are not doing or acting the way we want them to or we can accept who that person is and decide whether we want to be around that person or not. We can be angry that the nation is not moving in the political direction we would like and scream and rant about it, or we can do the things that we think would make the world around us a better place.

We are only in control of one thing, ourselves, our reactions, our own minds.