Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Lost Quotes: Post #2

This next quote comes from a prayer I found in an old journal from 2005. I would like to say I have found hundreds of poetic prayers hastily scribbled by a passionate hand as I rediscover my files, folders, and moleskins, but alas, the psalms of my life are woefully intermittent at best. This particular line caught me not only for its rarity in my writings but for how I know the Spirit has graciously worked in my heart regarding its content. . .

"May I first view people through the lens of Your love and not the unpleasant memories of my experiences."

It's amazing how our memories and disappointments can filter so strongly and so permanently the way we view people. I remember now at the time of this prayer how I was regularly being convicted of cynicism in so many areas, including my attitude towards people who reminded me of other people who I did not trust or did not like.

I know the Spirit has guided me out of much of that cynicism and into a much more hopeful way of thinking about people (even if they do frustrate or disappoint me) and has taught me more about the nature of love. A more recent journal entry has this little quote jotted down:

"We often think love is changing someone into our better idea of them."

Love is not changing people, it is treating them with an attitude and will that reflects the self-giving love of God. We love people where they are, not where we want them to be. . .

This truth impacts our compassion for the lost, our view of our "enemies", our love for our spouses, our attitude with our kids, etc. etc.

I still do not perfectly view people through the lens of God's love first. . .but it is still my prayer for all my relationships. I hope that it is for you too.

Matt O.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Lost Quotes: Post #1

I have recently made some big changes in my life, changes that I and others have called a transitioning time. At the root of the transition was, I believe, a Spirit-led step into the world of writing and a purposeful cultivation of gifts of creativity that had been neglected or partially used in a sense of guilt. . .

The transitioning is now technically over and I'm in the process of starting the previously theoretical new life and finding the exotic rhythms of a completely different metronome.

As I wade through my back-burner projects, half-baked ideas, and once-preached sermons, I am coming across many a hastily written thought or footnote that I had completely forgotten, even though at the time of its writing, it had a sense of urgency and potential. If I did not recognize my own handwriting, I would say that the thoughts were not mine. (And even though my hand has written them, are they really mine? Are they from the Wind? Are they ours? Are all of these questions correct?)

So for my first official blog series, I want to share some of these Lost Quotes and dance with them a bit, even though some may prove to be toe-stomping in their graces where others may prove to be quite nimble in their tango. . .

I found an old sermon on community (something I taught on once or twice maybe), and bracketed in the margins was this quote:

"It's hard to carry each others' burdens when you can't carry a meaningful conversation."

I guess I wrote this when I was ranting about the intimacy of the original Spirit-led community in Acts which sold homes and land for each other compared to our frequently surface level interactions centered around a shared Christian event known as the church service (Blanket statement alert).

I always want to be careful to include extroverts and introverts when talking about the Life of the church, and I never want to insinuate that we all need to be magnetic personalities that draw all people to ourselves in rich dialogue about the lofty things of the faith. But I do want to say that I agree with the spirit of this forgotten quote. . .

To truly wade into each others' lives in a way that we get the dirt on our hands of their sincere burdens and struggles requires a level of trust and intimacy that cannot be established by just mutually sharing the same weekly event.

It takes the time and space of shared meaningful words and activities (most often to me meals and service) to forge the level of understanding, commitment, and vulnerability that leads to a fabric of love. . .as demonstrated not in emotion alone but in shouldering burdens together.

Carrying a meaningful conversation with someone is on our endangered species list as a church culture. . .and where it is already extinct, the witness of what the Body of Christ should be is already gone as well.

Monday, August 27, 2012

I'm not a blogger, but blog I will.

I came on this site to delete the posts I had written years ago. . .and to wrestle once again with the idea of public verbal vomiting. . .

And then I read them, and I thought, they aren't nearly as terrible as I remembered. . .

I think that I need to write more frequently and to get thoughts from my mind articulated in a form that can be shared. Not necessarily because I feel I have something the world must hear, but because I have something I feel I must write. . .

How often? I have no idea.

How much will I promote this blog? No idea. The idea of self-promotion usually leads me to take a spiritual shower of repentance.

What will the content be? Let's keep that a surprise for both of us.

Until then, hold the line dear friends and put down deep roots in rich soil.

Matt O.