Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Scratching the Surface

I have been thinking a lot about someone I've known for a few years. This person is known to be habitually unlikeable. However, as a follower of Christ I am called to love this person regardless of how I am treated or how I might "feel". Luke 6:32 reminds us: "If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them." OK, that's definitely a challenge, and I am by NO means an expert at this. I get the same feelings of resentment and indignation as everyone else. But how am I going to love on a group of Hondurans who live seemingly a million miles away if I don't first do the same here?

This challenge to love extends even further to those who intentionally wrong us, abuse us, harm us, and attack us. How are we to truly love people who are our enemies? Since we are incapable of being sinless people, we look to Jesus for his response of love: to the woman at the well, to the crippled, to the poor. This can be so much easier said than done. How many of us feel love and compassion for someone like, say, Casey Anthony? How about Osama bin Laden?

I think we are so prone to making judgment calls based on what we know, which is really so very little, in the grand scheme of things. I believe that there is great depth to people, so much so that we could spend our whole lives with one person and only scratch the surface of what lies beneath. Maybe our fear is that, if we spend enough time walking in another man's shoes, we might actually find something in common with our "enemy"...and what would that say about us?

And how do we conjure love without the expectation of reciprocity? Luke 6:33 reminds us that "if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same." We must be prepared to show compassion when there is no possibility we will receive the same. The true earthly reward is serving God, modeling our behavior after his Son. "Rather, love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind even to ungrateful and evil people." (Luke 6:35).

I want to challenge myself with love every day, with every bitter thought or negative stain that crosses my pea-brain. I want to truly love people as Christ loved people, without boundaries or stipulations. There are challenges that lay ahead greater than I can possibly imagine, and my weapon of choice has to be love. What's yours gonna be? :-)

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Resurrection of Math

10 years after high school graduation, I still hadn't decided what I wanted to be when I grew up. This in itself isn't always a problem: many people are discovering their passions in their 40s, 50s and later! However, my avoidance of a college education was based almost solely on one subject. The dreaded. The awful. The impossible. One simple word that slips out in one easy syllable, and yet has the power to to paralyze with fear.


In 11th grade, I failed Algebra II. I had never failed a class before, and it was partially due to a math teacher who, admittedly, became a math teacher to avoid the Viet Nam draft. Years later, he hadn't quit teaching and spent class time perusing naughty magazines and spastically vacuuming chalk off the board with an archaic hand-held dirt devil. Combined with my lack of interest in the topic, I bottomed out of the class. As a result, I had to take an additional science credit to make up for the lost math credit. I chose Anatomy and Physiology. To this day, it remains one of the few classes in high school that I actually loved taking. As a kid, one Christmas my mother bought me a huge color-photo book of the human body and disease, so it made sense that I would be thrilled learning about scoliosis and memorizing every bone in the body. And yet, after high school, despite my mom's encouragement to go into healthcare, I didn't. For many years before landing a good job, I farted around and did other things. And then the longer I was out of school, the less eager I was to re-enter the education system. And any time I thought about mayyyybe going to college...the thought of MATH dominated every rational thought that crossed my mind. Because, I thought, I could be the smartest person in the universe (I'm not) and the best at everything (I'm not) and I would still be awful at math.

Just looking at the quadratic formula used to make my blood pressure skyrocket and my composure crumble. Long story short: I married the best man in the universe who encouraged me to just DO it, go back to school, and I could cry on his shoulder any time MATH unwittingly attacked me and tried to beat me up. Now, with just a few more pre-requisites under my belt as I pursue my nursing degree, I have found the following statements to be true:

1) Math isn't all that bad.
2) It's actually kind of fun.
3) Sometimes it takes a lonnnnnnnnnnnnng time to get over the fear of something, and once you get over it, you realize how much you gained as a result. Most of our imagined fears are never realized. Contrary to my rationale, math didn't eat me up or attack me in the night wielding a blade made of evil numbers.
4) I'm going to be a nurse someday soon, and I am blessed enough to be travelling into a foreign country to serve on a team providing health care to some of the poorest people who will wait all day in line to be seen by a doctor, likely for the first time in their life.
5) Listen to your mother. She really does know what she is talking about.

All this to say: I can't wait to go to Honduras. Part of me feels like I am already there. I can't wait for us to spend a week in a third-world country, immersed in a language I do not know and a culture with which I am unfamiliar, serving on a team in any capacity I am needed, sleeping I do not know where, and under God's care will face fears of the unknown to serve His kingdom.