Building Relationships with Respect

With yesterday being Mother’s Day here in the US, I’ve been reflecting on families and relationships. Every day in the news there are stories of relationships gone wrong, of people letting others down, of people hurting other people and ways that people are destroying our world. But at the same time you can’t ignore the fact that some of those people are bad people. They’re not people you want in your life or around your kids, and they can’t be “fixed” unless there’s an Act of God. But fortunately, there aren’t as many of those people as the news makes it out to be. Most of us just have issues, quirks and traits that may or may not mesh with the people around us.

I do believe that we can learn to get along with just about everyone, whether it’s having a civil conversation or actually developing a friendship with them. But that does take a lot of work, typically from both parties. For some reason some people choose to hold grudges or make snap judgments about some people, and aren’t open in the future to changing those opinions, despite how they or the other person may have changed over the years. And no matter how kind or polite you may be to them, they’re just nasty. I’m not suggesting that you need to be best friends with everyone, but I don’t think we need to have the poor interactions and relationships many people have.

Does it take superhuman effort in some cases to get to that point? Yes, but that’s part of what God can help you with. Yes, the Bible talks about loving everyone, but for some of us loving is a big stretch. So let’s start with two things that are a lot simpler: treating others as you want to be treated and respecting others. God made them just like He made you and I, and I haven’t known God to make anything that was wrong or without purpose. So if for no other reason, choose to respect and treat them based on how you want to be treated, because God loves them. Not all moms are perfect examples, but many moms can run circles around us when it comes to loving and accepting their kids in a way that we struggle to accept and understand others.

This week I encourage you to think about your attitude and how you treat and interact with others, and spend time in prayer with God asking for His strength and guidance in how you can build more relationships and have more interactions that will honor Him.

“Respect everyone, and love your Christian brothers and sisters. Fear God, and respect the king.” 1 Peter 2:17

Courage to Live Another Day

The other day I was reading one of the email updates I get from a charity that I support, Mercy Corps, and in it they were talking about the 2015 earthquakes in Nepal. I had a bit of trouble wrapping my head around the fact that they happened in 2015, and not years before that, and how long ago that actually seemed. In the very busy lives we live 3 years can seem like an eternity, and yet it all seems to go by so fast. Maybe that speed is part of the reason that the 2015 earthquake seems like it was so long ago.

This email I recieved shared about a woman, Sushma, and her family, and the difference that just $75, a few pots and some farming education made. That seems like so little to most of us, but to them it made all the difference. It gave them the support, both mental and literal, to get back on their feet after their home (and village) was destroyed. Since then Sushma, her family and her farm have grown and thrived.

Something else the email said really made me think.  One of the women who visited Nepal from the charity said she realized that not only is there courage needed to survive a crisis, but there’s courage needed to live, and thrive, after one. For some when a crisis is over, that’s the end, they’re no longer living, but for so many of us we have to figure out what comes next and how we’re going to get there. It’s a lot easier to say you’re going to rebuild, than it is to actually do it; just look at Puerto Rico still struggling with power in many areas after the hurricane hit back in September of 2017. Even choosing to pick up and move to a new state or country after a big event like the earthquake or hurricane takes a lot of courage.

But what about the “smaller” things? The tough illness, lost job, failed class or broken relationship? They hurt too, and take a lot of courage to move on from as well. Sometimes it takes a lot of strength to get through just one day, and that’s OK. All of these life events and challenges show us who we’ve been created to be, help build our strength, teach us things and give us a chance to prove to ourselves that we’re more capable than we could have ever imagined.

So what about you? Will you choose to be courageous in your life today?

Faith, Love and Moms

With Mother’s Day just a few days away here in the US I’m thinking about moms, and maybe you are too. It’s not always easy to be a mom, and we don’t always give moms the credit they deserve for the amount of time and effort they put in to their kids. Even the 9 month commitment and accompanying sacrifices to carry a child is more than some of us give to things in our lifetimes. No, not all moms are great, and not all women are really cut out to be moms, and some moms need more help than others. There’s nothing wrong with admitting and recognizing that you’re not cut out to be a mom or that you’re in need of help, there are lots of people who are willing to help you and plenty of families who are great with kids and can raise the next generation.

So as I was thinking about moms, it got me thinking about the very complicated topic that love is. Love is so many things, it’s an emotion, how we describe relationships, how we describe others, something that can unite, something that can soothe, something that can hurt, a feeling and so much more. But one of the biggest things that love is, is a choice. Even in cases of love at first sight, we have to choose to love the other person, and choose to do the work that it takes to keep that love healthy and strong.

One of the most important choices moms make is whether or not to love their children. Sometimes that’s easier said than done, and moms have to make a choice to choose love, or something else. One of the most important qualities a Godly mother can bring to the table is not just an attitude of gratitude, but an attitude of love.  When she teaches, guides and even disciplines with an attitude of love, it creates a solid foundation for us to grow into the people God has create us to be, and gives her the strength to do it in a way that honors God.

It’s almost guaranteed that we’ll be hurt in our lifetimes, but if we have learned from the cradle to have faith in Jesus, how to be thankful and how to love, we’ll understand the importance of forgiving, have the foundation to be able to do it and be able to move on in our lives with love, confident in knowing that God’s got something better for us.  So this week, so a mom you know some love. Maybe it’s with a card or gift, or maybe just the gift of time and a visit from you.

Reality Reflection: Looking for Luck

Luck is an interesting concept, I’ve been thinking about it today as I was looking through coupons, discounts and special offers. We apply the concept of luck in so many different ways in our lives: there’s the luck of finding the perfect parking space, the luck of running into someone you were thinking about, the luck of what you need being available during the emergency trip to the store, the lucky lottery ticket, the luck of meeting the right significant other, and the luck of getting a great deal. From this list it really sounds like there’s no shortage of luck to be found, which is pretty good news in my book.

But what got me thinking about it really was that sometimes the win isn’t there. Sometimes we don’t get that winning lottery ticket or they’re all sold out at the store or we get in a car accident or the umpteenth significant other turns out to be a poor choice. That’s part and parcel when dealing with luck, but also sometimes with life in general, no matter how well you plan and take action. And yet we keep buying the lottery tickets, looking for perfect parking spots and dreaming about the day our dreams come true.

Which is actually a really good sign because it means we haven’t given up on life yet, and we’ve still got hope. I know it can be daunting to find hope when you’ve been burned so many times, but I believe it’s still possible to get lucky. Maybe it means we’ve got to look in a different parking lot or try a different lottery game or get counseling or coaching before trying to date again. Luck isn’t always about those instant wins, sometimes those wins take a little work and time to get to them. If you believe it’s possible to get or be lucky, and I do, maybe you’ve just been expecting luck to show up in the wrong places or ways, and it’s time to try something different.

A Life of Passion and Purpose

I was reading through some blogs this week and one of them caught my eye. It asked a question about if something could really be that simple. In many cases I think things can be very simple and straightforward, even to the point of it maybe being difficult to accept the truth or best course of action being so simple. As much as we like things to be simple, we also struggle with them being simple because we think it’s not up to par for our advanced brains and evolved lives. Sometimes it just is simple.

One of the things we’ll be taking a look at this month is the topic of passion. So as I was thinking about things being simple, I asked myself if passion was really that simple: if living passionate lives was really all it took to have a fulfilling and full life, if passion was the thing that’s missing in so many relationships, or if passion was the difference between success and failure. While I do think if we lived more passionate lives we’d have more fulfilling lives, I don’t think it can really stand by itself.

I think that passion has to be partnered with the right purpose to really be the fulfilling, engaging, community-building, success achieving emotion it can be. War often tells the tale of very passionate people, but people who are passionate about all the wrong things (Hitler for example), and their passion ends up scarring the world. The world of business also has plenty of stories of people who were passionate about something, but it wasn’t the customer or making the world a better place,. But when you look at people like Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Walt Disney, Martin Luther King Jr., you see someone who not only is passionate, but their passion helps build a better future, brings people together and they and their passion are talked about long after their death.

So what about you? What’s your passion? Are you living your passion? Will your passion help you build the life you really want to live or is it time to take a look at your life purpose and where you’re heading?

Praying for Unity

Thursday in the US is National Day of Prayer. It’s an opportunity to come together as a nation and pray for some of the many needs in the country, and especially for our leadership. This year the committee is going with a theme of praying for unity, and the verse they’ve chosen is Ephesians 4:3:

“Making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

The great thing about prayer is that it doesn’t take sides, it doesn’t matter if you’re old or young, a man or a woman, a morning person or a night person, how you like your coffee or if you like coffee, if you have a green thumb, if you prefer dogs or cats, or if you’re good with numbers. Prayer is something everyone and anyone can do. It’s also something that doesn’t have to take a long time to do or be something you have to do with others, although it’s good to pray with others.

So in a way just participating in National Day of Prayer is a way to unify many people around the US. Last week there was also some big news relating to the topic of peace and unity, North and South Korea stated that they were going to put aside their differences and try to work together for a better future.

Unity and peace both begin with a step. They not usually things that happen in one day, they are built over many days and weeks with work, communication, time and effort. Trust has to be established and it has to be shown that everyone is going to keep up their end of the partnership before unity and peace become a regular and expected thing.

So today what step will you take for peace and unity? That step can be as simple as prayer, or as big a step as you want to take.