Tag Archives: Human Nature

Why Do We Love?

I went for my morning walk today, despite the couple inches of snow on the ground from a persistent late-winter blanketing we are getting this week. (AND I AM LOVING!) ๐Ÿ™‚ I was up pretty early to help Julia and then just decided to head out for a nice brisk walk with my iPod shuffle to keep me company.

About half-way through the first part of my walk (I walk 1.3 miles east, and then turn around and walk the 1.3 miles back home for a total of 2.6 miles…) I was just enjoying the podcast I was listening to when I noticed an older lady shoveling her driveway. It’s been warmer the past couple days (even though it was snowing) so I knew that snow was heavy for her! When I got closer, I noticed she was even older than I thought, so I stopped my iPod, and said, “Good morning!”

She looked up and smiled at me, and returned my greeting. I said, “Can I help you with that?” pointing to her shovel and the snow-filled drive-way. She sort of laughed and said, “No, no… I’m fine. I just do this for my neighbor.”

(At that point, I was very impressed…) ๐Ÿ™‚

We talked a bit more about our neighborhood, the weather, and shoveling snow. I asked her once more if I could help, saying, “I’m out here to excercise, so I’d be glad to do it!” But she refused again with a smile, and so I said good-bye and continued on.

The rest of the walk was filled with a few more out-of-the-ordinary events – including a visit with an old friend, and giving directions to someone who was lost. But what I wanted to write about here were the thoughts that circled about my head and heart during the moments following my brief encounter with my nice elderly neighbor.

Why did I stop to help her? Was it so I could invite her to my church? (HA!) ๐Ÿ™‚ Was it so I could just tell her that God loves her? Was it simply to show her that God loves her? How about just because I should? Or maybe because I know Jesus did so much for me, so I should do that for him, and for others? Was it guilt-induced, or an obligation (to God) or even due to an expectation that I or others have put on myself to “do the right” thing as a Christian?

Nope. ๐Ÿ™‚

As I was walking away, I realized that I had absolutely no agenda, or any other reason for helping that lady other than I could, and it was a nice thing to do. ๐Ÿ™‚ That’s it. I didn’t want anything from her, or of her. I was not meeting anyone’s expectations (including my own)… I wasn’t repaying some cosmic debt I owe to Jesus for “all that he has done for me”. I was just loving her. Just to love. Just to be nice.

It’s nice to be nice says Pig Will. (long story…)

So what I ended up thinking was (and perhaps this was prompted by Holy Spirit, perhaps not) are we able to love in proportion to how much we know we are loved? If we really get how much God loves us, how much we mean to him… are we then all the more free to just love people as our Father loves us? Not necessarily because (read: post-facto) he loves us… but more “in the same way as” he loves us.

I really don’t have any conclusions on this… those were just my thoughts. I would really love to hear yours on this…

Do we love other people in proportion to how much we know we are loved?

Group Think

If you know me in the slightest, you know that I am not at all the political sort. When I was at Michigan State, almost 15 years ago now, we lived in suites (two rooms shared a common bathroom). One of the guys in the other suite connected to mine was a super, duper, dee-duper Republican of Republicans. He had a full-size, cardboard statue of George Bush 41. He meant business. And I didn’t necessarily think he was weird… I think I just didn’t get it.

So as I have lived life as an adult for a time, I have understood a bit more the role of politics in our country, and to a degree in my life. But see, that’s just the thing. It has become such a game that it basically has no role in my life at all. To me, everyone involved in politics on any level – not just Washington – is just playing some childish, meaningless game. And that’s too bad, because it shouldn’t be this irrelevant.

I’m just completely irked by the comments leading up to, and now especially following the most recent election. “The Democrats have taken control of both houses of congress…” and, “Americans sent George Bush a message in this 2006 election…” There were many incarnations of that last one, spoken by many media folk and especially the victorious Democrat candidates. The real evidence that it is just a game though is that everyone says the same thing. Everyone is playing by the same rules.

I said to Jen last night, “Our government is not supposed to be two people, who always choose the same way.” That’s what it has become. You either vote for one, or the other. We do not have one president with his cabinet and staff, along with 100 senators and 500-something representatives. No, we have Republican and Democrat. Now that the Democrat controls congress, the Republican won’t be able to get anything done. And, please tell me that when I clicked those 15 or so levers in the polling booth Tuesday night that I was actually voting for individual candidates in individual races… not just “sending President Bush a message…”

GRRRRRR. It makes me so mad! People!! Think for yourselves!!! If you don’t like what George Bush is doing… TELL HIM. Tell someone. SOMEONE should listen. Don’t vote for the “opposite party”, regardless of who that sends to represent us. Pay attention to the individual candidate!!!

OK… now that I have said that, I also understand that mostly the people who really think that Americans “sent a message to George Bush” via the election are the crazy media who live in a made-up world and the politicians, who also live in a made-up world. I just really hope that Average Joe American does not think like they all think we do.

You don’t, do you?

We are individuals. We are not Republicans or Democrats or Independants or any other brand name. We are not blacks, or whites, or hispanics, native-americans, or any other demographic. We are Americans, because that’s where we live… but that does not remove or absolve us from making individual decisions. We don’t all think the same way just because we’re American (that should be obvious!) … we each get to choose in every situation, every time.

The other problem we have in this country is reflected in something Senator Clinton said following her lop-sided victory over the token Republican challenger. She said, “The people have spoken… and we will give you a government you won’t be dissapointed in.” (Something like that.) That revealed to me what she thinks of government. She thinks it should be something. I don’t. I think government should be invisible. I don’t even think it should be a full-time job sometimes. I think people should be allowed to live their own lives, as they desire, and government only represents our country to the world and maintains order/communication between the various states. Any other form of government is something I will either be dissappointed in or not… because… it’s SOMETHING. It becomes its own entity. In a tiny way, it’s like the church actually. When we make it a thing, rather than just a reality, we have gone too far. And then, enter the politics.

So… nothing I can do really. That’s just what we do. We play games. Politics magnifies the scale and the stupidity of that, but it’s all the same on every level. Politics involves playing games for power, so it’s intensified there too. One more example of how we have a totally wrong view of what government is. Government should not be about power. Our government is supposed to REPRESENT us, not lead or “govern” us. At least, not in America. But those days are loooong gone. And here we are.

The only way I could think to fix things would be to actually run for office. I have that notion every time there is an election, or politics is heavy in the news. But then I remember, it’s all just a game, and no one is real. One real person, trying to actually change the way government thinks… not gonna happen.

Who knows. Maybe I will run for president some day.

Motivated

I’m sitting on my front porch right now, with a cup of Chai, and my PowerBook, getting ready to write a basic enews and do a few updates to the basic website, and I am currently being entertained by the elementary kids trying to run a mile around the track that is across the street from our house. It’s hilarious. There’s a girl who is probably younger than me (didn’t you always think your teachers were way old? Guess they weren’t…) shouting out encouragements as they kids go at varying speeds down the track.

As I watched them, I noticed several stragglers… the walkers. The encouraging girl would shout out, “No walking! Keep it up! Let’s go!” and the kids would give half-hearted effort to go just slightly faster than a walk. And I am sitting here thinking, “Dude, if it was me, I’d be out there pushing myself to do my best!” There are a few people out there doing that, but certainly the majority do not seem to share that inner motivation.

Why is that? Am I so different from the majority of the population? Is motivation a rare commodity?

The other day I was playing basketball with a friend, just one on one, and it was very evenly matched. I was shooting pretty well, even hitting my underneath stuff, and he was dominating on the boards. He’s a good 6’4″ I think, so rebounds and defending the underneath stuff are quite a challenge to be sure.

Well, in the third game, he had it all going. I was actually playing quite well, but I just couldn’t do it. Even my best stuff was not enough. That can be frustrating.

But that’s when I noticed a difference between me and my son Alex.

Alex LOVES to play. Sports, games, video games, anything. So when we’re playing football (one on one with older brother, Ian, with Dad as the all-time QB) he does well, but usually not well enough to beat Ian. At some point when he realizes his best is not good enough to emerge victorious… he just cries. He breaks down and says through tears, “I really wanted to… [insert goal to achieve here]” And I tell him over and over, “Alex, just get up and go again. Give it another try. You get to try again!”

My mind can not understand just giving up. I mean… I just keep going. I keep trying. I am super motivated to do the best I can do. Sometimes you have to take a break from that, but in general… I just get up and try again.

What is it that makes the difference? What is it inside us that, instead of giving up, pushes us to get up and try again? Sometimes it’s external “motivation” (like, the Encouraging Girl across the street yelling at her students). But when does the motivation come from within?

I was talking with Jen about it last night as we played a board game together. We were just having fun chatting, but you know… we were playing a game. Why play a game if you’re not trying to compete. So, when something would not go my way, I’d give a short “Grrrr!” and then, just move on. Try again. She thinks she is not competitive at all (which I would disagree with… ๐Ÿ˜‰ so when she sees the momentary “grrrr” she thinks I am mad, done, it’s over. I am not. I think there’s room for a momentary frustration, but that motivates you to get up and try again?

Doesn’t it?

I actually have no idea. I’m not sure why self-motivation seems so obvious and perhaps “easy” to me. And, why does it seem to be missing in many others? If y’all reading this have any thoughts, I’d love to read them. Just post a comment below.

What does it take to just “roll with the punches” and be motivated enough to give your best at everything you do, just because you want to do your best?

I look forward to reading your responses.

Pilfering, Absconding, and On The Lam

Well I WAS going to bed…

As I was leaving my office at 1:23am, after posting my last blog and cleaning up a few emails, I noticed a light outside. I thought it odd, since I knew I had not left the outside light on. (Plus, it was too dim for our outside lights.) I peered out the window and noticed that our van lights were on. All of them. (Sometimes one of our children will leave one or two on… but not all.)

This was odd. But not as odd as THE ARM reaching across to the glove compartment!

My first thought, being the optimist that I am, was that it was my friendly neighbor helping with my open door again. Then I remembered it was 1:30 in the morning!!!

I quickly headed downstairs and flipped on the lights out back, half hoping that all that I had seen was simply a middle-of-the-night illusion. SLAM! The van door shut almost instantly when the light went on. I opened the curtains and saw nothing. No one. Lights in the van were off. Still uncertain of the situation… I opened the van remotely. No one was in there… so that was good. But the diaper bag was definitely out of place. And Jen’s purse was not there.

Grrr.

Well, still not sure what was going on, I went around and flipped other lights on, looking for any suspicious characters. I just didn’t want to have to cancel credit cards!! Argh. No sign of him.

I was about to go to bed when I figured I should call and report the missing purse. But first, I should make sure it’s missing. Again, not sure of the situation, I went outside, and locked the door behind me. That way, if he kills me, he can’t get in to where my family was sleeping. Oh wait… the keys were in my hand. Well, it was a noble plan, albeit slightly flawed.

I got closer to the van and the purse was definitely nowhere in sight. So, I looked up the local police # on Jen’s Dashboard widget and dialed. I explained what had happened to the person on the other end of the phone and he sent someone out. We only live a block away from the police station, so that someone was there quickly. ๐Ÿ™‚ Once he was there (with his side arm) I moved in on the van and checked out the condition of the contents. Yep… purse was gone… WAIT!!! It was on the front seat!! YES!!!

I moved around to the driver’s side and there was Jen’s wallet, too! YES!! Credit cards and all were there! NICE! I did a quick check of everything else…. all was there except for a couple dollars in change that we keep in our cupholder. NICE!!!

The officer asked a few more questions, and took a look around our property for shady characters. My neighbor (Mr. Light Sleeper) came out to see what was afoot. So, we checked his vehicles and garage and stuff. Quite an interesting way to spend your 1:45am.

Well, it’s all over now, and somewhere on the streets of Palmyra is a (likely) young scallywag who has absconded my pocket change and is still on the lam!

Now I’m not tired.

I Want To Be God

After some harsh words spoken in anger to my son last night, and the regret I was feeling afterwards, and the thoughts that whirled through my head on how to fix it, I realized what my ultimate goal in life is.

I want to be God.

I want to always respond in kindness and with gracious words of wisdom for my children.

I want to always be available for my wife, listening to her as if she were the most important person in the world to me (because she is) and never responding to her in selfish impatience or anger.

I want to respond to everyone in my life, friends, family, even strangers as though they were the crown-jewel of creation. A person made in God’s image, no matter what my eyes might see. I even wish I could see them completely as who they are, by-passing entirely the outward appearance and seeing the depths of the unique being they were created to be. I want to listen and respond and always show love and grace even by just listening, but also in my response and or by my own initiation.

I want to never sleep or grow weary, it would be very handy.

I want to have all the answers, so that I can help people along the journey with the perfect answer for every situation.

I want to be perfect in every choice I make, word I say, thought I have, action I take, interaction with people – I hate making mistakes… I just want to always do the right thing.

There’s probably more, but… I think I have made my point. The point was made to me last night. I am still under the illusion that I could somehow attain most all of those things. I am trying to be God.

But there’s only one of Him, and I’m not Him. He is. And for that I am thankful. I guess I need to learn to be OK with who I am (that sounds like modern psycho-babble, so I am sorta laughing as I say this, but bear with me…) and find the joy of being who the Perfect One created me to be.

I am fallible. I make many mistakes. I am not always gracious, loving, compassionate, forgiving, patient, kind or gentle even to the people I love the most. I am most definitely not God.

I will still, I think, strive for such things. I so want to be like my Father. He is all of that to me. I think what he continues to show me is it’s not something I can do, he must work those things in me. I can point myself in his direction, and focus on his kingdom and his righteousness, and he does the rest. And I think he is showing me that I can’t achieve perfection in all of those areas. If I did, I suppose I would be God.

And I most definitely am NOT.