Saltiness: Limits of Love

Often, very often, I feel like I am not making a difference.  Despite doing or being what I believe I ought to be, results aren’t always obvious or existing.  Yet something recently has me wondering about “results”.

My husband and I use to live close my parents, and I’d make frequent visits. Yet after 5 years, it didn’t seem to make much difference one way or another. I didn’t see us as building a relationship. I noticed my dad couldn’t tell an observational difference between me and my siblings. My parents would confuse my husband’s saying or traits with the other men of the family. Despite our best efforts, and many not-so-best efforts, my parents didn’t seem to notice much in particular, and this became a wear on my husband and I. We’ve moved. Not the big move that I wanted, but a small couple hours drive time. It’s been near a half and year, and I’m starting to see the difference now. Although it’s not the difference I want to see.

My parents show signs of not having us an influence in their lives. I see things like fear becoming more normal for them. Slowly, but much too quickly. I see a shift from my influence of more natural approaches (which they barely considered before) to a more store bought, doctor induced philosophy.  It’s not that they didn’t have some signs before, but now it seems to have quickly built steam in my absence of pointing out how absurd it is.

Is that it? Is that all I do with my life? I block out some bad. Perhaps I don’t even particularly bring good into people’s lives, but maybe I just block out some of the bad. It seems so little. It seems so ineffectual.
I turn my thoughts from  my parents to my husband. His parents are negative people. I’ve always been displeased to see that displayed over and over again in our short history together. The effects their negativity has had on his life were infuriating. But as of lately I’ve seen my man becoming something greater. It’s taken a long time, a lot of work, and continuing to challenge him in healthy ways, but it becomes more and more obvious. He’s stronger in many ways. Still becoming strong in a few ways. We’re good together.

Is it because I’ve blocked some the poison in his life and challenged him towards good? Perhaps I’ve become the large influence in his life, the influence where his parents once had their vice grips. Is that all that I do? Block negative with my influence?  I suppose it’s a useful thing to be, however lacking in gloriousness. Then I wonder…
Is this (in part) what it’s like to be salt?

Jesus talks about being “the salt of the earth” and many pastors and theologians have puzzled over this simple parable. What does it mean? Indeed there is some flexibility to what all it could encompass, but perhaps simple is best in this case.
My man and I watch some of the Food Network “game shows”. If the judges detect too much salt it’s considered bad to have a salty flavor, or too little salt is considered unseasoned.  Salt is mostly to showcase whatever else is happening with the combined food. It’s not meant to be prominent but it necessary to the dish.

Salt is also considered to have trace minerals, things that your body needs but it doesn’t need a lot of it. These little “trace minerals” make a big difference when they’re out of sync with what your body needs, too much or too little. Subtleties set the standard.

In relationships (of all kinds) its hard to wait for the subtleties to draw forth into the standard. It’s hard to see it add up into something. When my husband and I were dating, I thought for sure that I was going to get my heart broken. I didn’t see him taking it as seriously as I did. I knew I was risking beyond what seemed reasonable or safe, but I felt compelled to keep going until I actually did break. It wasn’t until he confessed that he wanted to marry me (and therein we got engaged) that I felt sure that he was in this too, and not just for convenience sake.

Subtleties, small things, they add up. Probably never as fast and securely as I want them to, but they do add up.

If my greatest gift is merely blocking out some of the negative of other people’s live, that means its still their choice to choose the positives. I can’t choices or add that for them. I suppose I was hoping that I could also do that, but I do not think my life has given my evidence of that. I suppose there are many things which we are grateful that they mere neutralize a situation, such as our immune system.
However it’s up to each person whether to work that immune system hard or to give it help, and then what kind of help from there. This is complication of working together, yet our lives were made to touch one another and interlock.  I can only do and be that which I am.  I can only make my choices. Other people must make their own choices. I wish I could help, but this is as far as I can go in touching their lives.

I am just a little salt in gourmet dish.

Advertisements

What Does Relating Have to Do with Relationships?

I listened to an interesting video of an orthodox Jewish woman talking about the concept of “Judaism is not a Religion, It’s a Relationship”. What a familiar phrase. Yet there’s good evidence in the roots of Judaism for such a concept. I watched to see what she’d say.  Not much, I’m afraid.

We don’t understand relationship. We don’t practice relating. We are a must-do-these, must-be-this, must-be-seen-as such&such. We don’t know about relating, and therefore our best concepts of relationship suffer.

We bend our language to make things fit. We don’t consider what is being said and what needs to be said. Sometime we only know that something should look like this, it should cover that, it should fit across here… but don’t consider the limits of a word or the benefits of that limit.

In the previously mentioned video I heard the woman give different examples of relationship and how we can compare our interacting with God to something similar. The problem came in when some examples were of a relationship, yes, but a tip-toe relationship.

Appeasing isn’t relating.
It maybe done in love, but it still isn’t relating. It isn’t dealing with root issues. It isn’t connecting to how someone other than ourselves might feel and why. If we take enough time to fix the problem, but not enough to consider why the problem arose in the first place, we are just managing one another. It’s not relating.

My husband maybe one unlucky man. He married a woman who wasn’t planning on marrying. He married a woman who straight-face told him she not a believer in “woman submit!” theology.  When he married me, his life began to change, and he didn’t know what he was in for.
Everyday I work with my man on life. Sometimes I feel sorry for him. Many christians marry and their wives are these humble-meek creatures the live to serve and honor their man. I teach him. I don’t mean to do it. It’s not my intention, but yet it’s my goal that he realize who God has created him to be.

He came from a reasonable family, but not one that was going help him become into greatness. In fact they expected him to fail because a few doctors and teachers had critical words to say,  and for some reason I cannot conceive his parents believed those “professionals”.  Yet I meet him as a young man, and something in my spirit recognized his spirit, and fate was sealed.

I think probably everyday in our marriage I ask my man questions. Simple questions, hard questions, rhetorical questions, long-term-thought questions, intraspective questions. I cause for him to work, to search, to rise up. …and he has.
I think a reason that I do this, isn’t because I don’t already love who he, but because I don’t think he has seen who he really is.

We all believe lies about ourselves at different points in our life.
Sometimes we allow those lies to define us. Sometimes we get tired of fighting them when they’re repeated over & over again. Sometimes it’s all we’ve known and we are not aware that they are lies.  And yet, they form us into something we are not. They keep us from being who are meant to be. The stifle beauty that means to gently unfold. Yet we don’t always see them within ourselves. Sometimes it takes someone else who can relate and therein reveal a problem that hasn’t yet been dealt with or considered.

I propose that sometimes, as loved ones, we perpetuate the lies that one we love wears. We mean to treat them with honor and therefore we allow them to continue to cover their shame or hurt (ect.).  But a wound that is covered can still get an infection. It must be treated underneath a clean cloth. …But in relationships… that a hard place to be. It’s a fragile company to keep. It’s deep.

Sometimes it’s easier to allow it to be “their problem” and let them deal with it in their own way. Sometimes others’ wounds remind us of our own, and we too would like to keep that hidden.  But that’s not relating, it’s just managing.

I might also point out, that to dig up wounds for the sake of “healing” them and being a hero or rescuer, can be manipulation or using one another, and that’s not healthy either. There’s no healthy substitute for relating.

It takes learning what it’s like to be in our own skin, or to feel our own bones before we can actual relate to another. And yet…we have this thing called “relationships” were sometimes we just get lost and hide in one another. We don’t always consider what’s it like to be who I am, and what does that have to do with being connected to this person here, who I am in a relationship with. Instead we’re hiding in feelings, schedules, raising a family, making then spending money, plans for the future …and we take very, very little time to consider our soul or the one whom we love, their soul. We just keep passing the days, and we do fine.

I don’t want fine. I don’t want a good life. I don’t want average. …and I don’t want that for my man.  He’s more than that, I know. I’m not sure he knows. Despite my struggles of worth & importance, my spirit knows that my life was made for adventures. I know I could be something that helps others cue into their importance, and I know that it could be world changing. But I have to be able to touch something that’s alive. I have to have life within myself that I believe is unique and intentional for my surroundings.

For me I have to believe in God who believes in me. A God who created be to be some specific in this time and in this generation. For me this is my bases for being able to relate to other people despite any internal struggles, or even because I have those specific internal struggles.  I know I’m not the only one who struggles, and reality has allowed me to connect to something gives me strength to bear the load and shuck the shame.

Relationships were meant to have more relating in them, than what we give credit to them in our modern society. To be able to relate is world changing, life-touching, and life giving. Consider… what does relating have to do with (my) relationships?

Almost

It always surprises me when I look through authors and sellers of “holistic living” and it’s simply not as organic as I thought.  Or when someone who might consider themselves part of the apothecary community is more like to intake a pill form of something “healthy and natural” than to actually ingest the natural item itself, even if it be in tea form. Why does this always surprise me?

Just because I’m interested in learning about natural foods and herbs that I could grow myself (such is rosemary, catnip, lemon balm, chamomile, ect.) it doesn’t mean everyone who thinks “holistic” or “natural” thinks like I do.

Not everyone will be interest in the actual plant itself and it’s multiple uses. Most people will find one cure-all previously-plant-now-pill or they will find many for each single problem they have. The functionality of each plant and its many components is really an overload for most people to consider …apparently.
Yet I don’t understand this thinking. It’s taunting to me to understand.

Vegans are similar. I’ve known a couple; I’ve talked to a few more. I understand the general premise, but then the execution surprises me. I find a lot of vegan I’ve spoken with or read their opinions, they simply use dairy substitutes, but they’re still making the general same foods. So it’s not really a lifestyle change, it’s just a lifestyle of substitutes.
They don’t really study or search for different options and and different way of eating, because substitutes are so readily available that there’s no need to be inconvenienced by choosing a different food or a different economical/ecological belief.

It’s like wanting to be different, but in the most social acceptable way. Afterall, you wouldn’t want to be consider the outlandish one, or the extremist, or well… different.

I’m afraid I don’t really understand.

Pardon me for saying, but I find Christianity to be similar as well. There’s a lot to be found within the roots and guts of the Juedo-Christian Biblical foundations. However I don’t meet a lot of people who actually take the time to journey through the heart & core of it all. Instead we who are called by the title of Christians are mostly surfaces dwellers of a substitutionary life.

We like to “substitute” bad habits for Christian ideals. But how often do we search within ourselves to find where those bad habits come from and how to correct the base of it all? How often do we check to see if these “ideals” are legitimately based in the Juedo-Christian faith? Or how much it’s a mix of modern culture’s convenience and an acceptable amount of moralism, which may also touch Christian ideals?

Who cares? Right? I mean can you smell the burn out just from the mention of it?
Maybe I’m asking too much. Expecting too much. Trying too hard. Being too extreme.

Unfortunately this is what I’ve come to know. If I can’t find, learn, and live from something at the core of it… then I find I can’t really believe in it.

I could go the the store and purchase natural remedy de-stress-er tea. Or I could use the lemon balm and chamomile we grew this year, dried this summer, and now store in clean jars, and I could pinch some of that into my tea ball and let it steep in the hot water mug I have.

I could depend on someone else teach me what the Bible says and how it says it week after week, OR I could struggle throw willingness, discipline, and desire to learn what the Holy Spirit will teach me day by day, week by week, and at a rare few moments of sudden awesome revelations and clarity.

I could be vegan and teach those industrial agriculture farms that I won’t support their cruelty to other living beings. OR I could buy from responsible farms, who in exchange give me higher quality meat, eggs, cheese, and so I end up supporting the good guys and not just protesting the bad guys, and I come out healthier for it. The farm business learn that good things also can sell and integrity matters.
OR I could legitimately learn different eating habits, and where to get legitimate proteins and vegetables and Omegas in place that most people may not be aware of.
OR I might even take on the task about learning about food, nutrition, and general health. I might consider how the animals who do get eaten have nurtional needs as well. Are they being met? The soil that contains the planets that animals eat has its own needs, Are the being met? I might learn that we live in world that isn’t coming to doomsday as much as it’s misunderstood and abused. It needs a little help. We need to understand each of out individual consumption comes from a eco-system that isn’t necessarily fragile, but more like perfected. Therefore if we do not purposefully work to keep our perfected eco-system balanced as we take and give, then it might seem like it’s failing.

Similarly, as we give and take from God and from Christian ideals, we might find an imbalance, we might find it to be “fragile”, we might find it doesn’t work exactly like we’d thought or hoped. …and there might even be a reason why it’s not working so perfectly. Maybe something is wrong. But even if something is wrong, that doesn’t mean the whole eco-system of Juedo-Christianity is coming to doomsday. It means we need to make some corrections. We need the mega-marts to reconsider their practices and products. We need to support responsible practices, and not just packaging that says it’s “organic”. We need to remember that living things have nutritional needs, and these needs are easily met in a holistic environment. It’s not too much to ask.

We need to know that we have already made some mistakes that effect our land, our culture, and our children, and it needs healing. …which again will come much quicker in a holistic approach. We need to know that God has greater knowledge and planning, and some of the things we’ve spent centuries ignoring have some legitimacy to them as well. We need to remember the Hebraic-ness of be Juedo-Christian.

We don’t need to go backwards. We need to move forward, but in a less invasive approach. The point of holistic is to understand that each functioning part is intentional. There is good and bad there, but there is a reason each is there. Masking the signs or living continuously in a quick-fix, is not living life. It’s not growing. It’s not healthy.

In Bible in John 4, Jesus has this weird exchange with a lady that he meets. Jesus make the comment, “If you had known who it is that ask for you a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.
I love the lady’s response. I don’t care how anyone else reads it, I see the sass and annoyance in her answer. She’s use to -and tried of- the men with their one-liners. I get it. I’m with her. What makes this guy any different, right?

She sasses Jesus. and Jesus being Jesus, just sits there with her and goes through this sassing conversation her, back and forth.

So the woman final buys into this one-liner of Jesus presented, and she says to him “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”  Which I imagine is totally said in sarcastic tone. This lady has been around the block. She had to live the rough life. She knows what’s what.  Jesus just seems like another promising “quick fix”, and I imagine she’s not interested today. Because Jesus reply makes me guess her answer was indeed insincere, and they continue their banter a while longer. Then suddenly it’s like she realize this guy is for real.

Suddenly she realizes he’s not offering just a one-liner, but there’s something authentic here. This guy is actually deep, he is actually offering something. She’s surprised.

She’s surprised that the real deal was so… simple. It was so familiar, but at the same time better than what she was familiar with. Jesus met this lady right in the middle of her everyday life.

She knew the religious banter. She knew the men with the one-liners. She knew politics and the name of the game. She knew here way around all the normal venues …but she didn’t know freedom was so close by. She didn’t know authentic was so possible.

She didn’t change her lifestyle to find authenticity. She found authenticity and that changed her life.

We’ve been in the programs, the systems, the hype, the taglines, the box-style “organic” experiences. We want more. We want authentic. …not just a label that says “authentic” or “organic” but something with a holistic nature. Something that’s so familiar, and yet better than anything we’ve ever been affiliated with. Something that fits into our existence, and yet changes our life.  That something which is real, which is life, which is the eco-system we were meant to exist within.

It’s not extreme. It’s possible.
It’s real beyond our current comprehension of reality.
It is life.

Miracle: Beyond Belief

At the end of the days where we’re asking questions about whether or not God can do miracles, I think the truth is we’re not asking if God can do miracles but will He. …and not just somewhere at sometime, but for us at this time. Which ultimately sounds more like we’re asking whether God truly cares and what kind of God are we serving and how much does God care about the situations we find ourselves in? These questions are deeper and more personal than just wondering if God can and/or will do miracles still… today.

There are two stories that strike me. One is found in Mark chapter 1 starting at verse 40, and the second story is found in John chapter 11 (the whole chapter).

The first story is short be always hits me straight through the heart. An unnamed man with a severe skin disease approaches Jesus and says, “If you want, you can make me clean.”  It wasn’t unusually for Jesus to meet people who wanted to be healed, but this man’s phrase always stabs my heart. What had he learned about God that let him know that the Messiah has power to heal, but also maybe he doesn’t want to be bothered with our infirmaries. Of course he could help… but does he really want to? Are we a bother to God?

The second story is about a family that Jesus is considered to be good friends with. Two sisters who live within their brother’s house. They depend on their brother. But the brother gets sick and the sickness causes his death. They’d sent a message to Jesus as soon as he was plagued with such an illness and let Jesus know the circumstances, but Jesus seemingly waits for the death and gives no other response. It’s devastating story. I read it and feel a huge lump in my throat, it’s hard to swallow, tears are on the edges of my eyes. Devastating. Jesus could heal him …but does he want to?  How personal is God? Is there a cutoff point? Does God really care this time?

Who hasn’t a noticed a time where God seems distant or silent or both? It doesn’t matter if you already believe in God fully, if you have a questions about God, if you’re struggle to understand God, or if you don’t want to believe …there’s no good seating when we’re waiting on God to respond. Waiting gives us time, lots of time. We can hope, believe, preserve, but at the end of the day it’s waiting. The most out-of-control feeling of all: waiting. Being out of control makes us question what we’ve always considered to be reality.

What does God want? What does God care about? And where does that leave us?

In the first story with the unnamed man who wants to be healed from his severe skin disease, the disease that makes him untouchable, unapproachable, unworthy, unclean to this man Jesus touches him and says, “I want to” and heals him right there. Jesus shows incredible compassion and directly answers him, and even disregards his disease while he still has it, while he’s still waiting, and touches the untouchable man -healing him completely. It’s beautiful!

The second story is more complicated. Jesus does show up, but after the brother dies and is buried. The things Jesus says makes one wonder what he’s even thinking. Does he have compassion? Why is he speaking in riddles while they’re mourning the lost of their brother? Why did he wait? Jesus knew them so well, they fully believed in him, his words, and his ministry. They believed he could do miracles and that he would in their case, yet they received death… The death of their beloved brother. Yet there is miracle that’s done here too.
After four days of being dead Jesus ask the sisters faith to go beyond what they’ve already seen and heard and what they were sure that Jesus could do. They had to believe not in what Jesus could do or has done before, but what God’s intentions are and what the character of God intends at any given circumstance. Then… Before they could decide what to make out of all of this, Jesus miraculously raises their brother from the dead. It was beyond all they had known or thought to hope for. It was better than the best miracle they’d expected at this point.

Maybe some of us will find ourselves in a place where we don’t have the faith for a miracle afterall, but can we wait on God long enough with honest hearts that are willing to see what God will do? Can we believe in God’s character enough to wait, to be out-of-control and to still believe in this nonsensical situation that God’s character is strong enough to redeem this time?
Would that be a miracle?

Past, Present, Waiting

When we talk about our hope for future or what choices should we make, as Christians we hope for and pray for God to lead us. We talk a lot about the path before us, and reasonable so. At such times the unknown can provide a lot of hope. But sometimes in the midst of choice making, we feel foolish. Sometimes in hindsight I feel foolish and I’ll wish things were different and that I’d made different choices. But wishes don’t change the past. Knowing better now does not amend the past. 

Sometimes I think, even if we do get the amazing opportunity to move forward from here, are we going to look back and think what a wasted time?

There’s an old preacher/prophet man who (in his day) liked pointing out that God didn’t think it was too lavish to have Moses waiting out in the backside of desert for 40 years, after already being a grown man. Why? It’s not like Moses was born at the wrong time and had to wait for everything else to catch up before he could move forward. 40 years a long time for an interlude in one’s life, as a matter of fact, it’s long enough to build a whole another life. So why 40 years out on the backside of the desert?

To be honestly disappointing, I am not going to directly answer that question myself at this time, but instead I’m going to think about it in my own life. Sometimes I seems like things are moving a long going while, then something happens and throws life into a different direction. I cope, I learn, I move on. I start again. But sometimes it’s not the easy to switch in between life’s chapters. Sometimes I wonder about the dumb things I did or said, good things I didn’t do like I should have, or some parts that honestly seem like a waste of time and no lesson in them at all. I feel foolish sometimes.

Yet I am reminded that in the Bible God says, “the Lord shall be your rear guard” This something that is repeated at least a few times. There’s this idea there like not only will God lead us to where we will be going, but God will also be behind us as a guard. To me this means I don’t have to let things from the past creep up and tell me I am failure, no good, or just plain missing it. God can guard and correct even things that are behind me, but which try to sneak up and attack me as I try to move forward. …or sometimes when I am not exactly moving forward in life and I feel stupid for it, this would also be a good time to remember that not only does God lead us, but he is also our rearguard.

I do feel a little foolish right now. I feel anxious wondering how this time in my life is going to turn out. I wonder if I am almost to the next step or nowhere close. I feel like I could of should of would of done things better or differently if I’d known I’d be stuck here in the middle for so long, waiting for the next opportunity of adventure in life to unlock. At times I feel overwhelmed in the waiting. But there’s comfort in the idea that God doesn’t just lead us somewhere new, but God is also the rearguard that allows the past to be the past  and today to be today.

At the end of the story Moses who spent 40 years in the obsolete wilderness as a shepherd, surely must have learned a lot of things for the next 40 years in wilderness with God’s people. Maybe sometimes things in our past that don’t make sense will having meaning before our story comes to an end.

Hope may beg for things to move forward, but while things are at a standstill, it’s beautiful to be reminded that being still & waiting doesn’t mean something is wrong.