Tag Archives: love

Epilepsy and Guilt

Photo by Joe Hastings (Creative Commons)

Photo by Joe Hastings (Creative Commons)

Everyone in my family feels guilty because of my epilepsy. Often the first thing I hear from someone once I begin to recover from a seizure is, “I’m sorry.” They apologize for not catching me in time when I fall. For not noticing more quickly I was seizing. For the embarrassment I must feel over the seizure. For any number of other things they didn’t do right.

Sometimes I am the one to apologize. I feel bad as I stumble groggily to the bed for messing up plans for the evening. I apologize because my wife bruised herself trying to catch me. I see the fear in my eight-year-old’s eye, and I feel responsible. I apologize to him for producing the fear.

NO MORE. We have banished apologies related to epilepsy from our house. It’s nobody’s fault I have epilepsy. My kids didn’t give it to me. It’s not their job to always watch over me. My wife is not the one responsible for keeping me safe. I am not intentionally having a seizure the hour before our Bible study because I would rather sleep.

Epilepsy is just part of our lives right now. Nobody needs to feel guilty about anything.

We all do this. We apologize for the pain of others. We say, “Sorry” that our challenges has produced scheduling inconveniences. I was thinking this morning about why we do this and realized something startling. We feel responsible for the well-being of those we love, even in the areas we have no authority, ability, or access to change.

We confuse love with ultimate responsibility, and we unintentionally play the part designed for God. God is the one who keeps us ultimately safe. He is the only one who can stop my seizures, though He chooses not to right now (for reasons I don’t comprehend). He is the one who doesn’t eviscerate that irritating supervisor at work (or is that just me?).

Guilt is always the result of trying to wear God’s shoes, because our feet just don’t fit. Let’s instead draw close to each other when the storms come. Love one another. Commiserate in pain. Hug when it hurts. Cry with each other. This is where true bonds of community are born.

It is always those who have weathered the tornadoes in our lives that appreciate the sunny days the most. Let’s make a decision to be among those who can celebrate in the deepest way as victories come. No apologies needed.

 

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Free Gift from One of my Fellow Tribewriters

I am excited to take an opportunity to share the art of one of my fellow Tribewriters Audrey Chin. She is a wonderful poet with a beautiful voice. She gives insight into all the seasons and events of life.

Audrey is sharing a free book of poetry on the feelings and times of love just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Visit her site here and get your copy, along with regular updates from this beautiful voice.

Now Comes the Hard Part

We’ve been talking about thinking small to respond to the enormous tragedy that happened in Sandy Hook a few weeks ago. I took a break to focus on a few other topics, but wanted to finish that series tonight. If you thought sincere love and hospitality was a challenge, wait until we read what the Apostle Paul tells us next in Romans 12:14-21 –

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Lots of words here, but there are two themes here to tease out: how to respond to evil & how to respond to what others are experiencing.

How to Respond to Evil

Of the two themes, this is by far much more difficult and unnatural for most of us. Quite simply, Paul says that our response when others sin against us should be to love them.

To bless them.

To feed them.

To clothe them.

To give them a drink.

To shower them with the favor of God, that same favor we don’t deserve either.

Some days, I wish Paul wrote a different passage. Or I think he didn’t understand what I was going through. Then I remember his experiences:

He was stoned.

He was whipped thirty-nine times, five times.

He was shipwrecked, three times.

And yet he is the one who told us to bless not curse those who persecute us. He who understands far better than nearly all of us what is means to experience evil, and what it means to be persecutes. Perhaps it’s time for a gut check?

How to Respond to What Others Are Experiencing

Paul tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice, to weep with those who weep. I believe he was just giving us some examples, and that list could go on:

Laugh with those who laugh.

Mourn with those who mourn.

Be confused with those are confused.

Be hurt with those who are hurt.

The big idea is to stop insulating ourselves and living separate lives. We were never meant to live apart from community. All the way back in the garden, we see God saying “It is good…It is good…It is good.” Then He sees Adam alone, and “It is NOT good.” We were not meant to be alone. This speaks not only to marriage, but community.

Three questions to respond to:

1)      How well do you respond to evil?

2)      How well do you live in community?

3)      How can I help you respond better with either one?

Battling Darkness with Sincere Love

I’ve spent the better part of the past week without any new posts, trying to make sense of what happened in Connecticut personally, trying to determine what I can add to the near cacophony of voices out there in the media and the blogosphere. It’s been tough for me, because my daughter is autistic, and her and I are both on mood-altering medications right now, so I had to resist the urge to post something I would later regret about the connections between autism or medication and violence, but I have now found my voice in this tragedy.

Let’s face it – this world is just dark. Every day, all we have to do is take a good in the mirror to come face to face with some heavy selfishness, some deep brokenness, and probably some habitual sinfulness. And on occasion we have moments like Sandy Hook that broadcast the darkness loud and clear.

So, what are we supposed to do? It would be easy to throw up our hands in despair and say, “It’s too much! I simply CANNOT make a difference. I am no Mother Theresa. I am just going to live my life.” Or, we could curse the darkness.

I believe there is a third way, an ancient path the Apostle Paul laid out for us in Romans. I want to walk us through some very practical things that Paul shares with us in chapter 12 of this book over the next few blog posts. If we take Paul’s words to heart, I believe that we can be the change our society needs, not just in the face of tragedies like the senseless deaths of kindergarten students, but every day.

9 Love must be sincereAbhor what is evil; cling to what is good.

Verse 9 has some unmistakably powerful images – sincere love, hatred of evil, clinging to good. These are words that are largely missing in our society today.

Sincere love is a life changing force for good. I don’t mean to sound like a reject from the DC Comic universe, but sincere love is almost unstoppable. The sincere love of an unknown next door neighbor literally saved my life, stopped me from committing suicide, and led to my introduction to Jesus. Countless others have the same story. We simply must learn to slow down, ask real questions, listen intently to the answers, and actually care. This is where sincere love will be birthed from.

Once birthed, sincere love acts a certain way. Sincere love abhors evil and clings to good. Hate does not seem to be in short supply nowadays, whether that is directed to homosexuals or Greensboro Baptist Church or Barack Obama or Mike Huckabee. This hatred misses the point though. Rather than thinking large and speaking judgment, we should think small and be sincere.

Make no mistake – if you claim Christ, those who don’t are watching the way you live your life, and looking for a reason to believe it or not. The consistency of your love life with them will determine the answer. It’s the simple things that will make the difference.

When you ask how their day is going, do you actually listen to the answer, or do you shine them on just like everyone else? Do you ever ask how their family is doing? Do you even know if they have a family? Do you care?

It might not seem like these questions are related to abhorring evil or clinging to good, but they are in a very real way. God never intended for us to live selfish isolated lives, focused on our own needs, our own jobs, our own families, our own selves.

Whatever we can do to jar others out of this self-focus is GOOD, and forces the focus toward community, toward God.  We will talk more about how to live out this type of life in this dark world in a meaningful way in the coming days and weeks.

Oh, and Merry Christmas to all!