Monday, November 9, 2009

the gods of a culture

I believe that our culture worships two gods: comfort and convenience. Even within the church (perhaps especially in the church), we blindly worship these gods.

I am wrong when my emotion flares as a result of some effect to my comfort or convenience. When I feel I have been mistreated by my spouse, I can choose to be angry. I can apply energy to pouting and fuming--maybe even yelling and crying. Why do I do this? Have I been wronged? Perhaps. Am I commanded to love anyway? Most certainly. Nowhere does scripture allow even a moment for anger, retaliation, resentment. Is my anger justified? Society would say, 'absolutely,' because my comfort or my convenience was compromised--or, worse, forfeited--by the actions of another. And maybe after years of being inconvenienced and discomforted, it is a natural progression that I leave my spouse. I might reason that my spouse is not contributing to my comfort nor my convenience, and, in fact, he never has, and, in fact, I have made it clear to him that he must, and, in fact, he chooses not to, and so I am justified to leave him and pursue comfort and convenience for myself.

We disregard our neighbors regularly, in favor of these gods. We do not wish to pursue anyone who is not useful to us and our gods. We may have those in our lives who once provided us with comfort and/or convenience, but from whom we distanced ourselves when some action of theirs led to our discomfort or our being inconvenienced. Once this phenomenon has occurred (maybe several times), we excuse ourselves from trusting others and from loving others. After all, I've been "burned" by others (which really means that others have failed in providing me with the comfort and convenience I expected from them).

To behave in this way exposes our own idolatry. There is nothing that excuses me from doing what God has commanded us to do in His Word: to love Him and to love others. To love is to trust. There are no exceptions. My comfort and my convenience can play no part whatsoever in my choosing to obey these commands. If I can manage to disregard my own comfort and convenience--to stop worshipping these idols--I will understand that these two commands--to love God and to love others--are really one command.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength." If I am doing that, I have no energy left to worship another. I have nothing left that will allow me to pursue my own comfort and convenience. And, in fact, I can easily leave those gods behind, as my comfort and convenience are in no way tied to my happiness nor my self-worth nor my motivation. And if I leave those gods of comfort and convenience behind, I can easily disregard the actions and words of others, in favor of loving them, as I am commanded to do. And thus, if I am wholly fulfilling the first (and greatest) command--to love God--then my ability to fulfill the second command will be unwavering--a mere side-effect of the first.

Friday night, Jarrad played board games with some of our good friends. They enjoy strategy games--the kind that take hours to finish--and he didn't come home until almost 2:00am. I tried to wait up for him, but I fell asleep. The next day, I woke up angry. When he woke up, he knew I was angry. He was tired and cranky all day. He took a nap when I wanted him to help me clean. He lashed out at me when I spoke sharply to him. He went to bed early when I still had things to get done.

He was useless to me. Sound harsh? In my anger, that is how I was behaving. And because he was useless to me, I chose not to act in love towards him. I put my own comfort (I did not want to go to bed alone) and convenience (I wanted him to happily help me prepare for guests in our home), above God's command to love. Idolatry. If I were perfect, I would have shown him love anyway. Was he wrong? Maybe. Does it matter? No. Was I wrong? Definitely.

So, then, is there ever a place for confrontation? It happens over and over in scripture, and Jesus was a part confrontation repeatedly. If Jarrad acted wrongly, I have a responsibility to confront him. However, I must do so in love. Practically, that means I am thinking only of what will draw Jarrad closer to God, and what will strengthen our marriage relationship (in order to better reflect the relationship between Christ and His followers).

Today (a day and a half later), I asked Jarrad to forgive me. I recognized in humility that I should not have acted towards him the way that I did. He graciously (as always) agreed to forgive me. We later had a civil conversation about Friday night, and we both were able to make concessions and agree on future arrangements, should this situation arise again.

Two things are obvious whenever I humble myself in this way. One is that it is difficult. I will never understand this, but it is clearly rooted in pride (as all sin is, yes?). Secondly, the other party is completely disarmed. Jarrad had been angry, too. He was angry that I held expectations for him that he was not privy to. He was angry because he felt that my anger was unjustified (if not absurd). But when I humbled myself and muttered those alien words, "I'm sorry," he immediately softened and was able to hear my perspective with an open heart and mind.

And so, as always, I will move forward, praying to focus on following God's greatest commandment--to LOVE--instead of the gods of comfort and convenience.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Where goes the time? Our sweet Carly was born one year ago today. I don't even have the words to express this emotion of knowing that your baby is not such a baby anymore. This little girl, who a year ago lay helpless in my arms, is now toddling everywhere and forming opinions of her own. She says a few words--including "no no" and "night night," which sound the same--but even without much vocabulary, has become quite bossy. In fact, she rather reminds me of another little missy who also lives in my house and seeks to rule the roost during her every waking moment. It has quickly become apparent that Rachel will soon meet her match in Carly.

Probably my favorite thing about Carly right now is that she loves to snuggle (on her own terms, of course). I call her Kitty Cat (I think I've reported that in another post) because she likes to bump her head against things/people. If I lean close to her, she will meet me halfway and give me a forehead check. She loves wallowing around on the bed or on pillows on the floor. I love it. The stage she's in is so fun. She's been walking long enough now that she's started climbing and trying to sit on things, and she loves to come check in with Mommy or Daddy on occasion, which is nice. She is ready to go to bed every night by 6:30pm, and will almost run to the bottom of the stairs repeating "NAAAA NA, NAAAA NA, NAAAA NA" at the mere mention of going night night. She also loves wearing her shoes. If ever she is mad about not being allowed to do something (usually climb the stairs), I can always suggest we find her shoes for a good distraction. She finds them, carries them to me, throws them on the floor at my feet, and sits down expectantly. Her command is "Da," and that's all she really needs, as it is usually quite plain what she's wanting to communicate. She repeats my intonation, too. If I say "Do you wanna go eat?" she usually follows with, "Daa?" with a little cock of her eyebrow. I know she's my own, but I do think she is so stinking cute. And I don't know how she ended up with these bright blue eyes, but we get comments on them everywhere we go, and I'm thinking we'll need to lock her away when the boys start noticing.

It has been an eventful year for our family, and it's hard to remember what life was like before sweet Carly was here to make it more enjoyable. And I can't wait to see where to Lord takes our family from here! And finally, here is a video from a couple of weeks ago, when Carly insisted on wearing these particular shoes for her regular tour of the living room. Silly baby!