Love Despite Flaws

I recently listened to a lecture regarding writing on family. He continually qualified everything he said with, “I love my family.” “I want to make it very clear that I do love my family.” “People often ask me how I can love my family”.

              I found this repeated declaration odd. It rarely occurs to me that some irritating trait or negative experience would cause me to question my affection for those I love. People are annoying. Relationships are difficult. People are flawed.

              The idea that we don’t love someone because we are open about their flaws, or that we don’t love someone despite any number of major blunders I find problematic. This can breed fear of losing a friend for even petty things.

I love my friends

I originally had written a much longer post, but as I wrote it turned into the substance of three or four. So finally, a short one.

I recently listened to a writers lecture regarding writing on family. He continually qualified everything he said with, “I love my family.” “I want to make it very clear that I do love my family.” “People often ask me how I can love my family”

                I found this repeated declaration odd. It rarely occurs to me that some irritating trait or negative experience would cause me to question my affection for those I love. People are annoying. Relationships are difficult. People are flawed.

                I would hate for my friends to question my devotion to them even when I may be telling them how annoying they are. I am saddened for people constantly qualifying devotion towards friends. I wish for honesty in love and confidence in loves commitment

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Average Joe

“There is no room here [the Christian life] for such contemporary ideas as the looking-glass self, and no consideration here for trivial contemporary obsessions such as one’s legacy” Os Guiness – Fools Talk      

Today I recount the story of the Christian called average Joe. He works as a routing and process engineer at a waste management company, is married to a wonderful girl Cindy and has three kids, Julie, Aaron, and Victor.

              In the future his grandkids call him ‘Pops’. His great grand kids know nothing about him, except the story of how he met his wife. He ran into her car on her way to a date. Her car was inoperable, so he gave her a ride. The man stood her up and Joe bought her dinner. They got married six months later. Aaron and Victors kids tell the story in jest and scold their deceased grandma as foolish for getting into cars with strangers. Julie tells the story in reference to God’s mysterious work and taking chances leads to a worthwhile life.

              Nothing else will be remembered of Joe. He did well at work and shared the gospel with several coworkers, four of whom eventually followed Christ. He stops to buy food for the homeless and plays with the children at church. When told he has done well for himself, he simply responds, “Well, my wife still loves me and all my kids are making wise choices. So, I guess I have.”

              He was saving money to take his wife on a surprise trip to Cancun. He loaned the money to someone in need at the church. They took the two-thousand dollars and left. He never told anyone. He lamented later that he hadn’t told his wife out of embarrassment rather than because he was turning the other cheek. In a later incident he was wronged much worse. No one knows but the offender, Joe’s best friend Greg, and the pastor who helped him through the situation. The incident died with them and I will not repeat it here.

              Joe struggled with pornography up until he was married. He had 4 relapses during his marriage. Each time he came forward to his close friends confessed and turned from his sin. He also struggled with a short tempter up until he was in his forties. The early death of his son changed his heart to always be compassionate.

              When his best friend, Greg, got terminal cancer he spent three nights a week for five months helping Greg’s family with needs. Joe cared for his parents in law as well when they were aging. He never got the big promotion due to these choices that took up his time.

He joined the water board on recommendation by his colleagues and helped secure more fair water policies for their town. NPR would eventually do a short documentary on the change, but his name was never mentioned.

              This is average Joe. He tried to be kind to whoever he met. He never failed to share the gospel when given the chance. He spoke almost every night with his wife regarding the good deeds laid before them. You will never read of him in a book. You will never see him on television.

When we get to heaven and we see everyone as they are, but just before we are healed of comparing others, we may notice that his crown is just a little larger, and his robes a little brighter than the pastors we see on television or book covers. Joe followed Christ in humility, he put others first, he did the good things that he came across, and he daily sought Christ for answers and forgiveness.

Life Worth Living: Purple vs. Green

Life Worth Living: Purple vs Green part iii
In my last post I shared that it is only in God redeeming the world by loving us while we were still sinners that I may enjoy creation. However, this understanding is part of a struggle I deal with daily. I waft to and fro between believing it and acting on it with joy and peace, and despairing at the monotony of life. It God’s use of other people in the body of Christ that I have had the biggest move towards understanding his love and redemption.
I have a problem. I have a personal fear that all of my wrongs and mistakes will be held and accounted against me. It is not just wrongs within a certain incident and the time frame it takes to resolve it. I remember mistakes I made when I was five.
I went shopping with my mom one day, and as we were checking out I wanted to be helpful so I turned around to the people behind us and without asking began to try and move their groceries onto the conveyer belt. As I grabbed a loaf of bread and felt its softness squish just a little, I also felt a firm uncomfortable grasp around my arm as he stopped me from helping. He was angry. I felt awful for not asking. This memory will periodically pop into my head. Even now as I write this I feel some sense of regret over the incident.
I have one very close friend that I have had for many years. With this friend I share my heart. My hopes, fears and dreams. My friend both celebrates with my success, and mourns with me in my sorrow. Unfortunately I made a long series of sinful choices that hurt him/her deeply. My friend had every right to be angry, and cut off the relationship. However, I vividly remember, one late Saturday afternoon, as we both stood leaning up against my car, we talked. I was asked how I was doing, “Fine” I replied, then, “How are you really doing” I fought back tears as I confessed I was doing terribly. Throughout the conversation it became obvious I regretted and felt anguish over my decisions.
“You know I forgive you right? I was angry, and pissed, and I cried. But I forgive you. I don’t regret any of the decision I made, and I do not regret being friends with you. I still love you and forgive you.” At this point I began crying. It didn’t occur to me then, but this conversation changed my whole outlook. I have been forgiven by others. Yes. But not for as bad of choices and not one so well communicated and acted out. That friend stood in the face of my broken decision, accepted the pain, and then choose to act lovingly and keep no record of the wrong so as to be willing to still assume the best and continue in a friendship even though it means they will be hurt again.
In that moment I found freedom. Christ revealed himself through the body of Christ. My friend acted out the forgiveness of Christ for me. Now whenever regret overwhelms me, I remember God’s redemption through forgiveness, not just between God and man, but between men through Christ. This redemption and forgiveness of brokenness makes brokenness worth loving.
I can love life because love is perfect in brokenness.
With this story in mind, I think of one of my family friends, who loves the color purple. She is the one who loved mischievously in one of my previous posts. She is one of my good friends, and her whole family at that, I trust to stick by me no matter how weird I get. She isn’t perfect. She can be stubborn and a bit irritable at times, but I enjoy hanging out with her even when she isn’t acting perfectly. So as I ponder on Christ, and the family of Christ that teaches us and acts as Christ to us, I know exactly what color I would choose. Purple. Why? Because Ashley loves purple.