My heart breaks for America. We seem to have lost the ability to hear the other side of an argument. We are so concerned with being right in our country that we have lost sight of the fact we might be wrong. Or that the other person might have a valid point.
Christians are some of the worst offenders. We are so determined to be ‘right’ in the name of Jesus, that we forget there is another human being on the receiving end of our position.
We protest abortion clinics but don’t love the woman who is hurting inside. We think out politician is right and the others are from the devil. That God must prevail because we are right and the other side are sinners. God will show them…
Give me a break.
Would a loving father really choose sides between two sons? Let’s say you are the father of Obama and Huckabee. Your sons are both running for President of the United States. Do you really think you as a father would choose sides? Sheesh, they are both your sons. Only a mean spirited, judgmental, wrathful father would choose sides.
A loving father would love them both and give them both wise counsel.
Paul writes that “He is bankrupt without love…. it never forces itself on others, Isn’t always ‘me first,… doesn’t revel when others grovel.”
Why then do we are Christians take inside pleasure when others who oppose our positions lose. Secretly we cheer when abortion takes another hit towards being illegal or same sex marriage gets shot down in California.
Christians should be leading the charge to love and not hurt. We shouldn’t be pushing a message of “I’m right and your are wrong.” We should be crossing the street to put an arm around the woman who just had an abortion. We should go knock on the door of a gay neighbor and invite em over for dinner. (And NOT invite them to church or draw out the four spiritual laws.)
We need to stop sharing that God is pouring out his wrath on America because we moved away from the Gold standard in 1930 and now have fiat money. How in the heck does that help push forward the teaching of Jesus?
People, if we don’t love unconditionally, who will?
This has been hammered home over the past two weeks for me watching the events in Wisconsin unfold. I come from a Union family. My family is highly politically active, specifically in the Democratic party. Born in the suburbs of Chicago, my father did legal work for the unions. My uncle was a Chicago Cop. My brother is a union plumber and my sister works as a professor in the University of Wisconsin system.
For the record, I don’t believe in unions. I think they served a purpose 75 years ago, but now they are causing America to slip. That is my opinion based on my reading, research, etc. Personally, I think what Gov. Walker is doing in Wisconsin is heroic. He is standing up to a bully, the unions. I watch the events daily in Wisconsin and secretly want Gov Walker to ‘give it to the unions and break em.’
However, on the flip side, my sister is in a tremendous amount of pain. She is going to experience a 30% reduction in her pay and compensation. What she has worked for her entire life, to be a college professor with tenure is being taken away. My heart breaks for my sister. I understand why she is in so much pain and so vocal on the subject. Can you see my conundrum?
If I am a judgmental Christian, I would take an approach that my God is going to vindicate me! “If God is for us, who can be against us” mentality. Folks this is a win/lose/ruin a relationship approach.
My sister and I have had a few harsh words on this subject. Shoving article on each other to prove our individual points. Joined upon by my other sister and one brother in defense of the unions. In the end, instead of fanning the flames, I’ve decided that love is stronger than proving I’m right. That “caring for others, more than self” won’t win me any accolades on TV, it won’t make my readership increase nor will it get me invited to the latest Christian conference as a speaker.
My approach now? Well, I still want to prove my point, but not in a forceful way. Not by imposing my will upon my sister. I’ve decided that to love her unconditionally in her pain, that is very real and difficult to understand. For I am not in her shoes. She has a right in America to speak her position, post articles supporting her point, to protest and be upset.
I, as a follower of Jesus (no longer saying I’m a Christian) have free will to choose to love her unconditionally. To not keep score, cheer when others grovel and never giving up.
The question after lunch went like this, “Why do you think they’re so invested in this thing?”
I initially responded, “I have no idea”.
Then…all of a sudden…I said, “Wait, I know EXACTLY why. Because their identity is so wrapped up in this that if it ever failed or if they left, they would lose part of themselves.”
It was so powerful that I couldn’t even believe I said it – I just didn’t understand this before that moment. It’s all about IDENTITY.
I’ve heard Jim Robbins and John Lynch write/speak about this. I’ve read other authors that touched on this, but not directly.
The reason we defend something so fiercely, the reason we hold on to something to strongly, and the reason we spiral into a depression when it’s no longer there – is that we attach our personal identity to a THING or a PERSON.
Here’s the danger – THINGS by nature cannot last forever. PEOPLE are certainly mortal, and they have the propensity to let us down because they are not perfect. So when we attach our identity to a PERSON or a THING, we are on a collision course that ends up in a fireball.
Here’s how I know this…because I do this.
- I am a business owner and an entrepreneur. When my business is good, I am happy. When my business is not good, I’m not. To go deeper, when my business tanked in 2009, it sent me to the hospital eventually with panic attacks. I haven’t hit a home run, let alone an extra base hit in like 3 years. I have this voice in my head, that won’t go away. It tells me I’m a failure in business. I had my shot. I blew it. Success is for someone else. This paralyzes me sometimes. What’s the truth?
- I was a member of a church for 40 years, and a leader there for 20. When I resigned from leadership, I was lost. When I left the church, it was traumatic. Even though Arlene and I clearly heard God call us to do this, the little doubts from others that we are quitting or just bitter hurt me and instead of thanking God for doing something great in our life, I obsess over the handful of doubters – not the people that cheer us on. Can’t I just trust God in this? I’m missing the blessing because I’m focusing on the negative?
Here’s some more…
- I was a coach for 24 years. When I stopped coaching for a season, I felt lost.
- I am a pleaser. If I sense, or know that a person doesn’t like me for some reason, it’s powerful enough to derail my other friendships because I will obsess about the one person that doesn’t like me.
- I am a provider. When I could no longer provided income for my family, when I had to lay off staff, it caused me to go into a mild depression. Hell, it still bothers me that I had to lay off people that did good work and I loved deeply. Sometimes it totally takes a productive day away from me.
- I need to know I’m right. So I enjoy when people agree with me and validate my thoughts and beliefs. There’s safety in numbers, right? If 10 people agree with me, but 1 disagrees, I’m toast. I will obsess over the 1 person.
- Silly, but I am a White Sox fan, and believe it or not, some days my mood is based on the fact the Sox won or lost. Is this normal behavior?
- I am a father. When I have a bad day as a father, and I let my kids down, it bothers me. I then begin to believe I am not a good father at all.
- I am a husband. There are days when I really screw up as a partner and I let Arlene down. It makes me think I am a bad husband.
There’s more, but I think you get the point. Attaching my identity to someone, or something has no positive value to me.
Many of the things I am believing are lies – maybe it’s my enemy, but mostly it’s my own mind.
Yes….this is a battle over my mind. Not my heart. That battle is over. My heart is good. It’s my mind that needs to be renewed. Until I start to live out of who God says I am, I can never really live well. Until I stop obsessing over what other people think about me, I can never really love all people well. Until I begin to separate my identity from my outcomes, I will be paralyzed.
It’s all about identity. Once I understand this in myself, and in others, I can start living a more peaceful life.
When people defend their truth, when they defend their institution, when they question me – it’s not personal. They’re defending their identity. Can I be strong enough to live out of who God says I am? Can I go one step further and see people as God sees them – looking past their behaviors and words and into what’s really happening?
What have you discovered about your identity? Have you experienced trauma yourself in regards to ‘losing your identity’ when you no longer had that thing or person in your life?
I’d love for you to share your thoughts and pass on to friends too.
My good friend Perry Marshall of www.PerryMarshall.com sent out this video regarding shame and fear.
Perry is one my closest friends. He is one of the few guys who stood by me during the dark days in my living hell. He is also one of the brightest business owners/entrepreneurs I know.
A few days ago, he sent out this link to a wonderful video. In this video, Brene Brown discusses the impact that fear and shame have on our lives. Now I don’t know if Brene ‘Knows Jesus.” (Frankly I don’t care.) One thing I do know, she discusses the basics of following Christ in this video.
She said a few things that really impacted me (as I’ve watched this video 3 times already) Here’s just a sampling.
“The only people who don’t experience shame are the ones who don’t have any capacity for human connection.”
“In order for connection to happen we have to allow ourselves to be seen.”
“Those who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they are worthy of love and belonging.”
I’ll let her tell the rest.