Have you ever been in a disagreement with someone who was kind enough to hear the real questions you were asking, rather than just the (irritated, misspoken, inflamed) way you actually said it?
A college relationship professor once taught me the 1% theory, and it’s changed the way I look at life. The gist: In whatever negative way someone’s berating you, find the percentage—however small—that’s true. Then choose to be 100% responsible for your percent, even if it’s just 1% of what they say that’s true.
If you’ve ever stood in the middle of African worship, it’s…well, it’s pretty hard to stand still.
As I first stood just mildly observing at our recent refugee center staff retreat, I marveled at the full-bodied–literally!–movement and singing: music that took over my heart, my body. I was, um, really dancing (don’t necessarily try to picture it…) to worship for the first time. Moisture leaked from the corners of my eyes. Perhaps you can see what I’m talking about:
It was one of those weeks when the phrase from the Morton salt box from my childhood had to occasionally be batted from my mind: When it rains, it pours.
It started on the way to the airport, where my husband would fly to Kenya for two weeks. (Perhaps you’re already seeing the writing on the wall with me.) That was when neither of our ATM cards were working; problematic in a nation nearly entirely functioning on cash. Of course, it wasn’t until paying for my parking that I realized I didn’t even have the eighty cents to make it out of the parking lot. (“Kids! Start looking under all the car mats! In the cupholders!” We were still about forty cents shy.)
Say you’re walking down the street as a family. There on the sidewalk, an argument erupts at full volume between a couple you don’t know. She’s spewing vile obscenities and venemous accusations; he shoves and vehemently threatens her. Someone they know comes out to successfully intervene, but your kids’ wide eyes are brimming with questions. Do you
a. Cover your kids’ eyes with your free hands, and shoot the couple the evil eye as you stalk off. (Some people…! Get your act together, folks.)
b. Smile at the couple. Act like nothing happened.
c. Wait till you’re out of earshot, then mumble, “WHOA. What a jerk. And what a witch! How does he live with her?! If I ever see you kids acting like that…”
Kids present or not, we joust with these situations daily, right? That teenager mouthing off to his mom in Target; the friend who gossips at our dinner table; the colorful language on prime time.
I’m guessing I’m not the only one wrestling with what values look like in light of compassion and mercy. Lately, we’re encouraged more to keep our own “version” of truth and values to ourselves: Your values are okay as long as they don’t interfere with mine.
But (work with me here) I actually see rich possibility in choosing to discern right from wrong. On my grace-filled days, running into someone else’s wrong is a chance to remember how much I’ve been (continue to be!) forgiven. How much the very air I breathe is grace. It’s a chance to play out all over again what God does for me.
You know the people who exude this, I think. They’re the people who make you feel…at home, I guess. Like you can take your shoes off and process life, even if you’re just meeting them on the street. They make you want to slide down your inner masks and examine what’s really going on under there.
I’ve been thinking about them a lot lately, dreams.
Since I’ve already confessed that I’m a feeler, I’ll tell you that a lot of feelings and thoughts swirl around them too: Hope. Confusion. Anxiety. Zeal. Guilt.
They’ve come center stage lately as I wait…and wait some more. It’s to see, really, if my dreams match up with God’s as future plans unspool. If my idea of green pastures and still waters are really His—or just the “good thing” that is not His best thing. As Donald Whitney writes, One way to clarify your spirituality is to clarify your ambition.
Missed part I? Get it here.
I knew last week was going to be killer.
I was stoked for the opportunities, while bracing myself for days of training students 9-5 (and honestly, the three hours of traffic. Yuck). I confess to spending some lunches in the reclined driver’s seat of my minivan, snoozing until my phone’s alarm set me back in full gear.
And it was killer: an incredible chance to take every class at our refugee center through a peacemaking/conflict management training, building on a clear message of what God had done—and is doing—for us in our conflict with Him.
Considering the vast majority had trickled into Uganda from war-ravaged nations, a message of how to make peace practically in all our relationships was, I discovered, diametrically opposed to what many of them had been taught—or were teaching their children—from the time they could speak. Realistically, many emerged from nations that had been in conflict from before they were born. More than one student told me they had never known peace until they moved to Uganda.
What I didn’t anticipate was my own heart twisting inside me like a dishrag.