Archive for the ‘differences’ Tag

The Rare Gift of Loving Well   Leave a comment

At my dad’s funeral, my sister Amy shared how dad planned great trips for his children and grandchildren, taking them on real adventures that created memories for a lifetime.  Pop took me on a trip to Washington D.C. when I was twelve, and it was truly memorable. For Amy, this “extravagant love” was the epitome of her recollections of a loving father.

Yet true love may not show itself in extravagant gestures or great sacrifices.  Sometimes the power and glory of love infuses the mundane.  In fact, the grand display can easily be a cover to hide our unwillingness to love as we should.  There are foolish and useless sacrifices… even selfish sacrifices.  A mom can pay dearly to send her boy to college in an effort to run from the shame of her own inadequacy.  A father can give everything up to make his son a great athlete.. but is this love for himself or his son?   The ultimate sacrifice of true love is not in giving to the other, but in receiving them into our hearts, inviting them in to reveal their real selves, delighting in their oddness and mystery, allowing them to shape the very direction of our soul’s growth.

We tend to be so self-oriented that we equate our view with what is normal and right, even reading Scripture with that lense.  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” does not mean that we treat others as copies of ourselves, assuming that what pleases or saddens us, what excites or frustrates us is the same for them.  Each of us is unique in our experiences and perceptions.  True love is not simply making room for the differences of others, but valuing those differences, trying to see and understand the world as they see it, gaining a new perspective and value system and appreciation for life that we did not have before.  I cannot truly love without being personally transformed by it.

This is especially difficult for parents because they have responsibility for teaching and training a child, helping them mature into kind, insightful, responsible adults.  But if the child is not given the freedom and encouragement to find out who they really are apart from, in distinction from, in contrast to their parents, then their lives will be hollowed out, learning good behavior but divorced from their own hearts.  Is a parent able to learn profound truths from their little ones, a new outlook on the world, a new way of being?  A real relationship in contrast to a coercive one empowers each other’s uniquenesses, especially when those differences are a source of conflict since those are the secret keys to unlock our own spiritual insight and growth.

The beauty and glory of true love is that it enriches the giver far more than the recipient.  It is the pathway to our own daily salvation.


Posted August 3, 2016 by janathangrace in thoughts

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Saved by Our Differences   5 comments

In case you haven’t noticed, my wife and I are different.  She prefers being nice and I prefer being blunt.  She likes the familiar, I like the novel.  I like competition, she likes cooperation.  She wants to plan ahead with lots of cushion for mishaps, I want to postpone decisions way past their due date.  We aren’t completely different: we both like eating on the sofa instead of at the kitchen table, me with a pile of spicy, fruity, sweet and salty foods and her with bland food groups neatly separated into equal shares on her plate and eaten proportionally throughout, washed down with water… her with a dainty napkin and me with a protective towel (from her) which ends up scrunching down between the seat and arm while food spills on my shirt and pants. and sometimes on the couch. The dogs follow her back into the kitchen for the fat and gristle they won’t find left on my plate.  While she’s on her second bite, I’ve finished my dinner, burning my mouth on food I can’t wait to cool… unless I’m in the middle of a project and eat dinner 3 hours late, in which case we don’t eat together (given all her promptitude), but we both eat on the sofa (which was my point).
… unless I eat without a plate while leaning over the sink.  Hey, it prevents food stains!

So like most couples we have our similarities and differences, and the differences tend to cause problems, like when we went phone shopping this week.  We finally caved to the pressure of buying smart phones since Kimberly’s work situation seems to require it.  We’ve been talking about it for a few months and Kimberly had marked her mental calendar with a personal deadline, mentioning the expectation now and again so we would be on the same page.  Same page, different books.  Finally the time had come and I wasn’t ready–I was still in volume 1 “Thinking About Being Ready to Start to Plan for New Phones” and she was finished with volume 2 “Making a Decision About Which Phone to Buy” and was now on the last page of volume 3 “Buying a Phone.”

You know the whole thing about my postponing decisions for the greater good?  Well this goes into overdrive when it involves spending money.  The longer you can hobble along without spending cash, the better off you are–the lazy man’s savings account.  I’m all for quality of life improvements as long as they’re free–who needs to fix a leaky roof as long as you have pots to catch the trickles?  Being a default foot-dragger for any decision, I become a butt-dragger over money, a sit-down protester with placards shouting “Just Say No!”  As I explained the conflicting viewpoints to my wife, “Every day delayed is a victory for me but a defeat for you.”  She came home with a smart phone.  I’m sticking with my same dumb phone, even though I’ve hated it for two years.  How can you argue with free?

Procrastination requires no thought.  Thoughtlessness is actually rewarded because you win the game effortlessly, avoiding the stress of decision-making while accumulating points for not spending resources needlessly.  But it has finally dawned on me after eight years of marriage that what works under sole proprietorship does not work in a partnership.  Now when I leave a matter undecided, it does not prolong my freedom to choose, but forfeits that choice to Kimberly.  She is going to cure me of my procrastination without even trying, by just being herself in this relationship.  And that life lesson is free–who can argue with that?

Posted January 14, 2015 by janathangrace in Personal

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