Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Who are My Neighbors?

Growing up in the Episcopal Church, I heard the following words every Sunday in a slightly different version from the Book of Common Prayer (the 1928 as well as the "new one"):

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

I knew my neighbor was everyone from the girl who sat across the aisle from me in school to the crabby, old man who lived at the end of the block. I failed at loving my neighbors frequently whether they were cousins, friends, or strangers. I dealt with whomever entered my life well or not well at all.

As I matured, I noticed in some seasons of my life I was making strides loving my neighbor. Not giving myself a pat on the back here, trying to paint an honest picture of my walk with the Lord. Then low and behold, I experience a family feud with an in-law. At first I was stunned. I cried about it, laughed about it, talked about it (not exactly in truth and love), then simply grew used to it. There were times I wanted it worked out for another relative's sake as well as the young children in the family, but I did not steadily pray about it. Fast forward a decade and it appears it will work out...ultimately it did not.

The children were grown, the person I thought who would benefit the most from the feud ending died, and life went on. A pattern had begun which I did not recognize until recently.

I began withdrawing from difficult friends and family members. It is very easy to do now there are no PTA meetings, no gift exchanges for little children in the family. Holidays can be at my house, my way, with guests I choose. My home can be filled with laughter instead of someone complaining about their ex or their father or their boss or their spouse or their children. My home can be filled with fun people who won't sit on my couch telling me I cannot possibly understand how much my dad meant to him and how much he loved working for my father and how sad his life is now.

So I fooled myself for a while about loving my neighbors as myself, it is time to really love people. I have no trouble pouring out love in ministry to complete strangers who are often times emotionally wounded. It is time to look at the mission field of those I know.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Hot Hot Hot

A few days ago, we in southeast Texas experienced our 1st HOT weather of the season. It was over 100 to 107 for 3 days in a row with nary a cloud in the sky. (It still seems to me if the humidity is 90%, there should be a cloud in the sky.)

I sought refuge in the great indoors with books, water, and air conditioning. I do not know how my Texas ancestors lived in Texas without air conditioning. This is the time of year I watch Snapdragons and Delphinium wilt as Verbena and Salvia flourish.

I tend to shut down in the heat. I slack on exercise. I put off errands. I pretend I do not see the weeds thriving in the flower beds. When did I change from a summer person to a winter person? What happened to the girl who stayed outdoors fishing, sailing, and swimming as often as possible during the summer?

I look at the ways I've changed over the years. I look at changes in my life due to family dynamics and the deaths of friends and family members. I look at changes in society. I've seen a lot of politicians and dictators come and go over the last 50 years. However according to the Bible we are assured God never changes and His love endures forever:

Hebrews 13:8: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Psalm 118:9: Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

So take your eyes off the world and focus on Him, He will never fail you.

And now it is time for me to tie my shoelaces and go for a 3 mile walk. I've put it off as long as possible.