Thursday, September 26, 2013

Football and Character

  Very interesting that this article came out as I have been discussing character development.

         High school coach punishes whole team = how do you think the parent's reacted?
   Example of public school staff who have students best interests and development as a whole in mind. I know so many fantastic teachers, and I know this battle is being fought in big and small ways all over the country.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sexuality & Modesty

 Recently I read an article called   I would encourage you to read it, if you want to hear a strong woman's story.

   Here is what I would like to say.

    There are many men and woman who may identify themselves most strongly by their sexuality. For some, - their sexuality seems to be the basis for their worth. They may even feel it is the only proof of their value.  For others, it is cause of their rejection. It makes them a glaring target of attack. Same coin, different sides.

   Some may be aware of these dynamics in their own life, like the woman who wrote the post, who struggles to find another means of identity, and worth, and fights for that assurance every single day. Others seem to embrace and revel in what they see as a source of personal power.

  Right now my world is flooded with those who offering all kinds of solutions on how to 'handle' other people’s sexuality in their own world. Protective mothers blog about blocking girls on face book who’s photos are sexual or provocative in nature, whether intended or not. (Which in itself is a huge assumption that it is the girls pictures that will catch her son's attention.) 
 Others blog about compassion winning those girls over to different ways of dressing and sharing. Others dive deeply in discussing modesty and proper dress. They try to define and motivate others to handle their bodies the way that is least offensive to the writers. The tactics are usually the same; guilt, shame, and ultimately, rejection.

    I guess I didn’t realize that the point of Christianity was to clean everyone up, give them a proper make over, and slap a sanctified smile on their face and bible in their arms before they were worthy of love and respect.

    So how DO you handle other peoples overt sexuality? What about your kids? Are you worried?
   I am too. I am worried about how our children are learning how to relate to and treat others.
  They are watching and learning. And funny enough, - they get the message. –

   While you don’t believe a person’s sexuality is key to their worth, - you do seem to believe their sexuality or appearance is reason to treat them as if they had none.

    You see, - by treating someone differently because they do or don't meet your standards, you really are telling them that their sexuality DOES prove their worth. Your standards are different than theirs, that's all. Maybe one woman finds her sexual worth in flaunting her gorgeous body, while you find yours in completely covering it (and wishing that everyone in your world would also). Both objectify, based in a dangerous value system.

 Do you know how to relate to a woman or man, or teen who you feel is too hung up on their sexuality being tied to their value and worth?
 Prove to them it isn’t.
Treat them like the beautiful, complex, wonderful, individual person they are. 
Look in their eyes, not at their clothes. Listen to what they know, what they like, what they love, instead of trying to figure out what box or label you can apply. Real modesty means not giving sexuality in yourself or others any more attention or promotion than it deserves, either positive or negative.

    Just for the record, - that’s what Jesus did.

   He sided with the woman caught in the act of adultery and literally saved her life.
  He hung out alone and talked with the woman at the well who was a well known woman of the night.  I love the story of him talking to the woman at the well. He knew what she looked like and who she was, and yet did not objectify her.  He did not judge. He treated her with respect.

  He may have been the first man in her life to look in her eyes and care more about her as person than what her appearance and reputation meant.
    When meeting others, Jesus always cared far more about who they really were, than their sexual experiences. He cared about their hearts, about their wholeness.
   How can we do any less?  

    I hope to protect my son and daughter. I hope to protect them from judging people by the clothes they wear, the way they speak, their sexual past, present, or any other insignificant thing about them. I hope to teach them to treat every man and woman with love and respect and treat them the way they’d like to be treated. I hope I can give them a  sense of their own incredible value and worth no matter what about them may be disliked by others.

   I also hope they choose to follow in my love of a God who teaches me how to truly love others.
I honestly don’t know how they could refuse such a God, because the more I know Him, the more I love who he is, and his never ending love for us all.
  Of this I am confident, - the surest hope I have of letting them see the God I love; is letting him see God’s love for others begin with me.

(I want to clarify for those who haven't read other places where I address the fact that I DO take measures to protect my children from unhealthy sexual experiences or predation of others. This is not the issue I am addressing in this post. This post is addressing how we relate to others in our life,  as young and old adults, and yes, our children are watching.  
 Forced sex, and sexual or physical abuse are NEVER ok, no matter how old or young a person may be. To learn more about what abuse is, and how to take steps toward health and recovery, please go here, here, or here.) 

Friday, September 20, 2013

10 Reasons Not to Home School #8

10 Reasons Not to Home School #8 ; To focus on Character over Academic Achievement

  Of all reasons this one I understand the least.

  If it weren’t for the fact that it is brought up so often in conversation, (proven by being specifically mentioned twice in comments on my blog to posts in this series thus far) I probably would not have included it on the list.

    This sentiment may be phrased like this; ‘One of the best parts of home schooling my child is that I am able to focus on character development over academic achievement.”

    There are three reasons why this statement is flawed, illogical, and this kind of thinking is dangerous.   

First of all, obviously implied is the idea that you must choose.

Honesty OR the honor roll. 
Generosity OR geography.  
Sincerity and sweetness OR Science.

    To follow through with this line of reasoning suggests we all have to choose between being kind, OR smart.  (Don’t ask me which I’d choose, folks. Please just don’t.)

     The truth? Both are vital to a child’s growth and development. 

Character is the development of a child’s moral strength, and education is development of a child’s mental strength.

 To neglect any of your child’s being is harmful. Saying that you are choosing to focus on your child’s character over his academics is like saying that you are choosing to focus on feeding your child over developing his character.

     Trying to nurture one part of your child’s growth by sacrificing another just doesn’t make sense. Frankly, it simply cannot be done.

 Your child’s mind, body and soul are interconnected, and are all three developing every day. All three need direction, challenge and focused effort.  Are you a refining force to help them develop in harmony?

      Second, not only do these parents imply that they have chosen to focus on ONE aspect of personal growth over another, they also seem to lack a basic understanding of what education really means.

      Education by definition requires significant practice and development of character.

 Becoming educated in simplest terms, is enduring the discipline of study.

    It requires effort, focus, concentration, diligence, perseverance and follow-through.

    Expecting your child to acquire an education is no little thing. It is something for which you and your child will have to work very hard. It will require DAILY use and exercise of reason, research and will at times require your child to apply themselves to what is the unnatural but learned discipline of sitting quietly, listening, internalizing information and then determining how best to apply it.

    Does this mean a child must sit for long continuous hours a day, simply memorizing facts? No. But sitting still, memorizing facts, and seemly useless repetition; while hugely unpopular, are not only effective and necessary, but are in practice tremendously rewarding both in character AND knowledge.

    I see my goal of successful parenting as requiring a multi-faceted approach.

    It takes into consideration that faith, morals and character help our child make emotionally and physically healthy choices, which in turn, provide a body and heart fit and ready to accomplish great things.  The knowledge, wisdom and solid education they’ve gained allow them to envision and accomplish these great things.

    In other words, our faith forms the basis for healthy choices, the practice of which, give us sound bodies and spirits able to do great things, which our knowledge and education will allow us to envision, pursue, and achieve.

    We are multifaceted beings. When each part of our bodies, souls and spirits are working in harmony, we find peace, success, and are able to live the best life possible.

    As an adult, some of my greatest challenges come from trying to establish healthy balance and to limit how much time and attention one area of my life receives. Obsession or neglect in any specific area of life (health and exercise, ministry, eating, relationships, etc.) brings stress and friction to my daily schedule and to relationships.

    Just as it is harmful for a child to feel that their worth and value was only as high as their score on a test; it is equally damaging for your child to believe that what they know doesn’t really matter as long as they are sweet, kind, and hard working.

       Which brings us to our third point, priorities.

  When parents talk about a focus on developing character,  they seem to suggest that they have no time to spend studying because they are so busy……… hmmmm…… What on earth is it that you do to build character?

    In my experience when parents talk about focusing on building character in their children, they are usually talking about requiring their children to work. Household chores, responsibility for other siblings, participation in the family business or helping out on the family farm, making yogurt and kefir and homemade pizza dough, and sewing their own clothes (and for younger siblings) …. these are usually the character builders to which these parents are referring.

    I think we all desire to raise children who are productive, responsible members first of a family, and later for society.

   However, I do not believe neglecting to give a child the greatest education they can achieve in favor of manual labor is the way to accomplish it.

   It is not a child’s responsibility to clean your house, care for your children, or make your business successful. It is not a child’s responsibility to pay their way in life - that is yours. You are the parent. You brought a life into the world, and with it came your inherent promise to provide for that child until they are ready and able to do so, on their own.

Your child’s role is not to make your life better than it was; your role is to make theirs the best it can be.

   Whoa! I hear the protests now. – Wait, what about chores, what about teaching them responsibility? What’s wrong with good old fashioned ‘rolling up your sleeves’ and working? - Nothing. But there is nothing that great about it either.

     There is no shame in hard work, - as long as it is voluntary and the means for reaching a specific goal. If it is not voluntary and rewarded, it is slavery. And just for the record, - having food to eat and a roof over your head doesn’t count. Even slaves are given those.

    I can the shocked silence; and the looming, all important question. What about chores?

    Well, let me put it like this. Requiring a child to clean up after themselves, to keep their bed and room and clothes neat, clean, and in order; having them help some with meal time preparation and cleanup, and perhaps a small portion of house or yard maintenance, all completely in age appropriate amounts (of course), are to the benefit of the child. They teach him or her basic skills they need to be on their own. They teach him responsibility and ownership of what is his and how to care for his possessions. And some contribution toward generally shared areas help ensure he appreciates the work and benefits offered by others.

    So here’s the thing. By the time your child can do his own laundry, keep his room clean, pick up after himself around the house, clean the bathroom he uses, pitch in with a few dishes, can make a basic meal, or contribute to other general household chores, your child should be too busy pursuing his interests and things that advance his future to help constantly cook, clean, care for kids, or maintain your yard.

   A toddler’s contribution may be simply carrying things to the dinner table (oh so proudly), a child’s contribution while more substantial still needs your supervision or at least inspection (and certainly does not equal the work he creates), and by the time a child nears their teens, they are certainly capable of the tasks needed to live on their own.

    Of course, - the last two paragraphs are no surprise to you. Talking about children and chores to any home school kid or parent is like talking to a NFL player about the importance of team mates.

   Let’s get real. Home school families don’t have trouble teaching their kids to work. They have trouble letting go of the efficient work force they’ve created,  perfected usually by age 13.

   In large families especially, by the time a child reaches the age where they are able to start contributing more than taking, many parents are not just ready, but actually desperate for help. 

     So I am going to be blunt.

    Your daughter doesn’t need to do dishes for a family of 8 day in and day out to ‘prepare’ her for being a housewife. She knows how to do dishes. The same goes for cooking, cleaning, gardening, canning, sewing, rocking babies, or any other domestic chore.

   Your son doesn’t need to mow and maintain your yard, your cars, your livestock, or your business to ‘know’ how. The fact that you’ve given the task over to him means you KNOW he knows how and is capable.

     At this point you are taking advantage.
 If you are not offering them the same compensation that you would to anyone else, you are not “offering them the opportunity to help”, you are directly teaching them that their time is not worth anything.

    Your teen’s time is priceless. It is the only time in life where they are free of the major life choices and accompanying responsibilities you have already made. They have not yet chosen their spouse, their house, their career, the number of children they will have, and their life should reflect it. It is their chance to work hard and get ahead pursuing their dreams, their future, their goals; not just making yours possible. It is also theirs to waste, to risk, and to make mistakes. 

    Very likely your conservative home school teen will not complain. They will not argue much; they recognize the hard work and sacrifice you have given, and feel compelled to help in any way they can. Some will willingly sacrifice their own priorities for family needs, while others may find themselves so busy or afraid to unsettle the status quo they take little time to contemplate their own future. Some may find the expectations and responsibility oppressive and leave as soon as possible.

      There are few home school grads I know who have come to the work force OR to home making who have a healthy perspective of what their time is worth. We tend to struggle promoting ourselves, establishing boundaries, or knowing what things to pursue, in business, in ministry, in relationships; or in any significant way, really, because in our past, we’ve always competently handled every responsibility and expectation (which were freely doled out), and received little or nothing for it.

    What is the point of building in your child the vehicle of hard work, honesty, and reliability without the engine of self reliance, confidence, and promotion seeking necessary to move forward? Without these abilities your child is destined to remain in the shadows, helping others fulfill their dreams, achieve their goals, and attain prosperity.
   That hunger for more, and confidence to try; is yours to build by constant challenge and pushes forward, or to hinder through passivity, even restraint, harnessing that potential for your own benefit.

    I began by challenging a harmless sounding little word called character. I am not questioning its importance, but I am challenging its presence in our lives.  As parents are we raising children to have the tools they need to leave, fully equipped as soon as possible? Or, are our motives selfish and our grip too tight? Are we truly offering our child what THEY need for success or using them to make our own life (or lifestyle) more successful, or even possible?

    Wise parenting recognizes that a child’s character development does NOT require academic sacrifice, but is actually only further developed by the discipline of study. A child’s faith and morals are not hampered by learning and education, but strengthened through logic and understanding. Finally, hard work and responsibility do play an important role in your child’s life; in so much as they adequately prepare them for building their independence, confidence and future success.
 For more in this series, please go here.
 What unexpected challenges have you faced while trying to give your child what they need to succeed?
 Do you feel your parents truly had your best interests in mind in parenting?
If you could change one priority of your parents a it related to you, what would it be?
Linking up

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What Submission Isn't

                           Last week I learned something about myself I didn’t really want to know.

     I had oral surgery to remove two partially impacted wisdom teeth. Day three after my surgery I noticed more pain and swelling, and dutifully iced 20 minutes on and off. As the day wore on, - the pain became so intense I was convinced something was wrong. I peered inside my barely opening mouth with a flash light and was pretty sure I saw exposed bone.

     I quickly called the Dr.’s office and spoke to a woman who listened to my concerns and then proceeded to tell me to ice it again, told me she was sure I couldn’t see bone, and it was probably a piece of food, and talked about how everyone feels really bad on the third day, and did everything short of calling me a baby but in the nicest, medically confident sounding way possible.

    Even though I think she handled my concerns in a very unprofessional and careless manner, my reaction was worse. I meekly complied and hung up. That’s right. I didn’t fight, or argue, or inconvenience anyone late in the afternoon.  Maybe I was wrong. Maybe she was right, maybe I was just being a baby. 
     By the time I’d finally worked up the courage to call my own  dentist a little later hoping he could take a look; his office was already closed for the evening.

   That night when the pain became so overwhelming I began to cry; one question kept pounding in my head. Why had I doubted myself? I KNEW something wasn’t right.

  Why had I let someone I didn’t even know, who had no idea what the facts really were, talk me out of what I knew to be true?

   Unfortunately it isn’t the first time in life where I’ve shut up and put up and been a good girl and avoided bothering others at great personal cost.

     In my world in the past, - courage was not rewarded. Personal autonomy was not encouraged. Questioning and arguing with those in authority, or anyone ‘above’ you, was not well received.   Cheerful compliance, trusting submission, - self depreciation, and a willingness to sacrifice and suffer, - these were considered traits of value. Especially for a woman. I hate to be so blunt. But it is true.

 A woman’s place was to cheerfully support. Not to argue.

A woman’s place was to meekly accept good and bad without protest. Not to complain.

 A woman’s place was to respect those who were over her in rank. Not to Question.

Even if they were wrong; especially if they were wrong. If those over her were wrong, then a woman’s place was to pray, and double down on all of the above.

   Maybe it sounds like a bit of over simplification. – I mean, really, - am I saying that one twisted piece of teaching  I believed in the past is the reason that I didn’t grow a back bone and just speak up for crying out loud!?


     I know it may never have been intended, but one direct result of such wrong ideas of submission and a woman’s place means I did learn that my personal pain was not as important as attempting to perfectly fill my role.

    I did learn that trying to fight for my needs to be met was selfish and inconsiderate and a fault to be overcome.

   I did learn that doing ‘right’ or what was expected and willingly suffering was considered more important than risking being wrong.

   And even though I consider myself an intelligent and even confident woman who has grown and changed it is painful to realize how much the past still affects me, especially when I feel vulnerable.

  Today I have been thinking about the past ideas that were wrong.
  Also, I have been thinking about what is true.

   Here is the truth about me. I am not a person who is easily carried away by irrational fear. I do not tend to compulsively worry or obsess. I do not become distraught or crazed or emotionally breakdown in face of difficulty, pain or crises. (I save it for later, when I am alone) I have good instincts. When I look back over my life, - my biggest regrets are not following blown out of proportion concerns, - my biggest regrets involve failing to act confidently in what I knew to be true.

     I can trust myself. I know myself; at least I should. If I was my friend and heard my concerns, - I would have known they were serious. Why didn’t I take myself seriously?

   Here is what I wish I had said to the woman on the phone.

  “I know you probably get a lot of calls by people who are uncomfortable and want this to be over.  I am not the type of person to complain. I have a high pain tolerance and this is really getting to be too much. I am sure something is not right, and I’d like to know if you’d like me to drive clear out there tonight, or if it is something my local dentist can take a look at and address today.”

    Here are some things I have learned.

    A)  Our gut instincts and feelings (even irrational emotions) have a purpose. We have them for a reason. They are a gift of God; a vital function that tells us when something is wrong.
We can trust them.
    Not necessarily the first thought that occurs to us on how to solve them.
 (I feel so sad, therefore I will eat this entire pound of chocolate) But the emotions themselves are valid. They are true. They are there to get our attention and force us to look at something we would otherwise ignore.   They are like a check engine light in a car. Ignoring them or over riding them means internal damage is happening that WILL make progress impossible at some point in the near future.
   Physical pain is a warning sign that something is wrong. Emotional pain is a warning that something is wrong. Both are real. Both are crucial to protecting life.

  B) There is a word right now I kind of hate. It’s submission.
     I know it’s in the bible. I believe God’s words are true. But that word has been so distorted.
What I don’t know is how I believed certain teaching on what submission is for so long.  I do not feel that I totally grasp what healthy, right submission is, however I know for certain what it is not.
Submission is not suppression.
   It does not mean shutting up when you know you are right. It doesn’t mean that unruffled feathers are better than truth. It doesn’t mean that sweetness and stubbornness are incompatible. 
 It was not intended to weaken your strength, confidence or the warrior princess inside you.
Submission does not mean subjecting yourself or others to damage and hurt when it is in your power to choose otherwise.
Submission doesn't erase the commands of treating others with love and respect, and protecting the weak and vulnerable. Even when that includes yourself.

    C) There are circumstances in our life that are truly beyond our control. There are actual hard, difficult things that we cannot avoid, could not have foreseen, and have no choice but to endure. (deaths, sicknesses, tragedies, etc.)
       I do believe there is special comfort God offers those who are hurting. However, if you can do something about it; it does NOT qualify as justifiable, God honoring suffering.  Living a life of choices that allow destruction in your life (even at the hands of others you love) is no more honoring to God than intentionally walking around with a pebble in your shoe and wearing a hole in the bottom of your foot.
   Those of you who know me may be surprised at this post to some extent.  You may not have thought of me as a bashful Belinda. I can be very direct, and passionate, and loud and stubborn, but usually it is when I feel I am speaking for others. I have never had any trouble standing up for or protecting others, or specifically addressing ideas that I feel deeply impact other's lives. I have never hesitated to cause waves when I have felt others well being is at stake.

    But for myself? Not so much.
   And that is something else I’ve learned.
   Treating others with kindness and respect begins with how I choose to treat myself.
  Allowing myself to be neglected, hurt, ignored, wronged, or left to suffer without a fight, is wrong. Expecting myself to be able to suck it up, deal with it and move on in times of hurt and pain is not a meek and quiet spirit. It is not love. It is not the heart of God.

    Ironically, in my past, - I tried SO hard to achieve these lofty, loving, compassionate, bold, protecting, empowering ways to help others; completely refusing to offer them to the one person who needed them the most.

 The truth is, I’m worth it.                                                                                                                                 I’m worth loving, I’m worth protecting, and I’m worth listening to and caring for.                               And if I don’t believe it;  how can I expect anyone else to?

    Just a few thoughts I’ve had this week.  
By the way, - yes, - I called my local dentist early the next morning who got me in stat to flush and pack my dry socket (that had a LOT of exposed bone!!!!!)   The remedy was quick and simple and the relief was amazing. 
 The internal process has taken longer, and been almost as painful, but has brought equally amazing relief. 

 How about you, present mom, dad, or single guy or gal?
Do you take yourself seriously? Do you trust your instincts?
Do you listen to yourself and respect yourself enough to act?                                                                    Do you treat yourself as well as you treat others?                                                                                         Do you struggle to overcome ideas of what you ‘should’ be, or do, instead of recognizing what is true about who you are and celebrating you?

You may also enjoy, 'Teaching Your Kids to Tell You 'NO'.

 Linking Up

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Truth Offends Good People

   Recently I heard a sermon that briefly touched on the fact that there were many who despised the physical, earthly Jesus. And I began to really think about it in depth, in a new way, for the first time.

    The world despised Jesus. Not the vile ‘sinners’ like you might think. Those ‘of the world’ as is commonly thought actually loved him. The desperate housewife (adulteress woman) - the hooker, - the fat cat, despised young successful Wall Street executive that intentionally found a way to work around honest numbers (ok, - tax collector.) 

    Those that by any religious standard were well known; intentional, career committed ‘sinners’ (as opposed to the slip-up ‘good’ person)  loved him. They followed him, -they enjoyed his company and begged him to stay, even  clumsily climbing trees just so they could hear.

     No. Ironically, - it was the sober, godly; morally upstanding who couldn’t stand him. He was waaayyyy to kind and gracious. He didn’t care about the rules, the laws, - those things that you could do and KNOW you pleased God. He didn’t come and preach hell and damnation to the sexual reprobates, the thieves, the angry, the drunkards. He didn’t seem to concerned about  straightening them out at all.

   In fact, - he talked to the 'saints'. He kept saying that despite the tremendous effort they took to wear the right clothes, - to say and not say the right things, - to tithe just the right amount, and order their finances according to biblical principles - to protect their children from any unsavory thing, - to be sure and DO all that God could possibly want, - to thank God in prayer that they were not vile and wicked heathen;
Jesus told THEM that they were children of the devil.


   That didn’t go over so well. The ‘good’ people of his day didn’t like him. The people who claimed to love God the most, - the people whose entire lives revolved around holiness, and purity, and piety, and following the most conservative (safe) interpretation of God’s word totally reject Jesus, God in the flesh.

    You see, - he didn’t fit into their religion. He kept insulting all the hard work they were putting into living holy lives. I can’t really imagine it was easy OR fun to live a Holy, by-the-book life.

   Worried about the rules, - worried about even the APEARANCE of evil.  If Jesus was right, and there wasn’t any eternal benefit, - they would be forced to ask themselves why  they were so miserable!!

   These people loved rules. They felt safe. They knew where they stood, - they knew how and when to feel guilty, and when and how to feel proud of their devotion. Their lives were bound by box after box that effectively sealed the love and joy and freedom right out of their lives. They were going to live by morals and honor and conviction if it killed them.

And as it always will, it did, a little bit every day.

   And then Jesus showed up and claimed to be God’s son, - and he didn’t have respect for any of the rules. He walked, talked, ate, slept, worshiped and preached condemning the only way that people believed one could really please God.

    And the world hated him.

    Not the world that already didn’t care.

    Not the people who already knew they didn’t fit into the lovely little church going, - prayer offering, family devotion-ing, - missionary supporting families with smiles and generous acts of charity. The people who didn’t fit that mold were astonished. They were filled with hope.
 Could there really be a God? Could he really love them!?

   Did he really care about them; - even if they had long ago decided a life of rules was something they could never live. Hmmmmm. They could love that God.

   But not the ‘Holy’ world. Not those who had been banking everything in their life, - their hard working, Holy life on God’s approving nod and smile. They had earned it! They had never indulged in the base desires others had, - they had never rashly put their happiness above the proper thing, - they knew God was real and that judgment was coming….

   They would have thought that Jesus would have pointed to them, - and brought the cheating, thieving tax collector and pointed to them and said, - ‘See, - THIS man is living a holy life, - he is honoring to God.’ Instead he called them pretty graves full of bones and death, and cunning snakes and vipers.

  So they hated Jesus.

They made fun of his race, his home town, his family, his parents.
Even worse, they questioned his motives.
Some even claimed he was demon possessed.

    I have known that fact for my whole life, - and yet a few Sunday’s ago it sunk in.
God came to earth, and the most religious, most ‘holy’, noblest people on earth who had the inspired word of God in hand called him demon possessed.

     The truth offends people.

     Why?  I think it is because these ‘godly’ people had something to lose.

  Jesus message was terrifying. It was worse than being demon possessed. Demons; that the leaders of the ‘church’ could handle. They KNEW there was good and evil. They were proud to battle the evil.

     But being told that they were irrelevant? Realizing that an entire life of hard work, - doing the right thing, saying the right thing and living exactly like the written word of God was in vain? That was unthinkable. Like the rich man who loved his earthly possessions, I am convinced not just because of what they gave him, but what they represented.  He wasn’t willing to let his (and possibly his parent’s) life time of hard, sacrificing WORK go to waste and leave it all for Jesus.
In the same way, stood the righteous, the godly, the conservative, the upright.

   They had so much to lose. Everything they had stood for their whole lives, - every decision of self restraint, and patience, of worship, of restraint, every moral battle fought…. They would all be lost.

     So they stood and look wistfully perhaps, at care free, loving Jesus. Wishing desperately it could be that easy, that simple. Then that wistfulness hardened into resolve. 

    God intended for convictions and life style and rules to govern a life of holiness, and they would continue to live it, no matter what a miracle worker with love in his eyes said. They would follow the commands, and precepts and principles even if they were the last one on earth, and they would stand for right. No matter the cost.

   As for the man of mercy who roved around healing and preaching, and leading people to believe that all the order and self denial and lives of sacrifice was in vain, - this man had to be stopped, - before he led more astray. He must be silenced.
How else were people to know the way to God, which he had clearly written down to the slightest little rule.

      My heart breaks.

      As a recovering conservative, I see their resolve, their stand, arms crossed, heart long since broken and cold, - but steadfast. Who lost view of God’s love long, long ago, or quite possibly never knew it. Who know who they are. They know what is right, and wrong, and how to make sense of the world. So fragile really, - under the ice cold certainty they embrace. If it is not the comfortingly rigid law that guides you, than what?  The appallingly vague sound of ‘just loving Jesus’ is far too terrifyingly permissive, and with that, a crack of the door offering freedom slams shut.

    What if?

   Dear friend, what if it is true? What if it didn’t matter? What if the rules, no, - rule is the wrong word, - that list of
 ‘guidelines by which you can make sure your life reflects the love you have for God’,
- what if all of them didn’t matter a bit?

  What if the hardest thing you’ve ever done, ever endured for the sake of ‘doing the right thing’ and living your faith, didn’t matter at all?  What if it was never ever necessary?

That fear?
That is freedom talking.
Run to it. Stare it in the face.

 Let me tell you about the God I know now.

25 At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. 27 "All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

 Love from a former Pharisee,
This present mom,