I’ve never seen anyone leave.
The preacher would say,
“if you’re offering your gift at the altar and remember that your brother or sister has something against you, or you against them, leave your gift and go and be reconciled to them”
Or something along those lines, a paraphrased Matthew 5:23-24. Often “gift” was worship, and the congregation were implored to take serious the business of unforgiveness. Still I never saw anyone leave.
After a quick mental check and finding no unforgiveness within I quickly tune out waiting for the service to move on. And this was the pattern that repeated whenever the issue of unforgiveness was raised, you see I’m a pretty laid back-easygoing-live & let live kind of guy, how could I have an issue with unforgiveness?…
Until I did. Until that face.
One day I was praying and the word “unforgiveness” kept coming up in my mind and I’d keep trying to dismiss it, because as we’ve already established I’m pretty Saintly. So as I pondered & prayed this persons face kept coming up (in my mind, not a saintly-I’m having visions kind of way), and while I was busy convincing myself I had no issues with forgiveness, it started to dawn on me that I had a bit of a bad attitude towards them.
Which got me thinking about other people I had bad attitudes towards.
Which got me thinking about negative attitudes in general and what causes them.
A negative attitude grows from a slight (perceived or real) done to you or towards someone else, that you have taken exception to.
Think about it. That guy you play sport against who you think is a bit of a dick because of…., that politician who said that thing about those people, that lady at work who never says “hello” to you…
A negative attitude grows from a slight (perceived or real) done to you or towards someone else, that you have taken exception to…
Isn’t that the definition of unforgiveness?
It’s time to let go.
I inadvertently stumbled on to this the other day while listening to Hans Zimmer on YouTube. The more I looked into this speech, the more fascinated I became with the film and the circumstances around it, take this from IMDB,
Gallup polls revealed that 96% of Americans opposed U.S. involvement in the war in Europe, and threatening letters from Nazi sympathizers poured into the studio. At one point, he even asked a friend with the Longshoreman’s Union in New York if they could have some union members present at the opening, to prevent a pro-Nazi demonstration.
In the 1940 movie, The Great Dictator, Charlie Chaplin gives the following climatic speech, now mixed with a little Hanz Zimmer (from every awesome soundtrack ever).
Words worth listening to, timeless & poignant.
If it rains on the rich and the poor,
if the sun shines on the hard worker and those who snore
if cancer catches the liar and corrupts the healer
then why do I look on my wealth as a sign of approval
each dollar a gold star on my good-life tick chart
justifying behaviour because I am blessed
when maybe I’m blessed to take care of those I call Less
I fail at new years resolutions.
Numerous articles suggest we all do. Maybe it’s personality type, maybe I just get discouraged and give up easily, who knows.
As part of my job I’m involved in a lot of goal setting, our goals are meant to be SMART, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timed. Like a lot of business-religious-educational acronyms, some of the acronyms letters seem to only be included to spell a cool word, aren’t achievable & realistic(relative, relevant, result-focused) the same, why would we set a goal that wasn’t relative or relevant? But SMAT doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it.
Maybe I fail at my new years resolutions because I don’t treat acronyms with the hallowed reverence they deserve.
In the past when it came to resolutions I’d get a little carried away, apparently this says something about me as well (personality types & myers briggs) I’d end up with lot’s, achieve very little, forget about them by February, remember one or two half way through the year & officially give up on them. A lot of my goals were about things I thought I needed to do more of or do better. Fitness, weight, the classic christian read my bible & pray more… And it didn’t matter how SMART I was with them, they always became Stupid Heavy Irrelevant Tedious goals.
Instead I’ve stumbled (sorry I don’t recall where) on to something else that works for me, it flys in the face of Deconstructionist (break every thing down) SMART. It may work for you, it may not.
So instead of a goal I pick a word I want to live by for the year, think of it as a focus, motto, heartbeat, ethos, breath….
What word do I want to breathe this year.
This will be my 4th year of choosing a word in the past I’ve chosen Sabbath, Thrive, Create. Last year my brother-in-law chose ‘Present’, an excellent choice, being present, being in the moment. I don’t recall what word my Dad chose but I was encouraged that the concept had worked for him & he was doing it again this year.
Sometimes it’s tempting to chose lots of words, I find if I have a couple I can’t decide between, one eventually falls to the side. Sometimes – like last year – I wanted to choose a task as a word. The problem for me is that tasks, no matter how noble, become chores, work, an obligation, they drain my energy.
Where as a heartbeat word, a ‘breathe’ word, is life giving.
How does this work? One year I chose ‘Thrive’, unlike a narrow smart goal, ‘Thrive’ covers a broad range of life. My word was a question, Thrive: does this help me thrive?
It may just be semantics or devilish-mind-trickery but ‘Thrive’ was positive & life giving for me, instead of “you must be skinnier no more junk food you fatty” goals, it was as simple as does this help me thrive? Got some spare time on my hands – Thrive – what will be life giving for me to do in this space of time I find myself with.
The real bonus of a word for me is it’s easy to remember, it’s just one word, but it covers so much more than a 100 goals. Sabbath was about rest, being still, acknowledging God, it was also discipline & intentionality.
Last year I went with ‘Create’ I wanted to choose ‘Write’ but write is more task orientated & ‘Create’ is freedom. Creating space to be creative, Create was about acknowledging where I get my energy from, looking for a creative approach to work/problem solving, writing, poems, painting, making videos, cooking more, creating with healthier food….
Even if I do forget my word or make poor choices I can still come back to it, because Thrive/Create starts every day, it’s not the classic “read your bible in a year-plan-oh-no-im-6-months-behind-give-up-futility”.
This year my Wife & I have chosen ‘Wellbeing’, we wanted a word that could embrace the various areas of our lives holistically. So that’s my word for the year, have fun discovering yours…
Discovery now that’s an excellent word.
When freedom isn’t freeing,
and belief shatters your faith.
When grace brings condemnation,
and judgement takes love’s place.
When numbers are not crucified,
and we covert a kingdom cup.
When new realities are preached,
while old ones are lived out.
When politics drive promise,
and people are busied with promotions.
When vision is as fickle as the wind,
and the most important meetings are whispered.
When the meal is dished out and no longer served,
and I can’t stomach the food that we’ve poisoned.
That is when I’ll walk away,
before I do.
Evangelicalism, you have made your people defend a book, but not the marginalized in front of them. You have blinded them with your judgements. You have made them so hungry for power, that they want nothing to do with the powerless. You have turned them into the oppressors. You have made it all about the next life, while ignoring this one. Your people pray, sing, maintain their holiness, but what they don’t see is that this is turning them into white-washed tombs. They don’t realize that righteousness is justice. Holiness is defending the powerless and taking care of the least of these. You have made it all about themselves.
You still have some honest, good people within your religion, but you must release them from your bondage. You must give them the freedom to be messy, to question, to love, to do justice, to give mercy, to be kind and gentle. You must step aside and let them see Jesus, and to be Jesus.
Evangelicalism, you have traumatized us enough. Maybe you are the one who is traumatized. It is time to examine your fruit. It is time to heal, so that you may bring healing.