Generic Blog #1,814

franklincat

I couldn’t really think of a clever title, so I went with what you see above. Not my finest moment ever, but it’s better than having an Untitled Blog.

I made my usual trek to downtown Franklin. I visited all my usual haunts– McCreary’s Irish Pub, The Frothy Monkey, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (or as I like to refer to them, the perfect trifecta).

I deviated a bit from the usual routine. I decided to explore the street that has my favorite house in the world, Fair Street. I stopped over at the garden area of St. Paul’s and took a picture of their St. Francis statue. I don’t know why I like his statues so much. Maybe it’s that I too am a fan of all creatures great and small.

It was a bit like that scene from the movie Forrest Gump, only instead of running I was walking (although in the thick Middle Tennessee humidity I probably sweated the same amount).

I walked up to the end of Fair Street, cut over on 11th Avenue South, and continued up West Main Street all the way to Big Shakes Chicken and Fish. I don’t know how far that is in terms of mileage, but it felt like at least a mile and a half, maybe two.

I met a friendly grey cat who was very social and liked very much to be petted. For a brief moment, I considered abducting said cat and bringing him (or her) home. I’m sure the owner(s) would not have been pleased.

I saw several houses where I could be very comfortable (including one fixer-upper opportunity that would probably require someone more handy than me). I sweated a lot.

I met a few people actually out in their yards or sitting on their front porches. I waved and they waved back. We exchanged pleasantries. It was so Mayberry.

I think I’m over any desire to live in a big fancy house with all the amenities. I’d be very happy in a small cottage with a front porch and a small yard. And maybe a statue of St. Francis in there somewhere.

franklinhouse

When The Lights Go Out at Christmas

His breath filled all things
    with a living, breathing light—
  A light that thrives in the depths of darkness,
    blazes through murky bottoms.
It cannot and will not be quenched” (John 1:4-5).

I had an interesting experience at work today. The lights went out.

I was in the middle of my last mail delivery run when all the lights went out for a split second, long enough to catch everybody by surprise and get them freaked out before the backup generators kicked in and some of the lights came back on. It was weird.

Suddenly, everything seemed more sinister. There’s something about not being able to see everything that unnerves me a little. Maybe that’s from all those scary movies I’ve watched. Maybe that’s from when I was little and was deathly afraid of the dark.

Sometimes life feels like that. It’s like someone switched off the proverbial lights and it’s hard to see where you are or where you’re going. You can’t prepare for what’s coming because you can’t see what’s coming. Sometimes you can’t even see the next step.

Advent is all about a light coming into the darkness. Some translations of John 1 say that the light came into the darkness and the darkness could not overcome it. Some say that the darkness could not comprehend it. I’m pulling a Forrest Gump and saying maybe both are right.

You can’t overcome what you do not understand. You will always be overpowered until you gain wisdom and learn a better way.

I love that it only takes one candle to defeat darkness. Or one little night light. I also love what a pastor said. The present state of things in our world isn’t due to the victory of darkness but from a failure of the light to shine. We’ve been silent when we should have spoken and sometimes we’ve spoken when we should have been silent (and maybe more discerning about what and when to speak).

 

Throwing Rocks 2

robin-wright-as-jenny-curran-in-forrest-gump

It almost always happens when I write one of these blogs that I will remember something I left out. In this case, it was when I woke up in the middle of the night around 2 am that I remembered what specifically I left out.

Maybe the person who needs your forgiveness the most is you.

Even if someone else did the wounding, it’s easy to blame yourself for letting it happen. Especially if the abuse went on for some time. You stayed and made excuses and didn’t run when you had the chance. So a part of you feels that you deserve what you got.

First of all, you don’t.

And second, you survived. You’re still here, which counts as a win in my book.

Sometimes, you just need to forgive yourself for not living up to your own unrealistic expectations. Or to the expectations that the culture and society has hoodwinked you into believing were essential to your success.

You need to know that God’s plan for you is your own and no one else’s. Maybe you’re not where everyone else seems to be at this point in your life. But you are where God put you. Where God wants you to be. Where God is using you and molding you and making you more like Jesus. And that is by far the best place to be.

I know I’d rather have Jesus and nothing else than to have everything else and not have Jesus.

So everything I said about laying those rocks down and building that altar still applies, even the person who you’re aiming at is your own reflection in the mirror. Let the altar be as a reminder of the time when you stopped letting your failures or unmet expectations or your shame define you. When you started to let your Creator define you.

I think that pretty much covers it.

Throwing Rocks

10-Jenny-throwing-rocks

I’ve been tryin’ to get down
to the Heart of the Matter
But everything changes
And my friends seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness
Forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore” (Don Henley).

Kairos was fantastic as usual tonight. Amy Jo Girardier spoke on forgiveness, which probably is something that doesn’t come easy to any of us. Especially those who carry the scars of wounds and words from those who were supposed to nourish and protect.

For some reason, I thought about the scene from Forrest Gump where Jenny is throwing rocks at her old house. It’s the place where her own father abused her for years, where all her woundedness came from. After she throws the last rock, she collapses on the ground into weeping. Forrest Gump say a line which I think is the best line in the whole movie: “Sometimes there aren’t enough rocks.”

jenny2

Unforgiveness is like carrying rocks. You visualize confronting the person or persons who cut you with their words, who betrayed your trust, who let you down, who deserted you in your time of need, who feigned friendship while sticking the knife in your back. You imagine what it would be like to use the rocks to wound them like they wounded you.

It seems like the natural thing to do. You have every right to be angry, to hurt, to want justice– even revenge.

But maybe what God is calling you to do is to take those rocks and build an altar. On that altar, you sacrifice your right to be angry. You give up expecting that the person can fix what they did to you. You let go of hatred and of wishing them harm. Instead you learn to pray for them and even eventually love them.

Then you realize you’re not the only one wounded. The person who hurt you was acting out of his own woundedness. He’s continuing the cycle of violence, of cutting words, of lashing out, because it’s all he knows.

Forgiveness breaks the cycle. Forgiveness opens the door of the prison of hate and anger and bitterness and the person who walks out is you. You are the one set free when you choose to forgive.

rocks

One of my favorite quotes from C. S. Lewis deals with forgiveness and the high cost that comes with it:

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.

This is hard. It is perhaps not so hard to forgive a single great injury. But to forgive the incessant provocations of daily life – to keep on forgiving the bossy mother-in-law, the bullying husband, the nagging wife, the selfish daughter, the deceitful son – How can we do it? Only, I think, by remembering where we stand, by meaning our words when we say in our prayers each night ‘Forgive our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us.’ We are offered forgiveness on no other terms. To refuse it is to refuse God’s mercy for ourselves. There is no hint of exceptions and God means what He says.”

Forgiveness is hard, but in my experience, not forgiving and carrying the weight and burden of all that anger, bitterness, and hurt is harder.

altar