Theologians are theory people…and yes we need theory people…but they often miss the obvious. Yes, God is awesome, way way beyond our human understanding, worthy of our praise and admiration, but God is also practical!
YES! PRACTICAL! The BIG TEN weren’t traps, tests, or a spoil sport kind of thing. They are the incubator that helps keep us alive until we and finally all humanity mature enough to love others as much as, or like Jesus-more than-our small selves. They are for OUR protection! God is FOR us.
What about number 1? Does God need our love? God doesn’t NEED anything! WE need God What we admire and love, we try to be. But how do we imitate a God beyond our understanding? Duh! God’s goodness and love is fleshed out, visible, understandable, in a prototype so to speak: JESUS, a human growing into a Love that’s way beyond the “Big Ten,” a human struggling with the human suffering of sadness, discouragement, rejection, fear, and physical pain…but always open to God, both within and in others, open to grace to make the loving choice in the end, a human that moves beyond the “Minimum Ten” to fleshing out the beatitudes…a whole other level of love.
“Sins” against the Big Ten are just plain stupidity, once you realize that Jesus showed us that this very fleeting life isn’t all there is and that instant gratification and gathering toys are for children and need to be outgrown before we can move on. The truth is that coveting, stealing, killing etc., end up making our lives miserable, even hell.
And it takes finding that source of grace which we call God, both within and outside ourselves to out grow our childish shortsighted selfishness .
I once was a nauseatingly bubbly, outgoing, optimistic, like and help everyone type of person. I thought I was beautiful, generous, kind, humorous, honest and intelligent. It turned out that I was delusional about myself and criminally naive about other people and the world.
Somewhere in my fifties, I flipped.
I began to realize: that I was often a difficult person for those closest to me, that I was intelligent about theories, but had zero common sense, and that no one is so intelligent that they are right all the time. I found that rescuing people often reinforced their lifelong behavior of making poor choices. I began to notice that my humor usually had a victim. I sadly faced that I was a bottomless pit of needs and wants in my relationship with my husband and that my neediness stunted my ability to love. And I finally admitted that our American ideal of beauty has an expiration date and I was past it.
But other than these, I was an Okay person, because I wasn’t finished yet. 🙂
In the ensuing twenty plus years I have moved toward the middle by accepting being a reasonably tidy looking person, having a sense of humor about getting old and being human, being not only a person who has some valuable flashes of insight, but one who can be practical (at least when it’s absolutely necessary), someone capable of understanding, loving and actually making sacrifices for the people that I find myself unable to like because of totally disagreeing with them. I’m still into helping others – but I have admitted that I can’t save them and that helping others has the perk of making me feel better about myself. I am finally accepting the reality that though most people need a helping hand sometimes, it’s often important to allow others the chance to learn from suffering the consequences of their chronic bad choices. I have quit emotional garbage dumping on my husband and love him enough to now test the dubious leftovers in the fridge on myself, instead of him. And an almost fair amount of the time I do the necessary boring stuff I hate, though sometimes I just say “to hell with it” and stay up all night reading a spy novel and sleep all morning. While, I don’t idealize myself anymore, I both accept and value myself as the imperfect, sometimes downright weird, unfinished human being that I am, while still working to stay open to the challenge of changing when the need becomes obvious.
When my husband and I are watching the news together and it triggers one of those downward spirals of starting to focus on all the terrible people and things in the world, now one or the other of us will bring it to a halt by saying loudly and very irately, “It’s a terrible world, filled with terrible people!” and then we will laugh at ourselves and even at our pitifully flawed unfinished world.
Life is not about perfection. It’s about the life long challenge to develop paradoxical, but reasonable and practical balances between polarities.
But most of all, life is about persevering.
Words have such different meaning for each of us. I’m not very comfortable with “saved.” For one, it sounds like I’m finished, so why am I stuck here? For two, it sounds like now I belong to the in crowd, instead of the rest of the human race. I never was much on being with the in crowd, because it seemed to require trading my individuality for a false sense of pride or security.
To me the message of Jesus was: Humanity is loved unconditionally. Loved unconditionally means you are of eternal value…..it is not a short term thing.
If I’m loved unconditionally, then why wouldn’t I just do whatever I feel like doing?
Because once I experienced that kind of love that is beyond human understanding, it changed everything. Nothing else comes close to that joy….no pleasure, no fame, no drug, not even a parent or spouse’s love. Life is about learning and growing, but particularly it’s about being emptied so we can be totally filled, full to bursting with the joy of that love.
Whether I am a thimble, a tea cup, or an ocean won’t matter, because I will be full.
We learn to love, when we discover that we are not only loved, but that we are of eternal value, so we aren’t limited to a life span. We don’t have to grab all the toys, pleasures, friends, fame, success we can in our limited time on earth. They are here to enjoy, but they are only snacks, not the main course. They are the junk food of life……and though on any given day, in our humanness they may help us temporarily get through a scary place, if we don’t regroup and once again turn to that Love Beyond Understanding, that we call God, we become addicted and make them our whole diet and then there is no room for the joy of love.
Loving others, not just as we love ourselves, but as Jesus loved us, is what makes room for joy. It involves letting go of the bling, of the snacks, so we can be filled with the joy of loving.
I don’t think we can love someone we need. If we need them to be a certain way and they can’t, what happens then?
If we are weak, we are needy. Weak is not being afraid, but being controlled by our fear of pain or suffering. There are a million addictions, probably a hundred per person, that we use to blot out pain, whether the small and shallow or the overwhelming and deep.
But to be controlled by fear of pain means never risking loving someone, because love doesn’t fear not being loved, it fears hurting with the one we love, when we are helpless in the face of their pain. Love increases our vulnerability a hundred fold. Love means letting our fortress walls fall to ruin because it is not the enemy they keep out, it is love itself, the caring more about another than protecting our tender inner self.
I realize that much of what hits me is really pretty obvious, but sometimes familiar things suddenly speak to me at a different level, hopefully one that will help me grow more loving.
I used to think that praising God was loving God, then I realized that God doesn’t need praise, He wants us to praise him for our sakes. He wants us to lift our eyes from our tiny selves so we can connect with Him and his love, and get a very different perspective on life.
I also, have “known” for a long time that what we do to others we do to Jesus/God.
I had some difficulties with the “Love God with your whole heart etc. and love others as you love yourself.” First, if I love God with my whole self, what’s left over for others? Plus, my study of Psychology and my own experience have shown me that I love others exactly as I love myself! When I am in a good place about myself, I find it much easier to love others and when I am in a bad place about loving myself, I am the Wicked Witch of the West to others. Which fits with Paul’s statement that we love, because God first loved us. God is our well spring. And we may be Spirit filled, but we leak. So we have to keep returning to our source.
Jesus grew in his understanding and ultimately called us to a whole other level of loving….to love as Jesus loved is to put aside our self for others. The way we love God is by loving others with no conditions. Not my favorite thing frankly. This morning after reading a post on the blog “everyday gurus” about a child correcting his father when the father criticized someone the child loved, I realized that mostly my way of loving is, “I love you, BUT…….couldn’t you stop doing …… couldn’t you be more thoughtful……couldn’t you show more appreciation……..” In other words, I love you, but I’d love you more if you met my needs, my expectations.
When my kids were young and got in trouble, they used to say: “Nobody’s perfect!” And my husband would say, “Well, try a little harder!” But that’s the same thing really. The goal isn’t to be perfect, but to love the imperfect. It somehow seemed clearer today that the only way we really have to love God, who is way beyond our comprehension, is to love His creation and creatures, but particularly the most challenging ones, his very human people. I do pretty well with the creation part, a little less well with some of his creatures, and generally at some point fall back to: “I love you, BUT” with his people……. particularly those closest to me, whom I expect to meet at least some of my needs.
So much for loving God! Dear God, I love you, BUT………………………….!
Well, back to the drawing board……………..or better, to the Source.