My blogging friend, Pat, has sent me five words that I am to write about. If you would also like to play along, let me know and I in turn will send you five words! OK, let's go!
This week my hubby and I celebrate our 33rd wedding anniversary! We were friends in high school, but each went our separate ways for a while after that. The fact that we got together and joined our lives is a miracle with it's own story for another time.
I have no idea how a marriage can survive without God being at the epicenter. A few years ago billboards were popular that proclaimed "messages" from God. One that stuck with me was: "Loved the wedding...invite me to the marriage"--God. Weddings today can be very elaborate events that can cause a lot of stress and cost a lot of money. All the work and preparations are over in a matter of a couple hours. But what is left is the marriage...the union of two lives.
A real marriage happens when each of the parties stop thinking in terms of "I" and start thinking in terms of "We". God has said "the two shall be one".
There is so much more to be said about marriage but in the interest of keeping this short I would like to highlight the book Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. Think about this question from him: "What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?" I believe it is true. Through our marriages, we are to demonstrate to the world what God's love looks like. When marriage vows are broken, a corrupted and inaccurate view of God is displayed.
I am going to have to admit that this word can put me on a guilt trip. I don't often feel like I am a very good neighbor. I have a huge and close extended family and a large church family as well as my own busy life that involve most of my time. Now don't get me wrong, I'm a friendly person. I wave to anyone I see out in the neighborhood, and I'll even chat with them now and then. But I don't feel particularly close to most of my neighbors. The ones we were close to when we were all moving into the new allotment around the same time almost 15 years ago are mostly all gone by now, except for us. Neighborhoods today seem so transitory, and at least for me, it takes time to develop friendships.
In Luke chapter 10, Jesus was asked directly: "Who is my neighbor?" Jesus proceeded to tell the familiar story of the good Samaritan. From this, and from other passages of Scripture that talk about "neighbors" I have concluded that the real definition of "neighbor" has more to do with people whose lives somehow intersect with ours, if even momentarily. In other words, the person standing in front of us at the grocery store can be our "neighbor". How do we act if they are taking a long time or if they don't have enough money to pay? What about the waitress who is serving us at a restaurant, who seems grouchy or unhappy? Do we offer a smile or a kind word, or are we more inclined to report them to management?
"Love your neighbor as much as yourself." I'm working on it.
Now here is a word I really like! i.e. "Smell the aroma of good coffee" or "aromatherapy" (my favorite fragrance being eucalyptus spearmint). II Corinthians 2:15 says that those who are being saved are to God the "aroma of Christ". Whenever our small group meets in our home, I try to remember to pray ahead of time, that the Holy Spirit will fill the rooms with His sweet aroma and that all who enter our home will be blessed. It has been amazing to sense the very presence of God in our midst when this happens.
When I think of this word, I usually think of how far I've moved down the path of life from my own! We used to sing a song in church "Give of your best to the Master, Give of the strength of your youth"...Well ain't THAT the truth! When I look back through the decades and think of all the things I used to be able to do with great ease I am amazed. How did I ever DO all that stuff and still work outside the home and raise a family? I still enjoy doing a holiday dinner for anywhere from 10-30 family and friends, but I'm pretty much toast for at least a week afterwards!
Another way that I look at this word has to do with the way our culture worships youthfulness. I mean look at all the advertising for clothing. I just read that tight legging style stretch pants are coming back into fashion. Well, not for this grandma they aren't!
And with all the health care debate going on in our country, I am beginning to fear the sick and elderly will be regarded as less and less as deserving of expensive medical treatment.
And what I would give to be able to sit with my grandparents or my father just one more time and hear their words of wisdom. Oh that our society could respect and value what the elderly among us could teach us.
Our days of youth can be wonderful and exciting, but they are fleeting. I wouldn't want to go back without the experience and wisdom I've gained through aging, but I sure could use a strong dose of youthful energy!
Here's a word with negative connotations. We see indifference all around us in our world today. Our lives are just too filled up and too busy it seems to really connect with people in a meaningful way. Indifference is like ignoring.
And its not only the development of meaningful relationships that we often ignore, but we are also indifferent to the most obvious things going on in our world. Child abuse, the poor, the handicapped, vulgarity, coarse language, cheating, oh the list could go on forever.
Perhaps the opposite of indifference would be courage. Courage to confront, to get involved, courage to make a difference in someone's life.
Of course we can't change the whole world. But we do have a choice about our reaction to situations within our own sphere of influence. I love the story about the man walking along the beach, picking up star fish that had washed up onto the shoreline, and one by one tossing them back into the water. His friend asked, "Why are you doing that? You think tossing a few of them back to the ocean can make a difference?" The man answered, "well it made a difference for THAT one."