Posts Tagged ‘creation’

Receiving Others as Gifts: People Belong to God

Belonging

In a previous post in this series on Receiving Others as Gifts I talked about not taking others for granted, that they are not objects for us to use. I want to go a step further with that to emphasize that people belong to God.

 

People belonging to God has (at least) four important implications:

 

1. We Need to Honor & Respect Others

The other people we encounter in life, as God’s beloved creations, deserve the respect that we give to God.

In college I once wrote a paper talking about the importance of both loving God and loving neighbor. I wrote about these actions as if they were two separate realities.

My professor pointed out that these are really two sides of the same coin.

It simply doesn’t work to say we honor God when we dishonor God’s created people.

 

2. We’re Not the Boss of Other People

Overtly acknowledging that others belong to God underscores that they do not belong to us.

We serve alongside one another in mutuality and we give and receive meaningful companionship but others are free to give or withhold these as honors their own commitment to God.

Others’ participation in service and companionship is not for us to coerce but for them to discern.

It is important for us to honor their boundaries about what they are or are not willing to do.

 

3. We Can Learn About God from Others

Another implication of others belonging to God is that many times we can learn from them about God.

As each of us are designed by our creator to be in communion with him, sometimes others may be tuning in to God in ways that we aren’t currently. As such, we can glean insights and inspiration from their encounters with our God.

Obviously, as a church professional married to a pastor I believe that there are formal roles in which this can happen.

But a person does not have to be super religious or a trained professional to have encounters with God from which the rest of us can learn.

It is easy to settle into our own views about and experiences with God. But God is at work in the lives of others too.

Our lives can be enriched by remaining open to God’s movement in and through others.

 

4. Different by Design

In my post about “giftedness” I talked about the idea that others are different from us. Whether we find these differences enjoyable or annoying, it is important to recognize that many of the differences among us are by God’s design.

God created each of us as unique individuals. Our giftedness comes from God.

Discrimination against or dismissal of others’ uniqueness is a failure to recognize God at work in each person. But by honoring their differences, we honor their belonging to God.

 By honoring others as God’s beloved creations, giving them the freedom to choose how they serve and with whom to associate, learning from them about our amazing God, and respecting their uniqueness we show a deep respect for them. In these ways we show with our actions that we embrace the idea that they do not belong to us, but to God.

Read all the posts in the Receiving Others as Gifts series:

Weighty Matters: Learning from My Body

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I’ve been losing weight and people are noticing. I’d like to tell you how this came about and what I’m learning from my body.

I see this as related to living out my faith because God created this body of mine, so to ignore my body is to be at odds with my creator. And really, being at odds with God just never ends well for me.

Some Background

I really, really hate to talk about this, but I have what is called Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). I hate talking about it because it is embarrassing to admit yet another way (besides my infertility problems) that my body doesn’t function properly, plus bathroom issues are just not a topic I enjoy–ever.

On top of that, IBS is a really frustrating diagnosis. Doctors don’t know what causes it, it’s not life-threatening, and there is no known “cure” for it.

There are ways of managing it, but they are often highly individualized solutions–the kinds that require a great deal of patient trial and error.

I have been in and out of doctor’s offices trying to get more answers. I wished for a long time for a different diagnosis–one for which the answers were more clear.

For quite a while I kept a food diary trying to figure out what foods made it better or worse. I could not find a pattern about specific foods, but in time I began to suspect that large meals exacerbated my symptoms.

Too Much to Handle

One might suppose that the solution was rather simple: if eating too much at once was a problem, then just eat smaller meals! While this sounds good in theory, it was harder in practice.

I did try to eat smaller meals, but I continued to have times when my symptoms would flare up and I was in a lot of pain. Still, the better I did at keeping my meals smaller, the better I felt.

I was actually doing pretty well until a few months ago when the pain got so bad that I ended up in the Emergency Room. It was pretty embarrassing for the only problem to have been my IBS.

New Discipline

After the embarrassing ER visit, I resolved to redouble my efforts to keep my meal size down. Putting less food on my plate was an obvious first place to start.

What I found though, was the most reliable guide for how much was too much was something even simpler still–to “listen” to my body. This was not something I learned as a kid in a family where the idea of “too much” of a good thing was laughable.

It has taken me a good deal of practice to actually key in to my body’s sense of fullness. And it comes surprisingly sooner than I would have guessed.

But in addition to the improvement in my IBS symptoms, listening to my body about my eating habits has also resulted in me losing some weight. I wasn’t looking for a weight-loss solution, but I’m glad that some good can come from this embarrassing condition.

Note: I am not a medical professional and my experience may not be typical. Please be sure to check with your doctor about your own weight and eating habits before making changes.

Stuff You Learn After You Say “I do”

My husband saved a turtle that was stuck in the middle of a busy highway.

I thought I knew my husband pretty well before our wedding day. But no matter how much you think you know a person, there will always be those quirky things you never saw coming.

We were friends for quite some time before we ever got romantic. We got to know each other quite well through letters we exchanged as friends. The friendship eventually became so obviously more and we finally confessed our true feelings for one another. We went from “just friends” to practically engaged pretty quickly, but a year-long engagement gave us even more time to get to know one another.

My beloved had been in Seminary when I met him, and he was ordained by the time we were married. So I knew going into it that I was marrying a pastor. He had seen me at my worst, I knew of his vulnerabilities. We both recognized that we were the youngest child in our respective families and had a sense of the challenges that would present for us. We talked for hours about faith, hopes, dreams and more.

Then on our wedding day, after the reception, on the car ride back to my mother’s house, there I learned something about my new husband that I was completely unprepared for.

On a country road he suddenly slowed and became very tense. I was worried that something serious was wrong with the car.

“There’s a turtle,” he said.

“Oh.” Imagining the turtle to have been safely camouflaged in the grass, I was bewildered how he even saw it. And I couldn’t understand why this sighting had such an effect on him.

He sensed my confusion, “It’s in the road,” he said.

So that’s how he saw it! I still didn’t understand what that had to do with him.

“Turtles are slow,” he said.

I nodded.

“I’m afraid he’s not gonna make it across.”

“Ohhhh!” I was beginning to catch on. This was starting to be really sweet.

“So, I, well… would it be okay if I saved it?”

How could I be so oblivious?

“Do what you have to do!”

And he did. He pulled the car over to the side of the road. And in his wedding tuxedo he walked out in the road and picked up that turtle and put it safely in the grass.

As he headed back to our car, other cars began to drive up. They saw my groom on the road and me in my wedding dress waiting in the car. They stopped to check on us. But all was well now, he explained, because he had saved the turtle.

The other drivers honked their congratulations and rejoiced with us in our new marriage and in my husband’s valiant deed.

The thing I learned about my new husband is that he is the kind of guy who will save a turtle. And I loved him a little more that moment, confident I had chosen well to get my life knotted up with his.

This month, on May 20th, we will celebrate 18 years of marriage. Almost as if to mark the occasion, my husband saved another turtle just the other day. And I loved him a little more in that moment too. Each day since we were married I continue to learn new things about him and find new things to love about him. I continue to be so grateful to have our lives intertwined.

Happy anniversary, my love!

My Son has Surpassed Me

20130426-230602.jpgMy son loves history and geography. He and his dad, a serious history and geography buff, often discuss ancient civilizations and where in the world current events are happening.

When my son was quite young he started getting National Geographic Kids magazine. As his reading fluency increased he began pouring over each issue, regularly coming to me with fascinating facts about the wide world.

Lately he has even been reading the grown-up National Geographic magazine to which my husband is a long term subscriber. Somehow my son reading the big people’s version of the magazine on his own signifies to me that my baby is really growing up.

I mentioned before my distaste for trivia. While I don’t like trivia as a rule, some categories confound me more than others. I loath history and geography questions most of all.

See, not only is my baby growing up, but he is engaging subjects that baffle me. It’s a little intimidating having my 9 year old boy delve into topics that I take only in measured doses.

I knew this time would come, the time when my son would surpass me. I am glad he has a dad who can dive into this stuff with him because I just can’t.

I try not to let it get to me when my son is better than me at something. Rather than lamenting it, I delight in it. I rejoice that he is coming into his own and that my limitations aren’t holding him back.

This parenthood thing takes a careful blend of forming life-giving bonds and fostering healthy independence. I wonder at what point “holding on” is holding my child back. I worry over whether letting him try something hard on his own is letting him down.

But when my son so clearly distinguishes his interests, this I see as a gift. I don’t have to worry about my role when I know he is taking charge.

Even if a small part of me misses being more “in the know,” the greater part of me is glad I don’t have to know it all. Even more, his wide-eyed wonder about all things historical and geographical makes these topics more interesting to me than ever before!

Yes, my son has surpassed me in his love for history and geography, but I’m okay with that. If he asks me to play a game with him though, I will ask that it being anything but trivia.