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Death: Think About It

Death: Think About It

When I stumbled across the saying “no man is an island” many years ago, it immediately resonated with me. I believe it means that in some way we are all connected, and that when one person dies, it affects us all. If we learn of death, whether it is someone we know or not, it has an impact that ranges from mild disturbance – a niggling at our sense of mortality – to shattering our world in cases of close connection or mass death so close to home.

Any brush with death or near death experience, or observation of accidents and injuries can have this same effect. For about a year now I have had an increased awareness of death and the brevity and fragility of life. Some of this was brought on by a few near wrecks while driving or by passing accidents on the road, as well as reflections on the way I have been living and not living.

This occasional and ongoing sense was heightened, perhaps divinely, by the sudden death yesterday of a church member where my mother attends. It is odd for this to have affected me so, for just a year and a half ago my stepfather passed away. Yet it is this recent death which topped off my awareness of my own mortality to the point of my cup running over.

I did not know until today, however, that three other people by association had also died yesterday. Earlier today I did the infamous open the bible and read what’s there, and it opened to Ecclesiastes chapters 7 – 9 and here is what I encountered:

Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties.
    After all, everyone dies—
    so the living should take this to heart.
 Sorrow is better than laughter,
    for sadness has a refining influence on us.
 A wise person thinks a lot about death,
    while a fool thinks only about having a good time. (Ecclesiastes 7 2-4)

None of us can hold back our spirit from departing. None of us has the power to prevent the day of our death. There is no escaping that obligation, that dark battle… (Ecclesiastes 8:8)

The same destiny ultimately awaits everyone, whether righteous or wicked, good or bad, ceremonially clean or unclean, religious or irreligious… Whatever they did in their lifetime—loving, hating, envying—is all long gone. They no longer play a part in anything here on earth. (Ecclesiastes 9:3 & 6)

Utterly timely and, I believe, at the hand of God. Following yesterday’s church service about listening to God and hearing from God, I had been praying for Him to do just this. And so he did. And it was what was needed, for I have been in a long and progressive season of what traditional churches call “backsliding”, but what I define as a gradually increased distance from God and disconnect between us due to my actions and inaction. I have for too long neglected to meet with God to the point where it is painful to feel the gap.

So last night and today have been spiritually sobering for me and the end result is a turning within. This death, these deaths, and my own impending death have had a “refining influence” on me. I will not go into the spiritual work that occurred within me last night, but I have turned. I have turned towards God, recommitted myself to Him, and re-surrendered, or perhaps truly surrendered all for the first time.

I do not want to waste another day missing out on a relationship with God. I do not want to remain in a stagnant, purposeless life governed by inadequate self control and self leadership. Something new has happened in this ‘turning’. I look forward to the life brought on by the subject and nearness of death. Death, which is a servant of life, has pointed the way for me, its gruesome countenance admonishing me to turn around and face the countenance of my Savior and King.

We fear death, because it has the power to take life. But death also has the power to point us towards life, to create within us a paradigm shift if we will but think and respond. It is counterintuitive for most of us, but as the Ecclesiastical writer states, it is foolish to not think upon death and let it refine us unto life. And it is wise to let the message of death sink in, and to let the only One who conquered death and rose from it bring us into true and lasting, pure and eternal life.

That life leads to death is an ever present sorrow. Yet there is hope, for death leads to life.

The Art of Conversation

The Art of Conversation

It’s been said that talk is cheap. However, I’m not really thinking about talk so much as conversation. Today it dawned on me that conversation is an entirely different thing from talking. We can talk to others and have discussions, and we generally do this everyday, but it isn’t the same thing as conversation. I didn’t realize this until suffering years of malnutrition, starved of true conversation and it’s blessed essence and nourishment to my human soul.

Conversation is an art, and it is lost and dying. As I sift through the past 10 or so years of change, I wonder what exactly has contributed to placing conversation, that pure and true discourse between souls, in danger of extinction. Was conversation something that only took place in certain contexts, such as college or seminary, where learning, growth, and the exchange of ideas were as vital as a heartbeat to daily life? Is it that I am now on the downside of my thirties, thrust as a single, childless adult into the context of busier individuals’ lives who are occupied now with maintaining marriages and children while juggling careers? Are we as a individuals and a society too busy in this stage of life to quiet our souls long enough to realize that there is a difference between talking to others and having actual conversation?

My soul is sore. I shudder to think how long it has been since I have had the pleasure of conversation – the deep, freeing, flowing, intimacy-creating, relational-building kind of conversation; the kind that defies time, space, boundary and constriction. The artful pursuit of what lies within another person, and the reciprocal relinquishment of what lies within the self. Conversation is a delightful dance where partners grasp each others minds. It is a passionate interlocking of hearts, a joyful, intriguing dive into who another person truly is, and a richer discovery of who the self is. Just as conversation is lost, so also are people without it. I am lost, and I feel the loss.

The question is, am I alone in my loss and state of being lost? Do others feel the vacancy of the masterpiece of conversation? Are the majority of people content with the manufactured prints hanging in their relational halls, happy to call their daily exchange of speech and interactions sufficient? And those who truly engage in conversation, who do not feel bereft in this regard, why do they keep the circle so small?  Are we afraid of expanding our intimacy to the inclusion of pining souls adrift, thirsty for fresh water in an ocean of salty despair? Surely these people did not exist strictly in educational environments. Surely they did not love and hold to their breast the beauty of conversation for a mere few years of life, only to be discarded when jobs and spouses and children and activities began to fill the palettes of their lives.

Or maybe they did.

In the garden of Eden, Adam had a vast display of beauty and life at his fingertips in the form of a startling diversity of landscape, vegetation, and animal life. He had perfect communion and relationship with God, and yet his soul was lacking.  He needed another creation like himself with whom he could not just communicate,  but have conversation. And so God took from within the man a part of himself and created a unique but similar being to fulfill this desire. And conversation as it was meant to be was born into the world.

If only people could awaken and find themselves like Adam, sitting in the midst of the world around them, in touch with that lonely, missing masterpiece.  If only the business and busyness of life could fade for a few clarifying moments to allow that undertow of loss and desire to swell to the top and rise like a wave cresting, rushing to crash ashore. If only even one, such as myself, could again find conversation, or perhaps that God would fashion and merge our paths, then life would indeed be sweeter.

You Never Judged Me …

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You Never Judged Me …

I was sitting outside towards evening time and looked up to see the sun burning full and round at me through some nearby trees.  In that moment of warmth and light a thought flickered through my soul, traveled up to my mind, and out towards God: You never judged me.  It was a stunning realization.  For a long time I’ve been aware of the verse that there is no condemnation for those who are Christ Jesus.  But this is literally the first time that it has dawned on me that never, not once, not only in my lifetime, but from all of eternity past has God ever judged me.

In his foreknowledge he knew every sin I would commit and every good I would omit, every pattern, every choice, every hard-fought struggle against giving in to this flesh nature.  He knew my willful sins, the ones that I would delight in.  He knew of the times that I would “know better” and “do it anyway”.  Yet never has he pointed the finger of blame or crashed the gavel down to reverberate so hard as to knock me off my feet.  He has loved me with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3) and his thoughts about me outnumber the grains of sand (Psalm 139: 17-18).  His thoughts towards me are good and not evil, and his plans are to give me a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).

There is a difference between knowing that a person will sin versus judging them for it, a difference between allowing the natural consequences of sin versus raging in anger over people about how wrong they are, a difference between God and man.  It is not God, but man who points the finger and slams the gavel and even takes Bible verses to point out how wrong others are and how much they are “God’s enemies” if they continue in their unrepentant ways.  It is not God, but man, who will flip out at this post and begin harvesting verses from their minds, looking in indexes and concordances to find stories or verses to negate what I say here: God doesn’t judge until the end.  Until then, he loves.  And that is all he has ever done.  And that was given to me, today. When the warmth and the light shone down on me.

Peace to all far and wide.  He is a God who has always loved us, and loves until our last breath. The choice to know him and love him back through a relationship with Jesus is ours, and at that point, condemnation shall never touch a hair on our head.

Grave Day: Easter Reflections

Grave Day: Easter Reflections

Today is a grave day.  Not because I’m sad, not because anything has happened or that it is dismal and gray outside. On the contrary it is absolutely beautiful outdoors.  The sun is shining, it’s warm out, and the spring leaves and flowers are becoming fuller.  It is a grave day because today is the 2nd day in this Easter season.  It is the day Jesus’ body was in the tomb, the large stone secured and sealed because the Jewish leaders feared it would be rolled away in the night by Jesus’ disciples.  The Jews feared a resurrection conspiracy and had spoken with authorities to ensure that it was not only sealed but guarded by soldiers.

So I have been contemplative today, wondering what that 2nd day in history was really like.  It was a bleak day for those whose lives were forever touched by Jesus, and an anxious day for his haters. Regardless, all of them were wondering if what Jesus said he could do (raise the broken temple, literally and figuratively) would really happen.  So I turned to an online bible and looked for passages that talked about the crucifixion and resurrection and found something entirely different to wonder about.

In Matthew 28:2-4 it says that after the Sabbath dayThere was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.  The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.” Yet later on in Matthew 28:11-15 it saysWhile the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened.  When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money,  telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’  If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”  So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.” 

OK, what happened here with the Roman guards? They witnessed a powerful earthquake and an angel descend from they sky.  The angel was obviously very “angel like”, supernatural enough to freak the guards out and cause them to faint.  How would an experience like this affect a person truth wise? How can a person not believe something God-sized has just occurred? I’m sure that “some of them” did, because the verse says that “some of the guards” went to tell the religious leaders (chief priests) what had happened. To me, this implies that “some of the guards” stayed behind, and by further and perhaps liberal implication, I believe those particular guards may have at that point believed that Jesus was really the Son of God and had truly raised from the dead.

But I’m disturbed by the actions of the other guards who gave their report to the chief priests.  These are the ones I assume that, while scared to death, didn’t believe the spiritual truth and ramifications of what they had witnessed. And for whatever they believed about what had happened before their very own eyes, they sold the truth in order to save and enhance their own lives.  By accepting the Jewish leaders’ “large sum of money” to lie and tell people that a scam had taken place by the disciples taking the body from the grave, they sidestepped rebuke from their superiors for “slacking on the job” and letting this happen, plus that “large sum of money” was surely enough to live comfortably for a long time.

After witnessing a miracle, a God-sized event, not to mention a supernatural being, they sold the truth.  For self-protection and provision they sold the truth.  Wow.

But don’t people do that today? How many people witness God doing miraculous things, yet they don’t buy the truth of it? Like a surgeon who watches a patient clearly, scientifically, medically doomed suddenly have test results that come back stating a clean bill of health.  Or a person living a completely “hell-bent” life suddenly coming in to work radically changed, talking about how Jesus changed his or her life, talking crazy madman spiritual stuff that is as foreign to that person as another language.  Or a personal God experience, like hearing or seeing something that seems so clearly from God, or hearing a message and feeling so heavily the strong urge within to say “yes”, to respond, to believe and receive the thing so badly yet inexplicably desired?

There are countless examples of God-works throughout our lives.  And there are just as many “bribes” offered to us to sell the truth of what we’ve witnessed or experienced.  Sometimes it really is money and the protection and provision it brings. Some people would rather live comfortably than to risk anything that might compromise the layers of security carefully constructed by meaningless but oh so useful ‘green paper’. Some would rather sell the truth to keep relational peace, fearing the perception of others: “What would my family and friends think if I let Jesus into my heart and started behaving like a ‘religious nut’?” Others sell the truth for identity and independence no matter how powerful the God-sized evidence is in their life.  They don’t want to give up who they are and the control they have over their own life.  Humanly speaking, who would want to do that? I still struggle with that one, even though I know that no one knows who I truly am and can be better than God, and no one is more equipped to steer my life than One who is good and literally called Love.

Again, wow.  This Easter I challenge all of us to put ourselves in a place where we can witness something otherworldly and powerful.  To go to a church service, whether in person, on TV, or online and get ‘close to the tomb’. And for the life of us, and everything that temporally and eternally matters, not to sell the truth for a temporary substitute or bribe.  How grave a decision “some of the guards” made that day in history.  How I pray so many of us will not repeat history this Easter Sunday and match it with our own grave choices.

Blessings to you wherever you are this Easter. If you don’t have a service to attend, or you physically cannot get to one, or if your schedule is crazy and you want to watch an Easter service online at a later date, I invite you to join me at a place that miracles happen every day.  I can tell you this, tomorrow will be a day when earthquakes will happen in the lives of many people who will witness the truth of God’s love for them.  They will choose to receive the God-sized Truth that has pursued them patiently their whole lives!

Wow!

Join me online this Easter at your convenience to hear about how maybe God has a ‘fresh start’ personally gift wrapped just for you!

Quest Community Church

 

Deep Wounds Require Deep Healing

Deep Wounds Require Deep Healing

April is National Poetry Month and I’ve been sharing on my Facebook some of the selections I’ve written over the years.  Poetry is usually something personal, although I often write what I call “perspective” poems – poems I write from the “voice” of someone else whose experience I imagine or sympathize.  I’ve posted some personal ones, and choose to keep others tucked away.  It’s difficult to share the stuff that comes from the deep places of the heart, especially with people whose response will likely remain unknown.  It’s “too hard” to let the world see our wounds, isn’t it?

Woundedness is something we all experience and something we all try to hide from ourselves and others.  But it’s always there, like a basement door we shove a large piece of attractive furniture in front of – a curio cabinet filled with dainty things, delicate and beautiful knickknacks, sentimental pictures from “happier” times.  That’s what we’d prefer to look at in our souls, what we’d have others see instead of the door we’ve chosen to bolt and disguise.

That basement – and we all have one – harbors the ills done to us and the pains we’ve experienced.  Things we’ve done to others dwell there also. Woundedness, brokenness, deep emotional pain, even deeper soul pain.  How foolish to think it would go away, but we believe it.  No one fools the self better than the self.  We put our little band-aids on gashing wounds and half-severed limbs and store them in a sea of forgetfulness.  But the sea always churns what is in it, and throughout our lives things happen which bring those hidden pains to surface.

It is what we choose to do with them at that point which matters. In fact, it’s a matter of life and death.  But what if I’m a Christian? I’m not going to die spiritually if I ignore the things that are too hard and too big to ever fully go away? I get along just fine.  There is no use in digging up the past. God will heal me when I get to heaven anyway.

Yes, we might have a functioning and successful life. Work and family might be as ‘together’ as it can possibly be.  But I doubt that anyone reading this would deny that at least one thing in the ‘basement’ occasionally makes a sound, asking and sometimes demanding to get out.  We know how powerful it is.  We know how damaging it would be if we moved the curio and dared to touch fragile fingers to aging, rusted locks. We don’t even think that God could take care of the past, and even if he could, we don’t want to experience healing because that means pain.

Good news – God is the most experienced heart surgeon around with a long-standing reputation.  And he is gentle. Isaiah 42:3 says “A bruised reed he will not break, a smoldering candle he will not snuff out …” God’s knowledge of us coupled with the power of his love and character (tender, merciful, kind, compassionate, patient) is exactly what we need.  He knows when to push forward and when to pull back in such a way that pain will be minimized.  He won’t let us suffer in the healing process beyond what is endurable, and the healing ointment of the Holy Spirit and Comforter will ease whatever pain happens in the process.

It’s worth it.  Without deep healing for those deep wounds, we do die on some level.  And if we’re choosing to live as crippled Christians, yes, we may feel fine and we’ll still go to heaven, but our pain serves to limit us, and those limitations and hindrances could mean the spiritual death of not just one person, but many.  In our wounded state, there are people who cannot be reached.  I wasted years of my life living with wounds, and only now am I seeing how detrimental that was.  I was so inhibited from reaching out to people who need to know who Jesus really is.  I look at where they are in life now and wonder how they might be different if I was in a stronger and more healed position to have met them when and where they needed it. Would they know Jesus by now?

Well, enough of that.  Here’s a poem in honor of National Poetry month and one that touches on this very topic.  I hope I’ll keep reaching out to the Gentle Surgeon, who also happens to be a Loving Father, and I hope you will too.

Blessings,

Cafe Girl

 

A Bruised Reed He Will Not Break

How do You hold a fragile bird that’s fallen from a tree?
How do You touch a tender nerve when You perform a surgery?
How do You mend a broken bone without breaking the remains?
How do You heal a wounded soul with hidden unknown pains?

How do You soothe the crying child afraid of all around?
How do You sift through pounding rain to guide one drop aground?
How do You work the needle quick to sew and patch the hole?
How do You mold the shattered glass into something new and whole?

I am the bird, the nerve, the bone, the soul, the child that screams
I am the drop that’s falling fast, the cloth that’s ripping at the seams
I am the glass that’s on the edge, that fears the break and fears the heat
I am the one who needs You now, the bruised reed at Your feet

Three Types of Love

Of the six types of love according to the Greeks, agape was the only one that came to mind in thinking on love tonight.  Now that I’ve looked them up, I remember some of the others. However, it isn’t Greek types of love floating through the inner chambers of my mind at this late hour, but rather relational types of love.  There are three types that come to mind: self love, God love, and others love.  I realized for the first time tonight that these three forms of love can be arranged in several different ways, and that we as human beings may fluctuate the order of these three types of love throughout our lifespan.  The combination of the three types may be viewed in order of priority, being first, second, and third in importance and practice to us.

1) God, self, others:  Someone who loves God first, self second, and others last

2) Self, God, others: Someone who loves the self first, God second, and others last

3) Others, God, self: Someone who loves others first, God second, and self last

4) Self, others, God: Someone who loves the self first, others second, and God last

5) Others, self, God: Someone who loves others first, self second, and God last

6) God, others, self: Someone who loves God first, others second, and self last

Growing up I learned that #6 was the way that Christians are suppose to love.  We are to put God first, others second and ourselves last.  We are to love God first, others second, and ourselves last.  This was drilled into me through the cute little praise song which made an acronym of the word JOY.  J is for Jesus, O is for others, Y is for you.  But is this proper order of the three types of relational love? Perhaps you’re thinking how a self-professed Christian could even question such a thing? But what does it mean when Jesus said to love God first and your neighbor as yourself? Is Jesus saying we should love God, others, and self or is He saying we should love God, self, and others?

I always interpreted this to mean that Jesus assumed our fallible nature to love ourselves before others, and that He was saying the proper order would be God, others, and self. It makes sense doesn’t it? Putting God first, others second, self last.  It seems the loving and selfless thing to do.

But it just doesn’t settle well with me.  I think Jesus was advocating self love in a verse we interpret as implying selfish love.  I think He was hinting at a God kind of love for the self, and that the true order of love should indeed be God, self, and others and here is why:

Naturally we are to love God first, because we are His creation and when born again, we are His children.  We are to love self second, because we are beings made in God’s image, and that is how He loved before anything was created.  Before creation God existed in perfect Triune love: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit loved self in the sense that they are One.  Perfect love existed in the oneness and three-in-oneness of God.  Then God took the perfect, self love (very distinct from selfish love) and applied it to others by creating a world that He loved.  The natural order for God is to love self and then to love others.  As created beings, we must follow that perfect order.

The challenge is, how do we rightly love self in a holy, pure, God’s-heart kind of way?

My answer is this: spending time in the presence of God, soaking in His love, meditating on verses which reveal God’s love towards us, and asking God to root His love for us within us.  We cannot love ourselves and extend it to others unless we experience love first hand from God – knowledge and experience are very different.  I used to know that God loved me, but until I invited Christ into my heart, I didn’t fully experience it.  The idea made me happy and secure, but the inward reality was an entirely new awakening, quickening, enlivening of my inner senses and awareness.

I read a quote by Soren Kierkegaard that seems to support this view that the proper order is God, self, and others:

“The commandment said, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’, but if the commandment is properly understood it also says the opposite: You shall love yourself in the right way.”

I’d like to conclude by saying that the last 5 arrangements of the  three types of love listed above are all imperfect.  Since “God is love” according to the bible, those which do not start with God cannot be true love towards God, self, or others.  Number #6 (God, others, self – the typical Christian view) cannot be correct, though it starts with God and puts Him first, because the nature of love is to come from within (God loved self first) and then to flow outward.  “Self” must be the proper second love in the order, because “self” must experience love first (from God), understand it within and rightly apply it (to self) before it is able to pass that pure, holy, proper God-like love to others.

In this proper order that I believe Jesus was implicating (God, self, others), all love comes from God, honors Him, and is given back to Him. Again I refer to Kierkegaard:

 “But to love oneself in the divine sense is to love God, and truly to love another person is to help that person to love God or in loving God.”

I picture a triangle upside down to illustrate this, with God and others listed at the top and self listed at the bottom:  God’s love comes down to self, which then goes up to God, up to (reaches out to) others, which then enables others to connect to and love God, and connect to and love others.

Am I My Negative Brother’s Keeper?

After killing his brother Abel, Cain hid from God.  When confronted by God as to Abel’s whereabouts, Cain brazenly asked God “Am I my brother’s keeper?” A more modern translation would be “What, you expect me to follow him around like a baby and keep tabs on his every move?” Basically he was using sarcasm to convey to God that he felt he didn’t have to take any responsibility for his brother whatsoever.  Who cares where he was or what he was doing. It wasn’t of any concern to Cain.

But actually, Cain was responsible for Abel.  Cain was the firstborn, and sometime later Abel came along.  Abel was a responsibility to Cain because Abel was younger, more vulnerable, in need of learning new things.  He needed someone to look out for him, someone to look up to, someone from whose experience he might gain.  Cain was older and had that life experience.

I use this story to take a look at something that’s really been bothering me lately.  Every now and then I’ll hear or read a comment advocating that we should surround ourselves with positive people in order to stay positive.  Negative people bring you down, right? So protect yourself and keep those negative folks at bay and you’re guaranteed to feel better, have a more positive outlook, and just be happy and successful in general.  I know people who delete negative Facebook people from their friends list, or more harmfully just delete them from their physical lives.

Honestly, it should go the other way.  People who are positive and want to protect their positive bubble or outlook on life shouldn’t shun negative people.  They should be the very ones seeking to lift up and encourage those who are downtrodden, cynical, or pessimistic.  Positive people are the Cains of emotional well-being, and to cut ties with their negative human brothers and sisters is to abandon the Abels whom God has put in their lives.  They are their negative brother’s keeper so to speak.

We are all accountable for each other.  If someone enters our life, there is a measure of responsibility to them.  We may sarcastically shirk the idea much as Cain did to God, but to our own detriment.  For if our rejection and abandonment of them in their time of trouble leads to their harm, God will surely question us regarding it and then bring about a just response.

I’m not saying we need to be doormats to the naysayers and sink to the bottom with them in their negativity or despair.  God says to bear each others burdens, but also to lay our burdens on him.  If we aren’t going to God to unload our own burdens or relying on Him for strength to bear others burdens, then yes, we will become saturated with heaviness and at risk of being bound to negativity.  Or, we will become weary of the weight of our Abels and cut them loose from our lives out of self-preservation.

So how do we deal with chronically negative people, or even the sometimes negative?

  • As stated above, take it to God, and take from God.“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you … for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28 & 30)
  • Regularly practice openness to God’s love; be a receiver of that love.  If our love tank is empty we have nothing to pour out into others.  “May your roots grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Ephesians 3:17-19)
  • Be patient.  It didn’t take a negative person one or two times to become filled and burdened with negativity, so don’t expect your one or two pep talks to snap them out of the pattern.  If you are living in God’s love for you and letting it fill you with love for others, patience comes with much greater ease.  “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (I Corinthians 13:4 – 7)
  • Seek wisdom, understanding, and insight. Ask God for them.  These will allow you to discern in every aspect of listening to, loving, encouraging, and teaching those  who are chained to negative patterns. “Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.  Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go.” (Proverbs 2: 2 – 3 & 2:9)
  • Have a support system/community with other positive people and invite them to tag team your investment in a negative person to help them past their negative thoughts, emotions, and patterns. “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.  If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” (Ecclesiastes 4: 9 – 10)

As one who has dealt with a fair amount of negativity and negative people, I know it can be frustrating and difficult to endure the Debbie Downers in life, especially if I’ve reiterated my best advice till the breath has left me.  Likewise, as one who has been stuck in a rut of negative thoughts and perspective, I know what it is like to be so easily dismissed and given up on.  I can tell you this, cutting loose that negative person and denying them whatever measure of support you can is to shove them harder into the negative cycle and further into despair.  The last verse offered above, in the last phrase says “Someone who falls alone is in real trouble.”  How desperate are they, how compounded their troubles, when they are left alone by those in pursuit of their own happiness, who dare not risk the responsibility of a ‘brother’ or ‘sister’.

Peace to all, and please know that I welcome your own tips or experiences on this topic.

 

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