Musings From A Musical Mind

Archive for the ‘Acceptance’ Category

There’s An Elephant In The Room

Who is This? I remember the cartoon, but not h...

Image by Medusa's Lover via Flickr

There’s an elephant in the room.   No one talks about it.  No one dares.

We avoid

We run and hide

We joke

We tell stories

We change the subject

and still….

There’s an elephant in the room

This poor ignored elephant – one that used to be rather small – but because everybody refuses to acknowledge her presence –  she has become  rather LARGE!  You see – she has an inferiority complex. A Big one.  And she drowns her sorrow and disappointment in eating anything she can get her hands on.  And because people would rather walk around her – even tiptoe lightly – she has to try to stay invisible in the center of the room – and not trip anybody up.  Oh she has tried to get everyone’s attention at times.   She even tries different colors to wear so she’ll stick out more and be noticed.  I’ve even seen her painting her toe nails red – and then waving her hands and feet wildly in the air – but to no avail.  She even waved and winked at me one time too – I’m sure of it.  I just shook my head and smiled.  I mean – really – what else could I do?  She’s an elephant.

Poor, poor elephant.

I’m waiting for the day – when someone can’t take it anymore and jumps up and says, “Hey!!!  There’s a LARGE elephant in here!  Do you see her?”  But until that day….

We avoid

We run and hide

We tell jokes

We tell stories

and….

We change the subject.

No one likes an elephant – especially a LARGE one with brightly colored clothes and painted red toenails, Right?  This elephant could change everything forever.  And no one will speak up.  No one will take the risk. Better to ignore and pretend….

There’s an elephant in the room

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Who’s In – And Who’s Not

We live in a culture where it is important to ‘belong’.  We have all been either ‘in’ or ‘out’ when it comes to the ‘clubs’ of our society – like church groups – country clubs – gyms or sports arenas.  Even as children we gravitate to those most likely to accept us and either start our own ‘club’ – or long to be with the ‘other kids’ who seem to have a better ‘club’ than we have.  We all want to belong.  We all want acceptance – even as children.  We want to be noticed and to ‘fit it’.  Sometimes sacrificing ourselves in the process – because being with the popular kids – or the ones who are ‘in’ is far superior to us than being on the outside looking in.

Unfortunately we have also done this as adults.  We’ve done it in our churches.  We’ve done it as Christians.

It looks something like this:  New person comes and joins my ‘club’ and now I feel threatened.  Maybe they will take something away from me.  Maybe my friends will like them better.  Maybe they will be funnier than I am – maybe they will be better than I am.

We had a situation years ago in our church – where we had a thriving music ministry – choir, orchestra and worship team.  This ‘club’ involved about 100 people on any given Sunday.  It was hard work to keep the thing going, new people were encouraged to be a part – but looked at somewhat suspiciously.  Eventually those involved took on the identity of the ‘club’.  When changes were made and even drastically cut down – those that thought they were ‘in’ were threatened and challenged.  Suddenly church did not become about the ‘big picture’ – or about new people finding Christ – as it became about the ‘club’.  It was their identity.

For years we have defined who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’ as far as our Christian faith is concerned.  Some feel it necessary to have a firm grasp on just who is accepted as part of the ‘club’ and those who are never welcomed in.  Those divorced, from a bad family, those involved in moral failure or substance abuse would not be a part of the club.  It was not said in so many words – but everyone just knew. I mean – ‘they really aren’t very spiritual, are they’?

Is is ever possible to really hate the sin – but love the sinner?  Do we put feet to this by allowing them into our ‘club’ – into our ‘world’ to break bread with us?

We live next door to a lesbian couple.  They are the nicest human beings you will ever meet – and though we ourselves think homosexuality is wrong and contradicts everything we know to be true as far as the Bible is concerned – we really like these ladies. We love them.   We know these women would be shunned by others of our faith and it makes us sad.  They would only see the shame and sin – they would never be able to see them.

We also know of others who are shunned, ignored and made to feel ‘out’ instead of ‘in’ – because of those judging them have much emotion – bad feelings or personal prejudices – nothing more.  They are judged on a feeling or on the physical appearance. Or because they don’t believe like we do. I think we have to be very careful – when we have a ‘club’ that is exclusive – and restricts because of small mindedness and agenda.  In doing so we give the silent message to all – “I’m better – I have the only truth – there is no other way to see it than my way”  This is dangerous indeed and it is how cults are formed – and why Hitler had so much power and influence over people.  It is wrong, wrong, WRONG!

We need to embrace people – especially those that are different from us.  There is much we can learn from other cultures and even other denominations.  I believe we may have a surprise when we get to heaven and find our Catholic brothers and sisters – even the Baptist and Lutheran standing beside us!  How small our little ‘club’ will seem then.  God sees the ‘big picture’ – he is not about denominational walls – he is about the heart.

Let’s not make the mistake of judging others – especially the heart and motive that only God can truly see.  He is the only judge – and in the end the truth will revealed.  Someday it may be revealed to us – that very person we don’t like – and that we’re not allowing ‘in’ to our ‘club’ – God is whispering, ‘they are my favorite‘.

Our job is to love, encourage and be an example to others of the love and acceptance that we received from Christ – when we stood before Him and said, “I’m in”.  Let’s bring a whole lot of others with us – as we change this dying world – with our love.

Who’s In?  You are. Remember – you are God’s favorite.

God Bless

Becoming Myself

‎”Now, with God’s help, I shall become myself” – Kierkegaard

Yesterday Greg and I were tossing around the above quote.  The simple and yet the profound.  The tangible and intangible truth of the above words – hard to fully process and difficult to wrap your mind around.

The longer I live – the more I am convinced that our lives are in process of ‘becoming’ who we are.  We are born – we have a certain ‘bent’ in our personality – those we genetically inherit and those we accumulate from our environment.  We develop in that environment – have friends in school to measure ourselves against – and if we’re really lucky – have good parents, a healthy church and many people we look up to – like teachers, coaches and mentors.  All of these help in the process of us ‘becoming’ who we are – but that in itself is not enough.

It takes many years of growing – getting through adolescence and young adulthood – to even begin to see our own unique gifts and personality.  We make shifts and adjust our likes and dislikes – to get married and have children.  For years we are lost in our lives – raising children – working outside the home – or in my case – in the home (being self-employed) and little by little – the years go by until you wake up one morning and your children – (that took over your life) – are all grown up and gone.  You get ‘judged’ or criticized for ‘just being yourself’ along the journey and little by little you make the adjustment and ‘pull yourself in’ so that you won’t stick out – be different – be wrong. After years and years we forget what it really was that made us unique – and made us ‘who we are’.

So the question is this:  Were we being our full and true self when we were younger?  Before anyone criticized us for being that? – Were we ‘ourselves’ when we were busy raising children – or going about our daily routine?  Or does becoming ourselves mean that we are on a journey – learning things from each of our experiences and taking it into the next step of our journey?  Does it also mean that I can be ‘real’ and ‘authentic’ – not hiding behind a facade of who people really think I am?   Because it’s easier?  Because it’s safer?  What if people don’t accept me for me – or even like me anymore if they find out who I am?

When you’ve spent most of your life in ministry situations like I have – you find many types of people out there.  Many that present a ‘face’ to others because it’s easier and ‘safer’ to just go along than to risk being different.  It was easier for me too.  Hiding behind a ‘title’ and a facade is much easier than risking rejection because we are who we are.

I believe the ‘with God’s help’ part comes in to play when I first acknowledge Him as the Lord of my life – allowing Him to refine and change me – my attitudes and my ‘old nature’ to become more like Him everyday.  But I also believe that God – through that process allows me to become who I am – and takes into account my personality – my strengths and weaknesses and surrounds me with people in my life that will help me and encourage me the most.  If we live lives that are dedicated to Him – and truly pray for His guidance and blessings on our daily activities and the people that we come in contact with – and those we will come in contact with – then we need not fear becoming – and being ourselves.  There is no fear – it is ‘safe’ to be me. We don’t need the ‘approval’ of man any more.

Whenever people tell me about their lives – troubles times and circumstances that brought them to this point  – they are discouraged (as we all are from time to time) and wish life could have been different – wish they could go back and make different choices. I am always quick to remind them that God used those trouble times of pain and frustration in their life – to help them become who they are today.  It is because of those circumstances – no matter what they are – that they are standing and talking about it today and they would not be who they are without them. Those very things helped to shape them into becoming themselves.

My prayer for you today is this:  That you would allow Jesus to lead you and guide your life – talk to Him about navigating through those rough patches (we all have them) and submit to the process of ‘becoming who you truly are‘ as those circumstances happen to you.  Be able to look clearly back over your shoulder at your past and say, ‘I can see now how God used that disappointment and hard time to make me stronger and set me on a different path’ or ‘I can look back and see His hand on my life during my journey.   See His hand in your life as He allowed different people in your life to help and encourage you –  and be convinced of the fact that He has been there every step of the way – in your past – here beside you today – and will continue on that road with you until you have learned everything there is to know about your journey.  That you would feel ‘safe‘ being yourself.  Let that be our prayer – all of us, to allow God to help us – as He gently leads us into the great unknown of becoming who we are.

God Bless

I have a friend… (via Cindy Holman’s Blog)

I wrote this one year ago – almost to the day describing a special friendship in my life. I am lucky – I have several friends that fall into this category – it is a blessing. Thank you to all I consider ‘friend’.

I have a friend who is giving and loving no matter how much time goes by or silence between us A friend who is interested in my life in listening and laughing about the irony of life I have a friend who does not judge me who listens and understands a friend who has had “life” happen and circumstances come and go A friend who does not change in the things that matter fundamental values and character issues who can find God in every detail – of eve … Read More

via Cindy Holman’s Blog

Acceptance – Or Just Tolerance

Heard a great Father’s Day message today from our pastor.  His main emphasis was this:  Do you accept people – or are you just tolerant?

It makes you think.  Somewhere deep inside of all of us – is this nasty habit of judging those that are different from who we are – or look different – or talk different – or do things that we don’t do.  The bible talks about this issue much in scripture – and that God is the ultimate judge of our heart and motives – and yet we still think we need to help Him out.

Maybe you were raised that drinking alcohol was wrong. Maybe it was the rules and regulations of the church you belonged to – although for the life of you – you can’t find anywhere in scripture where it actually says that it’s wrong.  It started out as a good idea once upon a time – or maybe had its roots in good upright moral principles – but then it went sideways somehow – and instead of it being a cultural thing or a church background thing – it became something more.  It became a judgement call.  You find yourself looking at those who have a glass of wine with dinner as less than spiritual.  Less of a Christian perhaps.  And they become marginalized. You politely tolerate them – but you do not accept their way of thinking. You do not accept them.  You don’t think they’re really saved.

Maybe it’s an issue of something as superficial as getting your ears pierced – or something else.  Maybe it’s a tattoo.  As was pointed out this morning – if we are going to make an issue out of a scripture in Leviticus about marking our body with a tattoo – then we better be willing to take the verse directly in front of it which talks about men cutting their hair and trimming their sideburns as being a sin.  And of course – that would be silly, right?  But we hold onto what we want to – or what we’ve been taught – and refuse to look at what scripture really means – and take the context and the heart of the message into consideration.  But how many people – especially from an older generation – just tolerate those who pierce and tattoo?  Instead of accepting.

Now accepting means I have to give in – and I have to let go.  And that is my safety net – to believe in something so strongly.  I feel justified.  I feel right.  I am right.  It means giving up that right – in deference to you.  It means swallowing my pride and self-righteous attitude and allowing you to be right.

Jesus came along as a radical to teach us that the Kingdom of God is backwards from what we normally think.  It teaches us to be servants and the lowest of all – when we want to be seen and heard and be the one in charge.  It teaches that we must be willing to forgive – even when we did nothing wrong.  It teaches that you are more important than I am.  That I have no personal rights.  It teaches that I lay my life down for others.  And this goes WAY beyond tolerance – even beyond acceptance.  It means that even with our differences – you are more important than I am.  And I submit to you.

And because God is the final ultimate judge of the heart – then I must lay aside my opinion of you and allow you to work on you – and allow the matter to be between you and God.

Ouch.  You mean – I can’t have an opinion and tell you to your face that you’re wrong – even if you are?  Not if we live by Kingdom principles you can’t.  We must let God do His work – and our job is to love and win others by our love.  There is nothing more motivating than a person who loves – and does not judge.

This is why it does not feel right when Christian brothers and sisters judge one another – and cannot be reconciled together after a grievance.  God is love. He dwells in relationships of people.  We need to forgive each other – and we need to love.

I am praying for you today that you will not just tolerate your brother or sister – but that you will learn to love and prefer them and their opinions and choices – over your own.  Accept them in love – just as Christ Jesus has loved and accepted you.

God Bless

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