Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Quality or State of Being Friendly

Well, "friends", I've been thinking quite a lot on friends, friendship, and friendliness, and I've come to this conclusion: there are very few, if any, friends left to be had who have any kindly interest or goodwill on a consistent, faithful basis.  It's extremely saddening, to say the least.  Even I have not been a good friend, and perhaps am now reaping what I, myself, have sown.  I've heard it said many times and even have said it myself that, "With friends like these, who needs enemies?"  Some would take the passage of Proverbs 27:5-7 out of context to justify their actions.  Others offer no explanation for their injurious actions (or lack thereof), and wish to still "remain friends".  Honestly, I'd rather have no friends than not know if I can trust and rely on the ones I "have" to be friendly at all times.  Am I so "starved", as the 7th verse states, that I'll take on any "bitter", self-serving, mean-spirited person as a friend?  I've allowed myself to be "guilted" into being nice and come out of those situations feeling empty and unfulfilled.  I often take comfort in the song "No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus", as I try my darnedest to not pity my woeful state of being.  Merriam-Webster defines a friend as "one that is not hostile", and hostile is defined as "of or relating to the opposing party".  Aristotle said, "A friend to all is a friend to none."  So, you may have to make a choice.  I have made a choice.  I will still do my very best to be nice to all, even downright accommodating to others, but I fully trust very few.  (The actual number would be shocking to my "friends".)  It's a lonely place to be, having removed the rose-colored glasses and now viewing the entirety of the human race through jaded eyes.  I miss my innocence and abhor those I allowed to rip it from me, piece by piece.  Friendship isn't always convenient and being friendly or amicable toward one seemingly undeserving of such can be downright trying, but I don't think it's too much to ask or expect in return.  Unfortunately, life forces friendships in or out and if you are one who tries to maintain a hold on all friends, tenuous though the grasp may be, you will be exhausted from the effort.  The world of social networking has given many, including myself, a false sense of security, thinking all 290-odd "friends" actually like us.  (Or whatever your number may be...)  I am aware the vast majority on my list don't define friend, but some are outright enemies.  It's time to weed out the ones who hurt me the most, I reckon.  Will they retaliate with reckless gossip and malevolent behavior?  Most likely.  Oh, well, like the rest of the human race, I now will look out for me.  Nobody else is going to do it.  (I'll have my tongue firmly implanted in my cheek for my next post, and I apologize for the ugliness spewed herein, but venting is good for me.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Drama Queen Demystified

In spite of what you may have read here, I earnestly try to avoid "drama".  I don't even like using that word in reference to stressful life situations and fear it is abused by our society as a whole.  According to the highly reputable site Urban Dictionary (*dripping sarcasm*), "drama" is something girls thrive on.  (I paraphrased because the definition is substantially more offensive and you may read it for yourself by clicking my handy-dandy link!)  I don't think it's just girls any more, though they do bear the brunt of the blame for creating "dramatic" situations.  Men have become substantially more caught up in being "drama queens" as well.  Things grow worse at an exponential rate and it's so easily avoided!  I think that many, many, MANY people bring said "drama" upon themselves.  They will tell you they're victims, but I don't buy it.  So, since anything you read on the Internet (thank you, Al Gore!), is true and verified, I am your guru to provide simple steps to avoiding drama.  This time it's free, next time it'll cost ya'!

1.  Don't use the word "drama" unless you're referring to the latest Clint Eastwood offering.

2.  Stay away from people who use the word "drama", unless (see #1). "A perverse person stirs up conflict..."

3.  Before you begin to partake of another person's "drama" - stop.  Put yourself in that person's shoes.  No matter how perfect you THINK you are and that you would NEVER be in their position, you are wrong.  By repeating it, you may or may not bring added "drama" to an already "dramatic" situation and bring disfavor upon your own head by GOD.  (Most of those things are on a "need to know" basis and YOU don't "need to KNOW"!!)

4.  Refrain from using absolutes.  (never, always, everybody, etc.)  These words make you less believable as a person.  Regardless of what or who you are talking about, Justin Bieber was right - "Never say Never"!

5.  Be flexible so you don't get out of shape, hence the onset of MORE "drama".

6.  Befriend less popular people.  I have found many "unpopular" people are shockingly "drama"-free!  That may sound harsh, but hear me out!  popular=ambitious=competitive=jealous=petty=DRAMA  When you peel the layers, you may be very disappointed as to why that person is "popular".  Or how, rather.

7.  If you find yourself in a disheartened state of mind, keep your list of confidants short, honorable, and trustworthy.  When you hear things repeated, at the very least, you'll know who was responsible.  Whether you confront them or not is dependent on how much "drama" you would like to deal with.

This list is a work in progress, and I'm sure there are many more things to add.  I'm welcome to your comments and suggestions!  For now, try to remain drama-free and enjoy life!  Life really is beautiful.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Real Deal

Read an interesting post on a blog I frequent by a revered author recently, and it got me to thinking on the many forms of "sin".  The word "sinner" is what the crazies on The View would call a "Hot Topic".  Using that word and associating it with another person is akin to being judgmental, and when judgment is reserved for God alone, a fine line to walk.  As I have continued to read the heated debate on that particular post in regards to backsliders, modesty, sinning, etc., I have come to this conclusion - a reprobate mind needs some re-examination.  In Titus 1:16 it says, "They profess to know God; but in works they deny Him, being abominable, and disobedient and unto every good work reprobate."  (the entire passage is very interesting...)  The only definition I ever heard growing up in Pentecostal ranks of "reprobate" was basically that the person was cast out by God and given up on, perhaps even deluded in their beliefs.  That's not the complete definition.  Merriam-Webster says that "reprobate" is [a person] that is morally corrupt.  I realize not all Pentecostals fit into this category, but I'm ever surprised at the ignorance and sheer denial many are in.  First and foremost, you must be obedient to God and His Word.  Next, your pastor.  Problem is, much, much, MUCH focus is given to the physical presentation and pleasing the pastor and ministry, when hearts aren't right, yet God's people refuse to see it.  They're eager to tear down the unfortunate soul who happens to be found living in sin, yet they don't realize that every time they sit down at the table and overeat, they are sinning as well.  Living in a messy, filthy house is a sin.  Watching Hulu when the pastor preaches against TV is a sin.  Unfortunately, these things are trivialized, justified, and kept hidden from view so as to not ruin the perception of them via their outward holiness.  I'm actually the rare sinner that doesn't mind being called by that label, so long as the viewer sees clearly we all do sin and MOST on a regular basis.  Just because gluttony, laziness, and excessive debt aren't addressed on a regular basis from the pulpit doesn't mean God forgot that He abhors these things.  The surface stuff is easy, but God looks on the HEART.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Every, Single Day - I Miss Him

Every year, on this day, the reality of the hole left in my heart punches me in the face.  I don't know why bad things happen to good people.  Perhaps I should have more faith in God, but Dad served God so faithfully and he suffered a slow and painful death.  One of our last conversations, Dad told me he still believed he could be healed and it would be so miraculous and a light for all to see.  He got his healing, in a different way, but so much less miraculous to those of us who have not seen Heaven.  I'm sad tonight.  My life is not what I hoped for, nor what Dad would have wanted, but here I am.  Weeping over my computer.  Disheartened by God's people who put more energy into their dissenting views than winning the lost and winning back people like me.  I want to see this place called Heaven.  I want to see my Dad.  I want to have that last conversation that was robbed from me, as he slipped into a coma his last few days on this Earth.  He would know what to say to put my tormented mind at ease.  He'd say I need to forgive those I have grown to dislike to the point of sheer hatred.  I don't want it said of me that I lost my soul over my offenses.  Thank God for my kids.  They give me the will to wake each morning.  I'm really laying it out there right now and may regret this in the morning, but more than anything I don't want the world to forget my daddy.  He never thought of himself as great, and I think I probably took him for granted while he was with me, but he was great.  If you didn't know him, you missed out on something special.  I'll love you forever, Dad, as long as I am living.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

No One Was Searching For Them (Ez. 34:6)

Had an interesting conversation today with another "lost sheep" and have had a lot rolling around in my mind since then.  We experienced very similar circumstances and have trouble understanding the "Christianity" in it.  There are so many instances in the Bible, one specifically found in chapter 34 of Ezekiel, where God exhorts the "shepherds" or what we have come to know in the 21st century as the "ministry" in regards to caring for his sheep.  (Or the lack thereof, in my particular instance, and that of the other partaker in this exchange.)  And how many countless others?  When I was in church, I was of the opinion that the "backslider" was wrong no matter what, therefore no feelings of theirs warranted any merit or gravity.  I've even heard those who were "lost" and not sought after, that just made up in their mind to come back on their own, make up excuses for the lack of seeking on their minister's part.  None of this is called into question ever.  It's taboo and if you're even thinking of questioning why, you're immediately considered in the wrong, blacklisted and ostracized by whomever lends a sympathetic ear to the minister seeking to justify their lack of caring.  I have found that questioning usually ignites obnoxious, arrogant belligerence amongst "the called" claiming to strive to live as Jesus would, and no answer is ever given.  How many hurting souls are sprinting towards eternity, wondering where all the years of love and dedication to their shepherd and the flock got them?  Annihilated.  Excommunicated.  Forgotten.  Sentenced to the life of a leper without fair trial, only judgment.  The numbers are countless, yet the "redeemed" will say that if those "lost" really love the Lord, it won't matter.  I disagree and hope they're never on the other side of the fence to see for themselves.  "Thus says the Lord GOD: 'Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep, and the shepherds shall feed themselves no more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouths, that they may no longer be food for them.'"  Ezekiel 34:10  Those aren't my words, and I highly recommend the entire chapter for reading, so you may see for yourself I'm not taking a grain of sand to build a sand castle.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Title Entitlement

Growing up, we were taught to employ titles when addressing people of position, adults, teachers, etc.  This, I think, was a throwback of sorts to times past when kids were actually taught and expected to respect their elders.  There's a fine line that the use of a title walks today because the title bearer is still just human.  I do agree that, in some instances, the lack of a title breeds a familiarity that shouldn't be allowed in a more formal setting and "dumbs down" the respect level of the title bearer.  However, these "title bearers" [sometimes] hold dear to their titles and I have witnessed, over the years, the downfall of many of them.  I'm embarrassed for those in the ranks of "ministry" of many organizations that demand to be addressed in a certain manner, presuming they're deserving of the respect the title entails.  Some of them are obnoxious, belligerent sowers of discord and gossipers, yet call them by their name and you're in "the wrong".  What a farce.  No wonder so many people discount these organizations as cults and their people as hypocrites.  Are we not all sinners saved by grace?  What about the humility spoken of so often in the Scriptures?  Does humility and "title entitlement" go hand in hand?  I think not.  In fact, "title entitlement" goes hand in hand with pride, which God hates.  (BTW, I also think the whole trend of familial title use in non-familial relationships is still "dumbing down" the respect level of these presumptuous believers.)  In the end, it's not your title that will save you anyway and, in fact, may be your undoing.  Be careful, because that person you just belittled via your title demands could be the person who would help you up after a fall. Just call me Chris.