Skip to main content

lessons from the AC man

I am waiting for the air conditioner man to show up but since it has been 50 minutes, I guess he forgot about me. I hate it when people forget about me. I had a plumber at the house on Wednesday taking a look at a job I needed done and 48 hours later, I still have no quote from him. I hate it when people say they will do something for you and then neglect to follow through on it. No doubt I will call all these guys next week and remind them that I am waiting for something from them and they might actually GET some of my hard-earned money if they only took the time to give me quotes and pay a visit and do a little bit of work. But these are only tradesmen and I am rather easy-going and willing to give them another chance but if they continue to be rather unreliable, I will just call someone else until I find a person who exhibits a bit more drive and dependability.

You can’t do the same with your friends. I could give you a big long lecture on how one must be true to their word, exhibit faithfulness in friendship, be reliable and consistently available for those you value, and be willing to invest in people even at the personal cost sometimes. And I have given these lectures a lot in my mind, in fact, I have a whole series of them and could go on a lecture tour if only any other small minds would be interested in hearing my rants about how people need to shape up and stop disappointing me. This past week I was disappointed by someone again. Sigh, it seems to happen over and over again. And I found myself reacting rather badly – I guess there is just so much one can take before you go into a defensive stance and start rejecting people before they have the chance to serve that distasteful dish to you first. This defensive judgemental attitude was not one I wanted to keep around for it was bound to get worse and repeat itself in an endless cycle turning into bitterness unless I changed my thinking, so I asked God for help and it came in the form of some advice from my husband.

1. Forgive. Forgive. Forgive. And then forgive again. Seventy times seven. Every time someone disappoints you, forgive them. Totally. Don’t make that little black mark beside their name that warns you, “better watch out, these people have hurt you before, they might do it again, so keep your guard up.” Blot every mark out, in fact, throw the book away and stop keeping track, because that’s the nature of the forgiveness you have received from Jesus. Forgiveness means you don’t close your heart to people.


2. The second piece of advice my husband gave me was to lay down all my expectations. Ugh, that hit me between the eyes. How could I do that? You have to be able to expect a certain amount of decency and responsibility from people, no? The world would be chaos without it. But God convicted me that my husband was right, I had no right to place my standards of behaviour on anyone else. These expectations were in fact burdens that I heaped on people, and when they dropped the proverbial ball, or did not shoulder the full load, I extracted a price from them: their approval rating went down in my book and I shunned them from some area of my life. How unmerciful of me, how utterly legalistic and self-righteous and arbitrary is this system I have devised for doling out my friendship.

I was listening to a teaching yesterday about the life of Abraham and his friendship with God. Now Abraham did a lot of things wrong – he had a habit of partially obeying God, of lying to protect himself, of being insecure and hesitant in his faith, of manipulating circumstances to try to get what he wanted. But one thing kept getting stronger and stronger – his friendship with God. He brought his complaints and his happinesses and his struggles and his silence to his best friend, the one who never started off the conversation by listing Abraham’s shortcomings, but instead, told him all the good things that he wanted to see happen in his life.

Friends forgive shortcomings. Friends do things for each other to help them get where they are supposed to go. Friends don’t walk away when the road gets bumpy. Friends don’t give you the silent treatment. Friends don’t expect you to do certain things for them, they just expect you to be there, to be yourself, and to extend the same invitation to them. Anything requiring more than that is no longer a friendship; it is a contract, a job, a service, a project. And I don’t like to be treated like a project, so I’ll have to work on not treating other people that way as well.

Friendship. Relationship. Communication. Love. Acceptance. Forgiveness. Mercy. Grace. Help me, God. I don’t have a big reservoir of these things in my life.

The air conditioner man did show up - 2 hours late - but he showed up. Unfortunately, I was not home because of an appointment, but he left a message for me to call him and I will. Everyone needs a second chance.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

the songs we sing

NOTE: I am going to make some pretty strong statements below, but understand that it is my way of taking an honest, hard look at my own worship experience and practice. My desire is not to be overly critical, but to open up dialogue by questioning things I have assumed were totally fine and appropriate. In other words, I am preaching to myself. Feel free to listen in.

---------------------

When I am in a church meeting during the singing time, I sometimes find myself silent, unable to get the words past my lips. At times I just need a moment of stillness, time to listen, but other times, the words make me pause because I don't know that I can sing them honestly or with integrity. This is a good thing. We should never mindlessly or heartlessly sing songs just because everyone else is. We should care deeply about what we say in our sung, communal worship.

At their best, songs sung by the gathered body of Christ call to life what is already in us: the hope, the truth, the longing, t…

theology from the margins: God of Hagar

Our contexts have major implications for how we live our lives and engage with our world, that much is obvious. However, we sometimes overlook how much they inform our concepts of God. For those of us occupying the central or dominant demographic in society, we often associate God with power and truth. As a result, our theology is characterized by confidence, certainty, and an expectation that others should be accommodating. For those of us living on the margins of society, our sense of belonging stranded in ambiguity, God is seen as an advocate for the powerless. Our theology leans more toward inclusivity, and we talk less about divine holiness and righteousness and more about a God who suffers. On the margins, the priority is merciful and just action, not correct beliefs. 
There are significant theological incongruences between Christians who occupy the mainstream segment of society and those who exist on the margins. The world of theology has been dominated by Western male thought…

the movement of humility

We live in a context of stratification where much of society is ordered into separate layers or castes. We are identified as upper class, middle class, or lower class. Our language reflects this up/down (superior/inferior) paradigm. We want to be at the top of the heap, climb the ladder of success, break through the glass ceiling, be king of the hill. This same kind of thinking seeps into our theology. When we talk about humility, we think mostly think in terms of lowering ourselves, willfully participating in downward mobility. This type of up/down language is certainly present in biblical texts (James 4:10 is one example), but I believe that the kind of humility we see in Jesus requires that we step outside of a strictly up/down paradigm. Instead of viewing humility as getting down low or stepping down a notch on the ladder of society, perhaps it is more helpful to think in terms of proximity and movement.

Jesuit theologian, James Keenan, notes that virtues and vices are not really…