During “contemplative time” last week, I had my students reflect on the Resurrection account from John’s Gospel. Fresh from my own ponderings, we discussed the whole “John as the one whom Jesus loved” bit.
“Doesn’t Jesus love everyone?”
Yes, of course.
“Why does John even bring it up?”
I mentioned that perhaps it was because John had encountered the particularity of Christ’s love for him.
And they brought up something that is ingrained in us from our earliest years: the sense of things being equal or the same.
“Doesn’t Jesus love us all the same, though?”
No, He actually doesn’t. They seemed skeptical, perhaps because we automatically begin to assume that Jesus might love me less if He doesn’t love us all the same.
Continue reading “Particular Love”
I missed a plane and then had an extended lay-over due to a late arriving aircraft. I nervously tried to figure out how to turn the headlights on in a new car for which I had just refused all extra insurance. In the dark, I navigated along the fast-paced 405 and I-5, following a GPS that was guiding me to a place I had never been. I circled the hotel to find where I was supposed to park. Stupidly, I had to ask the hotel clerk if he knew the make of a Sentra. I later realized Nissan was clearly written on the key I had in hand. The room wasn’t what I expected based on hotel pictures. I couldn’t figure out how to make the old bathtub faucet produce the water I desired until the second day of my stay. I missed the evening part the conference that I had flown half-way across the country to attend.
Perceptions and preconceived ideas greatly change how we experience situations.
In my mind, this conference would go perfectly. I would fly to sunny southern California, learn mountains of information, meet great people, and then blissfully return home. The hotel would be perfect. The drives would be scenic and pleasant. Everything would go according to plan.
The first evening, I laid on the bed in my less-than-expected hotel room and considered the stress I was experiencing. While there were delays and inconveniences, nothing that terrible had happened. No accidents, no major dilemmas, nothing that would ruin my time at the conference. Yet I still felt disappointed and a bit let down.
My expectations were not met and I realized they had been ridiculously high. When I thought back to how I expected the few days to go, I imagined sunny days, easy drives, and luxurious sleeping quarters. I let the novelty of the situation turn the reality into something disheartening. When I surveyed the past day with few expectations, it turned out that reality wasn’t quite so bad. Continue reading “When Expectations and Reality Don’t Match Up, Choose Reality”
If you think I am a perfect person, this must be the first blog post you have ever read. That concept, that idea of perfection will be quickly shattered. And it should be, because it isn’t true.
Not long ago, I found myself in a situation where I would need to work at something with someone I didn’t know well. A few minutes into the encounter, prideful me thought, “I think this person can really learn a lot from me.” God is probably amused and a bit horrified by my internal dialogue. I didn’t mean it in a bad way and I didn’t think I was their savior by any means. In the moment, I simply thought this person could learn something from me.
However, an hour or so later, I came to the realization that actually that person might have a lot to teach me. In light of that awakening, I found my initial perception incredibly smug and prideful. It was a lesson in humility, one where I was able to see some of my flaws and shortcomings without there being a great embarrassing display.
The Lord is generous to me. He is quite generous in showing me the areas of my life that aren’t what they should be. He is also gracious, because He often makes these revelations in small, simple ways. A few words, a brief encounter, or a fleeting thought garners deeper insight upon later reflection.
He crushes me slowly, in a beautiful way. Continue reading “A Transforming Perspective”