Learning to Love Pt. 1: Letting Go

“To change the world
start with one step
However small
the first step is
hardest of all” — Dave Matthews Band

“Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.” –John 21:4-8

I think one of the hardest things to learn in life is the ability to let go. We have a tough time as human beings not being in control of our lives, surroundings, situations, and people we know. I think it is a trait that we evolved over many millenia. It’s that instinct to be safe and guard ourselves by controlling every situation. I believe it is in learning to let go that we learn how to love. I do believe that part of love is letting go: Letting go of our need to be right, letting go of our need to control, Letting go of our right to revenge, letting go of the pain, and even letting go of being the victim.

One of the biggest things for me to let go of was being the victim. When I was younger, I played the victim a lot. Oh, poor me… I think on some level I didn’t want to heal from wounds that I encountered in my life. I received attention, however negative it may have been, for these wounds. I wanted to be noticed. I felt so lonely and so abandoned in my own mind. The reality is probably much different then what I had chosen to believe at the time. It was easier to play the victim. The role was very easy to portray. I think at some point in all of our lives we do this don’t we? We prefer to have these little pity parties for ourselves, and hope that someone will rescue us. We sit and wait when we are perfectly capable of walking out of these situations ourselves. I could have gotten up. I could have changed things, but I was too afraid. I was too stuck in that mentality that I refused to let go of the pain. I held on to it like we all do at times. My Rector told me about her thesis back in Seminary. She said it was about the spirituality of the victim mentality. She said that when we play the victim we believe we are blameless. It’s not our fault that we got into these situations, so we shouldn’t be the one to get ourselves out. This was one of the hardest things for me to let go of because I didn’t want to take responsibility for my situation. I think that my inability to let go created the circumstances for those situations to get worse, and they did.

Another thing that I still struggle with letting go of is my need to be right. I have learned in my first two years of marriage that more often than not I am not right. But all jokes aside, I think this another thing that we as human beings have a tough time letting go of. It’s this need to always be right that causes us to: begin to dismiss people because they believe differently than we do, Hold on to grudges, refuse to forgive others, and even refuse to forgive ourselves. I find an epidemic, especially with the teens I work with, to fall in with the last on that list. They for some reason got in their heads along the way that they could not be forgiven for whatever it was they did. Who tells us these things? Is it because we can’t forgive others for things? They feel the need to be right in their self image of a horrible being. I think this is what leads many to begin to bully others. They have been bullied themselves, so began to believe what others said. They then turn around and push it on others. I think this stems from a need to be right that we find so hard to let go of.

Letting go I think should be the first step in getting out of the box I previously wrote and talked about. I think playing the victim just reinforces the walls. We point to it as the reason why we can’t leave. I think then that our need to be right reinforces our excuses. We are right about not leaving. We can’t let go. Because look at how awful and horrible the world is outside our box. Look what it did to me! I can’t go out there.

Last night I talked to my youth about something that inspired a previous post, which turned out to be one of the most popular surprisingly, “Does God Cry?”. I talked to the students about the existence of God. I think that at times like these where we feel that the world is about to break it’s tough to believe that God exists. One of my reasons for believing that God is there is because I have been to some of the darkest places and I have found that despite the dark there is still hope, still love. That to me shows that God is there. The bible says that God is Love. I know that love exists. I know that it can overcome every thing. I think that we hold on so tightly to the darkness that we can’t see the light that is there waiting for us. I think letting go is the first and hardest step in beginning to love. This Love God has called out to us in the darkness to let go of all we are holding on to there and move toward Him. Move toward the light that is love, hope, and all things good. Letting go can take many forms. I can only speak for things that I have had to let go of. I can’t speak for those things that you may need to let go of that are in your way. I just know that it’s the first step of many to move out of the darkness and into the light.

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The End of Hate

“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.” –John 21:15-19

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
–Martin Luther King, Jr

This week is the anniversary of a lot of tragedies. Not only do we morn the losses in our history, but we have new tragedies that are very fresh in our memories. We weep with the people in Boston. We weep with those in Texas. We also weep with those who struggle with personal tragedies. I once wrote about wondering of God did cry. I think that God feels pain especially when we, God’s creation, suffer. This last summer I had the opportunity to visit the columbine memorial. This was only a week after the Aurora Shootings. I was greatly moved at that time. I wrote about that experience. I wept, as I did back then when it was unfolding before us on the news. Does God cry? Yes, I thing God does. I think that when we give in to hate, malice, violence, and evil to cure us from the same.

I feel the world is at a breaking point. Or maybe it’s just me. I feel that over the course of the last year we have seen too much. We have witnessed the mindless, and horrid taking of lives. We have witnessed the tragedies that happened through no fault of any one person, though we still seek someone to blame. I feel that in all that we suffer our first instinct is to find someone to blame. Someone or something to pin our anger on. That anger turns to hatred, and we end up continuing this cycle that leads to more of the same. We have found that the easiest path to take is the one that leads to destruction. It’s too hard to forgive. It’s too hard to love. We have used the words “Hate” and “love” so much that they have lost all their meaning. We have become numb. Desensitized to the motion and direction this carousel of hate takes us.

I have just returned from a youth retreat weekend. This was a mountain top experience for all involved. It’s weekends like this that really prove to me God’s love does exist. I saw a small group of teens and adults come fully into the loving embrace of the God that loves. It was beautiful. Words cannot describe how it is. I know that love. I strive to show that love. I often fail, but I try every single day. This love is so much bigger, stronger, better, and amazing than hate. It’s a lesson of mass construction.

A little over a week ago I gave a sermon about stepping outside of our box and going out to love. I believe the boxes we build for ourselves are built with labels, hate, and generalizations that help to wall us off from the outside world. I believe we all do this. I think that Christians as a whole are guilty of this too. We label people and justify our lack of love for them. Gay, Straight, Liberal, Conservative, Idiot, redneck, or whatever it may be we call others. Those labels create the bricks, and hate is mortar that glues it all together. We need to leave those boxes. God has already broken in and told us we are free.

I think we are living in a world that is in desperate need of the love we all preach about, and that I experienced. I feel we have sat in our little boxes for far too long. I believe the only way we could ever get off of this carousel of hate is to stand with the God that loves. The world needs people to love now more than ever. We need to stand against violence and hate of any kind. We need to say no more. We need to love. The world is falling apart and the only thing that can put it back together is love. I truly believe unless we begin to love, things will get a lot worse. Rise up! Love your fellow human being! They may be ugly, disgusting, or stinky; but they are a human being as well. They need love just like you and me. No one is exempt. God calls us to love. Will you answer the call?

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Set Free to Love

I know it’s been a very long time since I blogged. I have been busy, and admittedly I got lazy. Anyway here is a new post this is my Sermon from yesterday:

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