Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Show Me Your Friends

Any one of my kids, and any of the kids in our youth group at church, are able to complete this sentence when my husband says the first part:  "Show me your friends--".

"and I'll show you your future."

Sounds like a blanket assessment, doesn't it?  All of the young people in our lives, both past and present, have tried every which way from sideways to prove that statement false.  Here's the problem:  they can't.  If you hang around with people long enough to call them FRIENDS, their behavior becomes the norm for the group and for the individual within the group.

My wise husband offered these examples:  if all the people in your group of friends uses four-letter words, using four-letter words becomes the norm.  No one thinks anything of it because everybody does it.  If all the people in your group of friends inject heroin into their veins, shooting up drugs becomes the norm.  Likewise, if all of your friends commit to purity, it is the norm to stay pure.  And if the norm in your group of friends is to abstain from alcohol,  you will probably not all get together and tie one on.

There are certainly good reasons for parents to keep a watchful eye on their kids' friends.  Most parents are not passing judgment on the families of the children their kids are drawn into relationship with.  It is simply wise to know where your dearest loves are going, who they will be spending time with, the conditions at the home where they will be sleeping over, and the adults who will be supervising them.

Believing this way does not make me one bit popular with my kids or their friends, and sometimes I question our need to know important answers before our kids leave for a friend's house, but our caution has not cost our children.  And we know several sets of parents whose lack of it has cost their children dearly.      

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

All You Need Is...

It seems fitting to write on L-O-V-E this week. For a couple of reasons.

First, the obvious consideration for writing about LOVE is because we are right in the middle of February, and so is something else:  VALENTINE'S DAY!  Hearts are everywhere in all of their beautiful pink and red and white glory.  I would ask anyone reading this to cast off the glittery trappings of an over-commercialized date in the middle of this month, and instead, just LOVE.  Walk around for the next few days treating the people in your world as if you love them.

This brings me to the second reason I am writing about LOVE this week.  Our pastor bestowed on us a challenge last Sunday morning:  choose one person in your sphere of influence (circle of friends and acquaintances), and for the next year, simply LOVE that person.  To be devoted to loving a person means to be devoted to selflessness and purity in that relationship, no matter what.  As we consider the people who have traipsed into our lives, who have been born into, or married into, or were thrust into our lives, we are challenged to do this thing that is actually pretty foreign to our thinking.  (What a terrible thing to say! I am outraged at myself for suggesting that LOVE is foreign to my thinking.)

I love my husband and my children (and perfect grandboys!).  I love my mother and my siblings and their families.  I love my friends and I love people, in general.  I wonder--do I love any of them selflessly, or in purity?  I mean to.  But in thinking about what it means to truly, truly love a person, I wonder if I don't attach a few strings (even teeny, tiny, wee strings) to the people I believe I love.  For me, to love someone is to allow him (or her) to be, to be exactly who God designed him to be; to not manipulate or influence him in any way that would benefit me; to discipline with my eye and my heart trained on godly wisdom; to give selflessly, to hold tirelessly, to listen endlessly, to defend boldly, to pray for radically, to honor constantly.

What a tall order!  Does anyone really love like that?  I believe my pastor's challenge, which seemed sweet and fluffy to me at first, is perhaps the hardest thing I have ever considered doing.  But in the immortal words of one of our dearest superheroes, Yoda:  "Do or do not.  There is no try."  So, in closing, and with much, much more to say but not nearly enough time and space to say it:   Today, I will LOVE.  (There is no try.)