Tag Archives: Understanding

I Get It!

Over the past year I’ve been working on reading the Bible cover to cover. Right now I’m in the book of Jeremiah, and man, that is not a happy thing to read. It’s all about how God is going to punish his people for betraying him and not adhering to his laws and teachings. He’s angry, and he speaks of his anger through the prophet Jeremiah. There’s not a lot of hope to be found there at first glance, especially if you don’t know where this story is ultimately going, and it’s literally scary to read. What I’ve found, though, is that God’s anger is relatable. There are little moments in what he says where one finds genuine hurt. In these moments he’s really saying: “I love you, and I just want you to love me back. I love you so much, but I don’t know what else to do. You’ve abandoned me, and the only thing left for me to do is to show you what that feels like.”

Today I found this: “I will bless you with a future filled with hope—a future of success, not of suffering. You will turn back to me and ask for help, and I will answer your prayers. You will worship me with all your heart, and I will be with you and accept your worship.” Jeremiah 29:11-14. God repeats over and over in this book that he will punish his people, but he makes sure to promise over and over that he won’t punish them forever. Even in his anger, God’s love shines through. He likens Israel and Judah to an unfaithful wife. I don’t know a whole lot about infidelity, but I have witnessed it from a distance, and I’ve seen how it hurts people. Forgiveness in that situation is hard.

Still, God wants, more than anything, for his people to love him back. He refuses to give up on them. He makes this very clear when he goes so far as to sacrifice himself and suffer real, physical betrayal and pain. Jesus took God’s judgment on himself. Said differently, he took on our betrayal. We can never pay that back. I don’t think it has ever hit me quite this hard. It is a love that cannot be reciprocated. I found myself actually thinking, “That isn’t fair…”

I guess that’s the point. No one will ever love God the way he loves us, no matter how hard we try; no matter what we do; no matter how nice we are; no matter how much we scripture-spam our Facebook friends; no matter how much we talk about God’s love, we can never come close to what he’s done for us. That’s just not fair, and to be perfectly honest, it’s a little hard to process. It’s unthinkable. There are no words to describe it. I can’t even say “Thank you,” because that would be inadequate. The only thing I can offer is genuine worship, and I think I understand a little better now what that is. I’m not sure I can put it into words yet.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

 

Miracles And Disasters And Storytellers

I read something yesterday talking about God’s worthiness (e.g. he is worthy of honor, respect, etc). It’s hard to understand the notion that one should fear God, but I don’t think it’s strange, nor is it opposed to the notion that one should love God. For one thing, God is scary. It makes sense that us puny humans would and should be afraid of the most powerful being in the universe; but on the other hand, this same all-powerful being, who could destroy all human life without lifting a finger, is the epitome of love. That is precisely why he is worthy.

I read a post on another blog that was talking about how some more vocal (and in my opinion, obnoxious) atheists are hellbent on presenting the God of the Old Testament as some kind of serial killer. It’s not an excuse to say that he did what he did because he had a plan and he was bringing his chosen people to their promised land. The fact of the matter is that, in a lot of those stories, he killed people, either vicariously, or by supernatural means. The fact of the matter is, however, that many of the Old Testament stories are allegory. Take the creation story, for example. If one believes in The Big Bang and evolution, which I do, then one has to read the six days in Genesis as perhaps six periods in the beginning of time. The earth was not made in six literal days.

Over and over, people cite Noah’s adventure as an example of where God just arbitrarily decides to kill off all of humanity. To be honest, I don’t have a good, literary interpretation for that story, but the truth is that I don’t need one. God didn’t wipe out all of humanity because we’re still here. There is no scientific evidence indicating a global flood, but some argue that there is sufficient evidence to suggest a “local” flood (i.e. a flood that devastated or disrupted the general area in which Noah and his family resided). Historically, peoples’ ideas of what one meant when describing “the entire earth,” were much smaller than ours. Most of the world was uncharted territory.

Perhaps there was a flood, and the people of that time attributed it to God. This is understandable. When one has no modern science, it is easy to attribute catastrophic events, and miraculous ones to God. But we don’t attribute earthquakes and tsunamis and hurricanes to God these days. Those are generally understood, by believers and nonbelievers alike, to be freak accidents. I think it is dangerous to attribute natural events to any supernatural being without some serious thought and investigation. That is not to say that God does not orchestrate natural events. Events like the creation and birth of a child are nothing less than miraculous, no matter how you slice it.

What this all boils down to is that sometimes I feel the need to defend my faith in a God I know is good and loving and merciful. I don’t understand everything in the Bible, and I can freely and openly admit that. I feel that it would be untrue to say that God doesn’t pick sides. I think he does pick sides, but often, he is on the side of the losers. He was, and still is, on the side of Israel, and Israel killed their enemies and took their land. This is true. His ultimate plan, however, is to unite the entire world under one flag. Until then there will always be wars. There will always be violence. There will always be winners and losers; but in the end there will be peace, and that peace will be unending.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Justice And Mercy

I don’t know much about Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who, today, is facing his convictions. He is charged on 30 counts in total, and will likely be found guilty of all 30. 17 of these are death-penalty charges. I remember that the Marathon Bombing took place on my 19th birthday. Tsarnaev was also 19. When the nation heard about what happened, we were outraged. Some were sorry. I was sorry. Tsarnaev’s defense was that his brother pushed him into it; convinced him to do it; forced him even. Most don’t believe that now. I don’t believe it. At 19, people have minds and wills of their own. He could have said “no.” He could have defended himself. Maybe he was influenced, but his decisions and actions were his own.

Still, I was; I am sorry. Tsarnaev is my age. At the time we were both college Freshmen. We both had plans. We both had futures. Tsarnaev ruined his own life. He destroyed others as well. He deserves to die. What I want for him is mercy. What I want for him is justice. I want him to live. I want him live in prison and live with what he did. Maybe he will never be sorry, but if he is given the death penalty, he will never have the chance to be. I want him to be sorry. I want him to know who he’s hurt. I want him to have to look at it and see it. I want him to have to know that Boston is stronger than anything he, or anyone else could ever do to us.

I ask all of my readers to pray, in whatever way is right to you, that Tsarnaev would live, and that he will come to understand what he’s done and have to face it.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Unqualified, Unspecified Love

I’m unqualified for a lot of things. I’m not majoring in psychology and I’m not going to be a counselor, but everyone says I’m good at giving advice. I don’t want to diagnose people and tell them what they already know about themselves and hold them at arms length and tell them that our time is up for the day.

I want to be a good friend. I want to be there and sit around with someone all night if I have to. I want to tell people more than what they need to hear. I want to love people no matter what until it’s so annoying that they start to love themselves. I don’t want to go through a whole training program so I can tell people what the professionals say I should tell them. I just want to tell people that they are loved and that life is worth living and give them real, human, opinionated, unqualified advice.

I want to find the people who have gone missing in their own heads and help them find themselves. Someone I know said that you can’t be someone’s friend and help them with their mental health problems. I beg to differ. I think that sometimes, the thing that’s missing in mental health treatments is love. Sure, you can give someone advice on how to change their lives and be more optimistic and give them some drugs and hope it works, but there’s still no real human connection. I believe that human connection and communication is a hugely significant factor to living happy, healthy life.

The thing is, I’m not sure I’m ready to be a shoulder to cry on yet. I feel like there’s something or maybe a lot of things that I still need to know. I’m still naive and admittedly, kind of ignorant about a lot of things. Before I started writing this post, I read a post on a classmate’s blog. She wrote that what she wanted more than a relationship with a significant other was to be a part of a small, very close group of friends. She believes that she doesn’t have that yet because she’s not ready for it yet and she believes that God is preparing her for it. I think that’s probably true for me too. I think God probably is preparing me to be someone’s rock; whether it’s a significant other or a close friend.

No one is unqualified to save the world. No one is perfect and no one ever will be, but everyone is capable of love and if you do whatever it is you do out of love for others, then you are helping to save the world. Follow your dreams because they will make you happy and happiness is meant to be shared. Share your art or music; share your jokes; your stories; share your time; share your money; share your things. Share whatever it is you have to share. You don’t have to give everything away; you just have to share it because it will make someone happy, and if you make someone happy, you will be happy too. Sharing something solidifies a preexisting connection among all the people of the world. It turns the connection into something you can see and touch and even use. It helps to break barriers and create understanding, which will ultimately lead to peace. Maybe I’m an idealist, but I really believe that to be true.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Crazy, Bad Or Misunderstood?

What is the difference between crazy and misunderstood? I think a lot of things and people who look crazy or dangerous truly are just misunderstood. It’s easy to write off things we don’t understand as disturbing, crazy or just plain bad. There are many factors that contribute to this a big one is popular opinion/societal norms. Another is our own interpretations of media, literature, various situations we encounter and rules or guides such as those that are presented by religion or philosophy (something like Transcendentalism). Therefore, it is important to learn about these subjects as objectively as possible.

In my opinion, it is important to engage with things we don’t understand because learning about them in a safe and responsible way can help us make connections with more people and in doing so, make changes that need to be made. To do this, it is important to understand every side of an argument and to have a basic understanding of various philosophies, religions or ideas. In my opinion, it is wrong to disagree with someone or write off their beliefs or methods of doing things if one does not understand them enough to give a good reason for disagreeing with them. Quite frankly, it is simply impolite to say someone or something is wrong just on a gut feeling.

Often, if we engage with new ideas, cultures, etc, we can find answers that we otherwise could not. If we are careful and critical about this, and balance it against what we already know, it can help us grow as people. For example, an American songwriter who is used to rock and roll, 4/4 time, etc can learn from Eastern rhythms and styles and can broaden their musical horizons extensively.

Learning in this way and making these connections is extremely important when it comes to bigger issues such as education and working towards world peace. We need to stop being afraid of things that are foreign to us because we were all created by one God. We are all brothers and sisters, and if we take the time to understand each other there will be no need for fighting. We are all unique people, but we are all human. We all think and feel. We all live and we all die. Therefore, we must spend our time spreading love and not hate.