Happy Thanksgiving ABC Style

Every year in my teaching career I give my students the same challenge that I used in youth ministry. They are to list the things that they are thankful for using every letter of the alphabet. They can only list five names. It’s a challenge, but their creativity makes them realize that even in the darkest times, there is something for which we can be grateful. 

This year has been a challenge. For some of us, the challenge has been greater with physical complications, family members with physical complications, job losses, loss of life, forced to move, political unrest, racial unrest, pandemic, lockdowns, shutdowns, curfews, and other personal challenges that people have. Through all of the challenges there are things for which to be grateful. In fact, we can all think of at least twenty-six things. The following are my twenty-six items for Thanksgiving 2020.

A-Adversity—Although no one likes adversity, we learn from it. The adversity this year has taught me many lessons that I will carry into the future.

B—Books—If you know me, you knew this would be on the list somewhere. Books teach lessons and tell stories that take us places that create new worlds for us.

C—Church—Never before have I understood the importance of meeting together on Sundays and throughout the week with my family in the church. We are far from perfect and we have a lot of work to do to represent the love Christ has for all people, but we can do it with meeting together and working together. (Mosaic has my heart.)

D—Dreams—Dreams become goals and goals become reality when we take life step by step to reach them. I have been thankful for my dreams that 2020 has created.

E—Education—I am grateful that I had an integrated education with excellent teachers of all races and religions and students of the same. Education opened doors for me that led into opportunities.

F—Friends—This year has reminded me to take no friendship for granted and to make the time to spend in person with my friends. It has also given me encouragement to make more friends. It’s healthy for all of us.  

G—Grace—We are saved by grace and not works. This has been such a blessing to me this year when so many memes on social media telling me that I had to do something in order to be a Christian. Nothing we do will ever be enough for what Christ did for us on the cross.

H—Health—This pandemic has reminded me how important it is to remain healthy. I am grateful that I have been healthy this year. Many of us can be grateful for the health that we have.

I—Internet—It may sound silly, but the Internet has kept me connected with humans outside of my family. There may be negative effects of this invention, but it keeps us connected in a pandemic which is valuable to our health.

J—Jesus—He loves us so much that He died on the cross for all of us, even for those that reject Him. There is nothing I can do to earn his love. All I can do is accept his love and grace and love him back with my love for others every day.

K—Kinfolk– This year I remembered the importance of a family working together for a common cause to heal one family member. Family may not ever be perfect, but family shapes us into who we are. We get to choose to bring righteousness or evil to it.

L—Love—Many people misuse this word, myself included, but it’s not an emotion but an action. Throughout 2020, we have all been challenged to love people who think and believe differently than us. Love. It’s what makes the world go around.

M—Music—As I write, I listen to music. Music creates a space of peace and reflection. I have a love for all different styles and genres of music and during this pandemic, I have been able to have more time to listen and enjoy the sounds that express our feelings and thoughts. Music heals an aching soul.

N—Netflix—I am late to the game. I refused to get Netflix because I knew it would take time from me as the shows all sounded so addictive and I’m already a television junkie, but then, Cobra Kai entered Netflix. I caved and got a Netflix account. Beyond that amazing show Cobra Kai, I have explored documentaries and other series that have been created and take me to another world during this pandemic and political unrest. While everyone was arguing over who won the election, I want to know who killed who on the series I am watching.

O—Opportunities—There are so many opportunities that are out there. I have discovered I just have to start taking advantage of the opportunities that are handed to me or within in my reach. During this time to stay at home, I have become more aware of the opportunities that are offered to me.

P—Peace—It sounds like an oxymoron, but peace is there within our reach when we realize it’s not about being calm, but about remaining faithful and focusing on our goals when there is chaos all around us. It’s the peace Jesus gives us.

Q—Quiet times. I take walks to have times of absolute quiet. It’s difficult to find in the city, but I have found two places that are gems. In those quiet moments, I have prayed, reflected, and discovered answers to my questions.

R—Risks—The only way to accomplish any goal is to take risks. I have to constantly remember that I have only become better when I have taken risks. i am grateful for every risk that I have taken, whether I have succeeded or failed. I have learned from every single one.  

S—Self-Awareness—In the past few years, I have been able to reflect on who I am with my flaws and strengths and it has guided me in my teaching and writing. Knowing who God created us to be is powerful.

T—Teaching—I have discovered the importance and love for teaching again as I am in a place with love and support for all the shareholders. We can all be teachers and learners.

U—Understanding—I am grateful for all of those who are understanding of me, especially Jesus.

V—Victory—Along with victory in life, Los Angeles has experienced some victory in the form of sports with the Lakers and Dodgers. They brought bright moments in a world of darkness.

W—Writing—Through writing my voice can speak. My prayer is that more people will be able to hear my voice.

X—X-Factor—We all have been in this pandemic that will have a significant outcome. I’m thankful for those of us who have realized that it is us as individuals that will have the significant outcome with our impact on the world.

Y—Young People—I am grateful for every student that I have ever had the privilege to teach or lead. They have taught me more than I have taught them.

Z—Zany Ideas—God has given us all ideas. It’s what we do with them that will make a difference. I am grateful for all the zany ideas I have had this year, especially while searching for jobs.

May I challenge all of us to find at least twenty-six things for which to be grateful. Happy Thanksgiving

Being Right or Being Kind

The meme drops on social media. The person who drops it on their social media post drops it as if they dropped the mic at the end of their speech, but the whole speech is not there, and in its remnants, lie there creating divisiveness. It’s not the memes that are wrong, but the intent that lies behind them.

In a special issue of Scientific American about truth vs. lies, it addresses the issue of memes and the meanness that they contribute to the lies on social media. During the pandemic, I have been able to be on social media more often than before. It’s been both helpful and hurtful. I have contributed to both the help and the hurt. It’s a struggle that we have had since the beginning of time. Do we desire to be right or to be kind?

When we communicate online, we are able to say anything and not get slapped in the face. (Although, my high school students have slapped people in the face for what they posted online.) It’s the hiding behind our computers that has damaged relationships. It feels safe to be able to drop a meme or make a statement that reveals that our thoughts and beliefs are right, but they are rarely kind. Do we ever stop to think that maybe people are struggling in life beyond the pandemic, election, or whatever else is occurring in the world?   

Although the meme or statement is right or correct, the way in which it is stated is not done with kindness. It’s as if we see a friend in public, walk up to them, make the statement, turn around and leave them wondering what that was all about. We don’t even stop to ask how they are doing. We just have to be right. We have to justify our beliefs, which makes me wonder that if we have to justify them maybe they are not as right as we thought, including our Christian beliefs that are stated that cause people to hurt and walk away from their faith in God. Jesus addressed the whole complex issue. He always spoke the truth with love and kindness. We need to emulate Him.

We need to begin to think of others. I often respond on social media with unkind words. I regret them later, but in the moment, I fail.  I need to remember that people are dealing with many issues right now. As we approach the holiday season, we need to realize that people struggle in this season with loved ones that are lost, financial difficulties, and jobs that are lost or demanding and on the verge of being lost.

There is something to be said about being right about an issue, topic, or belief. If we believe so strongly about something, we need to begin to do something about it. For years, I stood outside the walls of education screaming that there was inequity within those walls. I screamed that something needed to be done to fix the education system. People within the education system told me I needed to return to education. I think there were two reasons. One, I was annoying them, and they were kind. The second reason is better. They recognized my passion. They recognized that I could be a problem solver. I just had to put my money where my mouth was. Back then, it was my mouth. Today, it’s all online.

It’s difficult to put aside our rightness to show kindness, but it is much needed. Before we enter the full season of Thanksgiving and Christmas, may we begin to think more of being kind and less of being right. People struggle with the holiday season, and this year, many will struggle for many reasons and many will be alone. Our words online will be more impactful.

I have to continue to work on that which is wrong in order to make a right, but I cannot do it by being rude or mean, or make rude or mean comments on social media. Antagonizing people never works. Inspiring people always works. We all follow those that inspire us to be better. May we all begin to gather more followers by being inspiring. Jesus changed lives. He didn’t do it by being mean or rude. May His followers start the chain of being kind.

Grey Matters

I have been binge watching a show on Netflix that has deep character development. The heroes have good hearts, but they also have dark deceptive acts that they commit. The villains have committed some of the grossest crimes and yet, the writers have created stories that build goodness and kind acts that the villains also commit. It can be mind-boggling, but it can also be comforting to recognize that all of us stand with grey matters.

As a writer, I have discovered that all of my characters need to have flaws and good characteristics. The apostle Paul struggled with this and revealed it in Romans 7:15. “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate, I do.” We all struggle with the same struggle Paul had. We all want to do and be good, but then we stumble and sin, and we commit the exact sin that we observe in others and despise that they have.

It’s impossible to be perfect. Jesus is the only one who has walked this earth and was a perfect sinless human being. We can look to him for our help and our rock. It’s frustrating to connect with people who see the flaws and good in human built institutions. It just may be that we forget that humans have created and built these institutions and entities; therefore, they are flawed, and yet they contain good.

I actually like the book Frankenstein. The reader is conflicted throughout the entire story of who the real monster is. The writer was conflicted in her own life with her flaws and goodness. She struggled her entire life to know true love and to be loved for who she was and not what others wanted her to be. Most readers can relate to her characters in this book as we all have the same struggles of wanting to be loved for who we are and not what others project on us. No one can live up to their social media persona. We all become disappointed in people. We all have disappointed people. The more we can empathize the better we will all become.

Let us all give grace to everyone. To people that we know and love, may our grace and mercy extend the most and may we listen to their hurts and questions and begin to understand their viewpoints that are different than the ones we have. To people that we lead, may we give grace and room for them to be able to question us with our viewpoints, so that we can become better people and leaders. To those we only connect with on social media or mere acquaintances in life, may we extend grace and love to their viewpoints and instead of arguing and debating, we listen and move forward.

As we all move forward, may we begin to see people for who they are. They have flaws. They have good acts. If we polarize people into good and evil, then we refuse to see our own good and evil. I have to continue to believe that Jesus is more powerful than any human being and He can step in and change lives. I’ve seen him do it many times. Jesus will always be better than any human being. May we lean on him and listen to his words more and more every day.

Time to Think

Have we stopped to think? Is thinking an archaic idea? (Yes, I see the irony in that rhetorical question.) Do we have any new ideas? Are we wasting this precious time in quarantine, especially those of us still in it in states like California waste away because we are not thinking through what we say or write? Have we thought of the dire consequences our constant bickering, and degrading on social media might have on our current and future generation? When and why did we stop thinking?

It’s these types of questions that can lead a person to discover something great or lead a person to insanity. It’s a difficult discourse because when we share with others that we are concerned and that we need to think, they placate us. As a teacher of teenagers and a youth pastor for sixteen years before that, I have discovered the true irony of asking a teenager what were they thinking when they did something that was truly idiotic. The real question is always, “Why did you not stop to think?” I don’t think I can ask that question to a teenager anymore if the adults in our current culture refuse to think.

We post comments, memes, and articles on social media that reveals we didn’t stop to think that it could insult someone that is hurting. We post and we don’t think that what we post can be refuted quickly. If someone does refute it, we badger them and belittle them so we can show our superiority, in which, everyone loses, and the original poster does not even realize that they just lost a friend. This all occurs because we didn’t stop to think in the first place.

Thinking critically means we think of the repercussions of what we say or write or post on social media. Thinking critically means we realize that no human being or group of human beings are perfect or have the answers to all of our problems. People who are able to think and process the problem in front of them and search for a solution. When we search for solutions, we realize that we have to work with those who think, believe, and even vote differently than us. That is the true foundation of critical thinking.

We stopped thinking and we have become polarized as a society. We stopped thinking and racism runs rampant in our country both with people and institutions being outwardly racist and people and institutions being subtly racist. We stopped thinking and people are killing people or attempting to kill people. We stopped thinking and people are having affairs in their relationships and people getting hurt. We stopped thinking and the church has received a bad reputation, which is the only result we in the church should have seen coming.

We all need to take the time to think. It’s difficult because once we begin thinking, we realize where we are wrong. We just have to admit it.  We can change and become better human beings. We can be kind to one another, but it will only happen when we decide to control our thoughts and think for ourselves. We have this precious commodity of time. We need to use it wisely and think through our words, written and verbal, and create the country that we all long to have. If our leaders refuse to think, we as citizens need to start thinking and stop following thoughtless people.

I know I have to grow in this area myself, and it is what I am striving to do every single day. Trust me. If you need encouragement of why we need to stop and think, teach one day online to students who don’t want to go to school online. Thinking is required. Thinking should be required of us all.

We are afraid to stop and think because we recognize the truth. The Truth will set us free. The truth will guide us to think and we can become free of the lies that society tries to tell us through their posts on social media and their words to us in real life. We have to overcome our fears and step out on faith and begin to think. No one can control our thoughts. How or what we think is what we all alone can possess. May we reveal that our thoughts are ones that will build others up and not tear them down.

Cobra Kai–Heroes vs. Villains

As I have indulged into the television series, Cobra Kai once again, I have noticed that the simplicity and complexity of the characters truly imitates real life, thus, reigniting  the lesson that art does imitate life.

A short summary of Cobra Kai is that the show is the extension of the movie, Karate Kid. It takes the main character and his antagonist into life today. The show makes the antagonist, the bully, Johnny Lawrence the misunderstood hero and the victim of the original Karate Kid, Daniel La Russo, who is now the villain. They both start karate dojos in the valley, and they start the rivalry between the two once again. Actually, Daniel started his dojo to respond to the start of Johnny’s dojo, Cobra Kai, and to restore life in the valley, which many people who cannot see their own flaws do. They do something to respond to their version of their villain.

Daniel La Russo is now a rich successful family man, and Johnny Lawrence is a drunken bum trying to get by financially and has an estranged son. They both think they are the victim of each other.  They both believe that they are doing life the right way. Daniel even brags about balance, which will bring peace, and his life is the most chaotic mess, but you have to look closely to see that. Johnny believes that you need to be tough and fight for what you want, while he just gets drunk whenever an obstacle comes his way. Neither one of them can see their own flaws, but they can see the flaws in the other person that victimizes them.  

Isn’t that how we all are? We are blind to the plank in our own eyes, and yet, we can see the speck of sawdust in the eyes of those who believe and think differently than us. In fact, we call those specks our enemies and we live our lives trying to take them down instead of working diligently to take the planks out of our own eyes in order to create what we are to do in the world to make a difference.

No one is perfect. No one has the perfect life, no matter how it appears on the outside. We cannot see others as the villains and ourselves as the hero who does not have any flaws. In fact, most times, just like the show, Cobra Kai, many of exhibit the same flaws as those we claim to be our villains.

We cannot blame the villains for the choices we have made in our lives. It is our choice how we respond to discouragements and trials in life, even if a villain caused them. Then, when we do this, the plank comes out of our eyes and we can see clearly. Once we see clearly, we see the person we have villainized as a human being, and that changes everything.

Both the hero and the villain have flaws in their character and good qualities in their character. When we take our planks out, we can have compassion for our villains, as we see that they are struggling with their flaws, even when they cannot see their own flaws. As we see the human beings, we realize that compassion is more of an answer than degrading or revenge.

In real life, heroes and villains exist in all of us. We all just have to see our own planks in our own eyes, and remove them in order to be our own hero and not our own villain. The villain does not change. The hero always changes. In order to be a true hero, we have to move forward and do what we are created to do. If we allow the speck of the villain to begin to hold us back from doing that, then it is our own fault. The only way to remove those planks in our own eyes is to just remember and act on the simple phrase, “Strike first, strike hard, no mercy.”

The Value of Trust

Recently, the movie, Meet the Parents has been on many of the movie channels. As much as we laugh at the antics of Ben Stiller’s character, we also giggle at Robert De Niro’s character and his “Circle of Trust.” As I was watching that movie, I realized that so many of us lack trust because people have broken trust with us. We have believed false information and false narratives. I used to believe that I didn’t trust anyone, but I was wrong. I trusted everyone that surrounded me, and that’s what got me in trouble, and it gets many of us in trouble. It’s what created a lack of trust.

 

When I was young, my parents divorced and somehow, many people believed that they needed to guide me with advice. I don’t blame them for their bad advice. I blame me for taking their bad advice. I took it because I trusted them. Some people revealed why I should not have trusted them in a short time. Others revealed why I shouldn’t have trusted them once a relationship was built with depth, and it’s that when I realized that broken trust is difficult to repair. It’s that broken trust that many of us struggle to trust today in our time of quarantine.

 

There have been so many messages from so many different people and no one will admit when they are wrong. That is what breaks trust. I can trust someone who admits when they are wrong. I cannot trust someone who changes their words and or their rhetoric and never admits that they were wrong in the past or why they have changed from the past. If people do not admit that they are wrong, then they do not admit to their own flaws and wrongdoings, which breaks trust. Trust is built when we can admit to our flaws and wrongdoings and change from doing them. People who cannot admit to being wrong or why they have changed have a history that shows that they are unfaithful. Their lies reveal that they are untrustworthy.

 

When we change from our old ways, we don’t have to tell others our wrongs, but we can realize that the old way is gone and the new has come, which builds a new trust. It’s why I can trust God. Jesus did not throw out the old law; he completed it. I can trust God because I have seen what he has done in my life and in the lives of other people. Many people lose trust in God because of how people have behaved. God is not a person. Science is not a person. It’s not the message people do not trust; it’s the messenger. In order for people to see God, we must be trustworthy.

 

Being trustworthy as a person means we must act. Our actions speak louder than words. If we disagree with someone, we must be kind. If you want to be trustworthy and begin name calling and degrading someone, you are not going to gain any trust, and your information will be disregarded. You are just pushing your agenda. I know because I’ve had that occur many times in my life.

 

Our world needs trustworthy people. We don’t have to trust all the information that is being fed to us by any media source, but we do need to begin to trust each other. We need to believe that people want the best for each and every person. In order to trust other people, we need to be trusted. Our trust may have been broken, but we can build it back when we apologize and admit that our actions were wrong.

 

Tomorrow I will meet my new students. I will have to gain their trust. I cannot call them names or degrade them. in fact, it is through encouragement that trust will be built. It is through love that trust will be built. When we love God, others and ourselves, then we will be able to build trust with and for others. My final words are from a passage that many Christians have memorized and many of us need to practice. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

Adventures in a Quarantined Summer

Every summer since 2015, I have been able to travel and visit friends from college, Bible Bowl, and high school. This year, life has been quarantined, and I have had different adventures. During the first four months of quarantine, I was looking for a new job. My school was downsizing, and since I taught elective English classes last year, (and I’m expensive because of credentials and years taught) I was laid-off. I’ve already been through one school closing, and I don’t want to be in another one, so I was actually relieved to go somewhere new. (There was and is no ill will.) It took time because I really didn’t want to teach at a charter school, but this is difficult times and charter schools are hiring. Each time I pray for what I want, God gives me what I need, and this time was no exception.

 

I applied to schools to teach online, which pay significantly less than in-person teaching, districts that are not hiring but interviewed me anyway and private schools. I applied to one and only one in-person charter school. I got the job. God doesn’t work in just mysterious ways; he works in humorous ways. God does what is best, which will always provide for our needs. Although we will be teaching online for at least the first semester, I wanted to see the campus and get a vibe for the community where the students live. So, yesterday, I went on an adventure.

 

This charter school is in an entire system of charter schools. They do have two schools near downtown Los Angeles, but not the one where I was hired, which I found out yesterday. I knew the name of the street and ditched Google maps and decided to go my way until the street numbers were wacky and I was going out of downtown Los Angeles. I found my school on the border of Pasadena, Eagle Rock, and Highland Park. For my friends outside of Los Angeles, it’s on the other side of downtown Los Angeles, and not close to the downtown at all. It’s close to the mountains. It’s pretty.

 

I love exploring new places. Of course, I went off the trail a bit afterward and found a cute little bookstore at the bottom of the mountain where our church camp is located. I may not have traveled very far, but the adventure is not in the place but in the people that I will encounter. People make life so much better, and that is where many of us are struggling in this pandemic. The adventure always requires me to trust God and what is best for me in my life and not always what I want.

 

God has given me the best jobs throughout my lifetime. I have met some of my closest friends and have inspired many young people to live their lives for Jesus and make a difference in the world. Change can be scary and not always easy, but it is necessary as it creates growth and brings new adventures that requires us to trust God just a bit more in life. New adventures also create reflection of where we have been and where we are going.

 

The direction for life in this quarantine for me is taking a turn as I have to teach and do most of my communication with others online. While most of us have to sit behind our computers to communicate, we may need to resolve to be kind. I know I have had my share of times of not being kind. People are struggling with loss of jobs, loss of life with family members and friends, and loss of relationships. We can argue about politics all day long and not one thing will change in our country or in our world. We can encourage people and we can make a huge difference in the world without even leaving our home. I have been surprised for someone to tell me the words that I have said, both good and bad that have changed them. Our words make a difference in the lives of others.

 

The impact we make on the world can make a difference. You don’t have to be a teacher to hundreds of students. You can be someone who encourages family members that are struggling. If we want a change in the world, we have to do it. We need to stop relying on someone else to do what we can do, especially anyone in government. It’s taken me many years to discover this. Let us all take an adventure and explore new ideas of how to encourage more and argue less. With our new adventures, let us discover ways to make a difference, whether it is through the arts or technology. If we are so busy working to make a difference in the world, we will have less time to argue or to post the same stuff on social media that angers people. It’s healthier way to live. It’s life giving. It’s the way that God wants us to live.

 

The Masked Bandit

I refuse to get into the mask debate during this pandemic. The masks that I notice are invisible to the eye, but if we look closer, we can see them. We all wear one at some point. Most of us deny that we do, but trust me, I have worn the masks so many times that when I take one off I can barely recognize myself. We hide behind our masks. We wear masks that profess to the world of who we are, and yet, underneath our masks, we are not that person.

 

The mask of shame. Throughout my life, leaders have guilt-shamed me so much that I have to remember my true identity in Christ and take that mask off and discard it. These leaders are Christians in the church and non-Christians in places where I have worked or volunteered. Guilt-shaming had me serve in areas that I had no business serving and my attitude was one of anger and resentment. I never represent Christ when I wear my mask of shame. People try to guilt shame on social media. I can tell you you’re right, but on my side of the computer, I’m not going to wear a mask of shame. I’m going to be transparent or wear a mask of lies.

 

The mask of lies. We must be honest and realize that at some point in our lives we have all worn a mask of lies. If we say we haven’t, we’re lying. We even justify our lies. We say we lie not to hurt someone, but once they realize the truth, they are more hurt. Lies trap us. The truth frees us. We need to be honest with ourselves and others. If we can be honest with ourselves first, then we can be honest with others. When we lay down the mask of lies, we then realize who our allies and adversaries are.

 

The mask of hypocrisy. Like the mask of lies, most people have at one point in their lives worn a mask of hypocrisy. It clouds our vision of who are allies and adversaries are. We say we believe one thing, but we do the exact opposite. The most difficult part of this mask is that we actually believe our hypocrisy. Most of us do not even see our own hypocrisy as we throw down memes on social media that prove an argument. We need to be careful, as this mask can be layered. Once we take off the mask, we usually have one behind it hiding because we are fearful to reveal the truth of our authentic selves.

 

All of these masks cover us and protect us from the truth. These masks protect us from people criticizing us, until they recognize the truth and then we are discredited. We need to strip these masks away and keep them off. These masks cover-up Christ in our lives. We don’t always recognize it, but people can see our masks, even if we wear them on social media. We need to throw these masks off and breathe in the breath of God and allow the Holy Spirit to work in us, so we can bring the Holy Spirit to our world that so needs healing in many ways right now. Once we are transparent and true to ourselves, the world around us will see the grace of God and begin to wonder how to have His grace in their own lives.

What is Truth?

During this pandemic, I have been reading through the Gospels. I notice the details of events and words of Jesus and of others. I noticed the words that Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” For most Christians, we give the nice quick answer that Jesus is the truth and we Christians know and have the truth. For the most part that is true. I do know that I have questioned what truth is.  For the past twenty-nine years of my life, I have worked with teenagers. When incidents occur among them, I try to search for the truth. I find myself asking, “What is truth? Who is telling the truth? How do you know this person is telling the truth and this person is not?” During this pandemic, these are all valid questions we all need to be asking of the media, the “experts,” the politicians, and even our own selves.

 

Facts prove truth. This can be true, but if you have read enough crime and drama, you know that facts can prove truth for both sides of the argument. There are some facts that are true, such as the coronavirus is a virus that affects human beings. Argue all you want. That is a true fact. There could be more details to that fact, but it is a fact that is true. The details can sometimes bring in the areas that make some more facts, that could be debatable. Then, we have a problem, so I ask, “What is truth?”

 

The Internet is full of facts. Some of the facts are skewed to fit an agenda whether that agenda is political or religious, but they are facts. People will claim that since these facts exist that they are true. Do we not remember that scientists called it a fact that the earth was flat? Now, we call people lunatics that believe that the earth is physically flat. The truth had to be discovered. Maybe that is it. Maybe instead of sharing articles or memes, we need to be searching for and discovering the truth. That will take time.

 

Time is what we have. Time proves truth. In time, the guilty confess to their crimes. In time, science is proven as bacteria grows or dissolves. With time, we can read entire books that teach us the truth of history. With time, we can watch historical documentaries that have facts. Sometimes, in time, the truth gets distorted.  People forget facts. Some people no longer exist that knew the facts. Time can prove facts, but it can also distort facts. We need to be wise with time and look at the entire context.

 

Truth gets distorted when we hear the facts but we don’t want to hear them because we have believed different facts all of our lives. We have to question if what we learned was truth or someone else’s version of the truth. I wonder how many young people in twenty years will be wondering what truth is with the facts that we are dispensing to them today. For me, these questions came when I went to Washington D.C. for the first time with my private school in 2013. I taught at that school, and as an adult, I was hearing stories, reading stories, and seeing archives for myself and wondered why I was not taught any of these truths in school. I didn’t learn them because the truth was distorted when people wrote about history without going to historical places or without much research. Besides, most of our history books are like reading a pamphlet on a detailed place, which is never going to dispense many facts or truth.

 

The truth becomes distorted when human beings begin to give their viewpoints. The truth becomes distorted when people want to hide facts in order to have people believe their viewpoint or believe their agenda. The truth becomes distorted when we only see the facts that benefit our agenda. The truth becomes distorted when we refuse to listen to the other person in the argument. The truth becomes distorted when we refuse to research for ourselves. We have to stop distorting the truth.

 

The truth is always revealed. It may not be in our lifetime, but it will be revealed. Having worked with teenagers, I take my time to discover the truth. I want to err with being slow in investigating instead of quick to a wrong verdict and demean or question a person’s character that is not deserving of that. This is how I also have remained in the truth of Christ. I had to discover what were human created rules, rituals, and laws, and what the actual truth is in the Bible and in Christ.

 

Even though Christians have injured my spiritual life, I have always searched for the facts and the truth. It has taken research, time, and building community with other people, both Christians and non-Christians. I have discovered that with the truth of Jesus, even though people distort His words, it does not mean that His words are not true. It means that we as human beings, need to listen to the truth of Jesus and begin living the truth of Jesus, and then others will see the truth of Jesus. There is a caution though in discovering the truth of Jesus: it will no longer be safe or comfortable, but it will be the truth.

Wisdom from the movie, “The Hobbit”: Sickness and Tragedy

I know that I’m behind in my movie experience, but I just started watching The Hobbit series, since I have so much time, and when I hear the character Gandalf speak, I’m usually grabbing for a pen to write down his wisdom. It started in the beginning when he stated, “Where sickness thrives, bad things will follow.” How appropriate for our current state of being. We have a physical sickness thriving throughout our world and already we can see the bad things following. It’s how we respond that will make a difference in our relations with others.

 

The sickness of coronavirus revealed the evil of social media. Scroll through social media and you will recognize the anger seething in people. Anger is not a sin; it’s what you do when you are angry that is a sin. When you belittle people or guilt-shame people, it’s sin. In the social media world, we have to remember most of us do not put our whole lives on the Internet. How we respond when someone disagrees with us reveals more about us then it does with the person who disagrees with us. If we are kind and gracious and explain ourselves, we reveal our kindness. If we are name-calling, belittling, and guilt-shaming, then we reveal to be angry and bitter people who struggle in life and refuse to deal with our own lives. First, we need to heal our own hurts, and then we can begin to inspire others. Now is the time that people need life affirming words not insults, belittlement, and guilt-shaming.

 

When the coronavirus began in America, panic ensued and people hoarded food, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and water. When people fear, they don’t share resources but they hoard them. Now that time has passed, items are returning to store shelves, but we have to recognize that as a society, we tend to hoard. I hoard books. We hoard because we fear we will not have it in the future. With sickness, we hoard food and water because we want survival, not realizing that the most important action we could take with this sickness was to think of others and not hoard.

 

Murders occurred before the pandemic, but the videos went out during the pandemic and protests occurred. The protests revealed another sickness in our society and that is racism. Evil has ensued because of racism. People are tearing down people and not listening to them or being rude when they ask a question. It’s time that we listen and ask sincere questions. It’s time for many to become good teachers and answer those pesky questions with grace and love so that the person asking can learn, or else the sickness of racism will get worse, which will make life worse for all.

 

The sickness of COVID-19 caused businesses to close for a short while, but for some businesses the short while was too much and they had to close permanently or scale back on their employees. Many people lost their jobs. The sickness caused many to spiral into poverty. Instead of screaming at people on social media, it’s time we all look to those we can help, even if it is just purchasing something small on the Internet.

 

The sickness of coronavirus caused everyone to quarantine and stay in their homes. For the short term, many people were able to clean their homes, connect with their family, and finish projects that they started. After about two weeks, emotions raged. People spun into depression. Anxiety is high in homes where children are frustrated with homeschooling and not being able to play with friends. We all need to take the time to reach out to those who may be struggling with being home.

 

The coronavirus thrived and bad things have occurred. We cannot continue to allow the bad things to happen. We need to be aware of what we say and do in order to have good things happen. When we are healthy emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, we just might also become healthy physically. The Bible gives great advice. “Be quick to listen and slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” James 1:19 (NIV) We need to listen before we speak, and when we do speak, we need to speak the truth in love not anger. We don’t need to win arguments. We need to listen. We need to speak with wisdom and truth in love. Let’s conquer the bad and the sickness may just diminish. I’m not a doctor or an expert, but I do know from experience that when love surrounds people, health abounds.The