Thursday, July 15, 2010

I’m Starting With the Man In the Mirror

I’m Starting With the Man In the Mirror

“For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” Matthew 7:2 (New King James Version)

My grandmother is a seamstress in every sense of the word. All thirty plus years of my life, she has sewed, hemmed, created patterns from news papers, taken out, let in and just about everything in between to the bolts of materials brought to her by those wishing for her innovative techniques regarding fashion. Not only did she sew, but she taught all six of her daughters to sew.

I remember times where more than a hundred choir robes needed to be put created in less than a month. They would all get together, including my grandmothers sisters, and play those sewing machines like the Jacksons played “Dancing Machine”. Each played a role that suited their ability. Measuring, chalking, cutting, pinning, darting, ironing, and finally sewing. What was equally unique about each is the measuring utensil they used for their part of the project. There were yard sticks (which unfortunately my but is all too familiar with). There were rulers, tape measures, and even measuring tools directly on the machine for more accurate seams.

In reflection of this harmonious work, I think of all the ways we measure people and situations.
“For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” Matthew 7:2 (New King James Version)

Here is the relevant question I would like to pose: Does God really care if we judge? In my heart, I don’t believe He does. I believe Jesus was simple in His approach to this matter of judgment. What we use to judge- our knowledge, wisdom, opinion or character- that will be used to judge us. The measure we use- our tact, reverence, humility, discretion or piety- that will be measured back to us. In other words, judge if we must. If we do, we must make sure we have what it takes to judge and judge rightly.

It never ceases to amaze me who is first to comment and play judge and jury when a person of notoriety is highlighted in the headlines. The commentaries of a certain sport or political party are generally first. (I call them judges masked in the media’s clothing.) Then you have the survey of the people, polled by such individuals. (I call them the peanut gallery of the pseudo judges.) Often times, we fall into the latter category. Last, you have those who actually may have a right to make an educated, identifiable, peer-to-peer observation of a person or situation. How incredible time and time again their response is succinctly and quickly, “No comment.”

You see, billionaire athletes are not all lined up to give their two cents on the indiscretions of Tiger Woods. Raven Simone will be the last to critic the public displays of Lindsay Lohan. Unless it is about the sport, Jordan doesn’t comment on Kobe. Short of acting and talent being appreciated, Meg Ryan will not have words regarding the private life of Sandra Buclock or Drew Barrymore. You want to know why? Those who have the right to judge usually do so the least. They know on any given news day, they too can be the object of ridicule.

For this reason, we should all take thirty seconds to think before we give our dissertation on how we feel others are failing or prospering in life. Let’s make sure first, we sweep around our front door- real good. Then, as we prepare to speak, let’s ensure we have a measuring stick small or big enough to make an appropriate assessment. This is how we hold each other accountable. I have an opinion on many things. Faith, work ethic, parenting and relationships are some of my favorites to brainstorm and discuss. However, I realize there is a fine line between my instruction on such subjects and my ability to live through those same lessons I so desire to teach. There are some things I even know to be right. My Bible tells me so. But my lack of mastery often keeps me from discussing them openly in depth.

How unfair it would be for the doctor to measure my baby with the same measuring tool she uses to measure me. How unfair it is for us to take our little rulers out and measure people and situations that deserve a different tool for adequate measure.

My encouragement to you is to use great discretion in this life. We would all like an over flow of blessings, but we have to remember the means by which we bless. For the Bible declares, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:38 (New International Version)

Man In the Mirror- Michael Jackson
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Best Mourning I Ever Had

The Best Mourning I Ever Had

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
Matthew 5:4

Last week, we buried a patriarch in my family. Although not biologically, he was the only grandfather figure many of us had the chance to really know and grow up with. It was a strange sort of home-going process, in that genuine mourning was terribly stifled. We have a very big family, therefore we experience saying farewell all too often to our loved ones. We have come accustomed to the process of anticipating the sting and stillness of death, the onset of grief, the dutifulness of interment arrangements and the ultimate reality of emptiness felt by the dearly departed. But again, this time… it was strange.

You see, many of us allowed the troubling of his extended family to dismay our hearts and genuine feelings toward him. Their intentions to weary us with senseless bickering, disputes, accusations and threats hardened many of our hearts to the point the natural course of mourning could not take place. Myself, just as guilty as all the rest, was terribly torn from good memories and tormented by his deeds committed during his late, ailing age. The mistreatment and endued hardships placed on our beloved matriarch and all she has and knows crippled even my ability to recall the reasons why she loved him, we grew to love him, and in spite of any of his faults, the community at large loved him.

I remember learning the BEATTITUDES in Sunday school. This lesson was taught to a great multitude of followers of Jesus. When he saw the crowd in all their vastness, he went on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples and taught them what is traditionally known at the Beatitudes. Vs. 3-6 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” There is a continuing litany of these in Matthew 5. As a child, I often wondered, why is this attitude so great? Blessed are the poor, mourning, meek and hungry? What? This is the great thing about learning as a child; you get it when you grow up.

Often times, even as adults, we struggle with the Word of God. We ask, what does this or that mean? Then, because we don’t get it, we determine it doesn’t make real sense. Well I am here to tell you, as a thirty year old woman, born and raised in the church, educated both theologically and intellectually, I didn’t get it! However, one day, as I approached the casket of the man who served as my grandfather for more than eighteen years, I got it. I hadn’t allowed myself to feel one bit of remorse until I realized, he was really gone. It bothered me that I had little to no emotion, even after writing his obituary and consoling his related family. I looked around and saw so many of my cousins, aunts, uncles and the like. I saw they were torn too. They, like me, so stifled by deliberate hurt and pain, could not express that they did love him and would miss him, however great or small. It was then, for what it was worth, I began to weep. Initially, I even tried to control it, for fear my family might judge me for such an outburst of emotion in such an awkward situation. Then I thought, they might just think it’s because I am pregnant, or because I am a minister. But I confess, I just simply mourned. Even now, I weep in remembrance and feel once again God is honoring his promise to me, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” After that, I felt a great healing. Not just from our loss, but from all the various situations which had taken place over the past months and years. I was comforted.

The last Beatitude is found in verse 11-12, “Blessed are you when people insult you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Therefore, it is my personal goal to not allow any manor of man to keep me from receiving the blessings freely given by God. I was not the first to be dealt with unkindly and I will not be the last. But surely, I can let my attitude be better, for my reward is greater. My encouragement to you is to let your reward be great, let your heart be comforted, and let not your heart be troubled. Someday, you may have to mourn with those who cannot. Here’s to the best mourning I ever had!

~In Christ,

Caarne White