If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.
I shared the beginning of a story last week and today, the tide of the war has turned once more. This morning usurper guy was back in “my” spot. I think he may have looked a tad guilty as I walked by.
John says he thinks it’s more like an illegal immigrant situation than a land fight in the Middle East. He blames our friend Cory, the barista, or “border guard” for letting usurper guy slip through. Cory says he just turned his back for a minute…took a break. He doesn’t want to take responsibility for losing ground on his watch.
I sit at my “less than best” table and look longingly at what I’ve lost. But then I screw up my courage, walk over, introduce myself. I try to make small talk. Continue reading
You see, I have this table at Starbucks. It’s “mine“. Everyone knows it’s my office of sorts. Every morning I arrive early and work there for several hours.
The toddler who peeks around the corner each day looking to share his cheese crackers with me knows where I am.
The ever-present chatty Brit – the “Norm” of our “Cheers” knows where to find me.
Mark, the doctor, stops by to say “hi”.
Anyone who ever meets with me ever knows where to come.
I like to think it’s a place where kingdom work is being pursued.
And I like to think there’s a special ambiance or aura around my table. I feel more inspired when I sit there. It’s comfortable. I can spread out. And it’s the perfect distance from coffee and people. Close enough to be convenient, and far enough to not be interrupted too much.
So here’s the problem. Continue reading
The other day I wrote about “good” fights. The times when somehow, against all odds, and all our emotion, and in spite of our bent towards holding grudges, with God’s help, we address conflict and come out on the other side…Maybe more whole. More compassionate. With a better understanding of grace. With a little clearer picture of redemption.
I outlined some steps that have been helpful to me, but…”1,2,3 steps” are always dangerous. I really wish we lived in a “1,2,3 voila!” world, but we don’t.
What about when a “good fight” goes bad?
Many years ago when I was first learning about what Jesus would ask of me regarding conflict I had a situation with a neighbor friend involving our kids. I really, truly felt I had gone through each of the steps to handle our disagreement in a healthy way.
I prayed like crazy! I examined my heart and thought I owned my part! I was calm for Pete’s sake!! I was warmly assertive and humble, darn it!
We sat at my kitchen table and you know how she responded? Continue reading
I think I had a pretty good fight recently. Not great, but it was progress. Let me backtrack.
Someone did something that made me, well… furious!
I grew up in a home where there was very little conflict, and when there was, we ignored it.
You know, like a kid who thinks if he closes his eyes no one will see him. So conflict’s not really been my thing. It’s had to be a growing edge for me as an adult.
And I’ve done it wrong. A. Lot.
When someone said something thoughtless, or did something mean, or (gasp!) was controlling or dismissive or disagreed with me…
I’ve done the angry email thing and the passive-aggressive thing, and the withdraw and punish thing…
See, I told you I was bad at this!
But the other day, once I settled down, I experienced a tiny (and I mean tiny) victory. Continue reading
John said, “I think you need to do a Matthew 18:15.”
No, no, NO! Anything but that! Not that Uncomfortable Thing. Not that Truth-Telling thing. Not admitting that someone has the power to actually ding me.
“If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again.” Mt. 18:15, 16 MSG
Those are some of the sentences I’d like to cut out of my Bible.
Some things are just tough.
Like figuring out why people are fascinated with Snooki, or how to fold fitted sheets, or what makes some people able to eat 316 Trader Joe’s dark chocolate covered almonds with sea salt and not gain a pound.
Or, you know…how to achieve peace between everyone everywhere.
When it comes to the Middle East I keep wanting to say, “Lord I’m a bear of Very Little Brain” like Winnie the Pooh.
I have a long way to go, but God is patient and often a theme gradually emerges. Yesterday I wrote
The truest thing I’m learning about peace is that keeping people at a distance makes it easy to demonize them.
But coming close topples the walls of misunderstanding.
This morning God reinforced this as I re-read the story of when God comes close to Hagar.
Last week I was driving around running errands, preparing for our daughters to arrive for a visit and for me to leave for Israel/Palestine. I changed into the left lane to zip ahead of an old blue-green mini station wagon. As I accelerated past I noticed the car was significantly bashed in as if from an accident. A man was driving the car, smoking a cigarette and talking on his cell phone.
Confession. Here are the three thoughts that went through my head: This guy is irresponsible, unsafe, and makes unhealthy choices.
All that from a 3 second glance in traffic!
If I had gotten close and talked to him I might have learned that he was on the phone with his pregnant wife who just went into labor.
And maybe it wasn’t a cigarette, but a tootsie pop in his mouth.
Perhaps he had been rear-ended by someone texting and driving, and he didn’t have the money to fix his car because he had lost his job in the recession.
Getting close might have given me a more compassionate posture towards this guy.
I have thought often of this 3 second drive by during my time here in Israel/Palestine.
We know from the constant stream of words on the news that there is division and violence, and passionate feelings of injustice among Israelis, Palestinians, Jews, Christians, Muslims…But it’s hard to sort out the complicated details, so if you’re like me, you often tune out. It’s just too much.
I’m taking a little August sabbatical, so I’m reposting some entries that you’ve seemed to like from awhile back. If you’re newer to the blog and know others who might be encouraged, I’d love it if you’d pass along the link.
I’ve thought a lot about this.
If I ever become an actress (Don’t laugh. It could happen!), and I have a scene where I have to cry on cue, no sweat. I’ve got this one covered. Not because I’m particularly weepy (I’m really not at all, you know). But because all I’ll have to do is think of “that person.”
You know. “That person”.
I’m sitting in an apartment in Amman Jordan at 11:00 at night, a stuffed-up-sneezy-coughy-achy-in-my-chest-I-want-to-be-home-cranky-pants. I’m on information overload, and if it’s possible for an extrovert, I’m peopled out. I can’t take one more new foreign name or story or one more explanation of why this people group hates that people group. I am feeling like the worst missionary ever.
And I’m wondering…did Paul ever feel like this?
Of course he did! (And he didn’t have running water. Not to mention a few stonings and a shipwreck or two)
I’m thinking if Paul was in my place he would be reminding himself of what he wrote to the Philippians. “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”
And if he was me, one of the people who would come to mind would be Daoud, a Palestinian Christian whose family has owned the land on top of this hill for generations.
Fortunately he has the deeds to prove it. Israelis have taken the land on all the hills surrounding him and have made five settlements there, doing everything they can to squeeze him out. Pulling up his olive trees, putting boulders across his road…
And I’m sure Daoud struggles with the injustice, but instead of asking “Why?” he asks “How?”
How would Jesus have me respond?
And this is his answer.
They refuse to be enemies. They will welcome anyone. They will abide by the law. They will pray for peace.
Whatever is admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy…think about these things.
I’ve already admitted what an idiot I am when it comes to having any concept of the problems in the Middle East and honestly, if I read the words “Middle East” in a blog post a month ago my eyes would probably have glazed over with boredom and I would have moved on to something more interesting…like Downton Abbey or Anne Lammott’s new book. But in talking to some of the folks traveling with me, I’m relieved to discover I wouldn’t have been the only one.
There are so many basics that I (and many others) just did not comprehend. I needed a coach to say “This is a football.” You know… get that simple. So maybe you’re like me a month ago and you’ve already stopped reading, but in case you haven’t, I want to tell you one thing.
There are walls everywhere here, separating Jews from Palestinians…people who say they love God.
I’d love to tell some stories of people who have been impacted by the walls, but today, I thought I’d just share some pictures and let them tell the stories.
And then, this is what I read this morning…
“For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace and in His one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross by which He put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who are far away and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” Ephesians 3:14-18