Thursday, August 20, 2009

Forgive and remember three weeks later?

it [love] keeps no record of wrongs.

This may be one of the most difficult things to swallow. Love doesn't keep any record of wrongs. In theory this sounds as if it is something ridiculously easy. Something happens you just let it go. It's gone. You drop it.

But what happens? What do you do when three weeks later the same friend does the same thing? They make the same cutting remark in the same sarcastic tone? And the first words out of your mouth are, "You always do this to me!"

Well, there it is. Plain as day-you are still holding on. It's still there. It's something that still creeps into the back of your mind. You still let it taint and tarnish how you feel about someone.

"She's a great girl and all. But, really, she's inclined to gossip."
"He's not all that great. Sure he's nice to look at, but he's a history of cheating."

It breaks me to the very core to reflect on how many grudges I still hold onto. There are so many reasons to just let it go. Come on, really. Think about it. Who is getting their feelings hurt, walking around holding onto something that was done to them three weeks ago? Was it the person who did it? No, it's the person who won't let it go.

Scripture resounds that God will toss our transgressions (that is, sins) as far as the east is from the west. Those directions never touch. It doesn't happen. So these sins are forgotten. God doesn't have a running list of sins that we've committed. Rather, He forgives them and then He forgets them.

How impossible that love is for me to grasp! It really is deep and wide. It really is long and tall. It's completely beyond me.

I have to learn to let go and to love in spite of the circumstances. Woah, doggies, this one sounds tough.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

It [love] is not easily angered

Flying off the handle is so easy in a world where there is rarely enough time for sleep, balanced meals, and periods of little to no worries. Instead, getting angry and upset about things, blowing up is far too easy to pass up, right? Well, for me, that isn't the way that I know it should be.

I am the sort that allows things to build for a while. One small thing against me is nothing. I can put that off. Another incident happens during the day and piles upon the previous. Soon enough, someone makes me just a little bit annoyed and I'm angry, bitter, and in a rage.

Instead of dealing with tiny problems when they should be dealt with, I tend to lean towards getting completely bent out of shape later on. I know that doesn't sound easily angered, but to the last person to cross me, it definitely does read that way.

Love isn't easily angered. Love isn't going to fly off the handle. Love isn't going to throw a fit over a tiny spill on their lap. I'm not Love, and I'm not perfect. How wonderful it is to know that I don't have to be to serve a God who forever loves me.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


It [love] is not self-seeking

Currently, my job is to work as a daycare worker out of my home in Indiana. It's an exciting job, and presently it is whittling down to the kids that we will have on a consistent basis. For today, Erin is still technically in charge and she ran to the store to pick up groceries for the three of us (Sheri, Erin, and myself) to begin using considering we all live together now!

There's something characteristically similar about children at the kindergarten-first grade age range. Many of them are hard to break from that "it's mine" "gimme, gimme" stage. They don't understand, fully, the concept of sharing and taking turns. They want what they want and can't see the importance in giving to other people, as well.

I think that I do that a lot. I don't do it intentionally, mind you. I'm not sitting around thinking about how I can get my way above other things and then do my best to cover that up. But, I think that I am fairly guilty of being self-seeking.

My self-seeking comes in being lazy about certain things. Instead of giving tasks my complete and full attention, I mask my distractions by calling them "multi-tasking". Instead of fully listening to important conversations, I half listen and discover other tiny things to hold my attention. It isn't something that I sit out and plot, but more and more I've realized my inclination to half-doing certain things.

Love isn't self-seeking. Love is sacrificial. It's something I mentioned about love being not rude. I guess that God has been trying to slowly reveal to me the ways I try to shortcut and love someone only halfway in order to best fit my needs.

In what ways can I seek to be more selfless today?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Excuse me..

It [love] is not rude

I have a running list of things that I would consider my 'pet peeves'. There are times when I can feel the hair on the back of my neck begin to stand on end. There are things that in relationships and friendships alike become 'deal breakers'. I watch people do something that I cannot fathom. I begin to mutter the words under my breath, 'that's so rude'.

Example 1.
When someone has a wonderfully delicious meal in front of them, and I am sitting across from them gazing at my deliciously wonderful meal as well. They take their fork, knife, spoon or whatever utensil they've determined is appropriate for the meal (no use excluding sporks, chopsticks, etc) and then they shovel it in, making the most loud and crude sounds while eating. Not only that, their grinding, chopping massacre of the food is also a not-so-tasty display of the elementary principles of color mixing in the laboratory that is their mouth.

Here's where I would pull out my stamp-of-disapproval-which-doesn't-really-mean-anything and declare this act of savagery as rude.

Example 2.
You're sitting across from an attractive member of the opposite gender. You're smiling, flirting, and saying all of the appropriate things. Surprise! He is as well. All is going according to plans. The waitress comes up, pleasantly she addresses both of you and introduces herself. The next time she returns, Mr. Tall-Dark-Handsome-And-Rude calls her by the wrong name, rudely complains about everything that she has brought out, and then refuses to tip her at the end of the night.

So rude.

So what does this ridiculous rant about my pet peeves and deal breakers have anything to do with love? They are prime examples of what love isn't first and foremost, but also because they paved the way to a more deep examination of what it is to be un-rude.

Being courteous is something that we are taught at an early age in classrooms, by our parents, by our mentors. It is something that we do. We share. We give up something that we have. We sacrifice. Do you see where this is going? When we are rude, we hoard. We hoard things like forgiveness and compassion. When we are rude we hold on tightly to things. We let our opinions hold us from embracing someone else. We don't make sacrifices.

And the Bible is clear that greater love has none shown that a man would lay down his life for a friend.

In all of my judging of people, I am rude. I hoard forgiveness and compassion and understanding. How can I be more considerate?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Off my high horse

It [love] does not boast, it [love] is not proud

I have a very hard time accepting criticism. That's a character-flaw admittance front and center. I hate when people search for something wrong to point out to me. I hate it because I soon allow it to consume me. Ravenously, I let words devour my self-esteem like a caterpillar gnawing at a leaf. I should be optimistic and realize that these nutrients devoured will soon encourage the metamorphosis into a butterfly.

But, no, that isn't me.

I brood. I ruminate, I turn into a cow about things. I chew on it and then digest it, then spit it up and chew on it some more. I find it nearly impossible to let it go, to swallow it and take it in and let my body grow from the knowledge stored.

What does this have anything to do with pride and boasting? It seems to me, Ashley that you are one who doesn't struggle with pride and boasting, but the opposite. Self-deprecation is what I see in you, at best.

Oh no, you see, my dear reader, if I didn't struggle with my pride, it wouldn't always be getting my feelings hurt.

In Ashley's book of definitions for words, I've turned pride to be something simplistic like this: "thinking you are better than you really are."

So of course, pride seems less foggy in connection to my self-deprecation and pessimistic caterpillar tendencies.

If I wasn't always going around believing that I was better than the criticism, the criticism wouldn't sting. If I didn't believe that I was above reproach then I wouldn't get so offended.

Love doesn't boast and it doesn't get proud. I am a very proud person. Jesus wasn't.

I need to start seeing that I am a work in progress.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Green with it.

It [love] does not envy.

Why am I a grass is greener on the other side sort of person? Why don't I just find a way to be content in any and all circumstances? Why must I look at other people and desire the things that they have. A house, a family, a career, a life that looks completely and utterly put together.

What is that feeling that tears at my insides and makes me want to trade lives with other people? What is this monster that growls loudly in my stomach (maybe I am hungry...) whenever I see something that I don't have and couldn't ever dream of obtaining?


It isn't something that we are unfamiliar with. It isn't all that hard to begin seeing people with things that you want. There are people that we covet because of their electronics collection, the guy that they have on their arm, the guy that they are dating.

However, something I have had a long path to discovering: I envy (to wish that one had the possessions, achievements, or qualities of (someone else)) even when there isn't a specific person to envy. "I wish that it were sunny outside." Somewhere, somebody is basking in sunshine. But, even worse? When I envy it is a slap in the face to God.

God knows me.
God knows my every thought.
God knows my waking and my sleeping.
God knows my actions done in the light and in the shadows.
God knows where I am and what I am doing.
God knows His plans for me.
God knows every head on my head.

Why would God put me in a situation that He doesn't want me in? (This is to be removed from the argument that we have put ourselves in situations God never intended us to be. But, I don't believe that my sins directly affect whether or not there are clear skies tonight so I can see the stars). Why would God intentionally seek to make me sad when He knows my discontentment in my situation? Why would I question God's plan for me anyway?

If God didn't think I could handle this, or that I should go through this to rely on His strength more, then why would I be here? Why would I doubt God's plan for my life?

Why do I sink to being full of complaints and whines about my current circumstances?

Love does not envy.
I shouldn't either.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

я тебя люблю

Love is kind.

Love has been such a heavy word for me to say. Any time that I tell someone that I love them, I feel it rising from the very inside of me and exploding out of my lips. I spent a summer learning the extravagance of God's love, and I learned it in so many different ways.

Marianna was the most vibrant example of God's love to me through everything. Week 7 was one of the most ridiculously rough weeks of my life. My cabin was just set on fighting at every opportunity they could find. Their arguments would last for incessant amount of times, no matter how many times I broke them up, took them apart, talked to them individually, and then sat them down to talk to one another. I still found them bickering and standing divided by the end of the night.

I was frustrated, and now that I look back upon it, I wish that I had expressed patience more that week than I did. I realized how tired I was, how much I was relying on God's strength to get me through, and sometimes I wanted to just the smallest amount that I could to get by. I could hardly stand come Wednesday day after Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday nights were all nights that my campers refused to let me sleep.

But, I digress. Marianna was a blessing from Heaven that week, hands-down. Our conversations were often simple words and rarely grammatically correct. Marianna spoke fluent Russian and understood English, but couldn't repeat it back. It was definitely a struggle that we had such a language barrier and that she was in the cabin of arguing. I can't imagine going to a different country and being completely surrounded by people arguing in a different language day in and day out.

But, Marianna and I had some of the most simple expressions of love. She was the most kind creature when she wasn't frustrated with the barrier of communication. She would grab my hand, give me a hug, and with her big Russian eyes let me know that she loved me in Russian. And even in the most frustrating of confrontations with her, I could repeat over and over that I loved her.

I couldn't get visibly angry because she would grow defensive, but if I simply repeated over and over that I loved her, making it a question that she had to respond to, we would let love conquer all of the problems that were coming between the two of us.

Love is kind. "Showing sympathy or understanding." That's one definition of kind that I can really wrap my brain around, now. Understanding can be shown, not just expressed in words. "я тебя люблю"