Tag Archives: sacrifice

Love in the face of truth…

If you know me, you know how important love and relationship is to me.  You know that I am someone who loves friends, friendship and quality time spent with someone to whom I am deeply committed and connected.

Many times, love has found me… or was it love?  I know the feeling of love was a part of the relationship, but was it truly love?  You see, I almost always allowed my heart to rule my head.  I let the feeling or perception of my deep feelings guide my willingness to engage and commit to someone.  That’s not a good thing, if you’re not doing a “check up from the neck up”.  So many times, I have hoped for the promise of a great relationship filled with love, but I ignored the signs which indicated that an actual relationship with that person was simply unwise or unavailable because they weren’t ready or we didn’t share the same values and goals.  I’ve been in relationships where the “friendship” and love was undeniable and powerful, but there were mixed values or life goals.  I could go on and on, but the right combination of things seemed to somehow elude… both of us and yet, we carried on in the hope the other would change.

I spent many years wondering… “Who is going to be able to settle on and accept this conundrum called Tim?”, “Who is going to accept me for me?”… and equally importantly, find me accepting the other person too; accepting them for the right reasons and not just because they were amazing and loving!

Choosing a relationship is confusing and scary because it’s such a dynamic process.  Being honest with the other person while “you” are unveiled and vice versa can be dizzying because it sometimes happens at a very rapid pace.   Even if you both choose to start out “slow”, the relationship will dictate the pace at which it will unfold and often, we succumb to it.  If it’s right though, you will find a balance in the pace which will be comfortable for both of you.  You find that comfort because you can be honest with yourself about what you feel and what you see!

The statement about choosing a relationship was once very true for me, but I am grateful to say, I think that is finally a thing of the past for me and for one very important reason.  I think I finally value myself enough to choose wisely and to be honest with myself when I consider being in a healthy relationship, because I’m willing to act in the light of what I see; in both me and the other person.

In the past, I was always ready to set myself aside.  What I mean by that is, I would ignore simple truths that I would see.  I would not rise to question the obvious differences or be willing to make a stand in the light of what I valued.  I was always so concerned about giving the other person the benefit of the doubt, because I saw that they were a good person and deserving of love.  I also, selfishly, wanted the intoxicating feeling of being with someone.  I can recall example after example, but in the end… they were excuses made by me.

At the end of the day, when you’re in a relationship and you’re serious about it, it’s OK and necessary to talk to your partner about your feelings and part in it!  If they don’t value what you value or they’re not in the same place (relatively) and don’t see themselves moving forward in a way similar to you… then it’s time to be honest with yourself and them and then make a decision.    Once you’ve made your decision (which may be to leave), it can be hard to let go and put the relationship behind because it satisfied many things for you.  Unless it satisfies all the important things though, it’s wise to cling to your decision because after all, you saw enough to choose to leave in the first place!  We are who we are which doesn’t make us bad, it just makes us unique.   Two people can be great friends and love each other desperately, but that doesn’t make them right for one another.

I’ve always said “It just shouldn’t be that hard” and that’s the truth when you’re in a healthy relationship unless you’re both really expert at lying to yourselves and each other.  When you meet the right person however, it simply isn’t hard because it’s easy to live with them and the truth at the same time!  Hard questions aren’t that hard to share or face.  This is the rest of your life… so you’d better do your best to be honest, get it right and make sure the person you’re with is the best for you.  It’s great to find someone who makes your heart go pitter pat, but that gets old fast when you can’t count on their commitment when the going gets rough.

What’s worse still is when you find that special someone who understands you utterly, who makes you feel very loved and accepted and they find you the same.  They struggle and simply can’t allow themselves to commit to you no matter how hard they try, because they’re fighting a conflict within themselves that’s obvious, but that they desperately want to deny… you aren’t right for them!  You don’t match THEIR values or goals!  You’re only cheating yourself if you don’t question it and they’re cheating you if they’re not honest about it.  It might be easy to be with them at a love and friendship level, but that lifelong choice thing, that’s another matter entirely.  Choosing to be with someone should be easy because “EVERYTYHING” is obvious.  It’s obvious you’re attracted, it’s obvious you share passion for each other, it’s obvious you share laughter, but it’s also obvious that you both share the same values, goals and honesty too.    Honesty about everything!

There is nothing worse than dancing around an elephant in the room, and lying about it only makes it worse because someday you’re going to have to deal with what the elephant leaves behind.  You see, life brings both good stuff and crap too.  A couple’s willingness to engage in good and bad together, while sharing an abiding respect is what defines the basis of a good and lasting relationship.

If you value a good career and financial stability, choosing someone who is entrepreneurial and frequently lives on the bleeding edge of financial ruin because they’re a risk taker is probably not a good fit; no matter how incredible they are to you.  Sometimes, our partners are completely honest with us… they want or don’t want to have kids.  If raising a family is something important to you and non-negotiable and your partner doesn’t want to have kids, you have little choice no matter how great the rest of the relationship!  Staying is keeping you from being with someone who values the same things you do and it keeps them from achieving their life goal too.  Choosing not to stay doesn’t make the other person bad for you, but does make them a bad CHOICE for you!  If however, your family choices are negotiable, and foregoing a family life is something you can live with… well I guess your choice may not be so difficult.  As long as you’re willing to be honest with yourself about what your partner shares with you, you can make healthy choices.  If you choose to leave, they will respect you because you’re valuing and respecting them too!

If someone pursues you after the relationship has ended, it’s easy to be tempted back because, after all, it wasn’t all bad.  It’s sometimes hard to honour our choices because let’s face it… being alone sucks!  But hanging about and playing with the fire of a past flame keeps you from moving forward and finding the right relationship for you.  I’ve struggled with that too, but I’ve learned my lesson after having been burned by playing with that very fire.  Fortunately though, I was not scarred because I feel I’ve learned from my experience and now have the ability to be honest with myself and make hard choices when necessary.

I’m not saying that you can’t feel completely connected to someone who is different to you, but you have to be certain that difference is something you can live with; because giving and committing your heart to someone should be about a forever choice!    “Every rose has its thorn” might be true, but if you can’t live with the pain you feel from what is otherwise something quite beautiful, it’s better to leave it alone.

Too many times, I held onto hope while waiting on the other person.  I waited and hoped that that the depth of our love would conquer our differences, but each time, that hope found me disappointed and ultimately… alone!  Sometimes, I chose to end the relationship and sometimes it was the other person or a mutual decision.  Thankfully though, it ended because continuing to live in the expectation or hope that I or the other person would change our mind would have resulted in frustration, anger and likely bitterness or resentment.

A very good friend of mine offers “Granny’s” advice.”  “It’s better to be alone than wish you were!”   Damn straight!  It’s scary to choose someone, but it’s worse when you hold onto someone when in the back of your mind, you know you shouldn’t be there.  Because you think the world of them however, or because you don’t want to be alone, you choose to remain in something that’s not right for you.  That’s just the wrong reason to be in a relationship and more… it’s really selfish!

It can be hard to be honest, but when you’re with the right person, they will accept what you have to say, knowing that it’s probably hard for you to share, but because they value integrity and because of their self-respect and integrity too, they listen knowing that you have their best interests in mind.

I have waited a very long time to find someone who sees me as I am, who finds me devilishly handsome, makes their heart go boom, accepts all of the idiosyncrasies that comprise me, who accepts and shares the goals and values we both have and who, in the light of all of those things is willing to talk honestly and openly about our life.  That is someone I can make a commitment to because that is someone within which I can place my trust.

The hardest part of being in a relationship when it first begins and then throughout is being honest.  It can be hard to be honest with yourself and then with your partner because sometimes, the message isn’t easy.  Of course, there are many other parts too, but it all starts with honesty!  Without it, you can never have integrity, honour or respect.  Often, when we find love, it feels easy, but without honesty and respect, it’s shallow and baseless!  Finding a great love, a love in which you share, values, goals, respect and above all, honesty… that’s not so easy, but it’s so worth waiting for!

I’ve spent the last 3 years of my life more or less on my own.  I’ve shut down my small business and joined a large software company, moved my home after 42 years and started another part of my life.   I’ve had to undergo a lot of scary stuff and become very honest with myself about who I am and where I’m at!  I’m not willing to toss all that aside for the first bit of “feel good” that comes along.

When you find the “right” person for you, you’ll know, but only if you’re willing to be honest… with you!  Here’s hoping you find the right person for you!

Soul Pic

Appreciating those in our lives…

It’s easy to overlook important relationships in our lives. It seems that we more easily maintain work relationships, or those with close friends whom we relate to best and see often because there is something in it for us; gratification, a sense of belonging, validation, you pick the reason.  There are however, relationships that should be closer to us but take a great deal more effort to maintain for whatever reason; distance, dissimilar interests, age… again, you pick the reason. I lump myself into the latter category too. I’m a very busy, self-employed man who has little trouble filling in the hours and minutes of the day and I often have to work to stay connected to those that matter most to me…. I’m not always successful and in fact, I believe I often fall short. It’s when I read a story like the one at the bottom of this post that I’m reminded of the importance of nurturing important relationships… whether they are with our Mother, Father, Sister, Brother… or most especially, with Jesus. That’s right… I have to remind myself that he’s an active part of my life and I have to remember to invite him into it. It’s easy to pray, offer thanks… the easy, warm and fuzzy stuff, but I need to remember to allow him into my life as my Lord, brother, confidant, accountability partner and friend.

Making time for someone special in your life doesn’t need to be a big production. It can be a coffee, a phone call, a trip to the mall or the dump, fishing, you name what works for you… in the end, a two minute phone call to let someone know that they’re a part of your thoughts that day. Letting them know that they matter to you can become a memory that lasts a lifetime.

My Mother died six years ago… I often think of her and I truly miss her. I remember how we shared time together but also how we did not! I know she would have liked to have been a greater part of my life and it was significantly in my hands to allow that to happen. I often reminisce on how I’d planned to take her on a road trip to Whistler, BC for the day… just her, me and the wind in our hair. Many years and plenty of excuses later, she’s gone and sadly, that trip didn’t happen. I have forgiven in myself this situation and prayed for forgiveness to God also. The point here is, it doesn’t have to be a trip to Whistler; it could be a drive to the coffee shop, the park or just a drive through the country to share time together. Making time form those who are important to you is what makes the difference between a casual, convenient relationship and one that is worthy of the person who loves you and affords you the same.

My Dad is always willing to say “Yes… of course” when I ask him. Last week, I asked if he’d like to come for a ride with me… just to purchase some food for my Dog. Yes was the answer and even though it was only a half our trip, we enjoyed ourselves and shared time. I’m grateful for that simple memory and the countless others I have of my Dad as I remember him on his 79th birthday and this Father’s Day!
I pray we can all make an effort to care for those important relationships that take more work to maintain but have such great value. This writing was not out of guilt or hard memory, on the contrary, it was spawned out of the lovely memories I have of my Mom and Dad and the other friends and family who have shown me such great love and care over the years… it’s a reminder for me to continue to make the extra effort to connect and remain connected.
So… all of that said, Happy Father’s Day.

Do have a great week, make time to connect with those significant relationships in your life and enjoy the read below!

Tim

PS… I’m not responsible for the story below, I just found it very touching. It’s what inspired me to write the preface above.

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After 21 years of marriage, my wife wanted me to take another woman out to dinner and a movie. She said, “I love you, but I know this other woman loves you and would love to spend some time with you.”

The other woman that my wife wanted me to visit was my MOTHER, who has been a widow for 19 years, but the demands of my work and my three children had made it possible to visit her only occasionally. That night I called to invite her to go out for dinner and a movie. “What’s wrong, are you well?” she asked.

My mother is the type of woman who suspects that a late night call or a surprise invitation is a sign of bad news. “I thought that it would be pleasant to spend some time with you,” I responded. “Just the two of us.” She thought about it for a moment, and then said, “I would like that very much.”

That Friday after work, as I drove over to pick her up I was a bit nervous. When I arrived at her house, I noticed that she, too, seemed to be nervous about our date. She waited in the door with her coat on. She had curled her hair and was wearing the dress that she had worn to celebrate her last wedding anniversary. She smiled from a face that was as radiant as an angel’s. “I told my friends that I was going to go out with my son, and they were impressed, “she said, as she got into the car. “They can’t wait to hear about our meeting.”

We went to a restaurant that, although not elegant, was very nice and cozy. My mother took my arm as if she were the First Lady. After we sat down, I had to read the menu. Her eyes could only read large print. Half way through the entries, I lifted my eyes and saw Mom sitting there staring at me. A nostalgic smile was on her lips. “It was I who used to have to read the menu when you were small,” she said. “Then it’s time that you relax and let me return the favor,” I responded. During the dinner, we had an agreeable conversation – nothing extraordinary but catching up on recent events of each other’s life. We talked so much that we missed the movie. As we arrived at her house later, she said, “I’ll go out with you again, but only if you let me invite you.” I agreed.

“How was your dinner date?” asked my wife when I got home. “Very nice. Much more so than I could have imagined,” I answered.

A few days later, my mother died of a massive heart attack. It happened so suddenly that I didn’t have a chance to do anything for her. Sometime later, I received an envelope with a copy of a restaurant receipt from the same place mother and I had dined. An attached note said: “I paid this bill in advance. I wasn’t sure that I could be there; but nevertheless, I paid for two plates – one for you and the other for your wife. You will never know what that night meant for me. I love you, son.”

At that moment, I understood the importance of saying in time: “I LOVE YOU” and to give our loved ones the time that they deserve. Nothing in life is more important than your family. Give them the time they deserve, because these things cannot be put off till “some other time.”

Pastors… who are they really?

Christianity is a bumpy ride at best… if anyone says differently, they’re not being honest or they’re not living life! I don’t care who you are, life can definitely be hard (even when it seems to be going well). Choosing to follow Jesus is not a promise of sugar cane lollipops and clean sheets! Following Christ is a demanding choice that brings with it the promise of a healthier life if we choose to follow the example that Jesus taught and what God promises.

I’ve been more challenged in my latter adult life than at any other time, because I choose to follow Christ! I choose to make the hard choices I do to help me live the best life I can. I can’t say I get it right all of the time or even most of the time for that matter, but it’s incredible to know the difference because it means I have a path to follow and a guide to help show the way. It gives me hope!

God does want not tell us how to live our lives in terms of what we choose to do when buying a house, what we want for a career, where we want to live or what colour to paint the bathroom. I do believe though, that He hopes we’ll share or offer our choices to Him and ask for His guidance and wisdom. I know there are probably some people who just read that who may in part disagree with me. That’s completely OK… that’s between you and God to wrestle with. I’ll continue to engage God and wrestle with that stuff too.

I suppose this is where our Pastors come into the picture. What a huge responsibility they have. They have to be available for questions or thoughts like I just mentioned. They also have to be there for us as we struggle through our challenges, losses and triumphs. They’re an amazing group of people wouldn’t you agree? They choose to be an earthly guide to us as they present the Word or Message of God. They do this not just every Sunday, but every day! Every single day, our Pastors are on the spot because they must lead lives of example; the example that Jesus left for all of us to follow. That is an awesome responsibility! Not only must our Pastors lead lives of example, but their husbands or wives also share and present a similar example. On top of that, they must try to live out in their own lives the same advice they offer us. Talk about a hard road to walk!

While they engage in this life of service, they knowingly choose to be held by God to a higher standard! They are held accountable because they have chosen to publicly accept the responsibility for leading His people in a life committed to following Jesus Christ! WOW! I don’t know about you, but to me that seems like a pretty incredible responsibility to accept! To add even more responsibility, they must do what I just described with absolute grace and humility! When you think about it, it’s a pretty incredible life choice to make!

I hope by now you’re beginning to see my point. Our Pastors are pretty incredible people who have taken on an awesome responsibility! It’s been my privilege to make and maintain deeply bonded friendships with nearly all of the Pastors and families who have come into my life! I’m getting a little choked up thinking about it actually! Some of the very best friends I’ve ever had are Pastors! If you’ve known me for most of my life, you’d quickly realize how bizarre and unusual that sounds! I spent the 80% of my life outside of any form of Church or organized religion. I still do not consider myself a religious person, but I am definitely a deeply committed man of faith and follower of Jesus Christ! I’ve been a follower walking in grace for nearly 30 years, but I’ve not been involved in a church or with any pastors for the majority of it. In fact, it’s only in the last 10 years of my life where I’ve really become closely connected with any church or pastors. There’s a long story to my testimony and maybe one day, I’ll write about it, but this is about pastors and so I’ll continue to focus my thoughts on them. To do that though, I’ll have to share a little bit of what I’ve seen through my friendships with them.

Probably the most significant thing I’ve notice is THAT THEY’RE PEOPLE TOO! They experience the same struggles and trials in life that we do. They have to pay bills, maintain mortgages, raise children, buy food, face trials and cry tears like the rest of us do. When it comes to experiencing all that life can bring, they are no less subject to the trials of life than we are! I won’t share specifics about what I’ve seen, but I can tell you that what I’ve seen is no less challenging than anything I’ve faced in my lifetime.

When our pastors have trouble with their children, who can they turn to? Of course, they can and will turn to God, but it’s also nice and real to need a certain amount of human support too. They’re there for us when we need them… are we just as available to them when they need us? When their kids or family get sick, when they maybe having a marital or relational problem or when they’re struggling in their faith just like we do, who here on Earth can they turn to?

So far, I’ve only focused on the stuff life can bring their way, but what about the stuff that really doesn’t belong to them like our expectations of them? Do we consider that they have lives and trials just like we have when we say we need them? Are we aware of the difficult decisions they must make like whether or not to help someone financially? They have to make financial decisions every single day with funds entrusted to them by their congregation and by God! They must discern whether someone is truly in need or is fabricating a story just to get a hand out. They choose to help guide our children, teens and young adults and they have to deal with our expectations of how they’re to do that too.

Who do they turn to when they have troubles within their own pastoral community? Managing a staff of church employees and pastoral staff is no different than managing regular employees because they’re all regular people, but who can they talk to about it. Peer review and experience are important resources to lean on when making business and staffing decisions and they exist beyond the church. Are we available without judgment and in confidence?

Who do they turn to when they’re struggling with a problem themselves? What if they need someone who isn’t in the pastoral community to listen to them because they need someone who has shared the same experience? What if they need to turn to you for help, would you be ready or willing? I don’t necessarily want to talk with my girlfriend about everything. I may be struggling in a relationship issue with her and I need to hear another perspective before I try to discuss it with her. I’m not saying that we should air our laundry publicly, but sometimes, it’s helpful to say what you’re thinking to someone else and have them reflect back to you what they heard you say. Maybe the issue is all me and I need a checkup from the neck up. Our pastors needs are no different.

I think we have an conception or understanding that our Pastors are infinitely wise, their lives are largely without trouble or trial and that they probably don’t need us. Well, guess again! They’re people just like us and they need the same love and grace we do! They’re no less human and therefore no less prone to the trials or temptations in life that we are.

I’ve seen in a few cases where people live their faith lives vicariously through their pastor. They “do what they do” and happily accept the grace they receive from their pastor or friends, but are very quick to judge a pastor when they fall in the same things they’re guilty of because their expectation is that their pastor is beyond sin! Well… I’d rather have a sinful, repentant and real pastor than a fake, holier than thou pastor any day of the week and twice on Sunday!

I happened to be at an event recently where my pastor and his wife wept openly while they watched their son admit to a part of his life he’d been struggling with. It was not easy for their son to admit to and it was no easier for my friends to watch their son make his obviously honest and sincere testimony! What I can tell you is this… they were not crying because they felt shame or guilt because of what their son was publicly offering in his testimony. They were weeping tears of joy because their child had claimed freedom from the dominion of pain they’d been labouring under and the guilt and shame of that past. What was my response? I cried with them, held them and supported them too because they’re my friends and I love them!

Pastors have kids who have to go through the same teenage years that ours do… those waters can be shark infested at the best of times and it’s no different for them. They have illness, financial challenge, need for retirement and other challenges to face within their own families and lives just like we do. They do all of that and still listen to our burdens and suffering because let’s face it, most of the time we need their counsel when things aren’t going too well in our lives. We usually need them when we have a difficult challenge or question we’re facing and we want or need their time to work through that stuff. They share with us as we watch our kids being born and they weep with us when we lay our loved ones to rest. All the while, they’re facing the same stuff in their own lives!

I think we should have a national “love your pastor” day because they definitely deserve our love and respect! One day seems too little considering they give back to and serve us nearly every day. Think about that… they’re living a pastoral life every day of their life. Here’s a challenge from me to you. Make a day in your own life to honour or thank your pastor… just as they do for you each and every day of theirs.

I have to say that I’m overwhelmed when I think of all of the pastors who’ve been giving, loving and kind to me. They’ve sacrificed their time when I’ve needed them. They’ve been there to help guide me through very difficult moments in life and in my faith. God has richly blessed me by allowing me to become closely connected with my pastors! They are among the wisest and most gracious people I’ve ever met. Not because they bear the title pastor, but because they choose to be kind, gracious, humble, truthful and above all, human!

I’m writing this today because I want to honour the pastors who’ve always been there for me and who continue to remain willing to be there for me. Beyond that, they choose to call me friend and share friendship and life with me! What a blessing they are. I’ve been told that no matter where I am or what time of the day it may be, I’m always welcome to call… not because I’m anyone special, but because they truly love me, care for me and want the very best for me!

What an amazing blessing our pastors are to us each and every day… let’s all take time to give them a hug and tell them that we not only we appreciate what they do for us, but why! Tell your pastor that you love them if you do and how they’ve helped you or helped shape your life. Worshiping God is about more than music. Worshiping God is about recognizing and rejoicing in his blessing and provision for us. Celebrating your pastors and their families with love and acknowledgment of their life choice is God honouring worship too, not to mention, it’s just kind appreciation for all of the love and sacrifice we receive from them every day.

Larry, Don, Arden, Mike, Sara, Heather, BrianD, BrianT, Ed, Lynda, Doug, TimB, TimD, Scott, Rick, Anthony, Nate and any that I’ve missed; to you and your families, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for all of the love, care, compassion and patience you’ve shared with me over the years. Thank you for loving me enough to kick my butt when I’ve needed it. Thank you for always being willing to ask the hard questions and then walk through them with me. Thank you for trusting me with your confidence when you’ve needed my friendship and thank you especially for always being real people! You’re a light unto my path and my life would not be the same without your loving friendship!

Always and with love,
Tim