By Corbin Croy
You have an amazing year ahead of you. Watching your children grow will blow your mind, as it always does. Cherish your time with them, and serve them as their father. Your wife will surprise you this year, as she always does. Support her as Christ supports the church. Times will be low, times will be high. There will be decisions that you will have to make that will be risky, but you will have to make them. You will make wrong choices, and you will make right ones. Stay steady on your course. You have many challenges ahead, and many great adventures. Here are some things you will need along the way.
1: Don’t leave others behind
You will have conflicts with friends, and people close to you. They will do wrong to you. And you will have to make a stand for your own integrity. Always give a chance for others to draw you back. Don’t be too quick to jump ship and leave those who are close to you behind. You will discover more about yourself if you give people a fair chance to answer for your offenses rather than cutting and running. Challenge yourself in this, and you may be surprised on how others will respond.
You will come to understand why it is difficult for you to communicate with others and why others often take offense at what you have to say and do not take the time to consider why you are saying or doing those things. You must be prepared to take responsibility and to interact with others differently and challenge yourself to explore new dynamics that seems pointless to you.
Just because you are willing to go in at it all alone, if that is what needs be, does not mean that this is what should be, or what must be. Your perception of the world may make too easy to think that you are simply fated to be alone, or never be able to open up to others. You may see nothing wrong either way with having others around you or not having them at all. To you, the difference may seem nil, and your efforts to draw close to others may always seem fraught with frustration, confusion, and failed expectations, but that is still not a good enough reason to leave others behind. Stay in the game, and let yourself be vulnerable.
2: Temper courage with humility
Continue to fight for those who are being left out, forgotten, and excluded. Your mind and your ability to conceptualize problems has given you a great tool to help others, and your courage to do so has never failed you. But there is one tool that courage is aided by as equally as a sharp mind, and that is a gentle heart. Develop the discipline of humility as you courageously defend those who are defenseless. For as you know more that most than an unintended offense can harm the offender as well as the victim.
Your courage to speak out for others comes from the knowledge you possess of your own weaknesses. You have hurt others unintentionally, offended those you had no idea you were offending and cheapened or mocked that which was valuable or important to others without realizing what you were doing. You have done this in the past, are doing it now, and will keep doing it. It is your thorn, and you must keep trying to remove it, but you must also accept this as being a part of who you are.
Defending the neglected is always a righteous cause, but you cannot let yourself think that this is how you do penance. You gain no righteousness for yourself by being rude and abusive to others thinking that you are correcting an error in their thinking or behavior for the ultimate good. Forgive yourself and move on. You do not like snap judgments made against you, and you may think that you are not judging others, when you challenge ideas or principles, but time has shown you that other people simply do not operate that way. You will find more reward in your courageous battle if you discipline yourself with humility instead of sharpness or rationality.
3: Every Injustice is an opportunity for love
This world is not just, and this year will not make any gains toward making it more just. There will be great injustices. Do not let these injustices overshadow the reasons to still have hope. This year will have good things to, and we have to take the bad with the good, and sometimes that means taking more bad. You will see good people approving of horrible things all because they have wrong beliefs. It will still trouble you as it always does to see how much our beliefs can hurt others.
The fight to right all the wrongs in our world is still as good and as noble a fight this year as it will continue to be for all years to come. It is important to remember that justice is a force of nature, but love must be created. Every man will one day face judgment and get what he deserves in one way or another. No one gets away with murder. The perpetrator must live with himself, and the wicked will carry their burden wherever they go. Societies rise and fall with the times and we will move past this point of darkness. Eventually Justice will win the day. Either we will all destroy ourselves, or we will all find a way to live together. Both outcomes will be just.
But neither outcome requires the Presence of Love to be lifted up. If we live in a just world or an unjust one, focus on increasing the presence of love in others and in yourself. Fighting the just fight, and doing the right thing are good things that should not be neglected. We have to build our society and our relationships upon just standards that ought not ever be ignored, but do not let injustice be an excuse to neglect your responsibility to love your neighbor. You owe it to yourself to love. You owe it to yourself to wear rose colored glasses. You owe it to yourself to love a little bit more each day.
4: It is better to be good than to be right
Let’s face it. Doing the right thing and being right has not meted you right outcomes. It is time you accept that you can either be right, or you can be good. This may not be true for everyone, but it is true for you. You do not have to be intentionally wrong, or accept wrong doing just because it might rub someone the wrong way, but you have to think about what is good at all times. You will find error and wrongness in many things. Being good is about possessing the wisdom about doing the right thing and the state of affairs that makes something right in the right way.
For you, honesty and integrity have always been your best virtues. You act upon what you believe and you do so consistently and fairly. And you speak from your heart. You should continue in all of this, but as you are aware you lack the social skills of kindness and curtesy. You may not be able to develop these disciplines, but you should be challenged to not let this become an excuse for you. You can conceptualize what the good is for yourself and for others. You can temper you interactions with others with what is good for them and for yourself. Respond in goodness. Do not react in rightness. To be good, instead of being right, is an invitation to respond to others to take in the experience of them being them, and to respond according to them as they are, and not to simply react to the situation as it stands.
5: You are a Child of God
Above all do not forget that you are a child of God. Your faith will be tested, as it always is. You question everything. You will continue to question your place in among your brothers and sisters who confess the same faith. You will struggle to find an identity, and you will doubt whether or not you should call yourself a true believer. Follow the truth where it leads you. Keep pursuing knowledge, clarity, and simplicity. Your pursuit is not a vain one, nor would it ever conflict with good and simple faith.
It is easy to think that your status with God somehow changes according to how you measure your spiritual benchmarks, but this would be a failure of good theology. You affirm your belief in God through the awakening of your need for faith. You have not denied this, and your hunger to understand God and all the ways that He relates to you and your life in ways that promote and nourish your faith is what ensures that you are not the problem when it comes to your doubts and your confusion. You must continually remember to think of yourself as a child of God, and never let your own self-evaluation be the standard for your value. God has made you to be who you are.
Being a child of God does not mean that you bow to the wishes of the “religious” masses, but it also does not mean that you buck the system every chance you get. Being a child of God means that God is on your side, He is your daddy, but it also means that you have to support your brothers and sisters. It means protecting them no matter what. Standing by them even when they stumble, and showing up to all the family events. It is a responsibility and it is a tremendous grace.
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