love alone is worth the fight
I have a really close friend who is an artist and we've talked about the type of people she wants to associate her work with. She's not just any artist though. You see; She is totally brilliant! Her art reaches some of the highest echelon of people in NYC and for so long, she didn't even have a public website because her clientele was based off referrals only, and in-person meetings. "Couture" or "high-art" as they call it. In a conversation she and I had, once upon a time, she told me she had worked with a couple of guys that 'claimed to walk with Jesus' then were poor workers, did a bad job, and were totally lazy. Sadly, she was scarred by that experience that she typically actually 'prefers' to work with people other than professing Christians. This makes me sad. And yet, I can understand.
You see. If we run around telling everyone about our faith and wear it on our sleeve, or have it tattooed across our body so others can see it, wouldn't you think we would think twice about half our actions?! How we treated others? The talk that came out of our mouth or how we "did" life all around?
I've been recently consumed with several new artists and albums. Among the list of these: Needtobreathe's new album: Wasteland, Johnnyswim (who are unREAL if you havent heard them, look them up on Spotify, you can thank me later!! ;) and then there's Switchfoot's Fading West album.
After watching the documentary on their tour through Australia and New Zealand on down the coast looking for good surf and playing various shows, including music festivals; they talked about the struggle to find a place to fit in. The Music scene they were seen playing in often times was filled with other bands who didn't exactly do life like Switchfoot and most of the audience had no idea who they were as a band, and yet each and every performance; these guys would get up on stage, performs their hearts out and do their very best job to 'earn' the audiences stamp of approval! One of the band members said it was like auditioning each and every time. Can you imagine?? Being in the music industry probably 15+ years and still working 110% every show, every album, every bit of the journey of your career as a musician because you know whether you make or break it, depends on the rise and fall & the success or failure of your music and how the fans like what you create as a musician! On their tour, though, they discovered and shared the main thing they learned in it all: Love alone is worth the fight!
In one of Switchfoot's songs, The World You Want the lyrics read:
You start to look like what you believe...
What you say is your religion
How you say it's your religion
Who you love is your religion
How you love is your religion
All your science, your religion
All your hatred, your religion
All your wars are your religion
Every breath is your religion yea
Is this the world you want?
Is this the world you want? - You're making it
Every day you're alive
...You change the world
You change the world every day you're alive...
And I am left challenged, inspired, rocked, convicted... and yet optimistic and hopeful for another day! Its like the lyrics say "EVERY DAY We're alive" and we get a chance to change and impact the world for better!! But its challenging in the same time because How we treat people; How we talk about others; What we behave like; How we love people; How positive or negative we are... each one of these things, including tattoos or posts about faith, who we are and how we act or treat people communicates a LOT about us.
Tonight, I was blessed with an opportunity to see some amazing and talented musicians LIVE at Red Rocks under the Denver stars - not only was it gorgeous, but a killer set! Tedashi and Capital Kings opened for Lecrae, Skillet, and Tobymac!
Woah, what an excellent show!! BUT I say all this because of a point Toby made. He was talking about Brennan Manning, author of Ragamuffin Gospel and Abba's Child (both outstanding reads, I agree with Mr Tobymac:) But he says Manning said "Anyone we come in contact with, we either offer them life, or we drain them" and then he continued on with his "speak life" song for the sold-out crowd to hear.
This goes right into what some recent conversations with friends we've been having. What if everytime we spoke, we were focused on adding LIFE into someone's life? What if we didnt have to complain or talk about the 'debbie downer' situation we're in the middle of facing right upon a hello? Dont get me wrong here, there is definitely a time and place for sharing with some of our deepest and closest friends our hurts, burdens and battles.
But we can still have hard and sad conversations with people and still walk away feeling like it was a significant conversation or life was really added (even by the other listening or vice versa!)
Bottom line as I would see it. People are hurting. There's always something. I cannot tell you how many people I know battling a kind of cancer, fighting through a seperation or divorce, facing foreclosure or losing their job, even fighting with a parent, brother, or even friend/s. What if we all tried to love people better by just being a positive reinforcement to their life where they felt like we were their cheerleaders to listen, encourage, go to, pray with, or just be there in some of life's yuckiest of situations?
What if we started working and acting like the faith worn on so many people's bumper stickers, tattooed arms or continual verse posts so that people would know us by how we loved?!!??
What if we stopped striving to make our presence known, but our absent felt?
I don't want to be just average! And unfortunately for me, this means in my relationships too.
I don't want to have just a menial faith that has me sitting in a church pew and not doing anything to show how its impacted me, especially if you can't even tell my life has been transformed because of the way I treat others. Of course, I know that I can often times be spread thin by too many commitments, and friends to meet with. Hopefully though, those I don't get to see as often as Id like, can continue giving me the grace to be me, and in my time actually with them I can focus on being present and life-giving with them! But being a Sunday attender of church seems like a joke to me. I'm not warming up to sit on the bench, the same way I wouldn't do this with athletics or a job, or life and relationships for that matter.
You see, when I think about most of life, there's a TON of things we can do fairly well, with ease, or without too many hardships. Having the hobby of music or sports like running, cycling, snowboarding, etc. and it's ok to not be the very best at every single thing we get into, but we at least TRY. And while I'd love to be able to pick the guitar like Dave Matthews, the reality is, I won't be the best at it... BUT that also doesn't mean I have to become apathetic about my passion or pursuit of ____. And in regards to faith; I WANT To be above average! I dont want to just "ho hum" through life accepting things as they are and become bored like so many people are. Being "average" when it comes to my faith and my commitment to love is not an option. I want to love radically. I want to do life well. I want to lead others to Jesus more through pointing back to him in conversations than I share about 'how great Wendy is' because honestly I am nothing without his work in my life and hope he continues to restore!!
I believe we are called to be excellent. Yes at our craft and our calling! It is extremely important to work and put forth 110% because we should be JUST THAT Good! (if you're not good at your job, evaluate the WHY - can you be trying harder? Are you lacking passion or zeal? If so, what will fix it? What can you do to change? Perhaps its finding a new job that gives you life!)
I also believe we are to be excellent in our life and how we love people. And as Jon Foreman sings from his song - what we say, how we say, who we love, how we love - ALL OF THESE show what is important to us. So if TV or social media, or the gym, or even our jobs are beating out some of the most important things in our life; that will communicate loudly to all those around us.
Dont worry, you won't need to tell people where your commitments lie...those around you already know (whether its good or bad:})
I know my hope and prayer going forward is to continue dreaming and passionately pursuing life and all He has in store for me, BUT at the same time, I want to "speak life" and not just be average at it, so I guess in a round about way, maybe here's a good chance to evaluate where you're at too, and if you're up for the challenge, Join me! Lets be above average!
Being positive all the time sure as heck isn't easy, but it can be SO WORTH IT - after all, when you know the freedom and claim to walk in that freedom Christ gives us, why would be anything less than joyful? (its a challenge for me too:}but tell ya what...why not give it a shot and I'll join you!?! :)