We Need Change!

Change! It should be a welcome thing for you and for me. For without it, there would have been no butterflies. All our sunsets and sunrises would have the same worn-out look all year-round. Clouds above us would be like flotsam floating and drifting toward ennui’s sea. Without change, mind you, every day for three hundred sixty-five and one-fourth days of our lives, the rains of heaven would wearisomely patter in the same old measured drops that could not initiate a reading on a rain gauge—-we like rains pounding and pouring in great gushes sometimes.

You may welcome that cherub face of a darling babe at birth, but at age thirty that cherub face of a darling babe is already a “Bondying,” a tiresome monstrosity, better retired. Oh, when will he ever grow up? you would say in much exasperation.

Because there is change, each day comes to us with a hope that the burden that in the past was too heavy would now be lighter. Since tears have already run dry on the pillow of last night’s weeping, the pain of today would be bearable, or otherwise banished. A smile now adorns that once mournful face.

Change is welcome. You suspect that aging is a terrible thing?  It crowns your calendar days with experiences too great and too noble. Maybe you still wanted to be the star on the football field, or the greatest marathoner the world had ever seen. But wait, do not arthritis and muscle pains too come with their own blessings?  Arthritis, that inflammation of body joints, and the pain that accompanies it are like a pair of wheels in a wheelchair to carry you and give you that much-needed respite from the labors of the day. Is not dementia a state of mind and the body needs to give it a welcome hug? It makes you forget even the pains and hurts of past struggles with men, with weather, with  worries. Think that that star you had been should now become an icon to be admired and memorialized. Know too that that greatest marathon runner  that was you should now be watching other runners pass before your eyes. You were the first and they are just making their own niche next to yours. Relax and retire now those athletic shoes and start savoring the joys of the man you had once been.

We need change to flavor our days, even to savor with renewed joys those days of our past joys. We need change to let that once bragging youth give way to the mature man, and make us better persons.

We need change badly. The man that we once were should now retire. We need to replace that anger with love. We need to throw away those words that make pain and create hurts in the hearts of other people, and substitute warmth in its stead.

Wonder why God chooses older men to be elders in the congregation? Because God wants change and older men are the change that could set the stage of a new world that He wants to create. Your gray hairs should be the crown of your wisdom. Because as you age, you undergo some mellowing and some diminishing. For one, your strength diminishes.  If you are not mellowed with age, you are disabled; you can’t fight back by still shouting at the top of your voice—-the young who will hear you do not believe that you can carry out your threats. Besides, an old man who pounds tables is all short fuses but no gunpowder. He is the last crack of lightning in the night-time sky. All pfft and no put.

The world that we are needs to grow old and die. But it has to grow old in grace and die in grace. And as we grow old, as we lay dying there, welcome the young on that stage which is the finality of our earthly struggles. We are at the center of it, they watch us leave. Like the ancients who grew old in grace, let us let that grace wrap itself around us as we leave the world of the living. Let our footsteps be for the young to trace, and our lives their examples to emulate.

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Rising Above Humanness

Factor forgiveness into your system, even if you’re not a theologian, even if you’re not religious. As a believer you’ll tremendously need that in these days when brotherhood falling outs have become as common as common colds, when domestic estrangements become ordinary fares on TV, on the internet, at the breakfast table.  If you’re church-less, you’ll need forgiveness—-you too need to forgive or be forgiven—- in order to move on with life.

Forgiveness, as the song goes, is like seeing a bunch of yellow ribbons tied to the old oak tree: The people you had offended and sinned against are welcoming you back. Welcoming arms. It is a symbol too great to ignore. Not seeing that, you don’t get down from the bus of your life, you  just roll on, you go find yourself a hide-away where you can start a life, perhaps incognito.

They who have not forgiven you, you who have not been forgiven, are still entwined in that human fault that characterizes most men and women. To sin is a fault; to not forgive is also a fault.

Man is made to forgive and be forgiven. The fault of humanness is as old as Eden. When humanity left that garden, they never turned back. Their sinfulness made it next to impossible to turn back. To go back to that garden of God’s fellowship, we need the refreshing of the soul, even a little nod and a smile from heaven, telling us everything now is all right.

Some cannot forgive because they have a difficulty deleting the memories of the pains and hurts in their system; it takes a while, if not a long while, to forget them.  Maybe you have the resolve of an Elin Nordegren, and I cannot fault you. In fact I empathize.  If you had a spouse like Tiger Woods, who could in an interview still say “family comes first,” and keep on having trysts with 14 women of different stripes, I understand why you are Elin Nordegren. That pretty model turned celebrity wife, descendant of the Vikings, had in her system that iron will to not take things sitting down. Already she had consulted a lawyer about renegotiating the prenuptial agreement with Tiger Woods. Already she had arranged for one or two movers to haul their things. Already she and her billionaire golfer husband slept and ate separately. Divorce papers, to be filed in court as soon as the ink gets dry, will formalize their status: estranged  now, divorced forever.

That is why I can never be a spiritual advisor to an Elin Nordegren. There’s this family, four of whom I had the joy of seeing being admitted into the kingdom of Jesus years ago: The husband and his wife, his mother-in-law, and his sister-in-law. Five years into their spiritual journey they found themselves in a storm. Some winds blew with a great blast into their lives bringing with it problems that tried their strength and mettle: Husband’s joblessness, his vices, his fornication. The wife alone was the bread-winner. One night fresh from tutoring a Chinese lad, hungry and tired, she caught her husband and her sister doing their thing on their bed. Rage flew, plates and kettles found their targets. To escape the furor that arose over the scandal, the husband left home that night with his sister-in-law in tow, his partner in the crime so called.

Months, perhaps years later the husband came back. The wife could not forgive. No amount of scripture could turn her mind around. I was told the husband did not deserve any forgiveness because he never changed, he did not turn a new leaf.

I can’t blame you if you admire Elin Nordegren and seek to imitate her resolve to teach a lesson to a husband unyielding in his resolve to keep on sinning.

Not many seem to understand that forgiveness benefits more the one doing the act of forgiving than the one being forgiven: “If you will not forgive other people their trespasses, neither will your Father in heaven forgive you your trespasses.” For that reason, to be forgiving is to be spiritual.  It is to rise above our humanness.

You may forgive or you may not. It is your choice. Heaven, this you must know, shall be filled by people who made the right choices in this life.

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