If you are in a relationship, then you understand the game of love. Sometimes you do things out of the goodness of your heart and other times you do things to acquire bargaining chips. For example, you give your woman a back massage because she has had a long day at work and you want to genuinely make her feel better. Alternatively, you give your woman a back massage because you’re horny and you want some action-thinking that the wiener is somehow a panacea for her tiredness. With women it is a little more subtle. Christina many times gives me a hug because she wants to make me feel better if I am stressed. Other times, she might give me a hug to selfishly look at my fine backside. The point is, unconditional love is a very hard concept for humans. We treat love like we treat our finances: commonly using metaphors of investing, growing, and fostering exchanges to meet our needs. In marriage, there is a make-believe unconditional love that we try to carry around like a sneaky cat. When things are going good, we know where the cat is and we can admire it without any fear of it running away. During bad times, the cat has escaped and gone into the crawl space where you spend the next 3 hours trying to coax it out using sardines and foul language. If I were to cheat on Christina with a big-busted blond, the proverbial cat would not be in the crawl space but instead it would be running around the house on fire-National Lampoon’s style.
There is one type of relationship where the cat is always on your lap-the unconditional love of God. You may find it odd, but I don’t like to read the Bible. I love reading tons of books and analyzing them. Why not the Bible? Well, I think to be an effective Christian I need to keep it simple. When I start reading the Bible I get all caught up in the details and forget the most important message-love. God sacrificed his son for all of us and He loves us unconditionally. We are called to try to love others unconditionally no matter their beliefs, sins, or attitudes. This is fricking hard!!! I can’t stand the majority of frickers and I judge people on a hourly basis. God doesn’t want us to judge others and put conditions on them. I hear the common phrase, “I love the person but not the sin.” Well, there is a flaw in that comment. Everyone sins so why are we putting “conditions” on “certain” sins. We can’t say to a gay person that we hate the sin but love the sinner and not expect that person to feel judged and isolated because they sin differently. Every Christian sins so why are we putting conditions on certain people? It is not our job to judge but it is our job to love. We need to do our best at unconditional love whether a person is a liberal, gay, Muslim, Atheist, gambler, gossiper, average Joe, pastor, etc. We can never reach the point of unconditional love but at least we can stop purposelessly putting conditions in the way. I say all these things because we always need a reminder to keep things simple. I know that this message can be polemic but I think that many Christians, including myself, need to keep it simple. Accept people, love them, and get that cat out of the crawl space.
Unfortunately, this title was a reality for Morrie Swartz in the book Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. Morrie was a sociology professor who received the life changing diagnosis of ALS which slowly takes away the ability of the muscles to function and has no cure. Morrie, being the introspective person he was, did not become morose over his predicament but rather analyzed death and was extremely optimistic throughout his dwindling state. He tried to answer the hard questions of life and was a metaphorical bridge between the living and the dead….
Read the full post here.
You’re Going to Die in One Year
As of recent, I have been involved with an all consuming project that is sucking me dry of time and money. This occupation is the complete remodeling of my first home. I bought the house for 10,000 dollars and let’s just say it needed a crap ton of work. We had to put in new plumbing, new doors, new windows, new insulation, a new kitchen, a new bathroom, new paint, new furniture, new EVERYTHING!!! The project has ballooned into a beast that I brawl with on a daily basis. Some days I jab the beast but most days the beast punches me in the nuts. The beast has taken away one of my most precious possessions-time. Usually, I try to read two books a week and write subsequent posts; that has been extremely difficult and I feel saddened that I am deterred from my passion of knowledge. Thankfully, audiobooks were invented for these situations and I was able to listen to Moby-Dick by Herman Melville during these tumultuous weeks. To put it plainly, Moby-Dick is a masterpiece of writing and I would highly recommend listening to it on audiobook. The characters are brought to life in a way that traditional reading could never accomplish. I was able to hear the seamans’ accents, the pagans’ baritones, the shipmates’ whispers, and the fervor of Captain Ahab. The auditory reading of Ahab’s monologues will send shivers down your spine and really make you understand his obsession with the White Whale.
Ahab was a man on a mission. He could not eat, sleep, or spend one minute of his day without it being tainted with the thoughts of harpooning Moby-Dick. His pursuit of the whale was put at the highest priority and not money, family, or whale oil could deter him from his final goal. Moby-Dick was Ahab’s monster and in the end his vengeance sent him to a watery grave. It was quite fitting that I was reading Moby-Dick during what I felt was my own pursuit of a monster. I, like Ahab, could not think of anything but my project to a point where I was confused for a psychotic person. Stress, sadness, excitement, and a constant forward motion defined my everyday pursuit to “kill” my remodeling project. I was the Ahab of the land and I am still pursuing my whale. Hopefully, I will not let this project kill me but in all honestly it already has taken some of my philosophical beliefs. Before the project, I saw myself as a minimalist that followed Thoreau’s statement, “Give me the poverty that enjoys true wealth.” Now, after spending thousands of dollars I ask myself what is it that I have bought and will this bring me happiness? The whale of consumerism has swallowed me and I have sunk far into it’s rotten gut. This defiling of my beliefs is a great learning moment and I never want to forget my struggle with this beast. Moby’s Manor will be finished soon but I will never be finished fighting the urge to constantly complicate my life with excess. Simplicity and knowledge need to hone my harpoon for the white whales of my future.
Have you ever sat outside and taken a deep breath…observing the beauty and subtleties of nature? In our nonstop-technology-filled world this simple practice is rarely performed and given little respect. I love nature and have sat in a quiet meadow listening to the wind sweep across the grasses. I have hiked up mountains where the texture of stone beneath my feet makes me think of the weight of the world. I have seen the stars over the ocean and thought of my place in this big universe. My experiences in nature are some of my most coveted and life shaping moments. My love for the outdoors and what it can teach us led me to read Walden by Henry David Thoreau. I respect Thoreau immensely and think his insights on life are more pertinent today than when he was alive. Thoreau is about simplifying life to its core so that life can be better understood-removing the white noise of the superfluous. The essentials of man include food and heat. Simple food, lodging, and clothing were tenets to Thoreau’s life when he lived at Walden Pond. He is a philosopher and I really like his definition of what that means…”To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust.” Living the simplest way possible frees man from the bind of arduous labors in the pursuit money. The pursuit of excess is not the ultimate goal but rather the pursuit of exploring the mind, nature, and the world we live in. A key point of Thoreau is that garnering true wisdom internally is the greatest wealth a person can obtain. No matter how fancy a person dresses or what size house they live in, if you stripped that all away what would you be left with? The result would be a person that has built a foundation of virtue or a person that has a foundation of vice.
Thoreau released himself from the comforts of society and put himself into nature to better understand his place in the world. I think that in today’s society we put so much effort on being comfortable that we miss the benefits of simplicity and nature. To live like the world is to live with an unending desire for more; that relentless pursuit is the opposite of simplicity and creates the effect of people rarely ever living in the present. Shed all the fat of societal comforts and find what brings true happiness: pursuing knowledge for knowledge sake, understanding your strengths, feeling the raw contrast of pain and pleasure. So how can you apply this thinking to your own life? I think a career is commendable and certain people fit best into that environment of structure and purpose. However, I believe that most people if released from the chains of money would live lives which entailed more time spent on personal/social enrichment and less time at work. Simplifying your life as much as possible decreases your reliance on money exponentially. All you need money for is food, security, heat, and friendship-everything else is just waste. Once you are free from the ideology of “MORE” then you can begin to appreciate the ideology of “less.” It is my goal to spend more time outside through camping and to appreciate the beautiful world that God created. My ultimate goal is to simplify my life to that of Thoreau while making compromises with my wife so she doesn’t leave me :). Go outside, take a breath, and live.
“Give me the poverty that enjoys true wealth”
-Henry David Thoreau