So many people these days are insecure, riddled with self-doubt, and unable to positively identify themselves by decisive means. They are lost, meandering through their lives looking for validation and for acceptance! It’s really sad to watch seemingly successful, established, attractive people flailing about looking for the approval or esteem from outside that should be naturally flourishing from within!
You probably have seen these people around you every day. They may have jobs, careers, families, friends, and present themselves as well-adjusted and successful at reaching their goals in life. But, in fact, they are struggling with insecurity. This insecurity stifles their creativity, befuddles their pursuit of goals, and hinders the real progress they could make in relationships as well as personal development.
Insecurity is visible! It shows up as narcissism, jealousy, anger, envy, intolerance, excessive criticism, and in those who are always easily offended by others. Insecurity is when we don’t quite believe we’re worthy, or that we’re attractive, talented, capable, our opinions or beliefs are valid, or that we’re loveable. It is any sense of our lacking when we’re estimating the value of others in comparison! Are we as popular, pretty, slender, wealthy, successful, talented, smart, (or whatever measurement we’re using to compare and contrast our life with the lives of those around us)?!
We’re meant to get our value and worth from the knowledge and assurance that we’re beloved children of God! He’s our Creator, so He made us as we are with inherent human value and worth to achieve the purposes He has designed just for us! But many of us don’t believe in God’s dominion over our lives, and so we don’t know that our value is derived from knowing who we are through Him! We instead get our value from other places then, from other people, from the things we’ve collected and boasted of routinely, from the position we hold, from the level of our personal or professional achievements, from how attractive others think we are, from our ability to do certain things, or to hold particular positions. Without having that relationship with God, as Father, we are always going to live our life comparing and contrasting, competing and defeating, dwelling and then repelling all the subjectivity of flawed and irrational human thinking, our own and that of others! We spend a lot of energy and time dealing with insecurity as a result, which takes us from our life pursuits, the purposes God has in mind for us. And when we’re insecure, we spend a lot of time finding fault with others in an effort to raise our own self-perception!
When we know that we matter, we’re loved, we’re loveable, and that we were created as we were meant to be by the Lord, we don’t need to feel insecure about our appearance, our thoughts, our beliefs, our talents, our bodies, or our level of achievement in any area of living! We can go into anything certain that He goes with us, He has prepared us or will for whatever we face, and that we needn’t doubt our ability or any other facet of our being. He leads us, He goes with us, He is our strength, and He is our guide. Now, it’s true that those who don’t believe won’t grasp this difference! That is obvious. But they also don’t see the nature of issues with insecurity rising in this nation as we push God further from our personal lives! Such rampant insecurity is a clear indication of lives lived without the sense of God’s value known for certainty within them! Even believers struggle at times with thoughts that can erode our confidence and our assurances! When you know you matter as you are though, then someone else’s wealth, acclaim, position, race, sexual identity, possessions, and beliefs won’t seem threatening at all! And our own struggles to achieve the success we think we should attain won’t become such an overwhelming weight upon our souls! Knowing God is our designer sets us free from the embattled sense of entitlement, jealousy, envy, narcissism, greed, self-doubt, self-obsession, constant self-promotion, and any other eroding measure! Struggling is part of life, but to wrangle with insecurity, lacking confidence in ourselves as God’s invaluable creation, is to struggle needlessly even more so!
Something sorely lacking from our society today is hope. Hope, the promise of something more than this life, something better tomorrow than today, is the fulfillment of God’s Word as truth. Hope is the beating heart which refuses to quit when every single impulse screams otherwise! Hope is looking through, beyond, and with your heart filled with promise because there is actually more than this, more than this one moment of pain, discomfort, failure, loss, and brokenness. Hope leads us each new day with faith into all the unknowns, beyond all our negativity, past our own emotions, and through all that seems to weaken our will. Hope. Hope in something more than this! Never cease in hoping, regardless those “realists” who insist that being hopeful is a weak man’s game played with no prize or victory in the end! There is always a reason to hope, and in spite of those intellectuals who insist otherwise, hope compels us to live with more joy, peace of mind, and contentment within. Hope is a reward in and of itself! A hopeful attitude keeps us afloat when others around us are drowning in uncertainty, despair, worry, or other temporary states of being! Hope within keeps us from letting our current emotions color our life for all time!
Sure, someone reading this may speak to the triteness of these expressions and adages regarding hope. They may have their own personal experiences to prove me wrong! They may have tried consistently to be hopeful, yet things never reversed or turned out otherwise! Perhaps they just let the world and their temporary circumstances define their lives in total. Letting others in this world, or even the present state of the world as you perceive it, dictate your emotions is like giving the keys to your home and car to another for safe keeping! Your emotions are in your control, they’re not contingent upon the actions, words, beliefs, or even emotions of others. Sure we may empathize or sympathize with others, we may share in many emotions such as joy. But we are the only ones who decide whether or not we are joyful, peaceful, content and hopeful about our lives now and in whatever time we face ahead! Hope is our choice to believe that this life is purposeful, meaningful, and even with momentary hardships, failures, or despair, that this life is worth living!
A lot of what our lives become is in our will and hands to decide! Our emotions surely are, even if circumstances, events, and the state of the world overall are not. We could just go with the flow, allowing our lives to become purely reactionary in response, rather than purposefully choosing to be hopeful in spite of whatever happens to us or around us! Hope is God’s promises for our lives realized in our faithful perseverance through everything, knowing that we are ultimately here for His purposes! Things are not promised to us, our lives will not always be pain-free, happy-go-lucky, or even seen constantly through rose-colored lenses! Life happens, our duty is to learn, develop, change, grow, choose, and to move forward with hope. That is our chosen role. Hope for our own lives is not something we should leave to others who have their own lives to live. Hope is not a far-fetched concept only the lucky can master! Hope is merely a choice we make every single day to not just exist in our current state of being, but rather to look forward, through, beyond, and into the future with joyful expectancy as well as contented faith in God’s plans for us! Hope promises us that this is not all there is. Hope assures us that today’s events and our present emotions are not the sole markers of our lives overall. Hope affirms to us that life is uncertain, but the choice is always ours to be content, to stay peaceful, to stay joyful within, to feel what emotions we must for a time but then to heal and move forward. We owe it to ourselves to keep hope ever-present within, as it provides the comfort, compass, and blanket of rest over everything we experience and feel!
I’m enjoying all the nature sightings of recent weeks and months, the benefits of these creature sightings far outweigh anything negative! There is nothing like experiencing wild animals among us when we’re in our own yards or visiting other locations! And although I have had a few inopportune moments with critters and bugs recently too, I focus on the positive impact the sightings of less pesky creatures have upon my life rather than the imperfections we can often face when human beings meet the wild! Just last month, I had a scare when I found a live scorpion in the upstairs guest room in which I was staying at my sister’s house! It was not pleasant whacking it with a shoe and praying there were no others for the few days I was visiting! But, it was a one-time sighting in a slew of visits, so I let it go and enjoyed my visit. And on that particular visit, I went whale watching on a trip in which I experienced seeing humpback and minke whales, as well as seeing a super pod of common dolphins! That and several other nature-oriented experiences made the scorpion sighting less memorable for sure!
Just yesterday, I saw a family with sixteen baby quail in my front yard! It was delightful to watch the brood scurry and scamper beside their parents. Quail are common visitors to my yard, but their families are not often that numerous! They’re so tiny when newborn, yet so proficient in their quail duties! This sighting came just hours after I had to remove the rather stinky rotting carcass of some poor dead creature laying in the backyard. Perhaps it had fallen prey to some other animal’s attack. Again, the benefit of the large quail family sighting far outweighed the nastiness of removing the stinky corpse! I’ve also recently had numerous rabbit sightings, with plentiful baby bunnies being born in the last few months. The sightings of the tinier babies more than make up for the nibbling older rabbits which insist upon gnawing my plants to stubs or to dust! Babies in my yard are always welcome, even when I realize how voracious they’ll be as adults one day soon!
With Summer in the desert, we get an influx of several types of bugs which aren’t prevalent the rest of the year. Those include pesky mosquitoes which seem to thrive in the heat, big 2 – 3″ paloverde beetles and cicadas which buzz incessantly from their perches in trees throughout the landscape. The presence of these bugs is a nuisance often, as they creep around in places which are unexpected and the mosquitoes bite all the uncovered flesh which is more prevalent with the heat of Summer! I’ve even been bitten by mosquitoes while swimming in the pool! Short of swimming underwater only, I’m not sure I know how to evade those pests entirely! And everywhere I look in the yard, ants are busy doing whatever it is ants do! They’re usually not an issue, until I stop in their pathway in my sandals, often getting bitten for my error in judgment.
It’s always the case in Summer that I wish for a bit of relief when it comes to nature’s more pesky creatures. Bugs and creepy crawlers, snakes and lizards are not my favorite things. But this morning I was overjoyed to return a tiny gecko to the outdoors after finding it indoors on the carpeting by my front door! Those little things are cute, but they’re not meant to live indoors! I’ve already seen enough cuteness watching the common species of birds, the lovebirds which have naturalized, the lizards, squirrels and the bunnies running around while I watered this morning! Anything which seems negative at first with the creatures around me is always balanced out by something wondrous and fascinating to observe! Nature is a diverse, fantastical showcase of God’s miraculous handiwork and design! It’s both uplifting and at times, overwhelming and/or scary! It is just a part of living in this magical world which God has created!
I have to admit, I’m a bit confused as to when it became popular to find America and our societal values so disagreeable? When did bashing our prior history to the point of attempting to erase it become so en vogue? In which year did the subtle erosion of American ideals and the disbelief in our national exceptionalism begin? Are they teaching this in our schools now? I grew up having America’s exceptionalism reaffirmed in common places and regular intervals, we closed our days by reaffirming on our television sets that our nation’s banner flew proudly over a united, grateful nation and that God’s blessings upon us were assured! Patriotism was not seen as a nagging character defect but rather an inherent part of a typical American’s DNA! Most of us seemed proud enough to place our hands on our hearts whenever we saw Ol’ Glory wave in all her majesty or whenever we had the chance to proclaim it through our national anthem! I just don’t comprehend this brewing anti-American sentiment which is inching forward through each generation in popularity, popping up often in groups yearning to proclaim their eager victim status, inflamed by unsettling rhetoric. None of this makes sense to me, even with a federal government which doesn’t always align exactly with my political beliefs, I’ve always seen American bi-partisan interests at work through a people united for the sake of America’s continued success. But recently, all of that is changing. A large swath of our culture seems to want to change America of late, it just wasn’t working for them. So that is what they set out to do more avidly within the last decade or maybe even well before that. Now those social justice warriors and their dissatisfied predecessors (who probably began this pursuit well before this generation) have succeeded in changing my beloved nation into something I almost no longer recognize as readily as the America of my youth! Our nation now seems intrinsically more broken as we approach this year’s Independence Day celebration. I’m concerned in ways I’ve never been before about our stability and our unity, as I never thought we’d actually have so many American citizens who seem to loathe their own nation! They look to things in our nation’s past as sins, unforgivable and insurmountable. They see our intricate system of governance as dated and passe`.
I am of the other school of thought, that which believes, and always will, in America’s indefatigable exceptionalism! I grew up in a time when that was still presumed the case by a majority, as it was known in my home, practiced at all my schools throughout all my grades, and echoed routinely in most public entities by way of our culture’s common norms and values. This concept of American exceptionalism was seemingly settled for most of my life, its existence and origins were known to most everyone I came into contact with. After all, it derived not from some benevolent human pronouncement, but rather from a nation sure of its inception based on individual freedom which only God can bestow! Our founding fathers knew that human beings were only free when no tyrant or ruling party could dictate their every willful matter, especially their choice of religious practice or by impeding people’s ability to speak their minds. In modern terms, that would mean the founders knew inherently that a limited and smaller federal government was the only possible way to govern a nation truly desirous of maintaining such an imperative concept as that of individual liberty. Our American exceptionalism is derived from putting the individual and individual freedom ahead of a vast, dictatorial state body of some type capable through their size and/or power of overruling such God-given individual rights. The individual is the basis of our form of governance, that’s the most important entity in a Constitutional Republic like ours. In our brilliant founding, the government exists to serve “we, the people”, and not the opposite! The individual liberty we all inherently have through our Creator is the impetus for protective representation at the state and federal level, as well as for the integral balance of power of the three separate but equal branches of government at the federal level to protect the overall united Republic and its governing processes, quintessential to the founders’ design when drafting the documents which assured our nation’s first foundations of unity and governance! After all, most of our founding fathers and those who fueled our fledgling independence from England had witnessed state-dictated religion and actual serfdom to some oppressive ruling body such as a monarchy. They wanted no part of being ruled again!
Now, this form of governance does not come without personal responsibility on the part of its citizenry. Our nation began with brilliant minds confirming our inherent right to live freely, to determine our own individual destiny! We must continue to participate in educating those who come after us as to what we are and how we are comprised, compelling each generation’s interest as to the vital importance of preserving and protecting our Constitutional Republic! It’s not a trite outmoded concept based on stale, outdated documents! Our Constitution and Bill of Rights are the backbone of this living unified being we call the United States of America. Without our Constitution and the Amendments which affirm our inherent freedoms, the brilliance of our founding eventually morphs into a chaotic governing body disavowing of individual liberty, which leads to a vast, impersonal state able to usurp our precious, invaluable, protected freedoms! God help us if any more of our citizenry become so enamored of this seemingly suicidal belief that America is not an exceptional nation, such that more of us throw our liberty to the winds of time and fate by welcoming an even larger, more contemptuous federal bureaucracy than what we already have to rule over us! Or that we would further hang our heads in shame for whatever we’ve done throughout our history, as though we haven’t actually earned any praise battling against the enemies of freedom all over this planet, bleeding profusely via both our flesh and treasure, sacrificing routinely, greatly, and often for liberty’s sake! We’re an imperfect people running as perfect a system of government as imperfect humans can devise and manage, with a most brilliant Constitution as our base! We must do our best to perpetuate as a Constitutional Republic. And we must never let liberty’s torch fade in the cold draft of our indifference, corrupt influences, or an intolerance for our very own well-being! America is something special, it always has been and it always will be if we insist upon educating those who follow as to why it is we dare make that claim!
This Independence Day, let us Americans try to remember why our founders dared to draft such brilliant founding documents to protect and secure our individual liberty, why so many of us have fought, bled and often died throughout our history to protect these shores and our interests abroad, and why we have always affirmed our principled values united as willing patriots, regaling our beloved banner, eager to preserve this great nation with our spirit of gratitude and perseverance! As President Ronald Reagan once so eloquently and prophetically stated, “If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth.” God bless America, and may God keep America in the palm of His hand, safe, prosperous, united and ever-grateful for such abundant blessings and such obvious exceptionalism!
There is nothing quite as refreshing on a hot Summer day here in the desert than taking a dip in a freshly drained, thoroughly cleaned, and refilled pool! Mine has been recently given the full treatment, as it was more than ready for a surface refresh and clean water. It took the better part of four days for my pool man to get it all done, but it finally got done by yesterday. I looked forward to the opportunity to swim in the pool since draining it last week. And as the sun remained hidden behind a rather large pine tree hovering around 50-60 feet overhead, leaving the water shaded, I indulged in my habit of swimming laps early this morning. It was sublime and a fabulous way to begin a Summer’s day which will reach about 108 degrees Fahrenheit!
The water was so clear and clean, I could see through my goggles the most minute particle of leaf or petal floating on its surface, rare as they were! The calm and quiet of the half-awake atmosphere all around me, at that early hour, made for the perfect opportunity to use my swimming routine as a time for reflection on other things! While slicing through the water, I focused on the gratitude I had for having such a perfect moment in life and for having such a wonderful personal space in which to dwell. Everything I have is on loan to me from God, so I want to take care of everything as best as I am able! And I purposefully want to celebrate the abundance of everything around me, and appreciate all the moments I have cognizant of those special people, things, and moments! God is so good, He provides everything for us, and we should honor Him by taking care of all that which is really His first! Even we are first His, so we honor Him by taking good care of ourselves!
Rarely can I be so engulfed in serenity and peaceful calm as I was while swimming this morning! It was such peaceful surrender to the workout I was getting through the exertion and force my body made against the water as I swam repeated lengths of the pool with well-practiced and certain ability. It made for a wonderful chance to connect with God and to share with Him my gratitude and joy in all that He has enabled! After all, He made me able to swim each lap, He made the water, with its specific surface tension and molecular weight, and He made all the surrounding creatures and living matter in which I have come to dwell. God is so great! I hope I never forget to appreciate and to celebrate all His glorious creation and all that He enables, as well as all that He has provided in me, through me and to me!
I bought a small 4″ aloe a couple of weeks ago, just to fill an empty pot on my back patio. This particular aloe stood out for its coloring and unique appearance. Named, Pickled Pink, it has distinctive pink edging on the fleshy leaves and a mottled appearance which suggests pickling. This aloe is small yet beautiful, but what it is currently doing is the most rewarding surprise of all! The wee Pickled Pink aloe is sending out a future bloom shoot which has now surpassed the plant’s own height at least thrice over and I am tickled pink by this Pickled Pink! Yes, that little beauty has a bloom shooting up nearly four times higher than the mother plant.
Now, for a gardener, there is nothing quite as exciting as a plant thriving and developing from the original version we purchased or found! It’s the developmental stages of a plant, meeting and exceeding expectations as well as hopes which give a gardener and plant collector like me unbridled joy! Since this little aloe seemed to jump out at me with such unique beauty and a catchy name, from a rack of numerous cacti and succulents, purchasing it was inevitable. But I never had any expectation for such a rapid developmental change like this! I await the bloom now, as many aloes have utterly spectacular and colorful flowers on the inflorescence they produce. Some are known and named for their blooming habits or those magnificent flower stalks produced normally in Spring, a bit earlier than this, the first days of June! So, my surprise at it producing a bloom after my purchase is surpassed only by my expectation as to how the bloom will look!
If I could, I would probably never limit my plant collection! I am an avid collector and have yet to meet a plant I don’t like! Even weeds in the mind of a gardener are merely unwanted plants. Everything was created for a place and a purpose. Some plants provide food sources for animals and humans, others are medicinal resources for living creatures, and others provide intricate assistance to the overall well-being of the planet as a whole – producing seeds and substances or by replenishing the soil and air with specific essential chemical elements! Plants are important, just as is every other creative matter! And so, my appreciation for plants and for gardening is linked to bringing things to life, to support a natural and intricate ecosystem of my own making, with God’s guiding hand!
I’m so looking forward to this bloom shoot coming to fruition on this tiny aloe clump of mine! It’s always exciting to see the endless ebb and flow of life in a garden, particularly a desert garden! My appreciation for this purchase is increasing exponentially with each passing day, as it’s developing and changing right before my eyes! There is never any real disappointment in a garden, even when experiencing a loss, for a garden exemplifies the best qualities of God’s amazing creation and design for this world. It is ever-changing, ever-developing and we are ever-learning in turn!
Sometimes, things are not really broken, we just convince ourselves that they are! In the last few weeks, for example, I bought two solar spotlights for use in my landscape. First of all, I was thrilled with the relatively inexpensive price I had to pay to try these fixtures. Other costly lights I have, which required wiring and significant installation, have stopped functioning, so solar lighting seemed the idyllic answer to a frustrating lighting issue! I bought two of the lights at my big box home improvement store and within a couple days had placed them where I thought they would receive sufficient sunlight to stay charged and to illuminate what I wanted to. Well, the first night I saw no light emanating from either fixture, so I assumed that they hadn’t had sufficient time to charge yet. So, the second night, I again looked out to see only darkness. I was starting to assume the fixtures were just cheap, possibly without functioning batteries or defective in some other way. I would probably be taking them back to the store the next day! Then it occurred to me to examine the fixtures more thoroughly, which then provided the answer! The lights were not broken, they simply had on/off switches which I hadn’t yet discovered or switched into the right position! My presumption of brokenness was in fact incorrect. I now have two lights which work just as they were intended and were really a great buy!
Many things presumed to be broken these days aren’t in fact actually broken at all! A lot of things are fine just the way they are and have always been. I would suggest that many people just don’t understand why those things are the way they are. Like my lights, some people just haven’t discovered all the facts about how certain things work or lack an understanding of the reasons for things being as they are. So, to them, those particular things or situations are broken and need fixing. But, not everything we perceive as broken is actually broken and not everything needs fixing. Sometimes, things are as they are because others want them that way, traditionally they work just fine that way, or because we just don’t understand them well enough yet. So, the real issue often is our perception, our lack of understanding or our lack of acceptance, and not anything really being damaged, flawed, or broken!
Recently, I had a conversation with a dear friend over a casual, long lunch about my faith and how my belief in the Lord intersected with my life when it comes to specific areas. To her, it seemed as though my faith was intrusive and overreaching in that regard, prohibiting me to some extent. To me, the Lord is the center of every single aspect of my life, there isn’t a choice as to which area(s) I give Him dominion. I’m here for His purposes and His will, not my own, and that realization saves me from a lot of grief! Putting God in the center brings me peace of mind, contentment, and has truly eased insecurities, neediness, as well as lessening any dissatisfaction I have had with my own life’s choices and myself. I’m happier! My life is more joyful because I have given God this top priority and everything else here on Earth falls into place accordingly in a lower priority hierarchy. She manages her life in a much different way than I do, perhaps giving God a more limited role. She’s not broken either, nor does she need me to fix anything, we just do things differently!
In a broader scope, a lot of people in our world are busily attempting to actively and purposefully change things which work quite well for a majority of people, because they don’t believe the same, accept such things as normal, or understand the traditions already established which have worked for so many. Rather than letting others live as they choose, being desirous to learn more, or opening themselves up to new ways or beliefs, they insecurely balk at what they don’t know about, choose for themselves, or in which they don’t agree! I have come to see this stage of life here on Earth as a detour on the way to the ultimate destination. I have come to see this place and this human life as part of my learning experience on my way to an ideal destination, so I try to keep my peace, stay content, and remain joyful regardless the constant tidal influences from others who are always trying to shape us and this life into their vision of what and how it all should be! I keep my eyes focused on the Lord, and all the rest becomes less impactful and easier to withstand! I know I’m not broken because I know who I am in Christ, regardless how others view me or esteem my life choices. All I care about is Him, what He thinks of who I am and what I do! If there’s nothing broken, there’s no need for a fix!
Today I had the tremendous honor of personally thanking and embracing two World War II veterans, who were called to stand for acknowledgment in front of the congregation at church, in honor of Memorial Day tomorrow. It surely was a momentous moment for our church, given how few of those from the greatest generation remain! Both these gentlemen, members of my church, are in their 90’s now. Time becomes more precious each and every day we are fortunate and blessed by their presence in our lives. And when speaking with one of the men named Joe, he mentioned how much more proud he becomes of his service in both WWII and the Korean War as time passes! I responded that my gratitude for all those who’ve served this nation has increased with age as well, given my heightened understanding of what such a sacrifice entails! It means time away from loved ones, the risk to life and limb, and it requires a heart of unselfish discipline often under unimaginable conditions!
Although Memorial Day is set aside for remembering our fallen servicemen and women, our church congregation chooses to single all veterans and active military out on each of the national holidays which honor our military. At the start of each service prior to, or on such an occasion, the minister(s) asks for those who’ve served in each conflict and war to stand to receive our grateful applause. Now some people object to confusing Memorial Day’s fallen recipients of honor with Veteran’s Day, which honors all those who’ve served – living and dead. But I believe there’s a pressing need to honor service whenever possible! In the case of those who served in WWII, time is leaving their memory behind and fewer veterans of that conflict are alive to serve as obvious reminders! I personally would rather be honoring their service and celebrating their presence among us rather than standing graveside with those same sentiments after they’ve passed! Too many of those who’ve served this great nation have gone to their deaths unaware of how very esteemed and infinitely valuable to the preservation of liberty their sacrifices were in service to our nation! What a shame it is to imagine how many men and women have sacrificed everything for the sake of securing and protecting this nation’s freedom without really knowing our full measure of gratitude!
My heart aches for such overt love, as is mentioned in the Bible: John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. And in this life, we are all “friends” in our common humanity. Surely those who sacrifice everything for this nation in the military service branches do so because they value their families, their loved ones, their communities, their neighbors, this nation and their freedom more than life itself! Preserving and protecting our precious freedom is reason enough for so many to choose to voluntarily enlist these days! Liberty persists because of the sacrifices of all those who serve this nation and for that, we cannot possibly express ample enough gratitude!
Memorial Day is a special day set aside to honor those who died in service to this nation and our hearts should be filled with somber gratitude and remembrances of them all. Such a history of personal sacrifice through voluntary and involuntary service to our nation throughout our history have cemented for us a continuous freedom, prosperity, and peace unrivaled by most other nations! Our nation’s history is filled with amazing heroism, valor, and personal sacrifice for the sake of preserving and protecting America for generations to come! But forgive those of us who take the opportunity to include veterans still living in our remembrances on this special patriotic day, especially those dear souls advancing in age who are within earshot of our accolades and our applause! We must take advantage of every opportunity we’re given to show them our gratitude, being thankful for their long, indelible lives as part of our nation’s most honorable contributions to the prevalence of freedom in the world! I wish you all a blessed Memorial Day! I pray for the families, loved ones, and souls of all those who perished in service to this nation, may God be with them all!
I told my mom on Mother’s Day that she was truly a gift of unimaginable blessing to me because she had always loved me unconditionally, and for that, I am so very grateful! Even though I had siblings, have made many mistakes while living my life, and have been seemingly unlovable at times during my life, her love has never diminished or faltered. I’ve never sensed her having any preference between my siblings and me, nor have I experienced a prioritization of her love when I’ve accomplished more or less. Her love has been the same at all stages of my life, she has never loved me more or less! And she is not the only one who has loved me like that, I have been blessed by my father’s unconditional love (although he passed away years ago), as well as four grandparents (who’ve also passed on), and two siblings who seemingly love me that way. And more importantly, God loves me unconditionally! So, when other acquaintances, friends and family seem to pick and choose their preferred moments in my life in which to love me, I can rest assured that I am loved as God loves – in spite of my imperfections and beyond my merit!
It’s perhaps rarer in our personal microcosm than we imagine, this ability and impetus to love unconditionally! I’m not sure I’ve always loved family members, friends and strangers in kind. I’ve surely tried, but until we each can realize and accept God’s depth, breadth and scope of love as Creator of all life, we haven’t really got it to give to others. It takes wisdom and spiritual maturity to comprehend the amazing, infinite, and forgiving definition and scope of love to truly be able to receive it within and then to share it with others! Such genuine and unconditional love must flow first from within to then encompass others with whom we interact. Love is the gift of ourselves, which is shared in an endeavor to improve, heighten and joyfully enhance the lives of those with whom we intermingle and enmesh. Love is our acceptance, approval, and awareness of others in spite of their human flaws and behavioral imperfections. And as the Bible instructs us, we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, meaning we are to love all those people around us in kind, without condition! But first, we must receive God’s love within to be able to then share it with the world around us.
Is it always easy or natural to love strangers, or even family and friends unconditionally, at all times? No. Not when we love through our human perspective and with our human limitations. But when we learn to love ourselves and others as God loves us, then it becomes easier and more natural! And that is why spiritually mature people have a more heightened, easier time loving in this way! Judgment, conditions and imperfections matter less, or not at all, to those who’ve realized how great the love that God has for them! And in turn, they are then compelled to follow God’s Word, loving others as God has loved them and as they love themselves! Love is only unconditional at that level – when it is fully accepting, forgiving, and beyond the limited scope of human understanding!
Parents, like my mom and dad, often have an edge in loving their children in this unconditional way, as they experience the deepest intimacy and acceptance of their yet unknown children as gifts from God while awaiting their birth with loving expectancy! Unimaginable love can develop in the time it takes to see those children conceived, born, growing and developing into future adults. Sadly, it’s not always this way, many people never really perceive and receive the unconditional love which comes first from God, so what they have to give is less than unconditional and based on a human understanding of what love really is! That truth is evident and observable in every relationship and situation in which love is key! To know what love is, one must know from where it comes and from Whom it comes! Love flows first from the source of all love, it must be received and given, shared from one human being, to another to be truly appreciated and evidenced as unconditional.