Friday, May 27, 2011

Fear of Getting Burned (Hunger Games 2)

But why would it seem attractive to be untouchable? 
1.      Isolation is protection from hurt feelings and disappointment.  It is harder to hurt someone if they don’t need anything from you, and even more so, if you might actually need them. 
2.      This also means never having to say you are sorry or be weak enough to have to ask for forgiveness. 
3.      Emotional distance can seems like protection from the sometimes wild mood swings produced by hormones and new thinking processes in adolescence. 
4.      It is a position of power to be untouchable; you are pursued, but not the pursuer.  Someone who is untouchable is self-reliant, “strong,” and often “the rebel.”   These are all admirable traits in America.
5.      Emotional distance is seen as a necessary part of being objective about a situation and therefore, able to see what others who are more biased can not see.  I would love to look at how our current culture portrays those who are very smart.  I think most of them would be social inept and rather cold-hearted.

When I wrote about the Twilight series, I examined what it was about the stories that filled such a God-shaped need, albeit in a very non-God-like form.  Perhaps the reason that the Hunger Games is not such a popular series with adults is that most adults have learned that being alone and distant from human relationships is not all that it is cracked up to be.  The adolescent draw to the Hunger Games series isn’t so much about meeting an unfilled need but about belief in a lie.

The NIV Bible’s only use of the word isolation (because “emotionally distant” is more likely to be found in The Message) is in Leviticus in reference to those who are sick and contagious.  The Bible states many times that we do not live alone.  For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.  Romans 14:7,8.  Even if we choose not to focus on the church body, local community, or families we do still live in relationship to God.  The relationship might be mostly one-sided on God’s part as He tries to win our hearts, but we are not isolated. 

The lie we believe is that emotional distance provides protection, perspective, and power.  This is whispered in our ears with racy song lyrics that mock love; books with strong solitary heroes; pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps attitudes; the American dream of self-reliance; and a culture that has cheapened commitment and canonized self-absorption.  When I do not feel it is safe or good to be “emotionally available” then I am more likely to increase my focus on self-reliance.  The more I rely on myself, the less I will rely on God.  Satan would love for me to decide that relationships are more trouble than they are worth and I am better off not needing anyone. 

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.   And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’   All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40

We must fight against this cultural belief in the lie that makes being emotionally distant attractive.  How can I love (the greatest commandment!) if I work hard to disconnect my emotions and myself from relationships? 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Growing Up and In

I love that day in the spring where I look back into the woods behind my house and it is green.  The day before the woods were nothing but brown trunks and tan patches of dead leaves.  I love the sudden surprise of buds open and new leaves exploding out of the russet.  I even love the greenish-grey shadows the leaves now cast into the woods.  The surprise of new growth and life is so sudden that it grabs your attention.

I am like one of those trees in the woods behind my house.  I am a fruit tree and a vine.  I am called to be like a mustard seed.  I can try to put roots down in shallow rocky soil, but I will die off from lack of strength and nourishment.  I can simply lay on the hard ground where the wind tosses me and never grow at all.  I can let my roots sink down into fertile soil, grow, and bear fruit.  I choose to grow.

I don’t equate bon-bons with books.  It is not lazy or selfish to take time to nourish yourself and grow in wisdom and understanding.  If I become so isolated from life that my world revolves solely around my role as a parent, I will slowly draw away from my own identity…and from my God.  No growth means that I am fine, perfect, just as I am.  No savior or grace, please, I can manage this on my own.  Just give me the status quo.  I need to read, write, exercise, learn something new, and interact to see life and to see myself.  What is the wisdom in taking time to better myself?  Should I focus on my imperfections and constantly strive to be more, know more, get more?  No, of course not.  But there is wisdom in a steady diet of carefully tending, cultivating, my own identity and spirit. 

  • If I know who I am, as an individual child of God, and know my gifts then I can better serve.  I will have healthier relationships with the people around me because I am rooted in Christ (not my children, who are fallible…really fallible). 
  • My children will learn by watching me that you can teach an old dog new tricks.  I will demonstrate learning and growing throughout all walks in life. 
  • It is hard to have patience and extend grace to others when I am not good about these things with myself.  When I take the time to learn something new, especially something hard for me, then I grow in patience.  That patience can be extended to others in my life.
  • Exercising your brain has been shown to reduce the risks of mental issues when you are older, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.  Want to play checkers with your grandkids?  Exercise your brain now.

So what do you do to grow and enrich your own life?  While I highly suggest reading the Bible and praying; those probably won’t teach you how to knit or how to work “in the cloud.”  Me?  I write this blog. J  You really wouldn’t believe the amount of reading, researching, and re-writing that goes into this project.  I know my grammar may not always show it, but this is definitely a brain-enhancing project.