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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Father's Day Cards and Perfect Love


This Post is written for the kids out there
 (younger or older) 
who can still give their Dad
 a Father's Day Card ...

It's written by someone who can't anymore.


  
I am going to start off by offering no Guilt trips or Shame sessions in this post.  This is really not my desire to guilt anyone or shame anyone.  But I am hoping to impart a little encouragement and a little inspiration

I was in Canadian Tire yesterday and saw a couple of Father's Day cards that stopped me in my tracks.  Both of them had simple verses inside, but what caught my attention was the picture on each card.  It was of a hot air balloon. 


This will be the sixth year I have walked by card racks in the store around Father's Day and wanted to pick one up for my Dad.  This year I was almost tempted to do just that.  You see... these cards were reminding me of something that Dad and I wanted to do together, but didn't.   I wrote about it in the post A Hot Air Dream.


Father's Day is hard day for some people.  It was for me.  All my negative feelings toward my father seemed to come out one day of the year.  It was the day of the year that I would skip church.  Father's day sermons were not on my like-to-listen-to list for a lot of years. 

I shared this in a letter not that long ago.

"Kids are weird that way.  The grudges we have against our dads seem to surface on Father’s day.  Birthday cards and Christmas cards aren’t hard to get... but Father’s day cards... Go figure. "


I find a bit of irony in the fact that Mother's day doesn't seem to have the same problem.  Our issues with our Mom's don't prevent us from sharing cards and flowers with her in May... but come June the card sales are different .



I can make a good guess that Mother's Day cards far out sell Father's Day cards.

Why is that???

Why are we more forgiving of our mothers than our fathers?  Day after day, both parents have their opportunity to disappoint their children.  Why is that?  Can it be that kids have set the expectations of their parents way too high.  Mom and Dad are supposed to be the epitome of perfection.  Right???

Now here's the catch... both parents are not flawless, but somehow, Moms are more forgiven than Dads.  Just ponder that one for a while.  Do our Dads hurt us more?  Do our Moms love us more?

Moms didn't have to resort to fear like Dads did.  Moms had love; Dads had fear.  Is it any wonder now why Moms get more cards than Dads do?


I think if we, as kids, can wrap our heads around this, then the journey to forgiving our Dads will be a lot shorter.  Dads were given the shorter straw in the parenting responsibilities.  They didn't carry their children for nine months, they didn't give birth, and if you belong to my generation, dads didn't get up in the early mornings to feed their children.  Dads worked to provide for their family, Moms stayed home and actually built a relationship with their children and learned to love their kids.

Then when those kids bent the rules or broke something, then it was Dad's responsibility to get involved... which usually required Fear.

Again, I ask... is it any wonder why Moms get more cards than Dads?


THEY DID THE BEST THEY COULD WITH WHAT THEY WERE GIVEN.

If you can believe this... then the journey to forgiving your Dad will be a lot shorter.


I already admitted that Father's Day was hard for me when my Dad was alive.  I have something else to admit.  I only had two months to experience PERFECT LOVE with my dad, and that wasn't any where near June.  I had a lot of years where I set the bar too high for my dad to jump over.  He told me once that he did the best he could... I just chose not to believe it until he was gone.

During the last two months of his life, there was a big change in our relationship.  The fear was gone.  There was no longer any need for him to instil fear in my life and no longer any need for me to receive it from him.  For two months, while his body was taken over by cancer, PERFECT LOVE became more powerful than fear.  Everything changed.


I want to share something with you right now.  It is a powerful verse from the Bible.  ( 1 JOHN 4)

PERFECT LOVE DRIVES OUT FEAR.  


 PERFECT LOVE is something your Dad isn't capable of on his own.   PERFECT LOVE is something you are not capable of on your own.  PERFECT LOVE is God given.  Wrap your head around that?.. You can't.  This is something the mind can't grasp or understand or justify.  PERFECT LOVE.

I can't tell you how to love your Dad... I can only tell you that you can... with the God infused  PERFECT LOVE in you.  It has all the power to change you if you are up for the challenge.  All you have to do is ask.  

Maybe it all starts this year... with a Father's day card.  


P.S.  Thank you to all the Dads our there that shared your pictures on the internet. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Awkwardness of Prayer Requests.

WARNING:  AFTER READING THIS BLOG POST, YOU MAY NEVER WANT TO FORWARD  A PRAYER REQUEST AGAIN.  (to me anyway...) 

SO IF THAT IS STILL IMPORTANT TO YOU.  YOU MAY WANT TO AVOID READING THIS POST.  JUST A SUGGESTION. 


I am going to allow myself the privilege of total disclosure right not.  After all I did name this blog "Ruby gets Real".  Here it is folks...


SOME...
 NO... 
MOST...
 NO... 
ALL 

PRAYER REQUESTS 
CAN BE... 
NO... 
WILL BE...
 NO...
ARE

VERY AWKWARD!

Here's the deal.  I'm not saying that prayer requests are wrong.  I am not saying, that in some circumstances, they can't be helpful to some people.  I am also not trying to change your understanding of prayer and the need to request it from other people.  I'm just sharing my thoughts, as I have been able to do in this blog.  That is why I am using the term awkward.  It's an accurate description of how I perceive the issue and it aught not attack anyone else's beliefs.  (trust me... I'm not trying to poke any holes in anyone's beliefs or theology) 

I've blogged before about prayer, in Ruby gets Real and in Bearz Blog. 

(the links are listed from most recent posts to older posts.)  


It's obvious from reading my previous ramblings on prayer, that I've struggled with my spiritual communication skills for awhile now.  But more than anything... I want to be real and authentic.  That's my passion and my desire. 


 Prayer, for me, involves compassion.


 I've admitted in this post and previous posts that I want to be authentic in my communication.  Especially when it comes to communicating with my Creator.   Real prayer, for me, involves compassion... ALL THE TIME. 

Sometimes I get a prayer request by someone I know for someone I don't know.  It is immediately AWKWARD. Compassion isn't always drummed up in me when I read an email from a friend.  It's the honest truth.  Not all stories out there move me.  Especially when I don't know the person and have no connection to their issue. 

Most often, I will delete those emails or ignore them.  But it becomes extremely awkward when I'm asked in person to pray for someone and the compassion isn't registering on the radar.  What am I supposed to say?  

"Sorry... I have no compassion for your friend. I'm not going to pray for them."

I don't say it, but more often than not... it's true. What I won't say now is that I'll pray.  I don't like saying that anymore.  I would rather just do it... If the compassion is there. 

 Without compassion, prayers have no substance. They are what Eugene Peterson referred to in Matthew 6 as theatrical productions. (see below for the exerpt from the Message.) 

Prayer, for me, is more about understanding than asking




I'm really getting good at ignoring prayer requests from people that involve good fortune, healing and provision. 

I think as I learn to live in God's love and find myself wrapped up in what He is doing, I am movitated less and less to ask Him for stuff.  

I get requests from people to pray for provision and healing.  But here's the catch. Since I am letting go of asking God for stuff for me, how am I supposed to ask Him for stuff for anyone else?  And healing?  That is even more awkward. Even when it comes to the people I am compassionate about and their illnesses, it's still hard to pray for deliverance from sickness.  My prayers are rather this...

"Help me understand where You are in all of this. And help me understand where You want me to be.  I don't get it, but I'm not letting go of You."

Can I let you in on a little secret.  God still surprises me with gifts even without my asking.  

Prayer for me isn't always in English



 Quite a few years ago, I was given a gift by my Compassionate Creator.  He allowed me moments in my life where I can communicate with Him spirit to Spirit.  He knows my challenging communication skills and maybe this was His way of opening up those channels so I can communicate with Him better. 

 Praying in a spiritual language  is much like my poetry gift.  It isn't always at my fingertips and I can't just drum up the gift any time.  It comes when the Holy Spirit opens the door.  It is like His invitation to me to communicate with Him totally selflessly and without hindrance. This is never awkward.  And when it comes, there is no manipulation or expectations... and I don't know what I'm saying.  But my heart begins to ache for the person on my mind and sometimes I can even feel their pain.  


Prayer, for me, isn't about numbers, it's about connection. 


There's a belief system, that the more people one can get to pray for something or someone... the better chance that there will be a favourable response.  

I am not certain where this belief came from and if it even works.  Does God feel moved to heal someone because a hundred people prayed instead of just one or two?  I find that hard to believe.  And I can't find it supported in scripture, either.  But then again I may have missed it.  


Doesn't  this mesh more with God's picture of prayer:  

 - A mother prays for her son who is battling drug addiction.

 - A husband prays for his wife as she faces cancer treatments. 

 - A young girl prays for her friend who was in a car accident.

 - A dad prays for his daughter the morning she is to get married.  

These examples reek of  compassion.  

Prayer, for me, isn't about results, it's about relationship. 


When prayer is about results, then I can see why someone wants an army on their knees.  I happen to be convinced that most corporate churches are more results focused.  Prayer has become an industry.  We have so many books, conferences and ministries  out there that are trying to teach us how to pray.  

Jesus showed us how to pray in a few verses.  But with Jesus, things were a whole lot simpler, because Jesus was all about relationship. 

***

This blog post is past the average attention span. So to end it, I am going to ask some questions and then share some scriptures on prayer that I really like. 



After you pray about something, do you experience contentment? 

If contentment isn't there after you pray, do you experience contentment if you know someone else also prayed? 

How many people does it take to pray for your specific need... before you reach contentment? 

Contentment?

Yes... Contentment with God that He heard you.  

My last question (this one is rhetorical) : 

Does God really need an army of pray - ers?  Will He not settle for one compassionate pray - er that wants to connect with Him?



Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.  Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Phillipians 4:6-7
 "Here’s what I’m saying: Ask and you’ll get; Seek and you’ll find; Knock and the door will open.
 "Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This is not a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your little boy asks for a serving of fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate?  If your little girl asks for an egg, do you trick her with a spider? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing-you’re at least decent to your own children. And don’t you think the Father who conceived you in love will give the Holy Spirit when you ask him?" 
Luke 11:9-13

"And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?

"Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.

 "The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God.  Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. 

Matthew 6: 5-9