Hymnology for Silent Night that provides historical references and Scriptural insights.
I recently wrote a post on another blog about having a heart for the lost.
After this Memorial Day weekend, I’ve realized how easily it is for a Christian to get sucked into the worldly ways when they least expect it and aren’t paying attention. I work at a family campground and none of my co-workers are Christians. They curse like there is no tomorrow and they have hardly any patience for anybody. Instead of being a light to these people, I have allowed them to influence me in just three short days. Maybe I’ve allowed past frustrations with this company impact me. It’s really hard to tell. But I’ve already been aware of my short fuse, occasional foul language, and negative attitude when my patience has evaporated. It’s quite frightening to be honest. I’m not sure why I’ve had such a complete turn around in behavior. I always joked that this job ate my soul, but I don’t think I’m so far off the mark. The owner is concerned more about money than anything else, and all the other employees seem to do is gossip about each other. I’m not really sure how to handle such an environment or how to potentially help these lost souls. I guess I’ll start with praying for them and go from there.
I need to keep an open mind. I need to remember that we all mistakes and don’t always live up to the “holy” life that God calls us to live. I need to remember that perfection is an enigma, except for Jesus, so I have to stop striving to act perfectly. More importantly, I need to stop expecting everybody else to live perfectly. It’s just not possible, and never will be.
No sense in me arguing with the reality of the situation, right? But in the past, I have found myself teetering along the tight-rope of self-righteous legalism. In my mind, I found myself convinced that if somebody stumbled, then maybe their faith was in question. What the heck is wrong with me???? When did I become a Pharisee from the days of old? If I lived back in Jesus’ time, there are certain moments in my life that I’m convinced He would have spurned me for being a whitewashed wall (my favorite biblical insult, which means you’re a hypocrite). I could maybe have the appearance of being a Christian, but my heart wasn’t in the right state.
Lately, I’ve started to realize that the only way to enjoy life here on Earth is to overlook the flaws in people’s lives and focus on the decent parts of their character. Truth is, everybody in this world longs to be heard and be cared about. If we focus too much time on what they did wrong, we’ll miss out on the big picture. And honestly, as much as I enjoy fellowshiping with other Christians, I don’t think that I’ll ever make an impact on their lives. The only way that I can possibly make an impact is if I extend myself to those that nobody else gives a rat’s ass about. Luke 5:30-31 explains that Jesus came for the sick and the lost, and not the righteous. So it’s about time that I start to reach out to those who are lost and enjoy spending time with them. I’m by no means trying to shove the Gospel down anybody’s throat. That’s not my business and as 1 Corinthians 5 states, we are not to judge those outside the church. Instead of trying to tell people what they’ve done wrong, why don’t we just sit back and listen, offering our undivided attention? That’s all anybody desires in this world anyway.
To be honest, the most fun I’ve had in the past week was with unbelievers and complete strangers. In between lunch and my Bible study, I went back to my apartment. My roommate happened to be home from Long Island for the first time in over a week and she was in a surprisingly good mood, to the point that she greeted me by running into the living room and jumping up and down on the couch. What cracked me up was that she was trying to not spill her beer as she was jumping. Of course she wanted me to have a Guinness too, so I obliged. This of course led to us thinking it was an amazing idea to play soccer in the apartment with a volleyball. I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard in weeks!
I am a full believer in enjoying these beverages, but not to the point of over indulgence. People tend to relax a bit and share pretty epic stories when they kick back with a brew, so I always join in. I think it makes others more comfortable when you interact with them on their own turf because it keeps them from assuming the Christian is above them judging their actions. Unfortunately, that is how many people assume Christians are and how many tend to come across. I enjoy throwing others a curve ball by being a Christian who isn’t afraid to go and hang out at the dive bar on the corner that has a blanket of cigarette smoke in the air in order to play some pool with some random people. There was an Irish man that used to hang out with my roommate and I and he would introduce me as the Christian girl, which of course put me on the spot. What was really cool, though, was that this gave me an opportunity to talk to some man from Bolivia about Jesus because he decided to ask me some questions.
I’ve come to realize that precious moments like the ones mentioned above can only occur if I am openminded and not busy trying to live a perfect life, or expecting others to do the same. We all have screwed up, and we’re bound to continue to do so. I know I am. My goal is to just be myself and to hang out in those places where others won’t expect to find Christians. Concerts are great places to meet people because you’re practically standing on top of each other. Also, you’re singing or screaming along with your favorite songs, dancing like maniacs. There’s no where else I’d rather be. Heck, my roommate and I first bonded in moshpits at Warped Tour, so I feel I will continue to make appearances at events such as these to see if I can impact people by the way I live my life, and not just by the words that come out of my mouth.
It’s been six years since he passed away, so I thought I would post this essay I wrote while coping with the death of a family friend my senior year of high school.
A True Hero
Written May 30, 2006
When people hear the word hero, they often think of a big, strong person who goes out everyday to save people from villains, fires, or other disasters. They display extreme bravery and obvious courage as they perform dangerous deeds day in and day out. Most everyone can see this heroism and wishes to be associated with the people who show this type of bravery and heroism. However, for me, true heroism involves strength of mind, strength of will, the ability to deal with a terrible situation, and yet show strength of spirit through a cheerful outlook. When done to protect the ones you love, then I believe true heroism is being displayed. It is because of my ideas of what a hero is that I believe David Orlow is my hero.
Two years ago, David was diagnosed with lung cancer and lymphoma. A correct diagnosis was long in coming, and the cancer had already spread to his spine and liver. If anybody ever saw David when he was first diagnosed, they would never believe that he had been given such life shattering news or that cancer was aggressively attacking his body. He looked well and was incredibly upbeat. David must have known how upsetting the news could be to others because he took the time to personally stop by our house to break the news. He did not want us to worry about him when we heard how much of his body contained cancer. I was very grateful to see David in good spirits and because of his composure and heroic attitude it became easy to forget how serious a diagnosis David had received. However, it was not until earlier this year that I learned the true extent of how brave David was during his entire ordeal.
David went through the most common cancer regimens alternating between cocktails of chemotherapy drugs and radiation in his ongoing attempt to kill the cancers raging inside of him. He remained positive about the process, always telling his family that the next treatment would limit spreading or shrink existing tumors and that he would be fine. David lost his hair and decided he looked more handsome. He became a bit weaker, but said his power naps would fix that and it was nothing different from what everybody experienced going through similar treatments. Of course chemotherapy does attack hair cells and weakens the person as it essentially poisons the body in its attempt to defeat the cancers. But who could possibly argue with David’s continually positive attitude?
David never let the cancers or their treatments slow him down for long. After a few weeks of rest following the most grueling treatments, David was back up in our area at the Orlow Orchard. He lover the orchard and spent his time picking apples, persimmons, and chestnuts, along with blueberries, kiwis, and raspberries. David also enjoyed persuading me to enjoy his bounty, knowing full well that I do not care for fruit much. David always got his way, and I ate, and somewhat enjoyed, the fruit he gave me.
I was proud of David for constantly noticing the positives in life and the simplicity of it, despite the knowledge of the deadly disease growing inside of him. He remained a fabulous storyteller, retelling tales as simple as bass fishing or as far reaching as South American trips. I greatly enjoyed everything we shared during our time together. Never once did he complain about the effects of the cancer. When he winced because of the pain from the tumors in his back, he minimized his grimace as just a passing thing. It was only then, when he winced, that I began to realize the depths of what David was going through. Nevertheless, David continued to enjoy life with a wonderful attitude that continued to demonstrate his courage.
It was this past January that I started to actually worry about David’s health. His wife updated me with the news that the chemotherapy route had been discontinued permanently, and that radiation would now be used for pain management. At this point, I realized that the cancer was too great for David to conquer and that the doctor’s goals had turned to making him comfortable. In March, I traveled to Brooklyn to visit David. His color was poor and his energy was low. But in typical David style, he told jokes and stories to entertain me. He offered me part of an organic orange, and as I engaged in my usual hesitation (after all is was fruit), David’s comment was, “I don’t have germs; I only have cancer.” I could only laugh as I ate the orange, which actually tasted pretty good!
The end of April brought me again to David’s bedside, but this time it was to the hospice facility where he had been admitted three weeks prior. He looked much the same as my last visit, but quieter. When I went for a walk down the hospital corridor with his daughter, I learned something about bravery that I will never forget. David’s daughter told me that she had recently been looking through his medical records from his initial diagnosis. It was a shock to learn that David’s doctors had been quite blunt with him. He did in fact have an incurable disease. Treatment would not help. David had told no one. I realized David was even braver and more heroic than I could have imagined.
It takes a very special person, one very comfortable with their own mortality, to quote David’s daughter, to know he cannot be cured, and yet still give hope to others that the next treatment might be the one. The heroism David showed to protect those he loved for as long as possible, while maintaining a positive attitude in the process, will remain with me for my lifetime.
“‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” ~Ephesians 4:26
I feel like I have issues letting past wrongs go. I’ve extended forgiveness, but I have an inability to totally forget the incident. After visiting my great aunt and uncle this past weekend, I got inspired to change my ways. Life is too short to spend angry, and unfortunately my motivation is to not become like my grandmother. Over a letter that she received from someone in my family, she has decided to completely cut us out of her life. According to my great aunt, she is angry and won’t let it go. Apparently, this is how she has spent the majority of her life and all she has turned out to be is lonely and miserable. I feel bad for her, even though I don’t know her well. I’ve only ever seen her 4 times in my 24 years of living, so that means that we’re not really close.
As sad as this is, it has definitely motivated me to change my outlook on life. I don’t want to spend my life lonely and miserable all because somebody hurt me. I need to not just forgive, but also forget. Like 1 Corinthians 13:7, I need to keep no record of wrongs. Instead, I must forget the past and move on. I feel like this will help me to live a happier life and that it will become easier for me to get along with my friends. I need to remember that we all screw up, myself included. With that said, I need to not get so angry and frustrated by people’s silly mistakes. It’s time to live joyfully, instead of miserably.
“I’ll stop the whole world from turning into a monster, and eating us alive. Don’t you ever wonder how we’d survive?” ~Paramore
The lyrics above are from the song “Monster” that Paramore released last summer. It seems to bring to light what I’ve been feeling lately while applying for jobs. The world seems to have turned into a monster that is slowly devouring me and my hope. With the economy in the state that it’s in, people are losing their jobs and frantically applying for new ones. On top of that, employers are seeking people who have experience before hiring. This is the ultimate catch-22 for the recent university graduates because they can’t get hired due to lack of experience, but the only way to gain experience is to get hired. I’ve received numerous rejection emails from potential jobs stating that I don’t have enough experience or the proper qualifications, which is rather frustrating considering I have a Master’s degree and had a 3.8 GPA.
Luckily I have my faith in God and that is what is keeping me from completely giving up, though there have been times that I’ve wanted to honestly. I’m trusting that there is a plan in all of this and that something will come up when it is supposed to. In the mean time, I will continue to apply in the hopes that somebody will feel that I am qualified. I refuse to let the monster of this world devour me, which is why I’ll continue to listen to Paramore to remind me of that. But truthfully, all I can do is pray and be patient for God’s answer. He’ll come through, just like He did for Sarah and Hannah.