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Posts Tagged ‘serenity’

by Rocky Glenn

One of my favorite things about blogging is the ability to return to my previous writings and remind myself of what I’ve previously written. While reflecting on a thought from the past recently, I set out to write about it only to remember I had previously shared the thought a couple of years ago. It was a thought I needed to remind myself of and the realization caused me to stumble upon a trio of posts I shared at the time. Over the next three weeks, I will be resharing my thoughts on Paul’s famous description of love.

One of my favorite parts of being a musician is raw, acoustic music. Whether playing it, or listening to it, there is something I believe intrinsically pure about instruments and voices that are not amplified or modified. On Valentine’s night (2017), I posted Love Amplified which is simply 1 Corinthians 13:4-8’s description of love taken from the Amplified Bible. As I lay in bed that night trying to sleep, I couldn’t shake the familiar description of love listed in the passage and began the process of examining myself to see if I really reflected these qualities in those I say I love. Thus began the research of what each word actually meant and what kind of picture of love they painted. The research is how I stumbled upon the Amplified Version and, being that it was late at night, I stopped after finding and posting it. Now, with a nod to musicianship, I intend to actually take those verses, share my thoughts, and hopefully create the same raw environment that comes with acoustic music as I investigate practical ways they may apply. The image below shows the popular passage in four different versions of the Bible.

1-cornithians-13

1 Corinthians 13:4 from The Amplified Bible: Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant.

Love endures with patience and serenity. Patience, according to Merriam-Webster, is defined as the capacity, habit, or fact of bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint. It is not hasty or impetuous and manifests forbearance under provocation or strain remaining steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity. Serenity is the quality of being clear and free of storms or unpleasant change and being of utter calm and unruffled repose or quietude. King James described this as suffering long.

Love is without complaint and calm. How many times have I missed the mark on this quality of love? I am a man that seeks routine and I thrive on it. There are certain things that must be completed in a certain order every morning or my patience and serenity are lost. Now that we are the parents of a teenager and preteen, as well as new dog owners, patience and serenity are tested often, and are, just as often found lacking. However, despite these testings, I’m pleased to say that most mornings in our house are quite often lacking complaint and are calm, but when things do go south, they have the tendency to escalate quick and I’m certain I could not be described as having utter calm and unruffled repose! Quite sure when the king used the phrase “charity suffers long” he didn’t mean the suffering itself would be long!

Love is kind and thoughtful. To be kind is to be of a sympathetic, helpful, or forbearing nature. Thoughtfulness is characterized by careful reasoned thinking given to or made with heedful anticipation of the needs and wants of others. The original Greek translation of the word kind means to show one’s self mild or useful.

Love is mild and useful. Continuing with the thoughts and examples given above, once patience is lost, it’s pretty much safe to say mildness and usefulness is gone! The last thing I want to be towards my wife or one of my kids once my patience is gone is to be mild. I feel it is very important that they know they are the cause for my lack of patience and I need to tell them emphatically and in great detail. It’s interesting that both words that begin the scriptural description of love, patient and kind, include a form of the word forbear in their respective definitions. To forbear is to control oneself when provoked. Suffice it to say, I need a little more forbearance to show my love at times . . . (While writing this post, we are actually in the process of grilling pork chops on the grill for dinner. Forbearance really gets tested when you search the kitchen for your grilling utensils, questioning each and very member of your family because they are the ones who put the dishes away, only to discover them hanging on the grill from the last time you had cooked there!!)

Love is not jealous or envious. Jealousy and envy could be considered twin brothers. Both involve hostility and resentfulness toward someone else having a supposed advantage. The difference lies with jealousy occurring when you think someone is seeking an advantage over something you have and envy occurs when you think someone has an advantage to receive something you desire. No greater place are these two prominent within families than in household with siblings. If one kid’s class wins a pizza party and the other doesn’t. Or it could be a birthday celebration for the older child and the younger child is pouting. It’s such a common tale that numerous Bible events from Cain and Abel all the way to the disciples questioning Jesus about who he considers greater occur due to jealousy and envy. There is no room in love for holding something or someone so tightly to “protect” what is yours. There is also no room in love to despise what others may receive that you may not.

Love does not brag and is not proud. For this explanation, I really like what King James has to say, “charity vaunteth not itself and is not puffed up.” To vaunt means to make a vain display of one’s own worth or attainments. Love does not puff itself up meaning it does not make a big deal of itself. If your sole purpose in any relationship is simply to convince the other person how great you are, then it’s not love. To shower gifts on your spouse just so others see how wonderful you are, and not because you seek to truly honor them, is not love.

So, putting this altogether, to begin this study we see that love is without complaint and calm, it is mild and useful, it has no resentment or hostility, and it does not seek to make itself great. One thing I’m being reminded of through this study is that a true love that reflects all of these qualities mentioned in this passage is not something I can attain on my own. It must come from God, for God is love. More on that later.

Rocky

(This post originally written February 19, 2017.)

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by Rocky Glenn

I am in the process of teaching my son to drive.  The first time we were out of a parking lot and out on the road I believe I held the steering wheel as much as from the passenger seat as he did from the driver’s seat for a short fifteen-minute trip.  Next time we sat down for the same trip, I only reached for the wheel to assist on three occasions.  We’ve now traveled the same path multiple times and I’ve not reached for the wheel since the second trip.  This past weekend I took him on roads he had never driven and no corrections were made other than simple verbal guidance.  He is learning and will likely be a much better driver than I was starting out.

I share this story not so much because of my teenage boy, but more as a reflection of me.  Any parent who has ever taught a teenager to drive knows what a nerve-wracking and frightening experience it can be.  As I thought about what it means to enjoy the moment, I realized it only comes as we learn to let go of the distractions of regret, what’s to come, and expectations just as I have had to learn let go of the steering wheel and let my son drive.  With each trip behind the wheel, I grow more confident of his growing ability to maneuver the vehicle.

Teaching a young driver is a tense experience because you realize very quickly from the passenger seat you are not in control.  We fear things we have no control over.  We fear the shame of the past because we can’t change it so we live in regret lest our darkest secrets be revealed.  We fear the future not knowing what tomorrow holds and having no guarantee of the health and safety of our loved one so we worry and dread what may come.  We judge others and others judge us based on preconceived expectations fearing how scenarios may play out.  None of these things are within our control.

Reinhold Niebuhr captured the heart of releasing control, living in the present and enjoying the moment.  Niebuhr may or may not be a name familiar to you.  Admittedly, despite knowing his words most of my life, I never knew his name until researching his famous prayer first shared in the early 1930s.  Commonly known as The Serenity Prayer, it has been shared in multiple addiction and recovery programs, and has become a source of strength for many.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

To live in a state of serenity is to live in the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.  Living a life of serenity sounds a lot like enjoying the moment.  Unfortunately, unlike Niebuhr’s request, it is rarely something which is simply granted.  Much like learning to trust a new driver, learning to enjoy the moment and live a life of serenity is a gradual process and is generally learned through experiences of life both pleasant and unpleasant.

In the last two posts, we’ve looked in depth at the story of the prodigal son.  The story ends with the prodigal being ushered into a celebration in his honor clothed in the finest robes and shoes.  If it were possible to interview the prodigal after the celebration concluded, I wonder what he would tell us.  I believe Henri Nouwen gives us a glimpse in his book The Return of the Prodigal Son as he places each of us in the role of the prodigal:

“For most of my life I have struggled to find God, to know God, to love God. I have tried hard to follow the guidelines of the spiritual life – pray always, work for others, read the Scriptures – and to avoid the many temptations to dissipate myself. I have failed many times but always tried again, even when I was close to despair.

Now I wonder whether I have sufficiently realized that during all this time God has been trying to find me, to know me, and to love me. The question is not ‘How do I find God?’ but ‘How am I to let myself be found by him?’ The question is not ‘How am I to know God?’ but ‘How am I to let myself be known by God?’ And finally, the question is not ‘How am I to love God?’ but ‘How am I to let myself be loved by God?'”  God is looking into the distance for me, trying to find me, and longing to bring me home.

To humanize the story of the prodigal son, you would have to imagine the young prodigal and his older brother still struggled with the mindset of being truly accepted into the father’s love with absolutely no effort on their own.  Flashbacks of his frivolous living no doubt would haunt the younger brother just as his older brother must have certainly struggled with bitterness over the years of service he dedicated to earning favor which was already given.  Both of these are struggles we all face and must learn to let go of to enjoy the moment.

To conclude this series, I will remind myself and all of us of the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:27 – 34 as interpreted by Eugene Peterson in The Message which teach us to how to enjoy the moment:

“Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

Rocky

More posts in the Enjoying the Moment series:

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