Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tuesdays with Love

Another unassuming bowl of oats.  You'll notice this one is lacking in the toppings department.  I decided to take it easy on the peanut butter today...I think I had 3 servings of the good stuff yesterday.  Plus, I added in dried apricots and I really wanted to see if this bowl would taste like the fruit n' cream varieties of my childhood.  The Quaker Oats strawberries and cream and oranges and cream used to be some of my favorites! 

In the bowl: 1/4 cup oats, 1/2 cup Almond milk, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 1/2 mashed banana, and 2 dried apricots diced. 

Verdict: it did the deed.  It was quite delicious. 

Another reason to cut back on my usually large breakfast...this was second breakfast...second to a tall mug of hot chocolate.  Yes, that's right, it is the middle of May and I started my day with hot chocolate.  Don't judge me!

Well that's all there is to say about food today...because I have quite a different topic on my mind.  On my mind today- an old man, a young man, and life's greatest lesson.  Any guesses?
Ok, I might be about 10 years late on this one...but last night I rifled through Forbes' bookshelves in search of something to entertain me that didn't include a screen (tv screen, computer screen).  I have this habit of bringing 3 books to Forbes and making him choose my winner.  Last night's selection: Crime and Punishment, The Screwtape Letters, and Tuesdays with Morrie.  Forbes gave me a synopsis of each of my choices and based on my mood we decided Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom would be a fun, quick read.  (Fun used loosely considering this book is mildly depressing).  Plus it was a Tuesday and it just made sense.  What I expected and what I got was quite different from each other.

For starters, for most of my life I believed this book was about a dog.  Don't ask me why...especially since the cover only speaks of men, not dogs.  Secondly, I didn't anticipate such great insight, beautiful lessons and a strong undertone of faith.  While this book is not about God and it isn't a self-help non-fiction book, it spoke to me in unexpected ways. 

Just like the book of Proverbs, this non-fiction novel is full of great one-liners:

"The way you get meaning into you life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning."

"The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves.  And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn't work, don't buy it."

"The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in."

"Love is the only rational act."

There are so many other amazing thoughts in this novel and I read straight through to the end in one sitting.  Of course, now I must reread the book to really digest all that it offers. 

This morning I was struck with fate when Forbes and I opened our bible for our morning devotion.  Today's scripture reading came from Mark chapter 12:

"The second (commandment) is equally important: "Love your neighbor as yourself." No other commandment is greater than these.
                                                                                                      Mark 12:31

I have frequently found love to be the theme in my life this year.  When I was at a work conference in Phoenix earlier this year we did a meditation exercise that left us with one word that filled us.  Mine was love.  It came as no surprise this morning when I found our devotion to tie right into the lessons of Tuesdays with Morrie.

Joel Osteen rights in his book Become A Better You, "The prerequisite to loving others is to love yourself.  If you don't have a healthy respect for who you are, and if you don't learn to accept yourself, faults and all, you will never be able to properly love other people." He tells us God wants us to be secure in who we are, to have a healthy self-image and to feel good about ourselves.  "One of the worst things you can do is go through life being against yourself." 

In Tuesdays with Morrie, Morrie believed in love.  He said, "Love each other or perish." So many people have an internal war waging within them.  Self-loathing destroys relationships.  We cannot give what we don't have. 

"When you're at strife on the inside, feeling angry or insecure about yourself, feeling unattractive, feeling condemned, then that's all you can give away," Joel Osteen states. "If you'll recognize that God is working on you, and in spite of your flaws and weaknesses, you can learn to accept yourself.  Then you can give that love away and have healthy relationships."

Then we can get at loving others so we do not perish.

I am critical of myself.  I judge harshly this body that is the temple of the Lord.  I pinch at the fat on my sides (love handles...yeah right, there's no love there), I turn sideways in the mirror inspecting every lump, I suck it in and stretch it out to appear just a little bit smaller in photos.  The war waging within me affects the way I relate to others.  I cannot be fully happy with myself and therefore am never fully happy with my relationships with others because at least my end of the relationship is falling short. 

I understand that I will perish without love and I cannot love without change.  I must change.  My eyes must change.  I must look about with grace not judgment. Mercy not disgrace. 

Do you have a war waging inside of you?  What battle are you fighting?  How does it affect your relationships with the ones around you?

"The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in."
                                                                                   -Morrie Schwartz

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