Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Love, More Powerful than Principle

Recently  I had a conversation with a dear friend about an upcoming event in their lives that they choose not to attend. The choice was based on principle.  They are strong christians and believed that by not attending the event they were making a strong stand on what they believed.   

Often times in life we have these choices to make.  We have our strong Christian standards that come hell or high water we will maintain no matter what the cost.

My purpose of this blog is to remind us that Love in more powerful than principle.

I totally get the fact that we have to stay true to our standards.  I totally understand that we have to be true to what we believe and I get the fact that we have be true to the faith.  But on the other hand when principle totally overlooks love, I have issues.  

Often times I get frustrated with our culture where Principle is the guiding factor,  meaning that the rules often  over look the person and in the process the person is left hurt, confused,  and wondering what is up. I am not saying that Principle is not important.  

Our good intentions to be right and live up to our Principles often do more damage than good.  We need to ask ourselves what motivates our actions.  Is it love or principle.  Nothing wrong with principle as long as it is motivated by love and not by self righteous or prideful judgment.  

I  realized something the other day.  Often times when someone ask us to do something that is against our belief, what they are really asking is,  "Do you love me more than the principle, or is the principle more important than your love for me"?    Most often the offender already knows how you feel and what your standing is,  they are just checking to see where your heart is.  

Let me give you an example.  Recently a friend expressed how they had told their son that they would not be attending his wedding.  It was against everything they believed.  Their son is getting married to another man.  I can see perfectly how that would go against all they believe.  Having thought about it I decided that here was a great example. 

 Chances are the son knows exactly how the parents feel,  the son was raised in the same faith and knows he has broken their hearts.  Yet he asked them to attend.   Common sense would dictate that they should not go.  After all it is against all their principles and standards.  The son knows this. One might ask why would he even bother asking when is knows just how they feel.    

In defense of the Parents.  I get it,  it would be devastating to have a son tell you he was getting married to a man.  His parents, their entire lives have been taught how wrong that is and it goes against all they believe.  It would be a huge challenge to support something so against all they believe.   They honestly feel justified in their choice not to attend and they feel that not going sends a message to their son that they do not approve and to all the family it sends the message that they are faithful and will not be taken off course.  

I admire the courage it takes to take a stand, but let’s take a look at it in a different light.  What is the message they are really sending to their son and family.    The message is that principle is more important than the person.  Love comes in second to principle.  Sorry,  you may be saying now that it is love when we stand our ground and stay true to our beliefs.   

Can we have both,  principle and love.  Yes,  I firmly believe that we can.  I believe that we can hold to our principle and love at the same time.  I don't think we have to comprise who we are or how we feel or what we believe when others do things we are not comfortable with.   

In regards to the parents who's son is marrying a man.  I believe the son knows perfectly well where the parents stand.  I think that when he was asking for them to come he was really asking how much do they love him.  The parents could express their views and beliefs, and express that coming to the event does not change their values.   Going does not mean they embrace the lifestyle and that it is not their choice.  Having expressed that the parents could then tell the son that in view of all that they will attend because the love for the him outweighs the choice he has made.  

That in no way condones his choice,  but it does validate their love for their son despite his choice.  That in no way takes away the faith and commitment to what they believe, in fact that adds credibility to their faith and beliefs, especially when it is a christian belief.  

Can you see the message they are sending their son and family now.  They are saying that Love is more powerful than principle.  That the love of the family is the most important thing ever and no matter what the choice their children make,  they are there for them, to love them, even when they make choices that they do not condone, or want, or understand.  

In no way am I condoning or justifying behaviors of others that go against personal and religious beliefs.  All I am saying is that often times choices others make are out of our control and when that happens we have a choice.  To abandon and shun them, cutting them out of our lives and taking ourselves out of their lives.  Or  we can stay true to what we believe and stand strong in our standards never wavering, and at the same time love them.  That does not mean we have to embrace the lifestyle or choices they make, but it does mean we can still love and honor them for who they are despite choices they make that we might not understand or believe.  And in the process we can still maintain our personal standards and beliefs.  

Whether or not you believe in Jesus Christ,  he was and is the perfect example.  He never shunned or shamed the sinner.  If you remember he choose to with them that had different beliefs and standards then he did.  He understood that love and acceptance does not involve lowering your standards, in fact as we love others, it adds strength to our standards and it adds power to our ability to love and lift.  How can we possibly love as the Savior did when we place the principle over the person.    He never lowered his standard, but loved and lifted others by loving them even when their choices were not his.  

The long term effects of our loving others regardless of the choices they may make far out weigh the short term effects of our standing firm to our precious principles.

Love should always be stronger and more important than principle.  Love is the power that changes lives, softens hearts, and cements family hearts together forever.  Principles are important and powerful, but if they divide the family, where is the value in our principles? 

I believe with all my heart that Love is more powerful than Principle.  And as we love regardless of choices others make, our hearts are filled with grace and joy.  


Please feel free to comment below.  

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Transparency and Shame, What's Your Game?

Recently I was able to attend a weekend event/workshop for men.   It was amazing in every way and I have to say it was life changing.   One of the  life changing parts was what I learned about Transparency.

We tend to be a very non transparent society.  We don't know how to be open and transparent with each other.  I think women tend to be more so in their relationships,  but men for the most part don't get it.  We have certain images to protect and to be transparent would destroy the image we want others to think we are.  

Most of us like to be tuff and strong, or at least put off that image.  We want everyone to think we have it together and we are invincible.  We give off macho energy and strut and beat our chests to prove we are men.

What I loved about the weekend experience was to be with a group of men that were for the most part macho men, but went through a process of learning how to be transparent.  It was so amazing to see the change that took place in each of us as we learned to be more open and honest, transparent and kind.

I left wishing that life could be more like that.  I left wishing that men could be more open with each other and more honest, leaving behind the walls that our society dictates we have.

I am the first to admit,  I have those walls built up around me  and hide behind the guise of being a strong man that can handle life, when in truth, I have weaknesses and shortcomings that I hide and pray no one finds out about.

What would it be like if we could be open with others and share freely the struggles we are having without worrying about being shunned or shamed by others.

We are so quick to judge and we are even quicker to hide behind our walls and images of perfection.

Recently I did an exercise with a group of men.  It proved to be a very educational event to say the least.   I asked each man in the group to first share something that they felt shame over that had happened in the past year.  It was interesting.  Each man including myself had no problem coming up with something that we felt shame for.  Each had the opportunity to share.  Some were hard to hear, but the interesting thing was as each talked there was no feeling of judgement or shame.  After each had shared  I asked how everyone felt.  Particularly in regards to how each felt about what the other persons that had shared.  It was unanimous that there was an increase of love and compassion.  It was affirming to hear that others suffered and carried shame for things they had done and that they each had struggles and hardships, most were not the same, but each had struggles just the same.  It was amazing to see the out pouring of love and understanding we all felt towards each other.

Next I asked them to share two things they loved about themselves.  Interesting was the fact that it was a lot harder to find something good to share compared to how easy it was to find shame.   And it was more difficult to share.  We are so used to being shamed and defining who we are by our weaknesses that we find it difficult to express our strengths.  Every man in the group actually struggled to express and think of good things they loved about themselves.  I was so amazed at the entire experience.  It taught me so much about how important it is to see and validate our own personal strengths and to express in others the good we see in them.

So, first and foremost I learned that given the chance most men admire transparency and the ability to share openly what is really going on in their own personal lives.  Second and even more important is the fact that we define who we are by our faults and not our strengths.   Can you imagine how much better life would be if we learned to love others and ourselves regardless of weaknesses and focused more on strengths.  I think we would be better men all around in every way.  Can you imagine how cool it would be if we could be transparent with each other and really share what is going on in our lives.

Unfortunately we live in a society were appearance is more important than transparency.  Shame has more value then positive validation.  We have been programed that perfection is the goal, forcing us to hide behind our walls of supposedly goodness when in reality each person has something they feel shame about and would benefit from sharing in an open, accepting,  and safe place.  

How wonderful life would be if we spent as much time lifting others as we do in shaming.  Looking for the positive and really, really, accepting people on the all the good they have and not the small often unimportant things we  and they live in shame over.

What can one person do to change the world.  Ok, maybe not change the world, but maybe the life of someone who is struggling.   I think by learning to be transparent and openly sharing with others our personal struggles, letting others see that they are not alone in the journey would be a great step in changing our culture.  I also think that spending time really focusing on the strengths of others and taking the time to share what we see and feel would be one of the most powerful tools we use in combating the ever debilitating power of shame.

One person can make a difference,  one person can change the course of another.  We can choose transparency or walls of perfection,  shame or validation of good.   As we choose transparency and validation not only to we change and help and lift others, but in the process we are changed, helped, and lifted.

I am making the conscious effort in my life to be more transparent in all my relationships.  Opening up even at the risk of being shamed.   I am also committed to validate the good in those around me.  Taking the time to really see who they are and what they are about.   Each one of us has issues of shame, but even more important each one of us has so many good things that in the long run out weigh the shame we might feel.

Success to you in your own personal journey discovering the good you are and the good you can give by being transparent and validating to those around you.