The Love Dare: Day 2

Love Is Kind!

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. -Eph 4:32

Kindness is love in action. If patience is how love reacts in order to minimize negative circumstance, kindness is how love acts to maximize a positive circumstance. Patience avoids a problem; kindness creates a blessing. One is preventive, the other proactive. There two sides of live are the cornerstones on which many of the other attributes we will discuss are built.

     Love makes you kind. And kindness makes you likable. When you’re kind, people want to be around tou. They see you as being good to them and good for them.

     The Bible keys in on the importance of kindness: “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tabl;et of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in he sight of God and man.” (Prov 3:3-4) Kind people simply find favor wherever they go. Even at home. But “kindness” can feel a little generic when you try defining it, much less living it. So let’s break down kindness into four basic core ingredients:

Gentleness. When you’re operating from kindness, you’re careful how you treat your spouse, never being unnecessarily harsh. You’re sensitive. Tender. Even if you need to say hard things, you’ll bend over backwards to make your rebuke or challenge as easy to hear as possible.You speak the truth in love.

     Helpfulness. Being kind means ou meet the needs of the moment. If it’s housework, you get busy. A listening ear? You give it. Kindness graces a wife with the ability to serve her husband without worrying about her rights.Kindness makes a husband curious to discover what his wife needs, then motivates him to be the one who steps up and ensures those needs are met- even if his are put on hold.

Willingness. Kindness inspires you to be agreeable. Instead of being obstinate, reluctant, or stubborn, you cooperate, you stay flexible. Rather than complaioning and making excuses, you look for reasons to compromise and accomodate. A kind husband ends thousands of potential arguments by his willingness to listen first rather than demand his way.

     Initiative. Kindness thinks ahead, then takes the first step. It doesn’t sit around waiting to be prompted or coerced before getting off the couch. The kind husband or wife will be the one who greets first, smiles first, serves first, and forgives first. They don’t require the other to get his or her act together before showing love. When acting from kindness, you see the need, then you make your move. First.

     Jesus creatively described the kindness of love in His parable of the Good Samaritan, found in the Bible- Luke chapter 10. A Jewish man attacked by robbers is left for dead on a remote road. Two religious leaders, respected among their people, walk by wihout choosing to stop. Too busy. Too important. Too fond of clean hands. But a common man of another race- the hated Samaritans, whose dislike for Jews was both bitter and mutual- sees this stranger in need and is moved with compassion. Crossing all cultural boundaries and risking ridicule, he stops to help the man. Bandaging his wouds and putting him on his own donkey  he carries him to safety and pays all his medical expenses out of his own pocket.

     Where years of racism had caused strife and division, one act of kindness brought two enemies together. Gently. Helpfully. Willingly. Taking the initiative, this man demonstrated true kindness in every way.

     Wasn’t kindness one of the key things that drew you and your spouse together in the first place? When you were married, weren’t you expecting to enjoy his or her kindness for the rest of your life? Didn’t your mate feel the same way about you? Even though the years can take the edge off that desire, your enjoyment in marriage is still linked to the daily level of kindness expressed.

     The Bible describes a woman whose husband and children bless and praise her. Among her noble attributes are these: “She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue” (Prov 31:26)how about you? How would your husband or wife describe you on the kindness meter? How harsh are you? How gentle and helpful? Do you wait to be asked, or do you take the initiative to help? Don’t wait for your spouse to be kind first.

     It is difficult to demonstrate love when you feel little to no motivation. But love in its truest sense is not based on feelings. Rather, love determines to show thoughtful actions even when there seems to be no reward. You will never learn to love until you learn to demonstrate kindness.

DARE:

In addition to saying nothing negative to your spouse again today, do at least one unexpected gesture of kindness.

What discoveries about love did you make today? What specifically did you do in this dare? How did you show kindness?

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LOLITA: The selfish little…. WAIT WHAT!?

I often think that times were better back in the 50s. Everything seemed so much simpler. Sexuality wasn’t thrown in peoples’ faces the way it is now. Well, did I just get a reality check! My grandma was downstairs watching Lolita. If you’re unfamiliar with the movie, it’s the story of a middle-aged man who marries a woman in order to woo her 14 year old daughter. The young girl is, indeed flirtatious and sensuous. But this does not change the fact that she is a child and he is an adult.

My grandma has continuously made comments about how selfish and manipulative the young girl is. Now, I understand that the girl doesn’t have the greatest attitude, but is she not absolutely entitled to a numbness toward this man?! He has seduced her, controlled her, and molested her, yet SHE is selfish and has a bad attitude toward him?

Now I am beginning to see that every decade has had it’s major downfalls in the way society thinks. I see that present-day teens and pre-teens are being empowered in ways they never should have been, which also allows older men to fantasize and even act on those fantasies about young girls, with no consequence. At least, though, our young women are not being silenced. It makes me so sad for my daughter and all the young girls I know to think there was a time that they wouldn’t have been worth protecting. I think about the fact that there are many women out there who were taught to be accommodating to these sick men’s abuse. I feel for the once-young-and-innocent girls who were treated as if it was more important to obey your elders and to have a positive attitude to those who were above you than it was to distance yourself from someone who was harming you. 

Fortunately, I have seen something tonight. Although there are many ways we are moving toward more worldly ways and we continue to hurt others in our society, we are making some steps in a positive direction to protect our children. Even though girls are becoming sexually active at younger ages, they are finding a right in that to choose for themselves, instead of being abused and manipulated by “adults”. I have seen that we are starting to recognize children as little people, who need to be loved and protected. 

What do you think? Is this a step in the right direction? Where are we failing to protect our children? Should children be seen and not heard or do we need to give them a voice so that the ‘bad guys’ can be caught?

Should I have an abortion or a baby?

Imagine being a teenage girl asking yourself this question. A teenager should be asking herself what color dress to wear to prom, what movie to see on a Friday night, or whether she should choose her friends or her boyfriend for a fun evening out. Unfortunately, some teens have made the wrong decisions. This may have been a choice to sleep around. It may have been a choice to frequent parties and drink with a boy who took advantage of her. With the best or worst intentions in mind, teen girls end up pregnant all the time.

In 2006, approximately 742,990 girls between the ages of 15 and 19 became pregnant. Of these girls, a little over 19% had an abortion. (guttmacher.org US teen pregnancy trends p.7 <http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/USTPtrends.pdf&gt;) That is over 200,000 abortions, only in girls aged 15-19. For me, these numbers are terrifying. We ought to be asking ourselves why the facts show what they do. An overwhelming number of teen girls are becoming pregnant each year. That is a discussion for another day, though. Here I want to address why so many teenage girls have abortions.

There is no doubt that these girls are devastated by the thought of taking on the responsibility of a child. There are natural fears and pressures from families who do not want the responsibility as well. As much responsibility as is put on the child who became pregnant, though, I wonder how much we as Christians can affect a girl’s choice. I believe we have handled this particular situation, and so many others, completely wrong. We are not loving and forgiving as Christ has called us to.

Let’s use Maura as an example. She was a fifteen year old girl whose parents split when she was too young to remember. She never had a father figure and her mother was always working. Like most 15 year old girls, Maura just needed to feel loved. Her Christian mother did try to protect her daughter from making poor choices, but this led to her feeling isolated and different from her peers. All she wanted was to fit in. Eventually, she met a boy and fell hard for him. After a few months of dating, their hormones went wild. They both wanted to be loved, accepted, and close to each other, so one thing led to another. Long story short, Maura only had sex the one time. Her guilt got the most of her and she stopped talking to the boyfriend. He moved on quickly and she was alone again. After three months, she realized that she was not having periods. She took a test and her heart sank when she saw those two pink lines.

Now I am going to lay out some realistic expectations for Maura. Her mother, of course, will feel like a failure. She was not able to protect her daughter and feels guilt for the situation her daughter is now in because she left Maura without a father all of her life. Her mother is likely to take this guilt out on Maura and push her to find a boyfriend and get married, or to push to the opposite extreme and feel that Maura should not get into any relationship because she needs to focus on her child. Maura also goes to church. Whether anything is said or not, Maura will probably feel shunned and will not feel as welcome at youth activities. If she does go, many teens and adults will judge her without knowing any of her story.

As Maura goes into labor, her mom is likely to be hard at work to help care for the baby. The father has moved on already and Maura may never even tell him out of her own guilt. She will now feel the guilt of leaving her own child fatherless and keeping the news of the child away from the baby’s dad. She will feel little support from the church and may feel isolated and judged at best, condemnation for her and her child at worst. She will lose many friends and her religious family may shun her as she has now made worse mistakes than her mother.

Now let’s look at another option. Maura’s best friend, the only person she has yet to tell about the pregnancy, suggests they visit Planned Parenthood. No one will be the wiser and only she and Maura will ever know. With a 15 year old’s logic, the consequences will be as follows. She will have a huge secret to keep. What teenage girl doesn’t? She has already had sex, but with no resulting infant, that secret may be kept under wraps. She has no reason to tell the father of the baby or anyone else. She can move on with her life, having experienced sex, so she can talk about it to the cool girls at school like she almost knows what she’s talking about. She’s inexperienced and experienced enough with sex, depending how you look at it, that she can honestly tell her friends she will not do that until she’s married. The again can remain unspoken. No one at her church will criticize her and strangers will not look at her like a slut or “just another teenage mother”. She will get to experience that part of life she deserves.

Now how can we really ask how a girl could choose abortion? Out of fear, to put it simply. Out of shame, guilt, terror. As Christians, aren’t we called to love? Aren’t we called to heal the hurting and give to the needy? This is a prime example of where we are failing. Teenage mothers are still teenagers. The best things we can do to reduce teen abortion is to offer as much support as possible to these girls. We need to offer them forgiveness. They are still teenagers and they not only have a right, but a responsibility, to face that part of life.

During the teen years, a person discovers who they are and what they value. This will create consistency and stability for their child, once they have formed it. In early adulthood, young mothers need loving, consistent relationships. If they had these already, there is a high chance they would not have become teen mothers to begin with. These are some areas where we can help teen mothers, the children of teen mothers, and to lower abortion rates. Churches or individuals could offer a weekly or monthly “night out” of free babysitting. These girls may also strive from a mentor system, of more mature mothers who are willing to develop both a motherly, protective relationship, but also a deep, lasting friendship with these girls. These girls need to know that even though they have made poor decisions, we want to help them face the responsibilities of their consequences.

What would you do if you were Maura? What would you do if you knew Maura? Do you have any ideas of what we, as Christians, could offer to young girls who have become pregnant to encourage them to follow through with the pregnancy and delivery of their child?