Why Playing it Fair May Destroy Your Relationship

You have rooted for a relationship and you made it.  Congratulations! You are swinging high on the romance carousel.  The question now in your mind is this:  How am I going to go about maintaining this precious pearl of love so that neither time nor troll ever demolishes it?

“I am going to play it fair.”  Proposition 50-50.  We slice the cake half-and-half.  You give this much, I’ll give in proportion to your contribution.   Hmmm….. Seems like a deal hard arguing against, except that it might not work.  Insisting on fairness may end up undermining your love.

If we compare the idea of romantic love with a business partnership, then it would be reasonable to expect a return on investment. It is sheer madness not to expect it. Because I am committing to you, I demand to be loved back, to be cherished, and so on.  In this scenario  we treat love as a contract where the parties agree to fulfill their share of stipulations.  When love shifts to marriage the stakes rise higher as our roles acquire new dimensions and responsibilities.

Problem is, romantic love is not a business.  What if my inventory runs out and my resources depleted? Should I bail out and call off the relationship because he or she can’t comply with their part of the deal?   “He is not calling as much.”  “She doesn’t text first, anymore.”  “She forgets my birthdays.”  “He won’t initiate sex.” Let me be fair then: I won’t call as much, I am going to stop texting first, I am going to forget her birthdays.  And forget about me spreading my legs.

Now you are at a standoff.  Anger and resentment grows.  Your stance for fairness has morphed into payback.  Do you see where your little game of tit-for-tat is going?

Give it all or don’t get in. 

Seriously, why are you getting into a relationship in a half-baked attitude and a mediocre disposition?   Sure enough, nothing is ever certain in love and romance.  People enter into relationships in ambivalence all the time, not knowing what to expect.  We don’t have all the answers. No wonder that love is thought to be blind.  But it is only blind if you so designate it.  It doesn’t have to.

The misery in your relationship has to do with the failure to ask  the hard questions at the beginning and face up the difficult conversations that will define your relationship.  If you are married the reason you are not sexing  up regularly might have to do with failing to create the right kinds of intimacy in other areas.  It could be you don’t ask for sex and you don’t dare to initiate it on a regular basis or on special occasions.  You are afraid to talk about sex.  It is possible your notions of sex are totally rotten and distorted:  ” I will only give him sex if he deserves it.”  There you go champ!    Your righteous fairness has turned you into a manipulative hag of sorts and now the chickens are roasted for you to taste on a later date.  You are well on your way to engineering your own demise.

If you are a diligent lover and partner, you may want to set aside this mindset of fairness.  Sorry again, but 50-50 isn’t going to cut it. You might have to render 110 percent !  Genuine Christ ones give it all, as Christ gave his everything for the world.  He held nothing back and you shouldn’t either because the other party fails to deliver.  Geez dude, wouldn’t that invite abuse and turn me into a loser doormat of a man?  First of all, if you are in an abusive, manipulative relationship, how did you get in there in the first place?  If you are starting out on the dating circuit and getting acquainted, resist the urge to advance further if you see red flags of selfishness, malice, stalking behavior, insanity, and commitment phobia.  For your peace of mind and safety’s sake don’t ignore major character flaws in your potential beau.  You should never think of marrying someone detrimental to your well being.  Duck a bullet. Avoid bedding  the Devil with the intention later to convert her into an Angel.  Worst case scenario is that your tryst will hatch another Devil out of you too.   You may degenerate into playing by their rules and vice and thus perpetuate the madness. It is better to have a bitter end that endless bitterness. So cut yourself loose while you have the chance.  It is not worth risking your life or future with someone not worth your dignity and self-respect.

Fair does not work in relationships because we are dealing with flawed human nature.  You are not married to Jesus, for God’s sake.  If that were so he would ensure you obtain your fifty percent of the deal one hundred percent of the time. People get sick.  Mental incapacity sets in.  We are subject to lay offs and unemployment, emotional and intellectual maladies, and general sinfulness and frailty and death.  Humans falter.  People change.  If your spouse gets injured and becomes bed-ridden, are you going to resent him for not being there for you?  Christian duty summons you to love him sacrificially and unconditionally.  And even if he is not incapacitated, you don’t stop being courteous and generous because he on occasions forgets to or is careless. You never stop loving because he or she is falling behind or pulling back.   This side of existence one hundred percent commitment is not going to happen one hundred percent of the time.  It is not a fair proposition, I know.  But Christianity is not about fairness.  It is about grace and mercy to the undeserving.  If you regard these virtues as not palatable, then Christ isn’t for you.   Truth is there will come a time sooner or later where you will need  mercy and grace.  But if you insist on fairness, you may end up receiving neither.

 

 

Idolaters R US

I am the Lord, and there is no other;
    apart from me there is no God.
I will strengthen you,
    though you have not acknowledged me,
so that from the rising of the sun
    to the place of its setting
people may know there is none besides me.
    I am the Lord, and there is no other.”

Isaiah 45:5-6

How odd is God.  Evidently incomparable given he is the invisible Entity who has left us  no unambiguous trace of his existence, except for a handful of written witnesses illustrating what he is up to.  Ask anyone who has struggled with the idea of God.  It would seem he casts himself as arbitrary and unapproachable.  We can warrant some level of critique regarding those notions. God hasn’t made his reality as slam dunk as mathematical proof.  Clues exist out there of some ultimate purpose, of mystery, of ultimate intelligence and goodness, all variably open to interpretation.  Are we missing out on something?  Shouldn’t God be visible and tangible?  Maybe that kind of God would be susceptible to manipulation and abuse, not unlike this past week’s baby dolphin craze.

http://mainenewsonline.com/content/16027043-video-shows-how-ignorance-led-killing-endangered-baby-dolphin

Image result for baby dolphin news

God let me take a selfie with you in it!   Wouldn’t we suffocate him in the attempt to rub shoulders, literally?    Where could we possible contain him should there be no boundaries between him and us ?    How we approach God demonstrate the extent of our deviance.  Should he be like us, compliant to our whims and lack of restraint, God would be subject to our domestication: have him wear a male bikini while shirtless and flexing muscles at the beach, have him sit  for an interview and queue him with a barrage of silly questions, Instagram him on 360 degree views, paparazzi him, invite him over for pizza and beer and request that he pull a few tricks off his sleeve, have him endorse and glamorize our favorite Sunday morning religion, endorse our fashion and fads, have him bless the wonderful purpose of our lives…..

Trouble is we humans tend to swing to the polar of depraved thinking and disposition.   For many the opposite of the Midas touch is norm, rather than the exception. We tend to destroy and harass what we touch.  Why, we want to franchise and take advantage of every golden opportunity, even when our understanding and intentions are misguided.  We want God to be our idol, not our Lord.  The tendency of mortals is to craft God in our image and likeness:  The God of my religion. The God of my ring-wing/left-wing politics. The God of my capitalist economy. The God of my flag. The God of my tribe.  The God of my romance. The God of ME.

The quest to subject  and acquire things represent relentless and coveted pursuits that keep achievers (and alas thieves!) awake at night.  The temptation to reach transcendence, Godhood, divinity, whatever, has not reasonable let up for those with ulterior ambitions. Granted the opportunity, some would seek to dethrone God (Isaiah 14:14; Genesis 3:6,22).  God resists that.  A line has to be traced, not just in religion, but in every aspect of living.  God won’t be confined. He can’t.  We expect kids to grow up and become adults, not the reverse.  God abhors walls of limitation and  vetoes down boxes of neat categorization that dictate what he ought and not to do (i.e. God should answer every prayer, stop every hurricane, grant me this job right now). We think we have God all figured out and safely tucked in our Bible on that sanctimonious two hour block weekend charade. Not so.  God is loose and dangerous. He doesn’t think he is us. The world constitutes God’s arena for the display of his power, not the circus ring where he juggles to our endless entertainment and pleasure, on demand. He is the Lion of the jungle, not the bird in the cage. The wholly Other God refuses to be our pet, the baby dolphin on the sun-drenched beach.  My proposal therefore is that to get our religion right, we ought to let God be God.

 

 

The Anti-Valentine

For those who are terrible lovers, regret loving, fail to love, can’t love, were crushed in the process, or simply hate the idea thereof.  A few sobering thoughts……….

DISCLAIMER: No I am not being cynical about Valentine.  Go ahead an celebrate to the fullest.  Pass the wine cup, revel in the flowers.  Inch up on your belly with the next row of chocolate.  Love is beautiful full circle.  I believe in love.  We were made for it, not merely as benefactors, but as givers, love givers, as God is.

Been there, done that.  That is, I’ve experienced the rollercoaster ride of love. I’ve also crashed and burned and for the mercy of me, I wasn’t able to recover the million stray pieces.  It is over.  Don’t misunderstand.  I didn’t give up on the idea of love, but I did decide this particular love wasn’t for me.  I am not claiming victimhood.  I am no saint. I did my share of transgressions and follies.  I acknowledge my role in the breakup, the divorce proceedings, and the ensuing chaos.  What is left of me?  My life.  I have this life left to live for all that is worth.  And when there is life there is hope.

Sometimes love has to end. It’s necessary.  Perhaps to save your sanity, your safety, your peace of mind, your life.  No I am not suggesting for anyone to proceed and bid adieu to your beau at a whim only because he or she is less than the ideal mate.  Maybe your relationship barely started and needs sharpening a little bit.  Maybe one or the two of you can be rehabilitated.  Perhaps the demons that torment you can be exercised.   Go ahead. Sign up for counseling.  Enter rehab. Sign up for couple’s anger management.  Do something and stop being a selfish fatalist prick who expects to sink with the ship.

Only you can draw the line. How much have you put up with?  What have you been tolerating and how much further can you go?  Somewhere, somehow the line will be drawn. Circumstances will force you to.  If you regard yourself as a self-respecting individual worthy of dignity and respect, only because you are a human being, then you are going to want to take charge of your love life.  Merely being a conformist and sailing with the flow of things might mean you have died!  There is nothing left of you.  Will your relationship survive the abuse, the affairs, the indifference, the sheer stupidity and immaturity?  I don’t know.  Is it possible? Is it probable?  It depends.  Are you both willing and able to make it work?  Can you compromise, heal, forgive, and forget?

If your answer above is either “I won’t” or “I can’t,” sorry to break it to you, but you are not suited for this.  You have become the Anti-Valentine.  Your rather wallow in self-pity anger, and bitterness.  You refuse to change.  Give it up.  Grant yourself and your mate some deserved space and peace of mind.  Resist the hormonal urges to go and grab another piece of skin.  Why, you are a high risk rebound.  Quit.  Split. File for divorce if it is appropriate.  Why continue to dig each other’s graves?  Why the persistence in filling the role of the next man or lady-killer?   No one wins the battles of the heart.  Correction. Actually somebody does and it is the attorneys crafting your divorcee decree at lucrative rates.  It is the lesser of two evil, really.  The relentless path towards madness ends at destruction.  There is no worse enemy to a relationship than the willful refusal to make it wholesome, safe, and constructive for all concerned.   If this is not where you stand, then realize my friend you picked the wrong vocation.  Sign up for singleness.  Classes are still open and many seats available.  A candidate has yet to be rejected for a singles’ profession.

 

Why I believe in God

I believe in God because I want to.  It makes sense.  An extra intelligence other than ours human, is not only feasible, it’s probable.  If this universe of things and atoms contains mind and consciousness, could it be that such phenomenon lies outside the physical plane of existence as well?  This is no abstract, philosophical treatise for armchair theologians.  I am more interested in the personal God, the relational being who is named and who is called.  Beauty, truth, and goodness constitute not merely the catalogue of virtues we strive to attain, but they also point to the reality of another world.  Sure enough, God has not made his existence  obvious. He is the invisible God. The God we can not see or touch.   We have heard rumors and words.  We have clues in the oracles of prophets and priests and preachers of bygone eras who heard and wrote messages from this God.

The decisive evidence for me, however, is this guy named Jesus. Yes, Jesus Christ, the century first Jewish carpenter and intemperate trouble maker.  He says God is real.  More importantly, he says this God cares and in fact made everything for a purpose.  I believe in God because Jesus Christ has made him credible and compelling.  For me, Christ proves the existence of God.   Why, Christ is the human face of God, God as personal and loving, God as father and master and not merely a religious idea or an idol of our crafting.  If this God is living and personal, then he is worthy of adoration.  The alternative is to live in peril, in less than human terms.  To be truly human, we must know God and his Christ. Good news is, our work is cut out for us.  He has taken the initiative to make himself known.  What are we waiting for…….

How to be Nice Like an Ace

  

     Rumor has it that nice folks finish last. Nice is weak. Nice makes us easy targets for predation. Being nice invalidates our rights. Mean and tough are optimal options because it shows the world who is King. Don’t mess with me or else. However, in God’s alternative reality, nice is strong and it is the grace that heals and nurtures. Nice is the one God-given alternative against the mess and muddle of the survival-of-the fittest, do-what-you-can-to-get-on-top, lookout-for-number one patterns of thinking. Being nice is fraught with risk, however. It attracts more than an army of would-be bullies and expert manipulators who mistake kindness for weakness.  

     In modern capitalism competition and one-upmanship is the name of the game to making it big and leaving the competition in the dust. That strategy might be appropriate in the realm of selling the top-ranked mouth watering Twinkie and Taco, competitive sports, and chess games, but when applied to relationships we risk undermining them in the name of self-assertiveness. Our rights first! We wanna win. We want to minimize our weaknesses and pain and maximize our strengths and pleasure while servicing the exact opposite to those we dislike, disrespect, and despise. Bullying as a means to get your way may score you a victory here and there, but the tally of alienation and suspicion adds up rather in the manner of compound interest. Bullying involves coercion and intimidation and it is the classical weapon in the arsenal of unscrupulous politicians and ravenous capitalists intent on decimating their targets in the name of profits, progress, and prevailing ideologies like nationalism, militarism, and ethnocentrism.    

     The fundamental human drive to posses and control things, the “will to power” reached its classical expression in the German philosopher Nietzsche who postulated that Christianity was a religion for wimps. According to Nietzsche the human race can’t thrive when shackled to compassion for the lost, the least, and left out. The strong must survive while the weak ought to be left to die out. Nature does this by natural selection. We sentient beings, must achieve it by willfulness. To assert ourselves, says Nietzsche, we must surrender the ethics of Christ. Being nice won’t do. Niceness is a crutch and a capitulation to our lower selves. Power gets results. Self-abasement involves sacrifice and therefore detracts from self-advancement.  

       The way of Christ proves otherwise. His suffering and sacrifice demonstrate the power of love, not the love of power. The fabric that enhances life he weaved in the mill of compassion and kindness.  Unless I am misunderstood, let me state that some degree of power (as in force) needs to be exercised in order to make life civil and keep anarchy at bay. God won’t endorse a world ruled by tyranny and disorder (Romans 13). Nonetheless, the danger in power, political and otherwise, is not in its existence, but in its misuse. Like sex and food, power can and is often abused.   

    Many people operate under a narrative, unconscious or otherwise, that to be mean and rude is to be powerful. Resorting to obscenities, non-verbal theatrics (who in the world hasn’t been flashed with the highly irreputable middle finger!), and power plays (my way or the highway), are means to the ultimate end of achieving control over others, whether justified or not. The problem is, rude hurts. Mean and nasty has the name of violence written all over. Lashing out inflicts pain. Ultimately, mean and rude is not the way of peace because it depersonalizes and dehumanizes. Is it no wonder that we regard as demons those we choose to denigrate? Being mean falls outside the parameters of Christ’s love and his ways. To hate and to be mean is the protocol of Cesar, not of Christ.

 Promote peace

      No I don’t mean you ought to stop bathing and turn into a full-fledged hippie and retire to the Villa to smoke weed all day. Being a responsible man or woman of God means we ought to take tough action and choices when necessary. But we have no right to be arrogant about it. Halt the hostility and anger. To properly be nice, please do yourself and others a favor and make sure you aren’t becoming an unconscionable flaming arse–le. You are applying for a job. Be suited for it. Sorry to break it to you but it is going to take more than merely cranking up your cuteness factor. Deploy the assets of your best self. Quit being the awful and creepy and angry die-hard who goes to any length to be liked yet manages to be a pathological deviant bastard. Be nice. To do otherwise constitutes a disgrace and appalling display of bad manners. Worse, whatever you think your niceness investment is worth, you risk it going to rack and ruin by adopting the script of the jerk. The anecdotes are plentiful regarding the vile catastrophes unleashed when we behave wrongfully and recklessly: No regard for the driver we cut off, the cashier we yelled out as if he was deaf, or bullying our mates into compliance to our whims. 

     We want to dig a good life, snag a promotion , or woo the next-in-line chic and we think we have it all safely tucked under the treasure box, down to the cents figure only because we think we deserve it. Ours is an entitlement society. We believe we deserve the A on the test, the blonde bloke, the mansion on the cul-de-sac plus the Lexus, as a bonus. Yet we are unwilling to sweat for it. We are inclined to believe that fate owes us the paramount of success and paradise . More likely, the way we understand life and success resembles more an unending parade of half-baked stereotypes, oversimplifications, and misunderstanding: Life will be good if I merely have good intentions and luck, the Lord has the perfect life path for me , the Horoscope predicts my future love, I’ll be happy in love if he/she meets ALL my needs….. bla bla bla. To our detriment Western culture is all too fond of making life an affair all about me, me, me …… do you hear the sheep bleating? What is in it for ME? How is this relationship going to make ME feel? The whole nine yards of self-centeredness and self-aggrandizement. I am not denying the idea of self-love. It is biblical. In fact, to be adequately and competently human, we must possess a healthy dose of it:

                                                                   “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:38-39

     This isn’t “love yourself” as an exclusive project towards self-deification. That would be to collude with the realms of narcissism and idolatry. Appropriate self-love occurs in the context of love for the OTHER.  The degree and kind of love we dispense either is or is not a steady-state reflection of our own self-regard. Good intentions and actions may constitute nothing, nada, nichts, zero to the left absent love as the tool for constructing a meaningful life for the OTHER: 

    “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

    Nice is good. Nice enhances and advances the Christ-Way of being a new kind of human for a brand new world. This new world eschews violence, revenge, and bullying. If we truly acknowledge that Christ is King over the universe, then it follows we must align ourselves as citizens of his kingdom, a kingdom whose essence is kindness. Hatred will be defeated. Love will win in the end.