Jets Over My House

An annual air show was here at the Fort Worth Alliance Airport this past weekend and the USAF F-16 jets were out practicing all  last week. The Thunderbirds sometimes fly over at what seems like mere feet overhead and produce that unmistakable, thunderous roar. Very few things give you that chilling, bone shaking feeling that teeters back-and-forth on the border of intimidation and empowerment. A neighbor posted on our community Facebook page that she was annoyed that jets were flying over her house while her toddler was trying to nap. Comments and subsequent posts ranged from “I know, it’s so annoying” to sarcasm such as “yeah, they should arrange practice around nap time” or “you knew the airport was here when you moved in.”

 

This exchange got me thinking about some of the ways that we humans respond to each other and had me wondering why. Please read to the end of this post before you get mad at me as I am going to attempt to examine this as 2 completely different issues rather than acting as FBPD and deciding who is right/wrong. Basically, there were 2 different response types to her post: one of fact or truth, and one of grace or compassion. I am going to quickly chime in on each response as these are generally the same responses we have in all interpersonal interactions.

A response of truth

Truth means “hiding nothing” or “unhidden” when translated from Greek. In English, truth means an honest answer or widely accepted fact. In American, we sometimes translate truth as “telling it like it is, no sugar-coating, no beating-around-the-bush, all-up-in-your-face honesty.” Followers of Christ look to the Bible to teach us what truth is and tell us that we are to hold each other accountable for. In the example of the fighter jets, the truth is that no one person is important enough to plan practice around. Another truth is that fighter jets will wake babies up at times and there is just nothing we can do about it. The truth is that mid-morning, which is generally about toddler nap time, is the perfect time for them to practice! The truth is that making that statement, even on Facebook, is not going to change anything.

 A response of grace or compassion

Grace means favor, blessing, or kindness. (Many Christians think of grace as God giving us blessings that we don’t deserve.) Grace encompasses ideas like unearned forgiveness, understanding, and compassion. In the particular case mentioned above, compassion seemed to given most. It was once suggested to me, and I believe, that the two words in the English language that carry the most power are either, “I know” or “me too.” Sometimes hearing that from someone can act as an affirmation, can make us feel normal, or even begin a healing process. There is great power in knowing that we are not the only ones who (fill in the blank). Specifically, I know how frustrating it can be when something out of the ordinary interrupts that precious little time you have when that toddler is supposed to be asleep. It used to infuriate me too! I can feel her pain. Sometimes people say things simply to voice a frustration and to have it validated by someone else. Much of the time, they don’t expect anything to change in response, they just need to vent.  We see this interaction all the time, even in what some people think are unimportant situations (see below).

Frustrated Saints' fans

FAN #00: “The Saints keep giving away games at the last minute. It is driving me crazy!”

FAN WITH SOUL: “I know, right? Me too!”

FAN #00: “Thanks Fan With Soul, I feel validated, understood and important now.”

(NOTE: These are not exact quotes.)

So what wins out then? Grace or truth?

The lifegroups at my church, Fellowship of the Parks, are doing a study entitled Christian (see below). In one of the messages, Andy Stanley addresses this very question.  This has been my motivation in addressing this topic. He points out which of the two, grace or truth, normally wins out. The answer was very profound to me: it depends on who we are talking about! We tend to lean toward speaking truth, saying exactly how it should be, and setting feelings aside when we are talking about other people. However, we would much prefer the approach of grace, forgiveness, and compassion when it comes to our own situation. Funny how that works, isn’t it? I am as guilty of it as anyone, especially when I find my self in moments of frustration and impatience ,like getting 3 kids off to school in time in the morning.  I will often remind my kids about the Biblical truth about being obedient to (Eph 6:1) and respecting our parents. However, I tend to seek grace when I forget that just 3 verses later (Eph 6:4) we are told not to exasperate or anger our children. After all, if they wouldn’t…. nevermind.

http://fellowshipoftheparks.com/

Does there have to be a winner?

Is it possible that we can live in such a way that we are able to speak truth and hold people accountable while still affording expansive amounts of grace? What if we spoke truth equally as much as grace? What if we showed grace each and every time we felt the need to speak the truth? Because neither you nor I are Jesus, chances are we will never be constantly full of both grace AND truth, we will always tend to lean more toward one or the other. My encouragement to you is this: if it isn’t blatantly clear which is most appropriate, perhaps we need to refer to the Golden Rule of treating others the way we want to be treated. Or it is quite possible that we don’t need to speak at all.

Please feel free to comment on the content above, but I’d appreciate if you don’t weigh in on the Facebook post I used as an example.

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed this enough to click the +Follow button on the bottom right of your screen.

And so it begins…

Many months ago I sat at the Rodeo Goat with a good friend of mine, Justin Paulk. We ate a burger, sampled a beer, and talked about an odd variety of topics. NOTE: burgers are made supremely better by chorizo, avacado, and a fried egg.  Justin was encouraging me to start blogging some writings that I had done, and somehow we landed on an idea that I was going to start a blog entitled Burgers, Beer & the Bible. Of course, being typical guys, the idea was quickly turned fantastical and I was soon to be a millionaire blogger who traveled the country sampling the best burgers, the trendiest micro-brews, and sharing my humble thoughts on what I believe to be the most important piece of writing ever compiled.

Rodeo Goat Seating

We sat on the near end of the table on the far right of the picture. http://rodeogoat.com/

Well, ideas come and go, but some just keep tugging at you. In the next few months, I received similar encouragement (the blog part, not so much the burgers & beers part) from a few others, including my lovely wife Ann, who receive a weekly email that I send to a group of people in our church. Those emails usually include a personal admission, a ‘news’ story, some encouragement, or just current goings-on. Most recently, Kirsten Wilson not only encouraged me, but she offered her IT skills and experience to help me get started. Now here I sit.

I am intrigued by reading/hearing stories about people and occurrences and then sharing some things that I see besides the facts. I believe there is always more to a story than the people, place, and events. I like to share my point-of-view on them, and I like to imagine how God would see those stories. And then I like to try to connect the dots between the two.

Connecting the Dots

So I have a greater passion for trying to help people connect the dots than I do for burgers. Hence the name Connection of Dots rather than the B, B, & B name that started it all. Over the past 7 years or so, plenty of people have taken the time to help me connect the dots and I believe I am now capable of doing the same for others. I spent the first 29 years of my life not seeing the connection between the worldly dots and the Godly dots, but I plan on spending the rest of my years searching for God in every situation. So far, He has yet to stay hidden, He always shows Himself when I look. And my hope is that I can help others find him as well, even in the oddest, funniest, or saddest of stories.

My goal is not just to share my Christian worldview with a bunch of other believers, but to present a new perspective and hopefully make God seem relevant and real to those that are non-believers. Let me make one thing very clear, I AM NOT A WRITER! I love to communicate with people, but I have no experience or training as an author, so don’t expect perfect grammar or the use of ostentatious wording. (See what I did there?) I do hope that you feel encouraged, entertained, educated or enlightened when you read these posts and I encourage you to comment or leave feedback.

Thanks for reading.