Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Love, No Matter What

Flickr photo by jimbob!, creative commons
"I don't get it," my son said on Saturday, grumbling when I wouldn't let him change the channel from the Today show. "Why are they doing all this wedding talk anyway?" he said. "It's not like the whole country really knows her."

I tried to say something about the joy a wedding brings, how it reminds us of hope and promise, of love and new beginnings. Besides, I did feel like I knew Chelsea Clinton a teensy bit, having watched her grow up over the years.
By that time, Ben had lost interest and started texting somebody.

I should have pointed him to Millie Martini Bratten. As Editor-in-Chief at Brides magazine, she explained that the toasting and dancing and wedding traditions gave America a much-needed lift. "No matter what is going on in the world," she said, "there is love."

What a good reminder.
No matter what is going on in the world, there is love.

I'm a terrible flip flopper on this matter.
It's not that I don't believe it. I absolutely do. It's just that it's such a tug of war for me.

On the one hand, I want to fully be a participant in this world. News junkie that I am, I want to know what's going on. Tell me everything, the feel good stories and the teary traumas. The natural disasters and the stories of recovery and hope. I want to know about the shootings and the crying, the hunger and the wars, even as I go through my comfortable day.
I want to know so I can pray, I say. But sometimes I remember and sometimes I don't.
Other times I just stand there, watching the TV screen, trying to keep my jaw from falling open.

There is so much pain in the world, it's astounding. But there's also joy in the face of it. Even peace, sometimes. This astounds me too.

Flip flop.

On the other hand, I want to give my TV to Goodwill and become a Baptist nun. I want to spend my life walking through the woods, thanking God for moss and the fact that birds sing. I want to write poem prayers in my head about the beauty of breathing, the trickle of a creek, the uncurling of a fiddlehead fern. I want to ponder free will and grace.
This requires quiet and cloistering away. Certainly no news reports.

See the problem?
To which world do I belong?
I'm God's, first and foremost, but I live in community, and I love that too. God created us to be here, to share his love with each other, to serve each other, to enjoy his peace.

Ah, peace. I think that's what this flip flopping is really about for me.
So I've had to get stern with myself and set a limit on the news. Moderation in everything, right? Being aware is important, but I need serenity too. When anything stands in my way of finding God's peace, I know it's time to make a life adjustment.

Do you find it hard to straddle two worlds? What helps you?

I think Bratton's words will help. No matter what is going on in the world, there is love.
A love the Psalmist describes so well:

How exquisite your love, O God! How eager we are to run under your wings, To eat our fill at the banquet you spread as you fill our tankards with Eden spring water. You're a fountain of cascading light, and you open our eyes to light.
Psalm 36:7-9, The Message

Thank you God, for the strong shelter of your wings, for the banquet of a new day, for living water that always refreshes. As we walk through this world of pain and sorrow, of joy and hope, open our eyes to see your light. Cascade all over us!

Have a wonder-full day, y'all!
Love, Becky


Janet said...

Excellent, thought provoking post. I'm a news junkie too. Finding balance is key. Turning off the news, making a conscious effort to spend time with and keep my focus on God and loving others helps me find that balance. But like you, I find myself doing a lot of flip flopping.

Alise said...

What a beautiful quote.

I definitely have to be careful about my intake of news, as it can put me in a foul mood. I don't know that it's necessarily the news itself so much as the extremities in the commentary. We don't get the "regular" people, we get the most polarizing voices and that makes it much more difficult to exercise love.

But like you, I am amazed and thrilled by the love that I see demonstrated every day by we silly, silly humans. It's quite beautiful.

Faith Hope Cherrytea said...

last sunday's reading of colossians 3 really speaks to that -
as does Jesus own example of habitual stepping away from the daily press of people and needs to restore in Father's Presence ...
challenging !

Jean Wise said...

So well said and very thought provoking. I know when I am twisted inside and in turmoil, remembering that love is always the answer helps. Keeping that balance and striving for moderation is challenging and part of life. I don't think we will ever, at least while here on earth, live without that tension

Amy Sullivan said...

I always love your questions, but sometimes I feel as if my answers are the same. My kids. Yes, it is difficult to straddle two worlds, but they help give me the balance I need.

I love the line "Cascade over us". Such imagery.

Daricia said...

My son just said to me a couple of days ago...he's 21...that he thought he might just have to accept that he's a flip flopper and love himself anyway. Lol. So funny that you used that word today. He and i have a tendency to go to both ends of an issue and live in quandry. My mother and i discussed the benefits of joining the convent recently as well...I had been considering it again. Not really, but hey I guess there are just as many Methodist convents as baptist ones. ;) I did a retreat once with a group of nuns and that life truly is compelling in that moss-loving way you mentioned. I've wondered from time to time how god intends for mothers to balance things. Seems Iike his most famous servants were single. And none of them had text messaging!

Laura said...

Oh, you hit the nail on the head again. Balance, balance.

I'm not into the gossipy and reality shows, but I do love the news. I have both USA Today News and NPR News apps on my iPod. But oh, that part about giving your TV to Goodwill and becoming a Baptist nun -- that resonated with me, too!

So, yes, I find it hard. Nature helps and Scripture draws me back in. Loved this post!

Laura said...

I love this. Yes, yes, yes, I get it. So many times I wish for a "do-over". That other world seems so much simpler. But here i am in this one. And you are so right...there's always love.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

How I enjoy your comments!
Couldn't y'all just come over and hang out with me for the rest of the week? We could have our own mini-retreat!
I'll even clean up the dog hair and bake a cake!

Roxane B. Salonen said...


Oh, have you ever hit a nerve. Funny thing, the last time I turned on the TV was at the request of the religious sisters with whom I was hanging. They requested I do so while they were making dinner so we could see photos of the Clinton wedding. But I'm rarely found in front of the TV these days. I found that I am in more need of the serenity than I am the stimulus that today's television programs provide. This has been a fairly recent change, in the past few years. And honestly, I don't miss it. I still feel like I keep up with the world fairly well. Watching too much TV makes me anxious and unsettled. I need peace more than more noise! :)

Oh, you had me laughing when you said "Baptist nun," especially after my retreat. I say, why not? :) They do seem like they live a very peaceful life there. The first summer I was there I actually felt envy. The next year, I realized that was not my calling, that God called me to a noisier kind of existence, but He certainly provided an awesome place for me to restore my reserves, and I hope you will find that place that does the same for you.


Locusts and Wild Honey said...

Oohh, what a wonderful post.

I love a good wedding myself and I was so happy to see our little Chelsea all grown up and marrying a nice boy.

For me, the straddling comes with balance. A little dash of TV, I nice walk outside, everything in moderation.

Susanne Barrett said...

I so understand the flip-flopping between living in community and living in solitude. It's when we find the balance--living with and for others and living for God--that we live healthy, productive lives for His glory.

Great points--I really struggle with balance in this area myself. Now I know a little better how to pray my way to balance.

Attic Rat said...

I feel like it's almost a duty to watch the news. A news vacation would be a good idea since they don't seem to have that many good news reports - only bad news.

I love the news I get when I read all of these wonderful blog posts!


Rev. Sharon said...

I think you must be some kind of wonderful angel, Becky. :) Every time I most need to hear something, I am ever so much more likely to hear it from you! Thank you for this post. I need right now to believe there is love in spite of everything, hope and joy despite the evidence, and you have (as always) given me much about which to pray. Thank you so much for that!

Susan said...

I am a television watcher myself, but I am mindful of the manner that we are affected by some of the shows and I am firm in my decisions about what not to watch. Finding balance these days is much easier than when my hubby and I were in the outside work force. Regarding Chelsea's wedding, I am a firm believer in spending your own money in any way that seems fit for you and your family. It's unfortunate that her special day had to be to subject of so much media attention. It seems that she tried really hard to keep things quiet. Being the daughter of a president must certainly be difficult. While I wasn't that interested in the specifics, I'm actually happy that she was able to have the wedding she wanted. Oh, by the way...did you change the photo of the bridal bouquet, or am I losing it?

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Ha! No, Susan, you're not losing it. When I found the fern pic I just had to make the change.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, y'all. It's good to know I'm not alone in the struggle to find balance!

We're having internet/phone problems, and I'm missing getting around to visit you. (I'm making a quick stop now at the library to get my email and set up my post for tomorrow. Hopefully the issue will be resolved soon. You should hear what my phone line sounds like. I could hear better with a set of tin cans!

Angie Muresan said...

That is a beautiful statement. Perhaps that is why we are all drawn to weddings. No matter what is going on in the world, there is love.

Dawn said...

Oh thank your for sharing MY heart today too! I'm not a news junkie but love to know stuff--I always want to know why or how or when. I can spend so much time immersing myself in knowing about stuff, I neglect to spend my time knowing about God.

Silicon Valley Diva said...

So eloquently written Becky.

I also find nature helps give us balance. Nothing like going on a hike with the family and reveling in natural beauty.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

You guys are so right!

Heidi Mann said...

I like catching the "big news stories" of the day on The Today Show just to feel I'm at least somewhat informed about the world around me. But when my kids were tiny, I didn't even want them seeing the news on TV since most of it is filled with violence and "ick" (like sexual-abuse stories, etc.).

Lately, though, my 5-yr-old has been so into "playing swords" and other violence-themed stories that I decided maybe it's NOT so bad for him to see some of the reality of what swords, guns, war, real-life pirates, etc. can be about. I still am careful and shut the TV off if something clearly inappropriate for him comes on, but I'm not so protective anymore. He has to start realizing some of the reality of life -- and the reasons Mom really does not like him pretending guns, etc. are OK. (Never have my husband and I brought toy guns into the house, but, no matter how hard you try, kids will still make things into guns... or relatives will give a toy pistol as a gift to a budding "cowboy." )

So, am I a bad mom for almost "placing" the violent images in front of my kindergartner? I don't know, but like many have said here, I guess it's a matter of moderation. Of course, we talk often about how it makes God sad when some people hurt others...

Thanks again, Becky, for a thought-provoking post!