March Focus – Humility

Humility is the perfect theme to follow our month on Love. For truly, without humility, you can’t love. If we are self-focused, we can’t be other-focused. And love is nothing, if not other-focused. C.S. Lewis said: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less.” We can easily become turned inward but when we are humble, we are turned outward.

Humility is the foundation for everything we do here at Warriors of Grace. That is not to say that we are good at it yet! We struggle with our own egos, our own pride. But we recognize that it’s the most important thing for us to be consciously working on.  As in all things, awareness is the first step towards change. If you don’t know something is broken you can’t even begin to fix it!

How does karate fit in?

Karate does a great job at keeping one humble. Not only is it difficult to master, but every time you think you have acquired a skill, you realize that there is still more to it – more to learn about that one single skill! The details are tremendous and never seem to stop coming.

Being humble is not about lacking in confidence, or lacking in strength to stand and defend yourself or someone else. It is more of an attitude of openness; knowing that you might be wrong and being prepared to switch course if necessary. Even when defending yourself, staying humble is important to ensure what you are defending is truth.

One of our human traits is to attach strongly to an idea or a position without necessarily hearing all the facts. The strength of our convictions can be a wonderful thing. But if we want to remain on the side of truth, we must remain humble and stay open to hearing other perspectives and learning new facts as they come to light.

Love is patient, Love is kind

Before we leave the month of February with it’s natural theme of love, I wanted to remind us all of the verses many of us have heard recited at weddings:

The Wedding Verses

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.                                                               1 Corinthians 13:4-7 niv

It’s all pretty much there: how we should behave towards others; what to watch out for in ourselves; the ideal to which we strive.

But before those familiar lines are ones that are even more powerful. Verses 1-3 in the same chapter let us know in no uncertain terms that whatever great accomplishments we do on this earth, no matter how many people we may have helped in this life, if it is not done in love, then it is worthless. 

It’s a matter of the heart. What’s in your heart? That’s what matters in every thing we do.

Love is kind

How do we do everything in love?

Once we open our heart to the person standing next to us, we see them just as human as us. We can recognize their frailties as well as their beauty. One on one I think we humans do a pretty good job of “keeping our love on”. 

It’s as groups that we get into trouble. As soon as we put someone in a group, we make assumptions that may or may not be true. And unfortunately a lot of the media today tries to put us in groups.  Maybe it’s always been so, but it seems much more intentional today. And we do it ourselves: when we look for information or media that supports our views we are less likely to hear differing views.

See the individual rather than the group 

The trick is to see each and every person as a uniquely made, God-loved, co-inhabitant of this beautiful planet. Of course we can’t process individually all 7.6 billion inhabitants. But we can acknowledge each individual that comes into our field of vision, and we can choose to love those that come within space that is near to us. 

We can be patient with the person in front of us that is having a hard time juggling the kids and the wallet in order to check out in the grocery store. We can be kind to the tired and frustrated employee with whom we are doing business.  We can honor our neighbors by reaching out in friendship and honest curiosity to get to know them better. 

One on one we are much more prone to love.  In addition to all the things above that love does not do could be added: love does not put people in groups but instead sees each individual.

 

 

The Most Important Conversation to have with your kids (or grandkids)

I sent out information about the Gen Z: Faith Summit that started on the February 19. This morning I watched the opening remarks by the CEO and co-founder of AXIS, David Eaton. The summit involves over 30 teachers, thought leaders, authors and pastors sharing their thoughts on how best to help raise up the next generation. They focus on the areas of sexuality, technology, and growing up.

George Lucas, during his Academy Award acceptance, said: “I’ve always tried to be aware of what I say in my films because all of us who make motion pictures are teachers, teachers with very loud voices.” We know that kids today are bombarded with all kinds of media messages in very loud voices. How do we counter these voices?

What is AXIS?

AXIS was formed by a few millenials in response to their seeing so many teens who were on fire for Christ at one time in their lives, walk away from their faith. The statistics are brutal. The forecast is even worse. These young people have set out on a mission to help all those who are in the lives of youth be able to communicate well. Parents, grandparents, teachers and coaches often come from a completely different world than the youth they are interacting with. They need translators to be able to communicate. AXIS translates the culture and encourages the leverage of conversation.

What is the summit?

For the first three days of each interview, they are available online for free. I encourage you to take a look at the line up and watch one that calls out to you.  If you have the time, you could watch them all for free. After the three days, if you still want to have access, you can buy an access pass which supports the amazing work that AXIS is doing to help parents connect with their kids in a meaningful way.

George Lucas, continuing, said: “But we will never match the power of the teacher who is able to whisper in a student’s ear”. 

You have the power to counter the loud voices your child or grandchild is hearing.

What is the most important conversation?

It’s one that lasts a lifetime! Equip yourself to begin and continue to learn how to keep the conversation going. The videos offered during this summit provide ample conversation starters.

What’s your love language?

Thanks to Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, we’ve all become more familiar with how we best receive and give love.

I don’t think it’s too soon to start recognizing what makes you feel most loved. We’re talking with the kids this week during mat chat about the five love languages.

Relationships are hard and communication is difficult under the best of circumstances. But when two people are speaking two different languages and they don’t even know it, it’s even more challenging!

The sooner we realize which language is most effective for ourselves, the better off we are. Add to that, discovering which language is most effective for those we love, and we’ve got a much better likelihood of communicating well, and loving well.

We talk a lot about how love is an action, and that what we DO is what matters more than how we FEEL. But we want to make sure that what we DO is received by the other as LOVE.

A brief summary of the five love languages:

I’m hoping this idea is not new and I’m only refreshing your memory. To learn more, check out the book. Or even take a quiz online to help you discover what your love language is. 

Here’s the simple explanation we are sharing with the kids:

Some people, like Kuma bear, like to give and receive gifts. That’s how they show love and receiving a gift it’s what makes them feel loved.  (Receiving Gifts)

Some people feel more loved when someone says something really nice to them and makes them feel special and valued.  Likewise some people show their love by telling the beloved how important they are to them, and pointing out all the things they love about them. (Words of Affirmation)

For some, the most important way to show love is to DO things for someone. To help them do something they’re having a hard time with, or just do a task that you know they need done. As a surprise and without being asked! That’s a great way to show love! (Acts of Service)

We all need touch – to be held or hugged. But for some people touch is their primary love language.. Whether it’s a pat on the head, holding hands, or a kiss on the cheek – these touches are ways to show love. (Physical Touch)

Do you feel loved when you’re simply hanging out with mom and dad? Maybe playing games, or going for a walk together? For some people just spending time together is the best way to show love. (Quality Time)

It can be helpful to learn which of these ways of showing love actually make you feel most loved. And it can be very helpful to learn how the people you love feel most loved. That way we can help others to love us well, and we can love others well – by “speaking their love language”.

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

If anyone remembers the old song What’s love got to do with it? you may remember that it ends with the line “who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?”

Sometimes it can be hard to talk about love, precisely because we are all broken and we too often fail to love well. Rather than focus on the emotion, as most songs do, we are going to talk of the action of love this month.

Love is what we do and how we act towards others. It has to do with our outlook on life, on others, on the world. And especially on our outlook on God.

God Is Love

If God IS love, how to do we bring that reality into the world? And if God IS love, how do we reconcile all of the brokeness, pain and suffering in the world?

The last question I mention here only because it came up during mat chat this week. It’s a big question that deserves its own post for the answer. Let me just briefly answer that we live in a broken world.  Not only IS God love, but he LOVES us. And any good lover does not force himself on his beloved. 

Therefore he gave us free will. We always have a choice. Will we behave in a loving way – will be bless others? Or will we contribute more pain and suffering in the world?

Does God love us?

In trying to help children understand God’s love, we gave them the example of how they feel about something they created. They might want to protect their creation and get angry if someone tries to destroy it.

Certainly parents have a glimpse of the love God has for us. I think parenting especially gives us a window to help us understand God. When we set boundaries for our children for their own protection, we are imitating how God has set boundaries for us for our protection. We can compare the freedom we give our children as they play and learn, as long as they stay within the boundaries we have set to the freedom God has given us. And when we are desperate for the welfare of our child, that can help us to understand how God feels about each of his children.

What is love?

The more important part of love is what we DO. Love is a verb!

We can say we love our brother, but are we kind to him?

We can say we love our parents, but do we do what they ask us to do? Right away? With a good attitude?

We can say we love our friend, but are we willing to play what they want to play instead of what we want to play?

For the youngest children we can help them understand that love needs to be an action by talking about pets. If we love our pets, we need to take care of them.

These are the kinds of things we want the kids to think about this month while we focus on love. Yes, love is a feeling, but the actions we take that show our love are really far more important than our feelings. Especially in our current social climate, we want to help kids focus more on what we do than how we feel!

What’s love got to do with it?

Are you wondering why we would even be talking about love in karate? The simple answer is – it has everything to do with everything! Love is what guides us in everything we do!