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Friday, December 6, 2013

How Will You Receive The Presence Of God This Year?

Happy Holidays everyone! As much as I dislike the expression “Happy Holidays” (not personal enough for me) it is the most expedient way of addressing all of the holidays we celebrate at this time of year. With Thanksgiving, we gave thanks for what we have already received... the blessing of friends and family and prosperity of the previous year. With the upcoming Christmas and New Years, beyond all of the shopping, travelling and holiday festivities, we are anticipating the birth of Emanuel, God with us, and the blessing that will bring, but how do you receive Emanuel, especially since we prepare for this every year? What makes this Christmas, this Noel any different or more special than the many others we've celebrated in the past? How will you receive the presence of God this year?

Matthew 8:5-8:13
“And when he was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, and saying, Lord, my servant lieth in the home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And he saith unto him, I will come and heal him. And the centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man of authority, having under myself soldiers: and I say to this one Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.

And when Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no , not in Israel....

And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way as thou has believed, [so] be it done unto thee and the servant was healed that very hour.”

Genesis 18:1-15
“And the Lord appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; and he lifted up his eyes and looked and, lo, three men stood by him; and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, and said, My Lord, if now I have found favor in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant. Let a little water I pray you be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: and I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And thy said, So do, as thou hast said.

And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetch a calf tender and good, and give it unto the young man; and he hasted to dress it. And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them: and he stood by them under the tree, and thy did eat.

And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold in the tent. And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life, and lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him.

Now Abraham and Sarah were old, and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?

And the Lord said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the time appointed, I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.Then Sarah denied, saying I laughed not; for she was afraid and he said, Nay: but thou didst laugh.

Admittedly, these are not your typical Christmas passages, but they are two very different examples of how people, myself included, receive the presence of God...one with feelings of unworthiness and shame, the other with great joy and celebration.

In the first example, the centurion sees and meets Jesus and “beseeches” Jesus to heal his servant of the palsy. “Beseech” in Merriam-Webster's dictionary is defined as, “to beg for urgently or anxiously; to request earnestly: implore. Implore is defined as, “to call upon in supplication; to call or pray for earnestly: entreat. Entreat is defined as, ”negociate; plead. So it is safe to say that the centurion cared greatly for his servant and that his was a whole-hearted, urgent plea... not a passing request, for the healing of his servant.

Jesus, in his love and mercy, agrees to come to the centurion's home and heal the servant, but the
Centurion refuses Jesus entry to his home, stating that he “is not worthy” to have Jesus under his roof, and instead, he tell Christ to “just say the word, and my servant shall be healed”. Jesus commended him for his faith and goes on to chide Israel for not having that level of faith, which is true, they didn't have faith in Him, but I wonder, was this the best way to receive the presence of God?

In Genesis 18, Abraham sees the Lord, which some call the Christophony or the pre-incarnate Christ,1 on the plains of Mamre. When he sees the Lord, Abraham requests that they “pass not away” and invites the “three men” to take bread and water, rest under a tree and washes their feet. He has his servants prepare a feast for them... killing a tender calf and serving milk and butter. The “three men” (could this be the godhead?) stay and bless him and his household and promise that Abraham shall have a son by his wife Sarah, who was past her child-bearing years... and they do all this without Abraham asking for anything. The Lord saw the need, and fulfilled it beyond Abraham's wildest dreams, promising what naturally was not physically possible.

I understand the Centurion's feelings of unworthiness. In reality, none of us are worthy of God's blessings, “for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God [Rom. 3:23] and if we say that we have not sinned, we call God a liar and the truth is not in us [1Jn 1:10] for it is not possible for God to lie [Heb. 6:18], but should this feeling of shame... which some call “Bread of Shame”, stop us from seeking the presence of God?

Should we allow our unworthiness to separate us from our savior, the one who was unjustly persecuted, unjustly prosecuted and viciously crucified... in order that we might have communion with our Creator and heavenly Father... the one who came to reconcile us back to God? God forbid! What then would be the reason of his suffering and the price He paid for us? What then would be the benefit of His blood shed for us... it would be of no value... again, God forbid! When Jesus was crucified, the curtain in the temple that separated the people from the Holy of Holies was torn from end to end [Matt. 27:51] exposing and reuniting God with his people. God was no longer shrouded behind a heavy curtain with the fear of death if they came near unworthy. They, and we today, can come boldly to the throne of Grace [Heb. 4:16] without fear, without dread and enjoy the presence of the Lord, like Abraham did on the plains of Mamre with joy and celebration and with anticipation of Emanuel, God with us, supplying all our need... the need we are aware of and the need we haven't the courage to speak.

This Christmas, my sincerest prayer for myself and for all, is that we shed our shame and feelings of unworthiness so that we may truly be able to celebrate God with us and all that the blessing of His presence brings. Have a very Merry and Blessed Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

Love to all...

Felicia V. Gaddis
Creator of Ikthos

1. Definition of “Christophany” taken from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christophany

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

What's In Your Memo?

As believers in Christ, we are given a spiritual birthright, by the blood of Jesus, to many benefits and blessings But with those benefits and blessings, come responsibilities, which should not seem unreasonable to us. After all, Christ gave the ultimate sacrifice, his life, that we might have these blessings. That we might be able to cry unto God “Abba Father”. [Rom. 8:15] Our job as believers is to find out along with our rights, what our responsibilities are... and they intensify as we mature spiritually. The greater the blessings we walk in, the greater the responsibility. We need to find out what's in our memo.

When I first started working in television, I worked freelance for a small production company that used something called deal memos as employment contracts. The deal memo laid out your responsibilities to the company/show you were working on and it also stated how much you would be paid and when for the services you rendered.

For the third show I worked on for this company, “Story of a People: Three Cities Revisited”, I was hired as the Associate Producer and was responsible for hiring crew for our out-of-town shoots. I typed up the deal memo for the field producer I hired in Atlanta and discussed the terms and compensation with her over the phone. I faxed the memo to her for approval and had her sign, fax and mail a hard copy of the signed memo back to me. This was proof legally, that we both understood and agreed to the terms of the memo and that full payment was conditional upon her delivering all of the items requested in that memo, i.e., beauty shots of Atlanta (day and night), b-roll of the family she was interviewing (their home, neighborhood, their place of work), and an informative interview with at least all of the questions I sent her answered). This was the bare minimum that was required for her to receive payment and a show credit.

The morning of the shoot, I spoke to her briefly with some last minute information and asked how she felt about the shoot. She seemed excited and eager to get started which was a relief to me because I would have preferred doing the interviews myself, but the show couldn't afford the travel expense of me going to Atlanta. I had to relinquish absolute control of this shoot and trust someone I had never met, to do my bidding for me. I had to trust that she would ask the questions I sent her, that she'd read the research material I sent her and that she would build a rapport with the family she was interviewing. The interview subject has to trust that they are in good hands so that they feel safe enough to really open up. You get a much better interview that way. I also had to trust that she had good instincts and would be able to recognize if the subject said something during the interview that was useful but maybe off script, and she would know how to follow that line of questioning and tie it back into the questions I'd sent her. I had to trust that she would get all of the above-mentioned elements, in the proper format, back to me in a timely manner because we were going to edit within few days of the shoot. There was a lot riding on this total stranger and our initial conversation did put my mind at ease.

I spoke to her again at the end of the day. She joyfully exclaimed that everything had gone according to plan and that I would be pleased with the outcome, so you can imagine my surprise and terror when I looked at the footage and saw that some of the b-roll I needed (beauty shots of Atlanta at night and the work location of the subject) weren't there. In a panic, I picked up the phone and called this field producer to ask what on earth had happened. She then informed me that she and the crew had been caught in traffic, the day ran long and there just wasn't enough time to get all the shots I wanted. After all I wasn't really paying her that much so this was the best she could do. I then took her back to that deal memo we'd discussed in depth and that she'd signed and faxed back to me. I informed her that as per the terms of the deal memo, she was in breach of contract and that ANY further payment was contingent upon her delivering all the items listed in that memo. She hadn't been coerced into signing it. If she thought the pay was not sufficient or the work load too heavy, she had every opportunity to negotiate different terms or not take the job, but if she wanted the remainder of her pay (she was paid half up front), she would have to deliver the the missing elements that I had requested, and fast! Two days later, I received the missing elements and we were finally able to go to edit but needless to say, I never recommended her services to anyone and I certainly never hired her again.

Just as the terms of the my deal memo with this field producer were clearly stated in writing, the terms of my rights and responsibilities with Christ are clearly stated in His “deal memo” with us, the Bible. As I grow in faith, I am able to walk in more of the rights and benefits that are stated in the bible. I have a right to joy unspeakable [1Peter 1:8]. I have a right to “the peace of God, which passes all understanding...” [Phil. 4:7]. I have a right to the Holy Spirit, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” But I am also responsible for more.

I am responsible for the Truth, the word that I know. [Jn. 8:32] I am responsible for what I have been taught, by both God and man. I am responsible to stand for what I believe when I know that it lines up with the Word of God, regardless of how others feel about it. [Ephesians 6:13] I am responsible to share with others, to give my testimony of what I've been taught and my experiences with God, with those who permit it. [Matt. 11:15] For we are saved by the blood of the Lamb and the words of our testimony. [Rev. 12:11]

Unlike the field producer, I NEVER have to worry about God being in breach of contract. He is perfection. He is truth and heaven and earth shall pass away before his word returns unto Him void. [Is. 55:11; Lk. 21:33]. I can trust Him implicitly and relinquish any need to control how He accomplishes His part of our Deal Memo (how is not my responsibility), but rest in the knowledge that it will be done.

The New Testament covenant we have as believers, has made us all kings and priests unto God [Rev. 1:6], with rights and benefits reserved only for the high priests of the Old Testament and greater responsibilities as well. But the benefit of eternal life and intimacy with God far out weigh any burden we may carry. Christ even helps us with that. [1Peter 5:7; 2 Cor. 12:9]. He has made us free, no longer slaves to fear... fear of the opinions of men, of separation from God or of ever being alone again, because He will never leave or forsake us. [Deut. 31:6] And this liberty and relationship we have as believers, is not reserved for a select few (the presbytery) but for all who believe. “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people. And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.” [Hebrews 8:10-11]

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Verb "To Be"

“To be or not to be--that is the question” asks Hamlet... and that is indeed the question. But what does it really mean? What does it mean, “to be”?

I first became aware of the magnitude of this question while sitting in a Spanish class at El Camino College. We were going over our homework, an exercise on the two spanish verbs “to be”, ser verse estar. In spanish, one of the first things you learn is which verb “to be” to use. Ser is used in description, origin and time, as in “Yo soy Felicia” (I am Felicia); “Yo soy de Chicago” (I am from Chicago); “Es el martes, 23 de abril de 2013” (It is Tuesday, April 23, 2013). Estar is used in locations and conditions, as in “Yo estoy sentado en la mesa de la cocina” (I am sitting at the kitchen table); and “Yo estoy cansada esta manana” (I am tired this morning). :)

As I sat in class, listening to the instructor reviewing the rules for Ser vs. Estar, I had an epiphany. That “being” is far more complex than I had prievously imagined. That the state of being was important enough for an entire culture to desginate different words for various states of being, and that which word to use is determined by whether or not you, as an individual have the power to change your state of being. I am from Chicago, I can't change that therefore, yo soy de Chicago. I am sitting at the kitchen table, I can change that at anytime by moving, therefore yo estoy sentada en la mesa de la cocina. I am Felicia, I cannot change the essence of who I am (i.e., my history, my lineage, what I value, my likes, my dislikes, my personality, etc). All these things combine to make me uniquely “me” therefore yo soy Felicia. We are a recipe that has taken untold generations and combinations create. We do have choices of traits that we emphasis, but the very fact that we choose them is an indication of who we are... and of who's we are.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Christ is the only one who can change our nature and cause us to be something new. When we receive him in our hearts, we become “new creatures in Christ”, but even the desire to receive Christ has to connect with something that already exists within us. “Deep calls unto deep...” [Ps. 42:7], we have “an ear to hear” [Matt. 11:15], we then can receive Him in our hearts and then we can become something new... born again, but the desire “to be” fully was always there. We simply answer the call of that “still small voice” and we become fully God's children and not merely his creation. “For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'” [Acts 17:28]

I know this from my own personal experience. When I was a practicing Roman Catholic, as much as I loved the church and my faith, I knew there was “something” missing. I couldn't put my finger on it or articulate fully, but I knew there had to be something more. While visiting Love Fellowship Tabernacle and listening to Pastor Daryl Coley, who at the time was a family friend, I heard the altar call and it connected with something so deep within me, that I literally stepped on my mother's friend (accidently of course) to get to that altar. I HAD to get there. The depth that is God called to the deep that was within me... my deep need to know (gnosis) that God loved me, my deep need to feel whole and my deep need to no longer be sad, because depression was something that I had dealt with all of my life.

By going to that altar, and receiving Christ in my heart, I had been given the power to change my state of being, to change my “estar”, my condition, and to become the “ser” I was always intended to be from the beginning of time. “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” [Ephesians 1:4] and was my beginning in really know what it means “to be”. Now, in Him I live and move and truly have my being.

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Sunday, March 31, 2013

No More Labels

I ran across a YouTube video of Naomi Klein, the author of “Shock Doctrine” and “No More Labels”, discussing the latter book. It dawned on me as I was thinking about the book and what that means... that we have to stop buying into brands, that what's really important isn't the brand, but the quality of the product and that isn't always reflected by the brand name or label. As believers, I believe we need to do the same with brands or labels in the body of Christ.

As a non-denominational believer, which is really what Congregationalism is about... each congregation declaring its statement of faith and coming together with other's of like-minded faith... we've got to stop putting labels on Christ and on His Church. Should it really matter if you're Catholic (which means universal by the way) or Lutheran or Church of God in Christ, or Presbyterian when it comes to our core beliefs or the condition of the body? Don't we all believe in the same Jesus... that he died on the cross, was buried in a tomb and rose on the third day?

Should it really be a problem for the Lutheran Synod if Rev. Rob Morris, a Lutheran Pastor in Newtown CT, participates in an interfaith service, when his entire town has been devastated by the senseless murder of twenty six of Newtown's smallest and most defenseless residents? Should he have stayed away if everyone there didn't share traditional Lutheran beliefs and do we really think Jesus would have?

How are we to become “a body fitly joined together, joint supplying joint,[ Ephes. 4:16] if the “joints” are constantly trying to cut each other off... from purpose, from blessings from fellowship with the saints (and for my Catholic family out there, I believe that a “saint” is anyone who has been sanctified by the blood of Jesus, and that does not require evidence of miracles like the gift of bi-location) and from God? How are we to be true “living epistles read of men” when we don't live the Word... when we don't live Christ?

“Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.” [2Corinthians 3:1-3] This is what Christ wants for us... for His body... His bride which is the Church.

Today, as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus, for me, the important thing to remember is not the suffering of His death, but of life resurrected. Jesus was only dead 3 days, and now he's alive forever, and in a glorified state... better than he ever was before! Better for us because what He gave, could only have been given by Him. Better for us because only His blood could cleanse us of all unrightiousness. He did for us what we were and are not capable of doing for ourselves and my prayer this Resurrection Sunday, is that He does the same for His Church. That the love of Christ enables us as His body, overcome the divisiveness and sectarianism organized religion seems to encourage. He died that we might truly have life... and life more abundantly, but I don't believe we can be resurrected if we continue the culture of labels and division we've created.

I don't believe that there has been any other time in modern history, that the Church has been more challenged, but our greatest challenge comes from within. We must return to our first Love... the Love that sustained and in fact grew the First Century Church under tremendous persecution. The Love that caused the Protestant Reformation, the Azuza Street Revival and drew most of us into the non-denominational movement of the 1980's and 1990's. The love that enables those of us who believe on His name, to become the Sons of God. “Which are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” [John 1:13]

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Things Aren't Always As They Seem

Isn't it funny how people think they know something and they really don't. I had a lesson the other day. I was at the beach, and was in worship and praise and crying (which is what I normally do when I praise/worship) and a Muslim lady passed by and smiled and nodded, as she passed with a young man who seemed to be a son or nephew. I smiled and nodded to her in response and I had a feeling that each of us understood. We smiled and nodded in agreement with the process... having an understanding, because we both love God, and recognized in each other the desire to share our love with Him, and appreciated in each other the expression of that love. There were no word exchanged, but the understanding was immediate and appreciated by both of us.

A few minutes later, a Christian lady with a young girl walked by, back tracking a couple of times, and eventually came up to me and asked if I was ok. She said that she thought I looked a little sad and that they (she and the girl) had prayed for me. The lady was very kind with the best of intentions, but I had to explain that I wasn't sad. That it is quite normal for me to cry when I worship or praise God and that I had come to the beach to do just that. That she had witnessed my process of praise, and that it was good. I was actually experiencing joy and tears were of gratitude. When I said this, the woman looked a little puzzled, softly patted me on the shoulder and walked away, but I never got the impression that she fully understood what I was talking about.

This isn't the only time I've had this experience. I had a similar experience with a Hasidic Jewish lady while riding on the bus in Chicago. We were both praying, verying quietly, mouthing the words under our breath, without volume, when we suddenly looked at each other and realized we were not alone. We were doing the same thing … she mouthing the words from her little silver-clad prayer book and me, quietly praying in tongues. She in Hebrew and me in a language not even comprehensible by man, and yet we knew...and there was a moment of recognition and relief and joy.

We assume... and I've been guilty of this myself... that because people are of different faiths, that they don't know “the truth”, whatever we believe that truth happens to be. But I am finding more and more that God is so much bigger than anything we could imagine, and that those of us who love Him are connected by faith and by the Spirit... we know Him. It doesn't take a doctorate of Divinity, Homiletics or Hermeneutics to understand what we're doing when we pray... we become one body. The Spirit unites us and we sing His praises. We become apart of that “all the earth” spoken of in Psalms 97, rejoicing and declaring God's glory as we worship Abba Father.

Some may not yet know Him as Abba, and I'm not saying that “all roads lead to God” far from it, but for those of us who are His, our road is paved with praise. “We enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise” (Ps. 100:4).

Now I'm not saying that the Christian lady was somehow less faithful or less sincere, she wasn't. I'm actually glad she asked so that I could explain what I was doing, but she was in need of growth and many Christians are. We need to be able to better express our lack of knowledge, so that we can get a better understanding... of our own faith, and the faith of others in this world that we share. I learned something that day... well I think I already knew, but it was confirmed that day... that things aren't always as they seem, and that God's people are of every race, creed, color... and yes, religion and because we love Him, we should be able to find a way to love and understand one another.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

"Owe No Man Nothing But To Love Him"

Well... this is my post for the month of February.  I had planned to write about Valentine’s Day and the meaning of that holiday, and I still may at some later date, but for now...I believe the greatest Valentine’s Day gift I can give any reader is the gift of freedom... freedom from heart ache through the love of Jesus Christ (He is after all the Balm of Gilead), freedom from the opinions of men because no man can serve two masters (Matt. 6:24) and freedom from debt, because the word of God says that we should “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.”

Love comes in a multitude of forms.  In Greek, which is a language that was used during the time of Christ and was also used in writing the New Testament, it even has several different words.  According to Wikipedia, there are four words for love: Agape, Eros, Philia and Stroge.

Agape* is love that puts us in a state of wonder or amazement, as with the mouth wide open (with one’s mouth agape).  This kind of love is spiritual in nature, not sexual, and is the kind of love that is most closely related to Christian love... the love that Christ has for us and the love that we have for Him and each other.  This I believe is the greatest love.

The second, Eros*, is sexual love.  The kind of love that exists between husband and wife.  It is the physical expression of their spiritual union.  This word is the root of the word erotic, which has taken on other meanings and I believe is highly and inaccurately over used, but its origin is in no way lascivious or depraved, but actually quite beautiful... and produces life.

The next is Philia*, which is brotherly love.  It can be described as affection, attachment, fondness, tenderness, protectiveness... all the attributes that we use to describe the way we love our family and friends.

The last is Stroge*.  This is the word used to describe that special love parents have for their children.  The kind that can give strength to a parent to perform the seemingly impossible... like the mother that lifts a car off her child (this has happened) or cause a father to train for a marathon, just so he can make his disabled son’s dream of finishing a marathon a reality (
www.teamhoyt.com).  It causes us to go that extra mile... to risk life and limb... for our offspring, so that our “seed shall remain” (psalm 89:4).

Now you may wonder, how does being free from debt fit in with the kinds of love listed above?  Trust me, it does.  It actually applies to three of the four types mentioned... agape, philia and stroge.  If we love our community of believers and the fellowship of the saints (those sanctified by the blood of Jesus) we are going to want what is best for them, which is not to be beholden to anyone or anything but Christ.  Debt is a burden and we shouldn’t want that for them.  We also shouldn’t want that burden for our friends or extended family for the same reasons.  We definitely shouldn’t want that for our children, because “a good man leaves an inheritance” (psalms 13:22), not only to his children, but also to his children’s children.  This is the inheritance to the servants of the Lord... and all those who believe, so why is it that so many believer’s are actually encouraged and in some cases deceived into taking on more than they can handle financially?  I’ve even visited churches where pastors have stated that “God gave them a car loan they didn’t even qualify for”.  Was this really a blessing from God or a trick of “the enemy”... whatever that enemy happens to be: greed, a desire to keep up with the Jones, the desire to impress his congregation, etc... to overburden himself and his family?

It is said that we, as believers, should wear this world as a loose garment, and this is based in part on Mark 4:19, which states that “the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke out the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”  Now I am in no way implying that you should have nothing or want nothing, its just that our desires shouldn’t overtake us... controlling our lives.  Ultimately, everything we want should (and can) line up with God’s desire for us.  

So... in the spirit of my desire to help believers (and myself) love ourselves and our families better, I am including a link to a Mashable.com video  I just discovered: 

Two Guys Create Legit Way To Pay Debt Online for a website called “Ready For Zero”.  The site provides tools and advice for individuals to get out of debt, for themselves and their loved ones, which makes all of us just a little more free. This is my Valentine’s Gift to you... and me :).

* All definitions taken from Wikipedia and TheFreeDictionary by Farlex (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/)
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Saturday, January 5, 2013

What Is Good?

I recently reconnected through Facebook with an old friend, Christophe Lobry. Actually, Christophe is more than an old friend; he’s my first “grown-up” love. Our relationship was short lived, but it was very instrumental in my personal development… my personal journey from girlhood to womanhood, and that relationship has forever altered, in a good way, the trajectory of my life.

We met when I was 20 years old through a mutual friend and there was any immediate spark. We dated for a couple of months, but I was a little too inexperienced for my new beau and one night over dinner, I looked across the table at him and said, “I love you”. It was a phrase we had both uttered before, but this time, instead of hearing his usual reply, he said “I’m sorry dear, but I don’t love you.” I was devastated. I sank back into my seat, feeling as if someone had just hit me. He asked if I was ok and I said I was, but to be honest, I don’t remember much of what was said after that. We agreed to be “friends” and continued to see each other for a few weeks after that, but I couldn’t get past the truth of what he’d said, and told him I couldn’t see him anymore.

John 8:32 says, “… and the truth shall make us free” and in this instance, it really did. I could no longer ignore the problems I knew were in our relationship. It destroyed any overly romanticized schoolgirl notions of what I wanted our relationship to be and forced me to deal with the facts… the reality that I was never going to be able to get from him what I really wanted… and that was to be understood and loved for me. It also forced me to come to the realization that I needed to determine for myself, and define clearly what I wanted out of a relationship and how I wanted to live my life. That it was my responsibility (not his) to set a standard and if I didn’t, I had no one to blame but myself for what I got. This very unpleasant truth, the fact that he didn’t love me, was probably the greatest act of love he could have given me because it freed me to move on.

Ephesians 4:15 says, “… but speaking the truth in love, we grow in all things, into Him who is the head – Christ”. I doubt that he had this scripture in mind, but that’s exactly what he did. He was never malicious; in fact he was quite compassionate about the whole thing and very concerned for my well-being when I told him I couldn’t see him anymore. That next year, I took time to work on me. I didn’t date at all and went into therapy. God blessed me with a great therapist, who worked with me through family issues, self-esteem issues and gave me a safe place to voice my fears, hopes and dreams and encouraged me to grow so I could move forward.

Eventually, I began socializing with some of my co-workers at the law firm I worked for, which gave me an introduction to the culture of law, which was very beneficial to me when I began doing clip licensing for television. One of the attorneys even invited me to go on a whitewater rafting trip with a group from the firm, something I never would have done on my own… I had a blast!

One Saturday afternoon while looking for something to do to fill all this extra time, I bought a 35mm camera. I took up photography, which led me into film. By the end of that year, I knew just about every camera store and arthouse/foreign film (something Christophe had introduced me to) venue in Los Angeles and would see 5 to 6 films a week. This gave me a vast mental library of films and visual images and a good grasp of the art of storytelling.

I took classes at UCLA Extension at Santa Monica College in photography, film and television and changed jobs and began working in the creative department at an advertising agency that made television and radio commercials. This was the beginning of my career in television.

Around August of the following year, I was reconnected with an acquaintance from high school, Kevin Lee. We began dating and this time… because Christophe told me a very painful truth and I’d done some work on me, I was ready. To date, Kevin Lee has been the love of my life. Unfortunately he passed away in 1994, but I am incredibly grateful for the time we had together.

Some of the most painful things in our lives, if we use them correctly, can bring us great good. Christophe telling me that he no longer loved me was not pleasant… in fact it was downright painful, but it was very good because it freed me to move on and find someone who actually did love me, Kevin. Otherwise, if I had continued acting under the false assumption that the relationship with Christophe was going to work, I would have stayed in something that was fruitless, with the hope of something that I was never coming. I finally got what I was looking for… to be understood and loved for me.
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