12 January 2010

Very Rough Draft..... Work in Progress

Family Groups

I am not sure were to start with this, but I feel compelled to explain some of my mindset and experiences before I get into the dirty details of the matter. We all would agree that family is important and that being in close contact with people is equally important. We all understand that community is important too. We read about it, not just in the Bible, but in the newpapers and magazines. Many religions even talk about community and how important it is. That aspect is not unique to the way Jesus taught. Then what is it? I hope to explore this a bit.
Lets start out with a little background of my experiences. Growing up I had both of my parents and a younger sister. From what I was told my sister and I were close when we were children and I don't remember much about my parents' relationship with each other. I do remember that when my parents took my sister and I to their parties, I would sometimes catch glimpses them doing lines in a bedroom. I didn't know exactly what that was, but I do remember quite distinctly that there was something incredibly wrong with that. It was at that that way my respect for my parents start to degrade. Now this happened sometime in between pre school and third grade. Third grade was a different matter.
This is when my sense of family, stability, and a good relationship between my parents was shattered. My mom slept with another guy at a party at the neighbor's house. I remember this guy leaving little stuffed bears and things in cars and around hidden corners for my mom. He would also buy her things like bicycles and electronics. When I got handed one of these gifts I also remember feeling really slimy and wanted to see this guy dead. He became the focus of the anger, frustration, confustion, and hatred that tore apart my family. My pictures started taking on darker images and the weapons that I drew were intended to be used on this guy. Either before or after my parents got back together my mom took my sister and I to Southern Oregon to live with her mom.
I didn't like this from square one. I was already super pissed and became a gigantic pain in the ass. I refused to do anything that was asked of me, whined and fought till I got my way, and started to hide in an emotional shell. I was very mad at my mom and I didn't really understand why. She signed me up for school down there, which I played along with right up until the first day of school. I remember quite clearly that day, sitting in the back seat of the car passively resisting going in. I was thinking about how much the kids would make fun of me for the situation my sister and I were in and how unfair it was for my dad to not have both of his children. I said that day that I wanted to go live with my dad.
Over the next few months I lived with my dad and he was having a hard time with everything. He was extremely depressed and we never really had time to hang out because of my schooling and his work schedule. Even after my parents got back together there were distant from us, or maybe I was distant from them. Either way my sense of family stability and connection was destroyed. My sister's and mine's relationship spiralled into darkness as I became a very controlling person. I didn't understand how to handle the situation, but I felt the need to do something about it. As I myself sunk deeper and deeper into depression it seemed as it I would never have a real family again. I never could get along with people that had a supportive and loving family because of my jealousy of what they had and I longed for. I was driving away those people that could possibly help recover the one thing my heart wanted.
This attitude and depression lasted and got worse all the way until my early twenties. Most of my life I had always wanted family, but never had the chance to even come close. In my early twenties I had this profound encounter with the Son of Man, Jesus, that changed my life. Shortly there after without my realization, he put me into a situation were I started to see what family was like. It did come a group of people that were involved in a side ministry of a church that I was attending. Also running parallel with this change was a change with my sister and my dad. Through the circumstances we all just went through, they made some decisions to change their lives also. The three of us started to grow closer and closer. I opened up to them about what was happening inside of me and what was going on in my mind growing up. The family I had was becoming more like a family. My mom is a different story. Anyway this family thing was coming around. The next step of this process would come from this word community.
Living in Portland, OR I heard a lot about community. It was the buzzword, the one thing that a lot of people latched onto. Both in and outside of church walls being and living in community was a common theme. There were plans to reach out and how one could live with a group of people in community. This all sounded good, but something deep inside wasn't satisfied. There is a word inside of community that I saw missing from all the examples. Unity. There were plenty of rules on the community could work together, plenty of borders to define who did what and when, and every person had their own specific place. If the flow that was set up by one or two people in charge, if someone didn't do their 'job' or didn't fill their 'role', then grace was not the answer. Those people were met with gossip, passive aggressive resistance, and excommunication. From what I have read and experienced from this Papa, these were not the fruits of the community of what Christ had set up or wanted.
My answer to this, run away to Hawaii.
Hawaii as I was told there, is probably the closest any land can get to what the Garden of Eden would have been like. Community is another one of those things that people move towards here. It was very real too. Whichever community you were 'in' is were you stayed. The people within that community helped each other out and would fight for each other. There was this sense of pride in the community you were a part of. Whether is was the Hawaiian, Filipino, Hippie, Farmer, Houlie, or even which school you were attending. People would gather around their banners and come together. Something else I also saw within these groups of people was a willingness to forgive those within the community if they didn't act 'by the rules.' In fact there really weren't any outside of just general respect. There was one instance though that showed me that something deeper than just community must be needed.
I was living on this piece of property called The Shire. The people that owned this property had a big idea in mind. This property would be turned into a self sustaining community that needed to outside influence to continue its existence for the years to come. This was an attempt at community. Nothing was required, they did ask for monetary donations if anyone had money and all the help on the property was on a volunteer basis too. Give give out of the compassion and love in your heart. Some gave more than others, some gave nothing at all. To the guy that was the 'manager' of the property he never forced the issue. He had an understanding that some people that it took everything they had to just wake up in the morning. Drugs were freely shared, food and chores was another matter. I saw one instance that showed me something about community that helped to form my present thoughts. Over breakfast two people almost came to throwing fists over who cooked what and then something about who was a leader within the community and who wasn't.
Shortly after this event, things changed for the owners of this property and they had to set up contracts with people, to sign, on how this land was going to be used for agricultural use. Now here was community, a system of rules and expectations that defined each persons role within the community independent of love and relationship. Immediately I saw the missing piece and it started my thinking into something more. This got me to thinking of people in Hawaii and in Oregon that showed that real community is only maintained from a mutual love and a deep relationship built between the people. The question then became, where does this live as an example in the world today? Families. Family is the connection of community and love of those around you. Family is one of those sparkles in Papa's eye.

Family is important I am sure we all can agree on that, but being as we live in America that has fostered this spirit of independence and self-reliance, do we understand just how deep family goes. When looking at other cultures or some religions in the world, family is the number one thing. Say take Islam for example: countries in which Islam is present the children are not even expected to attempt to leave the parents home until at least the age of 22 or 23. That is a four year difference from what happens here in America. Those years may not seem like a lot, until you have lived through them. As an adolescent a person is starting to develop their uniqueness as a person and personality. This time frame is the solidifying of such growth. Also, in Hawaiian culture the Ohana, family, is a top priority. When you are ohana, ohana sticks together. When one ends up hungry or homeless another member of the ohana helps them out. When everyone is out kayaking in the long boats, every able body helps to bring the boats to shore when the rowers are done. There is a personal pride within each Islander for which family they live in and belong too. This list could continue on for a long time, but I just wanted to point out that most of us still have a long way to go in understanding the richness of a true family connection that runs deeper than DNA.
Part of the reason of family, from my limited experience and observation, is to teach each and every person how to foster deep relationships with people over time and through both the best and worst of times. For when things get bad and someone leaves your life that damages both individuals. Or even when two people have a disagreement or a very emotional fight, damage is done to both parties. With a shallow relationship, which is what many never progress beyond, there is no room for reconciliation and a mending of the wounds. This is not in anyway, yet a theological scholar I am not, from what I read throughout the Bible what Papa, Jesus, God, the Father, ever wants for his children to experience. Living with your own family means there is no escape from the situation and it has to be worked out. No matter how much verbal venom is spit back and forth, no matter how many knives are planted in one another's backs, stomachs, hearts, or kidneys, there is no escape from the family you grew up around. In this case, with very exceptional circumstances withstanding, those relationships with family still exist today. I would almost be willing to become a betting man to say that those relationships continue to get deeper everyday. If it can be done once, why not again. A person's family started out as strangers and unknown people in each life; love was the one thing that kept everyone bonded together through all the seasons life had in store.
As a baby, this is pure speculation, we had no real understanding of love. We are violently thrust into an entirely unknown world full of strange things for all of our senses and left to figure it all out without any apparent help. If it wasn't for some loving family each baby would be left out in the unknown, alone, and they would die. (As all babies that are abandoned do.)
Even in these families though, there isn't much reaching out beyond the group. That is were the community aspect comes into play. To move beyond what has been established to use that connection to help others or maybe even invite them in to the circle. I mean think about, a person sees this group of people that are so close that the love is felt without even a word spoken. These people seem to be full of something that normally is missing from in front of our eyes, yet inside we all long for it. We don't have a name for it, just a need. A group of people seem to have it and then that same group of people invite that very same person in! What a treat! It would be like that cold and homeless person invited in the warm and loving holiday dinner that for many seasons they had only seem from the outside through the windows. On top of that invited to stay in the house! It is not good to foster the family connection without in some way sharing it with the world that is around us.
Really, what I am getting at is that someone needs to bridge the gap between the two and allow them to be transformed into something wholly something new. Something that sheds light just from its mere existence, something of the form of a kingdom living inside each and every person and a kingdom that has its gates open with a big welcome sign outside. Crowds of people just waiting and even crowds stepping out of the gates, to help and share the connection and gifts that exist within this kingdom. Why can't that someone be us?

What That Might Look Like

Since in writing I am unable to lay a whole bunch of concepts on top of one another, due to the fact that one letter must proceed the next, I may just start with an environment. Now a disclaimer, I am no way THE authority on this matter all of the information I will provided is purely my own conclusions from within my experience and conversations with Papa, that being said the environment seems like the best place to start. The environment is everything outside of each person and relationships between individual people. We are working from the outside in it seems. An environment in which family bonded relationships can be established while at the same time encouraging the outreach of communities may seem like a monumental task. One that nobody could do along and with the strength of one person. I would agree, it was never intended to be done alone. Our main example with this is God himself. Of all things he could have made himself be, he chose to have a perfect relationship within himself. A relationship that is bonded in perfect love and expresses itself in the same way. And onto Jesus, every step of his life he could have easily just taking over the world with the signs he could do, the armies he could call upon, and go the road alone. Instead he invited a young engaged couple into his circle and eventually 12 very difficult friends too. With these people he then sent out to do what he taught them, to live life in such a way that the expressed love and heart of the Father could not be denied. This Man of Son had an air about him, that everywhere he went the environment changed. And those 12 close to him obviously lived
in a different one.
This environment does have some distinct qualities about it. They were evident based on the interaction that the Christ had with people and also how those people continued after the ascension.

   It was okay to make a wrong guess around and to make mistakes. Nobody was ever devalued based on anything that was or was not said. He walked in such a way that everybody had value.
   Asking questions was never a wrong thing to do. There was always a response, but the act of asking a question never once was shot down with ridicule or shame.

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