I sat on the back veranda, watching the cloud formations pass me by; listening to the birdcalls; taking in the aroma of 5 roses I had just cut from the front garden: 2 mauve, 1 pink and 2 yellowy-orange ones; eating the most perfect avocado on toast and 2 fried eggs for brunch after swimming 1 kilometre. I couldn’t help thinking that I felt the most happy and content I have felt for about the last 15 months.
I started to think about the expression: “The grass is greener on the other side.” I’ve heard equally as many times, that the grass is not greener on the other side. Sometimes we have unrealistic expectations of the things we want: of how happy those things or circumstances will make us. Sometimes we are jealous of other people’s grass and think it is greener than ours, but they are often just as jealous of our grass, for different reasons.
On the movie “Cool Runnings” the coach says to one of the team mates: “If you’re not enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it.” I guess in this regard it is good to learn how to love and accept yourself without needing to achieve or attain something that you ‘think’ is going to make you happy or better able to love yourself.
Having said that, I still want to acknowledge that sometimes the grass is greener on the other side, and that both of these expressions have validity. For me, the grass is greener now than it was a year ago because I have been able to work through my grief over the death of my mother and move on from a place of feeling very lost and empty without her in my life.
I also feel that the grass is greener in my life being self-employed rather than working for a boss. But that was not true at first – not while I spent two years struggling immense financial stress while I trying to grow my business. I could have given up and it’s only because I believed I was ‘getting to the other side’ so-to-speak, that I did not give up and now reap the benefits.
So at times the grass is greener, and sometimes the grass is more about the journey than arriving somewhere, and sometimes the grass only looks greener to your eyes but in reality, it may not be. And sometimes … the grass is what you make of it. If you call it green and rich and healthy for long enough, you’ll start to believe it. If you express gratitude for what it does represent, rather than focusing on what it lacks, you may be able to choose happiness there. If it is truly the worst grass you ever saw, then have hope that things can and will get better because life moves in seasons and cycles. The darkness of depression or grief, does not have to last forever, if you continue to head in the direction of the beautiful field you want to arrive at.
There is a story in the Bible referred to as: “The woman caught in adultery.” I would like the rename it: “The woman caught having sex outside marriage.” We don’t know what kind of “adultery” it was. This could simply have been a case of sex before marriage. She could have been a married woman with a man who is not her husband. She could have been divorced. She could have been a widow. She could have been a prostitute. It is even possible she was a victim of rape. All we can really gather is that she was somehow got caught having sex with a man she was not married to.
This woman is dragged before Jesus and the witnesses say: “In the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”
The New-NIV records Jesus answer as: “Let any of you who is without sin, be the first to throw a stone at her.” In other words: “If you’re so perfect, you should be the one to kill her!”
One by one, every single person leaves. Why? Because they all know, they are just as bad as she is.
The law said she had to be killed. It didn’t say this was optional. Jesus is perfect. He has every right to kill this woman for her “sin.” Instead, he looks into her eyes and he says: “Neither do I condemn you.” In other words: “I won’t hold you to the law. Instead, let me fulfil the law and the consequences for you. I love you too much to let you die – watch me go and die for you!”
Next Jesus says: “Go and sin no more,” or “Go and leave your life of sin.” Too many Christians think this is the point of the entire story. The point of the story is: “Neither do I condemn you.”
Nonetheless, let’s take a look at this verse about not continuing in sin. Jesus said this after he had already forgiven her, without her ever saying that she was sorry. Jesus is not looking for repentance, he forgives unconditionally. And when we understand that we are forgiven and we are free of the law and that Jesus 100% does not condemn us, then he, in effect, says: you don’t belong to sin and sin doesn’t belong to you.
He is saying: “You belong to me now. I have made you new. I have forgiven you. You do not have to live in sin and you are no longer a slave to sin, so go and your sins will be no more. You’ll stop wanting to do them. You’ll stop living like that because forgiveness has freed you.”
He is not saying: “Stop sinning or else.” He is saying: “I know you’ll stop sinning.” It’s not him putting pressure on this woman by saying: “I know you’ll stop sinning because you owe me.” It’s more like this: “After the cross I can no longer see your sin because I made you a new creation. You will be free and rid of sin because I WILL MAKE YOU FREE!”
Jesus is showing this woman that sin is forgiven and she no longer has to die or feel guilty or even change. He forgave without her having to change. In fact he changed her. This whole event would have changed her life in a positive way.
The fact that this woman’s sin was sex, only makes the story more riveting because the Western world condemns sexual sin more than any other kind of sin (in my experience and opinion) even though all people commit sexual sin. Jesus proved that all people commit sexual sin when he said: “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Unless a person died before puberty, I doubt there is a soul on earth that hasn’t commit adultery! Why the Western church chooses to labour against this “sin” so passionately but does not take the plank out of its own eye, is beyond me!
Jesus said: “Neither do I condemn you. Go and be free from sin!”
Why do so many people think that sin is black and white – like it’s always wrong to lie, always wrong to steal, always wrong to have an abortion…
How many lies do you tell in a day? Shop assistant asks: “How are you?” You reply: “Good thanks” but you’re really thinking something completely different – like maybe you’re running late and wish he/she would hurry the hell up, but what business is it of theirs right?
Would you seriously tell a starving child not to steal? Would you tell them that it would be more righteous for them to starve to death than to find themselves some food?
And on the issue of abortion, have you ever been faced with the situation where the baby in your womb or your partner’s womb was literally killing the mother because the baby was growing in your/her fallopian tube??? Or what if there was something else wrong with you or the baby and you were advised to abort? Can it really be as simply as: abortion is always wrong under every circumstance? I am not pro-choice nor am I anti-abortion. I am pro-adoption and I would love to have children someday. But far be it from me to judge someone for having an abortion when I have never been in their situation.
Thinking that we have the right judge other people’s so-called sin and make broad sweeping generalisations about what is right and what is wrong, only isolates people and results in an “us and them” mentality. I don’t want to stand against other people’s so-called sin and pass laws that force people to live according to my concept of right and wrong. I want to follow the example of God who (according to Romans 5) only introduced the law so that GRACE WOULD ABOUND ALL THE MORE.
The law kills, but the spirit gives life.
We are not under law, but under GRACE.
My mother passed away 41 weeks ago on the 5th of May 2011. A large part of the grieving process for me has been to accept that not all my dreams and desires in life will come true. The relationship I had with my mother was not what I wanted it to be and it is now all the more impossible for me to fill that part of me that longed to have a deeper relationship with her.
The death of a close loved one is a big loss. It creates an empty space that cannot be filled and a part of ones own soul dies in that person’s death. For me it is the death of the dream of having an intimate and affectionate relationship with my mother. It is also the end of my hopes and imaginations that my mother would attend my wedding and help me raise my children.
I came to some conclusions whilst trying to deal with such drastic changes and failed dreams. These are the written musings of a young, grieving woman:
1) One thing you can count on in life is change. Sometimes you need to “be the change” because the only person you can change is yourself. If you wish someone else’s behaviour toward you would change, ask yourself what you must change in your own life so that his/her behaviour no longer has the same affect.
Change can be as good as a holiday or as a bad as Winter in the Arctic. Change is inevitable. Nothing really stays the same forever (except God). So don’t struggle against change and live in denial. Flow with the changes and be an ever moving current.
2) Life is not what I planned, or hoped, or dreamed it would be. This idea that we should “never give up” is not realistic. We must give up some fantasies, delusions and impossibilities. We must constantly tear down the past and its failures so that we can build new plans, new hopes and new dreams. It is not a failure to give up on one set of dreams and embrace another. The real tragedy would be to give up on life all together!