The Shape of A Life

There is a shape to every life—a specific, precise, never to be repeated space that it occupies for as long as it is here. From the very moment that life arrives, it begins altering the planet, renovating it by its unique presence.  

And when a life leaves this place, whether quietly or with great fanfare, that shape becomes a negative space; an unprecedented void that cannot be fully occupied again by another. It will remain forever unfilled, this extraordinary space in the shape of a life. 

But each life’s shape is not defined only by the life itself, but by every soul it comes into contact with while here. As that life is welcomed, loved, nurtured, cared for—it expands and contracts, it grows and stretches to find its beautiful definition, and likewise so does everything else around it:

A mother is herself reshaped as she raises her son.
A man is reshaped by a lifelong friendship.
Spouses are reshaped daily over the course of a marriage.
We are reshaped as we live alongside people we love,
and by strangers we view from a distance.

Like pieces to a puzzle, we are fit into one another; those we know and those we are connected to only as part of the same whole. We are being added to and subtracted from as our lives rub up against one another.

What this means, is that we should grieve the loss of every life, whether we believe it to be close to us or not, because we know that someone, somewhere is mourning over the space its absence has created. The shape of that life matters to them and it should matter to us because we will feel that subtraction even if we are unaware.

And it means we should celebrate every life with equal fervor:
A 9-month old in Syria has a sacred shape.
An elderly man in West Africa does.
A teenager in Chicago.
A father in Mexico.

The woman sitting across from you in traffic.
The toddler in your living room.

And remembering the shape of a life should also mean that regardless of how inconsequential or meaningless you may feel at times, you should treasure your own life far more than you usually do. You should have reverence for yourself because you are consequential and you are meaningful, and because the shape of your life is a singular miracle in the history of the planet. And whether or not you believe it, when you depart this place, you will leave a space that will never again be filled. The face staring back at you in the mirror is so very uniquely shaped.

My childhood friend Terry left the world when he was 23. For whatever reason he believed he could no longer stay here or that he was no longer needed. I wish he would have realized, that more than three decades later the space he left in the shape of his life would still be a hollow in the hearts of so many people, including me. It may not have made a difference, but I like to think so.

Lives are specifically miraculous things, and if we truly recognized that we’d probably live differently. We might have more compassion for people, we might be more burdened with other’s pain, we might find more gratitude for ourselves, we might experience joy in simply living as we are shaped. These would all be worthy endeavors.

So look around you today, friend. See the strangers you pass by, look at the pictures of children a half a world away, stare into the eyes of your daughter, and yes take a long, careful look in the mirror.

Take a moment to see, to mourn, to treasure, and to celebrate—the shape of a life.

 

124 thoughts on “The Shape of A Life

  1. This
    “And remembering the shape of a life should also mean that regardless of how inconsequential or meaningless you may feel at times, you should treasure your own life far more than you usually do. You should have reverence for yourself because you are consequential and you are meaningful, and because the shape of your life is a singular miracle in the history of the planet. And whether or not you believe it, when you depart this place, you will leave a space that will never again be filled. The face staring back at you in the mirror is so very uniquely shaped.”

    oh how I needed to hear (read) this today!!

    Thank You

  2. Oh, thank you, John, I am going to have that chemical cardiogram today and it scares me. Makes me so very ill.

    I thought this week, I was leaving this life and a few people here let me know they would miss me.

    This is a beautiful meditation… I have prayed it this morning on the behalf of the those gassed in Syria, the eight men in Arkansas who will be executed in a horrible manner after Easter. How can they rejoice in the Resurrection this year, I wonder?

    • Heavenly Father, thank you for watching over and staying so close to Gloriamarie. We ask that you would continue to help calm her anxiety. We pray for wisdom and efficiency for her doctors, and hospital staff. Thank you for such amazing advanced medical care that Gloriamarie is receiving. Thanking you ahead of time for the important information that will come to light as a result of all her tests & procedures. Above all, I pray for physical comfort for Gloriamarie. In Jesus Name. amen.

      • Thank you, Leslie. I had the nasty, sickening procedure. And slept for six hours afterward it made me so ill. Apparently I passed, and they were going to send me home but they could not wake me up and so the doctor said I should stay overnight for observation to make sure I am over the ill-effects of the procedure and not showing any allergic reactions to nuclear isotopes in my blood stream. Just where I’ve always wanted them too.

        Guess I am going home tomorrow morning and that will be in a cab in my nightgown in broad daylight!!! Alas, modesty…

        And of past experience is anything to go by, I will be unable to prepare any food, cook etc because this procedure makes me ill for two weeks. The only friend who would make me a vat of chili or something like that is in CO taking care of her 93 yr old father who fell and broke his leg just below his hip, which could have been fatal.

        I hope I have enough cans of stuff, although that’s not very inspiring.

      • Thank you, Sandi.

        I had the nasty, sickening procedure. And slept for six hours afterward it made me so ill. Apparently I passed, and they were going to send me home but they could not wake me up and so the doctor said I should stay overnight for observation to make sure I am over the ill-effects of the procedure and not showing any allergic reactions to nuclear isotopes in my blood stream. Just where I’ve always wanted them too.

        Guess I am going home tomorrow morning and that will be in a cab in my nightgown in broad daylight!!! Alas, modesty…

        And of past experience is anything to go by, I will be unable to prepare any food, cook etc because this procedure makes me ill for two weeks. The only friend who would make me a vat of chili or something like that is in CO taking care of her 93 yr old father who fell and broke his leg just below his hip, which could have been fatal.

        I hope I have enough cans of stuff, although that’s not very inspiring.

      • Thank you, Sally Jane. I had the nasty, sickening procedure. And slept for six hours afterward it made me so ill. Apparently I passed, and they were going to send me home but they could not wake me up and so the doctor said I should stay overnight for observation to make sure I am over the ill-effects of the procedure and not showing any allergic reactions to nuclear isotopes in my blood stream. Just where I’ve always wanted them too.

        Guess I am going home tomorrow morning and that will be in a cab in my nightgown in broad daylight!!! Alas, modesty…

        And of past experience is anything to go by, I will be unable to prepare any food, cook etc because this procedure makes me ill for two weeks. The only friend who would make me a vat of chili or something like that is in CO taking care of her 93 yr old father who fell and broke his leg just below his hip, which could have been fatal.

        I hope I have enough cans of stuff, although that’s not very inspiring.

        • Hoping things go smooth when you get home and you have enough. I live thousands of miles away and feel frustrated I can’t help in some direct way ! Blessings and prayers for recovery and angels to assist you.

          • Thank you, Sally Jane. My Amazon grocery wishlist is there, if you wish to look for it.

            But I can’t seem to be able to put freezer meals that I would only have to microwave on it.

            • Gloriamarie, I found Hormel Beef Stew, Hormel Meatloaf & Gravy with Mashed Potatoes, Hormel Roast Beef & Gravy with Mashed Potatoes, Hormel Spaghetti & Meat Sauce, Hormel Chicken Alfredo, and Hormel Turkey & Dressing 10-Ounce Microwavable Bowls. Can you eat that?

              • I also found Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice and Stouffer’s frozen entrees. Shipping could be as early as April 12 up to April 20th. Tell me what you think.

                • While I don’t know what she ordered, I do know that Sandi Saunders has placed an order with Amazon too and called in an order for some easy to digest Chinese so I have that for the weekend.

                  Maybe her order will come Mon?

                  I am not a picky eater except I won’t eat frozen food Italian, I have no sweet tooth at all, and can’t stand okra.

                  Other than that, I am an omnivore

                  Does Stauffer’s still make that spinach souffle? I loved that.

                  You’ll laugh at this. When I was feeding myself in college, I used to make a piece of toast, fry up a slice of spam, cover it with Stouffers Cheese something. Wasn’t mac N cheese but some sort of sauce.

                  Ah what we will eat in college.

                  • It is a wonder that a whole generation didn’t die from Spam when they were in college. That sounds a lot like what my husband and I ate when he was in college and seminary. By the way, please take care of yourself. Since Sandi has you covered for now will do something in a few days. Rest, friend. Peace and Love

                    • LOL, yeah… There’s a book out called the Hidden Killers of the Sixties. I think Spam was in that.

                      I used to have the asparagus souffle with my toast/Spam/cheese sauce dish.

                      Then there was cabbage sauteed with corned beef hash>

                      Thank you, Kathleen, I appreciate the offer. I’ve had three naps today. It’ll be like that for fourteen more days, at least. So much for Holy Week.

                  • Okay I sent you some meals enough for dinner over the next two weeks. I tried to send a variety and I think one spaghetti dinner slipped through but maybe you can invite a friend over 🙂 Hope it helps and it tastes good. It better taste good ! And you have room in your freezer! I have never done this before but it was pretty easy. It should deliver in 2-3 days. Hugs.

                    • Thank you, Sally Jane. You are most generous. I appreciate it. I really do feel like death warmed over but am trying to distract myself with some intellectual stimulation.

                      Now, if I could just find one of Joe’s posts, I have something wonderful to lay on him.

                      heh heh heh heh she chortles evilly.

                    • LOL, oh gosh, that made me laugh. sigh…

                      By the way I got an earful from my daughter today. I told her about my blog writing adventures and she told me to stop telling people how they should speak or comment about the election mess.

                      When I say an earful… I mean a lecture… in the most polite and respectful way (which is how I raised her of course).

                      She reminded me of the horrible legacy of Reganomics , the Tea Party influence in the GOP, fake news, the obstruction of everything Obama tried to accomplish, the alt right problem and the religious right problem …. and most importantly that many people are justifiably depressed and angry over Trump being elected and it may not be something that can be fixed or ignored or forgotten.

                      Bearing that in mind I won’t be making comments about how JP and others are still upset or feeling anxious about what is going on, anymore.

                      rest and be good to yourself.

                    • Sally, please tell your very wise daughter, thank you! It is the validation of the young that should resonate with us as much as their rejection of dogma without the works IMO. My own daughter, now grown, has been that voice for me many a time. I listen too.

                    • I second that, my sons and more importantly my grandsons have been that voice for me, which gives me hope, which I think we all need.

                    • Sandi and Kathleen, yes I agree we have to respect what they have to say about it after all they will inherit this messed up world. Peace to you both.

              • Yes, I could eat that but would not eat the spaghetti and meat sauce because I an Italian chauvinist when it comes to Italian food. LOL

                I just received an order of Chinese food which will get me through the weekend. Thank you, Sandi Saunders. So the immediate emergency is past>

                However I know from past experience, this procedure makes me dizzy and off-balance for two solid weeks.

                • ooooooo Sally Jane, get your daughter to participate here.

                  I m trying to practice mindfulness and stay in the present moment but it is a challenge when I remember all the horrors the GOP wish to bring upon us and all promises the Assualter In Chief has in store for us.

                  It’s hard to accept the depth of the man’s hypocrisy. he repeatedly told Obama to stay out of Syria but look what he did last night.

                  • Ha ! she doesn’t frequent blogs if she can help it.

                    Yes, I cannot forget that awful campaign. My mom and I talked about it tonight. She says she has never been so anxious about a President and what might happen. She is hoping America has the ability to weather the next three years and people will vote him out with little damage done.

                    Though it is hard to imagine with what Trump has tried to pull already.

                    • Sally Jane, here’s my favorite fantasy. T caught in one of his many illegal things and is impeaved. Pence is caught doing something illegal and is impeached. Ryan is caught doing something illegal and is impeached. Hatch is caught doing something illegal and is impeached as is every single one of that horrible Cabinet. All those deplorable GOP Senators, Congresspersons, Governors all caught in some huge conspiracy and kicked out of office. In desperation and in several special elections, liberals and progressives are elected, Bernie is President and world peace descends.

                • Gloriamarie, your shipment is being sent in different parts so you will receive something today which is not food but the dinners are taking longer so either tomorrow or Wednesday at the latest. My apologies. Hope you have enough right now.

                  • Sally Jane, the soap arrived yesterday. Thank you.

                    As for delivery on Tues and Wed… I am worried whether they will be able to get onto the property. We all have to move our cars by 7AM tomorrow morning for unspecified parking lot repairs.

                    No idea whty we have to have our cars off the property for forty-eight hours. The whole thin g was repaved a few years ago and there are no potholes..

                    But if we don’t move them , they will be towed, so the notice said.

                    I am going to move mine today so I can get the closest possible spot up on the street. I really dread driving even that 500 feet or so and even more walking down the hill to my apartment as I still feed so dizzy and sick from that nuclear stress test.

                    Sandi, the chilis arrived yesterday, Thank you.

      • Thank you, Caitlyn Anne. I had the nasty, sickening procedure. And slept for six hours afterward it made me so ill. Apparently I passed, and they were going to send me home but they could not wake me up and so the doctor said I should stay overnight for observation to make sure I am over the ill-effects of the procedure and not showing any allergic reactions to nuclear isotopes in my blood stream. Just where I’ve always wanted them too.

        Guess I am going home tomorrow morning and that will be in a cab in my nightgown in broad daylight!!! Alas, modesty…

        And of past experience is anything to go by, I will be unable to prepare any food, cook etc because this procedure makes me ill for two weeks. The only friend who would make me a vat of chili or something like that is in CO taking care of her 93 yr old father who fell and broke his leg just below his hip, which could have been fatal.

        I hope I have enough cans of stuff, although that’s not very inspiring.

        • Oh, honey, if I was closer to you, I would gladly bring you a vat of chili. Get lots of rest, okay? At least you’re going to be okay. That’s the most important thing.

          • Home from the hospital now. Didn’t I just love walking around outdoors in only a nightgown. At least it was ankle length and blue and sun was behind some clouds…

            Don’t know what exactly to do about food. I am too dizzy and too stumbling around to cook. Have some cans of tuna, salmon, and chicken.

            When I turned on my computer when I got home, I had terrible news. My dearest friend in COL writes that the worst has happened. Her 93-year-old father who fell a few weeks ago, breaking his leg below his hip, has contracted pneumonia, he can no longer swallow, so treatment has ceased and he is only receiving palliative care.

            He is a gentle, sweet, tender person and I became quite fond of him in the two years he lived here with my friend and her husband. In December he moved to CO to live with his son.

    • I will be looking to God with you in my thoughts today. I have a post-it-note on my dashboard with your name written inside a big heart. I/we love you and pray that your fears are calmed.

      • Thank you, Edwrd M. Good to see you here again. I missed you. Did you receive my email?

        I had the nasty, sickening procedure. And slept for six hours afterward it made me so ill. Apparently I passed, and they were going to send me home but they could not wake me up and so the doctor said I should stay overnight for observation to make sure I am over the ill-effects of the procedure and not showing any allergic reactions to nuclear isotopes in my blood stream. Just where I’ve always wanted them too.

        Guess I am going home tomorrow morning and that will be in a cab in my nightgown in broad daylight!!! Alas, modesty…

        And of past experience is anything to go by, I will be unable to prepare any food, cook etc because this procedure makes me ill for two weeks. The only friend who would make me a vat of chili or something like that is in CO taking care of her 93 yr old father who fell and broke his leg just below his hip, which could have been fatal.

        I hope I have enough cans of stuff, although that’s not very inspiring.

    • Gloriamarie, I so want you to know that there are a lot of people here who are with you in spirit, and yes you would be missed. Peace and Love and many many prayers and good wishes.

      • Thank you, Kathleen B

        I had the nasty, sickening procedure. And slept for six hours afterward it made me so ill. Apparently I passed, and they were going to send me home but they could not wake me up and so the doctor said I should stay overnight for observation to make sure I am over the ill-effects of the procedure and not showing any allergic reactions to nuclear isotopes in my blood stream. Just where I’ve always wanted them too.

        Guess I am going home tomorrow morning and that will be in a cab in my nightgown in broad daylight!!! Alas, modesty…

        And of past experience is anything to go by, I will be unable to prepare any food, cook etc because this procedure makes me ill for two weeks. The only friend who would make me a vat of chili or something like that is in CO taking care of her 93 yr old father who fell and broke his leg just below his hip, which could have been fatal.

        I hope I have enough cans of stuff, although that’s not very inspiring.

  3. Having lost a beloved friend yesterday, this is especially timely and touching. I think one of the greatest lessons Jesus tried to show was that we need to see that lives, needs, hurt, and love besides our own have to matter to us.

    • I am sorry for your loss, Sandi. Please know that my thoughts are and will be with you and the others who will miss the space your friend filled.

    • Sandi, I am so sorry. I can’t know what you are going thru but I do know that it gets harder and harder to lose beloveds in our life. And yes it is bigger than ourselves. We are with you, with arms wrapped around you. Peace and Love,

    • {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{Sandi}}}}}}}}}}}}} I am so sorry for your loss. Please accept my condolences. May all who mourn your friend be comforted in their grief.

  4. This is a beautiful post. It shows just how much our actions affect the world around us, and that we should all try harder to do better. It also shows just how awesome life really is, and how horrible it can be when someone is taken from us too soon.

  5. John, I thank you, too! We are SO important to someone. We may not realize it at the time but I believe that God puts us into the path of others everyday. How will we respond? It is SO awesome that we are given today to live! Never underestimate your power to change the world.

  6. Absolutely beautiful. I’ve always felt that the passage “God created all man equal” meant that every living human being was treasured by the Creator equally. He favored no one above another and when any one of us hurts, He hurts – as would any loving Father. Your piece truly summed that up for me – thanks!

  7. So many shapes that have been left in my life! Some left their shapes decades ago, but they are as clear in my memory as if I ate breakfast with them this morning. Your blog is always calming and beautiful and very appreciated.

    • gdd, I think we all do have a purpose, even those who don’t know it. I settled on mine years ago and I remain happy with it.

      The people we meet help us grow, learn and develop as a person. I am not a ‘God as chess player’ kind of Christian. I know the sun shines on the good and the evil. I know good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people, but I still think God is in us and wants us to be good and do good. Beyond that, I am not so much convinced of anything anymore.

      I do know that the invention of the Internet and social media has brought me great friends I would have gone my whole life without knowing and I consider that a blessing. Sadly cretins I wish I could have gone my whole life without knowing came along for the ride. Forrest Gump’s Mama was right.

  8. Beautiful JP… “They are (indeed) precious in His sight”. I’m more than thankful, He’s blessed me with beautiful and colorful and gifted folk in my life.

    And a shout-out to Mom; would have been her 99th birthday today- thanks, Mom 💕

  9. My dear daughter is so ill with many auto-immune diseases and epilepsy; has been living with us the past 5 years after college. She often feels so worthless and hopeless. I plan to share this with her; I hope it will bring her some peace. Thanks so much. <3

    • Dear Linda,
      I was chronically ill for several years a long time ago, and I empathize with not only her but you, as well. Would you mind telling her that this total stranger is thinking about her, praying for her healing, and knows that there is a path out of the darkness of depression and despair, and is rooting for her to walk through it.

    • My wife and son have both battled severe and chronic illness all their lives (my wife has epilepsy, though it’s well controlled, while my son has battled both cancer and poorly-controlled epilepsy), and if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that you can’t give up hope. Ever. I’ll keep her in my thoughts. Love and light to both of you. <3

      • Wow Caitlyn Anne, you have your hands full of struggle too. We never know what anyone is going through until they share it and I wish this blog could be a welcoming place that allowed that kind of friendship all the time. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Lifting you up with love too!

      • I read these posts of all of us with our various suffering and things to deal with..

        How I wish thre was a place we would could all share our concerns so we could all pray for each other and maybe discover how much more we have in common than otherwise.

        {{{{{{{{{{{{Caitlyn Anne}}}}}}}}}

    • Linda, I have a daughter that means the world to me so I am sure your daughter’s pain is your pain too. I pray you both peace and healing.

    • This makes me sad. I hope she can find the shape that is uniquely hers. My husband has struggled all his life with one thing and another, from rheumatic fever as a child to type one diabetes for over 55 years so I know a little about watching someone you love struggle. You probably wish it was you not her, unfortunately we don’t get to pick. Hopefully she will realize that the world would be poorer without her. Know that my prayers and best wishes are with you. Peace and Love,

  10. John,

    This was an especially insightful and poignant piece. It is comforting to me as I have been experiencing the decline of my father, and my stepfather, both in their late eighties.

    It is also encouraging in that it reminds me to be more frequently mindful of my own precious nature and the value of my purpose here. As I do this, it also reminds me how precious EVERYONE on this page is, and that is a very wonderful feeling.

    Thank you so very much, John, and thank you so very much to all of you who have shared your thoughts and feelings here.

  11. I read this with tears running down my face. Needed this today. I agree with all you have said and have come to the conclusion it is about showing up, with love every minute of every day for as long as you have. I was telling my husband this morning that I think I have become cynical, I used to be, not so long ago, Suzy Sunshine, and I have lost her. This brought her back, perhaps just for a moment but was nice to see her again. Thank you, you have done far more good than you can imagine for a lot of people. Peace and Love,

    • Well, Kathleen, for once I am in disagreement with you. My experience has been that whenever you are around the Sunshine of the Spirit, Love, Compassion, and Wisdom is always your companion. You constantly inspire me to be a better human being. I love you.

    • Kathleen you are an incredible person, it comes through your comments. I agree with Edward.

      There is so much going on In the world and it is too much, for any heart to bear especially those with good hearts… that give and give.

      Sometimes life asks too much of us. Wish things were different. Peace.

    • Oh Kathleen, you are still Suzy Sunshine! I knew that the first response you ever made to me here. Your faith, your love, and your knowledge of the Lord comes shining through in your responses. There is nothing wrong with Suzy Sunshine telling the truth she has lived and more than earned the right to tell.

  12. I wish I could read all of the comments. But I am too exhausted. Must sleep again.

    I cherish this blog post and love how it has brought so many of us together in our shared pain, griefs, illnesses, etc. A poignant reminder that we are all merely human beings. No more no less.

  13. Thank you John. I needed this today. This post lifted me up and challenged me at the same time. Further, it is a good demonstration on what true “pro-life” is.

    • Charles, I think there is something about like minds………..I told my husband after I read it to him that this would keep the trolls at bay. I noticed. Peace and Love,

    • Charles, dear, I consider the Spirit of Jesus to be in the room all the time, I am not sure what you are saying.

      But I have faith they will find some way to distort John’s words. I have seen them do it with other posts one couldn’t ever imagine anyone could disagree with, but they managed.

    • Well put, Charles. I DID notice that. I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, but it would be “true to form” if they showed up to counter this observation by you, Kathleen, or me. I will really have a chuckle if they do.

    • Hmmm… So “the spirit of Jesus” is not in the other threads where JP trashes other Christians because of their skin pigmentation or because of who they voted for? Or where false doctrine is preached based on creative editing of the Scriptures?

      The people you call “trolls” are usually good Christians who don’t like to see other good Christians and people of good will have their beliefs and motivations so denigrated, distorted, falsely presented, and criticized, so they speak out against it. There is nothing wrong with that, and in this thread, for a change and for a very short time, JP did not attack any other Christians, so there was no reason for the “trolls” to respond, which proves they are not trolls, or they would have criticized JP anyway.

      JP gives his followers an excuse to look down their noses at other Christians and/or the politically conservative which is a big reason he has garnered so many followers. It feels so good to feel so superior to those stupid and evil creatures who only care about themselves and fetuses.

      But this thread was different. It was more of the type of thing you would expect from a pastor. It was a refreshing change. It would be nice to see this type of thing increase and making liberal politics a religion to decrease.

      There was no reason to criticize anything here. No reason for who are falsely categorized as “trolls” to respond. And there was no excuse for anyone to feel superior in this particular post, but some of you figured out a way….

      • Hey Captain Justice, thanks btw for the kind feedback about this particular post i agree it is a good one and as well you are right…. there is a communication/insult/mistrust problem between Christians on this blog but it is everywhere now.

        People don’t want to listen anymore because they are tired of judgement and constant berating over how they feel or think. There is increasing social anxiety about safety and how to make ends meet. Christians are reacting in reflex to the ongoing banal comments people make or are fighting back against prejudice and vitriol. The conflict and defensiveness is there for a reason.

        Look at the many thousands of denominations in America who call themselves Christians… look at their beliefs…look at their politics and the fracturing of fellowship with those who disagree on issues like abortion, same sex marriage transgender rights.

        Christians are divided but it has caused hurt and anger.

        I have no control over you or Charles and the things you say or do to each other… but I can decide for myself how I want to speak to others and treat them despite my disagreement with their beliefs. It comes down to me….what I can live with and the compassion I have for others…. and how willing I am to learn to understand what they are going through, why they are angry, sad, bitter, disappointed, depressed, pessimistic. People are human beings not Superman. And our world is a frightening thing at times. I don’t want to be the one to add to anyones hardship.

        hang in there yourself …have a good day

        • “I have no control over you or Charles and the things you say or do to each other… but I can decide for myself how I want to speak to others and treat them despite my disagreement with their beliefs. It comes down to me….what I can live with and the compassion I have for others…. and how willing I am to learn to understand what they are going through, why they are angry, sad, bitter, disappointed, depressed, pessimistic. People are human beings not Superman. And our world is a frightening thing at times. I don’t want to be the one to add to anyones hardship.”

          Sally Jane, beautifully said. Joe Catholic has those impossibly high standards… he seems to need 100% perfection and compliance with his agenda. It is tragically sad.

            • It sounds funny when you write Sally. Jane is not supposed to be a middle name. Maybe I should hyphen it. Also it’s not my official name. It’s the name my Granny gave me. She never called my by my real name and it used to drive my mom nuts haha! Mom told me that on the day I was born, my Granny was there and she tried to get her and my dad to name me Sally Jane. My Granny had a British accent and I loved the way it sounded. It’s cherished memory.

            • How interesting. You’ve never apologized for any way you have mangled my name. Even when you made it a scatological couple of words. Or mocked my religious vocation.

        • Thanks for your nice comments Sally.

          What I don’t understand especially is why some people cannot have a disagreement and still be friendly with their “opponent.” They make things too personal. They wall themselves off from any communication on a human level with people they judge as “bad guys” and refuse to even try to understand why those bad guys believe they are doing good.

          Anyway, you understand what I’m saying. Sadly, most here do not. Hopefully that’s an “internet thing” and real life is better than that.

          You have a good day too.

          PS Don’t tell anyone else as this is top secret but I trust you. In case you haven’t figured it out already, I used to post under a different name. The initials were the same as in this handle, but reversed. I have been forced to disguise myself. I’m an “illegal alien” now, and have to hide in the shadows. If Charles figures this one out, my goose is cooked. Thankfully at the moment his hounds are barking up all the wrong trees…

          • “What I don’t understand especially is why some people cannot have a disagreement and still be friendly with their “opponent.” They make things too personal.”

            And, yet, Joe, you take everything personally, even comments that were never addressed to you.

          • I love how you folks admit to being other aliases and then whine how unfair it is when someone questions your integrity. WOW!

            If you were being honest, what you don’t understand especially is why some people, not like Sally, cannot just allow your insults to go unanswered and treat you with the respect you believe you deserve for berating them. That is the whole of it in a nutshell.

            But you have to dance around that reality by “wondering” in writing why your insulting disagreement can’t still be taken as friendly and answered by your “opponent” in a friendly fashion. After all, Sally does it, why can’t the rest of us just love you to pieces in our disagreement with your attack on our beliefs? It does boggle the mind.

            What I wonder in writing is why your indictment cannot be held back while you take a moment to actually cultivate a conversation and share your beliefs with others such that they do not feel attacked and maligned.

            I wonder in writing why you can never take an answer and digest the point as to your own disposition and see their side instead of just repeatedly screaming “what about the babies you kill!”

            What on God’s good earth is more personal than telling people they are “baby killers”? What insult have you EVER suffered that is worse than being called that? How does such talk NOT build walls and prevent any friendly communication on a human level?

            How does continually praising Trump in a blog that is vehemently opposed to all he is, all the Church did for him, and all he stands for tell anyone here that you desire friends and want us to believe you are “doing good”? What rule of decorum says slap your host, slap the other guests and then expect friendly banter? I think I missed that one.

            Yes, clearly Sally understands what you are saying. And Sally will never call you out on the BS involved in your sad little wonder writings on why we so mean to wittle old you. Sally will accept your points as progress even.

            What you miss, is that because of the Christians who act and talk just like you do, this is not just an “internet thing”, it is becoming real life and it is killing the church of Jesus. Your Pope knows it.

            • What I don’t understand is why they complain about how they are treated instead of treating us the way they wish to be treated.

              If one wants to be treated in a certain manner, one has to model that behavior.

              Of course, doing unto others as you would have them do unto yourself is challenging, as I know.

              But if one is going to start by insulting John P, and calling him names, then it really should not surprise one if one is then called out in turn. Because if one treats someone with insults, then by the Golden Rule, that is how one desires one’s self to be treated.

              It’s all so disingenuous to be sickening.

            • And after all my life in the church, serving the church, I know it. Please listen to what Sandi is saying, Joe. Just please take a moment and really listen. Take your hands off the keys and really listen.

                • I meant what I said to Joe also. I truly do believe he has a problem. It is like when children act up because they need attention, I would tell them the same thing, stop, think about what you’re saying. I say that to Joe.

          • Oh my dear you are hilarious. I suppose you need a sense of humour to keep posting here.I think people are upset and fed up. That is why they come off this way.

            I was thinking about when I was a young mom . I had injured my back and it took me two years to recover. It made me cranky and limited my activities. It wore me down because despite the amount of painkillers I took the pain never fully went away.

            One day I had to apologize to my seven year old daughter for snapping at her… because she was pestering me. Then she said to me, ” It’s okay mom I know you are in pain” I started crying and hugged her tightly. Sometimes children see things in simple heart terms when we don’t.

            I like your sense of humour C.J. 🙂

            • Thank you. May I consider you to be in my “fan club” now? If so, it just doubled in size! I’m working hard to win people over. What do you think of my PR techniques? Do you think they need a little tweeking, or should I not try to fix what isn’t broken?

                • It’s difficult to get a true picture of a person by their internet posts. I had the experience on another board years ago of getting to “meet” a few people by telephone and they were so much different than I expected, and almost always kinder and more balanced than they came across online. And a couple who were “bitter enemies” of mine ended up liking me when they knew the “real me” and vice versa.

                  “Obsessed and weird”–I admit that stung coming from you. I can sort of understand you thinking that, though. Thankfully because I have a seasonal business I’ll be working more and posting a lot less.

      • Captain, you misdirect with a vengeance but what you say is still not true. In truth “the spirit of Jesus” is in all the other threads too.

        We get it that you folks feel that instead of a conviction you all feel that “JP trashes other Christians because of their skin pigmentation or because of who they voted for”. We cannot help your short-sighted and self-serving interpretation but we can refute it.

        Maybe you do have the same religion as the rest of us, maybe you don’t. Since Christian is a self admitting religion, many claim it without following Jesus.

        If you feel “false doctrine is preached based on creative editing of the Scriptures” you should offer the correct version and doctrine of those scriptures not insults and attacks against John P or those who agree with his interpretation.

        If you have the right of it, that should be easy to prove and articulate. Feel free to start any time. But of course it is easier to tear him down and try to put us in our place isn’t it? It must be, because that is virtually all any of you do. I give Christopher Freeman his due, at least he puts his beliefs out here and articulates his understanding of the God he believes in. You all just trash others.

        The people we call “trolls” are not “good Christians”. This is not about them just not liking how “other good Christians and people of good will have their beliefs and motivations so denigrated, distorted, falsely presented, and criticized”, no they are trolls who seem incapable of articulating their own faith and the basis for their actions, their choices and their words so they wail against his conviction ‘because they say so’.

        A good Christian can articulate their faith any time, any where, in front of anybody. 1 Peter 3:15-16 “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”

        I freely admit that John Pavlovitz, and many of us, have lost our own “gentleness and respect” but you have to prove we “slander” and that we “speak maliciously”, or you own it.

        Speak against what he “preaches” as often as you like. But continually offering insult to his accusations is not refuting them. If anything, it proves them.

        Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

        Maybe instead of insisting that John Pavlovitz or others here “attack any other Christians”, you could examine why that feels like an attack and honestly answer the conviction he feels. Why is your confusion, hurt, or refusal only his problem? Why do you insist there can be no log in your eye?

        John Pavlovitz is just the messenger, YOU give us an “excuse” to not believe you follow Jesus. YOU prove who you support and align with. And you can chalk that up to our venality all day long but it won’t stand.

        By all accounts and scripture, the Christian Right should not even exist. What is that doctrinal support? Where is the Biblical alignment with the Republican Party? Where on earth is the Biblical alignment with Trump? You want to rail at us, prove you own your own ground first.

        As if you all do not daily display how good you feel, how superior you are to us “stupid and evil creatures who only care about” others and the world we live in.

        The utter and sad irony of you claiming this was “more of the type of thing you would expect from a pastor” and how you see him “making liberal politics a religion”. Dear God how ironic!

        At the end of the day, calling you all “trolls” is much kinder than you deserve.

        • Well said, Sandi. Captain Joe Catholic Justice could not make it any plainer that he intends to destroy John P’s blog.

          But here’s the thing: the truth can never be silenced.

          I admire the way some of you are able to confront the trolls. Unfortunately for me, all I can see is the evil they have chosen to embrace and it sickens me that people who claim to know Jesus have embraced evil.

        • I love that, Sandi, I would add a question, Why are we the bad guys when we question what they believe, but they aren’t when they question and denigrate us? By the way, all you trolls, if I agree with someone I say it. Why waste my effort saying the same thing because you won’t listen anyway, you didn’t when Gloriamarie or Caitlyn Anne or Sandi said it first. So you can make your stupid jokes, it doesn’t change the fact that you are not here to have conversation, your are here to shut JP and the rest of us up. You know what you are wasting your time. Not going to happen. My mother always told me that it is ignorance that makes people have to make mean jokes and use bad words and I should feel sorry for them. I think she was right. So, in that light, I will pray for you, that God will remove the blackness in your heart and the log out of your eye. I am working on the same for myself. Peace,

          • Thank you, Kathleen.

            You are correct. They are not here to engage in meaningful dialogue because if they were they would do it without starting out by calling John P names.

            The thing is, as Charles discovered, there are on-line classes to learn to be ever more trollish. Some of these trolls are clearly excellent students.

            It’s the embrace of evil I don’t understand. Only a person who has embraced evil could find something to object to in a blog which affirms life. On Tues/Wed I believed I was going to die. On the other side of that experience, I want to cling to Jesus, give Him more of my life. I find this blog post most encouraging of that.

            All followers of Jesus are to choose life and truth. How deeply tragic that there are those who turn their backs to life and truth.

      • Clearly, Joe Catholic, you are still in denial about being a troll because only a troll would have written what you did. You are a person in urgent need of mental health services nd I say that in love, not as an insult.

  14. “And remembering the shape of a life should also mean that regardless of how inconsequential or meaningless you may feel at times, you should treasure your own life far more than you usually do. You should have reverence for yourself because you are consequential and you are meaningful, and because the shape of your life is a singular miracle in the history of the planet. And whether or not you believe it, when you depart this place, you will leave a space that will never again be filled. The face staring back at you in the mirror is so very uniquely shaped.”
    In our house we have varying disabilities, even as Christians we struggle for purpose, and worthiness.
    Appreciate this, SO much ! <3

    • I am horrified that we would choose to escalate the violence and risk more civilian lives. It is an act of evil ordered by those who have embraced evil. Genocide of Muslims is not the answer as ISIS are not Muslims.

  15. The Gift of Life by Marni Fults

    I received a gift from a stranger,
    A stranger I did not know
    I had heard his name before,
    But just in passing, so I let it go.

    I did not think it was a gift,
    But rather a terrible burden.
    They said it was nothing I wanted,
    Of this they were certain.

    I was told it was something bad,
    And more than I could bear.
    No one mentioned it was precious,
    It was as if they didn’t care.

    I sent the gift back to the stranger,
    Where it came from up above.
    If only I had met him sooner,
    I would have seen the gift was made with love.

    Instead, I treated the gift like it was nothing,
    I quickly sent it back.
    They told me I did the right thing,
    But they left out an important fact.

    See, the gift was made just for me by a stranger,
    And God was his name.
    I had never even noticed him,
    Yet he loved me just the same

    He had created that precious gift,
    Each piece he made by hand to my surprise,
    And yet I didn’t even see it,
    My life was based on lies.

    When I found out what the gift contained,
    And realized I had thrown it away
    I believed I would always suffer,
    And be punished everyday

    But to my disbelief, that stranger
    Who I had ignored and turned away
    Created three more gifts for me
    And sent them all my way

    I begged for his forgiveness,
    I prayed and felt his love.
    I wondered what had become of the first gift
    Sent from above.

    I later learned the gift would remain
    With our loving God and then
    I would meet my baby in heaven,
    And receive the gift again.

    I have no fear that I will not know
    Which gift was meant for me.
    So many have been thrown away,
    But mine I will surely see.

    For I have dreamed of my little boy
    Whose eyes were big and bright.
    I will run right over to him,
    And know him at first sight.

    I will say, “Mommy loves you!”
    I know that is how I’ll start.
    Then I will thank God for taking care of my baby
    While we were so far apart.

    If I could just help one person
    See their gift contains such love
    And that the life inside that little gift
    Came from God above,

    It would honor my precious baby,
    Whose life was lost to a lie.
    It would stop the suffering of another child
    And a mother who would otherwise be too scared to try.

    Source: http://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/the-gift-of-life-2

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