Monday, May 22, 2006

Blue Like Monday Mornings

Blue Like Jazz Chapter 18 – Love: How to Really Love Other People

In continuing with chapter 18 from last week, I want to add the points from the last part of this chapter that really stand out to me. Like last week, since I believe his points are so perfectly made in this chapter, I will not be doing them any justice in leaving remarks to them, so you’ll find, I only note on a couple of them, and then I just leave the rest of the space to Mr. Miller to shine through his brilliant points on the topic of loving one another…


It is always the simple things that change our lives. And these things never happen when you are looking for them to happen. Life will reveal answers at the pace life wishes to do so. You feel like running, but life is on a stroll.

I absolutely love that!


…while attending an alumni social for Westmont College…Greg Spencer, a communications professor, was to speak…The lecture was about the power of metaphor. Spencer opened by asking us what metaphors we think of when we consider the topic of cancer. We gave him our answers, all pretty much the same, we battle cancer, we fight cancer, we are rebuilding our white blood cells, things like that. Spencer pointed out that the overwhelming majority of metaphors we listed were war metaphors. They dealt with battle. He then proceeded to talk about cancer patients and how, because of war metaphor, many people who suffer with cancer feel more burdened than, in fact, they should. Most of them are frightened beyond their need to be frightened, and this affects their health. Some, feeling that they have been thrust into a deadly war, simply give up. If there were another metaphor, a metaphor more accurate, perhaps cancer would not prove so deadly.

Science has shown that the way people think about cancer affects their ability to deal with the disease, thus affecting their overall health. Professor Spencer said that if he were to sit down with his family and tell them he had cancer they would be shocked, concerned, perhaps even in tears, and yet cancer is nothing near the most deadly of diseases. Because of war metaphor, the professor said, we are more likely to fear cancer when, actually, most people survive the disease.

Very interesting to think about…


Mr. Spencer then asked us about another area in which he felt metaphors cause trouble. He asked us to consider relationships. What metaphors do we use when we think of relationships? We value people, I shouted out. Yes, he said, and wrote it on his little white board. We invest in people, another person added. And soon enough we had listed an entire white board of economic metaphor. Relationships could be bankrupt, we said. People are priceless, we said. All economic metaphor. I was taken aback.

And that’s when it hit me like so much epiphany getting dislodged from my arteries. The problem with Christian culture is we think of love as a commodity. We use it like money. Professor Spencer was right, and not only was he right, I felt as though he had cured me, as though he had let me out of my cage. I could see it very clearly. If somebody is doing something for us, offering us something, be it gifts, time, popularity, or what have you, we feel they have value, we feel they are worth something to us, and, perhaps, we feel they are priceless. I could see it so clearly, and I could feel it in the pages of my life. This was the thing that had smelled so rotten all these years. I used love like money. The church used love like money. With love, we withheld affirmation from the people who did not agree with us, but we lavishly financed the ones who did.

Once again, VERY interesting to think about…


I don’t enjoy not liking people, but sometimes these things feel as though you are not in control of them. I never chose not to like the guy. It felt more like the dislike of him chose me.


Here is something very simple about relationships that Spencer helped me discover: Nobody will listen to you unless they sense that you like them.

If a person sense that you do not like them, that you do not approve of their existence, then your religion and your political ideas will all seem wrong to them. If they sense that you like them, then they are open to what you have to say.

I think that has a lot of truth to it.


After I decided to let go of judging him, I discovered he was very funny. I mean, really hilarious. I kept telling him how funny he was. And he was smart. Quite brilliant, really. I couldn’t believe that I had never seen it before.

I truly believe that when you love people, you are more open to really seeing more of who they really are as a person. You’ll find out more about them that you respect and “love” from being willing to love them in the first place.


I loved the fact that it wasn’t my responsibility to change somebody, that it was God’s, that my part was just to communicate love and approval.


When I am talking to somebody there are always two conversations going on. The first is on the surface; it is about politics or music or whatever it is our mouths are saying. The other is beneath the surface, on the level of the heart, and my heart is either communicating that I like the person I am talking to or I don’t. God wants both conversations to be true. That is, we are supposed to speak truth in love.

I ask God to make it so both conversations, the one from the mouth and the one from the heart are true.

I absolutely love that! It is so true that there is “second” conversation going on that is saying either I like you or I don’t. So true! And unfortunately or fortunately, that “second” conversation will typically control the first conversation, so it is important that it is given the appropriate consideration.

[Note: All the above text in smaller italic print has been quoted directly from Donald Miller’s “Blue Like Jazz”]

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