About Me

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Hi, my name is Justus, I'm a Christian.I attended Patrick Henry College for three semesters, and I transfered to College of the Ozarks in the fall of 2013 where I graduated as an English major in 2016. I love the Lord Jesus Christ the savior of my soul. He has made me new. He leads me in the Old Path; He is the Way. I am not perfect; my Lord is sanctifying me though.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Being a Better Friend

     I often tell myself that I'm an awful friend. My marshwiggle tendencies toward melancholy lead me down the path of self abasing, which is one of the things I hate the most when I hear others doing it. My concern for others' self image is how I know that I'm not as bad at being a friend as I tell myself. (I do however have a lot of work to do, but that's not so uncommon.)
     Proverbs has a lot to say about being a friend, so I ought to compare myself to the friends in Proverbs, as should we all. That method is probably the wisest and healthiest I can think of for being a better friend.

     I'll start with the kingpin of friend verses, Proverbs 17:17. "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." Wonderfully said, but what does this tell you about yourself? Do you love at all times? Even four in the morning? Even when you have a test to study for? Even when you're angry at him or upset with her? Even when you feel like they should be loving you more? I honestly don't. But that's where I'm beginning to improve. Once you've diagnosed a disease, it's much easier to treat it.

     By the way, when you do have to love a difficult friend remember Proverbs 27:6, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy." This wisdom is double-edged.
     Firstly, you must remember that loving a difficult friend can wound them. But to be a faithful friend, you must do what is best for them. The clich├ęs "This will hurt me more than it hurts you," and "I'm only doing this because I love you" both draw on the wisdom from this verse.
     Secondly, you must remember that a friend who seems difficult may be the faithful friend that you need, and the difficulty he or she is causing you may be the wounds that you need. He may be cauterizing a cut to keep your spirit from gangrene. She may be cutting a cancerous tumor out of your soul.
     It takes wisdom to tell the difference. Sometimes things get so cloudy that you might both act as the faithful friend for each other-- but isn't that how friendship is supposed to work anyway?

     When you know that you have a faithful friend--  a really good friend-- you can always count on his or herr input, whether you are facing a personal crisis, making a life-changing decision, trying to figure out a member of the opposite sex, or even just trying to motivate yourself to finish a project "Oil and perfume make the heart glad, so a man’s counsel is sweet to his friend." Proverbs 27:9 succinctly compares counsel from a good friend to the biblical equivalent of a nice long shower. When you're feeling really dirty and bogged down, or weak and weary, a long shower helps to fix it like little else. So with less physical things, a long talk with a caring friend cleanses the soul of much of the grime you pick up in everyday life.

     Friends are friendly. This tautological axiom brings up my last verse, Proverbs 27:14. "He who blesses his friend with a loud voice early in the morning, It will be reckoned a curse to him." This verse has led to many silly conversations, but it is still wisdom from the wisest man in the world shared through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. You have to be friendly to your friends (as the King James Version renders Proverbs 18:24) in order to keep them. Proverbs 27:14 teaches us that boisterousness and friendliness are not the same thing. (For you early birds be aware that your joy may be offensive if you aren't delicate. And for you night owls, be aware that you should still be friendly, even when it's four in the morning, though at that time it will probably look different than friendliness at four in the afternoon.) The boisterous laughter of an evening meal is not in season at most breakfasts. You can still be cheerful without offending those whose bodies take longer to boot up every morning.

-Written with a friend nearby in a dorm lounge. ;)
In love,

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Pain of Compassion

          My sister's dog, Jewel, died this week; our whole family felt that blow. She had been laboring through the last couple of months, and my sister was spending most of her paycheck on meds and vet visits. Jewel was almost 12. No one was surprised.
          I left home expecting to hear the news before I had another chance to visit. Yet when my brother received the call, he still reacted with disbelief, then he wept. I couldn't respond—not only because I was preoccupied, but also because I had not prepared for my family's responses. How can you prepare for a violent shift in your soul? Let alone others's souls. How can you prepare yourself to hear your brother weep?
          After I had heard more details and Caleb had finished weeping, I found him outside our room playing his guitar. I listened on the floor with him. I hurt with him, but mostly I hurt for him.
          In my nonfiction writing class, we had an assignment last week to describe pain. I chose to write about the pain of loss and described it as having something torn from inside you. I didn't think I'd have such a big chunk torn out so soon after writing it. But now I have a different pain. Sure, the pain of loss is there, and I'm surprised at how accurate my own half-attempted descriptions are, but my greatest pain is the pain of compassion.
          Sympathy and empathy are two varieties of compassion, and I can never tell which one hurts worse. In empathy, I hurt for the other's pain and for my inability to sympathize. I try to be with them and say some soothing words. In sympathy, the pain is compounded with the pain of loss or injury or whatever is causing both individuals to suffer.
          Since we are both going through the same loss, my sympathy for my brother tells me that mere time with him is what he needs, but since he is taking it harder than I, my empathy tells me to say something to sooth him. I'm torn.
The Bible says "Jesus wept" when His friend, Lazarus, died. I won't compare Lazarus and Jewel, but any loss, even when you've had the time to prepare for it, always hurts. (John 11:1-46) It's ok to weep. Mourning builds community through empathy and strengthens it though sympathy and shared memory. But that won't stop the pain. Over time, perhaps the pain of loss will go away, but may the pain of compassion remain in me, and may it make me a kinder, gentler man.

Maranatha! Amen!

-Written from my desk at school.
In love,