Bloomin’ Thought for the Day: Love One Another

John 12: 34 – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

When I was planning my new rose garden, I chose 5 roses, each with a different color. I’m not a vanilla kind of gal; I need a variety of flavors in my life. I think that’s why I worked in Emergency Rooms for the majority of my nursing career. We never knew what was coming in, so we had to be on high alert through the whole shift. I enjoyed the challenges each new day presented, and the knowledge I acquired from them. There was always something new to learn.

I’m feeling a bit frustrated right now, though, because the challenges that are smacking me in the head are those that we are all facing, not just nurses and doctors. We are all trying to discern ways to deal with COVID 19. This is something that none of us have ever experienced, and one that seemingly has no end.

There is a larger problem, however, that also seems unlikely to end any time soon. The racial tensions in America are at the highest levels I think anyone has ever seen, and I can’t help but think we are making matters worse instead of better. Hate is spilling over the top from both sides, racial and political, and the chasm between them seems to be growing deeper.  As a child, I never felt any fear or animosity against anyone unless they hurt me, and even then, by the next day the transgression was forgotten. I still give people who hurt me multiple chances at reconciliation.

Now, though, I struggle to understand, or make sense out of, the violence that is poisoning our lives. I’m angry seeing innocent people being harmed or killed or businesses destroyed. So many people have tried to explain that this is in response to many years of persecution that African Americans have endured. As much as I do understand that, no one can convince me that violence is the answer, especially since I believe that the residual riots have little to nothing to do with the initial trigger. Changes need to be made for sure, but it will take time, and we have to be patient. I must believe that peace will come. I don’t know when or how, and the resolution may be painful, but I can’t imagine we can sustain ourselves as a nation with all this hate and anger.

As I was enjoying my rose garden today, I was struck by the fact that, of the seven rose bushes I planted, all are either already beautiful, or showing healthy growth, but one: my Peace Rose. Granted, I planted it later than the rest, but it’s not even showing even tiny signs of growth yet.  I placed it right in the middle of the multicolored roses. As I contemplated the question of whether my Peace Rose will grow or not it, I became sad. Isn’t it a bit like the turmoil of today? Different colors on both sides of the virtual battlefields, and peace hasn’t yet begun to grow.

Just as African Americans are trying to achieve recognition and reparations in the world, God is also at work trying to do the same thing. I believe He is pleading with us to turn our attention to Him and to His sovereign words, the most important of which is love. If we would all do that, “red and yellow, black and white”, and remember that we are all “precious in His sight”, this world might stand a chance at survival. “Jesus loves the little children of the world”, and adults, too, and He charges us to do the same.

What Really Defines a Family?

What defines family? Except for physical similarities, bloodlines don’t always completely do it. I’m writing a book for which I have researched the “nature vs nurture” theories, albeit in terms of criminal behavior, which is not the topic I am addressing today. The bottom line of what I learned, though, is that nurture is more important in determining the person one becomes than nature. Of course, we can’t disregard genetic influences, as they are undeniably part of who we are, but what goes on within and outside the walls of a family dwelling are paramount in building a child’s character and establishing who they are ultimately to become.

This is even evident among animals. Take pit bulls for example. They are maligned as being a dangerous breed of animal, and it’s true that they can be more easily trained to be protective or aggressive than other breeds, but given the proper supportive environment, they can be loving and loyal family members.

Adopted children are every bit as much a part of a family as biological children. Half-siblings can love each other just as much as those with mutual parents. Even step siblings, with no biological roots, can find that bond. Think about this: Married couples don’t have common blood, at least we hope not, but their bond is as strong as it comes, sometimes even greater than with their own parents. They are family.

Families can have common blood running through everyone’s veins, they may have partially common blood or no common blood at all. A family is not just about shared DNA; it’s about shared experiences, overcoming disagreements, battling trials together, sharing laughter and good times, supporting each other through painful times, and being familiar with, and accepting of, the good, the bad, and the ugly in all of us. No, a family doesn’t necessarily have to be all about blood. A family is about love.