Category Archives: One Word: Grace

Hate is Easier Than Love 


Ephesians 4_26

During the month of June, 2016, my Facebook news feed was filled with posts about choosing love over hate. Not unlike any other month, there was a lot of hate being spread around the world. Hate in the form of injustice, sexism towards males and females, religious fears, political extremism, and talk about gun control were the most popular.

As an INFJ personality, I have this annoying habit of seeing both the good and bad, negative and positive, and can find hope and hopelessness in any situation. This habit annoys both myself and others that I know. Seeing both sides to a situation can some times cause people to accuse you (me) of being sympathetic towards those who commit acts that society, accurately, in my opinion, believes to be wrong.

I hear of and read news stories about people who commit horrific acts and my heart breaks. After the surprise or shock wears off I tend to start asking questions about the offender: Where did he/she grow up? What was their life like? What experiences, situations, and beliefs influenced this person’s actions?

I currently work with a population that has committed some atrocious acts of violence against their victims. My job does not allow for acts of judgment, non-legalized justice (frontier justice, vigilante justice, street justice), or discrimination based on a person’s criminal history. This means that me and my co-workers and those who work in this industry are in a position where we are called to see both sides to a situation. It doesn’t mean that we defend the violent actions of people who cause harm to others, what it means is that we have to be aware of the social, psychological, spiritual, and emotional roots of why people commit horrific acts against others. I’m not going to pretend that this is easy; it can be a challenge at times to be supportive towards a person who habitually inflicts harm on others.

The only way that I have been able to remain supportive and serve others is to cultivate grace.


My One Word for 2016 is “Grace”. This word is difficult for me to fully understand and practice; but with each passing day I have grown bit by bit in understanding why God, Jesus, and St. Paul stressed the importance of this amazing action. Grace is what helps me and others understand why people do the things they do, both positive and negative. Grace is what prevents me and others from seeking non-legalized justice. Grace is what prevents myself and others from being reactive in the form of spitefulness, revenge, gossip, bullying, and all the other popular methods of “getting back” at someone. Grace also means not allowing yourself to be a victim when “it ain’t about you!”.

When I am continuously bombarded with news about acts of hatred committed against innocent people; I don’t want to become filled with unrighteous anger. I want to remember the powerful words written in the bible that caution us about filling our hearts with anger by giving the devil, the enemy, a foothold. As believers we are cautioned to not be angry, while simultaneously not allowing acts of injustice to be carried out against the vulnerable, the innocent, and the marginalized. This is another commandment that is difficult to practice.

God wants to protect us from the never successful game of “tit for tat and tip for tap”. He wants us to fight our natural urge for retaliation and replace it with this difficult act called grace. We can’t claim to be choosing love over hate if refuse to understand the roots of hatred. In order to replace love with hate we are called to take time to understand what causes individuals to become so angry within themselves that they’d take the lives of others. We also need to protect ourselves from allowing the injury of others to feed hatred in our own hearts.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Miroslav Volf
“But those who forgive need not abandon all disciplinary measures against offenders. …A violent offender may need to be restrained if there is any danger he may harm others. Discipline for the sake of a wrongdoer’s reform and the protection of the public is compatible with forgiveness. Discipline even for the sake of upholding the moral good assaulted by the offense is compatible with forgiveness. Retribution is not. Those who forgive will have a system of discipline, but retribution will not be part of it.”


You’re Not Funny; You’re Sarcastic and Mean


Keep Your Mouth Shut

Sarcasm: “the use of words that mean the opposite of what you really want to say especially in order to insult someone, to show irritation, or to be funny; a mode of satirical wit depending for its effect on bitter, caustic, and often ironic language that is usually directed against an individual.” (Webster’s Dictionary)

Dealing with sarcastic people has been my biggest battle over the past few weeks. I hate sarcasm. In the past I used this style of communication quite often and it lead to my hurting the feelings of too many people. Thankfully over the years I’ve learned that hurtful sarcasm is unnecessary when dealing with personal frustrations. There are much healthier and effective ways to express one’s self.

Please know you don’t have to put up with people’s spiteful sarcasm. If people feel the need to be sarcastic there are ways to do so without insulting anyone; however, that takes a lot more skill and wit, hence the reason why people don’t use this style of sarcasm.

Hurtful Words and God's Peace

From Webster’s Dictionary:

If you’ve ever been hurt by a remark full of cutting sarcasm, you have some insight into the origins of the word. “Sarcasm” can be traced back to the Greek verb sarkazein, which initially meant “to tear flesh like a dog.” “Sarkazein” eventually developed extended senses of “to bite one’s lips in rage,” “to gnash one’s teeth,” and eventually “to sneer.” “Sarkazein” led to the Greek noun sarkasmos, (“a sneering or hurtful remark”), iterations of which passed through French and Late Latin before arriving in English as “sarcasm” in the mid-16th century. Even today sarcasm is often described as sharp, cutting, or wounding, reminiscent of the original meaning of the Greek verb.

Don’t let people tear your apart with their sarcasm. If you are the one being sarcastic, ask yourself why you have chosen this form of “humour” or communication as a means of expression. What did you hope to achieve with your sarcasm?

This article linked below has excellent information about sarcasm: why people use it, what to do to stop using it, and how to deal with people who use it against you. I highly recommend taking the time to read it.

words be careful

If you are a sarcastic person remember that we have an amazing God who is always there to listen to us; we can always come before him with our fears, vulnerabilities, and anger. Take everything to Him first instead of taking things out on others with hurtful words. His Spirit will give us the wisdom on what actions to take.

Surround yourself with uplifting people and this will decrease your tendency to use sarcastic expressions. Safe people allow you to engage in healthy problem solving discussions. You might not always get your way, but at least decisions are arrived at in a healthy manner.

If you are on the receiving end of sarcastic remarks; remember that God is a healer. Take those wounds and let Him heal them. You were not created to be the butt of someone’s mean joke or as an outlet for another person’s frustration. Be strong, it may not be easy, but try not to give into their passive-aggressive ways; if you are not careful you will deal with their behaviour by responding in the same unhelpful manner.

QUESTION: How often do I use hurtful sarcasm? In what situations do I use sarcasm the most? What do you think of sarcasm? How do you think God views sarcasm?

ACTION: Learn more about sarcasm. The following articles are helpful.

(Secular/Non-religious /Non-Spiritual) What Does Sarcasm Say About You? From Kim Giles at

(Christian Based) Pillar Six: Relational Skills – Sarcasm Isn’t Funny From Betty Swan Ministries

(Self-Help) The Damaging Effects of Sarcasm From Todd Smith of Little Things Matter


When Help Is a Hindrance


Give and Take

Well, part of our Alberta forest is still burning. During the worst of this fire a region of 88,000 people had to be evacuated. The entire city of Fort McMurray was evacuated. Thankfully no one died from fire. The evacuation was amazing and firefighters from near and far have been doing an excellent job of fighting the down side of nature vs man.

Alberta is a very charitable province. People volunteer in large numbers, and like to donate things in large amounts. So far people have been actively donating to the Edmonton Emergency Relief Society. This is great because the items on their most needed list are not cheap. I hadn’t realized the high price of baby diapers and formula; but cost did not stop thousands of people across Canada from donating those items.

While some people have respected the “Needs” donations list, others, with good intentions have disregarded the list of criteria and taken it upon themselves to donate used clothing and items. Along with these donations of unrequested and forbidden items has been some hurt feelings, frustration, and anger. No one likes to be told that their act of charity and offer of help is not wanted and will not be accepted. No one likes to be turned away at a donation centre while others are welcomed with open arms, a huge thank-you, and a smile.

While I want to be compassionate towards those who honestly are only trying to help fill a need that they think needs to be filled, I am simultaneously frustrated with people who don’t understand that despite their best of intentions they are not helping those in need; instead, they are hindering those in need.

Hindrance:A person or thing that makes a situation difficult; (b) the act of making it difficult for someone to act or for something to be done.” (Webster’s Dictionary)

Help:To do something that makes it easier for someone to do a job, to deal with a problem, etc.; (b) to aid or assist someone; (c) to make something less severs; to make something more pleasant or easier to deal with.” (Webster’s Dictionary)

Armchair_Firefighter Definition
Armchair Firefighter: A person on social media sites who like to tell people what firefighters should and shouldn’t be doing to put out a massive forest fire despite never having been a firefighter.

When we choose to do acts of kindness during disasters, it’s important that we not make it about what we think is right. In our desperation to help we can easily begin to develop a mindset that unconsciously says, “I know better than the disaster relief experts. I know what they need more than the organizers.” I was amazed at how many Albertans suddenly became experts in Firefighting despite never having put out anything bigger than a backyard fire pit. There were also those who within 24 hours of the mandatory evacuation became specialists in mass emergency evacuation planning. It didn’t matter that every single person in the city of Fort McMurray was saved from the fire; despite some of them having to slowly and literally drive through an inferno to get to safety at the nearest evacuation centre several hours away.

It was difficult for me to sit back during those first few days and not be actively volunteering my time towards this crisis’s biggest need for help; but I had to remind myself that I was battling a major migraine and congested from allergies. I would not have been helping anyone by dragging my dizzy self down to a warehouse to help accept and sort donations. I had to resort to donating a small amount of money with the hope that yes, it would make a difference when combined with the other small amounts that others have given.

Help without expectations

Before you decide to be of help to organizations during an emergency or crisis we can all stop and ask our self the following questions:

  • Am I providing what the agency has requested and following their instructions? If the answer is “No”, then don’t volunteer yourself or your goods. Take those items to another place that has asked for what you have. Volunteer where you will be a good fit.
  • Am I doing this for myself or those in need? If the answer is “Myself”, then do the Christian thing by not posting your good deeds all over social media. If God and those you helped are the only one’s who know what you’ve done to help, then that’s good enough.
  • Do I need a tax receipt before I agree to give money? If the answer is “Yes”, then your charity might be selfish. There is nothing wrong with requesting a tax receipt, however there are times when helping others won’t come with a donation tax receipt. There are countless ways your money will help others but unfortunately won’t qualify for a receipt, do it anyways.
  • Do you expect a thank you and appreciation from every single person who is helped by your generosity? If the answer is “Yes”, then you’re in for a big surprise. Sometimes people who are in the midst of trauma and shock are not the nicest mood. They are lacking sleep, they are scared, they are frightened. They have no idea what tomorrow holds. These desperate persons are not always in a smiling, happy mood; especially when what they need in that moment is not available to them. If you give to others with the expectation that you will be appreciated, you might need to volunteer behind the scenes or not at all. Highly emotional volunteers are not helpful and only add problems to an already tense environment.

I wish I could say that I’ve always been a help rather than a hindrance, but that would be a lie. Thankfully I’ve learned a lot over the years by being an active volunteer. These lessons have allowed me to remember to be thankful for behind the scenes organizers whose work often goes unnoticed and misunderstood.

To those who help during emergencies and crises; whether paid, volunteer, or donor; you are awesome! You, yes you have made a difference big and small in someone else’s life.  No one forgets an act of kindness and help during their greatest times of need. Don’t ever let your heart be hardened by this world. Be discerning, be wise, and keep being kind hearted. Peace.

Do You Turn a Blind Eye or Turn the Other Cheek?


Turn The Other Cheek

There have been a few incidents that have happened in various environments that I am involved with that made me stop and ask myself, “Have I been turning a blind eye or have I been turning the other cheek?” I think this is a question we should all stop and ask ourselves sometimes.

To honestly ask yourself this question, it’s best to take a look at the meaning of both of these phrases and actions.

Turn a blind eye: “An idiom describing the ignoring of undesirable information.” Source: Wikipedia

Turn the other cheek: This requires a much longer explanation and can’t be simplified into one sentence, so I opted instead, to quote a few paragraphs from Marcus Borg as found on

“The key to understanding Wink’s argument is rigorous attention to the social customs of the Jewish homeland in the first century and what these sayings would have meant in that context.

To illustrate with the saying about turning the other cheek: it specifies that the person has been struck on the right cheek. How can you be struck on the right cheek? As Wink emphasizes, you have to act this out in order to get the point: you can be struck on the right cheek only by an overhand blow with the left hand, or with a backhand blow from the right hand. (Try it).

But in that world, people did not use the left hand to strike people. It was reserved for “unseemly” uses [Wiping one’s self after having a bowel movement]. Thus, being struck on the right cheek meant that one had been backhanded with the right hand. Given the social customs of the day, a backhand blow was the way a superior hit an inferior, whereas one fought social equals with fists.

This means the saying presupposes a setting in which a superior is beating a peasant. What should the peasant do? “Turn the other cheek.” What would be the effect? The only way the superior could continue the beating would be with an overhand blow with the fist–which would have meant treating the peasant as an equal.

Perhaps the beating would not have been stopped by this. But for the superior, it would at the very least have been disconcerting: he could continue the beating only by treating the peasant as a social peer. As Wink puts it, the peasant was in effect saying, “I am your equal. I refuse to be humiliated anymore.”

It is tempting and often times easier to turn a blind eye to injustice and other wrongs we witness being committed against others. This past lent I have once again been reminded that Jesus does not want us to turn a blind eye, instead, he has commanded us to turn the other cheek. It isn’t easy to do, and it comes with a cost which is why it is often the option least likely to be chosen.

Jesus calls us to not retaliate. Justice is not a form of retaliation. Jesus doesn’t expect us to be docile and allow ourselves to be abused, discriminated against, and systemically oppressed. However, what he does tell us is that injustice exists, and we can fight against it without resorting to violence, bloodshed, and physical injury.

When we live in an unjust society, we still have to go to work for corrupt employers, we still need to follow certain laws that are passed, and we still have to deal with dishonest institutions who are often ready to discriminate against certain populations. If we spend our time fighting injustice with constant community violence, we take away from being able to use our minds and skills to change our culture from one of injustice to one of justice and inclusion.

When it comes to dealing with atrocities in our communities, I truly believe that Jesus is asking us to use our minds instead of our weapons. Have an open mind, be willing to sit at the table with a diverse group of thinkers and together create a legal and social society where violence is not a necessary way for living. When we use our minds, we might never have to pick up a weapon to strike our oppressor and those who discriminate against us.

Show Respect To Others


How do you respond to uncomfortable situations involving discrimination and systemic oppression? Could it be categorized as “turning a blind eye” or “turning the other cheek”?

What are ways that you can deal with others in a non-violent manner while fighting for respect, justice, and rights?

If you haven’t already read all of Matthew 5, I highly recommend it. If you’ve read it in the past, it’s still a great chapter to review, these teachings are never outdated or irrelevant.