Tag Archives: relationships

Healing Our Racial Division with the Fiery Passion of Pentecostal Love

As our American friends are in the midst of their 2016 presidential election, politicians are on the campaign trail explaining the reason to be voted as a president. The country is divided in many ways where activists ranging from race, to gender, to class and to religion are all crying out to be heard. When it comes to race, the division is much more sharp and piercing. Both Democratic and Republic politicians are professing to be the glue to unify their nation and mend the divide between Black, White, and Brown people.

Canadians may laugh at the made-for-t.v., political circus and comic show down South. Yet there are challenges of division with racism as deals with Afro-Canadians/Caribbean and First Nations and its offshoot religious racism with Muslims/Syrians/Middle East migrants and residents. It seems that both nations are having a difficult time closing the divide and opening our hearts. Americans are more blatant in their vitriol whereas Canadians are subtler. Either way – both are dehumanizing! I believe the Pentecostal Church could provide a road map for unity and reconciliation where both countries could learn from.

The Pentecostal/Charismatic Church is the fastest growing church in the world and approaching the size of the Roman Catholic Church as the largest Church family. The phenomenal growth and size is not by fluke. It is intentionally based on an open door and outreach position for diverse cultures and nations to embrace the message of Gospel love. Where did this attitude of passion fiery love come from for Pentecostals/Charismatics to reach out to Russians, Brazilians, Filipinos, Nigerians, Chinese etc.?

On April 1906, in a rundown church in Los Angeles, a passionate Black preacher William Seymour with a loyal group of Black Christians who prayed for racial unity and Christian unity. What made this prayer and fervor unique was in the midst of Jim Crow laws that these brave Christians were extending themselves to hug racist White Christians. God rewarded their desires by a phenomenal event where those Black Christians miraculously spoke in a different language never taught to them. This documented event echoed biblical times just after Jesus’ death and resurrection where the Early Church spoke miraculously through God’s Spirit in a different language to share the good news of Jesus to a diverse yet divided crowd in Jerusalem. What happened in Los Angeles 1900 years later known as the Azusa Street Revival had the similar effective power where it drew different races. Many of them experienced this miracle of speaking in a different language (called tongues speaking) and other miracles like healing. But the biggest miracle was the beginning to heal the divide of racism (and sexism) between people and their segregated churches. The reason being the experience was bigger than any race or culture (or gender). This Déjà vu moment was God pouring his love on all people, which humanized and humbled racist and sexist people to see each other with dignity and equality.

Although the Pentecostal Church is a human organization, not perfect and still struggles with racism and sexism like other organizations, but they have learned principles and practices to overcome the sin by God’s love. And the people are their fruit. This compassionate experience plus a compelling story is what our respective countries need to hear – especially our politicians. And quite possibly, they can feel the fire of unity that these men and women felt at Azusa Street. We can only pray in tongues for that miracle to happen.

~ Denley W. McIntosh

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Time Is All A Child Hears

In the hustle-and-bustle of the day, shaving time has been critical toward greater work productivity. Manufacturing plants push to reduce their cycle time for producing parts. Call centers push to resolve a customer’s inquiry in the fewest minutes possible. Technology companies push to create the newest craze. New hires are expected to learn their jobs in days instead of months. Athletes are expected to run faster with every game or meet. Parents are expected to cuddle with and read to their children as fast as they can. Wait a minute! That last expectation doesn’t seem right. Parents are expected to do what?  That is right!  Many parents are expected to minimize bonding time with their children in order to meet the demands of the day. We are slavishly saying “YES” to more time with our to-do list and “NO” to our children.

Now there are some of you who will disagree with the assertion about parents are enslaved to their list and must shave time with their children. But do our actions as parents say otherwise? When was the last time we sat with our children and just BE with them, and let the relationship of the moment determine when boding time should finish? (The practice of presence some call it.) Unhurried, unrushed, just purely immersed with each other. How absurd to think that as parents we actively work to reduce the bonding or face-to-face time with our children to satisfy the demands of a piece of paper. The truth is – we do inadvertently.

Many of us believe multi-tasking can overcome everything. However, our children know when our minds are off them and on something else. They know when you are touching, caressing and guarding the smooth and delicate face of a touch screen, masquerading as the new born of the family. Children know when you are out to lunch and the elevator is still on the ground floor figuratively speaking. My son is great at detecting when Daddy is focusing on reading or writing (but not on this article) instead on him.  Although my son is in my presence, he knows it is not genuine time but rushed. I am not truly focusing on him to know him at an emotional level. It reminds me that multi-tasking works well with activity but not well in bonding with people especially our children.

You may reply that doesn’t apply to me, because I take my children to karate, soccer, music, dance etc. We spend a lot of time together in the car and at the dance studio, gymnasium, basketball court, baseball diamond, football field or all the above. I agree that bonding indeed can take place during those car rides or celebrating a 1st place victory. However, let us not confuse this time as truly deep, bonding time with our children. How can it be when we are screaming at them from the bleachers? Or our backs are literally turn to them majority of time while driving? Imagine dating someone who would only want to spend time with you while you are in the backseat as s/he is driving. How long would that relationship last? Not too long I hope. Yet – we expect to build an intimate relationship with our children while performing a shuttle service for them. Sorry! That is not time that digs deep into the hearts of our children. 

Our children do not understand the words “I love you” when you are not actively spending time with them.  Actually, children hear the word “time” louder than the words “I love you”. Time for children is then instinctively translated into the feelings of “I love you”.  Shaving time with our children makes the translation for them tougher to the point of confusion. The more time we shave, the more they translate no-time to “I’m not important”; “I’m not special”; or “I’m not loved”. I know many of us don’t purposely go out making our children feel bad about their selves.  Yet it does not change the fact that time is more a native tongue to them than their mother tongue at home.

If you are discovering that your children are repeatedly acting out, check to see how much time you are shaving off with them.  (The issue of bullying could stem from an absent of emotional time with our children. The bully is looking to control someone at school or online, because they cannot control their parents to listen to them at home.) Remember, children experience time much longer than we do. Time moves a WHOLE lot slower. When we miss them for a day, it feels like a few days to them.  This is why you go on a road trip with them they always ask you, at ad nauseam, “are we there yet.”  It is also tells you why timeouts are so painful for them. Using those examples as negative object lessons should motivate us as parents to speak our children’s native language by giving them the time they need. This is the only way we can truly say we love them and create maximum productivity. 

Is creating more time easy within our already compressed schedules? It is certainly not easy! I struggle as a parent like you to read that bedtime story without tucking myself to bed under my child’s arm as she finishes read her story to me. However, I push to create time nevertheless and maximize it.

 ~ Denley W. McIntosh

P.S. My first test will be finding that gift of time this evening for my son’s birthday (June 26) as he turns 2 years old. To use Dr. Gary Chapman’s terminology from the 5 Love Languages, his love language is time that is all he hears.

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Love – A Cause Worth Dying For!

I remembered talking to a woman about marriage not so long ago. The woman indicated that she thought about getting married a few times in her previous relationships. At the end, she decided against it, because she wanted to live life still. I replied to her that marriage is not about losing freedom. However, I concurred there are few things that one would have to give up, because a new life is taken on so to speak. I asked her if she is with someone presently and she replied yes. I sensed from her reply that there is a desire for marriage and beginning a family. However, there were some reservations holding her back, because of her view of marriage. Her view (and many others) of marriage is the phase of life where one settles down to have children. I indicated to her that she should not view marriage as a time to just settle down by virtue of a marital certificate. Marriage however should be viewed as the courageous life that you are willing to pursue, fight, and love for the lover’s sake.

The only way you will know that you are ready for marriage if you are willing to literally die for your partner – your love. If you (or your partner) cannot say that, you should continue to live your free life, because you maybe are just wasting your time (and tax-payer dollars for a divorce). A marriage of that nature would be – at best – unfulfilling and worst – ending in divorce.

Let me clarify what I mean by dying for your partner. They are seen in the countless stories of police officers that get wounded in the line of duty to save the innocent who are in danger; firefighters who literally jump into burning houses to save the lives of the faceless; and soldiers who throw their bodies on landmines to save the wounded from the enemy’s camp. These are courageous men and women who put their bodies on the line. Many suffer paralysis, burns, sickness and death because of their love for people. They are willing die for people who they do not know – strangers. How much more of a burden for us who are in an intimate relationship? Are we willing to die for our love?

Please understand that the spotlight of intimacy shines at its brightest during the scenes of courage and selfless acts between lovers. In the face of bullets of criticism, the torpedoes of insult, and the bombs of rejection from your hostile love does not change the fact that the cause still remains great, significant and worthy. This leads to the critical questions: Am I ready to be hero/heroine when the spotlight is on me? Will I give of myself at all cost? Would I put my body on the line for my love till the point of pending death? This is the test for marriage readiness – nothing more, nothing less. It is the ability to translate the heart of a soldier into this fragile and sensitive world of relationships and marriage. If I am willing to do the extraordinary, these consistent and ordinary acts of kindness will be always possible:

1)     Walking away from quarrels and fights in order to find peace with one another.

2)     Giving your partner affection during times of mutual discomfort or fatigue.

3)     Encouraging your partner to spend time with their friends who are positive to their life.

4)     Creating days of undivided attention for your partner.

5)     Getting involved in your partner’s activity that you might not always enjoy doing.

6)     Resisting the urge of being unfaithful to your partner.

7)     Endeavoring to see the world from your partner’s point of view.

Here is the principle to remember. If I am willing to do the more challenging and courageous act of dying for my partner, then every other selfless act or sacrifice becomes trivial with respect to the magnitude of dying.

I want you to imagine this with me. Put your hand on your heart. Feel it beat for a minute. Imagine if your heart was not beating. Would you agree nothing else matters then? You are aware if that heart stops beating at any point; your life is at the cusp of death. Similarly, if you believe your partner is your heart but they are not beating for you – guess what – you are having a heart attack. If your partner does not beat for you, your relationship will eventually wither and die. Again, nothing else truly matters then. The same is true with you. I ask you to remember this connection, because no heart lives for itself. It shares its life and many ways gives up its life for the body to grow.

Relationship especially marriage is the school where we are taught the unending course of selflessness. It is the profession that we learn to risk our lives, so love can live. Now I ask you… are you willing to die for your love to always live? Simply, is it a love worth dying for…soldier?

~ Written By: Denley McIntosh

P.S.

I think about the tragic shooting in Colorado as a contemporary and evocative example where we heard surreal tales of heroic and sacrificial effort mightily exuded through “ordinary” men and women to protect their beloveds from death’s door. Seeing and feeling the pain of death has not beclouded the light of love refracted through the prismatic stories of these courageous individuals. I must say, within the dissonance of the pain and sadness, it was beautiful to hear the love these fallen had died for. My heart goes out to them and others alike.

 

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Diverse…But Not Included

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I was at a university situated in Toronto to speak to youths on the importance of pursuing post secondary education. After a long morning of speaking and fielding questions from high school students, I had the opportunity to play a little “hooky” and wander the busy university halls near the auditorium where the youths huddled for their final pep rally on education success. During my meandering, I came across a booth that was set up to address racial diversity and equity. The young woman working the booth was possibly in her late twenties. “Terri” as I will call her – was culturally mixed of West Indian origin (but predominantly an Indian background). As a university non-faculty employee, she engaged me about her work on diversity and racial equity, which I found fascinating. As she pulled me over to her booth to show me more information, I felt compelled to converse with her to understand her background and passion about this important area.

Suddenly and without a moment’s notice, there was a loud blare of hip-hop music. The heavy-bass sound came from rowdy hall where the youths were unwinding for the day. My impromptu lecturer ended class on me prematurely by strutting to meet her female friend to hear what was going on. As I stood there – a little caught off guard and feeling small because I couldn’t compete with the swagger of tunes from Jay Z and the like – I thought Terri would return to finish the conversation. If that was too difficult, I thought maybe she would say excuse me, politely end our conversation and perchance, include me in the conversation about the raucous. Unfortunately for me, she did not return; but lapped up the excitement with her colleague leaving me EXCLUDED from the fun. As I rode the afternoon train home, I pondered the morale of that odd situation. I arrived on the fact that she advocated for diversity but did not practice the art of inclusion.

Inclusion should be the goal of diversity. Contrarily, exclusion of inclusion makes diversity an ends in itself but not a vehicle to develop dialogue and build community. As virtues precede ethics/legality – analogously – inclusion precedes diversity. You cannot build an embracing community on social ethics but on virtues (some might even call it grace). Ethics only sets the parameters of relationship but not the temperature as virtues would provide. Inclusivity, the virtue of love in expression, would be the warmth for cultivating relationship.

What is the difference between inclusion and diversity you ask? Diversity, simply, is the state of having plurality of company (age, gender, race, ability etc.) within a group of people. Inclusion is the ability to create a home within your heart for that plurality of company. It is the ability to create space for the heterogeneity of values /experiences in others, and allows that person to come in and sit so to speak. You are mindful of their uniqueness and are willing to engage them for greater level of understanding. The byproduct of this inner exercise is the plurality of the company you keep – hence social diversity. In fact, the plurality of company is a condition for diversity of age, gender, race, ability etc.  I fear that diversity that is practiced by many ardent subscribers is one of ethics and not of relationship.  They practice diversity to feel good about themselves, because they are part of the ‘movement’ of social change. Unfortunately, this is self-centered and not other-centered, which is the real goal of loving inclusion.

When Terri walked away and carried out her fun without me, in my presence, she reminded me that we all practice exclusion in subtle ways. This happens daily I would say. It could be predominantly a group of men, which focuses on male talking points excluding women from engaging. It could be predominantly a group of white women that focuses on their issues, which excludes minority women from inputting. It could be predominantly group of Indians or Asians that excludes other co-workers from understanding through language.  It could be even certain activities or events we coordinate at work, at church or in the community, which inevitably eliminate those who we do not want to include. (It is covered up with the word Oops or “I’m sorry”.) Was I shut out from the aforementioned discussion with woman and her friend because I was a man? Or was I shut out because I was outside of their age group and social sphere?

Did I approach Terri at the end to let her know about her poor manners? I did. The only thing she said was sorry, she did not seem concerned to re-engage in our conversation. I recognized she said enough, and I should move on. I will not find inclusion in her space – at least not now.

Now you may be saying that I’m being hard on Terri. Possibly, but her unique role as advocate for diversity/equity lent well to the illustration and its morale. Diversity is not enough, but we need inclusion as well. We must practice inclusion by being aware of the fences that we erect around the presence of unique company. If we do not care, we will just have a force-and-synthetic mixture of people with no organic-and-genuine connection to each other. Simply put, diverse but not included.

~ Denley W. McIntosh

 

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