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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
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I was born on Easter, a fact I do not consider coincidence. Christ has, whether I've liked it or not, always been pulling at my heart. As a young man of five years old, I accepted Christ into my heart in a Southern Baptist church, though I'm not sure when I attained salvation. I say that because I did not know what I was getting into when I said "the prayer of salvation." Had I known what Christianity is all about, I might have waited and carefully considered whether or not I wanted to enlist in this endeavor. Nevertheless, through my years, God has stood by me, through the constant storms and the occasional peaceful waters.


Not too long ago, I called myself a Christian who hates Christians, though hate is too severe a word. I grew up in an abusive environment, though you wouldn't be able to tell it from the outside looking in. From the age of six on, I was molested, insulted, assaulted, and patronized to the point I had no self-esteem. My first suicide attempt occurred when I was twelve years old, and by the time I graduated high school, I had attempted suicide seventeen times. Despite my obviously severe problems, my Christian parents had bought into the culture of their church and assumed I was simply a moody, ill-behaved boy who antagonized others into abusing me, though they wouldn't have called it abuse.


My problems were, in part, due to the PTSD from my earliest abuses, as well as the fact I have bipolar disorder type one and attention deficit disorder (ADD). I was not medicated for the first years of my illness, and I was eventually misdiagnosed and incorrectly medicated with a stimulant that eventually "rewired" my brain to develop aggressive tendencies. By God's grace, I have overcome those issues, am now properly diagnosed and properly medicated. Still, in describing my past to others, many Christians have made many assumptions, and I have been patronized, told I am "possessed by the demon of bipolar," or I just "need to get over it."


Again, by God's grace, I have been able to forgive those who hurt me, but the memory remains. I have little patience for church culture, and it is difficult for me to attend a church service without experiencing an anxiety attack. God has provided a brotherhood of men with pasts similar to my own, as well as a strong mentor who has taught me a great deal about what it means to be a true Christian. I have a thirst for truth, and while I am willing to admit there is a possibility I may be wrong, I believe that truth is found in the person of Jesus Christ. When I have had trials, God has either remained silent (for my benefit), or the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has been the only god to answer my pleas. As a result, my faith is honest, and I am able to speak honestly with God, as I would a friend. He is longsuffering with me, especially in my despair and anger in misunderstanding His purpose for my circumstances.


I do my best to love others, and I am learning to love, be loyal, and be persistent in pressing on toward the goal. I also work to achieve the virtues Paul mentions in 2 Samuel 1:5 and onward, a list of attributes we should all reach for. My love for penguins has helped me in that regard as I have learned from them and related to them; I even limp like a penguin because of spina bifida, though I call it a waddle. The difference is a waddle is a limp with enthusiasm. Winston Churchill said, "Success is going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." I constantly strive for the grit of Churchill, the devotion and passion of William Wilberforce, the charm of Sinatra, the boldness of Johnny Cash, the mind of C.S. Lewis, and the heart of Jesus Christ. In the end, I am myself, and I aspire to be the best Penguin I can be.


Please know I choose to love you, even though I don't know any of you as of yet. I firmly believe in keeping the peace, living to let live, and freedom in Christ. With love, loyalty, and persistence, I encourage you to, as always, Waddle On.



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Thank you for your in-depth post, Penguin. The hurts and abuses we humans inflict upon others is evidence of our sin nature. What might be a "good intention" on one person's part, can be interpreted as abuse and shame by the receiver. And the intentional criticisms, emotional torments and physical violence that are inflicted upon us by our parents and other family members are abominations beyond comprehension.


I praise God that you have been able to forgive. And though the memories linger, we each have the opportunity to learn and reflect. The love we share among ourselves is imperfect, but God gives us His grace and mercy and love in abundance.

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An observation from life is that those who suffer greatly react in one of two ways. Either they become very hard or they become very gentle. It came as something of a surprise that without God, either reaction carries with it the seeds of our destruction. Without God, the hard heart will become cold, dead and abusive ... capable of unimaginable evil. Without God, the gentle heart will break and fall into a spiral of dark self-destructive despair.


Yet God can indeed use all things for our good AND His glory. The hard heart can become a strong spirit ... unstoppable by any weak force life and the world can throw at it. Having been proved in fires hotter than most can even imagine, it has become a powerful force for good, and for God. At the other extreme is the gentle spirit. Those granted by their creator with the special empathy to feel the pain of others. Those who can come along side a suffering soul and sit quietly. Someone who can listen as another pours out their pain and honestly say "I know. I understand. I HAVE been there." Sometimes that "ear to hear" can literally mean the difference between life and death.


So, I have been there ... enough pain to stop talking for two years, attempted suicide, gang violence ... like my Pentacostal friends say, "but God" ... and that changes everything. So hang in there. There is life on the other side and just as all of Joseph's troubles softened his heart, shaped his character and prepared him for what God had planned all along ... so will ours.


God Bless.


Romans 8:28 "we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

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Reading your story just aches my heart. Thank God for the work he has done through that. It turns the story from just a tragedy to being part of his redemptive work. I'm glad you are able to see the goodness in that darkness and to even be at a place where you can forgive those who have sinned against you. Quite frankly if I was in your place I can't say with confidence that I would do the same. While I can't directly relate, I have had my own dark battles with depression and so at least, in some small way, I can understand what you have been through. Brother I look forward to seeing you in your perfect body in Heaven.

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