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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Becoming a shoulder for someone to lean on

Becoming a shoulder for someone to lean on
"Share each others burdens and in this way fulfill the Law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2)

There is a powerful scene in our upcoming book, "Tears in a Bottle: Seeing through their eyes," where Ariel is standing at her husband's graveside still devastated over his death. Esther, Ariel's Muslim friend, quietly steps up next to her and provides her a shoulder to lean on.
Everyone of us at one time or another, no matter what the situation, need a shoulder to lean on. We need someone to listen to our pains and heartaches thus allowing us the opportunity to let go of all of our sorrows. Our upcoming book is about the healing of the scars and the breaking down of the walls of discrimination. In another scene in the book, Esther listens patiently to the heartaches of Amanda, a Christian woman who lost her husband when terrorists slammed a commercial jetliner into the World Trade Center tower. This incredible scene takes place at the World Trade Center Memorial pool just adjacent to where the Islamic Multi-cultural center is being built. Once again, Esther provides a shoulder to lean on and Amanda is able to forgive Muslims and be healed from her bitterness and unforgiveness.
These examples in our book demonstrate a powerful principle: When we take the time to listen from the heart, we are sharing in the burdens of others and  thus Honoring Christ. Most of our lives are so busy that we preoccupied with just pleasing ourselves and forgetting that anyone else around us even exists. Yet there is a powerful blessing in taking the time out of your busy life to listen and encourage those around you who are genuinely hurting. It is the blessing of knowing that you made a real difference in that hurting person's life. You may have not solved the problem, but because you listened and cared, they are encouraged, they can move on and now their life has been changed because you took out the time to be there for them.
Because Esther showed love and compassion to Ariel, Ariel was able to begin the healing process and move on. In Amanda's case, Amanda was confronted with her bitterness and unforgiveness and for the first time in many years, she was able to forgive Muslims and find healing for her scars.
The amazing thing about our book is the unselfishness and compassion of Esther. Esther is the unfortunate target of a lot of hatred and discrimination, including abuse from her own husband Mustafa. Yet Esther is always reaching out in love and compassion and becoming the shoulder for others to lean on. Esther's example should be our mandate.
Are you willing to become that shoulder for someone else to lean on? Take the time out today and listen and when you do, your are demonstrating the character of Christ and becoming a source of healing and hope to the many hurting people around you.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The blessed joy of friendship

 "Friendship is born at the moment when one person says to another, What! You too? I thought I was the only one."  C.S. Lewis

It has been an incredible adventure having Avianne Asyiah Khalil as my co-author to write together the book, "Tears in a Bottle; Seeing through their eyes." Both of us are very excited to be writing the first ever Islamic/Christian fiction historical novel. In the process we have become good friends and as a result our novel is an exciting, dramatic journey that is changing and shaping us as well. One of the most important themes of our novel is the unconditional love friendship between a Muslim and a Christian lady. Esther is a Muslim woman struggling with an abusive husband and Ariel is trying to put back together the pieces of her life after her husband dies in Afghanistan.
Their individual unique circumstances results in a very close bond between them. Esther's visit to central park becomes a life transforming event when she meets Ariel painting at the Bethesda Fountains. What made this such a great friendship? Both of them had a void in their life at that time. Both of them listened to each other from the heart. Most importantly, both of them respected each other. There was no pressure to convert. They accepted each other from the heart. Ariel became the shoulder for Esther to lean on through her abuse. They agreed to disagree respectfully and instead focused their energies on exploring life together.
Amazingly this is much the same situation with Avianne and me. We text each other almost everyday and laugh and cry together. We enjoy our friendship and have a healthy respect for each other's beliefs. The result is a friendship that will last forever. It is truly a humbling and honorable thing to write a book together. The incredible thing is to watch us become like the very characters that we are writing about. 
The point Im trying to make is that friendship is a gift from God. When you pour your life, love and respect into that friendship, it is a treasure that can last forever. C. S. Lewis was not only a great author but also a great friend. He was kind, unselfish and a lot of fun to hang out with. We can learn a lot about life from reading his books. I know I have. I hope you will too.