Yesterday I invited a friend to lunch. I had one of those buy-one-get-one free coupons and I wanted to share the second sandwich with him. He and I have been having lunch off and on for about 3 years now. During these lunch visits we always delve into discussions of the spiritually philosophical nature. We had visited about all the surface stuff already and were beginning to leave when I opened a subject on a deeper level.

I stated (in a rhetorical sense) as a point for discussion, "I have been struggling with loving others who place the foundation for our relationship on my performance and ability to meet their imposed expectations on me. As long as I meet their expectations and do what I am supposed to do (according to the world’s standards and hence their own) we’re OK. But as soon as I come short of their expectations they begin sending signals to let me know that I am not making the grade. Their signals are often proportional to the perceived strength of our relationship based on their performance. (But that’s another point for another time). Basically, "I did this so you should do that. I performed (satisfactory to my own expectations, as usual) now you must perform (satisfactory to my expectations)."

In the end we concluded that we must be like God, who "loved us while we were yet sinners" and not base our love nor our relationship on how others treat us. It is an amazing freedom to get out of the Performance Game. But its difficult when everyone wants to play it with you.

Fast forward to last night. I volunteered to help with a community function through our company. We were helping with a dance put on by the local organization that serves the needs of the mentally challenged.

I was to collect the one dollar entrance fee as they came in. I had a blast. It was so rewarding to see the excitement and joy on their faces as they came to the dance and to encourage their excitement further. It was a unique opportunity to love on others. I don’t know when I have had so much fun. I even got to meet Elvis (one of the group) dressed out in the whole "Aloha from Hawaii" garb.

Well, as the night progressed the room began to fill, the music started playing and the people coming in slowed down to a trickle. I took the opportunity to go inside the dance hall and watch. I was expecting to see a lot of people sitting down, lethargically watching the dance floor, too inhibited to get out there. Not even close. These guys and girls were hopping and bopping their socks off. It was a party! No inhibitions here. Not one person there was concerning themselves with whether their performance measured up to another’s expectations. There were some wild expressions of dance and many were very good. I had to admit how scary it was that most of them could dance better than me. But that may be more a statement about me.

Anyway, our group had all been sitting or standing around as spectators when someone in our group said lets start a train. Most of us fell in rank and connected our car to the living moving serpent. Soon we had close to 75 people connected and chugging around the room to the dance music. It was great fun.

The program director (who had coordinated these dances on many occasions) had warned us. She told us that we have never been in a room with so much love. She was right. There was not a person (mentally challenged at least) in that room who had placed an expectation on another. I doubt any of them ever even heard of the Performance Game.

I could describe many scenarios of love exhibited by them. There was Alex, Tim, Paul, Rodrigo, Stacey, Cody, Wayne, Avia, Kim, Heather, James – about 120 in all. Not one was focused on their own self nor their own needs. I am sure God gave me this little experience on the heels of my afternoon conversation to reinforce and demonstrate concept of love in its purest sense. For such as these is the kingdom of God.

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 1 Cor. 1:27

And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind [or dumb]? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. John 9:2,3

At the end of the evening the DJ had us form a circle and hold hands. This was a huge circle because it involved almost every person there. He then played and we sang along to "That’s what friends are for". There were hundreds of hugs shared when the song was over and the night was over.

We all knew that it was time to go and move on with our lives. Elvis had left the room.