Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Monday, January 25, 2010
Friday, January 22, 2010
Here is what I have been awakening to:
While the teachings of Jesus are extremely difficult to live out in one sense--the sense that they are completely counter-instinctual-- they are also beautifully straight forward. Simple, even. My roiling emotion demands a complicated, drawn-out response to the hurt I have experienced. But Jesus demands only this: be filled to bursting with the insults and judgments of others. Let them pour into you until you are topped up. Take and take and take. And then?
Now, this is so alien to the human experience it's almost laughable. Part of us gets the part where we brace ourselves and take the hits. We learn this lesson early on in our Christian ABC's. Morality lesson #1: Revenge is bad. But the love part? I think we convince ourselves that just martyring ourselves--taking the abuse in silence and then ploughing on-- is love. That's not love. Love in active. It washes over bad deeds, seeking to bless the aggriever. It does not barricade against them. Love is, in fact, the only way to move beyond the hurt.
Unpacking this a little:
Say the teaching was a little more ambiguous. Say there was an allowance for us to settle into a neutral state with regards to the ones that hurt us. Now, I am the queen of the neutral zone. I get wounded by someone, and like a dog who gets zapped during obedience training, I learn to avoid the source of pain. I just don't go there. I let my eyes glide past certain people, and the smiles I offer them never reach my eyes. In this way, I don't have to "give the other cheek." If I stay far enough away, my cheek will never be within slapping distance.
However, there are no such allowances. We are left with many, many, verses in Scripture that tell us to, not only take the hurt without retaliation, but to return it with love. What does that mean? Without the specifics, I can share what this will look like in my life over the next few weeks-- should I walk in obedience to the lessons I am learning. It will be me walking with my head up into a VERY uncomfortable setting. And I will do so again, and again and again. Furthermore, I will not slip into anonymity. I will carry on with the work I have been doing, and I will pray myself into doing so cheerfully. Further still, I will be pushing against the boundaries of my own personal judgments, seeking to extend a hand where my hand has never been extended. Seeking to know and understand those who are different than me. Seeking to love their hearts as Christ does. The same Jesus that loves me, loves them fiercely and I am duty-bound to seek out the hearts he loves so tenderly.
Christendom is blessed beyond measure with the perfect example of love. We know a blameless man who took physical lashings from hate-filled hands, and yet, begged for those hands to be redeemed. Though our own trials will never compare, the example stands for eternity. It is meant to be mimicked. Had God taken our abuses towards him and responded without love, we would be standing here now without a Saviour and without a hope. Love is our life-source.
Because I am weak, I will forget. In moments of weakness I will recall the hurt and mull it over and build up resentments, but I can only live without peace and joy for so long. . . I will go running back to the way of excellence. It is a better place to dwell. It feels like home there.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Monday, January 18, 2010
The one thing he requires of us in response to deep waters is acceptance. This acceptance is not passivism, quietism, fatalism, or resignation. Peace, joy and faith will not be found in forgetting, and they will not be found in busyness or aloofness or the submission of defeat. They will not be found in the "unfairness" of it all. . . A quiet heart is content with what God gives. It is enough. All is grace.~Elisabeth Elliot Be till My Soul~
Waves of sadness rolling outward from my heart. Tears breaking through the barriers I have tried to build.
Tempest of emotions. Frenetic dialogue in my skull; Not good enough. Never will be. What will people think?--stop it. Child of God. Loved by Him. Good is meant for us. What is the good? What does it look like? Where will we find it?
We are in a valley. It is cold and gray here. We'll catch the chill if we stay.
But we can't stay. This place was never meant for us. Across the plains of grief comes a call that cannot be resisted. We must obey.
We're here now. Perched. Up on the rim, looking down at the bowl of the valley. Teeter. Totter. Teeter. Totter. Tempted to free fall back into the chill. The easy way is down in the depths. Simple submission to our humanity--bitterness, self-pity, withdrawal. . . Comes naturally. Feels instinctual.
But our feet are meant for different soil. A path is open to us that is infinitely harder, yet infinitely more beautiful. We have no choice but to take it. There is a coil of steal rope that has anchored us to this path. It can't be broken. Or untied. It pulls us. Pulls. Pulls.
Harder: Denied the right to wallow. Guaranteed no protection--not from anything that will make us more like the Son. Not from anything that can be used to refine and perfect. Locked in a battle against a weaker self that longs to be exalted.
More beautiful: Mingled tears of compassion. Warmth. Arms braced in support. Love.
Growth. A certainty of good things unseen solidifying in our humbled souls.
and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him."
25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.
27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke
while he is young.
28 Let him sit alone in silence,
for the LORD has laid it on him.
29 Let him bury his face in the dust—
there may yet be hope.
30 Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him,
and let him be filled with disgrace.
31 For men are not cast off
by the Lord forever.
32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.
33 For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to the children of men.
40 Let us examine our ways and test them,
and let us return to the LORD.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
January. Fresh new year. The pace has dropped and all is quiet. Well, apart from the hungry squeaks of my precious 5 month old, and other natural and necessary disruptions. I am back to packing lunches and planning out dinner menus. I am, personally, determined to shed baby weight and am bent to the task--jogging and eating carefully. I am striving to learn more about this Christian life, and what are the most excellent ways. Asking big questions. Trying to grapple with the answers I am finding. Looking back at last year, I realize that now, more than ever, I am at home. There used to be weeks where the kids and I would spent every day away- for restlessness. No more. I am so content here. That is a timely and helpful development, as this is where I am needed most.
My days have been governed by the ebbs and flows of child and house care. Along with the ebbs and flows of spirit and emotion. There are days when I am almost dancing with joy. My tasks are easy and rewarding. I have been disciplined in my study of the Word and am blessed with the quickening of spirit that results. And I strive to cling to the high. However, years of this have given me an unwelcome expectation of loss. I will inevitably ride off the rails. I will wake up in a foul mood and be unable to shake it--betrayed by the endorphins than loved me then left me. I will not pick up my Bible. I will not bow my heart to pray. I will try and grimly make my way alone.
But those same years of experience have gifted me with the knowledge that all will flow forward once more into renewal and re-invigoration. New hope. Fresh determination. Growth. Wisdom.
This is a promise I can attest to. The low days are never long. And the high days are things of beauty, unequaled.
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
Next room on the list: Mudroom.
It's a new year, and after the clutter of many hosted parties--hundreds of soggy boots & mounds of moist coats-- and the promise of many more to come, I would love to get a bit more organized. Our mudroom is the first room you see when you walk into our home so I want it to be, both functional, and nice to look at. We have planned and measured everything out. This week Aidan will go and pick up materials.
As always, I will post more pictures once there is something built.