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Saturday, June 30, 2012

I Might Become A Nun

"And when we can say to God, 'O, You my joy!' or when you can say, 'O you the pain of my life, O you who are standing in the midst of it as a torment, as a problem, as a stumbling block!' or when we can address Him with violence, then we have established a relationship of prayer."

- From Beginning to Pray but Anthony Bloom

I read this as good news.

In many ways, it's difficult to understand speaking in such a manner to He from whom all blessings flow....and then again, there are times when ranting is our only language with a God we cannot understand.  Far better to rant than to ignore.  I believe that these crying out times are healing times as well as times of purification.  To be honest and raw means we care, that we have not given up the search.  That we recognize that there is meaning to life and we want in on it.

I got off the floor this last week.  I decided my tantrum had gone on quite long enough.  But this does not mean, I've felt no disturbance toward God.  And yes, it's been toward God.

I think that when much has been stripped from us, we come to a place with God where we say, "Fine...but now what?"  And then there's often silence.  "O, You the pain of my life!  Can't you give me a little glimpse of how it's going to be all right?"

My faith tells me that it will be.  My mind grows anxious wondering how it can be.

Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.-Philippians 4:6-7

A lot of Christians jokingly say that they're afraid if they give over their entire life to God, He'll send them to Africa.  Confession:  I'm afraid He'll call me into nunhood.  I probably get a little ahead of myself in my worry.  Rather than staying in today I obsess over the Teresa's.  I remember saying when I was twenty that I wanted to be like Mother Teresa, dedicate my life to helping those in need.  And then I worry that God was recording that wacky statement to use against me later.  And now, reading bits of Teresa of Avila's story, I'm hoping God is not calling me to anything similar.

And, oh yeah....I'm not Catholic and I have children.  

But this is how my brain works.  It likes to take things to the extreme.  It has me plotting a premeditated resentment toward God for causing me to be single for the rest of my ever living life. O, You the pain of my life!  That's what you want for me?  That's what I do- take my fear and escalate it to the nth degree. 

But another confession is that I've always been drawn to the idea of complete devotion to God.  Which is ultimately a good thing.  And so I relate this week when, for class, I read,A New England Nun  and Long Day's Journey into Night

But how much of this comes from true reliance on my Maker rather than frustration with and fear of man? 

 In a way the whole thought process is somewhat silly and humorous but in another way it seems to prove how very small my speculations might be in comparison to what all God really has planned for me.



Therefore Lord, not only are you that than which a greater cannot be thought but you are also something greater than can be thought.
-Anselm of Canterbury

And yet still, it's proof that in my very heart of hearts, I know Jesus is the one for me.  This very longing for Him even pitted against fleshy fears shows me how deeply in love with Him I have always been.  That ultimately I am His.  And whether He truly calls me sometime in the future to sacrifice the notion of marital love or bestows upon me an earthly man equally in love with God, today I know that God's love is sufficient.  Today I will rest on the image of Christ as bridegroom.

Source: flickr.com via Nicole on Pinterest

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Rants and Silence



"In the states that confront the world at this time the confusion is augmented if you have within you a spirit of anger and resentment...."

-Letters of the Scattered Brotherhood


Anger and resentment.  Dangerous places to be.  For me, these emotions or feelings can become places.  Places where I get comfy.  Where I take up residence. My confession is that I did not know this until recently.  I think I used to be under some deception that I was a person who forgave easily.  God has allowed such to occur that that fallacy was straight stripped. I was 'thinking' about forgiving someone recently and found myself saying to God, "How can I forgive this?"  The smallness of this question was shown me immediately.  Am I kidding? As if this person has done to me anymore than what we all have done to God.  How prideful must I be to assume that the wrongs done me are greater than the wrongs which brought the crucifixion.  Seriously.  In this perspective, I was able to see that if Jesus forgives us for all that then who am I to hold onto the petty grievances I think I've endured.  This sort of compounds something I realized while sharing at a meeting last night.  I spoke of how easily I can drift into self-pity, woe is me, my life is worse than anyone else's, no one understands, whine, complain, etc.  Sheesh. Embarrassing.

In, My Utmost for His Highest - Deluxe (DELUXE CHRISTIAN CLASSICS), Oswald Chambers asks, "How long is it going to take God to free us from the morbid habit of thinking about ourselves?  We must get sick unto death of ourselves until there is no longer any surprise at anything God can tell us about ourselves. We cannot touch the depths of meanness in ourselves.There is only one place where we are right, and that is in Christ Jesus."

That guy tells it like it is.

And if you want to read about another guy who wallowed in self-pity, check out Lamentations.  I read chapter three from that book today and got the distinct feeling that Jeremiah was placing a lot of blame on God. I tried to read some commentary but all I found were statements like this:   " As an individual expresses the grief of the community, hope and consolation are sustained by a knowledge of God’s compassionate love."

Read it for yourself but I found that only about one in twenty or so lines, expressed hope.  The rest just sounded angry and bitter.  To me, it reads like a pissed off letter listing injustices and yet one of the best verses finds its way into this litany:  "...for His mercies never end.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!"Lamentations 3:23 HCSB

Maybe the point is that we're allowed to rant to God.  Not that we should but that sometimes in our limited human knowledge, it can look like even God is against us. And far better to rail at Him for a time than ignore Him. And maybe it is in this honesty, that He will find an avenue to finally still us, hush us, where we can see more clearly who's really to blame. And in His presence we can face that truth about ourselves and accept His mercy.  Then, we can ask for the ability to extend that mercy to others.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Am I Done Yet?


Rereading Hinds' Feet On High Places, because I need those hind's feet and I need to leave the fear behind.

Realizing the need to just call on the Shepherd and cease fighting in my flesh.  Because that's exactly what I've been doing.  Fighting principalities with faulty flesh and wondering why I'm being wounded.

In Hurnard's allegory, The Shepherd asks Much-Afraid if Love has been planted in her heart. Because she knows that He sees her heart, she chooses to answer honestly, finally saying, "I think that what is growing there is a great longing to experience the joy of natural, human love and to learn to love supremely one person who will love me in return.  But perhaps, that desire, natural and right as it seems is not the love of which you are speaking?"

This is not a page I noted when I read this book first three years ago. But this passage seems very truthful now of the delusion of love I have been holding in my heart.  The mistaken notion that I can settle for human love and keep divine love on some sideline.

And too, I have not yet accepted the thorn which must be planted for True Love to grow.

I'm coming to realize that in my own quest for this human love, I was also somehow not giving love. Because though I knew God, I had not acknowledged certain truths. I was trapped in a cycle of self-protection which blocked me from loving people outside of my own frame of reference, without conditions.  It's what Walker Percy refers to as 'the great suck of self'.

"...in turbulent times when your mind is image making, you whip and drum up the issues to such an extent that  the excitement gets out of control and the mind and emotions race hysterically."

-Letters of the Scattered Brotherhood

I have been switching from this frenzy mode to a kind of despondence. I can feel it.  And it's a dangerous place to be.  It means that I'm caving to self-pity and then letting that woe-is-me thought life to propel me into that futile flesh fight for my own rights.

 Talking to a friend the other day, she gave me a great image of a Christian slumped in defeat on the floor but then with a mighty roar  rising victoriously.  This, she said, is when the angels rejoice.  It was a powerful image, but I see myself slumped on the floor, or alternately kicking and writhing on the floor in tantrum mode, not really wanting to get up yet.

I am wallowing a bit in that hazardous hole.  I am grading tragedies. In that absorption of oneself, I read on Facebook that someone is battling breast cancer....her husband is taking her to the hospital. I focus on the word husband and promptly decide that I would rather have cancer and a husband than be divorced.  A few statuses down I read about a man with a spinal cord injury and decide that well, at least divorce is better than being paralyzed.   And so my own pain is now the source by which I judge everything.  And this is not good.  This lacks true compassion and even true perspective.

My friend says that God observing heap that I am on the floor, only smiles and says, "Are you done yet?  We have stuff to do."

I should get up.  I'm thinking about it.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Anticipating





My devotion this morning convicts.  Perhaps, I read as many as I need to per day until I find one which does. I am searching desperately these days. And this one, it speaks of the silence I've been experiencing. And it suggests that maybe, when in the past I felt closer to God, thought I could hear Him clearer, it was because I was fervent about what I was praying about - but not truly fervent about God Himself.

I think about Angry Conversations with God: A Snarky but Authentic Spiritual Memoir and how I had become a gold-digger with God, crying that He ought to give me the desires of my heart.  And when He said no, rather than submitting, I replaced one false god for another.  I tried to include the real God in my faulty plans, asking Him to bless my waywardness.  But it doesn't work like that.  And so I have learned that God can and will pull the rug out from under me, when necessary.  And that this can actually be an answer to prayer.  The problem is only when I refuse to see it as such.  When God is answering with a less than desirable answer and I cover my ears, and like a child, chant, " I can't hear you", well, sometimes He will take drastic measures to ensure that I do hear.  This, is in reality, true love.  It is the allowance of His truth to prevail.  It is protection and provision.  The assurance, once again, that He is in control, not me.

There have been some mighty tough lessons, of late.  But I'm feeling like I'm beginning to get the message.  Beginning to understand that I cannot lean upon my own understanding.  That all I can do is for real cling.  Not cling to my own demands and self-righteous prayers but cling to the God Who works in mysterious ways and with a timing not subject to my wishes, Who sees the beginning from the end and asks me to trust that though His ways are not my ways, they are better.  And that all will be well.

Count it all joy, my brothers,[b] when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.-James 1:2-4 ESVUK

I have not been counting it joy.  And if it's been a test, I've gotten a C- at best, thus far.  Steadfastness as defined by The Free Dictionary means, steady: fixed, firmly loyal or unswerving.  Well, I've swerved under this and I have not been slow to speak nor slow to anger.  In fact, there are so many ways I have refused to accept this trial as a blessing or as a learning opportunity.

But the amazing thing about my God is that He remains faithful even when I do not. He is unchanging while I waver.  And His mercies are new every morning. And today, I am standing on His promises.  I am receiving His love and His provision. I am refusing any longer to align my thoughts in agreement with condemnation because there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  I am believing that He will turn my mourning into dancing and that I am stepping into a new season, leaving tears behind. I have to say it here because I have to say it everywhere.  I know the truth and I am not ashamed of the gospel and the good news is good news because it means that I am loved and that I am forgiven and that all things will be made new.

We sang last night at service:  "We anticipate the inevitability of the supernatural intervention of the Lord"

I have to anticipate this, stand on His word, hope, believe and share because it is the only thing which has the power to save and if this trial has brought me to that realization and these words then I will count it all joy.




Source: etsy.com via Jessica on Pinterest

Friday, June 15, 2012

Clinging or Compromising


Being justified therefore by faith, let us have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ:
By whom also we have access through faith into this grace, wherein we stand, and glory in the hope of the glory of the sons of God.
And not only so; but we glory also in tribulations, knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
And patience trial; and trial hope;
And hope confoundeth not: because the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us.
Romans 5 DRA

I find myself here today when I should be at my school site, answering the question of how Native Americans and African Americans dealt with the issue of Christianity as it related to White society....because my own current question of the day is how as a woman separated from her husband, I am to deal with the issue of Christianity as it relates to American/Christian society.
I went to the bookstore yesterday because that's one of the things I do when I'm crying out to God for an answer or a response or a sign of some sort and I'm getting nothing.  I browse other's words, hoping for some insight or truth to get me through. And I walked out with: Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life  by Kathleen Norris; The Dark Night of the Soul: A Psychiatrist Explores the Connection Between Darkness and Spiritual Growth by Gerald G. May;No Man Is an Island (Shambhala Library) by Thomas Merton and the one I went in for -Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis by Lauren Winner.

I think there was a theme, here.  It's not so much that I'm questioning God's existence.  It's that I'm questioning His seeming silence, His apparent allowance of my enemies to prevail,    If He is truth, why do I keep hearing the lies of the enemy?  If light has more power than darkness, why is the atmosphere dim? If I am free, why do I feel condemned?

And in a way, I know the answer to these questions. And I know that much, I have brought upon myself. That I forsook my first love.  That I allowed strongholds to take root.  I ignored the warning signs.  I became unfocused and searched for healing where there was none. Wrote words for peccary and pittances. And  out of self-pity.  I turned out of fear of my own sin.  Because as Winner writes, "my sense of myself as a Christian had become so wrapped up with my sense of myself as a wife that to question one was to question the other." 

 I read those words and I realize the dilemma in that.  The pride.  That marriage had become my god.  And I had developed pre-meditated resentments toward God as I prayed for my own will rather than His.  And so faced with my own disappointment and failure, I listened to the world's words rather than the Word.  I soaked up false niceties, stunned when they proved lacking.  

I thought I was clinging but now see that I was compromising.  And so now I confess.  

"I think of the Hasidic rabbi petitioning God for the gift of prayer, asking until such time as I can pour out my heart like water before You, let me at least pour out my words" -Lauren Winner

So I'm pouring words as prayers now rather than defenses.  Rather than cases, I'm making pleas.  I'm choosing to believe that I:

 may be able to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth, and length, and height, and depth:
19 To know also the charity of Christ, which surpasseth all knowledge,
-Ephesians 3
that Jesus loves me - as I am.  For how can I extend grace if I haven't accepted it? And the world needs grace.  It needs patience and love an prayer.  And if my pain and my new understandings have been purposed so that I might share with others, then who am I to question this?
I remember the lyrics to the Christmas song, "Away in a Manger" and I rest on the knowledge that when I sang this song year after year at Lutheran school, Christ heard me and answered.
Be near me, Lord Jesus,
I ask Thee to stay,
Close by me forever,
and love me, I pray!
Bless all the dear children
in Thy tender care
And take us to heaven,
to Live with Thee there.
And so today, as I find comfort in the words of others who have tread through that dark night and stood looking at the frightening face of a middle, I pray that God would show Himself in a real way to all those out there who are being tested now and who feel that awful silence, that they would know how deeply they are loved and that He does work all things together for good.

Monday, June 11, 2012


There are things that no one tells you, that go along with this whole mess.  They don't say, (or say,well) that there's this huge collaboration of mixed emotions, that depression sort of lurks around the corner and it requires extreme vigilance to keep her at bay, or, most importantly, that when a marriage suffers to this extent, motherhood also gets a little shaky.

Carving out the motherhood against the singleness is a whole new ball game.  Because before, something was established.  Even if only in ideal.  But what is this new ground?  How do we all fit in or around each other now?  How many days can I play the giving-myself-grace card and feed them fast food? With each tantrum,  I now wonder if it has happened because of what has happened.  What do these kids really think? What do I really think?

Carving out really, everything, against this new circumstance is tricky:  Should I write to heal or heal before I write? 

Well, I'm here.  So....

I guess I'm banking on the idea that maybe, there's just a few others out there who have tread this ground before me or someday will in the future.  And the bottom line is that it's my truth now.  It's a truth, like the need for me to write is a truth.  Another truth is that I keep coming here drafting a paragraph or so and saving, then adding later because I'm scared.  Scared to voice what's going on, to admit that I still believe God is beautifying me because I hear in my head the mockers, see their fingers pointing, screaming that women whose marriages don't work out don't have the right to talk about God.  Not in the Christian world.  But maybe I don't want part of the American/Christian world anymore.  Maybe I just want to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling, away from the voices of judgement.  And maybe, I want to just share that little sliver of truth because I know that I'd appreciate reading it from someone else.

"I know that help is waiting only for my acceptance, waiting for me to say, 'Not my will but Thine be done'"




Grateful for:


the fact that, though, "We are experiencing all kinds of trouble, but we aren’t crushed. We are confused, but we aren’t depressed. We are harassed, but we aren’t abandoned. We are knocked down, but we aren’t knocked out."

messages only for me
purple flowers
reinvention
not parenting alone
childlike faith
the scales falling off
a building of confidence
believing and accepting the truth