Archive for August, 2007

Enjoying the Day

Posted on 2007-08-24. Filed under: Quotes, Thoughts |

Here’s a quote from Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home that I wanted to blog so that I could reference it whenever I needed to relatively easily. I have been thinking of this quote a lot in the last day or so and it has helped me enjoy my day regardless of circumstances.

The prayer of adoration must be learned. It does not come automatically. Notice our own children! They do not need to be trained to ask for things. To get empirical verification for this, all we need is one trip with you children to a shopping mall or a supermarket! But to express thanks? That is a wholly different matter. What endless effort it takes to help our children cultivate a habit of gratitude.

The same thing is true for us. Thanksgiving, praise, adoration — these are seldom the first words in our minds…or on our lips. We need all the help we can get in order to move into a deeper, fuller adoring. The following stepping-stones will, I hope, help to mark the way.

We begin right where we are in the nooks and crannies, the frustrations and fears, of ordinary life. When we are filled with sadness, for example, it seldom helps to count our many blessings or rehearse the glorious attributes of God. We do not learn adoration on the grand cosmic scale by centering on the grand and the cosmic, at least not at first. It wears us out and defeats us to start in this way.

No, we start more simply. We learn about the goodness of God not by contemplating the goodness of God but by watching a butterfly. So here is my counsel: begin by paying attention to the little creatures that creep upon the earth. Do not try to study or analyze them. Just watch the birds and the squirrels and the ducks. Watch, do not evaluate, watch.

Go to a brook and splash some water onto your burning face. In that instant do not seek to solve all the problems of pollution and the ecosystem; just feel the water. Most of all, do not try to find God in the water or to make yourself be thankful for the water. Simply allow the cool wetness to refresh your skin. Now sit back and listen to the sound of the brook. Watch the branches of the tree overhead swaying back and forth. Notice the leaves fluttering in the breeze – notice their shape, their color, their texture. Listen to they symphony of rustling leaves and scampering chipmunks and twittering birds. Remember, I am asking you not to analyze, only to notice.

When we do these kinds of things with some degree of regularity, we, in time, begin to experience pleasures rather than merely scrutinize them. What this does within us is altogether wonderful. We are first drawn into these tiny pleasures and then beyond them to the Giver of pleasures. True pleasures are, afterall, “shafts of the glory,” to use the phrase of C. S. Lewis. As this happens, thanksgiving and praise and adoration will flow naturally in their proper time: “To experience the tiny theophany is itself to adore.” This is where we begin, but it is not where we end.

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Dealing with Suffering

Posted on 2007-08-09. Filed under: Quotes, Thoughts |

Here’s some quotes from Hiding From Love regarding hiding. This is a big concept in the book as the last three chapters have been on it. These quotes are from the first chapter which discusses how we deal with suffering. This chapter has really made me think about past and present relationships and both how I have been hurt in them and how I have hurt others. Relationships are so not logical. But, if we accept that, we can try to examine them and see what is happening and why.

Even though it’s a “post-Fall” concept, some hiding is necessary. Many Christians feel that they should not only endure whatever is thrown their way, but even volunteer for more pain, because they view that as “suffering for Christ.” This is not a biblical view. Much suffering we experience is neither for God’s glory nor for our good. Without some types of self-protection, we suffer in destructive ways. There are good and bad reasons to withdraw from pain.

Primarily, emotional pain comes from problems in our relatedness to God, self, or others.

Let’s define suffering as what we experience when a need or wish goes unmet.

What we do with the suffering we encounter has to do with the meaning of the pain we’re in. There are some suffering experiences we are to embrace joyfully, and some we are to resist with all our strength.

Just suffering is our teacher. …Some of the things you and I feel distress about are the natural consequences of our actions. These aren’t punishments from God as much as they are teachers and friends to us. Suffering can help us train for life.

Our suffering is inevitable when we don’t pay attention to our psychological symptoms, or deal with the hurt part of the heart. In other words, these sorts of troublesome emotions and behaviors are friends saying to us, “Here’s a problem – start working on it.” When we don’t pay attention to emotional pain – and treat it appropriately – then, as in the effects of physical pain, we will suffer the consequences.

Preventable, unjust suffering raises the question of love versus justice. Think about your daily encounters in which you have an opportunity to suffer or not to suffer. …These and countless other situations provide us with the choice to allow ourselves to experience some sort of distress. A second “distress” is determining whether to keep quiet or confront; to allow irresponsibility or to prevent it; to suffer pain or avoid it. Some people say, “Christians should just ‘take it.'” Others say, “We must always confront injustice.” Actually, it’s not that simple, no matter which side you take. God says a great deal about suffering voluntarily, and yet also a great deal about refusing evil. The pivotal point between these two worlds hsa to do with two aspects of God’s character: love and justice. The principle here is this: Wehn our need for justice exceeds our ability to love, we responsibly withdraw. This “responsible withdrawal” is helpful hiding.

There are times when the heart is empty or injured and has nothing to give. In these times we need justice, in the form of support away from suffering, in order to become reconnected to God and others. This reconnection lifts us out of deprivation and need and into a position of gratitude. When the heart is full, it indciates that we have received love. At this point, allowing another to inconvenience us would not damage our heart. Our ability to love is enhanced beyond our need for justice.

Love, joy, and gratitude are the fruit of God’s Spirit of grace. They are the results of being loved; they’re not something we can choose at will. …If we’re allowing ourselves to suffer because of fear, obligation, or guilt, we can’t respond from a loving position: as John says in his first epistle, perfect love casts out fear.

To feel unloving … is not a sign of pride or being unspiritual. It’s the heart’s way of saying that we’re disconnected from relationship in some way. There’s been a break in our need to be rooted and grounded in love. Helpful hiding is the opposite of forcing ourselves to suffer resentfully. It takes wisdom to know how much deprivation we can take in a relationship before real damage occurs. The biblical solution is to withdraw in order to protect the soul. This means knowing when our need for justice is greater than our ability to love. In this context, withdrawal is not selfishness, but responsible stewardship.

The ability to set limits requires knowledge of the state of our heart. We need to know which parts of ourselves are more tender and in need of more grace.

The more loved we are, the more we’re able to withstand suffering from a loved position. We can endrure more deprivation in the present if we’ve had enought consistent, warm, accepting attachment in the past.

The “love versus justice” principle may be frustrating for some Christians who would like more defined “rules of conduct” about suffering. They may feel anxious without specific guidelines for the particular kinds of situations in which they should or shouldn’t allow themselves to suffer. Rules certainly make some aspects of life easier. But allegiance to them indicates a fear of error, not a mark of love. People who love know they’ll make mistakes. But they also know they’ll learn from them and mature through them. Jesus taught in principles. Principles require a degree of maturity in discerning how to apply them. Jesus’ summation of the entire Law in loving God and people was a slap in the face of religious tradition. Tradition had taken the place of a relationship with God.

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Sorrow and Tears

Posted on 2007-08-02. Filed under: Thoughts |

I feel like all I’ve been doing lately is quoting but I’m trying to be still and just receive and not process too much right now. Here’s another quote from Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home by Richard Foster. It’s about sorrowful prayer or the Prayer of Tears as he calls it.

…certain temperaments are slow to furnish tears. If this is the case with you, do not be discouraged. I have been where you are. Allow me to share a few counsels that have been helpful to me.

Be both firm and friendly with yourself. Do not let yourself get away with the “I’m just not the emotional type” excuse. …Be encouraged by the observation of Thomas a Kempis that “habit overcomes habit.” You are building new habits of prayer, and patient, kind, firm persistence is what you need with yourself.

Next, if you will immerse yourself in the Gospels, they will cure you of the “stiff-upper-lip” religion that is so foreign to the one who was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Jesus knew the Prayer of Tears, and he will show you how to follow “in his steps” (1 Pet. 2:21). Follow the counsel of Saint Theodore the Studite: “Let us go in the Spirit to the Jordan…and let us receive baptism with him, I mean the baptism of tears.”

Also, when you cannot weep outwardly, shed tears before God in your intention. Have a weeping heart. Keep your soul in tears. even if the eyes are dry, the mind and the spirit can be broken before God.

Finally, as you wait for the baptism of tears to come, rest in the words of John Chrysostom: “The fire of sin is intense, but it is put out by a small amount of tears, for the tear puts out a furnace of faults, and cleans our wounds of sin.”

This correlates nicely with something that I read recently but I can’t be sure where. It may have been Hiding From Love by John Townsend. It was simply discussing depression an d it said that the antidote to depression was sadness and true grief. By allowing yourself to be sad and to fully feel grief, you can overcome depression. Also, I was listening to someone today and they were talking about healthy negative feelings versus unhealthy negative feelings and they actually used sadness and depression as examples.

So, it’s OK and even desired to be sad when it’s warranted. I guess Happiness truly is Not Required (all the time).

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What happened to yesterday?

Posted on 2007-08-01. Filed under: Life |

I just woke up and don’t remember going to sleep at all. I had just finished dinner and I was sitting down talking with my boy and then the next thing I know I was waking up at o’dark thirty. I missed the whole evening and now I have a huge headache.

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