Archive for October, 2007

Forgiveness

Posted on 2007-10-31. Filed under: Prayers, Quotes |


More quotage from Shame and Grace:

Forgiving is difficult; this is the first thing we need to know. The second is that the first and often the only person to be healed by forgiveness is the person who does the forgiving. The third thing we need to understand is what we actually do when we forgive someone. Consider forgiveness as a personal drama with five scenes.

Scene One: We blame the shamer.

We hold him or her accountable. If we do not hold people accountable for what they did to us, we will not forgive them. We may indulge them, perhaps, as if it did not matter much, or we may excuse them, as if they could not help doing what they did. But we will forgive them only if we hold them responsible for what they did to us.

Scene Two: We surrender our right to get even.

We take our natural right to a balanced account – a right to fairness, mind you, that is all, only what we deserve – we take it in our hands, look it over,consider its possibilities, and then surrender it. We agree to live with the score untied.

Scene Three: We revise our caricature of the person who shamed us.

When we taste our resentment, we roll it around our minds the way we roll a sour lozenge around our tongues, and, as we taste it, our minds draw a caricature of our shamer. We turn him into a monster who is what he did to us. We see him;  we feel him; we define his whole person in terms of how he shamed us. However, as we move with the forgiving flow, we gradually change our monster back into the weak and faulty human being he is (or was), not all that different from ourselves.

Scene Four: We revise our feelings.

As the frozen tundra of resentment melts, a tendril of compassion breaks through the crust. Sorrow blends with anger. Sympathy softens resentment. We feel emerging in our consciousness a hesitant desire for the other person’s welfare.

Scene Five: We accept the person who made us feel unacceptable.

In the last scene in the drama, we offer our shamer the grace that God has offered us. We not only pardon him; we also accept him. We take him back into our lives as a fellow member of the human family. Chances are that we are not able to restore the special relationship we had before. But if we cannot be reconciled, it will not be our resentment that prevents it.

 —

 After that section, there’s another section which I won’t repeat here. I’ll only write down the headers to remind me.

 Some Advice to Those Who Want to Forgive Their Shamers

  • Try Understanding First
  • Separate What You Can Put Up With From What You Need To Forgive
  • Don’t Be Hasty
  • Don’t Wait Too Long
  • Be Concrete
  • Do Not Wait For Your Shamer To Repent
  • Do Not Forgive Out Of A Sense Of Duty
  • Begin By Pretending If You Need To
  • Settle For Silent Forgiving If You Must

 

Father, please help me to follow this path of forgiveness. Help me learn how to walk in grace. Thank you.

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Jehovah-Rapha

Posted on 2007-10-29. Filed under: Prayers |


Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah. ) So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?”

Then Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.
There the LORD made a decree and a law for them, and there he tested them. He said, “If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.”

–Exodus 15:22-26

 

When Moses made the bitter waters sweet with wood, he prefigured your grace, O Cross; for we too have been delivered from the bitterness of evils by your power; therefore as we now greet you lovingly, make us sweet by compunction of soul.

——

I am bending my knee
In the eye of the Father who created me,
In the eye of the Son who died for me,
In the eye of the Spirit who cleansed me,
In love and desire.

Pour down upon us from heaven
The rich blessing of Thy forgiveness;
Thou who art uppermost in the City,
Be Thou patient with us.

Grant to us, Thou Saviour of Glory,
The fear of God, the love of God, and His affection,
And the will of God to do on earth at all times
As angels and saints do in heaven;
Each day and night give us Thy peace.
Each day and night give us Thy peace.

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Just some things

Posted on 2007-10-27. Filed under: Quotes, Thoughts |


It’s been a while since I blogged so here are just a couple of things that I’ve experienced recently.

First, there are two quotes from the book Shame and Grace. The first is a quote from Johann Goethe:

When we treat a man as he is, we make him worse than he is.
When we treat him as if he is already what he potentially could be, we make him what he should be.

The second quote is from the text of the book itself:

I will begin with this as our foundation: the surest cure for the feeling of being an unacceptable person is the discovery that we are accepted by the grace of One whose acceptance of us matters most.

To experience grace is to recover our lost inner child. The heart of our inner child is trust. We lose our childhood when we feel that the persons we trusted to accept us do not accept us or that they may reject us if we do things that displease them. Shame cheats us of childhood. Grace gives it back to us.

The trusting child does not have a worry in the world about whether he is smart enough, or handsome enough, whether he has accomplished enough with his life, or been good enough to be acceptable to his parent. He trusts that the someone who holds him, warms him, feeds him, cradles him, and loves him will accept him again and always. Trust is the inner child we rediscover in an experience of grace.

Grace overcomes shame, not by uncovering an overlooked cache of excellence in ourselves but simply by accepting us, the whole of us, with no regard to our beauty or our uglness, our virtue or our vices. We are accepted wholesale. Accepted with no possibility of being rejected. Accepted once and accepted forever. Accepted at the ultimate depth of our being. We are given what we have longed for in every nook and nuance of every relationship.

We are ready for grace when we are bone tired of our struggle to be worthy and acceptable. After we have tried too long to earn the approval of everyone important to us, we are ready for grace. When we are tired of trying to be the person somebody sometime convinced us we had to be, we are ready for grace. When we have given up all hope of ever being an acceptable human being, we may hear in our hearts the ultimate reassurance: we are accepted, accepted by grace.

The last thing that has really got me thinking recently is a sermon I listened to online. It’s from a church I was referred to in my current search. It’s a sermon on Finding God and references the Parable of the Prodigal Son in ways I’ve never heard before. And in fact, the way the two sons are compared was also alluded to in the Shame and Grace book – just without the reference to the Parable but referencing the types of people themselves.

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The Imitation of Christ, Part Deux

Posted on 2007-10-06. Filed under: Quotes |


Here I gave my favorite quotes from the first ten chapters of The Imitation of Christ by Thomas á Kempis. I’m going to continue that trend with some favorite quotes from the second ten chapters (for those of you that are mathematically disinclined, that would be chapters 11-20).

  • If only we would exert ourselves and take a firm stand in this battle, we would see how God comes to our aid, for He is always ready to help those who put their trust in Him. He even provides occasions for us to do battle so that we will overcome and be victorious.
    If our religion consists only in outward observances, our piety will soon come to an end. We had better lay our axe to the root, that being purged from our passions, we may possess our soul in peace.
  • It is good that everything is not always to our liking; for adversity makes people look into their hearts in order to realize that they are exiles and must not put their hopes in any worldly thing.
    It is good for us to run into opposition and to have others think badly of us, even when our intentions are good. For these things help us to be humble and rid us of pride. Then we seek God more earnestly, Who alone knows our inmost self, when outwardly we are ignored and discredited by others.
    Therefore, people should rely so entirely on God that they have no need to look for human consolations when adversity comes. When people of good disposition are afflicted or tempted or distracted by evil thoughts, then they understand the need they have of God and that without Him they can do nothing.
    Then too they grieve, while they sigh and pray because of the miseries they endure. They grow weary of this life and long for death in order to be with Christ, their Lord. It will also be clear to them that there is neither perfect peace nor security in this world.
  • The beginning of all evil temptations is inconstancy of mind and insufficient trust in God. Just as a ship without a rudder is tossed about with every storm, so those who are negligent and abandon their good resolutions are tempted in diverse ways. Gold is tried by fire and the upright person by temptation. Often we do not know what we can do until temptation shows us what we are.
  • We should not be discouraged when tempted, but turn in fervent prayer to God, Who, in His infinite goodness and compassion, will help us in all our needs. St. Paul has said that “together with the trial He will also provide a way out and the strength to bear it” (1 Cor 10:13).
  • Watch over yourself and take care not to judge the actions of other people. We gain nothing by criticizing others, but often are mistaken and thereby offend God. But to judge yourself and your own actions is always profitable.
  • There will always be defects in ourselves or others which we cannot correct. These we must simply tolerate until God in His goodness sees fit to change things. After all, this may be the best possible way to prove our patience, without which our good qualities are not worth much.
  • Learn how to be patient in enduring the faults of others, remembering that you yourself have many which others have to put up with. If you cannot make yourself be what you would like, how can you expect another to be as you would like? We wish to see perfection in others, but do not correct our own faults.
  • Every day renew your dedication to God, arousing fervent devotion in your heart as if it were the first day of your turning back to God. Pray to Him, saying: “Help me, Lord Jesus, to persevere in my good resolutions and in Your holy service till death. Help me to begin this day well, for up to now I have done nothing.”
  • The resolution of devout persons depends more on the grace of God than on their own wisdom. For human beings propose, but God disposes, nor is the course of their life as they would have it (Jer 10:23).
  • Seek a convenient time to search your own conscience, meditating on the benefits of God. Restrain curiosity; read only those things that will move you to contrition rather than give you distraction.
  • Unless we have sincere repentance, we are not worthy to receive spiritual consolation. if you are truly penitent, seek the quiet of your room and shut out the noise of the world, for it is written: “Be careful not to sin; reflect in silence as you lie upon your beds” (Ps 4:5). There you will find the grace that you may easily lose outside.
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Words

Posted on 2007-10-03. Filed under: Prayers, Quotes, Thoughts |


I read this earlier this week:

The primary means of Creation as well as relationship is the ability to speak, to communicate with words.

An essential gift that God gives man, one that sets him apart from the animals, is the ability to speak and communicate. God, our Father, desires relationship with the ‘children’ He creates, and He places within them the need and desire for relationship with Himself and with one another. The chief means of relationship is communication through the expression of words. Words have the power to create intimacy and unity and to facilitate meeting and fellowship – both with God and with one another.

That is so true. Words are power. As the Bible says, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:21)

I just finished watching Akeelah and the Bee tonight. It reminded me of the power of words in my life. A lot of my early success was due to my ability to use and understand words. And I can remember when my dexterity with words began to slip and how all of a sudden, life became harder.

Words can bring people together and split them apart. Words can heal and hurt. And it isn’t that some people use words to heal others and some people use words to hurt others. No. We all use them for both purposes. As James says, ” With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness.” (James 3:9)

I wish that I was able to continually remember the power of words and be able to control my tongue more effectively. Instead, it seems that so much of my life has been spent uttering deceit, curses, lies, threats, flattery, boasting, slander, slurs, accusations, perversity, and mockery. Earlier in that same chapter, James says:

The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. (James 3:6-8)

I’m to the point where I don’t trust my own words or the words of others. I’ve been let down too many times in life by way too many people, including myself. And I could tell myself that perhaps I put too much weight on words, on promises, on commitments, on fleeting comments given in the moment. But how can you overweight something that has the “power of life and death”, something that was used to create all of Creation?

I just realized that I’ve spent a lot of money this year on words, both in provisioning the proper words (in legal agreements) and in protecting our choice of words (with trademarks). So, are some words more valuable than others? Are some words more powerful than others? The world is just too complicated; if that’s the case, how in the hell am I supposed to recognize and know the difference between ineffectual words and words of power? How am I supposed to understand when someone is noncommittally placating me or when they are actually in fervent and genuine agreement? If there’s one thing I would like to proscribe, it’s off-the-cuff remarks. Too often, these words that the speaker proffers without thinking are received weightily by the listener – more weightily than intended.

I think I have a real problem in receiving love because I need love in words AND deeds. I think perhaps that Extreme had it wrong when they sang More than Words. Deeds just aren’t enough in themselves. For me, they need to be reinforced with words – powerful words full of intent and meaning.

Lately, I’ve been very particular in trying to speak and trying to hear. Some people think I’m overly parsing my communication but I am trying to be precise. I guess right now I’m so tired of imprecision, of messiness, of blurriness. I need distinction – clear demarcations between meanings, bright spotlights on the intended meaning.

Maybe that’s just my desire for control showing through. Perhaps I’m trying to control my life and my environment with words. Maybe that’s unhealthy and in rebellion to God. But the Bible says, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18) I don’t want my words to be reckless. No, the opposite of reckless is responsible. And if I’m to use responsible words and to be responsible for them, I want them to be correct and accurately reflect my intended meaning.

I don’t know – perhaps I should just heed the Bible where it says, ” When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” (Proverbs 10:19) Maybe if I reduce the amount of words I use, it will reduce the amount of sin in my life. <dunno>

Oh that the words of God would reverberate in my heart, in my mind, in my will and in my spirit. May the words of God remake me into something wonderful for Him. May the words of God reveal to my inner heart His love for me and His will for me. Father, please make your words come to life within me! Wash me in Your words and transform me into someone who is pleasing to You. And fill me with Your words so that they overflow into the lives of those around me. Thank you.

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