Love Connection

I sat at the Starbucks gripping my green tea lemonade and waiting for my blind date. Well it wasn’t exactly blind as I’d seen a picture but we’d never met and we’d never even talked. It wasn’t exactly, in the strictest sense of things a date, as much as a coffee meeting.  I have to admit that I’d been the one to initiate things.  I felt it was time and there was a lot riding on this.  I knew what I needed to do but this was so uncomfortable.  I double checked my reflection in the window.  My makeup was looking a little tired,my hair was a little flat and I was a little bloated but I sat up straighter and thought about what I’d say. Then the door opened up.

“Hi, oh my gosh you are gorgeous”.  Oh no I did not just say that. I scrambled.   “I’d seen a picture, your wedding picture but it doesn’t do you justice”.  I could not believe I just said that to my ex husband’s new wife. Seriously?  What about “Hi. It’s nice to meet you.  How are you doing? Thanks for having coffee with me.” as opposed to being a complete goober and blurting out the first thing I could think of to this utterly beautiful petite woman who drifted in, long beautiful tresses draped over her adorable outfit.  I knew before she said anything that she was also a lovely person.  I’d heard she was sweet but I needed to lay eyeballs on the woman who was now my son’s stepmother. She confirmed that opinion by just running with the conversation as if it was the most normal thing in the world for her new husband’s ex to comment on her looks and make reference to the wedding.  She earned definite points for graciousness.

After she got her coffee we talked.  My ex and I got our final divorce decree in July 2011. In December 2011 he met this woman, but February he was talking marriage and by August they were married.  None of this sat well with our son.  I’d warned my ex that our son needed time to get to know her and build a relationship but somehow he decided after a couple of encounters to announce their engagement and then asked my son if it was OK, sort of like when someone lights up and asks if you mind.  Unfortunately it wasn’t going well.  The troubling thing was that my son likes everyone.  There were times at school when someone might give him a rough time and I’d be ready to take it to the principal’s office and he’d say no. “Mom if they are acting out it means they are probably upset about something. I don’t want to make their lives worse.”  “Really?  I mean good for you” (even though I was itching to give them a swat).  This was the first time he’d refused to like someone.  He wouldn’t say her name, or talk to her more than was necessary.  I was all kinds of worried about this one.  As a past medical social worker I had a dozen scenarios playing in my head and none of them good.  Here is where love comes in.

The easiest thing in the world would have been to sit back and let things play out.  I had been translating between son and dad all their lives.  Ever since the divorce I’d been trying to keep these two together.  What I knew was that God designed my son to love.  Anything I did to interfere with that was harmful to him.  In loving my son I had to do everything in my power to keep the love flowing between the two of them.  Please know that my feelings have thrown every justification at me for being a righteous jerk, but my son’s heart is more important.

Now I had a new challenge.  I needed to help my son love his new stepmother.  It didn’t take any time to see what a pure spirit this woman had. I saw how she loved my ex and would have his back. I saw her heart as a mom for her own kids.  There was only one thing for me to do.  When I got home my son was still awake.  “Hey sweetheart. I had a great time.” I said. ” No seriously. I really like her.  I want you to know I feel really free.  I think she’s a good woman.”  My son hugged me.  “Love you mom. Thanks.  It’s going to be OK” and I knew it would be.

Does this hurt? Yes.  My heart aches when he is away. She will be easy to love.  I know that God designed his heart big enough to accomodate more people than me. Sometimes love hurts but in Christ it is not an option.  May God help us all to love way beyond what we thought possible. (Update in the “comment” section). D.

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The Ultimate Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything

The title for this post is not actually a delusional rambling.  I save those for close friends, family and politicians who come to my door soliciting votes. It is a chapter within The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a sci. fi./humour book by Douglas Adams. In it a group of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings demand to learn the Ultimate Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything from the supercomputer, Deep Thought specially built for this purpose. It takes Deep Thought 7½ million years to compute and check the answer, which turns out to be 42 The Ultimate Question itself is unknown.  I read this years ago and thought it was rather brilliant.  In the past couple of years I realized it has huge theological significance.  Now don’t run away yet.  I promise I will bring this back to something that makes sense. Honest.

When I got married I knew it would be forever.  I married a man who would never leave.  I would have put money on it. I would have ended up broke. Thanks for not taking that bet.

Afterwards I tried to make sense of what had happened.  Why didn’t God fix it? Why didn’t he tell me how to fix it?  Why didn’t he fix us? What purpose did he have in this? Why didn’t it work?   I don’t need to keep on going. If you’ve gone through divorce or trauma you have your own list of hurts and confusions.  It was easy to feel that others were looking at me as defective and the unspoken “if you’d had real faith this wouldn’t have happened.”

Thankfully Mr. Adams came to the rescue and he did it in the form of the book of Ruth. (No really.  Please hang on. It will make sense in a minute.)

Naomi marries a man named Elimelech. They have two sons whose names mean puny and pining.  Really.  Who gives their kids names like this? Famine has hit Judah so we may have a hint as to how desparate things were. Imagine how you would be praying, begging God for help.  Save us. Save our boys. They decide to move to Moab, away from friends, family and their faith community. You would be praying that God would protect you there. Eventually the boys marry foreign women outside of the faith. How that must have burned and shamed Naomi, but it got worse. Her husband dies and then both boys die.  Naomi knows that God has abandoned her.  She hears that things are better in Judah and so plans to return home to survive. She sends the girls home. There would be no love for these foreign women back home.  One goes but one refuses to leave Naomi.  Naomi is a broken woman. She says she has nothing to offer, no future sons and she says she sees no future husband for herself. “It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has gone out against me!”  How could she think anything else?  She knew that that is how others would judge her life. She was not favoured by God and now she would be a burden to her family until the day she died.

Imagine being her, crying out to God as to why he hated her so much.  What was her sin?  What was her purpose?  In reality the answer is 42.  We know from reading the book of Ruth (and if you haven’t, take my word for it, and then check it out yourself) that the purpose of her life was to bring Ruth into the line of David and ultimately Jesus. Come again?

There is no way that Naomi would have ever understood the purpose of her life.  She had no ability to get that answer and if she got it to understand it.  The meaning of her life could not be puzzled out.

I believe we treat God like a glorious Rubik’s cube that if we line things up right, we can figure out. He is the Holy Wild and we do not have the capacity to understand his thoughts and workings.  Does it make it easier? Yes and no.  It reminds me that it isn’t always about causal connections.  I still have to deal with pain and confusion but I can step away from the thinking that says things like “pain is God megaphone” and trying to fit everything into my frame of reference. Sometimes the answers for what happens in our lives is 42. I am so sad that Naomi died thinking she wasn’t loved.  I am grateful to Mr. Adams for a great life lesson.  Reflection is good but endless navel gazing is a lousy view. Sometimes the answers are not where or what we would think.  The meaning of life is way beyond us and I’m O.K. with that.

Take care, D.

You’ll never guess the butler did it

Sue: ” Hey Megan.  I have a book you have just got to read.  You would never guess that the butler was actually the twins dad. He’d been disfigured in a car accident and blamed the family for stealing his children and was killing them off in vengance.  You will just love it. It is the most suspenseful book I’ve ever read.”

Megan: Cue sound of crickets chirping.

Knowing the ending of a book or a movie disrupts the story telling art.  It is the building up, the guessing and being on a shared voyage with the characters that creates the impact.

When presented with our bibles we are told that it is the living breathing word of God.  It is not like any other book. Most books you read from the beginning as opposed to New and Old divisions.  We read the histories but we have a big problem.  We know the endings.  We know that the ultimate battle will be won my God.  The suspense factor has been taken out.

I think we lose a lot of the meaning and impact of what we are reading because we see an overview of people’s lives and experiences.

Moving forward as someone who is divorced in the church it is easy to feel that we are alienated.  What if we stepped back and re-read some of the stories that we thought we knew from the perspective of the characters who had no idea what was next or what would happen to them?  What could we learn and take strength in?

I think of the story of Esther. We celebrate that she saved the Jews. We know the finished story. We don’t feel the true horror and sorrow that was her life.  To be a young girl without parents  must have been so isolating. To be sent to the palace meant to lose all her hopes and dreams. She would never have a nice Jewish husband and be able to raise their children in their faith. She was being taken out of her community to be put in a place of debauchery, violence and madness. She would be hated by the other women competing for favour and would be targeted for violence by them. She would undergo treatments and training that would be against her upbringing. She would have seen him drunk and out of control and pictured him touching her.  Her wedding night would be without mercy or love or committment. She would have no protection and nowhere to run. He could do anything he liked. She’d be tied to a man who killed his best friends son on a whim. His best friend had already lost one of his two sons in battle. He asked Xerxes if his second son could be spared. Xerxes called his friend to the courtyard and the friend witnessed his second son murdered as a penalty.  This was the man Esther faced.  Can you imagine her fear and hopelessness?  We know the rest of the story but she did not. We don’t know what happened to her afterwards but the dreams of her youth would never be given back to her and the rest of her days would be in this environment.  God put her in a place that was a nightmare and yet she trusted and served him.  It did work but she could not have known that.

Many times we will end up in places and situations that seem impossible for God to redeem.  We might see facets of our lives as nightmares. Re-read the stories as if you didn’t know the endings.  You will find that you are not such an alien after all.   D.

 

The War of Reconciliation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That was it. I was done.  I put down the phone and once again I was in tears. How was it that I used to negotiate with street kids, bikers and warring families as a career but couldn’t seem to navigate my way through a simple conversation with my ex without his sharpness?  It was almost two years since he’d left the house and I couldn’t believe he could still make me cry.

I’d really believed that God had placed a strong duty on me.  I was to maintain my responsibility to care for my ex, to have his back and to live at peace with him as much as possible.  At the end of our marriage we quarrelled a lot because I had a need to be understood and I thought if we talked long enough we’d find a way to come to a consensus. (Yes I know some of you are shaking your heads.) Unfortunately it often went sideways and the simplest things were met with hostility by him, hurt by me and frustration from both. When he left I finally stopped fighting. I realized he wasn’t coming back and I no longer had to wait for the day it would be my turn and we’d have a partnership.  I thought I was learning to let go.  I thought I was embracing gentleness and working really hard to give my son the best relationship possible with his dad.

I wanted my relationship with him to be independent of his actions.  I wanted to model what a Christian’s response should be to people. I wanted to make theology live. I honestly meant to try to be radically different.  I couldn’t teach my son about forgiveness, loving those that don’t love us and be a complete cow to his dad. I wanted to thoughtfully act rather than just react. I refused to have his choices dictate the sort of person I would become. I still felt the dragon’s tail twitching inside of me, wanting to rant and vent my hurt and my loss, my betrayal and sullenness, but I really felt God holding me back. It was a daily battle. “Hi my name is D. I’ve gone six months without sarcasm, pettiness or spite”,…Most of the time it even worked but there was a problem.

When I hung up the phone I realized I’d spent two years acting like a low level employee on probation. I was not letting go of seeking approval.  I saw that I was hoping that he would suddenly see the years of loyalty and support and caring and finally say that I was a good person.  I wanted him to take back his words and change his heart. I wanted to be liked.I hadn’t let go of needing him to validate me.  Suddenly it all crumbled.  I couldn’t take the rudeness and the clipped tones.  I gave up. I’d done my part and it was a bust.

Our son’s birthday was coming up on the weekend.  I was hosting a party for our son’s friends on the Saturday and my ex would be there. On Sunday he would host a party for his family but I wasn’t allowed to attend.  It had been that way last year as well. I accepted the double standard but I had had enough.  I e-mailed him and asked him not to come. I realized that I was done being the constant peace maker.  I just wanted him to go away and take his negativity and judgement with him. I felt miserable.

On Wednesday I prepared to go to one of the last Divorce Care sessions.  When I opened the book I froze. The title was reconciliation.  No way.  I sat at a table surrounded by similarly frozen people. Some with stories so painful that even the word reconciliation was a slap in the face.  We listened to the video and I felt the humiliation of being rejected all over again.

Really? You want me to call every six months and see if he’ll come home? I should stay single like the woman who waited 12 years in case he changes his mind? Shoot me please.

What none of us expected is that reconciliation didn’t mean having to get back in our marriage with the ex spouse.  We started to breath. Cautiously. We were told that there were different levels including civility, and friendship.  It was like God was telling me not to give up.  I knew I had to relook at some of my expectations, hopes and goals. I needed to carve out boundaries that were healthy and redefine my goal as being a peaceful and healthy relationship so that all three of us could move forward. I needed to let go of needing his approval.

Letting go, just like any grief is not linear. I realize that reconciliation, like an addiction, will be a daily struggle.  We are all potential weapons of mass destruction. We have to choose to harness it, and I know I will revisit old wounds and hurts a few times before I can really defeat them. I wish I could tell you I’m a saint. I wish I didn’t have to struggle with wanting validation but this is my war to fight and with God’s priorities maybe now I have a fighting chance.

Wishing you all a world of peace, D.

 

 

 

 

 

Squeaky Shoes

I have a wonderful friend named Shirley Yamashita.  One of the things I love about her is her freedom in accepting grace.  She is one of those people who shine their faith.  It has been a faith refined by sorrow and difficulty.  She is someone who chooses to focus on beauty, hope and laughter.

I read a blog post she’d done and asked if I could share it. I love how claimed something from her past and let it be transformed.

She said she was no longer blogging but was happy to share. This is what she wrote.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Walking through Life in Squeaky Shoes…

As I walk through the slumbering early morning halls of our office the loud squeak from my shoes vibrates and calls out as I take each step. Surprisingly, I am filled with images, thoughts and emotions with every step, my brain begins referencing a myriads of video in my mind. I recall the movie Mel Gibson played in “What a Women wants”, where his mind was so noisy hearing so many voices and random thoughts of the women around him.I fade to the past, a time when I was an 8 yr old, a little girl walking through the halls of a seemingly enormous school with great old halls, wooden floors and ceilings almost as high as cathedral’s.With every “Squeak” I hear the voice…I feel so small. Squeak…I hate my hair, I think, I’m Japanese I should have STRAIGHT hair not frizzy and thick…I wish it was straight and silky. Squeak…I should have worn a different outfit everyone has better clothes and SHOES! Squeak,…squeak…

Flash through the last 10 years: squeak…I could think about all of the sad and hard things LIKE: my life has been trying…squeak I hated trying to prove my daughter’s challenges…squeak…I wish she was accepted and had friends in her peer group…squeak I wish life was easier for my children…

BUT then: Squeak…my Life is really great now…squeak…My children are growing up to be wonderful people…squeak…I don’t worry about who I am…squeak I am loved and cherished by so many of my family and friends…squeak…I have a place in MY world.

I came to realize that day with the help of my squeaky shoes that through my life that my perspective has changed and the hard times are no longer milestones but doors that are there to be opened to great things. The squeaking bothered me many years ago  as a child because I did not know who I was and I did not feel right in my skin.

I celebrate my squeaky shoes that have allowed me to see life in capsules of scenes and reflect on how far I have come to be “ME” and celebrate.”

May your squeaky shoes be transformed and give you reasons for joy, D.

Baggage

“Good afternoon madame.  Are you checking in?  Yes?  Any baggage?  Oh my.  You are taking all of this with you?  I’ll get the manager”.

We all have baggage. Some of us have backpacks and others need sherpas to move their steamer trunks and wardrobes.

One of the biggest challenges of being divorced is learning how to tell people who you are. I know I still get stuck on that one.  I’m always fascinated by how people choose to  introduce themselves.  In one online arts group I belong to we ask newcomers to introduce themselves to the group.  I was stunned by one lady’s opening.

“Hello, I joined this group over a year ago (I think), and have been silent ever since.I have chronic major resistant depression, as well as an auto-immune disorder, for which I a now taking narcotics.”   Really?  This is what you want us to know about you? What we say first is how we define the most important part of our being. It is what we want to be known for.  This woman let us know right from the beginning that her struggles were her focus. She didn’t once mention her interest in our craft, her interest in any art form or even if she had children or pets. We didn’t even know her name before her baggage was dropped at our feet.

I never met the woman or know her name. I am sorry she has such problems but nothing in her intro. drew me to her.  She’d fallen into the trap of our generation, of identifying herself, not by her astrological sign, but by her self-help group. We are a generation that identifies itself by its damage. The problem with taking your identity from your damage is that you can’t afford to heal. If you do you lose what makes you special.

I also struggle with a serious auto-immune problem but I need people to know me for my faith, my friendships, my humour, my volunteer work, my artwork, travels, my love of reading, etc.  I want to be known for my passions and strengths.  I may be divorced but I am not my divorce.  It isn’t about being better than anyone else. Many of you have stories that are so horrible that you are victims in the truest sense of the word.  It is about being self aware of how we are presenting ourselves and the tone we are setting for future relationships. It’s about deciding on our own marketing and deciding what we want to define us.

Recently I was making up new business cards since I’d closed my website and wanted to direct traffic to my Flickr site.  I wanted to pick a background for my card that conveys a sense of who I am as an artist. I searched through the free templates looking for swirls and colours that resonated with me. I wanted it to say “me” before people even read the print.  On the card I only had two lines to tell people what sort of artist I am and why I should be their go to girl.

I realized that the new me also needed some repackaging. What would I say if I only had two lines to let people know who I am?

.   Even the people you have known for years may not know how to approach the new you and need direction.  It was really upsetting to me in the beginning when people I’d known seemed to shy away. I realized that I had to be the one to redefine myself for them so they’d know what to do.  They needed direction from me.

As people who’ve gone through a terrible transition we need to actively decide how we want to be seen. Do we present our strengths and interests or our victimization? What do we have to offer others?  Usually baggage, especially after a hectic trip, contains a lot of smelly things.  No one is interested.  When we get back from travelling the kids are usually hoping for gifts or souvenirs.  “What did you bring us?”  Our baggage is a mix of all of this. I would say that in going forward we need to unpack in private, and decide what others would enjoy seeing from our travels.  It is up to us to decide how we want to introduce the new us.

What would your two lines be?

D.

My reality as a teenaged boy and other science fiction

The truth is that I’m not a rainbows and kittens kind of girl.  I enjoy science fiction, sculpting, abstract painting, comic books and a good burger.  A great night is a vintage godzilla film marathon, popcorn and an ice cold Pepsi.My ex once said that I was just a teenaged boy in disguise which in hindsight I think disturbed him. As my ex mother in law would say, “You have odd tastes for a woman”.

I was never a tomboy, just creative with a Far Side sense of humour.  I was a medical social worker and science fiction was infinitely more interesting or exciting than any movie of the week and it was a great escape from the intensity of my work.  It asked all the “What if?” questions and everything was in technicolour.  In truth the monsters were usually extensions of the human condition and a lot of the stories were morality tales but with the greatest make up and special effects.  In the hollywood movies it was usually clear who were the bad guys and the good guys and I could suspend disbelief and just enjoy myself.  In the books you were provoked with moral and intellectual dilemmas that challenged you to new perspectives and sumptuous feats of imagination, and they were just plain cool.

I hadn’t always been involved in art but once I got engaged I found that I was home alone a lot (what’s wrong with this picture?) as he was in an intense school program that lasted until the end of our first year of marriage.  I’d never been a good art student as most of that had to do with perfectly replicating drawings of horses.  That is how I remember it.  Very neat and tidy girls would draw replicas of horses with their perfectly sharpened pencils and got As.  Mine looked like disgruntled weasels with gland problems.  Needless to say I did not win any scholarships. I hung out with friends, attended youth group and watched too much TV. My parents were so proud but I digress.

During the time alone I started having dreams with amazing colours and textures and patinas and I wanted desparately to try and reproduce them. When I experimented crafting in 3D I came alive.

I began to explore my need to create.  I found that with a husband that traveled constantly the need to communicate became more pressing. I could express emotions with colours, shapes and forms and lose myself in learning.  In all of this I was learning who I was, what I liked and how I interpreted my world.  Unfortunately it wasn’t what my ex wanted.  I wanted him to be proud of me, of the shows or occasional article in the news but he was still a singularity apart.  I tried to change myself.  I packed up all the supplies and focused on making a clean home a show home, the meals upgraded from healthy to trendy, be the best mom possible and my spare time spent at the gym.  None of it brought him closer and now I was the one feeling lost.  I didn’t know how to fix things, what to be to be wanted besides at night time.

When he finally left I cried convulsively for two months unable to focus, terrified of the future and knowing that if only I wasn’t me maybe I could have been loved.  If only I could have sketched lovely fricking horses and could have watched daytime TV and pretend that the hosts weren’t muppets from hell, and if I could golf and drink white wine, if only,…. If only I wasn’t me.

When I finally stopped crying I pulled out the clay.  I began with little pieces. Then I left all my supplies out.  With a shock I realized I could do that.  In time I found that I didn’t have to stay up late creating to avoid my life. I could create when I wanted because my space was my own and I could sleep when it was good for me because I was free.  The person I’d become, the real me didn’t have to apologize for what I wasn’t. I love weird, quirky things, indie music, late night discussions about faith, politics, flying carpets, eternity, travel and love.  I can do that now.  My reality is wide open and I can explore.
Divorce can seem like a complete rejection of who and what you are but you have the choice to embrace your inner teenaged boy, your foodie, your world explorer, activist or humorist.  I realize that by rejecting who I was I could never be who I was meant to be. I’ve spent most of my life saying I believe that God loves me.  I believed that I knew who I was and liked that person but when my partner threatened to reject me I was willing to toss me out too.

Being divorced means re-evaluating who you are as a singlette. I pray you all find your reality and appreciate your own voice.

D.Isaiah 61:7

Stinking Weasel, Self Esteem and Other Popular Myths

O.K. I feel a rant coming on.  I swear it isn’t my fault.  Yesterday I was stuck waiting in a doctor’s office and was subjected to a canned bad remix of Sinatra’s “My Way”. The lyrics at the best of times set my teeth on edge  but this should have been banned under the Geneva convention. Besides being made to feel like I was trapped in an elevator I  just can’t get on board with the whole premise. The dramatic message of the song is that the highest value is to be true to yourself and to do things your way, but there’s a problem.  What if someone in their heart of hearts, at the core of their being is a stinking weasel?   Why is being true to that a good thing?  I’m thinking that who we are should not always be the marker by which we set the bar. Be honest, for some of the people you’ve met that bar would be subterranean, yet we accept the concept of “to thine own self be true” without critical reflection.

Since my divorce (that word still gives me the shivers) I have been given a fair bit of self love advice.  I admit that I have the occasional committment issues with self love as I know myself too well but all in all there is an abiding fondness.  What worries me is that the goal of these “love yourself” books and talks seem to border on stalkerish behaviour.  I think that knowing yourself and finding the things you enjoy about yourself is good. You spend a lot of time with you and having a nice working relationship is helpful.  Being infatuated with your every thought or action, putting yourself on a pedestal that says that everything you do, say or think is magnificent, is delusional.

Self esteem is a thorny issue.  You need to believe in your own decisions, opinions, tastes and values.  You need to know who you are and find your voice.  The problem is the wholesale acceptance of everything you are without any critical assessment. Have you really reached your end goal?  Really?  There is no tweaking to be done? I’ve yet to meet the person who couldn’t use a little emotional nip or tuck.

I’m an artist and there is a brilliant story teller Ira Glass.  In a little video series he talks about the gap between your taste and your output. http://youtu.be/BI23U7U2aUY (If this link doesn’t work go to YouTube and look up Ira Glass on Storytelling, part 3 or 4).

Part of his point is to know your goals, produce work, acknowledge the gap and keep on producing until you’ve narrowed the gap. He also says that it wil take a long time to get from here to there.  It’s the same with personal, emotional and spiritual growth.

I think this applies to self esteem.  Loving yourself doesn’t mean that you are the finished product and ready for worship. I really hate the whole attitude of, “Well this is me and if that isn’t good enough for you then watch my dust as I leave because I’m perfect the way God made me.”  If I was truly the way God made me that would be great but I’ve done some alterations of my own and maybe some self assessment isn’t unwarranted.  I go to church because I need to. We need people to love us as we are but that doesn’t mean that some of our behaviours and attitudes don’t need adjustment.

A couple of days ago in a post called “Walls” I quoted from Isaiah 58: 11,12. It talked about God guiding and restoring and rebuilding in our lives. It is a wonderful thing to soak in. What I didn’t include were verses 9 and 10. There were conditions on these blessings. They called for personal corrections. It talked about what you needed to do and stop doing.

” If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”

Hhm. No making others pay for our pain. No yelling, blaming or bitter talk.  Be useful and helpful. Look to the needs of others. Don’t you love that phrase, “then your light will rise in the darkness”?  How can you not want that?  Here is the blue print and it has nothing to do with making yourself the center. The opposite behaviour is the way out.

In the name of self esteem it doesn’t mean that we are the gold standard of all we could or ever should be.  What if we have our own stinking weaselisms (that word is probably going to give my spell checker a nervous breakdown)?  Maybe I’m just talking to myself but especially in the church we have to be able to be transparent withourselves. I will never understand why anyone who has been forgiven could ever twist it to the point where they think that they are the example to be followed.  So many of the disagreements in the church come down to the fact that we want others to worship and serve and pray as we do in order for the other person to be correct.

One of my favorite quotes is that real evangelism is one beggar showing another beggar where to find bread.  I have no defence. If you look to find fault in me you won’t have to try too hard. We were saved by perfection. We are not perfection, and that’s O.K..

I’m also always leery of people who proclaim that they have bad self-esteem. I’ve always found it to be an excuse for really bad behaviour towards others.  What it often means is they are upset that they aren’t treated as the lead dog of the pack and they resent it. In fact they have the opposite of bad self esteem. Their insecurities have to do with how they think they ought to be treated.  Real low self esteem people rarely say a word.  They don’t believe they have anything to say worth hearing.  Those people break my heart.  Telling them they need great self esteem is useless as they don’t see what is beautiful in themselves as they are fixated on their flaws.

Either way we fixate on what is broken or pretend that we are beyond being challenged. Neither brings healing or wholeness.

May I suggest a middle ground?  What if we could see the pretty, shiny things inside, enjoy them and set goals for the other stuff?  No hand wringing, no stomping out with an attitude, just a pinch of humility, a little light humored acceptance with a dose of reality? The “self” is a modern mythological god that is notoriously unreliable.  Appreciate it as a work in progress get rid of the pressure of being a small “g” god.  Make Isaiah 58:9, 10 a personal goal.

Now if I could just get that muzak out of my head!   (The above cartoon is the cover of an “Agnes” book by Tony Cochran)

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