2/23/16 Morning Musing: Beautifully Broken

I went to my art class today…a class that I will admit has given me some trouble this year…not the lessons really…more the personalities. I am an outsider…each of the women there signed up with a buddy and have their own little pockets of friends in class…so I feel that sense of not fitting in each week when I attend. The instructor is amazingly talented…but was sharing a lot of negativity on and off for the first few weeks. (Things came to a head a few weeks ago when my tendency to ask questions was turned into an assumed character flaw…I stayed after class and…well, we have an understanding now…she will not assign character traits to me based on incorrect assumptions and I will continue to ask questions because that is how I learn.) I am sure that the weird tension between the instructor and I didn’t help loosen the friendship pockets any.  

Anyway, a few weeks have passed and today, one gal who has been really closed off and tightly wound the whole semester, shared a very small tidbit of information about her son. I immediately felt compassion for the people in the situation that she described and shared with her some ways that I empathize with her situation and her son’s as well. See, I can identify with some of what the son has experienced and shared some things with her that might help her level of understanding where her child is concerned…ways that I have struggled and ways that I have failed along with the fears that accompany those failures…fears that I would be pigeon-holed or stereo-typed…fears that the way that people look at me will change…fears that relationships would be reduced to me living in a microscope to be studied…lots of fears.

And that is when it happened. The feel of the entire class changed. People started mingling more…walking around and looking at each other’s work and asking questions about how to achieve certain effects…sharing more about their real lives…encouraging each other through various struggles and sharing experiences that might help. This small group of predominantly uncomfortable strangers began to be known just a touch…let down their guard a tad…even giggle or tear up a little bit. Walls started to come down as posturing ceased and a journey toward depth began. I don’t know why I am telling you this except that it really struck me. I thrive on depth and authenticity and am really stifled (and somewhat sickened) by falseness and insincerity so this change…this new real-ness…this willingness to be a little vulnerable…well, it’s what I value most and it’s a glimpse of what I imagine Heaven will be like…what Eden was like before…

So, how are you doing in this area? Are you known? Really known? Do people have access to the person that you really are? Warts and all? What prevents you from being authentic? Do you allow others to be real? How can you encourage this more?  

My prayer today is that we would be brave. That we would allow who we really are…the actual creatures that God designed us to be…to be. That we would get comfortable being uncomfortable and just sit in it…not try to wiggle out of it…not side-step it and steer things away from our faults…because I think that our scars and broken parts might just be our most beautiful parts…because unlike the parts of us that get it all “right”…our tender bits are, after all, the parts that make us need the God that created us.

Much love friends,

2/18/16 Morning Musing: Reconciliation and Forgiveness are Not the Same Animal

Over the last few years, I have been doing a lot of work in the area of forgiveness. I’ve worked on forgiving and reconciling with those who have hurt me. I have worked at length on forgiving myself for things that deeply injured others…things that those people have forgiven me for and that Jesus has long since taken on my behalf. And I have worked tirelessly on forgiving those who deeply wounded me…injured me in such a way that it affects nearly every area of my life…and from whom an apology (or even an acknowledgement) never came.

So, this weekend, when I listened to a sermon on reconciliation, I was struck by how the pastor was lumping forgiveness and reconciliation together as the same thing. Maybe I am getting lost in semantics but I don’t see them as the same at all. I see forgiveness as the place where I can affect change. I think forgiveness has everything to do with my posture before God and nothing really to do with any action at all by the other person. Forgiveness is the part where I wipe the account clean (at least from my side)…where my heart comes to a place and says “You owe me nothing.” Forgiveness is where healing begins but where pain is not magically erased. See, I think that pain will still crop up as the wounds heal…and that hurt…that little bit of agony…can be offered up to God as worship through obedience each time I feel it…because it doesn’t go away in one big hurrah…it creeps back in…all stealthy-like…and catches me off-guard when I see it because I think “I’ve already done this! I’ve already forgiven him!” But, it is time to forgive him again…and I embark on the weighty task once again.
On the other hand, reconciliation is the mending of the relationship…and while I think this is a beautiful thing…I don’t think it always happens and I don’t think that we always have any control over it…nor do I think it is always healthy and good. See, I don’t think that reconciliation is meaningful unless forgiveness has happened first…forgiveness is what happens in the heart-space…it is what is bone-deep and, I think, connects us to Jesus more deeply…because it teaches us (in a tiny way) about the work that he had to do to forgive us. I think that forgiveness is a part of us being image-bearers…and consequently it is deeply spiritual. Reconciliation is also spiritual and a blessing…but I think it is a result…a natural consequence…of the work done through forgiveness…a beautiful side-effect.

This may not make sense to everyone…we haven’t all struggled in the same ways…but I am hoping that it brings a little bit of clarity…and a touch of peace…to someone who has struggled in the ways that I have. If you find that you forgive someone and then it keeps cropping back up, don’t beat yourself up…pain doesn’t just disappear because you have forgiven someone…but you can acknowledge that pain…from the deep and tender place in you…and give it to the healer as an offering. Reconciliation, if it is meant to be, will come…opportunities will be presented…but first…the heart space.

So, how are you doing this? Are you doing the hard work of forgiving someone? Yourself? Do you find yourself having to go back and repeat the work that you have already done? Instead of getting frustrated and berating yourself, can you acknowledge the pain that exists there? Can you trust God enough to offer that pain to him? To allow that offering to be a way that you worship him? If you are being forgiven by someone, can you allow them the time necessary to work through it? If it doesn’t happen magically for you, you can bet it won’t happen magically for them either. Can you allow them to be hurt without your interference? Whether it is you or someone else doing the hard work of forgiveness, allow time and space to work through it…don’t press for an immediate result and don’t be surprised if much of the work must be repeated in order to heal.

My prayer today is that we would reconcile where appropriate…but that first, we would do the hard work that is forgiveness. I am praying that we honor the one who has forgiven us of so much by embarking on the same task. I am praying that we wouldn’t press for an outward result until we are healed inside so that reconciliation has a chance of being authentic and lasting.

Much love friends,

2/8/15 Morning Musing: Extremes Make for Funny Stories…But Not the Best Legacies

Have you ever found yourself doing something to the extreme (for you anyway) and wondered “How did I get here?” I’m not talking about something that is inherently bad…it could be something common: spending money…watching tv…drinking a bit…even exercising. I have found myself caught up in something like that lately and am beginning the hard work of re-disciplining myself back to moderate and healthy in that area. The funny thing about it is that I have known for a while that I needed to regulate this area of my life but was turning a blind eye to it so that I could enjoy the rebellion of it a little longer…but it wasn’t really enjoyable anymore…because the thing about the extremes is that they don’t seem very extreme for long without upping the ante a bit more each time…it becomes less and less satisfying without more and more of it…sounds like addiction, doesn’t it?
I don’t know about you, but I have an addictive personality (no, not that people get addicted to me – Ha! – But that would certainly make for a fun post!) I am a bit compulsive when I begin doing something…especially if it is new and interesting to me. There is a bit of a thrill in the extremes…but health doesn’t generally live there. Think about it this way: How often do you hear stories of people landing in jail…or worse…the morgue for handling things in moderation? How often do you hear addiction described as a moderate force on someone? What about marriages ending and relationships shattering because of someone’s moderate behavior? You generally just don’t hear these things because it isn’t common. Now hear this: I am not saying that there is nothing in life to go to the extreme for! There are things that I will (or have) absolutely go to the mat championing: my faith, Team Massey, the freedoms of others…but it sure waters things down and puts me in less of a position to properly champion those that are most important to me when I am apparently already championing other, less important things like watching tv or spending money.

So how are you doing with this? Is there something that has been itching away at the back of your mind…something that you know you should get under control…but you just haven’t decided to do something about it? Or is your struggle in omission? Is there something that you KNOW you should be doing but it keeps somehow getting crowded out by something else that is not more important…but…somehow the less important thing is taking up too much of your resources (money, time, energy, etc) to let you accomplish what you know you are meant to do? If those questions don’t strike a chord, try this: What are you about? What is your life’s mission or meaning? What about your life currently supports your mission? Is it something that touches you every day? What is getting in the way of accomplishing it?

My prayer today is that we would take stock of our lives and determine whether what we say we are about matches up with how we live. I’m praying that we would all root out whatever obstacles we have invited into our lives, acknowledge them as obstacles, and begin the process of removing them. I’m praying that we would be people who live on mission…worthwhile missions…and that the world would be better because we are here.  
Much love friends,