Sunday, December 13, 2009
Monday, December 07, 2009
"Those who persecute, to overturn religion, can scarcely pretend to more philosophy, or more liberality, than those who persecute to support it," said Dr. X--
Thursday, October 22, 2009
It may be an easier thing to do when life is going well, but one of the biggest challenges we face when we are hurt and hurting is that of being so overwhelmed by what we are feeling that we are unable to stop our minds from going over and over and over it again and again. That’s normal. And also, that constant self-conversation makes hearing and paying kind heed to anyone else’s thoughts, including God’s, very difficult. And I’m sure he understands that and takes that into consideration.
Personally, in difficult times, it is only after I have been able to get far enough along in a sorrow that I can get my mind to start to shut up a little about the injustices or pain I feel, that I am able to begin to emerge and really hear and engage in hupotassomai to my fellow human beings or to God without filtering everything they say or need through my own personal pain. It takes some time to get there. It is a process of emerging and seeing self and others more clearly and lovingly apart from my pain. (Whereas the modern meaning would imply that I was to acquiesce to the will of others without argument while still fully consumed by my sorrow or pain. Very different.)
Anyway, understanding the difference between the modern and Greek meanings of the word makes a difference for me.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Today I perched myself on a chair in the livingroom to eat my sandwich and suddenly realized that I was doing so simply because the kitchen and diningroom tables were too covered with books and papers to make a comfortable space for lunch.
I'd like to believe that it is just a manifestation of my literary and academic bent. But I think it is more likely a commentary on my housekeeping skills.
Time for some spring tidying up.
Friday, April 10, 2009
And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, "Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man will be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him; and the third day he shall rise again."
Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, "What wilt thou?" She sayeth unto him, "Grant that these two sons may sit, the one on they right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom."
It struck me as I read this; here Jesus has outlined the horrendous things he will go through for us and the incomprehensibly wonderful gift of resurrection that he will provide for us and the first thing after that is a request by an anxious mother about his future approbation and recognition of her sons. Is it because I saw myself in her that this verse stopped me in my tracks?
How often do I blithely skim over the overwhelming gifts of resurrection, justification, sanctification, and forgiveness that Jesus offers me, or how hugely different eternity for me is because of that, and instead just focus on whether I or my loved ones are being good or being recognized as good by him. How short-sighted I can be.
It's not about me. It's about HIM. When I stop to think about what he did and how that changes all that's possible or what my future would be without what he did, I am appalled at my self-focus and the insufficiency of my gratitude and awe.
Friday, April 03, 2009
Thursday, April 02, 2009
“Noooooo! He’s the guy who brings you presents on Christmas!” my little brother and I exclaimed, and ran to mom for reinforcements.
Mom asked what dad had said and, when we explained, she said she thought he was right. Appalled, we raced back to our dad and tried for the next 10 minutes to bully him into admitting we were right. He simply smiled and pleasantly stuck to his story as he would for the next 35 years as he raised children. We gave up on him. And a few days later, under the tree, sure enough, there were presents from Santa.
Every Christmas to this day we have received presents from Santa. What I realized later is that my dad had given us the gift of choosing when we would transition from delightful engagement in the Santa story to the even sweeter story of being given gifts by those who love us. My siblings and I could indulge in Santa imaginings for as long as we liked (which we continued to do for years) and could choose to transition out of that at our own pace in our own time.
My father was always big on allowing his children to choose and also big on letting them know they were loved. I didn’t realize until years later how deftly he had incorporated both of these things into his Santa story. And it took me awhile to see how he had helped our eventual transition not be one of belief to unbelief, but rather to one of belief in something good to belief in something familiar and even better.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Baer, in his book, declares that when we do not feel fully loved, we seek other things from our beloved that are sort of like love. For example, we might feel a real need for praise (compliments, recognition, appreciation) from our beloved or we might try to create a sense of control in the relationship (power) or we might hunger for touch or physical pleasure to reassure us of our being loved. Or we might seek a sense of safety and protection or reassurance in our relationship. All of these are not love itself. We seek them as an indication that we are loved. We see them as the outward manifestations of something much deeper.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
"When we react [to others] with anger or withdrawal, or by acting hurt...we feel more alone and miserable. So why do we keep doing those unproductive things?
"The answer is simple. When you do feel unconditionally loved you lose your tendency to feel hurt and alone, and to react with anger, deceit, or withdrawal. You have those negative feelings and respond in those negative ways, therefore, because you don't feel loved. Human behavior is usually that simple."
For Baer, it seems, the best source of help for someone's abiltity to respond warmly rather than coldly, or fearfully or angrily is a sense of being fully and unconditionally loved.
Now certainly any good cognitive therapist will tell you that there are some people to whom you can give unconditional love but who will refuse to allow themselves to believe that you do fully love them and enjoy your interaction with them. Negative, false thinking habits are not uncommon among most of us. So you may find yourself trying to show forth real love to someone who prevents herself from being empowered and blessed by it.
And of course there will always be some people who have embraced wickedness to such an extent that to even approach them would be foolhardy unless you weigh 250 pounds, can bench press 500 and are a crack shot.
But there are many who will find it a real blessing and help in their efforts to respond well to life and its challenges and to others if you can become a person who can really, consistantly give them warm, welcoming, unconditional love in your daily interaction with them.
I think it must be, at least at first, a conscious decision in most relationships; a decision to actively take pleasure in another's company, put one's ego or one's sense of how things "should be done" out of the picture, to let go of a need to manage things, to be at peace in spite of your differences of opinion, and simply enjoy a beloved one. At least for me it would be. My "natural man" is way too front and center to be moved unconsciously.
Friday, January 16, 2009
"Imagine that you are having a difficult day. Several people have confronted you about mistakes you've made or assignments you've not completed and you are feeling inadequate and irritated. The computer isn't working--again--and your car is in the shop for the third time in the past two months....
"In the midst of your frustration, a man and a woman walk into the room and address you by name. Even though you've never seen them before, you feel as though they've known you all your life. Somehow you sense from their peaceful and inviting expression that you can trust them completely. They ask you to go with them, and without hesitation you get up and follow them.
"Side by side, you walk beetween this couple for some time, finally turning into the driveway of a beautiful home. Walking through the front entryway, you enter a spacious, well-lighted room, where many people are talking to one another. After seeing you, several of them come over to greet you. Although you've never met them before, you feel no anxiety, because you see in their faces and gestures nothing but sincere and unreserved welcome.
"In a way that you can't describe, you sense that everyone in this room feels loved and happy, and you know that no matter what mistakes you've ever made or what flaws you have, these people accept you completely. As you sit and talk with them, you realize you don't need to do anything to impress them, nor do you have a need to hide anything from them.
"Utterly relaxed, you begin to tell them the story of your life. You talk about your mistakes, your foolishness, your weaknesses, your fears, and your successes. They understand everything you're saying, and they accept you and care about you. You know there is nothing you could do that would disappoint or irritate them, nor would it be possible to feel embarassed or ashamed around them. For hours you talk and laugh with these new friends.
"Allow yourself to enjoy this feeling. Let it sink in and fill your entire being. Allow yourself to float in the calm, sweet ocean of the peace you feel. You'd like to stay in this place forever, but the day draws to a close and eventually you must go home. As you leave your friends invite you to return anytime you wish, and you know they mean what they say.
"Now come back to the real world and consider this question: While you were with these people, did you feel any inclination at all to be angry at them--or lie to them or withdraw from them? The idea is ridiculous--how could you feel angry or otherwise react negatively toward people who [you realize] unconditionally accept and love you? Moreover, while you were with those people, did you feel any inclination to be angry with anyone else--at any of the people you know in [your everyday] life? Were you irritated about the dysfunctional computer or the car in the shop? While you were with those loving people you didn't have any of those negative feelings because when we feel unconditionally loved, we have the one thing that matters most in all the world, and then we lose our need to be angry , to feel hurt, to lie to people, and to withdraw from relationships."
So the first thing I learn, as I read this book is the importance and goodness of sweet, loving, accepting, peaceful, inviting, trustworthy, welcoming interaction. There is great goodness in this gift one can give to the members of one's family when, no matter another's mistakes or flaws, you accept them, love them and are honestly interested in them.
I've known a few people who radiate this kind of unconditional love and have enjoyed that blessing from them. But I don't always give it. It's too easy to instead fall into the trap of being disappointed or anxious or feeling insecure or worried in my interactions with others. And when I do, I miss out on the opportunity to give them the one gift that most helps them to respond to life well; unconditional love.
More thoughts later.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Thursday, January 08, 2009
"And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
What is this connection between truth and comforting?
Some truth brings sorrow. When you state a truth that brings sorrow to you or others is that truth simply incomplete truth; truth that sees only part of the whole, missing a part that is unknowable or imperceptible or neglected now, but may be clear at another time?
What is the relationship between truth, sorrow and comforting? Can I assume that each sorrow that devastates is an incomplete truth, needing full attention, but not complete in itself?
And if that is the case, then there looms the obvious, egregious error of discounting another's sorrow or glibly reciting general platitudinous truths in response to it, something we often do in our attempts to avoid feeling its pain.
Compassion, truth, comforting, sorrow. All together. It requires more than most of us feel inclined to fully bear all at the same time. But perhaps they are inextricably entwined when fully experienced.
"He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief."
By others? "willing to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort"
By turning to the Lord? "For thus saith the Lord; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O Lord, save thy people, the remnant of Israel.
By the Holy Ghost? "the comforter"
It seems to be more likely if you are living a repentant life (Mormon 2: 12-14).
Lessons for me? Be willing to mourn and comfort others. Learn what is helpful and what is not helpful. Keep repenting; trying to make the precepts God teaches a natural part of you, turning to Him. Be responsive to the influence of the Holy Ghost as a source of comfort. Recognize it. Take it to heart.
Much to be learned.