a moment to take a knee

Photo by Sharefaith

“that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:25-27 (NRSV)

The first time I saw my son, take a knee on the soccer field for an injured teammate, I was moved. My little boy was becoming a gentleman. In soccer, players take a knee to show respect and concern for another who is injured. At that moment, noise and movement on the field will stop, and the attention will turn to the player and those attending to them. It is a moment of support.

In the military, taking a knee is also a show of respect. A soldier in this posture at the gravesite of a fallen friend honors the lost. It is a moment of sorrow.

In prayer, being on your knees is a show of humility. It is an acknowledgment that there is a Divine being who cares for all creation. It is a moment of supplication.

At this time, our broken country reflected in our broken hearts needs a moment of solidarity. As the publicity grows on this subject, the shifting of our focus has also turned. What we turn toward is significant. As a native Louisiana girl, though not a sports enthusiast, I cannot help but be a Saints fan. Watching Drew Brees these last few days first turn toward the flag, showing his love for his country and then after criticism, with humility, turn toward his teammates and show his love for them I am touched. His character, though challenged, is unwavering. “I live by two very simple Christian fundamentals, and that is love the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself, The first one is very self-explanatory. The second one, love your neighbor as yourself, what does that mean to me? It means love all, respect all, and accept all.”  

I appreciate Drew Brees; in his faith and posture of humility, his pride in his country, and his love for humanity. I admire how his character demonstrates them woven together with love.

We have lost many lives these past months with Covid-19. We have lost many lives over many years to violence as a result of racial prejudice. We have lost faith in each other. Our country is gravely injured. Our flag represents us all. When one member suffers, all suffer together. Let us with sincerity come together as “One Nation, under God, indivisible with Liberty and Justice for all.”

 Take a knee. 

a moment of turning

Several years ago, I attended a Gottman Institute workshop, where I heard the expression “turn toward” for the first time. The practice of turning toward has since enriched my most cherished relationships. Throughout the scriptures, there are great stories of God’s people turning toward and away from Him. Often, those who turn away find suffering, while those who turn toward find compassion and healing. When we turn toward, we are recognizing and connecting with the focus of our attention. When we turn toward God, we are recognizing and connecting with love.

Now is a time of biblical intensity. We have suffered and lost much during COVID-19. However, through it all, I believe God has never turned away from us. I have confidence that he is with us and waiting for us to turn to him with every challenge we encounter. I believe he is longing for a glance from us so that he can meet our gaze. Today I ask myself, “Am I turning toward Him?”. Have I allowed the media to divert my attention? Have I allowed worry and fear to distract me from his loving gaze? The truth is, sometimes, yes. So I remind myself today, turn-toward.

Turn toward truth.  

Sometimes, that truth will be painful. When we are willing to let God show us the truth about who we are, we will see we have acted in ways that caused injury to God and others. We can receive forgiveness. 

Luke 22:61 The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

Turn toward Love.

At times meeting God’s glance will be empowering and healing. We will see God’s Love and compassion for us in our suffering. We can receive his grace and mercy.

Matthew 9:22  Jesus turned, and seeing her, he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.”

Turn toward connection.

In a world of insufficient answers and little peace, we need each other. Turn toward those who bid for your time and attention. Turn toward those who offer you comfort. We can be encouraged.

Romans 15:6 so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let today be a moment for turning-toward, recognizing God’s love for you and the love of Christ in others.

He bids your glance. He is calling your name.

At that moment, turn-toward.

John 20:14-16  she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher).

A moment for the inner-critic

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1

We all seem to have voices in our heads; some are loud and intrusive, like the inner-critic; and some are gentle whispers like the inner voice of love. One of the most significant challenges in my life has been quieting the inner-critic so that I could hear my inner voice of love speaking and encouraging me to become my best self.

The inner-critic was with us in childhood to keep us safe. It was essential. It protected us from the things that were harmful to us. It is that same critical voice within us, that now lets us know when we are moving into new or dangerous territory. It will never leave us. Our inner-critic will be there to chime in when we approach something new, either hazardous or productive. The complication is the inner-critic cannot differentiate between the two. It is not useful in decision making on its own. We need to be able to hear the other voices inside us for honest discernment.

Perhaps, we can equate the inner critic to a helicopter parent. The inner- critic, with all its good intentions of protecting us and preventing harm or embarrassment, fails to teach and encourage us to become our best selves. It tells us we are inadequate to the task and must not move forward on our own. Like the helicopter parent, the inner-critic operates out of fear and mistrust, which is fair enough in this dangerous world. However, we are in this world and must learn to navigate our experiences for both survival and enjoyment. In addition to the protection we need love, encouragement, and trust.

We should not silence the inner-critic. We need to give it a moment. Identify it, name it, and appreciated it. You will, then, be able to calm this part of your ego. This calming will free your inner voice of love to tell you what your strengths are and how capable you are of tackling the danger or novel situation.

Once the calmed inner-critic steps back, the inner voice of love and empowerment is more apparent. With this dual perspective on your internal processing, you are more equipped to distinguish between what is a new experience and what may be a dangerous one. We can now intellectually weigh the pros and cons, and well informed proceed on the path to becoming our best self.

You can!
You have what it takes!
You are beloved!
You are worth it!

The beloved of the Lord rests in safety— the High God surrounds him all day long— the beloved rests between his shoulders. Deuteronomy 33:12

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

A moment for the tangible

man touching book

Tangible:  Perceptible by touch.

I have to admit, though the thoughts in my head are plentiful, I have found putting them into words very difficult lately. Hoping for some kind of clarity or inspiration, I have spent a great deal of time in scripture and prayer and still, radio silence.

What am I longing to have? It hit me this morning. I am longing for something tangible, perhaps in the form of clear answers or a visible sign. Maybe that is what you are longing for too.

Toilet paper is tangible. Perhaps the borderline crazy paper product purchases are signs that others are also seeking something tangible.

Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  John 20:24-29

I’ve heard and read this story so many times it has almost become cliche. And yet, it comes to mind again, as a powerful message of Christ’s compassion amid fear and doubt, and his desire to offer tangible evidence to a fearful group.

In the passage before Christ appears to Thomas, the disciples have hidden away, with the doors locked, for fear of the Jewish leaders. We, similarly, are hidden away confined to our homes, keeping the outside world out, keeping to ourselves, and perhaps somewhat fearfully.

Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”  After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.     John 20:19-21

Peace may not be, by definition, tangible, but I can certainly feel it as I read this scripture.  I can close my eyes and sense the change in the room where the disciples were.  I then can feel the essence of the place I am in altered.

If we again back up in the scriptures, we will be with Mary, who, upon seeing Christ did not recognize him until he called her name.  Then there was no holding her back.

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!”  John 20:18

The visible Christ may not visit us as he did those whose stories are told in the scriptures, but we can be the tangible Christ to others.  In this time, when leaving our homes poses a threat to ourselves and others, we can still reach out in tangible and safe ways.

We can make the phone call to someone we haven’t talked with in a while.

We can dust off that stationary that has been sitting idle and send a tangible note of care and concern. 

 We can take a few groceries and drop them off on the doorstep of someone we know could use them.  

We may not be able to touch the hands of our neighbors, but we can still touch their hearts with compassion and peace.