A moment of fighting part 1​

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My daughter recently said something to me that hit hard. She told me, “In our house, you are either a victim or a bully.” The more I thought about it, the more I realized the truth of her statement. She also said, she is learning,  that you don’t have to be either. I pray that I can communicate what this statement taught me about living in an almost safe place, and how I can be part of making it sanctuary.

This is not about abuse.  If you are in an abusive situation, you need to seek the proper help.  This is about loving people who in their humanity hurt each other anyway.

How to not be a victim:

-Do not be easily offended-  Often the person upsetting you is not actually doing anything deliberately to you. They are reacting toward the world around them as a result of how they feel about themselves inside. Being offended can cause hardness of heart, but it does not bring justice.

A brother wronged is more unyielding than a fortified city;
disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel.  Proverbs 18:19

-Have compassion- Remember the days when you have hurt others because you were feeling off, insecure, or anxious. Understand that how a person acts is not always who they are.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  1 John 1:8

-Protect your spirit-Remember that you are deeply loved, and an attack from someone else cannot change that.

The beloved of the Lord rests in safety–the High God surrounds him all day long–the beloved rests between his shoulders.  Deuteronomy 33:22

-Turn the other cheek-This is often misunderstood as allow someone to hit you again. What it actually means is, stand firm in your conviction, and act in such a way that the person offending you is made to think about their actions.

Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, in truth and love.  2 John 1:3

-Forgive-With forgiveness in our hearts for others we can be better prepared to let go of the offense instead of reacting to it.

Forgive, and you will be forgiven;  give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”    Luke 6:38

 

I have swept away your transgressions like a cloud, and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.  Isaiah 44:22

 

 

A moment of bitterness

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He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart… Mark 3:5

Sometimes our anger is justified. Anger is a necessary emotion. It tells us when something is wrong. It is a warning to look for a problem. Bitterness is never justified. Bitterness often is what happens when we see a problem and instead of addressing it head on we build a fortress around it and protect ourselves from the issue that sparked the anger. The problem is that when we create that strong fortress, we also block out any possibility of healing, forgiveness or love. We sit alone in our fort, the bitterness grows, we add weapons to the walls, and fire at anyone who attempts to enter.

This calls to my mind an excerpt from a book that I read years ago. I laughed and cried when I read it because it hit so close to home.

God is visiting her soul with a terrible rot called madness. First, she is only mad at her husband. Years pass and she is mad at he family. As time goes on she is mad at the Church. Then she is mad at the mailman and mad at the waitress. Practicing, always practicing, perfecting her madness. Mad, all the time mad. Madness.            (Debi Pearl pg. 63)

So what do we do to keep from going mad?

actions for good

pro-verbs

PROVERBS 3

BE LOYAL    Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you; v.3

Be good to those you encounter your friends, your family and the people you meet only for a moment.

BE TRUSTING    Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. v.5

We cannot rely on our own thoughts to fix our own thoughts. We need a clear perspective.  Seek God’s perspective he has everyone’s best interest at heart.

GIVE HONOR    Honor the Lord with your substance…v.9

Honor begins in the heart. When we hold God in high esteem, we will begin to hold His creation in the same regard.  We will be grateful for what he has shared with us.   And gratitude is always a healer of the spirit.

SEEK WISDOM      My child, do not let these escape from your sight: keep sound wisdom and prudence,…v. 21

We must be careful not to act on our emotion because they are not always in line with the truth. Look to scriptures for guidance and take care to remember what is loving.

FEAR NOT     …for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught. v. 26

When we protect our own hearts, it is often out of fear. We build bitterness around our hearts creating walls that cannot be penetrated. When we understand God as the creator and protector of that which he loves we can walk more securely and rest more easily.

BE GOOD     Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. v. 27 

It comes up over and over, when trying to find healing for yourself, do something for others.

PRETEND

When you are not feeling particularly friendly but know you ought to be, the best thing you can do, very often, is to put on a friendly manner and behave as if you were a nicer person than you actually are.  And in a few minutes, as we have all noticed, you will be really feeling friendlier than you were. (C. S. Lewis pg. 188)

 

Citations:

Pearl, Debi. Created to Be His Help Meet: Discover How God Can Make Your Marriage Glorious. No Greater Joy Ministries, 2014.

Lewis, C. S. Mere Christianity. HarperCollins, 2001.

All Bible quotes are from the New Revised Standard Version

A moment on the bright side

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“Look on the bright side.”  they

I probably shouldn’t, but I always get bristly when cliche phrases are said to try to make others feel better.  Sometimes things are just dark, and the bright side is too far off in the distance to even imagine what could be there.  But if we are in the darkness, and Jesus is the Light of the world, and Jesus is God made flesh, then the bright side would be God’s side. As I looked at this photo, from the dark side, I saw the light reaching over the mountains, reaching over to the dark side.

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.  John 1:4-6 (NKJV)

I may not be able to look at or imagine what the bright side is like as I am in the darkness, but knowing there is another side brings me comfort.  Let me assure you, there is another side to our pain and our darkness.   There is God’s side.  And as I notice the light coming over the mountains, I am reminded God’s side is not separate from our side.  He has a plan and a purpose for each of us and for all the events in our lives.  His purpose is to draw us ever closer to Him.  Pain, suffering, and darkness are a necessary part of the process.  So that when we glimpse the other side, we long for it, we move toward it.  We open our hearts and trust in it.  And the light that may seem distant at the time can settle deeper into our hearts.

As I read the following passage this morning, I was struck by Simeon’s delight at seeing the Messiah and what must have been compassion as he tells Mary of her future suffering.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,

“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
    according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
    which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
    and for glory to your people Israel.”

And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”  Luke 2:25-35 (NRSV)

Though we may not be able to fully comprehend these things. And though it may not soften the blows of our individual suffering any more than I imagine it could have for Mary.   Perhaps like Mary, we can trust the bright side, knowing the bright side is on our side.

In him was life, and the life was the light of all people.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.  John 1:4-5 (NRSV)

A moment of laughter

 

Give me a sense of humor, Lord, give me the grace to see a joke.
To get some humor out of life, and pass it on to other folk. Bob Hope

Some days are just heavy, and the weight of them is almost too much to bear.  We need laughter to help release the emotions that we have been well practiced in holding back.  Reading Bob Hope’s words today brought a memory back so strongly…

My mother died 21 years ago, and my heart still breaks from missing her.  My Grannie passed almost three years ago, but the memory of attending her service in New Orleans recently came to me like it was yesterday.   I not only mourned my grannie again, but the loss of my mother returned to the surface.  My grannie had taken care of my mother through her cancer.   I witnessed as she lovingly walked my mother, her child, to the end of her life.

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In New Orleans, LA most burial plots are above ground, and my mother was buried in a mausoleum.  Her plot belonged to my grandparents, and my understanding is there was room for three bodies, but not three coffins.   When my grandmother passed, and her body was to join her husband’s and their child’s.   My mother’s body was removed, wrapped and returned to the plot without her coffin.  Even I, as a grown woman, had a great deal of curiosity about this whole process.  So, I tried to peek into the curtain covered space.  When I did, I whispered, too loudly (there is quite an echo in the corridors),  “I want to see my mummy.”  As you can imagine some laughed with me and others did not.  But my quiet laugh turned into a fit of quiet giggles and my giggles to tears, and I felt so much better for the emotional release.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
 Ecclesiastes 3 (NRSV)

Has there been a time in your life when the seasons mingle together?  Spend time in the memory.  It is a moment of grace.