Archive for May, 2011

Trusting God in Others’ Lives

Monday, May 30th, 2011

I seldom remember, without some prodding that I initially resist, that God is a factor in every person’s experience. My ego’s first inclination is to think that I am a necessary factor — not just an ordinary necessary factor but the deciding one — in the lives of my friends and family. Giving up control and letting God be the key influence in the lives of my loved ones is not easy. It takes trust. Not only trust in God but also trust in others and in my own willingness to approach my experiences with all of them differently.

The benefit of coming to believe that God is the key factor in everyone’s life is that it releases us from a heavy burden. Too many of us have tried to manage the lives of too many others for far too long. No one gains in that scenario. On the contrary, everyone loses the peace that comes with turning our lives over to the care and guidance of a loving God.

— Karen Casey, Let Go Now, p. 10

Spirals and Layers

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

I’ve seen and experienced over and over that grief and loss are ALWAYS

Doorways to Transformation.

My experiences with both have showed me that we can more actively work with time as we process grief and loss, instead of just waiting for time to pass. We really can consciously practice integrating loss and grief and living with them more fully and beautifully.

I know now that this healing happens in spirals and layers and NOT in steps like a ladder.

We cycle back around and start over, get stuck in the middle, and sometimes get to what feels like the end quickly.

We can weave all these experiences together into an eventual elegant tapestry. I’ve been speaking with lots of people about the subjects of loss and grief, and it’s clear that in every case, whatever has been lost — job, savings, home, health, money, life — has tremendous gifts and opportunities to offer

IF

We do our transformational work.

— SARK, Glad No Matter What: Transforming Loss and Change Into Gift and Opportunity, p. 19-20

Better For It

Friday, May 27th, 2011

We can choose to ascribe meaning to what happened to us, even after the fact. We do that by taking pride in the people we have become. You have gained new skills out of your hardship. You know things about yourself now that you would never have known if you had not been put to the test. And it is not unusual, in my experience, for the skills and confidence forged in the fire of trauma to become the things about ourselves that give us the most pride.

You would not have chosen to get better and smarter and stronger in this way. But this thing happened to you — and you are better and smarter and stronger for it.

— Alicia Salzer, Back to Life, p. 30

The Awesome Gift

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

We struggle over a theology of imagination. We find it hard to believe that imagination is God’s idea and that it is among the chief glories of human beings. Of all creation, human beings are the only creatures who have the ability to transcend the smallness of self and imagine something different than what they know. God is imaginative; we are made in his image.

Children are wonderfully imaginative; they are born that way. Bread crusts on highchair trays become trucks; dolls cry and need to be rocked. Imagination is to be encouraged, trained, developed, enjoyed. That is why we surround children with picture books that tell stories, and why we read to them about adventures in far places. Dr. Seuss lets them put their tongues and their imaginations around words that make up stories. Yet even before the advent of the book, people were drawing images in the sand and making up legends. Imagination is not only a human capacity; it is an awesome gift.

— Gladys Hunt, Honey for a Woman’s Heart, p. 33

Strong Words

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Some words are strong for a reason. We need those words to be that intense, loaded, complex, and offensive, because they need to reflect the realities they describe.

And that’s what we find in Jesus’s teaching about hell — a volatile mixture of images, pictures, and metaphors that describe the very real experiences and consequences of rejecting our God-given goodness and humanity. Something we are all free to do, anytime, anywhere, with anyone.

He uses hyperbole often — telling people to gouge out their eyes and maim themselves rather than commit certain sins. It can all sound a bit over-the-top at times, leading us to question just what he’s so worked up about. Other times he sounds just plain violent.

But when you’ve sat with a wife who has just found out that her husband has been cheating on her for years, and you realize what it is going to do to their marriage and children and finances and friendships and future, and you see the concentric rings of pain that are going to emanate from this one man’s choices — in that moment Jesus’s warnings don’t seem that over-the-top or drastic; they seem perfectly spot-on.

Gouging out his eye may actually have been a better choice.

Some agony needs agonizing language.
Some destruction does make you think of fire.
Some betrayal actually feels like you’ve been burned.
Some injustices do cause things to heat up.

— Rob Bell, Love Wins, p. 72-73

God’s Healing

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

The range of our prayers to God is in direct ratio, always, to our willingness to have God be central. As we move ourselves out of the center of our consciousness, as we move God toward center, we begin to experience a new openness with God and, as a result, a new freedom and a new happiness. We experience the transformative power of God. We do not regret the past or wish to shut the door on it. We see how God can use our experiences to benefit ourselves and others. This brings us to a great mystery.

When we turn our will and our life over to the care of God, we begin to experience the “care” of God. With a tender solicitude, God reaches into our past, transforming its wounds and wreckage. Many things we deeply regret and feel certain cannot be changed are changed by the grace of God touching them. Miraculously, God has the power to act not only in the present and the future but also in the past. God’s healing is not bound by time. As we watch with wonder, old relationships are gently repaired. New understandings are reached. Where once there was only ruin, we are given the opportunity to mend broken relationships and forge new ones. We see that the care of God embodies a gentleness and tact that we can only marvel at: “Let everything that breathes praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!”

— Julia Cameron, Faith and Will, p. 130-131

Consuming Books

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

The act of reading can and should be a more savage and cannibalistic affair than that. We consume books to absorb their nutrients, to turn words into tissue. Our basic encounter with art is outright elemental, akin to a blood transfusion.

— Arnold Weinstein, Morning, Noon, and Night, p. 9

Twinkle Lights

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

Twinkle lights are the perfect metaphor for joy. Joy is not a constant. It comes to us in moments — often ordinary moments. Sometimes we miss out on the bursts of joy because we’re too busy chasing down extraordinary moments. Other times we’re so afraid of the dark that we don’t dare let ourselves enjoy the light….

I believe a joyful life is made up of joyful moments gracefully strung together by trust, gratitude, inspiration, and faith.

— Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection, p. 80-81

Being Needy

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Don’t be embarrassed by how needy your heart is and how much it needs to cry out for grace. Just start praying. Remember the point of Christianity isn’t to learn a lot of truths so you don’t need God any more.

— Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life, p. 41

In Charge of Ourselves

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

No one can make us do anything. Only we have the power to do or not do whatever we do. That’s the good news, in fact. We are in charge of ourselves; no one else is. The freedom that accompanies this realization will lift our spirits throughout the day.

Karen Casey, Let Go Now, p. 9