Archive for February, 2016

Community

Saturday, February 27th, 2016

It may well be the case that the word “religion” is related to the word “ligament,” from the Latin ligare, “to connect.” One might argue that the word refers to beliefs that connect a person to God, but I am inclined to side with Durkheim that the role of religion is to bind us to other people in order to evoke together the sense that God is in our midst. We don’t go to church or synagogue to find God; God may indeed be more accessible in nature on a sunny day. We go to church or synagogue to find other worshippers who are looking for what we are looking for, and together we find it. We become something greater than our solitary selves.

— Harold S. Kushner, Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life, p. 112

Healing

Friday, February 26th, 2016

There is a difference between curing and healing, and I believe the church is called to the slow and difficult work of healing. We are called to enter into one another’s pain, anoint it as holy, and stick around no matter the outcome….

The thing about healing, as opposed to curing, is that it is relational. It takes time. It is inefficient, like a meandering river. Rarely does healing follow a straight or well-lit path. Rarely does it conform to our expectations or resolve in a timely manner. Walking with someone through grief, or through the process of reconciliation, requires patience, presence, and a willingness to wander, to take the scenic route.

— Rachel Held Evans, Searching for Sunday, p. 208

No Limit to God’s Forgiveness

Saturday, February 20th, 2016

Believe not that there is a limit, an end, to God’s forgiveness, and his redeeming love and power. Believe it not, lest you justify your unforgiving heart and thus not be forgiven yourself, but go down with those your brothers to the torment, from where, if God were not better than that phantom many call God, you and the rest of them should never come out, but whence assuredly you shall come out when you have paid the uttermost farthing. Out you shall come when you have learned of God in hell what you refused to learn of him upon the gentle-toned earth, when you have learned what the sunshine and the rain could not teach you, nor the sweet compunctions of the seasons, nor the stately visits of the morning and eventide, nor the human face divine, nor the word that was nigh thee in your heart and in your mouth — the story of him who was mighty to save, because he was perfect in love.

O Father, thou art All-in-all, perfect beyond the longing of thy children, and we are all and altogether thine. Thou wilt make us pure and loving and free. We shall stand fearless in thy presence, because perfect in thy love. Then shall thy children be of good cheer, infinite in the love of each other, and eternal in thy love.

— George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons, First Series, “Love Thine Enemy,” quoted in Knowing the Heart of God, p. 349

Loving Ourselves

Monday, February 15th, 2016

One of the greatest problems in the world is that most of us feel unloved. Sad as it may seem, this dilemma will continue unless we love ourselves. Even as our family and friends love us, we cannot easily experience it when we do not feel any love for ourselves. By this, we give the message that we are not worth loving, which naturally puts people off, fueling the problem. The way to begin solving this unloved feeling is to begin recognizing our worth. The worth that we give ourselves allows others to recognize it in us; if we do not recognize ourselves, no one else can. When we love ourselves, we feel loved.

— Chuck Spezzano, If It Hurts, It Isn’t Love, p. 44

Look hard.

Saturday, February 13th, 2016

The story of human intimacy is one of constantly allowing ourselves to see those we love most deeply in a new, more fractured light.

Look hard.

Risk that.

— Cheryl Strayed, Brave Enough, p. 90

It’s Your Journey, But You’re Not Alone

Friday, February 12th, 2016

This journey belongs to no one but you; however, no one successfully goes it alone. Since the beginning of time, people have found a way to rise after falling, yet there is no well-worn path leading the way. All of us must make our own way, exploring some of the most universally shared experiences while also navigating a solitude that makes us feel as if we are the first to set foot in uncharted regions. And to add to the complexity, in lieu of the sense of safety to be found in a well-traveled path or a constant companion, we must learn to depend for brief moments on fellow travelers for sanctuary, support, and an occasional willingness to walk side by side. For those of us who fear being alone, coping with the solitude inherent in this process is a daunting challenge. For those of us who prefer to cordon ourselves off from the world and heal alone, the requirement for connection — of asking for and receiving help — becomes the challenge.

— Brené Brown, Rising Strong, p. 6

Expectations Ruin Experiences.

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

Expectations ruin experience because they place a demand on the situation to meet our needs. However, there is a good chance that our needs will not be met even if the situation lives up to our plan (our picture of how it should be). Our plan is a way of ritually killing all the inspiration of the event. Expectations are different from goals, which are good to have because they invite us forward and are much more productive and successful. If we miss the deadline or goal, we simply reset it, which facilitates moving forward. If we miss an expectation, we beat ourselves up and make ourselves feel bad, which do not facilitate moving forward.

— Chuck Spezzano, If It Hurts, It Isn’t Love, p. 41.

Love or Sacrifice?

Monday, February 8th, 2016

There are two types of sacrifice: unhealthy sacrifice and healthy sacrifice. One is based on fear and the other on love. Knowing the difference is a key to knowing how to love and be loved.

Over the years, I have counseled people who tried to use unhealthy sacrifice to save a marriage. It appeared to work at first, but love and dishonesty are not good bedfellows. I have seen lovers try to play small in a relationship so as to heal power struggles and avoid rejection. I have seen children get ill in a desperate attempt to heal their parents’ relationship. I have seen business leaders nearly kill themselves for their cause. Unhealthy sacrifice is often well intentioned, but it doesn’t work, because it is based on fear and not love.

Healthy sacrifice is a different story. To be happy in a relationship, you have to be willing to sacrifice fear for love, independence for intimacy, resentment for forgiveness, and old wounds for new beginnings, for instance. Above all, you have to stop giving yourself away and learn how to give more of yourself. You give yourself away when you are not true to yourself, when you play a role, when you don’t speak up, when you don’t ask for what you want, when you don’t listen to yourself, and when you don’t allow yourself to receive. The key is to remember that whatever you are trying to achieve with unhealthy sacrifice can also be achieved without it.

— Robert Holden, Loveability, p. 149

Authentic Religion

Sunday, February 7th, 2016

Religion is like love. The difference between religion as feeling or believing and authentic religion as how you live out your faith is like the difference between love as a teenage girl’s crush on her favorite pop singer and love as the relationship between a husband and wife who have shared years of good and bad experiences and know how to reach out to each other to gladden or to comfort. The first is a pleasant fantasy; the second is life-defining.

Harold S. Kushner, Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life, p. 106-107

More Labyrinth than Maze

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

The difference between a labyrinth and a maze is that a labyrinth has no dead ends….

It has become cliché to talk about faith as a journey, and yet the metaphor holds. Scripture doesn’t speak of people who found God. Scripture speaks of people who walked with God. This is a keep-moving, one-foot-in-front-of-the-other, who-knows-what’s-next deal, and you never exactly arrive. I don’t know if the path’s all drawn out ahead of time, or if it corkscrews with each step like in Alice’s Wonderland, or if, as some like to say, we make the road by walking, but I believe the journey is more labyrinth than maze. No step taken in faith is wasted, not by a God who makes all things new.

Rachel Held Evans, Searching for Sunday, p. 180