You think you have forgiven, but now and then anger bubbles up. You try and stuff it back in its box, but you know that its whisper is still fuming around your heart. Perhaps you need to discover compassion.
A step that is unusual and not what you naturally want to offer, but contains a promise of release that I’ve experienced and you can too if you pray a dangerous prayer.
Confession can take the pressure off ourselves and give an opportunity for harmony to come into our relationships.
Six things we need to learn about confession for our Mental Health.
‘I need help with my husband, wife, child, friend.’
I have an anonymous survey here on Turning the Page where people can share with me what they are struggling with. I don’t share what people write, but I do take notice and look for topics to write about. One of the most interesting trends I am seeing is the stress that comes about from the relationships we have. Continue reading “Confession, A Step Towards Harmony”
I had never quite sensed that feeling of release before.
That feeling of letting it all go and handing it on to someone else. I had been in ministry for 13 years serving as a Pastor/ Chaplain to people who struggled with ‘Normal Church’, mostly due to Mental Illness. It had been a time of growth and challenge where I along with a team of volunteers developed a mid week church service, ran camps and all the other stuff pastors do.
I felt so hurt and offended that they would be so disrespectful of me. It felt like there was no love or respect in their hearts for me by what they had done.
Have you ever been there and experienced someone who supposedly loved and respected you doing the complete opposite.
Its like you have planted a tree in the back garden, watched it grow and hoped for a beautiful crop. You tell the kids to not eat the fruit, that it has special fruit that can be watched and admired but never eaten. You hope for the relationships sake that children love and respect your heart desires but you have given them choice, because what is love and respect if it is not something that is chosen.
Yet deception and foolishness are perfect allies, and choices are made to eat that which was never meant to be tasted.
I am talking about the first boundary ever crossed. The line of love and respect for God.
God told them to not eat of a certain tree he had planted in the garden. ‘Out of love and respect for me, out of knowing that I have your very best interests at heart please don’t eat from this tree. Genesis 3‘
Yet temptation won them over to a taste test where they inadvertently bought the whole store.
Love and respect.
Something we all, at a deep subconscious level, hunger after.
I believe that deep within us there is a desire we probably have never drilled into. For me as a man it is to be respected, and I believe for a woman it is to be loved.
Larry Crabb writing in The Papa Prayer puts it this way.
A man’s fear is this: Am I adequate? Do I have the weight to handle important tasks, to impact a woman, a child, a friend, in a way that affirms my value? The flip side of desire is terror – the coin has two sides. I want what I can’t stop wanting. Is what I want so desperately – eternal value, the weight to make an impact that lasts beyond the grave – mine to enjoy? A man’s deepest terror is weightlessness, the absence of solid substance that others recognize and appreciate.
Women are not men. Men are not women. The differences extend beyond physiology and anatomy, beyond hairstyle and clothing and pitch of voice and the way each throws a ball or moves on a dance floor or tilts the head when puzzled. The core difference lie in desire. Men long for weightiness, for the substance that impacts.
Women yearn for beauty, for an internal reality that makes eternal impact by drawing others to cherish and honor and protect what they see, by awakening in others their desire for ultimate beauty. Nothing terrifies a woman more than to feel that there is nothing unique bout her being that another could esteem and treasure.
A woman’s fear is this: Am I beautiful, or am I merely useful? A sexual object? A resource that functions well to achieve another’s purpose? The flip side of desire is terror. Can I connect deeply with anyone? Is anyone safe? Will anyone see my beauty, or is there nothing to see that others will honor or enjoy?
We’re not sure. We’re not sure if anybody will do for us what we need so badly but can’t do for ourselves. Men feel like weightless little boys, women like invisible little girls.
With fallen ingenuity, we handle our terror by shoving our deepest longings out of awareness and assuming control over lesser ones. With terror numbed, we live to protect ourselves. We find a relational style that keeps us feeling pretty good , and when something threatens to arouse our deep pain and terror, we retreat or attack.
Then my mind wanders over to the Bible and the advice that Paul gives for husbands and wives.
Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband. Ephesians 5:33
Men are to love their wives with a self sacrificial agape love that encourages the beauty within his wife to shine.
Women are to respect their husband with a form of reverence that encourages his Godly purpose.
I went to the doctor yesterday and was duly walked over to the scales where my weight was taken. ‘Not too bad’ I thought, he didn’t say anything.
This is the physical weight that I am pressing down upon the pavement, or the soil.
My greatest fear is that I am weightless. That nothing I do matters or has impact. I believe that the question that haunts a man is ‘Am I making a difference?’
In my closest relationships, my family, friendships, work, hobbies, is what I am doing making a difference and am I adequate and up to the challenge.
The reward is recognition and appreciation. Its all about respect.
If a mans fear is impotency then perhaps a woman’s fear is invisibility? That no one will see the beauty within her. No love will be shown to that tender beauty within in her soul. No one will draw it out, encourage and nurture it.
So what do boundaries have to do with this?
In my last post I introduced the idea that boundaries are really lines of love and respect.
A boundary line of love is crossed when indifference or contempt is shown for the tender beauty within a woman’s soul.
A boundary line of respect is crossed when indifference or contempt is shown for the purpose of a mans soul.
This relational line of love and respect of course transfers over into every relationship we have.
We demonstrate love and respect for ourselves and others by our actions.
I went to the doctor the other day
I show love and respect for my doctor by
putting the appointment time in my diary
getting to the appointment on time
being polite and friendly to the staff
being open and honest about my needs
answering his questions as best I can
taking the medication or advise offered
paying the bill
My doctor would show love and respect for me by
keeping to the appointment time (a challenge for any doctor)
have a safe clean working environment
doing ongoing training
listening to both verbal and non verbal communications
keeping good notes to refer back to
using accurate measuring equipment (I’m sure those scales were wrong)
charging only what is appropriate and not exorbitant
When we are indifferent or abusive to a persons needs for love and respect we cross a line, a boundary.
Want to learn more?
His love motivates her respect; Her respect motivates his love. Emerson Eggriches
I would highly recommend ‘Love and Respect’ by Dr. Emerson Eggriches. He also has a podcast that I have recently started to listen to.
Questions to consider and leave a comment.
How can this idea of love and respect be seen in the many relationships we have?
Think to a time when you were deeply hurt. Was a line of Love and Respect crossed?
Do you love and respect yourself? Perhaps shame, guilt, self-loathing have their basis in a crossing of a line of love and respect. What do you think?
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Not because I don’t believe in the concept of boundaries or because I don’t think they are important. Its just that the word ‘Boundary’ doesn’t convey any sense of relationship value. The word ‘boundary’ feels like its all about the one making the boundary and not about a relationship offered.
When I was a child I grew up on a farm and we had boundary fences between ourselves and our neighbors. These were post and wire fences marking where our ownership was limited.
Human life must be about more than building boundaries, protecting identities, and teaching impulse control. Richard Rohr
It was there, it was solid, marked out, and the relationship was defined. This is where we had responsibility and control and this is where they had responsibility and control.
I think though the word ‘boundary’ has become a word of self centredness. A word that is all about ones own need of security and control.
I think we need to go deeper into a relational balancing of the concept.
What is the relational significance of a boundary?
Perhaps an example might help to explain.
I drive through a small town often. As I approach the town there is a sign with a big ’50’ on it. This tells me that there is a boundary imposed on this area by our lawmakers that I am only allowed to travel up to 50 kilometres an hour. Faster than that and I have broken a boundary limitation.
Its law, a legal boundary. Its declared and I must comply.
But why is it there?
Are the imposers speed haters, are they picking on me, do they just want me to be late. I can become very narcisstic about the boundary and believe its all about me.
However that boundary was set up out of concern for the safety of the people living in the township. By driving through the township at wild and reckless speeds there is no concern shown for the safety and well being of the people.
Out of love and respect for them I slow down.
I could focus on the number or I could focus on the relationship. When I focus on the relationship something deeper happens within me. Something of love and respect for the needs of my fellow man is stirred up within me.
Something a bit deeper.
I have a relationship with my body. I am not my body but I sure am stuck with it. Out of love and respect for my body I care for it by washing, feeding, taking medication, resting, exercising.
I have a relationship with my soul, my very self. I want to see my very life nurtured and cared for. I love myself, not in any self centred narcissist self adoration way, but in a way that says that I’m OK. So out of a desire to nurture the ‘self’ I will have relational lines of love and respect around me that limit the influence of those that would not show love and respect to me.
I have at times given too much access to some that have showed no love and respect for me.
For some it is no longer a line, easily crossed over and abused, it is now 10 foot high wall with snarling dog behind it if they even come near intrusion into my life. I care for myself, I am worth it.
I remember the day that I was visiting someone hoping to help them in someway. They asked about how they could contact me and so I explained my boundaries, my lines of love and respect. Then I turned the table and asked them what their boundaries were, their lines of love and respect, their expectations were.
They were quite shocked at this. Never had they been asked by a supporter about what their boundaries needs were. By asking this simple, yet highly empowering question, they felt they were on a level ground in relational power with me. Their needs were considered as just as important as mine.
Slippery slopes can be a lot of fun. As a kid I used to love zooming down water slides, sand dunes and just your normal everyday playground slide. They were safe because there was nothing dangerous at the bottom.
But what if there was, or that you were not too sure about what was down there. Perhaps there could be a quagmire, or a thousand hungry crocodiles.
Perhaps others may have been down that particular slippery slope before and barely made it out alive. Poor moral choices can lead to a ‘Slippery Slope’ experience of destruction.
Call me Scrooge but I’m not sure about Christmas Community Meals.
Do they really help?
Ok, I know for sure there are many people alone and in need of food. A nice Christmas dinner or lunch with some entertainment is wonderful.
What I question is the power relationship between those are serving and those being served. What difference does it make in the longterm, 10 days later, 10 months later?
I take my question from many years of putting on a end of year Christmas dinner for those mostly living on a benefit and struggling with various Mental Illnesses. We would put on a nice meal and many people would come. Some of those that came we would only ever see once a year, at Christmas.
In overhearing dinner table conversations I would hear about them comparing various organisations meals and ‘Its … organisation tomorrow, you going?’
They basically had a handout mentality where they wouldn’t come and form relational life transforming community with others unless something was put in their hand, a plate. The selfish mindset was seen by making sure they were first in line and then overloading their plates to the detriment of others. Not everyone was like this, but a fair proportion were.
Then there were the ‘generous’ offers to help the poor ‘special needs’ people. YUK !
‘Can I bring a Ham, can I do some fancy table decorations’ (silent groans from the pastor)
Politely I would say ‘No’. You see they also would only turn up once a year. Where was the forming of relational community in this scant commitment.
We did it quite differently by empowering those in the struggle to actually be the ones who peeled potatoes and serve the sausage. By doing it this way they felt part of the solution and not part of the problem.
They laughed and danced to the sound of carols while cans were being opened. Relational community was empowered to happen and just perhaps something of the incarnational presence of Christ was seen.
Experiencing this new found confidence and the joy of being part of something bigger than themselves, they carried this learning into the next day and its struggles. Photos were taken to remind them of what relational community can be like.
It’s not a hand-up if its only a handout.
This Christmas are you empowering others to be part of something bigger than themselves? Maybe you are providing a nice band-aid lunch so you don’t have to engage with the pus.
God became flesh and blood. Incarnation. God’s gift to us was Jesus Christ and relational empowering community meals flowed in the homes of both outcasts and religious legalist’s.
Jesus didn’t mincemeat his words either. He challenged both the poor and the rich to be part of something bigger than themselves. He still does.
Yet at the end of his life the cute little Christmas card baby was a flailed out, naked man on a blood soaked cross with but a handful of friends. Friends he had empowered to be something truly wonderful.
He didn’t give them a handout, a magic wand, or a nice slice of ham (definitely not ham!) but what he did offer them was a hand up into relational community that transformed their innermost beings.
They went away full, soul-full.
Would Jesus come to a Christmas dinner in your town and find a relational empowering community? A place where everybody knows your name?
Our little motto for our group was this
Where Everybody is Somebody and Jesus Christ is Lord.
This Christmas are you empowering the ‘everybody’s’ to be ‘somebody’s’?
What do you think? Lets have a conversation by you donating a comment.
Each morning I start my day in a comfortable chair, listen to the Bible, thinking about the day ahead and making a list of tasks.
Often I look across the room at a bookshelf with some of my favourite books. Recently I picked up a couple of them and have begun to read them again. As I do I mark any sentences I find challenging and that I think I can share out via my various social networking sites.
One of those books is by Jim Wallis. The book is Faith Works and there is a link below if you’re interested in getting a copy.
He tells the story of a lawyer, Dale Recinella, who gets involved in helping out at a local Soup Kitchen.
About twenty years ago, I started helping out at the noon meal of the Good News Soup Kitchen in Tallahassee.
It was located in the city’s then worst crack/prostitution district,halfway between the State Capital and the Governor’s Mansion. I showed up everyday in my three piece suit to help from 11:00 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.
The staff assigned me to “door duty.” That meant my job was to ensure that the street people lining up to eat waited in an orderly fashion. Everyday, I stood at the door for an hour, chatting with the street people waiting to eat.
Before I came to Good News, “street people” was a meaningless term. It defined a group without defining anybody in particular. From the comfort of my car, my suburban home and my downtown law office, street people were just “those people out there somewhere.”
Then, one day, an elderly woman named Helen came running to the Good News door. A man was chasing her threatening to kill her if she didn’t give him back his dollar.
“Tell him he can’t hit me here ‘cuz it’s church property!” she pleaded.
In true lawyer fashion, I explained that Good News is not a church but he still couldn’t hit her. After twenty minutes of failed mediation, I purchased peace by giving each of them a dollar.
That evening, I happened to be standing on the corner of Park and Monroe, a major intersection a few blocks from the State Capital and outside my law office. In the red twilight I spied a lonely silhouette struggling in my direction from Tennessee St.
“Poor street person,” I thought, as the figure inched closer.
I was about to turn back to my own concerns when I detected something familiar in that shadowy figure. The red scarf. The clear plastic bag with white border. The unmatched shoes.
“My God,” I said in my thoughts, “that’s Helen.”
My eyes froze on her as she limped by and turned up Park. No doubt she would crawl under a bush to spend the night. My mind had always dismissed the sight of a street person in seconds. It could not expel the picture of Helen.
That night, as I lay on my $1500 deluxe, temperature controlled waterbed in the suburbs, I couldn’t sleep. A voice in my soul kept asking,
“Where’s Helen sleeping tonight?”
No street person had ever interfered with my sleep before. But the shadowy figure with the red scarf and plastic bag had followed me home.
I had made a fatal mistake.
I had learned her name.
The story reminds of a Jesus parable he shared with a lawyer who wanted to know who was the neighbour he was called to love.
Jesus described his neighbour as a man that was naked, unconscious, beaten up and left for dead. Someone that you would have to move beyond professional legal language barriers to actually help.
Some of the lawyers I have met have built a legal wall personality around them. They may know the name of the client but for fear of contamination they steel themselves against the story, the deep story.
I know a policeman that had to do this too. They chose to harden themselves to the story so that they could just mentally go on and do their job.
I don’t hold this against them. Dealing with quantity and depth of trauma requires some self care and boundaries.
Every now and then though God calls us to learn the name, embrace the story, and get down into the dirty ditch of a dehumanised victim because thats the only way they can be reached, with love.
I think I must have been aged 6 or 7 when I caught my first fish. It was a sprat. I went on to catch other fish. When I can I love to go fishing and I no longer catch sprats but fish big enough for a meal.
In New Zealand we have some pretty strict rules about the size and quantity of fish you can catch. We want to protect our fishery and our future stocks of fish.
When you catch a fish and it is under the size limit then you need to let it go. Put it back in the water and allow it to swim off.
‘Let the little fish go’ is a phrase I heard a counsellor use referring to those little offences that happen to you.
Someone says something or does something that is hurtful. You’re offended and you take it on board, you fester and brood over. The ‘Little Fish’ slowly gains greater proportions to become a stuffed trophy hung on the wall.
You’re not like that of course are you?
Life is hard and it is so easy to catch little fish, take them on board and allow them to grow and dominate life. Our skill in catching them can become a habit. We become as sensitive as a snails eye. We lose friends, become bitter and a victim of the fish.
How do you let the ‘Little Fish’ go?
Measure it. Is it worth the effort of holding on to it? If you hold on to this offense, then what might you be losing out on. Is it really that big? Ask others their opinion.
Check your emotional response. What emotions are stirred up from the offence? Are there echoes being bounced of from past hurts? Is there actually an earlier fishy offence that you are still harbouring?
Let it go. ‘I choose to not hold on to this offence. I am letting it go’. I place that offensive little fish into the hands of Christ. Do it as soon as possible. Why would I want to keep it and have it go smelly and attract flies?
Make ‘Letting go’ a habit. Some little fish seem to be persistent in staying on board and you need to habitually repeat steps 1 -3 over and over again.
Perhaps as you learn the habit of Letting the Little Fish Go will become so familiar to you that when a Big Fish is landed, a large ugly offence, then you may find it easier to let that go.
A quote on muck to consider!
Rack the muck this way.
Rack the muck that way.
It will still be muck.
In the time you are brooding,
you could be on your way,
stringing pearls for the delight of heaven.
Questions to consider and leave a comment.
Does it help to have a little phrase such as ‘Let the little fish go’ help?
What happens if we hold on to the ‘Little Fish’?
How do let the ‘Little Fish’ go?
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