Resolutions, bah humbug!

Have you heard the saying, “Want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans?” So what’s He laughing about? Our inability to do what we know we ought to? Maybe. Our inabilty to consider the rocks we may encounter in our paths? Maybe. Our inabilty … Maybe.

On the other hand, have you heard the saying, “You aim at nothing, that’s what you’ll hit?” I think that thought pattern may be where New Year’s Resolutions came from. You may think, based on the title of this blog, I’m one of those slugs who parks on the couch, moving only to replenish the potato chips. I’m not. Unfortunately, I’m seriously goal- oriented, sometimes to the exclusion of actively loving the people I’m supposed to love. Can you relate?

I’m actually this odd conglomeration of motivation and laziness. Some days I find myself puffing because I focused so hard on what I wanted to get done that I paid no attention to my body crying for rest. Other days I’m weary, and I don’t care what doesn’t get done. Some days I’m committed to losing the ten pounds I gained during the holidays, and others I don’t understand why calories have to count or my body needs exercise. One thing I’m sure of, I’m tired of guilt based on whatever.

What’s a person to do?

Build our houses on the rock – Jesus. Let Him share our yokes. Follow Him. Stop orbitting ourselves, since we are unable to plot the course anyway. Sunday school language, you say? What does it really mean? Guilt should be like a cop’s ligths in the rear view mirror. When we feel it, we’ve started doing our own things again. So we stop the action. We hunker down and pray,  which doesn’t mean we do all the talking. We listen, and His small voice will plot us a course correction. Or we pull out the Word, find a word in the back that matches what’s bugging us, and flip around until the words give us His answer. Yep, simple, but marvelous at the same time. Here’s a way better saying: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” Prov. 3:5-6 So, who needs resolutions?

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Family

It seems appropriate on Thanksgiving to say what I know about family. I think it’s possible there’s a myth of the perfect family we all think someone else has. Nobody farts at the table, brings less food than they should, or cusses in front of the children. The men do the dishes instead of playing or watching football, or the women do them without complaining, or they do them together and then all play football. I do not believe this family exists. Families can be “cussed,” as my beloved Pastor Yaeger used to say. That would be cuss-ed, not spoken ill of. So what do we do about that?

I’ve seen some folks turn their backs on each other. Now, I’m not saying there isn’t a place for that. If you’ve explained to your relative, whom you did not get to pick, that their words or behavior are causing you a problem, let’s say at least three times, and the response is something like, “Can’t help it. That’s just how I am,” a little back-turning may be instructive. That’s assuming, of course, that in your heart of hearts, you are willing to forgive should they repent. See, there’s this stuff in the Book that says if we don’t forgive, God will behave in the same manner. Gives you pause, doesn’t it?

When the family gathers, like today, if the warring parties can put their differences on the back burner enough to acknowledge each other’s presence, that’s pretty good. At least it cuts the other family members a break. We just won’t sit you next to each other, being the considerate folks we are.

However, there are those, who shall remain nameless, who not only refuse to repent, but traipse blithely on dropping bombs on others just to show who’s boss. The outcome being that someone refuses to see someone else. Great, now what? Well, pilgrim, you gonna be having Thanksgiving all over the place. Now isn’t that an Irish way of dealing with it? I say that because the Irish believe you are never lost, you are just enjoying new vistas. These resilient people find a way. So, find a way. Divvy up the fam to various houses, or fly from one to another. That’s grace, right?

Just remember one thing. There is something about blood relation that God planned into us. It’s like our DNA calls back and forth, or something. That relative that drives you nuts is going to be in trouble one day, if not now, then later. When s/he is, all this hoopde goes out the window, and the family rallies round. So, if you can, why not do it now? Save a lot of stomach knots. Just sayin’.

 

Spiritual and Emotional Health

I’m speaking on spiritual and emotional health at Redeemer Church in Modesto, my home church, August 10th. Our pastor handed me Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero (Nelson, 2006) last Sunday,  and I am eating it with a spoon! My outline went pretty close to what Scazzero says, but he says it with such pizzazz (and he has more than 30 minutes), and puts the “so what” and “how do I get ‘er done?” to it. He’s real, too. Gives his shortcomings as well as his ideas.

OK, I know you’re salivating, so here is a little taste of the book:
“Emotional health and contemplative spirituality offer three primary gifts. 
Each enables us to participate in the enormous transformative power of Jesus Christ today. They are:

  • the gift of slowing down
  • the gift of anchoring in God’s love
  • the gift of breaking free from illusions

… Beyond my times of reading the Bible, I now needed time to pay attention to what was happening within me each day so that I could bring that to God also. Rather than keeping busy to avoid my inner pain and disappointments, I needed space to explore my feelings and wrestle with anger, shame, bitterness, grief, jealousy fear or depresson – in an open, contemplative way before God. I began to journal what I felt as I interacted with people and circumstances throughout a day. In the beginning, my “feeling muscles” were so weak I had difficulty distinguishing anger from sadness from fear — or sometimes feeling anything at all. … “

I can totally relate. Just so you don’t think, “Oh crud, here’s another Christian thinking of loads they can pile on my already overloaded schedule,” let me say that to find time to do the above he says he stopped helping God by “birthing Ishmaels in my attempt to help God’s plan move forward more efficiently.” If you don’t know the Ishmael story, it’s in Gen. 16:1-3.

I’d say the process is spending more time alone with God so that we spend more time with him when we’re doing things. Interesting concept, yes? Make a comment. This topic is in my bones and I want to talk.