I can’t let Toenail Fungus be my last post for 2019, so I’m thinking about Jesus.
He was God and with God until the Holy Spirit planted Him in Mary’s womb. I wonder if He knew in there. Did He know He was love? Did He remember the swimming around after He was born? Did He remember hearing the whispers as she walked about Nazareth? Did He remember coming from Heaven?
Or what about Joseph and Mary? They’re both your regular old garden variety people trying to live the lives God gave them. And then Gabriel appears. I slow down from wrapping presents and picture that. A glowing stranger standing in my house or inhabiting my dream. I wonder if Mary reached for a handy weapon or just sank to the floor, shaking. I wonder if she started thinking hard about what she’d learned of the Messiah. Could this really be happening, right now? In her town? To her? And then he was gone. Wait, did that just happen? Now what? Talk about walking with God. Did she hustle right down to the synagogue and ask the rabbi to haul out the scrolls?
I wonder what travelling from Nazareth to Bethlehem was like nearly nine months pregnant. Not by plane, but by donkey. I haven’t ridden a donkey, but I’ve ridden a horse, even pregnant. It’s okay, for a little while, but not for miles. Did she get off and walk just for a break, and then get back on when she got too tired? Was she thinking about how the Rabbi said He’d be born in the City of David, or by this time was she wondering if she’d eaten the wrong thing for dinner, or whether Joseph and Elizabeth had joined her in some kind of insanity? Did God encourage her through those days?
Did she think, “I knew it couldn’t be me who’d mother the Savior,” when the innkeeper put them up in the stable? “Surely, God wouldn’t allow His Son to be born in a barn.”
Or what if I were one of those shepherds? I’m beating the bushes looking for a lamb who’s bleating his head off when the night sky lights up with singing angels. Dude, what is up? I crouch behind a tree. Just because they’re singing doesn’t mean I’m not in trouble. My buddies are caught in the open, and the angels tell them to find a newborn baby lying in a cow manger in a barn. Say what? But I heard it with my own ears. We drive the sheep up the road to Bethlehem, through the town, drawing people to their windows to shew us out. But we’re on a mission. There’s light in a cave just outside town. We stop the sheep just outside and hear a baby cry. Must be the right place. We creep up without words and look in. Look in … your turn.
I have held many incorrect assumptions about grace and truth. For instance, I believed at one point that telling the truth was wrong in many cirumstances because it hurt people’s feelings. On the other hand, I thought it was a percentage then between grace and truth, like if you have 80% truth, then you have 20% grace.
So, I have been studying the relationship between the two because I suspect that what I’ve thought is incorrect, but I haven’t know how. Here’s what I’ve found so far. I think we can figure out our boundaries using a combination of grace and truth. I believe we don’t have grace without truth or truth without grace. I believe it is loving to speak the truth with grace.
I’m working on this for myself and for the next novel I’m going to write, Queen of the Third Grade. I think the prep work will take a while, but I’m excited. My guide is Jesus, full of grace and truth.
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?
For about ten years, my husband, the marriage and family therapist, and I led Stepping Stones, a support group for adults abused as children. It was peculiar in that we didn’t sit around commiserating, but studied Scripture on how to climb out of that pit together. The topics are:
- Face the Problem
- Assess the Damage and Make the Commitment to Recover
- Correct Your View of God
- Set Healthy Boundaries
- Improve Your Self-Image
- Overcome Fear
- Learn to Control Anger and Depression
- Increase Your Capacity to Trust
- Deal With Sexual Issues
- Give and Accept Forgiveness
- Determine Whether to Confront Your Abuser
- Life Beyond Survival
So, we’re thinking about putting the material online for people who don’t live near us to use to recover. Anybody out there interested in something like this? If so, what do you think would be a fair price? If you’re out there feeling alone with your secret, I’m talking to you, and praying for you.
While attending a Christian writer’s conference this weekend, I got to thinking about Christians as people. There aren’t any perfect ones, but each one has the Spirit of God inside, and that makes them shine.
One lady sang the prayer before we ate. Sang it. In a beautiful voice. I wanted to take her home with me. Another shared her misgivings about the “three million hours of marriage and family therapist internship” she is facing. I like that Christians are transparent about misgivings. Another asked for prayer for a young woman she has only met on the internet. You don’t have to be somebody close or famous to get Christians to pray for you. Another was flummoxed because she wants everyone to see Jesus in the poor and the suffering and do something for them, and we don’t as often as she’d like. What a great thing to get irritated about.
There were lots of moments like that this weekend.
I’m glad I got to go. Each thing or person God puts in our lives like that changes us for the better. Criminy, by the time He takes me home, I’ll have a whole bag full of those times and people. What a blessing.