A Room without a House

Yesterday was a day spent with a strong, persistent flashback, accompanied by ‘smells’. It made me feel sick. Worst of all was that I kept associating this memory with my dear husband, though he had nothing to do with it! That is painful. I wonder if Abba Anthony experienced similar things in his twenty years in the desert? When I finally slept there came a night of vivid dreams. I woke up so discouraged and disheartened that it has taken three hours to get going. Three hours is better than it used to be, though and for that I am grateful.

These dark thoughts, the looming, lingering, negative thinking – it’s like being confined to a dark, cold room, naked, shivering, chained and bound. You somehow forget that you can unlock the chains. You forget that you can turn on the light. You forget that you can open the wardrobe and pull on your clothes. You forget that you can draw back the curtains.  You forget that you can light the fire. You forget that beyond the door lies a whole house. This is depression.

Then [Jesus] came to Nazareth where he had been brought up and, according to his custom, went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day. He stood up to read the scriptures and the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. He opened the book and found the place where these words are written—‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord’.

Then he shut the book, handed it back to the attendant and resumed his seat. Every eye in the synagogue was fixed upon him and he began to tell them, “This very day this scripture has been fulfilled, while you were listening to it!”

Luke 4:16-21 (Phillips)

Thank you, Jesus. May it all be for your glory.

Painful Truths

‘The truth is, there were Christians on both sides of the American slavery debate… I have no doubt that many of the people who opposed abolition, interracial marriage, protection of indigenous people, black civil rights, women’s suffrage, etc. believed wholeheartedly that God was on their side and they were simply being faithful to God’s Word.  While blatant hate and racism certainly motivated plenty of our country’s past oppressors, blatant hate and racism aren’t nearly as effective at sustaining oppressive systems as uncritical acceptance of the way things are.’

From The Slaveowners and Me: On Nurturing Empathy for Oppressors

Rachel Held Evans (underlining is my own)

A powerful, thought-provoking post on Rachel Held Evans’ blog today. I don’t always agree with Rachel’s conclusions, but I am so thankful for someone who has the both the intellect and the guts to question the status quo, who is not afraid to look at herself, and those around her, with honesty and an earnest, unquenchable desire for Truth. Click here to read more; it will open in a new tab.

Also, before anyone points out that as a Briton it’s easy for me to point the finger at those across the Pond, I’d like to ask my fellow British readers if they are aware of our country’s complicit past in the slave trade? Did you know that the transatlantic slave trade was responsible for the deaths of millions of Africans – let alone the horrors of slavery for those who survived – and that our own great Industrial Revolution was funded by cash directly linked to slavery in the Caribbean? Also, fellow Britishers, are you aware of the level of exploitation and plundering of entire nations that existed under the British Empire? I’m not accusing anyone with these words – just pointing out that we cannot look upon the here and now without reference to the past, especially to past injustices perpetrated by our ancestors and especially where we have ourselves benefited, however unwittingly, from them.

Consider Yourself at Home

Jesus… looked at the people sitting around him and said, “Look! Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does what God wants is my brother, my sister, my mother.”

Mark 3:33-35 (GNT)

‘Consider yourself at home’ is how we should welcome people into our churches. This is how we should love one another within our churches. There should be no ‘insiders’, no ‘outsiders’. We should greet one another as if we are greeting Jesus, for we all belong to Him, we all live through Him, we all live in Him. We should value one another as we value Jesus, forgetting our differences, recalling our shared joy, our shared hope.

We have many parts in the one body, and all these parts have different functions. In the same way, though we are many, we are one body in union with Christ, and we are all joined to each other as different parts of one body. So we are to use our different gifts in accordance with the grace that God has given us. If our gift is to speak God’s message, we should do it according to the faith that we have; if it is to serve, we should serve; if it is to teach, we should teach; if it is to encourage others, we should do so. Whoever shares with others should do it generously; whoever has authority should work hard; whoever shows kindness to others should do it cheerfully.

Romans 12:4-8

Church should be the place where we model community, the community that our culture has so sadly lost. Church should be the place where outsiders can come and meet Christ in the warmth, in the generosity and in the loving wisdom of those who are already there. Together, Christ uses our fractured, broken, silly selves to make a glorious reflection of His face.

Reblog: Do we need trigger warnings on classic literature?

sandyfaithking:

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Very interesting post from Laura Droege raising some thought-provoking points.

From my personal experience, when I was at college studying for my Access to Higher Education Diploma (way back in 2010) we had to split into groups and do a presentation on various issues. We were assigned the groups and the subject matter. My group was assigned sexually transmitted diseases. I volunteered to do the historical research, thinking that that was something I could handle. The others in the group wanted to use pornographic photographs as part of the presentation to shock people and provoke a response. While I could see why they wanted to do that, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. I spoke to the tutor and explained a little of my history and why I just couldn’t do the presentation, though I would do the write-up. It was tough but it gave me the confidence (for the first time!) to not feel like I have to be ok with the same things as other people. It took me many years to learn that it’s ok to say no!

These days I avoid ‘triggers’ as far as possible and am waiting (still…) for EMDR therapy. Like Laura says, I know all too well the horribleness of life and need to be reminded, again and again, of the goodness, of the beauty, of the joy. This is why ‘one day at a time’ works so well for me; each day I can begin again, thankful for what is, practicing staying in God’s presence, and knowing that whatever happens, God is good (this helps because it takes the emphasis off me, off my family, off humanity even).

As for trigger warnings on books: it would help if there were warnings about certain more extreme things, but on the other hand some people have triggers that aren’t generally considered extreme, so they have to work out their own strategies, I guess. It should be made clearer to young people that it’s ok to say ‘no’. Also, what about books with ‘adult’ content that can be accessed by all ages? I think there should be at least some age restrictions. On the other hand some say that that comes down to parenting. On the other hand not everyone has good parents… If I have any more hands I’ll be an octopus. I don’t know. We have restricted access to television in our house and I monitor my children’s reading material. I think this has benefited everyone, not just the children. But most importantly we talk. I have wandered off topic but I do think these things are related.

Originally posted on Laura Droege's blog:

Irony: putting a trigger warning on a post about trigger warnings. Irony aside, it’s only fair to give a warning that I’ll mention a particular episode of my bulimia as part of this story. So if this is an issue for you, feel free to read something else.

IMG_3076

I was an art history minor in college. I loved all my art classes, with one exception.

Contemporary art and issues.

I don’t connect with most contemporary art, or the art doesn’t connect with me, or we fail to appreciate each other’s vision and see only the other’s blind spots. (As if “art” is as human as I am!)

That semester was a particularly lonely time for me. I was recovering from a nervous breakdown and mono, and was still wrestling with depression. I also had no one in my life who loved art like I did, no Christian to help me…

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The Secret to Dealing with Hard Times

Very good post over at incourage today:

“Keep in touch with [your pain] because it is at those moments of pain where you are most open to the pain of other people – most open to your own deep places. Keep in touch with those sad times because it is then that you are most aware of your own powerlessness, crushed in a way by what is happening to you, but also most aware of God’s power to pull you through it, to be with you in it.”

We can be stewards of our money, of our time and talents, of our gifts. But could we… also be stewards of our pain? Could we see anew how God suffers with us, just as He suffered for us?

Click here to read more. It will open in a new tab.

Examine Yourself

‘…we please our Lord by self-knowledge…

and by realising that we possess nothing but what we have received from Him.’

from The Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila

I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.

John 15:5 (Amplified)

How many are my iniquities and sins…? Make me recognise and know my transgression and my sin.

Job 13:22,23

Examine and test and evaluate your own selves to see whether you are holding to your faith and showing the proper fruits of it. Test and prove yourselves [not Christ]. Do you not yourselves realise… that Jesus Christ is in you…?

2 Corinthians 13:5

If we realise more fully that Jesus Christ is in us, and if we recognise our faults in order for Him to root them out, would we progress towards His likeness more readily?

Reblog: Llamas, Saints, and Gone Girl: Do you manipulate your image?

sandyfaithking:

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Excellent post about doing things for the right reasons, not because of what ‘other people’ might think. This is in part why I try to take life one day at a time, making sure I have a secure footing before I take the next step (i.e. do something – it doesn’t matter what that something is). As a former co-dependent/victim of abuse I know how easy it is for me to behave according to what I perceive to be ‘what other people think of me’ and slip into very negative, spiralling thinking.
It has taken many years to learn that I’m me – and that that’s ok. I will do what I know God wants me to do. I will not feel guilty about what I haven’t done. I will not feel ‘better than so-and-so’ (real or imagined) if I accomplish more than anticipated. One day at a time, one step at a time, side by side with Jesus.

Originally posted on Laura Droege's blog:

file000283466689How do you see yourself? How do others think of you? And to what extent is their view of you shaped by your conscious manipulation of your image?

Why am I thinking about these questions? Three reasons: sanding furniture, a murder mystery set in a monastery, and Gone Girl. (What can I say? My brain connects strange things, and I may spoil the Gone Girl plot twists if you’re unfamiliar with the book and movie.)

A Saint Without a Miracle

The murder mystery in question is Louise Penny’s A Beautiful Mystery. Inspector Gamache is tasked with finding the murderer of a monk in an isolated monastery. The monks are in the Gilbertine order, so named after Saint Gilbert of Sempringham. As in all of Penny’s novels, the whodunnit is only part of the story. There’s past tragedies and relationship issues between Gamache and both his boss and…

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