Lent: What is Love?

Rachel Held Evans wrote a thought-provoking post today over on her blog.

‘One of the most destructive mistakes we Christians make is to prioritize shared beliefs over shared relationship, which is deeply ironic considering we worship a God who would rather die than lose relationship with us.’

Rachel Held Evans, post ‘My Parents‘.

This echoes an unrelated post, from Contemplative in the Mud, about the need for relationship to be the primary expression of love (a post so good I printed it off and stuck it on my fridge). Ben writes:

‘Before all projects, before all plans, before all works and actions is being… How could we have forgotten the overriding value of simply who and what we are, in a kind of rest at the centre of our heart, which overflows onto the tiniest of our gestures, lines on our face, attention to details in the lives of others, and so on? How could we have forgotten that, beneath all the action anyone could do to or with others, there exists the substructure of the relationship in itself?’

Contemplative in the Mud, post ‘Before All Else: Being

Indeed, both of these posts reach the heart of Paul’s famous words to the church at Corinth:

If I speak with the eloquence of men and of angels, but have no love, I become no more than blaring brass or crashing cymbal… 

This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience—it looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive: it is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance.

Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage. It is not touchy. It does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails.

Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen…

In this life we have three great lasting qualities—faith, hope and love. But the greatest of them is love.

1 Corinthians 13:1,4-8,13 (Phillips)

Paul goes to great lengths to establish love as the source of everything else, and this is echoed elsewhere in the bible: in the book of Isaiah, in the Psalms, in Jesus’ own words in the Gospels, in the book of James, in Paul’s letters to other churches… and that’s just off the top of my head! The list goes on.

So why do we still insist that being right is more important than being loving? Am I without sin, that I may throw the first stone at the one who is ‘wrong’? Did Jesus emphasise ‘rightness’ first? Or did He, in fact, emphasise relationship first, as Rachel, Ben and the biblical writers suggest?

EMDR: Laughter, the Best Medicine

When I am low, not many things make sense. Music can be helpful, especially positive songs and praise music, but laughter is, as the old saying goes, the best of medicines. I find I need to keep away from anything negative at the moment (because my head has enough already), and instead try to put into practice the words of St. Paul:

Delight yourselves in God, yes, find your joy in him at all times. Have a reputation for gentleness, and never forget the nearness of your Lord.

Don’t worry over anything whatever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer, and the peace of God which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.

Here is a last piece of advice. If you believe in goodness and if you value the approval of God, fix your minds on the things which are holy and right and pure and beautiful and good.

Philippians 4:4-8 (Phillips)

Our family love Mr. Bean. He appeals across the ages and across the autism spectrum too, which is good because ASD children often don’t understand humour. Prince enjoys Mr. Bean, as does little Chip, and they both often find comedy… er… elusive. The number of times we’ve had conversations beginning “Mummy, is this a joke?” followed by something which is less a joke and more a random statement! And then they’ll try again with a hundred more random statements. No wonder poor Fluff rolls her eyes. Her big brother and little sister’s ‘jokes’ are funny for all the wrong reasons o_O But I’d not change a hair on any of their bonny heads and I am thankful for my family, and for Mr. Bean!

Reblog: In Illness, on the Cross with Our Lord

sandyfaithking:

********

I suppose what’s below also applies when experiencing (or reliving, as in EMDR) rejection, humiliation, feelings of worthlessness, being blamed when you’re not at fault… All these things our precious Lord went through in His Passion. That really is a comfort to know.

‘The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,
a scrubby plant in a parched field.
There was nothing attractive about him,
nothing to cause us to take a second look.
He was looked down on and passed over,
a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself,
that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
Through his bruises we get healed.’

Isaiah 53:2-5 (The Message)

Originally posted on Contemplative in the Mud:

At the Basilica in Lourdes

Do not be distressed about having to stay in bed ill and not being able to meditate, for to endure the scourging of our Lord is no less a good than to meditate. No, it is undoubtedly better to be on the cross with the Lord than to be only looking at Him.
Saint Francis de Sales

View original

EMDR, LENT, TRAINING

I’ve had to take a break from my studies to focus on getting well. It was the right decision, but sometimes, if I compare myself to the world, I can’t help but see all that I missed. My peers went to school; I missed school. My peers did their A-levels and went off to university; I didn’t. My peers began jobs and careers; I didn’t.

It’s not that I resent the fact that I never had any of these things, because what difference does resentment make? None! So it’s a useless, destructive thing to hang onto. Nonetheless it would be so easy to feel ‘less than’. In the past few weeks of EMDR, I have had to face the extent and depth of my brokenness, but I have been strangely surprised by my strength too. Genuinely surprised. I may not have pieces of paper to prove my ‘qualifications’, but God has had me in training for years, just as today’s email from the Open Doors ‘Step of Yes’ series said. As Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, so God has said to all of us today:

‘…you don’t need any written instructions. God himself is teaching you to love each other, and you are already extending your love… make it your ambition to have no ambition!’

1 Thessalonians 4:9,10 (JB Phillips)

EMDR: Fighting Monsters

EMDR always leaves me feeling like I’ve just come out of the boxing ring with the world heavyweight champion, and all the while I had my hands tied behind my back. I ache all over. I barely know which way is up. I’m like a doll who has had pins stuck in her all over and now they’re finally, painfully, being pulled out one by one.

‘He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.’

Nietzsche

I’m not a fan of Nietzsche, but he had moments of needlepoint insight and I think this quote is one of them. EMDR is fighting with monsters and gazing into the abyss, although I have been surprised by what I found there. Turns out this guilt complex is more deep-rooted than I thought. It’s a weed that will need to be dug up completely, roots and bulbs and all, and thrown on the fire, otherwise it will just pop up somewhere else (and that is a very good metaphor for PTSD too).

Today I looked into the abyss and, instead of fear and guilt and shame and anger and bitterness and remorse and self-loathing…

I found Jesus, sitting quietly. Waiting as He did for the sin-living Samaritan woman, to ask her for a drink.

He asked her.

He asks me.

********

And then, instead of condemnation, the Messiah offers me living water; tells me I need never be thirsty again. Tells me the guilt is not mine, and never was. It was a lie, sown by the enemy, many, many years ago when I was too small to realise. I don’t know what I did expect to find as I looked into the abyss, but this I never expected.

‘There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

…all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.’

Romans 8:1,2, 14-17

Lent: What Makes Us Useful?

Brother Andrew… had always been puzzled by our interest in a book project.

“I can’t imagine why you’d want to write about me,” he had said when we first proposed it, “who would be interested? I’m the son of a village blacksmith – never even graduated from high school. I’m just an ordinary person.”

That, of course, was exactly the appeal of his story. How indeed had God been able to use a fellow with a bad back, a limited education, no sponsorship and no funds, to do things that well-connected, well-endowed people said were impossible? …that was what made Brother Andrew’s adventures so intriguing.

From Prologue to God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew

with John and Elizabeth Sherill

You can read more about Brother Andrew and Open Doors here.

Lent: Dear God

Dear God,

Not for the first time, I realise. I know nothing. I also realise that, without You, I am – er –

mostly –

Yeah.

That you consider me worth Your time amazes me (heck, you invented Time, why did you even bother with humanity?). The fact that I have realised this, again, makes me want to tell You again: I am willing. What do You need me to do? Not that You need me to do anything, but You make me a needed part of Your incredible story. I will always be amazed.

?????????????????????????

Thank you.

lots of love

xxx

Pictures from https://nateomac.wordpress.com/2011/11/page/2/ and http://hellogiggles.com/yo-meh-yall-fake-words-cant-live-without/meh