Wednesday, November 21, 2012

the council

Last Monday was our last council of friends for awhile.  The original concept was to gather a group of women that I knew were seekers of truth and also gracious, and to set aside some time to seek God's heart on some subject.  Before this, I had begun to feel that I was withdrawn and reserved, and the Lord seemed to be asking me to change--to be more open to trustworthy people, to make some heart-to-heart friends.  At the first meeting, the consensus was that feelings of guilt were over-whelming and crippling some of us.  So we pursued that subject for 7 weeks, with the desire to overcome the crippling effects of guilt.

We faced wrongs we had done,
and asked for our joy to be renewed.

We acknowledged that sometimes
we feel guilty
when we haven't done anything wrong,
just failed to meet
some arbitrary goal--
we overcame perfectionism.

We cried together. . .
every week. . .

and we counseled
and encouraged one another.

 We upheld each other in prayer
and meditated on a few passages of scripture.

We thought about guilt
and grace
and forgiveness
and healing
and joy.

And the end of seven weeks arrived,
and we were sad
to see the end,
but glad to have walked this path

Maybe we will gather again,
and continue to heal
and feast
and become stronger
in grace.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

mr. and mrs

I love weddings.

I like buying gifts, but if  I don't know a couple well, I'm not always sure what to get for them.  Gift cards or money can be a great option--plus the shipping costs on them are optimal.  ;)

However, I think I have found the perfect, all-around wedding gift:

They can be found at: dayspring.

One of the couples that I sent this to last summer sent the following charming note:
Thank you so much for the Mr. and Mrs. mugs.  They are totally awesome, and one of the best things we got. . .

I think they're awesome too--so much that I'm sharing this little story without Dayspring even knowing, or asking, or giving, or such. . .

Have I ever mentioned that I love Dayspring?  I'm so thankful that the artists and manufacturers and business people who are gifted in their various ways make these cool things available for people like me. to give, or to keep.

Monday, November 12, 2012

the forgiveness imperative

[Jesus said] “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.  But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.  Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”  Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.  When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.  And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.  So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’  And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’  So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.  And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."

Sunday, November 11, 2012

guilt trips

not the same as true guilt,
which is based on actual wrong-doing
honestly faced and named--

a guilt trip is a feeling
of having done wrong,
of failing,
when you or i haven't

we don't realize
that we feel guilty
nor how it can be bondage
to think something is wrong
when it is really necessary,
or right.

my council of friends identified
one of these in my mindset
last week:

it is not pride
to name the gifts
innate to one's person,
created there by God,
nor those that are developed
by the fires of affliction.

so, i am trying
to name those good things
that define me,
to own them
and name them
and not feel guilty in doing so.

Friday, November 2, 2012

beauty for ashes

When the council of friends met on Monday morning, we reflected on our meditation of Isaiah 61 for the week.  I would like to share the gleanings of our discussion, though I seem to have lost the flow of it.

God gives us a crown of beauty for ashes.  The ashes have to come before the beauty, because the fire that leaves the ashes burns out our guilt and *stuff*.  Then there is a place for the beauty with which he wants to crown us.

Ashes are bitter to our taste, and guilt is bitter to our souls.  But God will crown us with beauty--it's a process.

Guilt is like a wound.  There is some immediate relief with confession and turning for the wrong/damaging attitudes and behavior, like when a wound is bandaged there is some immediate relief from the pain.  But the whole healing process takes time, and there is still a wound under the bandage until it's all healed.

When we start to heal from guilt, we are conscious of pain for awhile, then there may be a period of time that the pain doesn't demand attention or distract us, and then suddenly we may realize that we haven't had a problem for awhile. One of the friends shared that this is like her children when they scrape their knees too.  They are conscious of the wound for the first couple days, then start being able to act without continual consciousness of the pain.  They will notice a few days later that the wound has healed.

In the cross of Christ, God has taken our sin and guilt, and given us his purity.  It seems like this means that he is taking the responsibility for the wrong we've done and for making it right, not only for ourselves but also for those we have hurt with our wrong-doing.  If we refuse to let go of our guilt and give it to him, there is nothing we can do to bring healing to those we have hurt.  But if we let him take the guilt, he is able to mend the wounds we have caused in others.  We can ask him to turn the ashes and bitterness we have brought to their lives into a crown of beauty for them, that he will redeem their suffering to be something strong and beautiful.

He is able to mend and beautify the wounds we have received from others by their wrong-doing.