Quote of the Day – February 8th, 2011 February 8, 2011Posted by orualundone in Environmentalism, Heart Condition, Heaven, Lies, Quote of the Day.
Tags: A Native Hill, Agrarian Essays, Art of the Commonplace, Wendell Berry
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Once the Creator was removed from the creation, divinity became only a remote abstraction, a social weapon in the hands of the religious institutions. This split in public values produced or was accompanied by, as it was bound to be, an equally artificial and ugly division in people’s lives, so that a man, while pursuing Heaven with the sublime appetite he thought of as his soul, could turn his heart against his neighbors and his hands against the world.
Quote of the Day: December 27th December 27, 2010Posted by orualundone in Lies, Quote of the Day.
Tags: Adolf von Harnack, Conviction, truth
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He who has no conviction always lies, no matter what he says.
Adolf von Harnack
Lies I Believe, Part 2: “You’re Too Much” August 1, 2010Posted by orualundone in Belief, Blessings, Flaws, Holy Spirit, Identity, Lies, Lifescripts, Personal, Trust, Worry.
Part of two of my series exploring the lies in my life that Satan uses to keep me from being the person God wants me to be, and my attempt to disentangle them from my heart before they do any more damage.
The lie: You’re too much to handle; you always push things too far.
I always feel like I am just always a little bit too something. Too loud. Too aggressive. Too emotional. Too needy. Too intense. I often feel like my friends and others often just tolerate me to be nice but really wish that I would dial it back a little.
After interactions, phone conversations, emails, particularly serious ones, I usually feel uncertain of myself, wondering about what I’ve said and if I went too far. Did I insult that person by accident? Was that joke too barbed? Was that the wrong thing to say? I know I talked too long, said too much. I could feel them withdrawing from me. I came on too strong, I knew it. I shouldn’t have been so honest, now they aren’t going to want to be around me anymore.
I’m most susceptible to these feelings with people I don’t know very well yet, but am just starting to form a relationship with. But I still experience it even in my closest friendships. And when I start to feel like that, it’s very hard to convince me otherwise, even I know I rationally they probably haven’t given it a second thought. Even if they have given me tangible proof that our relationship is still as good as ever, I still maintain this little doubt in my mind that they see me differently or don’t trust me as much or love me as much.
The result: I withdraw and hide.
I pull back on nascent friendships before they even get started because of imagined coolness on the other person’s part. I bite my tongue and avoid emotional honesty with all but my closest friends. I am circumspect about my true thoughts and beliefs, and end up agreeing with people just so they will like me. With my closest friends I often don’t challenge them like I should when I feel something is wrong, because I’d rather be supportive than risk their anger.
And when I am honest and really open up about what I think or feel, I then waste time and energy worrying over their reactions. I question everything I said and did, I doubt myself. Even when I get positive feedback from the person, I still feel shyer than before about taking that emotional risk and putting my true feelings out there. And when I get no feedback, I am sure that I have offended them.
So I make fewer friends than I want to, and I put up walls with the ones I have. I am not as bold with my thoughts and ideas as I should be, and when I am I usually regret it. I fear that even my truest friends merely put up with me. I avoid leadership because there’s just too many ways to mess that one up. And I waste time and energy on worry and fear, instead of putting my efforts towards more fruitful things, such as strengthening my friendships and loving others. I become self-obsessed and self-involved, and do not live out the freedom Christ has given me. I become a people pleaser and try to just be nice, instead of being a Christ-pleaser and striving for authenticity.
The truth: I am not too much for God, and he made me how I am for a reason.
The trouble with this lie, the reason it works so well, is that like most effective lies it’s partly true. I can be loud and aggressive. I’ve hurt or lost friendships from taking things too far or being really honest. Sometimes I am thoughtless with my words, or get overly passionate about something and push too hard. I sometimes have bad timing with what I say, or say things the wrong way. Sometimes I just plain open my mouth when I shouldn’t
Another reason it works so well is that my mother is very pushy and needy and loud and intrusive and just too much sometimes. I know I am like her in a lot of ways. And while I love my mother very much, there are a lot times when she is acting a certain ways that my feelings towards her are less affectionate than barely tolerant. I don’t want people to think of me that way.
But the real truth is that it doesn’t matter what other people think of me. It only matters what God thinks of me. He made me and the truth is, no matter what I do, I can never be too much for him to handle.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Nothing in this earth or heaven or hell can separate me from his love. Certainly nothing I can say or do, however stupid or thoughtless. And he gave me these traits that I so often dislike. He made me exactly the way I am, and has a reason for doing so.
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
That doesn’t mean I only do good things and never cross the line, or that I shouldn’t try to be a better listener, or less reactive, or to think before I speak. But it means that there is way that my natural outspokenness and enthusiasm and honesty and passion and humor is meant to be used for his kingdom. And when I try to totally suppress them because I think they just end up causing trouble, I am only cutting myself off from the ways he may want me to use them.
Not everyone will like me. I need to be okay with that. And I will sometimes say the wrong thing at the wrong time. I may even ruin friendships by it. But despite that, I still have true, wonderful friends who love me, who God has placed in my life for a purpose and who are incredibly understanding and forgiving. And I don’t need to be afraid of being myself around them.
Most importantly God loves me no matter what. He has saved me and redeemed me and wants me to live that out for everyone to see. He doesn’t want me to live in fear, or to cut myself off from good relationships or ministry because I am afraid of screwing up. He wants me to bold in my life and in my speech, but bold for him and for the pursuit of the hearts of others and not bold out of my own desires or need for recognition.
Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away.
2 Corinthians 3:12-13
I do not need to be afraid of what God has given me. I will still screw up, because people screw up. But even if I screw up every single of my relationships to the point where literally no one else wants to be around me, I will still have God and he will still love me. That is the most important relationship, and his plan for me is more important than my self-centered fears and insecurities. And I can always go to him, no matter how badly I mess things up.
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
How to fight it: Know my identity in Christ; trust God and trust the people he’s put in my life.
Reading God’s Word and keeping a close relationship with him is the only way to fight this one. It accomplishes two things. When I am living in his love there is no room for fear or doubt; he tells me who I am, not Satan, or my mother, or anyone else.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
1 John 4:18
And when I am filled with the Spirit I will have more wisdom and discernment about what I say, I will be less needy and attention-seeking and not always looking for validation, and I will bear the fruits of the Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
That doesn’t mean if I live in the Spirit and walk with God that I will never make a mistake in my relationships, but when I stop focusing on myself and my own insecurities and focus on God and on truly loving others for their sakes, not my own, I become less and less likely to act out of selfishness. Traits that seems like curses when applied by my own judgement become gifts when I use them the way God wants me to.
I have to trust him to put me on the right path in my relationships. If I stick close to him and am really living how he wants me to, I won’t be afraid to speak when I feel led because I will know that it’s really him speaking and not just myself. If there is fallout from it, I have to trust that he is in that, too.
And I have to trust the godly people he’s put in my life to love me ; trust that they will not turn away from me because of a misstep or stupid comment, but that they will love me and forgive me because they are living out of God’s love too.
But in the end, I have to accept the fact that only one thing matters: following Christ. Not my fears. Not what others think of me. Not where it might lead me. Because following Christ will at times bring pain, and loss, and even humiliation for his sake. I may speak the truth out of the most righteous of motives and have stones thrown at me. I could be exactly the person God made me to be and still lose friends or status or anything else; in fact he pretty much promises that will happen. If I truly want live like Christ, that is something that I have to embrace.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!
Because in the end, its not about me. The more I worry about myself, the more I make it about me and the less I make it about Christ. But when I give up my own fears and desires, he can do great things with my life and in my relationships.
Lies I Believe, Part 1: No Time July 29, 2010Posted by orualundone in Lies, Lifescripts, Personal, Prayer, Time.
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Since writing about Inception, I’ve been thinking more and more about how insidious the lies that we’ve started to believe can become. They can end up controlling your whole life, your whole world, without you even realizing them. I’m working on breaking down the lies and false realities in my own life, and so I’ve decided to write about them one at a time as I come to recognize them. Refuting them in writing will make it easier to remind myself of the truth when I start to fall back into the old habits I’ve based around them. This first one is so simple and seems almost silly at first, and yet it effects every area of my life.
The lie: There’s not enough to time do anything.
I always feel like I’m short on time. This is one of the reasons I’m always early to things – I feel rushed, like I don’t have enough time to get there so I end up being super early and just wasting all that time. If I have to go somewhere and leave in an hour, I feel like I have no time to get anything done before I go since “it’s only an hour”. Of course there are tons of things that can be done in less than an hour. If a friend comes over and stays until 8 pm, I’ll feel like I don’t have time to do anything else before bed even though there are three more hours before I should be asleep. If I have commitments, even very short ones, more than a few weeknights and one weekend night in a week I feel overwhelmed because I think I won’t have time to do anything else that week. Even if it’s just meeting someone for coffee for an hour, I think of that night as completely shot for doing other things except the very basic household maintenance that absolutely has to happen.
I’ve bought into a couple false beliefs here, actually. The first one is there’s not enough time, but the second goes with it – it’s not worth starting if you don’t have time to finish it (or at least make significant progress). Knitting a sweater takes days. Maybe in the ten minutes I have before I have to leave for work, I can do two rows of it. But I won’t because I feel like it’s not worth it, and I can just do it later when I have a bigger chunk of time to work with.
The result: My effectiveness is demolished.
I spend a lot of time on the couch watching TV or messing around on the internet, because I feel like I don’t have time to do anything else – even read (because I don’t want to get it into and have to stop). As a result, so many projects remain unfinished or unstarted. I always feel behind on everything because I put it off from “lack of time”, and thus even more rushed and more reluctant to take on more commitments. I cancel things because I feel I don’t have time to do them. I don’t get involved in activities that have too much of a regular time commitment. I hoard my time and save it…for what?
That’s the thing. I don’t do much with it because I still feel like there’s not enough of it. I feel like there’s not enough time to get involved in ministry or call a friend I haven’t talked to in awhile or even read the Bible. Even though I’ve just spent an hour watching Law and Order, and then will spend 30 mins on the internet reading funny blogs, 20 minutes trying to decide what to do next, and then another hour watching a movie with Indy before we give up and go to bed. This is how I become completely ineffective. I let myself be fooled into thinking that there’s no time for devotions, no time for exercise, no time to make a healthy meal instead of a junky one, no time to maintain my relationships. It keeps me fat and lazy and useless, physically and spiritually.
The truth: I have plenty of time for the important things I want or need to do, but if I put them off they may never happen.
On a day-to-day basis, I have tons of time. I have a job that requires nothing of me after hours, and although I go in very early in the morning, I get home at three and usually don’t go to bed until eleven. I get every other Friday off. I have no kids and split the household chores pretty evenly with my husband. And yet I let myself be drawn into this fantasy that I have no time today, but tomorrow I will have more and will do that devotion, make that phone call, finish that project, join that Bible study.
‘ Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” ‘
While today I might have plenty of time, tomorrow that might be gone. Anything can happen. And of course even when I do have a tomorrow, it is the same. I have no time today, I will have more time tomorrow. And so my life is wasted away by the endless tomorrows.
“Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handsbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath.”
Satan doesn’t want me to make the most of my time. He doesn’t want me to spend time in prayer and study and get closer to God. He doesn’t want me to be physically fit and healthy. He doesn’t want me cultivate strong, uplifting friendships with believers and non-believers alike, or to have an effective ministry I’m invested in, or simply to be happy and productive. He wants to keep me miserable and lazy and stressed so that I can’t do any of those things. But he wants me to think that I will one day, because if I realize that it’s slipping away, I might get angry enough to do something about it.
“We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”
How to fight it: Give God the first of my time, then do a reality check.
If no matter what else is going on, how many other things I have to do that day, I can make spending a set amount of time with God the priority, it won’t matter if afterward I feel like I don’t have time to do anything else – because I’ve already done the most important thing. But here’s the catch: I don’t think I will feel like I’m out of time after I spend some with God. I think I’ll feel even more able to do things that are important, and even more able to see what useless things are stealing my time that I can get rid of to focus on the right priorities. And I can ask God to show me how he wants me to use my time, instead of just aimlessly wasting it until the day is over.
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
The next step is to check my thinking when I catch myself feeling like don’t have enough time to do something I want to do or should do, or that I will do something important later but right now I just want to hang out. Memorize the verse above and others like it, and use them to ask myself if I’m making the most of every opportunity. Am I prioritizing the right things, not just in words but in the actual way I spend my time?
And finally, a very practical trick to try is when I say want to do something but find myself saying “but I have to leave in an hour” or “BFF is coming over in 30 minutes” to actually do the math to see whether I really do have time for something. “I want to go running but I have to be ready to go to church in 45 minutes”. Okay – 2 miles takes me about 20 minutes, a shower takes me less than 10 and I can be dressed in 5. That’s 35 minutes on the outside, and even if it takes me 5 minutes to get my exercise clothes on and find my ipod, I still won’t be late to leave. Breaking it down like that helps me see how silly it is that I would just do nothing until it’s time to leave because I feel rushed.
Summary: Satan wants me to feel short of time in the present so I continually put things off for the future and never actually get around to anything that would glorify God, or bring freedom, joy, or restoration into my life or the lives of others. To keep from falling into this trap I need to give God the first of my time, and trust that he will make room for anything else that is important. Then I need to respond to feelings of being stressed for time, rushed, or overwhelmed by praying for wisdom as to what to do, evaluating whether I’m making the most of each situation, and analyzing whether those feelings are a reflection of reality or just a trick to prevent me from being whole and effective.
Lessons from the Silver Screen: Inception (Mit Spoilers) July 28, 2010Posted by orualundone in Art, Death, Lies, Lifescripts, Loss, Movies, Truth.
Tags: Christopher Nolan, dreams, Inception, Leonardo DiCaprio
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Inception is one of the best movies I’ve seen this year (the very best being Toy Story 3). It is original in plot with superb story-telling, impressive acting and scripting, and stunning visual effects. Not to mention it’s quite a mind-bender. But it made me think about more than just where the story was headed or the implications of the final scene. As I have mentioned, I love to explore spiritual themes in movies and this movie had several that caught my attention. A discussion, rife with spoilers after the jump.
Please note, I am assuming that anyone reading this has seen the movie, so I am not going to provide a super-detailed synopsis. That would be an insult to Mr. Nolan’s creation, and, frankly, exhausting. I will just outline the basic plot elements relevant to what I’m talking about.
Pray for…yourself? July 20, 2010Posted by orualundone in Heart Condition, Lies, Lifescripts, Personal, Prayer, Truth.
Tags: fear, prayer, selfishness
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It would be false to say that I do not pray very much. I pray quite often, in fact, and with great fervor. And yet I somehow manage to actually talk with God very little. My prayers are most often for other people, for my friends and family and others in this world who are troubled or hurt. When someone I care about is in pain, I hurt with them and I cry out to God their behalf. Many people think this is a great quality that I have, that it means I am compassionate and generous. But in reality it is more often a sign of my own weakness and fear.
I am not foolish enough to think prayer has no effect on God. Nor am I ridiculous enough to truly believe that God does not know others’ deepest needs and the ultimate path of their lives far better than I ever could. And yet in my prayers for others I so often outline to him specifically what I think that they need, or the way I want the situation to work out for them. What sounds so selfless and humble is, at the very heart, a selfish and prideful desire.
What I want is less the ultimate good of others and more for things to work out the way I think that they should, in a way that doesn’t threaten my view of how life should be. I want what I think is best for the people I care about and, thus, for myself. Because I am afraid of what will happen if things go differently than the way that I have in mind. In my deepest heart, I rate my own judgment higher than God’s. I don’t trust the Creator of the Universe to work all things together for the good. I prefer to try and take control, even in my prayers.
It’s incredibly arrogant of me. Instead of simply, lovingly bringing their needs before the throne and asking God to give them whatever is best for them, I try to control the situation. I have the nerve to go up to God and essentially say “Okay, this is how I think you should handle this because my limited perceptions can’t see a better way to resolve it.” Ballsy, huh?
And of course, all this prayer and fretting over others is a fantastic way to avoid talking to God about my own set of problems, fears, and neuroses. Not that I never go to God on my own behalf, though. Actually, I am constantly asking him for things. Usually when I have a problem, or when I fear things aren’t going to happen the way that I want them to in my own life. But that’s just it. I am not really praying for myself. I am praying for things that I want – or don’t want. And there is a word of difference between the two.
I want my life to go on a certain way, with a minimum of pain and fear and discomfort. When something threatens that, I turn to God to fix it. But I don’t turn to him to fix me. I don’t bring my brokenness before him and ask for healing. I don’t admit that I can’t see a way out of my darkness and beg him to show me his path for me. And I certainly don’t ask him what he wants from me. I give him my laundry list and say “I want this or nothing”.
That is not true prayer. In fact, with the except of a few fleeting, glimmering moments of raw and brutal clarity in my lifetime where I have really spoken honestly and listened intently to God, I have almost never experienced true prayer. I’m not even sure I know how to go about finding it. The habit of controlling and pleading and trying to get what I want is so ingrained, and the great unknown of letting go and letting God work is so frightening. I have seen others pray honestly that God would do whatever he wanted with them, no matter the cost. The results are often terrifying.
And yet, in all my imperfect, self-centered prayers, I would also be arrogant to think that they were so flawed that even God could not use them. Part of finding the meaning of truly trusting him and truly opening up my heart in honest prayer is to believe that he can use even the most selfish, the poorest prayers I have to offer. Even when I come to Him out of fear and uncertainty, out of blatant self-interest, out of a desire for control and safety, I have to believe that he can make something of that. And maybe that is the first step along the path.
On Consistency and Change July 19, 2010Posted by orualundone in Faith Journey, Fears, Heart Condition, Lies, Lifescripts, Peace, Struggles.
Tags: being still, change, consistency
Consistency. As evidenced by the fact that this blog has not been updated in more than a month, I am not a terribly consistent person. Oh, I know a lot of people have trouble keeping up blogs. But my inconsistency extends to every area of my life. I seem incapable of being on a regular schedule for more than four days a row of anything. Eating well, exercising, keeping the house clean, going to bed at a certain time, reading the Bible, keeping up with friends, staying on top of work. I can’t even manage to drink my cup of tea every morning.
Trying harder doesn’t work. Resolutions seem to have the opposite effect on me – as soon as I’ve made one my mind instantly starts looking for reasons to break it. I’ve tried schedules, promises, accountability, even just letting go and seeing if things will happen naturally. They don’t, I just waste my time with frivolous things that don’t even entertain much. And on the days when I manage to get it together to actually do things the way I have hoped, something invariably throws a wrench in the process. This morning I managed to haul myself out of bed early, pack a lunch and clothes, put on my workout gear, and hop on the bike to head to work – only to discover a flat front tire. And of course then my mind goes, “Well, I guess I’m not biking this week either.”
I am a self-sabotaging machine. My powers of procrastination and rationalization know no bounds. Not to mention my amazing ability to second-guess myself. Worries about what I should have done in a particular scenario often derail any plans I have to be productive for the rest of the day. My fear of failure often prevents me from trying to do things I want in the first place, and my insecurity takes care of the rest if I do manage to start on something.
I write this not in an attempt to make anyone feel sorry for me, but because I need to be realistic about who I am, and who I have been. I have bought deeply into the lie that if I can just get on a schedule, if I can just complete the to-do list, follow the plan, keep the resolutions, or eat a balanced breakfast then my life will suddenly be okay. If I have the right workout clothes then I will run five miles everyday (never mind that 2 miles is my limit on a good day). If I lose some weight then I will not be depressed and have the energy to look for a better job. If I find a better job I can move away from here and everything will be better and none of my problems will follow me – I’ll be a new person.
And of course these lies are so effective because they are partially true. I will have more energy and feel healthier with exercise, sleep, and a good diet. New Jersey is not a very nice place to live and I probably would feel better elsewhere. Completing the to-do list is pretty satisfying, and losing weight is a total ego boost.
But despite the miraculous power of a good night’s sleep and a balanced breakfast, none of this will truly make me different or better or even fundamentally happier. I will still be the same person with many of the same problems, even if their outward manifestations change or go underground for awhile. And the harder I try to change before my ultimate failure the worse I feel about myself when it inevitably happens. This all combines in a perfect storm to paralyze me in all possible ways. No spiritual growth because I’m too busy striving on my own. None of the personal or household projects I start get completed. I skate by at work due mainly to the facts that there are a lot of people lazier than I am and that I know what my boss likes to to hear. Looking for a new job falls by the wayside. I become ineffective in nearly every way, and even the days where I manage to feel productive, it usually is more of working just to not fall further behind as opposed to any real progress.
Of course I know I cannot change myself. Only God can change me. I would never dare to say that I am in control of my life, that I can save myself from this hole I am in. And yet my actions say differently. My true beliefs are evident in the way I live my life. I strive and plan and hope and try and fail. I give lip-service to God, but I don’t let him into my life in a way that would let him do any actual damage. In fact, outward appearances indicate that I neither trust God with my life nor have any real desire to leave my cozy little rut.
Two things have happened recently that have made me think about this. One is that my growing dissatisfaction with life is reaching a breaking point where I am so desperate for a change that I am willing to try anything, even letting go of my control. And the other is recently witnessing the consequences in a life when too much control is held on to and not enough room is left for God to speak or move. If we don’t give him room to work in our lives, he will make the room himself and that may be much a more difficult way to learn the lesson for all concerned.
So what I can do? I can swear to read 5 chapters of the Bible a day. Buy several Christian books on having a closer relationship with God. Institute a series of rules for myself to keep me from trying to run my life too closely. Set a firm 1 hour quiet time and journal at least 8 pages a night. Of course, that is exactly what I always do. Not only is that counter to what I am trying to accomplish (the idea that I can control my spiritual growth through willpower is laughable), but it won’t work. I’ll do it for a day or two, I’ll have a bad day and decide I don’t feel like it, and then it won’t happen again. And then I’ll feel like a failure again.
I think the real answer has been spoken to me three times this week – once I even said it myself. I have been dealing with some of my issues with being part of the evangelical church and debating whether to get involved in a particular ministry. I told the leader that I need to wait and “be still” for awhile. I said it almost flippantly, as a way to avoid voicing my real concerns. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t true. A dear friend who knows my struggles asked me if I could put aside all my fears and worries and disagreements with the church and just come and be still in the presence of God. And then the pastor, when addressing the serving teams before the service said, apropos of nothing else in the sermon, that the verse he had for us today was “Be still and know that He is God”. I did an actual double-take when he said that.
I am remarkably bad at being still. Oh, I can laze around with the best of them but I am rarely “still”. Stillness is a frame of mind which I do not possess very often. I read, put on TV or music, talk to a friend online. Anything to distract myself from the thoughts in my own head. If I am praying it is for something specific and I don’t leave any time to listen to the answers or anything else that might be said to me. I am the queen of distraction. Thanks to the internet, my own ADD nature, and a habit of avoidance, I have developed an attention span of approximately 12 seconds at the best of times.
So if there is one thing I need to do, it is that. Just to be still. To be quiet. To pray for the ability to be still and quiet because I cannot even do that on my own. Because I don’t have any more ideas on how to make my life better. I cannot resolve my own questions about the church and my place in it. I cannot figure out on my own what God wants from me. There is not a single thing I can I do to change myself other than to stop all of the trying and be still. And I know I don’t even have the power to do that on my own right now.
Lifescripts June 9, 2010Posted by orualundone in Faith Journey, Lies, Lifescripts, Struggles.
Tags: Bitterness, C.S. Lewis, Lifescripts, Orual
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I was recently re-reading one of my favorite books (from which this blog gets much of its inspiration), “Till We Have Faces” by the incomparable C.S. Lewis. The book is a retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche, told from the point of view of Orual, the ugly older sister. It is written out as her complaint against the gods (particular the mountain-god, to whom Psyche was wed), blaming them for Psyche’s destruction and for stealing her love away, as well as for various other troubles that had befallen Orual.
When she finally is able to go to the gods and directly make her case she finds herself reciting a script of bitterness, hatred, and possessiveness instead. She realizes that she had been telling herself these things in her heart over and over again for years without fully realizing it. Terrible things, like that it would have been better for Psyche to be dead than to love the mountain-god, that no one had truly ever loved Orual, that the gods were unfair and to be hated and that they had destroyed all her hope for happiness. When she is confronted with this truth about the life script she has been living, in contrast with the terrible beauty and love of the gods, she comes completely undone.
Part of the reason I chose Orual’s name as my blog name and handle is because I identify strongly with several things about her. Partially because I have a tendency to love in a jealous and possessive way. And because I, like most people have a lifescript that I find myself repeating as things occur in my life. Patterns of hurt or failure reinforce these views and I find myself thinking the same destructive thoughts over and over again. Selfish, bitter, and self-loathing thoughts that if I let them could easily leave me as wasted and shriveled in my soul as our protagonist.
I tell myself things like that the people I love will never love me as much as I love them, that I will never be as important to them as they are to me, that I will never be the best friend but always just a fallback. That no one thinks about me when I am not around. That I am unnoticed. That people never think I need help because I appear so competent most of the time. That all my other friends have more issues and get more attention than me and that I am the one who always has to suck it up and make a sacrifice or let someone else have something.
These are ugly words, full of self-pity and pride. I know they are not true. I have wonderful, amazing, loving friends and family. I know I am valued, even often favored. And yet when something bad happens, when I feel slighted by something or ignored by someone, when there’s a crisis and I don’t get the attention I think I should, I fall back on them. Not consciously, but I can feel them running just under the surface, building resentment and bad feelings about people who truly care about me, driving me to towards isolation and even deeper delusions of ill-treatment.
We all have these scripts. They often come from things that were done or said to us when we were very young, and reinforced just enough by other incidents that they gain momentum. They can end up ruining our lives if we don’t derail them in time. When we realize we are telling ourselves these kinds of terrible things, we have to stop at once. Take it to God in prayer, right then, and ask Him to show us the truth and to change our mindsets. As with Orual in the story, the only thing that can silence and redeem these destructive impulses is God Himself. Only He can replace the lies we will tell ourselves with truth. Everything else falls short.