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Fear of Giving

It is so easy to write that check to the church and feel like I have done my part.  It is easy to allow the ministry staff at the church to use that money to fund their ministries and feel satisfied.  They are the experts, they will know what to do and how to handle things.  But we are called to more than that.  We are called to give of ourselves.

I hold back.  Why?  I am afraid.  I am afraid of what others will think.  I am afraid I am not equipped.  I think, “who am I?”  I am afraid of someone thinking negatively of me because I did not perform well.  I can easily say that these statements flow from a place of low self esteem and insecurities.  But when I read them, they all start with, “I”.  The thing I need to remember is it is not about me.  I am just the vessel.  The fear of giving of ourselves becomes about our own ego.  I am guilty.  Nevertheless, I am racked with fear.

For the past week or so I have been really struggling with if I can make a difference.  Does this blog matter?  On one hand I feel like I have a calling, and on the other, I feel like I am underqualified and someone else can fill those shoes much better than me.  Many of these thoughts probably come from the fact that I am in the middle of changing some of my mood stabilizing medication and it really affects the way I view myself.  That is why I have not blogged in over a week.  Then God answers those questions for me very boldly.  I had not one, but four people ask me at church why I have not blogged recently, one of whom I do not really even know.  Okay God, I get it.

But I am still racked with fear.  So I have to ask myself:  “How would I live if I were not afraid?”

 1.  I would be more transparent.  I would allow people to see who I really am and the struggles of my imperfections.

 2.  I would be more willing to give of myself.  I would not be afraid of what other people thought if I spoke up and fumbled my way through explaining things.  

3.  I would offer myself more, and when not needed, not to take it personally.  

4.  I would minister without hesitation.  I think of a man named Alan who stopped me in Michael’s craft store a few months back.  He asked me to pray for him.  I told him I would do that, but what I should have done was pray over him right then and there.  But I was afraid.  Afraid of stares, afraid of being awkward.

I need to remember that God equips the called; not calls the equipped.  I need to remember that it is not about about me; that I am just the vessel.  Even Beth Moore has horrid criticism.  Jesus faced horrid criticism.  I will not be immune.  I need to plant my feet firmly in who defines me.  May I not be afraid to serve; may I not be afraid to give of myself. 

How would you live if you were fearless?  

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Diamond in the Rough

“Riffraff, street rat

I don’t buy that

If only they’d look closer

Would they see a poor boy?

No, siree

They’d find out

There’s so much more to me.”

These words are spoken by Aladdin during the reprise of “One Jump Ahead” (Disney).   I wonder about those words he spoke.  How much did he believe that he was more than a street rat.  Aladdin believed that he was so much more than his circumstances.  Somehow, Aladdin was able to wash off any of the labels that had been placed upon him by society.  He did not believe he was Riffraff.  As it turns out, Aladdin was a true “Diamond in the Rough.”

Contrast that to me.  I seem to absorb every negative label that floats my way.  Just last night my husband was fussing about the dishes not being done.  Granted I had already run one load through the dishwasher that day, but there are always more.  I immediately felt I wasn’t doing a good enough job.  As a mom of pre-schoolers, sometimes I feel that all I do is run around and catch things before they fall.  Literally.  It had been one of those days.

The dishes not being done translated to me not doing a good enough job which translated to me not being good enough.  Logically, I know my husband was just ranting in general, and that he is quite capable of doing the dishes himself.  But somehow that translates in my mind to me not being enough.  Somehow I can’t seem to separate what I do from what I am.  Ahh, perhaps there is more to that statement than I can process at the moment.

I have always wondered what made me worthy of receiving anything of being anything noteworthy.  The truth is that I am nothing without God’s grace.  God is the master at using the most unlikely people and the most unlikely circumstances to make something wonderful.  Moses was a murderer, David an adulterer.  Birthrights and blessings are repeatedly transposed from elder brother to younger brother.  Yet, all these men accomplished great things in Biblical history.  They were all the “diamond in the rough.”

So, I wonder about myself.  Am I a diamond in the rough?  What will it take to shine me up?  Is it simply the belief in what you are that makes you who you are?

Then I remember the premise of what my who book is about:  It is about allowing the Beauty of His Light to shine through you.  It is not my own qualities that make me beautiful, but the ability to be the prism through which the light shines.  When the light shines through a prism, it shines in the colors of a rainbow.  It sparkles, it shines.  Our job is to make rainbows happen.  Be the diamond through which His light shines!

Acquainted with the Night

“I’m irritable.”  I typed these words out to my psychiatrist in an email last week.  It had been a few days of feeling like I was going to start throwing plates across the room at any moment.  The intensity of the desire raises red flags within me.  It was an email that followed days of feeling like I was going to loose control with my children.  I have been on edge, irritable and easily angered.

The truth is that I am very frusterated with who I am.  I know that in Psalm 139:13 David says, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.”   I have to wonder about the meaning of that verse.  I wonder because my body is flawed; my mind is flawed.  I have bipolar mood disorder, and trying to keep a good head on your shoulders is sometimes very difficult.  Tweaking your meds is a constant.  I am very blessed.  I have been very stable for the past six or seven years. Some people go their whole life without that type of stability.  But this constant tweaking. . .I want to scream, “Why did You make me this way!  Why, if you are the one who wove me together, did you make me this way!”

I am thankful for my meds and I would be okay with them  if it weren’t for the side effects.  In recent years, they have gotten to where they make me so sleepy.  I try tweaking my meds only to find myself sleeping half the day away and in a mind-fog the other part of the day.  No options seem to be acceptable.  I can’t be this irritable as my life-style.  I laugh at the funny quips from Facebook that say things like, “I say, you are about to exceed the limitations of my medication” or “I don’t need more medicine, I need people to stop pissing me off.”  I can relate to both.

I wonder if a more accurate way to say God wove me together has more to do with my creation of spirit and less with my body and mind.  God created my spirit in His image.  I am not so sure about my body.  I try to be at peace and find a light to light connection between my dim light source and the one who is light, pure light, without a trace of darkness.

Even in my frustration, I remember how far I have come, the days of being unstable, the days of intense emotional pain and agony.  I remember the soaring highs of chasing the sun and the darkness of the crashing lows.  I remember how utterly worthless I felt I was.  I remember being acquainted with the night in a most intimate way.

I am grateful that it has been years since I was intimately acquainted with the night.  I praise God that someone was able to make a medicine that keeps me stable.  Yet, it is not perfect and I still struggle.

I don’t claim to understand why, if God created me, was I created with bi-polar disorder.  I suppose the same reason why people are born without an arm, deaf, or with Down’s Syndrome.  I could blame it on genetics.  But we live in a fallen world where things are not perfect.  Humanity is not perfect and we have imperfect bodies.  But the soul, our light source, our made in the image of God, — I am not even sure that is perfect, but I know that my light desires the perfection of God.

I once said that I wonder if we are judged on how well we fight the demons of our lives.  I still wonder that.  It is easy to be good if you have no struggles in your life, but when put under pressure, we find out who we really are.  Maybe it is who we are at core that is judged.

If that is so, then being acquainted with the night has served purpose of which I have been made the humble servant of. Whatever path or obstacles you overcome, do it for God’s Glory.

Inner Peace

HPIM0524I just finished a book titled  A Testament of Devotion by Tomas R. Kelly.  In this book Thomas spoke freely of how to connect, spirit to spirit, to the Creator.  His words were so lulling so peaceful, that when I would finish a section, I would feel at peace with the world.  In his first chapter, Kelly states, “Protestant emphasis, beginning so nobly in the early Luther, has grown externally rationalistic, humanistic, and service minded.  Dogmas and creed and the closed revelation of a completed canon have replaced the emphasis upon keeping close to the fresh upspringins of the Inner Life.”  In recent years, I have struggled to have a meditation and devotion time be a consistent part of my life.  As a mom of four, it seems like I don’t even have time to pee, much less the take time in daily devotionals.  So yeah, maybe I am a product of that line of thought–that doing is more important than meditation with the Spirit.

I must confess that I long for that inner peace and joy from being in tune with the Spirit that Kelly spoke of.  I read such authors as Kelly and Wayne Dyer, hoping to obtain that peace.  However, I really want a book to tell me how to obtain peace while a toddler is yelling, “mom, mom, mom, mommy, mom, momma, mommmmmyyyyyy . . .”

“What!”

“Nothing.  (giggle)  I love you.”

Sweetness laced with frustration.  All this happening simultaneously while I am trying to cook dinner and carry on a conversation with my oldest daughters.  Are all these peaceful of spirit people, do they have all this stuff coming at them?  I don’t know anyone who could keep inner peace while being pulled mentally and emotionally in 20 different directions.  Except Ann Voskamp.  I think she may be on to something.  The rest of us are struggling with “praising Jesus one minute and screaming at your kids the next.” (Lysa Turkheurst, Unglued).

So I do.  I keep the house clean and raise my children; try to be a good wife and mother and a woman of God all in the same breath.  I am normal.  But I desire a relationship with everyone around me that is beyond ordinary, including my creator.  I just don’t know how to accomplish that.  Maybe I am expecting too much from myself at this stage of my life.  I don’t know.  I just feel like I am falling short.  But then there is grace.  Grace from God and Grace from those around me.

I am rambling, so back to meditation and living life fully.  There are a few things that help me to be at peace and feel more connected to my creator.  I will share them with you:

1.  Get up before the kids and have time with God. Read scripture and pray or journal.   This is soooo hard for me, but it starts my day with peace, which spills over into the rest of my day.  I literally have to go to bed as soon as my pre-schoolers do in order to do this.

2.  Get organized.  It amazes me how much physical clutter around me translates to emotional and spiritual clutter.  I stay at home with my children, and I am trying out a schedule for us.  So far I am really liking the results.  It is a work in progress.  I just have to careful not to make everything into a “check off the to-do list.”  I have to remember to enjoy the moment.

3.  Simplify.  It seems like something is going on in our life all the time that we “must” attend.  A birthday party, a sleepover, extra curricular activities.   This is why Shabbot is so important.  Take time to rest.  It is okay to say “no” sometimes to request.

Those are my tricks.  What are your tricks for finding inner peace?  Please share.  I really need more advice than I am giving.  

Divine Intervention

I was driving home from a friend’s house at 1 a.m.  The streets were dark and quiet.  My stomach hurt in a way that was familiar to me, yet not welcomed.  I got off the interstate, yielding right through a stop sign.  A wave of hot sweats came over me.   “Gotta make it home. Just another mile.”  I thought.  Then my ears started ringing and began to get uncontrollably sleepy.

“Not now!”  I yelled within my thoughts. Yet, the urge was so great within me, I could not resist.  I was fainting at the wheel of my car, while driving, and I couldn’t stop it.  My sight began to go.  I didn’t have time to even put the car in a parked position.  I pressed the brake and fought to stay conscious enough to keep pressure on the brake petal.  I awoke to a car going around me and honking its horn.  I was in the middle of the street.  I hadn’t rolled very far.  I wasn’t out but probably a minute or so, but I was drenched in sweat from the episode.  It had hit me hard.

Later a thought hit me equally as hard.  “I had just gotten off the interstate.  What if that had happened 30 seconds prior to when it did?” The thought was more than unsettling.  I couldn’t shake the possibility of that scenario.  I had the best possible outcome.  I fainted at the wheel at a time when I was going slowly, and was able to easily come to a stop.

I wanted so badly to believe God’s hand was in this.  That He had saved me and orchestrated the whole thing.  The timing was perfect.  I was safe.  Rattled, but safe.  But at the time, I couldn’t believe anything more than I was safe.  I didn’t understand why.   I didn’t understand anything beyond the science of it.

I wanted to believe that God knew who I was and that I was in trouble.  I wanted to believe that it was a God moment.  But who was I that God would know me at such a moment?

But how else can I explain such a thing?  When I looked in my Bible I could see God bringing a nation to himself through events.  God’s hand was on that of King David’s life, but me?  No, I wasn’t like that.  I couldn’t put myself in the same ranks as God’s chosen ones.

The truth is that God loves each and every one of us to the extent that He anointed Jesus to come to be the Savior of the world.  Each of us.  Each soul is precious to God.  “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.”  Jer. 1:4.  God knows each of us individually.  He knew us before we were born;  He knows us after we are born.  God is involved in the details of your life.  It is not just a y’all mentality or that you are one of the herd.  He knows each intricate thing about you.

When you knit something, you know each loop, each stitch.  You know where the stitches are loose and where they are tight.  Even if you try to replicate the same thing, it will not be exactly alike.  God knit you together by hand.  He knows each detail about you.

God is involved in the details of your life, not just those of humanity in general.  To not believe that is to dismiss the omnipotent power of God.  To believe that you are unknown is to dismiss God’s love.

God was there with me that day in the car.  I didn’t believe it at the time.  I was one who was unknown at the time.  I haven’t done anything since then to change my status with God except accept the relationship He offers me.  There have been other divine coincidences in my life that I can’t go into in this post.  I can choose to believe that they are God’s hand involved in my life or not.  The choice is mine.  I can chalk it up to mere coincidence, or Divine intervention.  I choose Divine intervention.

What about you?  Where do you stand on this?  Do you believe there was a time where God orchestrated divine intervention on your behalf?  

Hope of a Future

Christianity is not about perfect people.  It is about broken people who have a hope in being restored.  A few years ago, a former Islamic woman turned Christian, spoke to our church about her conversion.   I remember how animated she became when she spoke of the hope that Jesus brought her.  It is a hope she had never had before she was Christian.  She spoke of trying to be “good enough” yet, never being able to obtain the level of perfection to which she was held.  Whether that sense of perfection was from her family of origin or something to do with the religion in which she was raised is something I can not attest to.

In John 3:18 Jesus says, “There is no judgement awaiting those who trust Him [the son of God].  Paul, in Col 1:22, states, “As a result [of what Jesus did], He has brought you into the very presence of God, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.”

There is no spiritual judgement for those who believe in the sacrifice of Jesus.  We have been made blameless and pure through Jesus.  That is our hope and our salvation and the thing we should stand on as Christians.  Sadly, even in Christian circles, this point is overlooked.  Somehow, it is lost between confessing and repenting.

A few years back, before I understood this truth, I was trying so hard to be perfect.  And I was failing miserably.  I was emotionally punishing myself, thinking if I could just flog myself a little harder, then my plight would be noticed and God would receive my offering.  I thought I could be made pure and atoned for through my self inflicted emotional pain.  I felt like I was unworthy, and should be punished as such.

One evening after classes I tried to explain my brokenness to another woman.  I was hoping for comfort and insight.  But as I explained my theology she simply asked, “So, what you are saying is what Jesus did wasn’t good enough? ”  The words were not spoken harshly, but they had an edge to them.  That edge cut into me.  How could I not think that what Jesus did was good enough?  It was me, I tried to explain, that was not good enough.  Those words cut me, but they were so true.

What I had missed out on is that Jesus had already made me pure.  No judgments could ever be held against me because I claim salvation in the name of Jesus.  I claim that I am one of His.  I didn’t need to punish myself.  He had already taken the punishment for me so that I can have hope to see the beauty of heaven.  It is more than a hope, it is a security.  Spiritually, I am blameless and pure.

It is not our striving toward perfection or goodness that makes us good.  It is not the commandments that make us behave ethically.  It is the love that the Father has shown to us.  It is the light which radiates from us because we have an understanding of what has been done for us.

The Pain of Beauty

As women, we go through great pains in order to be Beautiful.  Although I am not much of a froo-froo girl, I still endure my fair share of torture.  Take those eyebrow waxings for example–ouch!  And although pedicures are a way to pamper oneself, I have to admit they hurt a bit.  Then, we don elaborate jewelry before we leave the house and have a ritual of putting on make-up every morning, oh, and the hair.  Living in the South where “big hair” rules, taking the time to do hair can take up most of the morning.

We do all this to feel beautiful.  It is a woman’s yearning to be the Beauty.  To feel like she is Beautiful.  John Eldridge in Captivating describes a woman as Beautiful when she is “fully present” and at “rest” within herself.

But how does one come to be at rest within themselves?  John Eldridge answers this question as well.  He states (paraphrase), “that a woman becomes Beautiful when she knows who she is.”

About eight years ago I had no idea who I was.  I really had no idea of my own identity.  There are many pages in my journal from that time where the words, “Who am I?” are sketched across the top or off to the side.  I felt lost without an identity.  I didn’t know who I was, yet, I felt that I was more than just a wife and mother.  The questions of “Who am I?”  and “What is my purpose in life?” haunted me day and night.  It had to be more than just who I was in relation to other people.

I was not at peace or at rest within myself.  I was anything but beautiful.  In fact, I ducked and dodged other people because I thought I had nothing of myself to give.  No light to bear.

During those years I hated myself intensely.  I hated the void of who I had become.  I lived in fear of being asked to do things, and more fearful of just being a wallflower and no one noticing I existed.  But wallflowers have to bloom, right?

Not necessarily, I think blooming is a choice we make.  We have to pursue the blooming process.  I did.  I wanted more than what I had, so I chose to learn to bloom.

I started hearing God through the voices of my children.  They taught me so many lessons during that time.  They taught me that it is okay to involve God in the minute details of my life.  That if I ask God for something as simple as to make the bees in our yard go away He will.  They also taught me there is Beauty in imperfection.  That was a very important lesson for me to learn.

I also discovered that God knew my name and that I undoubtedly belong to Him.

The Psalms repeatedly speak of God pulling the Psalmist up from the mire or the pit of despair so that others can see and be amazed at what God can do.  It takes a journey of dark to light to have a testimony.  Those who have made this journey can bear so much more light to those who have never walked the darkened road before.

“Weeping may continue through the night , but joy comes in the morning.”  Psalm 30:5

It is God’s desire to pull you up out of the pit of despair.  He wants His glory to be seen through you.  God’s desire is for you to reflect the ultimate Beauty–His Beauty.

What “pit of despair” has God pulled you out of?  I want to hear your story.  

We are Light

Worldwide, there are many different religions and belief systems.  Oddly, we use the differences in these beliefs to set ourselves apart from other sects of humanity.  Yet, when we come down to it, much of our beliefs worldwide have the same basic beliefs: Be good to others;  There is a higher power; Love each other; value life.

Oddly, most Psychologist would embrace these same thoughts and beliefs for ones well being and happiness.  Those who are spiritual in nature as opposed to religious would also agree to these things.  Dr. Wayne Dyer is wonderful in his books on spirituality in bringing in beliefs from all around the globe to support how to be happy.  I have read several of his books and have been amazed at how Dr. Dyer is so knowledgeable in regards to thoughts worldwide.

Recently, my husband brought me home a book he had purchased for me titled The Four Agreements: A Toltec Wisdom Book by don Miguel Ruiz.  In reading this man’s spiritual wisdom, I can not help but be stunned by how biblically based it seems to be, although it is from a place far away.  His thoughts sound something like a sermon which could easily be backed up scripturally.

The first thing that Miguel Ruiz speaks of in his introduction is who we are in relationship to God.  How we are God-like and made in his image of light.  That we are light because God is of light.  I was amazed at the parallels to the creation story this has.

It has been quite the challenge for me to believe that I am one made of light.  That I am made in the image of God, and therefore God-like.  I have spent the majority of my life trying to be good enough, only in recent years to realize that I am His, regardless.  Not only am I spawned out of the image of God, but God has a purpose for me, even if that purpose is simply to praise His name.  But no, it is more, I am to bear light to others, and be a light-bearer to others.

There we go with those images of light again.

But Miguel, in his book, says that, “Everything in existence is a manifestation of the one Living Being we call God.  Everything is God.  . . .and the true us is pure love, pure light.”

It makes sense.  If we are of God and God is light, then we have to have that light within us as well.  The problem is that I don’t think we allow that light to shine though because of the human condition.  We are tired, or sick, or we have been rejected or ridiculed too many times to risk showing our light one more time.

The following chapters of The Four Agreements seem to promise how to overcome these obstacles.  I will get back to you on that.

Who am I?

“The B-I-B-L-E, that’s the book for me. I’ll read and study and then obey, the B-I-B-L-E.”

I wonder how much of my theology as a child was shaped by songs such as this? It states that we should read, study and obey. But what does that mean? To my child’s mind, I took it very literal. To obey translated into: be good, don’t do bad things. God is good, so you be good.

The problem was that I could never seem to be good enough. Not that I didn’t try. I did. I tried so hard to be good. It is just that I would mess up. As a young child that meant things like not making good grades. As a teenager, that meant defying my parents and doing things they had told me not to do. As an adult, well, I became very prodigal.

Although I knew the story of the prodigal, unlike the son, I felt I couldn’t return home–spiritually speaking that is. I had too much shame. Or maybe I just needed to tuck my pride between my legs. But for whatever reason, I didn’t feel like I could be accepted in the church. It was like there had been this good-bad line drawn in the sand and I had crossed it. And once I crossed it, there was no going back.

I had spent all this time trying to be good enough and failing at it. It was all about me trying. I was seriously struggling with this issue of being good enough when one day I heard the song, “Who am I” by casting crowns on the radio. Here are the lyrics:

Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name
Would care to feel my hurt
Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart

Not because of who I am
But because of what You’ve done
Not because of what I’ve done
But because of who You are

I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean
A vapor in the wind
Still You hear me when I’m calling
Lord, You catch me when I’m falling
And You’ve told me who I am
I am Yours, I am Yours

Who Am I, that the eyes that see my sin
Would look on me with love and watch me rise again
Who Am I, that the voice that calmed the sea
Would call out through the rain
And calm the storm in me

I am Yours
Whom shall I fear
Whom shall I fear
‘Cause I am Yours
I am Yours

I wanted to understand “how the Lord of all the earth, would ever care to know my name?” Why would God care to know my name? I really wanted to know. There was no way I believed God knew who I was. Then the chorus of the song came. “Not because of who I am/ but because of what you’ve done, Not because of what I’ve done/ But because of who you are! Those words stuck with me and I wrestled with them for months to come.

“What do you mean it is not because of what I have done!” my mind screamed back at the radio. “You just don’t know what all I have done.”

I later downloaded the song and listened to the lyrics over and over again until the message rewrote the theology of the song I learned in my youth about obeying.

It isn’t because I had obeyed or not obeyed, it is because of the nature of God and who He is! It has nothing to do with me at all. It is not about me or anything I can do to earn my way into knowing who God is and getting Him to know my name. It is about accepting that, “I am Yours.”

When you realize the gift that those lyrics state, then you can not help but to lay down at the foot of the throne and weep because mercy you did not deserve has been given to you. You in turn, want to do what is right because of who sits on that throne. You want to show grace and mercy just as grace and mercy has been shown to you. That is what Christianity is about–showing grace and mercy. Remember that during your day today and be grace and mercy to those whom you meet.

By the Way, if you want to see the YouTube video of casting crowns, you can see it here:

What’s your stage of Spirituality?

From Abba’s Child, by Brennan Manning:  (One of my favorite books)

“A while back Roslyn [my wife] and I took a day off and decided to play in the French Quarter here in New Orleans.  We roamed around Jackson Square sampling gumbo, inhaling jambalaya, and finally stopping at the Haagen-Dazs shrine for the piece de resistance— a praline-pecan Creole hot-fudge sundae that induced a short lived seizure of pleasure.

As we turned the corner on Bourbon Street, a girl with a radiant smile, about twenty-one years old, approached us, pinned a flower on our jackets, and asked if we would like to make a donation to support her mission.  When I inquired what her mission was, she replied, “The Unification Church.”

“Your founder is Doctor Sun Myung Moon, so I guess that means you’re a Moonie?”

“Yes,” she answered.

Obviously she had two strikes against her.  First she was a pagan who did not acknowledge Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.  Second, she was mindless, witless, naive, and vulnerable kid who had been brainwashed by a guru and mesmerized by a cult.

“You know something , Susan?”  I said.  “I deeply admire your integrity and your fidelity to your conscience.  You’re out here tramping the street doing what you really believe in.  You are a challendge to anyone who claims the name ‘Christian.’ ”

Roslyn reach out and embraced her, and I embraced the two of them.

“Are you Christians?”  she asked.

Roslyn said, “yes.”

She lowered her head and we saw tears falling on the sidewalk.  A minute later she said, “I’ve been on my mission here in the Quarter for eight days now.  You’re the first Christians who have ever been nice to me.  The others have either looked at me with contempt or screamed and told me that I was possessed by a demon.  One woman hit me with her Bible.” “

Think on this for a minute and ask how you would have responded to Susan.  Why as Christians do we not tend to reflect God’s love?  I think Brennan Manning’s response is the exception, not the ordinary response.   However, I think it should be the standard response from Christians.  We are here to discover and then reflect God’s love.  How can we do that if we are hitting someone else over the head with a bible, either figuratively or literally?

I personally think it has to do with what phase we are on in our journey.  Peter Scazzero in his book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality  states that there are six stages of faith.  Stages one through three deal with awareness, learning and serving.  Then Peter says we hit The Wall.  The Wall is where we challenge our faith, usually through some crisis in our life where we are stuck at some “Dark Night of the Soul.”

Once we emerge from The Wall, Scazzero says, “we are free from judging others.”  Then we go on to stages four, five and six which deal with learning to be transformed into God’s Love.  This is the place we need to strive to be in Christianity.  We need to see each other with the value of the soul.  However, Scazzero also says that not everyone does not make it to the other side of the wall.  Some Christians live their whole life in stages one, two or three.  The wall is uncomfortable and they retreat to a former place of comfort.  I think this is a major problem.  So many of us do not mature after hitting our wall.  We choose to stay where we are comfortable  (back to the pool of Bethesda).

So how do we get to the latter, more mature stages?  Do we have to hit a wall?  I think we have to at least question our relationship with Christ and the Father.  Although that questioning often comes during crisis, perhaps one can come to that level of questioning without having crisis.  When you come out of the wall, you define yourself as one loved by Christ and that you must be a reflection of that love.  Gone is the judgmental notions of those who are of different religions, the homeless, the addicted, the mentally ill.

Have you hit the wall in your spiritual journey?  Have you come out on the other side?  How are you different now?  How would you respond to Susan, the Moonie?