The Detox Diaries, Five Minute Friday Edition: Exhale


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Gentle Reader,

Five Minute (it will be in a few hours) Friday.

Linking up with Lisa-Jo.

Tonight we: exhale.

Go.

Inside the mind of the anxious, stream-of-consciousness style:

It’s so hot and I hate the heat and I wish we had central air. I’m worried about this barbecue that Chris is throwing tomorrow. It’s supposed to be so hot and there’s not shade at the park in our neighborhood and we don’t know how many people are going to come and what if we run out of food or don’t have enough to drink? I shouldn’t care but I do because…I don’t know why. Everything is too much right now. So busy. So overwhelming. Packed carts and shelves at work and stuff just keeps streaming in, stuff that people want right now. Is Benny doing okay? That dog attack on Saturday was so scary. I’m afraid to take the dogs for a walk by myself now. Chris is running some kind of saw in the garage and it just pierces straight into my brain and I want to throw something. I am annoyed. Seems like all the time. Not for any real reason. I know what is happening in my body and why I feel like I do but that doesn’t make it easier and how I long for Jesus to just take this from me! I am scared to ask not because I don’t think He can but because I think He won’t. This concerns me less for me and more for others; how will they interpret it if they pray and I am not released? Not healed? I think about making people happy. I want them to have a good time. That’s why I’m worried about this barbecue. I sensed the Spirit telling me to “choose to have fun” instead of stressing out, but I’m not even really sure what that would look like. Is it really so simple? Can you just choose to enjoy something and refuse to worry?

I feel like I am taking more and more in and just want so badly to exhale.

Stop.

Tell me, dear reader. Is it really that simple? The question is a deep one for me. I suspect that I can, in fact, choose…but I worry about the consequences of that choice. I see patterns. I see the interconnectedness of every decision. And right now, I feel darn near paralyzed.

Edited to Add: We’re not supposed to edit our Five Minute Friday entries, but we are supposed to visit as many of the other bloggers as we can and provide feedback. After entering this piece to the link-up, I read Hannah Boning’s entry and it was exactly what I needed. Please, go and check it out!

Another Edit: God is truly ministering to me through the words of all the fabulous, gorgeous and talented bloggers who are participating this week. He heard the desperate cry of my soul and sent the words that would soothe the pain. I am so, so grateful for these sisters (and some brothers!)

Grace and peace along the way.

To read all the posts in The Detox Diaries series, go here.

The Detox Diaries, Five Minute Friday Edition: Lost

I love how this little one ponders.

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Gentle Reader,

It’s #fmfparty time! Linking up with Lisa-Jo and all the fabulous bloggers. This week we are: lost.

Go. 

I like to joke that I’ve failed at every formal church ministry that I’ve ever been part of. I’ve led Bible study groups, headed up a library project, hosted book discussion groups, taught Sunday School, helped with Wednesday night kid’s classes and even had a board position for a (very) brief period of time. The groups fizzled out, the library never got anywhere, the book group lasted about 4 months, the Sunday School job was never more than fill-in, I recently had to step aside from Wednesday nights and, yeah, boards are NOT for me.

I try to keep it lighthearted. I try to remember that there are seasons and times.

But behind the joking, there is frustration.

The truth is, I feel lost.

Belonging is a real soul craving. Every one of us feels it. This need is one of the reasons that God instituted the Church. We need community. We need to be part of something bigger than ourselves. We need to contribute. We need a role and we need to fulfill that role.

Purpose, really, is what we’re after.

And when you don’t know what your contribution is supposed to be…

It’s not spiritual gifts. I know I’m a teacher, because I will absolutely tell anyone and everyone what I’ve been learning if given the chance. I also know that I’m an exhorter (Chris refers to this as bluntness, but whatever). Basically, I love the God’s truth and want to know all about it so I can tell other people. Pretty straightforward.

It’s how this is supposed to work out that gets me. How are these gifts to be used in His Body when my body keeps me at home so often? When I can’t promise that I’ll be at every class, every meeting? Should I even try anything when there’s a very real possibility that I’ll have to bow out?

I’m going over the five-minute limit here, but there are some deep questions that chronically ill people wrestle with. The Church hasn’t done a very good job in helping to answer those questions. It seems that if you’re not able to be on 6 committees and attend 3 services per Sunday, plus mid-week classes, don’t bother. If you’re in a wheelchair, don’t bother. If you’ve got cancer, don’t bother.

I don’t think that this attitude is intentional. I’m sure that many assume that ill people simply can’t or don’t want to be involved. And there are definitely limitations when you’re sick. But being sick sucks. It’s boring. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I get tired of myself. I want to be part of something and get my mind off of my belly-button. I want to be asked. To be included.

That’s all anyone wants.

Stop.

Grace and peace along the way.

To read all the posts in The Detox Diaries series, go here.

Not the Fundamentals

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Gentle Reader,

The history of Christianity is marked by debate.

Each of the Gospel authors records extensive back-and-forth between Jesus and just about everyone He encountered. After the Resurrection, some Jewish and Roman leaders conspired to spread the story that His body had been taken by the disciples.  Acts 15 records the Jerusalem leadership’s decision regarding the conflict between Jewish and Gentile believers over circumcision and (by extension) the keeping of the Moasic laws. Subsequent centuries saw councils and volumes upon volumes written upon crucial topics: What was the nature of Christ – monophyte, apollinarian, nestorian? The answer came in the formation of the doctrine of the hypostatic union. Did the Spirit proceed only from the Father or from the Father and the Son? The answer to this created the filioque controversy, a factor that continues to contribute to the separation of the Catholic and Orthodox churches. How was the Christian life to be lived? An anonymous author or compiler tackled this in the Didache. What books should be included in the canon? (The subsequent question, “how was the canon formed?” is one of the major differences between Catholics and Protestants).

Justin Martyr passionately defended the faith. Irenaeus eloquently dismantled Gnostic heresies.  Origen, regarded as a Church Father but not a Saint, was anathematized (condemned as a heretic) for (among other things) his views on subordinationism, accepted within the Christian community until the final formation of the doctrine of the Trinity. Tertullian blasted Marcion across five books, but later became suspect due to his Montanist views, streams of which flow into today’s Pentecostal and Charismatic oceans.

Where am I going with this?

We make a mistake when we assume that the Christian faith was handed down in toto one afternoon. The centuries of wrestling, of struggle, are certainly evidence of human frailty in attempting to combine antagonistic philosophies into one; there is no holding on to false belief (not forever, at any rate) when God has won a person over. It is also evidence, to be sure, of the Enemy’s activity in taking truth and manipulating it into a lie. However, in these debates and worries, we also see evidence of the working out of salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12). The person devoted to God longs to please Him, and therefore desires to know what is right.

This longing and desire often leads to legalism.

Confession: I like legalism. I like lists of rules. I like knowing exactly what the standards are. As an anxious perfectionist, I like to be able to point to something and say, “There. I did it.” For some, the appeal lies in pride and the hope of controlling others. For people like me, the appeal lies in fear. If I’m keeping the rules, then I’m okay. People like me are terrified that God’s grace will run out. We are afraid that He will wake up one day and no longer love us – because we broke the rules one too many times.

I’m not an advocate for the other extreme – the cheap grace of libertinism – but a rule-bound life is stressful in the extreme. It is that stress we are going to examine through the Not the Fundamentals series. The title is drawn from a four-volume set of 90 essays entitled The Fundamentals: A Testimony To The Truth, published between 1910 and 1915. (Volume 1 is available in PDF format here). What the authors of The Fundamentals set out to do was re-articulate key positions in orthodox Christianity in a shifting culture that had given rise to historical criticism and the social gospel. Unfortunately, that re-articulation led directly to a rigidity of focus on the externals among many Christians. It is to this we turn our attention.

Before we part ways, allow me to make one thing clear: This series is not directed at any individuals or churches. If and when I link to any sites or blogs, I do so only to illustrate a point from the source itself. We will not walk in a spirit of condemnation here. Remember, I group myself with those who are drawn to rigidity and legalism. I understand. What I want is to live the abundant life Christ offers, free of fear and based in love. This is the end we strive for.

Grace and peace along the way.