Posts Tagged ‘pride’

Associating with Job

I’ve been thinking about Job recently. I have a sweet aunt
that is considered the “Job” of our family. She is one of the
sweetest, most cheerful, loving women you will EVER meet and she is
the Godliest woman I know. Every time she and her husband
have obtained something that would be considered “successful,” it
has been taken from them. They have served in numerous
churches, some with some horribly nasty results. She still praises
God for everything and you believe that she believes in Him with
all her heart. How can I explain to you how loving and sweet she
is? Just take my word for it. Watching my aunt made me think.
Everything I think and do now is tinted by a cynicism that I have
never held before. I used to think I was heavily shielded to
the hardships of life — that I could survive like Job — because I
had dealt with blow after blow as a child and teenager. I
would still praise God because He loved me and while He could deal
with the people who have hurt me, He chose to love me and take care
of me. When the place that I associated with love, comfort, and
hope decided to act in a way that was unbefitting to itself — it
crushed me. Legally, a corporation wouldn’t do what the
church did, and it seems so unthinkable and
ungodly that the church acted in this way. In
my mind I had decided, “God, you can allow life to be tough.
You can give me struggles. Please, You cannot take away my comfort
with You.” When that was taken away, my foundation was
shaken. It’s easy to be grateful when your “non-negotiable”
is still intact. Money has always
been tight for me.
I remember welfare and
WIC, my grandparents paying for everything, and secondhand
clothing. While it made for some hard times with other kids, I feel
like I appreciated what I received and that makes me more
appreciative as an adult. I have had a shaky
family.
It doesn’t scare me or break me down if Todd
and I are having a rough time. It makes us stronger and we are a
better couple for it. For some people, that’s a
non-negotiable. I’m always a little scared when I hear of a
female referring to her man as a “knight in shining armor” or their
“prince charming,” placing him on such a pedestal that will surely
get shaky. My kid will break my heart one day. My
family will always be a little too dysfunctional. That’s
life. I don’t have the nicest home, cutest clothes,
or skinny body.
I would like them, don’t get me
wrong. I would love to be in my old jeans again (when did a size 12
become a desire? ha!), I would LOVE to have a home that people want
to go to. Heck, I would just like a home, but the pressure of
meeting those are too much for me. When my comfort with God was
taken — it shook me to the core. My non-negotiable. Job had
EVERYTHING taken away from him, even his comfort. In fact,
that was the thing that struck me most about his story. He
couldn’t feel God, or see or hear Him. He felt abandoned, yet
he didn’t “Curse God and die.” My aunt hasn’t either. She
still praises Him with a gentle passion that makes you want to curl
up in her presence, if only to soak Him in through her. Can I be
that way? Can I get there? I’m trying. I hope
so. My aunt gives me hope. Do you have a
non-negotiable? Are you or have you been in this place in
your life? Can you still praise God if your non-negotiable
was taken away? The baby you always longed for, that church
position, finances, a nice home, a marriage, your family, your
talent/ability… could you still praise Him as you do
now?

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Imposer, Imposter.

Let me begin by apologizing.  I am afraid that you think I only complain, that I live in a world of melancholy.  That is not true.  I just pull from the inmost recesses of my heart when I write, and that is a place of messy corners and tangled emotions.  I have also been displaced from anything that is considered “normal” for over a year.  I think that justifies me a bit in my grumblings. 🙂

The holidays.  My favorite time of year.

I live for this time of year.  I pull out my autumn garlands, homemade wreaths, my sparkly arrangements and I light my “Home for the Holidays” candles.  I keep a fire in the fireplace.  I bake spritz cookies with holiday jam centers, pumpkin pies, and anything cinnamon.

This will be my second holiday season without these things.

We found out this week that we will not be moving out of my grandparents home this month the way we had hoped to.   We will be keeping them displaced.  They don’t mind — they genuinely like us here — but we feel so awful.  Moochers.

I wanted to have a home this holiday season.  I wanted to invite family over for a holiday get-together.  I wanted to bake goodies and play hostess.  We will have Thanksgiving at my grandparents (our) home this year.  It’s not MINE, but it’s something, at least.  Still, it feels like I’m just a imposter, playing hostess to a home that is not mine.

This Christmas will be equally unsettling.  All of our Christmas decorations are still packed away.  I always wanted to give my baby a picture-perfect Christmas, even though it’s just for me.  I wanted to put her “baby’s first Christmas” ornament on our tree.  Her stocking next to ours.  It’s just weird.  Nothing’s the same, anymore.  Last year’s Christmas at the in-laws was strange, because we were snowed out and we had to come later.  It was a gathering of just my husband and I opening gifts a week or two after Christmas while his family watched.  It was awkward and sad for me… it just seemed like a reminder that nothing was the same.

This year, we’re traveling to our BIL and SIL’s house.  It’s going to be Christmas in a new place (although it’s for our traveling ease, and I am thankful for that) and that’s going to be so weird for me.  I’m also a little jealous (yes, I just admitted that).  My SIL, who has been in the family for 9+ months will get to play hostess in her home.  I will have nothing to do.  I will be at loose ends, feeling like I don’t have a role, and therefore feeling like I’m not quite belonging. I already feel like I ceased being me when the baby was born.  I feel so second-rate.  Doesn’t feel fair.

Ha.  Haven’t I learned that already?  Life’s not fair.

That’s my confession.  One of my desires is to be the hostess in my home.  The center of the family like my grandmother has been for years.  I know this year isn’t going to be awful.  It will be sweet and beautiful in its own way.  I just struggle with the changes, and mourn the fact that I don’t get my own personal pride-booster of being told that I’m the perfect hostess, that people love being around me.

See? I’m both and imposer and an imposter.

Is this a normal reaction or am I as crazy as I sound?

Phylacteries

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

“Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’

“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. -Matthew 23:1-11

I have been ensconced in this passage for the last week.  It seems like I keep coming back to it.  At first I was drawn to the word “phylacteries.”

“The leather boxes of the tefillin contain scrolls of Torah passages, specifically Exodus 13:1-10, 11-16 and Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 11:13-21. These passages command Jews to bind the word of God on their bodies.

“And you shall bind them as a sign on your arm, and they shall be as frontlets on your head between your eyes.” (Deuteronomy 6:8)

Certain Jewish groups, including probably the Sadducees, and definitely the medieval Karaites, understood the command to be figurative: that one should always be preoccupied with words of Torah, as if they were in front of one’s eyes. The Pharisees, however, took the text literally: the words of the Torah are to be inscribed on a scroll and placed directly between one’s eyes and on one’s arm.

Today, observant Jews wear tefillin both in literal obedience to these Torah verses and to remind the wearer of God’s commandments.” http://www.religionfacts.com/judaism/things/tefillin.htm

It struck me.  What phylacteries do I wear?  Jesus wasn’t angry at the use of phylacteries.  I’m pretty sure He’s all about knowing the word of God and following it. It was the showy use of religion in order to promote one as holy without any internal change.  How many times a day do I use my faith as a show for others?  Am I striving for a life change, or just behavior modification?  Because I know that if I truly allow myself to be swept up in the radical arms of Christ, there’s no way I can be content with behavior modification.  Many days I crave the sweet fragrance of Him.  There are also many days that I find myself caught in the shell of Christianity.  Do I still do things because I truly believe that is what I am compelled to do in the light of Grace, or do I do things because they maintain the image that “good Christians” are supposed to portray?  Some days, it’s more of one than the other, but most days it’s a combination of both.

The next time I read the passage, I was drawn by this part of the passage:

“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant.”

Another stab at wearing my legalism for all to see.  How much do I love the title of honor?  I distinctly remember the sense of pride when I first became part of the crowd that “does ministry.”  I followed my Christian musician boyfriend with great pride.  Talk about a dangerous place to be in!  Since then, I have been greatly awakened to the dark side of what I do.  I have been ashamed to be a part of a group that has damaged and broken people, distorted their views of God, and made them generally afraid of following Christ.  Most days, again, I’m in a balance between the two, trying to convince people that I’m not someone that you have to be afraid to speak around, but also a person who you can confide in.  However, through all of this, I have still been proud to be called “teacher and minister.”  For the first time in a long time, I have been truly humbled over what I do.  For years, I have felt a right to do what I do.

But you know what?  I have no right.

I am beyond broken.  There is nothing— NOTHING— that I bring to the table.  There’s no talent or skill that I have that makes God look at me and say “wow, good thing I have April.  I sure couldn’t do THAT on my own.”  What a laughable concept to think that I have anything to offer!  I’ve forgotten that I live a life of servitude in constant gratitude to the wonderful work of undeserved grace in my broken, wretched life.  Truly laughable.

Honestly, I’m sorry to you.  I’m sorry for those that I have snobbishly treated with less than the most kindness I can possibly muster.  I’m sorry for my human moments where I forget to treat you like Christ would.

My phylacteries are wide and my tassels are long.