Thursday, April 23, 2009

Relationships Are Not Linear

That is sort of a new epiphany for me. And maybe why I struggle so much with them. I expect them to follow this neat, clear path - and while I think there is some kind of logical progression that happens in them, I realize that they aren't predictable. And, I guess that is because the people in them are not - they are unique, different, autonomous in their own right.

And this ties into God because I don't think I've ever understood, really, the whole religion vs relationship. Again, intellectually - yes; experientially and emotionall - not so much.

In Nicaragua, I was really getting a sense of the whole relationship with God. That we can talk and share - and it is not so pressure-filled as I usually think. There is some flexibility - because it is not linear. It doesn't have a set path to follow; it just morphs and changes and evolves to just be what it is becoming.

But one distinction that just sort of hit me this morning as I was doing my workbook is that their are characteristics of functional relationships. It came up in the context of family, but I see that they are characteristics of all functional relationships. That helps, because I can sort of test the health of any relationship - and know how to try to get it back on track.

It's like this:

  • It's OK to feel (respect for someone as a person with a right to his/her own emotions)

  • It's OK to trust (consistency and dependability make this possible)

  • It's OK to talk (time taken to listen and value what they say)

  • You are special (worth is based on who they are)

  • You are loved even if you make a mistake. (worth is not based on performance)

So, that was helpful to me - because God is the ultimate functional Father. And while the traits mentioned are the cornerstone of my faith, I feel like this gives a little definition of what a relationship on those cornerstones should look like.

If this is true (and it is), then He:
  • loves me - I am special in His sight.
  • loves me no matter how great my mistakes

  • desires me to trust Him (because He is consistent and dependable)

  • desires me to share my feelings (validates my right to feel what I feel)

  • takes time to talk to me and listen to me (not just tell me what I'm doing wrong and what I need to do - cares about me as a person)

Revelation 3:20 - "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. "

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The 4 Cornerstones

When I did the Truth Project with the seniors a few weeks ago, there was one tour (I forget which - 6 or 7 maybe? Tour 8?) that left me very troubled. I can't remember at the moment what was said that affected me so much, but I knew I had to go be alone and process a little.

I went to the Holtsville Ecology site to walk and I definitely sensed God the Father with me taking me on this walk to get to the bottom of this. The revelation came to me about the foundation of my faith. I realized, that, I have been the foundation of my own faith. Not His love, not His grace and redemption, but ME. How well I can do the Christian life. And, if I mess up - well, then...there goes the whole structure.

And, I realized that this mentality was sort of thrust upon me before I even knew that what I was doing. Not to get all psycho-babble, but let's just say that as a kid, I learned very early to make sure you obeyed and did right before you got in trouble for doing wrong. And, that definitely translated into my spirituality. So, I never even had a foundation of God's love for me from the inception of my faith. It was, more or less, motivated by a fear of getting punished. I knew intellectually God's love, but not really emotionally or experiencially. I've felt it at moments over the years, but never something that has been consistent. Or foundational. It just sort of floated in and floated out at different times.

So anyway, all that to say - I realized, 'Oh, crap - my foundation is ALL WRONG. So how do I rebuild this thing???"

Well, I felt the Lord say that the foundation needed to be dismantled and a new one built. I didn't even know what some of those messed up building blocks were and what they needed to be replaced with. Didn't even know where to start.

This morning, in my study, I think I came upon it. It isn't anything I haven't heard, but in my mind, it made sense - at least in the way of this whole foundation metaphor.

So, here they are - the 4 false beliefs and the 4 cornerstones (as I am going to call them) for my new foundation:

False Belief #1: I must meet certain standards to feel good about myself (Fear of failure).
Cornerstone #1: Because of justification [Christ's work, separate from my actions], I am completely forgiven and acceptable to God [Right now, as is. His righteousness applied to me].

False Belief #2: I must have the approval of certain others to feel good about myself (Fear of rejection).
Cornerstone #2: Because of reconciliation [Restored friendship through Christ], I am totally accepted by God [and His opinion is all that matters].

False Belief #3: Those who fail (including myself) are unworthy of love and deserve to be punished (Guilt).
Cornerstone #3: Because of propitiation [Christ took my punishment for me and covers my failings; He shows me grace and favor as a result], I am deeply loved by God. I no longer have to fear punishment or punish others.

False Belief #4: I am what I am. I cannot change. I am hopeless (Shame).
Cornerstone #4: Because of regeneration, I have been made brand-new, complete in Christ [I am being transformed into this new person little by little].

One of the best things I read in there, too, was "Patterns of behavior that reflect a false belief system take years to develop. Change will not occur overnight." For a Type A perfectionist, there is a bit of relief to that. I don't need to figure it all out today. God is in charge of the pace of this journey. He is the builder, the Author and Finisher. I am HIS workmanship, not my own.

"One step, one stone, one line at a time"

(Note: Taken from Conquering Co-Dependency workbook, Pat Springle. Items in brackets - ie [ ] - have been added by me)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Detour on the Journey

After a 6 month hiatus from blogging, I find myself here, on Good Friday. Not really here even of my own desire, but maybe a certain prompting of the Spirit?

I don't want to overspiritualize this, but the idea of 'journey' and 'process' have been showing up on my radar lately, and I think this (blogging) is part of my journey, a way God wants me to process all I've been internally experiencing.

It's weird, b/c I've had a lot of inner turmoil over the past few months - maybe even the past year and a half. I can probably attribute it to several things, but not knowing the source has been one of the most unsettling aspects about it. And the part I can't escape is that it is not just something I'm feeling because of my circumstances; there is something inside ME that isn't right.

So, in many ways, I know it has to do with some gaps of understanding about God, about myself. Yeah, yeah, that is no surprise. But what to DO with all that??? I know I need to deal with my fears and insecurities...and 'co-dependency.' It is such an embarrassing word. I don't think anyone wants to label themselves as that.

But I have this book that Mom gave me a while ago - a workbook on co-dependency. I started a while ago, stopped it, and I just feel like I need to go through it. At least finish it and see where I land. I guess the basic premise is that some of our behaviors and unhealthy patterns are due to repressed emotions, our view of God and ourselves, etc. One of the recommended ways to 'feel' and get these emotions out is through journaling. I do this already, but I'm wondering if blogging might be another venue to process some of this stuff in a different way. Maybe, in a way, by putting it out there, I will have to 'own' what I feel and think; once they are out there, I will have to commit to my own feelings and not stuff them. Does that make sense?

I'm hoping, on the other side of this, I will have more peace in my soul. I don't know what it will mean for me, but I remember a time when I was relentlessly seeing the truth, no matter what. I think I fear that a little. And even admitting that, I think, is a first step toward truth. Because the truth is, I think I'm afraid to face the truth.

One thing I am learning is to just to even accept this about myself - that I have issues of fear, insecurity, co-dependency. Not just acknowledge it but accept and embrace it in myself. That God loves me and I can love myself, even with these broken parts. That is a hard step for me, b/c I know I am such a perfectionist. Hard on myself, hard on others. It is very humbling for me to admit these things. But I know I need to be honest even about who I am right now - and accept myself, flaws and all.

I'm trying to take comfort, by believing God is with me in this. I don't have to be afraid. Fear is a terrible thing, and I don't want to live in fear. Of anything. So here we go...I don't know if this 'trail' was on the itinerary for this journey but apparently a detour is needed:

Left turn: Recovery Lane.