Separation Anxiety

I don’t know what I have done. I have invested a few years into a relationship and now I have let it go just because I got into an argument that I could not see my way out of without physically leaving it.

I want to spend a lot of time tearing my friend down, and at the same time I am hurting because I know that I should have found a way to handle things differently. I blame him for being defensive but isn’t that why I wouldn’t give in either.

It is made worse by the fact that…. well a lot of things. I had neglected a lot of other friendships to build this one. I lose out on a lot of other possible (and actual) friendships in leaving this one. This was my primary human source of accountability.

Now as I go forward I wonder how will I know that I can trust other people? How will I know that they can trust me not to harm them the same way? Should I just huddle hide and wait for someone to come make things better?

But I do still have friends. I have neglected them but even as I reach out I have received warm responses even though it has been a while. Maybe I can be loved. Maybe they are true friends. They have been there for me in some hard spots before, maybe it can happen again. Maybe I can be there for them too.

That is what I wanted in this whole mess: I want to be a friend I wanted to love and aid healing, but I did something wrong. I hope to learn. Maybe that brokenness can heal, but how do you resolve when two people think that each is attacking the other? This isn’t my most hopeful post, it’s my I can’t sleep at 3-4 am post because this is messing me up.

Please God help.

Lent 2018 assignment


This is posted by Nathan Hershberger for Joy.

Job 14:1-2 A mortal, born of woman, few of days and full of trouble, comes up like a flower and withers, flees like a shadow and does not last.”

Confession first: I’ve not spent much time in the book of Job. I wonder if you are anything like me? It makes me uncomfortable. In all honestly, so much of the Old Testament can be challenging to me in this way. However, if I look at the Bible comprehensively, I see that the Old Testament is pointing us to the New, to Christ! So, although I am no expert in Job, I am a follower of Christ, and I think even Job’s words in this passage are giving us a full glimpse at God’s story and the Good News for those who have “ears to hear” it.
As mortals, “born of woman” it feels like Job is taking us back to the beginning, to Eve, the mother of all living (Genesis 3:20). However, this birth does not bring us eternal life. Just as Adam and Eve fell from God’s eternal paradise, we are destined to do the same, unless. Unless we are born of water and the Spirit. Jesus gives this clear instruction to Nicodemus and to us in John 3:5, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Two categories, a very important distinction.
This distinction is important as we continue in the passage. Life is “few of days and full of trouble”. Whether we live to one or one hundred, our days in this life are short and with each passing year seem to go by faster and faster. Short and hard. Job certainly new this. We know this. For those who are born of the spirit, it is good for us to acknowledge and give thanks to God for His many ways of helping us through His provision and presence. We also have the gift of life eternal, that begins now as we walk with God, and continues into the next life.
That mortal life “withers like a flower” again is a distinction between life in the flesh and life in the spirit. While life in the flesh may allure us, it’s attrativeness will not last. Life in the flesh will wither. It is only life in the spirit that will sustain us. If we connect this to 1 Peter 1 24-25, “’For all flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord endures forever.’ That word is the good news that was announced to you.” Only Christ’s redemptive work on our behalf will remain when all of the flesh has withered away.
While shadows obstruct light, just as sin obstructs our communion with God, Christ is the source of light, and He is everlasting. Job again is pointing us to Christ and to life everlasting that is found in Him. Christ is our connection to communion with God, now and forever.

Hiding the Word

I was assigned another devotional for lent at church so I wanted to post it here too. Also, Joy did one that I will pay for her and the later I will post the one I wrote in case she didn’t have time to write hers up.

Psalm 119:11I treasure your word in my heart, so that I may not sin against you.”

This verse means a lot to me. I remember hearing this verse growing up in AWANA, and we try to recall it around our house occasionally. It could be easy to see this as a legalistic command to memorize scripture or else you are a sinner, but it is so much more.

I can remember times (particularly in college), when I would be on my own and thinking about something. I would likely have the radio or CD player on while I was fretting about something. And God would let me hear the lyrics to a song in a way that would bring peace more than any of the regular thoughts stewing in my head.

This verse reveals a truth to make that kind of experience more likely. As I study Gods word, or even more when I memorize it, my mind is shaped to think about things or in the ways that help me glorify God. Much like when I would listen to the radio in college, the Holy Spirit calls scriptures to mind more readily when I have memorized them.

Sometimes this can be comforting, sometimes it is convicting, but generally it will help me be centered on Christ. This devotional assignment is a good reminder to me, in this season of Lent, to see what scriptures I may need to review or what I may need learn new.

— this will be in the 2018 Lent devotional emails from HarmonySTL.org. I assume that they will have a signup for that. If you want the emails. If not you can just contact one of the staff and they can get the whole thing to you

Reflections on Romans 5:6

This was an assignment from my church for the advent devotional this is the text of the verse I was given.

6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

Initially this looks like a reiteration of the crucifixion: Jesus died.  It is a reminder of our sin and great need.  Of course, there is the hope that we could never provide on our own: Salvation.

But then there is more to it than his death.  He came “at the right time” which was apparently while we were helpless, not once we had life figured out.  He “died for the ungodly,” not because we were such good guys.  It is easy to think he covered the preachers and missionaries, but the fact is, a little later in the chapter it says this was “while we were still sinners” even “while we were enemies.”

So then in our weakness, at our worst, even while we are in opposition, God’s loves us. And He does not change.  This is not a sign of one who wants to pour out his judgement and shame on us.  It isn’t the sign of someone playing favorites.  This shows us a Father who welcomes his child or a shepherd who seeks his sheep and celebrates upon the return of what he has lost.

While we seek distraction in the screen, get our caffeine fix, or feed other addictions, how much time is wasted in shame or fearing judgement when we could be enjoying the Father’s love?  What would it take to stop fighting, accept His ways, and delight in Him?  May we be able to take the time to breathe the breath He has given, pause long enough to hear Him say “I love you,” and allow it to soften our hearts.

Notes from a meditation recommended by church

This post is because I just would like to get a post out, and I thought that this was a good thing.  My blog is just for sharing thoughts and hopefully getting actual feedback (not just spam).

This was the prompt

  1. Take a walk or go outside pray through the apostle’s creed.
  2. Read Hebrews 11:3
  3. Observe: Identify  three things in nature that inspire or make you aware of God the Creator
    1. plants are fed by sun, air and soil amazing that God developed solar power for living things and amazing that he made
    2. A sun in space and inconceivable distance away that burns so brightly that we all live from its energy.
    3. God made living things in such a way that they can reproduce themselves and not only continue life but also develop more and differently than in the first place.
  4. Journal/Meditate: What do these things tell you about who God is?  What do they tell you about who you are in relationship to God?  Do you spend enough time looking for God in the world? Why or why not?
    1. Plants show that God is able to design great engineering that not only sustain but also propagate
    2. God provides what is needed in ways we don’t always recognize and he is very powerful
    3. Community is important:  plants may not require other plants to propagate but God designed us promote our species to depend on others to reproduce.  This reinforces the idea that it is not good for man to be alone.

So what this tells me about who I am in relationship to God: I am provided for many plants make food for me – I am not as smart as God, but he does provide us brains to learn how to make progressively more use of all he has provided.

He wants us to work together so much that he built family units into the design as a natural car grouping -> He made caring for others biologically rewarding

I could stand to take more time to recognize God’s hand working. I might be able to connect with him if I would seek him more.

*This is not a comprehensive discussion of what could come from that so I would love to hear other peoples thoughts, too.  I am not going to edit this before I post it, but I may go back reread it and fix it later if there are glaring grammar grievances

Fatherhood

I fret a lot about fatherhood. I struggle to delight in being a father. Before ever becoming a dad, I told my newlywed wife that I wasn’t sure that I wanted to be a father… but if I was going to have kids, it couldn’t be just one. The reason for not wanting to have kids? Responsibility: I knew that my kids would be my responsibility. I like to avoid responsibility. I like being lazy. Also, I knew what a terror I had been to my parents. I had always heard of kids as payback for how you treated your parents. So then what about the “you can’t just have one” thing? It wasn’t just the advertising for Lays chips. I justified it by saying that siblings help socialize. But, really, I think I didn’t want to have to be the one always being sought for attention. I wanted to be able to say go play with your brother (or sister).

There was also the fear that I wouldn’t know what to do as a father. I actually fear that I am inadequate about a lot of things, but with kids, being inadequate would mean that I was screwing up another person’s life. I tasted leadership as a camp counselor at 15 or 16 and I remember popping one of my kids with a “rat tail”. I thought that I was just messing around, but that kid got a whelp on his skin. I feared that this was a sign that I would be an abusive father. And I feared that I was working from was a rough example: I remember times as a kid when things were stressful that I was not sure how to stay out of trouble. And how would I follow that example. We kids were shown in the Proverbs where it said “spare the rod and spoil the child,” but I was also aware that a modern family wasn’t supposed to spank a child. I would need new tools to do anything differently.

Then came the time, of the pregnancy “scare.” We weren’t going to have a baby, but suddenly my wife and I were hit with baby fever. I say “we” but I wasn’t sold on it, heck I still have my questions. Anyway eventually the stork hit our family. During the first pregnancy, I remember being scared about “what am I going to do.” And then I found out that our baby was going to be a girl, Oh boy, was that scary. I actually was in denial a good while after being told that she was a girl… until a repeat ultrasound or something. How could I raise a girl, with my history. I mean really does God know what he’s doing?

That is the question right there. God does know what he is doing. Trust in God helped me come to terms with this a lot quicker. I figured that, in a way God, was demonstrating that he would entrust me with a daughter first. This was a form of grace that I still have to come to terms with. I don’t “deserve” to have a daughter but that was the blessing he gave me first. That little girl has tenderized my heart in so many ways that I suppose there will be several blogs about it later. But realizing that God chose to give me a daughter, meant that I would need to give into his will in so many ways. I have to trust God for the strength to learn proper discipline… and Lord knows that is a work in progress. Having a daughter first meant that now it would be doubly important for me to respect the fair sex (for my wife and for my daughter).

Oh but fatherhood did not stop with just child number one there are 2 boys in the picture now as well. In some ways I thought that this would be easier than, having a girl, but I am realizing that I set up the standards in the way I act for them just as much as for my daughter. But I actually know how my male brain works, and I am scared now that I do not know how to curb the deviance that the Y chromosome brings into the mix. I fear that I will screw these boys up because of all the mistakes I made as a kid and haven’t figured out what went wrong. I guess that is where I still have to rely on the same grace I so easily realized with my daughter. God is trusting me to rear these wee beasties into gents. I must trust Him and his spirit in the same way.

So have I overcome my fear of fatherhood, and desire to be free of responsibility? No I haven’t. quite frequently I wonder what have I done and what am I doing. And I sometimes think that maybe I should let someone else do this because I am just getting it so wrong. Best I can tell, this is a lie that the accuser wants to bring in attempt to defeat what God has put in place. I am not going to win some national Father of the year prize, but these are the gifts I have been given. These are my opportunities to receive from God growth. These are my opportunities to share Gods goodness. For all the responsibility I fear, I appreciate that God has bigger plans for me. Plans to challenge me, plans to grow me, and hopefully plans to show that, despite my best efforts, my kids are well cared for.

Livening liturgy vs hollow holidays

Ash wednesday was a couple weeks before I started this post. That means lent is in full force. It feels like the New Year Holiday to me. I mean the part about making an empty promise and breaking it. And besides that, a long period of abstinence seems silly when it is preceded by a Fat Tuesday where, in our culture, people feel like they have to repent all the way to Easter for their Mardi Gras indiscretions.

The sermon bringing in the season at Harmony was helpful for me. The big point I took from it was that the tradition works when the fasting is a springboard for reflection.  So the key is deciding to engage with the tradition, rather than just slide through, if I want to connect with God and be able to more properly align with him.

I am not fasting from food. But I do need the time to reflect. I won’t bore you with the details of my fast because it is would seem silly and still I am not doing that well. Actually that is the reason I am writing this post.

I have a problem and I can’t tell which side it is on (but it’s probably the inside).  I came into Lent looking forward to deep introspection and growth.  What I saw when I looked in was ugly: I still crave the opportunity to sin.

I guess that’s the deal. Lent isn’t about me. It is about Him. Maybe I should be contemplating the One this time celebrates rather than just introspecting. Hopefully that will provide the strength to make it through the rest of Lent.


 

On New Years Resolutions: Nate

The first thing that thought of when Joy challenged me (or we challenged each other) to do a blog about new years was a song from the 90s by Carolyn Arends.  I pulled the first few lyrics from elyrics.net to explain my approach to New Years

New Year's Day Lyrics [excerpt]
I buy a lot of diaries
Fill them full of good intentions
Each and every New Year's Eve
I make myself a list
All the things I'm gonna change
Until January 2nd
So this time I'm making one promise

Chorus:
This will be my resolution
Every day is New Year's Day

 The song goes on about a life of belief and making changes, but I want to focus on this first part.  I like this idea that I don’t really need to wait until New Years to make a change.  I just need to decide that something is important and live into the change.   However, experience and lines 5 & 6 of the song point out how temporary [New Years] resolutions are.  The silliness of New years resolutions is such a meme that people joke about how quickly their resolutions will be broken.  To me, rather than being silly, this frustration that makes me feel like a failure.

The next thing I thought was that Joy is pushing me to make a New years resolution to get more fit (eat better, get more active, etc).  It takes work and focus stop sitting around like a bump on a log and attend to to what I am putting into my mouth, so I am reluctant to commit to a change like that.  As I pointed out earlier, this is to avoid that sense of failure as much as anything.  That said, I am not happy that my belly impedes my ability to bend over, and I know that some of my physical ailments would go away if I were in better shape.

There have only been a couple new years resolutions that took well for me.  In college, I once resolved to do 100 sit-ups a day. It wasn’t perfect, but that year I remember feeling good about it … especially when my brother commented my physical fitness.  Another time I resolved to listen to the bible in a year via the Daily Audio Bible podcast.  That resolution started around May rather than January, and I think that it basically worked.  Notice that both of these were actual 1 year resolutions and less daunting. They were easier to commit to, because there was an endpoint in sight.  When it comes to making changes for a better whole life, like eat better, I don’t want to plan for them to end.

So I guess I feel like a weasel setting this up.  On the one hand, the lyrics to that song show how ridiculous it is to set up a resolution that I will keep only until I quit and then feel like a failure.  On the other hand that Chorus suggests “Every day is New Year’s Day.” In a way it sounds like a good 12 steppers philosophy: “One day at a time.”  Or “keep coming back … it works if you work it.”  So what can I stand to improve? A lot, I want to Learn more about God, and find a way to truly enjoy him.  I want to be a better father and leader in my home.  I want to help my wife not to feel so overwhelmed with our household.   I even want to live in a healthier, slimmer, more toned body.

I am not ready to make commitments to all these things at once.  But my actions (or inactions) have consequences and I do not want to give up on doing good.   My resolution is to not give up on improving.  I feel like I have gotten lazy spiritually, occupationally, relationally, and personally/physically.   My resolution is to intentionally improve one thing listed in purple above as often as I can remember, and I hope and pray that I can remember at least daily.  And when I give up on that: today can be new years day.

What I have above is not meant to be a specific one action resolution.  To clarify,  it is about approach.  I want avoid the frustration of giving up on a new years resolution, so instead I am resolving to take things one day at a time and not feel frustrated about yesterday, but instead see what I can do about making todays 153 become tomorrows 154.  I will look back on a daily basis and rate (in the book that Joy gave me) how it went and maybe plan for the next day.  Instead of seeing a failed past and whining about history, I hope that I can accept the gift that is the present,  and relax about the mystery of the future.

On New Year’s Resolutions: Joy

The first day of a new year always feels so full of promise: “Let this be the year; the year that I finally do all of the things I’ve been trying to do or change about myself throughout my life.” You know, the year that I will finally take care of myself. I will have quiet time every day. I will eat clean and workout 4-5 times a week. I will stop emotionally eating. I will take ME time regularly. I will invest in meaningful friendships. I will finally organize my entire house (including the most dreaded basement) and follow a cleaning plan. I will declutter and become a faithful minimalist. I will play with and encourage my kids more. I will teach them how to be self-sufficient little people who will happily do chores and learn how to responsibly manage their money. I will responsibly manage my money. I will cheerfully sit down with my husband to create a budget that will snowball our way out of debt and I will cheerfully stick to it- every month! I will creatively and intentionally pursue communication and meaningful interaction with the man I love- no more passing ships in the night. I will find energy- somehow, someway, to do all of this- because this shall be the year.
In reality, if I’m honest, yes, I want all of these things. I am also a strange combination of realistic enough and skeptical to realize that most of, if not all of these things, are likely to remain as they have throughout my accumulating years.
However, as I enter 2017, there is a deep longing for things to be different. Not different as in “I hate my life and want to switch with someone.” Different as in the last year, for me as it has been for many that I know, has been exceedingly difficult. Not that it has been filled with all bad things, although some of the things I could certainly do without. Just hard. So, as I look into this new year I do so with a sense of longing, for knowledge about questions I have had for a long time. Longing for answers that will allow me to love the people in my life more effectively. Longing for peace, that in the middle of these storms can only be found at the feet of Jesus.
As I step forward into this year, I do so prayerfully. I pray that I will remember each day to treat myself and others with dignity. I pray that the Lord will continue to knit my husband and I together. That we will enter into this year with the strength of unity and determination. That God will bless our family and help us continue to unravel the mysteries that exist in each of us. I pray that we will take the lessons we have learned thus far as gifts to help us on our journey. I pray that my children will know each day that they are loved and cherished. That each of us will be mindful of the great blessings we have- placing each other at the top of that list. And as I sit here on New Year’s Day, writing a piece that my husband asked me to have finished a week ago, maybe, just maybe, I’ll add “stop procrastinating” to that first list.