Myths and Realities… what’s important to you?

Elspeth put up a video where two men are talking to a third man about their experiences of reality – about women of various races, and their priorities.  It called to mind some friends of mine who lived really awful childhoods and the girls from FACESS that I’ve interacted with.

The gentleman in question observed that black women asked for sparkles and that white women asked for assistance.   I thought about those women (none of whom are black) that I know who had rotten childhoods, all of whom prioritize presents very highly.

See, to me – if I don’t know you, don’t have a relationship with you, a present doesn’t mean anything.   I am that girl that will give you all the presents you gave her over a dating relationship back at the end of that relationship, or at least whatever I could find in the course of the hour that I spent thinking about it.   I wouldn’t want them without the relationship.   I would feel a chain of obligation – and I’m not about to be chained to anyone after the gig is up.  (There is actually an old etiquette rule that a lady never accepts expensive gifts from a gentleman to whom she is not related, engaged, or married.  The book suggests books or gloves as good courtship presents – gloves might be a bit odd today, perhaps a scarf?)

But why is that?  What is the difference?  Well, in my reality, in my myth… you can trust people.  Your friends and beloveds exist to help you in a mutual net of assistance and obligation.  Yes, I’ll bake you a cake for your birthday.  Whatever my skills are, are of COURSE at your service if you’re my friend/relative.  That’s simply the way things are.  And I would expect the same of you – though I’d try not to ask, because I hate to feel beholden.

In the reality that those other women grew up with, people weren’t trustworthy.  Friendship was just a word, and love may as well have been an epithet.  Sparkle-pretties, on the other hand, were forever.  You get what you can from other people.  There is no net, there is no future, there is only now.

There is no net, there is no future, there is only now.  There is only me.  There is only what I can get for myself.  Trust no one.  I can write those words, and I can shove my brain into intellectually understanding them.  But that is not my reality, and not my set of assumptions.

Which reality is real?  Both.  Let’s be honest – some people live terrible lives in which there is no such thing as trust.  And I trust easily for equally good reasons, based on my own experiences.  BUT.  How do we then shape the rest of our lives?  How do we act?  What choices do we make, going forward?

Your myths can shape your future, as your actions and attitudes shape the way you respond to the people around you, and how they, in turn, respond to you.  Expectations are shaped, and it may be pat and annoying – but it is true that expectations are often realized.

Just sharing my thinking… what does this make you think about?

The power of myth

Myths come in two forms – societal myths that we absorb as part of growing up within a culture, and personal myths – the things we tell ourselves to get through the day.

Both sorts are so sneaky that it’s hard to drag them out into the light to have a look, to see if they reflect truth, if they contribute to good, or if they’re lies that lead to death.  A good myth will stay on the downlow – a great myth will masquerade as truth, never to be questioned.

And the mythos changes, often without being noticed.  My assumptions about reality aren’t the same assumptions that a 20yo has, we grew up with different societal myths.  My assumptions about reality aren’t the same as my friends from broken homes, because I grew up assuming love as constant.

There’s no way I can cram all the thoughts I have about myths into one blog, but I’ve been thinking about how the ways in which we think, the assumptions we embrace, shape us.

When we make an assumption about reality, we base our choices on that assumption.  We take action based on that assumption.  We infect others with our assumption.

How does this related to Christianity?

Well – we’re encouraged to pray without ceasing, to ask God for things like a child asks his father, in simplicity and trust.  If, in fact, we relate to God as a good Father, this is relatively easy.    If our earthly father wasn’t trustworthy or not in our lives, trust is more difficult.  If we think of ourselves primarily as filthy sinners rather than adopted children (however unworthy) then we could find ourselves ashamed to ask at all.

This is why it is so important to search out truth.  This is why it is so important that truth is Truth, objective and reliable.    Truth is the rock upon which we stand.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

A myth can be a metaphor for Truth, a way to hold the truth in our minds and hearts, to help us understand.  A myth can lead us away from the truth.  Myths are amoral.  And myths are personal.  You hear people say, “My truth”  “His truth” “Her truth” – it would be more accurate to say, “the myth that shapes …”.  Truth cannot be shaped by the individual, truth simply is.  Gravity isn’t part of “my truth” and not part of yours, or babies would be floating into the skies every day.

Acts 17:11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.

This is why searching the Scriptures is so important to the life of a Christian.  We know that the Bible is Truth.  We must test our myths against the Word.  We must challenge the prevailing societal myths with Truth, and in the places where society’s myths are lies, we must stand firm with Truth, repeating it, reminding ourselves of what is real, because societal myths are insidious and very strong.  Real effort is required to overcome.

Ephesians 6:13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

This too is where the fellowship of the brethren is beneficial.   Search, pray, know, trust, rest.   Truth belongs to all of us.

Striving and not

I’ve been pretty straight with y’all that striving and grasping are two of my major areas of sin/temptation.  I’m forever trying to go things alone, to stride forth in my own strength, and yelling at myself when I’m not on schedule (preferably ahead-of-schedule) with reaching my goals.

I set pretty high personal goals this year.  And then I cc’d my pastor (well, he did ask), so I feel super accountable to be making progress all the time.

Guess it was time for a little attitude adjustment.  I spent half of February and a good chunk of March sick as a dog.   Too sick to work out.  Too sick to think or write most of the time.  Just floppy.  And I was going *insane*.  Not only does it bug me when I can’t think or move, I wasn’t making any progress!  I was letting my people at the gym down!  I couldn’t possibly make my goals if I DIDN’T WORK!

But I didn’t get where I am on my own.  I didn’t find crossfit on my own – why am I going crazy ’cause I’m not training?   Why am I driving myself insane ’cause … well.  Why?

Because I’m all about doing things on my own.

Is that how I’m supposed to live, in my own strength?  Oh, that’s prideful.

I see this when I counsel.  If I pray before I counsel, the words come.  Sometimes some very specific words come (that’s word-of-wisdom) and there’s a pressure to say those words very much like the pressure of being under conviction of sin.  It would be a sin not to say whatever it is that I need to say.   And folks come back and say, “this really helped” and I’m thinking, “Oh yeah, but that soooo wasn’t me, I didn’t even want to say that”.

And that’s good.  I like that.  But I’m such a dork.  Even when I’m having awesome counsel, I can’t just *shut up* and stop talking when I’m not given words.  Because I have to add stuff to be relateable (this is tots my worst counselling sin) or fill the silence or … just “have I said enough”?   And then I worry that I said the wrong thing… because I was leaning on ME.

To whom much has been given, much is required.  And I want to do well.  I want to do stuff.  Lots of stuff.  I *like* striving.

But it’s not my gig.  Strive in the moment, when I’m given the job to do?  Yes.  Plan the week ahead with more work than five women could do?  No.

The lesson to learn is to respond to God, to respond to the opportunities that He has given me.  And boy howdy has He set opportunities to reach even the most microscopic of my goals in front of me lately.  BUT – I’m not supposed to hunt, stalk, and pounce those opportunities for myself.

Does that make sense?  To accept the gift when it is given, to take the step that is in front of me, to say the word that’s on my lips, to pray as I’m directed… but not to grasp or strive for any of that, just to rest in the Lord.  Not very Western thinking.

Talk to me.

Why this isn’t a “how to wife” blog

  1. Because my gifts are encouragement and counsel, not teaching.  This blog is all about the exhortation.
  2. It’s been done.  Done well.  I don’t think I have anything new to contribute to the voices of good wives elsewhere.
  3. It doesn’t interest me en masse.  If you want helpful hints, ask.

And the big one – if your vertical relationship with God is right and tight, then all you need is tools and instruction, and your horizontal relationships will be as good as your efforts can manage.    Because if you love God, then you’re obeying Him, and you’re loving (agape) your fellow believer, which would include your spouse.   You might need some practical hints, but you’re willing to do the work, whatever it is, to be rightly related to them and thus obedient to God.

I don’t have anything NEW to say about wifing.  Mostly my advice boils down to “don’t be a brat”.  Only because I don’t swear, or it would be a different word that starts with b.  Honor your commitments to God in how you honor your commitment to your husband.  If you really take that concept and run with it – maybe you need a practical hint (use the hammer, not the screwdriver!) but you won’t need much to get and stay sorted.

And that’s *when* my marriage went from troubled to tight.  When I really got obedient to God, when I got that vertical relationship right… everything else (eventually, sometimes painfully) fell into place.

I’m happy to give you advice if you need some tools.   But if you aren’t right with God, if you don’t really want to obey Him and do right by your husband, I can’t help you.  Not that I *won’t* – I can’t.  I’ve come across some awesome tools in my day.  But they’re just tools.

I read “good wife” stuff from time to time.  I read guys’ blogs from time to time.  It’s all about maintenance and getting fresh ideas and reminded about stuff I’d rather  forget.  I appreciate the art, I just don’t participate.  Not my gig.

I’d rather encourage you to have an awesome relationship with God.  And just babble about whatever theological tangle comes to mind, hoping that folks will come and comment and help me untangle myself or peel me off the ceiling, as appropriate.   This is meant as a mixed sex blog.   Y’all just come and hang out and talk.  Argue with me or agree with me or show me a facet that I’ve missed or … whatevs.  Iron sharpeneth iron.  Throw coconut cream pies at me for all I care.  We’re family here.

Anyway.  That’s why this isn’t another wife blog.

Spiritual Gifts in life

I grew up Baptist.  The Baptists officially believe that the gifts of the Spirit aren’t for use today.  My church never mentioned the controversy, if controversy it is – I can only remember one sermon on tongues, the pastor witnessed a sermon that he had given to a large group having been translated in the ears of some of the hearers, and he said that that was the proper interpretation of the gift of tongues.

Baptists, in other words, don’t go there.

Calvary Chapel does.  Charismatic with a seatbelt is what they call us – in other words, we don’t do standing up during Sunday service and just going for it.  In fact, our “afterglow” services are few and far between.   But if you want healing, you call the church secretary and she’ll set you up for a meeting with the elders, and they’ll pray over you.  Sometimes God heals.  Sometimes not.  But it’s not “I had a sore back” kind of healings – it’s big stuff.  Like, I talked to a lady who’d been healed of liver cancer.  To God be the glory.  We have an exorcism team.  Again, you go through channels….  too many weird folks in this world, want a sensation, want a miracle only for the entertainment value.

And of course ours is not a faith based upon experiences.  Experiences are awesome, but they’re not *why* we believe.  I believe in Jesus, not in feelings.

So that makes me shy of this subject a bit, but … I read y’all’s blogs and I wonder… am I the only one in this circle who has felt the power of the Holy Spirit at work?  Who finds prayer occasionally euphoric?  Who gets words stuck in her mouth (or removed)?

Am I the only one who belongs to a church who matter-of-factly prays for God’s will and waits on His command, expecting Him to answer clearly?  Who considers this all just part and parcel of the Christian walk?

It’s a blessing.  It’s a blessing to know that if I ask, God will answer.  That I’m not going to be let flounder around like a fish on the sidewalk.  It’s a blessing when God speaks through me (not tongues, I don’t have tongues).  Prayer when I can feel the Holy Spirit pouring through me is *amazing*.  Corporate prayer is phenomenal.  I’ve been known to be high for days after getting together for prayer.  It’s like there’s so much joy inside of me that there’s not enough room.

Sometimes I just get so full of joy or love … I just about can’t stand it.  I want to be able to share it, to share that feeling.

There’s stuff I’ve been given peace about, things I’ve prayed about for years.  And they still haven’t happened, but I’m at peace, like… it’s already completely sorted, it just hasn’t happened yet.  Talk about the peace that passes all understanding – ’cause I don’t understand it.  Sometimes I try to worry after those things, even though I’m not worried, just because I’m letting my flesh try to take control.  It’s not prophecy, I don’t know how it’s playing out – just that God’s got it.

I guess I’m writing this because I want to share, to compare notes, to witness to God’s glory and His awesomeness.   This should be a normal part of the Christian walk, IMO – there’s no reason to treat something that’s written about so often as abnormal.   Maybe y’all are even shyer than I am?

Discuss.  :)

Calling out Apostates

This is something I’m terribly uncomfortable with, until the level of apostasy becomes absurd.  I’d much rather let Jesus be the judge… as He most certainly will.   But on the other hand, perhaps we’re doing a disservice to the public by not calling out those who call themselves Christian while having no adherence to the Word whatsoever.

I’d like to have discussion on this.

Is it better to chill out, or call out?  Is this a thing where some folks are gifted with the calling out, and some folks gifted with the chilling out – as parts of the body of Christ?  Is there a line beyond which one cannot cross before every Christian should refuse fellowship and communion until repentance is reached?

Can we differentiate between the folks who are in grave error, and potentially apostate vs. those who are unquestionably out of the family?

(This all came up because one of my non-Christian friends keeps quoting Spong… and I about had an aneurysm … he’s no Christian, how can he be a Christian when he doesn’t believe in a “theistic god”  I don’t care if you, my non-Christian friend, like what he has to say, but DO NOT QUOTE HIM AS A CHRISTIAN.  He blasphemes the name of Christ by claiming it.  Or Osteen – might be a Christian.  *might*.  Needs a hard lesson in martyrs and to be sat down and read the epistles of Peter.  But these dudes are *still alive* so there’s still hope of their coming to repentance.   So since they’re living humans, they’re by definition not my enemy … it’s repentance that’s wanted, come to Christ, there’s none so sinful they cannot come and be saved…)

Anyway, discuss please.

Faith – Obedience – Trust – Salvation

I owe Ballista74 a rewrite … which he’s not quite going to get, but I will do a bit better job of explaining myself.  That post was several back-of-the-stove pots all mixed into one, and it was confusing.  And whenever the issue of salvation comes up, the last thing I want to do is be confusing!!

Salvation is a gift of God, which we accept via faith (John 3:16 – believe).  It involves no works whatsoever on our part, unless you consider faith a ‘work’, which I do not.

What I wanted to talk about in that post was what the preachers call the “process of sanctification” – my experience of my walk in faith, and how obedience and trust and faith work together.  I didn’t want to sound like, “I’ve sooo got this” because I don’t.  But sometimes I just look at God’s work in my life and I sit in wonder.  The way God works is COOL.

You take that first tottering step of faith, like a baby … and God catches you and helps you along.  And your faith muscles get stronger, and you learn to trust in Him.   Just exactly like a baby with a good parent, the more you try, the more you dare, the higher you jump, knowing you’ll be caught – the higher you’re willing to jump next time.

This process of obedience grows you as a Christian.  Nothing to do with salvation at all.  And it’s not really “your work” – it’s not like we wouldn’t all like to squinch up our noses really hard and wish ourselves into spiritual maturity.  It’s the Holy Spirit working through you – as you get out of His way, it gets easier.

And it gets harder.  Because (hopefully) we don’t stay babies forever.   The scary thing that God takes us through, saying, “Trust Me, I’ve got this” of our first year in Christ is nothing to the scary thing that God brings us through 20 years later.  If we keep moving forward, keep obeying, we keep maturing.  It’s when we refuse to obey, refuse to take that jump – that’s when we stagnate.

Okay, that was more cohesive, right?  :D….

So I’m sitting here, and this is a big change year for me, and there’s some scary stuff going on – on several fronts.  And I’m like, “Okay, it’s cool.  You’re in charge.  But [pauses to rub scars] could you let me know how much this is going to hurt?  I tots know it will be worth it.  It’s all good – but let me in on the plan?”

And sitting here with the rewrite, I see that part of the jump this time is the not-knowing.   Will the hit come from the expected direction?  Will there be a hit?  Will it just be so intense, the changes in other directions?  What will be???

The desire for knowledge is, in part, a desire for control.  It’s a desire to “help” God by being prepared for the next step.  Like I can prepare myself for the future better than God can. [rolls eyes at myself]

The desire to strive, the desire to do well on the tests… that’s part of who I am.  But I’m forgetting… I’m not the one in control, and I’m not the one doing the grading.  I won’t even know what’s going on until eternity, in all probability.  So I just need to take up the DAILY obedience, the daily trust, the daily choice to obey – especially in the things I think are “little”.

Some things are hard and easy at the same time.  Trusting God?  Yeah, got that.  Not trying to turn to the last page of the book?  Uh.  I’ll work on it.  :)  Daily choices, just daily – I can do that.  Through God’s grace, and not on my own!

And that’s cool.  Knowing that I don’t have to do it, I just have to choose and ask and God will do it for me.  He’ll hook me up, just for today.   Manna has only ever been for one day, sufficient to the day is the evil thereof.

One step at a time.

It’s a joy.  My heart swells as I’m being taught new things, as I grow closer to Him.  It’s *wonderful*.  Such a privilege.