Perseverance

One of the parables that bugs me is the parable of the woman with the unjust judge.
Luke 18: 1 Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, 2 saying, “In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. 3 There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ 4 For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’”6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; 7 now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? 8 I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”
I don’t like being a pest, and I don’t like pestering God.  If I ask… why do I need to keep bugging Him?  But it’s pretty clear that that is His will.   That’s what he’s been working on with me lately.  Not just praying in the Spirit, getting down and going deep – but praying for the same list of things every day.  On paper.  Perseverantly.
And so I was thinking about that, and it brought to mind the verses in 2 Peter about the progression of virtues, and because I have used both the KJV and NASB, patience and perseverance both stuck in my head.   So I looked it up, and it turns out that  perseverance in the NASB = patience in the KJV.   Well, that’s weird.  Because I don’t think of the same virtue with those two words.  Let’s study.

 

KJV first:

2 Peter 1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

Now NASB:

2 Peter 1:5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.

What’s interesting is that dictionary.com defines perseverance as:

1.steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc.,especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.
2.Theology. continuance in a state of grace to the end, leading to eternal salvation.
Synonyms: 1. doggedness, steadfastness.
And patience as:
1.the quality of being patientas the bearing of provocation,annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper,irritation, or the like.
2.an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with  delay: to have patience with a slow learner.
3. quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence:to work with patience.
Synonyms: 1. composure, stability, selfpossession; submissiveness, sufferance.
Both the KJV and NASB are good word-for-word translations, but sometimes… sometimes words bring you up short.  Perseverance is an ACTION word – read the definition – it’s about persistence in a course of action.  Patience, on the other hand, is a PASSIVE word – it’s mostly about not acting out under provocation.
Thus, we are off to the Greek.  What’s the word, and what does it mean? (Biblestudytools.com)
ὑπομονή
hupomonē
hoop-om-on-ay’

  • steadfastness, constancy, endurance
    1. in the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings
    2. patiently, and steadfastly
  • a patient, steadfast waiting for
  • a patient enduring, sustaining, perseverance
Reading that definition carefully, I see both.    You’re “not swerved” from your chosen course of action.   But you “patiently wait” too, which usually implies staying in one place.   Come to think, both “stand” and “walk” are metaphors used of the Christian experience.  (So is “run” – as in “run with patience the race that is set before us…”)
And where I end up?  Patiently waiting for the result of a course of action from which I shall not swerve.
Which is what the widow did with the unjust judge.
Things are starting to make a bit more sense….
Advertisements

Fear

Your correspondent is not happy with the whispers in the wind of late.  It seems like everyone is getting fed a diet of fear on the daily…

I.Hate.Fear.

I’m not going to say that every mistake in my life was made because of fear, but the percentage runs at least 75%.   And the really BAD mistakes, the ones that had the nastiest consequences?  Those, those I made from fear.  Fear of man, for the most part.  -sigh-

I’m not going to say that I don’t fear any more.  Because I do.    I do, however, try very hard not to make my decisions based on fear.  I have very good reason.  I fear fear, if you will.

Contrariwise, the track record of the decisions I’ve made, shivering and quaking in my boots, ready to cry at any second because I was so scared, but walking forward ’cause that’s what needed doing?  Those decisions have worked out well.   (Frequently not in the immediate, but certainly in the long-term).

My intellectual analysis of a situation, based on experience and patterns?  Those?  Pfagh.  If it is possible to have a *negative* gift for prophesy (insofar as future-telling is concerned), that would be me.   What’s sad is that my pattern analysis is generally excellent… it’s the factors I don’t know about that throw me.

I think that’s what God is talking about in

James 4:13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.

The world around us is full of terrifying stuff right now.  There is every reason to add two and two and start building a bomb shelter.   Pattern analysis?  People – the birth pangs are coming closer, we need to boil some water!

Okay, fine – baby’s a-comin’.  But where will I be when that happens?  I don’t know.  What will need doing at that moment?  I don’t know.   What tools will I have?  Who will I need to protect?  I don’t know.   Stressing out and giving into anxiety?  Worthless.  I don’t have the information that I need in order to make those decisions.

I know that making myself stronger in character is a good idea.  I know that making myself stronger physically is a good idea.  Those generally *are* good ideas, on days ending in Y.  And I know that spending more time on my knees is a great idea.   God’s been working on me on that pretty intensively lately.   He’s confronted me with a good many things that I can’t do anything about – outside of the prayer closet.  MORE PRAYER.

Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

God doesn’t tell me what will come next.  But He does tell me what to do *now*.   Today, this hour, this moment.   So, I do that.  And sometimes that’s insane.  But … He’s always had the situation under control.

So – a story of me being completely insane… this is about five years ago.  My son was in a theater group that met at a church, on the 3rd floor (accessed from the outside), on Friday nights.  I pulled up outside one night to pick him up.  9pm.  Dark, obviously.  The ground floor is surrounded by hedges … and this particular night, was apparently the meeting place for the local gang.

Fun.   Guess who forgot her cell-phone?  Yep.   So, I can’t call the cops.  I’m not going to go home, because my kid is up there – and those kids are going to start coming down the stairs soon, right into gangland central.   I can’t call the adults… again, no cell phone.   -sigh-  At least they look like junior gangbangers.

-rolls down passenger side window-  “Hi boys.  Whatcha all doin’ out here?”  “Oh we go to this church”.   “Now boys – I know you don’t go here, ’cause I’d have seen you”.  “Sure we do!”  “Mmmk”.  [dangit, that didn’t work][deep breath]

You know, by the time I got my window rolled up, my engine turned off, and my purse collected – they vaporized?  I watched those boys jump into cars left and right.  Because of ME.  (It is an article of conviction that anyone who runs from me is up to no good – because why would you run from me?  Ooo scary – nothin’ like 5’2″ pudgy women to strike the fear of … cupcakes? into a young man’s heart).

I was terrified.  But I didn’t have a choice – they were between me and my son – and there was no way I was going to let him (or any other kid) walk down those stairs.  Scared as I was, I had a lot better chance than an unsuspecting kid would.   And they ran.  Why?     They scattered like they’d heard sirens.  But there were no sirens.   I don’t know why they ran… but they did.  God had it.

But I had to get out of the car.  They didn’t start running until my door opened.

Contrariwise, I could tell you about the heartbreak when I was confronted by the thought of losing something precious unless I caved in to pressure to sin.  I could tell you about how many more tears I ended up crying, how much damage that did… well, I could tell you about that stuff if that was a suitcase I opened up for just anyone, which it is not.

I hate fear.  I hate seeing what paying attention to circumstances does to all of us.  I hate seeing fear turn into anger, despair, hatred – muck and mire and vomit and pain.

I have a lot more work to do in this vein – I confront fear every day.  And that makes me hate it more, every day.

Isaiah 41: 10  ‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Yeah.  We might all get thrown to the lions next week.  It’s not all sunshine and roses.  But if so, God will be there.  There is nowhere we can go where God will not be with us, strengthening us for the task at hand.  If we give into fear, however, we can’t get on with our primary battle, which is done in the spiritual realm.

If we give into fear, we learn to hate our enemies – instead of love them.  If we give into fear, we learn to embrace all sorts of odd little rules intended to increase our “safety”, that really separate us from the work we are here on this planet to accomplish.  If we give into fear, we close our mouths.

Fear’s bad juju – unless you’re fearing God.

What will be, will be.  I don’t know the future, I do know upon Whom I depend.  When I get to the future, He’ll have the tools I need to do the job He has prepared for me to do.  I trust Him.

 

Do the Next Thing

Ephesians 5: 15-16 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.

Galatians 6:Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.

God is teaching me lessons about time management and the fruit of perseverance.   This dovetails with the reading I’ve been doing in Deep Work – the book provides some of the discipline, God’s providing me the “why”.

When you’re a housewife, the days all blend together.  I left a comment at Scott’s that the work that I do isn’t Herculean – it’s Sisyphean.  It will *always come back*.  The laundry stone (which I don’t mind too much) the cleaning stone, the dishes, the meals… they roll right back down the hill as soon as you get them to the top.  After a while, Sisyphus stops pushing too fast – why bother?  You’re going to be doing the same thing the next day.  And whoever said that work expands to fit the time allotted was entirely correct.  Look, housework is intrinsically boring.  It just is.  I can get excited about a clean floor.  I cannot get excited about CLEANING a floor – especially the day before yard-work day, when dirty boots are going to tramp over it.  (This is how we know that Hearthie does not have the gift of service.  I will serve.  I will do the work.  But it doesn’t bring me a shred of joy, it’s just something that wants doing).

But there are things that I do love to do.  And I have to fight to make time for those things.  How does that happen?  That happens by just doing the next thing until I get all the things done.  That happens by pushing back against my natural tendency to get in my own way by insisting on huge blocks of time, and taking advantage of the time that I have in front of me.

And that’s mental discipline.   Instead of taking a break, I can choose to take five minutes to correct some papers or write a blog post or sew a section on a shirt.   I can choose to make a phone call.  I can choose to sit quietly, waiting on the Lord.  I can choose to read my Bible – or read anything enlightening.   Instead of letting my mind wander, I can choose to pray for the folks to whom I keep having those imaginary conversations.  Instead of letting myself hit “repeat”, I can sit down and write out my thoughts.  Discipline.  Keeping every thought captive.

After a lot of years not doing that?  It’s tiring!  Really tiring.  “Can I go to bed, it’s 830pm” tiring.  It’s like going back to the gym after a period of inactivity.   Training yourself to mental and spiritual fitness isn’t a joke.

But if we persevere, sometimes we get the “why” for that “what”.   So, this week I had two days where I didn’t have a lot to do.  Monday, I’d been running around “doing the next thing” and I had very little left to do on my weekly chore chart.  I’d *planned* to dig in my garden… but instead, I got a call from a client.  And I got a chance to go out and make some money for my family.   I took the opportunity.

And that was answered prayer.  I’d been praying about “I’d really like to do this insanely long list of things – I  don’t want to give up anything on my list, how can that happen, Lord?”  And this is my answer.  “Do not grow weary of doing good”.  In other words – get up, do the next thing.  Discipline yourself.

This has been a heck of a week for that, my emotions have been all over the place and my stress has been through the roof.  Honestly, I let the discipline I’d just started go slack – do you know what happened?  I missed it.  I missed that clear-headed feeling.  I don’t like the old, sloppy me.  I like the new me, the one who gets things done.  And I like the me who is doing things in faith, not in her own strength. I’m learning things about this discipline business.  I’m learning that it’s very difficult to keep my thoughts captive if I’m letting my brain get soft.

It all works together.

Do the next thing and learn to get stronger in the Lord…. yes, you’ll be tired.  I’m exhausted.  But I didn’t get stronger physically by sitting on my tail, and I’m not going to get stronger mentally by checking FB every five minutes.  I want to make good use of every minute that God has given me, be a good steward of the opportunities that I have.  I can’t do that by being lazy.  So.  Onward!

Celebrating Good Things is Not Wrong

A commenter rolled up on Mychael over at Scott’s place this weekend, saying that she shouldn’t brag on how Scott kicked butt and took names when she was at work, because that public  praise could induce envy in others.   I posted back a sneeze, and then went away and realized I had a lot bigger problem with that sentiment in general…

NO.  You don’t get to say, “don’t tell me about your good things, because it makes me feel bad.”

  1. That’s victim mentality, and it feels into the “submit to the victim’s whims” societal mess we’re all suffering through.  Take that silliness elsewhere.
  2. Taken to its logical conclusion, we end up with a world where no one ever discusses the good stuff, we only discuss the bad stuff.  We end up competitively complaining because we can’t enjoy each other’s happiness.  This means we focus on the bad stuff, even if the bad stuff is microscopic in weight next to the good stuff.  Oh wait.  That’s the world we live in.  Talk about a paradigm in need of destruction….
  3. Envy is a problem.  YOUR problem.  God is pretty clear about how we’re supposed to deal with riches (and make no mistake, having a good family means you’re rich).  The rich are supposed to understand that they’re stewards, and that they’re still only here for a  heartbeat, and to look after the poor.  As for those who are checking out the goods on the other side of the fence, I think, “Thou shalt not covet” probably covers it.
  4. I’ve repeatedly heard the men around these parts thank the women for indulging in public praise of their husbands, because hearing it blesses them.  One grateful heart connected to an open mouth can do a lot of good.  We live in a world that treats husbands like, “your biggest child” and we need more voices pushing back against that infection, not fewer.

Now.  I’m humane.  I’m not going to call my infertile friend up and squee at her when I’m pregnant, and I’m not going to call my single friend who just broke up with her boyfriend to tell her every tiny detail about my engagement.  That’s cruel.  But a general statement of pleasure?  Please.  Not everything is about you – we are to rejoice with the joyful as well as grieve with the bereaved.

Speaking of “general statements of good fortune”… it’s my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary.   And yes, I know that I am rich beyond measure, and far so beyond my deserts.

 

Grieving

You get to grieve the way you grieve, and no one gets to tell you your way is wrong.  (Unless you’re being destructive).

There seem to be two sorts of grievers – the ones who like to keep the physical things around to look at and touch, and the sort that don’t.  My husband’s family is on one side, and I’m on the other.  This has caused hurt feelings from time to time.

So, since I’m in the process of grieving my dog (who I am putting down later today, and yes, I grieve before the moment of truth), let me help you into the head of someone who ISN’T the sentimental type.

You’re watching me clean and do laundry and put away the doggish things at mach 50.  I’ve heard you before, say that it seems so cold.  But I’m not cold. I’m agitated, and I’m hurting.  As I do this work, I’m calming myself, giving myself something to do.  I can’t do anything about the cause of the pain, but I can find a chore and do it.  So, I do.

As I pick up the dog bed and put it in the laundry, I think of when the dog started sleeping in my bedroom, and why.  And I remember.  And as I fold up the things, I fold up my memories, carefully laying them in a box to be taken out at leisure, and enjoyed.

Because I like to enjoy my memories, I don’t want them staring me in the face all the time.  That actually causes me more pain.   Do I want to come home today, fresh with the dog’s death, and step out of my bed onto the bedding?  No, I do NOT.  It will hurt more.    It’s not like I’m going to forget him… I just don’t want to wallow.  Let me rip off the bandaid, it’s better this way.

I am preparing myself for a time when I can curl up in a ball and cry and get it all out and rest.  And then I will get up, and I will go on.    That’s what I do.  This is who I am.  This is how I cope with pain.  I get up, and I do something.

And when you want me to keep my hands to myself and not start cleaning right away, because it’s your grief?  I’ll return the favor.

 

*The dog never sleeps on any of his bedding during the day.  I don’t know why, he never has.  So, no – I’m not taking away something he’s using.    And yes, I’ll wash it and put it away neatly for the next dog, if and when.

Mental Fitness = Spiritual Warfare

If you saw my blog from yesterday, you’ll have noted that one of the things I wanted to do was write down some verses that I’d remembered fragments of, so that I could remember them more correctly.

When I write down verses, I always look at the context.  Not so, with remembered fragments.  Well, today’s note-taking paid big dividends.  Have a look at what “Take every thought captive” dug up, will you?

2 Corinthians 10: 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,

So, um, when I’m “taking every thought captive” I’m actually ENGAGING IN SPIRITUAL WARFARE.  Well.  Hi.  No wonder it’s such a battle!

On being more efficient, and making better use of my time:

Ephesians 5:15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil.

Or:  Why Hearthie kind of has a headache now… but it’s been a very productive day.

Referencing Els’ blog today, particularly one comment, as it relates directly.

Mental Fitness

Deep Work was convicting… and dug up some old ouches.  But most of all, it gave me something to do about the sneaking suspicion that my mental fitness was disintegrating.   I had one of those moments this week – I reached for my concentration, and I found a bag of goo.  What.The.Heck.

I’ve had that moment in my physical body – the moment when you reach for strength or endurance and come up empty handed.  What you’ve always assumed was a given, suddenly isn’t there.  It’s upsetting.

Yes, some of what I have to do with life will hamper my mental fitness routine, just like some of what I have to get done in life hampers my physical fitness routine.  But I’m not a mom of littles any longer – I do have the ability to improve the place I’m at, even if I can’t maximize my potential in a perfect world – I can improve where I am.  So, I made a list to get started with (this will grow, but we have to start somewhere, and doing it all at once isn’t wise):

  1. Limit my surfing time.  I’m not really going to limit my internet qua internet – but I can choose to close my web browser unless I’m in a deliberate period of surfing OR using it for a tool.
  2. Practice mental hygiene.  This is coming up in my spiritual life too – “Take every thought captive”.   “Pray without ceasing”.  “Dwell on that which is good…”   This includes:
    1. No imaginary conversations (my chief vice)
    2. No repeating mental circles.  Write things down!
  3. Make lists – this will help with repeating circles, and release my mental processes to other things.
  4. Practice free-writing.  Again, releasing the inner chatterbox and getting it out and away.
  5. Decide on something NOT internet related for my breaks.
  6. Take up reading properly in the evenings again.
  7. Make prayer lists and post them so I can practice prayer without ceasing.

While I was sorting that out, another bit of mental hygiene occurred to me – I want to get more things done, because I don’t want to give up anything, and I want to go deeper/get better with the things I do.  That means lollygagging has to go.  So – again I’m at

  1. Make lists of things to do
  2. Calendar the must-dos (I do this already, have for years, it’s one of my Sunday prep-for-the-week-ahead things)
  3. Do the next thing – reduce hesitation, just do the thing.
  4. Make a personal schedule for the times I am able to have such a thing (which is, essentially, the mornings before everyone gets up and my days become little snowflakes of individuality).

That’s enough for one month, I think.  I’m expecting to be pretty tired and a bit achy when next you hear from me.  I got my feet wet a bit last week (before taking a rebellious wallow in distraction-land) and I could feel my brain tiring.  That’s okay.  Did you know your brain burns mad calories?  😀   Nah, I got this.  It will be work, but it’s worth doing.

ONWARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!