May 26th, 2010

CLASS WORK: I’m tired of looking for new ways to describe dry, so I won’t. The Life of Christ course is good. Challenging. I feel like I gained some insight while reading about the political/social context of 1st century Palestine. The different cultures of Galilee vs. Judea, etc. I feel like I can imagine modern equivalents. I see the Pharisees, Scribes, Sadducees, Zealots and Essences in modern analogues, and it starts to make me think that because Jesus did not align himself with ANY group, yet was a an observant Jew, that finding a the middle ways in our current church context (by “middle way” I mean not firmly connecting oneself to any “isms”) we are following  the Master’s footsteps. I don’t want to be a Charismatic, a Reformer, a Pentecostal, a Calvinist, a liberal, a conservative…I just want to be a Disciple of Jesus Of Nazareth; The Christ.

READ/RITE/REFLECT; MARRIED TO DISTRACTION: I’m liking this book. In fact it kicked my ass today. The first chapter I read today was all about making the case that what we encounter as “selfishness” in our marriages is likely not really selfishness, but over-whelmedness. They use the term Psuedonarcissit. I had to stop and spend some time considering this issue from two directions:

1) I have directly accused Brenda many times of being selfish. I have to seriously consider the case that when I see symptoms of “selfishness”, that perhaps it’s just Brenda on overload. They didn’t explain what to DO at that point, but they made it clear that getting away from “moralizing” was the first step. That makes me a little jumpy in general right now..largely due to that stupid book Alick has me reading! But that’s not the point.

Ironically I haven’t felt that “selfish” thing from Brenda for a while. So having this realization now seems untimely but I’m sure it will be useful sometime soon.

Brenda, I’m sorry for the times I have judged you as selfish when in fact you were just up to your eyeballs in LIFE and had no more bandwidth left over. Please forgive me. I’m going to try to continue to take charge, and do my part to create enough margin in our lives so that we won’t have to fight that tidal wave of worry as often. Which leads to me to:

2) I am guilty of living like this too. I will often get to the end of my day and I’m swamped. I’m over my head and I sense that Brenda is upset that I’m not giving, that I don’t understand. While it’s not NEARLY as big a deal as some other marriages, but if I do forget something, it can feel like a moral failure. Rather than recognizing that I get too much scheduled or that I double book or try to cram in too much as an attempt on my part to manage a too-busy life, it has been chalked up to “not caring”.

The authors talked about being that person, and feeling like you’re always in trouble, and so it makes it really hard to be open to “correction” when you know it’s going to be a referendum on your character: “You just don’t care..” or “Why don’t you love me as much as _______?”

They wrote a fictional dialogue of a couple getting in an argument over who was supposed to pay the lawn guy. It went from a standing stop to a 100mph fight in about 10 seconds because each was judging the other’s supposed selfishness. It was scary-close to some fights we have had. I wrote in the margin: “Get rid of the lawn guy!” as only a half  joke.

It’s the fact that there is so much to DO, to worry about, to DISTRACT us, that we end up beating on each other for some understanding. At least that’s how I feel, and based on the title of the book, I guess that’s where it’s going. I don’t mean to suggest that ONLY getting rid of stuff and activities will work: some heart change has to accompany it. It reminds me of Jesus parable in Matthew 12:

“When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”

“This wicked generation”. Chilling. If all we do is clear our schedules, live “simply” become a “Legalist” about how much we will or won’t do, then we have simply cleared out the house and left it open for something ELSE to occupy it. As we consider simplifying,  we must do something with it. It would be SO easy (as some have already done) to turn simplicity, slower pacing, etc. into a new form of legalism.

No, this is more about the soul than it is the calendar.

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