Tuesday, December 11, 2012

disappointments

In my journey through the problem of evil and disappointment that life isn't better than it is, I received this devotion recently and it really blessed me.  I find it often helps me when I learn that someone else understands my pain or my circumstances.  That someone else has gone through these things as well.  I know I am not alone and what's more, I'm even in good company.
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DisappointmentsTGIF Today God Is First Volume 1, by Os Hillman
12-06-2012

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. - Proverbs 13:12

Life is filled with disappointments. Many of God's greatest servants experienced deep disappointment in their journeys of faithfulness to God. Joseph, after spending years as a slave and in jail for crimes that he did not commit, revealed deep disappointment when he was forgotten another two years in prison. John the Baptist, when awaiting execution, doubted whether Jesus was, in fact, the Christ because he was sitting there awaiting his death. Elijah, losing all hope and despondent to the point of death, asked God to take his life in the desert; and Peter, who left his fishing business and invested three years of his life only to watch his Savior crucified, wondered whether the purpose of those three years could be justified.

When life doesn't add up, it leaves the heart sick. When we have done all we know to do and the formula has not worked, it leaves us questioning. These are times that try the very souls of men. There is no human sense to be made of it. We are left with a choice: to cling or not to cling. There are times when holding on to our Master's robe is all that we can do. It is all that He wants us to do.

The heights by great men reached and kept

Were not obtained by sudden flight;

But they, while their companions slept,

Were toiling upward in the night.

Standing on what too long we bore,

With shoulders bent and downcast eyes,

We may discern-unseen before-

A path to higher destinies!

~Longfellow

There is only one answer to life's disappointments. Like the psalmist, we must "Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken" (Ps. 62:5-6).

This is one of the few email devotions I read regularly.  Os always has something worth sharing and he blesses me almost daily.
http://www.marketplaceleaders.org/tgif/

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

what I know today

I know that pride kills my relationship with Christ.  Anytime the “I” or “me” is primary in my thoughts I am probably in the wrong in some manner.  I know that I see things primarily through my own eyes and while I am often certain of my own perspective, the world is complicated and my perspective is not the only one that is valid.

I have struggled greatly over this past year in particular in my relationship with my husband.  I struggle because he does not meet my many of needs.  We are often talking and acting past one another because we do not speak one another’s love language and neither of us try hard enough to bridge that gap.  I believe (rightly or wrongly) that I feel this gap far more than my husband does.  I am deeply convinced that I am "more right” than he is on most of our issues and believe that the things I request from him are so small that it could possibly be cruel as to withhold them from me. 

My woes led me dangerously close to divorce and what stopped me from crossing that line is the belief that I would gain nothing.  I would gain only the 'loss of expectation' that things would get better.  This could also be phrased as the HOPE that things would get better.  I’ve just chosen not to go there.  I’ve sided on my pain and emptiness.

That my marriage has not turned out as I hoped and planned ultimately led me down the path of questioning God.  Not His existence because creation keeps me grounded there, but on who He is.  The personal-ness of the Jesus I always knew.  I’ve been blessed with the gift of faith and of often of optimism and that saw me through much.  The ultimate disappointment I experience in my marriage struck hard and deep and I believe has been used by the enemy to bring my walk with God to a crawl if not a halt.  It was brewing for years but my encounter with evil through the movie "Food, Inc." added incredible fuel to the fire.  The blaze of WHY has burned quite bright this past year.  My encounter with evil so clear and unnerving that I’ve been rendered almost helpless.  The evil is so big and I am just one; how could anything I do make a difference?

This same train of thought has carried me through in many other areas of life.  What is the point of so much suffering?  When I look at my Mom and see that while, yes, she has brought some of life’s ails upon herself, the most offensive of them were without her control.  These events in her life have forever transformed her into a deeply broken person who often despairs of life and struggles to cling to God.  What purpose is there in such suffering?  I always wanted to be like Joseph who, as far as we read, did not ask “why” of God though he was taken from his family, sold into slavery, rose to power, wrongly accused and thrown in jail where he was left to rot, then brought out again to ultimate glory in being present for God’s will.  I love that we don’t read him asking why.  Here I am now, asking Why and I hate it; but I cannot stop.  I must go through this if I ever hope to come out the other side.  There is still a part of me that trusts there is more though the doubt in my mind would seek to smother it.

I’ve tried to step back from the immediacy and emotion of my wants in my marriage and instead look at what I have.  Look at and appreciate the good I have.  Though we are cautioned against comparison, we humans do love to compare ourselves to one another.  When I compare the man Adam is with many other husbands I know of, he does stand tall.  He is a good man, with high moral character.  He works steadily, often at jobs he truly dislikes, and provides financially for our family.  He handles our finances with little complaint, though I do give him cause to complain more often than I should.  He is a good father who cares for his children and does seek to give them a good life.  He spends time with his children and while he does things in a very different way than I do, I appreciate that he is a father, not a mother, and I need to respect our differences.

My husband does most of the cooking and keeps things in our home from falling into complete untidiness, including doing most of the dishes.  He doesn’t ask much of me, doesn’t ask me to do his laundry or clean his bathroom.  He gives me the freedom to serve as often as I want and has allowed me to attend a church I prefer over our old church, though I believe his heart is still back there.

The separateness is not necessarily a rejection of me, though certainly I often feel it as such.  It can also be a coping mechanism for living in a life that is difficult (if only by first world standards).  In a world that seeks to rob us of our faith and beat down our hope, to exhaust us and keep us from shining a light for Christ.

So, today I know that I am not always right.  That there is always another point of view and even if I don’t share it, I do not ultimately decide the validity of the truth…God does. 

This weekend, I hope to spend some more time contemplating this and seeking reunion with a God I don’t always agree with.  A God I don’t understand.  To rekindle the hope that comes from knowing a God big enough I cannot grasp all of who He is.  To allow the reinstatement of my trust that He knows best.  That evil will not win.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

computer virus edition: what is the point of suffering

So I talked with my Mom last night and that was helpful.  She has lead a very difficult life (before and after becoming a Christian).  One of the questions I have banging around inside my head is:
If someone is so deeply depressed that they can't even go grocery shopping and barely have contact with the world, what is the point of such suffering?

Mom said, she still felt it was worth it, but that she finds herself asking the same questions.  Which I think is fair to ask.

The first thing that comes to mind is the idea that my faith is only important outside myself.  That if I'm not impacting the lives of others, my faith is useless.  However, I see that there is error in this thought, for God did not save me only to have me share with others.  He saved me to have a relationship with ME. 

So I go to:  Why must there be so much suffering?
And the very next question I hear is:  How much suffering would be acceptable?

I don't have an answer for that.  Because if I say half, my measuring stick changes and half of today's suffering will soon feel like too much. 

Then I think: 
  • How much suffering have I been spared from?
  • Is this all just a first world problem and I am complaining about not having "enough" when I actually have "abundance" according to the world's standards.  (example:  I'm completely stuffed from a potluck and eating out today.  Certainly this is not a 3rd world problem where every day could mean the difference between life and death.)
  • Is all the "stuff" of first world living actually a kind of curse because it changes my expectations of God?
Just a little light conversation for today.

Monday, November 19, 2012

problem of evil


Honestly, my faith has been wavering much this year.  Who is God, how involved is He, the whole problem of evil thing has bitten me and will not let go.  The idea that Jesus has come already makes me start to wonder what the point of everything is.  We seem to just struggle and suffer down here and there is so much of it.  Perhaps I have lost my ability to count it joy having been denied the marriage I so wanted. 

I am finding the world more alluring and can even see that this could all be a trap of the enemy a’ la Screwtape, and yet…
Creation is still the foundation of my faith as I do not see a way away from the knowledge that intelligent design is the only thing that makes a modicum of sense; in fact I find creation the single most compelling reason to believe in God.
I see no benefit in such extreme suffering.  Why should my Mother be so unhappy and so deeply depressed and alone.  To what end?  I find myself thinking that her inability to let go of the past and have any happiness as bordering on cruelty.  Is the whole thing just a life lesson on the evil of sin?

I hear the arguments on love demands choice.  I sit with that.  I completely agree that love demands choice.

I know the argument for “how much evil would be acceptable?”  Would half the evil in the world be acceptable?  Well, probably not.  How much evil have we been spared and just don’t realize it. 

I think perhaps I’m just being selfish or my usual 2x4 girl attitude is out of control.

And yet, here I am.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Women Teach in Church?

I continue to struggle with the way the traditional church deals with women.  It may just be my own pride, but I struggle greatly with the way I personally have been taught over much of my life that women are “lower” than men, that we cannot teach men.  I think of a comment a friend of mine’s daughter said years ago that rings true for me… “I can’t think of another spiritual gift that is gender specific.” in discussing teaching and women. 

Just sharing something from someone I trust.  I guess I am mostly OK with the husband/wife pecking order because the entirety of teaching isn’t a dictatorship of husband over wife, but a relationship of mutual submission to one another highlighting what each gender needs most:  women need love and God tells husbands to love their wives; men need respect and God tells wives to respect their husbands.

I don't know if I just refuse to "understand" this, but God gave me a brain and it seems pointless to not use it.  That doesn't sound like God to me.

The following is taken from str.org, a truly wonderful resource that you should have bookmarked!

 Women Teach in Church?                 
Gregory Koukl
What does I Tim. 2:11-15 say about the male-female "pecking order" in the church? Greg questions the commonly held translation, shedding some light on a touchy subject. "
Churches who take what might be considered a more traditional or conservative view on 1 Timothy 2:11-15 don't allow women in leadership because of how they interpret this passage.

There is a variation on that, and that is that they will allow women in leadership if there is a man over them. For instance, we have a male pastor and a male council in our church. No women are allowed on the council, but we do have female pastors because they are under the leadership of the male head pastor and a male council. That is because the word in verse 12 which talks about a woman teaching and exercising authority over a man has the sense of usurping authority. The idea there is that if she is not usurping authority, then it is legitimate for her to teach--like teaching the youth, or even teaching from the pulpit, or running a ministry--as long as there is a man over her; but there ought not be a woman that is the head of the church, or women on the council, because then they would be in a position of ultimate authority, which this supposedly restricts.
My problem with either of those two views is that they simply do not accord with the text itself if we are to take the text strictly at face value.
"Therefore, I want the men in every place to pray lifting up holy hands without wrath or dissension. Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet."
Now, what this says is not only that a woman should not be in authority over a man such that he does the teaching, but that in the pecking order of the church, every adult male has authority over every adult female. It's like the military where every officer is in authority over even the highest enlisted man. In the case of this passage, the lowest man in the pecking order of the church is above the highest woman, such that there are no women that are in any position of authority over any man.

I don't know of any church that takes it that way, but that is just what the words say on the traditional interpretation.

They try to get around it when they say that it says not to usurp authority. It says, "I do not allow a woman to teach or usurp authority over a man." If you put a man in authority over her so she is not usurping the man's authority and then allow her to teach other men, you are still violating this verse. It doesn't say, I don't allow a woman to teach unless she has a man over her. As long as she has a man over her she can teach other men, which is the way they take it. It says, "I don't allow her to teach or usurp authority." Period.

So, neither view takes the text seriously. The text goes too far, it seems to me, than anyone is willing to take it. If a person is going to take the passage in this fashion and translate men as men and women as women, then they have to go much further than they already do if they want to be biblical.

I personally think the word "men" and "women" are mistranslated here. Here's why I think so.

First, all the men would be over all the women, and in other scriptures that we read we have occasions where women are in authority over men. Even in the Old Testament where you have a highly patriarchal society, you have women judging men. Deborah was a judge, for example. If you are identifying God's priorities, there may be a distinction between that and the church, but at least we see some pattern in the Hebrew Bible where this happened.

Sometimes you hear the explanation that there wasn't a man, so God had to raise up a woman. What a bunch of malarkey! If God does the raising up and His pattern is men over women, then He will raise up a man. That is just a weak response.

When I did my own word study on the words man and woman, I found out that the word man is aner and the word woman is gune . In the case of the word aner , which occurs something like 150 times in the New Testament, fully 40 times that it occurs, it is translated "husband." In other words, "husband" is a legitimate translation of the word depending on the context. When you look at the context, virtually every single time that it wasn't absolutely clear that the woman with the man in the context was his wife, it is almost always translated "husband" and "wife." So this really is an unusual translation, given the pattern in the rest of the New Testament.
So, I asked myself why would they break with the pattern in this passage? I think they were influenced by tradition, that's why they translated this passage man and woman and not husband and wife.
What happens if we translate it husband and wife? That strikes me as a legitimate translation. It seems that when you translate it husband and wife, everything falls into place. Let me read it in that way: "Let a wife quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness; but I don't allow a wife to teach or usurp the authority of her husband, but to remain quiet."
Is that strained? Not at all. Is that difficult? Not at all. The "quiet" there is in the context of receiving instruction. I think the point is not that she never speaks, but that she is the one who is in the position of being taught as opposed to being in the position of the teacher. The word "teach" here is not in the aorist tense. In other words, an aorist tense means a single point in time action rather than a continuous action. So, it isn't saying that a woman cannot have a moment where she can tell something to her husband, it's that the woman should not be the teacher over her husband, but that the woman is actually under the teaching authority of her husband. He is the head of the household, spiritually speaking. That's really what it amounts to.

Verses 1-8 is in one grouping, verses 9-15 is another. Verse 11 and following is directed at women in the context of their relationship with a man to whom they are supposed to be entirely submissive. That is a marriage relationship.

Finally, no other place in Scripture teaches that all women should be under the authority of all men in the church. If this passage is to be interpreted the traditional way, this makes a new and unusual pattern of submission. However, the New Testament consistently teaches that a wife should be under the authority of her husband. That fits the larger context of the New Testament much better.

There may be some problems with my understanding here, I am willing to acknowledge that. But I think that it is less problematic than the other view. Frankly, there are not too many other places in the scripture except for 1 Corinthians 7 where you have a similar kind of situation and the traditional translation there also breaks the pattern. So, I think this is as good a way as interpreting the passage as the other.

1 Timothy 2 talks about the relationship between husband and wife; it’s chapter 3 that talks about church leadership.  And it’s there that Paul is clear that men are to be in the roles of authority in the church as elders, overseers, and deacons.
 
 This is a transcript of a commentary from the radio show "Stand to Reason," with Gregory Koukl. It is made available to you at no charge through the faithful giving of those who support Stand to Reason. Reproduction permitted for non-commercial use only. ©1995 Gregory Koukl
For more information, contact Stand to Reason at 1438 East 33rd St., Signal Hill, CA 90755
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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

lonely

I am so lonely.  I want romance!  Not flowers and chocolates romance, real romance.  Falling in love or being in love, feeling in love.  Looking forward to sharing my day and my thoughts with somebody who cares.  Everything seems so basic lately.  I feel like there is no depth in my life.  Am I just playing at living right now?  It's not that I'm not present, because I am.  Oh this makes no sense.  I'm just rambling, but then, this is my ramble blog.  Nonsense and deep thoughts and ranting when needed.

I am lonely.

My marriage is a shell.  We are roommates and parents with occasional benefits.  I am the one doing the pursuing and I so want to be pursued.  I want to be... wanted.  To feel pretty and loved and interesting.  I want to say "I deserve" to feel these things, but I don't know that I believe life is about my happiness.  There is certainly happiness to be found in life, but I do not believe it is the goal.  There is more to it than that.  

I guess I am just lost with my marriage in trouble and my husband tuned out and here I am feeling better about myself than I ever have and "nobody" to appreciate it.  It doesn't seem fair; but then I tell my children constantly... life is not fair.

I am hiding in romantic stories of fictional men who care.  Right now I am no disallusioned by relationships.  I give too much and so often that I think I have trained others not to give back.  So foolish.  I wish I'd learned to balance this all better.
sigh

Maybe I can sleep some of this off.

Friday, September 14, 2012

ouch

This past weekend was a bit rough for me.
I'm glad it happened because I desire truth and know without it we can accomplish little.

Life has been pretty stressfull in our home.
My husband was just laid off and while there are some good things to that (he's not stressed about work, he does all the driving for the kids to and from school and the house is really clean!!) it also comes with a down side.  Not having enough money to pay everything being the primary one.  Looking for a job when there really aren't any.

On top of that, our marriage is broken.  Not irreparably so (in my humble opinion), but broken all the same.  I've been asking (telling) my husband that I really need more from him and that I'm not going to last much longer without more.  This is a conversation we've been having for years.  I cycle through not being able to stand the loneliness anymore and then we make a few improvements and that placates me (and him? I don't know) and I can go forward again for a while.  I'd recently had this "please talk to me" conversation and last Friday my hubby decided to... talk to me.

Except, it was a really bad day.

I was PMSing in an almost criminal fashion.  Lack of sleep and had a bad day at work.  On top of that, I was feeling neglected by friends and getting kind of angry with all the people in my life that weren't living up to MY expectations.  (harumph)  Ever been there?  Yeah, not fun.

So I come in and sit down ready to lose myself in a tv show and pretend I don't feel like I do.  My husband doesn't let it go.  Now this in itself is fairly miraculous.  He would normally try once and then say "OK" and go hide in his mancave.  This time he pushed.  We ended up going outside to sit in the car in order to have a little privacy from our children.  There we talked (I talked) about me feeling strongly that he doesn't like me much.  Telling him that I am the same woman he fell in love with and married.  I still care about things and want to make a difference.  I still want more out of life.  I still love him and our kids and want to create a wonderful home for all of us.  But I am lonely and it hurts and I am reaching a breaking point.  Long story short, my husband admitted that he doesn't like me much (but does love me); that I can really make him nuts.  That he has changed and he doesn't think there is much more to life.

Thinking over that conversation... I cried for 2 days.  I even woke up at night crying.  It was rough.  But... I was also relieved.  This truth I can work with.  There is something here to work on.  So after the initial waterfall of tears, I was able to think more clearly.  Gosh... it sounds like my husband has lost hope.  He doesn't have anything to dream about.  Man, I'd be miserable too if I felt that way.

So, in moving forward in our relationship, we are now spending one night a week together to work on things.  My only issue now will be not to try to make all the changes I"m hoping for at once!

Looks like my husband is stubborn too.
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