Friday, May 28, 2010

Thoughts on Women and Men who "Get" Relationship

Processing lots of thoughts these days...and entered the discussion over at Jesus Creed today.  Scot wonders why studies consistently show that women are more religious than men, and I responded this way:

Perhaps it is that women believe that God both hears and understands them and values them enough to offer intimate relationship and personal empowering by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

They might also believe Paul (following Jesus) when he talks about how men are to behave:  laying down their lives for their wives, as Christ did for the church.  This is something that engenders hope where there is frequently despair and oppression.

There are men who want to view Jesus through a power/command paradigm, and so are drawn to religion.  There are also some who get the servant nature of God, and are drawn to relationship.

But it is really true that woman "get" relationship more readily than men ... and so resonate with a God who is so devoted to relationship as to embody frail humanity in order to live among us.

Men who value being loved unconditionally while being drawn to Jesus as the example of being fully human are, in my experience, the ones who embrace and encourage the sisters to fully engage in the life that God offers us in Jesus.
Dying to self is not for wimps.  Neither is giving birth and raising children.  Marriage is the first relationship where God asks us to die to self.  Parenting is the next step.  God is the perfect model for both relationships -- walking the talk in earth in the body of Jesus.
Taking things one moment at a time -- trying to live in kairos time with Papa, knowing that this is the only way I'll survive chronos time with those around me.

Be blessed....

Oh, and while I'm at it, stay tuned for the release of Wiki2.  I am excited to finally see it.  What I've been hearing sounds awesome.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Abi and The Great Sadness

I have recently gone back to read The Shack a second time -- two years after my friend, Annette, loaned me her copy and said that I must read it.  This time I was reading my own copy (a hardcover), so that I could make notes as I read.  This time I was also in a very different place -- physically, emotionally, spiritually ... but not geographically.   ;^)

As I read I realized that I was in the midst of my own version of The Great Sadness -- that place Paul Young describes as where our heart is so broken by pain and grief that the resulting pool of secrets feed a shame that allows those around us to unwittingly help us build something he has called The Shack.

What is The Shack?  Paul says it is a metaphor for being stuck by The Great Sadness ... the facade we build to hide our pain and secrets and shame from those around us -- those who think they know us.  Sometimes -- especially? -- it is built to hide us from seeing ourselves and from recognizing our warped ideas of God.  

But what Paul Young does in his book is to ask us to consider the "what if" involved were God to invite us to hike back out to the wilderness where The Shack is hidden -- run down and desolate and frightening.  If we will accept this invitation, we will see that Paul has provided another metaphor for the loving Papa who (with the help of Jesus, Sarayu and Sophia) helps us dismantle The Shack in order to finally heal our broken heart and mend our relationships -- with God and with others ... and especially with ourselves.

The challenge, of course, is that Paul puts into one weekend for Mack what took him 11 years of hard, hard work.  There is no "magic wand" -- it seems very much like Eustace having to be un-dragoned by Aslan in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  We scratch and scratch and are successful in shedding a few thin layers of dragon skin.  But we cannot dig deep enough on our own to free ourselves from the result of "thinking dragonish thoughts".  It takes Aslan's powerful and sharp claws to sink into that thick, knobby dragon skin and peel it away and release our true selves from bondage.

Little did I realize over two years ago, when I first thought of the Purple Martyrdom, that it would include hues this dark -- almost black.  God's amazing grace only tells us what we need to know when we need to know it, eh?  The reality is that even as I fear I have let go of that knot at the end of my rope ... I find I have always been safe in the strong hands of the Love that will not let me go.

It really is, as Lewis perceived, a severe mercy.  As severe as the death of the life I knew ... yet as merciful as the Love that promises to bring me back to True Life.   Perhaps it is not unlike Ramandu (the burned-out "star at rest" from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader) who was brought one fire-berry from the valleys in the sun each day.  And each fire-berry takes away some of his age ... until he is again as young as a newborn child.  Then ... he will rise again to take his place and once more tread the great dance....

I do not know how Papa will accomplish this task.  I am often wide-eyed and somewhat pale as I feel Aslan's long and sharp claws dig in and do their work.  Sometimes my heart shudders as I feel the scales being pulled -- firmly yet gently.  But I choose to believe that this is a work of Love ... and that I am safe in the hands of the Great Physician.  The Master Craftsman.  The Good Shepherd.  The Lion who is The Lamb ... that was slain before the foundations of the world were laid ... because He has always been especially fond of me.

In the hope of embracing Abundant Life, I surrender my grasping perception of life.  I trade life-affirming and spontaneous expectancy for death-inducing and stifling expectation ... and childlike and trusting response for controlling and legalistic responsibility.  It may not be neat and pretty from an earthly, human perspective ... but I hear that it is full of glorious fractals where Sarayu is at work in a wildly unconventional garden known as Peggy's Patch -- watering with the precious tear drops that She collects in a little bottle....

Be blessed....