Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Abi and the February 2015 Synchroblog -- Renewal

The Links for the Synchroblog are up...but will be updated, so I'll be back to add more later!

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the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken.

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The day after Epiphany, January 6, 2015, I picked up The Road Less Traveled, by M. Scott Peck, M.D. Something had triggered a thought from that book, and I went to the shelf to take a look. I'd read the whole book a few times over the past 30 years and have blogged here frequently on Peck over the past few years. 

But on January 7th, something made me start in the beginning and read the intro from the 25th anniversary edition (which I had decided to get on Kindle, so all the family's Kindle readers would be able to share)...and I just kept on going.

This was not going to be a reading bender, though.  I was going to process this. So I got out a notebook.  One of those One Subject Notebooks my teenagers use in school.  I was going to take notes.  Then I was going to condense "the main points" onto 3 x 5 cards.  This was serious.

What was serious was that I realized something that I just hadn't been able to see these past 30 years: I was not particularly disciplined.  I had bits of discipline. I was hard working. But I wasn't really disciplined.

I think it had something to do with general confusion surrounding the term.  Discipline had come to mean "punishment" somewhere along the way. Peck, however, defined it as the basic set of tools required for the task of problem solving. Without discipline--these four tools--we cannot solve anything.

I know I read the entire book, like two or three times.  I read these words. But I was not able to see or hear this.  I had plenty of other things that jumped out at me.  Maybe it was not time?  It certainly was time this go around!  [This, by the way, is why I am a firm believer in my Grandmother Kent's saying:  If it's worth reading once, it's worth reading 10 times.]

He goes on to say that the first problem is that confronting and solving problems is painful. Those feelings are uncomfortable.  Feelings like frustration, grief, sadness, loneliness, guilt, regret, anger, fear, anxiety, anguish, despair....

Problems, however, also call forth courage and wisdom.  They are catalysts for growth. They are part of the plan--not to hurt, injury or humiliate, but to challenge, stretch and inspire creativity.

Wise persons welcome problems--and their pain.

Peck believes that most of us are not wise...but we learn wisdom when we embrace the discipline pain can inspire. Embrace the pain.  See the problem. Engage the needed tools of discipline.  Learn and grow wiser!


Somehow, there's always a "but" out there!

But fear of the pain leads to avoidance. Wishful thinking leads to procrastination as we hope that the problem will just go away if we ignore, forget, pretend...anything to get out of dealing with the problem and its pain, rather than suffer through the process in order to arrive at the solution.

Yeah, this is what Peck sees as the primary basis for all human mental illness...that tendency to avoid problems and the emotional suffering that goes with them.

And so I have begun a journey of renewal. Of going back and filling in for the things that I missed along the way.  For me that looks like understanding Discipline and forming it's four tools to my hand.

These tools, according to Peck, are:
  1. Delaying gratification.  Doing the hard parts first to get them out of the way, so that the rest of my time is more available to serendipity.
  2. Taking responsibility.  Owning my story and actions and the repercussions -- intended or not. This includes learning what is NOT my responsibility and NOT owning those things.
  3. Dedication to the truth.  Always embracing the truth rather than dodging the facts. Always. Being willing to follow the facts all the way to the end, no simplistic thinking. Taking full inventory of who I am and what my motives are and how my thoughts and actions line up and where my blind spots are.
  4. Balancing.  Keeping the bigger picture in mind. Stepping back and getting perspective. Bracketing out my presumptions and biases and prejudices and really listening to the other in order to understand and see things from their vantage point -- standing in their shoes and looking out from their eyes.
Yeah...I have not properly learned these lessons and these tools are not fully shaped in me.  But I'm on it now.  There is always time to work on important things.  Always.

Peck says that these tools and their development in children are the responsibility of parents. Sigh. Yes, I will agree.  And I have mourned the fact that we do not come with a parenting manual when our children are born.


I have found one in the past two years that has ended my search for the right way. A way that is not full of guilt and shame and punishment and control. One that is full of love and grace and mercy. Yes, I would call it cHesed Parenting!  It is by Dr. Laura Markham and is called Peaceful Parenting, Happy Kids. I have had to process some significant grief as I mourn the fact that I did not have this book 20 years ago...and only am slightly assuaged by the fact that is was only published a few years ago.

This book.  It has saved my family...and my sanity.

As I have processed Peck's thoughts about discipline and how it is the responsibility of  the parents to first have it and then pass it on to their children, I mourned that I had passed what seemed like all the important deadlines for my children...even though I was searching for the path.

Added, then, to my work on building and shaping the Four Tools is the answer to the "how to parent" piece...and Dr. Laura reminds us frequently that it is never too late to be a better parent.  It is, however, much harder.

So be it.

I know all about hard.  As long as there is a path to peaceful and happy, I am totally ready for hard.

Bring. It. On.

This is the most important time of renewal I have entered.  I am grateful beyond words for this time and all the resources God has brought to me at just the right time and in just the right way.  I'm learning to lean into Their love and grace and mercy as I embrace The Great Dance of Perichoretic cHesed.

May this time of Lenten renewal be one of deep blessing and joy. May we all receive the peace of Jesus that our joy may be complete in Him.

Be blessed.


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This post is part of the February synchroblog “Renewal”

Abbie Waters – It is Well with My Soul

Done With Religion – Renewal

Mark Votova – 30 Ways the Church Can Find Renewal

Jeremy Myers – I am Dying … (So I Can Live Again)

Phil Lancanster – The Parable of the Classic Car

Susan Schiller – Renewal by Design

Glenn Hager – Repurposed

Wesley Rostoll – Why I no longer pray for revival

Clara Ogwuazor-Mbamalu – Renewal of the Spirit

K. W. Leslie – Those who wait on the Lord

Lisa Brown – Momma’s Kick Off Your Shoes and Stay For A While!

Jenom Makama – …Like An Antivirus

Leah – Renewal!

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