resisting


At three thirty in the morning I woke up to the sounds of a very loud crash and my daughter’s scream. My wife and I rushed into her room and saw a box of tools had fallen from on top of a crate they were left on. We had been working on painting and building a loft for her and these were some tools we hadn’t put away yet. After picking up tools and consoling our daughter, order returned and she and my wife went back to sleep. I, on the other hand, did not. Too much adrenaline I suppose. After a few minutes trying, I knew I wouldn’t be able to. So I looked at emails, Facebook and then decided to get out of bed and be productive. I typed a chapter of my daughter’s draft for her new book (very suspenseful). I am her secretary. She pays in hugs and kisses. Priceless.

It was about five o’clock. I decided to go to the gym. I knew it opens at that time. After making countless jumps shots (okay you could have counted them) and my knot in my neck bothering me, I decided to go get coffee and bring something back to the two loves of my life (not including Jesus, my greatest love).

They were still sleeping. It was about six now. So then I started writing some thoughts for a very crucial chapter in my new book. This one is a fiction, an allegory of the journey of transformation. I got in a good groove. I am really starting to enjoy the writing process.

Interruptions are an interesting spiritual phenomenon. They can be small, like being woken up in the middle of the night by a loud crash or they can be big, very big, like the diagnosis of a disease or an accident leaving someone paralyzed or a request for some help. The question is: Is this interruption a problem or an opportunity?

Jesus was interrupted. There is the story of him being led to go to the home of a child dying. Needed to get there quickly, at least in the people’s mind. But he was stopped by a large crowd pressing on him. Frustration for the parents wanting him to hurry. A problem to them. An opportunity for another. A woman touched his robe and was healed. And later Jesus handled the issue with the dying girl. (Mark 5:21-43)

I want to handle interruptions with a spirit of trust and hope and even love. Don’t you?

Grant me grace in the times of interruptions and grace to follow your lead. Help me surrender my resistance.

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Our compromised solutions sabotage any pursuit of meeting our needs.
boxed
Need of acceptance/Need of belonging/Need of competence
– compromised solution of people pleasing may result in be popularity but not for who you are but for the image you put forth, sabotaging the only way to get acceptance, the risk to be real.
– compromised solution of withdrawing (avoid rejection) may result in not facing potential rejection but left with being on the outside, sabotaging the only way to belong, take the risk to join.
– compromised solution of critical control (pointing out other flaws or manipulating others to do what you want) may result in inflating your sense of power but left in not knowing true authentic giving and receiving.

Sunday morning was traumatic for the Warden family. It was triggered by us simply being a few minutes late and Joelle not having a seat by her good friend, Emily, at church service. Didn’t know it at first but she was clearly visibly upset. Upset enough that MJ took her out of service to find a quiet place alone with her to try to comfort and talk to her. Fifteen minutes later I proceeded to look for them. They were far in the outskirts of the building, sitting on two seats in a very big hallway, all alone. Joelle was feeling left out and didn’t want to go to Sunday School class because she was too upset.

Actually it was kind of a long weekend of feeling left out for her. That night before her friends had a sleepover without her (not because she wasn’t invited but simply because 1. Joelle doesn’t do sleepovers well and 2. She had a basketball game the next day and I didn’t want her all tired out.). She did okay with not having the chance to be with them and she did get to hangout with them until she had to go home. But I think there was leftover residue of feeling left out. So when she saw her friend surrounded and no chair open for her in the front of the service, she fell apart.

So what does a parent do? Do we force her to go to class no matter what she feels? “Buckle up and get in there. That’s life deal with it”
Do we try to reason and empathize endlessly, hoping she will get it and be rational enough to go back on her own? “Emily didn’t know you were at church and so she didn’t know to save you a seat.”
Do we just skip it and let her sulk in the hallway? Or just pack our bags and go home?

So it dawned on me to simply reflect back to her how what she was doing was sabotaging any possibility of her getting what she wanted. That is, that she wants not to be left out and rather to be received and accepted by her friend. I had to unpack that a bit with her and told her that if she chose to withdraw and stay away from class and Emily she would not be able to feel belonging and wantedness. Her solution to deal with her hurt was interfering with what she most dearly longed for. If she stayed in the hallway, she sabotages any possibilities, though it may be less risky. If she went to class, it would be more risky but the possibility to get what she longed for was there.
She resisted quite a bit. She still didn’t want to go. But we were not going to sit and sulk with her. MJ and I would go to service and get her after it was done.
She did agree to go to class, with fear and trembling. Once in, her friend Emily welcomed her, as did other classmates, and she was no longer was left out.

We often resist the means of getting our deepest longest met because of the level of risk and connection to the pain of an unmet need much like a ten year old would do. Risking is scary. Acts of faith can be filled with fear. At the door to the Sunday School class MJ very patiently waited with her until she could open the door and go in. I gave her a big hug of encouragement and love. Then she walked in.

It is hard to navigate with our children such places of authentic struggles and not teach them our own compromised solutions. It’s hard to be brave ourselves in risking by standing in the vulnerable place. But that is the place of grace. That is the place of true possibility of deep heart needs being touched. The risk is that there is no guarantee. Needs may not be touched, may not be met. Only possibility.

The alternative in our compromised solution has no possibility at all.

Psalm 42:7 says, “Deep calls unto deep.”

One of my favorite old time theologians is Watchman Nee. He commented on this Psalm saying, “Only a call from the depths can provoke a response from the depths. Nothing shallow can ever touch the depths, nor can anything superficial touch the inward parts. Only the deep will respond to the deep.”

I am starting a new men’s group focusing on Redeeming our faith, culture and manhood. I have loved doing this group. Men who have gone through this group are very dear to my heart. The first forty days are of deep introspection where the men examine their relationships to family of origin, the major culture they live in, the culture of their heritage, women, other men, themselves and God. It is a forty day introspective spiritual boot camp. I challenge them to stick with it and go deep. We don’t live in a world that relates to one another deeply. Not even in the church sad to say. It is uncomfortable and threatening to be vulnerable. These forty days also uses spiritual/emotional/mental muscles we are not use to. I give much grace to the men as they start up but I keep the challenge on top of them. If you don’t go deep, you’re not going to get very far.

I ask them to answer this question before one another: How do you feel about getting so naked before these men? The challenge is to get real. The equation I set before them is Real Men + Real God = Real Life.
I end with the study of the man with the withered hand in Mark 3. Jesus said two things to him: “Rise and come forward” and “stretch out your hand”. Pretty much put it out there dude.

The process of Jesus meeting our needs through grace is:

He unpacked our woundedness…be brave and open yourself
He exposes our compromised solutions… be brave and surrender
He meets our needs in deeper ways… be brave and go deep
He provides support and accountability…be brave and get help

Receive his grace or resist it. That’s what we do.