Let It Go

Touch the hand of a newborn baby, and the infants reflexive instinct is to grab hold. When a person falls down, their instinct is to reach out and grab hold of something for support. What every human experiences physically is also the condition of the soul. The soul clings to something to cover shame and give a sense of significance and value. We all seek identity in something, whether is is a relationship, role, status, wealth, or something else. So, the advice to ‘let it go’ is not great advice when given by itself, because our instinct will be to grab hold of something. Thus, we either return to the familiar and comfortable for a sense of self, or we trade one thing for another. This has been my own experience. As a people pleaser – deriving sense of self from the affirmation of others – I spent years trying to please my spouse so that I would then feel worthy. When that failed, I turned attention to seeking affirmation from my role as pastor. One idol was substituted for another. Throughout the Bible, God has made himself available as the thing that we cling to for identity. Living in communion with him to have our basic questions of worth (see Why Do We Adopt an Identity). In Christ, we have both an example of what clinging to God looks like, and also an image of the invisible God – truth in the flesh. Truth that we can substitute for the lies that motivate us to cling to false sources of identity. As we take captive our thoughts, our decisions, behaviors,...

Whose Will Be Done?

Prayer is an essential element in maintaining our connection with and openness to our Father in heaven. One of the ruts that I fall into, and I am certain that I am not alone in this, is that I impose my will in prayer. I come into prayer with my list of wants and requests, tie it up with an “in Jesus’ name”, and hope for the best. Prayer becomes something to plow through, to get done, so that I can move onto the next thing on my list. Worse, in this mode, the agenda for prayer is my own and the center of prayer is my-self. Most likely my false self because a lot of what I put on the list is things that will sustain me, with or without God. There is certainly a time for asking, but if that is all you bring to the table in prayer, then your view of God is flawed. Prayer is supposed to be about communion with the One who created us and is the Author of our faith. Practicing being in his presence. Being still and being centered in him. Not my will, but his. Yet even in this we struggle. Even as we follow the command to be still, we still our bodies but we do not still our minds as we think through our to-do list, the best way to avoid traffic, and our approach at the next staff meeting. It is possible that you are not experiencing efficacy in prayer because you are not taking the time to be quiet and listen. This is much harder....

Is Chivalry Demeaning to Women

It is the season of prom in the local high schools. In a recent discussion with some students, the idea of the boy paying for the girl’s dinner came up briefly. One of the ladies in the group responded that girl’s don’t need a guy to pay for them, they can take care of themselves. While I totally agree that women are capable of taking care of themselves, this statement has had me thinking about what chivalry communicates. (see The Opposite of Masculinity) Does a man paying for his date’s dinner diminish the woman? That is a fair question. And I think the answer lies in the motivation for paying and is fundamentally an issue of identity. Payment could indicate control. Not paying could be a bruise to the man’s ego. It could subtly communicate that something is owed later. Now the woman is in the man’s debt. Another form of control Unfortunately, too many men have used finances in such a way. Making the response that woman can take care of themselves completely understandable. Needing to be in control and needing to demonstrate control are an issue of a poorly developed identity. One that seek to affirm significance by keeping another – in this case a date – under their thumb. And by the way, this is not just a man issue, women struggle in their attempts to control others as a way to sustain identity as well. (see The Opposite of Femininity) A man paying (or a woman paying for that matter) should not be for the purpose of controlling another, but rather as a way to demonstrate the significance...

The Opposite of Femininity

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about passivity and its relationship to masculinity. (See The Opposite of Masculinity) Among the responses that were generated by this post was a question I had not previously considered. What is the opposite of femininity? I offer this answer after meditating on several biblical passages and having conversations with godly women I admire. Masculinity is not the opposite of femininity. They are complements. The opposite of femininity is busyness – an inability to receive. Busyness erects barriers. Femininity receives. Busyness dominates. Femininity respects. Busyness diminishes. Femininity nurtures. In the home of Mary and Martha, both busyness and femininity were on display. (See Luke 10:38 – 42) While Mary was available to receive, Martha was busy with all the things that needed to be done. That is the covering for the shame inherent in the broken image that busyness provides. If things get done then that ‘proves’ the worth of the woman. Busyness is a way to feel needed. (See Covering Up the Broken Image) Busyness is a manifestation of the false self – the identity rooted outside of Christ. It gives a false sense of security and control. Often these things are felt by others – particularly a spouse – as domination or isolation. Passivity (opposite of masculinity) and busyness (opposite of femininity) are false complements. At first they seem to fit well together, but they are both opposite of the masculine and feminine facets of the image of God each spouse has been given. It leads to division – a woman angry that the man will not step up, and a man angry...

Covering Up the Broken Image

The moment they partook in the fruit that was forbidden by God they realized their nakedness. Everything changed. One moment their greatest worry was finding a new place in the garden to experience the beauty of all God made and the very next moment they realized that they stood naked before one another. That perfect image was broken and the first couple experienced shame.   Their vulnerability was on display and it was overwhelming. As they each looked at the other, instead of security, they were filled with questions and doubt. Shame entered the picture – the fear of not being loved nor accepted – and the result was an uncontrollable urge to make themselves more acceptable to the other.   So they sewed together fig leaves. To cover up their nakedness. The openness in which they lived with each other was now hidden behind a protective layer of chlorophyll. It might as well have been a wall.   New questions must have flew through their mind – Does this person love me? If s/he really knew me, deep down, they would run away. They are just using me. – Trust was in doubt. Instead of oneness, there was fear.   But this was not the end. Far from it – there are footsteps in the garden – God is coming! We must hide. Shame caused Adam and Eve to lose touch with the image. It was broken, and so was their relationship with the Creator   Rather than trust, there was now doubt about God’s goodness, doubt about whether He really wanted what was best for them. With the Creator,...

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