Thursday, November 9, 2017

The god of pop psychology is NOT the God of the Bible...

I was going through a great deal of stress and decided to seek counseling.  I made it clear that I wanted a Christian counselor.  I received a counselor that was a "Christian," that is,  she had some sort of loose faith in Jesus and considered herself a "spiritual" person. The first words of advice she shared were completely anti-Scriptural and steeped in pop psychology. To me, the Phd was meaningless because the wisdom to be shared was worldly wisdom, foolishness to God and a waste of time for me. Colossians 2:8 states, "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ." Transferring to an actual Biblical counselor made all the difference.

This reminded me of situations I've been seeing on social media which promote ideas that are not Christian in nature. Pop psychology is founded in secular humanism.  It is deeply woven with the philosophies of man. Pop psych tells you that you deserve certain things.  It tells you to set boundaries, to walk away from difficult people. If you research how this stuff fits in the Bible, you will see certain things loosely tied in with Scripture and a whole lot of stuff that doesn't come with any Biblical support. The Bible tells you to love sacrificially. It tells you that you need to affirm your self-worth and self esteem. The Bible tells us that we were made in the image of God but that sin has corrupted us; we need a Savior. Pop psych paints a picture of Jesus - when it acknowledges Him at all - as a kumbaya surfer-dude who just wants us to be happy. Did I remind you that Jesus drove the money-changers out of the Temple with whips?

You will find that the Bible tells you that you are to forgive others “even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32). Specifically, we are told to imitate the forgiveness of Christ (Col. 3:13). We examples of the Prodigal Son, Joseph and his brothers, Hosea and Gomer, and well, the whole Bible. Forgiveness is a cancelled debt, an elimination of the record of wrong-doing.  Now, does any person want to love in such a sacrificial way? Does any person have the necessary strength to do that? No, but what a wonderful Savior we have.  The Word tells us that love covers a multitude of sins.  His love upholds us and will get us through.

So where can we draw the line? Scripture is *very* specific about what instances merit blocking someone. 1 Corinthians 5:11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who calls himself a Christian who is sexually immoral, or greedy, or an idolater, or verbally abusive, or a drunkard, or a swindler. Do not even eat with such a person. 12 For what do I have to do with judging those outside? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 But God will judge those outside. Remove the evil person from among you.

Should this go on forever? No. Paul revisits the issues in his next epistle to the Corinthian church. 2 Corinthians 2:6 The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. 7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.  The Bible doesn't condone the idea of cutting off a Christian brother or sister.

We are actually supposed to care about causing "excessive sorrow" to someone - even someone we think has wronged us or is in some way making us angry enough to make us think that cutting them out of our lives is the right thing to do. We're supposed to be those guys who pray for those who persecute us and do good to those who despitefully use us.

On the stupidity of choosing money over my dogs...


On the stupidity of choosing money over my dogs

They say a dog owner and her pet
Begin to look like each other over time
Waking up to that cold empty bed
I realized
I am indeed like my dogs
Maybe I look like them
Maybe I don't
But my soul looks like theirs
My dogs need love
More than a pat
More than a “good boy, good girl”
Here or there
They need full body
Joyous
Tail-wagging
Mutual adoration fests
The kind of affection that says
“I love being in your presence”

Yet here I sit - and I miss them
“The money is good”
“You'll get ahead”
“Good for your resume”
“We'll be together”
And so I left, left them in the care of others
Deprived them of the love they were
So accustomed to
I deprived ME of the love
I was so accustomed to
Following a job
Following a man
Like a dog, stupidly assuming that
What I needed was what everyone wanted to give

My heart broke when I saw
That they were being treated
So unlovingly
So unkindly
Sasha's mask, greyed in that month like she had aged a hundred years
Charlie, stooped and slinking
Fearful and heart-broken
We reunited with joy and love
Tails wagging, hearts singing...
But now I'm trapped
Trapped in a job and in a place
Where a pat on the head and a good girl
Are all the affection I get

I found them love, I found them
A temporary home
Away from kids who pull tails
And throw rocks
Away from adults who say
“Go away, dog!”
And lock them away
And as for me...
I drove away with a man
With a hard heart
Who loved neat and clean
More than he loved me

Dog hair is a badge of love
It's a daily nuisance that screams
“I am loved!” like the toys that
Children leave scattered on the floor
Dog hair is scattered on my soul
It's a sign of mutual appreciation
And my heart bleeds to have
A lint brush required to stroke away
The hair of my beloved furry ones

Dogs, they don't turn away morning snuggles
Dogs, they don't need to go turn on the TV
Read the sports page
Have their coffee
Have a thousand reasons why they can't pile together in fur and skin, wet noses and belly rubs
Why being with you isn't a great way to start the day
Yet here I am, the fool that chose the money
Over the faithful love
Over the unfailing love
Over the ecstatic, joyful, consuming love
Of my dogs



Saturday, October 28, 2017

Projecting, reflecting...

"Jesus, help me see you in everyone, even the people who challenge me. Light me up with your radiant love so that I may see you even in the most difficult of people. Every human being is made in your image. Help me to recognize you and love you in them."

"People aren't toxic. We are humans troubled, afraid, hurting, struggling, and although some of us use more harmful ways to cope than others we're not toxic." ~Iva

Romans 5:10 "For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!"

Labeling people as toxic (or labeling them as narcissists who must be avoided) is an awful lot like an excuse to not love them like Christ loved us. "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8 If we all look in the mirror honestly, we will see that we each exhibit the traits that it is so trendy to accuse others of. Ephesians 4:2 exhorts us to be completely humble and gentle, patient bearing with one another in love. The moment we use excuses to write people off, label them, and call ourselves "victim" is the moment we choose to be disobedient and non-followers of Jesus.

Think about this. Label the person as "narcissist" or "toxic" and you are judging them just as these memes or lists usually accuse these people of judgmental. Manipulative? You are guilty of trying to manipulate other people's views of them when you insist on diagnosing them as such and spreading it out there. Bullying? You are guilty of bullying them by labeling and manipulating opinions of them. Selfish? Likely you are selfishly deciding that they did not put your needs or feelings first and hey wait, isn't that also selfish? You claim they "need to be right" yet - is it your own need to be right that is so angry about the belief that their opinion is right? If you both agreed on something, wouldn't this be a moot point? They are surrounded by drama? Generally, it seems the drama is generated by the person who shares this beware of narcissists, etc, all over social media. That's pretty dramatic. The list can go on.

Look in the mirror. Then turn away from the mirror and look at Jesus - that's who you want to look like in the end, right? Follow His example.

We are all hopelessly messy, multidimensional and needing a Savior.

Toxic is as toxic does...

“Stop pointing fingers and placing blame on others. Your life can only change to the degree that you accept responsibility for it.” Steve Maraboli

There is a trend building for the last couple of years involving labeling people as narcissists.  There is a hypocritical fad for calling other people toxic. The funny thing is that the person doing the calling is often practicing what is called "neurotic projection." That is, they are seeing undesirable elements of themselves and reflecting them on to the person they are angry at. Call someone narcissist or toxic and include a list of what that entails - and...drum roll, you've just accused them of the very judgmentalism and conceit that you are proclaiming to stand against.

A great little piece I found on the topic:
http://bewellplace.com/stop-calling-people-toxic/

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Bringing on our own storms...

We ask God for wisdom, we ask Him for direction and to guide our paths -- but do we always listen to that wisdom? I believe we often ask with an agenda, an agenda that we want that wisdom and guidance to lead to.  We want a straight path - a straight path right to what we want.

I'm so guilty of this right now.  I wanted something. I wanted change, I wanted escape. I believed that all my ducks were lining up in a row. I asked for wisdom and God sent several warnings. I chose to view those as obstacles to be overcome, not the clear warnings that they were. Like the centurion and boat owner who chose not to listen to Paul in Acts 27 when he warned them - after difficult headway, obvious bad weather, clearly bad sailing weather. They still chose to press on. Paul said, "Hey, it is going to be bad with loss of things of value!" and still they chose to press on. The writer of Acts tells us "We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard.  Acts 27:18  Not listening caused loss and a great deal of it.

I was given signs - things that were not right, that didn't sit well with my soul. I was blinded by a different kind of hope. It had been over a year since my husband had died. I wanted to feel happiness. I wanted to feel alive. I want to get away from the things that seemed to constantly burden me and I had high hopes of wintering in a safe harbor. There were warnings I did not heed and I fell for that gentle south wind that seemed to promise a safe trip. My disobedience has certainly caused a storm to kick up.  There has already been loss. I've thrown some things overboard that I didn't even realize I was throwing, things I hope that I can recover some day. There are things that had to be thrown that made me wake up and wake up hard.  I heard God loud and clear when those went over.  Now more loss will be required before I can run aground and find land/safety.

Now I must - once again - rely on God's unfailing mercy and grace.

The greatest of these is love...

1 Corinthians 13:13  So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

I was talking to someone who was surprised that I was concerned for and praying for someone who had been and is being very cruel to me.  He pointed out the things that this person is doing that are very hurtful, the amount of time this has been going on, and that he couldn't understand why I even cared about their current pain. He said the person in question - professing to be a Christian - needs to be confronted with how wrong they are, how ungodly this behavior is. I'm in a position where I cannot do that - however, there is one thing that I can do. I can love. Because of that love, I can pray.  I reminded him that "While we were yet sinners Christ died for us." We are to emulate Him - and if that means praying and worrying over the pain of this one, then so I will.


Thursday, September 7, 2017

Triggers

Triggers - a device that releases a spring or a catch and sets a mechanism off, such as the trigger on the gun. In the land of grief you find that there are some triggers you are aware of and others that  catch you off guard. I wandered into a veritable minefield when I chose to make a temporary move back to my home state. I'm playing Russian roulette with my heart, not knowing when I'm going to set off a cascade of tears.

Maybe during that first year the very act of "being" in the home we shared was comfort and made the reality of my loss less "real." I don't know how many times I remarked to one of the girls that I often felt that he was just "out in the yard" doing his chores and would be in the house in a minute. So many times I lay in our bed and looked over at his dresser and envisioned him standing there, just fiddling with his plethora of odds and ends like he did so many times. His presence was so very strong that I believe that part of me felt allowed to believe he was indeed "there."

Now I am 336 miles away and he is not here. Memories of him are, however.  I've been down back roads that he and I drove down 30+ years ago. I've been places that he longed to go - without him. In the midst of doing something truly enjoyable, like hiking the Appalachian Trail, I have felt the icy grip of reality clutch at my heart. I'm no longer in our bed, with his dog beside me, feeling the old indent he made in the mattress. That song comes on the radio and I'm mere miles from where "it all started with a beer."  I'm in the place we found each other, found the Lord, escaped our old lives, built something real.  His absence here is profound. The loss of him is palatable.

It is only now that his death has become painful real; my heart has lost the shroud of pretense. The veil has lifted and my soul cries out, "You're gone! You're gone! Come back..."