Why Can't I Rest?
I have a migraine that started six days ago. Three of those days were "turn out the lights, don't make a sound, Jenny stop breathing so hard, take yourself on a walk, if the house is on fire, God rest my soul" migraines.Expand »
I have a migraine that started six days ago. Three of those days were "turn out the lights, don't make a sound, Jenny stop breathing so hard, take yourself on a walk, if the house is on fire, God rest my soul" migraines. Yesterday would have been a fourth, but it was a Sunday, which meant I had to lead worship, lead a communion meditation, preach a sermon, and administrate a housing meeting, so I pretended the pain wasn't there and sailed my 40-foot sloop down the Nile to my day of service because I am a pastor and pastors don't get to have sick days on Sunday and that's a whole other topic for another day. (Slight justification: I don't normally wear that many hats on a Sunday; I was covering for someone else on top of my regular duties. Yeah, that makes it a little better...) Somewhere between church and the house meeting, I realized I needed a sick day and I needed to take it immediately. I'm not going to get better until I give my body, mind, and soul the rest they need. I announced to the house I would not be available, to call 911 in an emergency, and if their situation didn't require 911, it wasn't really an emergency and they could call one of the assistant managers or wait until I came in on Tuesday. The last word out of my assistant's mouth as I drove of was, "I won't call you unless it's ..read more »
I grew up in a liturgical church, so "Lent" is an old friend. I grew up "giving up" something like candy or soda for 4 days until I forgot. In college, I rebelled against "legalism" by not even trying.Expand »
I grew up in a liturgical church, so "Lent" is an old friend. I grew up "giving up" something like candy or soda for 4 days until I forgot. In college, I rebelled against "legalism" by not even trying. In recent years, I've adopted a "cleaning the pantry" attitude toward the season. It is a time to get rid of the clutter and detritus keeping me from serving others. This year, I realize my spiritual life is lacking. I have a number of projects going and work myself until I am too tired. What I need is a day set aside. Any day I choose is going to be awkward. I choose Fridays for two reasons: first, it is one of the three days that I could even consider; second, it is the day traditionally set aside for fasting. So, yes, I'm really going there. I'm fasting from work. I just have one possible problem and would appreciate your feedback. Two or three times a month, I am asked to fill in leading worship at a Friday night meeting. I'm not going to back out of commitments already made. And I think I should continue making myself available Friday nights, even though it comes very close to "working." Is this acceptable, or would I be better off choosing another ..read more »
When I graduated last April, I decided to take a break, to take a month off from serious reading/writing. Instead, I was going to play some music and catch up on a stack of sci-fi fantasy books I'd been putting off. One month turned into two; two months turned into six.Expand »
When I graduated last April, I decided to take a break, to take a month off from serious reading/writing. Instead, I was going to play some music and catch up on a stack of sci-fi fantasy books I'd been putting off. One month turned into two; two months turned into six. I haven't read or written anything of substance since graduation. I only pick up my Bible when I have to preach. And my prayer life has been reduced occasional praying for friends when I remember they are in need. Two mile-plus dog walks per day turned into a trot around the yard and I don't remember my access code for the gym. There are legitimate reasons - not just excuses - but last month it started to bug me. I decided I would start on the first Sunday of Advent. That's the beginning of the church calendar, right? So it's the Christian version of a New Year's resolution. I set three goals:
- I would write a meaningful blog post. Not just an "I'm back to blogging and I'll write something later" post, but something of substance.
- I would pray the Liturgy of the Hours. I prayed the full liturgy before seminary. But seminary is a place of words and I found I needed a different sort of prayer life during that phase. I wasn't going to try to pray all the hours, but would start with just one per day.
- I would exercise three times during the first week. That could be ..read more »
Responding to Pain
I suffer chronic pain and illness. The more I share this with others, the more aware I become of the typical responses to my pain. Some are helpful; some are not:Expand »
I suffer chronic pain and illness. The more I share this with others, the more aware I become of the typical responses to my pain. Some are helpful; some are not: I know just what you're going through. No. You don't. And even if you do, I don't know that you do. You might know pain, you might even know the same illness, but we each experience it our own way. My cousin has such-and-so and it's twice as bad, so count yourself lucky. I'm sorry your cousin has it so bad, but what you're really telling me is that I don't have the right to feel pain. That's just silly. I'm sorry for your cousin (and all the others who suffer), but pain isn't a competition. My pain is my pain. My third aunt twice removed had what you have and found this miracle cure I'm sure will work for you. I'm truly happy for your third aunt twice removed. And, part of me is even a little excited about the possibility. But, after twenty years of chronic migraine, chances are good that I've spoken with more than one doctor and tried remedies available to me. And my other conditions don't just go away; if your aunt's conditions did, well... frankly, I'm a bit skeptic. I have the healing touch. Let me pray for you and I know this will go away. This is one of the hardest for me to hear. Don't you think I've been praying every day for the ..read more »
Shame vs. Grace
Shame: Be perfect and God will love you. Grace: God loves you; therefore, be perfect. Which statement is taught in your church or faith community? Now, think for a moment. Which is practiced?Expand »
Shame: Be perfect and God will love you. Grace: God loves you; therefore, be perfect. Which statement does your church or faith community teach? Now, think for a moment. Which does it practice? Look at your own motivations. Do you do good works out of an abundance of God's love or do you do them hoping to find that abundance? When Jesus says at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, "Be perfect." do you hear a hopeless command to do the impossible or hopeful permission to be something improbable? Shame says our work determines our value; since our work will never be enough, shame can only bring death. But grace says our value exists in our innate identity as children of God. Through grace, we find we are already made perfect and freed from striving against the ..read more »