Sunday, May 26, 2013

Ending A Marriage Is Like... Having A Garage Sale

I've been "happily" married now for going on 16 years. I am also the child of divorce. Not only did my parents divorce when I was very young, but later in my teen years I witnessed the separation and the eventual divorce of my dad and my adored step-mom. I have always had a special interest in relationship dynamics, hoping that by learning from others I might spare myself from some of the same pain. Although I'm far from a marriage expert, I feel like I do have a valuable perspective on things as I have, or I should say we have, my husband and I, been through a lot together. We've had some beautiful moments for sure, but alas, there have been times when it has felt like hell on Earth. There were moments when I've thought to myself (possibly even said out loud?) "People have divorced over less!"

I've recently read a blog post from Glennon on Momestry regarding her marriage trials and it's "Seasons" I could ever much so relate! Anyone who has been in a relationship for any length of time likely can relate to her analogy of the cycles that relationships go through, the Seasons of change. I, myself, have spent several Winters just holding on, holding on, holding on for my own Spring to come and for love to bloom in my marriage again.

For those stuck in Winter when there seems to be no love left, all going dormant, the life of the relationship seeming nearly nonexistent... what does it take for those of us to just hold on? Obviously I am not talking here about the death of the relationship that has been killed due to abuse or infidelity... but to those marriages where you can barely, if at all remember, why you chose your beloved in the first place. For those of us who have succumbed to Winters frigidity, how are we supposed to stay warm and sane while weathering relationships Winter Storm?

For some we hold on for the children, for others it is sheer stubbornness. Myself at times, looking at the beautiful wedding pictures and thinking "I remember that day... " refusing to let go of my happily ever after... I carry on. But lately, I've had another thought that has encouraged me to not give up... a thought so true that it scares me into reality and forces me to pick my battles and acknowledge what I am wagering with divorce's pondering: My loss could be someone else's gain!

A little while back I was talking to someone who was questioning the reasons behind the demise of a common acquaintance's marriage and their eventual divorce. Two "good" people, capable of love and at one time appearing happily married with two perfect children who ended a marriage due to irreconcilable differences. I remembered that years ago the divorcee explained "I just got so sick of him! It got to the point when I would look at him and feel ill!" How could this happen? Even more interesting was the fact that both of them eventually moved on into new relationships with rediscovered passion and desire. This former couple went from relationship "trash" into relationship "treasure" just with a change in partner... and an emotionally clean slate!

It is unlikely that either person increased in their overall desirability as a mate or changed significantly following their divorce. If anything their desirability was tarnished due to the "baggage" of a recent divorce not to mention being the parents of school-age children adding even more to the complexity of dating life.

If their value as a partner didn't change or increase, what enabled this pair to move on and find new partners? With a clean emotional slate and new perspective they could begin a new "season" with someone else! It causes me to wonder though if with an emotionally clean slate and a change in perspective if some could find love again IN their previous marriages and detour the damaging effects and pain of divorce.

So, it seems to me ending a marriage is like having a garage sale. When you decide to let go of your spouse you then symbolically place them on the "table" to be snatched up by someone, often a stranger stopping by, who sees them with fresh eyes noting their inherent value and taking delight in characteristics that to you were old, broken and tarnished. Your former spouse then is taken home by someone who sees them with a fresh perspective, that is not clouded by old hurts, misunderstanding and pains. In this new home they will likely be proudly cherished and put in a place of honor.

Before you put your spouse out, just remember this: one person's "trash" is another persons "treasure"... and you just may be tossing aside something, or someone that may be much more valuable than you are currently aware! Sellers remorse is a common theme I've noticed for many of those who have divorced in years past. Time and time again I have heard those who have been through the pain of divorce... often years later after time has dampened the emotional charge and given them a new perspective  stating "If I would have known then what I know now I would never have filed for divorce!" I'm just suggesting you don't set your treasure out until you are sure... absolutely sure that there will be no change in Season and you are ready to let go... and let your trash become someone else's treasure.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

God Answers My Prayer...

A quiet prayer was sent today with a question asked to Him. I've been struggling with how to handle a frustrating sinful tendency... feeling defeated I turned to God for help.

I was on my way to work when the answer came in pieces. His voice a quiet knowing that revealed itself in the reassuring message that followed. As I wrote the message I was immediately at peace.

If you are struggling with a health concern, a recurring sin, or are experiencing a painful moment... this message was meant for you as well:

Dear Beloved,

I care about your body and your health as it enables you to live my Purpose. If you lean on me for your understanding I will not fail you. Take my hand and I will lead the way. Although at times the path may prove difficult or even treacherous, do not fear! Hold then even tighter to my grasp!

You need not worry about where you are headed as I will lead you where you need to go. Relax and enjoy the scenery but watch your steps so that your stumbles will be few! Remember when you stumble or trip I am right here with you to pull you back on track and take you where you need to be! You are never alone as I am with you always... leading you towards Me.

Love Eternally, God

Friday, May 17, 2013

Not Just A Wannabe Theologian...

In the past few weeks I have begun to romanticize a life that would center around religious reading, meditation and contemplation. Oh, what a lovely life it would be! How wonderful it would be to spend my days praying, reading spiritual books and researching the Bible, talking to others and thinking about things of a spiritual nature from dawn to dusk! I could indulge into spirituality without the distractions and time constraints of my worldly life.

It's not that I don't enjoy my role of being a professional therapist or wife, mother and friend... I do! I do! But it just seems there just isn't enough time during the day.. the week, the month... the year to absorb and dwell on things "greater than myself" other than my small little life here on Earth.

The life of a full-time theologian seems so idealistic! My primary life focus would be directly related to God stuff... the "big stuff" that really matters... not the meaningless little stuff that seems to fill up my secular and utterly ordinary life. It would be my job to read and study about the Divine reasoning behind our existence... not an extra curricular activity squeezed into the moments between life's other distractions and demands!

A few weeks ago during a women's small group at church I asked the women "Who would go to seminary if it were fully paid for and all your needs were met?" There were only two of us who enthusiastically agreed it would be awesome! The rest of the group looked at us like we'd lost our minds... and perhaps we had!

Of course, the conversation immediately was steered to how unpractical this idea was... not to mention: What about the children? I mentioned the possibility of an on-line option but I think at that point it was clear... I was just dreaming a theoretical dream of living the life of a theologian... not the wannabe variety I felt like I was settling for.

But wait. A thought came into my mind! What is a theologian? Although it it commonly understood as someone who studies God professionally... couldn't it also apply to those of us who study God in the "school of life" with the Holy Spirit guiding our curriculum and assigning our professors? But how is the term theologian defined?

Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers:

theologian /ˌθɪəˈləʊdʒɪənn
a person versed in or engaged in the study of theology, esp Christian theology

Within this definition I see myself... by far no expert in my knowledge of God, however, yet more than just a "wannabe" for sure! By this simple definition I am a theologian... an everyday, ordinary one... with no formal degree or certificate required!

So what does it take to become a theologian? Nothing more than the willingness and desire to understand God. By reading the Bible, spending time in meditation and prayer, pondering life's meaning, thinking spiritual thoughts... or just by reading a blog such as this qualifies you as a theologian as well... an everyday theologian, just like me!

As Pastor Robb Ryerse put it so eloquently in his book Fundamorphosis: 

"You do not need a Bible college or seminary degree to be a theologian. Nor do you need a professional theologian to verify your wonderings and wanderings. You don't need to know all the proper theological labels to explore the big questions. You don't need to be able to spell infralapsarianism to wonder if God loves you and how to experience that love. You are free to question, to doubt, to wonder, and to wander. You are free to explore and to think and to believe. Theology is open before you like a clear blue sky ready for you to float into it and be carried away to greater heights of understanding and love."

So, perhaps being a professional theologian is not my calling... and that's okay by me! But I am more than just a wannabe theologian... but a true God-seeking gal wanting to bring a little bit of Heaven unto Earth every day as directed by Him. God is present in our ordinary moments of life as much as He is present in the Church's sanctuary. He is with all of us reaching back as we reach towards Him. So, everyday folks like you and me shouldn't feel like we are just wannabe theologians... as we are the real deal.

In fact, I think us everyday theologians play an important part in God's Ultimate Plan... living our ordinary lives we are able to reach out and touch others who would be unreachable by those whose theological responsibilities lie elsewhere. We can experience God in our own unique way, being used for His Purpose... even if it's not our "official job". You see, just by being engaged in seeking God and with the desire to understand Him... anyone and everyone can be a theologian!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Fundamorphasis: Trasforming From Fundamentalism to Freedom in Christ

I'm undergoing a Fundamorphosis of sorts... my understanding of God and His Word is changing... evolving. I'm letting go of Biblical literalism and opening myself up to God's Loving voice as He speaks to me in His own way, not man's. So here I flee from Fundamentalism to the freedom found in an Unfundamentalist (Post-modern? Progressive? Liberal?) spiritual view.

I've found God not to be locked inside the ancient holy writing of the Bible but to be an active presence in our daily lives. God is a loving force here in today's world. His Voice is not constrained to a period of time thousands of years ago nor to our often idolized collective books of the Bible scribed thousands of years ago. He is alive and well and interacting if we are open and aware even to this very day.

I discovered the word Fundamorphasis in a book titled by this name written by Robb Ryerse. I just finished reading it, and found it filled with truth and hope for all of us disillusioned by the church. It's a mystery how it even crossed my path... I suppose I should thank Amazon for suggesting it, however I feel like it would be more appropriate to thank God Himself for placing it along my path.

First of all, it was an easy read! True, true, I love this spiritual stuff so right off I'm at an advantage! But Ryerse tells the story of his spiritual journey from being a 3rd generational Baptist pastor to an emergent church planter. The story takes you on the journey of how he left Fundamentalism but didn't lose his Faith. It is about letting go of Biblical literalism and letting God's voice as He speaks to our hearts lead our walk with Christ instead.

After becoming an Unfundamentalist I have found my heart to be filled with more love and peace than ever before! Ryerse's Fundamorphasis is from a professional theological perspective yet it parallels my layman's spiritual journey in many, many ways. This is a book of hope! This book show's those who are open and willing how God is leading us towards Christ in this new age. I am so grateful to Ryerse for sharing his story and I encourage you to read it too if you also feel like somehow the Church today is missing the message of Love that Christ intended for us.

Fundamorphosis is about evolving spiritually from the beliefs of our Fundamentalist roots to a new understanding of Christianity. It is listening to God as He speaks to our hearts today and not just coasting on the predetermined understanding of the past. Fundamorphosis is letting go of the Law as clung onto by the Pharisees in age's past and walking the walk of Christ with a loving, accepting, grace filled heart... letting go of the judgement and fear of Fundamentalism.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

My Big Fat Acceptable Sin...

Why is it that some sins are socially acceptable while other sins elicit shame and condemnation so great the "sinner" often feels unaccepted by their fellow Christians and unwelcome in the Church? And yet, there is a sin is so common, so obvious and destructive... yet rarely (if ever) "righteously judged" by those that feel called to hold others spiritually accountable!

This sin is so common that if those committing this sin were shunned from church, the attendance on Sunday morning would plummet by at least 2/3! This sin is externally fairly obvious to others as it often correlates with a change in girth. What is this sin? Why, it is the sin of gluttony!

I'm in no way condemning, judging, shaming those that struggle with the sin of gluttony as I struggle with the sin of overeating myself! I often find myself turning to food for comfort, entertainment and diversion when I should only be eating what I need, nothing more... nothing less. Overindulging, when instead of turning to God I turn to find my comfort in food instead.

Thankfully however, when I sin there are few in the church that make me feel less Christian because of my lifestyle and behavior. There are no picket lines protesting my favorite restaurants and buffets... and there are no laws working their way through congress to make sure I don't break this moral code!

Its not like us "sinners" can hide in the closet either... most people who have succumb to gluttony's temptation wear their sin on their body frames for all to see! It's not like we can forget it either... each time I get dressed, look in a mirror or step on a scale I am humbly reminded of how I too, have fallen short.

Why are so many of us Christians so quick to judge others as sinful and admonish our brothers and sisters yet we have this huge log in our own eye? Why is my sin socially acceptable even though it is clearly unbiblical and yet other people are literally kicked out of church for a "sin" that is not directly addressed by Jesus at all! If those who believe homosexuality is a sin were to be fair, no overweight or obese people should be allowed to take leadership roles in Fundamental Bible Churches who pride themselves in Biblical literalism... anything else it, well... hypocritical.

Yet, some of my fellow Christians with this obvious plank in their own eye continue to throw stones at other "sinners" separating them from the Christian fold. How can they be so disgusted by alternative lifestyles and differences in gender love preferences and yet not disgusted by themselves?

Ahhh! Perhaps therein lies the answer! Perhaps we are so disgusted by ourselves that we find comfort, false pride and confidence by pointing out the weaknesses, sins and shortcoming of others. We feel as if we point to the flame of sin in someone else's life we can avert their eyes from the fire of sin in our own lives! Except it doesn't work. Our God, and consequently our religion, is then exposed of it's hypocrisy & lack of love... thereby misrepresenting Jesus and His message of salvation and hope. It is my prayer that my fellow Christ followers and I will focus on our own planks and stop looking at the "sin" of others unless our own eyes are 100% plank-free and our vision has been restored and leave the judging to God... whose vision is perfect.

A Special thank you to the link below for inspiring me to speak out against the hypocrisy of so many of us in the Christian Church...