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Redemptive Grace

Loving Jesus, Loving People….(including even me).

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Shame Undone Series

Shame Undone 3: Holy Discipline

If you have visited this space before, you have borne witness to this tempestuous mind. So much of what has been contemplated aloud is reflective of a strange and kympervasive dichotomy: a desperate need to hold contrasting ideas equally, one in each hand, so that what remains might be whole. On one side is the darkness and despondency of death; and in the other the fragile expectancy of life, of hope renewed. To deny either would create a false sense of contentment, it would tear apart the richness of redemption.

In this series, Shame Undone, I have offered an invitation to journey with me in this discovery of wholeness. I have asked that there is room to hold both life and death to be true, to allow them to coexist; I have expressed a need for allowing repentance and temptation to be separate. To be okay with being human, imperfect. What I have yet to address are factors of my own discomfort, which I believe belong here in this series on shame; a byproduct of my own wrestling with Will. And so, I dare ask the question, “Does God discipline?”

Perhaps this is little more than a feeble attempt to make right things in my life that don’t make sense, or maybe it is more…either way the truth is that I experience stress, circumstantial depression, anxiety, chaos…brokenness. Deep and varying emotions that I think God ultimately uses to bring to light the parts of me that need correction.

This is also true: not every hard thing, not every bout of isolation, desolation, or desperation is a discipline. Sometimes, life just sucks. People choose (And are thrown into) antagonistic behaviors in their own insecurity and pain that ultimately hurt others. The ripple effect from their choices unfairly displaces those around them.

How do we possibly know the difference between a holy discipline, and the pain of another’s sin? How long must we suffer in either?

I’ll start by saying something that is unpopular, I have a great need for the Holy Spirit to translate and mediate my brokenness. I can make excuses, look for an alleviation of guilt and pain, and place blame anywhere I want (Becoming that antagonist), but so long as I am choosing my own way, stress and chaos will reign.

Maybe that is a way to isolate one from the other: asking if it is stress or trauma that is felt. Learning and training in discernment is key, spend time with Jesus. kym

The tragic circumstances that come from external, uncontrollable actions of others are not discipline. You are not suffering at the hands of another because you are bad, or needing more Jesus. My God is not spiteful, although he can use these impossible situations to lead to a deeper connection with him (Genesis 50:20), it requires a turning to face Jesus, pain, discomfort, joy, and all.

There is no health and wealth gospel here, (Sorry prosperity followers!), my God makes no such promises on Earth. The promise of a better life, of healing from pain, of safety and of security? This is a higher calling, a kingdom perspective. ‘In this world you will have pain and suffering,’ and eventually you will find peace in heaven, in soul.

I have not arrived at wholeness, I bear deep scars. The discipline that I have experienced, the strain, anxiety, and worry that I have felt…it has created an anchoring of my soul; a humming in my mind that exists even in the midst of the days that I lay prostrate and crying in utter misery for relief. Of wanting death to come (I am human), I see my Jesus kneeling beside me.

If nothing else, who am I to assume that my pain and suffering is dependent on my actions? I can no sooner make the grass blue. I choose not to bear the weight of the world, it’s not my job. No, I suffer stress and chaos, anxiety and worry when I am leading with selfish-ness and that is something I can address.

Read more in my Shame Series:   Shame Undone

Shame Undone 2: The (Suffering) Repentant Heart

Shame Undone 2: The (Suffering) Repentant Heart

Sitting through his sermon I heard something that made me just cringethTRTHYCJW (Let’s be real…this happens all the time). On this day, though, he was talking about sin and repentance, grace and discipline, (Actually he said, “God punishes,” but I’m offering him grace and allowing for him to really have meant discipline); themes that at once seem altogether too prevalent in our ‘Christianese’ language and yet of which are not spoken enough to our hearts.

Truthfully, I’m not entirely sure of his intent. I still struggle with words and phrases that trigger a response in my mind. A response that causes all other surroundings to move to the blurry outer reaches of my awareness. It is a lasting symptom of being human. #Context

Anyway, the piece that I got caught up in is this whole idea around God [punishes] until repentance happens.

Ok. But.

Let me just tell you. I have truly repented  of one sin in particular. I mean, on my knees, tears to exhaustion, pleaded and begged, laid bare before my Creator, R-E-P-E-N-T-E-D. And guess what?! I still struggle with the same sin. I have not been released of its grasp.

I am repentant and the battle for my heart remains in a full deathmatch. Wait…what?

Yep. Both. That day God whispered a truth to my heart that undoes my shame: it is possible that I may truly repent and yet still struggle with temptation. There it is. Temptation does not equate to sin, and there is serious warfare for my heart. It’s not my fault. It’s not your fault. I have responsibility, for sure, as to my action and response to that temptation; and there are critical days that I fail. Days that I turn toward temptation because my brain likes that rush of dopamine that spreads with a heart sin that has been well cultivated. Days when I lose sight of the campaign that threatens my soul, and I believe the lies that say my deepest desires are not that harmful.

There is this space that remains between temptation and repentance, though…it is where gracewindows resides. It bridges the gap. In life, what exactly does that look like? I’m certain it is different for each of us. For me, though, it means that I don’t have to feel that my character is ugly, or that I am among the ‘lower-ranking’ Christians. It means that I am not dirty and lost because I have a heart sin that just won’t leave me alone.

It looks like I am loved, that despair doesn’t need to hold my mind ransom, that I am good (Gasp! Oh yes she did!). It means that I don’t have to succumb to a deterministic view of my life. I can be truly repentant and still grapple with the same sin I repented of, because repentance doesn’t make me godly, sinless, or self-righteous. It simply, reverently, says that I acknowledge my offense and want desperately to turn away from its deceit; that my heart’s truest desire is to live facing full the Jesus of my redemption. Metanoia. untitled

Grace also doesn’t mean that I’m free from discipline, though. So let’s just talk about that bombshell: does God discipline? I think so and here’s why…

Check back in for a follow up in Shame Undone 3: Holy Discipline

                                         Shame Undone

Shame Undone

I am the girl who musters all her strength just to walk into the doors of church on Sunday morning. It takes me tremendous effort to get into the building; I fight the want to turn back every time. The faces that I see in there seem to have it all together; they smile at me and ask me how I am. What do they expect from me? I wonder.

Some truly do just want vague responses and general niceties. It makes it easier on them and doesn’t ask that they face their own story. Others ask and seem shocked or disappointed when I tell them I’m not well (No, God didn’t answer your request for a miracle today, sorry). Few seem to be okay with my not-okay-ness. On “Good” days I have learned to tell [something reflective of] truth with a smile…a self-deprecation meant to assuage the guilt-inducing responses that they feel and that seem to come so easily from my lips.

And yet in this place are people that I love. Deeply.

I have days of strength too. Days when I am able to face my inner insecurities with honesty and gentleness; when I allow the anxiety to come unbidden and look at it with curiosity. These are the days that I am mindful of who I am, and in whose arms I am held. Grief doesn’t threaten to strangle the life of this body, and I am so bold as to believe my theology of a God who redeems. It is my balance of the simultaneous knowledge of death and life.

There is such a strong contrast in what I believe to be true about God and what I experience in the environment that tells me that this is where He is. It creates this disconnect that is hard to reveal. Like understanding the idea of the stars in the dark night sky. You might believe that they are as science describes, gas on fire; beautiful. Riveting. But do you really know? In the daylight they don’t exist. Are they still present when the fire burns so brightly that they are lost? So it is with me. I believe that God delights in me. I know of waves of mercy, I have tasted contentment.  I believe that my God loves me deeply, is my warrior.

Aslan.

I also know anxiety is seriously incapacitating. That the hard things that I have known have changed my ability to utilize my brain to its fullest potential. I know chaos in my mind. I have ways of coping that are temporary at best. Ways that lead me to sin, to get lost in my own daydreams; that cause me to miss today. To lose perspective. To turn away from God because the pain of my reality supersedes my ability to remember that circumstances are temporary (Psst. They are relatively temporary, you know).

Will can’t make me obedient. It doesn’t heal my hurts or save me from temptation. Cobwebs remain, and Will is stuck dangling like a fly…incapable to save himself from impending death.

I am not among the lost souls. I know who God is. It’s just that I also know that there are days that are unbearably hard. This is where my shame comes undone: when these two truths collide, when my theology allows for hard days, weeks, years…even lifetimes, and the promise of redemption remains. To allow space for my story, a story that holds both sides of me to be true. The side that loves Jesus, loves people, believes that I am good; and also the side that is mired in hidden heart sin. When both exist at the same time, I am free.

Shame Undone 2:The (Suffering) Repentant Heart

Shame Undone 3: Holy Discipline

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