Monday, November 2, 2015

Just Keep Walking: A Lesson on Resisting Temptation

My daughter is a hoarder by nature. Sadly, she has a mother who purges her extra clothing, toys, and other nonessential items when things start getting too cluttered. Despite my best efforts, she has way too much stuff. And this is no thanks to her grandmother who likes to help her sneak stuff in the house. It's a constant battle.

One of this little girl's strongest temptations lies in those little coin-operated junk-made-in-China machines near the exit of stores. She always begs and pleads for some "cents" to put into those dispensers of worthless plastic. 

Tonight, I had to stop at Walmart to pick up a prescription (yes, I take them) and I was feeling awful, but the kids did not get that. They are little people with their own agendas. As I was waiting with my daughter at the pharmacy, she chattered about everything she wanted to look at and I just wanted to go home and crawl into bed. I finally told her that I just wasn't feeling up to walking around the store and she acquiesced to leaving all her unfulfilled shopping desires behind and heading home.

As we neared the front of the store, I saw those colorful, glimmering sentries and I sped up to get through the doors ahead of the kids. And that's when the magic happened. I got through both sets of doors and was standing outside Walmart when I turned and saw both kids standing silently behind me. I was thrilled and shocked.

I looked at my little girl and said, "I am so proud of you for walking out the door without asking for coins! Thank you for doing that."

She said, "I wanted to ask, but I just kept telling myself, 'keep walking. keep walking'."

"I bet you don't want those things now that you can't see them." I said.

It made for a good discussion with both kids. Because temptations will plague us throughout our lives. I have lived long enough to know that what is tempting to some people is not at all tempting to others. I am not tempted to eat pastries, drink soda, or use drugs. But those are very real temptations to millions of others. I am tempted to sin every single day though. Sometimes I keep walking and sometimes I fail. 

But tonight was a good illustration and reminder: just keep walking. The farther away we get from our temptations, the farther we are from them. I'm no expert on addictions, but I'm going to remember this lesson for a long time. Just keep walking. 

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)

Friday, October 16, 2015

The most interesting people are imperfect and unafraid to be real #plasticpeople #keepitreal

I recently described someone by saying, "I really look up to her." The responses? "That's pretty incredible because you don't look up to very many people."

The first thing I have to do right away is confess: my low self-esteem has resulted in the building of great, thick walls of false bravado. People who know me superficially  - the way the VAST majority of people do know the folks around them - may say that I am confident (those who like me) or that I'm a snob (everyone else). But the truth is that I'm neither confident nor snobbish. I often avoid social settings because I believe other people are annoyed by me. I don't trust myself to know and apply the rules of social etiquette.

But, I do have other reasons for disliking other people: they're fake (myself included). It's just too much work to make small talk with perfect, plastic, always-cheerful people. I'm sorry, but they're just not interesting.

The people I respect are unafraid to be real.

I don't like perfect people. I don't need someone to tell me all the platitudes and wisdom that pop into their heads unless it's in the CONTEXT of a hard-earned personal narrative.

I want to surround myself with people who have had real, imperfect lives, and have learned from their mistakes - or are in the process of learning/growing. I want to spend time with folks who are willing to be real about the ugliness of humanity and their less-than-stellar moments/days/years. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fire Insurance - Get Outta Hell Free Card

In September 2001, I still had what old Christians call a new believer's fire (pardon the pun). I was on fire for Jesus. It's something like the feeling of falling in love - a feeling of euphoria, single-mindedness. And I was newly in love - with Jesus. 

After 26 years of being told I'd go to Hell for this, that, and the other thing (most of which I had absolutely no control over); I had become convinced of the GOOD NEWS of Jesus - see Romans 6:23.

I couldn't believe I hadn't discovered this truth sooner! I wanted to share this love and security with everyone.

I guess I had a reputation at my office (I was then working as a technical writer) as an evangelist, bible thumper, proselytizer. 

So, when September 11th (2001) happened, some people wanted to talk to me about God. And one man, who practiced Hinduism, brought his wife and child to work to meet me and talk about Jesus. I told them about the path to salvation, invited them to church, and gave them a bible.

My coworker, the Hindu, thanked me for the bible and said he would put it in his home with his other holy items. Um, what? I asked him about the other items. And he informed me that he was going to add the bible to his Hindu items. This seemed very wrong to me. Sacrilegious. 

I told him that God is a jealous God and that we are only to worship Him.

Later that week I talked to my pastor about the situation and I was surprised by his advice. He said to lead any willing person to Jesus, and then let Him do the rest.

We can't get right with God before approaching God because we can't get right with God without God's help. 

Think about it.

You may not have another day, week, month, or year. You just never know when your time here is up. So, if I were you, I'd invite Jesus in. Maybe you think I'm wrong to say that avoiding Hell (fire insurance) is a valid motivation for seeking Jesus. But, I disagree. Go to Him under any circumstance. Let God do the rest. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

"Let It Go" Lyrics & Personal Application #Frozen

While I'm not big on television or movies myself, my seven-year-old daughter loves a good movie. Her first movie obsession - beginning about age two - was "The Little Mermaid". I think she watched that movie at least fifty times. She still loves playing with mermaid dolls in the bath. Then, about a year ago, she discovered "Gnomeo and Juliet" - a movie that I hope will spark her appreciation for Shakespeare one day.

The last few days, she's been watching "Frozen" on repeat mode. It's a well-made movie with some really good songs. One that moved me was, "Let It Go," by Idina Menzel. I'm printing the lyrics to this moving song here, along with my reaction below:

"Let It Go"

The snow glows white on the mountain tonight
Not a footprint to be seen
A kingdom of isolation,
And it looks like I’m the queen.

The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
Couldn’t keep it in, heaven knows I tried

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know
Well, now they know

Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door

I don’t care
What they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway

It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all

It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me
I’m free

Let it go, let it go
I am one with the wind and sky
Let it go, let it go
You’ll never see me cry

Here I stand
And here I'll stay
Let the storm rage on

My power flurries through the air into the ground
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast
I’m never going back,
The past is in the past

Let it go, let it go
And I'll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone

Here I stand
In the light of day
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway

This song could easily be a symbol of my last years in the FOC - feeling isolated and stuck. My leaving - "no rules for me - I'm free." And, after many long years of working through the past and overcoming the records playing in my brain, this stanza says it all:

It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Are You a Christian Scientist or a Scientologist?

In the 1990s, I was a young adult, recently out of the FOC; yet, I didn't have a lot of ways of successfully relating to the world or explaining why I had some very odd attitudes, beliefs, and practices. Why hadn't I ever been to see a doctor? Was a Christian Scientist or a Scientologist? Well, neither.

I hadn't - at that time - even heard of such religions. I barely understood the difference between Judaism and Christianity. I learned not to share my differences with most people because it just led to questions I either couldn't answer, or didn't really want to talk about.

I don't really think about those other religions much - except that they share some practices with the FOC such as shunning ex-members and discouraging medical interventions. Christian Science actually has more in common with the Oregon City branch of the FOC than I would've imagined. Not only are they faith healers, who believe in the Bible - they also do not have ministers, but base their religion off the legacy of their leader's words (in the case of Christian Science, the published work of their leader). Like the FOC, many practitioners, children and adults, have died from medically-preventable ailments. Christian Scientists practice faith healing through consultations (in person or over the phone, where the practitioner / provider argues the illness out of the patient / parishioner. It is the only faith healing practice that qualifies for billing through medical insurance.

Scientology, on the other hand, is not based on the Christian religion. It was started by L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer, and was made famous by Tom Cruise. Scientologists believe people are immortal in that the essence of us lives on in nature. I haven't delved too much into researching their beliefs, but from skimming their website, they believe in striving to be the best they can be, spiritual enlightenment, etc. While many may believe that Scientologists practice faith healing; but, according to their website, they do take prescribed medicine and seek medical care with the exception of psychiatric medicine, which they believe to by harmful and sometimes deadly.

While I am no longer a faith healer, I do appreciate the basic belief. I believe in prayer with medicine - that God can heal and God can (and does) use medical doctors and medicine to help us heal. And, while I do not agree with most of the Scientology movement, I do appreciate the idea that psychiatric medicines are overprescribed and often not the best path.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Men First

Imagine the scene. Women and girls have worked hard to prepare their best dishes for the potluck. They’ve arranged these delicious offerings on nice serving trays and together, dozens of women have set out stacks of plates, silverware, napkins, and cups. Multi-gallon pots of coffee are brewed. Everything is set up. Time to eat.

Men and boys rush to line up and pile food onto their plates. They take their heaping plates to a table and wait for their wives to bring them coffee. Other men crowd in with plates of their own.

Where are all those women who have prepared this feast? Where are their daughters, who’ve eagerly helped? They stand back until all men and boys have helped themselves and taken the best seats. Some women bring cups of coffee to the men.

After the men and boys are served, seated, and eating; the ladies begin to line up. The food is getting cold, the favorite dishes are running out, and the seats at the tables are taken. That’s okay, because they’re not expected to sit with their menfolk to eat. A woman sitting down at a men’s table would be scandalous.

I didn’t think it was odd. I certainly didn’t like it, but like so many other rituals which were set up in favor of men and boys, I had no power to change it. It just was.

Now imagine what potlucks and church events are like outside the FOC. Women and men prepare food to share – mostly women, but many men enjoy cooking and happily add their best dishes to the feast. When it is time to eat, and leader calls everyone to attention and prays for the food. Then people line up and fill their plates. People are not segregated by gender, though sometimes by age. Elderly folks are often invited to go first, or children. But I always get my food with my husband – not for him (he likes to serve himself), and certainly not after him. And we sit together. He would hate to be forced to sit at an all men’s table. How boring!

“…but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever be chief among you, let him first be your servant”
Matthew 20:26-27