It Sucks To Get Laid Aside. The Hard Lesson Christians Don't Care About






Have you been laid aside? Have you basically been made to feel like you are not needed...truly? That who you are is of no use? I don’t mean that your sensibilities were hurt or wounded but I mean, YOU were not of use in a such a way you were no longer able to define your very self?

There is a spiritual practice known as “detachment” and it is rooted in Jesus’ teaching to “deny ourselves” found in the Gospels (see Mark 8:35). As a part of spiritual practices it is often glossed over in my estimation because we don’t really understand it nor do we want to, not really. It hurts our pride and sensibilities and maybe even our feelings of self-worth. God calls us to deny ourselves? I may need a safe-space to cope. And, we just might.

Why?

Because it is HARD, damn it!

Why don’t we just name it and quit playing games?!

I confess I have felt it for too long. I have had clergy point it out in me...both friends and those I’d call “enemies.” And they were right. But the more I “failed” at the work of being a pastor, the more and more I grew detached. And when my primary “job description” went from being “pastor” to the caregiver for my wife, yeah, I became detached. And when Heather died? I lost even that piece of identity.

Since then, I have tried to rebuild my “self” only to have it torn down again. I had to detach from pastoring so I could parent. I had to then detach from how I was parenting because I had only ever parented as part of a two-parent home. Now I was an only parent. I was truly forced into moving and returning to pastoring too soon...not by the Church but the institution of the church and learned to detach from my ideals. I joined the “working poor” and worked two jobs to try (and fail) to really provide for my family. I had “friends” disappear and had to detach. I have had “friends” take advantage of my grief and so detach.

But things are changing. I have had new friends appear and I’ve redefined and taken up this cross. I have had to change my parenting and let my kids fly the nest and take up the cross of being an “only parent” and learn to parent adult children...and MAKE them be adults. I have learned to pastor in new ways and abide in my wounds. I have learned to love again and discover new parts of me.

Learning to deny ourselves...learning the way of the cross, is like what Leonard Boase describes, it is “the clog that effectively hinders our putting God first [it] is our clinging to ourselves” (94, “Prayer of Faith”). Without having two ladies at home now, I don’t have to clean hair out of drains anymore but “UGH!” what a job sometimes...disgusting even! And so who wants to do that in our souls?

The Church has offered us numerous options in confession in Roman Catholicism, meditation forms, Ignatius’ “Examen,” the Bands of the early Methodists, accountability partners in modern Christianity. But they are not a one-time thing...our souls are often being “clogged” because we want stuff for ourselves...period. End of story.

But we are not invited by Jesus to get our way. You can choose to make that YOUR WAY in the Church but why bother? Just go do it outside the Church...it is a whole lot easier AND you can call it “Christianity” or “Spirituality” or whatever moniker you want....but it clearly ain’t the way of Jesus.

Jesus got the cross. Jesus got the DEATH PENALTY. Jesus got suffering and pain and denial. If I remember the Bible right, Peter wanted a vote all that and turn following Jesus into a “democratic process” (Matthew 16: 21-23) and Jesus would have none of it. Jesus took it as part of the deal, it seems, that even those who followed him would struggle with this issue of denying self and detachment.

It doesn’t come overnight. It does not seem, in my experience, in my study, in my time as a pastor and a spiritual director and in the valley of suck, we magically or miraculously come to deny ourselves. We can’t dictate how it will be for another either for we get there in our own way...if we choose to go there at all.

However, if you’re going to say you are a follower of Jesus and you’re ignoring
the image of Jesus on the cross - the crucifix - then I suspect you are like me and need to check out the clog. You can’t hide behind your ordination, certification, or nominations. This is why the road is narrow and valley sucks sometimes.


May I Ask? 
What is the thing usually clogging your faith journey up? When
was the last time you even looked? 





Want more insight?  Get Ken's book, "Life Sucks Seek God," on Amazon Kindle or in paperback at www.tinyurl.com/lifesucksseekGod 

Hope Can Be Found When Things Seem To Suck


I keep finding reasons to hope again.

It is a complicated process as I have long been a person who was an optimist about situations and life. I can say that grief and this valley of suck stripped this from me for an extended period. And while I have been blessed with friendships and counsel that have encouraged me, it has been a simple transition within my mind that has slowly been transferred to my soul.

The spiritual journey is more than our natural realm. We must acknowledge, in the Church of Jesus Christ, no less, we are doing supernatural work.

This movement from natural to the supernatural is more alive, it seems to me, outside the churches of our day than within. Thankfully, there are those traditions who hold to this, though it seems funny the contrast. Many of my friends and colleagues in the Pentecostal/Charismatic churches hold to this but I found it too during my family leave, in the Roman Catholic Church.

Even so, the Church, its clergy, and many Christians are torn, too often, by a desire to find respectability in the World and scholastic measurements. Certain things can be observed but these cannot account for the interior life. There is a supernatural and spiritual work being done behind the scenes and no worldly justification is needed for proof.

“If your hopes are being disappointed just now it means that they are being purified. There is nothing noble the human mind has ever hoped for or dreamed of that will not be fulfilled. Don’t jump to conclusions too quickly, many things lie unsolved, and the biggest test of all is that God looks as if he were totally indifferent. Remain spiritually tenacious,” wrote Oswald Chambers, the holiness preacher, and devotional writer. Likewise, Francis of Assisi notes, “The spirit of the world wishes and cares much for words, but little for work; and it seeks not religion and interior sanctity of spirit, but wishes and desires a religion and sanctity appearing from without…”

When I read and hear anyone dismiss prayer as “mere” words or as just expressions of empathy with no meaning, what is exhibited is a trust only in the natural realm and a denial of hope that comes from belief and faith in God being over ALL things. You are certainly welcome to the conclusion but be very careful in the judgment you are passing on something you choose to know nothing about. A life of prayer, a life immersed in the spiritual and supernatural, is often a life quietly serving and giving generously.

I have hope because I believe love to be real and vibrant part of the whole of Creation. For if God is love (1 John 4:8) and the greatest of the three fruits of the spiritual realm is love, (1 Corinthians 13:13) then we have reason to hold to both our faith and our hope.

So yes, I will remain spiritually tenacious…

and

I

will

hope!


May I Ask?  Why do you have hope?  What is keeping you from hoping?

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