Love and Resistance and Carl Rogers

Yesterday I was listening to a sermon from John 15:9-13 titled “What Love Can Do.”  (Pastor Rob Edenfield, Covenant Presbyterian Church Oveido, 13 Nov 2016.)

 

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.

(John 15:9-14 ESV)

 

Among the many thoughts sparked by the sermon, was was some very discomforting thoughts about loving my family members and laying down my life for them.  It’s not a new thought for me, but laying down my life for my family is wider than dying for another.

Laying down my life is laying down my time, my energy, my physical body, my resistance in the moment. . . to love my family.

I remember in years past being inspired by this idea, embracing it as part of my calling.  “Greater love has no mom than this. . .”

But quite frankly, I don’t like it.  I struggle with it.

My resistance is not because there is something else I would rather be doing.   It is not because I don’t value  pouring myself in to this vocation, where I am, with my family.   In the big picture, I really DO want to nurture and encourage and prioritize them.

But the laying down of my life in the moment-by-moment parts of the day?  It feels like an imposition.  I’m resistant to it.  This attitude comes out in so many situations, and I know my family picks up on it.

When I allow myself to feel those feelings of being imposed upon and the feelings of guilt for those feelings, I stop running away from those feelings.  I can see that part of what feeds into this is my own struggles of feeling like I’m failing.

So where does this lead me?

Going back to the sermon on God’s love. . . He first loved us.  He loves me.  He loves my kids.  He loves my children.

Biblical love is often summarized by referring to I Corinthians 13.  Love is patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud. . . and all the things I am not feeling from God towards me nor living out with my family and neighbors.  These words are familiar to me and so unattainable, and so sometimes I tune the familiar out.

When listening to the sermon, and considering God’s love for us, I thought about God’s “unconditional positive regard” towards me.  That is a phrase coined by humanist psychologist Carl Rogers.  While “unconditional positive regard” is not a full-orbed definition of Biblical love, it does capture such a sweet part of God’s love  in that phrase.

In spite of my failures, in spite of my resistance to “lay down my life,” God has shown me His unconditional love, His positive regard.

We love because he first loved us. . . (1 John 4)

Can I rest in that?  Can I let that unconditional positive regard from the Most Holy God be something in which I rest?

He already laid down His life for me.  He’s already shown my boundless love.

Can I let that love flow in to me?  Flow out of me?

I know my kids feel more criticism from me that I even want to admit.  But can I pray that the Holy Spirit fill me with His love, and let unconditional positive regard flow out of me to my children?  Can I lay down my resistance before the Lord and accept His love for my kids is even greater than my love for them?

So Many Books

Years ago I remember Pastor Randy saying something along the lines of “buying a book is like buying myself time/permission to read it.”

That is true for me. . . Except sometimes buying the book is symbolic of wanting the permission/promise to read it, and the reality doesn’t always follow.

And, maybe you’ll laugh at this, but I’ve had a crisis of getting older this year. I realized the obvious, but it was a gut-wrenching realization. I don’t have enough time or years left to read what I really want to read, to read all the good books.

I don’t have the same emotional reaction to the infinite info on the internet. People already “curate” content online. I don’t have a problem with more “good” stuff online than I can get to.

But I do struggle with knowing I can’t read all the good books I want to read.

(Thoughts, after reading this book recommendation.)

Sugar as a “Shadow Comfort”

My dear friend Anne wrote,

“I’m noting times when I would, before, have eaten in order to help myself. Times of fatigue, stress, Vitaliy being gone, emotional fatiuge or frustration, boredom … and I’m finding other ways to comfort and strengthen and busy myself that don’t involve food. It’s a good thing. When I want to eat for no good reason, I remind myself that I love how my clothes fit and how my body looks, and that’s worth more to me than this temporary, often non-physical craving to eat.”

It prompted me to share a bit about the past year.

I listened to Brene Brown’s “Daring Greatly” via audio book  a few months ago. One of the things she talks about is “shadow comforts.” I thought that was such a good way to consider the things I turn to during stress/anxiety instead of the Lord.

This past year was a challenging one. I was feeding my body/soul the “shadow comforts” of coffee (with lots of milk and sugar!) and wine. My body and hormonal system does not like being fueled by simple sugars. My soul needed more. (And, yes, I was seeking the Lord — but me immediate impulse when stressed was the sugar/coffee)

I feel “weak” to be self-disciplined alone. Last month Hubby and I together made some eating changes and movement changes. (He’s been changing a lot since he went to the Cleveland Clinic in March.)

For me, I had to quit coffee cold turkey — it was too much of a draw. Hubby and I go out for a coffee date after church (a celebration of the Sabbath!) That was good for the first month.

This past week I was trying to see if I can moderate with my coffee consumption — just cafe au lait or a latte, no sugar. Honestly, I think I still need to abstain. (Check out  Gretchen Rubin on habits and abstaining.)  I’ve made several poor choices (with regard to stress/sugar) this week, and I think I need to just keep my mind away from that.

I’ve had more thoughts about the “shadow comforts” and the Lord. . .  During some of these ponderings we sung “Abide with Me” in church.

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.
I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I wish Anne was here or I was in Ukraine have coffee (no sugar!) and chat.

Peeking Around the Corner

Way back in 2004 (twelve years ago!?), Hubby bought me my very own URL. . . I started blogging.  It was a beautiful outlet for me — a place to ponder, a place to keep a family journal, photos. . . a soapbox!

And then a move and change of life rhythm — me at work, Hubby in grad school and homeschooling the kids — and writing and blogging became more infrequent.

Another move. . . and another, and another, and another. . . some posts and pics along the way, but nothing like the routine of writing I had been in before.

I miss it.  I really do.

Ironically, it’s harder now with teens to make the time than it was for me with a lot of littles running around. Now we have teens and littles and I love it — and am still trying to find the rhythm when I can write.

I’ve also been discouraged along the way with stupid behind the scenes crud with spam and wordpress not working as it should. We thought we had that all straightened out last year, but nope.  It took the wind out of my sails.  I can write here, but I miss my own URL.

Here I am again, feeling the need to write.  Feeling the need to reflect.  This medium “works” for me in a different way than pen and black & white composition books do.

So here I am again. Feeling a bit vulnerable starting again after fits and spurts in the past several years. Sad I have those years not documented, those thoughts not captured.  Ready to press on.