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?

In Remembrance of Hana Williams

Hana Williams, Kidane Mehret
Hana Williams, 1997-2011

It’s been five years since the death of Hana (Alemu) Williams.

In the past five years, the media has not reported on any deaths linked to “To Train Up A Child” by Michael and Debi Pearl.

Still, I hear people recommending this resource to new parents — though more hush-hush than before.

We mourn.  Mourn the lives of Sean, Lydia, and Hana.  Mourn the children harmed by their parents, influenced by the Pearls.  Mourn for the lost innocence of the children and church alike.

I have posted little on the blog this year beyond mourning.  It’s been a hard year plus for our family.  Yet we are here, together. . . alive and loving. . . struggling and healing. . .

I’m thankful for that.

And still my heart is pulled to weep with those who weep, to remember those who are gone.

God, have mercy.

 

 

 

Cotton Candy Pink Clouds

A3 asked to go to the beach for sunset.

So my kid!

We couldn’t, but we did watch it from the balcony.

I don’t have an ocean view, but my bedroom balcony faces west and makes me happy. We all know I’m not an early bird!

Still, when I’m nursing the baby at 6:30 in the morning, I can see the reflections of the sunrise…

Blue skies, cotton candy pink clouds.

The Passing Storm 

   

 Tonight’s sunset… No beautiful colors, but glorious just the same. These grey clouds are the tail end of the storm Erika, which has downgraded to just a tropical depression. 
While we mourn the lives lost in the Dominican Republic, we rejoice that it brought needed rain and not devastation elsewhere. 
Tonight A3 and I were reading his “Jesus Storybook Bible” about when the wind and waves obeyed Jesus. Probably for the first time, A3 made a connection between a story we read and our life. “We p’ayed, and the sto’m passed us by!”
Not all storms of life pass us by… But Jesus is with us in the midst of them anyway. 

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

Psalm 23, ESV

Today’s reading was Psalm 23.  (It’s June 23rd… see a pattern?)  I read it aloud to A2.  I’ve been meditating upon it, and humming the lullabye tune that goes along with it.

As my friend Anne said the other day, “I’ve been wanting to say something, but not sure what to say….. Something like, The psychology of being in a war is weird. … I haven’t anything much deeper to say at this point.”

We were on R&R (rest & recuperation) the past two weeks.  It was wonderful to have a family vacation.  It was needful to be away from Ukraine and the news.  And, yet. . . I felt guilty.  I have the privilege of R&R.  When my husband’s two-year tour here is complete, we’ll be moving on.  But my Ukrainian friends?  This is their life, their future.

The Lord is my Shepherd. . . He leads me. . .  

This is the truth for me and my Ukrainian friends, and I want to dwell in this reality moment by moment.