God’s Kind of Justice

Evening!

I wasn’t able to post this week due to my computer crashing. However, since I wasn’t able to post, I get to share a blog my roommate wrote.

My roommate wrote a beautiful blog about her struggles with desiring justice as a child and seeing God change her definition of justice as she got older.

Many times, our character defects can also become our strengths in recovery. Enjoy her story as much as I did!

How I Got to Here

To the Pharisee Haters

Christians love to hate on Pharisees. If you’ve been going to church since you were a kid, you probably have this image of a Pharisee in your head:

jesus00000015

A stern, shady looking man with his Bible-thumping scroll and fancy clothing. He’s usually just about ready to judge someone, say something completely ignorant, or get owned by Jesus. In kids’ Sunday School classes, they’re the bad men, the evil, wicked ones that can never get a clue… and in adult classes, they’re stupid. Why can’t they just get it right? They’re so blind! It’s the poor, perfect Gentiles that see Jesus for who He truly is.

Some people advance to a higher level of understanding about the Pharisees and make the connection that we are no better than they are. In fact, we are in many regards, the same. Amazing fact: we are no better or worse than anyone. We are all on an equal level. When we make ourselves greater than someone or less than someone, we are entering codependency.

And this is where I want to go with this: stop demonizing the Pharisees, or anyone for that matter. Our aim in life should be to understand people. To pray for them and ask God to show us where they’ve been and how they’re hurting. Our role here on earth is to love. God is the judge and we are to have compassion on whoever comes in our path.

Little known fact in the average Sunday School class is that the Pharisees at one time could be seen as the American constitutionalists of our day. During the Maccabean revolt and up to the time of Jesus’ birth, the Greek and Roman cultures were incorporating syncretism (a meshing of cultures and religions) into the Jewish way of life. It was then that the Pharisees, among other groups, were established to protect their monotheistic way of life and the scriptures. They wanted the Law to not only be protected from the polytheistic tendencies of the Greeks and Romans, but to be relevant to daily living. They created all these extra rules to go along with the Law for practical purposes. I believe much of the resistance to Jesus came from fear of losing life as they knew it.

When Jesus was confronted by the Pharisees, He was blunt and honest with them but not with the intent to give us somebody to hate. Jesus loved the Pharisees. He loved Israel. At one point when Jesus was teaching, some Pharisees came to Him and warned Him that Herod was out to kill Him. Jesus already knew His fate and lamented over Israel that kills the prophets of the Lord. He told them, “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”

Although painful, Israel’s rejection of Jesus was part of God’s greater plan to bring the outside nations into the kingdom of God. Their hardness of heart fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy from long before then: “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.” (Isaiah 6:10) If it wasn’t for the blind eyes of Israel, we would never have gained sight to the truth.

Instead of mocking the Pharisees for their wickedness and ignorance, we should be praising God that not only did He come to die for the legalistic Jews, but for the rest of the world, as well.

The Pharisees rose to a place of power in the Jewish communities and they became corrupt. It’s not a new thing. Power oftentimes leads to corruption. As believers, we have to be on guard for false teachers or manipulators of the faith. And when we meet them, let them talk, really listen to them, and converse peacefully. Pray for them and let God do the miracles. It’s how you came to faith – not by your intelligence, but by God’s grace. Before God opened your eyes to see His truth, you couldn’t see any better than the Pharisee.

John 9:1-41

 

 

Day Ten: Fear of Success

Day Ten: Fear of Success

Since starting a new job, I have discovered a character defect that has followed me through school,  jobs, and probably relationships: fear of success. Fear of success is a sabotaging of a relationship, idea, project, or responsibility that could bring you happiness, success, or accolades.

This has played out in my life in so many ways I could write a 3 set volume on it. I believe it harms me because the fear does not allow me to see my full potential. I have a lot of dreams about my potential but reality has been pretty disappointing in comparison.

I’ve done some awesome things in life: travel, get my bachelors and masters, work for a church, dance with Bruce Springsteen; date (because dating is totally awesome…). But was I really present? Fear of success is harmful because it keeps us from seeing who we truly are.

When I think about the things I have done, I can remember the overlying obsession I had with a fantasy that wasn’t coming to pass and the procrastination that held me back from my best. After being in recovery for almost two years now, I can see clearly the difference between being in reality versus a fantasy.

Dreaming was safer because it meant I couldn’t fail. So, I guess along with a fear of success comes a fear of failure. I have always done just enough to get by and stay out of trouble. I do have regrets because of that but I understand everything happens for a reason. God wouldn’t let me stay in the dream. Thankfully, He has brought me to reality and it is an adventure!

In reality, I pursue my dreams to see if there’s any credibility to them. I work hard every day and ask God for strength and energy when I don’t have it. I process my gross emotions and work through them faster than I ever thought possible.

Living below your potential because of fear robs others of truly getting to know you and benefitting from the gifts God has given you. It’s easy in this broken world to shy away from our strengths and live in the wonderful land of “one day.”

Living life in reality is hard because you have to face the desire to run from your potential, but God is here to remove the fear and replace it with courage and excitement. It’s time to walk away from the fantasy.

Day Nine: Arguing About Facts and Always Having to Be Right (or Wrong)

Day Nine: Arguing About Facts and Always Having to Be Right (or Wrong)

[The picture has nothing to do with this blog. I just like my dogs.]

This character defect is something I continue to work on because when you swing from one side of a defect, you often go to the other side of extreme instead of balancing in the middle.

When I was in college and beginning to learn more about God and how to read the Bible, I became passionate about my new-found knowledge. Granted, learning the depths of God is exciting and addicting, but my mistake was assuming everyone was on the same page as me.

I was sure that I had the holy grail of Bible interpretation in my mind and that my mission was to convert everyone to my way of thinking. If they didn’t jump on board, I left concerned for them. It bothered me that they were living lives under false pretenses.

After college, I went to seminary and had the privilege of going to greater depths in my study of God and the Bible. What did it teach me? That God is larger than my own pretenses. The ones that I had come to believe were inerrant.

Life also taught me a thing or two. Getting older and having higher education has humbled me in ways I never would have expected. God is so much bigger than our logic and wisdom. The little He allows us to understand about Himself is the tip of the iceberg to His character and reality.

My favorite professor in the world taught me the valuable lesson that it is the Creed that unites Christians and denominations that divide. God has given us truths about Himself and our salvation that cannot be denied. Those are hills we can die on. He also gave us a lot of grey areas in scripture.

Musician, Rich Mullins, said in one of his concerts, that when studying the Bible, he has come to believe it’s to show us that “God is right and the rest of us are just guessing.” Yes, there are better, more error-proof ways of studying the Bible, but there are things in there we can’t ultimately prove with our finite minds and the information God has given us.

I say all this to explain my defect of always having to be right. I have learned through life experience, seminary, and counseling that the best thing we can do for people is to listen. Let them have an opinion. Don’t freak out about them walking away with a “false” idea in their heads. Leave that to God.

When we allow people to be right and wrong without berating them, we give them the freedom to think over new ideas and decide for themselves what they believe. God is just so powerful that He can lead people to the truth without us owning someone in a theological argument.

And this leads to the other side of the character defect. Don’t feel like you have to always be right… but don’t lose your voice either. The great thing about letting others have their opinion is that you get to have one, as well! When we listen to each other and respect one another’s opinions, that’s when a conversation can really get rolling. That’s when good friendships are made. It’s where truth can be shared, thought over, and possibly accepted. It’s the power of God connecting people to each other and letting them leave with blessings instead of division.

Day “Four”: Helplessness

Day “Four”: Helplessness

As my “ten day” challenge to myself progresses, it’s apparent that my definition of a day is not the 24-hour term, but more like a day in regards to a long period of time… which is great. So, here we go:

Helplessness! Here’s a great one: “Overwhelming others with your needs and wants.”

This one is for all the love addicts out there. Helplessness is not as obvious as it sounds (to the helpless one). If someone had told me I was acting out of helplessness, I would have denied it. Consciously, I’ve always defined myself as independent. I believed that if I had a need, I would take it straight to God and trust that He would take care of it.

Subconsciously, I was a big, melting blob of helplessness. When no one was looking and I could shed all the walls and defenses of the day, I would collapse into woe-is-me mode. I would beg God to fix my life, fix me, get me out of situations; help me. When I felt that He wasn’t doing a good or fast enough job,  I would dump all of that on the guy I was dating. Not upfront, but in nonverbal, in between the lines expectations.

Any time life got uncomfortable, I would expect my boyfriend to set things right. I needed his calm assurance, advise, prayer; time. If he didn’t text me properly, give me the right affection, or read my mind and show up at my house when needed, I took that as him not caring about me. If he did, somehow, come through for me, I was on top of the world. Life was perfect and hope-filled.

I know this sounds dramatic, and it was, but not outright. I could hold my crazy in pretty well. However, the roller coaster of the dating game was miserable. The continuous expectation that some guy could read my mind and fix all my problems was absurd… yet plausible at the time.

Pia Mellody writes that helplessness sabotages your life because others, “…may experience inadequacy and guilt at not being able to meet your needs,” “…may need to back off and escape such a huge responsibility,” and “…may experience pain when you react with resentment because they are not meeting all your needs.” What a heavy burden to carry for your significant other, friend, or family member! How can someone experience intimacy with a person that is always in heavy dependency?

The answer is: they can’t.

If people can’t help you in your helplessness, who can? What if I told you that there is someone who not only knows your dependent, but unconditionally loves you for it?

Dr. Glenn Kreider wrote in his book, God With Us, that God knew you would always be dependent on Him from the beginning, but He created you anyway. God is the only one you can be completely dependent on and also intimate with. He can handle your resentments, calm your crazy, and fill you with a companionship unlike any other. When you are filled with love and intimacy with God, you can have healthy relationships where you pour into instead of constantly drain.

I’ve been working through this character defect for a while and it has cleared away the miserable chaos from my life. Take your needs to God, ask Him to remove the gross feelings and replace them with His good character traits, and ask Him for forgiveness for not trusting Him. God is good and He wants you to be dependent on Him. So do it. 🙂

“Tomorrow”: Financial Problems… Ew.

 

Day Three: Your Reality

Day Three: Your Reality

So, I thought I struggled with “Striving for Power” as a character defect, but after studying it more… I don’t think I do. Striving for Power is a different kind of control than people-pleasing or perfection. It’s more combative. My personality is more chill and passive.

The next defect I can relate to is “Blaming Others for Your Reality and Taking Responsibility for the Reality of Others.” The problem with this is that in your reality, you’re either blaming people for your pain or believing that you caused their behavior or feelings. This defect also distorts truth because a person struggling with this has a hard time believing people.

This is a problem that I have, thankfully, largely been freed from. Praise. The. Lord. Last year, I was plagued by this issue of reality. Without any hard evidence, I assumed I knew what people were thinking about me. I also would not take responsibility for my own misery. It was always someone else’s fault. I lived in a fantasy world of misinformation.

My counselor gave me a powerful statement that I now refer to when I catch myself going into fantasy: You don’t know that. I’ll explain to my counselor why someone doesn’t like me. She’ll ask, How do you know that. When I give her some reasons, she gives it to me straight: You don’t know that. When I assume a guy likes or doesn’t like me because his text sounded like this or that, she’ll say, You don’t know that.

Bottom line: Unless a person tells you how they feel, it’s impossible for you to truly know. Assumptions can only go so far.

In my life, I have allowed my reality to be distorted by skewed ideas of what guys were thinking or feeling about me. It was torturous and I liked guys for waaayyyyy longer than they deserved. I also blew instances at work out of proportion and got sick over what new situations would get me fired. I would blame the illness on my poor work environment (and not own up to the fact that I was living in an alternate, painful universe created by wonderful imagination).

Exiting my fantasy life was liberating. It was my red pill to get out of the miserable fiction world I was living in. Surrendering my made up world to God was awesome and ’bout time. I’m not completely cured of this character defect, but I testify to a new life of freedom and excitement. Clear joy!

Remember all:

“You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” -Morpheus 
(Take the red pill.)
Next time: Helplessness (Overwhelming others with your needs and wants)

Day Two: Perfectionism

Day Two: Perfectionism

“Perfectionism is that compulsive drive to do things perfectly, leaving no detail imperfect.” – Pia Mellody, Breaking Free

If I were in a meeting where we were ‘fessing up to being perfectionists, I’m not sure I could 100% raise my hand. I can see my parents throwing their heads back in laughter at the idea of me being a perfectionist… my roommates in college would probably have a good laugh, as well.

I believe my tendency towards perfectionism came when I got into a demanding job and felt out of control. In the chaos, it became crucial that my bed was made, room clean, and living areas neat. After working at that job, I developed a sensitivity to making mistakes. If I mess up, I try and fix it on my own before anyone finds out. If someone confronts me on a mistake, I have extreme emotions to their discovery.

This is harmful because it keeps me from allowing myself to be truly known by others. I have found that with my people-pleasing and perfectionism combined, I feel the need to hide certain parts of myself from people. This affects others because they cannot fully connect with me.

I would really love to let go of my perfectionist tendencies and allow God to show me what a freer life looks like.

Up next: Striving for Power. Man, am I a control freak or what?