Not a victim

I can’t spend my life in victim status. I won’t do it.

 

But I feel so victimized.

 

Fate/chance [God; He’s always under/behind everything, so I won’t mention Him the rest of the post as a cause] took my mother and hurt my sister, me, and my dad.

 

Then, my dad quit being a dad and started stealing from my sister and I. That sucked.

Chance/Fate, I get that. It’s supposed to be against you sometimes. But a father is supposed to be for you, not steal from you. That hurt. I was a victim there.

And it took so damn long to address. It was happening over time deteriorating our relationship (the way sin in relationships always does to relationships). And then when it came to my attention and I brought it up, I was branded ungrateful, greedy, and prodigal. Finally, it came to my sister’s attention and tables turned, but justice took so long.

Even in the end, justice wasn’t exacted. Doug was allowed to steal. Our portions were returned minus 6 figures. He walked away.

 

Then I felt victimized by Don. He lied and manipulated. He screwed us out of a profitable residency/internship leading into a church plant. We bought it hook, line, and sinker. That sucked.

He was supposed to be a man of God, an elder of the church, an administer of God’s grace. Instead he was a wolf in sheep’s clothing feeding on the flock who snarled and bit when fresh meat got close (and threatened to disrupt his feeding ground).

And justice hasn’t come yet.

I’m not sure what to make of the experience or how to move on. But I feel like a victim.

 

I just can’t spend my life in victim status though. I am morally compelled to move beyond that and do.

 

What, oh Lord, do you have for me to do? Who, oh Lord, do you have for me to be?

By what means can I discern your answer(s) to this/these question(s)?

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Success in life?

My grandparents – I’ve been staying with them for the past week – seem to live in such a way that they are living to continue living and to see their grandchildren “succeed in life”. But it’s not exactly clear what it means to succeed in life. And what does it mean that they are living to continue living? Have they already succeeded and this is their reward: watching those they love also take steps to succeed? Or did they fail to succeed and this is their consolation: watching those they love also take steps to succeed? Or maybe, they are still on the journey just a few decades ahead, trying in their own right to “succeed in life”.

 

What does it mean to succeed in life?

Can you fail in life?

 

There is certainly a way to create and inhabit hell on earth – surely that would be failure, right?

 

So maybe success is moving away from hell on earth?

But then you die.

 

I can’t conceive of succeeding in life without contemplating life-after-death. Isn’t that life’s span going to be much longer than the span of life before death? I guess it wouldn’t be if it didn’t exist at all [or if it did exist but just happened to be shorter – can time even be measured after death? Isn’t time just an construct  by which we measure the distance between successive iterations of ordinally linked timespace?]…

If you don’t exist at all after you die, does what you do before you die really matter to you? No. It only matters to you as long as you are alive.

So, in my estimation it’s life-after-death or nihilism (or numbing addictions/distractions).

Which brings me back to the starting sentence of this paragraph, “I can’t conceive of succeeding in life without contemplating life-after-death.”

 

If there is life-after-death, that’s got to be one of the greatest inquiries of the age. Can it be prepared for on this side?  Is it static?

Who can know these things?

 

Does succeeding in life mean adequately discerning the nature of life after death and preparing for it? Surely that must be the bottom rung without which there is only failure… right?

What’s Next

So, I have no idea what is next in my life.

I had a plan. It was in full swing. It came crashing down.

So, now I have lots of free time that I did not expect to have and it is abundantly clear that I do not know what to do with it.
I’ve played video games; I’ve watched Youtube videos; I’ve read a few books; I’ve done some around the house landscaping; I’ve kept up with the laundry; I’ve taken long walks.

And then it occurred to me that I might use this time to review and comment on those things I’ve long wanted to review and comment on.

The things I’ve collected for this task are notecards, bookmarked webpages; liked videos; and uncompleted blog post prompts.
Part of the difficulty in simply beginning is that I find myself paralyzed by the notion of unclear categorization. How will I keep things straight and orderly? How will they relate to one another? Will there be an index? Will they be segregated by how they entered my field of observation or by the nature of their content?

I don’t have an answer for that yet. I think I’ll likely add them arbitrarily to an index as I address them. Eventually, I will hope to organize more effectively and shape the website that I have; but for now, that is beyond my scope and beyond my goal. I’m not yet to the place of creating something pretty and easy to use. Instead, I am hoping by my creation to alleviate record storage offline and provide a searchable database (albeit, cluttered and disorderly).

Here’s to the season God has given me.

Cheers.

Conviction on Easter

I found myself listening to Dave Ramsey this Easter. It was a recording of a show that had been on the air earlier that week. The part that was convicting though was in a segment when he featured a Ramsey personality specializing in encouraging women in their entrepreneurial pursuits. A lady called in and asked for advice discerning if now was the right season to take the leap into self-employment and business start-up. Part of the answer was an encouragement to make a budget of hours, like the zero-based budgets encouraged by some financial advisers. Then, after discerning where time went, the caller could better assess if starting a business fit as a priority in this season of life.

I was especially convicted, because there have been seasons of my past life where my time was used quite effectively – I was doing what I wanted to be doing when I wanted to be doing it. However, lately that has not been the case. I’ve been leading a flexible schedule that allowed for (and caused) surplus effort/time to be squandered. So, this is my declaration of being done with that course of behavior.

I want to use a schedule; to me, Google Calendar feels like the best schedule app for now. Here’s my color-code:

  • Pink – Hayley
  • Red – fasting or other all-day spiritual ventures
  • Yellow – school or other intellectual pursuits
  • Orange – bodily training (aerobic, strength, flexibility)
  • Light Green “Sage” – stewardship (spiritual disciplines, financial record keeping, yard maintenance, etc.)
  • Dark Green “Basil” – accountability or hobbies (like blogging)
  • Light Blue “Peacock” – personal meeting
  • Dark Blue “Blueberry” – church meeting
  • Lavender – planning self-care
  • Grape – practicing self-care
  • Grey/Gray – Birthdays and Misc.

Of course, color-coding doesn’t equate to practicing, but it feels like it.

And hopefully, it means that I’ll be able to “see” how I’m budgetting time as I live it.

Encouraging announcement

Many of you know I am currently enrolled as a student in a MDiv program remotely. A teacher sent this announcement out to the class this week and I thought it was worth preserving.

“I was recently with a pastor who is retiring due to health. I asked him what he wished he could do differently about his ministry and he couldn’t think of anything except wishing he had exercised more. While he was imperfect, he loved his family, served his church the best he could and lived a consecrated life. He apologized for not being able to think of things he would like to have changed. I thought this was as fine a testimony as I could have heard. Don’t you want that to be your testimony when you are old as well? Do your best and follow the Lord closely and do his will. God blesses and honors that!
Have a great week and stay close to the Lord!”

I was so encouraged by this announcement. What a wonderful testimony: he was imperfect, he loved his family, served his church the best he could and lived a consecrated life. I hope that in time, I can say those things about myself. I hope also that it can be said of you, reader.

 

How to Ride a Dead Horse

Recently, I read this short article. I thought it was funny enough and applicable to my daily blog posts and my recent declaration.

How to Ride a Dead Horse

Ancient Rabbinic wisdom states that when you discover you are riding a dead horse (or camel), the best strategy is to dismount. However, church boards and committees often try other strategies with dead horses, including the following:

  1. Buying a stronger whip.
  2. Changing riders.
  3. Saying things like “This is the way we always have ridden this horse.”
  4. Arranging to visit other sites to see how they ride dead horses.
  5. Increasing the standards for those who ride the dead horse.
  6. Appointing a committee to study the dead horse.
  7. Waiting for the horse’s condition to improve from this temporary downturn.
  8. Providing additional training to increase riding ability.
  9. Passing a policy declaring, “This horse is not dead.”
  10. Blaming the person who sold you the horse.
  11. Acquiring additional dead horses for increased speed.
  12. Declaring that “No horse is too dead to beat.”
  13. Providing additional funding to increase the horse’s performance.
  14. Commissioning a study to see if lay-leaders can ride it cheaper.
  15. Removing all obstacles in the dead horse’s path.
  16. Taking bids for a state-of-the art dead horse.
  17. Declaring the horse is “better, faster and cheaper” dead.
  18. Revising the performance requirements for horses.
  19. Saying the horse was cheaper than one that was “alive.”
  20. Asking for increased donations (any excuse will do).

And if all else fails:

21.Declare that resurrecting the dead horse is the congregation’s primary mission.

Recently, I tried to resurrect the notion of daily blog posts. [And I still like the idea, because I believe in daily blogging as a good habit.] But it is currently a dead horse and I just need to dismount.

So, this post is me admitting that I am not currently able to commit to daily blog posts; that I will not be spending time answering the question, “how do you feel about how you spent your day?”; and I’m going to write whenever I like on whatever I like until I decide differently.

[plus, I have well over 60 new notecards to address when school lets up… and the old ones I still haven’t gotten to. #oneday #ihope]

Post for June 26, 2017

How do you feel about how you spent your day?

I feel mostly good, with a twinge of angst followed by a rebuke of privilege.

I feel mostly good, because I enjoyed the day. There was nothing unethical or questionable or harmful to me or anyone especially close to me. There were occasions of true connection and love with God and people I am close too. So, devoid of extreme stimuli (which I prefer), the day was mostly good.

I feel a twinge of angst followed by a rebuke of privilege because “to a ship with no destination, no wind is favorable”. Because I do not firmly accept any current calling on my life, it’s difficult/impossible to judge whether the day was profitable or not. On a ship heading east to Lisbon, a day might feel good going north or south, traveling at an uneventful steady pace slightly drifting west and in fact be bad! But if the same ship does not know where it is going, no days -regardless of feeling- are truly good or bad! They are meaningless.
On a side note, this meaninglessness is one of the tragedies of the naturalistic/atheistic worldview as without any mind for the eternal, the worldview has no choice but to rob its adherents of any meaningful existence.

Just after experiencing angst regarding my day yesterday, I realize and feel the rebuke of knowing that it is privilege that I can even feel the angst I do. So, that takes a shot at my pride moves me down a few rungs and leaves me confused, but still angsty.

May we all come to accept the current lot we have been given and live it out in a way that glorifies the God whose name we bear.