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Braking Points

Exploring the Adventure of Aging

Month

March 2019

Sorry

SORRY.

I am so sorry your dog died, but sorry you cannot spread his ashes here. It really is a sorry state of affairs and I am genuinely sorry to be the one to refuse but ‘I am sorry.’

I overuse this word and I misuse this word. It can become if I am not careful an empty expression. How can I change or at least modify this habitual expression so that I better convey my true heart. What if I consciously consider what I am trying to say, like in the example above. What if …

I am sad for you that your dog died, but the rules prevent you from spreading his ashes here. It really seems a bit harsh. I am regretful to be the one to to refuse, but I apologize ‘rules are rules.’

Ok, sounds a whole lot more stilted; however, if I dig a little deeper to grasp what I am trying to express can that digging increase my self awareness? With God’s help can I cut to the heart of the matter and discover my motives? Will I be able to separate genuine sorrow, remorse from superficial politeness or politically expedient apologies? Who knows? Not I, but it is worth the experiment.

Words matter, but what drives our words matters more. I can put on a series of masks and filters and abide by all the societal and political rules of public and even private language. OR, I can choose to completely let every preconceived notion, prejudice, and unapologetically offend bunches of people. Or, I can open myself to hear others, I can seek to understand even when I don’t agree, I can allow the Holy Spirit to show me the darker corners within and strive to become a life affirming person within.

Maybe then Grace and Blessing will naturally come out of my mouth—BUT I AM NOT THERE YET!

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Broken Thoughts from a Broken Woman during Lent 2019

After the feast, the over the top indulgence

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Comes bloating, the hangover, the off kilter feeling of having pushed a few limits best left unpushed. Grabbing that last piece of chocolate off the plate and holding it in your mouth, letting it melt there on your tongue until it’s gone, you or, should I say I, sigh.

After the feast, the leftovers, the crumbs, the broken pieces litter the table, the floor, the parade grounds, scattered morsels to be swept up by broom or wind.

Around me are those who feel like the leftovers, the crumbs, the debris left behind to be swept up and scattered on the wind.

As I see it, we are broken, but it is brokenness and how we respond to it that makes all the difference.
The laws of physics says that two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time–and yes, for all the science buffs out there, I know there are exceptions, i.e. Electromagnetic waves.

In this season as I approach what many have termed the Passion of Christ, a season holy to Jews and Christians with both Passover and Holy Week linked, the lamb, the blood, the deliverance, the Feast, I find myself considering how best to occupy my space in this world.

Recently in my devotional time I discovered that the Hebrew word avanah עֲנָוָה translated as “humility,” literally means “to occupy your God-given space in the world—not to overestimate yourself or your abilities, and to not underestimate them either.”

What if I FULLY occupied my space?
What if I ceased comparing my space to others’ spaces? Could I learn to loosen control? Could I learn not to interrupt? Could I touch more hearts with grace rather than stepping on toes as the dance of life carries me forward?

What about you?
In 1989 we were traveling an unfamiliar route when exhausted we stopped for the night. Checking in at the desk, the clerk on duty applauded our decision to pause our journey, stating that we would not want to drive the treacherous stretch of road ahead with a sheer mountain cliff on one side and a raging river on the other. Ding! Ding! Ding! My overactive imagination revved up and kept me up most of the night.

The Hebrew Children recently delivered out of Egypt found themselves camped on the banks of the Red Sea, with mountains flanking them and Pharaoh’s army closing in from the rear. I understand their fear, their confusion, their grumbling…Believe me I have been there–ok, not exactly THERE, but certainly surrounded by insurmountable forces including my own overactive imagination of outcome. And just to be clear here I would have been quivering, eyeing the walls of water on both sides of me, as I crossed.

I AM NOT NATURALLY BRAVE! And yet I have done brave things–for me. I am not nor have I ever been an adrenaline junky. I have missed out on a lot of peaceful dreams while waiting for the other shoe to drop. And yet, as I grow as a believer in Christ, I have arisen on mornings to walk through the raging waters and fires of life.

I do this knowing I have a Savior who spent a sleepless night in a garden, weeping tears of blood over what awaited him before dawn, then rising to meet his betrayer.

On that morning in 1989 after stewing all night over the fearful canyon we had to drive thru, I got up, pulled up my big girl pants, and off we drove.

The absolute beauty of that drive still amazes me. Yes, there was the mountain wall. Yes, there was a raging river, but the road was good, and it was beautiful. I had lost sleep worrying about nothing.

Be Brave Today! Go Forth! [saying this to myself right now]

Full disclosure: Thoughts have entered my brain and even lingered there at times that would shock the crustiest among us. Words have exited my mouth that are reprehensible, filthy, hurtful, and frankly the very remembrance of them shames me, as they should. My actions over the years, well, let’s just say, do not reflect the person God intends me to be. Due to these facts, I am very careful in conversations to say, “Well, I would never do THAT!” ‘Cause I am here to tell you, my darker side …Well, IN SHORT, I AM A SINNER.

So, what are my options? What if I have improved ? What if I truly see how destructive my darker side has been to others and myself? What if I have genuinely put all that behind me? What if, I see myself as others do, as God sees me and want to close the door to that former person?

What if I am like the World Leader who having enticed another man’s wife into his bed, a man who was a soldier fighting in this World Leader’s Army? What if she became pregnant? What if this WL set the soldier up to be killed in battle and then married his widow? It was spring, a time when Kings go to war, BUT DAVID DID NOT. [2 Samuel 11:1]

What if a brave friend came to me as Nathan did to David and confronted me with my SIN? What if ? There are options, depending on my response* to the confrontation.

I could categorically deny it!
I could stuff it down and ignore it.
I could kill the messenger–David actually had that option.
I could cover it up with lots of good deeds and words.
I could rationalize it. I.e. ‘I was young and stupid. I was under a lot of stress. I deserved to get revenge. I didn’t mean any harm. They are just too sensitive.’ You get the picture.
I could hire an image consultant to put a new spin on my persona.

So many options. But in a world where everything could play out in the realm of public opinion and there is no ‘statue of limitations’ on what you did at any point in life, no man conceived option worked for me. Although I tried a few. I wasn’t good and I knew it. I could fake it in hopes of making it or I could decide not to give a rat’s patootie what I sounded or acted like and go on without a single consideration of anyone but myself OR I could be a David in his lowest and finest moment [Read Psalm 51] and choose God.

God, who forgives my sins [daily, past, future]. God, who separates me from my sins as far as the east is from the west…
God, who forgets my sins whether I do or not.
God, who loved the world including me to send his son to die for it.

Public Opinion still wields power as a false god in the world. But Jesus overcame the world. I may suffer ridicule and condemnation for my past transgressions or my current and future ones, but rather than bow to throne of Public Opinion which brings a deadness to my existence, I will bow to the God of Grace, Mercy and Forgiveness.

Echoing the words of Moses and paraphrasing, Today I have laid before you , Life and Death, THEREFORE ( I )choose LIFE!

And as my friend and former boss, Anne used to tell me ‘try not to get your picture under a headline in the Louisville Courier-Journal.’

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