I’ve taken a lot of classes that included processes for decision making. Several things have stuck with me in spite of my unreliable memory.
Perhaps the most important one is that we each have natural tools/gifts, but they are only part of what is needed for an effective problem solving process. Effective problem solving not only needs a team approach, it requires recognition of the equal importance of diverse gifts.
First, it needs a vision of the long term goal, not just the quick fix.
Second, it needs brainstorming that includes all possibilities, even seemingly “pie in the sky” ones.
Third, each possibility will have a down side. So, list and evaluate the down sides. Eliminate the ones with downsides that you feel you cannot live with.
Fourth, look at the practical problems needing solving for each possibility and generate reasonable solutions.
Fifth, Now re-evaluate, in terms of (a) personal values, (b) downsides, (c) actual resources, those possibilities that ended up having reasonable solutions for problems. Then make your choice, or if a group decision is needed, come to consensus.
Note: For believers in Jesus Christ as the perfect human expression of God’s love for all, this process would involve both communal and personal prayer for guidance at the beginning, at any conflict points or questionable areas, and at the final decision making point, and would include evaluations throughout in the light of the values fleshed out in the life and death of Jesus.
I am paraphrasing some quotes that have proven true in my life:
Personal change and spiritual growth cannot happen without coming to peace with pain. (Michael Singer)
Emptiness and despair are not only experienced by those who have been traumatized, but also by those whose lives are full.
More than grief or fear, despair calls us to pay attention to and make meaning out of human suffering. It invites us to change our very selves by changing the way we see the world. When we persevere and don’t run away from our dark night, we can be moved to a muscular faith that has looked into the heart of darkness and emerged to affirm life. (Miriam Greenspan)
Twice over 76 years my inner life has come apart at the seams for no outwardly obvious reasons. I stayed functional, but slowed down my pace while I worked through it. Each time a counselor mostly just provided a safety valve and a non- judgemental listener, so I could hear myself as I read some relevant books, sorted out my pieces, threw some away, found new truths, new strengths, and pulled it all back together for a still imperfect, but more meaningful and personally satisfying way of being in the world. As painful and scary as these times were, they yielded wonderful fruit and I do not regret going through them. I don’t think I’m inferior because I needed that process. Everyone has challenges that they either struggle to conquer or they choose to deny and to settle for a safer, but emotionally and spiritually, poorer life. Eileen
(The Singer and Greenspan quotes were found on the Blog: Make Believe Boutique
This is a rerun. Not sure why. I guess because the poem in it, “My Good Friday God,” spoke to me today in a new way.
Originally posted on Laughter: Carbonated Grace:
My mother’s fourteen years of dying by inches with Alzheimer’s came close to destroying my marriage, my faith, and very close to destroying me. To this good day, sometimes when I let myself experience those memories, I still want to howl with anger and guilt and anguish over her suffering . Here is something I wrote when struggling with this painful time in my life.
MY GOOD FRIDAY GOD
What kind of God are you, dying like that?
I want a real God, a fix it God,
not one that gets Himself crucified.
You’re just as helpless as the rest of us;
here we are dying together.
What a weird way to save a world!
WOW…….Writer Alert……good advice.
Originally posted on HarsH ReaLiTy:
We blog for different reasons. Posts vary widely in what they want to accomplish and how they are written. In the writing, I ask myself if it’s true. My predominant purpose isn’t to incite a response or rouse an audience. Yes, it’s rewarding when that happens, and we certainly want our writing to be charismatic. But if a word doesn’t quite sit well with me, is not true to myself, I rework it until it imparts intention. This sifting for the right word is not a verbal airbrushing but the desire to give my readers the real, full me. I wasn’t looking to be funny or hyperbolic in the posts that have earned laughs on my blog. They told what I really felt or saw. I am not out to impress as I am to express. And in the expressing, I am also not the girl emptying angry questions out of an abraded heart anymore. Not because my life is perfect. But because, as many will disagree, if I write primarily for the therapy that it wonderfully can be, it will feel like emotional emesis and not true art. I don’t want to take up readers’ time with what is really just personal rehab.
There are sites devoted to the memory of a loved one or blogs defined by a persisting pain. Writing is healing, right? Which is in part why I have journaled so extensively over the years. With encouragement for the people behind such blogs I have connected with them. I didn’t write bereft to broadcast one of the most impossible sorrows I have known. I in fact did not want to be explicit. The journaling already had helped me process the grief. But as I freed the poem to the life it took on, it rehearsed how the world had looked at the time from inside my pain. I had to keep it real. As for poetry or fiction, I ask myself through every line, “Is this what I see in my head with my spirit?” And so I realize it’s a finer line between journalism and creative writing than appears. I feel very much like a journalist reporting live from what’s inside.
The nascent writer churned out her share of cryptic poetry. Now, I wouldn’t waste anyone’s time purposely being unclear when you’ve come to see what I have to say. I employ metaphors for the 1000 words they save me with their pictures. I’m no longer the high schooler with words welling over in the dark. The journey may start out an exploration. But at some point before I share it with another sojourner I’ve figured out where North is and have walked the line – without needless acrobatics.
When my youngest son was about two, I tried to get him to talk into a tape recorder for a family message to my mother, who lived in another state. When I held the microphone up for him, he froze. I tried to help him by saying, “Tell her who you are.” He remained mute with a tortured look on his face. As I prompted him again, he blurted out desperately,
“I’M SOMEBODY! I’M SOMEBODY!”
I think that is the cry of all hearts, “I’m somebody.”
Unfortunately, even as Christians, we think that means being somehow special from being better than others. Sibling rivalry carries over even into being the children of God. I bought a Tee shirt once, that said,
“JESUS LOVES YOU, BUT I’M HIS FAVORITE.”
I thought it was funny, but more and more I see that as the root of so much of the conflict in families, churches, countries, the world.
It’s not enough to be loved and loving. We want to be smarter, better looking, richer. We want to be a STAR. Our whole culture is built on this.
Being the least of God’s children is anathema to us in any setting.
And in every conflict, we need to feel we are right, PARTICULARLY when we lose.
To feel mistreated, wronged, unappreciated allows us to be self-righteous, to cling to our sense of being SOMEBODY.
We are of eternal value because we are loved as the unique creation we are. It is not relative to anything or anyone. We are called to be the best “us” we can be. We are not called to be better than anyone.
The only place I have seen this grasped and celebrated is in the Special Olympics. There, when a child falls down, the other children in the race will go back and help them up. Every child gets a ribbon for not giving up, for finishing the race, for doing the best they can. Every parent claps and shouts for every child, not just their own.
This must be how it is in the kingdom of God.
Words have such different meaning for each of us. I’m not very comfortable with “saved.” For one, it sounds like I’m finished, so why am I stuck here? For two, it sounds like now I belong to the in crowd, instead of the rest of the human race. I never was much on being with the in crowd, because it seemed to require trading my individuality for a false sense of pride or security.
To me the message of Jesus was: Humanity is loved unconditionally. Loved unconditionally means you are of eternal value…..it is not a short term thing.
If I’m loved unconditionally, then why wouldn’t I just do whatever I feel like doing?
Because once I experienced that kind of love that is beyond human understanding, it changed everything. Nothing else comes close to that joy….no pleasure, no fame, no drug, not even a parent or spouse’s love. Life is about learning and growing, but particularly it’s about being emptied so we can be totally filled, full to bursting with the joy of that love.
Whether I am a thimble, a tea cup, or an ocean won’t matter, because I will be full.
We learn to love, when we discover that we are not only loved, but that we are of eternal value, so we aren’t limited to a life span. We don’t have to grab all the toys, pleasures, friends, fame, success we can in our limited time on earth. They are here to enjoy, but they are only snacks, not the main course. They are the junk food of life……and though on any given day, in our humanness they may help us temporarily get through a scary place, if we don’t regroup and once again turn to that Love Beyond Understanding, that we call God, we become addicted and make them our whole diet and then there is no room for the joy of love.
Loving others, not just as we love ourselves, but as Jesus loved us, is what makes room for joy. It involves letting go of the bling, of the snacks, so we can be filled with the joy of loving.
I don’t think we can love someone we need. If we need them to be a certain way and they can’t, what happens then?
If we are weak, we are needy. Weak is not being afraid, but being controlled by our fear of pain or suffering. There are a million addictions, probably a hundred per person, that we use to blot out pain, whether the small and shallow or the overwhelming and deep.
But to be controlled by fear of pain means never risking loving someone, because love doesn’t fear not being loved, it fears hurting with the one we love, when we are helpless in the face of their pain. Love increases our vulnerability a hundred fold. Love means letting our fortress walls fall to ruin because it is not the enemy they keep out, it is love itself, the caring more about another than protecting our tender inner self.
I realize that much of what hits me is really pretty obvious, but sometimes familiar things suddenly speak to me at a different level, hopefully one that will help me grow more loving.
I used to think that praising God was loving God, then I realized that God doesn’t need praise, He wants us to praise him for our sakes. He wants us to lift our eyes from our tiny selves so we can connect with Him and his love, and get a very different perspective on life.
I also, have “known” for a long time that what we do to others we do to Jesus/God.
I had some difficulties with the “Love God with your whole heart etc. and love others as you love yourself.” First, if I love God with my whole self, what’s left over for others? Plus, my study of Psychology and my own experience have shown me that I love others exactly as I love myself! When I am in a good place about myself, I find it much easier to love others and when I am in a bad place about loving myself, I am the Wicked Witch of the West to others. Which fits with Paul’s statement that we love, because God first loved us. God is our well spring. And we may be Spirit filled, but we leak. So we have to keep returning to our source.
Jesus grew in his understanding and ultimately called us to a whole other level of loving….to love as Jesus loved is to put aside our self for others. The way we love God is by loving others with no conditions. Not my favorite thing frankly. This morning after reading a post on the blog “everyday gurus” about a child correcting his father when the father criticized someone the child loved, I realized that mostly my way of loving is, “I love you, BUT…….couldn’t you stop doing …… couldn’t you be more thoughtful……couldn’t you show more appreciation……..” In other words, I love you, but I’d love you more if you met my needs, my expectations.
When my kids were young and got in trouble, they used to say: “Nobody’s perfect!” And my husband would say, “Well, try a little harder!” But that’s the same thing really. The goal isn’t to be perfect, but to love the imperfect. It somehow seemed clearer today that the only way we really have to love God, who is way beyond our comprehension, is to love His creation and creatures, but particularly the most challenging ones, his very human people. I do pretty well with the creation part, a little less well with some of his creatures, and generally at some point fall back to: “I love you, BUT” with his people……. particularly those closest to me, whom I expect to meet at least some of my needs.
So much for loving God! Dear God, I love you, BUT………………………….!
Well, back to the drawing board……………..or better, to the Source.
I’m pretty sure that anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a big God and Jesus and Holy Spirit fan. What not everyone knows is that I was an agnostic for some years and a big Madalyn Murray O’Hair fan.
When in college, I visited Nursing Homes, in my mid twenties I taught ballet at a Children’s Psychiatric Ward, in my late twenties, I worked at the NAACP offices for Project Equality, and also wept while watching battles in Vietnam on TV. It was hard to find God in those situations.
In 1963, my dad, Pope John 23, and John F. Kennedy all died. It seemed like all my heroes of hope were gone.
It isn’t very comfortable to hate God, so I simply stopped believing in Him.
My journey to personal faith ultimately took several years spent in a serious search for some sort of meaning to life. That search was motivated by having my own children begin asking me hard questions. And though it is still obvious to me that life is not fair and that life is often hard and miracles are rare, I have found purpose, meaning, and great joy in life through an ongoing growing relationship with Jesus Christ, who made life and God understandable for me. It was a journey starting from faith in religion and faith in heroes, through disillusionment with those, on to a first hand experience of the love fleshed out by Jesus and the call to pass it forward.
I worry about the young people who are being exposed to both the hardships of life and its dark side in so many ways long before they have their love for their own children to motivate them to seek meaning in life instead of escape.
That seems to be the crux of the problem. Whenever we become aware that life is going to be hard sometimes for everyone, will we have the maturity to search for meaning rather than to seek escape?
Everyone’s journey is different, so all I can do is share that the search is well worth the effort and struggle and pain. My way may not be your way, but ultimately the truth will set you free for joy, hope, and love.
I often talk like I see God as sort of a powerful, benevolent Santa Claus. But actually, my limited comprehension is probably more like Star Wars’ the Force without and within us.
So, as a great fan of Jesus, how do I understand his description of God as Abba, ‘Daddy,’ and his frequent conversations with Him? And what is the role Jesus plays in all this?
First, I think Jesus simply ‘Got’ God. And tried to communicate to us that the creative force behind the universe was not only still alive and involved by doing the creating thing all around us, but also still nurturing (creating) an unfinished universe and unfinished humanity from the inside out.
When we watch Jesus grow in truth (understanding) and holiness (response), we see a dance between the divine and the human. God leads and we follow and Jesus not only told us how, he showed us how. The scriptures are the ‘illustrated’ word of God. And Jesus is the illustration.
He is the beginning of human change from survival of the fittest to a love that makes us willing to die for the least. He also fleshed out the end that humanity was created to reach, oneness with God through surrender.
Watch the dance.
Jesus is humanly vulnerable from the very beginning: his family fleeing in the dark of night to Egypt to escape Herod’s search to kill Jesus.
Jesus becoming an adolescent, showing off his new knowledge and sense of who he was in the temple, only to be reminded by his mother that kindness and caring are what he is being called to learn at this point in his life, then his responding by being obedient to them and growing in understanding .
Jesus growing not only in knowledge, but in wisdom, as he recognizes the other side of knowledge and power: the willingness to respond rather than react (letting go of control of his life) and accountability for his response. He’s not quite so eager to leap into the public eye now. Then circumstances and his mother’s challenge to kindness now push him out of his comfort zone. (The wedding at Cana.)
Watch for the patterns in Jesus life and ministry: Challenges to take his mission to a new level, even beyond Judaism, responding with signs and wonders, teaching those who were drawn by the signs and wonders, rejection by those without ears to hear, temptation even from his friends, then once again time spent seeking God. Jesus snapping at Peter for being a Pollyanna about how his mission will end, showing that Jesus himself was still struggling with his own acceptance of that reality. Like us, he did not move easily through challenges from stage to stage. But he always reached a point where God alone was his source and his salvation, up to the very end when he moves from “My God why have you forsaken me?” to “Into your hands I commend my spirit.”
What was Jesus role? To flesh out the dance between the love of God and our response of total dependence on God to become the people we were created to be.
His life and death and resurrection were not only proof that there is more than this life, but that it all depends on the dance of grace that ends in trust, in total surrender to the power, the creator, the nurturer, the love that is God, however we perceive God.