Sunday, September 19, 2010

Speaking of Forgiveness

    So if you live like you are dying, chances are, forgiving or asking forgiveness is on your list of things to do. I remember a doctor telling me once that it didn’t matter to him why aspirin worked, only that it did work. Forgiveness does too. It relieves the suffering of the person carrying the grudge and of the person who seeks forgiveness and is forgiven. The ancient edicts of biblical forgiveness are like aspirin to our suffering. However, science is now telling us why it works. Psychological studies are showing us that when we are merciful we increase our well-being.
Left to right: Vince, Monita, and Rob A. singing
about living like you're dying
    Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit and in our temple is sacred energy for doing sacred work. When we use that energy to hold a grudge, we are blocking the work of the Divine through us. In our small group, we pondered the question, just what does forgiveness look like? We spoke of the Amish school shooting and how the Amish immediately came to sit beside the wife of the person who shot the children. We spoke of Nelson Mandela and how while he was in prison, he couldn’t keep a security guard for a long period of time because he showed such compassion that the guards could not keep their edge and the guards would be replaced. We spoke of the Bible story in which Esau forgave Jacob for taking his blessing and birthright. We spoke of the new crop of forgiveness gardens that are growing and people who consciously cultivate compassion and forgiveness. Monita is pictured here with baby’s breath, the flower that represents everlasting love. John Fetzer, founder of the Fetzer Institute for Love and Compassion, wrote, "Love is the core energy that rules everything, love is the one ingredient that holds us all together." What will you do to cultivate love and forgiveness? We often need to forgive ourselves, taking an aspirin of self-compassion to relieve our own suffering.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Chesed and Me

I had the great pleasure to learn a new term, chesed, last night at our women’s small group (hosted by our awesome group leader, Julie). Chesed, pronounced with a guttural sound in the beginning--think Keh-sid, with a hard, German throaty thing on the c-h--is the Hebrew word for mercy, but it means so much more than that. It’s a steadfast, unfailing love and kindness that God has exhibited countless times throughout human history and that He still exhibits today. It’s also a quality that we humans can exhibit if we try.

Titled "Have Mercy!" the topic of this small group is right on time for me because I sometimes struggle to show chesed to the people who matter most. Strangely enough, chesed is an attribute most naturally displayed toward those we have relationships with. For me, though, it’s sometimes easier to be more patient with those I’m not as close to. This is good and bad, though: if I can’t show loving mercy to those in my own home, how much does it matter if I show it to strangers or associates?

Like Paul, I’m on a daily journey to do the things I should and to fight against those things I shouldn’t. Showing chesed in my home is one of those things I’ll be trying to accomplish daily, but I know it will be a struggle. As Julie pointed out to our group last night, when you commit to something, you better believe there will be roadblocks. Thankfully, we have a Way around those blocks if we acknowledge it as such.

A work in progress,
Monita B.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

When You're Here, You're Family

We’re all familiar with the Olive Garden slogan, but in a world that is increasingly technology-based, often the one place where we should feel like family—the home—is a place of separation. For instance, in my home, it’s not uncommon to find me in the living room watching TV and/or working on my laptop, my husband in the office on his desktop, and my stepson, KJ, in his room on his laptop/phone/gaming device du jour. And I know we’re not alone. In today’s world, we cling to our various entertainments, often at the expense of cultivating our relationships.

My two guys checking out the functions
on KJ's new camera back in August 2009
My husband and I were just discussing a change in this scenario, inspired by last night’s dinner. We typically eat in front of the TV (I know, not the best habit), so when KJ suggested that we spend that time sharing what the day was like for each of us, I was both caught off guard and proud of his insightful idea. Dinner is one of the few times we’re all together in one space, and so that time should be used catching up with one another. It was fun sharing and interacting together, and I look forward to continuing what I hope to be a new family tradition. It’s so important, in our technology-driven lives, to make the effort to nurture our relationships, which really should be what count the most.

All this thinking about family led me to thoughts of Mosaic Family Church. One of the great things about Mosaic is that we don’t just get together on Sundays with a “See you in a week” attitude. We eat together, pray together, go to the park together and sometimes cry together. We watch each other’s kids and proofread each other’s papers. We’re family.

Whether it’s in my house or in the House of God, I’m planning to work on what’s most important: building and maintaining my relationships.
~Monita B.