Created for Relationship

When God created the world, He did so with Relationship at its core. Humanity was created in order to be in Relationship with God, and in Relationship with one another.

If either one of these Relationship Dynamics is off track, then our emotional, mental and spiritual health is out of balance. We begin to try to fill the holes with many other things: money, sex, material possessions, power over others … the list goes on.

If both of these Relationship Dynamics are in good working order, then we are able to grow into mature Christians, who are in turn able to give to others who are in need.

Those are the simply basics of how life works.

When God created Adam and Eve, there was perfect union with both God and with each other. The two people walked with God in the garden, talking with Him and being open and honest with each other. Genesis 2:25 says, “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” This is not only about no clothes. This is two people being completely intimate physically, but also emotionally. They were in harmony. They were vulnerable with each other, not hiding anything. They “knew” each other completely. There was no shame.

We were created to be in that kind of Relationship with both God and others. To be open and honest. To be intimate. To be accepted.

Someone once asked Jesus what the greatest commandment in the world is. Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matt 22:37-39

Everything in life comes down to these two Relationships.

We must be reconciled to God. We must ask His forgiveness and we must cultivate a daily relationship with Him.

We must reconnect with others. We must care for each other, forgive each other, reach out in love and support for each other.

Photo courtesy of Fairfax.gov

So how do we do this? Jesus gives us this very important directive in living our lives. “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”  John 14:13   

James tells us, “You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

We know what God wants for us and what we need – Intimate and Honest Relationship.

We know the first step in getting those Relationships. Prayer. Talk to God. Admit that you need Relationship and ask Him to help you restore them.

That is asking in Jesus’ Name and He will do it.

Is there a Relationship in your life that needs restoring? Start working on it today.

Shame/Fear/Self-Doubt

“You can’t do it.”

“Half the people will laugh at you; the other half will be disgusted at your incompetence.”

Image from: lifehack.org

These voices -and many others just like them – shoot through my thoughts time and again. Every time I hear them, the knot in my stomach gives a lurch and pulls tighter.

I am working on a large project that affects many people throughout my small community. I have spear-headed this project before and it was quite successful. So why do those feelings return?

What exactly am I feeling?

Shame? Self-doubt? Fear? Timidity? Yes, I think so.

Shame = a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior (either real or perceived)

Self-doubt = lack of confidence in oneself and one’s abilities.

Fear = of disgrace, embarrassment, degradation, being demeaned.

Timidity = a lack of courage or confidence, fearful, apprehensive, frightened, scared, faint-hearted.

Image from: https://dailybreadforlife.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/shame.jpg?w=798&h=600&crop=1

I push the thoughts back into the recess of my mind. Don’t let them out! The knot in my stomach grows again.

Where do these thoughts come from?

My mother was very much this way. So, did it come to me by way of DNA? Or maybe learned behavior? My father often seemed to take delight in pointing out, quite loudly, where I had failed. Our self-image formed in childhood is quite powerful – for good or for bad.

Yet – I am an adult now. I have not lived with my parents for over 30 years. Certainly, I cannot blame them any longer for my thought patterns that I have this week.

Insight for Living has a devotional video that I have watched several times that is titled Our Weaknesses.

With a big, hearty smile, Chuck Swindoll talks about how great it is when we admit our weaknesses.

Really? What a relief it would be!

Instead of pushing back those thoughts, it is now time for me to bring them into the light. Stare them in the face. Examine them carefully. Talk about them.

Yes, it is true. I am not perfect. Never have been, never will be.

I will do my best. I will ask for help.

I will take everything to God in prayer! I will let the Holy Spirit flow through me!

Now! Time to get back to work on this project. It will be great!

Slug IPA

A wonderful spring vacation last year, in May, the prime spring gardening month, led to an extremely unusual June in the garden. My strawberry patch had produced well the previous two summers. My husband had built a wire fence arch over the top which we covered with bird netting. The berries grew red, juicy and plump. Yet two weeks away from home last spring had put me seriously behind.

One cool evening in early June, I strolled out to wander through the lush garden. I leaned over to peer closely at the berries, adjusting my glasses a bit.

A slug!

I picked him off, throwing him in the grass and twisting him into the ground with the toe of my garden shoe. I turned over a few strawberry leaves to see if there were more there. There always are!

Yes! Lots more.

I picked and smushed and picked and smashed. Once I grew weary of this routine, I retreated to the house, found a small jar lid and pulled an IPA beer out of the fridge. Back in the garden, I sunk the jar lid into the ground just far enough for the soil level to lead the vermin straight into the lethal beer. I poured the rich smelling IPA into the lid, then resumed my slug hunt.

Two minutes later I looked up from my search under a particularly large strawberry plant and spotted slugs everywhere, headed straight for the beer “barrel”. Who said slugs are slow? Not me! They were all making tracks straight for the IPA, more coming out of the shadows all the time. My stomach sank. This was a true infestation.

I gave up and went inside. I thought I would empty the beer barrel in the morning and start again.

Early the next morning, I tiptoed quietly out to the strawberry bed. The beer barrel was overflowing with dead, slimy slug bodies. I gave a deep sigh as I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had not made a dent in the slug population.

That evening, I refilled the beer barrel and left the wire fence off of the strawberries. I just knew the birds would come and eat any slugs that couldn’t fit in the beer barrel. Smugly, I went off to bed, sleeping well at the thought of my genius.

The next morning, I rose early and dashed out, expecting to see a clean strawberry bed. The beer barrel was tipped out of the ground and thrown a foot away, half of the strawberry plants had been thrashed, and sliding along through this devastation were countless more slugs.

The birds had drunk the IPA, eaten what strawberries the slugs had missed, and apparently waved a hearty good-bye to the slugs as they flew off, well satisfied with the slug IPA I had served up for them.