What Does Relating Have to Do with Relationships?

I listened to an interesting video of an orthodox Jewish woman talking about the concept of “Judaism is not a Religion, It’s a Relationship”. What a familiar phrase. Yet there’s good evidence in the roots of Judaism for such a concept. I watched to see what she’d say.  Not much, I’m afraid.

We don’t understand relationship. We don’t practice relating. We are a must-do-these, must-be-this, must-be-seen-as such&such. We don’t know about relating, and therefore our best concepts of relationship suffer.

We bend our language to make things fit. We don’t consider what is being said and what needs to be said. Sometime we only know that something should look like this, it should cover that, it should fit across here… but don’t consider the limits of a word or the benefits of that limit.

In the previously mentioned video I heard the woman give different examples of relationship and how we can compare our interacting with God to something similar. The problem came in when some examples were of a relationship, yes, but a tip-toe relationship.

Appeasing isn’t relating.
It maybe done in love, but it still isn’t relating. It isn’t dealing with root issues. It isn’t connecting to how someone other than ourselves might feel and why. If we take enough time to fix the problem, but not enough to consider why the problem arose in the first place, we are just managing one another. It’s not relating.

My husband maybe one unlucky man. He married a woman who wasn’t planning on marrying. He married a woman who straight-face told him she not a believer in “woman submit!” theology.  When he married me, his life began to change, and he didn’t know what he was in for.
Everyday I work with my man on life. Sometimes I feel sorry for him. Many christians marry and their wives are these humble-meek creatures the live to serve and honor their man. I teach him. I don’t mean to do it. It’s not my intention, but yet it’s my goal that he realize who God has created him to be.

He came from a reasonable family, but not one that was going help him become into greatness. In fact they expected him to fail because a few doctors and teachers had critical words to say,  and for some reason I cannot conceive his parents believed those “professionals”.  Yet I meet him as a young man, and something in my spirit recognized his spirit, and fate was sealed.

I think probably everyday in our marriage I ask my man questions. Simple questions, hard questions, rhetorical questions, long-term-thought questions, intraspective questions. I cause for him to work, to search, to rise up. …and he has.
I think a reason that I do this, isn’t because I don’t already love who he, but because I don’t think he has seen who he really is.

We all believe lies about ourselves at different points in our life.
Sometimes we allow those lies to define us. Sometimes we get tired of fighting them when they’re repeated over & over again. Sometimes it’s all we’ve known and we are not aware that they are lies.  And yet, they form us into something we are not. They keep us from being who are meant to be. The stifle beauty that means to gently unfold. Yet we don’t always see them within ourselves. Sometimes it takes someone else who can relate and therein reveal a problem that hasn’t yet been dealt with or considered.

I propose that sometimes, as loved ones, we perpetuate the lies that one we love wears. We mean to treat them with honor and therefore we allow them to continue to cover their shame or hurt (ect.).  But a wound that is covered can still get an infection. It must be treated underneath a clean cloth. …But in relationships… that a hard place to be. It’s a fragile company to keep. It’s deep.

Sometimes it’s easier to allow it to be “their problem” and let them deal with it in their own way. Sometimes others’ wounds remind us of our own, and we too would like to keep that hidden.  But that’s not relating, it’s just managing.

I might also point out, that to dig up wounds for the sake of “healing” them and being a hero or rescuer, can be manipulation or using one another, and that’s not healthy either. There’s no healthy substitute for relating.

It takes learning what it’s like to be in our own skin, or to feel our own bones before we can actual relate to another. And yet…we have this thing called “relationships” were sometimes we just get lost and hide in one another. We don’t always consider what’s it like to be who I am, and what does that have to do with being connected to this person here, who I am in a relationship with. Instead we’re hiding in feelings, schedules, raising a family, making then spending money, plans for the future …and we take very, very little time to consider our soul or the one whom we love, their soul. We just keep passing the days, and we do fine.

I don’t want fine. I don’t want a good life. I don’t want average. …and I don’t want that for my man.  He’s more than that, I know. I’m not sure he knows. Despite my struggles of worth & importance, my spirit knows that my life was made for adventures. I know I could be something that helps others cue into their importance, and I know that it could be world changing. But I have to be able to touch something that’s alive. I have to have life within myself that I believe is unique and intentional for my surroundings.

For me I have to believe in God who believes in me. A God who created be to be some specific in this time and in this generation. For me this is my bases for being able to relate to other people despite any internal struggles, or even because I have those specific internal struggles.  I know I’m not the only one who struggles, and reality has allowed me to connect to something gives me strength to bear the load and shuck the shame.

Relationships were meant to have more relating in them, than what we give credit to them in our modern society. To be able to relate is world changing, life-touching, and life giving. Consider… what does relating have to do with (my) relationships?

Becoming Less

One thing that I really love that I was taught from growing up in the church system that I did, was servanthood. To be honest, I think it was in-part an accident that I learned it. I remember one year at teen camp where I thought, well either we’re going to be serious about this and put into practice now, in this safe place, or we’re all liars.
That year that teen camp was said to have been a powerful one for most of the small group of attenders.

My big strategy for putting things into practice? Simple. I held the doors for everyone whenever we went to group functions. This simple act actually bother some people (as I did it everyday for the next 4 days).  A few asked me why I was holding the door for others. A few would take the door and hold it, but after two more people they let go and walked in themselves. Many said thank you.

It was such a small thing. A tiny way to practice servanthood that week, and to make it into reality instead of just theory. It wasn’t contagious. There wasn’t an outbreak of door holding or acts of servanthood. It was just me…practicing. Practicing for something bigger.

That week, I remember a bunch of us teens getting caught up in the worship time. We felt really bonded to one another.  And yet servanthood? Well…

There’s something strange about the idea of religion making you a good person, and you spend most of your concentration of religious thoughts upon your self. Things like getting to heaven, getting raptured out of the time of great tribulation (or wrath), developing spiritual fruit or gifts, seeking God’s will for my life, attending church/reading bible/praying regularly.

I suppose they’re all good things. Yet they seem so internally self-focused. Does it change history to make these things our focus? Or maybe God and religious things aren’t really about affecting history anymore..?

In my own life, as I’m turning away more & more for the traditions of church system Christianity and becoming more on the fringe and dependent upon God’s mercy alone, I’m becoming more interested in being less of the central part of God’s stories or Jesus’ parables.

I’m becoming less interested in being the younger son or the older son (from Jesus’ Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32) and more interested in being the servant who brings the robe that the Father calls for.  I’m becoming less interested in whether I’ll make to heaven, and more interested in whether or not the next generation will be able to perceive truth by the time the great 70’s Jesus Movement children pass away.

I’m becoming more interested in God’s story, God’s wisdom, God’s heart, and a little less interested in God fitting into my life, me trying find nuggets of applicable verses, and whether my heart and mouth are perfectly clean.

The more I find myself wrapped up in this greatness of what God might be up to, the more I think I’m probably becoming less Christian (according the religious systems). I’m failing. And it feels wonderful. I’m so free!

I’ve stopped caring so much about what will send me to hell (and there’s a good chance I’ll go) and I’ve started caring what is God doing. What is this mega plan that we find ourselves in if we look up and look around and notice the God fingerprints & patterns. There’s something beautiful happening in our ugly times around us. It’s unfathomable! It’s so tiny, it’s so easily missed, but if you’re looking for it, it’s so obvious that you could never just miss it.

There’s a turning aside to see.

Just like Moses in the desert. Out of God’s plan. Out of his own strength. …and yet, exactly at the place where God intended to meet with him. Just like Moses felt unfit for the role which God was sending him to preform, I’ve got nothing. I’m not qualified.
But slightly different than Moses’ story at the burning bush, I find I have this compelling willingness.

My willingness doesn’t compel me to be front & center or to seek big numbers of followers, but this willingness that’s still growing in me… it wants attempt to be the servant of all.

Yet the reality is I hate being a servant! I took care of my elder grandmother for one week, and I really how much I suck as a person. She needs some help. I can do that. Yet when everyday she asked me all-day-long if the dog has been fed or has the dog been outside recently, I thought I would lose my mind! My grandmother is so much like my dad, that I thought I’d bite my tongue off.

I’m not a good person. I am not the servant of all. I don’t even have the willingness to be the servant of all when presented with such situations. …and yet…
My theological perspective of God, Israel, the church, the nations, and creation continues to morph to something that I don’t hear others talking about. And all I want to do, is follow Jesus’ example of “bringing many sons to glory”. I don’t feel compelled to always be considering if I am a good example. As a matter of fact, I am beginning to think I am nothing more than a catalyst.
I’m happy that way. I understand who I am with this perspective. Servanthood makes sense to me.

I may not be able to master all forms of servanthood, for certainly I am no Mother Teresa, but something is changing. What’s important is changing. What I am observant of is changing. How I think is changing. My importance is changing. and it’s good. It might be miniscule, but it’s good.

Women: Misunderstood

I remember riding in the car and avoid the question, “What makes your blood boil?” I knew the answer immediately, well there are many things, but one thing that has long gotten to me… and I was avoiding answering it because I can be simply too fiery about it. When I sit here and type, I can measure down how provoked I may seem, but face to face, in a small space like a car, and with a new friendship …surely I could see overbearing and unnecessarily opinionated. Yet strangely since that time, it’s been coming up again & again, and it begs me to participate, to listen, to consider, to reconsider, and to engage.

I love this issue: Women.

Women, misogyny, modesty, submission, equal parts, the curse of Genesis chapter 3 (and thereafter), things the apostle Paul didn’t really say, Greek mindsets, sexuality, barefoot pregnant and in the kitchen, self-worth, dating, …and on & on it goes.
It’s an explosion that possibly has no end.
It’s intertwined with pretty much everything. …But just to make it a little more complicated than it already is, I like to add God into the mixture.  Although God often sweetens the deal (so to speak) this is one issue where it really brings out the bitter components, and it isn’t too easy to figure out just why that is.

I spent 10 years trying to really truly know the heart & core of whether or not God hates women. My question came from the actions & philosophies of Christian pastors, authors, speakers, and especially from young Christian men. It was the worst case of the “blame game” that exist in human history, and it’s alive and well today.

Most recently I’ve been fairly “out of the loop” with Christianity, women, and modesty. I figured I’d get back to these issues at some time… but I was wrong… at sometime they’d come creep upon me and beg again for answers and for compassion. Recently, that’s exactly where I’ve found myself. Just today, I watched a movie, read through a dozen blogs, googled, took notes, looked up scriptures, made more notes, and scoffed here & there in between. Shaking my head and bulging my eyes at the ideas which STILL exist in such open-ended conclusion that I wonder if deep down, even the people who are writing and saying these things, know they’re still missing something. I wish I could talk to these people. Not type, but really talk over coffee or even an empty table, and just spend hours with questions, stories, realities, unrealities, and searching for the deeper truth.

How is it in the year 2015 that we still have no better mass conclusion than to say “men are responsible for their thoughts” (internal life)  but “woman are responsible for their bodies and clothing (and sometime for the man’s body as well)” {external life}, and on mass Christianity except this as a good conclusion?!
What about the two become ONE flesh? What about in Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female? What about in Christ Jesus there is NO condemnation? What about the body is more than clothes? What about faith & works, works & faith they go together? How can so many people support a Christianity that say the men do the work in their minds and the women must be responsible for all their outward things? That’s not Christianity! That’s ancient Greek pagan philosophy, and it was disgusting!

Where are the Christian authors, speaker, theologians? Why 15 years later am I still reading the same opinions in other people’s mouths?

These are spiritual matters of the heart and inward person. Modesty, sexuality, love, relationships, attraction (and many others) don’t start outwardly work their way into our heart, spirit, and faith -sometimes in a corruptive matter- No!  These are things that start inwardly with how we view other human beings, what we hold as worth, how we gain power or control or servanthood, how we choose to live socially …these things all come from inward decisions of morals, worth, value, sentiment, priorities.

How long will Christian continue to snub Jesus for the sake of Aristotle, Augustine, Tertullian?
How long will generation after generation of young women will have the unfortunate experience of asking the same question I wrestled for a decade, “Does God hate women”? This questions shouldn’t even exist, especially in the Christian realm, but it does and I hate that.
It makes my blood boil.

It makes me want to make a change in this ol’ world. But what can I really do? For now, I write, I research, I take notes, I talk (mostly to my husband), I hope and pray. I don’t think these task are world-changing, but it’ll have to do for today.

Unpracticing Authority

I was in the kitchen helping prep lunch a little Christian gathering and I drifted over to the drink station where I saw another lady & man discussing making the coffee and how much and when, the man said something about we ladies had the authority to decide how much coffee and when because we were in the kitchen fixing lunch. How weird is that?

I was getting ready to go to sleep as the storms were growing close to the shared cabin-bunk I was sleeping in, I was excited, I love storms during a camp/retreat. I don’t know why I just do. We are all full-grown adult woman in this bunk-cabin so I imagine no one will cry through this storm, like I’d been use to in other precious camp experiences. One of the ladies decide she’d like to sit on the porch of the cabin as the storm passed through, to which the older ladies cried out in dramatic-ness that she’d be struck by lightening if she sat out there! …so much for no childishness over these storms, I thought. Much to my surprise after a little bit of debate the first lady stayed inside (bored) because she chose to ” submit to the authority” of these years-aged woman. Now that’s crazy, I thought.

What “authority” are these people talking about? And what’s it have to do with prevailing over (what seems to me to be) common sense? You like storms and you want to watch it, you’re full grown adult, watch them outside if you want. You want plenty of coffee and have made it multiple times before, make some more for everybody! What’s the problem here?

I’ve never heard of authority being used like this. …nor submission. Let’s clear some thing up and define terms a little, maybe?

“although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love” -Philemon 1:8-9

Paul has authority to demand the right and/or perfect thing to be done. All Paul has to do is give the words and they go out with authority like a commandment, but he doesn’t because this Paul. The same Paul who introduces himself at the beginning of the letter as “a prisoner of Christ Jesus”. The prisoner, the servant, the bond-slave… Paul’s idea of credentials and authority were very different than our modern business society.

Servanthood. That’s what I know. There’s a concept that I grew up with, serving one another. It’s the leveler. There’s no need to appoint authority when we are serving one another. …Moreover there’s no reason to give authority when we are not serving one another. Authority is almost obsolete if we are living in the example of Christ Jesus, and is invaild among brethren if we are not living in the ways of Christ Jesus.

Authority practiced and stretched out is more likely an abuse, than actual authority. Because if you must practice authority, then something must be very wrong… more so than even running out of coffee in the midst of three-a-day 2hr lectures. We are called to serve and practice love one to another, if someone enjoys watching storms we should not indoctrinate them with fear, but appoint them to the wisdom and hands of God “ok, but be careful and come in if you feel it’s too dangerous” that should be our response. Using, taking, or practicing authority should be reserved for the severest situations, and not practiced to perfection. Servanthood will lead us to perfection, just as Jesus showed us in his life when he set aside his authority to practice servanthood.

Jesus was strong.

Strong people can remain calm & in-control. Crazy and/or insecure people must yell, scream, and be dramatic to show a false authority. Strong people can serve one another without fear, because they instinctively know the power and authority it takes to be and to remain a servant. It takes the strength of pure-love. One can not be a good servant or authoritative figure without a pure love.

When Paul appeals on the basis of love he also empowers Philemon (the reader) to become an authoritive servant in Christ Jesus. Paul gains authority by giving it away to other faithful servants of Christ.

We need not to practice or appeal to authority within the brethren, instead we need to practice and appeal to love and servanthood. We need to reason together, because this is the example which Christ Jesus gave to us to live by. And since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Grace & peace brethren