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Empowering your Mental Health - Faith: Hope: Love with Barry Pearman

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Saturday Apr 22, 2023

Four types of power play a part in our lives, but the power that will transform you enters your ditch and is with you. 
I’ve seen it all.
Through the eyes of my half-dead body, I watch them come, look, and then go.
Will no one stop to do what I cannot do for myself? I am alone, and no one wants to engage, connect, look upon my swollen face, and pierce my life with hope.
It’s a gift of power I need.
I need someone to cross the line and do what I cannot do for myself.
The disempowerment of abuse
Abuse, in whatever form it comes, has a nasty way of taking the life out of you.
You are left feeling less than others. You’re small, weak, and insignificant. You get stripped of something of the gloriousness that you once were.
Abuse that harms doesn’t have to fit into the major categories of sexual abuse or violence. It could be a little well-aimed slight by a child in the schoolyard. A put down by a bully. A lack of basic essentials such as affirming touch and encouragement.
No one escapes the blows and cuts from living in a broken world. Unfortunately, many of our wounds can remain untreated or undertreated for our lifetime.
Many people come to this website because they pray into an internet search engine the words ‘God, I want to die.’. But I wonder what it would be like to pray, ‘God, I want to live fully.’
I don’t want to live a half-dead life. I want a life where I am fully alive, where wounds have been changed into scars. Abuse cuts and traumas have become beauty marks and toned muscle.
The harm now brings something of God’s life to others, and as we connect, we ‘mouth to mouth’ resuscitate those who robbers and thieves have violated.
What would it be like to be fully alive?
Jesus tells a story about power.
“A man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing and wounded him and departed, leaving him half dead.
By chance a priest came down that way. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 
So likewise a Levite, when he came to that place, looked at him and passed by on the other side. 
But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine. Then he set him on his own donkey and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 
The next day when he departed, he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said to him, ‘Take care of him. I will repay you whatever else you spend when I return.’ Luke 10:30-35
(denarius, a coin worth about a day’s wage.)
In Jesus’ story, we find a man experiencing the effect of Power over. He had been assaulted, robbed, and left half dead. Thieves, robbers, bullies, and tyrants had stolen something of his glorious humanity. Perhaps a fellow human was the only way to restore something of power within.
If you were to look through the eyes of the dying man, what would you see?
What expressions of power would your heart engage with?
Perhaps it comes down to three questions.
Are you with me in my need?
Are you against me in my need?
Are you ambivalent about my need?
Power with, power against, power withheld. 
Four types of power
What does this dying man see?
Power withheldThe eyes see the avoiders. Those who create a void. They have the power to do something, but they hold back.Maybe it was fear or a sense of inadequacy. Perhaps they were too busy, or they were holding on to some sense of self-importance.Let’s not make excuses for those who withhold good. Instead, we can all do for one what we wish we could do for everyone.
Power overHe had already seen the violence of ‘power over’ relationships, but now another human was moving towards him.But this was a different expression of ‘power over.’ This was someone doing for him what he could not do himself.People often use this parable as a justification for rescuing people. Yes, this was a rescue mission because he could not do what was needed for himself. One of the most challenging and saddest moments of my life was when I worked at the coal face of people with mental illness, and I would encounter people so unwell with their illness that they could not make rational decisions. Illness had thrown them into a ditch.There was typically a psychosis involved. They were lost in a ditch of hearing, seeing, and feeling things that no one else was experiencing.  Often they were a danger to themselves and others.I would have to use ‘Power Over’ and call others who had formal power, by law, to take this person into care. So it was ‘power over,’ but not to take something away from them; more so, it was to give them something back.The Samaritan did what the man could not do for himself.
Power withI like this form of power the best. It’s the idea that I will do what I can do, you will do what you can do, and together we will make a difference.The Samaritan went to be with the half-dead man. He crossed the lines. He poured out oil and wine to clean and disinfect. Bandages were bound around the wounds. I wonder if these strips of cloth came from his clothes being ripped apart.This was ‘withness’ in deepest connection.
Power givenThe ‘power with’ transfers into enabling others to give power to the recovery process. The Samaritan knows that others can help in ways he can’t. He uses his own money, two days’ wages, and the promise of more to ensure empowerment continues. A healing nest is needed.
A power within begins to grow.
Something happens in this man. The power within him begins to grow. Strength returns to his body and also to his soul.
Perhaps because he has experienced both the worst of power and the best, he now has a deeper awareness of humanity.
It is lovely to see someone grow in their internal power. They begin to see the lines of their unique shape.  They see those who have used ‘power over’ badly. They see those who have ‘withheld power’ and leave them alone.
But then they begin to see those with them and want to continue to be with them. As a result, inner beauty and strength grow.
Something both glorious and good begins to grow within the soul. Its beauty and strength begins to transform the dangerous roads we travel on. Its love is unstoppable and dangerous, and it must have release.
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a budwas more painful than the risk it took to blossom. Anais Nin
These four types of power play a part in all our lives. The power that will transform you, will enter your ditch and be with you.
It’s your eyes I want to seeLooking into mineGot you live on my mindAll the time. Bruce Cockburn
Quotes to consider
Therapists accomplish good results because they are lovers, in the personal sense of that word, and not experts. Only genuine, unpurchaseable love does what needs to be done in the human soul. Larry Crabb. The Safest Place on Earth.
Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime
Christ taught us that the supernatural love of our neighbor is the exchange of compassion and gratitude which happens in a flash between two beings, one possessing and the other deprived of human personality. One of the two is only a little piece of flesh, naked, inert, and bleeding beside a ditch; he is nameless; no one knows anything about him. Those who pass by this thing scarcely notice it, and a few minutes afterward do not even know they saw it. Only one stops and turns his attention towards it. The actions that follow are just the automatic effect of this moment of attention. Simone Weil Simone Weil. Waiting for God
Giving and receiving unconditional love is the most effective and powerful way to personal wholeness and happiness. John Bradshaw
We live in the shelter of each other. Celtic saying 
I don’t see how we can show anybody we love them if we do not sacrifice for them. Richard Rohr -Job and the Mystery of Suffering
Sacrifice of oneself for the other is simply love in its later stages. It’s a very old-fashioned word. Richard Rohr -Job and the Mystery of Suffering
Questions to answer
Which of the four types of power grabbed your attention?
How can we cultivate more ‘power with’ in our relationships?
Lines get crossed all the time. What type of power helps restore the soul?
We are all traveling from a Jerusalem to a Jericho. What has happened on your pilgrimage?
Further reading
Barry Pearman
Photo by Derick Daily on Unsplash
Read this further here FOLLOW ME!Email me: barry@turningthepage.co.nzWebsite: https://turningthepage.co.nz/Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/turningthepage1atatimeTwitter: https://twitter.com/barrypearmanInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/barry_pearman/Podcast https://turningthepage.co.nz/podcast-listen-mental-health/Support Turning the Page with a Donation https://turningthepage.co.nz/give/

A Love That Crosses A Line

Friday Apr 21, 2023

Friday Apr 21, 2023

When we’re half dead and want to be fully alive, we need a love that crosses a line. 
He was half dead. She had been stripped naked.
They had worked him over, taking enjoyment from the assault.
I leaned down over her nakedness and heard a whisper, ‘Help me.’
I saw beauty under her bruises. I saw his potential slipping away. I saw it all, felt it all.
I had crossed a line. I was in their world now.
Others walked up, noticed, and avoided. I held her close, hoping something of my life would breathe into her. He draped his arms over me, fingers clasping for connection.
I didn’t have much to offer, but all that I had, I gave.
‘Stop walking by,’ I screamed at all the self-righteous with their self-protective rules. They would look with millisecond attention, focus elsewhere, then quicken their pace.
The thugs who had assaulted this naked soul were probably still around. Perhaps I would be next.
Love crosses a line.
Love crosses a line
The relationship between the first woman and the first man must have been incredible. Sure, there was a line around the unique identity that was a man, and that was a woman. They were different but also complementary.
There was a deep desire to outdo the other in the expression of love. So it flowed. It overflowed. One into the other and back again.
No hint of selfishness or holding back. No walls or hiddenness.
The line was there, they knew they were different from each other, but there was such an openness to both give and receive.
Love crossed a line where they didn’t even know a line existed.
Lines with walls
We now have walls built on top of our lines: fences, barricades, and even razor wire in some cases.
A little hurt here and there, and we build a wall. The wall becomes thicker and higher with repeated experiences.
The ‘I will never let my heart be hurt like that again’ sentence becomes a mantra most likely learned as a little child. Repeated over and over again, it becomes an anthem.
Repeated experiences of abuse, both small and large, help validate our wall-building program.
We are secure inside our walled city. Isolated but safe. Alone but in control. Strong, but actually fragile.
But we need community. Someone to leave their travel plans and venture into the ditch where we are half-dead. Someone who wants to see us become fully alive.
Can we be vulnerable to some line crossing?
To love at all is to be vulnerable.Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal.Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements.Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change.It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.To love is to be vulnerable. C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
A good neighbor crosses lines
Jesus tells a parable of what vulnerable love looks like.
A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.
Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
But a Samaritan while travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity.
He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.”
Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’
He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’
This agape love leaps across mountains and bounds over hills (Song of Solomon 2:8). It runs through bands of robbers and thieves and jumps over walls built high. (Psalm 18:29)
It’s absurd to the rationalist and rule-bound.
It’s real, costly, and puts the lover at risk. It kisses the leper and breathes life into corpses.
The legalists, the accountants, the Pharisees, and the scribes will definitely look down upon it. They will critique the gifts poured out as much as they did the woman who kissed and poured perfume over the feet of Jesus. (Luke 7:36-39)
To Cross a Line is to take a risk.
To show us love, God crossed a line. God came to us in the form of someone like ourselves – Jesus. We killed God on a cross. Christianity is the only religion in the world where God dies.
Love died and rose again.
Now we are called to take a risk and cross a line.
It doesn’t have to be large. It could be giving someone a glass of water or some clothes. On the other hand, it might be visiting someone imprisoned by illness, poverty, or crime (Matthew 25:31-46). Crossing a line, moving beyond self to enter another self, always carries an element of risk.
Would you do it for me?
Do for one, what you wish you could do for everyone.
Quotes to consider
Our charity must be real and costly love, with deep feelings for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner – no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses … for in him also Christ ‘vere latitat’ – the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden. C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. 1 Coronthians 13:1-3
When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. Henri J.M. Nouwen
Research teaches us that the capacity to reach out to others for help in dealing with fear and pain is the best single remedy for emotional injury.  Whether the person is struggling with the effects of combat, rape, or childhood injury, the best predictor of trauma resolution is good social support. Terrence Real, I Don’t Want To Talk About It
Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one. C.S. Lewis
The opposite of love is not hate , it’s indifference. Elie Wiesel
Where there is great love there is always miracles. Willa Cather
Human life must be about more than building boundaries, protecting identities, and teaching impulse control. Richard Rohr 
Questions to answer
What do you think of the sentance ‘Christianity is the only religion in the world where God dies.’ ?
Who would you cross a line for?
Who has crossed a line for you (please dont say Jesus) and entered into your distress?
Further reading
Barry Pearman
Photo by Will on Unsplash
Read this further here FOLLOW ME!Email me: barry@turningthepage.co.nzWebsite: https://turningthepage.co.nz/Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/turningthepage1atatimeTwitter: https://twitter.com/barrypearmanInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/barry_pearman/Podcast https://turningthepage.co.nz/podcast-listen-mental-health/Support Turning the Page with a Donation https://turningthepage.co.nz/give/

The Making of a Void

Thursday Apr 20, 2023

Thursday Apr 20, 2023

There is a kind of loneliness that feels like a huge void has been opened up, and you’re broken on the other side. But there is one that crosses the void to bring connection. 
I’m still trying to understand why they avoided me.
They knew I was in a mess,  and I thought they were my friend, but they never contacted me.
They a-voided me. Break that word ‘avoid’ down.
The word void, in this sense, means an empty space, and that is what it felt like. It was like there was an empty space between them and me.
Loneliness and abandonment can kill. We were always meant for intimate community, but instead, we so often find empty voids in our relationships. No one is willing to cross a line to touch and engage the soul of a neighbor.
Have you ever felt that someone is a-voiding you? You don’t know why there is a void between you and them? Or perhaps you do know why, and it’s because of something that you have done or has been done to you.
You’re on the outside, and no one comes near.
Perhaps you’re doing the avoiding. Making sure there is a distance between yourself and them—sometimes, you need to do this to feel safe.
The Void
So who is my neighbor?
That was the question posed to Jesus.
Jesus tells a story and invites us to look through the eyes of the first person mentioned in this story—the half-dead victim of abuse.
Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.Now by chance, a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. Luke 10:25-30
Imagine yourself as that man.
You’re half dead, eyes barely open, naked, and you’re slipping in and out of consciousness.
You see someone come, and a glimmer of hope springs up, but when they see you, they create a void. Then, a second person comes, and they do the same.
What goes on in your mind? ‘Will no one help’
It’s abuse to neglect the other that is in obvious need.
We say to ourselves in our defense that there are so many that cry out for our help. The victims of earthquakes, natural disasters, crime, and poverty, and we can’t help everyone. But perhaps that is not the point.
Perhaps we are called to do for one what we wish we could do for everyone. To cross the line and fill the void with one other soul.
Does God love me?
There is a question or a series of questions that I get continually asked. They are based around a central heart struggle – Does God love me?
I’ve been abused and hurt, and surely if God loved me, God would not have allowed this to happen. Surely God can fix this situation?
If God is good, then what is God good for?
Dan Allender states
‘Abuse provides the raw data that seems to prove that God is not good,’ the ‘devilishness of abuse is that it does Satan’s work of deceiving children about God’s true nature and encouraging them to mistrust Him. Dan Allender The Wounded Heart.
God steps into this broken world with all of us making broken world choices. God comes in the form of Jesus. Fully divine and yet fully human.
Jesus experiences the fullness of abuse – intentional and unintentional.
He experiences the darkness of the void. He knows the void you experience.
I’m unsure if this neglect of giving love and creating a void isn’t more abusive than a full-on physical attack. It’s more subtle and hidden.
This a-voiding by others can reinforce and strengthen a belief that you genuinely are nothing. Everyone else has their life together, but you don’t. As a result, you are further dehumanized through loss of connection.
Filling the void
I will wait for someone to come and fill the void. Someone who will step across the line and move into my world with grace and kindness. Someone to welcome me into their embrace and banish the darkness of the void.
‘On the cross, the dancing circle of self-giving and mutually indwelling divine persons opens up for the enemy; in the agony of the passion, the movement stops for a brief moment, and a fissure appears so that sinful humanity can join in.We, the others – we the enemies – are embraced by the divine persons who love us with the same love with which they love each other and therefore make space for us within their own eternal embrace. Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace, 129.
I am welcomed with their embrace.
The word ‘vicarious’ is one of my favorite words. It  simply means to serve instead of someone or something else
When someone steps across the line and enters my ditch with grace and love, I sense something of the nature of Christ filling the void and giving me hope.
I wait for someone like me who has dirt in their toenails to wander down, cross the line, and fill the void made by others.
Quotes to consider
No victim is responsible for having been abused. But abuse does provide strong reasons, potent stories, to ask, “Where was God? Does  He love me? Can I trust Him? If   can, what am I to trust Him for?” The devilishness of abuse is that it does Satan’s work of deceiving children about God’s nature and encouraging them to mistrust Him. Fearing to trust God, the abuse victim will naturally choose other gods to provide her [or him] with life, whether alcohol, promiscuity, or approval-seeking. Dan Allender The Wounded Heart
I think not touching a child for decades at a time is a form of injury. I  think withholding any expression of love until a young boy is a grown man is a form of emotional violence. And I believe that the violence men level against themselves and others is bred from just such circumstances. Terence Real, I Don’Don’tt To Talk About It
No one person can fulfill all your needs. But the community can truly hold you. The community can let you experience the fact that, beyond your anguish, there are human hands that hold you and show you God’s, faithful love. Henri Nouwen Inner voice of love
Beneath what our culture calls psychological disorder is a soul crying out for what only community can provide. There is no “disorder” requiring “treatment.” And, contrary to hard-line moralism, there is more to our struggles than a stubborn will needing firm admonishment. Beneath all our problems, there are desperately hurting souls that must find the nourishment only community can provide—or die. Larry Crabb – Connecting
We are saved by those whom we go to save, and both of us are then saved in spite of ourselves. There is a mysterious “third” which is doing the saving. Suffering for and with the other seems to be the only way we know that our lives are not about us. Richard Rohr -Job and the Mystery of Suffering
Questions to answer
Where have you experienced the a-void?
Who did Jesus cross the a-void to minister to?
Do you think the neglect of giving love is worse than a full-on physical attack? Look through the eyes of the man in the ditch.
Further Reading
Barry PearmanPhoto by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash
Read this further here FOLLOW ME!Email me: barry@turningthepage.co.nzWebsite: https://turningthepage.co.nz/Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/turningthepage1atatimeTwitter: https://twitter.com/barrypearmanInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/barry_pearman/Podcast https://turningthepage.co.nz/podcast-listen-mental-health/Support Turning the Page with a Donation https://turningthepage.co.nz/give/

Tuesday Apr 11, 2023

It’s a human experience to know the trauma of falling into the hands of robbers and thieves, but there is one who joins us in our ditch.
I was robbed a few years ago. I had parked my truck in a parking lot and had gone into a shop to purchase a few things.
When I walked out, I saw someone looking into the back of my truck. I thought that was strange, so I began walking briskly toward them.
When they saw me coming, they rushed to their vehicle, climbed in, and took off. Two adults were in the car, a male and a female, and two children were in car seats in the back.
When I got to my car, I saw some gardening tools were missing.
I jumped in the truck and took off after them. This is where you hear upbeat Hollywood music!
But they had gone, couldn’t see them anywhere, so I returned to the parking area and went into the shop to see if they had security video footage of the event.
They did, but these thieves were cunning. They didn’t drive close enough to the cameras to get good images. The security guard said that this is what robbers do. They cruise around the carparks looking for opportunities. They are fully aware of where the cameras are and the quick exit routes.
I watched as a van cruised around the parking lot, found a spot next to my truck, and went back in next to it for a potential quick getaway. Then the male and female rummage through the gear on the back. They tried to open the doors but found they were locked. They then started to take equipment from my truck and put it in their car.
I called the police and filed a report, but nothing was returned. Fortunately, insurance covered the loss, enabling me to buy better-quality tools.
But ever since then, I have been more careful with where I park my truck and what I leave on the back. I will soon buy a van where everything will be fully enclosed and secure.
When you’ve been robbed
Wild thoughts and feelings raged through my mind about what I would do if I caught them. I did still have my pitchfork!
I had been violated; someone had crossed a line and stolen what I had worked hard to earn and purchase.
What a fool I was to leave my tools exposed like that. I was naive.
Then more self-accusing thoughts pounded through my brain—stupid, idiot, dummy.
Past shaming events triggered memories. I was a little boy again, being bullied.
Everyone will think even less of me than what they think of me now.
It is a downward, deepening spiral into despair.
Then there were those children in the back seat. They were being formed in their thinking that is what you do, this is normal. They would grow to think it’s perfectly normal to cross other people’s lines to get what they want. They were being robbed of truth every time this scenario played out before them.
Robbers and Thieves
Jesus once told a parable about us and how we have been robbed.
Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ 
He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What do you read there?’
 He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.’ 
And he said to him, ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’
But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’
Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Luke 10:25-30
In the original greek, the word Jesus used to describe the robbers was léstés
lēstḗs – a thief (“robber”) stealing out in the open (typically with violence). lēstḗs (“a bandit, briard”) is a thief who also plunders and pillages – an unscrupulous marauder (malefactor), exploiting the vulnerable without hesitating to use violence.
There was more than one robber, and they only saw this man as someone they could take from. He was stripped naked, used for violence, and abandoned.
Types of abuse
Mark Laaser, in Healing the wounds of Sexual Addiction, describes two kinds of abuse: invasion and abandonment.
He places the types of abuse, invasion, and abandonment, into the four areas of human experience.
1. Emotional
Mind rape
2. Physical
3. Sexual
Touching or penetrating the genital area
Teasing about body
Sexual humor
Sexual misinformation about sex
4. Spiritual
Punitive or angry messages about God
Negative messages about sex
Modeling unhealthy lifestyles
As you look over the list, you will probably see items you will connect with as either a receiver of this abuse or a giver. There is grace and forgiveness for us all, whether we are the victim or the violator.
Abandonment abuse we will look at in the next post.
Jesus in the ditch
For this parable to have the most significant effect, one must see themselves as that man.
Someone going about their daily business only to be attacked and left half dead. Naked, stripped of anything of value, and left to die.
Robbers and thieves. The obvious invaders and marauders across the line of our humanity. Everyone I have met can relate to some experience of abuse where someone has crossed an obvious line.
But we are not alone in our half-dead state. Jesus knows the invasiveness of what man can do.
He knows the invaders, thieves, robbers, and marauders. Jesus experienced the dehumanizing effects of living in a broken world.
He, too, was stripped naked and left to die. Christianity is the only religion where God dies.
When we fully face our wounds and how we have wounded others, we need someone to cross our lines with a message of self-sacrificial love and hope. That’s the message of the purest form of love. It’s where someone leaves the road, crosses the line, and enters our ditch with an invasiveness of resurrection hope.
Quotes to consider
Any spirituality that does not lead from a self- centered existence to an other-centred mode of existence is bankrupt. Brennan Manning. The Signature of Jesus
It is so difficult to admit to ourselves and others that we can’t control everything. Only when we name the ways we are powerless do we create space for God to step in. Richard Rohr
Change is possible and substantial, but not perfected until heaven. “Substantial healing”, a phrase used by Francis Schaffer, underscores the possibility of deep and meaningful alteration, without blinding our eyes to the fact that permanent and final change awaits the transformation of the world through Christ’s return. The wounds of living in a fallen world with fallen people (including ourselves) make being damaged (internally and externally) a certainty. Dan Allender
[Christianity is] the only religion in the world where God dies at the end. People say they’re Christians, but you know what? You never see them nailed to anything. (T.V. series – Inside man)
I had never confronted the utter helplessness of rape, of knowing that it just did not matter that I existed; that I did not want this; that I was a human being; not a thing to be invaded, punched, or possibly killed. Rape denies that you are a person, that you exist. In contrast, lovemaking affirms your existence. Lynne Henderson, ‘What Makes Rape a Crime’, Berkeley Women’s Law Journal 3: (1988), 226.
Questions to answer
What happened to you as you read this post?
Where have you been robbed or assaulted?
What heals the wounds of invasive abuse?
Further reading
Barry Pearman
Read this further here FOLLOW ME!Email me: barry@turningthepage.co.nzWebsite: https://turningthepage.co.nz/Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/turningthepage1atatimeTwitter: https://twitter.com/barrypearmanInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/barry_pearman/Podcast https://turningthepage.co.nz/podcast-listen-mental-health/Support Turning the Page with a Donation https://turningthepage.co.nz/give/

The Shape of Love

Friday Mar 10, 2023

Friday Mar 10, 2023

The Shape of You
What’s your shape? I’m not talking about your body shape, i.e., weight, tall, thin, short, or wide. I’m more interested in who you are under the skin. What has happened to shape you into the person you are? 
What is your personality like?  What do you like to eat? Favorite music tastes. Are you a cat person or a dog person, or neither? Where were you born? What do you do to relax? What are the multiple facets that make you wonderfully different from someone else?
Who are you? 
“Today you are you!That is truer than true!There is no one alive……who is you-er than you!
Shout loud, “I am lucky to be what I am!Thank goodness I’m not just a clam or a hamOr a dusty old jar of sour gooseberry jam!I am what I am!
That’s a great thing to be!If I say so myself,HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!”Dr. Seuss
The circle of your ‘I.’
I often like to share with people that I support the concept of the ‘I,’ ‘WE,’ WORK’ shared originally to me by psychologist Renier Greef. It’s comprised of four circles. 
The first circle is that of the individual. The ‘I’ refers to you. Who you are. 
It’s not a perfect circle. It’s imperfect. It’s freehand drawn to represent how unique and irregular we all are. No two circles are the same. 
But this circle contains all of who you are.  
You may only know a small percentage of what is within your circle. Much of the essential information is subconscious. It can be discovered if you want to go there. That subconscious below-the-surface flow of heart talk has been in the shaping process from before birth. 
Every one of us has ‘I..’ It’s what makes us uniquely human. You have a shape full of delight.
Your neighbor does, also.
A man was traveling. 
Jesus was in conversation with someone who had been shaped into having a litigious personality. They loved a good argument and getting their opponents tied up in knots. 
This expert in the law enjoyed making people feel small and foolish by using their intelligence and cunning. There was no gentle curiosity in them. It was more a legal ‘I win, you lose.’ 
He asks Jesus a question. 
Just then, a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?”
He answered, “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?”
He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.”
“Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you’ll live.”
Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?” Luke 10:25-29
You can sense the tossing of words back and forth. A question is asked, and a question is given in response. The legal and correct answer is given.
Another question is presented. This is a question of defining who is in and who is out. Who is a ‘neighbor’ and who is not? What shape of persons are acceptable?
But actually, it’s a question of lines. Who will I cross a line for and love, and who I don’t have to cross over to know. 
Jesus answers the question with a story. 
There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. Luke 10:30
Those listening to this story would have immediately noticed that Jesus was telling a parable and that the primary character, the one that this parable was about, was the first person mentioned in the story. It was a man. It was an ‘I.’
Jesus invited them to view everything about this story as if they were this man. They were to look through his eyes. 
They knew nothing about this man other than he was a man and that he was traveling. 
But this man had a shape to him. He was human.
Jesus tells them nothing else about the man with which they could box him within. Jesus said nothing about his ethnicity, wealth, marital status, age, or occupation. Nothing that we might be able to codify or label him with. Nothing from which we could decide if he was in or out of the ‘acceptable’ shapes to mix with. 
He was simply a man on a journey. He could have been any one of us. 
And that’s the first point Jesus was making. This anonymous man is us. It is you. This is someone in the shape of you.  
The Road
Jesus tells us that he was on a road and that he was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. 
Those early listeners would have known this road well. It was a steep road from Jerusalem in the heights to Jericho in the plains. It was scorched and arid.
Eighteen miles long, this road was a major route for trading caravans, military personnel, and the pilgrims who visited Jerusalem multiple times each year. It was a busy road. 
But it was also a dangerous road where bandits and robbers would attack travelers. There would have been many hiding places and escape routes into the desert where no one would pursue them.
This road from Jerusalem to Jericho was a dangerous route. 
Your road
Whats your road been like? 
In the shaping of your ‘I,’ what has happened on your pilgrim’s road?
I once walked the Camino de Santago pilgrimage in Spain. On the very first day of the walk, I encountered some robbers and thieves. They didn’t come with fists and fury. They were more subtle. They wanted a signature on a petition and a donation to a cause. They were sly and cunning to the many innocent travellers.
On the journey I met other similar scam artists preying on the vulnerable.
They were willing to cross a line of truth to elicit some funds. I found out later that there was a gang supporting their deceit.
Have you ever experienced being robbed?
For the most part, the fellow pilgrims on our path are helpful, friendly, and respectful.
This is our journey, and it shapes us.
What has shaped you?
How do the lines around your ‘I’ look from the pilgrimage so far?
Our road through life is the same. We will have others with us. We will connect the shape of us with the shape of them. Lines around us will intersect. Some will enhance our shape, while others will rob and bring harm.  Many will bring both.
I’m in love with the shape of you.
There is something about you that has divine imprinting. Like the masterpiece artwork with the artist’s signature in the bottom corner. It’s a picture of your journey, and it has all the heights and all the lows. 
The battle scars are seen for the story they tell. Callused feet and well-worn clothes. There is a ‘Mona Lisa’ smile that no one can truly work out. It’s there, and it tells its own story of completion. 
I want to hear the story. The footsteps of your journey from Jerusalem to Jericho. I have my own experiences that may help you. You will help me. I’m in love with the shape of you. I’m interested in your ‘I.’
As I finished writing the above sentence, I received an email from someone unknown to me. A fellow traveler to Jericho. 
I’m suffering so bad with mental illness, I am a Christian and want to trust God has a plan for me, I just can’t get through this and I want so bad to go be with Christ. I feel so rejected and alone, and see no hope for my future. 
Something has robbed this traveler. I can see through their eyes and know the dark hole. They have a shape to themselves that God is in love with.
Quotes to consider
Love is the outbound movement that trains people to heal injustice and kindly embrace the world. Norman Wirzba
Loneliness is the first thing which God’s eye named not good. John Milton
As pilgrims must discover if they are to complete their quest, we are led to truth by our weaknesses as well as our strengths. Parker Palmer
Faith is not the clinging to a shrine but an endless pilgrimage of the heart. Abraham Joshua Heschel
To be more aware of the other person, first become more aware of yourself. Without self-awareness, self cannot be laid aside, in order to listen. D. Riddell
Love yourself as you love others. If you don’t care for your own needs, you’ll soon be unable to care for those who need you.  D. Riddell
Spiritual growth begins with the easily overlooked disciplines of attentiveness and surrender. David Benner
Love yourself as you love others. If you don’t care for your own needs, you’ll soon be unable to care for those who need you.D. Riddell
Be there for others but never leave yourself behind. Dodinsky
Questions to answer
What has happened in your pilgrimage to shape you into who you are?
How would you describe your ‘I’? Likes, dislikes, hobbies, skills
We all have areas in our lives that are ‘no-go’ for others to explore. What would it be like to have someone listen to those with fullness of grace and love?
Barry Pearman
Photo by Mohammad Hoseini Rad on Unsplash
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Thursday Mar 09, 2023

Thursday Mar 09, 2023

We all have lines around us. Mostly invisible. People cross the lines, and we are hurt, but we also cross the lines of others. 
The line had been crossed so many times that they were losing their own personal identity. Bullies, thugs, robbers, and thieves had crossed over into their personal space so many times that there was nothing left of who they were.
They felt like they were simply someone others used for their pleasure: a punching bag, a toy to play with, a commodity to be used and abandoned.
Lines had been crossed that were never meant to be. They were an object to be used and then discarded. No glory in them, no beauty inside. Impotent of purpose, much like a speck of dust in a corner.
For them, it felt much like this account from an abuse survivor.
I always felt that I was like a sort of Martian-I wasn’t from this planet.
I was never meant for this earth. And I was waiting to die, basically, just waiting for the day … I was waiting to die.
And I couldn’t relate to anybody. I felt so inferior and all the negative things, you know, so unworthy, or not worthwhile-without value.
And nobody would want to know me anyway and things like this.’ Peter Dale, John Allen and Lynda Measor, ‘Counselling adults who were abused as children: Clients’ perceptions of efficacy, client-counselor communication, and dissatisfaction’, British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 26(2): (1998), 146.
It had started as a child, but it was still being played out in the whispers of today.
A line had been crossed.
I don’t think there is anything more harmful to the core of a person’s existence than to be used as an object for others’ gratification.
To be treated as something less than fully human.
To be dehumanized is to be deprived of human characteristics or attributes, to be made inanimate, and to be treated as an object.
The other is used to vent one’s anger, to play out one’s fantasies, to rob, steal and destroy.
The other is no longer someone made in the image of God. They are now someone to be used, abused, and left for dead.
The outcome is traumatized people.
We’ve all had lines crossed.
Every one of us has had the experience of having a line crossed.
It could be in the extreme, but it could also be in the small and seemingly insignificant. Little cuts add up. We play down and minimize some wounds because we don’t want to examine the core terror of being hurt.
We also cross other people’s lines. We say things, do things, and behave in ways that are abusive to others. Often we don’t even realize that we might be crossing someone’s line.
Recently, someone said something to me that cut me to the core.
They didn’t realize how much they had peeled off an old scab and that I was being re-traumatized. They went on with their daily business, but I’m still thinking about it daily.
We are indeed broken people living in a broken world where broken choices are made. But we hold on to the hope of God making all things new.
I’ve met many broken people, but in everyone, I have seen something unique, beautiful, and powerful. Someone wanting to be known, loved, and held.
There are no ordinary people.
I don’t think we understand simply how glorious we genuinely are.
We are so curved in on ourselves that we don’t have a good view of how much we are image-bearers of God.
I genuinely love sitting with people and asking God to reveal how this human bear’s something of Genesis delight. I look for sparks of firework creation. I notice the smile, the humor, the sparkle of some garden long ago. I want to smell the wafts of Eden’s creativity, touching my senses.
Where you focus is where you will go.
It’s in every one of us.
Read what C.S. Lewis writes.
It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor.
The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. …
It is in light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.
There are no ordinary people.
You have never talked to a mere mortal.
Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat.
But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit. … Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
Holiest object?
What would change in you if you were to see your neighbor as a holy object? Someone of God’s divine creative expression.
And then looking into the mirror and seeing yourself as a holy object. Someone who has infinite God beauty and presence radiating out of your being.
Impossible, you may well say. Nothing of God’s delight is to be seen here, yet there is. Under all of what we think we are, there is something bursting with life.
It’s all contained within some lines.
Invisible lines. Some people have strong lines like concrete walls that shout, ‘Stay away. You’re never going to see the real me.’
Others have tissue thin lines that seem not to be there at all, and people ignore them. Abusers walk through as if there is nothing there at all.
Lines are needed, and they are always built from the inside out.
Quotes to consider
There are no little people in God’s sight, so there are no little places. To be wholly committed to God in the place where God wants him [or her]—this is the creature glorified … This is the way of the Christian: he [or she] should choose the lesser place until God extrudes him [or her] into a position of more responsibility and authority. Francis Schaeffer No Little People
Internalized or toxic shame lethally disgraces us to the point where we have no limits or boundaries. John Bradshaw
Can my world ever be rebuilt? Do I have any value? Can I be useful again? Is there life after failure? My answer is yes. That is what grace is all about. A marvelous, forgiving, healing grace says that all things can be new. Gordon MacDonald
Tell Moses, Zechariah and Elizabeth, and St. Paul that the broken-world experience is an addendum, an add-on, to life. Tell them that pressure, failure, and embarrassment are not part of the course of human development and maturation. They simply won’t agree. They will say that sorrow, pain, and stress are the “graduate school” of godly character and capacity if people are willing to enroll. The problem, they may suggest, is that this school has too many no-shows and dropouts. Gordon MacDonald
In pain, failure, and brokenness, God does His finest work in the lives of people. Gordon MacDonald
If the church has a future it is a future with the poor in whatever form.—Henri Nouwen.
Brokenness is a condition, one that is always there, inside, beneath the surface, carefully hidden for as long as we can keep a facade in place. We live in brokenness. We just don’t always see it, either in ourselves or in others. Larry Crabb
A central task of community is to create a place that is safe enough for the walls to be torn down, safe enough for each of us to own and reveal our brokenness. Larry Crabb
Questions to answer
Where have lines been crossed in your life?
Where have you crossed others’ lines?
How did you respond to the idea that your neighbor and even yourself as being a ‘Holy object’?
Barry Pearman
Photo by Devin Avery on Unsplash
Read this further here FOLLOW ME!Email me: barry@turningthepage.co.nzWebsite: https://turningthepage.co.nz/Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/turningthepage1atatimeTwitter: https://twitter.com/barrypearmanInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/barry_pearman/Podcast https://turningthepage.co.nz/podcast-listen-mental-health/Support Turning the Page with a Donation https://turningthepage.co.nz/give/

Wednesday Mar 08, 2023

You may feel alone, but you have a purpose, and that is to co-create with God, so lets L.O.F.O.
Recently a friend asked me to pray for them. It caught me by surprise, but as I listened to the struggle they were facing, I felt it was a privilege to listen to the coalface experience they were inviting me into. I held them and prayed. Later they said it made all the difference. I co-created with them.
What a privilege we have to be able to co-create.
We use the word co-create sparingly, but it means working with someone to create something. So there is an invitation to a partnership.
I received an email the other day with the question. ‘Why won’t God let me die’? My immediate thought about their pain was that ‘God needed them for something.’
Why would God need us?
The God of infinite power that can speak a universe surely doesn’t need us, but God does need us, and there is an invitation to co-create.
We co-create with God.
I look at the garden and see a rose I planted years ago. It’s flowering now with generous white blooms.
I prune, feed, and water it, yet I do not control this beauty. I have limited power over its glory.
It will most likely be there in fifty years, blessing someone else. I am co-creating with God for future generations’ enjoyment. I am simply a steward of the now for the hope of the future.
The early church leaders Paul and Apollos co-creator with God.
Paul co-creates words in a letter to his friends in the city of Corinth.
 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.
So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each.
For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building. 1 Corinthians 3:5-9
Paul could see him and Apollo working together as God’s servants to co-create God’s field, God’s building.
Paul’s desire to die
I don’t think Paul was suicidal, but I do believe Paul desired to be somewhere else, and that somewhere else was to be with Christ.
If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer.
I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better, but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. 
Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again. Philippians 1:22-26
I believe Paul carried a heavy load of shame and guilt for how he treated the early church. It was his ‘thorn in the flesh,’ but God had not finished with him yet and desired to co-create with him. Read – Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh and its Meaning for You. 
It was ‘fruitful labor’ that held him firm. Those times when he was able to co-create with God and others and see something good grow from a seed into a flourishing rose bush, filling God’s world with beauty.
We co-create when we L.O.F.O. and act on them.
We L.O.F.O.
L.O.F.O. is an acronym for Look Out For Opportunities. 
It’s straightforward. We look for opportunities to co-create with God. Little things.
Picking up a piece of rubbish and putting it in a bin.
patting someone on the back and saying well done
Changing someone’s flat tyre.
Sowing some seed
Buying a friend a cup of coffee
Sharing a photograph you have taken of a little bird to the world via social media.
Adding a dollar into the churches collection plate
Sweeping the floor
Mowing your neighbour’s lawn
Sharing your thoughts through a blog post
This list could go on forever, but its little things done with love help co-create this world. It’s the antidote to suicidal thinking.
It’s the thinking that this world was created out of and for – self-giving love.
Quotes to consider
Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love. Mother Teresa
Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours.Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world.Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world.Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body.Christ has no body now on earth but yours. Teresa of Ávila
Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up. Anne Lamott
Nothing digs ditches like shovel fulls of dirt. Rick Hanson
Faith is not the clinging to a shrine but an endless pilgrimage of the heart. Joshua Heschel
Faith is not the opposite of doubt. Faith is the opposite of certitude. Where you don’t need to be certain to be happy. If you can’t go there, you’ll never be happy because you’ll never get logical certitude. If you’re waiting for 100% certitude, you’re never going to be happy. Richard Rohr.
To accept some degree of meaninglessness is our final and full act of faith that God is still good and still in control. Richard Rohr
Questions to consider
How does it feel to be a co-creator with God?
How can you incorporate L.O.F.O. into your daily life?
What does ‘fruitful living’ look like for you?
Further reading
Barry Pearman
Read this further hereFOLLOW ME!Email me: barry@turningthepage.co.nzWebsite: https://turningthepage.co.nz/Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/turningthepage1atatimeTwitter: https://twitter.com/barrypearmanInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/barry_pearman/Podcast https://turningthepage.co.nz/podcast-listen-mental-health/Support Turning the Page with a Donation https://turningthepage.co.nz/give/
Photo by Jake Thacker on Unsplash

Friday Feb 24, 2023

Writing blog posts over many years teaches you many things,  but what are the key learnings? Knowing these can help you create words that connect.
This blog post recognizes the momentous occasion of publishing 500 posts. Some posts are from guest writers, but most are from my authorship.
Five hundred posts are a lot of words, and when you create something of worth for an extended period, you begin to hone the craft. You pick up skills and techniques that work for you.
So I am going to share nine key learnings since I started writing in July 2012.
Do you want to create something meaningful? These pointers will help.
What I have learned from publishing 500 blog posts
Everything starts with listening.Before you write a single word, you will need to listen. Listen to the multiple streams of thoughts that come flowing around your brain. It might be something you read or a podcast you have heard. A verse of scripture, a poem, or a song. It comes down to listening and discerning the one idea for you to focus on. Listening takes time, unhurried time, and permission to give yourself for that seed to germinate.
Your vibe attracts your tribeThere are people out there who will connect to your writing style, thoughts, and wisdom. You simply need to connect with them. Your vibe, what you find helpful and interesting, will attract your tribe, those who truly get you and want more. So share what you are reading and finding helpful—little quotes and thoughts. When you do this, others like you will gather around your campfire of wisdom and form a community. Please, be yourself; everyone else is taken.
Be consistent, and show up.Every week at the same time, share your creation even if you think it’s not that great. People, and search engine algorithms, will get to know when to expect your latest piece. Showing up creates habits in your brain and patterns in your lifestyle. ‘This is what I do, this is who I am, and this is when I do it.’ You will start to see everything as a potential idea for writing. You will move from being someone who writes to being a writer.
Do it anywayYou will have your detractors. You will have people close to you that are ambivalent about your calling. You may have people who might thoroughly criticize and seek to destroy your work. Write and build anyway.At times, I have had to hold onto this beautiful writing from Mother Teresa.‘In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.’ Mother TeresaThe full quote is in the quotes section.
Write from your coalfaceI have a little phrase that keeps singing to me. No one knows coal like a coal miner.I want to hear words from people digging away at their dark coal face. I don’t want theories, philosophies, or any unlived truths.So I write from my heart first, then the head, and then dance between the two. I want to connect with the dark coalface of other people’s lives and shed some light. To connect, I have to share something of my coalface. I am a beggar myself, searching for bread and sharing a few crumbs.
Write and then editIt’s so easy to write and edit as you go. Try and resist this. Getting all the words out on the page first is best, then go back later and edit. When I want to get the words out with no distractions, such as spelling checkers, I use a free app called Write Monkey. It’s a simple, distraction-free tool that’s like writing on an old-fashioned typewriter. Make as many mistakes and errors as you like. Then, you will find yourself free to pour out the words without distraction.
Keep the focus on One ideaWhen hammering a nail into a piece of wood, you have one nail and one hammer. The point of what you are writing is that one nail. What is that nail? What is the one point? If you have multiple points, you will confuse the reader. If you confuse, you lose. Noise is the enemy. Too many ideas will dilute the one that truly needs the focus.
Have an overarching theme. My focus in my writing is Mental Health and Christian Spiritual Formation. If I were to sprinkle in articles on car mechanics, recipes, or shoe repair, it would confuse you. Everything I write and share has a connection to my overarching theme. Perhaps this post doesn’t, but it’s my party, and I have the microphone!
Become a quote collectorThere are so many wonderful authors who have been there and done that. As I read them, I come across wonderful little jewels of sentences. I have to collect them. I can’t help myself. So I highlight them if they are on my kindle or underline them in a paper book. Then I go back later and organize them into categories in Google docs. So when I write a new blog post or a book, I can easily find and share them as I have done below. I can also share on Social Media, and this vibe attracts my tribe.
Nine learnings from 500 blog posts. There are many more I could share, so I am writing a book about writing. I hope these nine gleanings have helped you.
If you have questions or would like to talk more about your writing, please feel free to contact me.
Quotes to consider
Christianity is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread. D.T. Niles
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.Mother Teresa
People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. George Bernard Shaw
I have learned one thing. As Woody [Allen] says, ‘Showing up is 80 percent of life.’ Sometimes it’s easier to hide home in bed. I’ve done both. Marshall Brickman
Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner. Lao Tzu
Inspiration usually comes during work, rather than before it. Madeleine L’Engle
We write to heighten our own awareness of life. We write to lure and enchant and console others. We write to serenade our lovers. We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection. We write, like Proust, to render all of it eternal, and to persuade ourselves that it is eternal. We write to be able to transcend our life, to reach beyond it. We write to teach ourselves to speak with others, to record the journey into the labyrinth. We write to expand our world when we feel strangled, or constricted, or lonely…When I don’t write, I feel my world shrinking. I feel I am in prison. I feel I lose my fire and my color. It should be a necessity, as the sea needs to heave, and I call it breathing.”  Anaïs Nin
Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through the lips and fingertips.
I always try to preach from my scars and not my wounds. So, talking about depression is not in any way a wound for me. Nadia Bolz-Weber
Our great problem is trafficking in unlived truth. We try to communicate what we’ve never experienced in our own life. Dwight L. Moody
Further Reading
Barry Pearman
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash
Read this further at https://turningthepage.co.nz/nine-key-learnings-from-writing-500-blog-posts/FOLLOW ME!Email me: barry@turningthepage.co.nzWebsite: https://turningthepage.co.nz/Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/turningthepage1atatimeTwitter: https://twitter.com/barrypearmanInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/barry_pearman/Podcast https://turningthepage.co.nz/podcast-listen-mental-health/Support Turning the Page with a Donation https://turningthepage.co.nz/give/

Does God Hate Me?

Thursday Feb 23, 2023

Thursday Feb 23, 2023

One tough moment after another can bring you to the question, ‘Does God hate me’? But I want to know more, so I sit with those at the coal face and grow in my knowing.
No one knows coal like a coal miner. I could go to a scientist and get a scientific explanation about coal. A commodities dealer could tell me the dollar value of coal. Someone cooking over a coal fire would give me another limited view.
But for me, if I wanted to know about coal, I would go to a coal miner. One of those old-fashioned coal miners who has entered the bowels of the earth and dug away at the dark. Covered in the dust, there is noise, danger, and fear, but there is a camaraderie among fellow miners.
No one knows God like someone who has been at the dark coal face of life.
I suppose that is why I am drawn to people who chisel away at the coal, face the darkness of life, and find God there with them. It’s not the theologians or the pastors that pull me in. More so, those who, in all the struggle of daily life, have found something like a diamond amongst the coal.
I would rather sit and shed tears with them for hours because that is where I believe Jesus the Christ would be.
Does God hate me?
If someone was to ask you that question, how would you answer it?
Would you give an intellectual answer, quoting scriptures such as John 3:16?
For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
They are in a dark place and want to know heart truth, not head knowledge.
First of all, I think they would want to be known. To have their world explored and not sidelined. Maybe connection is the best word.
I would like to know how their understanding of what God is like was formed. Was it through various church experiences or parental influences? We’ve all got to start somewhere, so where was their starting point? What winds have blown across their path that has shaped their course?
Whenever I hear the words’ God hates me,’ I am filled with a kind of sadness for the person and the journey they have been on to get to this point of expression.
Quoting scripture upon scripture and getting into intellectual arguments rarely helps. This is because they need to hear words from the heart, not the head.
Our great problem is trafficking in unlived truth.We try to communicate what we’ve never experienced in our own life. Dwight L. Moody
Alongside ‘God hates me,’ other words are often spoken, such as ‘God is punishing me’ and ‘God doesn’t care.’
I have found that there are at least three ways that people express this belief.
Three expressions
God never answers my prayers. I pray for all sorts of things, particularly those that cause me a lot of pain. I pray for others, but those prayers don’t get answered either. I pray, but nothing happens. Everyone else seems to have prayers answered for a better life but not me. God must hate me. God withholds good things from me.
God didn’t stop that from happening. I’ve been hurt, and God could have stepped in and stopped it from happening. I have been injured in so many, many different ways. Where were the angels? Where was the ‘deliverance’ all those silly church songs sing about? I feel like God overlooks my struggle. God simply allows terrible things to happen to me. I wonder if God gets some perverse delight in watching me in pain. God must hate me.
I can’t reach God’s standard. I believe God has a performance standard, and I can never reach it. He hates my pathetic attempts. Everyone else is accepted, but I’m not. I try and fail.
They go on to say other things.
Look, I know you will tell me that God is love. I know you can quote all the scriptures about God being love. Then you will sing all those sappy songs about God being good.
But my reality is that I am in pain, and I want relief. I can see right through your intellectualism head knowledge, spiritual bypasses of avoidance, and coping strategies. It’s either God is really like Santa Claus, a Sugar Daddy, or a Disney’ wish upon a star’ God or not.
You see, at an early age, I was told that I am nothing, no one, a simple consequence of a couple of cells saying, ‘Howdy, doody.’
Then out I popped. I cried in pain, and I have cried ever since.
What sort of cosmic joke was my conception?
I think of the Christ of Jesus hanging on a cross and crying out ‘My God, why have you detached from me.’
The songs of lament and darkness from the coal miners of the Bible sing back to me.
I’m on a diet of tears—    tears for breakfast, tears for supper.All day long    people knock at my door,Pestering,    “Where is this God of yours?” Psalm 42: 3
I have a little sentence that I play around in my head that helps me make sense of things.
I am a broken man living in a broken world with broken people making broken choices.
But I am comforted by the coal face knowing of an unbroken God who is in the business of making all things new.
I still have the wafts of perfume from the Garden of Eden filtering through my existence. A beautiful sunrise, a bird that sings, a smile on a face, and then, at times, some droplets of joy touch my face washing the coal dust away.
I am caught between Eden and Heaven. We are a broken and fragile people living in a broken and fragile world, so of course, coal dust will clog our arteries.
I need others who know their brokenness but have somehow learned to dance—people who aren’t ‘happy-clappy’ or who live in theological fundamentalist squares and boxes.
I need people like Marva.
Marva Dawn dances
I once took a paper called Spiritual Formation. It was a week-long intensive, and the lecturer was a visiting theologian called Marva Dawn.
Into the week, she danced.
Let’s be clear; she didn’t physically dance. She wasn’t able to because of the many physical disabilities she had, and she actually danced into the fullness of God’s presence on April 18, 2021.
Here is an extract from a tribute.
Dawn’s joy came amid a lifetime of struggles with pain and illness. She faced battles with cancer, chronic pain, blindness in one eye, a kidney transplant, and problems with a foot that made walking difficult or impossible. Remembering Marva Dawn, a Saint of Modern Worship
I remember watching her hobble up to the lectern and clinging to it so she could teach. Words flowed from the coal face.
She authored more than 20 books in her lifetime, covering topics like Sabbath-keeping, the vocation of ministry, suffering well, and sexuality. Still, my favorite is Being Well When We’re Ill: Wholeness and Hope in Spite of Infirmity.
Read this
We do not understand how God accomplishes using even our brokennesses for the fulfillment of the Trinity’s purposes for the cosmos, but I am convinced that the Holy Spirit does.
Just one little example will suggest much wider possibilities than we could ever imagine.
Before embarking on one trip for a speaking engagement, I was complaining to my husband because a problem with my feet had put me in a wheelchair.
I did not use this specific vocabulary, but basically groaned that my “dream” of ease while fulfilling my obligations for that particular assignment was “shattered.”
During the conference a somewhat cynical man came to me after one of my later lectures and said, “I wouldn’t believe a word you say—except that you are sitting in that chair!”
I’d had too small a dream.
I just wanted my life to be easier by being out of that wheelchair; I hadn’t asked God to fulfill His larger purposes of deepening someone’s faith precisely because I was in it. Marva J. Dawn, Being Well When We’re Ill: Wholeness and Hope in Spite of Infirmity
Does God hate you?
No, God doesn’t hate. Quite the reverse there is so much love for you that it is vastly more than you could handle or even come into comprehension of.
God is with you at your coal face, in your ‘wheelchair’, and is in the business of making all things new.
Quotes to consider
Reality is what we notice on the surface – what we feel or see, what superficial perspectives we might gain, for example, from television’s evening news. Truth is much larger. It encompasses everything that genuinely is going on. The reality might be that our world looks totally messed up, that war and economic chaos seem to control the globe. But the truth is much deeper – that Jesus Christ is still (since His ascension) Lord of the cosmos, and the Holy Spirit is empowering many people to work for peacemaking and justice building as part of the Trinity’s purpose to bring the universe to its ultimate wholeness. The reality might be that you do not feel God, but the truth is that God is always present with you, perpetually forgiving you, and unceasingly caring for you with extravagant grace and abundant mercy. Not only that, but the very process of dealing with our lack of feelings and our resultant doubts about God is one of the ways by which our trust in the Trinity is deepened. Marva J. Dawn, Being Well When We’re Ill: Wholeness and Hope in Spite of Infirmity
 One of my biggest problems in dealing with the breakdown of my body is that I keep looking in the wrong direction. I look to the past and the capabilities I once had, instead of looking to the future and what I will someday become in the presence and by the grace of God. Perhaps that is the strongest temptation for you too. Unfortunately, our culture reinforces that mistake by its refusal to talk about heaven, as if it were an old-fashioned and outdated notion. We also intensify the problem by craving present health (as limited as it can be) more than we desire God.A friend once said to me. “This is so hard getting old—there are so many things we can’t do any more. I guess the Lord wants to teach us something.” Indeed, our bodies will never be what they previously were, and we find that difficult because we miss our former activities. But God wants to teach us to hunger for Him, our greatest treasure. Instead of rejecting the notion of heaven, we genuinely ache in our deepest self to fill that concept with a larger landscape of the Joy of basking in God’s presence. Marva J. Dawn, Being Well When We’re Ill: Wholeness and Hope in Spite of Infirmity
 In contrast to our society’s mistaken emphasis on positive emotions in our relationship with God, the great Spanish mystic and poet John of the Cross (1542–1591), who is most famous for his reflections on the “dark night of the soul,” also wrote a piece called “Advice on Disregarding Spiritual Sweetness.” In this work St. John compliments the person who loves God without feeling any emotional sweetness, for that individual is focusing on truly loving God and not the feelings. To set our will on gratifying and soothing sensations, to concentrate on capturing them and basking in them, is simply to set our will on what God has created, instead of God Himself. Thereby, we turn those created feelings into the end instead of a means—and a non-necessary means at that. According to St. John, we are ignorant if we suppose that because we fail to have any sweetness or bliss God is failing us. Similarly, we are uninstructed if we presume that in having such delectable emotions we have God. But the height of ignorance, he claims, is if we would follow God only to seek the sweetness and consequently stopped our yearning for God to wallow in delightful feelings when we acquired them. Marva J. Dawn, Being Well When We are Ill: Wholeness And Hope In Spite Of Infirmity
Questions to answer
Have you ever felt that God hates you? What formed that idea?
How would you answer someone who felt that God hated them?
What coal face experiences have shaped your beliefs?
Further reading
Barry Pearman

Where Do You Find Delight?

Friday Feb 10, 2023

Friday Feb 10, 2023

Life can go on and on from day to day, but when we stop to notice little moments of delight, something profound can begin to grow—hope, joy, and thankfulness. Bible stories come alive.
For me, there is nothing quite like sinking my teeth into a perfectly ripe Black Doris plum and tasting the fullness of flavor as its juices flow across the taste buds.
As I write this post, it’s mid-January in New Zealand, and it’s summer. The Black Doris plum tree has come to its time of harvest, and I gorge myself on its delight daily. I have pruned this tree, given it fertilizer, and watched it flower.
I have longed for this harvest time whenever I have walked under its canopy. It’s the moment of tasting and seeing that Lord is good. God has provided a tree full of delight for me and others to enjoy.
This is a time of delight.
It is the little things that I need to train my brain to focus on.
The sip of coffee first thing in the morning.
The attention my grandchild gives to the story I am reading her.
The way a mother bird feeds a demanding chick hopping around behind her.
Where do you find delight?
It’s too easy to find dismay. Far too easy to find rotten fruit, bitter moments, anguish, hardship, and despair.
The brain is trained to have a magnetic pull to the dark.
Delight yourself
The songwriter of the Psalms sings these words.
Delight yourself in the Lord,    and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
What does the word ‘delight’ mean in the Bible?
In Hebrew, the word delight is ‘anog’ and has the meaning of to be soft, delicate, and dainty. To be pliable and tender.
Something good for the brain happens when we stop and notice that which is soft, delicate, and dainty. There is an element to delight that is fleeting. You will miss it, and it will cut you unless you stop to take it in.
As I write this, my thoughts wander to the story in the Bible of Jesus feeding the five thousand.
Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 
When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.’ 
Jesus said to them, ‘They need not go away; you give them something to eat.’ They replied, ‘We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.’ And he said, ‘Bring them here to me.’ 
Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 
And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. Matthew 14:13-21
All those loaves and fishes being multiplied and given out.
Questions float through my thinking about the delight of this moment in the Bible.
I wonder what the fish tasted like?
What sort of fish were they?
Was the bread soft or chewy?
Was there anything unique about the flavors?
Did anyone slowly roll around a piece of the fish and morsel of bread in their mouth? Delighting their brain in the flavors?
Delighting in something takes a conscious noticing and slowing down.
Now my mind is wandering to the delight of connecting a few words together that might help you, the reader, find new ways of living. The gift I am giving is vulnerable. You could easily skip over the words and not take them. I will write anyway because I find delight in them.
I take delight when someone emails me and shares their life with me.
How do we grow delight?
Open yourself to notice. You probably don’t realize how many moments of delight are happening around you. Open yourself to noticing.
Be intentional in your quest. Have an intentionality in yourself to look for the delight. Make it an exercise every day to notice little delights.
Take delight. When you find something to delight in, go for it. Immerse yourself into that taste, smell, beauty, and feeling.
Soak in itSoak yourself thoroughly in the delight. Be with that delight for 30 seconds or more. Give the brain the message that this is something that is deeply meaningful. Take a deep inhalation of that rose’s delicate scent. Taste all the flavors of that piece of fruit deeply.
Give thanksBe thankful to God for those gifts of delight brought to your attention. God delights in us finding delight.
Ask questions.Why is that object of delight so meaningful to you? What’s the invitation God is offering you in this delight?
RepeatContinue to practice this enjoyment of delight every day. Notice the little things, take them, and give thanks.
Journal the delightWrite about the delights you have found in your day or week. Writing helps to strengthen this discovery.
Perhaps as you discover the world of delight around you, you will also find the way God gives you the desires of your heart.
Quotes to consider
The key to growing any psychological resource, including compassion, is to have repeated experiences of it that get turned into lasting changes in neural structure or function. Rick Hanson
The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences, but Teflon for positive ones. [This] shades “implicit memory” – your underlying expectations, beliefs, action strategies, and mood – in an increasingly negative direction. Rick Hanson
Most of the things we need to be fully alive never come in busyness. They grow in rest. Mark Buchanan
In the inner stillness where meditation leads, the Spirit secretly anoints the soul and heals our deepest wounds. John of the Cross
Questions to answer
What stories in the Bible offer us a moment where people would have experienced delight?
Where do you find moments of delight?
How can you cultivate moments during everyday to rest your mind in delight?
Read this further here FOLLOW ME!Email me: barry@turningthepage.co.nzWebsite: https://turningthepage.co.nz/Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/turningthepage1atatimeTwitter: https://twitter.com/barrypearmanInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/barry_pearman/Podcast https://turningthepage.co.nz/podcast-listen-mental-health/Support Turning the Page with a Donation https://turningthepage.co.nz/give/


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