Saturday, February 19, 2005

In the Foxhole, part II:
Pain as Teacher

In the Foxhole, part I

Regular readers of emergesque: You know I generally post on ec stuff and don't get a ton into my personal life. Well, my life's intruding so I do genuinely regret if this isn't the kind of blog with which you resonate. Posting this is helping me to hold myself accountable to what I believe. And perhaps it's of some use to some of you.

There's something about my own spiritual development that I really don't like. I seem to respond best to pain. Right now, as I said yesterday, I'm in the midst of some tough stuff and I find I'm talking to God like crazy, meditating on Scripture, reading the Bible, setting good priorities, etc. What bugs me about me is that I seem to do much better with Him in the foxhole but when things aren't pressuring me I get lost in my busyness with what I believe are the mixed motives behind that. And this has been a pattern.

  • My family focus significantly improved 2 years ago as a result of a family crisis.
  • In 1996 I weighed 203 lbs. and then lost 50 lbs and began exercising and eating better only after the doctor told me that I had Diabetes.
  • At the beginning of 2002 I reluctantly took on a completely new job that was very difficult and stressful and it turned out to be perhaps the best career move I ever made.

Though I fully recognize that pain is a marvelous teacher, I want to move beyond only being taught when I'm pressed. I don't want to just be in sync with God when things are bad. That just seems so immature. I really want to get to the place where I live out the fullness of His love for me.

I want my entire life to be an expression of gratitude.

Today, I'm in the foxhole and I feel in sync, but I want to resonate with Him when the war is over.


JSV said...
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Robbymac said...

Actually, I really like the personal component -- thanks for trusting us with your journey!

I'll be praying for you.

JSV said...

You are correct in saying this is a rare moment for you. I can count on one hand the times you admitted weakness. Despite your optimistic outlook even in moments of crises, you still communicated little "pain."

We are opposite in this area, yet very much the same. Only yesterday I was praying that I could maintain the same spirit I had in my bed before getting up at my place of work where being humble and meek many times just doesn't seem to allow me to control like I need to...which makes me think what it means to be humble and meek.

Does it mean I just need to have faith and allow those who plow though meetings with a bully attitude to be a bully? Does it mean confront attitudes knowing that choice will have negative consequences? Does it mean simply bearing it and trusting God...wondering if I am really trusting God when this issue might be ME and my attitude? What about working with those who say the right things in group and live differently in private work space? What about feeling those around you simply “don’t get it” and always flying on their plane wondering if you will ever get to solo? Can get confusing when you revert back to the “practical theology” to control your environment.

It seems to me the spiritual man will have conflict as he enters the world largely motivated on self glory rather than God glory (which can fluctuate back & forth). The difference can be very subtle. It always seems to come down to issues of control.

• What does this battle of conflict do for us that we should feel “in sync?”
• Is the battle really over when we feel more in control of life’s journey?
• How can balance be maintained?
• Are there deeper issues behind all of this, issues rarely discussed in groups or small groups that are knocking to be heard?

Call me my brotha...

Stephen said...

Thanks Robbie!

Stephen said...

Thanks for your comments, Joe. I do believe that optimism is important but so is the admission of vulnerability and dependence. At no time in the last 20 years or so have I felt so vulnerable. And you're spot on in highlighting the issue of control. I want control now. I want to manipulate the situation now. I do not want to wait. Just yesterday or day before I started studying Psalms that highlight the concept of waiting. This is hard for me. To have the inner strength to wait for his strengthening and for his deliverance. I am His child and it will come. It may not be just as I like it; but He is a good Father and He will love his child. Thanks for your commments Joe and please pray for me.

JSV said...

One last thought...
Over ten years ago I decided to start cycling to develop endurance. I was lousy at sticking to projects and felt I needed more endurance.

Is there an activity that will help you develop patience & waiting? Ever think of gardening? How about raising tropical fish? Working with kids in reading or math?

Stephen said...

Yes, two things!

1 - My current situation!

2 - My three little ones.


John said...

I obviously don't know much in the way of details as far as your situation goes, but I'm certainly praying for you.


Stephen said...

Thanks John.

rebecca said...

I've heard other people say this, that they feel they exercise their faith, it seems alive, when under pressure or stress. Opposite for me, when stressed, I turn to me, I turn inward. When things are relatively normal, it's like me and God are walking together again

rick said...

I'm praying for you, Stephen. In the immortal words of Red Green, "I'm pulling for you. We're all in this together. Keep your stick on the ice."

And you've got my number so feel free to call any time you want to chat or pray over the phone.