Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Proverbs of Ashes

Last summer I read the book Proverbs of Ashes. I'm finally getting around to writing something about it. First, I only recommend this book to those who do not mind reading about abuse. It is graphic and haunting and disgusting. It deals with the pain and suffering of abuse of women, especially those who have been told that it is their cross to bear.

I can only half believe that women are told that being beaten will bring them closer to Jesus and their suffering is a good thing. I say half believe not because I don't believe it happens, but because it is so far from how I relate to Christ and abuse and people that I can't put my head around it and figure out why someone would say it. It is just so far from anything I would think.

The book explores the messages of suffering we give people in the church and how it can be twisted into something so hurtful. So what to do with "take up your cross and follow" and "Jesus suffered and died and we should be like him."

It finally comes down to the question: "Is it life-giving?" Not all suffering is bad suffering. Sometimes suffering does bring life. But abuse doesn't fall in this category because it is not life-giving to either person. When Christ suffered and died, that wasn't the end of the story, there was Easter. Is there and Easter to this Good Friday should be how we look at suffering. If what we are doing brings about life then the suffering may be worth it.

Also, we are called to take up our cross and follow, not to hand out crosses. We can't justify making other people suffer, so that they can experience life later. We empty ourselves, so we can help someone else. We say in those moments that it isn't all about us, and I'm going to put aside my problems and worries and baggage so I can help you. I won't hand you a cross, but I will help you carry your load.

Unrelated Extra: I learned this week that both wood and fire are life-giving. Thanks for the insight.

Good Suffering

It's good to have bad things happen to you because it allows you to experience greater joy and happiness. You need to experience the opposite to really experience something great. Since some people are left out of the suffering loop perhaps I can help them out with this so they won't be left out of feeling the great joys in life. How could I bring about more suffering in the world and thereby bring about more happiness? Hmmm....

Where did this idea even come from?! And why is it so popular? Is it just one more way of trying to explain why bad things happen? I have not found any compelling reason for this line of thinking. It breaks down too easily, and seems like one of those cliches people say when they don't know what to say. It ranks up there with "everything happens for a reason." Really? Everything? What was the reason I had a late lunch today? What is the reason other people didn't have lunch today? (Wait, that is perhaps a different post.)

My experiences in life will be different than yours and will be colored with the lenses of my past, but the level of past pain doesn't necessarily equate with present pleasure and present pain doesn't mean I will have greater joy later. There is no one to one correlation, nor is it onto. (What's onto? It's one to one. What's one to one? It's onto.)

I could go on, but people give me a hard time if these posts get too long.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

"I'm yours, save me."

Last Sunday I watched Luther, the newer movie about Martin Luther. The part that has really been sticking with me for the past week is the simple prayer "I'm yours, save me." Well, simple in the fact that it is just 4 words, but there is just so much packed into those words.

I'm yours. Confession that I belong to Christ. Promise that Christ has claimed me. Remembering that I am a child of God.

Save me. Cry for being made whole. Hope for what is to come. Hope that this moment will pass. Promise that Christ is with us in this moment and every moment.

When Luther is tormented this is the prayer he is given and repeats over and over. Last time I blogged that I was afraid of my prayers, and this one is not less scary but it is a prayer of trust. I don't know what my life will look like in the next moment, but I do know who I belong to and Christ has died to save me. So, I'm asking in it to be reminded of this promise at the same time I am remembering that to save me, God will change me.