Wednesday, April 03, 2013
Marriage is simultaneously more wonderful, challenging and confusing than I could have ever imagined. I think there are a myriad of differences between my marriage and any relationship I've been in. Cristin demands the real me. I was hiding in a lot of ways from true intimacy with another person and she won't let me hide. With my previous relationships, it was just not a deep relationship. I didn't give my whole self. I didn't let a girl see my wounds and how I'm broken. Which is hard because those aren't attractive things but Cristin sees that and doesn't always receive it well. Its not that she is he most accepting or gracious person, she is as much a work in progress as i am, though probably further along. But she has such acute sense of the authentic and the real, and even if it is unappealing how I am weak, she deserves to see it and make her own choice.
I hate to say it because of how bad it is looking back, but really with other serious relationships I was not real. I was just kind of guessing that I might love her, guessing that I might be in love and that I might marry her and that that was how it goes. But with Cristin I just knew. The moment I saw her. It took her a couple weeks. But she had the same realization. Ultimately I think it is a matter of choice. But there's just no mistaking that she is the perfect person to both challenge me and heal me, or destroy me. And we spend our days realizing that heaven or hell is our choice. Even with all my hangups and fears and competing desires, I choose happiness and joy when I choose her, even when my fear and anxiety, my false being within dissuades me.
And so I take my greatest step forward into my true self when I love her authentically in the way God has called me. This is the start of the kingdom in our midst and the power of two who are gathered in His name. And it is hard. But it is great.
Friday, July 27, 2012
Thursday, July 19, 2012
I used to live in a swamp. Now I live in a desert. I am wandering and wondering. I have no idea what God will do in my life. I forget easily the many things He has done, and promised. Even some of the things I have tattooed on my own body, and I ignore the messages my flesh proclaims in favor of the lies that I have believed.
Wandering is not fun if you are stuck in the same place while you're doing it. And in the desert, the barrenness of the landscape can drive one further into hopelessness than probably any other landscape is capable of. One of the allures of wandering is the cross country journey. I have bucket list items that include making the trek along the PCT as well as the Camino de Santiago.
I was just reading about the southern California portion of the PCT: "...from a hiker's point of view, one thing is true of almost all of Southern California: For 700 miles, there is too much sun and too little water." - Karen Berger. This is an apt metaphor for my life now.
There is a scarcity and desperation I feel, and the anxiety of it can be crippling if I give into it. "When you spend enough time around the chemistry of desperation, you come to recognize the smell. One desperate element is combustible. More than one desperate element is lethal." - Daryl Zero
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
Oh, for a season to pass. This summer in the desert is not what I hoped or expected, but it is good to wait on the Lord, to turn inward and reveal the many wrongs in my own heart, and offer those up to Christ to be made right, To learn again at Christ's feet what it means to Do Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly with God. In the moment I write this, I can be thankful. It's an important moment to remember in the desert.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Lately I've been getting more into Yoga practice, and Yoga is a lot of fun. If you've never tried it I highly recommend at least once, and watch some videos on youtube to get an idea. There are some weird things associated with Yoga, and having seen the yogi's in India and how they basically pimp a two religions which can be very dark. I don't give every practice my wholehearted endorsement. We need to redeem it if we want to practice it as sons and daughters of God. But there are some things that Yoga definitely has right that we are missing out on if we don't at least get curious.
The first one is energy. My fiance, Cristin, is very tuned into energy, and can get a sense of positive or negative energy when she walks into a room. Whether you believe in that or not, it deeply effects her moods and as a part of discernment, her feelings are very reliable. Energy is what is required to fulfill our intentions. If we sent our intentions we must seek out the right frame of mind, the right energy to achieve it. If we want to align our intentions with God, we need to create space in our lives for God to work, and step into good energy so that we don't get burned out. Christ said his burden is light, because of the energy that comes with serving a good God. Any workout is going to enhance your energy, but Yoga has specific intentional things to do that. How else can we intentionally increase and make positive God energy for ourselves and others throughout our days? This is where Yichud and Kavanah become intensely practical.
The meditation piece of Yoga needs some work. The Ohms are not my thing. For a Christian we need not empty our minds, but fill it (Phil. 4:8) There is something else similar to Ohm that I like a lot more and that is Shanti. The wisdom of God is first peaceable. Shanti means peace. The reason I practice Yoga is not to be some unflappable inner peace guru. I already have a pretty good inner peace going on. The reason I like it or it helps me is because it reminds me that Peace begins within and must go outward. Blessed are the peacemakers. I have it all set aside to do a study on peace in the Bible, but I know one thing, worrying about inner peace comes from a posture of feeling threatened. Making peace outwardly comes from a posture of feeling the injustice of others. And this is what I want more than anything. To embrace the Micah 6:8 principles of life, this is my desire. I am not there yet. I often have no idea how to advocate for others, but I'm in a place now to begin to learn. And Kavanah is a key to this effort.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Mentioned briefly in Shaping of Things to Come by Frost & Hirsch, these two principles in the title of this post are really co-essential, and they jumped out at me from the page (not just because they were italicized). Kavanah means "to pay attention, to direct mind and heart in order to maximize levels of intentionality in our actions." Yichud referes specifically to the Shema, and the oneness, or unity of God, and points to the principle of us unifying our lives under this God who is charactierized as being "one".
Many people have said it, but Rob Bell said in one of his books or Nouma videos that if anything is important to God, then Everything is important to God, because he's big enough to care about all that. To unify our lives is not to sort life into categories, Important and Trivial, Sacred and Secular, Humans and Sparrows. God cares about it all.
I have wrestled with the idea of Sunday morning church events, and how we call that worship, and there's a temple-centric, time and place oriented approach to God, and the worship of God. I have concluded that really just reinforces my cognitive dissonance between what God says and what I do. I am really bad at the principles described above. The worship center is not a large acoustically tuned room with a sounds system. The worship center is staring back at you in the mirror.
To be God's image, as we were created is a 24-7 thing, and as we approach life with Kavanah and Yichud, we don't become ascetics, or get untold health and wealth. We don't just walk on water and we don't just sink. Jesus promised life to the full. That's everything life on earth, beautiful and fallen, includes; triumph and heartache, boredom and anxiousness and complete engagement and intensity.
My only real purpose in writing this is to realize in part how seriously AND joyfully God has created this world, and how there is no change in my demeanor that is required. Only in my beliefs, in identifying the lies I believe, and in my actions, to correct those decietful practices, to do justice and treat all others with the dignity not of their actions, but of their image, which is also God's image.
Thursday, April 05, 2012
Sunday, March 11, 2012
Sunday, February 26, 2012
A Maiden Fair
By Matthew O’Brien
For Cristin Mahaffey
I heard some Angels sing a song
About a maiden fair,
And what it was that made her good:
A heart exceedingly rare,
She loved and loved and never quit;
She always told the truth,
If you met her in Bible times,
You’d swear that she was Ruth,
But the world gave her heart troubles,
She cried many heavy nights,
She locked herself in darkness
And tried to shut out light,
She wandered over all the earth
With nowhere she could stay,
She hacked herself to pieces,
And gave herself away,
As the Angels sang and sang,
I started, thus, to cry,
This Maiden’s tale of sadness could
Be lived by you or I,
But when they started up again,
My broken heart did leap,
They sang of Love redeeming;
Forgiveness mountains steep,
The Maiden’s sin was paid for,
God’s own Son did affect,
He gave her, then, a new heart,
His image to reflect,
Then He set her in the sky,
A diamond in the night,
And everyone she shined upon
Saw better by her light,
She started feeling lonely,
Way up there all alone,
She asked God for another star
With whom to make a home,
So God came down to see her, and said,
“I’ve just the thing in mind,
I’ve humbled and restored him;
He’s really just your kind,”
“He’s also very different,
He might not shine as bright,
You’ll know him when you see him;
You’ll find he fits just right.”
At this my heart was pounding,
For I knew I’d seen this star,
She danced across my deepest dreams,
Enchanting from afar,
And now I write this silly verse,
To you, My Darling Sweet,
For now in truth, I do believe,
Two stars can, happy, meet.