Divorce, Grief, LEARNING JOURNEYS, SOCIAL JUSTICE, SPIRITUAL AND EMOTIONAL WOUNDING, TRANSFORMATION, Transitions, TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS, Widowhood

JESUS LISTENED TO WOMEN ABUSED BY THE PATRIARCHIAL SYSTEM

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WOMEN HE REDEEMED

Jesus must have known and understood the abuse, lack of value and respect as well as the generational trauma that women had to endure, that was the result of the old system when he sought out the women whose stories are told in the New Testament. In his book “The Day I Met Jesus: The Revealing Diaries of Five Women from the Gospels, “ Frank Viola gives voice to these women’s stories from their perspective of living in the cultural context of that time. Although the stories have been fictionalized the context was thoroughly researched.

THE ADULTRESS

person s shadow so as not to identify the woman
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The woman ‘caught’ in adultery, had a back story too. Abused by her husband she was vulnerable to the plans of others. Nowhere do we hear of the man, because Jesus knew this was a ‘set-up’ job to trip him up. When you read this story, do you take then words at face value and not think about the person behind the words? Everyone has a back story, but women’s voices were silenced in the system they lived in, and they were vulnerable to the abuse of others.

THE SINFUL WOMAN

woman looking at mirror while applying lipstick
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“The ‘sinful woman (prostitute)’ who had entered into Simon the Pharisee’s house uninvited, while he was entertaining Jesus. She stood behind Jesus and broke open her alabaster jar of perfume anointing him, and with her tears and hair washed Jesus’ feet. What was her back story? As a rejected, abused, or single woman she had little choice in earning her living, but Jesus never condemned her he used her as an example of love and compassion to the hard-hearted, legalist Pharisees who had not washed his feet when he entered their house. When do we hold the shield of propriety and the Law as a shield to prevent people from encountering Jesus?

THE SAMARITAN WOMAN

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The Samaritan woman was yet another example of how a woman who had had unfortunate marital experiences was forced into further difficulties by the patriarchal system, that used women for their own ends. In using her back story Jesus was able to not only redeem her but use her to bring others to Him, a missionary to the Samaritans. Even his disciples were aghast that he should be sitting talking to a Samaritan woman alone. Jesus was willing to risk his reputation in front of his best friends to bring redemption to this woman.

THE WOMAN WITH THE ISSUE OF BLOOD

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The woman with blood issues fell afoul of the purification laws that kept her isolated from others and in a poor and weak state of health. Her desperation led her to reach out to touch this Jesus she had heard about to help her when she was untouchable by anyone else in her society. I was so touched at the compassion of Jesus for this woman who was desperate. So many women live in desperate situations, which force them to act in ways that they would not need too if the laws and the judgements of others had compassion for their situation and helped them instead of isolating them.

MARY OF BETHANY

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Mary of Bethany’s story opened me to a completely new perspective on her. I had always considered her to be the ‘saint’ in the story as I had been told it. Her backstory was one of poor self-image and comparison to her siblings. Martha, her older sister was blessed with the gift of hospitality, as was her late mother. Lazarus, her brother, was a handsome and gregarious young man, and her father a man full of faith and goodness whom Jesus had healed of leprosy. Mary never felt she was enough, she felt an outsider, a thinker, the different one, only fit to mull over matters of the heart, with no gifts or talents that were useful or apparent. She broke convention sitting at Jesus feet as a woman, yet Jesus commended her as he could read her heart and knew she was near the Kingdom he was teaching the others about. She later generously used up her jar of spikenard perfume to anoint Jesus and was accused of being ‘wasteful’ by one of the disciples. For someone who had found their self-worth restored by Jesus, that was very hurtful.

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The different backstories on each of these women, that have been researched and brought into context of the times they were living in, although fictionalized still point to the very character of God and Jesus as being a supporter of the widows, the orphans, the aliens, oppressed and underprivileged. These women if they lived today would still more than likely be marginalized because of the systems that kept them in their circumstances, often play out into lives of women today. What systems can you think of that would affect these women today? Do you know of any women who have been unjustly treated because of their circumstances or the things that have been done to them? How can we be like Jesus to them?

These women if they had lived today would still more than likely be marginalized because of the systems that kept them in their circumstances, often play out into the lives of women today”

I have really enjoyed reading these books and listening to the sermons that have highlighted God’s compassionate redeeming love for abused and marginalized women. I have written reviews for both the books I have researched, if you wanted to read them for yourself. “Women of the Bible Speak Out” by Marlo Schalesky and “The Day I Met Jesus” by Frank Viola and Mary DeMuth.  The Sermons can be found on YouTube Christ City Church.

If you have not yet read the first part of this story it can be found here Jesus Listened to Women

Home » SPIRITUAL AND EMOTIONAL WOUNDING

Divorce, Grief, LANDSCAPES OF LIFE, LEARNING JOURNEYS, SOCIAL JUSTICE, SPIRITUAL AND EMOTIONAL WOUNDING, TRANSFORMATION, Transitions, TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS, Widowhood

JESUS LISTENED TO THE WOMEN’S VOICES OF THOSE IN HIS GENEALOGY

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The sermon series run in our church during Advent highlighted the women in Jesus’ genealogy.  This is probably the first time I have heard these women being honored as part of Jesus genealogy. As I sat and listened to their stories, I wondered why I had not heard their point of view before. As an explorer of ideas and concepts, it struck me that preachers were generally male, the times the stories were written in were times of the patriarchal order and systems when women were not considered important other than to be breeders of children to carry on the male line. Being barren was the worst fate to befall a woman in those days. Women’s voices in general had been shut down or downplayed. Yet they carried the inner scars in the cells in their bodies and carried their generational trauma forward to the next generation.

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I then read a book on five women’s encounters with Jesus where their stories were told. Tears filled my eyes as I read of the compassion, lack of judgement and redemption for each of these women. At the same time, I felt He was redeeming the stories of the women in his genealogy, healing the generational trauma in their bodies, hearts, minds, and spirits. Jesus heard their cries for someone to listen to their story.

I will give a brief outline to the stories of the women in Jesus’ genealogy in this blog post and the stories of the five women that Jesus brought wholeness to in the following blog post as I want you to have time to think about these women and their back stories, how you viewed them in the past and what you may feel about them now you have viewed them from a different perspective.

BEFORE JESUS WAS BORN – HIS GENEALOGY

Tamar

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Tamar was a Canaanite woman that Judah married to first one son then another. When both sons died without progeny, Judah did not do what was demanded of him by the same custom as he married his sons to Tamar, to marry her to another son or find her a husband. She felt rejected and discarded, and her dignity stripped when Judah told her to go to her parents’ house and live as a widow. She used her own initiative with the only possibility open to her, that of a prostitute. Judah went to the prostitute and slept with her. The child born from that encounter was Perez, part of the genealogy of Jesus. I have never heard a sermon explain why Judah went to a prostitute! But he said, “She is more righteous than I,” eventually giving her the recognition that he should have done at first. Read the laws in Deuteronomy 25:5 and 26:12, Judah had broken both those laws as the Tamar was also a ‘stranger’ in the land.

Rahab

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Joshua sent two spies out to,” Go, look out the land,” They ended up in Jericho at a prostitute’s house! Now that part of the story was explained to me in the past: what were they doing there instead of looking out at the land! Yet, Rahab is part of the genealogy of Jesus she was the mother of Boaz. James said, “was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?” By preserving the lives of the spies, for whatever reason she was a prostitute or that they were visiting her, she and her families’ lives were saved and she was considered righteous.

Ruth

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Ruth was a Moabitess, immigrant foreigner. She was faithful to her Jewish mother-in-law Naomi. As widows they were destitute in the patriarchal system where only men could provide a living for a woman. Through her faithfulness to Naomi, they took the initiative, took an enormous risk to Ruth’s reputation to ask for marriage for Ruth to Boaz, calling on the same Deuteronomic laws of protection for widows. Yet, she found favor in both God and Boaz eyes, who took her as his wife. The women encouraged Naomi, “For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him [Obed] birth.” Obed became the grandfather of Kind David.

Bathsheba

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An innocent woman, taking her purification bath in her courtyard where she thought she had some privacy, was unaware of the lustful stare of King David whose palace overlooked her rooftop. She had no say in refusing the King when he sent for her. She was taken to his palace where he used her as he would. To hide his sin King David had her husband Uriah killed. Not only was Bathsheba raped, but her husband was also killed, and now she was a pregnant widow, probably the worst position a women could be in.

When Bathsheba heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. Once the time of mourning was over, David tried to rectify his sin and brough her to his house. She became his wife and bore him a son.”

When Bathsheba heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. Once the time of mourning was over, David tried to rectify his sin and brought her to his house. She became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the Lord, and although he repented, his family life was dysfunctional as a consequence. When David was dying his son Adonijah placed himself on the throne. Bathsheba went into King David to remind him he had sworn to her that Solomon his son will be king after him. She reminded him that she and Solomon would be treated as criminals once David died. David rectified the matter and placed Solomon on the throne. When Solomon acceded to the throne, he had a throne brought for his mother and Bathsheba sat as his right hand, in a position of power. God upheld her dignity in the terrible circumstances she was forced into.

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When you look at these women’s stories from a completely different perspective, you hear their cries for justice in a patriarchal system that marginalized them as human beings made in the image of God. You see the hand of God moving to vindicate them and bring them into a place where they are given justice and the honor of being part of the genealogy of Jesus.

Jesus must have known and understood this when he sought out the women whose stories I will share in my next blog. [ to be continued…..] 

I would love to have your comments on this perspective. You can respond in the What are Your Thought box.

If you are interested to hear the sermon series, it can be found on You Tube Christ City Church. The two books I have read and used as reference as well are “The Day I met Jesus” by Frank Viola and “Women of the Bible Speak out” by Marlo Schalesky

LANDSCAPES OF LIFE, Seasons of Life, SPIRITUAL AND EMOTIONAL WOUNDING, TRANSFORMATION, Transitions, Travel

HOW DEEP ARE THE CANYONS OF YOUR MIND?

San Juan River Goose Neck Utah showing deeply etched canyon sides
San Juan River at Goose Neck – Utah

I was reminded of a song by Bonzo Dog called the “Canyons of your Mind,” on a recent trip to Utah and Arizona. I was so inspired by the majesty and grandeur of God’s design in the raw. Creation at its best, where you can see nature at work. The landscape tells the geological story of time with the many-colored layers of rock, the massive buttes that stand sentinel over the land. The mighty Colorado and San Juan rivers thread their way through the Canyons cutting deeply into the rock layers every year. Looking at the San Juan River at Gooseneck, set me thinking about the canyons of your mind. I could see how like a brain this landscape could look like as the river wound through deep horseshoe bends, similar to the indentations that cover a human brain.

Five things that Canyons and the Human brain have in common.

1. Canyons start small, gathers debris along the way

A Canyon starts as a tiny rivulet. Water flows after a storm and gathers at the lowest point. The force of the water gradually moves the soil, which it pushes further downstream with any rocks and debris in its path making its way to the sea. It gets deeper and deeper as it flows as it is joined by other runoff along the way until it either ends in a lake or exits into the ocean. Every year and every season, the water cuts deeper and makes a significant impact that keeps the river flowing along its course. The rocky banks, mostly unyielding, make it more challenging to change the path as it stays within the parameters cut into the surrounding soil and rocks.

A child is born with a fast-growing brain; it has a primitive survival brain that tells it to cry when it needs food and care, that continues to develop with other survival skills. It also starts to create pathways as it learns different things, motor skills, and communication skills. It knows when it gets hurt. Often this is repeated until it learns, all the time making impressions in its brain. A child’s brain grows the fastest between ages birth and five years old. These layers get embedded first and make the most significant impact on how the child views its environment. Are the cries ignored, are its need for warmth and love met as it learns to survive outside of its mother’s body? Is the child spoken to and taught social skills?

technology computer head health, brain cross section showing 'canyons'
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2 Canyons make impressions year on year

  1. As the seasons move on, new layers of silt, debris, and rocks are added to the riverbed. There will be years of drought when the river is nothing more than a bed of stones and sand marking its course. Events like excessive drought will dry it up, and the mud will have open dry cracks. There may be excessive rain or floods in another season, forcing the collected debris further down the river. The force of the water can bring new rock, mud, and even topsoil from the surrounding land as it furiously churns before depositing its load further down the river. These times of flooding can cause a redirection in the course of the river if it is not too deep, or it may start making new tributaries. The old course may fill with the silt and debris deposited so redirecting the flow of water.

There is substantial evidence to suggest experiences between birth and the age of five have significant impacts on outcomes later in life. In fact, children’s experiences and strengths at the age of three can often be used to effectively predict health, happiness, and other successes in adulthood. “

(The Front  Project)

As the child grows, learns new skills, has unique experiences, each season will add further growth to the brain. Events like new schools, new people, harmful events, hospital visits, harsh punishments, and abandonment will mark their groove. A child’s brain is primed to learn critical thinking and emotional maturity between ages three and five. If a child has been neglected or harmed in the former seasons, its primitive adaptive behavior will start to manifest. Often called ‘acting out,’ especially when new siblings are introduced. Or it will begin to form new adaptive behaviors to its environment and how it perceives its world. Every experience will leave its impression on the brain, reinforcing the child’s belief system. The child’s brain is trusting. If it knows it will be protected, the child will dare to push its boundaries because it feels safe. This is healthy because it will feel happy to explore its world and not be afraid of it. On the other hand, if the child is fearful of exploring, the primitive survival skills will become more ingrained as the child believes his world is unsafe.

3. The Canyons foundations are in place

  1. Year after year, century after century, the river cuts its course through the rocks, perhaps altering its course a little in the flatter parts of the landscape, but the deeper and steeper the sides of the riverbed and canyon, the more difficult it is to change its course. Wind, rain, ice, snow, sunshine, gravity, and vegetation all have a part to play in the landscape, leaving pockmarks, fallen boulders, isolated buttes, and scars along the course of the river as it snakes its way through the canyon bottom.

As the child matures into an adult and its brain completes development, most of its belief system is ingrained. Children will have been taught or learned about their family’s value system, faith, and culture. The foundational beliefs around God, love, provision, reward, punishment, and role are well ingrained and used as reference points in making judgments and adjustments to their life situations, whatever they happen to be. This mindset will continue to be their compass unless they actively decide to change it. Usually, spiritual direction, counseling, therapy, or psychology will help them learn new ways to think. This is on an individual level.

Debris lying on top of a sandstone boulder, it can be moved
Debris lying on top of a sandstone boulder

4. Cataclysmic, life-lifechanging events can change the face of a canyon

  1. Cataclysmic events can change the whole course of the river. Looking at the upended rocks and vertical or inclined sedimentary layers of the landscape in Utah, a cataclysmic geological event or events changed its landscape. Earthquakes, fault fractures, volcanic action, and moving of the tectonic plates, climate change all these things in which nature is in control, change what was, and a new geologic era was born.

It often takes a personal or community cataclysmic event to change or force people to change their mindsets and regrow neural pathways in different areas to survive and move on, as their old manner of adaptation no longer serves them. This could be a severe accident with physical injury, divorce, widowhood with emotional injury, war, or other trauma or life-changing event. This can be really hard for some people as the primitive brain continues to operate as it did when it was formed as a child.  Our society also gets reshaped each time we have a cataclysmic event, like the current COVID, 9/11, and social unrest. We all have to find ways to adapt to this and one another.

The Colorado river flows though uplifted sedimentary rocks from some cataclysmic geologic event
The Colorado River flows through uplifted sedimentary layers from a cataclysmic event

5. Time, or Timeless, the canyons are evidence of a good Creator

  1. The landscape remains. Looking up at the canyons in Utah, they are beautiful, rugged, timeless, and a challenge to survival at the same time. They are a reminder of the Creator, our God who formed the earth from the beginning and declared it good. Psalm 104 tells the story of the canyons “You placed the world on its foundation, so it would never be moved. You clothed the earth with floods of water, water that covered even the mountains. At your command, the water fled; at the sound of your thunder, it hurried away. Mountains rose and valleys sank to the levels you decreed. Then you set a firm boundary for the seas, so they would never again cover the earth.” NLT
The perspective of timelessness gazing at layer after layer of canyons and buttes, the mist of perspective indicates a sense of age
The perspective of timelessness gazing at layer after layer of canyons and buttes

The above passage in Psalm 104 also reflects part of the musings of Job’s friends at his suffering. Yet, God vindicated Job for keeping his faith in a good God amid his pain and trials. When He prayed for his friends who were discouraging in the least, his fortunes were restored, and the second half of his life was more blessed than the first half. God was the one who created us, our brains, and the intricate way they function. He gave breath and life to our bodies and knows us intimately. Are we able to hold onto the goodness of God in cataclysmic events in our life? This often will make us revisit our belief system around God. If this was faulty and we don’t believe in His goodness, it is difficult to adapt to life-changing events.

The Canyons of Utah are a gift from God. They teach us from nature about His goodness even in the cataclysmic events of life that change our landscapes forever.

LANDSCAPES OF LIFE, Seasons of Life, SOCIAL JUSTICE, SPIRITUAL AND EMOTIONAL WOUNDING, TRANSFORMATION, Transitions, TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS

Why Inflexible Doctrine Divides, and how Love can Bind

St Paul’s, Bedford

I have long pondered why there is so much division in religion and in Christianity in particular, when everyone reads the same Bible. A lot of it is what doctrines people believe about the Scriptures, whether they are divinely inspired or a set of inerrant laws to be followed. Parables and stories are often used to explain tricky questions, so here is a little story to illustrate what I mean.

THE PARABLE OF THE EAGLE AND THE OAK TREE

COMMUNION OF THE SAINTS

There was an old oak tree that grew on the boundary of the churchyard and a field. The oak tree had been standing for centuries; in fact, it was standing when George Whitefield had preached in this very field on one of his itinerant journeys to preach to groups of working-class people. The oak tree grew strong and tall, its roots deeply embedded in the soil, drawing nutrients up into the branches and grounding it to endure the wind and storms that beat upon it every year.

St Paul’s Square, Bedford

The church building with its weathered stone and square tower had stood from the Norman invasion. The bones of generations of people lay under the tilting gravestones in the churchyard. People who had lived loved and walked in the shade of the oak tree. They had sat in the church pews to learn about God.  Many changes occurred as who had stood in the pulpit, monks, and abbots as they taught their flock about God. Some people listened to John Bunyan, a Puritan and non-Conformist preacher, and others, John and Charles Wesley, who preached from this pulpit.

TRADITION

The sun filtered through the stained-glass windows onto the lectern inside the church.  It was in the form of a golden eagle with its wings outspread. On its wings rested the Word of God, the Bible. This had been updated with the times. It had once held parchment hand-scribed pages, faithfully copied by the monks. In 1611 it was replaced by the King James Bible, and since then, newer translations have been held on the eagle’s outstretched wings.

Brass Eagle Lectern – photo Christies Catalogue

Outside sitting in the branches of the oak tree, were some birds. They chattered and quarreled over which bough to roost on. There were already several nests in the tree.

The golden eagle flew overhead. “This is my tree,” he said to the birds, looking down,” Any birds that hear me crying out and listen to the words I say are welcome to roost here. There are only two rules. One is to love me and the other is to love each other. My tree provides you with safety, and gives you the opportunites to look after each other. All you have to do is follow the instructions written in my book.”

THE WORD

Each flock of birds had its own copy of the book. Foreign birds had flown in from abroad, so their book was written in a different language, but the instructions meant the same. Other birds had different editions of the book – the words were not the same, but the directions of the golden eagle to love him and each other were the same. So whichever version of his book you read, the eagle had made sure that his message that he loved all birds was the same.

King James Bible 1629 – photo digital commons- Cedar University

The birds often met together to read the book and discuss what the words meant. They also loved to sing with the voices they had been given. Some sang with a lovely trill, others cawed or had a soft chirp, but the sound they made together was an excellent dawn chorus in praise of the golden eagle. They loved to do this, as this was one reason they decided to build their nests in the eagle’s tree.

DISPUTES OVER DOCTINE

Over time, some birds started picking the words in the book to pieces; they would sit on a branch and argue over what a particular word meant.

“Our book is the original and best book,” said the warblers. If someone did not agree with them, they pecked them and told them to go and sit on another branch.

man raising his right arm
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The oak tree listened to the birds as they hopped from branch to branch, arguing over the meanings of the instructions. Those that sat on lower limbs would discuss what they understood about particular instructions. Each group started to chase away the birds that disagreed with their interpretation until there were different groups of birds on just about every branch of the tree, all with different opinions. While the birds argued over the exact details of what the eagle meant, they forgot about the two rules, loving the eagle, and loving each other.

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, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Luke 10:27

The eagle was most dismayed when he saw what was going on in the nests and branches. “They just don’t get it,” he said to himself, “my instructions are not about the words and what they mean, they are about the actions, and how the birds must live.”

tilt shift photo of two white bird eggs on a nest
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CRISIS PROVIDES OPPORTUNITIES TO PRACTICE FAITH

The following spring was cold and bleak: weeks of rain making life miserable for the birds. The north winds blew in a severe storm. One dark night, lightning struck one of the ancient limbs of the oak tree; it was gnarled and weakened from the winter storms. The branch broke off with a thud knocking the birds’ nests onto the ground, smashing eggs, and leaving the birds squawking in dismay.

Some birds on the unaffected side of the tree snuggled closer into their warm nests, ignoring the cries of dismay below them. “Silly birds, they should not have moved to that branch,” they muttered to themselves as they kept their eggs warm and snuggled even deeper into their nest.”

black leafless tree
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Other of the birds whose nests were safe shuffled around in their nests feeling a bit discomforted, but fluffed their wings and settled down again, “that’s life, I guess you were just unlucky, not one of the elect.” They blocked their ears to the cries of their brother birds.

The eagle flew past again, checking to see what would happen. Had the birds really taken to heart the instructions in his book?  “Yes, there was some movement down there.”

LOVE IS AN ACTION

The swallow seeing so much mud around, said, “I can make a few houses in the eaves of the church building, just hold on a bit, while I get the mud and pack it,” so off he went busying himself making as many nests as he could, inviting the other swallows to help him.  Soon there was a small colony of nests built under the eaves of the entrance porch of the church. The birds whose nests had been broken went searching for soft sheep’s wool and plants to line their new mud homes so they could move in. As they thanked the swallows, the golden eagle alit on the oak tree and smiled. Some of the birds had understood his instructions. He then flew into the building and settled down again with his wings open, holding up the Word of God.

Swallows Nests
Swallows nests – photo Bird-B-gone , no copyright infringement intended

The oak tree continued to watch over new generations of birds, making their nests and people resting in its shade. The scar of where the branch broke off could still be seen as a big weal on its trunk, healed but making it vulnerable to rot. The golden eagle still sits with its outspread wings inviting people to read the instructions to love God and love their neighbor.

Even the sparrow has found a home, And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young— Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts, My King and my God.” Psalm 84:3

LANDSCAPES OF LIFE, Seasons of Life, SOCIAL JUSTICE, SPIRITUAL AND EMOTIONAL WOUNDING, TRANSFORMATION, Transitions, TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS

BECOME RESILIENT BY REFORMING YOUR BELIEF SYSTEMS AND EXPERIENCES

man and woman standing on brown field near green tree under white clouds
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Four Steps to Turn your Past into Your Future

We are on an ever-evolving pathway of growth, and understanding the world around us, and our purpose in it. Some have settled into a comfort zone of “I know what I know and am happy and content with that.” This may give a sense of stability and security, thinking things will stay the same and the future is more predictable. Unfortunately, many things outside of our control will flip that idea on its head. Natural disasters, disease, and war can pull the rug out from right under our feet. So how can we build resiliency into our lives?

1. EXPLORE NEW IDEAS AND BELIEFS

unrecognizable men praying in old catholic church
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Most of us would have grown up in a home that had a particular set of beliefs that were passed from parents to children. The culture, and environment in which you live also play a large part. Beliefs and values and not the same, but they do overlap at times. What is valued in one culture may not necessarily be appreciated in another. Examples of these systems can be capitalism, socialism, ubuntu, or some other local system. Do we really understand the positive and negative things these systems bring with them? How they affect our culture and our sense of being and self-worth?

Religion is another system, although it was meant to be a spiritual experience with our Creator God. It has evolved in some places to a structure of hierarchy and power. Instead of being the place of refuge for the vulnerable, it has imposed oppression on them, particularly women and children. Especially when the application of Scripture is interpreted through the laws and not through the grace which was the Creator’s redemptive design for His Creation.

Do we blindly accept everything we were taught, or has life experience led us to doubt certain things, as they no longer make sense?

Do we blindly accept everything we were taught, or has life experience led us to doubt certain things, as they no longer make sense? As an example, a seven-day creation does not make scientific sense to me as a geological cartographer. I am happy to change that belief to one of time periods, eras, or epochs.  Have life experiences and new scientific discoveries rocked your belief system? We are on a journey of discovery; when you open yourself to let go of an old belief, you can embrace new ideas and thoughts.

2. ENJOY THE LEARNING EXPERIENCE

person holding book from shelf
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To build resilience, you must be prepared to spend time learning new things. Is research a chore, something you did at school or college, and when you had finished, you were done? I have met many people like that, they have hardly opened a book since they left school. They only learned the necessary skills to keep a job or find employment. But what if learning was fun, digging deeper into the hard questions of life to find hidden nuggets of wisdom and truth. History repeats itself if the lessons are not learned. The French Revolution was an example when a government system did not heed the people’s voice, and power and corruption were rife. How did Nazism take hold? What did the people in those times believe? Enjoy the learning experience as you delve into other deeply held beliefs, religious, faith, and church systems.

In the light of what we know now, do these things really bring us into alignment with the purposes of our loving and compassionate Creator, whose pathway of redemption was love and sacrifice of self, not others.

In the light of what we know now, do these things really bring us into alignment with the purposes of our loving and compassionate Creator, whose pathway of redemption was love and sacrifice of self, not others. Learning new things can be fun, but your new ideas may not be well received as people around you get uncomfortable with your new truths. This is also part of growing resilience as you learn to live in the face of opposition.

3. CHALLENGE YOURSELF

positive senior businessman typing on laptop while holding money in hand
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Building resilience involves challenging yourself, not others. They are just as entitled to their beliefs as you are. Breaking free of the old systems and ways is always hard. Heraclitus said, “the only constant in life is change.”  Nobody likes change, but survival often requires us to embrace change and accept what is. My grandfather was a horseman; he never could adapt to the automobile, so he always relied on other people to take him to appointments if he could not walk to them, thereby limiting his experiences.

We are in a digital age now. It is difficult for older people to embrace that this is how life is going to work from now on. Resisting online banking and shopping is not going to make it go away. Learning to use new technology is a challenge, but it is here to stay. Re-read the previous paragraph and take it on board, enjoy the learning experience. Make it part of your daily practice to build new experiences into your everyday life, try ethnic foods, new languages or skills, or even watch movies you never enjoyed before. What new things could you intentionally learn from them?

4. MOVE OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

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Building resilience means you need to practice what you have learned, which usually means moving out of your comfort zone. Speak the new language you have learned. Interact with people of different beliefs and cultural systems, try and understand their perspectives on life. Visit places you would not usually have. If you are a sports fan, visit an art gallery or a ballet. If you are a culture vulture, see a sports game. How does this make you feel? Are you enjoying this experience or learning something you would not have had the chance to learn before? By moving out of your comfort zone, you are giving your heart, mind, and emotions time to make new neural pathways and expand your capacity to survive more difficult circumstances. You are building resilience muscles just as you would in a gym workout for strength training.

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After reading this, you may still decide you want to hold tightly onto your past beliefs and cultural systems, and that is OK. But I have given you the key to open the door to new experiences that will build your resilience muscles for when life moves on and the inevitable changes are forced upon us that we have no control over. There is one core belief that has remained unaltered for me. Our compassionate, unchanging Creator God loves and cares for all that He created and desires to walk in companionship with us to show us the pathway through the changing seasons of life.