I cry to you, Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” Psalm 142:5
It seems we always find some way to avoid the transformation of our pain. We are all tempted to project our problem on someone or something else rather than dealing with it in ourselves. As long as the evil is “over there” and we can keep our focus on changing or expelling someone else (as the contaminating element), then we feel at peace. But this is not the peace of Christ, which “the world cannot give.”
Playing the victim is another way to deal with pain indirectly. You blame someone else, and your pain becomes your personal ticket to power because it gives you a false sense of moral superiority and outrage. You don’t have to grow up, let go, forgive, or surrender—you just have to accuse someone else of being worse than you are. And sadly, that becomes your very fragile identity, which always needs more reinforcement.
All of these patterns perpetuate pain and violence rather than bringing true healing. Jesus took the more difficult path: to know the depths of suffering and sin and yet to forgive reality for being what it is. That is the Third Way, beyond fight and flight, and yet in a subtle sense including both of them. Only the Spirit can teach us the paradox of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the pattern of all growth, change, and transformation. It is equally hard to trust both sides—the dying itself and the promised new state. –Richard Rohr
Lord our God, we seek Your light and pray that You shed Your light upon us so that we live not only on earth but in You, the eternal and living One. May our lives be drawn into eternity, to the praise of Your name, O Father. May we take Your Word to heart so that we can become true men and women, able to bear everything in Your name and to remain in the love You want to give us. Rouse us to become true men and women at the side of Jesus Christ our Savior, who has been patient in all things with all people. Be with us at all times, Lord our God. You are our help and our refuge. Amen.
Well, I know all about the path of pain and violence. I just finished off six weeks of Romeo and Juliet with 37 eighth graders whacking each other with Home Depot paint stirrers spray painted silver with black duct-taped handles.
And while Romeo does pause just once to ask He that hath the steerage of my course to direct his sail, he then turns and follows his lusty gentlemen friends and their fearful date with this night’s revels.
My eighth graders are also studying the role of the President and foreign policy in Civics. Um, there’s a lot of pain and violence in those paths as well. This morning we are hearing reports on Syria, North Korea, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Mexico… the list beats on, even including Australia and France.
So where do we turn for hope? How do we smash through the way of the world? Where can my kiddos find the paradox of the death and resurrection? The pattern of growth, change and transformation?
I went to Seven Habits of the Highly Effective Teen. Not scripture, but tools to break through the way things have been, to shift from and will be forevermore, tools to dig through the muck and look towards transformation. Tools that shine with His light and truth: I am a responsible person. I take initiative. I choose my actions, attitudes, and moods. I do not blame others. I do the right thing without being asked, even when no one is looking. I plan ahead and set goals. I do things that have meaning and make a difference. I spend my time on things that are most important. I balance courage for getting what I want with consideration for what others want. I listen to other people’s ideas and feeling. I try to see things from their viewpoint. I listen with my ears, my eyes, and my heart.
And we have these last thirteen days together, backwards planning our way into the future with a multi-genre research paper chock full of stories, poems and promises, working through our last energy physics lab evaluating our energy consumption and calculating hundreds of thousands of btu’s and reducing our own energy consumption by shorter showers, raising the thermostat three degrees just as the temperatures are hitting a hundred, or not eating meat three days a week, and reading the headlines with the Constitution clutched in the other hand. And woven throughout all of these powerpoints and handouts and grading rubrics are the conversations that really matter.
These crazy kids. And I get glimpses of my Father’s love for me, His crazy kid, all day long.
Oh Lord, You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living. May I live in You, the eternal and living One. You who are patient in all things with all peoples, may You direct my sail.