This was one of those weeks when both of today’s chapters in Invitations From God by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun parked themselves smack dab in the middle of the road of life.
It was a bit like Balaam’s donkey. Can’t get around them. Can’t push past them.
The invitation to rest (Chapter 4) and The invitation to weep (Chapter 5) may seem that they don’t go together. However, it turns out if we rest, often the space created allow other parts of life to surface. Parts we have been working so hard to manage or downplay or just keep at bay by our busyness.
Okay friends, just being real here. I wrote the above about a week ago and then life jumped on me. Not in a bad way, but a way that took my head in her hands and turned my head to look in a different direction.
This is going to be a shorter post and I need help to keep the book club discussion ball in play. I know you get what these kind of weeks are like :). In a nutshell, the family of one of my best friends were in a terrible car accident a few miles from my home. You can read about it here. Of the six passengers in their mini-van, four were hospitalized (the dad required the jaws of life to cut him out and he was flown to the hospital about two miles from my house).
So, being “local” and “an M in China for 20 years” and wanting to be the eyes, ears, and hands of my friends for their family, it has been a rich week. One we will not forget, any of us. I’ve known the family for about 25 years, but after this last week, we much closer. But, And, Yet . . . however you combine the sentiments, it is now Saturday and I’ve read the chapters without writing one word for us. Karen needs to make an image, so there is no more time, I need to get words out of my head, through my hands, and to you.
I share all of this for two reasons. One, I believe you care about me and when we share a bit of our lives, it helps root all of us in reality. Two, if this is another post that is a bit random, now you know why.
The irony that we read this week about rest is not lost on me. God’s invitation to rest came in a week where God wanted to remind me (us?) that you don’t get all of your ducks in a row so that you rest. No, we are invited to rest in midst of reality. In part, this is why I hadn’t written. Like you, I had choices to make on my time and instead of trying to shove everything in and pretend that I could move along as if I could “do it all,” I chose to rest at night and not work.
Calhoun made the point in this chapter that not resting is the behavior of slaves. I even underlined that point in my notes. Slaves do not rest. Are we slaves or beloved children? How are you living your life? As a slave, or a precious child?
“An identity based on doing is always precarious and unrestful. And it is not what God intended.”
“Rest is a transcendent anchor in the midst of doing. God wants us to rest because he knows a society that encourages overwork is no different from a society that encourages lying, murder, stealing and promiscuity.” Dare I add, not just a society, an organizational culture.
I was thinking about the invitation to weep before I read Chapter 5. In my small group we are working through Emotionally Healthy Church Workbook. (Side note: if you are looking for material to use with your team/small group, I highly recommend it. We have been together for over 13 years with me participating whenever I could be in the US; and this material has taken our group to a deeper level. We do not have the DVDs and people have not read the book. The workbook is enough.).
Last week I lead the discussion on grief and loss. What was interesting to note is the ways in which people minimized their loss. After the second person said, “Well, I know this loss isn’t like someone dying . . .” I had to say something. Death is not the only marker of a legitimate loss, but I think many of our cultures have programmed us to compare our losses to death.
If there is no dead body, buck up!
Is that the message of Jesus? Is that the voice of a loving Father? Is that how the Comforter comforts?
No. The invitation to weep is not merely for dead bodies. Do not numb yourself to the reasons to weep within your own family, marriage, team, city, country, or life. I’ve been reading The Soul of Shame and a major takeaway is that shame seeks to disintegrate, but God wants us integrated. Weeping (acknowledging what is really going on, so it could also involve hurt, disappointment, or joy) when a situation warrants it, is an act of integration and love. It fights off shame.
So, this is what I’ve been thinking about and living as I read these chapters. What have you been facing as God has brought these lessons to life for you?
Grace and Peace,
PS: The Reading Plan
- March 12th: Intro and Chapter 1
- March 21st: Chapters 2 and 3
- March 28th: Chapters 4 and 5
- April 4th: Kimberlee Conway Ireton
- April 11th Chapters 6 and 7
- April 18th Chapters 8 and 9
- April 25th Chapters 10 and 11