Tag Archives: Peace

The Art of Letting Go

I was recently reading a book called, “Pray, Write, Grow: Cultivating Prayer and Writing Together” by Ed Cyzewski when he shared something that hit my chest like a brick.  Talking about himself…

“Anxiety and fear became habits that have worn their way into my life after years of practice.  I also suspect they are behind my desire to control my life circumstances and the rage I feel when circumstances don’t line up the way I want.  So many events in my early life felt completely chaotic and out of control, that I’ve made myself a nervous, controlling wreck trying to reassert control over at least a few things.”

As I said this was Ed describing himself but he easily could have been describing me even though he has never met me.  Many people don’t know this but anxiety can show up in someone’s life as irritability and that is definitely one way it shows up in mine.  When things don’t go the way I have planned or there are unexpected changes it can throw me for a loop. As with Ed, earlier in my life, things felt pretty chaotic.  I moved several times back and forth across states, switching schools, trying to make new friends all the while trying to adjust to not only my parent’s divorce but also my new surroundings.

I can remember when I moved back to Iowa with my mother and younger brother I was filled with a lot of anger and rage.  Not only was I dealing with the task of making new friends but also a drastic decline in finances.  While my mother did her best it still was not enough to make ends meet so we received food stamps and welfare.  My brother and I were two of the kids whose names were placed on the Christmas trees at Christmas time in need of gifts, I received free school lunches and free school supplies donated from churches.

I did not want to be the kid everyone picked on because clearly, I did not have the coolest clothes and many times I was overdue for a haircut, so I discovered if I could become a class clown and also be aggressive towards other people then I might just fit in and not be the target of bullying.  This seemed to work well so I continued to act up in class, cuss words pretty much filled every sentence of mine from a very early age, and I seemed to get in fights on a normal basis.  This attitude presented a front of strength, but in actuality, it was fear and weakness in disguise.  I was greatly in need of help.

My life to say the least was chaotic.  While my life now is much different there is still a temptation to exert control over my life.  I think the greatest way I feel this now is with my 3-year-old daughter.  She is a wonderful child that I love very much, but she is very strong willed and persistent (much like myself).  As I said before I like things to go as I have planned and 3 year olds are great at throwing a wrench in the mix whether that is dumping ranch dressing on themselves like mine did when we were getting ready to go somewhere yesterday, refusing to brush her teeth unless you let her do it while she pretends to be a cat, asking for something approximately 5,000 times, or singing the same line of song over and over again while you are trying to focus on completing a project.   These types of things definitely increase my desire to exert control over the situation.  It is in times like these that it is very easy for me to become irritable and not patient or gentle.  Why?  Why is that my response?  I think in some way it is because if I can control that situation then I have control over my life, but to understand that things are going to happen sometimes that I can do nothing about requires me to have faith.

So, while I am not going to be flawless at this all the time my prayer is that I will begin to exhibit more faith and gentleness.  I will seek to practice the art of letting go instead of holding onto nervousness and control.  As you reflect on your own life where might you need to do the same thing?

 

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Filed under Moving forward, Past

Gott Mit Uns…What does that mean?

Gott Mit Uns

The phrase “Gott Mit Uns” on this German military belt buckle that includes an eagle and a swastika was a new phrase for me and I was unsure of what it meant. After I did some digging I discovered that this phrase “Gott Mit Uns” means “God With Us”. This phrase was engraved on the German Wehrmacht soldiers belts but not on the SS soldiers. The Wehrmacht who wore this symbol “Gott Mit Uns” were the standard military force of Germany while the S.S. where a special unit of bodyguard and fanatics who protected Hitler who eventually grew to become a great force. While the S.S. forces had a different motto we cannot deny that the regular military force of Germany became highly influenced by Hitler and this elite military force.

I think this naturally leads us to ask, “How could the German army have the phrase ‘God With Us’ on them while committing so many horrible crimes against humanity?” While I think this is a very important question it is also something we have seen done throughout history. People have used God’s name time and time again to show that God is “on our side” no matter if what they are doing is consistent with who God is. We can look back throughout history and see the devastation that happened in the Crusades over many years that killed an estimated hundreds of thousands of people. While the Christians, Muslims, and Jews were fighting to take back the Holy Land it was being done in the name of God from their standpoint, or another way to put it would be Gott Mit Uns, they believed that God was on their side and a part of their cause. We have also read how Muslims have yelled, “Allah Akbar” which means “God is Greater” while killing innocent people. We even fall into this trap in America today where we call ourselves a Christian nation, we continue to say, “In God We Trust”, and at the same time we commit atrocities that are so unlike Christ.

Before people jump through their computer screen at me and accuse me of saying Americans are the same as the Nazi soldiers or Muslim Extremists please understand that this is not my point. My point is that throughout history in both secular and religious cultures God’s name has been used to support causes that honestly are not that Godly. Around this point, people are usually pretty quick to point to the devastating destruction that was done in “God’s Name” in the Old Testament. Yet, we need to remember to view who God is and what God does through who Jesus is. In the New Testament in the book of John 1, it says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The text goes on to later say, “The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus is the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us! So if Jesus is God in the flesh then we look to him to see how we are called to live.

I think one of the biggest challenges we see with this calling is when Jesus preaches the Sermon on the Mount. This sermon would have been incredibly controversial because of a simple phrase, “You have heard it said…”. Six different times Jesus says this phrase and points out something that had been passed down from generation to generation from Moses that needed to be understood in a different and more challenging way. Think how many times we as a people do something because we have been taught that is what is right even if it not truly the best picture of who Jesus has called us to be. Think of how many times acts are called Christian yet fail to reflect Jesus. Jesus went on to say that he did not come to destroy the law, but he came to fulfill it. Jesus not only met the requirements of the law but in the Word of God becoming flesh he was completing the law. When we look at Jesus we see him ushering in a new kind of kingdom, a kingdom that is not of this world. The way of Jesus is the way that leads to healing, redemption, and restoration. The way of Jesus is not an eye for an eye, but of seeking to pray for and love our enemy. Instead of Jesus’ kingdom being brought in by force and dominating others it was ushered in by him dying on the cross so sin and death could be conquered!

So when we say “God With Us” I fully believe this is true because Jesus has come and dwelt among us; However, I think a more accurate thought for us to reflect upon is are we with God? As Christians are we seeking to form God into our image and desires or are we seeking to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ? When we read the words of Jesus in the Scriptures and we see how he called his followers to live are we choosing that path? Are we picking up our cross and following him or are we asking Jesus to follow us? So once again, yes God is with us but are we with God?

 

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