Training in Righteousness
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Entries in All Random All the Time (56)


Transparency or pride?

I like order. I have a hard time thinking when things are cluttered. A place for everything, and everything in its place. My brother gave a dire prediction that I would be a drill sargeant when I became a mother. Perhaps that's true. Compared to the chaotic, frenzied life of some mothers I hear today, I must have been, because I'm sure if there was blogging back when I had young kids, there wouldn't be much fodder, because life ran fairly well. It was typical. It was busy. But it wasn't exceptional. I was given children who were quite content, and we practiced discipline with them; boundaries and consequences and all that. 

I've read articles here and there making the same point I'm about to make, but bear with me. 

It seems to be popular these days to tell tales of how disordered our lives are and how God loves us anyway. I know that's an oversimplification, but you get my drift. I have heard stories of women taking pictures of their messy homes, posting them online, and proudly proclaiming: I'm okay with this mess, God loves me, anyway, and I don't have to be a domestic diva. And that's true; all of it.

But why is that something I want to exalt? I don't have to hide it, but I don't have to turn it into a virtue, either. Where is the line between glorifying God for meeting us in that struggle, and glorifying the struggle? Is it a matter of "my life is messier than yours, so the deliverance God gives me is better?"

It has been my experience that the people with the most serious struggles are the ones who say the least about their struggles.

There is none righteous, no not one. There is none who seeks after God. We were born into sin. And God knew us and loved us, anyway. We know that. We know people have dirty kitchens, unruly children, bad motives, and times when they just blow off their responsibilities to sit in front of a book and eat chocolate. We all know that about each other. I know it about you, and you know it about me. But why is it so much more sanctified to shout it from the rooftops?

I understand the need for women to take the pressure off of themselves and not conform to an unreasonable and unblibcal standard. Truly, I do. But as I get older, I'm beginning to value discretion much more. I have been guilty of being too transparent on too many occasions. I have found myself cringing over some of the things I have said in the past. I often wonder if anyone saw Christ beyond my "transparency." Perhaps on occasion, but perhaps not.

Perhaps I am showing my age. Maybe this is a generational thing. It has certainly come on the heels of the explosion of information online. 

Transparent moment: I think I didn't believe in a "generation gap" until now.


Thankful in the little things

My husband works in the insurance industry. He has for eighteen years. This means dealing with people whose homes burn down at inconvenient times, have sewer back-ups at Christmas, or have trees fall over and land into their roof. It also involves a lot of car accidents. Some of the stories over the years of the long-term effects of people's car accidents are very scary. When we get behind the wheel of a car on a regular basis, we don't give a lot of thought to the sheer killing power of which we're in control. I think about it more now than I did before my husband was in the business.

We also live in southern Ontario where winter means just as much ice as it does snow. Whenever a weekend passes by with more than typical inclement weather, my husband will ponder on a Sunday evening, "How many accidents were there over the weekend?" 

I had to go out this morning. I purposely went early because I wanted to get to the grocery store before it got busy and because it's snowing. I've heard the sound of salt trucks, so I know the roads are good at the moment. After my quick dash into the store for a few items, I went home. When I pulled into the driveway, I thanked God for safety. It's not that I was in any real danger. I've driven in worse conditions. But it really does not take much to damage your vehicle, or hurt yourself or another person. What a Christmas it will unfortunately be for some people this year, as their cars get totalled or they get injured. Some car accident-related injuries share their "blessings" for years to come, aside from being the cause of fatalities.

I'm thankful for safety today, and I pray for safety in the days ahead as we visit family for the holidays. The safe travels we have are gift. Be cautious in bad weather, and remember that it's better to arrive late and alive.

Be thankful in the little things. We are so blessed.


Still telescoping

Here is a slightly modified post I wrote in 2008. This still rings true. I wonder if other women can relate to this.


Is telescoping a word? I doubt it. It's a poor attempt to make a noun into a verb, I'm afraid. I think I live a telescoping life.

I have been thinking about details; specifically, the details of our lives. Whether we make our work inside the home or outside the home, life is full of ordinary details. We have to feed people, wash their clothes, get them to appointments. We have things in the local church that take up time; groups we work with, people we serve and little things that are our responsibility. We can become very focused on the details our lives and forget about the world around us.

I am not a big news hound. I see the headlines, and if something strikes my fancy, I read it. I watch the news regularly.  However, I don't have nearly the time to spend contemplating the big issues of the day when there is a dog scratching to come in, a cat whining to be fed, boys whining to be fed, and bible study lessons to prepare for. Sometimes, I feel very ignorant about the world.

The older I get, the more I see there is to learn. There is no way I can possibly keep up. Every so often, I will go off on a tangent, and I will spend a little more time looking at the larger world. I will be like a dog with a bone, and I will read about a topic quite extensively for a while, learn all I can, and then when I realize there is mold growing in the refrigerator, I get back to reality.

My view of the world has to move back into the ordinary, and that's okay with me. This is where God has put me. He has given me this family and these details. They are mine and because He gave them to me, they are good. By the same token, the desire to learn and know more about the world is also a God-given one, and He gives me plenty of opportunity for that, too.

I look at life as through a telescope; sometimes, the view is far and wide, and I see myself as the small little dot in this vast universe. And then, the telescope has to pull back to where I see myself in the centre of my home, managing the many details. I don't know if other people experience this phenomenon. Perhaps my husband does in his own way. He loves news, and he knows a lot about what's going on in the world, but I am pretty sure that he has to pull in his own telescope to look at actuarial reports, auditor's reports and solve the latest human resources crisis. Then, he has to come home and concern himself about the details of being a husband and father; whether or not the garage door opener is working properly, or if the leak under the sink has come back.

We can't escape details and the ordinary. Even the most "famous" person, with the most extraordinary life inevitibaly faces the ordinary. If there were no one ordinary, would we even know what extraordinary was?

There is still a dog who scratches at the door (albeit, a different one), and cats whining to be fed. While the house is empty of children, there are still details. But I still do the telescope thing. The nice thing is that because there are fewer responsibilites, the time for zooming in can last a little longer.


If I was a man headed to seminary...

If I was a young man headed to seminary, I would rely on the support of my family and friends. I would need their prayer support, their encouragement, and emotional support. I have read accounts of men in seminary who have shared how important that kind of support was to them.

I am not a man going to seminary, but I, and every other Christian woman, need the support of family and friends in our life long spiritual education. We need encouragement so study deeply, and with purpose. We need prayer support and encouragement to keep learning and to keep living what we learn.

The encouragement isn't needed because we have plans for professional ministry. We may never move beyond the sphere of our local church and family, but we still need the encouragement. And no, the encouragement isn't just so that we can learn the spiritual value of making our family sandwiches. That lesson is an easy one by comparison to some of the other lessons we must learn.

When I look back to where I was at the age of 30 to where I am now, I see how far I have come. When I look ahead, I see how far I have to go. I am not alone. I know so many women who want to study, who want to continue learning. And it isn't so that we can have a profession, career, or any ministry in particular. It's because the process of study draws us close to God, and reveals our humanity and need for our Saviour.

So, if you have a friend, sister, daughter, or mother who is a theology nerd, support her. Pray for her, and encourage her to press on. And maybe even ask her how the study is going. It will mean a lot to her.


Give me the truth straight up

While away at a convention this week, my husband and I sat with one of his colleagues, who related in a hilarious way his reactions to his daughter's pet hedgehog. The daughter received it as a gift while away at university, and when she returned home for the summer, she brought it with her. Its name was Lionel Pritchie, but our friend had independently re-dubbed it "Sir Stinksalot." He was angry at Beatrix Potter, he said, because he expected Lionel to arrive with a vest and a pocket watch, not stinking up the house and keeping the family awake with its nocturnal behaviour. In short: don't get a hedgehog as a pet.

This seems rather obvious to me, seeing as it's a rodent. Rodent? Bringing it in my home? Yes, seems obvious.

This gentleman clearly loves to entertain with his wit, because he kept us laughing all evening. I love situations like that; when someone else will entertain the whole table. It takes the pressure off the rest of us.

That being said, I'm always a little uncertain about someone who doesn't have an "off switch." You know what I mean: someone who can't ever be serious for a minute. I always wonder why that is. What are they hiding? Is everything a joke to them, or are they just deep down, shy?

The same goes for those who present truth in continually "in your face" way. They are the wise-cracking, exaggerating, shoot from the hip type who never seem to write one word that isn't couched in some sort of analogy designed to inspire rage, laughter, or disgust. I think it's the exaggeration that always attracts my attention the most. Rather than saying, for example, "You may find this hard to believe," they will find other means such as, "Now, this may cause your head to explode, thus spattering your grey matter all over the walls..."

Please don't misunderstand me; I don't mean verbal devices should never be used. They often add colour and power to our words, but it needs to be done in a subtle way, carefully, and in small doses.

Too many use it to the point of overkill.  At some point, I think the truth has to be presented as the truth. Sometimes, the exaggeration or shock type language has to be put aside, and the truth needs to speak for itself. The danger of the shock type of language is that it can come across as being obnoxious.

Unfortunately, if one expresses a concern about this, the response is inevitably "I'm sick of the political correctness. You just can't handle the truth," at which point we're supposed to hear this spoken in Jack Nicholson's voice. The problem becomes ours; we are not tough enough to hear their words. It may be true that we just can't stand it, but it can also be that they are actually being careless and irresponsible with their words.

Yes, that kind of writing is a stylistic thing. Guys like Carl Trueman do it all the time. The thing is, Mr. Trueman never comes across as raging; some of these other types do. Not everyone can be like Trueman, and when some try, they look pretty silly. I find that many of these users of shock type language believe that if they speak in increasingly hard or extreme terms, people will be conviced. Not necessarily. Often, it just makes people stop listening.

In the same way that I find the perpetual clown type a little alarming, I also find the one who presents truth with a constant stream of "in your face" dialogue a little bothersome. I want to ask those people, "Where is your off switch?"

It's probably just a bit of a personal thing, I understand. But seriously, truth served in a calm, dispassionate way never goes out fashion.