Daily Riches: Incarnational Listening (Leo Buscaglia, David Augsburger, and A. J. Swoboda )

“Being heard is so close to being loved
that for the average person they are almost indistinguishable.” David Augsburger

“The world is changed by listeners.” A.J. Swoboda

“An open ear is the only believable sign of an open heart.” David Augsburger

“When I ask you to listen to me
and you start giving me advice,
you have not done what I asked.

“When I ask you to listen to me
and you begin to tell me why
I shouldn’t feel that way,
you are trampling on my feelings.

“When I ask you to listen to me
and you feel you have to do something
to solve my problem,
you have failed me,
strange as that may seem.

“Listen! All I ask is that you listen.
Don’t talk or do–just hear me.

“Advice is cheap; 20 cents will get
you both Dear Abby and Billy Graham
in the same newspaper.
And I can do for myself; I am not helpless.
Maybe discouraged and faltering,
but not helpless.

“When you do something for me that I can
and need to do for myself,
you contribute to my fear and
inadequacy.

“But when you accept as a simple fact
that I feel what I feel,
no matter how irrational,
then I can stop trying to convince
you and get about this business
of understanding what’s behind
this irrational feeling.

“And when that’s clear, the answers are
obvious and I don’t need advice.
Irrational feelings make sense when
we understand what’s behind them.

“Perhaps that’s why prayer works, sometimes,
for some people–because God is mute,
and he doesn’t give advice or try
to fix things.
God just listens and lets you work
it out for yourself.

“So please listen, and just hear me.
And if you want to talk, wait a minute
for your turn–and I will listen to you.”

Leo Buscaglia

“To answer before listening–that is folly and shame.”
Proverbs 18:13 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • When you’re called upon to listen, do you find yourself giving advice? It’s a common problem.
  • Are you quick to want to “fix” someone or their problem? What might that say about you–either positively or negatively?
  • When did you last feel truly heard? Wasn’t it powerful and wonderful? Didn’t you feel special, valuable–loved? Can you do that for someone else soon? How could you practice that?

Abba, help me as I practice loving, attentive, silent listening.

For More: Caring Enough to Hear and Be Heard by David Augusburger

Daily Riches: What Saves Relationships Over and Over (Maria Popova, Rainer Maria Rilke, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and Shel Silverstein)

“Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“Our paradoxical longing for intimacy and independence is a diamagnetic force—it pulls us toward togetherness and simultaneously repels us from it with a mighty magnet that, if unskillfully handled, can rupture a relationship and break a heart. Under this unforgiving magnetism, it becomes an act of superhuman strength and self-transcendence to give space to the other when all one wants is closeness. And yet this difficult act may be the very thing—perhaps the only thing—that saves the relationship over and over.” Maria Popova

“I hold this to be the highest task of a bond between two people: that each should stand guard over the solitude of the other. For, if it lies in the nature of indifference and of the crowd to recognize no solitude, then love and friendship are there for the purpose of continually providing the opportunity for solitude. And only those are the true sharings which rhythmically interrupt periods of deep isolation. . . . It is a question in marriage, to my feeling, not of creating a quick community of spirit by tearing down and destroying all boundaries, but rather a good marriage is that in which each appoints the other guardian of his solitude, and shows him this confidence, the greatest in his power to bestow. A togetherness between two people is an impossibility, and where it seems, nevertheless, to exist, it is a narrowing, a reciprocal agreement which robs either one party or both of his fullest freedom and development. But, once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue to exist, a wonderful living side by side can grow up, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole and against a wide sky! Therefore this too must be the standard for rejection or choice: whether one is willing to stand guard over the solitude of a person and whether one is inclined to set this same person at the gate of one’s own solitude . . . . Self-transformation is precisely what life is, and human relationships, which are an extract of life, are the most changeable of all, rising and falling from minute to minute, and lovers are those in whose relationship and contact no one moment resembles another. . . . For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.” Rainer Maria Rilke

“Love one another.”
John 13:34

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you agree that by nature the crowd deprives its members of solitude?
  • Will you choose a beloved who will protect your solitude? Can you be trusted to protect their solitude?
  • Are you learning to be happy and whole in solitude, so that even when you want closeness, you can give your partner space?

Abba, may my love be unpossessing, uncontrolling, protecting space for the thriving of my beloved.

For More: The Missing Piece Meets the Big O by Shel Silverstein

Popova, Maria. “The Difficult Art of Giving Space in Love: Rilke on Freedom, Togetherness, and the Secret to a Good Marriage”

Rilke, Rainer Maria. Letters to a Young Poet. New York: W. W. Norton, 2004. 

Daily Riches: The Madness and Meaning of Love (Thomas Moore)

“Love is also a kind of madness. It seals you in a bubble of fantasy where emotions are intense. You feel unbalanced. You do silly things. Your sense of responsibility disappears. You are deaf to the reasonable advice of friends and family. In your delirium you may get married or pregnant. Then you spend years in the aftermath trying to make a reasonable life. At any point you may fall into a dark night of the soul created by the profound unsettling that love leaves in its wake. . . . After years of practicing psychotherapy with men and women of all ages, I am convinced that love is the most common source of our dark nights. . . . The lure is strong, but the darkness is intense. It is as though love always has two parts, or two sides, like the moon, a light one and a dark one. In all our loves we have little idea of what is going on and what is demanded of us. Love has little to do with ego and is beyond understanding and control. It has its own reasons and its own indirect ways of getting what it wants. . . . You surrender, and then the spell descends and you get swept away by days and nights of fantasy, memory and longing, and a strange sensation of loss, perhaps the end of freedom and of a comfortable life. Even if you have had experiences of painful and unsuccessful love, you don’t give up on it. The soul so hungers for love that you go after it, even if there is only the slightest chance of succeeding. . . . Clearly love is not about making you happy. It is a form of initiation that may radically transform you, making you more of who you are but less of who you have been. If you don’t realize that you are walking on coals and running the gauntlet and surviving the wilderness in quest of vision–all within the comforts of a simple human relationship–you could be undone by it. Love gives you a sense of meaning, but it asks a price. It will make you into the person you are called to be, but only if you endure its pains and allow it to empty you as much as it fills you.” Thomas Moore

“The Lord said to me, ‘Go, show your love to your wife again . . . .
Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods . . . .’”
Hosea 3:1 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • “The lure [of love] is strong, but the darkness is intense.” Do you typically remember that?
  • Moore says, “Clearly love is not about making you happy.” Does that even make sense? If it’s true, what does it mean?
  • Are you willing to “pay the price” that love demands?

Abba, as we love, help us to see past the fantasies to the opportunities.

For More: The Dark Nights Of The Soul by Thomas Moore

Daily Riches: Make Peace with the “Groan Zone” (Gregory of Nazianzus)

“Make peace with the groan zone. The groan zone is the place where the conversation is most difficult and may feel overwhelming or hopeless. Too many people walk away at this point. But use the mediator’s secret here–sticking it out through the groan zone is often the way to crack a difficult conversation’s tough nut. Whenever you notice yourself experiencing a ‘get me outta here!’ moment, pause and remind yourself this is where the greatest opportunities lie. Instinctively we abhor nondefensiveness and when we feel attacked or even confronted, we lash out immediately in hurt and anger. Most of us are either too reactive to stay calm or too reactive to stay present. Some, hoping to avoid the discomfort of confrontation are so unreactive they are never really present. It is over-reactivity that dooms many arguments between loving couples. Uncovering the real issue happens when people feel safe enough to be vulnerable. How do you do it? It’s actually very easy. Take a deep breath and just validate. Repeat back what you’re hearing. Be a mirror. If it’s easy, why don’t we all do it all the time? Because there’s a hard part too: Managing your own discomfort. Can you be OK with the feelings of others? Can you listen without judging? Can you listen even though you might feel threatened?”

“Everyone must be quick to hear,
slow to speak
and slow to anger . . . .”
James 1:19 NASB

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you too reactive to stay calm? . . . or present? . . . to love well? . . . not to jump to conclusions or judge? . . . or try to fix?
  • Does emotionally laden conflict feel like death to you? (Join the club.)
  • Are you safe enough in God to allow yourself to be vulnerable? . . .  not to run?
  • Can you allow God to love you in your failed, good intentions–and try again the next time?

“O Word of Truth! in devious paths
My wayward feet have trod;
I have not kept the day serene
I gave at morn to God.

“And now ’tis night, and night within;
O God, the light hath fled!
I have not kept the vow I made
When morn its glories shed.

“For clouds of gloom from nether world
Obscured my upward way;
O Christ the Light, Thy light bestow
And turn my night to day!”

Gregory of Nazianzus

For More: Before the Door of God, Jay Hopler and Kimberly Johnson, eds.

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Sources:

Hopler, Jay and Kimberly Johnson, eds. Before the Door of God: An Anthology of Devotional Poetry. New Haven: Yale, 2013.

[I’m no longer able to find the source of the “Groan Zone” quotation.]

Daily Riches: Staying At Marriage (Wendell Berry)

“The meaning of marriage begins in the giving of words. We cannot join ourselves to one another without giving our word. And this must be an unconditional giving, for in joining ourselves to one another we join ourselves to the unknown. We can join one another only by joining the unknown. We must not be misled by the procedures of experimental thought: in life, in the world, we are never given two known results to choose between, but only one result that we choose without knowing what it is. . . . Because the condition of marriage is worldly and its meaning communal, no one party to it can be solely in charge. What you alone think it ought to be, it is not going to be. Where you alone think you want it to go, it is not going to go. It is going where the two of you—and marriage, time, life, history, and the world—will take it. You do not know the road; you have committed your life to a way. . . . The Zen student, the poet, the husband, the wife—none knows with certainty what he or she is staying for, but all know the likelihood that they will be staying ‘a while’: to find out what they are staying for. And it is the faith of all of these disciplines that they will not stay to find that they should not have stayed. As the traditional marriage ceremony insists, not everything that we stay to find out will make us happy. The faith, rather, is that by staying, and only by staying, we will learn something of the truth, that the truth is good to know, and that it is always both different and larger than we thought.” Wendell Berry

“As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven,
Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.”
Luke 9:51 NLT

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Did you enter marriage thinking you knew what to expect? Don’t most of us marry with illusions?
  • In staying at marriage we may learn something “different and larger than we thought.” If you’re married, what has that meant for you?
  • Think about Jesus’ life from the point of view of “staying.” What does his example show?

Abba, what do you want me to discover as I stay?

For More: Standing by Words: Essays by Wendell Berry

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Daily Riches: The Imperialism of the Self . . . In Marriage (Frank Sheed)

“Marriage . . . is not all magic. Husband and wife must work hard at it. If one is making no effort, the other must work twice as hard. Love helps, though it is precisely love that is in danger of losing its elan with so much to depress it; prayer helps tremendously. But, in the purely psychological order, nothing helps so much as the reverence that flows from a right vision of what man is–that this loutish man, this empty-headed woman, is God’s image, an immortal spirit, loved by Christ even to the death of the Cross: whatever the surface looks like, this is in the depth of every human being, this in him is what God joined together with this in her. The realization that there is this welding of two into one in the depths of their being, below the level that the eye of the mind can see, is the most powerful incentive to make that union in depth effective through every layer of personality. This reverence is a safeguard against one of the great dangers of family life–the tendency of one partner to form, or re-form, the other . . . in his [or her] own image. There is a sort of imperialism to which the self is liable, the desire to impose its own likeness. As we have already seen, one should not lightly try to re-make another: but, if re-making there must be, assuredly the only image in which any one should be re-made is the image of God in which he [or she] was made.” Frank J. Sheed

“Above all, love each other deeply,
because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
1 Peter 4:8 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you have a “right vision” of who you are? . . . of your spouse? Take some time to picture your spouse as God’s beloved image-bearer, as one treasured by God.
  • Prayer and loving like Jesus (Ephesians 5:25) will also be necessary. Are you praying God’s blessing on your spouse? How does your love for your spouse resemble God’s love for you?
  • Do you have an “imperialistic” attitude where you’re insisting on what you know is best for your spouse? Can you humble yourself instead, and allow God to work in your spouse (and in you) in God’s way and time?

Abba, I need your work in me. I’ll leave my spouse to you. Help us both.

For more: Marriage and the Family by Frank J. Sheed

Daily Riches: Seeing An Imperfect Person Perfectly (Søren Kierkegaard, John Eldridge, Hannah Hurnard and Tennessee Williams)

“We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.” Søren Kierkegaard

“’She’s wilting’, a friend confessed to me about his new bride. ‘If she’s wilting then you’re withholding something.’ I said. Actually, it was several things–his words, his touch, but mostly his delight. There are so many other ways this plays out in life. A man who leaves his wife with the children and the bills to go and find another, easier life has denied them his strength. He has sacrificed them when he should have sacrificed his strength for them.” John Eldridge

” . . . Christlike love is created in us when we accept the hatred and the malice and the wrongdoing of others, and bear it, and through forgiveness, overcome and transform it.” . . . “If only disillusioned lovers would realize this and repent and change their thoughts yet a third time (not back to the first illusions), but to quite a different kind of thought, namely a longing to love and to be a helpmeet, and to rejoice in the creative power of love to change what is unlovely in others, and to delight in loving even if we are not loved in return; then all the hurt, humiliated, furious and resentful feelings of dislike or hate would change into compassion and loving desire to help the other partner.” Hannah Hurnard

“Nobody sees anybody truly but all through the flaws of their own egos. That is the way we all see . . . . Vanity, fear, desire, competition–all such distortions within our own egos–condition our vision of those in relation to us. Add to those distortions to our own egos the corresponding distortions in the egos of others, and you see how cloudy the glass must become through which we look at each other. That’s how it is in all living relationships except when there is that rare case of two people who love intensely enough to burn through all those layers of opacity and see each other’s naked hearts.” Tennessee Williams

“Love bears all things . . . .” 1 Corinthians 13:7 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you guilty of withholding what your spouse needs from you?
  • Are you attempting to be married without “sacrificing your strength” for your spouse? . . . without accepting and bearing with wrongdoing? . . . without giving up even if you are not loved in return?
  • Can you admit your ego-related flaws and ask God to help you begin again . . . to forgive and be forgiven?

Abba, may I follow Jesus in his way of loving.

For More: Wild At Heart by John Eldridge

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. Thanks for your interest! – Bill

 

Hurnard, Hannah. The Winged Life.
Williams, Tennessee. Selected Letters of . . . . (Vol. 2)

 

Daily Riches: What It Means to Love (Gary Thomas, Radiohead)

“If I could be who you wanted … all the time … all the time” Radiohead – “Fake Plastic Trees”

“’Gary, I kind of locked the keys in the car.’ I put down the phone, ready to drive over and bail Lisa out, but when I went to retrieve another set of keys, I noticed the empty hooks where we keep Lisa’s car keys. Apparently, Lisa had lost the last set. I had to go through her coats, her pants, her purse, her shoulder bags—anything I could think of—to find a key so I could get her home. Lisa is a lastborn, and she does lastborn things. She loses stuff. She ‘forgets’ her purse or leaves her wallet at the store.  …I grew up in a household where my mom had enough food, toilet paper, light-bulbs, and batteries stockpiled to last us at least a year. You could have stretched our supply of toilet paper from Seattle to Tacoma. Lisa shops from an entirely different perspective. She buys stuff a day or two (or occasionally a week or two) after we run out. Some mornings, it’s milk. Some nights, it’s toilet paper. Some afternoons, we’re out of keys. …I could read a how-to book that might tell me how to communicate my frustration. Lisa and I could have several talks about being more proactive. Maybe I could draw up charts, or we could try to redivide responsibilities. Or after two decades of marriage I could just accept that some things will never change, because they won’t. I can’t expect Lisa to become a different person just because she’s married to me—just as she must put up with countless episodes of my own quirks, limitations, and irritating qualities embedded in me as if they were encased in granite. Rather than let little disappointments and minor annoyances steal what is most important, it’s healthier to have a spiritual funeral and bury certain expectations. That, sometimes, is what it means to love.” Gary Thomas

“and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those
who sin against us.”
Jesus, in Matthew 6:12

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you expect your spouse to be like you? Consider what that might look like.
  • Did you enter marriage with realistic expectations? Do you have realistic expectations now?
  • If loving means simply ignoring a lot of bothersome things, are you a loving spouse?

Abba, if I could be who you wanted.

For More: Simply Sacred: Daily Readings by Gary Thomas

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to regularly share something of unique value with you in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest! – Bill

Daily Riches: Fat Women Walking (Gary Thomas)

After the Women’s March on Washington D.C., a Texas judge posted: “Just think about this. After just one day in office, Trump managed to achieve something that no one else has been able to do: he got a million fat women out walking.” An Indiana State Senator reposted a meme stating “In one day, Trump got more fat women out walking than Michelle Obama did in 8 years.”

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The man who originally posted the meme has since expressed regret: ‘I want to apologize for the insensitive social media post  …This represented a momentary lapse in judgment on my part for which I am truly sorry, …This does not reflect my feelings toward women….’

We all make mistakes, and perhaps jokes at women’s expense is one of the most common–and most commonly accepted–ones. In fact, so accepted that many men probably feel it’s a “non-issue.” But think about this:

“Those who have advanced in the Christian life have learned to develop an almost mystical memory that keeps them attuned to the fact that God is always with them … always watching, always caring, always hearing. …do I look at women through the eyes of God? Do I listen to them and hear them as God hears them? Do I think about them as God thinks about them? And do I speak of them as God would have me speak of them? …A man who refrains from lust but who looks at women with condescension and disrespect is not a godly man. His corruption may be of a different sort from the one who undresses women in his mind, but he certainly can’t live a compelling life. Why not? Because he hasn’t learned what it is to truly love.” Gary Thomas

“So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.”
Genesis 1:27

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Men, are you sensitive to how women are often treated “with condescension and disrespect” (or worse) simply because they’re women? Do you notice this in others around you? Do you notice it in yourself?
  • Women, have you grown so accustomed to being invisible, powerless or unappreciated that you have come to expect it and settle for it?
  • As a Christian, are you putting up with these kinds of attitudes in your political party? …in your church? …in your home?

Abba, teach me what it is to truly love.

For More: Simply Sacred by Gary Thomas

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to regularly share something of unique value with you in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: When You Want What This World Cannot Give (C. S. Lewis)

“Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise. The longings which arise in us when we first fall in love, or first think of some foreign country, or first take up some subject that excites us, are longings which no marriage, no travel, no learning, can really satisfy. I am not now speaking of what would be ordinarily called unsuccessful marriages, or holidays, or learned careers. I am speaking of the best possible ones. There was something we grasped at, in that first moment of longing, which just fades away in the reality. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same.” C. S. Lewis

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through
the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.”
1 Peter 1:3-4

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Are you asking from your marriage, your family or your career something it can never give?
  • Can you be thankful for good things that are only “mirages” or pointers–even though they cannot help but disappoint?
  • Can you let those “echoes” do their work of encouraging you to “make it the main object of [your] life to press on to that other country” filled with realities only grasped at now?

Abba, my longings are ultimately for you. Let me look to you and be satisfied with you. You are enough. With you I have all that I need.

For more: Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you in 400 words or less. Thanks! –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Darkness As A Friend in Marriage (Alain De Botton)

“You know, some of the reason why we marry the wrong people is that we don’t really understand ourselves. I mean, sometimes I say to people, ‘Do you think you’re easy to live with?’ People who are single. And the ones who say, ‘Yeah, yeah, I’m pretty easy to live with, it’s just a question of finding the right person.’–massive alarm bell rings in my mind. …And so we go into marriage unable to convey that knowledge to a partner. We don’t understand them. They don’t understand us. We don’t understand what marriage is. Let’s stress that. …Be incredibly forgiving for the weird behavior that’s going to start coming out. You will be very unhappy in lots of ways. Your partner will fail to understand you. If you’re understood in maybe, I don’t know, 60% of your soul by your partner, that’s fantastic. Don’t expect that it’s going to be 100%. Of course you will be lonely. You will often be in despair. You will sometimes think it’s the worst decision in your life. That’s fine. That’s not a sign your marriage has gone wrong. It’s a sign that it’s normal, it’s on track. And many of the hopes that took you into the marriage will have to die in order for the marriage to continue. That some of the headiness and expectations will have to die. …It’s very dark. But in love, darkness is a real friend of relationships. Because so many of the problems of love come from unwarranted optimism. And so we need to be dark about so many things. …I think that there are aspects of a good marriage that should encompass a kind of melancholy, as we realize that we’re trying to do such a complex thing with someone. We are trying to find our best friend, our ideal sexual partner, our co-household manager, perhaps our co-parent. And we’re expecting that all this will miraculously go well together. Of course it can’t. We’re not going to be able to get it all right. There will be many areas of misunderstanding and failure. And a certain amount of sober melancholy is a real asset when heading forth into the land of love.” Alain de Botton

“Most important of all,
continue to show deep love for each other,
for love covers a multitude of sins.”
1 Peter 4:8

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • What is your response to this very dark portrayal of married life?
  • Did you enter marriage with “unwarranted optimism?” If so, how exactly?
  • Can you accept that darkness, melancholy and despair might be part of your married experience? …a valuable part?

Abba, in the darkness may I find your light.

For More: Essays in Love by Alain de Botton

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Thanks for reading/sharing my blog! – Bill

 

Daily Riches: Perhaps the Biggest Shock of Marriage–Encountering Yourself (David Whyte, Larry Crabb, Edith Schaefer and Grant Howard)

“People throw away what they could have by insisting on perfection, which they cannot have, and looking for it where they will never find it.” Edith Schaefer

“At the heart of every marriage and every committed relationship, there dawns an elemental shock of realization, that we have made vows to a stranger whom we must now get to know; both in ourselves and in the other. Marriage is where we learn self-knowledge; where we realize that parts of our own makeup are even stranger than the stranger we have married or come to live with and just as difficult for another person to live and breathe with or come to know. Marriage is where we realize how much effort we have put into preserving our own sense of space, our own sense of self and our own cherished everyday rhythms. Marriage is where we realize how much we want to be right and seen to be right. Marriage is where all of these difficult revelations can consign us to a sense of imprisonment and distance or help us become larger, kinder, more generous, more amusing, more animated participants in the human drama.” David Whyte

“Every human relationship, especially where the participants long to experience deep closeness, encounters significant conflict. And there is simply no way through the conflict to true connection without divine power. There is no way through without an energy in the soul that is supplied by God, an energy that is stronger and better than the energy that is already there, fueling the conflict.” Larry Crabb

“We have a picture of the perfect partner, but we marry an imperfect person. Then we have two options. Tear up the picture and accept the person, or tear up the person and accept the picture.” Grant Howard

“This is the message you have heard from the beginning:
We should love one another.”
1 John 3:11

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you experienced the shocking “self-revelation” to which Whyte refers? If not, why not?
  • Have you made peace with your own limitations as a spouse? …with those of your partner?
  • Is your response to marriage to feel imprisoned or to be challenged to grow?
  • Are you aware of the absolute necessity of divine empowerment in your marriage?
  • Are you “tearing up” the picture, or the person?

Abba, use my marriage to make me larger, kinder, more generous, more amusing and more alive.

For More: The Three Marriages by David Whyte

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and God seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. I appreciate your interest! Please leave a comment or question. –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

 

Daily Riches: Marrying the Wrong Person (Alain de Botton)

“We marry to make a nice feeling permanent. We imagine that marriage will help us to bottle the joy we felt when the thought of proposing first came to us: Perhaps we were in Venice, on the lagoon, in a motorboat, with the evening sun throwing glitter across the sea, chatting about aspects of our souls no one ever seemed to have grasped before, with the prospect of dinner in a risotto place a little later. We married to make such sensations permanent but failed to see that there was no solid connection between these feelings and the institution of marriage. Indeed, marriage tends decisively to move us onto another, very different and more administrative plane, which perhaps unfolds in a suburban house, with a long commute and maddening children who kill the passion from which they emerged. The only ingredient in common is the partner. And that might have been the wrong ingredient to bottle. The good news is that it doesn’t matter if we find we have married the wrong person. We mustn’t abandon him or her, only the founding Romantic idea upon which the Western understanding of marriage has been based the last 250 years: that a perfect being exists who can meet all our needs and satisfy our every yearning. We need to swap the Romantic view for a tragic (and at points comedic) awareness that every human will frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us—and we will (without any malice) do the same to them. There can be no end to our sense of emptiness and incompleteness. But none of this is unusual or grounds for divorce. Choosing whom to commit ourselves to is merely a case of identifying which particular variety of suffering we would most like to sacrifice ourselves for. …It might sound odd, but [it] relieves the excessive imaginative pressure that our romantic culture places upon marriage. The failure of one particular partner to save us from our grief and melancholy is not an argument against that person and no sign that a union deserves to fail or be upgraded. The person who is best suited to us is not the person who shares our every taste (he or she doesn’t exist), but the person who can negotiate differences in taste intelligently—the person who is good at disagreement. Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity that is the true marker of the ‘not overly wrong’ person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition. Romanticism has been unhelpful to us; it is a harsh philosophy. It has made a lot of what we go through in marriage seem exceptional and appalling. We end up lonely and convinced that our union, with its imperfections, is not ‘normal.’ We should learn to accommodate ourselves to ‘wrongness,’ striving always to adopt a more forgiving, humorous and kindly perspective on its multiple examples in ourselves and in our partners.” Alain de botton

“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another,
because love covers a multitude of sins.”
1 Peter 4:8

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Have you made it your partner’s job to save you from your “emptiness and incompleteness”, from your “grief and melancholy?”
  • Do you expect grace from your partner to cover your “multitude of sins?”
  • Can you embrace your union of imperfections as “normal”–even unavoidable?
  • Will you commit yourself to working towards “compatibility” rather than demanding it as a precondition?

Abba, teach me to love.

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Thanks for reading/following my blog. The length of this post is a rare exception. Debotton’s article was just too important to pass over due to my self-imposed rules on length. – Bill

Daily Riches: Those Who Are Hardest to Love (Anne Morrow Lindberg, Dorothy Day, Roy Croft and Socrates)

“I only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.” Dorothy Day

“I love you…

For putting your hand
Into my heaped-up heart
And passing over
All the foolish, weak things
That you can’t help
Dimly seeing there,
And for drawing out
Into the light
All the beautiful belongings
That no one else had looked
Quite far enough to find.” Roy Croft

“When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet, this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of time and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible in life, as in love, is in growth, in fluidity–in freedom. The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what it was, nor forward to what it might be, but living in the present and accepting it as it is now. For relationships, too, must be like islands. One must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits–islands surrounded and interrupted by the sea, continuously visited and abandoned by the tides.” Anne Morrow Lindberg

“Those who are hardest to love need it most.” Socrates

“…be kind to each other,
tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
Ephesians 4:22

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you “looked far enough to find” beauty in someone which is overlooked by others?
  • Look through Lindberg’s words. Can you ask God to show you where you might be straying off course?
  • Have you ever thought of the one who is “hardest to love” in your life as the one who needs your love the most?

Loving Abba, may your love for me drive and shape my love for others–especially those that are hardest to love.

For More: Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindberg

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest! Please leave a comment or question. –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: Never a Man Like This (Dorothy Sayers and Sara Bessey)

“What is repugnant to every human being is to be reckoned always as a member of a class and not as an individual person.” Dorothy Sayers

“Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were … last at the Cross [and first at the tomb!]. They had never known a man like this Man–there never has been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronised; who never made arch jokes about them … who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unself-conscious. There is no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel that borrows its pungency from female perversity; nobody could possibly guess from the words and deeds of Jesus that there was anything ‘funny’ about woman’s nature.” Dorothy Sayers

“After years of reading the Gospels and the full canon of Scripture, here is, very simply, what I learned about Jesus and the ladies: he loves us. He loves us. On our own terms. He treats us as equals to the men around him; he listens; he does not belittle; he honors us; he challenges us; he teaches us; he includes us—calls us all beloved. Gloriously, this flies in the face of the cultural expectations of his time—and even our own time. Scholar David Joel Hamilton calls Jesus’ words and actions toward women ‘controversial, provocative, even revolutionary.'”  Sara Bessey

“Women aged fifteen through forty-five are more likely to be maimed or die from male violence than from cancer, malaria, traffic accidents, and war combined. One-third of women face abuse at home. …in most countries, between 30 and 60 percent of women had experienced physical or sexual violence by a husband or a boyfriend. Up to 70 percent of female murder victims are killed by their male partners.” Bessey

“So God created human beings in his own image.
In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.”
Genesis 1:27

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you automatically see a women first as “a member of a class and not an individual” …made in God’s image?
  • Does the kind of love-of-women Jesus demonstrated characterize your family? Is it a value preached in your church?
  • Men, is your goal to be “a man like this man”–like Jesus–who prizes and honors women?

Abba, help me be more like Jesus in my relationships with women.

For More: Jesus Feminist by Sara Bessey

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Thanks for following and sharing my blog! – Bill

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