Recursive Repercussions

(Based on a conversation I had with my good friend MW.)

Making the bg was easy but also a bit of a pain, so I'll make it CC3.0- attribution in case someone else wants to do something with it because there's no point in reinventing the wheel.

Bursting the Bubble of Worry

Lawyers and Shrinks

Today's story comes from the dark, scary world of BIGLAW. What's BIGLAW, you ask? BIGLAW firms are the "Goliath National Banks" of the law firm world, the "Big Bad," the "Dementors" that suck out whatever's left of a person's soul after three years of law school. The People's Therapist is a blog by a former BIGLAW lawyer-turned-psychotherapist for lawyers because, let's face it, lawyers can use a good dose of psychotherapy after being crushed by the system.

The Bubble of Worry

The People's Therapist gave a few anecdotes about BIGLAW:
- Someone who, after working the entire weekend and coming in early on Monday to finish a memo, broke down after receiving a call from her 92-yr-old grandmother (who she hadn't seen in a year) an hour before the deadline
- Someone who took an extended weekend to rush his mother with a perforated appendix to the hospital and kept her hospital bracelet for proof that the emergency actually happened
- The need to go outside and look at trees just to remember that there is an "outside" and that trees exist.

He gives a list of things that lawyers worry about, the bubble of worry that they live in. But I'm not entirely certain that these are special to lawyers. In fact, I'm sure they aren't because I can name non-lawyers plagued with the same problems.

* Two hundred thousand dollars in student loans is within the normal range.
* You have to earn six figures or you are a failure.
* You can’t take a vacation just because you “have” a vacation. It must be “convenient.”
* Leaving the office at 5 pm shows a serious failure of commitment.
* Taking a weekend off shows a serious failure of commitment.
* Working night and day and doing your best shows a serious failure of commitment.

What's your bubble? What is your cage? What do you worry about? Do you feel like a failure and can't meet expectations? What have you forgotten or pushed aside?

Remember who you are

Confession: I can't see this phrase without hearing Ghost Mufasa from The Lion King say it in my head, but that's beside the point. The advice that The People's Therapist gives is to remember who you are. Remember your priorities. Remember that people matter and that you matter. Remember to visit the people you care about. Remember that trees exist.

The Gospel: A Step Further

This is great (humanist) advice, but let me go a step further. Who are you? If you're a Christian, you're a child of God. You have been bought at a price. You are no longer a slave to sin, a slave to your job, a slave to your worry, a slave to your bubble or to your cage or expectations and deadlines: you are a slave of Christ, and weirdly enough, being a slave to Christ means that "for freedom you have been set free." Yes, there's a yoke, but his yoke is easy and his burden is light, and all who are weary and downtrodden can cast their burdens on him, and he will give them rest.

Not only that, but if you have fellowship with Christ and abide in Christ, you will find that there are lots of brothers and sisters also abiding in Christ. If they abide in Christ, and you abide in Christ- guess what- you all abide in each other, too. Just as you can lay your burdens on Christ, you can lay your burdens on your brothers and sisters, and you can carry their burdens as well. Fellowship is a beautiful thing, and if you don't believe me, spend some time in 1 John.

The Solution

If (when) you are busy and you are stressed and you feel that the world is against you: remember who you are. You are a child of God and a sibling of other believers. When you are busy and stressed, go to God. Go to church. Go to small group. Remember who you are, and surround yourself with people who can remind you who you are.

What if you feel you're simply too busy and stressed to go to God or go to church? Stress and worry and busyness are indicators that you need to go to God all the more. If your life is too crazy to accommodate what is important, The People's Therapist has something to say about that as well:

If things get that can leave. To [expletive] with loans and “career” and all that. If this place is killing you, you can depart...If this environment is toxic for you, you need to get out.

I've talked about how my Sunday school was wrong, but there's one thing that has always stuck with me. It made sense to 10-yr-old me, and it makes sense now, but don't you dare let the adult in you rationalize it away:

If you're too busy for God, you're too busy.

More than 30 min a day

Sand timer photographer: Donald Macleod of flickr under CC2.0

Bible photographer: Renaudeh of Stock Xchng.

HT: "Devoting Ourselves to Death" from The Resurgence

Community and Teamwork

Photographer: me

Spent the day at the beach with my old church friends.  We wanted to make a sandcastle but didn't actually have any tools, so we ended up making a heart.  With our feet.

What's your trajectory?

As I mentioned earlier, I decided to camp out in 1 John for awhile, and the experience has been really rewarding.

John has this really frank way of talking that kicks you down and picks you up again, kind of like a good friend.

Check out what he has to say in 1 John 3:4-10:
No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.
Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.  Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.
No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 
By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

See, just as we are always worshiping something, we are also always practicing something.  So what are we practicing?

All about trajectory

Practice may make perfect, but practice does not mean perfection.  Earlier in the chapter John states "what we will be has not yet appeared."  We are not yet perfect.  We are still broken sinners with dusty, frail frames.  We will make mistakes, but what are we practicing?  Where is our trajectory?  Are we practicing righteousness, finding ways to grow in our relationship with God and in our relationships with others?  Or are we practicing sin and lawlessness?

Are we perfecting the art of loving and serving God and others?  Or are we perfecting the art of burying and explaining away our sin?  We will become experts at what we practice.

A sobering reminder

John has some pretty strong words about those who practice sin.  Those who practice sin are lawless and are of the devil and are not born of God.  Ouch.  And PS you have to love your brother, too.  Double ouch.  John wants us to step back and evaluate ourselves.  Where is our trajectory?  What is our goal?  This isn't about a person losing their salvation, but if someone consistently sins and makes a practice of it, maybe he or she wasn't saved to begin with.  And even for the believer whose salvation is sure- now is a good time to stop and check my heart.

Hope for the believer

Given that warning, sometimes my lack of perceptible progress discourages me.  Why am I like this?  Why can't I get it together?  But John gives me reason to hope.  The one who has "God's seed" that "abides in him" cannot keep sinning.  John states this unequivocally.  He cannot.  Why?  He has been born of God.  Whatever we struggle with in this life, we will overcome.  As Paul states elsewhere: Who will save me from this body of sin and death?  Praise to Jesus Christ who gives me the victory.

An Un-pedestrian Experience

Photographer: nathancolquhoun of flickr under CC2.0, and this new work is hereby released under a similar CC3.0 license.

Double-post today because it's not every day you have a brush with death, and I'm pretty sure it's some kind of rule in the Blogging handbook somewhere that you have to talk about these things when they happen.

Some backstory:
1) I don't have a car, so I walk (or bus) everywhere.

2) I almost got hit by a car today (Tuesday).  Green light, white "walk" signal, lit intersection and wasn't wearing dark clothing, was in the crosswalk.  No cars around, and I get 3/4 of the way across and a car makes a left turn at around 40-45 mph in front of me with maybe 1-1.5 feet clearance.

3) Almost the very same thing happened a couple years back when I was living in another city.

4) You might say (as my parents suggested) that I must be a negligent pedestrian in order for this to have happened (especially twice, but I think they forgot the first time.)  
Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a stickler for pedestrian traffic rules, though.  I never jaywalk.  EVER.  Even when there is no one around and the light is red for five minutes.  I will stand there and wait.  And if you're walking with me and go on ahead, I will still make you wait for me.  That's just the way I am.
But it's the Internet, and I'll let you think what you want.  Occupational blogging hazard.  Years of forum-admining taught me not to be this guy.

5) Funnily enough, my life circumstances this time around were about the same as the first time this happened.  I guess it's kind of a "thing" between me and God now.  (And maybe a sign I should stop questioning Him lol)

6) God is good, and I thank Him for His provisions.

All in the Timing

Thanks, K.C. and M.W. for being patient and all-around awesome in your own ways.

Photographer (both photos): ambienttraffic of flickr under CC2.0, and this new work is released under a comparable CC3.0 license.


Photographer: me. OPI Sephora Arm Candy, OPI Black Shatter, and Topcoat.

This is my new "manicure" ("manicure" in quotes because it's nowhere near professional quality.) My thought behind this was "Oooh, cool, I love OPI's new Black Shatter polish and want to wear it," but I know some people who are going to read waaaay too much into it in light of Valentine's Day.

So before they do, I'll give you all a first crack at it. What title would you give the "manicure?" What do you think it "says" about me?

And something for people who don't care about manicures or makeup: What was the biggest singles/ dating/ married assumption that someone made about you?

Summing Up the Week

First, I would like to clarify two things:

1) As a blogger, a little snark can be warranted and funny. As a woman, however, sometimes snark comes at the expense of cultivating a gentle and quiet spirit (and a general sense of humility, which is applicable to both men and women). I would like to apologize for my heart attitude. While I steadfastly remain under the authority of the Bible and of the local church (though I am still looking for one at the moment), when I see departures from Biblically-mandated gender roles, it is very easy for me to become defensive, particularly when those departures are then, in turn, imposed on me personally.

Unfortunately, during those times, I am no longer fighting for the Bible, but I am fighting for myself in guise of the Bible. Some of my commentary fell in this vein. This is not acceptable behavior for any Christian, and I apologize for subjecting you, the reader, to my sin.

2) For any new readers, please know that I do not always talk about gender issues. In fact, I believe that this week marks the first time I touched on the topic. It just sort of happened to turn out that way as a result of some people I met. I know that saying "never" is practically an open invitation to God to mess up your plans, but tentatively I think I can safely say that this will never be a gender blog or a womens' blog. Tentatively. It is my view that biblical manhood and biblical womanhood share far more in common than they differ. (See Wednesday's post.) It is the similarities that I plan to dwell on.

That being said:

1) How do you feel about gender roles? How much is a social construct? How much is biological? Biblical? (Please keep in mind that comments should be civil, direct attacks are disallowed, and trolls will be axed at my discretion.)
2) What issue(s) do you get riled up about? When it pops up, how do you respond? Is your response (biblically) justified?

In other news:

I have succumbed to the Twitterverse. You may follow me on Jo_of_TSN, and I also provided a button in the sidebar for easy click-age. Also, if a particular post makes an impression on you (for better or worse) and you would like to share the content with others, I added a nifty gadget at the end of each post to help you do so.

Silly Rabbit, Trix are for Kids!

Photographer: avatarshark of flickr under CC2.0. As always, I'm not sure why someone would build on this as opposed to the original photo, but if anyone is so inclined, this new work is released under a corresponding CC3.0 attribution and share-alike license.

Conform no longer to this world, but be transformed by wearing aprons

Photographer: pbody of flickr under CC2.0

For any of my real-life friends wondering how my 7-month church search is going:
"Oh, you are getting a professional degree?  I stay home and homeschool my kids.  The Bible tells us to."

I have nothing wrong against people who feel called to homeschool their kids.  I think it's great that they are so involved in their kids' lives, and it is an excellent way to shelter your kids from being exposed to certain types of temptation and various doctrines at an early age.  Homeschooling does what it is supposed to.  My old prayer partner and the sweetest person I know was homeschooled.

Totally OK with homeschooling!  Totally NOT OK with adding things to the Bible that aren't there and expecting others to do the same.  If you feel it is sin, it is sin to you.  If the Bible is silent, and you don't feel it is sin, then it is freedom in Christ.  It is for freedom that you have been set free.

The Kingdom of Sin: A Parable

Dear Self,

I hate to break it to you, but you didn't "fall into" sin.  Yes, the devil is like a prowling lion waiting to devour, but he's not Wile E. Coyote.  He doesn't carry black sin-holes with him and drop them in front of your path, where you have no choice but to fall in.

No, the kingdom of sin is like this: Person walks through a swamp and happens upon a treasure.  Person realizes that the treasure is a delight to the eyes and is greatly desirable.  Quickly, Person hides the treasure so that no one else may know of it.  Indeed, it would be a great disaster if anyone found out.  Person obscures it so deep in the bowels of the earth such that none - save God Himself and maybe not even then - may find it.

In joy, Person gathers up jewelery and fine clothing, royal gifts from the king, relationships, dignity, and anything else of value.  Person liquidates everything s/he is and everything s/he owns, and after doing so, goes to see the owner of the field.  The owner balks, but after much negotiating, Person obtains a deed: "I hereby convey Blackacre and everything on or in it to Person in fee simple absolute."

Person is now the fine owner of a swamp.

And the treasure?  A handful of Silly Bandz.

Self, own up to your mistakes and repent.  Treasure Christ above all else.  And stay away from swamps.

Your better (but sometimes woefully silent) judgment

Funny how some things just sneak up on you

Oh! Gravity.  Depravity.  Why can't we seem to keep it together?