FORGIVING RESEMBLES a spiral. At the center of the spiral lie the hurtful actions. As we come to new spiritual awareness and see connections between past hurts and present attitudes and actions, we may have to forgive again. And farther on, as we discover other pain and scars, we may have to forgive again – as many times as it takes to be free.
God of new beginnings, as I come to see how others’ actions in the past limit me in the present, help me to open my wounds to your healing light. Help me to forgive and forgive again so that i can be whole and free. I pray in the name of Christ, the one who calls us to keep on forgiving. Amen.
– Mary Lou Redding
VOICE OF THE ADULT CHILD
Saying no may be the hardest thing I do, especially when it comes to my aging parent.
I’ve tried so hard to fulfill his expectations, but I must draw the line before I collapse in exhaustion and frustration.
I know in my head that boundaries are important, but my heart is lagging behind.
Why do I still feel the need to please him?
I feel guilty, as if I’m not doing enough. …
O Lord, I have no superpowers.
I need help in this ever-changing relationship with my aging parent.
It is easier to set boundaries than to keep them.
Give me courage to turn my good intentions into acts of wisdom.
VOICE OF THE AGING PARENT
O God, sometimes the uncertainty of aging makes me sick with anxiety.
At this stage of life I have to depend on other people to care for me.
It’s both humiliating and frustrating.
Still I confess that too often I have acted more like a bossy child than a grateful parent.
I fail to thank family members for all they have done for me.
Forgive me, Lord, when I overinflate my parental role and try to direct their lives.
I know we’re all trying to navigate our way through constant change, but help my family members understand that I have boundaries too.
Lord, please open our eyes to ways that we unintentionally hurt each other.
Help me to show the appreciation and affirmation that I hold in my heart.
MOVING FORWARD TOGETHER
Setting boundaries is a loving way to establish and meet reasonable expectations between adult children and aging parents, especially when circumstances constantly change. Scripture affirms that Jesus knew the importance of boundaries. Although loving and kind, he didn’t always do what others asked of him. At times he withdrew from the crowds for rest and prayer. He also refused to be manipulated by others, including religious leaders.
What kind of inner battles are you experiencing regarding your loved one? What boundaries are necessary to protect your well-being? Consider how Jesus provides a model for you. Choose a time and place to have an unhurried, private conversation with your loved one regarding your expectations and boundaries.
– Missy Buchanan
IT WAS A WINDY DAY at the beach. Gusts blew tiny grains of sand everywhere – between the pages of the book, into the fresh lemonade, around the tangles of my hair. Sand is messy.
Strange as it may seem, the grittiness of it provoked a disturbing thought in the corners of my soul. It bumped up against the orderliness – the “cleanliness” if you will – of my life at the time. The days were pretty predictable and uncluttered. I spent hours in solitude, writing a book, preparing lectures for presentation, studying, researching. Sure, I attended church, cooked meals, and took care of business, but was I living too much in an ivory tower, aloof from the disorderly needs in the world around me?
Sometimes we maintain a comfortable distance from the distress of others, immersing ourselves in our little world, preoccupied with our own pursuits and demands. We hear the cries of the lonely, the disadvantaged, the hungry and hurting souls, but we remain safe in our surroundings, somewhat protected from the chaotic existence of others.
The sand in my shoes chafed against my skin and my conscience, reminding me of the untidiness, the scruffiness, the nastiness portrayed on the evening news and in the morning paper. Maybe I needed to get my hands dirty in the messy lives of those around me – in my relationships, in my community, in the cares of the needy. Maybe I was avoiding something. Sometimes God sends a message. Sometimes God uses sand.
– Linda Douty
EVERYONE FACES TIMES when they are lost, confused, and scared. That time for me is most of the time. I have Crohn’s disease, a disease that causes my immune system to attack my digestive system and causes me a lot of pain. Being sick for the rest of my life seems all bad, and yet it has brought me closer to God.
Because I have a chronic illness, I have developed what I call “chronic faith.” When I need someone to turn to, I turn to God. When I have hit my lowest low, the Lord has saved me from the great darkness.
God has blessed me with people who help me get through the pain. My goal in life is to help others through the pain of disease and other troubles that cause them to suffer
OMNIPOTENT GOD, while we sleep,
your work in the world and in our lives continues.
In the stillness of the night, without fanfare or fireworks,
your creative work goes on.
Thank you for being ever attentive,
for offering us a life absent of worry about tomorrow.
Thank you for your grace that is more than sufficient.
We see you at work in nature
and in simple and lavish acts of kindness
extended from one person to another.
Your goodness is all around us,
beyond our sight and imagination,
never ceasing or sleeping.
Help us to let go of our anxiousness
and relax in the wonder of knowing you. Amen.
– Mary Lou Redding
I CAN UNDERSTAND why Christian spirituality is often described as a journey rather than a destination. The spiritual life is characterized by movement and discovery, challenge and change, adversity and joy, uncertainty and fulfillment. It is also marked in a special way by companionship, first with the One we seek to follow and second with those who also seek to follow Jesus Christ. …
There are times when our certainties about life seem seriously undermined, if not completely shattered. There are other times when, through conscious effort or quite apart from it, we move from disorientation to a new constellation of meaning and wholeness.
Life is not a stationary experience. New insights and developments continually challenge our understanding of life and our experience of God. Yet if we see the spiritual life as a journey, these cycles of change will not alarm us or turn us aside from our primary goal – to know and love God.
– Rueben P. Job
LONG AGO the prophet Jeremiah asked, “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there?” (Jeremiah 8:22). He wrote his lament when his nation was suffering greatly.
Jeremiah’s heart was broken, his face wet with tears. Of course, there was medicine in the land, and Israel had doctors. But the kind of care the nation needed went beyond the power of pills or persons.
Likewise, we are never bereft of prayer, but we may need more than our customary views and practices of it. We may need to experience prayer in a new way – or more correctly, experience God in a new way. As one person said to me, “I want to know about the kind of prayer that will keep me praying when everything in me wants to quit.”
– Steve Harper