Christianity, Spiritual

Beatitudes for a Pandemic

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By: Jana Greene

Spent some time with God today, but it was restless, addled time. I can’t seem to still my mind right now, what with the current state of Covid-19 ravaging the planet. I like a certain amount of chaos with my order, but this is ridiculous.

BLESSED is not a word I would use to describe the state of my mind right now. Edgy, tense, scared….these are the adjectives that describe my state more accurately. Still, I started thinking about the Beatitudes, and how the “blessings” Jesus outlined in them run contrary to what many of us would consider positive things, or even bearable things at times.

This is one such occasion – the unprecedented happenstance we find ourselves in, in the midst of a global pandemic. So I thought I’d write a little piece today so that I can have a little peace today. I invite you with much love to join me.

When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:”

Blessed are the exasperated, the cooped up, the frustrated, and the lonely. For they shall be reminded that God is not bound by illness or protocol, or the foibles of human nature.

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.”

Blessed are those grieving the loss of certainty and structure. For their hope lies in bigger things. Hold on tight, you are still in the Father’s embrace, even though the world seems upside-down.

 “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.”

Blessed are the odd ducks and weird people, who are just trying to navigate their way through the “new normal.” We are all free to be who we were created to be, no need for shame. Yours is the Kingdom, weirdo.

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

Blessed are the seekers, the doubters, the spiritually starving. Does your soul feel empty? Are you hungry for peace, comfort, and hope? Your system is just making room for the One who gives those things, and in abundance.

You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.”

Blessed are the helpers, the lovers, the carers. For they are showing the rest of us how to be the hands and feet of God on Earth, modeled after the Perfect One.

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.”

Blessed are those who “check themselves before the wreck themselves.” For they are ever striving forward, even in the midst of difficult circumstances.

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.”

Blessed are the calmer heads, the team players, and the encouragers. For where would we be without the Light Bearers? They see the Spirit in all, and welcome all to the table with Christ.

 “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.”

Blessed are the ostracized, yet steadfast. For they keep moving forward, in the face of opposition and a bleak forecast for a broken world.

“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.”

Blessed are those who get knocked down, but keep getting back up. For they are US! In us lies incomprehensible power, as we are the Kingdom of God on Earth.

So let’s remind one another that LOVE is the strongest force – far more contagious than a virus. Hardier than any microbe, or quantum physics, for that matter. Love swallows up hopelessness and gives us a boost to keep soldiering on. No sickness can touch it, no disease can end it.

In sickness and in health. In warm gatherings and in lonely quarantine. In times of plenty, and times of rationing. Always, there is love.

“Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

Stay safe, every one. And God bless you.

  • Scripture taken from Matthew 5:1-12, The Message translation.
Beatitudes, Spiritual

Blessed are the Meek (Part III of The Beatitude Series)

Mystic
The truth will set you free. But first it’s going to be pretty uncomfortable.

By: Jana Greene

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Most everyone knows this beatitude; what with the promise of inheriting the earth and all. I love the way The Message translation breaks it down:

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are — no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.” (MSG)

Who else has felt like they are never enough? I don’t mean the self-depreciation that comes with not meeting individual expectations. I mean,  who else struggles with core low self-esteem? Just feeling less-than?

At times, I feel I can do no right. I wish I were more organized, more punctual. More reliable. Steadier. It’s easy to get swept up in self loathing as a vehicle for ‘meekness,’ at least for me. Once the spiral gets going, it’s easy to believe all of your own negative press. Our self-esteem can ride on our hormonal fluctuations, our bruised egos, our moods.

Before I got sober, I was a very guarded person. I had few friends and because I was operating out of a place of near-complete fear, I reasoned that I wouldn’t say boo to a goose because I was ‘meek.’

I watched every word I said (sometimes that was good) for fear I might incriminate myself. I watched every thought because I just knew that God was displeased with my carnal nature. It was a stifling existence, fighting my voice in order to please everyone else, especially the Almighty.

It wasn’t a lifetime of meekness. It was a lifetime of being afraid. God isn’t afraid of my thoughts – He know them all already. Oh how I wish I had known that the Almighty was already okay with the real me!

Meekness is defined as (trigger warning) “submissiveness.” Why is being submissive considered such a societal ill? Because we are defining submission in terms of how humans treat each other, not how God treats His creation. If someone always has your best interest at heart and never fails at sweeping you off your feet, being submissive is easy. Most of the time.

It isn’t a watering-down, but a building-up!

Four years into sobriety, I met my husband. In an instant I fell in love and took the great risk of being myself with him. Through step work, I started loving people and letting them in, and in return, received a great deal of love. And I was amazed – I am STILL amazed 12 years later – that he actually encourages my quirkiness.

Had I not met him, I doubt very much that I would be writing this blog – or anything else – because I would be too afraid of what you (the reader) are thinking right now.

Sometimes we just need someone to give us permission to see ourselves in a positive light.

God is giving you permission! Blessedness is not a mood, but a state of being. Praise be for THAT!

It took a little longer for me to trust that God encourages our quirkiness, but I’m here to tell you, He does. He really does get tickled by the things that make us US.

It’s okay to have a voice.

In researching the subject of meekness, I came across a wonderful quote (and one that is, as far as I can tell, anonymous): “Meekness is not weakness, just strength under control.”

Meekness is not low self-esteem. To be meek is to know who you are, and not try to be more than that or less than that. But being who God says we are is so much better than who we could paint ourselves to be.
Just BE.

Human being < human doing.

And it is in the ‘being’ that we become content with who we are and find ourselves the proud owners of everything that can’t be bought…

Love among one another.

Strength under control – God’s control.

Intimacy with the Living God. If we are bestowed that, we have gained the whole world.

 

 

 

Spiritual

Self-Condemnation Deflation

By:  Jana Greene

A dear friend and I were having a discussion about self-condemnation the other day; about how it is a struggle for both she and I to avoid condemnation of ourselves.  When I put myself down, I am believing what the enemy says about me is correct.    That with my past actions –I am worthy of condemnation.   I get stopped in my tracks, stopped from moving forward.  Whatever holy and good things I was hoping to do today to pass along the love of God, gets buried like tires stuck from driving on deep sand.  The more I try to move forward out of a self-condemnation mindset, the more my wheels spin.

I am no Theologian.  I am un-schooled in psychology.  But I am a sinner, and I have taken putting myself down to an art form.  I’m working on breaking out of self-condemnation; working on learning not to self-condemn.

In my life, condemnation usually happens in one or two ways.  Half the battle (if not more) is remembering who is the perpetrator of this oppression is – satan.  If he can keep me stuck like tires in the sand, I can’t go anywhere forward-moving.

My self-condemnation says:  The things I have done in my past determine my feelings of worthfulness to God now. 

Confirmation by the Enemy:  Who are you to tell other beggars where you found bread?  You made every mistake in the book, and now you want to spread the Gospel.  If you want to help God, don’t drag His name into your mess.   Who is going to listen to you? 

My self-condemnation says:  I can’t do anything right…I am my own worst enemy.  If you compliment me, I will find a way to point out something negative about myself so fast I don’t even have to think about it.  I just keep messing up, even though I love God with all of my heart, with all of my soul, with my entire mind. 

Confirmation by the Enemy:  I am your worst enemy, but thanks for listening to what I have to say.

One stream of thinking applies to my past, and one to my present and future.  But both of them show a lack of trust in the one who pulls me out of the ruts of my own making.  I don’t need self-esteem, I need my esteemed Savior, Jesus Christ, who can and will do for me (as much of a mess as I am) for you, for anyone.

I researched a little bit the word “condemn”, hoping to find an accurate definition, and learned these things about the word.  Those of us who apply condemnation to ourselves are, in essence:

1.       Declaring ourselves to be reprehensible, wrong or evil without reservation, usually after we weigh “evidence” that we decide is obvious.

2.       Associating ourselves with the following synonyms:  Damned, denounced, denied, and pronounced guilty and unfit.  Oh, and convicted, sentenced and DOOMED.

Those are big-ticket items, Spiritually.  Self-condemnation is really an act of sentencing ourselves to doom.

Interestingly, there is only one antonym- one opposite – given for the word in Webster’s online dictionary:

BLESSED

That’s pretty powerful. There is a battle going on to determine how we view ourselves.  We can’t always get to the  self-loathing feelings before they get to us, but we can be lifted up out of them.  As a matter of fact, we have already been lifted out….

Romans 8:1-5:  So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.  The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature.  So God did what the law could NOT do.  He sent his own SON in a body like the bodies we sinners have.  And in that body God declared and end to the sin’s control over us by giving His Son as a sacrifice for our sins.  He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for  us., who no longer follow our sinful natures but instead follow the Spirit.” – (NLT)

There is no fine-print disclaimer to this verse.  It doesn’t say, “some” or “a tad” or “a smidgen” of condemnation of those who belong to Christ Jesus.  It says there is NO condemnation.

On my own, I am totally condemnable.  But with Christ as my salvation, I am just  BLESSED.

Blessed to know that negative self-talk is NOT of God, and that I have the authority to rebuke it.

Blessed to know that the Lord is infinitely patient, and doesn’t expect me to change overnight.  I’ve honed some really effective self-condemnation techniques over a lifetime, and it will take His supernatural help to reprogram the way I think.

Blessed to know that I cannot “out-mess” His love for me…I am His daughter.  Like a good father, He has already done for me what I could not do for myself.

Blessed to know the sound of my Father’s voice, whose words never tear me down, but build me up in love.

Blessed to know that the enemy of God is referred to in the Bible as ” The Author of Lies”, unable to tell the truth.

Blessed that, as Romans 8 reminds me, “And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”  That leads to doom.

No Condemnation at all, for those in Christ Jesus!
AMEN!