Reblog: Self – Justification/Humility

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Humility: the most overlooked virtue? Humility should be our starting point.

Excellent post from A Pastor’s Thoughts:

A Pastor's Thoughts

Abba John said, ‘We have put the light burden on one side, that is to say, self-accusation, and we have loaded ourselves with a heavy one, that is to say, self-justification.’

He also said, ‘Humility and the fear of God are above all virtues.’

Abba John gave this advice, ‘Watching means to sit in the cell and be always mindful of God. This is what is meant by, “I was on the watch and God came to me.” (Matt. 25:36)One of the Fathers said of him, ‘Who is this John, who by his humility has all Scetis hanging from his little finger?’

—-ABBA JOHN THE DWARF


The two competing margins of any man are self-justification and humility. We all have a great drive to be the controllers of our own destiny. To achieve that destiny we must find ways to justify our actions. There are many people that are…

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Boundaries

emergency

Another trip to Accident & Emergency last night. I’m sure all parents can relate. We used to go several times a year because at least one child would have injured themselves falling off a skateboard, jumping off a swing, or hurtling down the stairs. I wonder if children in families with restricted television go to A&E more often, statistically speaking, than whose for whom telly/social media is unrestricted?

It wouldn’t be so bad but the nearest A&E is a 30-40 minute drive and it wears me out, so no church this morning (also 30 minutes away). Fluff’s friends, Pippa and Caitlyn (aka The Twins), came with us because they were already with us for a sleepover, so it made for a rather raucous rabble entering the hospital (in a way that only 13-year-old girls can be). I was glad, in some ways, because they kept Fluff entertained and even carried her from the car to the hospital entrance.

Fluff and Chip did their first ever show jumping yesterday afternoon and Fluff’s horse stood on her foot. When the foot turned blue and swollen later I didn’t want to risk not going to hospital. But I really miss it when we don’t go to church. We didn’t go last week either because Fluff was at Pippa and Caitlyn’s for a sleepover and I had to pick her up.

If you have children, do you sometimes get the impression that your role is chiefly that of general dogsbody and/or chauffeur? My life seems to exist as a sideshow to that of my kids, especially because I end up wearing myself out doing it all, so have no ‘spoons’ (see Spoon Theory) left over.

So what are you going to do about it? That’s what I’d like to know… ~ Paul Simon

Christ calls us to be servants, and this is why I do serve, but I have begun to wonder if I am actually indulging my children in my ‘serving’. So I have ordered a copy of Boundaries with Teens: When to Say Yes, How to Say No by John Townsend, who also co-wrote the life-changing Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No, to Take Control of Your Life. The latter should be required reading for anyone who has experienced abuse or co-dependency, or who grew up in a dysfunctional home. Many who have not experienced these sorts of problems don’t realise quite how much ‘self’ is lost, or how incredibly damaging that is. I didn’t even know that I could make boundaries between myself and other people before I read this book. I had the vaguest idea because I’d heard other people talking about it, but because childhood abuse (particularly sexual abuse but not exclusively) robs the victim of personal boundaries, people could impinge on me with impunity and I didn’t even know they were doing it. No wonder I ended up in an abusive first marriage. I just thank God that He eventually put a stop to it all.

‘Boundaries…’ is full of sound, practical advice and the authors are devout Christians so each part is linked to the bible and the wisdom within. An excellent and life changing book, I also have high hopes for the ‘Boundaries with Teens’ version.

Musings and Frost

I find in the work of Robert Frost both a heavy, in-birthed cynicism and a fresh dose of reality with an appreciation for all things. I think his poetry is often focused around this conflict and as such I have loved it since I was sixteen years old and received the collected works of Robert Frost for my birthday from my darling Granny. Aside: I never called her ‘darling’ in life but I wish I had; she was a dear soul. I often dream of my grandmother since she died. Strange. Anyway, I am in a strange mood – angry and fed-up but at the same time not caring one way or the other. Also I’m aware that I am alive and have a commission to serve. All things considered it’s not an easy combination but will overrides all and I will to follow God, whatever my emotions. Such is recovery from PTSD, soothly, as I gesse (l’il bit o’ Chaucer for you there – I told you I was in a strange mood). Well, in short, this poem reflects those kinds of conflicts within a backdrop of everyday reality:

A good reading. The last line is what resonates with me:

And they, since they

Were not the ones dead, turned to their affairs.

C’est la vie.

 

My dear son has been ill. We have an appointment at the hospital this afternoon for a scan but so far they’re somewhat baffled. He has missed school for weeks now and I don’t know what to do. He seems ok in himself, apart from running a fever this morning, poor lad, but for the most part I haven’t been able to tell if he’s really ill or if he’s faking it. Or partially faking it, because of his anxiety, which he says no one understands – and perhaps we don’t, not being autistic or OCD like him. I have had to be extremely patient with him, bless him. I thought he would be well enough to go back to school this morning, but ’twas not to be :-/

As for me, I am weary. Bored as much as anything, having stopped studying with the O.U. I am no better, physically, than I was, although I would very much like to be. I am trying to declutter and organise our house, which gives me goals each day, although I dislike housework immensely. I am not sure if it is a sign of organisation or madness to now have labelled shelves in the kitchen and an organised plastic container drawer. What do you reckon? I’ve been learning to speak Mandarin along the way. I can say, “I am English but he is Chinese,” and “She is busy. She is reading a book.” I’ve always wanted to learn Mandarin and they have a good course on Audible so I thought I’d give it a go. But it’s all pretty aimless, really. Is it ironic that the Chinese invented the examination, which was solely for the purpose of becoming a Mandarin, and here I am learning Mandarin but with no prospect of examination? Or is it just a tongue twister?

“In space things touch, in time things part,” she repeated to herself… her brain so weak that she could not decide whether the phrase was a philosophy or a pun.** 

My daughter started talking about careers the other day. She thinks she would like to be an architect or an engineer when she leaves school, and she has the aptitude for it. I do so love my children, but when she started talking about going to university and having a career I found myself unable to join in! My husband chastised me for my tone of voice so I shut up; I would never want to hurt my child. Yet there I was, overwhelmed with a sense of sorrow and, yes, bitterness, that I usually manage to keep under wraps. At least, I’m not generally aware of it. I have no patience for self-pity yet my thoughts were (and have been since) along the lines of: I was the one who scored highest in the 11+ out of everyone who took it that year. I was the one who should have gone to Oxford or Cambridge, or at least to a redbrick. I was the one who should have soared in the academic world of my choosing, following in the footsteps of my father. And what did I get instead? Nightmares and flashbacks and ill-health and a great steaming pile of bovine faeces.

The ridiculous thing is that I know, perhaps more than most, that life isn’t what we expect it to be. We are spoiled, here in the West. We have the illusion of being in control and we don’t like to be disillusioned. When a billion people in the world are malnourished, when 6 million children under the age of five die every year from preventable causes, who am I to turn my nose up at anything? Yet I couldn’t stop those feelings! Like I said, one’s will is sometimes the only way to move, and movement is surely better than stagnancy: I might not feel a certain way, but I’m flippin’ well not letting it get in the way of what I know to be right and true and honourable.

I hate PTSD and I hate M.E. (note the full stops denoting abbreviation – I don’t hate myself, which is a minor miracle really because I used to). I loathe not being ‘normal’, or at least having the chance to be, but it is what it is and not wanting it to be a certain way is not going to change anything. Since when did a person’s wanting or not wanting change a thing? And because I believe, as a child of God, that I have a divinely-imbued purpose to love and to serve, then so be it. Deep calls to deep. It is inescapable.

 

** from A Passage to India by E.M. Forster