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Never Too Busy

telephoneI have just wakened from a delightful dream, and it led me to an even more delightful realization, and this needed to be shared.

My dream was of a very busy, very responsible, very wonderful friend. Over the years they have graced me with much of their time, guidance, teaching, and regard. Nowadays, they are very busy, very responsible, doing many things, have moved into some directions different from my own… and, while I am yet welcome to communicate with them, they choose not to respond. This is sad, but understandable. They have many important things to deal with constantly, and I can manage things on my own just fine. So, yet I communicate, but without response. I rather think of it like being dead. From my side of the relationship, they live. From their side, I am dead. And, I endeavor to be as courteous and considerate a corpse as I can. I figure we will have eternity to “catch up”, so no harm, no foul.

But this dream was so simple. My friend called me, and simply stayed on the line as many hours of my day went past. It was, of course, quite strange… but time and again, someone would need my attention, distract me from the call, I would deal with their need, then return to the phone to say.. “Are you there?”, simply to hear, “Yes, I’m still here. Let’s go on.” And there would be such joy in my heart! It was wondrous.

When I woke, I was still caught in a cloud of great joy. I gathered that my friend was well. I knew the Lord had done a “connection thing” as so often He does, and that was fabulous. And beyond all else I was again reminded of the Oneness, the Communion, that is the Church and the Family of Christ. We are all One, always… never truly apart… the Communion of Saints as our liturgical brethren put it… Church Triumphant, Church Militant, Church Suffering.

But what was so heart warming wasn’t WORDS. It wasn’t conversation, particularly. It was PRESENCE. It was what is coming to be called “mindfulness” in the literature nowadays. Simply the regard in which, the respect for one another, of people. (I’ve said elsewhere, the two fundamental needs I find people have are the need for significance, and the security of love from isolation and abandonment. “To be treasured” is the phrase I find that covers both, and utterly describes what God holds towards man, and what we seem to hunger for from Him and from one another.) Anyway, I woke feeling satisfied, filled, joyful, peaceful… and God rode the crest of this wave to another place… where I needed to invite you.

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I realized… (and I know, it’s kind of embarrassing to say stuff I know we all already know… but anyway…) I realized that we have this CONSTANT open line with GOD… and He’s NEVER so busy that we hear, “Well, I’ll get back to you later!”

Isn’t that astonishing?

I mean, REALLY?

God… TREASURES… you and me…

Individually!

It’s one of those “Infinite” things… that He’s NEVER too busy for us. He not only “has all the time in the world”, but He has it an infinite number of times over. To turn to Him, to talk to Him, even to COMPLAIN at Him (cf. Psalms)… is never a waste of His time. Simply to be looking His way, talking His way, thinking His direction, is to engage the fullness of Him in marvelous ways. How important does that make you? Is a measure of the degree to which we are “treasured” by another… the extent to which they will relate to us? engage with us?

Do you ever find yourself rolling your eyes and drumming your fingers when someone on the phone is “wasting your time”, and you are ready to tell them “you’ll let them know?” So.. like… what about God? Do you ever think He rolls His eyes, drums His fingers? I’ve heard people tell me they always feel like apologizing when they pray, or that they only pray about “important things”, because God has to be so dreadfully busy running the universe and all that… who do they think THEY are to imagine that He gives a rip about their piddledy pooh problems? This always makes me shake my head, but I can’t always find words the person can relate to, to help them imagine how far their fears are from the depth and breadth of God’s heart of love for them! He WAITS on their attention, if they can imagine that! All too often, they cannot.

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I have two grandchildren. One is seven, the other five. In recent months they have begun to ask to call me on the phone. These calls delight me. These are precious and important to me. For the seven year old, it is usually about some challenge either overcome or not, and wanting to share with me the experience. The five year old? To be honest, the Mom still has to translate for me a great deal.

Is their “conversation” profound or important?
I suppose not, as the world sees things.

Are they a “waste of my time”?
I suppose, as the world sees things.

Should I decline to take their calls, or rush off the phone to do more important things?
I suppose, as the world sees things.

But… not as *I* see things. No! Why? Not because of their significance or importance in and of themselves… but because of the relationship between us, between them and me.

Their Calls Are Important… because I Treasure THEM! They are precious to me, and I hold them dear to my heart.

And so God does with me.

And so God does with you. God TREASURES you, and delights in the time you attend to Him!

Isn’t that Awesome!?

Grace to you! — The Little Monk

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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Martian Chronicles: Good News

Mars OneHail and well met, fellow missionaries! I’ve been off for a bit doing some investigating, exploration, archaeology. Results will be reported in due course.

Just to review the premise here…

OK, so we are on an adventure…

We’re posing the hypothetical possibility that we have been selected to be one of 10 Christians (or Christian couples) to journey to Mars somewhere between 2025 and 2040, to establish the First Christian Church there.

We’ve been endorsed and sent forth with the blessings of our denominations, and given extraordinary license and dispensation to establish a new church whose only constraints are scriptural, not traditional. That is not to say that tradition is to be despised or held in contempt. Merely that the traditions of one or some should not hold sway over the traditions or convictions of others.

What’s more, we have the incredible opportunity to establish “A” (not “THE”) First Century Church. All these colleagues have an active, living, breathing, personal speaking relationship with the living Christ, and the humility to balance personal revelation with scriptural validation and mutual accountability and examination. (That’s an amazing statement.) This is to say, these are all unabashedly functional mystics.

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The last post on these Chronicles posed the question, “Are We Alone?” and considered a frequent impression of people far from all that is familiar and homey.

An interesting point is/was that, while it makes perfect sense of Martian colonists or explorers to feel very isolated and alone so far from home, (even isolated from God Himself), that this is a common, frequent, quiet fear and concern for everyday normal people right here, right now. This sense of isolation, sometimes called “existential angst”, or a sense of the “void”, is something of a primal fear we learn to keep penned up in our darkest closets, lest it escape and take up residence under our beds at night.

We may come back to considering this chimera later, but for today I’d like to consider one of its most common companions… the sense of insignificance.

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Now, our colonists have all been specially picked, specially screened, specially trained… for this extraordinary mission. They are very “secure” in every psychological sense.

But many people who seek out counseling, or pastoral counseling, experience great pain in their lives and seek help for what APPEAR to be a vast variety of reasons: parent problems, kid problems, spouse problems, work problems, social problems, school problems, health problems, legal problems… People seek me out because some arena of relationships is causing someone pain.

What I have found, time and time again, is that people do NOT seek me out to hear my “wonderful advice”, or even so that *I* can “solve” their “problems”. That’s really not what they want or need. (It has taken me a painfully great number of years to learn that!) When there is “success” in a counseling relationship, it is nearly always because I was able to meet one single fundamental need they had when they came, and once it was met they were able to resolve their own issues.

Their need? Significance.

It starts in the very first appointment, when they sit down to “tell me all about it”. Years ago, I used to interrupt a lot, seek to array the facts and details in “their proper sequence”, and work to frame my response and recommendations “just so”. Eventually I learned how very out of order that was. I need/needed simply to LISTEN… let them be HEARD.

This is the first step. This is something incredibly lacking in our day to day lives. I, like so many others, live(d) in a “mindset of response preparation”… rather than a “mindset of embracing their expression and experience.” Someone who seeks me out doesn’t nearly so much want to know “what I THINK” about their situation, as they want to know “that I UNDERSTAND them, what THEY are thinking, what THEY are feeling”… and that I can enter into that experience with them.

So I’ve learned… it starts with (usually) our very first meeting. They have a “story to tell”, and I need just to sit still and quiet, and “receive” that story. Free of reaction, free of judgment, free of comment, free of response. Just receive them, their story, their experience. I don’t have to “approve” of all the elements or decisions made throughout the story. That’s not my role. They haven’t yet asked a question for me to answer.

But it took me the longest time to realize, the underlying theme in ALL these stories… was how this person seeks to affirm their own meaningfulness, their own influence, their own significance, in their lives and relationships… and the pain they experience when their efforts fall short.

Now here’s a strange thing… this is as true for truly “powerful”, “influential”, and “significant” people (whatever that really means)… as it is for the weak and helpless. The issue of “security” and “insecurity” is not met with worldly potency.

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Bottom Line on this Piece of Good News:

Truth: Human beings crave “attention” as “affirmation”.

Some more, some less. But the more powerless someone feels, the more attention they will demand, and the more their behaviors will absorb the time and attention of others.

So where’s the Good News here?

We, human beings, are MADE this way. We are FASHIONED this way. We have an endemic need for the nurturance and security of attention.

And we are “fashioned” this way because this is a socket in which we are permanently seated, in and for our relationship with God.

Scripture after scripture, from Genesis, through Psalms, through Proverbs, through the Gospels… affirm over and over again… God is HERE, God is ATTENTIVE, God is ALWAYS PRESENT, and He is NEVER too busy to be “paying attention” to you… to me… to each of His children.

This tremendous “Mystery of the Infinite”, this characteristic of Omnipresent God, assures that Jesus, Father, and Spirit, ALWAYS hold our hands and carry us in their arms.

We have no need to:

  • Beg for His attention
  • Ask His pardon for interrupting Him with our petty prayers
  • Hope He doesn’t see our mistakes and shortcomings
  • Cringe, cower, or plead that He will hear and respond to our petitions
  • Wonder if He knows what we need or the timing of that
  • Wonder if He really notices or cares…

None of that.

But I’ve noticed before, that a person CANNOT believe a kindness of God, that they have never ever first experienced from a human being. So, I’ve discovered, first and foremost, the greatest gift I can offer to someone who seeks me out… is simply to “pay attention to them”, “acknowledge them as significant and ‘worthy’ of ‘my time'”, and “HEAR them”.

You would not believe how often, simply THAT… simply LISTENING to them without comment, judgment, or interruption… for the entire first time we spend together… relieves 50% or more of the pain they felt when they arrived.

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So, suggestion… share the Good News of someone’s significance with them today. You don’t have to “Say” a thing. Just HEAR them. In this, you will affirm them in an incredible way. You don’t have to affirm the “rightness” of everything they think, do or feel. You are simply affirming the rightness of their BEING in the first place. God will grow them, as they allow that. But first, they can know that it is valuable (at least to YOU) that they exist and live at all!

This is a tremendous gift.

This, is Good News.

 
 

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