Posts tagged ‘fulfillment’

Dwindling Church?

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...

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[Note: What I’ve written here is partly in response to another blogger’s thoughts; see the link  just below this post.]

Our growing world challenges us as faith communities to grow with it.  Persons create organizations, religious included, to do together what none of us can do alone. Organizations organize, allowing efficiency and productivity in meeting needs, including spiritual, to prevail. Jesus first organized his disciples about him. He set the example for further organization in the distribution of the loaves. He rarely sent anyone out to preach alone. He gathered people together. He sent his disciples to do the same as they spread the Good News. Organizations serve people by serving the purpose for which the people created them. As our world changes, expanding across the miles, we must learn to clarify our mission and modify measures for living it out.

I’m 39. Social media IS social because social means connecting. Connecting flows in many currents but the common conduit is communication. We must have both a voice, eyes and ears to connect. The only communication entirely lost in the cyber-world is touch, which could be another blog topic entirely. I attend services at as many as four different spiritual communities per week because they each communicate God’s message to me. They each fulfill a different need at different times. I am most disappointed and unfulfilled when I expect more than an organization or person can offer me.

One of the greatest needs I have is to exercise my spiritual gifts. Countless times I’ve told the admins of religious communities, “Here’s what I can do for you. Here are my limitations. How can I give?” The most common answer I receive is…nothing. Eventually, I move on. Recently, I joined a new community. I like to sing. I get sick often. Their answer, “Come sing with us (the choir) now, whenever you want. Sing what you know. Lip-sync the rest. Praise God. Come be WITH us.”

That church‘s population is dwindling in size, but recent statistics show they’re giving more financially per person than most other churches in the area and they run a homeless mission that serves far more than the church’s population. Across the street, I attend services at a different community. It is large and growing in population. It found the resources and faith to embrace multimedia and cyberspace.  It’s giving percentage is small but sheer numbers sustain it. The smaller church could continue as it is, but it recognizes the need for change. It will soon band with others near it to share resources, including staff, collectively.

Both communities will survive for now. BOTH are actually growing, just in different ways. I am quite sure the larger will never shut its doors. I’m equally sure the doors to the smaller one’s heart will never be closed. Its mission will remain the same, while its methods may mold themselves to the modern world in a different and ever-changing way. My questions are these: How will each of us as co-creators, having been given choice, mold and remold ourselves to live our personal missions as Christ‘s followers in the modern world? How much am I willing to change in order to grow? By what means will I be so moved in the Spirit that I am joyfully able to proclaim the Good News? Am I ready to thrive? Am I even surviving? Make me a channel of Your peace, O Lord. God made us to love and be loved. How am I loved? How am I loving? Love your neighbor…

“A Painful Experience” at the OpenPath blog


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Loving Ourselves Into Fullness

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Have you been hurt? People have hurt me. When I came to truly understand that those who hurt me were hurting, I no longer needed to find a reason in me why I was the victim. I also, in recognizing those who hurt me as probably once being victims, was able to give myself permission to love the person who hurt me. I was able to see the person who hurt me as a complete person with different sides and aspects to them. I could be angry at some parts and allow myself to want other parts. I acknowledged that no matter how evil their actions, people are not evil, just imperfect.

I started to feel multiple emotions at one time. My feelings intermingled and got to know each other. Angry Me got to know Scared Me and Confident Me and all the others Me’s that were NOT really Me, the FULL Me. As my emotions learned to coexist, I was able to integrate the different parts of me. I became whole, and thus fulfilled. I finally understood why you can’t truly love others until you love yourself. I hope someday that each and every person who feels at war with themselves finds the person(s) who can guide him/her through the same journey of growth to wholeness.

One of my friends was sexually abused by her mother. Her Mother’s actions were UNloving when she hurt her; she was not being a mother. My friend, as a child, could NOT have done anything to deserve what happened to her or to stop it. My friend’s mother was NOT hurting my friend because she thought my friend deserved it. Deep inside her mother loved her. Her mother did not know how to show it. An explanation is not an excuse. Her mom didn’t make the choice to grow up. When we aren’t “raised,” that choice is much harder, but it is still ours. We are made to love. A mother loves her child. It is biological. Showing love, though, is something we learn through nurturing. As adults, what we haven’t been taught it is still our responsibility to learn.

I’m not surprised that victims of abuse “hate” their abusers, but I feel sad. I want them to know…

When you feel hate, the loving part of you is scared of that hate. The loving part of you is angry that hate is stealing away your attention. The loving you feels guilty because hating feels wrong. Love and hate can’t relate. Love and hate can’t coexist.  So, the loving you hides away and isn’t there…to love you. Hate isn’t an emotion. It is the absence of love. You aren’t wrong or bad to hate, it just isn’t helpful.

I pray love, bit by bit and more and more each day, consumes every heart that hates. We are made to love. We all have been have been hurt by someone along the way. If we accept the responsibility, we keep learning and loving ourselves into fullness. That, in essence, is the journey of life. Otherwise, we are just existing and we’ll forever be discontent. When we are discontent, we cannot experience joy. Choose joy.