Repentance versus Defensiveness

Repentance versus Defensiveness:

Our default mode – in and out of the church – seems to be defensiveness. I know mine is. Nothing is more natural when we feel threatened by a criticism than to divert, distract, and downplay. Its as instinctive as flinching when a punch is coming. In my experience, a heart of repentance is something I have to work at. I have to say things like, “wait a minute. Think this through. Why does this criticism hurt you the way it does? Remember your identity is in Christ. Remember you’re identity is not at stake. Relax! Is there something you can learn here?” Its a counter-intuitive feeling, like learning to use a muscle we didn’t know we had for the first time. Or better: learning to relax a muscle for the first time that we’ve always kept tight. Its a kind of paradox: an effort at relaxing, a striving to cease striving, a struggle to give up.

 

The Conversations We Can’t Have

not talking

“Just don’t bring up creationism with Jody.”

Those were the first words of advice my friend said to my new pastor about me.

So, now the topic is taboo, and we have had one discussion and it was forced. Barriers are established before the conversation started. Trenches were dug. Fences erected. Lanes mined. Grenades stockpiled.

Standoff. Entrenchment.

Other than that topic, we mostly have a really great friendship… other than that deadly no-man’s land between us. Continue reading

Happiness Makes You Happy

Your whole world smiles with you,” LA Times, December 05, 2008, Karen Kaplan, Times staff writer.

In a study published online today (December 05, 2008) by the British Medical Journal, scientists from Harvard University and UC San Diego showed that happiness spreads readily through social networks of family members, friends and neighbors.

Knowing someone who is happy makes you 15.3% more likely to be happy yourself, the study found. A happy friend of a friend increases your odds of happiness by 9.8%, and even your neighbor’s sister’s friend can give you a 5.6% boost.

“Your emotional state depends not just on actions and choices that you make, but also on actions and choices of other people, many of which you don’t even know,” said Dr. Nicholas A. Christakis, a physician and medical sociologist at Harvard who co-wrote the study. Continue reading