Nobody can do your work but you

As a reminder, it all starts with going to the source of love - God.  This requires a commitment to maintaining conscious contact. Whole libraries are stuffed with books on how to do that, so I am not going to discuss that further except to say:  figure out how to maintain conscious contact with God or the rest of this is going to be pretty impossible.



Having established the umbrella under which we stand...


34 When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had left the Sadducees speechless, they met together. 35 One of them, a legal expert, tested him. 36 “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. 38  This is the first and greatest commandment. 39  And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. 40  All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”  
~ Matthew 22:34-40 CEB


...we turn our attention to the next move.  The next move involves the simile “as you love yourself.”  A simile is a form of grammar that we use to compare something we do not know how to do (love your neighbor) with something that is presumed we do understand (love yourself).  No offense to Jesus, but my experience teaches me that many of us, including myself, are not very good at understanding this part of the simile, which then makes it impossible to understand the second part.


In fact, the very concept of self-love freaks me out.  Sitting on my desk right this very minute is a mile-high stack of books on narcissism.  Narcissism, this concept of ONLY being able to love self, is a big problem in the world today.  In the U.S. we have become accustomed to “doing your own thing” and “win at all costs”. We’ve created a culture that encourages individualism to the detriment of building and sustaining community.  Narcissism is what my brain rushes to when I think about self-love, but my brain is confused.


Loving/respecting yourself means taking responsibility for yourself.  It is that capacity to know that we are each responsible for our own thoughts, feelings, and actions.  We own the work of developing an appropriate and specific plan for self-care. We pay our own bills. We do not ask others to do for us what we are created to do for ourselves.  This builds strong bodies and sound minds. THEN and ONLY THEN do we develop the capacity to love others. Without decent self-respect and a commitment to live by the core values we consciously choose for ourselves, our relationships will be nothing more than negotiations and manipulative attempts to receive from others what we are intended to derive from our own personal work of becoming decent human beings; to practice the Matthew passage, we must start and continue on a daily basis the discipline of building a life that we respect.  Are you taking care of that?


Doing what is yours to do

Most people show up on the doorstep of NSC with serious issues.  I am spoiled as a pastor in the midst of a community that usually gets the real deal and doesn’t major in the minor.  There are exceptions, of course.  I can go off the rails at any moment.  J


There are things that I’ve learned from my peeps that have helped me in my growing up process. I’m reviewing the ones that have been most helpful to me as this year draws to a close.


Concern yourself with what is yours to do.


I have pastor friends who talk a lot about the petty infighting among their congregants.  If this happens at our place, I am fortunate to be left out of the mix.  Our respect for the 12-steps as an action plan give us some basic principles that most of us are working to execute. 


A decent action plan can serve as a safety net for getting too far off the path.  For example, someone was talking about how disappointed they were in response to some friend group shenanigans.  They were pretty whipped up about the experience and reported feeling abandoned.


They were given a sympathetic, listening ear and then asked two questions:

1.     Is it true that you were abandoned? 

2.    What part did you play in the debacle?


The first question is one we have practiced appreciating.  Many folks in our community hear the first question and have a skill set attached to how to respond.  It isn’t received as uncaring or condescending but as a wake-up call.  We’ve figured out about triggers and speculation and even this thing called “chaining” and these concepts have helped us appreciate a good wake-up call without taking offense.  I’m pretty sure this question is unhelpful in situations that don’t have the accompanying training for how to process it.


Second question is like breathing for us.  When you read the 12-steps it is obvious that these steps teach us how to work on our side of the street and not get distracted by the view from someone else’s window of understanding.  Again, I don’t think whipping out the steps and going it alone is healthy much less helpful.  But as a community, our commitment to the process, however messy, is helpful.


I promise you – concerning ourselves with what is ours to do is the way to go.