ESP 23 The hidden “family rules” that have shaped you (and still impact your life)

ESP 23 The hidden “family rules” that have shaped you (and still impact your life)

familyfightDid this ever happen to you? You think the way your family (of origin) does something is normal, and then, suddenly, you find out it isn’t?

Usually, this happens when you form close relationships outside your family of origin. Fireworks can ensue!

How your family dealt with conflicts, problems, shame, secrets, and tragedies shaped you and learning relational and loyalty dynamics from the previous generations in your family can bring relational repair, health, and hope.

 

That’s what today’s show is about. I’m glad you can listen, today.

 

Today’s guest is graduate school professor and marriage and family therapist in private clinical practice, Janet Stauffer, Ph.D.

Stauffer-J-038-e1422044242927

JANET’S BIO:

Dean of Students, Evangelical Seminary

Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy

In addition to her work at the seminary and her clinical practice, Janet is vice president of the Board of Directors at Philhaven Behavioral Healthcare facility. She has led retreats, presented at professional conferences, and published articles in a number of journals. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist and approved supervisor and clinical member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. She also holds membership in the Christian Association for Psychological Studies. Her research interests include genuine meeting through dialogical engagement, loyalty dynamics between and across the generations of the family, and the intersection of faith and therapy.


 

SHOWNOTES:

MIN

1:40

Each person is born with an inherent longing to connect.

2:40

Early childhood experiences shape who we are and how we relate to others.

Our ancestors deliver ways of being to us across generations:

4:00

What can be done if the early years weren’t filled with dysfunction and problems?

5:00

How relationship can alter the wiring and re-patterning of the brain.

5:30

Jim Coen, UVA – The Hand holding experiment.

7:00

In close relationships, we end up feeling–not only are you here with me–but somehow you are me. Somehow we are here together.

8:20

Before we can help others, we have to be open to ourselves and our own healing. Our wounds can remain as vulnerabilities and our greatest resource.

11:00

“I because who I am through my relationships with other people, so that more of me gets called forth as I respond to others in my world around me.”

 

The still face experiment:

12:15

“Foo-Poo” (FOO = Family of Origin) influences our current relationships.

12:45

The interconnectedness and “loyalty dynamics” between and across the generations and how during all our interactions we are holding something that has been passed down across generations and in the larger cultural dynamics.

14:00

Example from life (Janet, her husband and the Ford Fiesta). Naming the truth in our interactions and being curious about what we hold from generations before us.

16:00

Janet explored what anger was like for her mother and grandmother and discovered not just a family secret and the shame that was carried on, but also a a family norm relating to how pain is dealt with.

18:00

Family secrets and ways of interacting waiting like land mines that can sabotage our other relationships.

20:00

We can also end up carrying or holding visibly or invisibly things that our spouse (or other close relationships) hold as well.

21:30

There are options for growth and healing if we can be open, aware, curious and can find courage to turn and face [the other] and remember where our weakness are and admit them.

22:30

The power of naming what is happening for us emotionally.

23:00

“Honoring my personal truth, personal awareness, my being, and made a claim for myself has a profound impact in my own knowing.”

24:00

“Every one of us experiences terror at the thought of finding the courage to turn and face the other in a painful situation at some point in our life.”

25:30

A defend or fight mode should be superseded by the prevailing message “You and I are on the team team ultimately. We have a reason to connect and I long for you. But it’s been hard between and here’s something of how it’s been for me… and I want to know what it’s like for you.”

26:20

Yet, we cannot think what we say will always help because we cannot guarantee the other person’s response. So there is vulnerability in saying the truth.

26:50

Being calm, curious and compassionate even in the face of wounds and vulnerability.

27:30

Emotionally self-regulating and contending with emotional triggers.

30:00

(In marriage or close relationships) Learning self and other in a whole new way…in a kind of sacred space to grow through the most tender places that we hold.

31:00

Telling the other what would help in what feels like an unsafe place emotionally.

31:20

Learning to soothe one another.

32:00

On core lies we can believe about ourselves.

33:00

Honoring when emotional safety is just as important as physical safety.

34:00

What to do when it’s not safe to have important conversations.

36:00

Martin Buber-We live with an armor around us and bands around our heart and being closed off and unaware and unaddressed.

37:30

Asking questions of ourselves to create more awareness and realizing our thoughts and memories are not us.

38:30

We limit our imagination about the capacity each of us holds to respond the other, the world around us and ourself.

39:00

We can test our assumptions and plant seeds that bring new possibilities for ourself and others.

40:20

When we can’t yet name or isolate our feelings.

41:00

Giving permission and a soft demand to know what is going on with someone else and helping them find their voice.

42:30

The biblical tradition of the garden where God says “Where art thou?” a story about hiding. God’s longing for humankind.

44:00

King David in the psalms is modeling openness and receptivity…asking “What is in my heart?” “Who am I?” “What do I hold?”

46:00

Being open and still safe. Giving yourself warm, regard, and leaving the self-judgment out.

“Judgment limits the knowing.”

47:00

Being present to and growing in recognition of “here’s what I hold” or “here’s what freezes me” etc and asking “how can I be more free?” and then exploring new pathways and practices that go somewhere.

50:10

On the spiritual practices and things can people do to move forward.

51:00

These ways of understanding what it is to connect, grow and be human are universal and offer hope to those with varied religious tradition and no religious affiliation too.

53:00

The spiritual and the Other when it is not defined as “God”.

54:20

“God doesn’t limit God’s self to the church or the synagogue or the mosque and we can never fully describe God because God cannot be contained and is always more than what I can fathom or grasp”

55:00

Asking, “How do I understand the call before me and how do I invite others and find the place where they are experiencing call and longing and where is this work happening within them. What is being invited forth?”

56:10

How we can pass down the best of our generational dynamics and loyalties to our children.

57:20

On the invisible family rule of perfectionism and how it made Janet think she could be the perfect parent and how that idea was shattered.

58:30

How she approached her son after that point to understand what he was experiencing and being surprised by his reply.

59:00

We can never get it all right, but we can be willing to go to our child and ask them about their experience.

60:00

Inviting others to know themselves in whatever capacity to do that they can and hold what they say with care and honor.

61:00

Enacting moments and accumulating themes and transactions and happenings and asking “Is their a burden they carry or an injury of disregard or diminishment that was not theirs to carry?” which deserve address and caring and honor.

62:00

On having a commit to “I will be there for you, and I will be here for me, and I invite you to be here for me,” is a profound act that helps us for the long run.

64:00

Despite our efforts, outcomes are not guaranteed and each person has an opportunity to respond uniquely.

RESOURCES for further discovery:


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Episode 20 – Puncturing the Illusions of our own Ableism and Flawed Ideas of Normal (with Tom Reynolds) part 1

Episode 20 – Puncturing the Illusions of our own Ableism and Flawed Ideas of Normal (with Tom Reynolds) part 1

Tom Reynolds
Tom Reynolds, PhD

 

Shownotes: PART I
A conversation (in 2 parts) with

the author of Vulnerable Communion: A Theology of Disability and Hospitality, by practical theologian Tom Reynolds

 

Bio:
Tom joined the Emmanuel College (part of the University of Toronto) faculty in 2007. He is committed to an interdisciplinary, practical, and relational vision of theology, his teaching and research address a range of topics related to constructive theology (particularly the doctrine of God and theological anthropology), theological method, intercultural and interfaith engagements, contextual theologies and globalization, philosophical theology, disability studies, and the thought and influence of Friedrich Schleiermacher.

His recent Articles

Email: tom.reynolds@utoronto.ca

MIN 4:00

Incorporating the theology of disability into his work training pastors at Emmanuel Seminary, because theology is personal, and not disconnected from the real world concerns of the church and people living their lives.

4:30

About his son Chris sparking his interest and work in the theology of disability.

5:30 Learning that disability isn’t a problem to figure out, but rather it’s about a person who I love and live with, and care with and for, which radically reoriented my perspective on theology.

5:50

Disability and God’s Providence

(Questioning does God “cause” disability as a curse or opportunity for healing…or a kind of moral lesson…)

6:30

His son exploded the theological categories (and assumptions) pertain to Providence…making everything confusing and needing to be re-thought.

7:00

What is abnormal? What is “faulty” humanity?

Amos Yong, Hans Reinders, John Swinton writing on the topic too.



8:15

Tom details the new book on the Theology of Care which builds on the first book.

8:40

Some churches stress Cure over Care in terms of disability.

8:50

(Lisa) My visit to a church where the leadership was interested in healing my son from his non normative experience of the world.

10:00

The range of responses churches have when encountering people with disabilities.

The  church’s “urge to cure” is better than outright exclusion, which plenty of families have encountered.

11:00

It comes from the the idea of remaking and fixing someone in a way that is more comfortable for non disable people and normalcy (what they consider normal). Not helpful or Christian.

12:00

About the church that didn’t want his son as a disruption and a church that did receive them.

13:00

“How can we help you?” was water for his parched soul. How the church accepted and welcomed the uniqueness of his son.

14:15

Hospitality vs. a narrow view of what is preferred.

15:00

The messiness of various kinds of people, in general, means we have to expand our view of grace.

15:30

Who gets to be a full-fledge member of the church community?

and the “mascot syndrome” for those with disabilities.

16:30 – 17:50

Levels and types of responses:

• Tolerate disabled, but they do not get to be a true part of the church.

• “Inclusion” sometimes means means the the “outsiders” get invites to the inside group based on the good graces of the in group, but are still treated as problems to be solved, or people that are to receive the gestures of charity from others (people for whom things are “done for (them”)”. Doing for instead of “being with”.

18:00

What is access? In is not just accommodations (i.e. ramps and special bathrooms) and alterations but ongoing…

Faith communities may be not expecting and not ready to receive those with disabilities.

18:30

It’s not an issue about outsiders, because disability extend to a broad range of issues, both visible and not visible, including mental health challenges that are already there.

18:50

Thinking of the word “BELONGING”

as in “to be longed for when you aren’t there in the fullest sense.”

John Swinton and belonging

19:40

Jean Vanier “In giving and receiving do we really thrive as people”

20:30

Unconscious bias that includes “fear of the stranger” and “fear of the stranger within”.

21:00

We fear weakness and vulnerability.

21:30

Before “mainstream”…the stigma of “retard”…and fearing and disposing weakness.

22:20

Nathan means gift. (Lisa) I learned that I had to recognize weaknesses (shortcomings) in myself the I saw reflected in my son…and communities can do the same type of thing unconsciously.

23:00

“The encounter with disability punctures the illusions of what we think of as our own strengths.”

23:50

The journey with a child with disabilities is isolating.

25:30

Societal epidemic that fears being vulnerable or perceived as weak or unable to perform in ways that are considered valuable by society.

26:00

We have to see what are myths about autonomy, independence, and productivity where are assume we are self-reliant and these qualities are prized so highly. “Able-ism” (The idea that being able in body and mind is normal and most vital which serves as the lens by which we see and judge the world and others outside those parameters as faulty.)

27:00

Tom’s latest work called “A spirituality of attentiveness”. Christianity: St Paul’s strength in weakness serves as a prophetic witness against a society that prizes the strong as the main thing of value. 1 Corinthinians pretense of strength undercuts our ideas of grace)

29:20

We are all only temporarily-abled. (Lisa).

31:00

On hearing “You must be so blessed to have a disabled person as a teacher.” Is this sometimes a reframing of the situation that spins the situation to be more palatable? A glossing with spiritual truths and making it about spiritual growth.

31:20

Instead, Chris’s life seeks its own flourishes, and he may at times function as a teacher.

33:00

Thoughts on intellectual ability (or inability) and belief in terms of Salvation.

God’s works God’s own path in different ways and in different capacities with people. This undercuts my arrogance (as a theologian), so I don’t think I can so easily map it out definitively and universal for all people in all places.

34:00

His son’s atheism (who is the God he doesn’t believe in)…and how that challenges our presuppositions about God.

34:50

“It is in the kind of relationships of mutual belonging that the full image of God is borne out.”

35:30

(Lisa) To my son I said, “when you see someone who is loving you, you are seeing God.”

(Lisa) On how I changed from thinking “right belief” as the way to understand God was central. Our intellectualizing what God has done is not salvific.

38:00

Martin Luther’s theology of the Cross:

The pretense that we know exactly where God is and how God works. Where God is most hidden is where God is most vividly revealed in saving ways.

38:30

“Who I am to declare that God’s grace only works in some ways? and the God’s capacity and God’s own mystery is limited to what I would deem and my community would deem adequate.”

39:30

What the practical theology of disability tells us about Grace with God and relationships with others.

40:00

“The longer I live and work as a theologian the more I realize the limitations of theology and the true infinite mysteries of God.”

Jesus was disruptive to religious pretense and suppositions. “You say this..but I say this…”

Theodicy – The question of why does God allow suffering and how should we think about suffering.

How Tom, as a theologian, answers the question,
“Why would a sovereign God allow a person to be born disable and encounter such suffering?” (This is great!)

The best is yet to come! Come back for part II next week.

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Something about a Labyrinth and Surprises

jclab

This time the weather was the coldest I’ve ever experienced in Wernersville. Until now, my times of retreat at the Spiritual Retreat Center were during Spring or Summer.

Stripped of leaves, color, and warm weather, the place seems monochromatic outdoors, but is still restful and precious to me. There are many prayer room options, a beautiful chapel, plus rooms for things like creating art, music, reading, or for meeting with others. Each place seems to wait for your arrival. Anyone can go there for the day without notice. I love that about it. That’s true hospitality. You are always received and welcome. You don’t need to be Catholic either. God is there in a special way and it’s a sacred place created solely for the purpose of divine communion and renewal. To me, that sounds just like Heaven.

Unless you get run over by a jet-powered lawn mower, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

The Center has recently added a prayer labyrinth (shown above). Many people aren’t familiar with labyrinths–their purpose or their gifts. They create the opportunity for reflection and spiritual awareness. Some (Evangelical) Christians bristle at the copious statues, candles, prayer mazes, and other unfamiliarities about a Catholic environment. I suppose I’m post-Evangelical: the richness of the Christian history and the solidifying sense of the sacred draws me toward the transcendent in a place like this. Every time in an unexpected way.

That’s what happens when you go there. You find God. You find God at the center. The center of you…in your core where he’s always been, because he’s everywhere-present and boundless in love. He’s been whispering things of love to you and smiling but you thought it was just bad pizza leftovers or something you made up to make yourself feel better.

Life is like a puzzle. A labyrinth is a puzzle. It’s a tool too. You can study a labyrinth before you walk the path through it, but while you are walking through studying it can make it far more confusing. Usually, you stop being stupid and cease trying to decipher the pattern precisely and just follow it like a child might do. This way, a labyrinth can be a lovely stilling and spiritual experience, not because of its own woo woo mystical powers (it doesn’t have that), but because it invites a traveller to concentrate and focus–to place her steps carefully. Most importantly, it forces one to slow down.

We don’t realize how fast our thoughts buzz until we get these sorts of opportunities to be careful. If you walk a labyrinth things mentally wind down and simplify to, “Stay on the path. Follow this narrow way. Pay attention.” Some enjoy walking very slowly and praying as their heart grows hushed.

Searching for the puzzle
I saw a photo of this newly constructed prayer walk inside the Center and I started to search for it outside. It was actually in plain sight but I hadn’t been looking for it, so I didn’t see it. (In case you haven’t figured it out by now, this true story doubles as an allegory.)

When I spotted it, a man driving a zero turn radius lawn mower was zipping and roaring around it, back and forth; expertly, but fast enough for me to wonder about his judgement. Crisp leaves shot into the air and the wind whipped them into little showers of bullets.

“That won’t work,” I said. “What am I suppose do? Have a peaceful prayer time as Zippy here shoots me with leaves and the mower engine drives me to distraction?” I crossed past the paved puzzle a small stretch to a gazebo with park benches set in a circle.

It was still noisy there, but the mower sounded duller. I would wait him out. I tried to settle my mind. Maybe I could do some warm-up praying. No. My thoughts swam. “Who’s Zippy now?” I thought.

Instead of waiting, I went on a short walk in the wood nearby over a little ridge. The path looked to have been crudely bulldozed recently and massive tree parts and 4 inch thick vines were crammed in piles. It was other-worldly–so many thickets covering whole sections like umbrellas, even though most of their foliage was missing. Surreal yellow leaves on the ground seemed day-glow bright. I felt like a zombie putting one foot in front of the other as I made my way around the wet earth and wild terrain. The humming mower served as a beacon to orient me. It was comforting and ironic.

Then a church bell snapped me back. It chimed 11, and I recalled how church bells were auditory calls to prayer and attention. It felt like a call to go home…to something. I immediately wanted to get my bag from the gazebo and look at the church more carefully in a peaceful and maybe prayerful environment. I managed a shortcut straight up a bank after a brief bout with prickly plants. I got my things and trekked toward the church. When I got there, guess who was on the grounds too? Zippy, or some other diligent lawn guardian, was tooling around the church grounds. The noise was worse now because it was bouncing off the stone structure and echoing off the parking lot asphalt.

I decided to double back and sit on a bench near a garden path that featured the Stations of the Cross. (If you’re wondering about the Stations of the Cross, visit again soon, because I’ll be detailing that in a future post.) I munched on some snacks, journaled a few things, prayed some (kinda-sorta), and enjoyed a few sunbeams that momentarily bested the clouds. It felt nice to be there, but, then I started to feel really cold. My nose had a ice cube quality and the sun had ditched me.

I headed toward the large main building. An ancient woman was being rolled toward the main entrance in a wheelchair. Rather than getting in their way, I decided to walk through the covered colonnade and flank out to the door on the right. I passed the prayer garden on my left. It was filled with statues, fountains, and newly manicured hedges and remembered how pretty it had been in full bloom that Spring. It was much warmer then too. I was getting colder by the second. But, then I got to the door–relief.

Except that it was locked. The metal handle sent a shiver to my backbone straight through my arm. But, “No matter,” I said to myself. I’ll just continue around the building and try the next door just around the corner. There are probably no fewer than 25 exit doors to the place. I’ve exited a number of them and try to find a new one to some surprise new part of the grounds whenever possible. It’s all part of the fun.

No. Locked too. Things were getting interesting.

It turns out that there’s just one way into the place. There are plenty of ways to exit outdoors, but the main entrance is referenced on each locked door. I came to this realization by the 5th door. I’m not sure if the cold was my dulling my mind or if I was too distracted laughing to myself. I had just realized I was literally following a footpath around the structure. It wasn’t just  a path but a puzzle. I could have turned back and saved myself a lengthy walk, but I thought, “Oh! Okay God, this is the labyrinth you wanted me to take.”

Then out loud I said, “Stop being so funny.” At that exact moment, a black helicopter hummed overhead and I briefly thought the things were going to end in waterboarding or an unpleasant government website experience and arbitrary fees. Maybe, I was on the psycho path. I pushed my icy hands into my coat pockets, stopped trying to open locked doors, and made my way counter-clockwise to the main entrance–the long way around. This was probably the intended journey in the first place so I might learn something. I was starting to pay attention. Finally.

No, it wasn’t the labyrinth I set out to do. It wasn’t the one I picked to walk or the one studied as I walked by with Zippy swinging his mower wildly nearby, but eventually it would get me inside if I kept going around and circled the place.

As I got most of the way around the complex I could smell lunch cooking from the kitchen. “The kitchen help probably don’t have to go through the main entrance,” I thought. (It was my first useful notion all day.)

Sure enough: I spotted an inconspicuous point of entry, sheltered with an overhang and a coffee can full of sand and cigarette butts sitting outside the door. Maybe it would be open. It was. As I pull the door a blast of warmness greeted me and behind it the smell of comfort food. I was back. I had almost gone full circle, but I had an insiders’ access point to put things to rights.

Just before I left the place for home I took my friend–who had carpooled with me there that morning–to see the new prayer puzzle up close. I walked through slowly but it wasn’t prayerfully. The symbolism had already done its job. I was just canvasing the design and saying my goodbyes. I got to the center of the circle and I knew I was ready to leave for home.

I did a little spin with my arms out because I think if it was a movie that’s what would have happened right at the point, and then I stepped straight through the center to get back out.

The surprise is that you don’t get to ever really pick your own labyrinth. It is picked for you. You can decide how to walk it and how meaningful it will be. You can be frustrated by it and worry about the turns or you can slow down, put one foot after the other, and get to the center. Then you’ll be home.

# # #

 

10 Misconceptions Christians have about non believers

Christ Pantocrator study

DUCKMARX via Compfight

This might read heavy because I’m confronting some pervasive concepts. It’s like I’m playing the heavy, but try to read it in a gracious spirit because it is meant to bring clarity not conflict. Plus, I have a damp sense of humor  [not too wet and not super dry either] so take that into account. Chill and stuff.

Okay, buckle in for the bit of Groundwork:

First, from my end, I make no secret here that I see things from the paradigm of a Christian worldview. This has been my family background, my life experience, and the central feature in my graduate education. That’s my lens.

In having a lens I’m not alone. In fact, every one sees reality through his or her own lens, but not everyone will really investigate and coordinate their worldview in a consistent way. I won’t either, not because I’m not making an effort, but because seeing the task to completion is so massive and unwieldy. As I approach this topic I come with a vatanage point…and so do you.

We can take as a given:
Our beliefs will cloud our perceptions and our perceptions will work to evidence our already held beliefs
–except in rare cases where we make a focused and conscious effort to consider or accept another point of view. Those cases are quite rare because we tend to use our life experiences to back up what we already think is true. (I’m reiterating.) So, when a change happens–it can be big. This is essentially how the Christian idea of “conversion” plays out too: A person is thinking one thing about reality, and somehow becomes convinced of something else and has a turnaround to something new. Christians would also say God had a direct part in igniting that process.

Peeking outside the Bubble:
In learning more about the people outside the Christian belief “bubble,” I’ve noticed that plenty of my assumptions about non Christians were flawed, false, or incomplete. Other times, I’ve noticed that while some of these perceptions may ring true at first blush, they more often reflect a universal truth about what it means to be human, (and do not effectively describe the group that doesn’t ascribe to the Christian belief system.)

The 10 misconceptions are things that many Christians want to be true. If they are not it could convince them that Christianity doesn’t provide the best answers. This fear can cause people to be even more unreasonable or averse to mystery…even though Christianity is chocked full of mystery. I’ve come to a place where I am more settled with mystery.

Christianity provides a framework for me, and everyone has a framework whether they know it or not and whether they like it or not. Christianity takes many shapes in different eras and in different cultures. Since I came from a conservative fundamentalist background I first saw the world through that lens. I haven’t retained all those same beliefs. Now the beliefs I ascribe to are not as important as the person I am becoming. Jesus as God-man is plausible and that is fine for me. For others, that simply will not be enough. For non Christians it will be too narrow for their spirituality. I also  realize that Christians may sometimes perpetuate myths for an imperious framework needed to maintain fervency.

Better that we see these misconceptions for what they are than run afoul with them and forget whose image is the object of our recreation. (That would be Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, if you aren’t following me.) I give you these misconceptions to expand your ideas about the Christian framework and how it can help more than hurt.

Now to the 10 Misconceptions:

1. Non believers aren’t spiritual, or at best they are pseudo spiritual.

This is false because the amount of mystery and the unknown in life as we perceive it (being finite in mind and body) all point to the spiritual (the unseen). What is pseudo spiritual to some is more likely to be something that smacks as out of sync with one’s prescribed Christian beliefs. We are all spiritual and what we try to understand outside of we what is know is be definition spiritual, whether is a referred at that or not. The interest in spiritual things has been vibrant throughout human history as long as we have been trying to understanding our world. The “brand” (if you will) of spiritual that is may be may be off-putting depending on your experience, training, or preferences. Ex: “Using Tarot cards is pseudo spiritual.” Actually, using them is an attempt to understand the spiritual, but for Christians it falls outside the scope of what is acceptable because of the tenants residing in the Bible.

2. Non believers aren’t happy because they don’t know Jesus.

This is a complex and interesting misconception because it assumes that Christians are happy, by contrast. Many are not. Many are miserable and their Christian belief system has not given them this happiness. Christians may behave as if they are discontent or unhappy also. Certainly some Christians are content and at peace for periods of time, and some are remarkably hopeful and peaceful is even the most horrible circumstances. Nevertheless this is also true of non Christians.

3. Non believers do good things to “get them to heaven”, or to otherwise alleviate their sin-guilt.

What is more often the case is that people (Christian and non) try to do good things because they feel they should. Their motivations are quite varied and prove to be shallow or to be deep. Christians, though they may feel their eternal destiny is secure, will do good things sometimes for reasons just as poorly conceived as non believers. Strangely, it can boil down, in the final count, to semantics. It’s false to guess the true motivations of why people do good. Better to do Good for the love of it and accept the good at face value as it can only be originally sourced in the Source of goodness–apart from whom no goodness dwells. The idea that actual goodness cannot come from non Christians contradicts the Christian precept that a good God has created all of us and that same God works through all of creation, (and even those who do not knowledge “him”.)

4. Non believers can’t have peace with God.

For Christians, peace with God usually looks like a publicly confessed accession to the belief that Jesus is the Savior who died for the sins of humankind (i.e. somehow understanding atonement). But, in general, peace with God is probably as varied as there are people in the world. Grace is sufficient and comes in a manner of ways that point to the ultimate work of Grace that is of and from God. If by peace we are really speaking of contentment, and not atonement, then many do arrive at peace with God at some point in their lives. Many also arrive at a place of grace and forgiveness as it is God’s prerogative how this happens. The very idea of grace necessitates that a mental ascension is not the crux of the matter at all. Sometimes it is not at all involved as any modicum of studying a Christian theology of (mental) disability will reveal. Grace does not require anything on the part of the recipient accept perhaps a sort of acceptance. What that does or doesn’t have to be has be a rueful point over the years but is actually quite simple and easy if we are to believe in its true nature.

5. Non believers have misperceptions about reality and their place in the world.

Our finite minds give each person the opportunity to routinely misperceive reality, regardless of her beliefs in Jesus or God. No one has the corner on this problem. We share our foolishness in this regard across the whole spectrum of humankind. To think otherwise is to underscore the misperception.

Since this post is getting too long, the next 5 misconceptions will be revealed in the next post-here.

Thanks for reading!

Pass this along, will you?

Do you agree? I’d like to hear your thoughts.

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