Sigh, so ludricrous!
I hate doing things in a hasty way!  I just bought last year’s phone on ebay—for a about $40 more than I wanted to pay, (“Ah, stupid!”) but it’s on par if not a bit less than the buy it now price. (Shrug: so what?)  But I was so sick of the research, the bidding wars, and it was time to replace my serviceable, but very much ailing dinosaur phone.  [I knew when mother’s church friends made fun of my phone, I was due an upgrade.]  (Sarcasm: oh, boo hoo!) I hastily bought it because I wanted to scratch something off my to-do list, and it’s a long one, you know.
And now that I’ve purchased this phone in haste—instead of looking forward to it, I’m kicking myself.  My brain and heart is melting into a flood of doubts and self-condemnation.  Sheesh.  I’m now worried about money and all these other things—-my heart rate is up—so much that, I can’t concentrate on any of the other items on to-do list!   So much for trying to get things done!
I try to pray, but I can’t sit still, I can’t shake the feelings.  So I decide to do things that need no special brain power, and go run errands at an Asian grocery store.  While out, a friend calls, and I find myself barely able to speak.  I didn’t realize I was this messed up about it until my friend called.
Self-condemnation.  Where does this come from?
I know I need to just sit with the Lord, to know his love—but I wonder if this is what my church would say?   I’ve been hearing a lot of condemnation from people in my congregation:  “I’m such a bad mother; I don’t pray and love my children enough.”—this in response to her child tripping over a toy in her living room.   “He did what I thought he would do; he basically just yelled at me. I felt so bad afterwards.”—he being a highly respected elder.  “I must not be praying enough; this is why all these bad things are happening to me.”—this in response to health problems and a hard family life.
To each, I just listened.  I think I only had the opportunity to respond to the last one—the subject for another time.  But here is my point:  why is there this weird self-condemnation in the Asian American church?   Is it just my church?   It seems of a different degree than in predominantly white churches (which is where I’ve previously been a member)—-can I say that?  I guess I just did.
And now in this environment—I am swimming in self-condemnation—and it is ludicrous!  My heart feels this as I drive home from my errands.  It is not from God!   It is not how God would bring me back; they are not the motives from which God wants me to live and breath and move and have my being (Acts 17:28).   They do not breed love because they are not born out of God’s love, but an overly self-focused guilt/shame/I-don’t-know-what?
Though God can still, and does of course still use it.
I’m not saying that there is no place for rebuke, or a hard word.  I’m not saying that there is no place for self-awareness, for God to “search our hearts” and like the song/psalm “know if there is any hurtful way in us.”
[I’ll say too, that I think too there’s a place to sit in hard feelings, to sit in knowing I made a mistake.  Brushing away some mistakes too quickly favors denial, cheapens grace and thus robs us of meeting God, receiving his forgiveness and mercy and covering over a mistake.   God’s grace, forgiveness and mercy helps us to see our mistakes in a cogent, more fair way, so we can take responsibility and make amends.   You skip this step, and it is harder to take rightful responsibility (or you take way too much).]
But rebuke, hard words, I wonder if they are the exception to the norm.  I’m no Biblical scholar, but they seem to be used to make a strong point, when Israel or whoever was so far gone, there was no other way for them to hear.   You shout, when someone is about to get run over by a car—when there is no time to waste!  You shout back after multiple exchanges have proven that this person can’t listen in any other way.   Rebuke in this setting is loving IF it’s underlying heart is to bring the person back to God.  But I think this kind of rebuke is suppose to be exceptional?
I think because I don’t know.  I need to sit and listen to God and see what he says.
But my past non-Asian American churches, this is what I’ve learned (in my head if not yet in my heart):  He loves us, period.  This love is not a small thing to be taken for granted, or dismissed.  He loves us, period.  He accepts us for who we are, and it is in his love that he guides and even corrects us.  He motivates us with his love, grace and mercy.  It is from this love, the love from which the Father sent the Son to and for us, that we live, and breath and have our being.
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