Friday, February 15, 2013

Gluten Free Friday ~ Important Ingredients {Lent Day 3}

Corn Chowder.  That's what I had planned to post about today, but I didn't take any pictures of the process of making it, or the serving of it to a fun group of women gathered around my dining room table, and it's really just a variation of the Pioneer Woman's delicious recipe anyway.  And it is to die for, just like she says, because it has some very important ingredients like bacon and green chilies.

Confession is a crucial ingredient in the relationship recipe.  I've had the most interesting and heart-wrenching conversations with women this week, spending hours over coffee or meals hearing about painful relationships and sharing about some of my own.  In every case, the central issue was a lack of humility and confession on the part of the offender.  Stubbornness, pride, a refusal to admit wrong, to take responsibility for wounds inflicted. The relationships we spoke of had either ended or were headed that way, because without the crucial ingredient of confession, it is impossible to have intimate relationship.

Even Jesus does not enter into intimate relationship with those who refuse to come to him humbly confessing that they have offended Him and are in need of His forgiveness.  He does not allow His Spirit to dwell within those who are stubborn or nonchalant about their sins, their offenses.

"Reconciliation is costly for both the offended and the offender.  The offended forgives {cancels} the debt by not bringing immediate judgment and termination of the relationship, as might be reasonable and expected, given the offense.  Instead, mercy is offered in order to invite the offender back into the relationship.  The cost for the offended is in withholding judgment and instead offering the possibility of a restored relationship. The cost for the offender is repentance. Biblical forgiveness is never unconditional and one-sided.  It is not letting others go off scot-free, "forgiven," and enabled to do harm again without any consequence.  Instead forgiveness is an invitation to reconciliation, not the blind, cheap granting of it."
Bold Love by Dan Allender p. 161-162

It's not that I am to put myself in the place of Jesus and demand a recognition of wrongs before any further relating.  Actually, Jesus doesn't do that either.  In fact, He graciously pours blessing into the lives of offenders on a regular basis in order to draw them into true intimacy with Him.  I am called to do the same thing, required to love my neighbor unconditionally.  Not so that they will be beholden to me, but so that they may know Christ, and so that we can cooperate for kingdom purposes.  Intimate relationships are different, though. Parent-child, brother-sister, husband-wife, and close friends, those relationships require something more. The requirement of confession to have relationship with Jesus is a model for those types of intimate relationships, I think.

Because of the stories of the women with whom I was meeting, I had occasion to share about a painful relationship in my own life, one that I've chosen to end temporarily.  For so many years, I didn't realize what was going on, but when the heat was turned up, and issues long swept under the rug surfaced, true colors were finally and fully exposed, and I could see the one-sidedness of it all.  I was giving and forgiving and compromising and making allowances and enabling dishonesty and continuing to put myself in a place of codependent exhaustion and hurt.  There was no real relationship.  It was all me trying to make it work, trying to please, accommodating the person in hopes of intimacy.  In a season of crisis and exposure, I still hoped, in fact against my typical skeptical tendencies, I just knew the person would change, finally and honestly admitting their offenses, and the deep wounds they delivered.  But they didn't.  In fact, their anger and justification and entitlement only intensified.  I was shocked {foolishly} and wounded like never before.

After many attempts at reconciliation were met with a refusal to acknowledge any responsibility for hurt, I knew that in order to truly "love my neighbor" I would have to sort of draw a line in the sand in hopes that a desire for relationship with me would move the person to humble themselves.  And don't worry, it wasn't a decision I made without the counsel of many, but so far, what I hoped for has not become a reality. This reveals quite a lot, the main thing being that this person wants to be related to, to be included, and to be honored, but they don't care enough about me to reciprocate.  You can't keep giving your heart away like that.  It's not what is best for the other person. It is not "loving your neighbor" or your parent, or husband, or sibling, or child.

"Forgiveness involves a heart that cancels the debt but does not lend new money until repentance occurs.  A forgiving heart opens the door to any who knock.  But entry into the home (that is, the heart) does not occur until the muddy shoes and the dirty coat have been taken off.  The offender must repent if true intimacy and reconciliation are ever to take place.  That means that cheap forgiveness - peace at any cost that sacrifices honesty, integrity, and passion - is not true forgiveness."
Bold Love by Dan Allender, pp. 162-163

Desiring warm-soup-dinner-fellowship with my Savior now and always, so trusting Him to help me take off my muddy shoes and dirty coat every day this season.  A crucial ingredient for continued intimacy with the one whose death was required to pay for my offenses.

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