Some thoughts on Thursday morning

1. As I mentioned on a friend’s blog, I am learning to distinguish between depression, anxiety, and so on at a base level, and at a meta level. In other words, I am learning that often what becomes really paralyzing, debilitating, devastating, is not the base level emotions and moods, but how I feel and think ABOUT those emotions and moods. It’s the despair ABOUT the depression, the fear OF the fear: I’ll never get away from this, I’m going to ruin everyone’s life, God isn’t going to deliver me in any sense that I can actually feel as deliverance, etc.

2. Yesterday I was just starting to feel better after the stomach bug hit us all really hard Monday afternoon. I was scheduled to play some background music with my friend Beth at her church, so I needed to tune. My energy was rather low, so I tried to tune as quickly as I could, but was vacillating between “excellence” and “good enough.” After I finished and shoved the dulcimer in the case, I was thoroughly grumpy, half wanting to get it out and try again, striving for more excellence this time, and half knowing that a second attempt would likely not result in better tuning and would certainly result in a more tired and grumpy and anxious me.

Beth says, generally, “Just try to get a B.” Joe urged adopting a “good enough” standard. Anne Lamott suggests treating one’s self like a beloved relative — giving the same grace, the same leeway, the same benefit of the doubt. Almost everyone says “Don’t be so hard on yourself.”

I keep trying to figure out how to integrate this repudiation of perfectionism with the doctrine of sin, which all three of the people I mentioned would fully affirm.

For one thing, when God reveals sin to us, it is not with condemnation, if we’re in Christ, but with compassion, and with reconciliation in view. That’s beloved relative treatment.

For another, excellence is not in the Ten Commandments, or even the two greatest commandments. Except excellence in loving. Faithfulness in small things is perhaps not the same thing as perfectionism. Perfectionism is about the task — excellence in loving is more about relationships, and takes into account one’s own and others’ limitations, boundaries, priorities, and so on.

(Of course, one could get perfectionistic about excellence in loving, too.)

(No dirty jokes, please.)

3. Speaking of dirty jokes, I started reading Leviticus the other day. I don’t know — I was just in the mood. Seriously? I don’t think I’ve ever just been “in the mood” for Leviticus before, but there it is.

I noticed that the two passages that forbid homosexual practice, which also forbid incest and bestiality, also forbid intercourse during menstruation.

If one of those four things is okay, are all four okay? If one of them is obviously wrong, are all four wrong?

Is the last one wrong because conception is impossible during menstruation (which the text does not say), or just because the menstrual blood was considered impure (as the text says)?

4. I got home in time to watch Lie to Me last night. I am enjoying this show. Two things stuck with me after this episode.

First, that disgust, not anger, is the language of hatred. Something to chew on in addition to my thoughts on God’s wrath, from yesterday.

And, the scene near the end where the reformed murderer gives grace to the widow of the man he killed. She is holding the gun she bought a month ago, saying she doesn’t care how much he’s changed, he took her husband and can’t take that away — he’s telling her if she has to shoot him, he understands, and validates and affirms over and over what she says, and tells her he is sorry. Was it unbelievable? Maybe. But still a powerful image.

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