Being formed like a little child is something Jesus wants us to do, but how are we to do this as adults? Perhaps it’s by surrender to the potter’s hand.
Probably the most joyous gift to our family over recent years has been the addition of a new family member. Twenty-two months ago – in May 2019, my daughter gave birth to a beautiful little girl called Eliza.
We have so delighted to see her grow and develop as a beautiful little child.
I need a nest that I can call home. Actually, digging down a little further, I need a grouping of relationships that know me, love me, and have compassion and kindness when I get things wrong.
The other day I was pruning a vine and there high above my head was a nest. It had long been vacated. I’m not sure what type of bird built this elaborate structure to raise its young, but as I looked closer, there was an intricate architecture to the design.
Twigs, grasses, moss, lichen all gathered and foraged from around the garden and woven into a home.
Listening to others can be frustrating, but when we listen to our ‘self,’ we might find the key to compassionate listening to others. Going deep, where life is indeed happening, requires us to stop and be slow. Be quick to listen to your self.
I wondered why I was getting so angry and frustrated with them.
I had listened to them, shared some wisdom, and nothing had changed. Why wouldn’t they follow through and do what I wanted them to do?
Church and Mental Health? How about sitting with someone and being gently curious about the struggles of their soul. Now that is what I call ‘Church.’
I once sat in a church service and seated in front of me were two men. One was a highly paid lawyer, a partner in a central city law firm. Next to him was a man who struggled with addictions, wore clothes from a second-hand shop, and his income was based on a sickness benefit.
They were both looking towards the stage, listening to the preacher, enjoying the show.
I marveled at how this was probably the only place where these two would be near each other every week, know each other’s names, and be brothers in faith.
Community brings so many positive effects on our mental health. Community lifts us higher and takes us further towards wellness than we ever could get on our own. Anyone wishing to enhance their mental health or the mental health of others does well to find a way to plug into a community.
But even among those who know this, many might not know why community is so helpful. Beyond naming the generalities of providing support and alleviating a sense of aloneness (both of which it does), most are not able to explain it in the way that they could explain, say, how the toaster works or why soap and water clean our hands better than water alone. Until recently, I couldn’t either. Continue reading “Building Community and Relationships in our Everyday Lives”
Who Knows you?
I know Raj down at the petrol station, I know his face, I see him regularly, and he possibly knows me at the same level. If I was to see him at the Mall, without his uniform, I might wonder where I know him from.
Then there are those that I know by a bit more than just by name. These might be the people at work, school, club, even church. Acquaintances we recognise that have a common interest or a meeting point.
Others that I know are those close to me, family and friends. They know a lot more about me.
We all have people in our circles of influences. We influence them, and they us.
Who really knows you though?
The most common cry I hear from the human heart is loneliness. Alongside this comes a confession – ‘If you really knew me you wouldn’t love me’
Shame, self loathing and fear become self protective road barriers that maintain a false sense of control and security over your life, but reinforce loneliness – a longing to be known.
We long to be known because it’s in our DNA. We were never meant to live apart. Adam and Eve fully knew each other prior to choosing their own course to make life work.
What do these quotes tell you?
The greatest lie believed today is that one can know God without being known by someone else. Larry Crabb Soul Talk
The most experienced psychologist or observer of human nature knows infinitely less of the human heart than the simplest Christian who lives beneath the Cross of Jesus. The greatest psychological insight, ability, and experience cannot grasp this one thing: what sin is. Worldly wisdom knows what distress and weakness and failure are, but it does not know the godlessness of man. And so it also does not know that man is destroyed only by his sin and can be healed only by forgiveness. Only the Christian knows this. The psychiatrist views me as if there were no God. The brother views me as I am before the judging and merciful God in the Cross of Jesus Christ. Dietrich Bonhoeffer
In confession the break-through to community takes place….If a Christian is in the fellowship of confession with a brother, he will never be alone again, anywhere. Dietrich Bonhoeffer
At whatever level of ‘being known’ we come to, there is a question of vulnerability. Do we dare to pull back the curtain surrounding ourselves to reveal the areas of failure or embarrassment.
As a fellow traveller, in roles such as Pastor/ Chaplain, one of the most beautiful gifts i have received is when people have discovered some sense of safety in me that has enabled them to ‘be known’. They pulled back the curtain and allowed me in.
Five thoughts around what is required for people to feel they can be known.
1.Listening. Make a conscious choice to listen and listen and listen. Listening is the bottom line for getting to know someone deeply.
2. Reserving Judgement until you know the full story. It is extremely easy to make quick judgement calls. People want to be known, but if you quickly make up your mind about them, they will not feel they have been listened too. So many times I have seen people make judgements on others. They have limited knowledge so they make assumptions, generally in error. The walls of isolation continue to be reinforced.
‘If you judge people, you have no time to love them.’ Mother Theresa
3. Practicing Privacy. People will share their heart when they feel confident that are you capable of securely holding it. They don’t want to know their story will be spread out to others.
4. Developing a Forgetter Computer. Some thing I have tried to develop is what others have dubbed ‘My Forgetter Computer’. When I hear stories I listen to the emotions behind the story and let the details off the story just pass over and then out of my mind. The story sometimes enters my heart, but only briefly. When I explain this process, people feel free to share more as they know that their story isn’t going to cripple me.
5. Being patient. The level of trust to be known takes time to be built. With each knew experience of being known, more is allowed to be revealed.
What else is required for people to feel they can be known?
Image: By ktylerconk Creative Commons Flickr
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