Admitting a mistake is essential and it is only the beginning of a long road. My repenting of a moment’s anger has nothing to do with that classic thought of, “Okay, God’s forgiven my wrong.” Only by taking that little wrong in hand and recognizing it’s being a single link in a long and broad array of other parts of my life’s struggles can repentance begin becoming true.
As I begin the process of recognizing my sins, mistakes and unconscious but intentional wrongs am I touching the surface of repentance. My, and I suspect all of our, major sins are treating that classic act of repentance as the conclusion rather than as a repetitive starting point.
I repent, so much of the time, for the same things. Those are, always, shaped a little differently because my impatience expresses itself across so many different situations. I am certain you know your own expressions of this kind of a problem. I do not need to isolate on each time it pops out as an independent sin. Rather, I have the task of seeing each occurrence as another step in living out the same thing and so an acknowledgment that I don’t see the whole picture. I have not been defeated by recognizing another facet of the same problem or just simply repeating it, I am learning to flesh out what was never a singularity. Only then can I keep at fleshing out my repentance.
“Mindful people … can better cope with difficult thoughts and emotions without becoming overwhelmed or shutting down (emotionally),” they write. “Pausing and observing the mind may (help us) resist getting drawn into wallowing in a setback.” ~ Badri Bajaj & Neerja Pande
I am one of those who hears Bajaj and Pande voicing important psychosocial aspects of the Jesus prayer. In my eyes, their points are not complete, nonetheless, their words express essential aspects of what the hesychastic traditions teach us. Their words voice part of what we are to express to those around us. Our forgiving, weeping and in our prays bearing up under the load of everyones need of joy in Christ is, in part, expressed by those researchers words.
Put another way, mindfulness “weakens the chain of associations that keep people obsessing about” their problems or failures, which increases the likelihood they will try again. ~ Tom Jacobs
“I’m not rejecting your imaginary god, ” has been voiced by none of my friends. I do mean friends and nothing less! Across my years, many of those who were also peers, kept themselves at more than a distance from the Church. In their eyes, they were not rejecting God, but rather, our personal and corporate amalgam of conflictual self-righteousness. From decades past right to this moment, I have yet to hear an atheist or agnostic friend suggest there was something about me or the rest of us hinting at what they needed.
A few, of my friends, had donned the garb of today’s Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins years before either were well known. None, of those friends, ever accomplished getting those “religious” people to peer past their certainty it was Jesus being presenting. My atheist friends have kept at the same mistake ‘we’ tend to make. They keep to the argument rather than pointing past it and so at us, saying, “I see nothing in you making me want your fraud!”
Is faith centered in on what I’ve learned to call faith, or is it seeking what can’t be taken hold of? If I’m focused in on fitting all my thoughts together, as expected, it then makes more sense to see faith as a rational effort. That sort of question hounded me even as graduate school forced me to take a stance on how to practice clinical social work. Yet, if I make this thing I’ve come to focus on what faith is calling me toward and what I cannot, consciously, encircle is it just a fabrication? But then, again, science, itself, struggles with this inescapable question raised to the power of a question. Over the past decade or so too much of what I thought to be psychotherapy began evaporating.
Could the faith, I claim to have, be built just so that I fit into the group? So then, am I defining my faith according to the group? But then, no matter what direction I wander off in, I came to know of it from within relationships with others. Nothing, I have even the feeblest grasp of, came to be known without ties to others.
Then, again, are those people I am keeping my faith with, anxious to keep things calm and quiet so that we keep hold of one another? Our anxiety, too often, is to not become tested. I knew these anxieties as deeply within my professional life as my walk with Jesus Christ. So then, for me that, deeply unconscious motivation to keep any chance of anxiety stalled out is a carrot we all dangle over the heads of others. So then, faith at all levels is bonded into relationships
Whenever I go about questioning this thing called faith, do I shape those questions so that I won’t leave the group or will I outline it so that I have to leave? Perhaps, we all struggle in both direction across time. Maybe, what we really need to be struggling with are our motives in the here and now and not whatever it is we hope to have latter.