One of my life problems is consistency. I was hoping that this would push me to consistency, but it has not. I get all distracted by life and work and this Lenten practice gets pushed to the side. I apologize, and will work to get meditations done for the rest of the 20 days of Lent.
Today's practice is to meditate yourself into the story of the Woman at the Well, or Jesus and the Samaritan woman. After a brief discussion of the story, in an effort to get you to hear it in a new way, we will engage in a meditation on scripture.
Mom, I am trying to use a normal voice, so you should listen ;-)
"'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind'. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'"
We hear this a lot in church. More often than not, the focus is on either love of God or love of neighbor. Rarely is the focus on love of self.
This is because love of self often gets confused with selfishness. Selfish pride, selfish desires, selfish actions. However, this is not the result of love of self. Selfishness is the result of a wounded self, a needy self that hasn't been cared for, that hasn't been shown compassion - it is the opposite of self-love.
In truth, it is in practicing true compassion towards ourselves that we are really able to have compassion for others. It is when we recognize and accept our wounds, our scars, and our weaknesses that we are able to accept those things in others and have compassion and empathy for others. It is through loving our whole self that we are able to love others. And it is through relationship with God that we are able to come to this place of radical self-love. The love of God provides us with the strength, encouragement and compassion to see ourselves as we are and to love ourselves. Relationship with God allows us to, however momentarily, see ourselves as God sees us and experience the love God has for us. This love is the love we are called to have for ourselves and for others.
We must repent of the ways we avoid ourselves and God. Repent of the ways we are cruel to ourselves and turn towards the light of God's love so that we may truly practice loving our neighbor as we love ourselves.
Here's today's audio meditation:
(apologies for missing a few days -- I was sick, then I was catching up from being sick)
Yesterday, I took the day away from this discipline because it was International Womxn's Day and I was doing small things to participate in a day without a woman. It got me thinking: What would the Bible like without women?
Basically, it wouldn't exist.
There is the obvious point that without Eve there would be no humans in the story. But there are so many other women who made the story possible. So many, named and unnamed, without whom the story would have ended before it ever got to Jesus Christ.
For today, we focus on Miriam. Prophet, midwife, dancer, water bringer.
Listen to the day's meditation below.
Jesus went up to the mountain for forty days. When he was hungry and tired, the deceiver came to him and tempted him. The deceiver tempted the Son of God with his own power and dangled his pride in front of him. Jesus did not take the bait.
When we talk about this story, we usually focus on the ways the devil offers us power, money, and other earthly rewards in order to get us off the path to which God has called us. We usually paint a picture of a human-ish figure standing in the desert offering Jesus the world in exchange for his soul.
Rarely do we talk about the devil as the voices in our head and in society that work to get us off the path by telling us that we aren't good enough, that we can't do it, that we will never succeed so why even bother. This voice, this persistent, gnawing voice that lives in so many of our heads and hearts and tells us lies about who we are and who we can be is just as destructive as the voice that offers us power and riches if only we walk away from God. This voice steals throws us off the path by paralyzing us into inaction or dissolving us into a pile of self defeat. This voice keeps so many of us from being who we are called to be, being who we were created to be. We don't write that book, create that music, paint that picture, finish that project, speak up in a meeting, create the theorem and so many other things because the devil, the deceiver in our heads tells us we can't.
It's time to tell that voice to STFU, 'cause we got work to do.
You got this. We got this. Together, with God's help, we got this.
*Sorry about the audio being a little weird. I'm still learning.
Today just seemed hard. I am also realizing how hard it is to record a daily devotional, so sorry this is so late.
But it was hard because of all the political nastiness over the weekend, the laws being passed, the executive orders, the news... it's all just weighing on me heavily today. I feel overwhelmed.
When I feel overwhelmed, I go back to scripture that inspires me. Today, that scripture is Isaiah 58. It reminds me of the work, of why I do the work, of God's call to the work and the promises God makes for those of us who fight oppression.
So I read that to you, talk a little about it, and pray. Have a listen:
We live in a world that has expectations about how people should look, and it is not afraid to tell us so. We receive all kind of messages from the media about how we should look (usually thin/muscular and white), we sometimes hear it from family, from co workers, from friends. It can be hard to remember, with all of these voices around, that we are made in God's image.That we are made in love. That we reflect who God is. When we allow ourselves to be taken in by these voices of how we look, when we forget that we are made in the image of God and begin to beat ourselves up for how we look, we create a break in our relationship with God. We forget to appreciate all that we have, forget that we were made in loving care. Often forgetting this leads to self-destruction.
This meditation is longer than previous meditation. It is a meditation on the body with some scripture from Genesis. Please note: I am a cis-gendered, fully abled, white woman. Because this is my frame, I worked hard to include everyone -- because you are all beautiful. But the topic of body is fraught -- particularly for trans, non gender conforming, and differently abled people. I have made efforts to ensure you are all included, but my efforts likely fall short. Still, I hope this can be useful to you. Listen once and make it your own. Then do it in the shower, in the bath, when you are naked. Spend some time really contemplating your body and the amazing work of art it is. Because you are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are very good. You are beautiful. You are loved.
O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
O Lord, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain it.
Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
all the days that were formed for me,
when none of them as yet existed.
How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
I come to the end—I am still with you.
You are scared.
You are tired.
You question whether they want you here
in this nation
in the church
in your school
in your home.
The voices in your head
The voices on the screen
keep telling you you are not enough
These voices are lies.
These voices are the voice of the Adversary.
You are loved.
Your are beautifully and wonderfully made.
You are called to this work, to this life.
God will sustain you.
God needs you in this work
to break the rod of the oppressor
And at the heart of that work is love
Join us in a Lenten journey to reconnect with yourself and with God. Engage in a Lenten practice of self care and love of self (after all, in order to love our neighbor we must first love ourselves). Spend some time examining false beliefs you hold about yourself, the reason behind the voices in your head saying you can't, you aren't, you won't ever.
This is a different kind of repentance, but no less important. Turn away from the false narratives surrounding you and inside of you that diminish your light, pain your heart and starve your soul. Turn away from the false narratives that disconnect you from self, neighbor and God.
After all, when you love yourself, you love God herself.