Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Seek the path, Know the path, Walk the path

Notice anything unusual in this image?
BEING a disciple is as simple, and as complicated, as seeking the path, knowing the path, then walking the path. Simple, but complicated.
Once we’re trained in this practice we see its elegant simplicity, but we may need to traverse hell to get there. Often God needs to break us to rebuild us in a way that we would seek Him.
Seek the Path
This is what all disciples are to do, and it’s highly preferable if we have an innate craving for God — for the search. This is where problems with mental health and loneliness and the like are good news — conditions of dissatisfaction ought to compel us to search! It is no good feeling or being defeated all the time. All disciples should feel convicted of heart to search God and search their way through their day. If we’re in a dry time, it’s understandable we should want that craving for God to return.
Know the Path
There is always a right path to tread. Indeed there are usually several right paths we could take. Whatever path we discern that God is giving is the one to take. And the discerning is instinctual — to keep moving forward. It’s okay to make the wrong move, just keep moving and get back on track. Stay calm of attitude, remain grateful for God’s guiding voice. Keep the faith in blindness, because by blindness the boldest steps of faith are made.
Walk the Path
Once we know the path — the instinct for the very moment forward — that instinct then continues to propel us into action. We move without thought. No thought, just Spirit. Thought comes earlier.
Once we know the path to walk, we walk it without hesitation. It’s what disciples of Jesus are to do.
All in one swift movement, the faith life compels us to search and to seek, to know as in a spiritual knowledge that the soul knows, transcending the mind, and to walk it out in faith.
Three steps to authentic Christian faith: seek the right path, know the right path, walk the right path.

The image shown above was taken the day I wrote the article. It was the first packet of screws I picked up. It was full of pan-head screws with one odd countersunk screw. The relevance is this. I expected to find a packet like this, but only after I found it did I understand what I had anticipated. I don’t know why. It just is. It demonstrates a spiritual process is underway in me.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

The sanctity in a different view

CONFLICT has always been there and always will be. So, how are we supposed to coexist in harmony where there is such inherent difference between us?
In an age where there is both not enough and too much tolerance, it is clear we live in a polarised world. It is on the one hand celebrated when we express ground-breaking thoughts and frowned upon on the other. The emergence of the change-the-date campaign is just one example. Same-sex marriage was another. Issues draw out such impassioned debate, and the worst of it is seen on social media. Very quickly we lose sight of who we are dealing with — fellow sacred human beings.
When we are honest we will acknowledge biases in us, each with good rationality that works for us. And yet, such views sharply diverge from others’ views. We can feel part of a united front one moment, and completely alone the next.
Could it be that God is trying to say something in all this through our experience?
Could it be possible that God is saying we are meant to exist here — our time on this planet — to lift others up, and in this case, to affirm others’ personhood even if we do disagree with them?
God does give us the capacity to hold other human beings’ value highly — so highly, as those made in God’s own image, no matter who they are — that their differing views (no matter how abhorrent they might appear to us) are considered to be as sacred as our own. They simply have different biases than we do.
One thing more important than our view is the fact there are always differing views. This is more important for the simple fact that community always trumps individual. This is because individuals only truly prosper when the community prospers.
Community finds itself expressed in the idea that a divergence of views can be held within the collective; that all views matter; where respect for any other person’s view is unequivocal.
Maturity is known in the concept that there is sanctity in views that differ from ours.
Community has hope when people extend love to others without condition.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Where is God when life gives us more than we can handle

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash
THERE is this old cliché that does the rounds: God will not give you more than you can handle. Platitudes such as these have done harm.
I have found in my experience of life that it has broken me at times. Yet, paradoxically, the very process of being broken has made meaning of the suffering, as it opened the door to something God was doing.
The first time I was broken by grief I was so smashed up on the rocks of life I thought of ending it. But in the process of being blindsided and overwhelmed I did the only thing I could do — I called out to God, please God, help me!
Not only did God help me, He made Himself known to me, in a real, relatable, tangible way.
The fact is we suffer in this life if we’re honest. John Chrysostom (347 – 407) says, “we have sustained a life more grievous than countless deaths; fearing and trembling through so many days, and being suspicious of our very shadows… in our sleep, [waking] up, through constant agony of mind.” His point is God knows what we suffer and His Presence in our lives, and His salvation, is our mercy.
This life pushes us over the brink. And it’s as we fall into that dark chasm that God rescues us, when we’re honest before Him; as we confess our fear, and what it is that makes us feel we cannot cope.
God does not typically provide a magical ‘way out’, but the rescue He provides works over the days and weeks that ensue. We find that, though we lament our suffering, God gives us a way to endure it.
We find that God gives us the resolve and capacity to search. We crave meaning, a purpose for what we suffer. And God delivers on what is promised: if we knock at the door of inquiry, that door will be opened to us; not of perfectly satisfactory answers, but of peace to accept what we cannot change, which is supremely better amid this mysterious life.
In our suffering, God provides more than a magical rescue. He enables us to endure, creates meaning, and teaches us the peace of patient acceptance.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

10,000 Reasons – 100 per day for 100 days

“You’re rich in love, and You’re slow to anger, Your name is great, and Your heart is kind; for all Your goodness, I will keep on singing; 10,000 reasons for my heart to find.”
MATT Redman’s song is an anthem for so many. God ushered something into my ungrateful spirit recently — ‘do 10,000 reasons!’
I knew immediately what He meant, and I did not like it.
What, I am being tasked with 10,000 actual reasons for my heart to find; why I love you; why I’m grateful?
I’ve done 100 Reasons to be Happy twice. It really only took about ninety minutes each time to count those blessings. But is God asking me to do that over one hundred consecutive days?
Is it a punishment? No. It’s about Him giving me an assignment as I reinstall a gratitude habit.
The truth is the busyness of life is wearing me down. It’s only three weeks into a new year and I’m wearing out already being there for everyone else but myself — it’s not the full truth but that’s what it feels like. I feel like I’ve been under sustained spiritual attack for over a month. My life is far busier than I wish it were, and a big part of that is the season we’re in, and it’s not bad. I’m not achieving my personal health and exercise goals because I’m dining out on comfort in an uncomfortable season. Feeling devoid of hope has become normal. My light shines dimly. But none of this is anyone else’s fault but my own. Two things make life easier when it’s hard: 1. work hard and 2. take responsibility.
I’m taking God up on His challenge, even though I resent it at present, and feel it will only load me up even more. But I do have faith He will show me something over the next one hundred days as I wrestle with my frustration and exhaustion and gradually replace them with perspective and thankfulness through the simple practice of gratitude.

So, 10,000 reasons for my heart to find… why? Because I’m not living a Christlike life at the moment.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

It’s not about now, it’s never been about now

Photo by Daria Tumanova on Unsplash

WONDERING with the psalmist, we add our how longs, and God issues the answer: “It’s not about now, it’s never been about now.”
Still, we struggle with how we’re to reconcile what is from what has been. Certain injustices, particular untruths propagated, and people seem not only to get away with it, but to prosper. Even as they have harmed us or those we care about or love.
No, they don’t.
“They won’t, and they don’t” says God.
All must pay. All matters will be reconciled. We’re empowered to make for reconciliation in this life. If we don’t, a great disempowerment is underway. The living and the breathing is for the purpose of loving. And yet we all fall far short. Thank God for the flower of repentance; the fruit of which preserves us eternally pure. The grace of humility is a light that shines eternally.
Matters left unresolved when we want them resolved. People not brought to justice and they appear to go from strength to strength.
No, they don’t.
“They won’t, and they don’t” says God.
It’s not about now, it’s never been about now. Now is but a test. Now is the place where people get the choice how they want to live, under heaven’s full view, where nothing is hidden and there are no secrets. Christians acting unchristianly. Not long now. All will be exposed in accord with the Judge’s perfect judgment.
We may require justice within a short period of time. God works in the decades. What we wished would happen next decade has become irrelevant. Then we find He has moved. It’s not about now, it’s never been about now.
The fullness of time is in the order of ten, thirty, fifty years, not today, nor tomorrow or next month.
We get stuck in the miry past, when God’s working in a brighter future. To embrace what’s coming we must let go of what’s been.
When we surrender our demands, and accept God’s eternal plan, God’s eternal purpose becomes our daily sustenance. We’re happy with this life’s injustice because eternal justice awaits.
We may watch things not change, and we may get frustrated and remain confused, or we may place our trust in Him, again, for the long term, because with that trust there is peace. And vindication is certainly coming for the penitent of heart.
For God to do His bit we must do ours.

The more we trust God’s eternal purpose, the less we worry about vindication of earthly justice.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Our depression, our grief, God’s grief

PANIC sets in when we first recognise the signs of depression. There’s a hasty revision and reassessment of plans, then we may be relieved; we finally know what’s wrong. But ultimately none of us are relieved we have depression.
If we think of mental illness as our psychological needs not being met, it is appropriate to be depressed or to suffer depression. There will be times — moments, hours, weeks, entire seasons of life for many — where we will be estranged from our psychological needs. There’s nothing more common in life than to feel our needs aren’t being met.
Depression is no weakness to be ashamed of. Though we feel exposed and vulnerable, indeed to the point at times of exposing ourselves and being vulnerable, we ought not to be ashamed. Depression and being depressed is normal. Even having a depressive disorder is relatively common.
Our depression is a story of our grief; that we cannot control an unpredictable world, full of situations that make us vulnerable. Yes, depression is grief, for grief has discovered a challenge too difficult to accept, which is what depression is when we’re overwhelmed. Simply put, our psychological needs are not being met.
Depression is not only about our grief — feeling out of control in an out of control world — it is also God’s grief. God grieves eternally because He created us to have our needs met. He never created us to live empty, lonely, hurt, vulnerable lives. It grieves God when we live life without meaning, hope or purpose.
The closest we have to the concept of how God feels when our needs aren’t met is parenting. Parents all over the world understand exactly how God must feel — well, as exactly as a human being can imagine how God must feel.
Our depression is about our grief, having lost access to the meeting of our psychological needs, and for that, God grieves eternally.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

What Christians of the world wished the world knew about Christians

Photo by Madi Robson on Unsplash

FINISHING a sermon at church recently, stepping down toward the communion table, and I sensed God say something astoundingly fundamental.
God reminded me that, as sinners saved by grace, we often snub that same grace in attempting to be perfect Christians. And the message I had just finished preaching had been about that; how to live wisely, making the most of time, and letting your speech always be gracious (Colossians 4:2-6).
I had an opportunity to set the record straight.
The fact is, and Christians know this better than anyone, the Christian is a sinner. A condition of them receiving salvation was to accept they were a sinner. And even as they live as a ‘new creation’ in Christ, they are still a sinner, and will never cease being sinful this side of eternity. It’s why they agreed to trust Jesus from then on.
Yet, how tragic it is, to fall for the lie that, because we’re Christian now, our lives must be perfect.
It’s like the person who does not want to become Christian because they’re not good enough yet. We become Christian because we’re not good enough, and agree with God we can never be good enough, and that that’s okay! That’s what a Christian is; we know we’re not good enough, but that Christ is, and that is good enough for us and God.
What Christians of the world wished the world knew about Christians is that we are sinners. We haven’t got our lives together at all, but we are committed to trusting God to help us. We acknowledge God accepts us as we are, knowing that we never get our lives together.
Where we as Christians get it wrong is we start to push our agendas onto the world. Little wonder we feel we’re persecuted; but, the world pushing back is not persecution, but a simple reminder that we’re to live out our faith humbly, accepting others, loving the unlovely in others because there is unloveliness in us, including the outlier, giving the needy our compassion, and forgiving our enemies. It’s doing our kindnesses when we won’t be found out. It’s not about how clever we are, or how big or fancy our church is, or how famous our pastor is, or what we know. These are all shadows of the image of perfection we hunger to project.
Christians don’t attend church because that’s where all the perfect people gather. They attend because they crave Jesus who is gradually bringing them to wholeness in and through His church.
The message of the cross and the resurrection is good news precisely because it frees us from the pressure of portraying our lives as perfect.
As Christians we must accept criticism that we’re judgmental and hypocritical, because, like everyone else, in the flesh we’re weak. Nearly everyone tends to be judgmental and hypocritical. Just because we’ve entrusted our lives to God doesn’t mean we’re saved from ugly, wrong, and sinful thoughts, words or behaviours.
We just hope we can contain our wrongdoing, because we wish for God to be glorified in us. But we will still get it wrong, and the world needs to see Christians leading the way in owning up, repenting, and reconciling. The world needs to see us as honest, showing them how important truth is to us, with a willingness to lead responsible lives that honour and lift up others’ lives in the process.
The irony is we are most Christian when we do stuff up and admit it and make amends.

As Christians we need to stop pretending we have life sorted. The realer we are regarding the complex challenges of our lives, and the more we hold ourselves to account for missing the mark, the more people see an authentic faith operating in us — a faith that works.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Phenomenon of Scapegoating in Community

The typology of the scapegoat from Leviticus 16 (cultic ritual of the Day of Atonement) finds an interesting place in the culture of community.  The background surrounds the scapegoat, Azazel.  In the present context, a bullied person or persons, by virtue of their position, may find themselves a target of the more powerful person or group.[1]  Triangulation occurs.  They become the ‘bearer of sin’ so the more powerful entity — usually a group headed by the one who has all power — can survive and feel atoned for. 
The scapegoat is not chosen randomly.  Importantly, the more powerful entity has a need “to project their own fear and hostility onto others when there is tension, disunity, and a lack of conflict-resolution skills within the group.”[2]  Once a person or persons has/have been scapegoated, there is a winning of peace for the more powerful entity.  Unfortunately, this peace is short-lived, for like any addiction — violence is addictive[3] — disharmony returns and a seeking for a new scapegoat, where there is a lack of conformity, ensues.  Any organisation, including churches, can exist like this culturally;[4] a local church may exemplify the dysfunctions of family more than any Christian leader would either desire or accept.
The devastation of scapegoating for the scapegoat is described by Benyei:
“Communities frequently choose as their scapegoats persons or groups who are unknown or different because difference parallels their own disunity, and the unknown provides a convenient blank screen upon which to project hostility, turning it into the problem ‘out there’ instead of ‘in here.’  In this way, it is not unusual for communities to unite themselves against a perceived common enemy.”[5]
In communities, difference tends to be viewed as bad, where there is fear, and the need to, and agency of, control.  And in the communities where fear might reign, because of difference, we tend to “replace feelings of insecurity and fear with feelings of anger because being pumped up with aggressive energy has more survival value than being paralysed with fright.”[6]  Aggression serves better than submission, but in a faith community this is a falling short of a healthy mutual submission (Ephesians 5:21) for the good of truly all.
A problematic issue with scapegoating is its insidiousness.  The scapegoat may not even be aware of the role they are playing.  They may appear to be the one ‘with the problem.’  And “usually the scapegoat is someone who is very sensitive to the anxiety in the system.”[7]  They may be the elephant in the room!  And rather than tackle hurting issues and problems head-on, scapegoating leaders can attempt to pin the blame on someone who will take the fall.  More is the pity that “[T]he biggest problem with a church caught up in scapegoating is that healing and wholeness become rare,” due to the suspicion it creates, because it is cultural.[8]
It is important to recognise the proclivity toward scapegoating in communities. It is equally good to presume it takes place so that measures can be considered and implemented to ensure everyone is included and empowered.

[1] Benyai, C.R. Understanding Clergy Misconduct In Religious Systems: Scapegoating, Family Secrets, and the Abuse of Power. New York: Haworth Pastoral Press, 1998, 99.
[2] Benyai, C.R. Ibid., 99.
[3] Cram, Hecker R. Ibid., 58.
[4] Dempsey, K. Conflict and Decline: Ministers and Laymen in an Australian Country Town. North Ryde: Methuen, 1983, 122, 125.  The chapter “Insider or Outsider?” portrays that “true insiders [in Barool] were people who shared a common fate.”  They were locals who stayed.  What pastor could ever be considered an ‘insider’ in that context.  And the point needs to be made: the language of ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’ speaks of a scapegoating culture.
[5] Benyai, C.R. Op Cit., 99-100.
[6] Benyai, C.R. Ibid., 90.
[7] Richardson, R.W. Family Ties That Bind. Seattle: International Self-Counsel Press, 1988, 60.
[8] DuPont, M.A. Ibid., 142.

Rest our souls crave and deserve

I don’t use the word ‘deserve’ lightly, but, in the context of the rest, our souls we’re designed to find rest in this life, not just in the next.
But what is rest? It isn’t a lot of things. It isn’t laziness, for indeed, the soul rests content having worked out of rest.
No soul ‘deserves’ rest as a demand, but the need of a soul to rest is indisputable.
Each soul determines the shape of its own need, but each soul has a common need.
We go so long without rest that achieving it is more difficult than it should be.
Perhaps we have forgotten our need, let alone how to rest.
Maybe we were born in a time when rest is so foreign.
I phrase these as gentle possibilities, for that is the language our minds and hearts crave.
Simple one-liners so our minds can focus on a solitary concept at a time.
Here is a plea for what is possible:
Dear God of creation,
Lord of our rest,
You know that without it,
We cannot be at our best.
Gentle Presence of Spirit,
Our Lord on high,
Help us be honest,
So we do not deny.
Give composure to us each,
In accord with our being,
Give us Your capacity,
Lord of our seeing.
Gentle Presence of God,
Whether we allow or contend,
Continue being patient,
Even as we pretend.
Gentle yet persuasive God,
Persistent Voice of Reason,
Bring us each to a place,
Of surrender in this season.
Holy Spirit of truth,
Definer of peace,
Be now our promise,
Make space for release.
The fruit of our labour is something to savour, but, when all’s said and done, rest is best.
To give ourselves rest is to return to God that which can never be taken away.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

God’s Calling is Never a Demand

Photo by Jacob Meyer on Unsplash

PROVING a calling placed on our life by God is for the large part irrelevant, but one thing about the call is it’s never a demand.
God never demands we do anything, even His commands are not demands, for demands place something inconsistent with and untrue upon the character of God.
God’s commands are imperatives that we must do if we wish to please Him; they are standards by which we will be judged. They are also standards by which we can be kept to account to in this life, for example, within the church. The church quite rightly disciplines its leaders and members for wanton transgressions against God’s commands when they hurt or have the potential to hurt the church, its members, or the wider community. The church has a mandate to stand against abuse of all forms.
If God’s calling is never a demand, it is also never a suggestion, as if ‘take it or leave it’. It is something that a person feels compelled to do — to serve their God for the rest of their lives. They would never say, God demanded me to do it, and nor would they say, God said I could if I wanted to.
God’s calling is something that is communicated by the Holy Spirit directly into the heart of a person — God’s man or woman. God never limits His call, but our calling can be limited by our gifting, talents, personality, and experience. Yet God equips the called, and proof of calling is the Spirit’s clarion call to the gifting we’re about to receive. See how with time we can truly determine a calling. We say time will tell and time always does tell.
Nobody can rightly say God made me do it as if we had no choice. God never makes anyone do anything, but He does issue consequences for choices, just like in human relationships parents cannot rightfully demand their adult children do this or that, but for their choices there are consequences. Love is freedom to choose, to the exact proportion of the responsibility that is wedded to that freedom. Love is the perfect balance of freedom with responsibility, as in scales of justice, where the weights must balance.
God never demands anyone follow Him, ever. His is one of persuasive invitation where we cannot say no, not because He holds our arm behind our back, but because He is too good to refuse.
To say that God demands me to serve Him is a manipulation of God to the degree that we refuse responsibility for our own actions as well as refusing ourselves the freedom God gives us in Christ. To say that would also put words in God’s mouth that He would never speak. It makes God human, and a manipulative human at that. It’s a perversion of a holy God who is wholly other-than human.
Another thing proximal to this discussion are those times we’re tempted to say, I’m not called to this! Many times, we may not be called to a particular task or role or season, but God still asks us to endure it; again, it is no demand, but there are possibly consequences for bailing out of a hardship we could otherwise endure just because we can.

So, God’s call is freedom, for love, for service, for choice, to serve Him freely with love by choice. Such a calling owes us nothing. It is our gift to the One who has gifted us, and gifts require no return.

Be careful what you wish for

WHEN you wear a T-shirt emblazoned with Jesus: Today, Tomorrow, Forever you can expect reactions. One recent day I got more than I expected. Especially from myself.
When I got dressed I hardly noticed the shirt I reached for, though I’ve always liked the fit of this T-shirt.
Having seen my wife off to work, I commenced some work in the yard with my son helping (picking up bark in his toy truck). We then visited my ‘back doctor’ as my lumbar spine had flared. No immediate improvement. Continued frustration boiled beneath my persona. Arriving home briefly my son felt moved to make Mum a lovely card, which I helped him with. The finished memento was beautiful but there were some tears shed in its making, and apparently Dad was part of the problem. At one point as we drove off to get the groceries my son said, “I love Mum, but you are the worst Dad.” (Not the first time I’ve heard that sort of thing from any of my kids! Probably won’t be the last time.) The morning had been more eventful than he or I would have liked. Just normal life.
When we arrived at the shopping mall, that’s when this thing hit.
Suddenly I heard an “Amen, brother” as a woman walked past me. I hardly had the presence of mind to respond, though I knew it was my T-shirt that prompted her remark. With each footstep from then on God’s Spirit was reminding me, You should have been more careful in dressing this morning… despite your negative mood, now you cannot hide your allegiance. I know you want to advertise Me, but be careful what you wish for (i.e. opportunities for God conversations when you’re not at your best).
There was at least a half dozen people who noticed the message on the shirt. Suddenly something became more important than how I really felt. Christ’s name. I had to begin interacting with people akin to the image portrayed on that shirt. Was it hard? No, not really. I simply had to stop being lax of attitude, I had to slow down and show patience and kindness; I had to think about others. The couple of interactions I had before I left the store suggested I was able to meet the image I was portraying. On the way out of the mall I had another woman walk past and say, “I love Him, too!” I returned a smile. As I got in the car I admitted I had learned something. Apart from my acceptance of God’s grace gift, I’m just like everyone else. And that’s got to be okay.
Three responses I feel I get when I wear this shirt:
1.      “Amen, brother.”
2.      People notice what you’re wearing then watch you to see if Jesus is actually in you — anything from a joyful presence to perfection is expected.
3.      “Whatever, probably a ‘hypocrite’ or ‘judgmental’ like other Christians.”
The point is, people take notice. They are watching. It’s the same with fish or Bible verse bumper stickers.
This experience proves a couple of things. Christians, like everyone else, have challenging emotions, and like everyone else, at times behave badly. Others have perceptions and expectations when Christians wear Christian apparel, and when we realise this we’re keen to challenge negative perceptions and meet positive expectations.
As Christians, we are not saved from behaving badly, but thankfully we want to glorify God, who alone is perfect.
* The T-shirt profiled is from the Garments of Praise range.

Monday, January 8, 2018

5 things we cannot change and must best accept

Photo by Scott Walsh on Unsplash

ANXIETIES bear down in myriad ways, in a multiplicity of situations, for many reasons. Inputs to the anxieties that inhabit us are the things we struggle to accept and cannot change.
We cannot change the following. We grow in wisdom as we learn to accept them:
1.      People, their perceptions and responses – we cannot change or control people even though we’re tempted to influence, and worse manipulate, them. We certainly suffer anxiety when people try to manipulate us! Each of us owns the dominion of our choice. It is a thing to be respected and kept sacrosanct.
2.      Some health outcomes – besides lifestyle factors, there are some health outcomes that force our hand in life. These can make life seem so unfair. Some of those health outcomes will impact others’ lives who we love, which introduces us to the next thing we cannot change or control.
3.      Losses that come – nothing prepares us for loss, even if we have some warning, because we have no way of gauging how a loss will affect us until it becomes reality. Losses are most often more difficult to bear than we previously imagined. This surprise factor adds to our pain. We cannot control the losses that come, and are simply most blessed to work toward accepting them, but that itself is a long process. Learning to accept loss, albeit painful, is an investment in our maturity. And, besides, the other option — to not accept our losses — is unpalatable.
4.      Changing nature of fortunes – besides the good or bad decisions we make which influence our fortunes, there is a flow to life than none of us can predict. Reminding ourselves of the things we are grateful for helps us accept the unpredictability of life. Small blessings counted prove the point.
5.      The nature of life – we can know what we know by experience, knowledge or belief. Yet there are many things about life we cannot and will not know. Even by experience, knowledge and belief there are exceptions, and many of them. If we can see that this fact makes life interesting, we’re on the road to accepting life is fickle and hard and confounding. Acceptance brings contentment.

Anxiety comes when we struggle to resolve the things we cannot control. It can be helped if we identify the sources of our concerns and agree with ourselves that it is okay that we cannot control them.