Thursday, February 28, 2019

A time to cry, a time to deny

A friend told me of a unique encounter within a familiar situation. Upon meeting a lady organising a work event, she discovered, that very moment, she had lost her best friend to cancer the day beforehand.
The encounter went like this:
LADY: “Oh, hello, I’m [her name] … oh, I’m really sorry, I need to take this, it’s a funeral director… [answering her phone]”
MY FRIEND: “Oh, that’s okay.”
LADY: [After the call] “I’m really sorry about that; unavoidable I suppose.”
MY FRIEND: “It’s really very understandable… some things just have to take precedence.”
LADY: “She was one of my best friends, and I have to deliver a eulogy at the funeral” [beginning to become teary by this stage]
MY FRIEND: [sensing the need to distract the lady to protect her dignity given it was a workplace situation] “So… would you like me to talk about something else?”
LADY: “Please, would you? We don’t even know each other; and we meet over these circumstances…”
MY FRIEND: “It’s okay… hey, this might seem like an odd question, but, what makes you laugh?”
LADY: [Somewhat stunned, a grin appearing through watery eyes] “Oh, that’s got my attention… now, let me think a minute… oh, of course, it’s actually my husband — he’s a laugh a minute; dry and very pathetic is his sense of humour, but I love it. He always has me in stitches… his goofiness… he said this the other day…” [two minutes later, the overflow of emotion in the lady had subsided]
MY FRIEND: “Thank you for sharing that. Your husband does sound funny. How are you feeling now?”
LADY: “Strangely, better. I think I’m okay now. Thank you.”
And there it was. A first-conversation interaction that took ten minutes.
Not all distractions are equal. Not all serve the moment well. But this one did.
There’s a time to cry. It’s not healthy nor wise to deny our grief. But there’s also a time to deny it in order to be distracted enough to get through an awkward moment, especially when we’re most vulnerable, and especially in very structured environments. Moments here and there. Amid grief we still hold down jobs, care for children, and run other activities in our lives. Times when we need to feel in control if we can muster it.
Whilst it’s wise to attend to our grief there are many moments during the grief process when we need distractions, so our lives don’t completely fall apart.
Distractions are not denials if they’re used strategically to keep us focused on what we need to do. Of course, there are days and moments when no amount of distraction helps; where we cannot deny our emotions, because they swarm and overwhelm us.
As we help people in their grief process, we’re wise and gracious to discern what their moment is as we help them. It’s always about them and what they need.
If there’s one thing a grieving person has, it’s a regular lack of control over their mental and emotional state. It’s good for a grieving person to have some control over when and how they choose to cry and deny.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Those who live as The Unforgiven

Something has bugged me for some time. Like a gnawing itch I couldn’t scratch. Now I know what it is. Thankfully.
God led me to a song. Not a Christian song. But a sociological song. It is The Unforgiven by Metallica. I’ve loved the song and the band for years, but now it speaks with relevance to a piqued mind.
The lyrics for the song would be for many, dark. But they’re real! Reading the lyrics, I get the sense that this is a man’s life that is all too typical in a world where serial existential trauma impacts all men and women.
Sure, many adapt and learn their resilience, which is inspiring to think, if that’s you, you’re a world-beater.
But too many we know live as the unforgiven.
Too many live out of reach of God, who may think they’ll never be worthy, who may be seething about this scourge of a world or a ‘god’ that never protected them, who genuinely feel lonelier than they think anyone else lives. Too many have never measured up in the lives of their dearest kin. Twenty percent of the population with scars from childhood loss, abuse and trauma. So many who never adjusted. There’s the man who has unresolved anger issues that spoil his relationships whenever there is a second or sixty-second chance given; who has given up. Or, the woman who cannot resolve unrelenting loneliness, whether she’s in a relationship or not; who quietly despises this ‘man’s world’. And we can too easily, and unjustly, rationalise these responses as ‘they weren’t resilient enough’, or many other categories of ‘worse’.
If we truly reflect, we who engage with some kind of growth journey do not adroitly understand the person who feels they don’t fit into society. You may read this and think, “Hey, that’s me!” or you might think, “I get you; it’s not me.” If you’re part of this latter group, you have people in your life who do not fit. It’s the ache in your heart that they would. And it may frustrate you that they may not share that desire.
If we take The Unforgiven as an anthem for those who are displaced — those who may never have felt placed in the first place — we can begin to open our hearts to the idea that they may not want we want for them. Perhaps there are other steps beforehand.
They may wish simply to be understood,
and not to be ‘healed’.
They may simply want to be believed. Maybe they would take much less from us than we really want to give them. Maybe our fears that they may take too much are utterly unfounded. Maybe they don’t want what we think they want. But maybe they truly want something that they have no idea about yet. Perhaps that thing we also have no idea about. Maybe we’re all about to learn something.
I can think of people within my own family who would, in an honest moment, say that they cannot understand this world. Many of your families would be the same. Some of this sentiment sits within me! Some days I can tell you, I do seriously wonder. It’s probably a big part of why I’m a person of faith. I cannot do this life without God’s help. It’s as simple as that.
Those who live as The Unforgiven
live as unforgiven for a reason.
It’s for us to seek to understand.
The healing of God’s Holy Spirit that we’re all after is for someone in real living skin to get close enough to us, and, without being a threat or being threatened, show enough curiosity to simply understand, validate, believe.
Compassion is as simple as endeavouring to understand the other person. That is nothing if not a willingness to understand. God’s got the rest.
Living as forgiven is as simple as accepting we’re forgiven. But that’s a journey for us all in acceptance that leads to freedom.

Photo by Heng Films on Unsplash

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Pray for your pastor

Being ‘a’ pastor and not ‘the’ pastor, and serving as an elder in the church, has given me an invaluable glimpse into the privileges and perils of pastoral work.
Today, like many Sundays, I arrive at the afternoon physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. Spent. Yet there’s family time to be had. The work is costly. Yet there have been times when I’ve not been in ministry, and at these times I’ve often felt Sunday was a nothing day. I’m built to work on Sundays — to serve the people of God — but it’s a tenuous thing. And I find nowadays I’m supporting a pastor as part of a pastoral team. What’s it like for the pastor who bears ultimate responsibility?
I think that’s what it’s like for most pastors. And many may not truly get that. Not that this is about a pity party; it’s about reality. Pastors should be dissuaded from ministry, because it chews half of us up (statistically) and spews us out. Pastoral work teaches resilience because it requires resilience. Paradoxically, this is exactly what motivates most pastors to serve God. It’s not about them.
The more I think about it, the more tenuous the role of pastoral work is.
Pastors need to be prayed for.
Pastors need prayer for discernment. They can damage people without it. How many ‘jobs’ require such spiritual insight? Few! What needs to be seen needs to be seen. We must pray that God would lead pastors to see truth and mete grace.
Pastors need our prayers for courage. To call things what they are. But not prematurely; that’s where discernment is crucial. Many are the moments in so many jobs where we know we have to say or speak something when it feels like it’s a risk. For pastors, it happens so frequently they must get used to working under that pressure. You see it’s not just humanity who will judge a pastor. God knows when a pastor is nudged. We ought to pray that when pastors receive the nudge of the Holy Spirit that they have the composure and conviction to act. We need to pray to these ends.
Pastors need our prayers to know when to stay quiet and when to speak up. They need to stay quiet when someone is telling them a story that perhaps has never been shared before. When that person is taking a risk of trust. The moment is palpable, and the pastor knows they stand on hallowed ground. It’s someone’s story of abuse or trauma or mental illness or graven sin. There’s the opposite situation. When a pastor must speak up. To gently but firmly admonish. To report. To ensure they’re duly diligent. Pastors need our prayers to listen first and then to speak, and to discern to know when.
Pastors need us to pray for them that they would relate so well with their Lord that they forgive well, especially themselves. We’re all more-or-less constantly in error. It’s a dangerous person who refutes this. Pastors must model what it is not only to be full of integrity, but brokenness. Indeed, that is their integrity. Tough-skinned, yet soft-hearted pastors hold much redemptive power. But power can be used for both good and evil. Abuse occurs where sin is apportioned one way only in relational settings. The pastor can veto what should be discussed. The pastor who bears a grudge or who doesn’t attend to what is toxic is not being an agent for spiritual change he or she promised to be. We all need to be urged onward, and prayer is a force to this end. Given the pressure on pastors, staying soft-of-heart can be a major challenge.
Pastors need us to pray for their wellbeing — family, friends, finances. Most pastor’s families go without in some way due to the work, and it’s rarely compensated. This is not to say it’s not happening for most of society. But with pastoral workers, there’s a burden borne inherent in the work. What about their friendships. We ought to pray they have time and energy and wisdom to maintain connection. And nobody ever got rich doing genuine pastoral work (mega pastors who live luxuriously are not pastors in my view). Pastors need our prayers for their ongoing wellbeing as they pour their lives out as a libation continually.
What else do pastors need our prayers for?

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Friday, February 22, 2019

Ever been told you haven’t enough faith or don’t pray enough?

If so, you’ve been spiritually abused. And it’s not your fault. No, not ever. You are not the one who sinned; you have been sinned against. And I’m so sorry that this happened to you.
I’ve heard of dozens of anecdotal accounts where people claim to have heard these things said to them. Some of these people have shaken the dust of the church off their feet — in obedience to their Lord (Matthew 10:14), but to the overall detriment of their faith lives, because many do not darken the doors of church again.
They have been let down by the so-called godly person who has fallen into a common error of religious legalism.
Entire lives have been shaped by cruel and wicked things said, particularly by those who have power. But these things can be just as hurtful when said by lay people who think they’re speaking for God.
Our friends and family members:
-       did not die of cancer because we or they didn’t pray enough;
-       did not fail to overcome their addiction because we failed them or didn’t do enough;
-       did not suffer disability because God was punishing us or them somehow;
-       did not or do not self-harm or suicide because we didn’t love them enough;
-       are not of a ‘non-standard’ sexual orientation because of something we or they did or didn’t do;
-       the list goes on.
Our friends and family members experienced these things because life is indiscriminate. It’s often the case that those who have experienced these kinds of things are the ones who truly know how indiscriminate life is.
We did not suffer misfortune because we:
-       didn’t pray enough or the right way;
-       didn’t read the Bible enough or the right way (or the right Bible).
We suffered misfortune because life often works out that way. We did not suffer disease, a disorder, or a syndrome because of something we did or did not do.
People who spout these kinds of things are not only abusing people spiritually, they also demonstrate they’re least qualified to counsel people in the very areas people are most vulnerable.
Spiritual abuse is such a crime against God that Jesus warned his disciples about what would happen: “If anyone causes one of these little ones — those who believe in me — to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6) “Little ones” refers to vulnerable ones — anyone in the category of the ‘least of these’, which is potentially any of us when we find ourselves disadvantaged in any sort of way. “Those who believe in me” are those who trust their vulnerability to goodness, only to very often find what they thought was good is abusive. In other words, if Jesus puts us in a position to care as he would care, we spurn that honour when we abuse people.
See how Jesus turns it all back around on the person who would spiritually abuse us? He uses a very powerful negative metaphor — “… it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” — to motivate us to not abuse.
There is more faith in letting mysteries alone, and simply agreeing we can never tie certain effects to certain causes — none of us is God!
And be careful of those who might subtly suggest that it’s your fault. Some things we do cause, but the sins involved here are readily and easily apparent. Intangible linkages are never helpful, especially because they’re laden with conjecture.
Of all the crimes against God, surely one of the worst is that of spiritual abuse that plays God and sends those of God away from God.
Spiritual abuse is a deception first done in the abuser before it is cast upon the victim who is, at worst, deceived, facing self-condemnation; and at most resilient, belligerent, facing a charge of sin for having retaliated having been sinned against. See how abuse sets the victim (or the survivor of the abuse) up to be wrong whichever way they go?

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Disengaging from the lies of powerfulness and powerlessness

A church of two persons — a one-to-one ministry where two people are discipled by the Holy Spirit even as they share very intimate details about their lives in a trusted space. With each other.
That’s a vision for a cross-shaped ministry of God.
The church has two clear problems with which to contend. Powerlessness and powerfulness. Notice which one I put first. There is far too much powerlessness and too much reliance on powerfulness — not just within the church, but everywhere.
We all have temptations to power. It makes us feel good. None of us is comfortable being in the vulnerable position of feeling powerless. Nobody volunteers to be rendered powerless.
But that’s exactly where Jesus is!
At the site of powerlessness.
Ready to minister to us.
But only if we willingly go there.
Only if we defy temptation to power.
Deceptions of Powerlessness
It’s a lie we succumb to when power is lorded over us, whether it’s a person, our past, a susceptible position we hold, etc. When we’re rendered powerless, most of the time we don’t recognise it. We just feel disempowered, disabled, dysfunctional, disillusioned, and possibly also defiant — and very much often the latter. We’re apt to swing between the poles of accepting we’re powerless, a state that needs to be challenged, and defying our powerlessness by denying it and striving to make the opposite error — to become powerful.
Deceptions of Powerfulness
It’s a lie. It takes us away from the Presence of God. This is equally, if not more dangerous, especially to and for others, than being powerless. Powerfulness is a really nice feeling. It’s where confidence comes from. But if our powerfulness emanates out of powerlessness, i.e. as a response of feeling powerless, we have created it out of fear, and that power will be used to deny key truths and inevitably to abuse people.
The midground we’re invited into is the embodiment of God’s power through surrendering both powerlessness and powerfulness to our Lord.
As we commune in the moment of God’s Presence, reminding ourselves that feeling or being powerless or powerful are errors, we cling to a third place of feeling and being.
Neither powerless nor powerfulness
is the sweet spot of God’s Presence.
The cross bridges the divide.
The cross must be our aim.
Only at the cross does our powerlessness bring us to God.
Only at the cross is our powerfulness used for good.
This third place we can call defiance, but not in a negative way. Defying that we feel or are powerless, by denying it, pushes us toward grappling for power; states of feeling that make us dangerous for ourselves and others.
But defying both these extremes — resisting feeling or being fixed in states of powerlessness and powerfulness — means we’ll have the desire and capacity to love others well, be at peace, experience joy, practice patience and kindness, be faithful and gentle, and exercise self-control.
Walking in the sweet spot of the Lord is about resisting the idol of power.

Acknowledgement to a fellow sojourner, my friend Owen.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Good News for the Grower

This will not be a popular read; it is, however, all too true. Many will quietly despise its message. It’s not a sensational message so it won’t pique the interest of the numbers it should — so it will be.
It’s a hard message for those who don’t or won’t relate, and those in this locale who read it will feel sharp dissonance. I can tell you the truth… a confession of sorts; as a truth writer, too often I’ve been swayed to write what will be popular. This article departs from appeasing.
Even if what you read so far, you’re not drawn to continue reading, please, I urge you, stick with me.
So, here it is:
The good news of Jesus —
the gospel no less —
is ultimately good news only for the grower.
There. I said it.
In this day, as in any day, but particularly in this entitled age, an age where outrage gets all the attention, we have come to magnify the good news as salvation for anyone who believes. It’s true. God’s grace is copiously shed abroad for all humanity, but it’s only a comparative precious few who ever experience the good news in their life, even as it ripples out into others’ lives who attest to the incontrovertible fruit that flourishes within them, that nourishes others.
Ah, you might think this is elitist language. Sounds like it. There is nothing elitist about this; quite the contrary. It’s the elitist who completely misses the Kingdom that God has designated for the grower alone to enjoy.
Here is a portrait of the grower:
They bear. They really do. Through years of persistence and perseverance and patience they’ve learned, through hard-won experience, that growth is the compensation suffering the surrender of their needs produces. They do without. And with a smile. Not proudly as if they’re better. They know they’re no better!
Evidence of this is thankfulness amid sacrifice;
that ability to live contented without desires
being met.
Paul encapsulated this in Philippians 4:12 — I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. (ESV)
Anyone can “abound,” but not everyone can willingly be “brought low.” And yet, it’s only those who “know how to be brought low” who can “abound” appropriately. It takes years to learn these lessons. And it takes refinement through many trials. It even takes place through the delighted acknowledgement that life is full of trial; the acceptance that life is meant to be like this — how’s that for a paradigm shift?
There are two groups of people who will be challenged most from what I’ve written above, but what is written above is beyond neither group. Indeed, one group is in the box seat.
The first group knows all the right doctrine. And they tend to have good jobs, lovely families, pleasant churches, and nice possessions — ‘blessed’ lives. They have life squared away. But they haven’t as yet suffered. Or, they haven’t as yet connected with suffering. Compassion hasn’t yet been formed. They haven’t yet been broken. Theology hasn’t yet transcended theory. It hasn’t yet landed. There is dross yet to be burned off. It’s not their fault. And they don’t know it.
The second group is oppositely situated. They have suffered. They have suffered so much that life itself is trauma. This is the group in the box seat. But first they must make the journey that draws meaning from what they’ve suffered. If the first group haven’t yet landed, this second group have crash landed. Their suffering crushed them so much they have a momentous challenge to recover. But they have hope. Further suffering is not a surprise to this group and previous trauma can be converted through God’s grace into a requiem of poise if they can accept the injustice of their past.
Both the above groups have the challenge (and the opportunity) of growth ahead of them. Truth be known, we all fit into one or both groups.
The first is about to get a rude shock. If they can stay themselves in the boggy mire of lament, they have hope. The second group must convert hell into growth. But only through the grace of God. The second group are closer to the Kingdom of God than the first are. But the first group have an advantage that it’s only humility (to overcome the entitlement of pride) that breeches the divide. For the second group, it’s courage (to overcome paralysing fear).
The grower is this: they’ve died; though they’ve died, they live! They’re revenants. No longer are they driven by the winds of their wanton desires. They can and do go without. Because, they’ve experienced the rewards of the Kingdom, which is an inside job far beyond description.

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Why you can’t just ‘get over it’

One thing that often angers me, is the issue of people being told they must ‘just get over it’ — whatever ‘it’ is. In these moments, I need to pray; to stop myself from saying anything untoward.
People who have complex problems
that involve grief
cannot ‘just get over it’.
And they’re not weak or problematic or less-than for the problems they have. They more ought to be revered.
Sometimes the ‘it’ is a loss, where grief lingers in them for years. Although we learn to manage, many griefs we take to our graves with us. Other times it can be a special case of abuse where forgiveness is impossible. Yes, even (especially) for Christians. Another time it is raised is within addiction or temptation, where a person simply cannot resolve a position or change themselves. And of course, there is a growing phenomenon of chronic pain. Many, many problems in life cannot be ‘gotten over’.
One of the most frustrating facts about grief — and one can argue grief is part of all these above — is that we cannot control it. When a person is in a position where they cannot shake something, and they are told to ‘get over it’ they are not being helped.
The person who is telling someone to ‘get over it’ is the one that has the problem. Somehow, they either lack the life experience or the emotional composure to contain the person before them.
This is why trained counsellors are so good at what they do; they can readily accept another person’s experience and perception. Indeed, they must. It is the other person’s truth that they are working with. They have worked through much of their own mess so they can bear another person’s mess.
Everyone, however, is called the care. Everyone has the responsibility not to harm others. And when people are told ‘just get over it’ — even if in tactful ways — damage is done in the healing process. Many people who genuinely think they’re helping by saying words that mean ‘just get over it’ never recognise how much of a setback they place before a vulnerable person doing their best to overcome a massive issue. None of us have the ability to weigh what another person is carrying.
If we were to tell someone to ‘just get over it’,
it’s more our anxiety speaking than good advice.
The paradox is, nobody wants to just get over it more than the person who is ailing. Anyone in deep grief through loss or abuse/trauma or chronic pain or other is desperate to get to a place where they’re genuinely over it.
They themselves have tried numerous things, in many cases dozens if not hundreds of ways, to resolve the malady that seems to possess them. Nobody wants peace more than those of us who have suffered for years to resolve something that feels irresolvable.
But to simplify seriously mysterious and complex issues
such as the healing of grief is folly!
Anyone that is hoping to help a person ought to recognise that human beings are usually the problem in helping human beings to heal from the things that human beings have caused and created.
If anything, if you’re a person trying to genuinely assist someone who has been struggling with something for years, do some of these things:
Dignify their journey. Listen in for the difficulties they have endured. Empathise with every effort they have made. When you feel you have some advice to give, pause a moment and stop yourself. Before you say anything, pray to God for the exact time to say it, and for the briefest way of conveying it. But don’t add to their burden! Then, begin listening again. If you do these things, you may find the person will be helped, despite your own efforts to speak wisdom into their life.
The reason someone will be helped by doing these innocuous things is the Holy Spirit has a chance to work when we get out of the way.
Maybe, just maybe, the person who
‘cannot get over it’ has experienced wisdom
that we do not yet possess. Lean in and learn.
It is the person who has had to bear
what they could not get over
who can bear for others
what they cannot get over.
It’s in receiving validation for an interminable situation
that a person may eventually learn to endure it.

Photo by Orlova Maria on Unsplash

Friday, February 15, 2019

So close… but still 1,000 miles away

Every parent has seen it, and so has every well-intentioned manager. I suspect we’ve all been there. In fact, I know we’ve all been there.
This is the story of seemingly appropriate behavioural responses but underpinned by prideful attitudes. You know, when someone does something you want them to do but they do it with passive aggressiveness.
I recall meeting with some supervisors a few years back who sought to help me in an area of my work they felt I needed help with. I didn’t agree. Whether it was their approach or just my pride had been piqued didn’t matter. I can recall responding in the right way, but my attitude was just rotten. My attitude reeked of self-righteousness. I thought, “I’ll be the better person here.” Of course, I was only fooling myself. Haha… “I’ll be the better person…” do you see?
They received my offer of acceptance of their help with graciousness, and yet what seethed below was an unwilling attitude.
Because of my actions I was close to what was needed, but because of my attitude I might as well have been 1,000 miles off. I wasn’t even in the ballpark. And the problem with these attitudes is that we fool nobody else but ourselves. Sooner or later our attitudes betray us as most people can ultimately discern a stinking attitude underlying supposed faithful behaviour. And when they do discover these things our credibility suffers, and it may destroy our reputation with them.
What people really want from us is our honesty, and if our attitudes betray our actions our integrity is called into question.
It is like the person who apologises by saying, “I’m really sorry, but if you had only not done a bad thing to me I would not have done anything to you… Or, I apologise, maybe don’t do such and such from now on and I won’t do such and such to you…
Apologies like that just don’t fly.
It’s like the attitudes our children have when they don’t want to comply with what they know they need to do. They may huff-and-puff around the house, slam doors and the like. They are doing what they’re supposed to be doing, but it is clear they’re asking everyone around them to pay. And it’s not just the children. Fathers and mothers and couples in conflict do this too. And as I’ve mentioned above, it happens a lot in the workplace too.
Actions without the right heart
are worse than a waste of time.
Wisdom is the practice of doing the right things, appropriately. When will we learn that right action depends on a right heart that does the action with integrity — our hands and heart and mind aligned?
I have learned the hard way. When I did what was required but I resented it all the way. It would be laughable if it weren’t so serious. Yet, I have also been blessed by God so many times when I was filled with an attitude that was beyond me, where I was able to overcome my pride and leave ‘justice’ with God.
Look, this kind of attitude is the stubbornness of being right in our own eyes.
Anyone in this place of heart ought to wisely ask, how is it going for me? Is it working? Is it making any sense? Truly, it never does. We fool nobody but ourselves.
If there is an overriding problem we have with our world, especially in a social media context, it’s that we all think we are right, that others are wrong, and that the world would be a better place if only we, ourselves, had more control. This is an attitude we must learn to regularly repent of. If we can no longer see our error we become dangerous and we don’t even know it.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Doing the Master’s Work – Survivor’s Poem By Jack Stoskopf

This is a brilliant poem by survivor, Jack Stoskopf, a friend of mine across the pond.
Doing the Master’s Work
If I could weld all the stars in the skies,
I could never dry all the tears in little children’s eyes,
There is so much hate and not enough love,
But I will always trust in God up above,
One in four girls and one in six boys,
Are trampled and left as broken adult toys,
I was once one of them left broken and used,
I know how it feels to be beaten and bruised,
I once felt I was the one to blame,
There is no need for all suffering and shame,
Yet through it all I have always believed,
In a God of love greater than I can conceive,
I’ve asked, Why God? What can I do?
To stop the raping and killing and child abuse,
There is so much evil and not enough me,
But I continue to work setting captives free.
Jack is a welder who has such pride in his work, and it shows. He loves his craft. Being a tradesman myself, and sharing a love of the ministry of God, we have a precious affinity. But it is Jack’s welding that nuances this beautifully hopeful poem that does not hide the realities of the evil of abuse in our world.
Jack’s poem is a requiem of endurance, the product of a lifetime processing the pain he endured in his precious developmental years. It is a sad poem, but also it is a triumphant poem.
It offers hope to those millions like Jack — the one in four girls, and one in six boys.
It validates their experience. It gives permission for one to receive ministry for the suffering inflicted and the shame that is so unfairly felt.
There are many more words I could use, but the real mastery is in the poem: Doing the Master’s Work. Thank you, Jack. Love and blessings, my friend.