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Posts Tagged ‘violence’

Our country is still in mayhem after the assault on the Capitol on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. What aftereffects will occur, it’s difficult to say at this time. But, as a woman of faith, this juncture cannot be ignored.

Naturally, we can all pray: for peace, for wisdom, for understanding, for renewal, for justice, for explanations. And yet, despite our prayers, the question of “why” dominates my mind. How has violence become the only avenue for expressing frustration and inequity?

Today, I was meditating on “Psalms for Praying” by Nan C. Merrill and in Psalm 1 (her interpretation) presumably the last verse, she writes, “. . . Love’s penetrating Light breaks through hearts filled with illusions: forgiveness is the way.”

Another scripture says, “A good man [person] brings good things out of the good stored up in his [or her] heart, and an evil man [person] brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his [or her] heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” [Luke 6:45, NIV]

An illusion misleads intellectually and its intent is to cause misinterpretation of its actual nature (see Webster’s dictionary). This is where we are now. We can tell that illusions exist because of the words spoken and quite honestly, the actions (the violence). Illusions have found root in many hearts and, in my mind, the only way to break such illusions is by an act of God, or literally, the pure Light of the Christ.

People are regularly captivated by clever magicians who can transform what we believe to be truth into something else. And that something else becomes the replacement reality. I cannot dissuade someone who has fully engaged an illusion as real.

I suppose I may be steeped in illusion as well, but of another kind certainly, where love guides. My faith in God keeps me in the “Way,” but what about the people who read the same Bible I read, pray to the same God I do, and yet justify behaviors and words far outside my understanding of the verse, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind; and your neighbor as yourself” [Matthew 22:37].

According to cult de-programmers, it can take up to five years to bring a loved one out of the deep influence of a charismatic leader or group. This process is about unconditional love, questions, and patience. Illusions do not fall like a curtain, but in pieces and cracks. Hostility, name-calling, disgust, and chips on the shoulder are no help. Let us instead, look for points of concurrence. This is my prayer.

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The hardening of the heart is a spiritual condition. In our culture, we think of it as someone who is cruel and unfeeling. While in scripture, the hard heart can still feel but only through the body, hence, the tendency toward violence and pain or sensuality and lasciviousness. It is the spirit encased in stone.

Ephesians 4:18-19a
They [unbelievers] are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality . . .

For teenagers, we see hardened hearts manifesting in eating disorders, cutting, and other abusive behavior because they are trying to “feel” something. When and how did their spirits lose touch with God? Youngsters usually experience a sense of God through the parents first. If they are absent, uninterested, or hardened themselves, the foundation is laid for walls of protection to rise. Our culture is another layer of bricks and stones in this process: the constant exposure to violent stories, abuse, horror, and the “objectivity” of women and men through pornography. Loss, grief, and disappointment are additional bricks. Unrelenting poverty, hunger, and deprivation can also build layers of stone, particularly in our culture where privilege, comfort, and luxury are dangled before us every day.

There is no human remedy for a hard heart. I know, because I have been there. Isolated as an immigrant family, the death of my father at an early age, a working mother who was mentally unstable, the ingredients were all there for steeling the heart. I hurt a lot, I cried a lot, I defied authority, I self-medicated, I lied, I cheated, I dabbled in the occult: all of it in the name of searching for something I did not understand.

Only God and the Spirit of Christ within can break through the hardened layers of the heart. It is a process and not a singular event. Becoming a follower of Jesus is only a starting point. At my decision, I was able to shut down some of the 3-D sensations and realize there was another way to reach Spirit.

Sensitivity to the Spirit of God is sweet and as the heart melts in God’s Presence, other “feelings” are not as powerful, there is less striving. This is the journey of peace.

A Christian can go through all the motions of being a Christian and still have a hard heart. I did that too.

It is the best work of the Holy Spirit and I am reminded this day to invite the Counselor within, to keep my heart sensitized and soft and tender towards God. Love comes from a tender heart.

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