Tag Archives: insidious


Earnest Intercession for Respect

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Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, January 17, 2016 Earnest Intercession for Respect Gossip is insidious. Evil, malicious, thoughtless words can cut to the heart and shred the reputation, leaving us gasping for breath in a place with … Continue reading

The Joy of the Lord

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, December 28, 2015

refiner's fire

The Joy of the Lord

One of the so-called mortal sins is acedia—sadness of heart or resignation. Close cousin to depression. I know depression. I have friends and acquaintances who are quite familiar with almost constant sadness of heart, depression, even despair at times.

How is it that we here in the United States can live in such a materially rich time, yet feel so empty? So desperately sad? Boredom doesn’t even touch it. The deep feeling goes much further to the soul’s interior than just that.

Yes, it seems like an insidious disease, almost an unseen plague. And those who are not afflicted do not, and cannot, possibly understand the deep pain. The desperate fear and anxiety. It is truly an inside job. On the interior.

Monastic literature had more than a nodding acquaintance with acedia, though. I feel deeply for those so afflicted, in the centuries past. I pray they had some relief.

Relief can come from God, to some extent. (Not to the exclusion of everything else, though! Please, listen to your doctor or therapist. Please, please.)

As I was saying, joy—deep and abiding joy—can come from God. God delights in giving joy to God’s children. One of the compilers of this book of December meditations writes, “The joy of the Lord has gone through the poverty of the manger and the distress of the cross.” [1]

No easy joy, here, however. A biblical illustration, from several places in Scripture. It is through difficulty and distress that deep emotion goes through fiery trial, as if through a refiner’s fire. We can understand that, to a greater or lesser extent. Let us praise God for God’s presence with us. We celebrate Emmanuel—God with us, indeed, through the poverty of the manger and the distress of the cross.


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[1] God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, trans. O.C. Dean, Jr., compiled and edited, Jana Riess (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster/John Knox Press, 2010), 72.

It’s Not Your Fault. Prayerfully.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 20, 2015

shame and guilt

shame and guilt

It’s Not Your Fault. Prayerfully.

I love today’s reading by Rev. Howell. I needed that today. (Gee, I need this particular reading on a regular basis!)

Yesterday’s reading focused on confession. Yes, confession about the things I have committed in thought, word and deed, and those sins of omission, too. I am often filled with guilt about these shortcomings, guilt about missing the mark that God has set for me. However, that is a whole different kettle of fish than feeling shame. As Rev. Howell points out with great insight, shame is not about the bad things I have done or bad words I have said, but instead, bad things and words that have been done to me. [1]

Thank God I do not have such severe psychological, emotional, physical and justice issues, but what I have been through for many years is definitely hurtful. And quite shaming.

So many people feel shame. Yes, guilt can be there as well, but shame can creep in like an insidious, destructive crawling weed. Shame can be devastating and even traumatizing. And when shame happens to or affects children and young people, it is almost too much to bear.

Rev. Howell mentions a stunning illustration taken from an Oscar-winning film, Good Will Hunting. The scene involves the therapist Sean Mc Guire (played by Robin Williams) and Will Hunting (played by Matt Damon). After many weeks of therapy, Mc Guire “learns that the young man’s aberrant behaviors stem from pretty severe childhood abuse. He embraces the tough Will and keeps repeating, ‘It’s not your fault, it’s not your fault, it’s not your fault,’ and finally Will breaks down and cries.” [2]

What kinds of things or events or words are shaming me, today? Or, from yesterday, or even years ago, decades ago? What is deep inside of you, shaming you? I don’t need to bear the burden any more. I am free to be me, freed from any bondage or hindrance. I can take that bushel basket off my head, stand up straight and not be ashamed any more. Ever.

Yes, I yearn for a kind, compassionate, interested person to truly and deeply listen to me, to finally tell me that it’s okay. “It’s not your fault, it’s not your fault, it’s not your fault.”

I have that person in Jesus. And, the best part is that you do, too. Just ask. Jesus will come alongside of you, wrap His arms around you. Praise God. Alleluia, amen.

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blog, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.

[1] James C. Howell, The Beautiful Work of Learning to Pray, (Nashville, TN, Abingdon Press: 2003), 67.

[2] Ibid, 68.