I am doing some interesting reading on grief counseling and I want to collect a few quotes here so that I can mull them over and write something helpful. Just whom I am helping I am unsure. I wonder if with much of our ministry, as we seek to grow in compassion and walk alongside the other, we seek also to understand ourselves, placing our own hand snugly inside of Jesus' hand as he walks beside us. In the God economy, his love knows no bounds and so in him healing others through us, he does not leave us confused, empty and bereft and yet the journey towards enlightenment, fullness and union is a long one.
So Freud described 'human suffering as an expression of the tension between Eros, the drive for union, and Thanatos, the tendency to separate and dissolve,' (Examining the dominant model: What's the problem, Silvermann and Klass, p.7).
This I find interesting and I wonder if for many Christians it is felt in that eschatological tension of the now and the not yet. We seek perfect union with God and yet it is frustrated by our condition.
Do I believe what I have just written? Perfect or imperfect union with God through Jesus in the power of the Spirit? I am unsure. I am back from 'worship' now (7pm FOG Focus on God) and I have listened to how Jesus certainly does not promise us a life without suffering, in fact, on the contrary, he says in John 16:33 that 'In this world you will have trouble.'
But He also says, 'But take heart! I have overcome the world.'
Through Jesus, we are put into right relationship with God and into community with the Father. But I still find it is frustrated and frustrating. How do we come to terms with this? We take everything that we are and what we suffer to the Father, through Jesus, by the Spirit, in prayer. I think that that is the only answer I have come up with so far. We are then led into a place where we will come to know 'the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, [that] will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:7).'
If you're like me, however, you will have to continually ask for this to be given. We are so leaky, aren't we?
Patton describes how:
For Tillich, the difference between Jesus and the saints [that's us according to Ephesians 1, remember] is that in Jesus there are no moments of separation from the "Spiritual presence" or from transparency to the divine, whereas with others there are moments of separation.
Pastoral care in Context: An Introduction to Pastoral Care by John Patton, p.71
In chapter two of Silvermann and Klass, I read about how 'modernity is characterised by a machine-like model of the self. Modernity is a reaction against romanticism, which valued deep interpersonal bonds that could not be broken ...'
I understand that this book is exploring the grieving process but I aim to also think in terms of our relationship with God. I wonder if modernity also infected a Christian's 'right' relationship with God, in that, emotion and romantic attachment were to be guarded against and where post-modernism expects encounter with God which supplement feelings of his realness and communicate his love to us intimately and experientially, modernity called for a rational, intelligent articulation of God. I think the modernistic expression of Christianity, in which I was nurtured, made for a machine-like response. There was something mechanical about the answers to the questions I had, there was less room for vagueness or for exploration, there was a denial of the ecstasy, whether that be joy or pain and there was an emphasis on the controlled.
I am searching now for a happy medium and it is amazing that God is having me learn about this in nearly everything I read at the moment. To use a cliche, everything really is all about Jesus, isn't it?
God and satisfaction
I am reading now about 'The Psalms and the Life of Faith and 'The Formlessness of Grief' by Walter Brueggemann. I like the way he talks about how 'Israel's speech presumes a history of interaction, of speaking and hearing that gives life.' (p.90). He talks about a 'covenantal address'.
I think that we can recall occasions that are very specific in our lives where we have asked and God has spoken, from within a context of trust that this does indeed go on but is not always made so obviously manifest. We can journal our divine encounters and these can act as life-giving memories when we hit the dry times. Do you go on dates with God? Does journalling or blogging help you to record your walk with God so that you can articulate and reflect on his presence in your life? Do you find these encounters easy to articulate and easy to share with other people?