Saturday, October 17, 2009

The essence of community

I've just finished reading "The Secret Lives of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd. Set in South Carolina in 1964 just after the passage of the civil rights bill, it tells the story of Lily Owens a troubled teenager who finds healing and hope in a loving community of caring women. Although not written for a christian audience, I believe it gives us a wonderful picture of how God intended for community to function and how a safe community can be an instrument to help bring healing and wholeness.

At the end of the book, the author shares some of her thoughts regarding the book. One of the questions she was asked is "How does having a sisterhood of women make a difference?" Although her answer was given regarding a community of women, it would also be the same for all communities . . . those made up of men or those made up of men and women.

Here is an excerpt from the answer she gave. Her answer in my opinion describes the essence of true community.

When women bond together in a community in such a way that "sisterhood" is created, it gives them an accepting and intimate forum to tell their stories and have them heard and validated by others. The community not only helps to heal their circumstance, but encourages them to grow into their larger destiny. This is what happened to Lily. She found a sanctuary of women where she could tell her story , and have it heard and validated --an act that allowed her not only to bear her sorrow but transform it.

What a wonderful thing it would be if we could all find such a loving caring community.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Preorder: The Misunderstood God

"Is there more to God than meets the religious eye? From the publishers of The Shack comes a provocative book that further unveils the unfathomable love and grace of God. Author Darin Hufford takes God's claim to be love itself and holds it up against God's own definition of love in one of the most beloved passages of the Bible --1 Corinthians 13. Scripture calls him the God of love, but religion often portrays him with the vindictive personality of the devil. Which one is he and how can we be sure? If you've ever struggled to understand the nature of God, this book will help you see that God is truly the definition of love." (ad campaign by Windblown Media)

Scheduled to be released November 2, "The Misunderstood God" is now available for preorder. To read my previous post about "The Misunderstood God," follow this link.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

New look

I'm sure you've noticed the new look on my blog. I don't want anyone to think that I'm that creative. The new look is due to the creative genius of Jim Robbins. Jim is a very gifted author, musician and teacher. He's also very knowledgeable about computers and their workings so when he offered to create a header for my blog, I immediately took him up on it.

I'm definitely challenged when it comes to computers so I'm fortunate to have a friend who knows what he's doing. Jim is a gem. He worked on this all afternoon to get it to fit right but I'm thrilled with the results. He also inspired me to make some additional changes in color and the font.

As I said, Jim is also a gifted author. If you haven't read his book, Recover Your Good Heart, you're missing a treat. Also, if you're on Facebook, Jim just started a new community called The Good and Noble Heart Community. It was formerly a group but it now has its own page so I hope you'll join us there for some good conversation.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Mind Control

I found this article posted on Cultwatch describing the mind control that is used by abusive groups. My desire is to see people free from the ravages of spiritual abuse and I believe this article will inform and perhaps lead some to take steps towards their freedom.

To read it, follow this link.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A safe place

My last post was a review of the newly released book "Bo's Cafe." Some great comments were posted as Bruce McNicol, one of the authors, shared about the importance of having "a safe place." His comments as well as the discussion helped me to clarify my thoughts regarding safe places.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about safe places as they pertain to online groups. The question I've been pondering is: What is a safe place and is it really possible to have one? Relationships are messy and online ones where we may not know the people involved can be particularly messy.

In my involvement with online groups, I've seen a very disturbing trend develop as the volume of arguing and anger increases. This is true even of groups that have been formed for christians to share and discuss their beliefs. Because of the level of rancor, some groups have become, in my opinion, spiritually abusive. Anyone who expresses a thought outside of the accepted belief of the most vocal is subject to name calling and harassment of the worst kind. These abusive groups are usually unmoderated since moderated groups don't tend to experience this type of chaos and abuse.

Watching this happen has caused me to wonder . . . Is it realistic to expect these types of groups to be environments where everyone behaves? Should there be moderation to ensure proper behavior or is that setting up an unrealistic, unnatural environment? As I thought about these questions, I began to compare two groups that that I've been involved with - one is abusive and the other one has a spirit of love that permeates all of the conversations.

One of the responders to my post said that a safe place is not necessarily a "comfy" place and, as Bruce further elaborated on that statement, I began to see things more clearly. He said, "a safe place is not a soft place. An environment of grace is a place where the truth will flow most freely, the truth about who I am, how I'm doing, and how we're doing."

That's exciting! "A safe place" is a place where the members can open up and be vulnerable without being attacked. However, it will definitely not be a comfortable place because we'll give other members freedom to lovingly delve into those areas of our lives that we've done our best to keep hidden even from ourselves.

Like a wound that has been lanced to let out the infection, delving into those hidden places can be painful, messy and at times ugly. However, if we want to be healed, we need to submit to the pain and allow our community of friends to help us struggle through to freedom. I believe the only way this will work is if the group is free from abuse. Hurting members will not open up if instead of gentle lancing to bring healing, their wound is scratched and further torn open through abuse.

Some of us don't have a local community that we meet with in a face to face relationship. Our only community is online. Therefore, if we're to get beyond the hurts of the past, we need to find a safe place where we can be open and honest without fearing abuse.

This conversation regarding safe places has really excited me as I see the potential in the life of a believer where one exists. Like the authors, I hope we'll begin to see more safe places rise up - both in our local communities and online.

If you'd like to read my post reviewing "Bo's Cafe," follow this link. I invite you to share any thoughts you might have that will help us further process this concept of "a safe place."

Wouldn't it be great if we all had one?