Books

Amish Grace–Quick to Forgive??

We read this book in August for our evening book club.  Initially we were going to have a typical Amish spread for dinner, but settled for some Lancaster County salads instead.  Growing up just 30 minutes from where the shootings took place, it was unnerving to read about many places that I knew associated with such brutal violence.  Yet, unlike I thought, the book does not focus on the events of the school shooting, but what takes place after it.

Forgiveness is something that was immediately extended to the family of the shooter by the Amish community.  While I was amazed to see the people move so quickly to forgive, I was also concerned to see that there was little time allowed to process the grief and trauma of the event.  Since the perpetrator had killed himself, forgiveness and grace were given to the family of the perpetrator.

Recently, I have done a bit of reading on forgiveness and the new way that it is being used in psychology.  A whole new therapy called forgiveness therapy is being practiced and helping victims to let go of their past and hurts (this is outside of a Christianity).  The truth is that not forgiving will only continue to hurt the victims and keep them from being able to move on.  Yet, forgiveness is a process and I fear that if people are forced to forgive too quickly and not allowed to walk through the pain and grieve, emotions will simply be ignored or suppressed causing long-term injury on many levels.  Too often, we as believers encourage people to move on, get over it, let go and let God.

I see forgiveness as a process, a gradual letting go of the pain, an acknowledgment that God is judge and choosing to leave the matter in his hands.  In a sense, forgiveness does come down to a choice as written by Robert Enright in his bestselling book, but the emotions involved with forgiveness cannot be turned on and off.  Every day, taking small steps to choose to forgive seems to be more realistic and healthy than expecting people to simply forget and forgive.  (In actuality, forgetting is not realistic and even God says that He chooses not to remember rather than say He will forget).

For those who are hurting and who are struggling with forgiveness, never give up.  Only God can give you the strength to let go.  Ultimately it will damage you if you are holding on to things, but take the time to grieve your loss and grieve what could have been.

Here is a great article that articulates what forgiveness and fake forgiveness look like :   The F Word: Forgiveness and it’s Imitations by David Augsberger.  There may be things you do not agree with in this article, but there are a lot of good things to ponder that can be very helpful.

Quiet

This was our first book selection for the year.   The author and her book were featured in an article that came out in Time Magazine shortly after the release of the book  The Upside of Being an Introvert.   It has taken me over 40 years to see being an introvert as a positive thing.  In elementary school, I would take my book to the top of the jungle and sit and read for the entire recess.  Books were my friends.  I had an average of 8 books checked out at one time from the school library.  In 6th grade I read a book that radically changed me, The New Lucinda.

I am fairly sure that most of you have never heard of this book, nor would have chosen it as a paradigm-shifter, life-changer  type of book . . . yet, it was for me.   I read it shortly before switching schools to junior high.  It was about an awkward girl who never fit in, but had the chance to re-make herself when she moved to a different school.  She changed her look, clothes and personality and was rewarded by fitting in the popular kids.  Then one day, someone found out about her past and her popularity plummeted.  In the end, she learned to be happy being herself.  But I took a different lesson from the book.

It was inspirational for me in showing me that I could change, and I decided from the first day of entering Lancaster Christian in 7th grade, I would not be the quiet introvert who I was, but I would make an effort to interact with people and learn the art of conversation.  And, I did and it worked.  Yet, I always felt a bit empty and while I could interact and engage with almost everyone, it never satisfied me.

What I mostly enjoyed were long talks with one friend–one or two relationships that deepened and grew.  Parties were a waste of time–boring.  I felt lonely in a crowd and fulfilled by a good deep talk with people.

Then I met and married another introvert.  Knowing and understanding this about ourselves has been very helpful.  We get exhausted in large groups and need time at home to recharge.  Since we are constantly surrounded by 7 children, it is not easy for us to get that alone time.

“Our tendency to be extroverted or introverted is as profound a part of our identities as our gender.”  There are often books written specifically to women or to men,that completely neglect to take the characteristics of personality into play.

A friend of mine said, “We also do not take into account personality when we are looking at spiritual gifts.  We expect all Christians to evangelize and talk with someone  on the train or the plane, but if we looked at the personality type of the typical evangelist, they are probably an extrovert.”  Making an extrovert out to be more spiritual is dangerous as well as catering to the extrovert in the workplace.  What I appreciated most about this article was the attention and awareness that it gave to the importance of introverts explaining how what many perceive as a weakness is actually a hidden strength.

One thing that I appreciated about Sweden, was that I was simply seen as Debbie, NOT–debbie the MOM, debbie the FEMALE, debbie the WIFE, debbie the INTROVERT.  I was not a sum of different labels, but was accepted for myself.  I think the more we can begin to see each of us as unique creations of God, we will not characterize people into different groups and expect them to perform according to their label.  Rather, we will allow others to be who they are and appreciate who God made them.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2105432,00.html#ixzz29H7wHPSJ

The Pilgrim Fathers

 I just finished reading Henri Nouwen’s book The Pilgrim Fathers.  He addresses three principles that the monastic fathers followed that he recommended for today’s busy society:  solitude, silence and prayer.  As I read the book, my hunger grew for quiet and solitude, but I was a bit disturbed by a reference to a man known as St. Anthony the “father of the monks.”   He withdrew into the desert for 20 years into complete solitude.   After he emerged from this time, “people recognized in him the qualities of an authentic ‘healthy’ man.   While I agree that solitude is important, what is a Mom to do??  Often I think to myself, if I could just get away from people, life would be easier.  Is escape from everyone, really the answer?  This summer, I had the privilege to visit a dear friend that kept my schedule free to allow me time and space to think and pray.  During this time, I felt refreshed and invigorated and ready to go home.  Now a few months later, I am in the midst of the business and craziness.  What can I learn from Nouwen?  I do not nor should I leave my family for years. . . yet, a bit of silence each day is important.  Another thing to consider is what is keeping me from my silence and is this thing essential, or what should I cut back?

Getting things done with little ones around is challenging!!

Here is a blog that encouraged me and took away some guilt:  Your children want you!.