Monday, October 1, 2012

Of all the stupid things...

Man gets head stuck in bin
We weren't aloud to say "stupid," growing up. It was considered vulgar. Mom would have washed our mouths out with soap.

But once in a while something comes along that's so ridiculous that "stupid" applies. For example, Scottish emergency responders had to separate a man from the bin into which he'd pushed his head. Dumb fellow!

I haven't gotten my head stuck in a public trashcan but I've done my share of silly things. As I was waking yesterday, UCB Ireland programming was highlighting the value of fear in preventing us from doing stupid things or putting our lives at risk. The speaker also noted that youth is known for risk-taking rather than the wisdom of fear. Experience and age produces caution. Probably true: I'm less willing to take risks as I age.

Back in the day: at a son's wedding
However, there are three other reasons that produce caution in me. Their names are Wilhelmina, Phyllis, and Patti. I'm going on a retreat this week with them. We've met for 18 years (if I'm wrong, they'll correct my dates). The first ten years, we met every 3 weeks and did 2 annual weekend retreats. The conditions for admission to the group?
  • female
  • wholeheartedly seeking God
  • able to keep confidences
  • willing to share life

Those gals know me inside-out, and I can predict their responses to life as well as they can anticipate mine.  We've shared things our husbands don't know (mostly girl-things, attitudes, and actions that wouldn't benefit our marriages if we told the guys).

I look forward to the retreats but also dread them. God puts a finger on my heart each time, pointing out where I am spiritually dense or unwilling, where my nature is not aligned with his, and where I've been disobedient. Oh how I hate to be put on the spot.

And how I welcome God's love and the kindness of the WPPRs in pointing out my faults as well as boosting me for accomplishments. It's hard to make progress when ours are the only eyes permitted on our inner beings. We are too forgiving of ourselves, either overlooking flaws and sins, or excusing them with, "That's just how I am," or "If only they would ... , then I would be different/ respond differently/ etc." An outside look of compassion or finger pointed in love have made a great difference in my life.

Do you need similar accountability? Here's a checklist of questions to clarify your answer:
  • I'm in a position of responsibility. Scripture says those in leadership will be judged more carefully and severely than others.
  • I wrestle with an issue or issues that I haven't been able to resolve. This might be a hidden sin, a destructive habit, or stymied progress in spiritual maturity.
  • No one knows me inside and out. This self-protection usually hides the issue above.
  • My spouse or roommate or friends are tired of listening; I talk in circles or only to them ... without resolving issues. A good accountability group will challenge you if you make no progress or keep bringing up the same patterns. My search for the WPPRs began after my husband asked me to "find some girlfriends" because, as he noted, "I'm not Jesus. You need someone else to talk to."
  • I need input from others. Your view of ministry or job or family life may have become myopic: your in the forest so you can't see anything but the nearest trees. Trusted counselors provide perspective and balance.

Finally, here's a summary in how the WPPRS have repeatedly hauled "off the stupid truck," as a Texan friend eloquently put it. WPPRs is not a Bible Study or friends' day out. What WPPRs does provide for each of us:
  • a safe haven, confidential accountability
  • regular meeting; you know you will be called to talk about your life about every three weeks; provides caution in life
  •  prayer partners
  • insight into being a wife, mother, daughter, sister
  • balance, perspective – everyone has “something,” thank God for the shape of my own cross!
  • retreat – “girl time” for talking, study, laughter, movies
  • unexpectedly: deep, close friendships

I'd encourage you to ask God to bring you the joys of deep connections!

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