The Language of Blessing by Joe Cavanaugh III

The Language of Blessing by Joe Cavanaugh III is the latest book I’ve received from Tyndale for reviewing.

The book starts off somewhat with the teaching from The Blessing by John Trent and Gary Smalley, but mixed together with the author’s experiences, including as a life coach and working with a ministry related to relationship recovery.

It then goes into some of the things that can make this difficult, and the importance of learning your own strengths in the process. The book then finishes with some practical application chapters on how to learn to bless others.

This book came into my hands at a very interesting time… pretty much right as our church was ending an extended study of the blessing, and right about the time I was working through some of my own issues that had surfaced. So that may skew my perspective on things a bit.

The first and third parts of the book were pretty much what I had expected them to be.

The first was good at breaking things down and putting them in a way that made them understandable, and helpful at seeing examples of not only what the blessing looks like, but also honest at showing times when it didn’t happen.

The last section gives good guidance on how to actually make it happen, including some addressed particularly to parents.

The middle section of the book is pretty close to what the description of book says, that it’s a book about the importance of identifying your strengths and how to use them to bless others.

It goes into some depth about the difficulties caused by not realizing your own gifts and talents, because if you just see them as average, you expect everyone else to have them to that degree as well and may judge them accordingly.

To me, this was a new and interesting way of looking at things. And the author does tie in some as to how this effects being able to bless others and why this can create a situation of a child not being blessed because his parent expects them to have the same gifts to the same degree of the parent does rather than appreciating the child’s gifts on their own.

But at times it almost seems like an entirely different book than the other two sections. Again, my viewpoint is probably a bit skewed on this from recently being through a series that connected more to the other two sections, and also probably because I was thinking more from a barriers to it being received perspective than from the barriers to giving. But I guess it just didn’t connect together with me as well as I had expected, and for some parts seemed like a divided tangent more than it fit in with the section title of barriers to blessing. Still good material, just sort of different from the rest.

Either way, it’s a good book, and makes for a good followup for those already familiar with the blessing, but also explains well to cover those that aren’t as familiar.

Tyndale page for the book

Amazon page for the book

Its on my side.

So.. moving on from the post about the elements of the blessing being what I’ve seen from the world but rarely from the church.. I’ve been trying to figure out why.

When I know that there are a lot of exceptions, why do I feel so.. well.. like an outsider.

This hasn’t been going far.

In good part because I know a lot of why I feel that way is that I’ve been treated that way previously. Again, I’ve gone into discussions before about the negative experiences with the first church I attended… so I’m not going to get into that again here.

But I know that’s a factor that is in play still…. and so it’s easy to write it all off as just being issues from that.

And then there is the whole past with many of these same congregation members and feeling like they were really insincere. Again, easy to write off the feelings that way.

But I’m just sort of getting the feeling that isn’t the whole story.

And part of the reason why is because of a certain church… that wasn’t actually even my church. It was a group gathering of some regional house churches, that I had a particular connection to through one of the leaders.

And so, I got treated well.. in spite of the fact that there were good sized areas of their belief system that did not match with mine. Many of my closest friends of that time, and mentors in my life, came through that church connection.

Its a pretty clear example that shows the exact opposite of the impressions I hold.

And yet… I still felt that way.

Even in the middle of being totally accepted in spite of all of my issues…. I still felt that way.

So.. I know that it isn’t just based on the actions of this church, and that even if they were the greatest church ever, it wouldn’t be enough to overcome it.

It’s just a personal issue.. my problem to deal with.

And so, as this is mulling around in my thoughts… in a random internal conversation with myself this morning, I came to suddenly realize something.

As I mentioned in the previous post, the time in my life that I’ve found the most love and acceptance and connection to others hasn’t been in my time in the church…. it was in my time outside of it, living life with a pretty hedonistic group of friends.

But then it hit me.

That was also the only time in my life I’ve been on medication for emotional issues… at that time going under the diagnosis of social anxiety.

Well duh! Gee I wonder why that time in my life would have less social issues? LOL

There are a number of reasons why I’ve made the decision not to continue the medication… many of which I’ve gone into… and I don’t particularly think this really changes that. But it’s definitely a factor that needed to be realized in this equation.

But again, it reinforces what I was already getting…. that this feeling isn’t coming from anything from people, it’s coming from wound seepage.

What to do with that is still a question, but it’s always easier when you at least realize more where it is coming from.

The shifting begins.

So it’s been about 2 weeks since things got really interesting for the finances for next school year.

And today, while I was on the city website to pay my water bill, I found a job opening.

Full time, third shift. Not very school friendly.

But it’s doing a job that I have done previously for two years in a different town. And.. where I’m currently a city employee currently, that gives me a boost… which along with the previous experience makes at least getting into the interview a pretty safe bet.

$6 an hour more than I make now.. $4 an hour more than I made doing that job previously.

I looked at the page… and just left it there at first.

Then today at work… I got my check from yesterday, and along with it was a couple of extra pieces of paper. One of which explained that there’s going to be a change in scheduling procedure starting June 1.

Basically, the day is now divided into two parts… roughly before lunch and after lunch. You’ll have to work the entire part, and you have to always be available for that part on that day of the week to sign up for it.

For as long as I’m in school, this will effectively block any ability for me to get hours during the weekdays with the exception of one afternoon a week for 4 hours… which would still be competing against anyone else who had that time available.

And so… with a good sized sigh… I applied for the new job.

It’s looking like it might be that time again, as much as I keep praying otherwise.

Sweet snowbreak

We have snow.

Not only do we have snow, we have lots of snow! As in officially 14.2 inches for this area.

And so we have had snow days for the past two days.

I so needed a few days for snow days…. nice days with no classes, nowhere to be, and no notice so that work couldn’t fill in my schedule for me.

Just a wonderful unexpected rest, and a chance to catch up both on schoolwork and on several books I’m supposed to be reading for reviews right now.

Well, and a lot of sledding. lol

Boo got a sled for Christmas… not this year, but the year before that. Seemed like a pretty safe gift at the time.

Since then, we’ve gotten a total of 1/2 an inch once… and even then, it was too cold to be out to even try to make it work.

Everything since then has been less than that, and mostly stuff that melted within a couple hours of the time it fell.

This is definitely not the case this time!

Snow is kind of nice when you have nowhere to go… but even nicer when its the reason you suddenly have nowhere to go. 🙂

Who Do You Think You Are? by Mark Driscoll

Who Do You Think You Are? by Mark Driscoll is the latest ebook I’ve received from Thomas Nelson for reviewing.

The book works mainly out of the book of Ephesians.

The goes through various passages that show who we really are in Christ, and breaks down what the impact on ours lives should be if we are really able to grasp that identity given by that element and make it work in our lives.

It’s really easy to get ourselves overly caught up in everything happening in our lives, and forget some of these basic elements. Do we really remember that we are saved, in a way that our daily lives reflect it? Do we stop to remember we are blessed?

The book is a good reminder of some of the fundamentals that we all too easily lose track of during our days. For me, and I think probably most people, it’s also a good reminder of how much our lives really don’t show these elements of having our identity in Christ nearly as much as we would like them to.

Thomas Nelson page for the book

Amazon page for the book

What was lost.

So I’ve figured out more of why I’m getting the crummy feeling response.

The more I think about it, the more I’ve come to feel like these elements in relationships are pretty much exactly what I knew that I was making the choice to lose in returning to Christianity after the rebellious spell… and exactly what I’d found in leaving it originally.

I’ve sort of gone into this on here several different times in several different ways… but never really connected together.

It’s just been a few months back when I went into some of the details on the physical touch element, particularly with the hedonistic leanings… both in dating relationships and in just more physically comfortable friendships. Friendship cuddling level of comfort just doesn’t really happen in christian friendships much.

Though whether or not the words “appropriate” or “meaningful” could be applied might be somewhat debatable in some of the instances. Even if I might debate against them now, at the time they did hold meaning and did feel appropriate, so I’ll give it that one.

Attaching high value is another big one that I’ve gone into a bit on here in terms of working on issues. And how much it felt like leaving the religious value system meant that I suddenly went from being the fat chick with too many issues to being measured under the world’s standards… which are much more kind in my case.

The same circumstances that look like a mess to most church people look pretty average, or even pretty stable, to the rest of the world.

It’s really weird to go from the broken home, not quite together, never quite being right feeling…. to suddenly being surrounded by people who see none of that. Things like sexual relationships and single parenthood have no real major weight factor in the equation anymore.

Compared to a lot of the drama and messes and chaos and addictions, and everything else that is more typical of past family issues… having emotional baggage that doesn’t have a whole lot of massive damaging behaviors is good enough to pass for healthy and sane to a lot of the people I was connected with.

Honestly, even in appearances… I found that worldly friends gave a lot more latitude… and non-christian men willing to date a fat girl are pretty easily found. Even for one with a kid and baggage. Where church going men who take their faith seriously pretty much have pick of the litter of being easily outnumbered by single christian females just about everywhere.

Picturing a special future is pretty tied into that same thing.. worldly standards that hold less against you seem to be able to see much more of a bright future.

My friends in the hedonistic community thought I could do anything. They were the ones who would usually suggest jobs for me that were way above my head and experience level.. telling me that I was smart and could totally pull it off.

My christian circles… well… I’ve already gone into it on here about my frustrations at being told that maybe I just shouldn’t be trying to find a job, and need to work on improving myself and trying to trap a men, because that’s probably what I’m supposed to be doing instead of working anyway.

And even in areas of active commitment…. my non-christian friends were the ones who just sort of shrugged off all of my spells, good and bad, as part of the ride… and hung on for the trip.

My christian friends started bailing pretty much the minute I’d admitted having any doubts. Or decided to foster a friendship from far on the other side of the tracks.

And a lot of times even now, they are the ones that I feel like approve only conditionally… and quickly turn a cool side when I start leaning in directions they don’t agree with (even in things like going back to school, that should be a fairly neutral effect on a friendship.

And so… the more we get into this, the more it starts to make me feel crummy.

Because that’s totally and completely not how I see the church.

There are exceptions…. and probably the handful of you still actually reading this blog are the exceptions.

But in the majority of cases, I just don’t see that side of the church. I see it to some select popular people… just like the high school world was kind to certain types of people.

But not to the rest of the world.

And that’s where the blessing goes with its solution. It says that’s how you fix never having received the blessing, is that you turn to the church.

The first time I read that chapter, the only thing I could think was “Seriously???? Really??? Are You Kidding Me???”

And so somewhere in the midst of all of this… I feel like I’m watching an episode of Leave It To Beaver. Nice for the people who live there, not so much for the rest of us just watching and comparing up how much ours lives never had the slightest shot of coming close.

But the spot is even more sore for the time spent outside of the church…. and knowing that if I really wanted to, it could be mine again. All it would take to have a boyfriend and even a baby would be to settle for a guy who isn’t a christian. All it would take to have buddies to hang out with any weekend would be to settle for activities that I’ve decided lead to too much compromise in morals. All it would take to be around people who think I’m pretty normal and think positive about my chances in life would be to spend more of my time associating with people who don’t see sin as an issue or internal issues as worth worrying about because their lives instead focus on seeking the best balance of indulgence and responsibility to best maximize pleasure in life with fewest negative consequences.

And so I’m reminding myself that I’ve been on that side, and the grass wasn’t any better for seeming greener.

The decision to turn away from all that was made for a reason, and knowing that doing so meant that I would be giving up those things as part of the result.

But I suppose you got to love the irony of a sermon series that you know is aiming into another small group push… instead making you feel like running headlong into sin again instead.

Feeling worse

It’s sort of an interesting thing when a sermon series leaves you feeling worse.

I haven’t actually figured out yet whether that’s a positive thing from being a sign of things being worked on, or a negative thing from sore spots being poked at (or, well, stomped on).

I don’t think that it’s just from the topic being handled rough… even with it being taught by a mix of the leaders, none of them have really been harsh or anything. They’ve really seemed to be trying to break it down to a practical level.

Even so… I’m kind of feeling like a lost mess out in left field.

Yeah, the concepts all sound nice… but they sound about as far off as a fairy tale. Something that fits well in the realm of happily ever after… but just sort of makes me feel crummy about how far away that is from anywhere my reality could ever hope to be.

I’m finding myself about half tempted to run off to some other church… but about 3/4 tempted to run off back towards the dead end of crummy relationships… which is something that hasn’t even been a thought on the radar in a long time.

Which I know is probably actually a good thing… that stagnant junk is being pulled up.

But it just doesn’t feel like it’s going anywhere towards the mess being resolved right now.

It just feels crummy.

(And I just looked back and realized how many times i’ve used the word crummy in this without realizing I was repeating it. Crummy just might be the word of the day.)