Saturday, September 23, 2006

another one bites the dust...

I read a blog entry recently that purported to be the farewell statement of its author.

I don't know if that blog was begun at the prompting of the Spirit, or at the prompting of the flesh, but it seemed as though the farewell was prompted by the flesh. Its tone and content were not characterized by the fruits of the Spirit:

the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Galatians 5:22-23

The author of that blog was hurt and angry at some of those who had commented on his blog, he lamented the ill treatment that had been heaped upon him and so he was going to go away.

Going away may be the right thing, the Spirit led thing, to do. I have often heard it said that things are difficult when what one is trying to do is led one's own flesh, one's ego, one's desire to control. But I also know that things can get pretty rough when we are being led by the Spirit in some endeavor. Sometimes those hard feelings, those difficult feelings, are meant to do a work in us, or a work is meant to be done in us in regard to such feelings and the source of them. One thing of which I am certain, though, is that when rough handling leads us to handle roughly then we are not headed in the right direction, we are listening to the wrong voice.

David is a good example of this (as he is of so many things, both good and bad). During the time that he was hiding out from Saul he did not turn into Saul, at least not relative to Saul. He did not let the way Saul was treating him get to him, lead him to treat Saul as Saul was treating him. This was despite many provocations which would have led many of us--any reasonable/reason driven person, for that matter--to do just that.

When I read the Psalms anymore I am led to think about "preserve/protect me from my enemy" in a different sense than I did before. I now think of "keep me from becoming like my enemy." I also think of the "self" as the enemy from whom I need protection--the "self" being the "me" in the sentence "who do they think they are that they think that can do that to ME?" That's the "me," of course, the "self," that needs to be crucified.

That's been a tough lesson for me--one I sometimes forget as I react to things that happen to or around me. But it's a lesson I learned in the crucible of USNET newsgroups. I was led there so as to endure the kind of abuse that passes for a way of life there (it's a way death, actually) and, through reacting to it in kind, to see that I needed to change how I reacted to it.

Sometimes a hard time comes from walking into, against, the Spirit/wind, and sometimes it comes walking with it at one's back, following its leading. The only way I know to really see which way I am headed, relative to the Spirit, is by how I am being changed (or staying the same) by the suffering I am enduring.

3 comments:

quakerdave said...

Hi. That was me. I let my hurt feelings get in the way of the Spirit that led me to start my blog in the first place.

You said it perfectly and plainly: "Sometimes those hard feelings, those difficult feelings, are meant to do a work in us, or a work is meant to be done in us in regard to such feelings and the source of them. One thing of which I am certain, though, is that when rough handling leads us to handle roughly then we are not headed in the right direction, we are listening to the wrong voice."

Upon reconsideration, prompted by folks who read my blog and who share my feelings about life and politics - if not always faith - I have decided to stay on.

Thanks for tuning in, and for expressing these thoughts in this gentle manner. I will keep your words in my heart and mind in the future.

- David

Peterson Toscano said...

Being led by the Spirit within the context of the cyber world requires cooling off periods for me. When do I engage or respond to ugly or provocative comments? Am I responding, reacting or exacting revenge? When does it cross over into a dysfunctional and abusive cyber relationship where the person leaving comments is simply heaping abuse on me from which I need to walk away?

When do I delete a comment because it is so violent that my blog is no longer a safe space for the people who feel attached by the words.

And how do I write a response to an "opponent" when I cannot look into their eyes and see the heart behind the words or cannot hear their tone of voice and thus miss out on actually meaning of these words that on the screen wound me so much?

Liz Opp said...

I really like Peterson's queries! At least, that is, they reflect some of my own inward process and ongoing concern as the blogosphere and cyberspace continue to expand.

If there were a way for a blog-reader to lift up a comment, I'd lift up these queries...

And Timothy, like QuakerDave, that same passage he quotes resonates with me.

Blessings,
Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up