Addiction and Grace

Repression, then, in spite of its sinister reputation, is relatively flexible. It is workable. Addiction, the other force that turns us away from love, is much more vicious.

Gerald G. May MD Addiction And Grace

 

As reflected in my posts of late, the idea of being vulnerable and broken has been burning within my mind and heart. I have been contemplating the effects of denying my own brokenness on my relationships and the expectations I have within them. By relationships I also refer to the one I have with myself. The questions regarding how I interact with myself, treat myself, apply also to the way I treat others. This is because the command that I feel my desire leads me to try and follow is that by Jesus to us to try and love our neighbor as we do ourselves.

I have therefore been forced in a way to confront my own desires, both the deep inner good ones as well as the deep inner bad ones; the kinds that lead to my diceitful and selfish choices – choices that I knowingly make and even desire to make. This contradiction is a reflections of my own brokenness and unless I face them and begin that first journey of self acceptance, there would be little success in my attempts to love others or even accept being loved – especially by myself. Odd to think that unless I see myself for what I am, warts and all, I am bound to constant self-deception which weakens rather than strengthens.

In discussion with a close friend about these conflicts within me, the ideas regarding addiction and repression in respect to sin were brought up and he recommended Gerald G. May’s Addiction And Grace which I have just started reading. It is very insightful and one chapter in has opened my heart to thoughts I had denied within myself. The nature of addiction is still far from my understanding. The nature of love, however, is much closer and I think is the driving force on this journey.

Lets see where it leads.

Happy New Year to you all.

 

Love came down

“The truest gift is that of fearce, undying, unconditional, and preemptive love”

So, last night as I sat with my wife, her mother and brother, unwrapping the presents we had got each other, I cast my thoughts back across the afternoon. We had sat together and read from Luke 2 after which we sang a few carols and finished with a prayer.

Over the verses concerning the birth of Jesus, I had poured many times before; so too had I sung the carols time and time again. There was however, something quite different taking place. In this intimate space, where I was part embarrassed by the sound of my voice joining the harmonies filling the room, the canvas of monotony was lifted and fresh meaning began to emerge from the verses and the lyrics.
 I was overcome with a deep sense of appreciation for the expression of love shown to me by the Father through – and by the Son. The sense of celebration transcended the Gifts underneath the tree, sailing past the feeling of belonging : as I was gathered with family, and resting on a Spiritual awakening: that the gift was to my heart and soul. The birth of Christ became a tangible, as well as a Spiritual, joy.
Opening my presents, I was surprised at the way in which my wife and her family surpassed my expectations. They had given me far above what I deserved and it made me feel equally loved. It was here that the other verses i had forgotten began to pour past.

because He first loved us

love is itself. It is an action and not a response. It is not something that can be cultured or grown, love comes complete and whole. What we mostly mistake for love is intimacy, which takes time to grow and develop. You need intimacy in order to express love because intimacy is the currency of relationship. Love is as love is; a thing with no beginning and no end. It is a space with no boundaries; infinite and incomprehensible in its totality. It emerges – reveals itself – leaving us to react to it with our actions. You cannot show love without its revelation to you; thus the verse.
As I pondered this, the next verse flew by…
for God ‘so’ loved… That He ‘gave’
Generosity  is love’s character. The only thing that proceeds from love is an act of giving. Love gives. A wise man once said to a group of boys, of whom i s one, that love in action is ‘sacrificial giving of what the subject needs, not what they want’. This rings true with sentiment that withholding for a time falls in the remit of love’s generosity. For God so loved the world that He gave… Not only did love act, love sought to get intimate with us so that we may understand it, enjoy it, relate to it, and share in it – with it. (Something worth chewing on)
‘no greater love has a man than this, to lay down his Life for his friend’
This final verse led me to the conclusion that the generosity that love displays is a total one. That is, one that asks for handing over of what is most delicate and precious. Love shared its life – the soft inner part of itself – with us.
How fearce, how free, how complete, how compelling. Death was not the only purpose, He was born to live, to be learnt, to be doubted, to be trusted, to be embraced, to be denied, to be seen suffering, to be seen hungry, to cry, to be human. All so that Love could be understood.
Merry Christ Has Come!

Faith: Shame and Glory (a)

Elohi! Elohi! Lamma Sabbach Thani!

Jesus

I’m always harking on about the power of vulnerability and the importance of openness. A thought crossed my mind as I sat to a bowl of leek soup – that’s a story on it’s own. What was taking place on the cross? This in keeping with the idea that God intended not only demonstrate love but also how to love. So… He is crucified. (Phillipians 2) Having already come down from heaven and been condemned by man, Jesus faced death at the hands of the beings He created (John 1). Not only is that a lesson in humility – the bridge between shame and glory, submission and leadership, accountability and Lordship – it seemed to me to be a deep lesson in vulnerability. For God saw fit to show his biggest strength and ultimate power by being victorious over our biggest enemy (sin and sinfulness), when under great shame (that of dying on a cross) as well as the great pain of separation.

When darkness fell, the Son called out to the Father, The Father – for Justice – turned away. Our LORD fell into death and emerged victorious. In crying out, Jesus was honest about His pain, honest about His circumstance, needing the Father – such brokenness, such shame, how glorious. Jesus was honest about His weakness; His need for the Father. Naked of outward Glory, but still shining nonetheless.

My soup went cold for the contemplation led me to praise. I made no noise, sang no songs, and in fact said little. Overwhelmed with the sense of God’s ability and desire to share life ultimately, I rested in the state of overwhelm (I’m still there).

I think heaven will be an eternity of moments like these – Infinite spaces to discover more about the Infinite father, the incarnate Son, and the Intimate Holy Spirit.

 

PS: I haven’t studied theology so correct any mistakes!

Poetry 003: The Proposal

The proposal

She took the rose I gave her, tied the stalk with a silk string
And hung it from her windowsill to dry;
Its petals still accented by the scent of early spring.
She smiled. “These flowers, my love, tell a lie,
For they do not have the life to which they cling,
Their crimson clothes for affection die.”
Slumped I stood, “What a reply!”,
And couldn’t tell her I’d bought the ring.

© Denis Adide 2010


Proposing

In my experience so far – which I don’t think differs from any – I have been victim to the strange way in which men and women, in speaking the same language, misunderstand each other. Thinking on this pointed me toward the fears that I had – and still do have – about openly expressing how I felt to a woman. How everything they did or said affected what I was about to say. The proposal is such a story, where love – and the celebration that it should carry – is lost in the vacuum of things either unsaid, or misunderstood. It is a solemn poem that like the hidden ring, speaks of concealed emotions and thoughts lost on the threshold of commitment because of fastly fading sentiments that are as dead as the flowers. Love, more immortal than the dying plants or the fears that hamper, is sorrowfully lost in the small moments. This poem is for all the men, who like me, never reached the height of romance in their proposals. It is a word to our respective women: our actions will never fully incapsulate our sentiments, bare with us.

The branches

I spent the latter half of today with an eight month old baby in an office that was eighty percent female. You would have thought it a nightmare, to have all the swooners pass by and take their fair share of the baby’s chuckle. It was however, a lot of fun because he was great company to have. Unlike the rest of us there, he was open, unguarded and honest about how he felt. He farted when he felt like it, cried when he felt sad or deprived, laughed when he found something funny, and never once hid his desire to learn new things. I ended the evening, on my way away from the child – someone else was going to look after him now – comforted away from the anxiety surrounding my own children (potentially on their way via stalks from heaven): it seems the biggest swooner of the day was myself.

The comfort however, was twinned with an aching heart. There was a thought emerging, a concern for the millions of children who – in that very vulnerable phase of life – are left to endure extreme hardships. It felt in my heart – and this is the image I had – as though the adult hidden inside that small body was being pounded out of shape by the various circumstances that the child was forced to go through – circumstances that we, society and their parents, are supposed to shelter them from. There was a sorrow for the abused, neglected, forgotten, as well as murdered children. This sunk me and almost brought me to tears – I didn’t cry though, I stopped for a minute to compose myself, tears didn’t seem becoming of a tall, hooded, black man.

To all the parents – potential and actual – think on this. I heard it said somewhere that we are possibly the only animals that require others in their species to survive for the first ten or so years of life. Nearly all other animals can survive on their own after the first year. We however require assistance for much longer. That level of fragility is one that we should look to cater for and cradle with as much love, affection, and care as our human potential can muster. It’s far from a question of instinct, our brains are more developed than the rest of the animal species: there is the depth and wealth of love that we must tap into and discipline ourselves in the acknowledgement of our weakness, with a view to change or seek assistance. It takes two to conceive but more than two to parent: we are all hollow in some areas, knit the web that’ll cradle our children.

To the rest of us ‘adults’, here is a thought. Why is it that as we grow older, the things we lose are the very things that kept us happy? I was shocked at my dishonesty when close to tears I turned away from view and took a few breaths: the image of composure was one I was desperate to keep; as though weakness was somehow an inhuman trait. What happened to the nakedness of out youth: the tears and laughter, the dependency and honesty, the vulnerability that made us carefree, and the peaceful sleep. In my experience, they are cultured away by the rod of pretence. The more we learn deception and pretence, the more we mask who we are, using the tools to our freedom to hide our scars – when our scars are the marks that make us uniquely beautiful.

I yearn to be attached again to that child inside, to be free again; attached to branches of life: unique and yet part of something bigger. Happy and honest, that’s the aim.

Adideism number one.

“Love fiercely, freely, and without compromise; but begin with yourself”