Abby is a person. She works at being an emotionally intelligent person whose main focus currently is being a happy and loving mother to four kids and wife to Malcolm. Born and raised in a General church minister's family, she has been exposed to the Bible and the Writings since childhood but is enjoying reading and understanding these books as an adult more and more. The amazing knowledge about love and wisdom and all of the emotions that follow have truly made her a happier and more self-assured person. Her husband serves as the head pastor of New Church Westville near Durban, South Africa. While leaving family behind is a challenge, she quite enjoys living in Africa.
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Growing up my family read the Bible regularly. From a very young age I remember hearing the stories full of violence – and it’s not always violence done by the bad guys. Some stories felt horrible and tragically heavy – like all the boy babies of the Children of Israel being killed when they were enslaved in Egypt. But they kind of made sense to me because the actions are ordered or done by selfish, evil people. But sometimes the violence is done by the “good” people.
There are many stories as the Children of Israel go out and conquer the lands that involve them being told to kill whole towns, cities, and even whole groups of people. And it’s often quite specific that they not even leave one infant or woman alive. As a kid a part of me loved hearing the stories of the Word, and I took pride in knowing the facts and the progression of many of these stories. But along with that I also really hated the violence. And I couldn’t make sense of why so many people were entirely wiped out. It felt unsettling how cruel and angry it all seemed.
As an adult I have benefitted hugely from Bible studies, journey groups and sermons that dig into spiritual meanings of some of these more violent stories. I remember one class in particular talking about one of those stories where the whole group of people was to be wiped out – not any tiny remnant left. But how when you understand it from a spiritual level it is about the fact that to “conquer” an evil within our own individual selves we really have to stamp out every speck of that evil. We can’t pick and choose and think that some parts of it are okay to leave alive. In order to actually do the work of repentance the whole kit and caboodle needs to be wiped out.
I’ve been thinking recently about what my body can tell me, and the power that can come with paying attention to it.
Since having kids, I’ve been on a journey of working to understand how to help them understand their own bodies and their experience of having a body. One of the things I didn’t know was the many ways that our feelings affect our bodies. And in that way, I realise that I have been very out of touch with my body for my whole life. I didn’t have a developed sense of body awareness, and I didn’t have a wide vocabulary for describing my physical experiences. I’ve been learning as I work to understand these things for my kids as to the power just having the correct words can bring.
As I’ve learned to identify muscles and physical experiences more accurately I’ve been able to understand what is happening inside my body. For example, you can pay attention to how to engage your stomach muscles when you’ve had it all explained carefully in terms of how to feel those different muscles and how to get them to engage.
This week we are sharing images of a variety of home worship areas. Last week’s article finished with this quote from Deuteronomy 6:4-7, which fits nicely as we contemplate these warm and thoughtful family worship set ups.
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”
Boundaries are important. My body seems to be bad at boundaries. My ligaments and tendons are too loose, and particularly at my joints they don’t hold my muscles where they should be. This means my joints can hyperextend or bend in the opposite direction more than they’re meant to. This could easily lead to more serious injuries, but mostly just means extra aches and pains as muscles stretch out and bones aren’t kept in place. It’s probably not possible to know whether its all genetics or some other external conditions, but one way or another it seems this is how I was born. I am having to learn how to force my body to re-learn and maintain its boundaries in hopes of not crippling as I age.
Emotional boundaries seem very interconnected and similar to me. We need boundaries to help us know where our emotions stop and another person’s begin. Without these boundaries we can bend and sway too far into another person’s emotional world and anxiety mounts as we take responsibility for things that are not ours to control.