Recently I’ve been grateful for the reminder that the Lord’s Word is full of His voice telling us to “fear not.”
For most of my life when I heard this phrase I just focused on the comforting aspect of it – fear not or don’t worry because things will turn out alright. It is very comforting, but in more recent years it has struck me that this phrase “fear not” is also in the imperative tense. It is a command.
It feels like an impossible command in some ways. Fear usually feels like something I can’t control because it just happens to me. Then I think about the commandment, “Thou shalt not covet”. Part of coveting is a feeling that we need to reject. That seems impossible in a way too. Yet it’s one of the Ten Commandments and we are expected to follow it. Therefore, if we can do something about coveting, then we can also do something about fearing.
This phrase comes up in the middle of a lot of seemingly insurmountable problems in the Word. Continue reading Fear Not
I remember as a child whenever I had a wave of night terrors I would have trouble imagining my room as the ordinary bright place it was in the daylight.… The hells specialize in making us feel things that aren’t true. I don’t have night terrors anymore but I’m discovering that, as adults, a lot of us deal with darker states–whether it be depression, anxiety, spiritual struggles or even mental challenges. Whatever the cause, when we are feeling far from the Lord and can only see all the things that we’ve done wrong this week, this month or since childhood it can be hard to truly believe that life will look and feel differently in the light of more truth. In moments like that I also have a hard time remembering that the less happy times are permitted along the journey and they are not stopping points themselves but something that will give way to brighter states afterwards.
Now, even while trying to find what to write about this time I wasn’t quite sure that I had anything helpful to share. And then suddenly the clouds lifted in a new way.
Continue reading New Beginnings
“And why dost thou look at the bit of straw in thy brother’s eye but considerest not the beam in thine own eye?” Matthew 7:3 (Kempton Translation)
Things are not always as they seem. The Writings talk about not spiritually judging people — not assuming they are going to heaven or hell based on what we think we see in them. We certainly have to be able to make distinctions and judgments about what is right and wrong, otherwise everything would fall apart, but we can’t know someone’s internal state. We should be working on cleaning up our own lives first anyway, and when we are doing that, the Lord can help us see much more clearly.
I’ve been lucky to live my whole life in New Church communities surrounded by friends, family and teachers who have supported me in examining the Doctrines of the New Church.
Three years ago I graduated from Bryn Athyn College of the New Church and then immediately moved to Virginia to start working at Colonial Williamsburg — apparently the largest living history museum in the world (yes, it is a very fun magical job). This was my first time living far from a New Church community and the first time for me to really have to apply all the things I’ve been learning my whole life. There have been so many new things for me to learn, lots of them fun and satisfying — and several of them not quite so fun. One of these challenges was something I was even expecting but still didn’t enjoy it at all — a moral culture shock. Settling into life here outside of work I found that my moral standards seemed way higher than most people, which made it hard at first to see the good in my neighbor, and which also blinded me to some glaring problems in myself.
Continue reading The Speck in Thy Brother’s Eye