Category Archives: Article

Blessings In Disguise

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? It enables us to see and understand so much more about our lives than we might otherwise! It is through hindsight – perhaps much further down the road, but eventually – that we can appreciate that the ‘curses’ in our lives really did have resulting good come out of them. The Lord teaches us that He’s got our backs: His Providence, although invisible to our eyes, surrounds everything we do in order to protect us from ourselves, to help us through our lives and onward to heaven. 

We are allowed to see Divine Providence from behind but not face to face, and when we are in a spiritual state, not in a materialistic state. Seeing Divine Providence from behind but not face to face is seeing it after the fact but not before; and seeing it when we are in a spiritual state and not in a materialistic state is seeing it from heaven and not from this world. Everyone who accepts inflow from heaven and recognizes Divine Providence (and especially people who have become spiritual by virtue of their reformation), on seeing events in their amazing kind of sequence, virtually sees Providence from a deep recognition and confesses it. Such people do not want to see it face to face, that is, before things happen, because they are afraid their own volition would interfere with some element of its orderly sequence. (Divine Providence 187.4)

I offer three examples from my own life to demonstrate this phenomenon. The first is my bicycle accident: I fell from my bike at the age of 20, broke my kneecap, and although it ‘messed up’ my plans for the coming year, two huge side-effects were courting the man who is now my husband and confirming my faith in the New Church.

Fast-forward twenty years to the second incident which involved moving our son from one primary school to another: we loved his first Montessori school, but in the course of time the administration underwent major changes and we were compelled to pull him out, even though he only had another 18 months of primary schooling left before he’d have to change schools again. We considered our options and decided to move him to another Montessori school. Despite the angst my husband and I felt at the time, and the undoubtable apprehension and fear our son experienced, he quickly acclimated to his new environment, made two great friends and had most of his class later join him at his out-of-area high school – where he previously would have known no-one.

My third example is more of an ongoing one, something which began before the birth of our son and still affects us to this day: infertility. I’d always thought we’d have a gaggle of kids, but, despite our best efforts, we don’t. This affected me deeply, for many years – it can still elicit a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. In retrospect, though, we can appreciate all the more that we are blessed to have the one child we have, we are able to travel so much more and with so much more logistical ease than we would have otherwise, and we’ve learned to relax our own planning and follow the Lord a little more willingly – we’re fond of saying, ‘we make plans and God laughs’.

Challenges are just part and parcel of life: they can really sting at the time, and they can keep stinging for a long time after they happen. As the ancient Greek philosopher Epictetus wisely said, “It’s not what happens to you but how you react to it that matters.” We will all encounter traumas and hard times; believing that these are blessings in disguise and trusting that it will all work out in the end will help us endure them, and ease our mental burden.

Peace has in it confidence in the Lord, that He directs all things, and provides all things, and that He leads to a good end. When a man is in this faith, he is in peace, for he then fears nothing, and no solicitude about things to come disquiets him. (Arcana Coelestia 8455)

The Space In-Between

What becomes of the feelings that manifest in between the sifting and sorting of decisions? I wonder about the activity and energies inside our brains when decisions particularly emotional ones are being processed and ultimately filtered down into the right one at that particular time. Not to dive deep into psychology; There comes a time in our lives when we’ve elevated ourselves enough to be granted opportunities. The one side of the opportunity can be success; while the other side can be failure or fear. The power to choose one way or the other rests solely with us. This article is focusing on that middle ground—the space between the unknown or not yet discovered success, and the overwhelming fear of failure presented by that opportunity. 

We know this because our emotions communicates this dilemma explicitly; when we explore the upside of the opportunity it feels amazing, inspiring and joyful. However; when we explore the downside of the opportunity, if we have the guts to go there, it feels terrible. Surely there are lobbying elements, beyond us (both physically and spiritually) that present us with emotions and thoughts for one way or the other when we exercise critical thinking in decision making. 

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The Letter of the Word

This term I’m taking the course Doctrine of the Word for my Master of Religious Studies program. It’s a deep dive at the concept of the Word (including spoken, written, Incarnate, revealed) and the purpose of the Word (the means by which the Divine seeks conjunction with humanity). The last couple of weeks we have been looking at the written Word and focusing on the importance and significance of the literal sense. We did an exercise to help us better understand the grand arc of the story of Israel, and another assignment on Scriptural exposition, using some basic guiding principles to help us understand what the Lord might be saying to us through the literal sense. 

One of the themes that has continued to emerge for me is the layers of the Word. The stories of the Word are mostly about real people who lived and made choices (good and bad), who had relationships with the the Lord or who rejected Him, and while there is great value in learning from them and their experiences, it is ultimately in seeing ourselves in these stories that we find meaning. The stories are about us as a People and our journey with one another towards the Lord, about us as individuals and our own regeneration, our personal relationship with the Lord, and about the Lord Himself, His glorification, the story of His Humanity and Divinity and the lengths He goes to accommodate Himself to us, to meet us where we are. 

These multiple layers of the Word and their meaning are awesome to explore and while they are found in the natural, spiritual and celestial senses of the Word, they are all contained in the literal, in the external. Just by reading the stories with an open heart and mind, we can be led by the Lord to see how the story of Israel from Abram and Sarai to the Exile and Return or the interactions between Jesus and the disciples reveal something about us as a Church, as individuals, and about the Lord Himself.

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Little By Little

“Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until thou be fruitful, and inherit the land.” (Exodus 23:30)

Do you ever wish that the Lord would give you a sign? Maybe if you’ve read this passage you don’t think of asking for signs:

“A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign. But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” (Matthew 12:39)

But maybe, like me, you wish some things would be more obvious, or something big would happen to course correct your path. Or you seek a big change. “Something dramatic needs to happen and then I’ll______.” “I just need this to change and then I’ll start _____.” Whatever it is, I think we are all prone to waiting for something. Waiting until January first to start a resolution. Or the first of the month, or the first of the week. Can’t stop and make a change in the middle of the week. Nope. “I will go off caffeine this week!” and if I drink some Tuesday, the week is a goner. Gotta start fresh next Monday. Can’t go caffeine free the rest of this week. At least that’s the way my mind works.

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