Friday, March 12, 2004

12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee 11

12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee (like me): Finding Grace to Live Unmasked by John Fischer on Amazon

STEP 11: "We choose to rid ourselves of any attitude that is not bathed in gratitude."

Step 11 text notes:

12 steps for the recovering pharisee book coverThe Mountain of Holiness and the great Rivers of Law and Grace flowing from the watershed . . . the river that's never the same river more than once! Maintaining a "not true" image of ourselves . . . yes and no. To get technical (pharisaical?) about it, one of the expectations of our living in society is to have the willingness and ability to maintain a certain façade. But I won't run that one out of steam. page 143: getting mad because someone else had received as a gift something I've been working years to get. Yes, sometimes! I can identify with that. I like JF's pointing out we've done nothing to deserve, create or maintain our righteousness. "Maintain" is particularly telling, since when we accept a gift it would seem I'd need to do something faithfully to take care of and sustain the gift, as in stewardship of it. Also on p. 143, "We have been clean all along . . ." so all we need do is claim the gift, but again it's not of our own work but rather a work of grace. He quotes "mourning into dancing" from Psalm 30, which is appointed for this coming Sunday, Easter 3! I believe this book was right in alignment with another lection a week or two ago, as well! Paychecks! This afternoon over on Evangelism I wrote, "Checks and balances? There are none, at least not in the way we humans imagine them, as in the kind of earned justice and just desserts we like to deal in. For many people a lot of the time it's not about human dignity, need and worth but more about earning points vis-à-vis that person's behavior's effect on me!" Yep, that's the human norm. A thankful heart cancels out pharisaical flaws! There's some Worm Theology on pages 145-146, though. His resentment story about the success of someone else's book on the same subject he'd written a pamphlet about . . . another attitude I identify with. Doing in hell rather than experiencing in heaven? A horrifying idea to be unattached to your own "works?" I for one enjoy the results of my own creativity and I recognize my abilities as gracious gifts of God. So what's going on here?

1. At what point in your spiritual journey did you begin to realize it was pharisaism that was depleting your life of joy and gratitude? What factors or situations heightened the awareness of your heart's condition?

I don't know that I have. On the one hand I'm often open to God's surprises, like the many times my plans haven't worked out at all because God has put His plan in place, and I'm always hoping it will prove superior to mine, but on the other hand after recent years I've been extremely grateful nothing worse has happened and that I'm still alive and even thriving! So I've found myself caught up more in a wormy attitude that in a gratitudey one.

2. Other than for specific occasions, such as your birthday, is it difficult for you to expect something you feel you haven't earned? Do you know why?

Partly because I imagine people are looking at me and telling themselves in preparation for inform me that I don't deserve whatever it is because I haven't earned it. However, in recent years I've gotten far better at receiving gifts.

3. What kind of poverty can overtake a thankful heart? Could you ever have so little that you would have nothing to offer someone else? At what point is complaining justified?

Back to Worm Theology. At times I've found myself far too thankful because I haven't been annihilated, because things aren't worse than they are, and in the process I've found myself willing to be satisfied with far less than I should be in terms of employment, friends and other various life trappings, gear and accoutrements. I also realize if I'd allowed myself some loud complaining (if only within my own hearing!) I might've taken far swifter action than I did.

4. Is there anything for which you are not thankful? Is there anything you assume is your right and can therefore be taken for granted? Why?

My experience has been that I settle for too little and find myself full of gratitude for the chicken-feed of not having been totally wiped out: after all, everything could've turned out so much worse, so therefore I'm thankful for what I have and where I am. IOW, Worm Theology! Actually, although I didn't do "all that school" because I wanted to make a whole lot of $$$, I still find myself believing I'm entitled to be able to make a reasonable living and not be stuck in poverty - *tangie*

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