Sunday, September 15, 2013

Gracious Words

A paraphrase of Proverbs 15:1-3, based on information found here:

A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger. Express your knowledge prudently and gracefully. A gentle tongue brings life, but perverse speech wounds the spirit.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Anxiety the Note of the Transition Stage*

(Title and quotes taken from CM Volume 3 Page 27)

I have often recalled CM's idea that anxiety is the note of a transition stage-- I always thought it meant that the presence of anxiety may reveal that the person is in some kind of transition.  I liked the sound of it.  It rung true.  And I took it and let it echo in my mind, free of context.

This morning I was thinking about my family's various transitions, and there it was again-- "anxiety is the note of the transition stage".  While I have never actually used this statement as license for anxiety (there is that whole "be careful for nothing" scripture in the Bible, after all), it does appear in my head when fear enters my heart-- well, anxiety is the note of the transition stage. What did I expect? To be exempt?

Strange how our minds work.

I was thinking about praising God in the hallway, and there it was, right on schedule.  But this time I wondered, what exactly did she mean by that?  So I went and looked it up.  It is in a chapter on masterly inactivity.

Every new power, whether mechanical or spiritual, requires adjustment before it can be used to the full... to perceive that there is much which we ought to do and not to know exactly what it is, nor how to do it, does not add to the pleasure of life or to ease in living. We become worried, restless, anxious; and in the transition stage between the development of this new power and the adjustment which comes with time and experience, the fuller life, which is certainly ours, fails to make us either happier or more useful.
She is talking about a transition into better habits.  She is revealing that tendency to indulge in restless action when we perceive that our previous efforts have been lacking.  And she is encouraging us to exercise wise passiveness, to be gentle with ourselves (and our children!) as we change:

We ought to do so much for our children, and are able to do so much for them, that we begin to think everything rests with us and that we should never intermit for a moment our conscious action on the young minds and hearts about us... We may take heart. We have the qualities, and all that is wanted is adjustment; to this we must give our time and attention.
 She is really talking about the development of a new power in a human being, not the deliverance of God in the midst of circumstances.  Not every transition in our lives is the result of us making a move toward better habits.  I have been misapplying this idea!

I wonder how many other idea fragments float around in my head, prepared to leap out and be misapplied at a moment's notice.

Anxiety is the note of transition from a worse habit to a better one.  And, rather than anxiously nitpicking every little thing that has to do with a new habit, Miss Mason recommends we rest ourselves in Sphynx-like repose, keeping on the alert without being fussy, and trust that the new habit will develop with time.

What does this have to do with praising God in the hallway as we wait for him to open doors?  Well, in some cases we need to work and wait, asking Him what we should do. (It is often not what we want to do.)  In others we need to wait without work, accepting that there is nothing we can do, and refrain from complaining. (This is often harder than doing what the Lord tells us to do!)  But always we should ask the Lord to redeem our feeble efforts.

I'm praising God in the hallway and in the doorway and fully in the room this morning.  I pray He will direct my steps, redeem my efforts, and still my murmuring thoughts.