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Charles Dickens' 1843 novel, A Christmas Carol is the famous tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, an old miser who is visited by spirits representing the past, present and future. The novel, while set during the Christmas season, is a story of redemption. It's a wakeup call. It's a lesson on making amends. And it has the Twelve Steps all over the place.
Steps 4-12 heavily involve the "other" of wronged people in our lives, hurt by our destructive choices. They speak to our rebellion of the changed life we need to experience.
4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
The character, Gollum, in J. R. R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings," is a study in addiction and its pitfalls.
This creature was obsessed with the powerful properties of a much-desired ring. Transfixed, he often referred to it as "my precious." This preoccupation, over time, led to his changed, grotesque form; it also contributed to both his torment and his tragedy.
The story portrays Gollum as a struggling being who had "come to love and hate the Ring, just as he loved and hated himself." His unfortunate fate inevitably followed. Upon finally seizing the ring, he fell into a volcano's fires. Both he and his "precious" were destroyed.
Now, how's that for a cautionary tale?
There is a great contrast between love and lust. Lust is more of a sexual or greedy feeling, while love is more of a secure and content filled feeling we get from giving and receiving. Lust does not have to be something sexual, it can be a greedy desire for more money and power, etc. But for this article, I am using it in its sexual context.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 sums up the common traits and variances of love and lust.
LOVE is kind = considerate, caring, giving, thoughtful, understanding
Lust is envy = jealous, greed, spite, resentment,
LOVE is not proud = humble, submissive, meek, modest
Deuteronomy 16:13-17 NIV
Celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. Be joyful at your Feast--you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites, the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. For seven days celebrate the Feast to the LORD your God at the place the LORD will choose. For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete. Three times a year all your men must appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. No man should appear before the LORD empty-handed: Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the LORD your God has blessed you.
Though the above Scripture refers to the Feast of Tabernacles, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of Weeks, these are not what I was thinking about when I came before my Lord today. In fact, it was not even the Thanksgiving Holiday that so many of my American friends are celebrating today. Truly, it is Christmas ~ the Season that is on so many of our minds despite the fact that we do not celebrate its Eve for another month from today. Why am I thinking about this today? And why did I choose this Scripture on these Feasts to talk about Christmas?
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1
The artist Jean-Leon Gérôme's 1884 work, "A Roman Slave Market" is a startling example of image on display. It portrays a naked woman, up for sale to an enthusiastic crowd. It made me think of how image, especially female image, is offered up so easily and cheaply in our culture today. Some of its most extreme manifestations, unfortunately, extend to disordered eating and body image issues.
I recently came across a little gem about the ego and the soul.
It's quite profound. It states things like:
"Ego looks outward. Soul looks inward."
"Ego sees lack. Soul sees abundance."
According to one definition of the word, soul is comprised of the mind, the will and the emotions. So, it stands to reason soul would be quite vulnerable to disease. Indeed, there is a battle going on.
And, let's get real -- a large part of that battle involves the toxic pride factor.
Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 1 John 2:16
And that pride rubs shoulders with rebellious foolishness.
The fool hath said in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. Psalms 14:1
And yes, that goes for even us Christians.
It's not about being a good little boy or girl in the pews on Sunday. Instead, it has everything to do with the very real, very rebellious, prideful and diseased thoughts which have ensnared us in affliction. Saying "no" when we should say "yes."
As is echoed in the "Ego Versus Soul" post...
"Ego rejects God. Soul embraces God."
And, while we may nod our heads in agreement with that statement, do we really examine any rebelliousness lurking in our tricky hearts?
After all, we're not above being deceived...
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9
For, once upon a time, there was a certain rebel who let some audacious, prideful attitudes rip.
And he said unto them, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." Luke 10:18
When we're little girls, many of us have, at some point, wanted to be an actress. I did. I was "bitten" by the bug at age nine, when I played a baby doll in a school play. From there, I acted in various productions and eventually graduated from college as a theater major.
And during that time, I was exposed to Shakespeare and of course, his female characters. Juliet, Ophelia, Queen Gertrude and Lady Macbeth were the most influential to me.
I first encountered the Juliet character on a Brady Bunch episode (Marcia Brady was cast as Juliet in a school play). I know. It was during the time Franco Zefferelli's film was out, portraying our young star crossed lovers. And, by the time I hit high school, I'd seen the film. What wasn't to like? Drama, a love story and two very beautiful lead actors; Juliet was played by Olivia Hussey. Anyway, it lines right up with my desire to be beautiful. And that was, of course, a large part of wanting to be an actress.
And so, it begins - acting.
By the time I entered college, I decided to be a theater major. I was a great way to express myself - and a nifty way to avoid having to take math classes as well. (I was hopeless at algebra). Anyway, by college, I was introduced to Hamlet - and the leading lady role of the young, fragile - and crazy- Ophelia. She was the love interest of Hamlet (again, the star-crossed lovers theme) and I bought into its mystique.
Or rather, I bought into the ingénue's mystique. Ingénue. According to its definition, it means:
An unsophisticated girl or young woman: a girl or young woman who is naive and lacks experience or understanding of life;
A naive character in drama: a character in a play or a movie who is a naive inexperienced young woman
"Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same — will be called least in the kingdom of Heaven." Matthew 5:19
A great many people are careful about breaking large commandments and committing heinous sins — while they commit "little sins" continually and without scruple.
They would not tell a direct lie for the world — but their speech is full of little falsehoods!
They would not steal money from the purse or drawer of another — and yet they continually commit small thefts! For example, by mistake the grocer gives them a penny too much change — and they do not think of returning it. Through the carelessness of a postal worker, the postage stamp on a letter is left uncancelled — and they take it off and use it a second time.
They would not purposely try to blacken a neighbor's name or destroy his character — and yet they repeat to others the evil whispers about him which they have heard, and thus soil his reputation.
They would not swear or curse in the coarse way of the ungodly — but they are continually using such minced oaths such as, Gosh! Gees! Heck! and other mild, timid substitutes for overt swearing.
They would not do flagrant acts of wickedness to disgrace themselves — but their lives are honeycombed with all kinds of little meannesses, impurities, selfishnesses, and bad tempers.
Step 4 - Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
No struggling or praying will enable you to stop doing certain things, and the penalty of sin is that you gradually get used to it, until you finally come to the place where you no longer even realize that it is sin... The deadliest attitude of the Pharisees that we exhibit today is not hypocrisy but that which comes from unconsciously living a lie. ~ Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
Matthew 23:26 NASB
You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.
God is always ready to forgive -
but we must never become complacent about sin and think it doesn’t matter. Rather, we must do whatever we can to avoid temptation and deal with sin when it happens.
God does not want us to take a neutral attitude toward sin.
Though He loves the sinner, He does not love sin. It is sin that separates man from God (Isaiah 59:1-2), yet He does not desire that any perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
Most of us wouldn't think twice about a honey bear.
And, likewise, most of us are familiar with the Biblical account of the golden calf the Israelites worshiped, just before Moses arrived with the Ten Commandments (Exodus 32:1-35). Impatient as they were, waiting for the blessings to hit their lives, they concluded if they created their own visible god, they'd be happier and finally have their dreams.
Eh… not so fast…
And that brings me to the innocuous honey bear. At first glance, I'd never view it as an idol. As a child, I remember it was there with the maple syrup and the strawberry jam, sitting on my family's kitchen table. That's all.
But, as I spiraled into my eating disorders, as I reached the paralyzing lows of anorexia and frantic desperation of bulimia, I turned to an off the wall strategy: the honey bear, or more specifically, arts and crafts with the honey bear.
Please bear (pun intended) with me.
As I was struggling with my eating disorders, painful issues and stressors on full blast, I had the idea to distract myself. Yes, that was my answer. If I could just keep myself occupied enough, I'd be okay.
So, after my college classes, I turned to a honey bear I emptied on one of my recent binges. I thought I'd do something creative with it and keep myself busy. I decided to spray paint the bear gold. That's right, gold.