Holy Hope

I am convinced that God never ceases to form, reform, and transform all of creation. I am further assured and reassured that God in Christ works to lift our personal burdens and set us free from the chains that bind us. I therefore believe:

WE ARE RESPONSIBLE

To the extent that we assume our own responsibility, our serenity and joys increase. This response-ability is ours and belongs to no one else. It is also the basis for our personal morality and social ethic. As God's earthly flock, we are not to be condemned for our natural human weakness, sickness, or waywardness. But we are accountable. We have the choice to be willful or to become willing and allow our divine Shepherd to tend us. We can always turn and return to God for health and salvation.

I can express my responsibility and hope in multiple ways.

The first way is spiritual

God makes no mistakes. I cannot be a mistake, although I make lots of them. I am acceptable with God as the unique person I am, because God fashioned and shaped me. God made me and is not finished with me yet. My uniqueness is not my perfection but my humanity. I am God's imperfect and fallible human being, not merely a human doing.

I am also God's child in Christ Jesus by adoption and redeeming grace, as well as God's creation. Since God's creative and redemptive action never ceases, I am a blessed human becoming! Therefore I am loved and precious in God's sight. What more could I need? With the blessing and birthright given me in Christ I have all I need for a whole, wholesome, and holy life.

My birthright is to be who I am today and no one else.
My blessing is to grow up into the person God wants me to become.

The second way is emotional

I can feel. I can only feel feelings. I cannot feel thoughts. Most everyone has a full set of emotions, especially the most useful ones: anger, fear, pain, guilt, shame, loneliness, and many joys. Although I can keep them hidden, doing so would be regrettable, because my feelings can be my friends. All of them reveal more about who I am than all my thoughts, ideas, opinions, or judgments. What I think can often be wrong. Feelings are never right or wrong, they just are. When I discover and uncover my feelings I embrace my most honest reality. Then I can put them to use in appropriate and healthy ways.

The third way is mental

I can think. I can only think thoughts. I cannot think feelings. I cannot think anger, shame, and loneliness. However, God gave most of us functional minds and expects us to use them. I can choose the material that my brain entertains, and I can determine how long I dwell on people, places and things. I can use my mind to let others know what I need and want from them. I can, if I so choose, think, speak, and act for myself, without expecting or allowing others to take over that privilege for me.

The fourth way is social

I can relate. God loves me, and with the love God gives me, I love myself. The love I receive from God is the love that then overflows and touches others. I can give to others the same responsibility and care I assume for myself. However, I can choose not to cripple others by taking over for them. I can change only one person in the world myself. Expecting others to change is a guaranteed road to disappointment.

I am equal. So are others. When a person is temporarily incapacitated, I can choose, freely, to help. However, I can also choose not to do for another what that person is capable of doing for himself or herself. Relating as less than or more than is unhealthy and destructive. I have a right to my spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical boundaries. So do others. I have a right not to be abused and live as a victim. I have a duty not to abuse or intrude on others and live as an offender.

Whether offended or offending, with God's help I am able, by asking God, to receive the grace of forgiving myself and others of any offense, of making amends and receiving forgiveness.

If I choose to commit to loving first trying to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength then as I gradually learn to love myself and start receiving and feeling God's love, I can begin to hope to love others in the same way.

The fifth way is physical

I can survive and thrive. I have the right and responsibility for my body, its care and protection. I can decide who, when, where, and how I will be touched. My boundaries are always only my business. I will provide a healthy, clean, and pleasing home for my body. I will provide myself adequate food, shelter, rest, exercise, recreation, and clothing. Today's life-giving recovery programs use simple slogans that can be a great help to any one among us who is in a crunch, stuck, feeling hopeless and helpless. I can choose to use these slogans to help me reclaim my holy hope.

Let go and Let God - Live and Let Live - Live One Day at a Time

~ * ~

Copyright by Rev. Dr. A. Philip Parham
All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
A. Philip Parham, is an Episcopal priest and counselor
who serves on the board of directors of the National
Episcopal Coalition on Alcohol. He holds a Doctor of
Ministry degree from the San Francisco Theological Seminary.

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