Week 2 “Mirror Mirror” (Sermon March 12)

Breathing Under Water

ONLINE LENTEN DEVOTION 2017

Our Online Lenten Devotion uses Richard Rohr’s book, Breathing Under Water and Pastor Melissa Earley’s sermon series on the book.  Rohr connects the Gospel and the Twelve Step Program.  Addiction can be a helpful metaphor for sin as it helps us how God can heal us in the depth of our soul. Each week, we will a few discussion questions and own reflection. Please join the discussion by commenting in the comments box.

Week 2 “Mirror Mirror” (Sermon March 12)

By Linda Nixon

Step 4 of the Twelve Steps:  Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

“If inside you have the bitterness of jealousy, or a selfish ambition, never make any false claims for yourself or cover up the truth with lies.”  –James 3:14

In his book, Breathing Under Water, Richard Rohr says that the purpose of this step is not to gain moral superiority, but to gain awareness and compassion for the world.  That the part of you that you do not want to inventory is not your evil self.  It is just the part of you that you do not want to see, your unacceptable self by reason of nature, nurture, or choice.  The more we are attached to any chosen and preferred self-image, the more work we have to do on this step.

Question:

Think of a time when you stopped denying and admitted that some situation or relationship was bad, unnecessary, or harmful.  What happened?  How did that experience bring personal change?

Somewhere around the age of 45 I began to re-examine my relationship with my mother.  It had always been tumultuous, but she was also my closest confidant.  We talked every day, yet many times the call ended with one of us being somewhere on the spectrum of irked to angry.  I often thought the relationship was bad for me and struggled for decades to draw boundaries that she promptly overran.  In addiction-speak, we were codependent as heck.  My mom was an alcoholic and I had little respect for her at the time, but was also extremely preoccupied with her opinion of me. After spending my childhood fantasizing about what a “good mother” was (everything my mom wasn’t), I spent my adulthood trying to live up to those fantasies.  I was hard-working, competent, affectionate, generous, and always there for everybody.  That wasn’t really who I was though.  I could tell because I often resented having to be that way.  In a sense, I was still giving away control over my life to my mom.   Once I understood that, I could accept my mom for who she was, acknowledge her role in who I was, and take that moral inventory without needing the outcome to be perfect.  Yes, I’m a little crankier than I used to be, too outspoken for sure, and let’s just say I’m not always running a high fever when I call in sick.  But today, when I think of my mom, gone 8 years now, it is with true affection, humor and forgiveness, not because I have to, or because she wouldn’t have, but because it’s who I really am.

Step 5 of the Twelve Steps:  Admitting to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

In the Gospel of Thomas Jesus says, “If you bring forth that which is within you, it will save you.  If you do not bring it forth, it will destroy you.”

Question:

Richard Rohr says “You cannot heal what you do not acknowledge.”  What personal failure do you find most difficult to acknowledge?

I think the personal failure I find most difficult to acknowledge is my role in the failure of my marriage.  The facts on the surface seem to leave me relatively blameless.  My husband left our family for another relationship, admitting he no longer wanted to mow the lawn and go to band concerts, scouting events, and high school ball games every weekend.  What a bad guy, right?

But that’s why Step 5 follows Step 4 in the Twelve Steps.  Only by taking my own moral inventory and discovering my motivation behind needing to be the perfect mother did I realize that making my children the center of our universe had a lot to do with the unraveling of our marriage.  My husband was raised in a much different community where children were cared for but not deified.  He did not understand why most of our disposable income and spare time had to be spent enriching our children’s lives.  I thought we were on the same page, but I know I made this assumption without many facts.  When we had conflict over such spending priorities, I pointed to friends’ children involved with drugs or having trouble in school, suggesting that this would be our burden too if we didn’t continue with my obsession.  I recognize now that my fixation on my own childhood didn’t leave much room for his point of view.  Silence can mean many things . . . among them assent or frustration.  His was the latter.

I have confessed to God, myself, and other human beings the nature of my wrongs in this situation, but I’m sorry to say Step 8 still eludes me on this particular failure.  I’m praying for the serenity,  courage, or wisdom to deal with that step some day.

HAPPENINGS

SUNDAY, MARCH 19
March Madness – Last Chance at Trivia during Fellowship!
Endowment Committee Meeting  11:30
Youth Group Dinner – 5:00
Breathing Under Water Discussion Group  5:30

MONDAY, MARCH 20
Meditation – 7:00

TUESDAY, MARCH 21
Staff Parish – 7:00
Line Dance – 7:00