Mere Information Is Not Sufficient

Most of us overestimate the power of information. Telling others what to do, or pleading with them to do something, does not compel deep or lasting change. For instance, at five feet, eleven inches tall I used to weight about 330 pounds. I was seriously round. I shopped in the big section of the Big and Tall shop. Friends said things like, “Is that your belt or the equator?” They addressed me playfully as “Your Circumference!”

Telling others what to do, or pleading with them to do something, does not compel deep or lasting change.

But calling attention to my girth or describing potential health problems didn’t change my eating habits. I was medicating pain with food. I was using food to entertain myself. I was using food to distract myself from anxiety. Those rewards were much more powerful than the information coming from weighing myself on a scale or from the remarks of people who loved me and wanted the best for me.

What finally broke through to me was answering some thoughtful questions put to me by a competent counselor. This gently led me to insights about my relationship to food, and about the inner realities that drove my addiction to it. Mere information usually is not sufficient to produce deep change. Neither is its cousin: pleading for change.

As a young baseball player I had lots of experience with family and friends sitting in the stands behind home plate and loudly encouraging me with comments like, “Come on Todd, watch the ball!” I had heard this so much by the time I was in high school, I wanted to yell back, “What do you think I am doing here? Watching the birds in the sky? Checking out the pitcher’s socks?”

I was trying to watch the ball! I needed an insightful coach to train me to actually watch the ball. This happened while playing for a great coach in college. He said, “Todd, next time you are up to bat, try to observe which way the red stitches on the ball are spinning.” It changed the way I hit the ball.

Mere information usually is not sufficient to produce deep change. Neither is its cousin: pleading for change.

For facilitating human change, yelling commands like “Watch the ball!” to a baseball player or “Quit being a jerk!” to a boss are seriously ineffective. But coaching questions, such as, “What did you notice about your heart or state of mind when Mr. Rude spoke up at the meeting?” accelerate human transformation.

Our Character At Work, pp. 112-113 – Todd Hunter


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Listening

Are You Listening?

Our task in the coming season: listen for the Spirit to teach us about how to be faithful followers of Jesus in the ordinary, but difficult times in which we live.

The challenging days in which we live are nothing new: listen to this prayer from The Dark Ages (7th century).

Hear us O never-failing Light, Lord our God, our only light, the fountain of light…May our souls be lamps of yours, sparked and illuminated by you. May our souls shine and burn with the truth, and never go out in darkness and ashes. May we be shining from your light, may our lamps be burning and not be extinguished. Being filled with the splendor of our Lord Jesus Christ, may we shine forth inwardly; may the gloom of sins be cleared away, and the light of perpetual faith abide with us.

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Blessing The Arrival of a New Year

Dear Church Family!

One of my favorite times of the year is the week between Christmas and New Years. I love the slower days, the rest, time to reflect, and play with friends! I enjoy blessing God for the year that passed while simultaneously welcoming the new one coming in. Each day I spend a few moments with God scanning my memory of people, events, and work done and not yet completed as I receive the goodness, learn from heartache and review my spiritual progress in God. I attempt to process areas where I noticed weakness and struggles, or stumbled in sin and stinginess. As I do, I bless God for being “with me” in and through it all. I practice the art of saying “good-bye” and of “mourning losses.” I welcome the grace of forgiveness and bless those who listened well, embraced me and encouraged with wisdom. I often journal so I can develop an awareness of every gift, even the ones wrapped in darkness and hurt.

At this time I also welcome the uncertainty of the new year. Most don’t like uncertainty, I struggle with it a lot! However, this is precisely where I lean into the practice of abandoning outcomes, and renounce my desire to safe-guard, control, predict or manipulate in order to secure myself. As I do, it seems to help me trust God: his love, his capacity to keep me from this moment and forever more (Ps.121). In these days of reflection and prayer, I receive this truth more deeply: God is with me. God was with me. I trust God will be with me in the days to come – The One Who is, Who was, Who is to come!

These practices of blessing what’s passed and what’s to come: saying good-bye, mourning loss, reflection, and welcome often helps to tend the soul in wisdom, discernment, and expansive faith. I fumble around mostly…but I give it a go each year. I’m not a goal-setter, and generally I don’t naturally like to “plan” too far ahead. However, I do try to cultivate my spiritual “sight” by envisioning a life in God and developing my imagination to explore the vastness of God’s grace and truth in concrete ways in my life!

I value our past year together! We’ve experienced a lot this year, both in our church community and in our individual lives! Many struggles, changes, hurts, losses and celebrations with great joys! And all those new babies too! Wow…what a year! I embrace the many ways we’ve grown in God and together in friendship.  I’m grateful for each way I could serve you and how you thoroughly supported and encouraged me! I hold you in my heart with deep admiration for the many ways you’ve radiated the love of Christ to me and within our community. Bless you!

My encouragement and prayer for our church family comes out of Philippians 4:

Therefore my friends, whom I love…my joy and crown,
stand firm in the Lord, my beloved…
Rejoice in the Lord always…Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.
The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer ans supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will
guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I close with a blessing for the coming New Year by John O’ Donohue. May it nurture your New Year’s celebrations as it has mine!

Grace and peace to you in Jesus!
Elizabeth Khorey

AT THE END OF THE YEAR
The particular mind of the ocean
filling the coastlines’s longing
with such brief harvest
of elegant, vanishing waves
is like the mind of time
opening us shapes of days.

As this year draws to its end,
we give thanks for the gifts it brought
and how they became inlaid within
where neither time nor tide can touch them.

The days when the veil lifted
and the soul could see delight;
when a quiver caressed the heart
in the sheer exuberance of being here.

Surprises that came awake
in forgotten corners of old fields
where expectation seemed to have quenched.

The slow, brooding times
when all was awkward
and the wave in the mind
pierced every sore with salt.

The darkened days that stopped
the confidence of the dawn.

Days when beloved faces shone brighter
with light from beyond themselves;
and from the granite of some secret sorrow
a stream of buried tears loosened.

We bless this year for all we learned,
for all we loved and lost
and for the quiet way it brought us
nearer to our invisible destination.

Table Blessing

To your table
you bid us come.
You have set the places,
you have poured the wine,
and there is always room,
you say,
for one more.

And so we come.
From the streets
and from the alleys
we come.

From the deserts
and from the hills
we come.

From the ravages of poverty
and from the palaces of privilege
we come.

Running,
limping,
carried,
we come.

We are bloodied with our wars,
we are wearied with our wounds,
we carry our dead within us,
and we reckon with their ghosts.

We hold the seeds of healing,
we dream of a new creation,
we know the things
that make for peace,
and we struggle to give them wings.

And yet, to your table
we come.
Hungering for your bread,
we come;
thirsting for your wine,
we come;
singing your song
in every language,
speaking your name
in every tongue,
in conflict and in communion,
in discord and in desire,
we come,
O God of Wisdom,
we come

© Jan L. Richardson. janrichardson.com