Archive for the ‘Shame’ Tag

The Waiting Father

Luke 15: 11-32, for me, is one of the most beautiful passages of Scripture describing our Father’s love for all humanity.  It provides each one of us the foundation to stand before our Creator with no fear, no shame, no guilt, and no doubt.

A number of years ago my family and I were flying home from a vacation trip.  I entered into a rare moment of deep meditation, lost in my own thoughts.  A vision flooded my mind when my mom and I were waiting in the parking lot for my dad.  It had been years since I thought about those trips to pick him up from work to take him home.  I remembered very clearly, how, as a young boy, I would wait for the doors of the RCA plant to open at the 4 p.m. bell.  I eagerly waited to see my dad in the crowd, on his way “home.”  I remembered the joy of seeing him.  Although it brought a smile to my face, I didn’t know why I was recalling this, until I felt God’s presence speak to me.  In that moment, it became clear.  I heard God say to me, “that’s how I feel toward you.  I get the same joy of seeing you just like you did in seeing your dad come through those doors.”  I immediately broke into tears with an awkward hope no one was looking.  It became a very touching memory and metaphor of the Love our Father has in seeing and waiting for all of humanity, all of his children, “coming through the doors of life on their way home.”  He always smiles with joy at seeing you and me, just as I did, when I saw my dad.

Commentators have called the Parable of the Prodigal Son, many things.  The one I love the most is, “The Waiting Father.”

Breaking into the story, when the son requested his inheritance, his father had an amazing reaction.  There was no imposition of fear, or shame, or guilt, or doubt.  There was no anger, or punishment. He simply gave him what he asked for and let him leave on a trip leading to a life less than zero.  The son gathered what he had, left home, and “headed for Hollywood.”

Verse 17 begins with a beautiful line, “When he (the son) came to his senses…”  Because of God’s love for His creation He sent His Son to unite us forever and included us (and the entire cosmos) in Union with Him.  When Jesus died on the cross, he said, “It is finished.”  Our Union in Him is accomplished forever, and is irrevocable.  For any one human being to cease to exist, Jesus would have to cease to exist.  It is an accomplished fact. Unfortunately, most of humanity is included without a clue, until we come to our senses, believe, and come home.  When we do, we find a Waiting Father.  A Father who doesn’t wait for a moment, or a few years, or just in this lifetime (as some Christian friends may tell us) but one who will be waiting for eternity, as long as it takes.

In verse 20 we find that Waiting Father (waiting for his son to come home)…”but while he was still a long way off, his father saw him.”  The son had worked up a repentance speech to make his way back home into the family just as a hired servant, but his dad didn’t allow him to finish his speech.  He restored him to full fellowship in the family as if he never left.  His dad didn’t allow sin to separate him from his son.  He had been his son, and the relationship with his son had never changed.  He had always been his son.  But when the son came to his senses and came home, the son’s relationship and fellowship changed toward his Father.  His Father never moved, never changed his love for his son, and remained…waiting.  For us, just as with the son, it is always our move, because Jesus made the first move toward us when he brought us home.

Just as I would wait with anticipation for my dad, our heavenly Dad waits with anticipation for us.  Our loving father waits, and waits, and waits, and will forever wait until all humanity comes to its senses, and comes “home.”  While He is waiting, He never loses His sense of joy and feeling toward us, despite what we may think.  When humanity comes through those doors, comes home, one by one, our dad will be standing there with open arms.

~by Craig Kuhlman

Connection

My husband and I seem to have a problem with rings.  On our honeymoon 25 years ago this week, he lost his wedding band in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.   About a month ago, I sucked up my diamond band in the vacuum, shattering one of the diamonds and ruining the setting.  Wedding rings are a symbol of the connection in marriage.  If our connection was based on how well we took care of our wedding rings, we would be in trouble.

Thankfully, our marriage is still intact and unaffected by our ring mishaps.  Life is messy, though, and relationship connections make up a large part of that messiness   Connection gives us purpose and meaning, and according to author and researcher Brene Brown, the ability to feel connected is part of our neurobiological wiring.

Brown shares what she’s learned through a decade of research into connection in a 20-minute presentation available on http://www.ted.com.   She tells us that in order for us to experience true connection with others, we have to show our true selves, imperfections and all.  We have to let go of who we think we should be and have the courage to be imperfect.  In other words, we have to be naked in all our glory.

This reminds me a verse in Genesis about Adam and Eve before the serpent showed up:

“The two of them, the Man and his Wife, were naked, but they felt no shame” (The Message, Genesis 2:25).  Adam and Eve experienced connection with each other, where they felt accepted for who they were and how they looked, and they graciously extended that to each other.

In her presentation, Brown reveals that shame (one major deterrent to connection) is universal – we all have it to one degree or another.  But her research turned up something quite unexpected.  She found that while shame and vulnerability were common to all, those who had healthy connections (a “wholehearted” approach) had a strong belief that they were worthy of love and belonging.  Though they didn’t feel being vulnerable was comfortable or easy, they saw that being authentic to themselves and being open and vulnerable with others was necessary for true connection to occur.

Being authentic to who we are and allowing others to see that is not easy.  But as I’ve thought about our hang-ups (okay, my hang-ups) with imperfection and vulnerability, I’m slowly becoming convinced that there is beauty in the vulnerability of imperfection through which the light of the Triune God shines through.  If we were created for connection with the Father, Son, and Spirit, as well as our fellow human beings, wouldn’t it make sense that the quality of our connection would depend in part on us being the unique person we were created to be?

It seems to me that any false self we might bring to a relationship would be unable to connect fully with another person, because the love and relationship that flow from the Father to the Son through the Holy Spirit to us would be hindered, like a corroded pipe prevents a free flow of water.

As we accept ourselves and give that gift to others, relationship snafus like lost or ruined rings aren’t that big of a deal.  Our beliefs that “I am enough” and “I am acceptable” give us the grace to weather the mistakes we all make.

When we are willing to be open, authentic, vulnerable, and imperfect, the beauty of the Triune God shines through us and connects us with others.   By being willing to be vulnerable and authentic, we become a conduit through which Divine love, grace, and acceptance flow to a very thirsty world.

                 ~by Nan Kuhlman

photo courtesy of http://www.weddingringspix.com

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