February 9 Reflections

A Pharisee is a religiously well-versed person who makes a big deal of the things they don’t struggle with and hides the things they do struggle with. Impeccable morality is what I think of when I think of a pharisee. Someone rigid, never smiling, and certainly not laughing or being playful.  You think more of a very serious reptile than a playful puppy. Absolutely zero fun to be around. After all it is a serious, big-time job to play God. I can be sarcastic and a satirist when it comes to pharisee-type people. I can pick on them quite easily. But I think the point of self-awareness, which is an aspect of emotional maturity, is that I can pinpoint the pharisee within me.

Where do I hide the things I struggle with? Where do I appear to take the moral high road on things I do not struggle with? I do not struggle with the feelings that a gay person does. I can take some sort of angry moral position against this lifestyle, while totally ignoring my own brokenness in my life. Much like the person who is out in public lambasting the gay person, while privately addicted to pornography. Never once speaking out against pornography, but always speaking out against gays. Or the person rallying for the anti-abortion movement, while privately beating his wife and children at home.

In the attempt to be non-Pharisaical and practice what I preach here is something about me.  I face depression in my life for a variety of reasons. I am self-aware of this. There is a physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and relational piece to this. Some pieces of the pie are bigger than the others, but all are there in some proportion. In the midst of that I know that alcohol can contribute to the problem because it is a depressant and can also be a crutch as it takes the edge off an ache in the heart.  It wouldn’t be a problem if I was a teetotaler, but I am not. Truth is I like to have a drink now and then, but very self-aware of what could happen. I have great compassion for the person who struggles with depression. I have great compassion for the one who deals with addictions to ease the ache in the heart. I don’t pretend to have any moral high ground. I simply want to love well in the midst of the pain and brokenness of life that healing and wholeness might be a possibility.

Healthy relationships require self-awareness.  We cannot ignore the sinful, ugly parts of our ourselves. If we do it will limit the health in relationships to others, and with God as the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector in the temple praying points out clearly. We are going to reflect about this on Sunday as we continue to think about healthy relationships. Some passages to read and reflect on: Luke 18:9-14; Philippians3:1-14; 1 Timothy 1:12-17; 1 Corinthians 15:9-11.

Grace upon Grace,

Pastor Verlyn