Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Legalism and positive thinking

These books by Eric Gaudion are superb, I'm now onto Storm Force, which is about the battle for the mind in suffering, something I could use some help on. One thing he mentioned towards the end of the first book ( Braving the Storm ) was legalism and attempting to lean on ourselves. Although I certainly don't believe that I can save myself by behaving better, thinking about it I have realised that I suffer from a subtler delusion, that "trying harder" will somehow make me better, be it physically, emotionally or spiritually.

It is never clear exactly what I should be trying harder at or how I should be going about this course of action. What does seem clear though is that it contains the idea of leaning on myself rather than God and it contains great potential for castigating myself for "failure". Of course we do not simply passively lean on God like a limp lettuce leaf, but He should be at the centre. I'm not entirely sure how to fix this right now, my instinctive reaction is to try harder at trusting God, a contradiction in terms in itself. However, I have prayed and will pray some more about this one.

Starting the second book today the main thing that has struck me so far, apart from the sheer amount of sense Mr (Pastor?) Gaudion has managed to get into every page, is what he has to say about "positive thinking". I have been bombarded with "think more positively" messages over the past few years, as though were I able to think more positively my problems would simply melt away. As this book says, a positive attitude can be helpful and certainly a negative attitude can be damaging, but it is not the answer, "it is simply not enough to guarantee survival in the appalling struggle with chronic pain or disability".*

I cannot express how liberating this statement is, it removes the horrible pressure to try to find something positive in even the most awful of situations, it allows room to say that sometimes life isn't a bed of roses, it allows room for the truth and for Jesus. Instead Eric Gaudion suggests letting Jesus into the darkest parts of us, praying for one another so that the Holy Spirit becomes more and more at work in our lives transforming us. And lastly:

"It is also about making a conscious decision not to fill our minds with horrible stuff that gets us down. There is enough distress and suffering around us without creating more for ourselves unnecessarily. We need to choose each day to fill our thoughts with wholesome and grateful things, so that God can get a look in."**

Does this mean in my case that it is OK not to think about the general situation I am in except when vitally necessary and to distract myself from it by a variety of means? These tend to include Jesus, knitting (hopefully in that order!), worship music, comedy, the birds and flowers in the garden, friends, creativity, writing etc. Sometimes I worry that I spend too much time running away.

Anyhow, a lot to think about. I promise that this blog will not just become the edited highlights of books by Eric Gaudion, though you might have to remind me of this promise. As you might have guessed by now I would definitely recommend these books.

*Storm Force, pg.16
** ibid. pg.17

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