Modern Lack of Discipleship and Its Implications

Discipleship is an important rite of passage that has always significantly impacted its occupants. For the mentor, they receive validation and recognition. Their words and ideas and knowledge have an impact. As they speak and teach, it challenges them to develop more and to think deeper – to be worthy of the honor. There is a responsibility inherent in mentorship for actions often speak as loud as the words spoken. For the disciple, being mentored provides growth and direction.  It provides security and a sense of belonging. It is also affirmation and recognition. “You are with me (we are together), I am proud of you and I will be with you through your struggles and stay objective and focused and help you find your way,  (I will heed your words and take them to heart and seek to follow in your steps for I recognize them as wise and useful).” The immense satisfaction of such a relationship is immensely helpful in development and growth for all have need of security and affirmation and belonging and direction.

The relationship of discipleship should be readily available and obvious. A father for his son, a mother for her daughter, an aunt or uncle for niece or nephew, an older established cousin for a younger cousin, grandparents for any family member are normalized choices. There are often those who out of necessity or love take on disciples. “I need an apprentice so someone can take over for me one day, or so I can be freed to pursue additional growth”, or “This person really needs someone like me and I can be an encouragement to them, or I want to be around this person and help them on the way.” There may be a younger person that an older person sparked an instant connection to or recognized some of their self in enough to know how to help. Maybe someone was down and out and someone extended a hand and showed them new ways of thinking and dreaming and doing. There are so many possibilities for discipleship that, even assuming blood-related family is lacking or far, there should be community members to fill the gap.

The damage to discipleship is devastating in modern times. This could be specified as due to popular culture, lack of responsibility, lack of reality, lack of realization of personal impact, and such a desperate neediness to find satisfaction in all the wrong areas, but in reality can be tied explicitly to lack of discipleship. When people lose a generation or two of discipleship, when fathers are absent, and/or family is scattered, and people are too busy to spend devoted action to showing someone the way, then such a huge gap in affirmation and recognition and direction leads to a canyon-sized gulf that seems near impossible to cross. Mothers are too busy working or playing to show their children the way, to speak to them, to demonstrate and guide holistically. Fathers are absent or working or tired and wore out and stretched to capacity, content to veg on the couch in front of the TV or seek release in funny videos on social media.  People are so overwhelmed with technology and constant impact of stimulus that they cannot just sit and be still and enjoy uninterrupted teachability. The older generation wasn’t discipled, so the next generation loses some of the impact and it spirals downward until all is just a farce and fun and games and self-seeking attitudes and actions. People aren’t told no, or that their actions are wrong. People say “Who am I to judge?” and “You can’t tell me what to do!” in all ages and stages of lives. They take the cop-out, the easy way, the I am offended and will remain that way so that I don’t have to grow and face the truth and the consequences. There is no recognition or affirmation or validation – three very crucial needs in a human’s life. When discipleship needs on both ends of the spectrum (mentor and disciple) aren’t met, coldness and hatred and hostility and apathy abounds.

This knowledge on discipleship and its true nature and implications could be a plea or a challenge or knowledge that breeds actions. Is it possible to change this tremendous downturn in personal responsibility and accountability brought on by discipleship without role models showing the way? Aren’t role models themselves the ones who show us how to accomplish these types of relationships? Is not Discipleship itself the very action of Role Modeling that teaches the healthiest types of actions and responses that are lacking today as well as the respect for the process and for the figurative elder guiding the way? It is very challenging to begin such actions without seeing it and having it demonstrated in day to day life. For some, finding a mentor can be finding someone with great aspirations who rose to the top of their field and seeking to emulate them although not personally knowing them. This way is not complete though because we still lack an important element of affirmation and validation and recognition. The best way to grow is through mutual reciprocation – for when we take out the “being known” in addition to the “knowing”,  a solid sense of belonging and security is still missing. Relationship is what challenges and develops and grows us. Discipleship changes lives and gives us the tools needed to be a part of the necessary cycle of accountability and respect – although we all know this is no easy task and why many seek to avoid these types of relationships. It is not good to avoid relationships, it is not good to avoid being an example, it is not good to keep silent lips and allow people’s actions to go unchecked, rather it is an imperative matter we speak out and allow others to speak to us in humility of heart and action, for in doing so, we all reap the greatest benefit.

 

 

A Tale of Three Women – Part Two

Brain (Hope) – The young woman was overjoyed and filled with love and kindness. Sweetness fragranced her day and poured out of her to all within her vicinity. Her husband adored her thoroughly. He spent time with her as often as he could, cooked wonderful meals for her, cleaned for her, bought her expensive jewelry, and told her daily how proud he was that she was his. When she got pregnant and gave birth to a precious child, he lavished his love on his baby with hugs and kisses, bottles and diaper changes, meals and toys and time. She was so happy and blessed and had great hope for what the future would bring, but it came time for him to deploy with his brigade for 18 months. He went overseas and his mind grew dark (mental health) away from the love and snuggles of his family while surrounded by mortars and fear. He grew suspicious (suspicion) of his wife’s affections. When he returned, he drank 12 packs weekly (alcoholism) and, while drinking, grew violent (abuse). 

Heart (Love) – The woman’s wisdom and strength shone from her face and graced all those near her. She sought to help the hurting and to impart joy and wisdom to coworkers and friends. Her soulmate loved that about her and often wondered at how many loved her, although he often warned her to be careful who she cast her pearls to. He bought her bridal magazines, queried her on her favorite ring styles, called her, texted her, IMed her, and sought to snatch as many moments with her as was possible while still living in separate homes. He bragged on her to family and friends all the while saying he had finally found the perfect woman. His touch was magic. He would stroke and massage her as often as she would let him. No knots were allowed with her knight in shining armor around! They spent hours talking and her love for humanity grew stronger. Their communication was often and open, maybe too open, and he grew jealous (jealousy) of her time and attention. He began to take her for granted (assumptions) and question her judgment (doubt). 

Spirit (Faith) – The lonely woman knew that her new husband would help right many wrongs. There was help with the children now. There was companionship to ease her loneliness. There were shared finances which brought less stress and struggles. Her husband loved her children and amused them all by his antics with the pets. They all had structure and routine now. There was definitely a learning curve as his kids adjusted to her kids and her kids adjusted to his kids and they all adjusted to a transformed (merged) household. It was a good adjustment though with more falling into place than she ever expected. They all had much common ground and enjoyed many of the same likes and activities. As time wore on, she noticed it was on a superficial level. She maintained her faith that she was supposed to be in this place, although she wasn’t allowed to talk or share her heart if something really bothered her (repression). Everyone was allowed to enjoy the day with activities and entertainment, but her husband only had time for what he wanted to say and do (control). He used anger (anger) as a tool to control her and her reactions. His goal in life appeared to be maintaining his own comfort level (comfort zone). 

A Tale of Three Women – Part One

Brain (Hope) – There once was a woman. A really young woman. And she thought she was strong enough, good enough, wise and knowledgeable enough to make it through life whole and intact. Then she married a man. Well, a boy rather…for it takes some time for boys to become men and, to be true, for some it never happens. She loved this man for he loved her as no one else ever had. He adored her, placed her on a pedestal, told her how beautiful and special and rare she was. He showed her in words and deeds that she was the light of his life and that he would never place anyone or anything above or before her. And this boy lived up to those words, in the deepest sense of those words.

Heart (Love) – There once was a woman. A wise, kind, loving, peaceful woman. A woman who had encountered much, but by the grace of her creator, had risen above. She was still growing and learning and needed help occasionally, but she just knew that the world was a beautiful place and that good things would happen. She smiled at everyone and everything, laughed with people, looked for ways to encourage them. She saw the hurt in people and sought to help them, to reconcile damaged friendships, and to hug those who needed healing touch. She was surprised when a man came into her life, surprised but pleased and secure in the knowledge that this man was looking more and more like a genuine soulmate every day. They were genuine heart friends almost instantly, unusual for an opposite gender relationship, but they were able to share each other’s deepest feelings daily and connect often throughout every day. She always knew that he treasured and valued her, and she did her best to let him know she treasured and revered him. They both couldn’t believe their good luck. They knew that hardly anyone else, if indeed anyone else, had such a blessed, intimate, honest, open, and trustworthy relationship.

Spirit (Faith) – There once was a woman. A battered, abused, sad, lonely, heartbroken woman. A single mom, she had seen things and experienced things that only abused women with the heart-led gender could know. She was tired, so tired. She wanted to give up. In fact, she had no idea what kept her going every day. Well, that’s not true. It was her children. She hoped and trusted for better for them and the moments that strengthen any parent who loves their kids were the moments she drew all strength and momentum from. She had no idea what to do, but she sang, “What do we do, we swim!” to her kids and to her day. She was resistant when she swam into him. Resistant, but she knew that he was the one. She had wanted to give up, but one day she had prayed to the God. She told Him she was done, but she remembered how the God’s Son had prayed, “Nevertheless, not my will but Yours be done.” This seemed like a good idea, after all this Man was perfect and he had the best dad anyone could have. So she prayed, “I am done, but if You have different plans for me, let them happen now, in mankind’s time.” So he showed up and four months later they were married. 

The Twists of Time

I have been told that as a human, I am a social creature with social needs. In awe I looked at those around me as I grew older. How could they do this, and how could they say that? I vaguely remember thriving off the love and attention of others, but I can’t seem to remember when in my life that was. I watched and observed, quietly staying out of the limelight, gaging when and how people would act and respond so that I could choose to make their gazes and thoughts pass over me and move on. From an early time it all seemed rather meaningless and mundane, the ordinary interactions. I never spoke surface level, it greatly bored me. I questioned the deeper meanings and pondered the in-depth philosophies. I engaged people’s brains in surprising ways and found that some unexpectedly found it addictive. “Refreshing, invigorating, thought-provoking, I never thought of that!”, they said. People would sometimes seek me out to hear stories, some would listen time after time…”How do you do that! You never tell any story the same way twice!” I then realized that I always tailored my words to the audience based off of their interest level, age, gender, my knowledge of them (an early version of social media and Internet marketing perhaps). It seemed I could control people’s view of me in surprising ways to the point it became awkward…friends and acquaintances would meet and say, “I love her, she is so outgoing, fun, loud, quiet, reflective, giggly, boisterous, sweet, serious, honest, straight-laced, a prankster, always up to something, reserved, bubbly, so level-headed, flighty,…”. As they spoke about their impressions of me, they would begin giving each other really weird looks, and some even argued what they knew and what I would or wouldn’t do. I found it made them doubt me, though I had not been deceitful or dishonest.

I quit trying after some years. Settled into mundanity. Running and hiding at times from others, avoiding interactions. Refused to spark that light, or cast my pearls out there due to all the rather unexpected and often unforeseen results combined with the hardships life and time accord to us all in various attributes.

Fast forward a decade or so…I have been living to survive rather than thrive. I’ve become so used to not speaking or relating to others on an other than surface level where I meet them and just respond rather than initiate, react rather than create. My speech has dulled, I’ve grown accustomed to not being heard.

I am not satisfied with this. So now I must work at it, find new ways to interact, develop friendships that last. I listen and try to apply current events. I text or make phone calls, tell others what is going on in my life for the first time in years, listen to what is going on in theirs. I help people whenever I can, smile and make small-talk. I talk about the weather, kids and families, recipes and restaurants. But yet…I keep missing the mark. I am not connecting. Is it me? Or is it society?

Burrs That Rankle

Sometimes being married to somebody is similar to walking through a patch of burrs. As you walk, the seeds of the plant or fruit attach themselves physically with little sharp hooks, teeth, or thorn-like projections. They build up so easily and quickly. The adherence may not even be noticeable at first, nor may the magnitude of the attachments be. The irritation can be mild or grievous depending on the type of burr…the type of interaction, or the species of such.

The interaction resulting in a thorn-like attachment may be a daily event….or something that is verbalized that is bothersome…or when expectations aren’t met, or feelings are hurt, or when disrespect occurs. This is comparable to picking up an additional burr per occurrence. Some days the whole day is “a walk in a burr patch” and, other days, the little leftover hooks sting residually.

The only way to remove burrs is “one-by-one.” Deal with them individually. Uproot them. There is not a fool-proof way of mass removal. If clothing is washed, the burrs will now be “clean” burrs, but intact burrs they will be. If there is burr-free clothing together with the burdened clothing, the formerly free will now be stickered. Every irritation must be picked off one by one, individually. That is the only way to ensure that all the thorny projections have been removed. If each one is not removed, the reminder will chime at the most inconvenient time. That’s a promise. 

 I have been called to this marriage, not to happiness. It is not my duty to seek to be happy all the time or to feel good. It is my job to acccept my lot in life while using my talents and skills to the best of my abilities.  This means that I have to pick off “every single burr every single time” it occurs.  It may take days to pick them off. I might get as many on me in that time as the many I just removed. So be it. 

Marriage is not easy. No one ever said it would be, unless they were lying or truly had no idea how things work or possibly were just out of touch with reality. Marriage is still worth it. It is consistency and help for the long run of life.

How many people stay in relationships or jump into a new one because of lack of companionship? Many people engage in one-night stands or jump from person to person because of that need. Marriage fulfills that need and it was designed to fulfill that need. Jumping from relationship to relationship can only cause more pain, mourning, and additional need. All too often, after so much jumping, the heart and soul become immune to true relationship and companionship. Real heart connections and soul connections become harder and harder, then near inaccessible. It becomes impossible to just relax and enjoy the other person. Both know that it might not last; it will likely be temporary.  

Over time, opening up to new love or different romantic relationships builds massive scar tissue. The heart never looks the same again, no matter how much Mederma is applied in hopes of soothing away the redness, the lines, the raised skin.  Each additional opening and resulting cut causes the scarring to get thicker and bigger and more fibrous. The heart becomes uglier and uglier. The heart looks and acts uglier and uglier.

My desire for my heart is that it will never be hardened. Hardened hearts and scarred hearts create more pain in this world than there should ever be. Observe males jumping from one woman to another. They can not cherish the person they are with. Their eyes keep looking to the next best thing, the next best “profit” or “trophy.” And the woman knows this. It is temporary and full of sharp stabs of pain to be in this relationship. Observe females jumping from one man to another. They become people who use others to assuage the hurt in their hearts. They use them for money, for status, for a temporary sexual fix, for a self-esteem booster. And more often than not, the man knows this.

I have a very strong feeling, a gut feeling…that this is not how life is intended to work. 

Yet when people jump from relationship to relationship, that is exactly how life becomes. That is what is modeled for children. That is what they will end up living. All of a sudden, it seems no one has their head screwed on straight. Who respects the other gender? Who respects other people? This is a sad state of affairs, indeed. So now I must dig those burrs out before they stick, dig those burrs out before they stick and cause big wedges and division…because I know the alternative. It is not worth it. Fighting for marriage is worth it. 

Special Times Must Be Made

Special times must be made. On the occasion of my oldest daughter’s eye checkup to possibly pursue contacts, we agreed to a date night following. After we made plans, she said joyously, “Everyone has been wanting to spend time with me!” Her inner happy visibly lit up as she spoke of this, and confidence climbed another rung. She wrote a list of ten possible things to do and we selected four; eat at Longhorns, go store wanderin’, go to a bookstore, go to Menchies. My daughter being a private, non-talkative sort, I was also hoping to open the lines of communication.

As we are driving, she talks lightly and smiles much. Conversation meanders gently but, mostly, each stop and the innocuous particulars of the stop are discussed. The moment I have been waiting for arrives, her mind covers a subject of friendships and pranking that she releases verbally. We laughed and talked, and she shared some more. We connected, not fully and completely (I still notice a reserve arising from personality and habit) but enough that I was included and aware…which is my desire for our relationship as we transition into the upcoming Teen Years. 

You see, I’ve noticed something. If I don’t allow for special times and special occasions, if I plan every minute or am too busy with schedules or preconceived ideas about how things should go or happen, or if I am uptight or controlling or closed off or non-communicative, or even unaware and disconnected, and especially if I try to force it, then I don’t “allow” unique moments of openness to occur. So then, these special moments in time are made when I make room for them. For special relationships I need to make the room so we have a place to dwell together. 

Who I Am and Why I’m Here – Blogging 101

To know and to be known is truly the goal of my new blogging endeavor. I desire to capture in script “those” moments that life lays down as time rolls irrevocably forward. I have found that reading the experiences of others enriches my life and my thoughts. I hope to add an element of enrichment and thought to others. I choose to celebrate the messiness of life and the hardships it has brought for the rewards and strengths it brings.

As a fellow blogger and traveler in this wayward journey called life, I have relationships that puzzle me, reward me, discourage me, strengthen me. I see things that cause bewilderment and excitement, anger and desire. I  experience the cycles and ebbs and flows of emotion, thoughts, relationships, and positioning. May these writings capture a few morsels and lightly engage the reader.