Accompanying the Heartbroken*

I well remember the blind panic with which I received news of a death in the community in the early months of becoming a minister. Questions would shoot into my skull as though fired rom the gun of an arch tormentor and, finding no answer to exit through, would bounce around loudly and sadistically. How should I be? What should I say? What if I mess up? What will people think when I’m exposed as being incompetent?
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Identity Theft (2).

Failure is a challenging experience for today’s westerner. Our culture demands that success must be achieved no matter what. The form of that success doesn’t matter so much. It’s not really that important if we achieve our goals on the rugby pitch, in the boardroom or in the pulpit. What matters – what is vitally important – is that we succeed. Within this culture failure is experienced as being deeply troubling. It undermines us; it calls into question our identity. Continue reading

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Identity Theft (1)


Our sense of self is derived from the story we create out of our experiences. To put it another way, our identity emerges from the story we tell ourselves about what has happened for us. I’ve written about this in previous posts, so don’t want to dwell too much on it now. What I want to do is focus on how this story – our own story – has elements in it that fail to convince even us. Parts of it seem to portray us as being all too sadly lacking in certain areas, meaning that our identity can become a problem. Continue reading

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Anger (3)

Forgiveness as an Expression of Anger.

My aim here is still to argue in favour of the much maligned emotion of anger. I want to celebrate it and encourage the experiencing of this emotion for the simple reason that it is vital to our flourishing. So far (Anger (1) and Anger (2)) I have been concerned with defending anger and suggesting ways in which we can manage it. All along, however, my purpose has been to arrive at this point where I try to highlight what I think is an important, but overlooked use of our anger: forgiveness. Continue reading

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Anger (2)

Feeling The Pain.

In my last post (Anger(1)) I argued that anger has a vital role to play in the life of a flourishing human being. But unless I want anger to become the equivalent of those salads you get with every Indian takeaway – good for nothing except making you feel guilty for ignoring it – I need to give some indication of how anger can be managed without it becoming the destructive force we fear it to be.

My starting point for this is to suggest that we need to become aware of the ways we might use anger that are actually working against and not for us. As with all difficult emotions our initial response can be to try and get away from our anger, and the first two responses to anger I mention below are ways some of us use to do this. The next three responses are also unproductive, and therefore ways in which we fail to respect either the anger we feel or the relationship within which that anger has been provoked. Continue reading

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All We Are Saying is Give Anger a Chance

Anger troubles us. From the seismic tremors of irritation to the volcanic explosions of rage anger in its various forms feels threatening. It is a difficult, uncomfortable and unpleasant emotion and when it grabs hold of us then it usually means that something in our life has gone seriously wrong. Who in their right mind would want to be angry? Continue reading

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The Celebrating Life

““For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (1 Corinthians 5:7b-8).

Within the context of an essentially negative point in which the author of these words, the apostle Paul, is criticising the church in the Greek city of Corinth for tolerating gross immorality, we catch a glimpse of a wonderfully positive view of the Christian life. It is, we are shown, a celebration, a festival. Continue reading

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