responsibility


As I have journeyed through life I have had different purposes for different seasons of my life.

When I was a senior in high school I took a psychology course. I was fascinated by the concept that there are reasons why people do what they do and feel what they feel. This course was the beginning of a lifelong desire to understand what makes people tick. I subsequently majored in psychology in college, went to graduate school where I earned a master’s degree in clinical social work, and embarked on a career as a psychotherapist. I also engaged in therapy myself as a client to understand what made me tick.

The desire to understand what makes people tick grew into a passion for helping people live healthy, happy lives emotionally and relationally. When God called me to lead a Celebrate Recovery ministry in August 2003, I was given another avenue through which to help people heal the hurts, habits, and hang-ups which impeded them from living the lives they were created to live.

In July 2014 God narrowed this passion to focus on women. He lit a fire in my heart to help his daughters be set free from the belief systems and practices that tell them they are second-class citizens, and stop them from being who God created them to be. I put form to this passion and calling by writing When Going with the Flow Isn’t Enough, Swim Upstream. In this book I focus on how the Christian Church has contributed to maintaining gender inequality in the United States. I hope that the men and women who read it will be encouraged to swim upstream against gender inequality wherever they either see it happening to others or experience it themselves. I finished this manuscript about one month ago. The publishing process will begin in January.

I don’t know what else God may want me to do. I don’t need to know right now. I just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other, trusting that he will let me know what he wants me to do. “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

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My creative juices are FINALLY flowing after many months of them being dried up. I have been immersing myself in the writing of my new manuscript which will be titled When Going with the Flow Isn’t Enough, Swim Upstream.

Excerpt from Introduction:

“Though I realize gender inequality is global, this book is specifically about gender inequality in the United States and the role the Christian Church has played in maintaining this inequality. I also realize that the United States is light years ahead of some other countries re: gender equality and I would like to take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude and appreciation for the strides that have been made in the U.S., and to applaud the courage and perseverance of the many men and women who swam upstream to make this happen.

Having said that, I also realize that we still have a way to go to achieve full gender equality in the United States. I believe that if sexism and racism are to truly come to an end people need to be color blind and gender blind, seeing each other as equal, different yet equal. Imposing affirmative action practices and equal pay for equal work legislation will not result in gender equality. Civil rights legislation taught us that. Don’t get me wrong, I am not opposed to affirmative action practices and equal pay for equal work legislation. I think both are good things. I believe, however, that lasting change begins on the inside. Our thoughts, feelings, attitudes and values change first. Then, our behavior changes to line up with the internal changes. Jesus Christ made this same point to a group of Pharisees when he said “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart” (Matthew 12:35).

I am writing this book in the hope that the words you will read will light a fire in your heart, making it difficult, if not impossible, for you to stand idly by as long as any members of the human race are treated as inferior second class citizens.”

I recently started re-reading Jim Wallis’s book God’s Politics. I read it 8 years ago and decided to pick it up again due to the inundation of presidential campaign news.

The following excerpt jumped out at me earlier today. What follows is a mixture of my paraphrasing and direct quotes.

Following the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Martin Luther King Jr told President Johnson that “the next step on the road to freedom was a voting rights act, without which black Americans in the South would never be able to really change their communities. “ Johnson told King that it would be five to ten years before that law could be passed.

“But Martin Luther King Jr was not one to simply complain, withdraw, or give up. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) began organizing in a sleepy little town nobody had ever heard of, Selma Alabama. On one fateful day, SCLC leaders marched right across the Edmond Pettus Bridge, alongside the people of Selma, to face the notorious Sheriff Jim Clark and his virtual army of angry white police. On what would be called Bloody Sunday, a young man named John Lewis was beaten almost to death, and many others were injured or jailed.”

“Two weeks later, in response to that brutal event, hundreds of clergy from all across the nation and from every denomination came to Selma and joined in the Selma to Montgomery march…after the historic Selma to Montgomery march for freedom, it took only five months, not five years or ten, to pass a new voting rights act: the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”

Who was wrong in this event? Were the people trying to right a perceived wrong the problem or were the people who used violence to maintain the status quo the problem?

I recently stumbled across this and thought it was worth sharing.

A Thanksgiving Prayer
by Samuel F. Pugh

Oh, God, when I have food help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work help me to remember the jobless;
When I have a warm home help me to remember the homeless;
When I am without pain help me to remember those who suffer;
And remembering, help me to destroy my complacency and bestir my compassion.
Make me concerned enough to help, by word and deed,
those who cry out for what we take for granted.

As I continue to travel through life interacting with a variety of people I am continually reminded that integrity seems to be in short supply. What is integrity? Integrity is simply honesty. Does one’s talk match one’s walk? Does one say what one means, and mean what one says? Does one convey an accurate picture of one’s situation or does one hide it within a concoction of smoke and mirrors?

On March 14, 2015 I posted an article titled helping vs. enabling. A situation I encountered over the week-end once again brought to my mind the difference between helping and enabling. In that article I defined helping as doing something for someone that he or she is unable to do for themselves, and defined enabling as shielding someone from the consequences of his or her actions or choices.

Sometimes when we want to help someone the action that we take to help him or her is in actuality enabling them to continue a dysfunctional behavior or a dishonest lifestyle.

If you are not sure whether you are helping or enabling someone ask yourself these questions:

1. Am I doing something I really don’t want to do, i.e. saying yes when I want to say no?
2. Am I doing something for someone that he/she is capable of doing and should be doing for him or herself?
3. Am I meeting people’s needs without being asked?
4. Am I speaking for another person?
5. Am I solving people’s problems for them?
6. Am I suffering the consequences of someone else’s choices or actions?
7. Am I not asking for what I want, need and desire?
8. Am I consistently giving more than I receive in a particular relationship?
9. Am I shielding someone from the reality of his or her situation by contributing smoke and mirrors?

I am encountering much opposition as I seek ministry opportunities. Workshop proposals are not being accepted and doors are closing on other venues of ministry. I had been feeling quite discouraged then, I came across an inspirational message titled PUSH (author unknown) which reminded me that growth occurs through opposition. It also reminded me that my responsibility is to do what I can do and God will do what I cannot do. He will open doors that I cannot open. I felt much encouraged after reading it and would like to share it with you. Here it is:

A man was sleeping one night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light and God appeared. The Lord told the man he had work for him to do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might.

So, the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sunup to sundown, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all of his might. Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain. Since the man was showing discouragement, the Adversary (Satan) decided to enter the picture by placing thoughts into his weary mind: “You have been pushing against that rock for a long time and it hasn’t moved.” Satan gave the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure. These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man. Satan then said, “Why kill yourself over this? Just put in your time, giving just the minimum effort; and that will be good enough.”

That’s what the weary man planned to do but decided to first take it to the Lord in prayer. “Lord,” he said, “I have labored long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock by half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?”

The Lord responded compassionately, “My friend, when I asked you to serve me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all of your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push. And now you come to me with your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But, is that really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back is sinewy and brown; your hands are callused from constant pressure, your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition you have grown much, and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have. True, you haven’t moved the rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in my wisdom. That you have done. Now, I, my friend, will move the rock.”

At times, when we hear a word from God, we tend to use our own intellect to decipher what he wants, when actually what he wants is simple obedience and faith in him. By all means, exercise the faith that moves mountains, but know that it is still God who moves the mountains.

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