Cookies and Dysfunctional Relationships

The winning streak I had over my cookie addiction had a great effect on me.  In addition to the diet, and only by the grace of God, I was able to sustain a habit of jogging just under two miles a day for three days a week.  As a result, I lost 25 pounds rather quickly and my clothes had become baggy.

The church where I was pastor was in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia.  Our secretary’s name was Sandy.  Young people from our church who lived in the area would often stop in and hang out at her office after school.  One afternoon I went into Sandy’s office to use the copy machine and Luie, a high school student who attended our church, was there chatting with her.

“Hey, you’ve lost weight,” Luie blurted in my direction.

“I’ve been working hard.  Is it really that obvious?” I replied.

“Yeah, I can see that you’re wearing a belt now.”

“Luie, I’ve always worn a belt.”

“Yeah,” Sandy interjected, “but now we can see it.”

Whether or not people knew it, the belt had always been there, dutifully doing what it was meant to do.  Its presence had been obscured by the physical side effect of my undesirable attraction.

I had become more aware of the presence of my belt as well.  Before I lost weight its only function was to satisfy the requirements of proper office attire.  You can be sure that if my belt would ever have been the cause of a wardrobe malfunction the slack would have been taken up (so to speak) by my robust waistline.  Having lost weight, my belt was a bit loose even on the smallest hole.  The duty of the belt, which I had previously taken for granted, had become increasingly apparent.

God must feel like that belt did.  Aside from my strange use of personification – or rather, deification – with regard to functional accoutrement, the parallel is fitting (pun not intended).  Our undesirable attractions hinder our awareness God’s presence.  He’s there to satisfy the requirements of acceptable standards of religiosity and nothing more.  Our relationship with God becomes merely functional and we end up taking his presence for granted.

This illustration displays a fundamental deficiency with our approach to living lives to the fullest extent.  Our faith often doesn’t take into account the nature of a healthy relationship, one in which both parties benefit from the interaction and the participation of both are valued.  A relationship in which only the desires of one of the participants are regarded is considered dysfunctional.

We only recognize he’s there when we need him because we undervalue what we have to bring to the relationship.

This is a sample from chapter 6: Divine Desire of my book The Attractive Shepherd.  Click on “About The Book” and “Read Chapter 1″ above for more info.  For samples from other chapters click on “Book Exerpets” just under the Twitter updates on the right side of this page. Comments are appreciated.

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