The Chasm

This analogy is not new. I don’t know who first came up with it, but the more I think about it, the more it works for me.

The analogy is this. You stand on one side of an immense chasm — think of the Grand Canyon at its widest point. On the other side is God (/ the divine / whatever you need to name it to keep going with this thought process / that missing piece of our soul humanity keeps looking for).

This is the human situation.

There is no way for you as a human to cross this chasm to God. He calls to you, says to trust in him and he will come get you instead.

This is grace.

But all along the bank’s edges are multitudes of people, yelling out their own messages, encouraging one another to jump into the chasm, pushing and shoving each other, maybe even killing each other. Amongst all this, it’s easy to lose sight of God on the other bank, to not be able to hear his voice over the din.

This is the World.

People are queuing up under various signs. One says Meditation, another says Effort.  Off to the side is a scraggly line of just a few people under a sign that says Rest.  Some of the people in the Effort line are throwing rocks at them.

One by one the people in line jump off the edge into the chasm, convinced by the charlatans hawking their methods that they can make it to the other side — with, of course, the help of Meditation or Effort, or some other tip or trick, all of which have their cost. Some people ignore the signs and just jump off on their own anyway, but most choose a method.  Still others choose not to choose — they’ve been convinced to ignore their emptiness, the small cry that there must be more.  They never jump, but when they die on the bank, their bodies are pushed over the edge anyway.

These are the World’s solutions to the problem of the chasm.

When you finally move up in line to the second position, you watch the person in front of you jump off. You watch him jump, then drop, and somehow you wonder what happened to him. Did he find some way after he jumped off? Did he sprout wings and fly? Maybe he floated down gently and then walked along the base of the chasm. Who knows?

This is blindness.

And then you jump, too.

And even if you were the best jumper ever to have lived, you don’t make it across the chasm.

This is impossible.

As you start falling, what do you think? You’re falling to your death. Do you call out to God? Do you contemplate how miserable your attempt to cross the chasm was? Or are you thinking that at least you made it further than that other person? And that, yeah, you’re falling to your death, but at least you look more stylish than that guy over there? If you jumped with your spouse, are you squabbling all the way down about who left the light on and who didn’t change out the toilet paper roll?

This is human pride.

Maybe you do look death in the face. If you call out to God, He will come. He will rescue you from your own foolishness.

He will set you gently back up on the bank, waiting to be carried across the chasm later, sat among those still in the World, those contemplating their own leaps. You might try to tell them you’ve tried it and there’s no way, they can’t make it, they shouldn’t go… and they will ignore you. They’ll think they’re different, that with just a little help, just a little more Effort, perhaps, they can make it on their own. They’ll think that you were just weak.

This is the life of a Christian who has accepted grace.

One by one you’ll watch the people cast themselves into the pit, truly believing that they’ll make it across to divinity without help, and all you’ll be able to do is hope and pray that in their fall, they suddenly see, cry out to God, and get set back on the bank or carried over the chasm.

But most of them won’t. All the way down to destruction — wind whistling, ground rushing toward them, they’ll think they did their best and that should be enough.

And this… this is an awful loss.

This is the worst of things you could witness, over and over, person after person, feeling each one acutely, until someday the chasm is crossed, and you finally leave the World behind…

This is mercy.

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USA_-_Arizona_-_Grand_Canyon_-_South_Rim_-_Desert_View_Route
By World Wide Gifts [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D,
via Wikimedia Commons

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Understanding Women

I received this picture today. I’m not going to say from whom I received it because it doesn’t really matter – I’ve seen it a thousand times from a thousand sources.

Man looking at gigantic bookIt says, “Thought you should know that the book ‘Understanding Women’ is now out in paperback.”

Men generally think this picture is very funny. Har har har. Women are generally offended.

I just roll my eyes at this point, though it certainly comes closer to offending me when it’s printed in color as a full page and left as a message for me, as it was. Woman-bashing and man-bashing are generally unamusing to me. Oh, some of the jokes are funny, sure, but if I insult men as a group, I’m insulting the men that mean a lot to me, such as my husband and my brother, along with all other men. I believe men do not appreciate being disrespected and emasculated, as so much male-bashing humor does. Women also do not appreciate being disrespected and insulted.

But that’s not what this post is about. What it’s really about is whether or not women are complicated. See, I really don’t think we are. In fact, I think I can sum up all you need to understand women in one sentence.

But I don’t think the information will be helpful because many men – maybe even most men – don’t actually want to understand women. They pretend they do, but try to talk to any of them about what women want, and they run from the conversation. Men claiming they can’t understand women is the ultimate cop-out. If men understand women, they’ll have to live up to that understanding. They can’t just blame issues on us being so complicated any more. As with most things, it boils down to immaturity, pride, and selfishness.

But maybe the person reading this really does want to know. So here it is:

Women want/need to feel treasured.

That’s it. When a woman feels treasured, she feels safe, loved, respected, acknowledged, supported, etc. When a woman feels treasured, she’ll feel like you always have her back… not like you might throw her under the bus at any moment and then tell her she ought to have a better sense of humor about it.

Men who actually want to understand: Just ask yourself whether something will make her feel treasured or not. Ignoring her while you stare at your phone over dinner? Not likely. Bringing her a cup of coffee in bed on Saturday morning? Likely. Making fun of her in front of your friends? Not likely. Helping with the chores? Likely.

Yes, every woman is different. Most women seem to like it when you open the door for them, because it’s a sweet way to show you’re noticing her and taking care of her. Some women get a totally different message (that you think she’s incapable of opening the door herself, I guess), so if you know that about her, let her open her own door. Some women want diamonds and some want Dillon reloaders. It does require you to pay attention enough to know what things make her feel treasured. But that’s the whole point – if you don’t actually treasure her enough to pay attention to what she likes, you don’t treasure her… and that’s really sad.

Why should you do this?

First, do you want this woman in your life? Remember that this is probably more a need than a want for her. If you’re not willing to treasure her, someone else might be.

Second, the benefits. I believe you’ll find that if you consistently show her that you treasure her, she’ll respond in kind. She’ll fall all over herself to give to you, too. Most of the issues between you will disappear. You’ll both be trying to out-do each other in good ways. Your relationship will become stronger and stronger. How awesome would that be?

So, guys, ask yourself the next time she gets upset whether you sent her a message (verbally or through your actions) that you treasure her, or sent her a message that you don’t. Then you’ll understand why she’s upset. Just try it out. And give it a real chance over time – a woman won’t feel treasured if you try this on one occasion and attack her on another. It has to be consistent.

So what’s in that book? The same sentence over and over again: “Women want/need to feel treasured.” Why is the book so large then? Well, you can insert your own man-bashing joke here. 😉

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Ten rules for writing fiction(part two) | Books | theguardian.com

So much good advice you’ll need to read it in fits and starts several times…

such as:

Will Self

1 Don’t look back until you’ve written an entire draft, just begin each day from the last sentence you wrote the preceeding day. This prevents those cringing feelings, and means that you have a substantial body of work before you get down to the real work which is all in . . .

2 The edit.

3 Always carry a notebook. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea for ever.

via Ten rules for writing fiction(part two) | Books | theguardian.com.

Dirty 30s! – The Lester Dent Pulp Paper Master Fiction Plot

The Lester Dent Pulp Paper Master Fiction Plot

This is a formula, a master plot, for any 6000 word pulp story. It has worked on adventure, detective, western and war-air. It tells exactly where to put everything. It shows definitely just what must happen in each successive thousand words.

No yarn of mine written to the formula has yet failed to sell.

The business of building stories seems not much different from the business of building anything else.

Here’s how it starts:

1. A DIFFERENT MURDER METHOD FOR VILLAIN TO USE

2. A DIFFERENT THING FOR VILLAIN TO BE SEEKING

3. A DIFFERENT LOCALE

4. A MENACE WHICH IS TO HANG LIKE A CLOUD OVER HERO

One of these DIFFERENT things would be nice, two better, three swell. It may help if they are fully in mind before tackling the rest…

via Dirty 30s! – The Lester Dent Pulp Paper Master Fiction Plot.

The Secret to Good Writing: It’s About Objects, Not Ideas – John Maguire – The Atlantic

If you ask freshmen to write about, say, The relationship between wealth and productivity in a market society, watch out. Few will notice that the terms relationship, wealth, productivity and market society need definition or examples. They will just move those vague terms around like checkers on a board, repeating them, and hoping that through repetition something will be said. The resulting paper will be mush.

The classic writers on style have talked about this abstraction problem going on a hundred years. Henry Fowler coined the term \”abstractitis\” for this multiplication of abstractions, about which he said:

A writer uses abstract words because his thoughts are cloudy; the habit of using them clouds his thoughts still further; he may end by concealing his meaning not only from his readers but also from himself.

via The Secret to Good Writing: It’s About Objects, Not Ideas – John Maguire – The Atlantic.

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Billy Graham’s grandson takes Christians to task: An interview with Tullian Tchividjian | On Faith & Culture

I love this so much.  Grace is what really sets Christianity apart from all other modes of faith.  It’s sad to see it get little more than lip service in the Christian world.

While attacks on morality will always come from outside the church, attacks on grace will always come from inside the church because somewhere along the way we’ve come to believe that this whole thing is about behavioral modification and personal moral improvement. We’ve concluded that grace just doesn’t possess the teeth to scare us into changing. As a result we get a steady diet of “do more, try harder” sermons; we get a “to do list” version of Christianity that causes us to believe the focus of the Christian faith is the life of the Christian. So we end up hearing more about “Christian living” than the Christ.

We think this will be what gets people to clean up their act, to fix themselves, to volunteer in the nursery, to obey, to read their Bibles, to change the world–but it actually has the opposite effect. A steady diet of “do more, try harder” sermons doesn’t cause people to do more or try harder…it makes them give up. Legalism produces lawlessness 10 times out of 10.

The fact is, that the solution to restraint-free immorality is not morality. The solution to immorality is the free grace of God. Only undeserved grace can truly melt and transform the heart. The route by which the New Testament exhorts sacrificial love and obedience is not by tempering grace but by driving it home. Charles Spurgeon nailed it when he said, “When I thought God was hard, I found it easy to sin; but when I found God so kind, so good, so overflowing with compassion, I beat my breast to think I could ever have rebelled against One who loved me so and sought my good.”

via Billy Graham’s grandson takes Christians to task: An interview with Tullian Tchividjian | On Faith & Culture.

The Secret to Motivating Anyone You Work With: How They React to Rules | The Daily Muse

In this video, bestselling author Gretchen Rubin explains how she divides the world into four different types of people based on how they respond to the idea of a rule. By identifying which category your colleagues fall into, you’ll be able to give them the right kind of motivation to help them succeed—and by understanding where you fall, you’ll be more likely to succeed in developing the “rules,” or habits, you want in your own life.

Watch and learn for advice that will change how you and your team work.


via The Secret to Motivating Anyone You Work With | The Daily Muse.