Category Archives: walking with God

What if turning the other cheek is actually an Aikido move?

For clarity, I’m not attempting to exegete Matthew 5:39. In fact, this is about a conversation I had with my mom. (Quick aside – and dangerously close to a cliché – but I’m gladdened to report that both my parents have become incredibly, almost supernaturally, smarter in the past couple years.) *grin* I was sharing with my mom about a difficult situation I’m in the middle of and she told me a story. Four years ago she was doing a very intensive personal growth seminar. One of the exercises involved practicing some martial arts moves. As she relayed her thoughts about responding to the situation I was in, she said, “What if turning the other cheek is actually an Aikido move?”

First off, I’d like to acknowledge that as one of the greatest quotes I’ve ever heard from my mom. Second, something in my masculine heart screamed “YES!” at the idea. Aikido is a form of martial arts and the word aikido is generally translated as “the way of harmonious spirit.” There are many different forms of martial arts. Many of them practice actions which oppose an attacker directly. Blocking, punching faster, meeting a fist with an elbow, etc. Others, like Judo, focus on using an attacker’s momentum against them. The guiding principle of Aikido is unique in that avoiding the energy of the attack is balanced with not inflicting further harm upon the attacker.

For example, a Karate block might be designed to not only stop an incoming punch but also disable the attacking arm. The corresponding Judo move would try to use the energy of the incoming punch to throw the attacker to the ground. But in Aikido, the move would usually allow the energy of the attack to simply pass by. Not blocked, not redirected, just avoided. What is fascinating about this idea to me is that it feels so very like the Jesus I read about. When confronted with an attack, sometimes He met it head on by quoting scripture or telling a relevant story. Other times He simply walked away when it wasn’t time to fight. And I love the idea that perhaps in this passage, that’s what He’s trying to tell us.

As I prayed through my particular situation and asked for guidance, I felt strongly that the conversation with my mom had come up on purpose. Difficult situations have the potential to bring out the worst in people. I find that I normally default to continuing confrontation, aggressively pursuing the issue to resolution. Then I end up thinking about what I need to say in one of those sleepless nights. The kind where I mentally preach an awesome 2 a.m. sermon that convicts everyone else in the situation of their errors and ends happily for me with their repentance. But as I prayed into the situation, I began to feel God distancing me from the emotions of the conflict. Making it clear to me that my role in this wasn’t to be confrontational. Allowing me to step back and see that no one in the conflict was my enemy. At one point, addressing a few of my lingering concerns, I felt like God brought up the question, “How many of these last few areas that you feel strongly about are just you needing to be right?” And He was dead on. The last few things my flesh wanted to argue about were the places I felt wronged or misunderstood. I knew that I didn’t want to do further damage to anyone involved. But I needed this idea to help me step aside and let the conflict pass me by.

The whole process took a few painful weeks, but looking back, it feels incredibly valuable. Much like spiritual warfare, I don’t plan to pray that conflict won’t happen to me, I pray that my readiness and awareness will increase. That I will be able to recognize more quickly when attacks or negativity can simply be avoided, forgotten, let go. When they don’t even need to be addressed. The truth is that Jesus didn’t meet every attack head on – and I don’t need to either. Sometimes there are situations where someone isn’t even aware that they are attacking us. And we have the opportunity to simply turn the other cheek and allow the energy of the attack to pass us by unaffected without doing any further damage to the relationship.

 

What’s the offer?

In the last few years, more books have been written about pornography than ever before. That’s a good thing. The conversation around this difficult topic is finally starting. I am convinced that the vast majority of these books were written by well meaning individuals. Folks wanting to help others by share their stories and thoughts. But what are these well meaning folks actually offering to struggling men and their wives?

I haven’t read every book out there or walked through every program. But I’ve done quite a few of them. And I feel comfortable concluding that the vast (like almost every single one) focuses on the concept of recovery. Now, please hear me. I am a fan of counseling. I frequently recommend counseling as part of a journey toward freedom. I’m not against the concept or its application in the world of professional counseling.

However. In most of these programs, recovery is presented as the gospel of the program. The good news. The thing that if you do the program or follow the steps you will move toward or receive or be in. Recovery is defined in the Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary as “regaining or returning to a normal state.” As in, I used to struggle, but I’ve been in recovery for 6 months or 6 years or whatever. Or, our marriage has been so much better since my husband went into recovery. This greatly concerns me.

Let’s think about it from the perspective of a wife. Recovery. Really, that’s the offer? A return to our normal state? So if my man does everything right and I do everything right, I might recover what we lost? But….what I lost was a crappy marriage to a guy who struggles with porn! Why on earth would I want that back? For nearly every couple I’ve ever spoken with, returning to what was normal has not been a compelling offer.

But what if the offer really was extraordinary? What if the offer was freedom, not just behavioral management or sin management? What if the offer was supernatural instead of just a return to the old minus certain actions. Would that be worth pursuing?

Here’s the real offer to men and women, chock full of hope, restoration, and freedom:

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10, NIV)

Not WHO was lost, but WHAT was lost. What has been lost in your life? And what does God want to offer you?

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26, NIV)

Not a return to normal. Radical open heart surgery. A new identity at the level of your heart – the deepest, truest you. And why does He want to offer you that?

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10b, NIV)

So you can have life to the full. Not normal. Not partway. To the full.

Live simply so that you may live simply.

On our recent drive from Washington to Colorado, I had a startling realization. We were packing up for another day of driving and I was looking for my keys. *brief aside* I really hate giant key chains. The car alarm fob, a few trinkets, other car, house, office, shed, mailbox keys, Safeway, gym, and Blockbuster cards. The kind that swing and jingle from the ignition and tickle your leg as you drive. Ugh. *aside over* So we’re in Cheyenne, Wyoming and I looked down at the counter and saw…

 

Just. One. Key.

 

And it made me smile.

 

Really big.

 

 

Now I’m not knocking having those other keys. But we’ve found great joy in having less these days. Yes, owning a house is wonderful and having two cars is helpful and etc, etc, etc. Or is it? Our recent financial challenges have led us to some significantly different conclusions about money and wealth and the joy of living simply that we did not have before.

How many times have you heard someone lament, “What I really want to do is _______ but I just can’t right now.” The underlying, desire-killing reason they can’t? Isn’t is usually…stuff? Things that are actually tying them down or at least making them feel tied down? I’m not advocating selling everything you own and moving to the Philippines. Unless, of course, that’s what God is asking you to do. In which case, you should do it, like a couple I know.

Are there areas in your life where you feel led to live more simply? What are they? I’ve got quite a few that I plan to share in the coming weeks, but I’d love to hear about the areas in your life you are wrestling with feeling trapped or wanting to live more simply to find freedom. Please feel free to comment and share what is God doing in your heart.