Archive for the ‘India’ Tag

India (Part 2): Healing   2 comments

Much of my life’s darkness metastasized from this one seed thought: I felt inadequate because I accomplished so little for God and I feared  his disappointment.  If I just did a little more, I could please him at last.  And so I drove myself to extreme lengths–choosing celibacy, relocating to a city of misery, sleeping little, fasting and praying weeks at a time.  But I could never do enough to feel secure in his love, because I used my fruitfulness or effectiveness to measure his blessing and pleasure, and the results did not speak well of me.  I subconsciously assumed that God’s love for me was based on my usefulness to him.  In this way, my success was fundamental to my well-being.

I lived 40 years out of that false assumption, building up a whole network, a fully functioning system based on that foundation.  It required a long process to break free.  For the last ten years I have applied the salve of grace to my deep wound of worthlessness.  Given time, grace works effectively for me when I can identify my specific need and saturate it with mercy.    So for a decade I worked on delinking God’s love from my success, even from my behavior or choices.  I was determined to rewire my thinking, conscious and unconscious, to ground all my well-being in the unconditional love of God.  Though I did not focus on my heartbreak in India, I did focus on those underlying issues, so when it came to opening myself to that shrouded past, I found the weight had largely lifted.

It was not fully lifted because there are always new aspects of that one great confusion of grace which I need to identify and work through.  As I planned for the trip, my wife warned me against a determination for good results, but rather to do my best and leave the outcome as it came.  She knows me well, and it was good counsel.  Still I felt dragged down too much by a sense of responsibility to succeed.

I have a long way to go, but I am moving in the right direction.  I always thought I was responsible and therefore in control of my own success.  As each string tying me to that assumption snaps, I find growing relief and peace.   Results matter, matter profoundly, but I am not responsible for results, only for motives and actions.  My heart is slowly embracing the unconditional love of God… even, amazingly, when my motives and actions are faulty.  God is always packed tight with grace bursting to be free.

Posted August 28, 2011 by janathangrace in Personal

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India (part 1)   3 comments

Well, I finally have a minute to sit down and share about my week in India, having returned last Sunday afternoon and started work Monday morning with 7 hours at Lynchburg College library and 4 hours of mowing grass.  It’s been a long two weeks and I’m grateful to finally be able to catch my breath today.  As many of you know, I served among the poor of India for 10 years and left behind a school and clinic for the poor.  I returned to the U.S. because I had been suffering deep depression for four years, which finally started dragging down my spiritual life.

I felt like a great failure.  Because of this blackness that surrounded my time in Kolkata, I spent the next decade avoiding any thoughts about those years.  Even with my wife, I shared only a brief synopsis.  It was this spirit-crushing sense of failure and the accompanying shame that drove me to a crisis discovery about myself and God, a lesson about grace that I have been sorting through since 2000.

In the last few years the administrative tensions between the Indian director and board had reached an impasse, and they asked me (as the founder) to come try to sort things out.  I realized that this would open once again the floodgate of feelings that I had dammed up all these years.  When I agreed to go I started thinking once again about India.  My greatest suffering there sprang from my shattered sense of worth based on my perceived failures, and as I processed with Kimberly I realized those cracks in my soul had been largely healed as I applied grace to the wound.  The timing, therefore, was providential.  I was ready to open up to that chapter of my life, to work at integrating those experiences into myself.

My week there was difficult as I got little sleep and was weighed down with a task that seemed unsolvable: the director had legal ownership of the land on which the school was built, and the board had all the money for running the school and paying the staff (including the director).   It was a power struggle waiting to happen, and for various reasons was largely my fault for setting things up as they were.  I did the best I could at the time, so I don’t feel culpable.  Perhaps I should rather say it was largely my responsibility.  I went 14 days ago with a plan that I thought would work, and it didn’t work.  I started to fast and pray as I had done so often before in India.  On the last day, at the last moment, we had a breakthrough, a resolution that seems likely to work.  I will continue to interact with the two parties to finalize the details, and if necessary, will return to India in December to complete the process.

Many thanks to your supporting thoughts, words, and prayers.

Posted August 27, 2011 by janathangrace in Personal

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