Dear Kaleid Ladies,
Whew. We are on week eight of social distancing. The preeminence of the pandemic and the fog that hangs over the future has left us in an interesting place, hasn’t it? On the one hand, we are more present than ever. We are more in touch with what’s “under the hood” of our souls, our family’s souls, and the soul of our nation than we could ever imagined when, on an unsuspecting day in early January, we set lofty resolutions like “get to work on my inner work” or “eat more meals at home together.” On the other hand, we are getting lost in the hours, the days, and the weeks of undefined time with unrelenting sameness and uncertainty about making and keeping plans. It’s like being caught in a fog with only a magnifying glass. Not the easiest place, right?
Humans are people who like to know. We like to know what we will eat for dinner, where we will vacation this summer, whether the pool will be open, and if classes will be online in the fall. We like to know what to expect; but furthermore, we like to know where we can set our expectation--where it is reasonable to confidently hope--as we move ahead. This is human and it is reflective of the story God has been telling from the beginning. From Genesis 1, God has been a clear-communicating, story-building, promise-making, promise-keeping God. God displays active fidelity toward us, and God invites us to be promise-makers and promise-keepers in return. It is a very human, good thing to want to be in the flow of a story that is going places. We were made to participate in a narrative that is dynamic.
Right now in this blog, we are exploring the qualities of community as we learn to see one another and love one another well in this season. And, as we’ve mentioned, we’re talking about four traits that Christine Pohl writes about in her book, Living into Community. She says,“Christian community begins in gratitude, is sustained by our promises and truthfulness, and is expressed in hospitality.”
Promise-keeping, or the practice of fidelity, is a critical component of living freely and lovingly in a healthy community. When we can trust others, we can offer ourselves fully. When others can trust us, they are safe to grow in freedom. Because we can trust God, it is always safe to follow Jesus (even into the fog of the future armed with a magnifying glass for inner reflection.)
This pandemic uncertainty can create a sense of unease as we wonder what, if anything, about our assumptions for the future will remain trustworthy. However, it also provides a place where we can practice promise-keeping in new, small ways and where we can relax into the fundamental promises that undergird a universe held in motion by the power, love, and care of its promise-keeping Creator. The forward, community-building momentum of fidelity is still available to us, even now.
So, today, we offer you three practices that focus on fidelity and its power in community, even in the community of your own home.
Practice #1: God’s Fidelity
“God abounds ‘in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation’ (Exod. 34:6-7a). Even when we fail to keep our promises to God, God is faithful.” (Pohl, 67) Take time to celebrate God’s faithfulness, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. First, list the ways God has been faithful to His promises in the Scriptures. Then, list ways God has been faithful to you and your community. Finally, tell God the expectations and cares that you have as you ponder your future in light of His promises.
Practice #2: Islands of Predictability
“When we make and keep promises, we create ‘islands of predictability’ amid the ‘unpredictability of human affairs’ and the ‘unreliability’ of human beings.” (Pohl, 65) Promise making and keeping creates an atmosphere or stability, predictability, and trust in our relationships. Invite the Holy Spirit to show you where you are offering a stabilizing presence to those you love through your consistency. Also, take time to thank God for those who are offering a stabilizing, trustworthy presence to you by their consistency. Notice the trustworthiness that has had time to germinate in this season, and offer it back to God as a thank-offering.
Practice #3: Lord Jesus Christ, Have Mercy on Me, a Sinner
“When we break promises, we also betray relationships and erode community. Small betrayals often do a surprising amount of damage. They involve other broken practices--deception instead of speaking the truth, absence instead of welcome, grumbling and envy instead of gratitude.” (Pohl, 93) We are all promise-makers, promise-keepers, and promise-breakers. Ask the Holy Spirit to graciously open to you spaces of confession, forgiveness, and healing in places where your fidelity has faltered and your community has been injured. As you do, offer thanks to God for His steadfast love. Receive the grace of this verse: “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” II Timothy 2:13
Blessings on you today, friends!
The Kaleid Team