Authentic

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Most of us have standards for ourselves which are both impossibly high and yet shallow at the same time. We then attack ourselves for not being “perfect” in some way that won’t even matter in five years. Those attacks become habits and those habitual criticisms create a false self image inside ourselves. We think we’re not good enough because we don’t meed standards that are based on false expectations.

Be watchful of your thoughts- guarding your mind so ugly thoughts about yourself don’t become comfortable ruts that you stay in, over and over, until you’re stuck. Get out of the rut of false expectations and criticizing yourself for shallow failures.

Part of healing from this is accepting reality- your strengths, your weaknesses, the parameters of your situation. Another step in changing this cycle is replacing the negative thoughts with new thoughts.

Let the Jesus prayer be your “go to” thought.

Lord Jesus Christ have mercy upon me a sinner.

Be brave, be humble, just pray and let yourself be authentic with your Creator. Is that scary? He knows that authentic you and loves you.

You are a work in progress, slowly being transformed into His image.That authentic you is a beautiful child of God.

Image

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We try to understand ourselves with labels:

I’m an artist.

I’m an introvert.

I’m …not sure who I am.

I’m not enough.

We are like the blindfolded person trying to understand what an elephant is by feeling its toes. There’s so much more to us than we can comprehend in this life.

We feel confused because we can’t understand ourselves. Maybe we spend too much time trying to understand ourselves and giving ourselves psychological name tags - many of which actually limit us.

These things may be part of us, I may be shy, I may have artistic talent, and I may also be confused about where I fit in, but the heart of who I am is a child of God. I am an eternal being created by a God who loves me.

Let yourself unfold in the safety of God’s love, not with the shallowness of the world’s labels.

Our identity comes from being created in God’s image. When we look at Him and when we struggle to become more like Him, who we are becomes more natural for us.

Let Christ, the One who created you and knows your heart, be the foundation for understanding your identity.

We have eternal value...

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God created each of us to live forever, to be eternal. Noe one is a mistake. No one is unwanted in His eyes. Each of us has beauty and value in His love. Don’t forget that. When it’s hard to love yourself, let go of trying and remember that He loves you- scripture says He has lavished love on you! When it’s hard to love others, try to see them through His eyes. Every person has eternal value and is precious in the eyes of God.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are …. I John 3:1

Chastity, a Lovely Virtue

by Edna King

HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT OF CHASTITY AS A VIRTUE THAT GIVES US GREATER FREEDOM TO LOVE OTHERS?

Isn’t chastity for repressed, unattractive, joyless old people? The current secular view is that chastity is only about not having sex – which is viewed as unhealthy, and simply too much to ask of anyone. Why even discuss dusty old chastity?

Maybe we’d benefit from looking more closely at the definition of chastity.

According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, chastity is the quality or state of being chaste such as abstention from unlawful sexual intercourse, abstention from all sexual intercourse, purity in conduct and intention, and /or restraint and simplicity in design or expression.

It seems that chastity has a more nuanced meaning than we might have thought and maybe some shades of chastity are applicable to all of us, while other parts are for seasons or stations of life. Abstaining from unlawful sexual intercourse, or abstention from all sexual intercourse are the meanings of chastity with which we are most familiar,  but the others are also aspects of this lovely virtue. Having purity in conduct and intention seems like a good goal for anyone, while restraint and simplicity in design is a hallmark of elegance.

What is an Orthodox view on chastity? Russian Bishops, in a recent document, define chastity as an inner harmony of body mind and soul.  What images come to mind when you think of an inner state of harmony? Might chastity actually be a virtue that is lovely, peaceful, sane, and balanced?

“For what is chastity but a virtuous mind added to watchfulness over the body?” wrote St. Cyprian. He continued, “Chastity promotes the freedom in relationships that comes with innocence, and the beauty of modesty.”  Innocence, modesty, virtue-these are attractive qualities that a chaste life promotes.

What can chastity look like in your life, in your circumstances, especially during Lent?

Lent gives us opportunities to practice chastity by developing greater self-restraint, intentional prayer, and relying on God’s grace to help us.   During Lent,  we’re encouraged to restrict entertainment and other distractions but it’s a lovely time for building our friendships in person with one another and for deepening our prayer life. In place of expensive, rich, or too many fast food items, we can adorn our tables with fresh fruits, vegetables,  and simple but delicious meals. We experience the peace and beauty of somber penitential services- which are purposefully repetitive so we can be quiet inside ourselves and listen to God. Lent is an opportunity to practice some of these nuances of chastity and to bring greater harmony- physical, spiritual and emotional harmony- into our lives. All of these behaviors promote fidelity in marriage and wise restraint in singlehood– of heart, mind, and body.

Chastity is not a negative word, it’s not just about sex, it’s a positive state of beauty which results from freedom from passions which enslave us while paradoxically tempting us with false forms of the very freedoms they steal.  

For Further Reading:

  • Prayer Preserves Chastity – two words on prayer from    St. Ephraim the Syrian

  • A  document  by Russian Bishops about many social concepts including chastity: 

  •  Woven, Family Life Ministry’s book for teen girls includes the topic of chastity

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