Interesting data on perception of the Bible from new Barna study. As I have considered ways to evaluate the belief system of women at Titus 2, this is one of the things I evaluate…attitude toward the Bible. Usually breaks down into three: 1.) No relevancy today..just historical book of questionable value for people now, 2.) Good moral instruction for people generally, but confusing and difficult to read and understand, need someone to interpret it for me, 3.) Moral guide with value for use in my life as I study and it is illuminated in my heart through the work of the Holy Spirit. Watching women go in a few months from little or no Bible literacy to enthusiasm for the Word and the ability to read/understand/and apply it to their lives….that’s miraculous.
Had a 4th/5th step session today…what a blessing to hear the ways in which lives are being changed by new relationships with Christ! I am in awe of how great our God is. My heart is full of joy at the ways in which entire families are being touched by the witness of one changed life in their midst. We have two ladies who will be exiting in the next few weeks and four applications on my desk for interviews this week and another agency inquiry today. Every few months the names change, the circumstances change, even details in the house change as each group puts its “touch” on things to make it their own “space.” One thing doesn’t change. When a woman embraces the spiritual disciplines, the discipling friendships being offered, and study….God shows up and miraculous changes occur. An attorney who has known his client for many years responded today to some correspondence. He had met with his client yesterday after just a few months at Titus 2. His email said, “I can hardly believe the difference.” It made me and the young lady smile with gratitude for what God is doing!
There are occasions when meek, emotionally-controlled, wounded women come to Titus 2 who have been subjected to abuse in one or more forms- emotional, physical, financial, sexual, psychological, spiritual, or relational. They often have learned to be “people pleasers” at the expense of their own personhood. They are generally incapacitated, too, by anxiety and fear. Through prayer, Bible study, classes, counseling, and mentoring they discover their identity and value in Christ, learn how to set boundaries and say “no” appropriately, confront their fears, and stand up for themselves. I have witnessed several young ladies’ tentative steps in self-actualization, emerging differentiation and autonomy, practicing healthy boundaries, conquering co-dependency, and voicing their needs and desires with the confidence and perseverance necessary to actually go after those things. Each small victory is a celebration. They discover the strength and freedom they have in Christ and begin to walk confidently in their faith. A physical change sometimes occurs in them that is astonishing. It is certainly recognizable to their family and friends. They go from reluctance to make eye contact to being able to discern truth and contend with lies. They become equipped to train and discipline their children with consistency and determination. It’s a bit like seeing the joy and boldness observed in the disciples after the Resurrection in these emerging disciples of Christ today.
Loneliness….it’s not just women….”Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general of the United States, has said many times in recent years that the most prevalent health issue in the country is not cancer or heart disease or obesity. It is isolation……..In 2015, a huge study out of Brigham Young University, using data from 3.5 million people collected over 35 years, found
that those who fall into the categories of loneliness, isolation, or even simply living on their own see their risk of premature death rise 26 to 32 percent. Now consider that in the United States, nearly a third of people older than 65 live alone; by age 85, that has jumped to about half. Add all of this up, and you can see why the surgeon general is declaring loneliness to be a public health epidemic.”
I have not worked with a lot of families with children in foster care, but with enough to realize it is not always the best situation…..and considering that Bay County has the highest percentage of kids in foster placement in the state of Florida, I think it behooves us to be alert to the risks. I’ve had one young woman whose 2 year old in placement out of state was permanently disabled after nearly dying from traumatic head injury due to abuse in a foster home where too many children were being allowed to live. In another situation, we detected physical abuse of a toddler and had to report it, even though it was in a family placement setting. Two aged-out foster youth who’ve been at Titus 2 had been adopted and then un-adopted during their long years (10+) in the foster system in other states and wound up here in Florida as young adults trying to start their lives afresh. One young former foster system lady, after a close brush with a prostitution ring, told me that many aged out foster kids gravitate toward prostitution because they have been sexually exploited and abused so much that their sexuality means very little to them beyond a way to get what they want…they find the lure of the money more necessary than caring for their sexual integrity and health. Better support for struggling families, keeping kids with their biological families when possible, keeping them local where they can be better followed and observed, providing quality environments for children who must be removed from abusive or neglectful parents……much can be done. It must be done.
This TED talk provides an interesting view of how our culture talks about “love.” In a recent conversation with a young woman contemplating a relationship, her emotions were obviously being tugged at. The perspective presented here is VERY interesting. In our conversation I think we were able to “reframe” the concept of “love” and “relationship” she was considering in terms of a collaboration toward something beautiful and creative with contributions toward something long term and solid by both parties. It surprised me a few days later to discover that she had completely changed her consideration of this relationship. When one gets away from being driven by the unstable and exciting emotionalism of the moment…that same mechanism that is fed by drug use… and looks at a prospective relationship more long term and collaboratively, it sometimes is not so exciting, but much more rational and healthy. I think older, more mature people approach relationships this way instead of in the heady, giddy emotional way of adolescence. Although our culture certainly promotes and fosters such an adolescent fantasy approach.