Discussing Needs and Human Social Fabrics


Over the last month my friend Chris and I have been carrying on a dialogue regarding a number of issues related to group and social constructs within the Kingdom of God through the use of the Shapevine Community. It has been particularly in lightning for myself as I have been trying to picture these thought process in my own life and that of the Expressions Community.

Recently I have had the hope of continuing this dialogue here in Just Wondering… so that we might begin sharing this conversation with others who might like to join in and contribute to some of the thought patterns. Over the past few weeks I have found Chris to be full of wisdom and although I at times struggle to connect my own thoughts to the social processes we have discussed, I hope we have developed a friendship to which we each can learn from one another as we explore each others characters and passion to serve the community and Kingdom of God.

Bridging from the last post Chris left on Shapevine this is our continued conversation:

Here’s my best attempt at putting these things on paper. I teach this stuff, but always face-to-face, relying on body language to tell me when something I’m saying isn’t making sense. So, I’ll do my best here, and you can let me know if you have any questions.

What I’m hoping to share with you is a paradigm shift that I believe is fundamental to the “power-with” social structures presented in my writings on missional community and which I contrast to “power-over” social structures. These concepts may seem minor and ineffectual to you at first, and that’s okay. It took me 10 years from the first time I heard this stuff, until it completely “clicked” and when it did, let me tell you, my life has been turned upside down in the most wonderful ways that I could only explain as key to the work of incarnational ministry. I’m honored that you would allow me the space to offer this gift to you. It will take a lot of words for me to get it out there, so I understand if it takes you a while to respond and I once again thank you for bearing with me with this long-winded explanation. I hope you find it engaging!

***

One of my very wise friends once said to me that everywhere you go in the world, you will see people playing one of two games: The first game is called “Who’s Right and Who’s Wrong?” It’s a game that we all know. And as we all know- it’s a game that never ends well. The game is based on the idea that if you want to instill change in another person, for your benefit or theirs, you use tactics of punishment, reward, shame, duty, coercion, judgement, manipulation, and guilt to get the other person to think like you and submit to your wishes. We all know that’s not a very fun game. This game is also called the “power-over” game, because the person that overpowers the other is the winner.

The second game is also a game of power. But in the second game, the power distribution is cooperative/collaborative rather than competitive. It’s called “How Can We Enrich One Another’s Lives?” This game is based on the idea that it’s much more enjoyable and authentic to give and receive freely rather than from coercion. It’s also based on the idea that if we are able to collaborate in the midst of conflicts and get to the root of what we are needing in that moment, we can come up with ways to enrich everyone’s life without anyone getting the short straw.

To understand these two games, it’s necessary to understand three basic components that are at the core of our humanity:
• needs,
• strategies
(to meet needs), and
• emotions (which indicate needs).

I think that we can both agree that, as humans, God created us with some basic needs:

Physical needs such as:
air, food, movement/exercise, rest/sleep, sexual expression, safety, shelter, touch, and water.

Needs for meaning such as:
awareness, celebration of life, challenge, clarity, competence, consciousness, contribution, creativity, discovery, efficacy, effectiveness, growth, hope, learning, mourning, participation, purpose, self-expression, stimulation, to matter, understanding, honesty, authenticity, integrity, presence, play, joy, humor, peace, beauty, communion, ease, equality, harmony, inspiration, and order.

Needs for autonomy such as:
choice, freedom, independence, space, and spontaneity.

Interdependence needs such as:
connection, acceptance, affection, appreciation, belonging, cooperation, communication, closeness, community, companionship, compassion, consideration, consistency, empathy, inclusion, intimacy, love, mutuality, nurturing, respect/self-respect, safety, security, stability, support, to know and be known, to see and be seen, to understand and be understood, trust, and warmth.

And finally, our spiritual needs-
to be in relationship with God, and to contribute to other’s relationship with God.

Quite simply- when our needs are being met, we are thriving as human beings, fulfilling our basic nature as God created us. When our needs are not being met, we wither away and die.

***

Everything we do in every moment of our lives, is an attempt to meet a need within us or another person. Think about it, what have you ever done that wasn’t in some way trying to meet a need? Even in our most unproductive moments, we are often trying to meet a need for rest, relief, or safety.

The way that God created us is elegant and beautiful. Since he gave us needs, he designed our bodies with a technology that tells us the state of our needs at any given moment. And that technology is our emotions. Emotions are like the dashboard lights on a car that say “check engine.” They indicate the state of our need’s metness and unmetness and move us to respond.

There are a whole series of emotions that come up when our needs ARE met, such as:
affectionate, amazed, amused, blissful, calm, cheerful, contented, elated, enthusiastic, exhilarated, free, friendly, glad, grateful, happy, hopeful, inspired, interested, joyous, loving, moved, optimistic, peaceful, refreshed, relaxed, satisfied, serene, thankful, thrilled, warm, wonderful, etc… just to name a few.

There are another series of emotions that come up when our needs are NOT being met, such as:
afraid, aggravated, agitated, angry, annoyed, anxious, bored, broken, concerned, confused, depressed, detached, disappointed, discouraged, exhausted, fearful, frustrated, gloomy, heavy, horrible, hurt, jealous, lazy, lonely, mournful, panicky, passive, sleepy, uncomfortable, uneasy, upset, withdrawn, worried, etc… again- just to name a few.

The problem is that our emotions are vague at best, and we may decide to take actions that don’t meet the needs that are causing the emotion. For example, we feel lonely, because we have a need for connection, so we decide to turn on the TV and it seems to pacify the lonely feeling. Success! (or so we think) We then develop a habit of going to the TV whenever we feel lonely, only to wonder why we are more and more unfulfilled with each passing day and that lonely feeling becomes a constant, dull hum in the back of our minds which we can never entirely escape.

***

The key is to realize the difference between needs and strategies. Spending time with our best friend is not a need, but a strategy to meet the needs for connection, acceptance, affection, appreciation, etc… Smoking cigarettes is not a need, but a strategy that meets the need for comfort, while sacrificing the need for health. How we dress, how we talk, what friends we choose, what job we work at, what kind of car we drive, our political opinions, the books we read, lifestyle covenants, how we choose to invest our time and money, these are all strategies we come up with to meet needs. The power of distinguishing the two is that once we start to see our needs, and the needs of others, we can begin to find strategies that are purposely attempting to meet them, rather than arbitrarily pacifying emotions, or doing things because it’s “the right thing to do” or because we “have to” or “should” do something based on the demands or expectations of other people.

The realizations that I have made with needs, emotions, and strategies is significant in and of itself when it comes to being able to consciously thrive in the world, but there are further implications of this as well. When we realize that most of the world relates on a strategy-level, we might begin to realize that this results in not only our own unmet needs, but it is the cause of nearly all relational conflict. We approach people often by evaluating their strategies and determining if they are right or wrong. Then we face the decision of whether to confront their “wrongness” with our own “right” strategies. At that point, they have the choice to either submit or rebel. To submit, they would acknowledge that they are wrong and that you are right. To rebel, they would refuse to align with your strategies in favor of their own.

(As an illustration- Ask yourself if you really want your wife to do the dishes because it’s “the right thing to do”, and therefore do them out of obligation, or because she sees it as an opportunity to enrich your life and hers, and therefore does them with joy?)

***

Some additional thoughts to chew on:

Hearing a “please” or a “thank you” in every difficult message

Everything people say and do to another person can always be boiled down to a “please” or a “thank you.” Those pleases and thank yous are always connected to a need, and if we have the eyes to see it, we can connect to any action or word and see it as an opportunity given to us to enrich a life, or an appreciation for an opportunity taken that did enrich life. That is a world of a difference from the right/wrong game that approaches every word and deed as a chance to manipulate through reward and punishment.

Selfishness / Selflessness / Self-FULL-ness

One of the big misunderstandings of “needs consciousness” is that it is selfish. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Strategy consciousness is in fact the paradigm where we find the dualism of selfishness and self-lessness. Selfishness is the attempt for a win/lose situation and it is the same as rebelling. Self-lessness is also attempting for a win/lose situation and it is the same as submitting. In both selfishness and self-fullness, the goal is win/lose, but the outcome is always lose/lose because it sets up a “my needs vs your needs” schema, which denies the “winner” of the opportunity to enrich the “loser’s” life.

The alternative is “self-FULLness.” Self-fullness is to attempt a win/win and it is the same as humility. Not the self-deprecating type of humility that is promoted in many churches today, but true, biblical humility, which is simply a full acknowledgement of what we are: human. Not God, but human. No less, and no more. Needs are one of the most powerful characteristics of humanity, because every one of us has the same needs, and no matter how different our strategies all might be, at the root of it all is a human with human needs. Needs are cross-cultural, cross-gender, the same for children as for adults. The only people that don’t have needs are dead people.

The difference between us humans in regards to needs, are the metness or unmetness, and aliveness or dormancy of those needs. A child, for instance, still has a need for sexual expression, but that need is dormant within them. Someone who is struggling for survival, lost in the wilderness, has a need for play just like the rest of us, but at that moment, it is not what’s most alive for them. For some people, the need for a relationship with God is dormant, but it is still there, and sooner or later will rise to the surface.

With regards to truth

Another misunderstanding of needs-consciousness is that it is relativistic in regards to the truth. This also, could not be farther from reality. Both the right/wrongers and the needs-conscious people believe in truth. The right/wrong thinkers attempt to over-simplify truth into two broad categories of right/wrong, good/bad, etc… The need-conscious people want to know what needs were met or not met in a particular situation. They recognize that most things deemed “good” have negative consequences and most things deemed “bad” have at least some positive consequences, and they want to have full information, and not an over-simplified generalization of the truth.

Empowerment

My definition of power is “the ability to unleash resources to meet needs.” The more money we have, the more resources we have to meet needs for shelter, food, and certain forms of play and comfort. In this way, money is power. The more friends we have, the more resources we have for support, comfort, empathy, connection, etc… In this way, having friends is power. The more education we have, the more resources we have for understanding, empathy, contribution to others, etc…. In this way, education is power. Money, friends, education,…. these are all resources to meet needs. When people fix their eyes on one particular way of making money, and don’t see the vast world of opportunity, they don’t have much power. When people put all their relational needs on one person, they are limiting their relational resources and therefore, don’t have much power. The way to empower people is to simply help them become aware of the needs they are trying to meet. When they take their eyes off of those limited number of strategies and resources, and become aware of needs, they can then see that the world is full of vast resources to meet their needs, which then opens up worlds of opportunity that can make creative, win/win strategies more possible, thus giving us peace on earth (or at least that’s the idea).

***

In Summary

When we ask ourselves what’s wrong with a situation (like some of the situations you have described to me), we might rely on our gut to tell us, we might rely on the WWJD question or Bible verses taken out of context, we might rely on what will best avoid conflict with our spouse or friends, we might rely on what feels best in the moment, we might rely on what will make us most popular, the list goes on and on of ways that we come to know what to do with a wrong situation. And very seldom do all these voices ever agree, so be prepared for confusion.

When we ask ourselves what needs are and aren’t being met in a situation, all we need to do is get in touch with our needs, the needs of other people, and the needs of God and ask ourselves what needs are most alive for us all in the present moment, and if we can think of a better way to meet them if they’re not being met, and celebrate if they are!

So, whenever anything is troubling us, we can ask ourselves what’s wrong and how to make it right (if we want to be confused) or we can ask ourselves what needs aren’t being met (if we want to have the clarity to live authentically, effectively, and intimately with ourselves, others, and God.)

Well…. as much of a mouthful as that was, that’s just the tip of the iceberg! I tell you- I could write a book about this stuff. There really is a lot more. But I’m gonna stop there so I don’t overwhelm you with more than you can chew on.

Let me know what you think and if this resonates with you or not, and if you have any questions I’d be blessed to hear them!

Best regards,
Chris

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5 thoughts on “Discussing Needs and Human Social Fabrics

  1. Chris,

    I too identify with these two games. Too often I think many disassociate themselves with their own personal connection both to their needs and those of others in order to fulfill either gambit of the game. Life in itself is no longer personal but “Lorded over” by conceptualizations and corporate agendas (church, government, community social standards, ect.). Is that fair to say or overstated?

    These needs to which you identify remind me a lot of ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’. I remember them because I struggled with the humanistic internal drive that Maslow seemed to depend on himself. I was glad to see the Spiritual needs you extended at the bottom.

    Internal human needs most definitely drive much of what we do and shape the actions we take. However, “truth” (that is truth in needs) does not solely exist within internal frameworks whether personal or communal. Truth and the needs which it extends is an identity which lies both internally and externally from human nature and as such may contain more definement then we ourselves can comprehend.

    A metaphorical example: I recently read Bob Goudzwaard’s book ‘Hope in Troubled Times’. In it he tells a story depicting human insight being like that of a submarine. We have a complete awareness to the realities and needs which make themselves apparent WITHIN the submarine. However, there are still many dangers and needs which exist outside of the submarine. To see them we must extend a periscope and look at 360* of where we find ourselves to be.

    Likewise, if all we seek is to fulfill the “internal need”, we will only end up damaging our own outer natures and catastrophically perhaps fall pray to our own destruction/implosion.
    What is our “periscope” in human nature? Personally, I feel we find it in the life and character of Jesus. He provides direction, leadership, hope, and truth. In him my needs are met.

    Is this a strategy? Perhaps… but in truth I hope not. Is following a living example through personal connection a “strategy”. I am not sure. In my inner most nature I try to rebel against forming strategy as you may have recognized my favorite quote from Gregory of Nyssa.

    I am not meaning this in a black or white, right or wrong way. As I have written before, I write to put things out in front of me so that I can work it through. That said, I find myself drawn more to think of what needs I may have and how they relate to this “idea”. Am I being to “deconstructive”? What do you think? Am I over complicating things? In truth, I need to think more about this.

    Chris, I would love to hear some of your story. Who and what is your “tribe”? In your bio you talk about counseling. Are you a councilor by profession? What kind of art do you practice? I would love to see some of it as I have family who are artists as well and I enjoy taking it in! Anyways, I look forward to your response.

  2. Great thoughts Erik. I’ve been hit with a dose of extra-busyness with school starting up again and life in general getting filled quickly with more social plans than there is room for in my schedule. I am however looking forward to carving out time every couple days to continue this dialogue with you. (Just wanted you to know why I may be delayed in responding) Also- because of my own time limitations, I’m going to limit my responses to the few key points that jump out most boldly in my mind. Feel free to continue dogging for any of your thoughts that I’m not addressing in this post, and I’ll know to respond to them next time.

    ***

    A quick word regarding “truth”- you stated: “Truth and the needs which it extends is an identity which lies both internally and externally from human nature and as such may contain more definement then we ourselves can comprehend.”

    Well put. I would agree with you on that. I am sensing however, that we may have miscommunicated on this issue of truth, because I was not intending to speak of truth being attainable or definable, but more so, what I was attempting to point out was this: Any time the issue of truth is raised (between two people in conflict for example) the “please” from each person is overlooked in the pursuit of truth, which as a thing, is often ineffectual to the underlying purposes of both people.

    By way of example, would you be willing to share a situation from your life where you recently had a conflict with another person where a particular truth was in debate? (Then we could dialogue about that situation and explore the topic of truth in that context.)

    ***

    In regards to the submarine metaphor- that’s an interesting metaphor! I like the lesson in there to look beyond ourselves as we navigate through life. I would say that if you see a danger of your needs, and the needs of others not being met by having the periscope down, then that much more reason to raise the periscope and consider those needs outside the submarine that are now in view. In my article I mentioned the importance of considering the needs of others as well as ourselves, so yes, I agree that the periscope is a good thing to have up at all times.

    You mentioned the idea of Jesus being our periscope in this metaphor. You’ve lost me on that one. Could you elaborate on exactly how he is a periscope? I would enjoy any examples if you could think of them.

    You also mention that Jesus meets all your needs. I admit that that sounds like a really nice thing to say, but I once again am not sure if I follow. If you look at all the needs that I inventoried in the above article, can you honestly say that all your needs are currently met, or potentially met, entirely through Jesus? If so, I’d be interested in hearing more about how that works.

    In response to your question: “Is [Jesus] a strategy? Perhaps… but in truth I hope not.” Here’s my line of thinking on that- Jesus is a noun, not a verb. Jesus is a resource for us in all sorts of ways, but in and of himself, he is not a strategy. Accepting his gift of eternal life through faith is a strategy. Looking to scripture for Jesus’ wisdom is a strategy. Turning to Christ for strength in a moment of prayer is a strategy. And, sure, I would say that following a living example through personal connection is a strategy. We could think of many more ways that Jesus is a resource for us in all kinds of strategies we might come up with.

    One of the powers of needs-consciousness is that it provides common ground for two people who might otherwise disagree on the strategy-level. Most people can all agree on the list of needs that I have inventoried above. (Except the need for a relationship with God, which is a need that I personally believe to exist, but an atheist would not be able to relate with until they explored their yearnings and were able to consider such a need to exist for them) When I am interacting with someone who is not a Christian, I would not impose that need onto them if that is not something that they are ready to accept. I would instead play the role of a mid-wife and explore with them what is tugging at their heart until they are able to recognize relationship with God as a need. Once again, since I believe it is there, I don’t impose it on people, but draw it out from them and allow that realization to be awoken from within them.

    ***

    You asked me to share a bit of my own story. Once again, I’m honored that you would be interested.

    I grew up spending the weekdays with my mother and the weekends with my father. Both my parents were spiritual seekers to varying degrees and they encouraged me to investigate all the various religions and philosophies out there- except Christianity and Satanism. Because according to them, those were the only two religions that were based on hatred.

    I was a very spiritual kid and I desired a connection with God so much that I set aside time to pray every day and would also meditate for at least a few hours every week. When I was 12, I had a near-death experience where I encountered God. After that encounter, I had the ability to hear God’s voice on a constant basis (which is something that I had never had before, as much as I wished for it). He began revealing himself to me as we would go for long walks and talk with one another. One day, he told me to go to my friend Justin’s house, and that there would be someone there who I could talk to about Jesus. (I didn’t know that Jesus was a religious figure, or claimed to be God, or anything, since I had been so sheltered by my parents) So, I was curious who Jesus was and why God was wanting me to know about him, so I got to my friend Justin’s house and it turned out that his two cousin’s were visiting for the day from out of state. The first thing that they said to me when I walked in was “Chris, do you know Jesus?” I was astonished! I said “no, but can you tell me about him?” We sat down, and I explained my story to them and they said that God had also told them that a young boy would be dropping by in search of knowledge about Jesus.

    As they told me about Jesus and the gospel, I couldn’t help but jump in, finishing their sentences. The things that God had told me during our conversations were the same things that they were then telling me. We had a great time connecting and sharing and that day I prayed, along with them, to Jesus, thanking him for his sacrifice for my life and asking him to be my Lord and Savior.

    There’s a lot more to my story. A lot happened in my life over the following years!

    Fast forwarding to the summer after I graduated high school, I had been working in my city as a missionary and I planted a church along with some of my friends. It was originally planned to be a missional community, but because we had over 300 Christians from other churches come to our first gathering, wanting to be a part of it, the pressure from everyone to make it a traditional church was too great. We succumbed to the pressure and my friend Ron reluctantly assumed the role of “head pastor” and we dished out 100 grand on a down-payment for an old vacant Lutheran building. Our original purposes were lost and we quickly got weighted down with services to plan, bills to pay, and programs to implement- and we became completely ingrown. No missionary work at all. However, I continued doing my missionary work along with some other missionaries that had opted out of the church shenanigans in favor of a small little 10-member missional community. I continued to help out at the church for a few years, until I realized that I was spreading myself too thin, at which point I resigned from my role there.

    I have continued doing indigenous missionary work since then, and about 6 years ago, the missional community that I was a part of sent me to Bellingham to plant a new missional community here. It has been more difficult than I had thought it would be.

    When I first moved to Bellingham, I naturally gravitated toward the artist and activists in town. That was only natural, since I was starting to pop up every friday night at the art walk, and I started taking art classes, and I got involved with a peace activism group in town, and started hosting workshops at my house, pretty soon I was being invited to potlucks, where I would meet more and more people, who would invite me to other potlucks… There is a lot of interconnection with the artists/activists in town, and before I knew it I was an integral member of the tribe!

    More recently, the tribe has shifted quite a bit. Other types of people want to be a part of our community, and now it is just a big variety of people who are interconnected with the rest of us. Funny enough, I am the only Christian, in a group that is about 300 people!

    I have developed a reputation in town as “the guy you go to when you need counseling, mediation, support, or just need to talk.” I get calls from all sorts of people, wanting a chance to meet with me. I have one regular client, who I meet with on a consistent weekly basis, for counseling, and the rest of my week is usually filled with more sporadic appointments.

    So, that’s the long and short of it. I hope you’re blessed by my story. Now, I’m interested in knowing more about your story. I watched that YouTube video that you have, which shows photos of you growing up, leading up to the car crash, and then your marriage to Bonnie. I would be very interested to know more.

    I look forward to your response.

    Blessings,
    Chris

  3. Thanks Chris for sharing your story! I am very much a face to face person myself and having a high value to authentic openness, I find it easier when I can “know” the person to who I am conversing with. This way it seems a little more open to personal expressions.

    I too have been flooded with the pressure of time as I have been trying to write a business plan for Expressions. That said, I have been really drawn into our conversation regarding a needs consciousness community and the ideas we have been expressing. This is GREAT STUFF!

    ***

    I have been thinking a lot about the first point within a needs framework particularly with regards to my own needs and what form they take. My statement with regards to Jesus was perhaps rash in being stated and was meant to be more metaphorical in that I tend to see his “identity” within most of my relationships. Perhaps it is an idealistic over expectation on my own part but I tend to think that Jesus is present in all places and all people. We just need to seek it out, expect it, and bring awareness to him.

    Yes… right… my own needs. Dismissing any “categorizing” of descriptions, I find myself very much identifying with much of the content described. In previous thought I might have considered the process being one of gathering the “community” first and then addressing the needs. Perhaps in the reality of things it is better to reverse the paradigm so that by first addressing the need individually so that the gathering of “community” forms more naturally. I must admit easier said then done… at least for myself that is.

    Here is the problem as I have encountered it. I have a high need for the pursuit of equity, particularly through the serving of the “poor” at the Mustard Seed. Due to what seems like an over appreciation to independence and the use of “That’s not my gift!” it is harder to create a communal gathering of like minded people within the local surrounding (i.e. my “church”). It is much easier to throw money and used property to these “ministries” then it is to actually get physically involved.

    The solution as I have come to hold hope. Use Expressions as a connective environment to build relationships with those in the wider community (i.e. not in the “church”) who might form this communal outreach and search for equitable principles and embodiment.

    Admittedly, my learning curve and frequent checking and rechecking is to address the need first and hold hope for the gathering to follow. To put it bluntly, “I am tired of being alone!”

    ***

    With regards to truth and its exploration: It is difficult for me to illustrate an exact encounter where I might see this at play within my own framework; however I will try.

    Over the past few months I have been in a dialogue with the pastor of Bonnie’s and my church (McKenzie Towne Church) with regards to our hopes and dreams for the Expressions Community. I have been very open with my increasing discomforts of the lack of external vision the traditional “model” approach to the issue of church seems to have (not at all connecting it with MTC’s vision).

    That said, I have tried to articulate our hopes for the Expressions community to be one of external autonomy from the “(C)hurch” and yet embodying and extending the expression of the Christian faith to all who are a part of it (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or otherwise). He has found it difficult to identify it as such. Paraphrased response: “Is it not then just another group which is a part of McKenzie Towne Church?” Even within that he already expressed discomfort with the level of inclusiveness to which I had expressed.

    I personally follow Jesus as my Lord and Savior. However as I articulated earlier it is for this very reason that I believe he is present within the lives of all people regardless of race, religion, or ritual practice. The calling is to bring awareness to his presence within each “moment” so that the things of unimportance might be discarded. Perhaps I am in error.

    Maybe I am not illustrating this correctly but let me know if this is connecting with your thoughts.

    ***

    The periscope as Jesus (I will be brief): I remember one time reading a Philip Yancey book called ‘The Jesus I Never Knew’ and he gave an illustration to Jesus being like a window to which we could look through and see God. It has always stuck with me.

    Likewise, Jesus is a periscope to which we might see God, truth, light, and life in all situations and people. In seeing it/him we can perhaps act more within the way we should to each moment, place, and person. I might even extend this (periscope) vision to including not just the human community but that of the environment and others. Interesting thought… as a periscope you can never see the entire 360* in any one moment.

    ***

    O.K. I seem to be writing to much and if I am boring you I apologize. About me…

    For a large part of my youth I grew up an only child in a single parent family (my mother) until I was about eight with little contact with my father. We were quit “poor” to some extent and my mother had many health issues. Following that my father and I are developing a closer relationship these days. Regardless, life is good to me as is God!

    I have seen a good amount of Canada and the Upper States through traveling and enjoyed much of the outdoors prior to my accident. I have always had a passion for sports particularly football and the Martial Arts as you may have noticed my side bar (I trained in Kung Fu for ten years and have studied Aikido for the last two).

    I grew up in a church framework however, I wouldn’t say I was a follower of Jesus until after I was in my wheelchair. Much of my walk in faith with regards to its starting point is described here if you would like to check it out: http://iamjustwondering.net/about/.

    I must admit to being a bit of a “Maverick” in that I tend to do things alone a lot of the time however, I don’t necessarily like too. I enjoy reading non-fiction books, watching movies, and writing. I mostly enjoy hanging out with friends at the local Starbucks however Bonnie thinks I spend too much time there. Perhaps, that is the greater need for my own coffee shop!

    Anyways, I hope to perhaps look deeper into some of the other points you brought up in the original post in the next little bit. I look forward to your next response!

    With God’s Blessings,

    Erik

  4. Some more thoughts on truth…

    It is a cold day here in the Calgary area Chris, with blowing winds and expected snow for the next couple days. It is going to go down to – 25*C by tomorrow! I will probably post some pictures in the next couple days.

    Anyways, I have been giving some thought to this idea of truth this morning and rereading much of our conversation. One thing seems to stand out to me and that is that truth seems to be very close to the idea of empowerment also.

    In an attempt to define it I might say that truth/empowerment is an “acknowledgement to everything within a given moment which gives direction and ability to respond in a relational manner to a perceived need.” The relational manner not necessarily being between two people but perhaps the individual and their central spiritual identity/narrative.

    The perceived need though must find greater definition. Is it purely something which can only be determined by trial and error? (As you pointed out a “gut instinct”.) For me it seems there has to be more too it then that. Yes, Jesus is a noun and as the embodiment of truth/empowerment itself I can’t dismiss my need or desire for HIS absolute. That being said, I also acknowledge the paradox that if HE is truth… I am not and cannot fully comprehend its entirety. What I perceive does not necessarily encompass the entire need. To say it does would become an ideology and ultimately an idolatry of the self (selfishness/selflessness). How then do I take the right steps to comprehending and acting in correct “strategy” as the character of truth/empowerment (Jesus) without responding to an ideological preconceived need? (God! A lot of this is just floating in my own head so please don’t ask me for an example right now! Ha ha!)Perhaps I am over thinking this myself.

    ***

    The need for God or spiritual identity…

    It seems to me that a large part of this need comes from an acknowledgment to the need for a Savior. As I tried to put into words earlier, there seems to be a paradoxical relationship between us (humanity) and Jesus (God). The need being one not of just a God who exists but a character or identity which gives a greater definition to that which is corrective truth for all and in all. Just some random thoughts.

    ***

    Chris, I also spent some more time on The Grid this morning. I have come to really appreciate much of the expressions coming out of your soulful projections. They really are quit beautiful and deeply stirring for myself. I thought I might share some of my own connections.

    Your picture of ‘Voluntary Solitude’ I connected with my own fear of eternal judgment. I must admit that one of my greatest fears in self judgment is to face eternity in the blackness of being totally alone. Not exactly a positive projection I know but perhaps a common connection. What was your meaning behind the picture?

    I also really liked the ‘Rivers’ picture along with the music. I really must protest your use of the David Hasselhoff picture however. Why did you choose this picture?

    All said, these are great expressions and I have come to see the connections you bridge them with in the parts of your life that have deep and significant meaning to you. I can only question what picture you might connect our conversation to one day. I await your response!

    With Blessings,

    Erik

  5. Hey Erik,

    Just wanted to let you know that I haven’t forgotten to reply, just REALLY busy right now. I’m looking forward to setting aside some time really soon. (Hopefully within the next couple days). Thanks for your patience and I hope all is well with you and Bonnie.

    -Chris

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