If you’ve been in the studio in the last few weeks, you will have seen these two giant post-it notes hanging on the wall explaining the Cycle of Grace. The information comes from Dr. Frank Lake in his book Clinical Theology.
This quote from Dr. Lake was part of our work on foundations in my last Yoga Teacher Training in September.
God's order for family is meant to set us firmly and securely in our identity as individuals.
It is the mother’s self-giving and secure nurturing in the first years of life that imparts an all-important sense of being or of well-being. The father’s vital role is in affirming the child's identity and calling that child into strength of character.
This is not to say that the love and affirmation of both parents aren't vitally important all along. It is simply to say that in the developmental steps the child takes, the parents do not have the same function.
--Leanne Payne, Restoring the Christian Soul through Healing Prayer
If these roles are fulfilled, then in adolescence when we fully separate our identities from our parents, we should easily be able to transfer the ability to receive nurture from mother to encounter the nurturing heart of God. We should easily be able to transfer the ability to hear affirmation from our father to hear the affirming voice of our Father God.
A mother’s voice reflects our Heavenly Father's nurturing heart and says: You have a place in the world. You belong. It's a good thing you are alive. You are loved.
A father’s voice reflects our Heavenly Father's affirming voice and says: You are a good man/woman. You can do this. I'm proud of you. I'm pleased with you.
With these foundations in place, we go on to build a life. We come to Jesus, hear His words, and do the things that He has spoken to us.
Few of us came through childhood with our foundations intact. Often our parents didn't know how to parent. They suffered from their own lack of being. They sinned. External circumstances may have compromised their ability to care for us. They did their best, but sometimes it wasn't enough. When this is the case, we come to that critical point of adolescence and are unable to make the transfer to receive satisfying nurturing and confident affirming in our Father God. It is so hard to stand up straight and tall and look to Him to tell us who we are, that we are loved, that we have a place in the world, that it's a good thing we are alive.
Consequently we find ourselves in a "bent" position, as C. S. Lewis calls it. We are bent toward something or someone, desperately seeking to know who we are.
Life is intended to work this way:
We are to experience acceptance, simply for being who we are.
If that is a regular part of our life, we experience sustenance because we are valued.
This gives us our significance, because we matter to others and to God.
Out of that grows our ability to make valued achievements in life.
In our bentness, we often turn things the other way around:
We try to achieve things,
so that they will give us significance,
which will sustain us
and enable us to accept ourselves.
I have used this understanding of the way grace flows as the meditation for my classes in recent weeks, and I’ve found myself looking at my own life, asking where I might be functioning in that upside down model. It’s a good question, a good exploration for me.
This verse from Isaiah 28:16 says, “So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic.”
A huge part of that foundation in Christ is knowing that I am loved, that I have a place, that my voice matters. These statements reflect the foundations of my personhood affirmed and blessed by a holy, loving God.
Various translations render those last words as need never be shaken, will not be in haste, will not be disturbed, will be unshakable, will never be disappointed. How often do you find yourself stricken with panic, in haste, disturbed, shaken up, or disappointed?
I’ve been looking at where those emotions rise up in me and realizing they signal a place where I am not living in the foundation of being that is mine to stand in.
Sometimes in a yoga class, we sit with a sensation. We learn to identify what it is, what our response to it needs to be, whether to yield to it or to back away from it. I think we can do the same thing with places of upside down grace. We identify them, we sit with them in God’s presence, and listen for what our response should be. Then we move gently into that response, standing where we need to stand, yielding where we need to yield, resting where we need to rest, and letting the truth of who we are resonate through our body, our mind, and our spirit.
It’s a good practice.
I’ll be sending out the affirmations we have used as meditations in my next newsletter. If you’d like to be added to the mailing list, click here and scroll to the bottom of the page.