(Because I am reviewing two chapters at once, my discussion for each chapter will be shorter than normal. There is no way to possibly include everything from each chapter, without rewriting the whole chapter! But, if you have the book, I encourage you to take time with each chapter and allow God to speak to you concerning whatever topic is presented.)
Chapter 7 Vulnerability: The Secret Side of Strength
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
In chapter 7, Paula points out that when we think of being a strong woman, vulnerability is surely not the first thing that comes to mind. But it is, in fact, "the secret side of strength."
"To be vulnerable is to voluntarily place yourself, for the sake of a larger purpose, in a situation that could bring pain. You see something at stake - your own spiritual growth or someone else's - and you are willing to risk your heart in a vulnerable way."
This is definitely not the "strength" that is modeled in the world today.
But when we consider Jesus, we find a different model.......
Questions 3 and 4 of our study guide in the back of our book:
3. Christ came in the utmost vulnerability, laying aside His true splendor and beauty. Through His vulnerability and suffering God makes His power known. (Read Isaiah 53:2-3) What about His chosen vulnerability most touches you?
4. What's amazing is that Isaiah also shares the inner life of Jesus- how He felt in the midst of it all. What do you see as the secret of His strength?
"For the Lord God helps Me, therefore, I am not disgraced;
Therefore, I have set My face like flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.
He who vindicated me is near...Behold, the Lord God helps Me;
Who is he who condemns Me?"
When we take the time to share our heart with others, make our story known, then God is able to make His power known through us. But the truth is, sometimes we can't share our heart because all too often, our heart is what gets pushed to the side in our busy lives, making it unfamiliar territory.
In the section on Discovering Your Heart, pgs 94-98, Paula encourages journaling and quiet time (solitude) to help us get to know our own heart. I agree! She states that "it is incredible to see the way feelings and conclusions you did not know you even had slip out the end of a pencil!" :) So, dust off your journal that you got for your last birthday........
"The strength of vulnerability is the fire of a tender heart that forges steel in the soul. As difficult as it is to life with a vulnerable heart, it is far easier than camping out behind a facade."
Paula also addresses vulnerability in relationships all throughout this chapter. "We don't mend each other's brokenness, we admit our needs and let that draw us to each other and to God."
Chapter 8: Forgiveness: Experiencing a Heart Set Free
See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled. Hebrews 12:15
Another good chapter.....remember if you have the book, don't limit yourself to reading just what I post. There is so much more in the book! :)
I'm just going to list a few of my favorite quotes from this chapter.....
pg. 109....Unforgiveness probably looks like "...a dark, sticky cement that shuts down my heart, piece by little piece, and turns it into something as hard as stone......There is less of me to offer others, less of me that can really respond to God." This really got my attention.....less of me that can really respond to God....
pg. 110...."Fundamentally, we forgive because in Christ, we have been forgiven. The arms that embrace us are wide enough to embrace those who hurt us - and those we have hurt as well."
"A harbored wrong can control a life. It becomes what we feed off of, and we feel full of - occasionally even happy in our misery - but we are full of awful stuff."
On pg 113, she compares the heart to a garden that requires tending. "A root of bitterness is so potent it will invade other people's gardens, and worst of all, it will choke the grace of God in my life."
pg. 114...."The problem, so to speak, is that forgiveness offends our basic sense of justice. If we've been really hurt by someone we love, some voice in the core of our soul screams, 'It's not fair. This is not right.'"
pg. 115...."Recompense is an Old Testament word that acknowledges there is truly a debt to be paid......The idea behind recompense is that God knows the injustice we feel. It offends Him far more than it does us. And He is offering to repay the debt Himself - in His way and His time." (Kind of goes back to our chapter on trust!.....)
pg 117 ...."Forgiveness is about looking the pain straight in the eye and saying, 'God is bigger than this.'"
pg. 122..."We are such broken people - all of us, both victim and agent - standing in need of the grace of God."
pg. 123..."The reality of being forgiven means that we, of all people, have the freedom to admit when we are wrong."
Questions 4 and 5 from our study guide (pg. 222 - 223)
4. One passage I've turned to through the years is the story that Jesus told Peter when he wanted to be able to forgive seven times and no more. Take a few minutes to let yourself sink into the feelings that ricochet through the story of the ungrateful servant in Matthew 18:21-35. At what point in the story do you feel the weight of what you owe God? What kind of effect does the awareness of a cancelled debt have on you?
5. How would you complete this sentence: I want to forgive, but the thing that holds me back is........
Again, this is sooooo much in these two chapters! There's no way I could cover it all here! As I've said before, this will be a book that I read again and again and again. What spoke to you the most concerning vulnerability and forgiveness?
Angie and Jessica over at The Bloom Book Club posted Chapter 5 on Monday.....click here to read there discussion and watch the video!