My “Red Dot”

I realize that it has been a while since I have posted something on my blog. I also realize that my lack of posting primarily has to do with the fact that I am lonely. (All the guests at Whitchester Christian Guesthouse have left now except for me, so I go to meals in the beautiful dining room and find many tables filling the dining hall, but only one is set, and it is set for just one person—me.)

I acknowledge that most people would probably find the solitude to be a great time to fill a blog. But not me…and I am beginning to understand why.

One of the books I am reading (and have mentioned before) is The Papa Prayer by Larry Crabb. In the last couple of days two things in his book have really hit me and are helping me to come to grips with what is going on in me about this.

He talks about “relational sins,” and in his discussion of relational sins he talks about how we tend to be driven by fear that others will reject us. One specific thing he said about this especially hit me: “Loved kids figure out what keeps their parents loving them and then parade their virtues…or they become pastors, missionaries, good people who display their goodness for all to see.” Keep that in mind as I go on to the next matter.

He also talked about going to an unfamiliar shopping mall, finding the map of the mall and locating the “red dot” that tells us, “You are here.” He says that when we come to God in prayer we need to locate our “red dot.” We need to come to grips with where we actually are in our own hearts and moods and experiences when we come to God in prayer.

Now put the two together. As I tried to locate my “red dot” today, I realized not only am I lonely but also that I am afraid of admitting to others that I am lonely. I have tended to cope with my own fears of rejection in the very way that Crabb describes, by being a “good boy.” That leaves me quite hesitant to admit when I am not good or do not feel good. I think that if I really am a “good Christian” I should be able to rise above a little loneliness and trust God more and be very happy with my circumstances. Maybe that’s where I should be, but according to the “red dot” I am not there. I am lonely for now.

Serendipitously, I went to Jedburgh today to visit the beautiful ruins of a great ancient cathedral there. Before touring the cathedral, though, I visited the old Jedburgh Castle Prison. In the display they talked about the practice of solitude within the prison system. Prisoners were not allowed to talk to each other, and when they worked together (turning the mill wheel) they were blindfolded so that they could not even whisper to each other or mouth words to each other or use sign language between themselves. The display talked about how often prisoners went crazy from this forced solitude. Perhaps I shouldn’t complain too much about my loneliness.

I also thought about Jesus spending 40 days in the desert alone. I cannot imagine being in complete solitude for 40 days…but, then again, Jesus truly knew an intimacy with His Father that I have had just a nibble of but I pray that I will come to know it more fully.

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3 responses to “My “Red Dot””

  1. Nancy Smith says :

    Tom, I am reading your blog for the first time. Thank you for your heartfelt sharing of your “inner” and “outer” adventures that God is taking you on. Blessings as you continue your journey!

  2. Debra Tripp says :

    My God meet you in rich ways in the mean time.

  3. Nancy Hull says :

    I think of people whom I know who are retired and widowed and live alone, and this possible future scares me.

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