Tuesday, March 17, 2009

a little chiastic structure

I noticed a license plate today that made me think. A woman in a mini-van was speeding along beside me into a left turn lane that actually didn't exist yet. You know... she wanted to turn left, but had to drive along the median to make it into the turn lane while the arrow was still green.

ALWAYS L8

Cute.

But I was thinking, "Why do you want to resign yourself to that? Being late isn't a positive attribute in life. Why not work toward change? Why not start telling yourself you are ON TIME?"

Maybe putting that on her license plate was an excuse to the world: I'm ALWAYS L8, so just deal with me and get out of my way. I'm in a hurry.

I studied a similar concept this morning with a group of women from my church. We get together on Tuesday mornings to discuss a Bible study on the book of Esther. I know. It probably sounds kind of boring. But the author, Beth Moore, has a way of bringing to life a story that we have heard countless times before. And she has a way of challenging us with some amazing truths.

Today we learned about a literary device called "chiastic structure". (To my Bible study mates, I might not explain this properly... ) To explain it very loosely, the chiastic structure is when a key part of the story reverses itself and becomes the opposite. A problem becomes a solution. A negative becomes a positive.

For example, "Don't live to eat. Eat to live." Or "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country."

This seems to be a theme in my life lately. I have been learning that I don't have to BE what I have always been. The very thing that has been a challenge in my past can be a source of joy in my future.

A prime example for me is on the topic of forgiveness.

The chiastic structure might look something like this:

Unforgiveness limits choices.
Choosing forgiveness gives freedom.

(OK... I know my structure wasn't exactly chiastic, but just hang with me anyway. It's the point that counts, right?)

I didn't even realize until a few years ago that my brain had been trained to hold a grudge. Of course, I knew that I should forgive when it came to a close friend or a family member. But what about a stranger, someone who cut me off while driving, a teacher or even an institution, such as a business or school? It's OK to hold a grudge against someone or some THING, right?

But unforgiveness limits choices:

Think of the pizza place that forgot half of the order for the hot lunch program at school and the kids had to miss recess to eat the late pizza. "I will never order from that restaurant again!" I don't need to forgive a pizza place, do I?

But that choice limits me from eating their very tasty pizza. Or I could choose forgiveness. Pizza delivery drivers are humans after all, aren't they?

Or how about the doctor who made tons of mistakes when I gave birth to my first born? (A c-section without proper anesthetic? A cut bladder? A baby with a horribly traumatic birth?)

Without forgiveness I might never have another child. Worse, I would blame the doctor for challenges that have come up through life. The unforgiveness turns to bitterness and soon I'm blaming that doctor I barely knew for a long list of issues. Or I can choose forgiveness and enjoy my healing and that of my son. She is a person, after all, who makes mistakes.

How about a relative who makes me mad? Or a friend who violates a trust?

Unforgiveness could limit me from attending a family gathering. Or from making new friends. Or seeking reconciliation. Choosing forgiveness gives me freedom to have lots of healthy relationships in the future.

Of course, this doesn't mean we shouldn't set boundaries (limits), if necessary, in situations to avoid repeated abuse. Would I let that doctor deliver ANOTHER child of mine?!? NO WAY! But does that mean I can't forgive her?

You know what's crazy about forgiveness? It seems that the minute I have (attempted at least) to forgive everyone from my past, there's someone new to forgive. Someone makes a snide remark. A driver cuts me off in traffic. Or it could be something truly momentous. Lots of people are faced with the choice to forgive a complete stranger who has altered their life forever through a car accident or a crime.

And that's why it's so important to live a lifestyle of forgiveness... so the automatic choice in every situation is to forgive, rather than hold a grudge.

I have a long way to go on this issue and many others. (This one was easiest to explain.) But I'm confident that God can bring a chiastic change in my life.... a crisscross... a reversal... a sudden turn.

I wouldn't want to be ALWAYS L8.

What about you? I know this post goes way deeper than usual. But I hope that it has challenged you in some way!




You also will enjoy this post related to our Beth Moore study:

if you read nothing else, you might want to read this

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18 comments:

A Musing Mom said...

Okay, so you get the bonus points for using "chiastic structure" in real life. Good job!

Sarah said...

#4 and I were doing her Bible study this afternoon, and I said, "Hey, that's a chiastic structure!" LOL.

everydayMOM said...

I'm not sure I really gave an example of chiastic structure, but I tried, right? At least I'm learning. =]

JoLyn said...

Very well said. I believe that there is a real peace that comes into my life when I am able to forgive.

And it seems like the minute I make the commitment and true effort to live this way, I am given an opportunity to test my resolve. A chance to find out, "Do I really mean it?"

Thanks for this post - very meaningful!

Jenny said...

I am touched on many levels. Reminded of the little things I do that might show an unforgiving tendency.

God has ways of showing us our faults so that He can help us turn them around and make them strengths. That's kind of a chiastic structure in and of itself.

Thank you for this post. I think I have some work to do.

Anonymous said...

I think this was a great reality check for me and a current explanation of chiastic structure inn real lfe! i happen to nbe studying the same chapter in Esther this week at my bible study, how cool is that? thanks for sharing and God Bless!

Anonymous said...

I too am taking the Beth Moore study Esther and the last video I watched was on chiastic structure. I found your blog through google as I thought I would look up more information about it. I appreciated your thoughts about unforgiveness limiting our choices. Thanks for writing!

JandSCrafts said...

Wow what a blog page, I too am taking the Beth Moore study and came to Google to see what they had on "chiastic structure" and to find this blog page was God. Thank you for this blog page and for your insight on this subject.

george said...

Great Job!!! I live in AZ and about 10 of us are doing Beth Moore as well. What a great chapter, and you did a great job of bringing it to life. God has an incredible way of connecting us and to us as well!
Many Blessing,
Kim

LOLO said...

We just got to this lesson tonight in our study.
We all feel very educated now!!
And it's going to be a blast looking for chiastic structure now.

Thanks, for sharing your blog on it.

Ashley said...

I too am studying Esther and found your blog by googling chiastic structure. Great job on the forgiveness one. That's something I have struggled with all my life. I am still learning how to let things go. One thing that helped me was a fill in the blank prayer to get me started. "Heavenly Father, I choose to forgive (name) for (the offense). This made me feel _____." hope this helps. Another thing is... How deeply do we allow God to heal us? Do we only allow him to put "a superficial dressing on a mortal wound?" (Beth Moore) We will only forgive as deeply as we feel forgiven.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

My ladies group is studying Beth Moore's Bible Study on Esther. I just learned about Chiastic Structure last night! You explained it very well! Thank you, may the Lord bless you for your willingess to share.
<>< Sister in Christ <><

Anonymous said...

Everyday MOM.
Was working on my latest Beth Moore Bible study, "Breadking Free", the 2009 updated edition. In the 2nd week there is reference to the chiastic structure in Isaiah 53:3-4. I couldn't remember how to spell chiastic so I went on line for info and somehow got into your Blog. I led the Esther Study for a group of ladies in our Church and remembered the fun we had with chiastic structure. I am so pleased to see how many responses you received from people doing the Esther Study. Beth is a blessing to all gals with an eagerness to do indepth Bible Study. The day group I lead sisters with a night group in our Church. We have done seven or eight of her studies over the past few years. Just finished "Jesus, the One and Only" which we did between Christmas and Easter - finishing up Monday the 19th with a combined-class night with munchies and a movie on Monday, April 19th, showing Mel Gibson's, The Passion of Christ. WOW Anon

Anonymous said...

Everyday MOM.
Was working on my latest Beth Moore Bible study, "Breaking Free", the 2009 updated edition. In the 2nd week there is reference to the chiastic structure in Isaiah 53:3-4. I couldn't remember how to spell chiastic so I went on line for info and somehow got into your Blog. I led the Esther Study for a group of ladies in our Church and remembered the fun we had with chiastic structure. I am so pleased to see how many responses you received from people doing the Esther Study. Beth is a blessing to all gals with an eagerness to do indepth Bible Study. The day group I lead sisters with a night group in our Church. We have done seven or eight of her studies over the past few years. Just finished "Jesus, the One and Only" which we did between Christmas and Easter - finishing up Monday the 19th with a combined-class night with munchies and a movie on Monday, April 19th, showing Mel Gibson's, The Passion of Christ. WOW-try it! Anon

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The Galloways said...

Great blog

Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed your post. I too learned some fun and interesting literary devices from Beth Moore's study of Esther that I am actually using in my classes with 4th and 5th grade Academically GIfted students. However, your definition of "chiastic structure" is actually the definition of another term she used, "peripety" - which is the sudden turn of events - usually a bad that turns into something good.
Chiastic structure would be "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." It's a statement or thought that is flipped over or around!

Loved learning something new in addition to the incredible study about Esther!

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