Saturday, April 25, 2015

Mistakes......I've made a few

Along the bumpy path leading to my middle years, and now that I am no longer running around with a swollen belly, changing diapers, and staggering about at 2 am to feed a baby, there have been pauses to think.  It was difficult to pause with five busy children who were involved in a plethora of activities such as dance, band, orchestra, sports and other homeschooling activities. When they were all young and needy, the goal was to feed, clothe, love them and take care of their needs; after which, I would collapse, exhausted into bed. Rinse, repeat.

Throughout their young lives, I was dealing with a significant number of internal struggles, hovering around depression, obesity, self-loathing, insecurity and bulimic episodes........my father used to tell me that I was born old and perhaps he was right. But, growing up as the eldest in my own dysfunctional family, much responsibility was levied on my shoulders--and for reasons I will not get into here, I struggled significantly. Maturing and walking with the One who forgives, helped me to give up resentments towards my parents for my place in the family. They did the best they could with what they knew--and really did a pretty good job of parenting. I know that  my early struggles were preparation to withstand much more.

My mistakes are incredibly numerous and there are some in my life who are unable to forgive me for them. I cannot judge, as there are mistakes I have made that it has taken years to forgive myself. When we grow, change and evolve, others want to keep you in their little memory box, afraid to let you out for fear that you have changed or become more lovable.

I'm not a fan of making mistakes, not even little ones, and I'm not very good at immediately framing mistakes as "positive learning experiences." But to err is human, and if we aren't goofing up every now and then we aren't growing. It took me a while to get to the point of not beating up myself for my own parenting mistakes.  So, when I make a mistake now, I try and say to myself, "Thank goodness! Another one of those out of the way." And then take some deep breaths, learn something, focus on my heart's intentions, and celebrate my accomplishments.

Some mistakes I've made are small, run-of-the-mill things. I got something wrong in an article I wrote. I forgot to mail a bill. I had to learn about my poor gardening skills the hard way. But some of my gaffes have been more significant. Big relationship mistakes, mostly--being a young, immature wife wasn't easy, not handling a divorce with grace and messing up the emotional lives of my kids. Some mistakes I've made, looking back from a very safe, emotionally recovered distance, still make me want to slap my head, kick myself, and say, "what was I thinking?"

I have heard that it is by going into the abyss that you discover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure. Mistakes toughen us up, give us insight into our personality glitches, and provide the opportunity to examine our choices and experiment with making different ones. But they also expose our areas of development with floodlight intensity and can make us feel very vulnerable, fearful, intimidated, and insecure. That's not a fun place to be, ever. Especially if we have the sick feeling we've been in that same place before.

There's a fine line between spending too little and too much time evaluating mistakes that occur in life. Sometimes we're too freaked out to admit anything has run amiss at all, and sometimes we spend way too much time in punishing self-loathing. Either path takes us away from the treasure of lessons, insights, and new possibilities that mistakes offer us.

I remember one particular time where I was fragile, broken and felt like a china cup ready to splinter into a million pieces. And one day, when my tears ceased to stop, I heard Him tell me that my tears were what softened the clay that would allow Him to reassemble me into something new and better. Living in that mire, it was difficult to believe--but He is so faithful and He began a wonderful healing process.


We all have cracks. Cracks caused by the carelessness of other people, cracks we created ourselves by making negative choices, or by making good choices and not having things turn out the way we expected. Cracks from when we have fallen, cracks caused by mistakes. Life, perhaps, has a tendency to twist over the same issue over and over again, and we may find ourselves stumbling over the exact same trouble spots in different forms throughout our lives. While we work on smoothing out those bumps and ridges, apply an artist's eye to see how they enhance who we are--and God is the most incredible artist.  I am no longer afraid to evaluate my mistakes and missteps with compassion and curiosity; and I am no longer afraid to then let them go. 

Mistakes teach us a little something about ourselves, but only if we no longer cling to them. With empty hands, we can open ourselves to the warmth of His love, accept His forgiveness, and apply the lessons life's mistakes provide. My prayer is that those close to me and those separated from me can experience this precious gift of forgiveness....and perhaps, reconciliation will occur. 
 Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.---Isaiah 1:18

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

accused


 There is a lot of power in an accusation.

 *A caveat, I am not talking at all about the truth here—for those instances belong in another category entirely

I am referring to:
  • Priests falsely accused of abuse
  • Parents falsely accused of harming their child
  • Friends who lie in order to rise above the other
  • Employees who spread rumors to climb the ladder
  • Teachers wrongly accused of horrific crimes, when all they wanted to do was better the lives of a child


In this country, we hear about gun violence every day. The anti-gun people scream for stricter gun laws because they believe that limiting guns will solve our problems.

I disagree.

To me, the problem is not just the guns, because we have a far more lethal weapon and it can inflict as much damage. Our greatest weapons are our tongues.

Think of it—our tongues can create the most beautiful melodies, tell lovely stories and speak poetic love; they can also spread vicious falsehoods about another human being. Once the lie erupts, the accused is seemingly guilty without investigation.

It is so easy to lie. So easy to let hatred drip from our lips, and not hold oneself accountable. So easy to get attention with simulated wide-eyed innocence.

One word and a life is ruined. And, once a reputation is stolen—getting it back is nearly impossible.

When a claim is made, many jump on the bandwagon with abandon, and ride that train to the station. Hearing purportedly juicy news can be titillating; but, what if the claims are false? What happens then? How can we take back those icy, evil words? How can we repair a relationship, once those words, like a million feathers, blow in the wind, and settle in little niches around the world?

Granted, it is not nice to lie, but everyone does it at some time and to some degree. From Santa Claus to "Does this make me look fat?" to "I did not have sexual relations with that that woman," lies are measured on a sort of scale. They range from "fibs" and "little white lies" to malicious, hurtful and against-the-law-sized lies called slander and perjury.

The Ninth Commandment warns against "bearing false witness against thy neighbor," which has been interpreted over time to mean "be truthful and don't be silent in the face of lies."

It appears that the most common lies are intended to make others feel good, to make ourselves look better and to protect ourselves. But, I have stood in the front lines, holding the hand of a dear friend, as his life crumbles piece by piece while the ones who carry a grievous lie roam free, basking in the “knowledge” that they got a “predator” off the streets. The ones with power, the ones who know the truth remain silent—why? Perhaps, it is because it is easier to contain the lie than it is to admit they were mistaken. After all, making reparations requires work and why cast a shadow on their grand and perfect decisions?


A quick slip of the tongue followed by attention and notoriety, and a life is ruined. The puzzle of his life remains in pieces, and will most likely be so, until the thin veil between heaven and earth melts away and Jesus comes to mend his broken heart.  It will be then, on the final day, that he will be given his crown and golden vestments and He will say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”

Perhaps on that day, Jesus will carry my friend and leave the others to themselves..........

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Living my word of the year




When I first chose the word Trust for my word of the year, I chose it because the past 9 years have been an extraordinary challenge for me and my husband. When things would continue to spiral downward, people would find clever ways to let us know that we were not suffering properly..

--someone once wedged the CD and Book, The Secret between our front doors, letting us know that we basically caused all of our own struggles. 
--our mail box once contained "The Power of Positive Thinking" I suppose, for the same reason as we got the materials jammed in our front door. 
--people would tell us "to Trust in God" as if we have not. 
--a priest once asked us "what the hell we did wrong to cause all of this." Yeah, I found someone else to go to for spiritual direction. 
--I heard often that "God never gives you more than you can handle"--Wrong, he does give you more than you can handle. This is why we need Him so much!

In the Old Testament, Joseph, unexpectedly found himself victimized by the people he loved the most. As a boy of 17, he could easily have cried out, "Why would I want your God when you treat me this way?" He could have ditched his faith and joined a band of rebels. In today's world, he would seem an ideal candidate for a gang member.

What kept Joseph from turning against God? How did he overcome his disappointments, which were many, to the point of becoming a leader in Egypt?

There were many facets of our lives that were crumbling--finances, health, legal issues and no matter how much I trusted, it all continued to plummet downhill. On numerous occasions, my husband and I needed to speak aloud, "Jesus, I trust in You" and prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet often.  

On top of the above issues was the feeling of being discarded --from my faith family, from friends and from my work. It got to the point that I was feeling apprehensive about leaving the house. 

"Jesus, I trust in You."

"But, what are you doing?"

How do we climb out of our own pit of rejection? How do we continue to actively seek God when the weight of undeserved oppression threatens to drown us?

There are several ways, but a most important one is to continue moving forward on your God-given pathway. There are many quitting places, but you don't quit, you keep moving on, one step at a time for God.

Along the way, I realized it was time to end some business relationships for other ventures. For years, I was afraid to let go. One day in prayer, I heard the Holy Spirit tell me that it was OK to spread my wings; that I could leave and He would take care of me. 

As I wrote my good-bye's, I had a strong desire to leave without kindness. But suddenly, silently and yet loudly, I heard the Holy Spirit again in my heart. 

"Leave with grace"

 I wrote with kindness and grace. An hour after I left, there were two phone calls from two different companies, asking me to sign contracts with them.  

"Grace" 

If only He did not have to teach me these lessons. If only I knew them instinctively. Perhaps though, this is how I continue to need Him.

Joseph was sold by his brothers, then sold by the Ishmaelites, lied about in Potiphar's home and sent to prison. He could have thrown his hands up and quit at any time. But he didn't.

Joseph consistently chose to follow the Lord, believing God's invisible manifestations despite all visible evidence to the contrary. Joseph is the epitome of a victim who could have become hard as nails, yet Scripture goes to the trouble to record his tears again and again. He stayed tender when most men would have become bitter.


God chose to use Joseph to spare the Messianic line. Joseph's half-brother, Judah, the direct link in the bloodline to Jesus Christ, might have perished in the famine. God chose to use a sidelined offspring to salvage the Abrahamic promise and the coming of the Messiah.

How did Joseph do it? What gave him the strength? I believe the answer lies in an addiction - with each trace of God he collected from his prophetic dreams and their interpretations, his craving for God revived and intensified. From one location to another, he continued seeking God through the use of his gift because he understood that it was God's chosen avenue for him, and thus it was the best place to see God again. Never did God abandon him. In each new location, God consistently brought Joseph opportunities to use his gift.

Discouraged? 

Trust God. He won't forsake you, either.