One Thing

Several months ago I’d gotten a bit frantic. Why? There were various people telling me how important it was to say this prayer, and to say that prayer, and to say the other prayer, or maybe it was just the voice in my head.  I also felt frantic about how many people needed prayer, and trying to  think of and concentrate on them all.

I went to see a spiritual director who told me, “all that is required is that you pray. Pick one thing.”  My heart relaxed. And the truth is that I began to pray more than usual, because I’d be so overwhelmed by possibilities I hadn’t really been doing anything. Now I was focused on one thing, yet ended up praying freely throughout the day without the frantic sense of “must.”

Also, he told me that I can offer up those I’m praying for before my time of prayer and then focus on the connection with God. I can be in the Presence of Christ. I don’t have to be thinking and worrying about them. That wasn’t what was going to make the prayer. Connect. They will be blessed through it. But it was important that I meditate on that Presence.  This added a great deal of peace to my life.

One thing. This may not be the answer for everyone. All people are different. But most of the people I know are overwhelmed by just how much there is to do.

If we look at the world too much we can easily become overwhelmed by all the ways to help. Some people are so frantic at the possibilities that they don’t do anything. Honestly, in this culture of global awareness, I think most of us are. We are running around with brains created for tribes and villages, and we are in an information age. We are overwhelmed. Many people are so overwhelmed that we are frozen.

What if we each did just one thing?  We could choose to do a little thing per day. We could choose to do a bigger thing per week or month,  or what if we had one area of service in our lives that we are devoted to?  This depends on the life and conscience of each of us.  But ponder this for yourself. What is my one thing? Perhaps you will find that you are making a difference more than you were before, yet you are more at peace.

May God bless your day.

 

 

Life Acceptance One: Pondering

Today I have something different for you; it is an exercise such as we might do at a retreat. It doesn’t take much time. If you’d like to join, here are the instructions. Feel free to amend them however you like.

  1. Pick one of the quotes below — something that sticks out to you.
  2. Ponder it. Just let it soak in for a while.
  3. Ask, what is it saying to you?  It is OK if there is a part of it that you don’t agree with.
  4. Ask, how is this connected with acceptance?
  5. Say the prayer at the end.
  6. Feel free to share if you like, in the comments, your thoughts and how it is connected with acceptance. I will be doing this with mine.

QUOTES 

I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.    Jimmy Dean

We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.   Joseph Campbell

There is no royal road to anything, one thing at a time, all things in succession. That which grows fast, withers as rapidly. That which grows slowly, endures.  Josiah Gilbert Holland

Letting go doesn’t mean that you don’t care about someone anymore. It’s just realizing that the only person you really have control over is yourself.
Deborah Reber, Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul

…to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.
Ellen Bass

Change your thoughts and you change your world.    Norman Vincent Peale

I am my own biggest critic. Before anyone else has criticized me, I have already criticized myself. But for the rest of my life, I am going to be with me and I don’t want to spend my life with someone who is always critical. So I am going to stop being my own critic. It’s high time that I accept all the great things about me.    C. JoyBell C.

You cannot be fair to others without first being fair to yourself.
Know that a well-honed sense of justice is a measure of personal experience, and all experience is a measure of self.
Know that the highest expression of justice is mercy.
Thus, as the supreme judge in your own court, you must have compassion for yourself. Otherwise, cede your gavel.
Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

Having a religion doesn’t make a person love or not love others. It doesn’t make a person accept or not accept others. It doesn’t make a person befriend or not befriend others. Being without a religion doesn’t make somebody do or be any of that either. No, what makes somebody love, accept, and befriend their fellow man is letting go of a need to be better than others. Nothing else.  Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.  Attributed to St. Francis of Assisi

PRAYER 

Serenity Prayer
Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Amen.

 

 

Self Acceptance One: The Gift

Most of my life, I have  felt angry at myself. It would subside in times of prayer, mediation, retreats, connecting with friends, and then it would return.

I know that many of us are mad at ourselves for something. Self Acceptance is not the easiest thing in the world.  The reasons are different for different people, and sometimes vast.

One of the things I was angry at myself for was being an extrovert. I know that seems odd to those who are not, but I was deeply afraid that I was constantly annoying and draining people.  In retrospect, I think that fear itself, and acting on that fear, is what was annoying.  There are relaxed extroverts. But I didn’t know this then. I thought I was made in a way that was simply defective, and that I couldn’t do anything about it.

Some introverts hear this and tell me: “I thought I wasn’t good enough because I’m an introvert!” Which is why I’m writing a Faith and Personality book.  But the truth is that many of us have something about us that we think isn’t acceptable. We might also have parts of our stories that we are ashamed of.

How do we overcome this?  It is a long process for sure. Some of my healing came from realizing I’m not alone. Many people feel as I do about the exact same things, and many people have made the same mistakes as one another. Another area my healing came from is realizing that the annoying parts of me are not the way I was made. They are simply a bi-product of insecurity, which is something I have worn, not something I am. The same goes for many many other people.  Another area came from having someone in my life who saw the dark sides and accepted me. There was nothing that could replace that; it was pure gift.  But the area I am focusing on in this blog came from being allowed to be the one to stand by someone else. I grew so much in loving myself by being allowed to use who I really am to love another.

Somehow, when we use who we are to help others, we also help ourselves. We write that letter. We keep vigil for that person. We listen to those friends. We organize that sports team. We paint that picture. We give our time to that baby. We patiently correct that child. We join that choir.  We earn that paycheck. We fix that sink. We give what we are, and slowly it helps us accept ourselves.  The word “charity” may have many connotations, but it really means love.

Who can you love today?  It doesn’t have to be all encompassing; it’s important to also take care of ourselves. But what is one thing you can do? Perhaps you are already doing it. When you act as a gift, you begin to realize that you are one.

May God bless your day.

 

Look Up

I was at a retreat of sorts one weekend, and I was deeply troubled as to how to sense Christ. Though always sensing Christ was not required, I was looking for something.

I do not remember which question I asked, but I remember the answer. It was “Look Up.”

IMG_0480I lifted up my eyes and I could see, in my minds eye but even more clearly, the loving gaze of a loving God looking into mine, seeing my soul, and loving me there. My image and heart shifted merely by looking up.

——–

Smeagol was a hobbit who rarely looked up, and we can see where that got him as many of us know the character “Gollum” that he turned into. Though not everyone reading this is a Christian, the message, “look up” can remain.

Humans have more than physical needs, we have emotional and spiritual needs. We need Truth, Beauty, Goodness, and Love. How are we to see these if we focus always on what is mundane or difficult? We need sometimes to look up.

One way of looking up is to make a point to pay attention to beauty. Another is to read something beautiful, deep, and/or encouraging. Another is to make a gratitude list.  Another is to do what I did, simply look up and notice The One Who Is Love delighting in your presence and loving you.

Today, let’s pick just one way to “look up,” and see what difference it can make.

If you are looking for a way to see more beauty, feel free to CLICK HERE to see my Pinterest Beauty page.

May God bless your day.

 

 

 

Happiness Not Required

This is a picture of a friend of mine . . . hee hee. It is the picture of a certain cat, who is known for being grumpy. I took this at Christmas.

What is the appeal of this cat? The humor is one appeal of course. But what is it about the humor that speaks to us? I would be interested in hearing fGrumpy Catrom people on this.

I have a couple of ideas. I think it helps people to feel free to feel what they feel. Here is a cat who is a grump and is respected for it.

I also think that this cat has great boundaries, and there are many people out there who simply don’t know how to say “NO.” The memes say, behind the scenes “hey,  it’s alright to say ‘no.’ its a good thing.”

I’ve been learning about several subcultures that people I know have grown up in where they are taught that you have to be happy all the time. Some small church communities may give that impression, but Jesus said “Blessed are those who mourn.”  He understood we aren’t happy all the time.  And the secular message that we should always be “OK” is created by those who are trying to sell products.  Other psychologists and support group organizations know that this isn’t so. It takes time to heal, and being angry at oneself or feeling guilty for having feelings is to be angry at oneself for being human.  If we start with self acceptance, we begin to find peace.

This is not to say that we should dwell on as many horrible things as possible, gathering them in to make ourselves anxious and glum, but when we are hurting, it is OK to hurt. It is who we are. It is where we are at. And we are being truly human with all the beauty of the sorrows as well as joys. We humans feel things. That is good.

It seems to me that this particular cat represents this in all of us. It is OK to be grumpy. It is OK to be where you are in your life. It is OK to feel what you feel.

May God bless your day.

What We Perceive

What we perceive isn’t always what is.  I have noticed lately that it is incredibly easy to listen to what someone says and hear something very different.  I am listening with damaged ears, and this is something so many of us seem to do.

For example:  A woman is sitting down.  A man walks in the door. “The dishes aren’t done. . .” he says. The woman, feeling that her husband find her inadequate, gets angry and defensive.  It has been a very hard day and she has been working nonstop.

The man had, the whole time, the intention of saying, “The dishes aren’t done. That gives me a chance to do them. You’ve been working so hard!”

Many of you may think  that most of us would interpret this statement the same way as she did. And maybe he could have phrased it better, and maybe he didn’t know what else to say. But the point is that she heard what she was expecting to hear based on her understanding.

This is a problem in communication and relationships. How often do each of us look for love in a certain way, and not notice that the people in our lives are giving it to us, but it is not how we expected?  Just as our listening can be broken, so can our ability to notice love and to realize we are loved.  It’s a perception problem.

I hope that, today, we can each go through the day trying to perceive what is, separated from our expectations. I hope we can pause and just think, hmm… what else could have been meant by that?  And I hope we can give our loved ones the benefit of the doubt if they’ve been trustworthy in the past. Don’t give up if you don’t get it right. It is not easy. But I think that even knowing that our perceptions tend to break down can help make the day a little better as we realize there may be more good and love in our lives than we see.

And healing from some of the roots of the confusion can be done in the long term. It is a process. We don’t have to get it all right. It will take some time.

May God bless your day.

 

A New Season

I went to write in a coffee shop one day.  As I was going to leave,  an elderly woman smiled at me and told me her name. So unused to talking to strangers was I that I passed right by her. Surely she was used to the culture and would understand.

Upon leaving and reflecting I was a bit haunted by the look in her eye, and I realized that my failure to respond would be considered rejection by her. She isn’t from the same time as I am; she seems to be from a time when people were kinder. I then decided to say “hello” the next time that happens. Several weeks later I found out that she was with a group that visited from a group home, and I felt even worse.

A bit later I met a man at a certain grocery store. I like to go there now and then when I can afford it and write while I sit looking out the window. It is a nice area.

The man is young, and he is also challenged in some respect. He asked me all the places I’ve been and told me all the places he’s been. I can tell as well that he most likely also isn’t in touch with the “social norms” and, in order not to repeat the same mistake, I made a point to talk to him.  He is positive and friendly, and it made my day so much better to speak with someone who was very wide-eyed and who appreciates other people.

Every person reading this is from a different area with different cultural ways of being. Ignoring people may not be a thing where you are, and there is prudence in doing that sometimes. But there is also charity in simply smiling, giving a greeting, or actually taking a few moments to chat. We never know where the other person is coming from, and often reaching out in “charity” ends up making our own day much better, and we see that it is not really “charity” but an exchange between two human beings, making the world a bit brighter.

May God bless your Day.