What Others Think…

I heard someone say the other day “what someone thinks of you is none of your business.” That is a grating statement to say to someone, but it is a good thing to know.

I was listening to a book on CD about a man named St. John of God. He had done so many sins in wartime that he wanted everyone to think he was a lunatic, and was happy when he was put in an asylum. He wanted people to look down on him. St. John of the Cross however told him that it wasn’t right. He was using up resources that should go to those who were truly crazy. In his striving for others to think badly of him, he had not done what was right.

In addition, John of God was getting in the way of what God wanted to do through him. Tucked away in an asylum, he could not do the missionary work that later made a difference in so many lives. As part of this missionary work, he helped women escape from prostitution and live reputable lives. In his work here, he was accused of having ulterior motives. He responded by letting people think what they like. He’d done so many sins in the past, what is one accusation? After all, if it were not for the Grace of God they many indeed be correct.

And thus we see someone who accepted what others thought of him, but learned not to try to control it or worry about it. “What others think of you is none of your business.”

Where does this thinking break down? I don’t know. Isn’t it important that a boss have faith in you or you know your wife loves you? I don’t know how to answer these questions, but I know two things. 1) Worrying what others think gets in the way of peace. And 2) Our first job is to serve God and others. If what they think of me gets in the way of doing just that, it may be time to do something. If it doesn’t perhaps it is time to let it go.

PS I find this very difficult. If you do too, know that I’m right there with you. May God bless your day.

Originally Posted April 19, 2012sant_joan_de_dc3a9u_1

Hold On

Lately I’ve been dealing with some of the aftermath from some self-focused people in my life. It’s affected me more than I knew and it hit very strongly recently. I’ve been pondering how to heal and recover from this, and also a greater question for everyone. How do we emotionally survive?

Strangely, (or could it be providentially?) this has coincided with some advice written to my coziece (that is the daughter of my cousin) about growing up. The situations are entirely different, and yet there is a common thread.

Hold on to who you are.

In the letter to my coziece, I wrote about what I’d do over if I had the wisdom I do now. One thing I said was that I wouldn’t worry so much about what others thought of me.   I also thought about what I did well, and it was that I “did what I did” so to speak. If I had it to do over again, I’d do it more. I did my art. I had my rock collection and spent time with my favorite minerals. I painted valentines with watercolors. I scrambled up wooded hills and danced down creek beds. I was involved in plays.

Do what you do. Hold on to who you are.

Sometimes we can be afraid to be ourselves. What if we are those selfish people who just have to be the center of attention?  What if we are those selfish people who want no one to bother us?  But that is different that doing what you do. Making people laugh might be who you are. Pondering in silence might be who you are.

So hold on.

Whatever it takes to be who we are, let’s do this. I go to Confession quite often to keep myself fresh. I don’t have to … but I like it. And I emerge feeling like me. I need to get out in nature again, and sing again.  And I’ve re-learned that it is OK to be a bit of a goofball and make people smile. What is it you are longing to do?

If we know who we are, those people who swallow others up in themselves can’t get to us so much. We stand on a firm foundation. We are loved for who we are by our Higher Power too. We are not all the same. We are delighted in for that uniqueness that is us. We are made lovely. Who we are deep inside is a masterpiece.

So hold on to who you are. Do what you do to be you — the real you under those things you might not like. The you that everyone could see unfolding when you were two and a half.  It is not selfish. It is surviving. It is thriving. It is living life as it was meant to be.

May God bless your day.

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Toward Real Relationships 1

i_looked_at_my_hands_today_by_regklubeck-d3gs8ydToday, my friend Sarah posted on her page this:  “So. You hold the baby who asks to be held. You snuggle her to sleep and you show her that you are reliable.”  She continued by writing “Just don’t call it independence squelching.”  And she shared about her 16 month old daughter who was “toddling off into a wide open field as fast as her little legs will take her, turning only briefly to wave good bye to her mama before swaggering off towards the other, brighter playground in the distance.”

I shared on the thread about Psychology class in college where we learned that the baby monkey’s that the moms paid attention to and held when they asked were the same monkeys that were independent in exploring their world.  It wasn’t as you would think. Working with babies doesn’t follow behavioral psychology. If you are there for them, you teach them trust, not clingy-ness. It is a a beautiful thing.

The conversation moved from there to someone sharing that independence is overrated and interdependence is what makes healthy families, and Sarah wrote ” When I think in baby terms, it’s not true independence at all, of course – but truly, and simply *confidence*. Confidence and security.”

“Confidence.”

This was the word in neon lights in my mind as soon as I read it.

“Confidence.”

When a child knows they can depend on you, they are confident to face their world. They know someone will be there for them. And they grow up stronger. Interdependence in adults is the same thing really. When we know we can rely on someone — that someone’s got our back, we do everything else in life better.

I read another article about friendship today. The one I read a few months ago appeared in The Federalist and was called “How To Stop Sexualizing Everything” and it was by D.C. McAllister. The one I read today was by  Bill Donaghy and appeared on the website of the Theology of the Body Institute. It was called “Holy Friendship in a Hypersexualized World.” Both of these point out how, in general in America, we are afraid of real, nonsexual, intimacy.

Interdependence and giving someone the confidence to know that they can rely on someone is real nonsexual intimacy. It is human. It is the way we were made — for giving, receiving, and helping one another.  So often, even in families today, it is every person for themselves, and children don’t always know they can go to their parents for help. They don’t always have that confidence. But this isn’t how we were made. That isn’t what is truly human. We were made to trust those close to us who are trustworthy. It is good for our lives and food for the soul.  We can make our lives and our days better by realizing that we are in this life together, being there for people, and learning how to rely on those who are reliable. There is an openness to real love that can enrich one’s life. Let’s move toward this.

May your day be blessed.

 

 

 

 

Addicts in Paradise

I told a friend of mine that I thought that some of the addicts: drugs, alcohol, etc, were going to Heaven before others. I know it seems like a huge thing to say, but I was headed to a point. When addicts are driven to desperation, when they know that they cannot overcome their addiction, but that if they don’t overcome it they will die … there is only one choice. They ask for help. They ask for help from a doctor, they ask for help from a friend or family member, they ask for help from God.

Many of them go to 12 step groups. In this group, they learn how to ask God for help every single day,  every moment, in everything.  In the morning  they get down on their knees and pray “God, help me not to drink today.”  When they get angry or upset they talk to someone about it so that they can let it go, and they pray to God to take it,  knowing that resentment leads to the desire for their drug again. It is a way of life- asking for help from others … and at every moment, asking for help from God. And this way of life turns these addicts into amazing people, with more joy and serenity than if they never had the addiction in the first place.

Today, I challenge you all to ask for help in one aspect of your life. It can be something small, it can be something large. You can be asking your husband, wife, parent, sibling, or asking God. But I challenge you to reach out for help in one way or another this day.

May God bless your day.

Re-post from 2009

 

Sweet Friggle Sticks!

When I was a teenager, I read Cyrano de Bergerac, and just fell in love with him because he was so clever.  What specifically impressed me was the fact that he could develop such amazing insults. Today, it seems that people just cuss. But to Cyrano that wouldn’t be good enough. Oh no. He who could come up with 19 and more ways to insult his own nose surely would never stoop to simple cuss words. If he stubbed his toe, he would most likely exclaim, “What table hath now attacked my toe? Be firewood ye knave!” or something much more brilliant. Methinks something much more brilliant.

imagesA friend of mine is giving up cussing for Lent (and taking the Lord’s name in vain), or attempting to as Lenten sacrifices aren’t always those things which are easy. But we continue on and take no fail, always progressing.  She said a few lovely phrases:  Let’s see, there was “OH SWEET FRIGGLE STICKS” and “fudge monkeys and butternuts” and “holy hellhounds in a handbasket.”

I myself, when I stub my toe or hurt myself in some such way, find that I like to yell out “Pain! Agony! Distress!” and when I am finished with said phrase, find I am in much less pain than when first I set out on my exclamatory journey.

Personally I’m a fan of no cussing because I find most of the cuss words out there make beautiful things ugly. Who we are, how we are designed, and how we love are given by God and sacred and lovely, and it saddens me to see them defiled even in speech. (I don’t have as much problem with calling ugly what is ugly such as poo.) For me,  there is also something about using alternative phrasing that just seems to refresh the mind.  When I use it, it is the difference between venting to heal, or complaining and staying in the problem.  It uses my brain power. It increases my creativity, it expresses the frustration, and it helps to bring me out of the problem.

I understand not everyone sees or uses cussing this way. Hopefully you had a laugh. But whatever you are dealing with today, if it is a simple frustration, why not sillify it a little and see what it does for your mood?

May God bless your day.  🙂

CLICK HERE for the insults of Cyrano!

 

Color of Fire

 Recently I went to the beach and stood around a nighttime bonfire singing songs, talking, and just looking at the fire.  After a while, someone remarked at the colors in the fire. I didn’t think too much about it… there was always light orange, dark orange, and a little bit of blue: that is what I expected to see. After a while someone else remarked… there is green in this fire… and there was. I then looked deeper into it and was amazed by a light purple luminosity around a glowing orange log. It wasn’t the subtle violet of lilacs, but brighter, and more alive with red tones. It was beautiful.  After a while, I noticed this color was all around the coals, not just in that particular place. In all my years of fire watching… I’d never seen anything like it, or perhaps I simply never noticed.

I went out on the beach for myself for a bit and saw a shooting star. Later on that night, while looking up at the sky, I noticed that one star was flickering green and yellow. Someone remarked on it as well and I realized it wasn’t my imagination. He also pointed out the flickering red star above, and the non-flickering planet mars. These things had definitely always been there. But I never noticed.

There is beauty in the world. So much beauty. Some of it might be new to me, but some of it has always been there. I needed only to open up my eyes to see the gifts from God that are, and have been, always around me.   — March 2010

Today, may you notice beauty beyond what you’ve previously seen. May it touch you and bring you peace.

Balanced Mind

ENFP INFPI was reminded of something yesterday when digging into the solution to a problem. My satisfaction level for life increased quite a bit.  I remember when I was in a group that looked at poetry and philosophy and beauty in every day life.  Life was wonderful as I went through the day pondering these things.

We can get bogged down in problems, or our brains can get bored and go places that lead to negativity.  Some problems are real of course.  But without spending time using our brain power to look at what is true, good, and beautiful,  we can get off balance.

Examining some amazing work of nature, stretching the mind to comprehend the intention and feelings of a poem, working toward a solution to something, taking in beautiful things or sounds and letting them permeate your mind and heart … these must also be part of our lives to feel balanced and whole.

May your day be blessed and full of things  to stretch your mind and heart a little in joyful pondering.

 

 

Letting Go 1

Good morning! I apologize for no blog post yesterday; internet issues. Gotta love ’em.

Today I am wresting with something, but I think it’s something that might benefit others too, so I’m going to share it.

In my life, the biggest sorrow I have had, short of losing someone close to me, is being left out. It doesn’t matter if I’m 14 or 40, to be aware of being not included in something that my friends are in hurts. There are legitimate reasons for this, and it is a real thing. I grieve for a reason.

As I look through my life I see the loss of groups over and over again. This is something that has some normalcy to it. Your Middle School friends may not be there in High School. Your High School friends may not be there in college. Your crocheting friends may not want to join you in polka dancing, etc. Hopefully, we find a community we can stay with. But we may also lose what is important to us many many times. And sometimes it really hurts.

There is something else, and I am embarrassed to say it, being from the Northwest where such things are uncool. I have realized that popularity is an idol for me. I want to be liked by everyone. I struggle to let go of this.

Though losing groups and the wound of rejection sometimes comes from bad behavior on someone else’s part or my own, and though God who is love personified, did not wish that bad behavior or my grief, might it still be a gift?  I can’t please everyone, and not being included by everyone means less asked of me.  I want time to have one on one conversations, and being in every group would never give me that. I want time to be alone with God, and popularity doesn’t tend to lead to that so much.  And most of all, I want to put my happiness in something that will never ever fail me. And that is not people. People aren’t the answer to fulfillment. They are co-travelers on the journey to and with something greater.

This is the second day of Lent, and I am also struggling with those things that I’ve given up. I want them. But I know I will be more peaceful in the end. The groups that I don’t have anymore — maybe somehow that is also the case. I know God never wanted this grief or the bad behavior. But maybe . . . just maybe . . . there is a gift in it that leads to something much more beautiful and everlasting.

May God bless your day.

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Helping Us, Helping Others

For many, Lent is beginning. And people will be focused on this time of repentance and preparation for Easter with prayer, fasting/abstinence, and almsgiving. Various denominations do this, and Lent is open to everyone who wants to join in.  Our natural lives are marked by seasons, and I love the way my spiritual life is as well, both between me and God, and also shared in community and through the ages.

As we go through Lent, it is helpful to remember that these things are FOR us. They are to help us, not hurt us. And they are also Acts of Mercy to help others.

I want to encourage you, and myself as well, to remember prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. It’s easy to forget about one of them.

Prayer.  Spending time with Your Higher Power and asking blessings upon others is vital. You are connecting with the one who made you, and that always makes the day better. (Plus, your Higher Power loves you desperately and might just miss you!) You are also making a difference in the world which so needs it.  The world needs our prayer desperately. It is an act of survival for you, and an act of Mercy for others. (I also recommend praying some protection prayers. Discouragement will try to get in during Lent! St. Patrick’s Breastplate is a good start.)

Fasting.  Fasting is a vital part of our life. It is for us as well, as we peel away the distractions and the confusions that make our lives chaos, and have more time to spend with God. Think of the St. John of the Cross Poem, the Dark Night of the Soul, in which the soul’s “house being all stilled” has no distractions but the light of love leading her to her lover.  I will post the Loreena McKennitt song from his poem at the end of this post.  It is for our character, as we learn temperance through sacrifice. And it is a powerful, powerful prayer for others, an Act of Mercy that can be offered up to bless them. Anything we give up can be used this way.  And there is a connection to the next item.

Almsgiving. A spiritual director once asked me to give up something for Lent that costs money so that I can give the money to the poor.  For some reason, I had forgotten this connection. It is vitally important that we help those in need.  There is so much need. We must exercise being part of this community of the world and do something to help. I have said before that we can’t do everything, but there are many of us. If we each help in one or two areas as God calls, it is good.  So many people see all the needs in the world and grow paralyzed. If we help as God leads, no matter how small an amount, we are doing something to make a difference, and that helps us and our hearts. And we are helping others as well.  It is important to remember.

As you can see, many of these things would be good to do all year round. But we are focusing a special season for it.  So let us think about the now, and deal with discerning the rest of the year later.  These things help us as well as helping others.  Let us begin. 

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“Prayer is an aspiration of the heart, it is a simple glance directed to heaven, it is a cry of gratitude and love in the midst of trail as well as joy; finally, it is something great, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus.”—St.Therese of Lisieux

“Prayer is the place of refuge for every worry, a foundation for cheerfulness, a source of constant happiness, a protection against sadness.”— St. John Chrysostom

“We must meditate before, during and after everything we do. The prophet says: “I will pray, and then I will understand.” This is the way we can easily overcome the countless difficulties we have to face day after day, which, after all, are part of our work. In meditation we find the strength to bring Christ to birth in ourselves and in others.”— St. Charles Borromeo

“Have confidence in prayer. It is the unfailing power which God has given us. By means of it you will obtain the salvation of the dear souls whom God has given you and all your loved ones.” Ask and you shall receive,” Our Lord said. Be yourself with the good Lord.”— St. Peter Julian Eymard

CLICK HERE  for lyrics.

May God bless and protect you this day.