Today I went to church with my husband. Our favorite retired minister was there. I always love his services as he melds the liturgy in different ways and it is always beautiful and meaningful. His sermon was wonderful. It is seldom that I take notes from a sermon but today I did because I wanted to think some more about the ideas and to share them.
He started by reading a short excerpt from one of his favorite authors whose name I didn’t get. The story was about a man who brought a newspaper every day from someone who was grumpy and rude yet this man was always pleasant and kind. “He said that he had no control over the grumpy man but did have control over himself and he chose to be kind. To return good for evil is a prescription for our own emotional/mental health.”
Pastor said ” we were created in the image of God and are called to behave like him. Life is not about how we act with other people but how we react.”
I found this to be very powerful. Too often we do react to the mood or actions of the person we are faced with. We return rude with rude, sad with sad, etc. The interesting thing is that if we do the reverse things change.
My father was not only a wonderful father but a unique man. I never heard him say something negative about someone else. People who knew him said the same thing. He always responded with kindness even with someone who was very angry. He told me that two things would happen….the whole situation would defuse or all hell would break loose. Either way he remained calm and kind.
We do have control over our behavior. I visit a physicians office where one of the employees was always a little brusque and not really pleasant. I made it my intention to make that change and spent time complimenting things (only genuine things and getting to know her. Be genuine for false is easily detected) and we now have a great relationship. I enjoy her and she always greets me with pleasure. A little kindness on my part well spent and a new relationship formed.
How we treat people makes a difference. We have to be genuine but we can be kind. I hope this is a step toward becoming the person God wants me to be.
To choose. We make hundreds of choices every day. We choose to get up, to eat breakfast, everything we do. Life is a matter of choices and the choices form our lives. It’s not something that we consciously see but it is life. We make bad choices and good ones. We make ones that we regret and ones that we are happy about.
If we stopped to think about every choice we made we would be paralyzed. We wouldn’t move at all. So some choices are automatic and reflex. The ability to move our bodies is not something we think about unless there is a problem. In cases like that our choice may be limited by circumstances.
What started me thinking about this is the fact that loving someone is a choice. Believing in God is a choice. These things are not just feelings they are choices. I can get up each morning and may feel that God is distant and I have no perception of closeness but I can choose to continue to believe. Circumstances don’t take that choice away. I can choose that even if threatened with death. It is my choice.
Believing and having faith is not a passive thing. It is not something that we own. It is an action that we take and a choice that we make each and every moment of our lives.
Tonight I have been thinking about friendship. I think we all have many acquaintances but it is friends who change our lives. I feel blessed to have four amazing friends. They are with me through thick and thin. I hope that they feel they can count on me to do the same.
Life may not offer many opportunities to experience true friendship. Sometimes things intervene and don’t give us the chance to bond in “agape” love. In my life experiences I can see that part of having this kind of relationship depends on how much we are willing to give. If we are unwilling to share our true selves then deep friendship doesn’t happen. We have to learn to open ourselves knowing that we can be hurt in the process.
I share joy and sorrow with my friends. We hold each other up in the tough times an rejoice in the good ones. We have all had our share of pain and loss and that has bound us even more together.
I guess my hope is that I can continue to be the friend they need and have them remain mine.
Today I decided that I needed to heed the statement that cleanliness in next to Godliness. For so long my office has been cluttered with material brought home from the job I left last year and I decided it was time to clear out. I did save some things that are important to me but trashed a lot. It is so nice to see this space neat. I realize that the disorder was connected in some way to my own disorder. When you are not functioning well it doesn’t seem important to be neat. Now I can see that the neatness has made me feel better.
I am not an obsessive neatnik but too much stuff everywhere will start to get to me. I don’t know why I tackled the job that I have not felt like doing for over a year but I am glad I did. Some boxes are gone and only some minor things to file left. I hope this is a step on the way to recovery. When this started I had no idea that so much anger, pain and sadness was bottled up inside. Losing my best friend and her daughter and then my own job within one year was overload.
It has been a tremendous help to be able to share my journey with my blog. It helps so much to find others who fight each moment and keep on fighting. We can conquer the things that stalk us. We can find companionship and peace. Without the ability to communicate we could so easily be alone.
God is good. Our needs are known to him and if we open our eyes we can see his work in out lives each day.
Sometimes it just seems that nothing goes right. I have a friend who says that when something bad happens you have 24 hours to have a pity party and then it is time to move on. I feel like I have been swinging back and forth between being ok and crashing for the last month. Monday things were fine and Tuesday again with IBS. I din’t think I have ever had this much trouble. I have learned some things though so rather and just sit and moan I called and got a drs appointment and didn’t put it off….which is what I used to do. Medicine was ordered and now I am waiting for clearance from insurance to get the medicine. Very aggravating.
Now for the good part. I had sent an email to schedule some work during the week and didn’t get an answer. Nothing was scheduled. Again, God was in charge instead of me so I had no where I had to be. I will get the medicine eventually and hopefully be on the mend. In the mean time I need to spend some time thanking the person in charge.
Recently one of my favorite bloggers ( afracturedfaith ) wrote about difficulty in finding a church where you feel at home. It started me thinking about this. Since 1976 I have been in a church that felt like home. From 1976 to around 1997. At that point I was working with the minister of the church and found myself with ethical differences and joined the church I was working for. I felt at home there until they ended my job and now am struggling to see where I belong.
I asked myself what made me feel at home in the first church and I think part of the answer is the people. They were welcoming and caring. I also think it was a place where I fit in socially. Probably a lame reason but it helped me feel comfortable. The progress toward being at home came as I connected myself to the things going on. I joined the women’s group, helped with Sunday School and just generally made myself a part of the group.
With the second church I was part of the staff which automatically made me comfortable. However, it was the people who made me a part of the church family. I worked through 8 pastors so who was in charge was not a part of my belonging. It didn’t seem to matter.
Bottom line ….it seems that for me the people are the primary reason why I feel a part of a church. There are certain other things that matter to me. I like liturgy so churches like Lutheran, Episcopal etc. fit me better. I like the beauty of the service. That doesn’t matter to some people and they prefer a different kind of service. A church service can be boring if you don’t feel moved by what is happening. That is not all the time but once in a while the whole package gets to some place inside.
The question is can you be a Christian without going to church. In my opinion yes….but. It is a very BIG but. As Christians we are called to service. Living a Christ-like life is what we are to do. It is not easy but we must work to get better at it day by day. That means we can’t be Christian in isolation. Just to sit and read the Bible is not following Christ. Christ did belong to a community. He belonged and loved others.
Church may not be the answer for everyone but when you read Christ’s word make sure you are following his only commandment.
Dreams are interesting. Sometimes we can tell where a dream came from. We may dream about something that happened during the day. The dream may be mixed up and ridiculous. It may be prophetic. It may also show us our hidden feelings. Two nights ago I had a dream that related to my past vocation. It seems I was trying to be part of my previous church in the way that I was before. I was rejected and woke up crying. I fell back asleep and dreamed about the church I attend with my husband and wanted to help and was not allowed and again woke up crying. I realize that my grieving over the past year is not over. It is manifesting itself in my dreams. Maybe, in some way, my dreaming about this and crying is helping to allow the grief out where I can confront it.
Grief is not a thing that disappears immediately. It comes back and helps us to cry and acknowledge the loss. This is not a bad thing. We have to accept that grief hurts and arises at strange times.
The thing is if we didn’t love…whether is was a vocation, a person or whatever…we would feel no grief. Love is never lost. Love is worth it. Our lives would be lesser without love.
Today I seem to have returned to some equilibrium. This episode helped me to realize how easy it is to run the train right off the rails. With the start of this blog I wanted to find ways to prevent this but wasn’t consistent. Unfortunately, consistency is the key. You can’t use a tool if you haven’t mastered it.
So the journey continues. I have made some good changes but not enough. There was no major crisis in my life but I had forgotten how the little things pile up and become an overload. One thing I can say for sure my dogs really do help. Both are rescues and have had their own share of trauma. Their names are Crash and Matilda. Crash was named that by his foster family because when rescued he was hit by something (possibly a car) and had broken his pelvis. He was so covered in fleas and ticks that his blood counts were dangerously low. He is now a happy, health and slight goofy basset hound. Tillie, found at the pound by a friend of my son’s had little history to explain her past but is loving and stubborn and funny. Both of them are a blessing.
It seems to me that our pets are a true gift from God and certainly an example of how to live. They love unconditionally and share that love always. They don’t judge. They love in spite of our failings. What better example could there be of God’s love.
The last few days have been a trial. IBS hit me really hard. Probably because things have been difficult for the last six months. I guess I let it build up until all the little things became big enough to attack me. I realize that I have not followed through with how I started. Had I been consistent I would not have melted down the way I did. I am better now and more ready to start again. Somehow we don’t fail if we are willing to start again.
It seems to be a pattern of mine to fall apart when things start to get better. Somehow I manage to stay together through problems but later it all comes home to haunt me.
I have done so much reading about anxiety and realize that mine is situational. When I am stressed up to point my IBS jumps in and pushes all my buttons. Then everything is a vicious cycle.
So today is a new day. A new chance to make changes. A new time to learn and grow. I know that I can not fix everything so I am turning to the one thing that never fails. I am leaning on my faith and my belief in God and his/her saving grace. We are promised that God loves us and we can’t earn grace it is freely given.
Life is always interesting. It is not always pleasant. Too often we have to struggle to face challenges. The challenge may not be that tough but it is the adding on of another and another. I am almost better at handling one big challenge that the little ones that pile up. They wear us out and we finally crumble under the weight. Things have been that way for me since last summer. There have been family issues, health issues, grief and sadness. None of these individually are that significant. It’s just that your shoulders reach the point where they can no longer bear the weight and something fails.
When we reach the breaking point whatever our weakness is will raise its ugly head. I went along for so long without any major problems. Life was good. Things were simple but after the last months I have lapsed back and am struggling to maintain my focus. I want so much to continue with the things that I know will help me and I am trying. Sometimes it feels as if there is no end to it.
Each of us has our own struggles, our Achilles heel. Each of us wants to be on the path to health and wholeness. Many of you, like me, find that the strength to continue the journey in our faith. To be able to turn to something that offers us strength when we are weak, hope when we can’t see the light and love is what saves us.
Every night I have been reading through the Psalms beginning with Psalm 1. I have found great comfort in them in spite of the ones that fuss about enemies. GOD IS truly with us. We do have strength….it is his.