Perspective is a funny thing. Each of us has our own. Ours is like ourselves. It is unique. Different from anyone else. Initially our perspective came from our family. As children we were influenced by how the people around us felt about things. Probably, at least initially, accepting their point of view. As we grew and our horizons widened we began to measure that perspective against the wider world. We were influenced by our teachers, and our peers. We began to question the ideas we learned from our family and measure them against what we were learning. We began to make our own choices or match those of the people who influenced us.
When we became adults we already had a set of values that came with us. Those ideas are the perspective that we use to weigh ideas. The viewing point from which we function. For most of us the perspective glasses that we look through will change over time but for some people it is ingrained and any suggestion of change is beyond imagining.
We can see those people in our world. They are the ones who see gays as sinful, trans people as unthinkable, people of a different color as “other,” mentally ill as those who should be locked away. Sometimes life events can work their magic and these people can alter those glasses but sometimes not.
We will encounter all sorts of people in our journey through life. We have to learn to recognize those who are unable to change and let them fade from our vision. They cannot change and their aversion and hatred will just color our own view. They were shaped the way they are and we must move on and not let their negative persona influence our lives.
There are people who are open, accepting, and who offer love and support. Let the thoughts of the others roll off you and into the void where they belong. God has created only good. That includes everyone. Even those whose glasses will never change.
Today, as usual, I was doing yard work. Maintaining the flower beds is an enormous job and it’s all mine. My husband takes care of the grass. The property was initially bought by my grandparents and left to me. It is on a tidal creek and we can swim from the dock. We allow some neighbors to use the dock with their son. They use paddle boards and have lots of fun.
As they were on the way to the dock today they passed me, sweat soaked, red faced, and dead tired. A while back my husband and I lived in their house. I commented “when I lived in your house I had fun! Now all I do is work in the yard.” It really hit me. I spoke the truth. I don’t swim off the dock…sit out and watch the water or just relax in the hammock. I just go out and do yard work.
I can’t afford to pay someone else to do the work as with a big space it would be very costly. So what do I do? Several times I have written about choosing how much you set for yourself to do but I am not doing it myself. My mother always said that the things you didn’t do would still be there when you got back from doing something fun. She was good at creating a balance.
Somehow I have to find that balance. I am tired and missing out on fun choices. Feeling pressured to work all the time is not the right thing. Life is too short for that. Balance is critical to wholeness and health.
I have decided that I am a somewhat unorthodox Christian. I have difficulty following the rules. I am enamored of those who stepped outside of the norm: Matthew Fox, Martin Luther, Meister Eckhart, Francis of Assisi. Hildegard of Bingen, Jesus and many others. I also love the stories/parables of Anthony DeMello and the plain speaking of Marcus Borg. I grow reading them.
I grew up in an eclectic family. My grandparents were Methodist, my parents Presbyterian and my Aunt and Uncle Lutheran. I guess I decided early on that no denomination had all the answers. I still feel that way. Jesus did not follow rules but loved people. He broke the Sabbath rules and many others.
As the “church” grew throughout history it took the message of Jesus and added rules/doctrines to try and be sure that we all follow the norm…. that we are all in sync. This is not wrong in and of itself as we do struggle with the meaning of the writings in the Bible and the words of Jesus. We must listen to the teachings of others and weigh them against our own experience. We also need the community of other Christians. We learn and are supported by the stories of others. I hope that I find a middle ground in all of this.
This doesn’t mean that we can’t find our own way. It’s freedom within form. I don’t ask others to follow my path. Each of us must find our own way and I pray that God leads me in mine. May he also be with you in yours.
Today a friend and I were talking about how all sorts of bowel disorders are linked to anxiety and depression. I have always wondered which came first….the chicken or the egg. Did the bowel problems cause the anxiety or vice versa. There is no way to know.
In the last week I had a major IBSD episode. At least I think it was. The trouble is when you are afflicted with this and have a long and awful episode it easily could be the flu. Associating an episode like that with IBSD is automatic instead of examining the sequence of events and realizing that it had the potential to be something else. In the meantime anxiety appeared and clouded the issue even more.
Now I truly believe that it was the flu. It is unfortunate that anyone with a mental issue can take an event that might have another explanation and attribute it to their problem.
Somehow we have to learn to look at events in our lives with a clear eye and a logical mind. No matter what the decision is we will be in a better place to begin with. Again it is the thinking mind that gets us into trouble. Most people will tell us that it is “mind over matter” but they have never experienced overwhelming anxiety, depression or any other symptoms. It’s easy to offer quick solutions when you have never been there.
People who suffer with any form of mental health problems are in a good place to help others. Connecting with people who truly understand can give others perspective and hope. That is why this blogging community is so important. We all need hope and seeing that others have survived and thrived is the best lesson of all.
Thank you to everyone who is willing to share and help others see the daylight at the end of the tunnel and learn that it actually isn’t another train but a real light.
Those of us who are Christian have often struggled with finding a place to worship that feels right to us. I think that part of this disconnect comes from our struggle with Christians themselves…including us. We keep wanting to find a place where Christian behavior fits Christ’s lessons to us. Yet we never find it.
There is a reason for that. Churches are made up of people and people are flawed. Not only are we flawed but each of us has our own beliefs and our own ideas of how to live them out. Probably no two of us would agree on everything. Some of us want to be given rules or directions to follow. We are uncomfortable with uncertainty. Some of us want to think for ourselves and are not afraid of asking questions and doubting answers. Some people are in the middle and expect a blending of both.
All of this makes finding a place where you feel at home more difficult. However, we need to think about a family. Families certainly don’t think alike or function in the same way.
The conclusion that I have reached is to try and find a place (at least for me) where you feel at least accepted. One where you can be challenged to grow and where you can hear stories of the struggles and journeys of others. We will always agree with some and disagree with others. This is normal. Church is not perfect and never will be. It was created by mankind not by God. God speaks anywhere at any time. Church gives us a place to share our faith and a community of believers even if we don’t agree about everything.
It is very hard to follow the teachings of Christ outside of community.
It is dangerous to take human freedom for granted, to regard it as a prerogative rather than as an obligation, as an ultimate fact rather than as an ultimate goal. It is the beginning of wisdom to be amazed at the fact of our being free.—-Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Insecurity of Freedom, 1966
It is so easy to take our freedom for granted. For those of us who were raised in countries where freedom is the basis of our life we don’t appreciate how rare it is. Freedom should not be considered a noun. It is a verb. It is something that we must strive for every single moment. It could be snatched away from us so easily. We must see it as a very fragile gift that has to be nurtured. If not it will be gone.
Today I have rested in a bubble of calm. There were errands to run, food to buy etc….but these are “normal” things. For the last six months I have been living in abnormal and abnormal has not been fun. So many unanswered questions were hanging in the air and I don’t do well unknowing. Not I can see a path ahead …and yes I can obsess about it but it feels right.
Our lives don’t seem to maintain a “normal” for very long before we have to adjust to a “new normal.” For me this happens quite regularly. Change is one of the only constants. I seem to be able to manage some kinds of change but the ones that come with unanswered questions are the most difficult for me.
Again, it comes down to living each day as it comes. Trusting that things will somehow work out and just being grateful for the NOW. If we could only learn to live each day and immerse ourselves in it we would be able to live fully. I try but I don’t always succeed. Being grateful for what is true for us at the moment is part of the equation.
Madeleine L’Engle (one of my favorite writers) says that before she gets out of bed in the morning she signs the cross and says: “God be in my head, God be in my heart, God be at my left hand, God be at my right hand this day.” What a wonderful way to start the day.