Remove the mask

tiredYesterday I wrote about long term commitment and the benefits of it. When I think about it I left out something important. It is the ability to be yourself. No mask, no costume. nothing to hide the real you.

Most of my life I have been adaptable. It is something I learned early on from my father. He felt strongly that we should do our best to not make people uncomfortable. …..especially in social situations. This required not making anyone feel out of place by what they were wearing, how they spoke etc. I was a genius at adjusting language and conversation to fit my audience. I sought out people who seemed on the outside and tried to help them feel included. This is not a bad thing and it certainly is a kind thing.

This kind of thinking also led me into being the peacemaker. I do’t like conflict or discord at all. It can be very hard to always try to keep the peace. I’ve realized that this made me very tired. It is a lot less enervating to be yourself.

Somewhere along the way I forgot who I was. I was always wearing a mask, always being part of the group. I never voiced my own opinions if they were contrary. I wanted everything to go smoothly. … everyone to be happy. When my children were growing I smoothed most arguments. I was still playing a role.

true loveManaging children at home led to more peacemaking and avoiding conflict. As our marriage grew I began removing the masks and the other personas and was free to be me. Total acceptance of who you are frees you. Unconditional love allows you to be totally open. It’s not that we were not ourselves in the beginning but now there are no closets unopened. Time has opened them all.

 

Why are we here?

butterfly effectLife is a puzzle. Sometimes I wonder what it is all about and why we are here. What is my purpose? Am I here for a reason? I have spent my life raising a family, being involved in church and being a nurse. I hope that those things have made the world a better place. Not in some grand way but by trying to be a good person I have made a contribution.

I think we expect that in order to make a difference we have to be someone important – some sort of celebrity but I don’t think that is it at all. I am a believer in the butterfly principle. What each of us does makes a difference for good or ill. Everything that we do has an impact. This makes me strive even harder to learn all that I can so that I can change the world for the better even if in a very, very small way.

Sometimes I catch myself saying something that will impact someone in a negative way and I think about it later. Recently I met a nurse in a doctor’s office who is about to have her first baby. I made the comment that I used to work in Neonatal Intensive Care. She responded that she hoped her baby didn’t need to go there. I answered that she seemed healthy and that I was sure all would go well. Then I added: we used to say nurses babies were the riskiest. That was a bridge too far. The remark was true but she didn’t need to hear that. I have thought about it ever since and regret it.

tutuEvery day is a chance to be kind. To say the kind thing. A chance to help. I have decided that doing the right thing is why we are here. Nothing else is as important.

Matthew 25:37-39New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’

Worry, worry, worry

rocking chairIf we are blessed with a good family when we are young we don’t worry much. As we reach our teens we encounter social issues and worry about how we seem to others. For some teens this can encompass their whole being. Social media has made this worse.

If we are blessed enough to find a partner and start a family our worries grow…..will there be enough money?….Will the job work out….etc. Then we have children and the worry increases exponentially. As we age our children grow up, find partners and have children of their own and then we have a larger group to hold close to our hearts. I guess the law of large numbers (out of my area) means that the more people involved the more potential for problems.

One of my children lives in the same town. One live 3 hours away and one is an 18 hr drive. We talk frequently and I am glad they also talk to each other often. No matter how old we get our children are still our children and when something crops up for them they call mom. I am glad they can do this. I see it as my place in life to be there for them.

This allows me to utilize my skills at worrying.  My grandmother used to tell me to sit in a chair and worry as hard as I could….then get up and see if anything had changed. She was so right. Worry doesn’t help anyone but I am so good at it.

worry2Worry can turn into anxiety as we magnify the problems and think of all the things that can go wrong. I am good at crossing many bridges before they are anywhere in sight. My husband says do what you can and then stop thinking about it. He is right. It is time to let this go. Jesus tells us:

Matthew 6:27-29New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?[a] 28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.

Friends

friends 2Today was rainy and cold. Really depressing weather. When we lived in the north I preferred snow to this rain. It chills you so.  I have been helping out in the office of the church I used to work for. The only people I see are the administrator and a friend. Both are very dear to me. My friend and I do some simple tasks to help out a little. It is wonderful to see the two of them and we have lunch together.

I don’t know how I would survive without friends. It seems that women are more likely to have close friends than men. I am sorry about that because a dear friend can make life more beautiful. Two years ago I lost my lifelong friend and I still miss her. She was the last person alive who knew me as a child. Friends store memories for us. As we age they are the ones who can say “remember when?’ The two at church have known me for over 20 years. My other two close friends have known me for over 40 years. A lifetime!

Friends grow close through shared experiences. We have all had our share of illness, loss, crisis etc. We have all had good times. We understand each other’s faults and good points and accept each other totally.

I see friendship as another example of God’s love. God loves us and knows everything about us. There is nothing that we can do that will separate us from the love of God. Which brings me to one of my favorite Bible verses.

he love usRomans 8:37-39 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Go to sleep

crash fireEach night I try to write my blog before my favorite time of the day. Tonight I didn’t get my done and it is now quite late. I love the time after dinner when my husband and I and our two basset hounds retreat to the sofa and watch a little bit of TV or listen to music. This is our down time. The dogs expect it as much as we do. As the weather gets colder we will build a fire. I love this time. I feel so blessed to be able to do this.

Just after we sat down I got a phone call about a problem. When you have a family usually there is some problem going on. Some are simple and some not so simple. Since we have three married children and six grandchildren it is common for something to be going wrong. You just hope that it is something that can be solved.

This made the evening less than relaxing. It is frustrating not to be able to fix things immediately. As a grandparent you are just removed enough from the issue to not be able to get in the middle. As a nurse I learned well that there are some things we can’t fix. It is a hard lesson to learn. It is also hard to just turn things over to God and just leave them there. I keep wanting the solution to be of my choosing but it is out of my hands. To see family in pain is hard to bear but prayer is the only thing to do. God hears the plea of our hearts. I will turn it over to him. Now all I have to do is keep from picking it back up. Worry doesn’t help.

give it to God

 

Waiting or living?

waiting 2Today I have been sad. For the 20+ years that I worked for a church I have seldom been sad. Now it seems to be a recurrent state for me. I am still grieving over the losses of the last few years. I suspect that it is really ok to feel sad from time to time. We are entitled to grieve over things. Many people do not understand grief and think that it follows the same pattern as the stages of accepting dying. This is not the case. Grief is an entirely different thing and doesn’t follow a precise pattern. For that reason it can sneak up on you when you least expect it.

Going to church now is sometimes painful. I do miss the life I had. It is just another thing that I have to face. Change is inevitable and sometimes difficult to go through. That knowledge is part of the journey I am on. As I have said before waiting is not my strong suit.

journeyNevertheless waiting is what I am doing. I need to remember Life is what is happening while waiting for life to happen (a familiar saying). I will continue to work to embrace where I am and live in the now. If you read any of the mystics such as Julian of Norwich, Hildegard of Bingen (sp) or the desert fathers you learn that they lived in the moment. I suspect that God is telling me that I am not waiting but living each day. I will learn much during this time if I just see what is directly in front of me. The journey continues and yes at times we are entitled to be sad!

 

idea

I have had a revelation! A few days ago I wrote about a dream that I had (nightmare?). It was about planning a banquet and cleaning up afterward. Two days later I was called by a friend and made a last minute lunch for four of us. Admittedly this was not a banquet but did require cooking and cleaning. Until yesterday I never connected the two things. I have no trouble understanding the dream was a message. I have seldom connected things that closely but it is evident that there is a connection. I guess I was being warned what was on the way and to be ready. You can bet I will be paying more attention to my dreams in future.

I don’t know how many of you have experienced this kind of phenomena but it has seldom happened that clearly to me. I have had experiences where I felt a strong need to call or pray for someone. Usually I listen to that urge.

When I was working as a parish nurse I had two instances where I planned visits for the day, got in the car and was pulled to visit someone else entirely. Both times the person I saw needed a visit or some sort of intervention. I have awakened in the middle of the night and knew I had to pray for someone only to find out that something had occurred and they needed prayer.

God speaksI don’t find these things to be spooky at all. They are examples of God speaking to us. Whether the impulse to pray turns out to be something or not no prayer is wasted. We have to tune in to God and follow through on impulses that clearly are God calling.