Center down

day

I often think about the song “what a difference a day makes.”  The song is not talking about all of life but it is so true. One day everything can be fine and in 24 hours your life can be totally different. That happened to me at the beginning of 2017 when my job was done away with. The problem for me was it wasn’t a job but a ministry. I lost my identity.

A lot worse things have happened to others. Loss of a loved one among many things. When this kind of thing happens we are blindsided and have to restructure our thinking. I am beginning to realize how long that takes. I know that at some point the pain of this will lessen. It already has some.

god-in-the-middle-of-itThere are people who seem so strong that nothing can rock their world. I am not so sure that they aren’t vulnerable as well. It is possible that nothing has ever happened to reach their core. There are some people that I am sure have strength that doesn’t come from themselves. People like Gandhi and Mother Theresa. They are what Quakers call “centered.” This is kind of strength that we all need. This comes from seeking something more than ourselves. My only experiences with this kind of centering have been fleeting. I know that the way to connect in that way with God (or whoever works for you) is to spend time with him. In the kind of rushing world that we live in it is so easy to do other things. It requires the kind of life change that (for me) started this thinking.

Now, again, I am focusing on the things that matter. I have no idea what the future will bring but my only way forward is with God. I have to reach out and seek the connection that never fails.

Memories

Christmas pastToday we put up a Christmas tree. Like the Scrooge story I started thinking about Christmases past. Most of my memories are good but not all. There were two Christmases when my husband was in Viet Nam. There was one Christmas when I was in the hospital and not home with my children. The interesting thing is that I remember the happy years more than the sad ones. Our memories are selective. It’s funny how one person can remember an event clearly and someone else who has the same memory remembers it so differently. It has made me think about how our brains pick and choose which things to make easily accessible and which things are hidden away. We know that the memory is there somewhere. Why can’t we access it? My daughter says that our RAM memory is full. She may have a point. If only I could remember everything that I have learned.

I am grateful for the memories that I have and glad that some of the bad memories are less clear. I wonder if this is our way of living with the bad things. People who have PTSD can’t shake those bad memories and relive them over and over. That is living in a nightmare. I know that many people have bad memories that are so traumatic that they are vivid and color their days. That kind of memory produces pain that most of us can’t imagine.

woundsI think that mental pain can be so much worse than physical. The torture that our own minds can produce is far worse than what someone else can do to us. That is why so many more suicides are committed by those in mental pain. There is no way to get away from it. Our thoughts rule out lives so we have to create ways to escape from that pain. The treatment of mental pain is so much better than it has been in the past. Now if we can just remove the stigma that accompanies it.

Christ cast out demons. I am sure that they were the same kind of demons that afflict us today. His healing is still there for us. We just need to be able to accept it.

Frantic to Peaceful Sleep

“It is but lost labour that we haste to rise up early, and so late take rest, and eat the bread of anxiety. For those beloved of God are given gifts even while they sleep.”

This is a quote from the beginning prayers of Night Prayer from”A New Zealand Prayer Book.” 

franticNow with Christmas on the way we will begin our mad dash to get everything ready. Presents to be bought, baking to do, parties to attend. There is so much we think we have to do. As the quote says we rise early and go to bed late. In between we obsess about the things we haven’t done yet. We are the creators of the pressure we are under. We can’t turn loose of our control. We won’t let ourselves fall down on the job.

As the time draws closer we become more and more anxious. Anxiety becomes an even more part of life. We Christians are not the only ones who are frantic. Hanukkah is coming also and events for others. Even many agnostics and atheists can get caught up in the commercial part of the season. It leaves very few untouched.

For those of us who grew up with the Christmas traditions it can seem magical. People seem nicer. Charities receive donations and people help each other more. The sad part is that we do all this in one short season. Then we seem to go to sleep until the following year. Showing kindness, helping others, and sharing what we have should go on all year. Somehow we need to learn to carry it forward. Think what a wonderful world it would be if we did.

sleep

Maybe then we would not be frantic for a month and take the gifts that God gives us even when we sleep.

Seeking a new perspective

harassThe news today continues to follow the sexual harassment scandals. This is all so sad. It is sad for the women who are coming forward…..they have held these things inside for so long. I am sad for the people who are being accused…life has changed for them. I am not sure that life hasn’t changed for all of us.

This seems to be the next phase of female emancipation. For many years since women entered the work force there seems to have been an unwritten rule that some men in power could use that power to their advantage without fear of repercussions. In my young adult years I knew that many actresses had to sleep their way to the screen. It seemed to be the norm. The women seemed to accept it as a way of life. I am sure that some women took advantage as well.

That time has come to an end. The veil has been lifted and the actions are coming home to roost. The trouble is when people are talking about things that happened years ago there is no way to get at “truth.” Memories can be faulty and it is possible to push away those things we don’t want to see in ourselves.

I think since Pandora’s box has been opened we will see many more disclosures about abuse. This will be a major shake up for communication in the work place. We will be discovering new ways of relating to each other and hopefully things will be better. It may take a while to work this out and bring about another change in male perspective.

soulAnyone, male or female, who is in power can use that power for good or ill. Power can be a heady thing. Power is one of those things that we think will fill that hole that only God can fill. It has been sought instead of God since time began. Putting our priorities in the right place and seeking God first will move power to its rightful place. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and its righteousness and all good things will be given unto you.” (from the song)

 

new-habits-new-me-socialIt is not easy to shake a problem that has plagued you your whole life. For the last week I have been battling mild anxiety. I have no idea why. It has, however, kicked up my IBS which is very aggravating. There doesn’t seem to be any specific thing that I can blame this on. Everything seems to be fine. So,,,I am striving to continue on and just accept that it is what it is. I have not worked on my strategies for handling this enough and now I can see the result.

It is clearly evident to me that habits are hard to break even if the habit is to do nothing. That may be the hardest habit of all to break. To go from doing nothing to doing something pushes me way out of my comfort zone. I am determined to struggle with it each day and take one day at a time.

The events in that small Texas town have brought home to me the crisis the US is in. I am so sad to see the nation I grew up in at the brink of disaster. Are we all living in a mental health crisis? It certainly begins to look that way. When one person takes a gun and shoots random people to solve a problem it tells others with problems that this is a viable solution. How do we stop the ball rolling downhill?

values

Throughout my lifetime this has been a wonderful country to live in but I am very afraid for us. So many people have turned away from a moral life. When the ethical ground of a country is eroded then it seem the country itself is also eroded. May God be with us.

Can I choose?

opinionThis blog contains opinions that are mine. If you disagree with me that is fine.

Recently the in the US the state of Texas has set about removing the choices that women have in regard to their lives. The state has made it almost impossible for someone to receive an abortion for any reason whatever. Whether or not you agree with abortion the fact that a group, mostly men, are making decisions about the health of women is abhorrent to me. It feels as if Margaret Atwood’s book is coming true and before long we will be living out The Handmaids Tale (title?).

As a woman, I cannot accept that medical issues of female health are being legislated. I don’t see men’s health issues being handled the same way. What if someone wanted to legislate who could take Viagra? The outcry would be heard round the world.

choiceThis is another one of those ethical issues that I touched on in another blog. It is so difficult for us human beings to parse the complexity of abortion. We have the same difficulty with euthanasia. The whole thing seems to rest on whether we control our own lives or not. Our freedom will necessarily be tied to whether or not we harm others and both of these problems are linked to that. As a nurse I certainly adhere to do no harm but each individual case may have a different answer. Does the government get to decide without knowing the circumstances?

I don’t claim to know the answers. Where does our freedom to choose stop? If you have an answer let me know.

Anger…what to do?

angrySometimes it is so easy to get angry. It may be that we are in an edgy mood or someone pushes the buttons that set us off. Occasionally someone takes advantage of me and anger crops up. There are people who always seem to rub me the wrong way. I can’t stand people who want to make me or someone else feel inferior. I know that is their way to make themselves feel superior but it is really hard to take. I really hate it when a fragile person is the victim. There is some kind of radar that aggressors have that they hone in on just the person who can’t take it.

Recently I watched while a socialite snubbed and put down someone who they felt was inferior. The person was deeply hurt but unable to respond. I am not good at quick retorts and couldn’t come up with something to alter the situation. I was frustrated with myself and afterward was so angry at myself, the victim and the aggressor. When I run into that person again I will let them know how unkind their behavior was.

prayer 3So, what to do with the anger? Anger is not good for us. A temporary anger is ok but when we push it down inside of us and let it fester it can have physical repercussions. Writing, for me, is a way to let go of that anger. I also intend to pray for everyone involved….even the aggressive person…..even me. Prayer is much better than anger!