Faith in a changing world

church 50sI grew up in an era where church was important. Most of the USA were church goers. That doesn’t mean that they were really Christians but they went to church. Which church people attended was sometimes chosen for social reasons. Going to church on Sunday was just what you did.

In my family we had a mixture. My father (of Scottish decent) and mother were Presbyterian. My grandparents were Methodist and my Aunt and Uncle (of German origins) were Lutheran. It didn’t seem strange to me that everyone in my family went somewhere different. The one thing that was understood was that we all had Christianity as our roots. Of all the family my grandmother’s faith was rock solid. She read the Bible every day and prayed faithfully. She also was the perfect example of Christian living. I never heard her speak against anyone, she gave generously, and was kind to all.

god-in-a-box1Because of this upbringing I grew up believing in and depending on God. Because of all the different examples before me I questioned often, read extensively and never felt constrained by doctrine. I was free to find my path. I think being able to explore helped me to never stop believing in God. God was never static for me.. God was and is bigger than any box anyone ever tried to put him/her/it in.

Today people are exploring God/spirituality in many different ways. Church is no longer the norm. There are many reasons why this has happened. Most of us explore during out formative years. Maybe they find a different path. The path of other faiths may draw them. I only hope that the path each person takes gives them the strength that I find in mine.

find groundMy belief is the thing that holds me up when things are not good. I turn to that faith and rest on it. It gives me strength to keep moving on and has done so for 77 years. People help to sustain my life and reflect God’s image to me often but this doesn’t stand alone. I don’t know what people hold on to who have no faith to turn to. Maybe they don’t need one. It certainly wouldn’t work for me. “God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46)

Scary silence

scaryOur society doesn’t do silence. We are not set up for it. I have recently noticed some school programs that are teaching young children to meditate. I am glad that someone can see our dilemma. We have gone for so long being dependent on noise that silence is foreign.

 

 

Silence can be so scary. If we are anxious we don’t want to spend time with ourselves. TV or computer or whatever shuts down the voice inside is the answer. To think is to get more jittery. There is something about spending time with ourselves that is frightening. Thoughts race, heart rate increases, body responds to adrenaline.

silence healsThe sad part about this is that silence could help us if we could tolerate it. Silence can mend the soul. It’s healing hands soothe us and bring peace. We have to find a way to explore silence as a safe place.

Sadness and Joy

charlie brown treeChristmas Eve I went to the service for the first time in years. We went to his church. It was a beautiful service but I had to leave during Silent Night. For some reason it triggers sadness.

I stopped going at the church where I was employed a while ago.. My husband always went to his church and it was too sad going by myself. For some reason I also balked at going with him.

I think the memories of Christmas when we had small children and young adults are strong and fill me with sadness and nostalgia. Life moves on and rightly so but sometimes the memories (although wonderful) bring on the loss of those times. As we grow older we a not so much a part of the core and feel distanced. It is not that anyone puts us to the side but that we are viewing from a different perspective. We raised our children to be independent. We are not left out of their lives we just have different roles.

god is greaterChange is always stressful and accepting new patterns a challenge. I will grow into it. I am so grateful for all that I have had and still have. God is Good!

Christmas rush/stress

christmas stressI am beginning to realize that it may be impossible to think rationally at this time of year. For those of us who are Christian we are pressured to provide the “perfect” Christmas. We know that this is impossible yet we keep expecting it of ourselves.

This can also happen to those who are not Christian but who are caught up in the “season” and celebrate it as a secular holiday. There is so much going on and so much to do. Instead of things being spread out over the year we lump too much into one holiday. There are Christmas parties to attend even if they are no longer called that. Presents must be bought and wrapped. ….not an easy job. Just when we think we have it all done something else crops up.

After wrapping presents over several weeks I was elated that I was DONE only to discover that there were several more to buy and wrap.

The problem with all of this is that we can easily become short tempered and stressed. I’m sure that is what brought on my crazy day yesterday. We keep trying to accomplish too much in a short time. Christmas day comes and we collapse.

To help ourselves we have to do some things to de-stress. Deep breathing can help. Just concentrating on your breath is calming. A walk outside (weather permitting) is great. Listening to calming music or a relaxation tape is good. Praying and listening for God are a tremendous help. Whatever works for you.

Take time to relax and enjoy what you can. Many of us have sadness attached to the season. If the season is hard for you plan something that you enjoy and forget about the holiday.

We all need to try and remove the trappings that have been tacked on to this holy event and keep focused on the birth of Christ.

prince of peace

“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.”

 

Aggravations

aggravationsToday has been one of those days where nothing you do comes out as you expected. We are trying to deal with Dr’s issue regarding an knee surgery my husband needs. We decided to go see star wars and really were pushed for time. We needed to eat lunch before going and grabbed some fast food and choked it down in the car. Then I thought I left my cell phone/wallet in the fast food place and ran back over there to find it only to discover that it was in my purse the whole time! I felt like a crazy nut. By that time I was out of breath and stressed but we did see the movie and it was wonderful. It was a good way to seek calm.

While out we ran an errand and I had a phone call from one of two brothers whose mother’s will I am executor of. This has been a long drawn out process. The two have been on the outs forever which is why my friend asked me to take care of it. The brother that calls is upset about the will (he has had a copy for two years). Now is thinking about contesting it. WHAT A DAY!

Each day is different. Each day can bring challenges we don’t expect. They can be small but cumulative. All these little issues got bigger as my coping skills when down. I am home now and coming down from the fast heart rate and stress.

julian of NorwichI try to remember when I have a day like this I try to remember the quote from Julian of Norwich who said:; 

“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”

It helps me to ground myself in my faith. Today I repeated it over several times. It is very calming.

Life happens..hold on

detourI have not written for several days. The internet was down for a while but then I didn’t feel like writing. I have been struggling with IBS which triggers anxiety. It can be depressing to be hesitant to go out due to IBS. There are a lot of things going on in my life that have stressed me. However, life goes on and my minor glitches will not stop the world.

When things are like this I work to remember the big picture. I am alive. I have a home to live in and food to eat. I am not homeless and destitute. It is time to be grateful for what I have instead of whining for what I don’t have. It is for me to adjust my perspective.

I am summoning my coping skills and will be meditating and praying to calm my soul. I have had a lifetime to learn and even though I struggle at times I know what to do. I am aware that many with anxiety and related issues have not yet learned coping skills and suffer greatly. It is wonderful to read blogs when others share their coping tips. Knowing that others struggle makes us not feel alone and we can try ideas and find what helps us.

grace2

Prayer allows us to reach out to the help that never leaves us. It is possible for God to feel distant but that is our perception and is not real. God is always there. …sometimes just waiting for us to reach out. Life is never smooth. God is the rock…the foundation that shores us up. Never forget that.

We are a community

family treeI have mentioned before how as the members of your family grows through children growing and marrying and that life becomes more complicated instead of less. As you add more people to the circle there are more people to care about and worry about. Since I have been blessed to have loving children I frequently talk with them, and the girls especially, call for help and advice. I see this as what a mother is for. If I can’t share what have learned over the years what good is it? I am happy to offer love, support and anything else that is helpful. It is wonderful to be needed and loved.

The other side of the coin is that I am privy to the ups and downs of my family. As a mother and grandmother I can’t help but worry about problems and the outcomes. Over the years I have been blessed to learn coping skills to assuage my anxiety and have learned to count on prayer and God.

Having lived my life dependent on my faith for support I have often wondered what people who don’t have that support do in a crisis. Perhaps they are strong enough to count on themselves and find help from those around them. I hope this is the case as living without any support is an intolerable way to live.

community 2In writing this blog I have corresponded with those whose support system is limited and grieve about their circumstances. I hope that finding some support from those of us in this community helps to provide them with a sense of belonging. My compassion and love reaches out to them and makes me wish I could do more. We support each other.

I am grateful for this community and feel supported by it. I hope that others find that same support by linking with others who reach out. God Bless this community.