None of us is perfect. No matter how hard we try. We are human and humans make mistakes. In the Bible Paul says I do the things I ought not and don’t do the things I should. This is true of everyone.
The things that most of us do wrong are usually not serious but can hurt others. Hopefully, we don’t really want to hurt anyone. The thing that is hard to take is that there are some who really do want to do harm. There are many explanations why this happens. Most of us want to believe that they are damaged in some way. Many of them are. The shooter in New Zealand may have been taught the hatred he exemplified.
There are those that were damaged by the treatment they received as children. The things that happen to us in the early years can leave some terrible scars. Some people are able to recover and make peace with themselves. Some are not and that past pain is reflected in their treatment of others.
In my lifetime I have had the experience of meeting a few whose earliest lives created true monsters. There are theories for why this happens… some about early bonding. One of my friends adopted two infants from mothers who were addicted to crack cocaine. One of them did well but suffers from some physical problems. The other was diagnosed as a sociopath. ( I think now called antisocial disorder) As early as preteen the rooms of the other family members had to be locked in fear of his actions. They tried everything they could to help but to no avail. This very loving family was able to keep him until his teen years and at that point safety for the family required letting him go. I know he was in treatment for a while but I don’t know where he ended up. God help those where he is.
Every one of us has done things we regret and wish we could fix. We would like to go back and change everything. We may not be able to do that but we can go forward with a desire to do better. Doing our best to respect and understand those around us can make a difference.
If you have things you need to let go confess them. Whether to God, your own higher power or even to yourself. Acknowledge your mistakes and move on. Forgiveness heals.
Do you dream? Do you remember what you dream? I dream a lot and I often remember the dream…at least for a while. The bad part is that sometimes I have nightmares. I had one last night. Mine are not about monsters chasing me or falling off a building. I wish they were. I could deal with that better.
My nightmares have to do with trying to help my mother and my aunt. (both deceased) The dreams are sad and frustrating. I struggle to solve whatever is going on with no success. It makes me wonder if this is some leftover guilt for something I regret not doing for them. I cared for them in their last days and was with each of them when they died.
As a part of grieving we tend to guilt ourselves for being human. Of course I have regrets but my care for them was the what I was able to do. I did all that I could. Sometimes we just can’t let it go. I remember crying hysterically in the dream ….so frustrated that nothing I tried worked.
Now wide awake I have to understand that grief comes in waves when we least expect it. This time it surfaced in my nightmare years after both of them died. It is still there and will crop up again. Loss becomes a scar but sometimes the scar hurts. That is normal.
Following is the prayer we said today at Ash Wednesday service. I think that these words are something that we all need to hear. All of us have things to regret. I have printed it complete on my other blog.
We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not forgiven others as we have been forgiven.
Our past unfaithfulness, the pride, envy, hypocrisy, and apathy that have infected our lives, we confess to you.
Our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation of other people, we confess to you.
Our negligence in prayer and worship, and our failure to share the faith that is in us, we confess to you.
Our neglect of human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty, we confess to you.
Our false judgments, our uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbors, and our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us, we confess to you.
Our waste and pollution of your creation, and our lack of concern for those who come after us, we confess to you.
When we experience the loss of someone or something truly significant to we can be overwhelmed. Sometimes numbness sets in and we are separate from things going on around us. When the grief begins to explode our psyche we don’t know what to do to help. There is a danger at this point. We want so badly to help the pain that we can reach out to things that can put a band aid on the hurt for awhile. Sometimes those things are knee jerk reactions and end up adding to our emotional crisis. That is why most advice says don’t do anything hasty. Usually the advice is about selling a house or moving. But there are other things that can crop up.
One thing we seek during immediate grief is connections. We need others to see our pain. Most of the time people don’t know what to say or how to help. Many say the wrong things. There will be some who understand the things that you really need. Hold them close…they are your lifeline.
If this happens to us early in life ..losing a spouse or loved one…we so want the grief to relent that it is easy to dive into another relationship thinking that is the answer. I have a friend who lost her husband early on and had two disastrous marriages before stepping back and eventually making a loving and lasting connection. She just wanted the pain to stop.
Grief is not an easy thing and it does not follow the same pattern for everyone. Small things can cause waves of pain.. a smell, a song, an event. There are so many more.
There will be life following. It is fine to laugh, have good days and momentarily put thoughts of your love from your mind. Don’t be guilty. You are allowed to go on. You still have God given life and you can live it.
Do you ever feel as if life is out to get you? I have felt that way lately. Superstitions abound about this….things come in threes, if you have too much good then bad is coming. Sometimes it is a self fulfilling prophecy. When a lot of things keep happening you start to feel vulnerable. You are having lots of bad luck. It starts reminding me of an old country/western song that says “if it weren’t for bad luck I’d have no luck at all.”
Ever since this knee surgery process was begun it has felt that way. The big good is that the surgery was successful. It seems that everything else surrounding it has been complicated and stress causing. I feel like “chicken little” running around saying “the sky is falling.”
When Hurricane Michael hit the Florida coast I felt such empathy for the people devastated by it. We only got the outside fringes as it went up the middle of Georgia and other states. We had some wind and rain. Very few areas lost power. Unfortunately, two houses away from us there is a vacant lot and some very dangerous trees. One fell across the power lines and we were without power for about 18 hours. This is nothing compared to what others are going through but it just seemed that the bad luck genie was striking again.
I have been pretty free of IBS issues for a while but of course this kicked the whole thing up again. Some medicine has helped but made me tired and cranky. I just want this to stop. I seem to be complaining when lots of people are so worse off. It makes me feel guilty.
Sometimes it is so hard to control our emotional reaction to events. They hit and our minds and bodies respond before we can slam on the brakes. I can see more work on my part tending my coping skills.
I hate a messy, dirty house but have not felt like cleaning and the mess just makes me feel worse. I need organization and I have to work hard on that right away. I can’t even call someone to give my house a one-time clean as I need to pick up first. It is really bad when what you need to do is clean before someone else can clean.
I know this will all resolve and I am ready for that. I will put on my big girl pants and get to work and I know things will be better. I know that bad luck is not the only kind I have. God will make sure of that.
Since this is suicide prevention awareness month I wanted to post it in a different way. I am thankful that I have never considered suicide but have been depressed enough that I understand how it feels to think that not existing is the only solution.
I have been involved with families who have experienced suicide and have seen the result first hand. I am distraught by the number of suicides that we are seeing in young people today and the devastating impact on the families.
Suicide automatically leaves guilt behind for loved ones. The first questions they ask themselves is “what did I do wrong?” This is followed by “why didn’t I know?” Parents may want to place blame as a way of removing themselves from the equation. Sometimes one parent blames the other. Marriages disintegrate and families split apart. This result is sometimes called “suicide survivors.” Are they really surviving?
The impact on others is far reaching. Friends will also feel guilt and issues of blame arise also. “If only I had been a better friend.” “If only others had been kinder.” The ripples from suicide are like that of a stone thrown into a pond. Anyone who is connected at all is changed forever.
The long term effects can also be devastating. If my friend found that suicide could solve his problems maybe I can too. The rate of suicide in families who have had a suicide is much higher than the general population.
We have to find ways to end this epidemic. Non only for those who can see no other way out but also for the people they touch. There is much to be done as this epidemic is reaching pandemic proportions. Awareness is a beginning but as I have said before we must have more accessible help in a timely manner. Faster recognition of those with problems and better care.
We all must help and demand recognition of this problem!
How often in life do we hear the word “should?” For most of us our parents taught us there are some things we “should’ do and some things we ‘shouldn’t’ do. Those “shoulds” get caught up in our brains and spend time telling us what to do. Sometimes they are good thoughts but sometimes they are not. The “shoulds” can start to run/ruin our life.
“Shoulds” can also come from the outside. We often hear someone say “she “shouldn’t” do that.” Unfortunately we can be very quick to “should” someone. The word is used to tell us what some people think is the right thing. It is a form of judgement.
We have a lot of “shoulds” stored up in our brains. They can be very hard to get rid of. As a simple example when I was a child we “shouldn’t” wear white shoes before Easter and not after Labor Day. This very funny one has been hard for me to let go. I always think about it even though I live in the south and it is hot through September and we need to keep wearing summer clothes. (that edict also had to do with white pants and skirts) I no longer follow that “should” but I can’t get it out of my mind.
We have to learn to recognize when our programming is getting in the way of our living. The things that no longer apply or work need to be rooted out. We have to take a good look at the things from the past that make us feel guilty about what we do now. If those old “shoulds” are getting in the way they have to go. The trick is to recognize them. Find them and let them go!
Today I was very disappointed. On Tuesday’s I have lunch with two wonderful people from the church where I worked. While there I asked the pastor (who is an interim) if the “weekly” (lands in the pews each week) could include the address of my devotional blog Hear God in Other Voices. (heargodinothervoices.blog) He said that other people had asked that their addresses be included and that it couldn’t be done. This is not his being unkind but it is just policy and probably shouldn’t be his call at this time anyway. New pastors are coming in August and it really is up to them.
It did, however, make me sad. For many of the 20 years that I was there I wrote and published devotionals for the church. People were very complimentary and I was asked by many to continue doing it.
I guess this just (again) brought home to me how disconnected I am from those years of work. Part of this is (of course) my own fault for not attending church there but I felt it was the right thing to do to help people adjust to my not being there after so long.
I am sad and will send a link to some church members I suspect would enjoy the blog but that doesn’t really help how I feel. I know that this is part of the changes we face in life but at times it can really hurt. I am so thankful that the church I attend with my husband is happy to include the link in the newsletter.
Life moves on and we have to move with it or we are left in a past that is no longer there. My life will continue to be fulfilling as I branch out into new paths. My writing is a blessing to me and is healing in itself. We each have to find the things that provide solace and healing when we are down and remember to use them.
“You did the best you could” words that we say or think often. Sometimes we struggle to keep going. Sometimes we don’t know what to do. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed and completely lost. So we fall back on doing the best we can. Later we question ourselves. Was it enough? Did we really do our best?
Maybe things didn’t turn out the way we thought they should. Maybe we end up feeling guilty. Maybe we question ourselves. We think we didn’t try hard enough, have enough expertise, plan well enough. We just wanted to take care of everything.
The truth is that most of the time we do the best that we can with the information we have at the moment. Later more information is forthcoming and it seems we could have done something else and we begin the decent into questioning, ruminating and obsessing.
This is the trap we fall into. Life is not perfect. Decisions that we make can not always be perfect but we expect it of ourselves. We have to adjust our expectations of ourselves. Expectations can kills us. We see failure where there is none. We push ourselves too hard. Again, life is not perfect. Things may not be okay at the moment but we can go on. We can tale each day as it comes. We can trust that we tried our best and that is all we can do.
Lately I have been thinking about good and bad emotions. Good emotions run the gamut from a simple flash of a decent day to full blown joy. It is easy to see the negative ones. Fear, anger, sadness, anxiety, depression, sorrow….I could go on. To counter these we can use the positive things we don’t often see as emotions: safety, relaxation, strength, gratitude, pleasure, satisfaction, friendship, kindness, and assertiveness. (From the article How to Tap into Your Light by Kalia Kelmenson in Spirituality and Health)
Most of these we don’t equate with emotion and so we don’t key into them. We don’t see them as positive emotions. We don’t focus on them. That is a major part of the problem.
I don’t know about you, but I am more likely to come home and relate a story about how uncomfortable I felt doing a mediation than that I did a good job. I let the good feeling be lost in the negative emotion. We tend to hang onto the bad feelings and nurse them. We are unwilling to let them go. Think of how often you have been angry about something and just kept bringing it up in conversation or dwelling on it. For some reason we must enjoy holding on to them.
When we don’t let go we experience physical changes. Negative emotions can cause an increase in heart rate and rise in blood pressure. They can decrease our resistance to disease and lower the ability of our immune system to function. They allow our bodies to attack us with autoimmune diseases such as lupus, asthma, ulceration colitis, migraines and irritable bowel. Oh, what we do to ourselves.
We have to learn to focus on the positive emotions and use them to overcome the negative ones. To do that we need to remember what they are and see them when they come. The list above can be added to I’m sure. It’s easy to see how we think when I realized that I had to find that list and couldn’t just come up with one from my head but the negative emotions were right on the tip of my tongue.
I think the most important piece is to be aware of what you are feeling. We can’t change it if we can’t recognize it.
As the song writer Johnny Mercer said “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative!”