Sometimes, as children, at bedtime we would imagine monsters….monsters under the bed or in the closet. We would make our parents open the closet door and look under the bed before we would let them leave the room. Unfortunately the monsters are not just part of our childhood. We hang on to some of the monsters as we grow up. We may not recognize them. They don’t look the same.
The monsters we have now are bigger and uglier. They threaten us in ways we never imagined as children. The monsters follow us around just waiting for us to slip and suddenly there they are.
The monsters have many names. Some are self doubt, loneliness, regret, guilt, anxiety, depression, fear, addiction. I am sure there are many more but each one can ruin our peace. They take advantage of any crack in our defenses and take over.
We can fight. We can eventually wipe them out. Each day we have to learn new ways to right ourselves. Tricks that make them go away. Tricks like meditation, medication, turning to God, music, TV, anything that works for us.
The monsters can be beaten. We can chase them away. Don’t be afraid to tackle them. They are weaker that we are. We have the strength of God with us.
Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Yesterday emotions rose up and got me. Since not being a parish nurse I have felt the loss of being there for people in times of crisis. I think that part of my person is connected to being a support for others. In a way I have lost some of my identity. At the moment all I am doing is cleaning house, cooking, working in the yard and trying to continue on this journey. It is hard to feel as if you have lost part of yourself. Tears come when I think of this. It is very difficult when you have found your perfect place and then lost it.
I have plans to begin mediation training in January and I am hoping that helping people resolve their differences instead of going to court will fill some of the void.
I do love working in the yard and cooking but really who wants to build a life around cleaning? There are only two of us to cook for and that limits us.I enjoy the garden (I use this term loosely) but it is large and overwhelming. I do spend time with friends but nothing seem to replace what I had. I need to get used to the fact that nothing ever will.
I know that God has some other way to use the skills that I have acquired over a lifetime. I just wish God would hurry and tell me what that is! I will keep plugging along and wait on God’s timing. I know that grief comes and goes and I am just in a wave of it and it will pull out to sea again. Life will continue.
Today we are just sitting here with rain and wind. So far we still have power. We also have a generator for back up. We are just slightly off the coast of Savannah with more islands and lots of marsh between us and the barrier islands. Our tides can be 8-9 feet normally and is any surge hits us at low tide it will be meaningless. The kind of surge projected at this time for us would barely come up over our river wall and onto a small dip before it would reach our lawn. Odds are we will see some wind with things blown about but hopefully not falling trees. I hope we got those out last year.
I have been thinking about some of the reasons that people are leaving churches. Just as with most things the reasons are varied. I wonder if some trend can be drawn from the whole, We have blamed at lot of it on the business of families with both parents working and that is one cog in the wheel. Parents have little time to spend with their children and (hopefully) use the weekend to do that. Many young un-marrieds have said that they find the members of churches do not live out what they espouse and are therefore hypocritical, Of course there are those who feel that the progress of science has made God less believable. All of these things are possible. So what is it about church that is important and why does it help?
In today’s world people are more disconnected from each other than ever before. When people lived in small towns being connected was easier. You might not like everyone but at least you knew them. Today many of us don’t even know the people next door to us. We have little actual support from others and in some cases no network of close friends at all. Church has been a place to find those things. Admittedly, there are some other places cropping up to take that place but most do not have the openness to encourage strong relationships.
This may seem like the wrong reason to go to church but it is an important one. Jesus had his friends around him. They were just as dysfunctional as the rest of us. We all need people to support us. We can study our faith while alone but to practice it we have to be in community. We cannot live it out alone.
Loneliness keeps cropping up in my thoughts. So many people are alone and long for someone to acknowledge they exist. The pain they are feeling is excruciating. It makes me want to reach out and touch them in some way. Some of these people are physically alone. They live by themselves and seldom see others but some are people that we meet every day. On the outside they seem like everyone else. It is the inside where the pain is found.
We have superficial relationships with many people and can pass right by someone who needs more. It can be difficult to risk reaching out and exploring the feelings of others. To do so we have to open ourselves to them. We have to be non-judgmental and most of all open to listening. Most of this is summed up in the word compassion.
Several people in blogs have mentioned being empathic. I think there are those of us who do sense the pain of others. The question is do we do anything about it.
Any troubles that we have had in our lives prepares us to help others. If we have suffered a loss we are more able to understand the feelings of others in the same situation. People who have anxiety or depression can truly understand what someone else with the same issues is feeling. We think we are so different and admittedly each of us is unique but we all have suffered each in our own way. The interesting thing is that when we reach out to others we can sense our own pain diminishing. For me, sharing my pain is cutting it in half.
It is so heartwarming to find people able to open up about their own problems while writing a blog. Admittedly it’s easier than in person but it is still offering yourself to others. Maybe doing it in writing will make it easier to sense the pain of someone you actually meet. Too often we feel an outsider and that no one else has the same problems but when you start to actually hear others stories you know that you are not alone. You are in a community of belonging.
The world is such a lonely place. There are billions of people but that doesn’t fix it. Our loneliness comes from our separateness. I remember an old Star Trek episode where the Enterprise was transporting an alien being who was contained in a box. He was not able to be looked upon as it would be harmful to the crew. In his existence (?world) everyone was connected. When mind melded with Spock he said (not exact quote) how can you stand the loneliness? I have never forgotten this. We are each contained in our own environment and are not completely connected with others.When the abilities that we have connect us with someone it is not 100%. We do not know their complete mind. This can lead to ambiguous relationships. How do we know that someone really likes or loves us? Unfortunately, we never can. We have to live with the questions and with trust. This means that we can be wrong and sometimes hurt.
The thing is we have to try. If we live always afraid of connecting with others we will never experience love. We have to put ourselves out there knowing that we can be hurt. A pastor friend said at my mothers’ funeral said grief is a gift given to us by God for loving and being loved. That statement has turned my mind around.
In loving we can be hurt. We can be in pain and be ready to back away and not try again. But we are called to love. “Love God, and your neighbor as yourself.” It doesn’t say anything about how to cope when that love is not returned.
As far as I can see the only way to cope is to love your way through the pain. Loving expecting nothing in return can change everything.
Since losing my ministry in January I have discovered that even with my husband at home with me I miss other people. For me, being with others is important. The ministry also gave me a sense of purpose and allowed me to be a help to others. We do have friends that we meet with and a church that we attend but I miss the connection with the people that I saw in my work. This is one of the things that I have been fighting to overcome and something that has led to an increase in worry and sadness. It has made me realize how important connections with others can be.
I just read an article from Spirituality and Health called
Is Loneliness the New Obesity?August 16, 2017.
It suggests that loneliness is rising as a major factor in early death. This makes sense to me on many levels. The article talks about high risk in the rising elderly population which makes a lot of sense. Most people who are aging do not want to move away from the place that they have called home. There are so many negative connotations. I visited so many nursing homes and saw elderly folks just sitting in the halls. Most homes are trying to offer activities for stimulation but in many cases people are past participating. The thing is to get those who are aging to look early for more palatable solutions. A nursing home has long been seen as somewhere you wait to die.
Cost is a major factor in the US. Without universal healthcare there seems to be no acceptable solution. Elderly people can be such a resource and we are wasting it. Homes that have linked up with day cares have worked extremely well in giving both groups joy in their day. We need to explore ideas for solving this crisis.
In addition to the elderly there is the growing isolation among young people. I have been on a soap box about this for quite a while. Our growing dependence on electronic communication can lead to isolation and loneliness. We have to make sure that growing children learn that meeting face to face (and not on face time) is critical to growth and learning. It is so easy to misunderstand the true meaning of a communication that is electronic. Faces tell us a lot.
Most of us live in populated areas which in many ways make it harder to find closeness with others. So many people in large cities have no idea who their neighbor is. We have to have places where we meet with others who have some things in common with us. We need to be connected. Connection helps us to avoid loneliness and the depression that being alone can bring.
I know that I can discover new ways to fill my need to help and be with people. I know that it is up to me. This is part of my journey.