What am I doing here?

I have been wondering lately if I may have been hanging on to the idea of this blog for some time beyond what should have been it’s expiration date. Maybe for months and maybe a couple of years, while what I have to personally contribute to the “conversation” has dwindled away to little or nothing. I don’t know if that is because I just wanted not to give up, or because I was hoping for fresh inspiration, or both, but  whatever it is, I’m unsure if it’s been for “right” reasons.

Due to various circumstances outside of my control, there have been a number of things I had to give up and let go of through life, and I guess I am loathe to give up on anything that I have invested heart and soul into. I had to give up my nursing career due to health issues. Giving that up meant a loss of a degree of financial freedom and security. Many years I kept up my license, hoping that eventually I would get well enough to return to it in some capacity. I tried. But couldn’t sustain it. Eventually it didn’t make sense to even pay the renewal fees.  I have had to give up on a great deal of my driving due to the risks of narcolepsy with cataplexy. When I was raising my kids, I  had to accept the limitations on my stamina and strength, because with limited energy, well it takes energy to make energy. I could invest in an exercise routine, but then my housework suffered, or time with the kids, or other demands. I tried to do it all, but would relapse into a level of fatigue that would put me out of commission for so long it would put me even further behind. When we finally had successfully raised the boys and got them both launched out and self-sufficient, which was only 2 years ago, well that’s when I had to have hip surgery, and once I rehabbed from that, I finally had the time and freedom  and physical ability to really focus on my health and was able to get the weight off I had been accumulating, and really get out from under continuous stress to the point I really started to feel rested for the first time in three or four decades. And then my Mom started to have extreme memory issues and mobility issues and needed her surgery. Then once she had it, she was way worse off for a these past several months and even though she is getting some mobility back, her memory issues make it impossible for her to really do things like keep up with doctor appointments and safely take her own meds. So there went that freedom and latitude to see to my own long-postponed and neglected self-care needs.

So, getting back to the blog, I have been holding on based mostly on the principle of not wanting to give up. Holding onto this beyond it’s purpose and beyond it’s period of impact isn’t going to bring back the other things, and I can’t seem to re-ignite the enthusiasm I once had for keeping up with the pertinent developments related to the end times and getting it out there, but undeniably, I don’t have that enthusiasm any more. Maybe a new crop of people are meant to get the “bug” and their own calling and commission to inform a new crop of believers newly waking up to the lateness of the hour every so often. Maybe I did what I was supposed to do, for whom I was meant to do it, and the impact the blog had over it’s 11 years, is all the impact it was intended to have. It’s not inconceivable that a turnover rate of a decade or so is maybe not that unusual, considering the focus. Or maybe I am looking for rationalizations.

We aren’t to grow weary in well-doing, but that’s not to say God doesn’t rotate us to different well-doings after a time. We aren’t to put our hand to the plow, and look back – that says we aren’t “fit for the kingdom”.  I am not looking back, though that is for sure. My eyes are set on that future day now more than ever. Maybe this particular little patch of ground has simply been plowed, planted, harvested, and is ready for  jubilee. I guess I am asking God to either renew this calling and ministry or make it crystal clear it has run it’s course.

Things being as they are, having moved Mom to VA, and having made those multiple back and forth trips between her home in WV and here the previous 6 months to see to her care, I haven’t had time or energy to devote to the blog, and haven’t done it justice. Even prior to that, I was struggling.

Pastor Reg Kelly does a sermon that he repeats every couple of years or so, about the cycles of growth in the life of the believer. Here’s some of what he has to say, interspersed with my own thoughts and applications.

God works in cycles. Birth, rotation of the planets, seasons. When we are going our own way, there is chaos. When we understand we are spiritually bankrupt, and realize our need for a Savior, we come in brokenness to the Lord and receive what only God can provide. That is the beginning of Spiritual resurrection. That’s what the first Beatitude is about. The poor in spirit. They are the people who know they are sinners and are humbled by God’s grace. Blessed are those that mourn. There is real sorrow when we understand our own wickedness. But that sorrow itself doesn’t save us. It leads us to repentance. The more we grow in knowledge of the Lord, the more things we will turn from. We live in a world that embraces sin. Once the Holy Spirit is residing in the believer, we grieve over this. We are vexed by the depravity of this world. When we are honest with ourselves and God about our own sin and sinfulness, and the corruption of our own flesh, which is at enmity with the new man God birthed in us, that sin will grieve us. The third Beatitude is Blessed are the Meek. Meekness is yielding of your “rights”. I think I may be struggling with this one. Actually I am struggling with this one. Pastor Kelly says when you insist on what you want, you will “pitch your tent toward Sodom” like Lot did and even if you are meek like Abraham, the devil will whisper to you as he likely did to Abraham “that’s what you get for being a Godly man”. (Lot looked to the well-watered plains and took the richest part of the land, Abraham could have resented that if he had a mind to).

Taking care of a parent entails a lot of mixed and conflicting emotions. Especially when there are life-long boundary issues already at play, and then their mental decline necessitates a role-reversal. In a lot of ways, emotionally I had been trust into a parental role with my Mom long ago. Not willingly. Now, it’s expanded to her physical well being. The fact that I am disabled and jobless (despite the fact that is due to my own medical and mental health issues), am “the daughter” and a former nurse, all somehow landed mom’s care on my shoulders. It wasn’t sustainable. Which is why we have now brought her here where my brothers also live nearby, and other family members can share the responsibility. My older brother has chronic medical conditions as well, and had a recent issue that requires minimizing stress and being essentially on bedrest for a while. In these situations, you do what’s got to be done, and deal with the fall out later. That’s just life. Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans and expecting other things, as “they” say, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t had to wrestle with my own will and feelings about all this.

Things that happened in my early adult life, (see my blogged autobiography “Purple Morning Glories and Gold Lady Bugs” if you haven’t read it) that caused me to learn to “stand up for myself”, which I actually needed to learn, but once you know that you can and learn how to do so, then, and really only then, can (and should) you be able to choose to let God Himself defend and justify you when you are wronged. I have not unlearned that habit of wanting to stand up for myself. If you don’t, you can easily give the devil a toe hold to harass, accuse, and create false guilt, and even lead to sin and true guilt, all of which puts distance between you and God. That’s called “cutting off your own nose to spite your face”. It doesn’t turn out well.

Now back to Pastor Kelly’s sermon. Jesus said “come unto me, all ye that are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, for I am meek and lowly”. Abraham was meek. When we aren’t meek, we will be angry. I have been angry lately  A lot! Some of that anger is justified, but I know some of it isn’t, and regardless if it is or not, anger doesn’t feel good and can so easily lead to sin.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled. I have that hunger, but lately my other emotions have dulled the edge on it. And my joy has suffered accordingly.  I want to be righteous. I want to be able to keep my mouth shut when someone offends or angers me, or takes advantage. Frankly I am pretty sure I fall under the category of those who just ought to go ahead and cut out my tongue. I am a long way from where I should be on that score. Just keeping it real. If we can only “minister” when we are on the mountaintop, we aren’t going to have much impact in this world.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Motives: why am I doing what I do? Why am I doing the blog? Are my motives pure? I know what it was when I started out. Not so sure why I am still going.

Sometimes my motives are pure, but my attitude stinks. Sometimes my motive has changed and I don’t even realize it.

One thing I cannot stand is “Churchianity”. That is when people go to church and in church, or around church-folk they speak and act in ways they never do outside the church. When we do the opposite, we call that being a hypocrite (cuss outside of church, when you wouldn’t dare use the same words in church, that’s hypocritical. Gossip on the phone all week but call it a “prayer request” when you talk about someone else’s business at church, those are clearly defined examples of hypocrisy.

Well let’s look from an angle rarely if ever considered:  how about all that fake back-slapping and hand-shaking and “greet your neighbor” time and “oh come on, smile, you’re a Christian, act like you have something to be happy about” that you will often hear and see in church? Do we really want people to fake it? Do we  greet our church-mates that way if we see them in Wal-Mart? For a handful with naturally effusive personalities it might be authentic. But pure in heart means being honest. If you come to church, despite the fact you are clinically depressed, you are doing good, and should not be forced to put on a mask. That fake garbage does nothing less than rub salt into wounds.

At the same time, if you tend toward depression, what are you watching on TV, listening to, and who are you hanging out with? Do you borrow trouble, and assume the worst outcome? I know people who can create an entire imagined scenario in their head and get mad or scared based on it.  Do you nurse your grudge or your sorrow, rehearsing it over and over, sitting in a dark room? Or do you make sure to get sunlight, eat some healthy food once in a while, and think on whatsoever things are good and pure like the Bible instructs you to do, and set no unclean thing before your eyes?  Do you laugh with the cursing comedian? Do you watch “Walking Dead?” What fellowship hath light with darkness?

Church is another big thing that’s not ok in my life these days. Six years ago we left the church we were members of. I have mentioned it plenty of times here. My husband had been through a crisis of faith, after his cancer, after his dad died and our house was burgled -bam-bam-bam, and at the same time, this blog was at it’s most flourishing point. (Yeah, Satan can’t have that, can he?). I was in a place in my cycles of growth that was a good place. But as we had tried to integrate into the body at this church, we met roadblocks of tradition and established policies that amounted to essentially a rejection of what we brought to the table as new members (body parts– not everyone is an eye) and as a family to contribute to the body. It was not right, and I assert that fact to this very day. It’s not that I “feel it” wasn’t right, I know it based on scripture that each member has gifts, and contributions, but they had several of their own “round holes” they wanted to shove we square and triangular and octagonal pegs into instead.  I tried to discuss it with the pastor before I stopped attending. When my husband stopped attending (for many of his own reasons, not the same as mine) I really sort of threw up my hands. After years of trying to get him to commit to church attendance, and with our boys squarely at that age when kids start leaving the church, he decided to just up and quit, and set the absolute worst example for our boys,  thereby giving them the very excuse they wanted, to skip church. The pastor was not real receptive to my trying to dialog, and despite being very respectful, and more crucially, going to him personally as opposed to running around griping to others, he stated that he was hurt by what I had to say, and so I was real disappointed in him as a leader. That said, I shouldn’t have used the pastor’s lack of receptiveness OR my husband’s quitting as a reason to give up. I could have stayed and just got quiet and just kept on praying. At first I went by myself a while.  After I, too, stopped attending, (very discouraged and definitely not wanting to attend alone), I just felt like I was finished “trying” with church.  I know not to forsake the assembling, I kept pursuing fellowship, but we had had so many bad experiences with so many churches already. We’d get involved, then there’d be a split or some veering-over into apostate teaching, or some other appalling ugliness we didn’t want our kids exposed to.

My husband, an uber-introvert liked a big church he could get lost in and not have a lot of folks expect much from him. I wanted a church where I could connect and have a role, and know I had a “family” of sorts. But over the years, “church itself”, the concept of it, had been undergoing radical changes and it took a long time for me to figure it out as the end time apostacy and falling away. By it’s statement of faith, we felt we had finally found home in that little church. But in practice it was stifling the Holy Spirit, somewhat ingrown, and in preaching, it was really not getting past milk. Still it remains that that little church, despite the issues, at least remains true to the Word, and if I can’t return as the contributing body part God made me to be (even if the pastor thinks that part is the butt, lol) I guess I could return maybe as a missionary of sorts. Or perhaps I might see that God has done something there in the interim. I never stopped praying for that church, the pastor, the ministry. Of course we have attended other churches since then. Several that were pretty good, but far distances, and none ever felt like “home” as that one had. I never stopped feeding on good sermons online, but of course that is not the same as fellowship. It’s not the same as standing in a sanctuary and knowing that the Lord is meeting together with His people there.

Lately I just started praying “Lord purify my heart”. I can tell I am gunked up. I just am. I can’t even point to anything particular, I just know I am in dire need of a spiritual tune-up.

Blessed are the Peacemakers. When I’m not pointing anyone to Christ, I am not being a peacemaker. The peacemakers shall be called a Child of God. I do it in different ways, but should do it at all times.  I am not at all sure that the people at my Mom’s nursing home could see that in me. I wasn’t ugly to anybody, but I was not serene, for sure! I wasn’t a witness or example of peace in a time of storm. No, I didn’t consciously obsess or worry about stuff, but all the traveling and all the dealing with medical people, which my years of trying to get a proper diagnosis has made interactions like that pretty PTSD-ish for me, did have me anything but peaceful, even when I was careful to maintain having my scripture-time and prayer. Even when I was trying hard to keep perspective.  All the emotionality of it all. Sometimes our best effort is not enough, and the “machinery” of healthcare seems to sure have changed since I was a nurse! Especially post-covid, and I guess also post-Obamacare. It was hard to stay patient and polite sometimes when it seemed often basic nursing 101 was getting ignored.

Blessed are you when persecuted for righteousness sake. Well, not sure I can relate much to that one at the current place in my cycles of growth. The immature reaction to that is to want to throw off your mantle of Christianity and turn back to the world. I tried that in my 20s and learned the truth of “where else could I go but to the Lord”, so I guess I can be thankful that I already know without a doubt that doesn’t work. But by the same token, you’ve heard the old “if you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” Sometimes, though, I guess  the persecution is not so obvious as being put on trial publicly. Have had  some pretty public false accusations occur in churches in the past, but sometimes it is very subtle, private and deeply personal, and comes in the form of what feels like betrayal, and the temptation may not be to turn on God, but to become bitter and hard or unforgiving, because it seems like God is asking too much.

It’s not possible for God to ask too much of us. We owe Him everything, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be hard to yield. It’s our nature to want to feel like we are entitled to some things. A little peace, rest, health, time, money, security. The problem is, as soon as God gets something through to us, as soon as we do give up something, suffer something, sacrifice something, we are ready for a break, and He’s just getting started! And the longer we walk with Him, the more strenuously He seeks to grow us. We have that retirement mentality, and with Him a thousand years is a day.

God teaches us something, and then has to break us again, because we get confident, or even proud. I don’t like God’s ways. He wants to break, I want A BREAK.  I want to be what He wants to make me, but I DO NOT LIKE the way He gets it done, and that’s just the honest truth!

When you are a new Christian, God lets you make your stupid mistakes and is merciful. As you mature, you get to the point of “knowing better” and the curriculum gets more strenuous. I used to pride myself on my love of learning. Now I am more on that other end of the spectrum and have learned the truth stated in Ecclesiastes that “there is no end to the writing of books, and too much study is a weariness”.  After years of tiredness from Narcolepsy that went undiagnosed and untreated for so long, I can’t take for granted that natural love of study I used to have, and it is down to discipline. When I don’t make the effort to partake of spiritual nourishment, I suffer for it.

So, I guess there are plenty of reasons that I just don’t have the mojo for this anymore.

Blessed are you when men shall revile you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my name’s sake for great is your reward in heaven. Well, I have had people speak evil against me falsely, but maybe not directly for “His Name’s Sake” so I guess I am not sure if it counts.  I couldn’t rejoice exceedingly in the face of it either, so I doubt I would rejoice in it if it was done for His name’s sake  That’s where it is good to remember the “works together for good” part. I just have to remember to be glad and thankful He is working on me. The Bible is a pretty relentless measuring stick, isn’t it?

It’s like working out. Going to the gym and doing a real, effective workout, is not fun.  And we don’t see the benefits right away. But keep repeating the cycle, and it will change your body. And if w submit to what God is doing, (and it is God who IS doing something with us, we do not make ourselves mature, HE is the one who grows, molds, and prunes us) we will grow and become more like Christ. We can’t just “be” the salt of the Earth. He has to make us salty. We can’t make ourselves light. Submitting to these cycles of God’s work in us, will make us light. Persecution purifies, and like a sheet of pure gold, the reflection of Christ can be displayed when those impurities are burned away.

I wonder what God wants to do now. Or, maybe the question should be, what is He doing, and does He still want me doing this?

I know I have gotten away from my writing. Not on purpose, but I just “haven’t had it”. I have always ebbed and flowed in my “creative” phases, I guess that’s normal, but this is chronic.  Of course, the world itself has gone pretty crazy these last couple of years. Things have happened nobody expected, even watchmen and watchwomen. Global things! Mostly I put it down to weariness and the fact that just getting through life these days feels a little like “swimming through Jello”. Nothing works the way it did before Covid. Not the hospital, not the checkout line, not most churches, not school, not much of anything. We know it is a “sign of the times” but it sort of also feels like the blessed hope is the deferred hope and a hope deferred makes a heart sick, and I do know this blog was intended to be encouraging. It doesn’t seem like I can do much of that anymore. I’m sorry about that. I don’t know if saying I’m sorry means I am expecting more of myself than I should, or whether I literally haven’t  made enough of an effort, or whether it even makes sense, lol. I guess that’s how tired I am. Would be awesome to hear the trumpet today, huh? Escapist? You bet I am! Unapologetically!

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “What am I doing here?

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