File under: “Some stuff I’ve learned”
When I wrote “Purple Morning Glories and Gold Lady Bugs” that was a sketch of my life. There is so much more I want to write. I just have to figure out how to approach the task. Because a book needs some cohesion to make it all hang together. Which is why I haven’t gotten a book written. I have to dump it all out first. Maybe once I do that, I can pick through it and organize it into something a normal mind can actually follow.
I’m sorry, I think I went into a coma just thinking about that for a second. That would entail planning. Do you know what I say about planning? What have I told you about me and planning?
Planning interferes with my process. I have one mode. Random. It’s all I got. If I can’t make something work using that method, then I can’t make it work. So instead of trying to function within the confines of the “Law of S’posed To” I have had to learn how to work with what I have. Which is definitely not the same as what I used to have.
Chronology is not my strong suit. Because some periods of my life were extremely high-stress for extended periods (some by virtue of the circumstances, some by bad choices, some due to my innate super-sensitive nature, and some due to physical or psycho-physiological dysfunction) my “recall” is not great. I’m what they in the medical profession would refer to as a “poor historian”. There are holes. Think Swiss Cheese.
Yep, I’m fifty. Be fifty-one next month, but I was like that when I was thirty. (Some of my oldest friends would probably go with an even earlier date).
I am going to let you in on an embarrassing secret. I keep a written “timeline” that I have reconstructed over the years, with details of dates for certain events. I can remember when my kids were born. That’s good at least. And when I got married (this time). But when I worked where, what year I had that surgery, I have had to refer to that timeline at various junctures for reasons running the gamut from filling out a job application, to filling in medical history for a new doctor. I have joked about the fact that it would be really nice to have a disk defragmenter for my brain. Then I realized, duh, my sleep disorder that went untreated for so many years?!?! No wonder the old file cabinet is so disorderly! Our brains do that processing when we sleep. That is the time when our subconscious kicks in and sorts through all the data we have “input” during the waking hours. Speaking in scientific terms, my brain waves were chaotic for years and years on end. It is a wonder it’s not a worse mess in my brain than it is. It’s a wonder the Environmental Safety Commission hasn’t declared it a disaster area!
Have you noticed that kids today are as scatter-brained and forgetful as our grandparents were? How well you file things away initially, is influenced by how many different “applications” (distractions) you already have running when you are trying to do so. We used to have brains like the old analog television, with three stations at the most. These days we are like those televisions that let you split the screen and watch four football games at once. Who can really pay attention to four games at once, other than someone like Rain Man? And of course the only reason Rain Man can do it is that he has lassoed all the parts of his brain that are supposed to tell him important stuff like “put on your pants” and “don’t walk out in front of that Tractor Trailer” and somehow applied them to use for lofty stuff like quantum physics and solving the Riemann hypothesis. And no, just because I know how to use that properly in a sentence doesn’t mean I have any idea what it is.
Back when I was so messed up before I started getting anything diagnosed, I was barely functioning and just trying to keep going so I could raise my kids, work when I had to, and all that. I had done up my little “breakfast nook” in my kitchen, as my own little “happy place”. It was crammed with all my “comfort things”. I had a wing-back chair that was my “prayer chair” in there. (Do I get a flag-on-the-play there for overuse of quotation marks? Sorry!). I put stuff all over my walls in there that had decorated my cubicles in some of the nursing jobs, favorite pictures of friends I missed, favorite kid pictures, the little melamine plates with the turkey hand prints they made in kindergarten, cute Calvin and Hobbes cartoons, you get the idea. Hodge-Podge City.
When I started taking meds for the Bipolar and some of the tangles in my head started slowly getting unraveled, (that only took a year and a half on the meds to see some improvement) the sheer magnitude of “content” of that room was suddenly just overwhelming, necessitating its eventual dismantling. But during the time I had it like that, it was like all the things I could no longer “contain” in any sensible or orderly fashion inside my head, I needed them visually “out” where I could look upon them like some kind of touchstone.
So You Have Narcolepsy, But You’re Getting Treatment, Right? So What’s the Problem
I wake up tired, drive tired, cook tired, clean the house tired, and everything else I do, I do it tired. I don’t talk about living with Narcolepsy much, because there is so little understanding and I’m too tired to teach. I’m going to talk about it here, but not going into the cataplexy part, which is an additional little goody not all who have narcolepsy, experience. I just got lucky, myself, to be one of those who does. All my doctors know Narcolepsy is part of my medical profile, but none of them, not even the sleep doctor, really knows what an all-encompassing condition it is. There is no cure, and treatment is directed at minimizing the symptoms. It took many years for mine to be diagnosed, and even though the field of sleep medicine as a specialty is growing, the fact that all the body of medical knowledge is also growing, insures that few of the medical professionals which I may encounter on a regular basis, knows how Narcolepsy effects a life.
This is true even with my primary physician. When I went in for my physical this year, just before turning 51, he noted the ten pound weight gain. What he didn’t know, was that between then and starting a couple of months prior to my previous year’s physical, I had lost thirty. My blood pressure was up, and that was what he was most immediately concerned about, so he increased the dose on my BP med, and offhandedly stated, “and if you decide to get some exercise and lose some weight, we can always decrease it again”. This is not a doctor who is insensitive, it was just a remark made without much thought to the rest of my “clinical picture” in that moment. When I informed him of the “decision” I made a year before, and my success, but also the long cold winter and personal losses/adjustments, and how they discouraged me and I gave up on it, he then looked at my age again and said (probably trying to soften the blow, but actually managing only to discourage me further) “well, you’re right there at menopause, and it is just about impossible for women to control their weight after menopause”.
Thanks, doc, thanks so much. I saw my Rheumatology nurse practitioner the following day and was embarrassed to burst out in tears at the sheer frustration and humiliation of it all.
When I was in high school I ran five miles a day because I wanted to, not because I was on a track team or cross-country. I played soccer, and after graduation I also loved to work out and stay busy. I was a pudgy kid, and really had to stay active in order to not be a pudgy adult. So when all this stuff started I was a hundred and thirty-nine to 142 as my weight range. Probably, now that I think back, my narcolepsy may well have been triggered by a flu shot, since we were required to have those as nursing students and when employed in nursing. Some research also has indicated the possibility that the flu itself can nudge someone already genetically predisposed to narcolepsy, into it. Jury is still out on that, and as far as how it effects me, it is neither here nor there.
I have suffered from fatigue since my twenties, and was debilitated by it by my early thirties. Narcolepsy was finally diagnosed in my mid-forties and now I am fifty-one. Sleep is crucial to good health, and if you have had poor sleep, unrestful and unrefreshing sleep for a couple of decades, it’s safe to say there are some effects to the body which treatment is not going to reverse even if it can help with the quality of your rest and sleep in the present. Goodness knows, sleep deprivation does wacky things to a person’s brain and body in the short term, but prolonged for years? Well, just multiply the short-term stuff:
Lack of restful sleep unbalances the peptides that control the sense of hunger and satiety. Ghrelin stimulates appetite, while leptin stimulates the sensation of satisfaction of the hunger, the sense of being filled. In my thirties I described to my doctor that my eating was like constantly throwing more “fuel” into a stove in hopes of stoking the fire, when the pilot light just wasn’t lit. No matter how much I ate (and I craved the fast-sugar) nothing seemed to satisfy my bodies desperate need for fuel to convert to energy, but it wasn’t a lack of fuel, just that none of it was being converted to energy. Of course this leads to weight gain. And of course when you already feel tired and sleepy all of the time, exercise is nearly impossible to consider, or carry out.
Just 24 hours without sleep can render you “impaired” to a degree that is equal to that of being too drunk to drive a car.
Two days without sleep you will start to feel the effects to your neuromuscular coordination, your skin, eyes and hair will lose luster, dark circles will appear under the eyes.
After three days you will begin to experience “micro-sleep” episodes. Your brain will go into mini-sleep states lasting a few seconds without your even realizing it, and this is uncontrollable.
Day four you will probably start having muscle-twitches (another partial sleep state) blurry vision, nausea and definitely will be having some issues with mood swings, followed shortly (day five) with hallucinations and paranoia. (See the accounts of Randy Gardner and Peter Tripp)
Sleep deprivation of five days and beyond can lead to severe irritability, delusion, complete psychotic breaks, and long-term, possibly permanent psychological issues. Thinking is fragmented, and you are neither alert nor even fully conscious at this point, and very apt to forget what you were doing or saying, right in the midst of doing or saying it. In studies of rats, by day eleven without sleep, death ensues. The longest record in humans for not sleeping is just over eighteen days. However, without EEG recording, it would be impossible to know how often someone actually went into micro-sleep episodes which are undetectable to observation and to the individual having them, in most cases. Guinness Book of Records no longer recognizes “records” in this category due to the high risk of serious mental and physical health injury.
A week into sleep deprivation, and you will really be seeing a disconnect between what your mind is trying to get your body to do, and your body’s ability to do it. Extremely lagging reactions and movement, as well as inability to perform simple tasks such as tying your shoes, or simple addition. At this point you will have difficulty with concept of time, and even concept of self. This is a very scary and disconcerting condition to be in. Especially when you go to bed and “sleep” eight or nine hours a night and don’t even know that you are sleep deprived. Since sleep consists of phases, and all of the phases are necessary for proper function, brainwave recordings of someone with narcolepsy show that we do not enter all of the stages of sleep, jump inappropriately between the stages, and go into partial sleep states during waking hours.
Lack of restful sleep impairs your memory, judgment, attention span, ability to learn, decision-making capacity, ability to plan, ability to catch and correct your own errors, and makes you slower in all functions. Lack of sleep causes depression, increases risk of stroke, hypertension, heart attack, diabetes, and death by any of the above as well as accidental death and other injury from lack of alertness and slowed reaction time. It prematurely ages you, and it dulls your skin. It increases your cortisol levels, which breaks down collagen, which leads to lower muscle mass, weakness, fragile skin and bones. Sleep deprivation also increases risk of cancer.
Is it any wonder that I am prematurely aged, can’t remember stuff, can’t get organized, and perpetually exhausted? Give me a break!! Heck, I’m giving myself one. In fact, that is just precisely what I have been doing this year, other than the blog and what my family needs from me. Sometimes it’s the only way, and if friends don’t understand, well, that’s just unfortunate. It does have the benefit of driving me to the Lord as a refuge and very present help in times of trouble.
Lord, fill my cup?
I read a book recently, fiction, in which the main character was a guy who had a medical condition that would eventually render him totally functionally impaired in every way. The character in the present, was an ace hockey player, who refused to get involved with any woman because he was convinced that as soon as she knew his fate, she would stop seeing him as the hero jock he loved being, and feel sorry for him, possibly even leave like the last one he gave his heart to, and worse, if she was willing to stick around, no way did he want to subject her to the total care he would eventually require. It turns around for him in the end of the book, and leaves us with him at his peak of happiness, letting that pesky future fade off into the distance where we would like it to stay.
Another book I read not long ago, (I don’t go looking for these story lines, sometimes I think God has something to do with it), was about another young couple who were married, starting out with young children, and the husband/father was up-and-coming in his accounting firm. In this story, the man’s wife knows very little about her husband’s father, only that he had gone away when her husband was very young, and neither her husband nor her mother-in-law ever spoke of him. The story itself is set back in the nineteen forties. The book seems like a fairly average account of a family life until the day the husband in his late forties, begins losing things and having difficulty keeping track of his schedule. It turns out he has a rare early dementia, which tends to progress rapidly. The wife/mom struggles to raise three kids, two of whom are very challenging, while the dad fades away in an asylum, and the story has some surprising twists and turns. It has a good bit of heartbreak, and still some elements of redemption.
This week has been one of the periods of heaviest fatigue that I have experienced in a while. One of my frustrations in having narcolepsy is the fact that in general people don’t realize fatigue is a major factor for many of those who suffer narcolepsy. Even doctors. They tend to jumble up sleepiness and fatigue into one “thing”, when it is not. Sleepiness can be treated with counteracting stimulants. Fatigue isn’t helped by much of anything except a nap, and even then, when your sleep apparatus is the thing that is broken, a nap only goes so far. It is a brief break from the total and never-ending awareness of how tired you are, which is nice, but what a nap does for me, I have found, is it does refresh my mind, though never my body.
I remember when Joni Erikson (Tada) had her diving accident. I remember her testimony all through the years. And yesterday I somehow landed on one of her videos on YouTube, her testimony of how God has continued to weed out sin and pride and a complaining spirit from her heart and life.
I thought about what it might feel like, for her, to travel to speaking engagements and get up on platforms helpless in her wheelchair, even to position her hands in such a way that they won’t spasm. I can’t imagine being sweet under those circumstances. She describes the periods when she prayed with such faith, to be healed and restored, and God said no. She admits that there came a time when she said “if I cant walk, if I can’t be whole, if I can’t even feed myself, then please, God, just let me die”. And she would lie in her bed and refuse to let her sister or the many friends and family members who were willing to assist her, get her out of bed. She wanted the curtains closed, and to be left alone.
I have a different challenge than any of the ones of those people above, (the real, and the fictional depictions of real conditions), and I know that what I deal with is not “as bad” not as devastating as those other things.
Yet I do feel a sense of having been “benched” from my own life. Whatever that might have been like “otherwise”. Knowing that time is short on this Earth, (no matter how you look at it, but especially in this present age when we really do see signs that Christ could return very soon), rather than this lighting some kind of a fire under me about living life to the fullest while I can, not even that is powerful enough to overcome the constant fatigue. And yet I feel such a sense of failure at times. The inevitability of it all just gloms together, and like Peter, whom Jesus warned would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed twice, even knowing what Jesus said, Peter still did it. I relate to Peter. Peter who enthusiastically stepped out of the boat, took a few steps and realized his human limitations and immediately began to sink. What a sense of utter failure Peter felt after the third denial and the sound of the rooster. He cried bitterly. The inevitability of our insufficiency is the point, though, isn’t it? How good are our intentions, and yet how totally incapable we are of prevailing over the flesh. (Until that day when He shall transform us and deliver us from these bodies of flesh!)
I sometimes feel if I read one more article about ISIS militants slaughtering Christians, or the butchers of Planned Parenthood “harvesting” the organs of living newborn babies, I will lose my mind. Again. By the way, if it’s not a baby or a person then what “parenthood” is it they are “planning?”
When I had the going-away party for Ben about this time last year, one of my friends whose known me only since I’ve been unwell, commented that “I could tell you were feeling good that day, you were just glowing”. There were people present who did know me when I was well, and with them knowing the real me, it was a lot easier to recall it myself. Just an aside, here, but if you know someone who suffers from well, anything debilitating, and they have a good day, it is kind of cruel for you to point out how massive a contrast their good day is to their normal state. Because we already know, believe me.
What she witnessed that day was a tiny little glimpse of the real me, as I once was 24/7.
You think I don’t miss that?
It only took weeks of planning ahead, a very early start to the decorating and food preparation the day of, and a long nap obtained only by taking a dose of the (highly controlled) medicine that lets me sleep at night, taken in the early afternoon, which made it all possible. Forget the exhaustion I would feel the next few days. It is worth it, and I knew the price going in.
I really am not interested in singing the blues. “Nobody knows the trouble I seen”. I just really abhor feeling like a life drop-out.
And that’s how being around busy people makes me feel. It’s how my doctor made me feel. It’s nearly six weeks later and that remark still stings me. (See the first page under Morning Glory Memoirs).
I started asking myself yesterday if maybe I have fallen back into some depression. I certainly dealt with that for many years. Is it that I have not really accepted the limitations God has allowed me to have. Or is it that I am settling for less than I could have. If Joni Erikson had not come to really accept her quadriplegia, she would not be the in-demand speaker she is. I can’t even imagine being able to deal with the constant focus on my disability if I were in her shoes.
I would resent God asking me to talk about it. And that would be wrong of me. But I’m just being honest and real here.
Although I have been obedient to discuss things with people that were personally painful for me many times in my life, when God has led me to, and seen Him turn that into encouragement, I never relish it. I guess the challenges of others are unimaginable for us by virtue of the fact they are not the challenges God assigned to us. Maybe that’s how it is meant to be. God giving us what we need to handle that which He has asked us to bear, and all.
I find that while people are sympathetic enough about a visible and obvious disability, they are not so understanding with the invisible ones. Maybe if I were to have a conversation with Joni Erikson Tada, she would tell me she would rather her own challenges than mine. I know the inverse is true for me.
The thing is, I always had this inner desire to be that person that was going to live life to the fullest, to always just be upbeat and not let stuff get me down. I already had an innate appreciation for things in life that it seems many people tend to overlook. I didn’t know there would or could come a day when maintaining that outlook and attitude could become real hard, honest-to-goodness work!!!
I remember a girl named Jeannie Thompson. Thompson is my maiden name, but she is no relation. She was a resident in the nursing home near where I lived growing up (and still do), where I volunteered as a Candy Striper at fourteen, and later did a clinical rotation during nursing school, and still later, returned as an employee on the Nursing staff for a brief stint. Jeannie was always smiling. She was the youngest person in the nursing home, I want to say probably in her twenties when I first met her. I don’t know how long she has been there. I imagine all of her adult life, and maybe as far back as her teens. And every time I encountered her again, she remembered me, and I certainly remembered her, and she was still pleasant and happy.
I can’t imagine being that sweet in disposition in those circumstances.
I wonder if being semi-capable of some things some of the time, is in some ways a bigger challenge than knowing certain things are gone forever. I have always pushed myself and challenged myself. I used to be a distance “jogger” (I don’t call it running because I was never fast lol). I pushed through soul-sickness in my early twenties (these statements will make more sense if you have read my blogged autobiography “Purple Morning Glories and Gold Ladybugs”) through the psychological torment of my late twenties, and the fatigue and other issues I have dealt with ever since. I pushed to keep going. I pushed to accomplish finishing my degree, and to continue accomplishing little things here and there, and I gave my kids my “all” during the mommy-hood years. The transition from “Mommy” to “Mom” wasn’t easy. There is an art to pulling back enough to make room for them to take their first steps to adulthood and independence, and then there is the wrenching farewell to that whole precious, singularly exquisite period of ones life, and the delicate re-attachment in more of an adult-to adult oriented relationship.
Despite my desire to live life to the fullest, here I sit. I feel I do way more sitting than I would like and definitely more than I had anticipate for this age. I have always found meaning and fulfillment in giving. something. of myself.
Now I find I not only have nothing to give, but have developed a reflexive protectiveness and desire to hoard anything I might have rattling around inside me that is left. Maybe because if there is some vein or pocket left in me of something worthy of giving to others, I haven’t discovered it yet though I keep hoping. But if I do find it, I’m not sure I will or can be as generous with it as I typically have been. Virtually any interaction with others seems a threat to my energy reserves. I probably have dispensed out of it indiscriminately in times past. I know I have. Not saying it is ever a bad thing to give of oneself, except in cases which amount to casting pearls before swine. Lessons learned!
I read a medical abstract that established the existing differentiation between the excessive daytime sleepiness of Narcolepsy patients, versus fatigue. It was found that there indeed is a difference! All narcolepsy sufferers deal with excessive sleepiness, but only roughly 62% of those with Narcolepsy report fatigue being a life-disrupting issue, and that although stimulants help with excessive sleepiness, they don’t help the fatigue, and yet the fatigued patients take them more. (A sign of our desperation, I assure you!).
We determined the prevalence of severe fatigue in a group of narcolepsy patients and its relation with excessive daytime sleepiness, psychological distress, functional impairment and quality of life. Severe fatigue was associated with a significantly increased functional impairment, increased depressive symptoms and a lowered general quality of life. In conclusion, a majority of patients with narcolepsy suffer from severe fatigue, which can be distinguished from daytime sleepiness, and results in severe functional impairment.
BINGO! Thank you European Sleep Research Society! I could kiss you right square on the mouth, just for saying that out loud for the whole world to hear!!!!
Writing about it is something I can do. I can’t go back, can’t lay a better foundation that might somehow have mitigated against an autoimmune glitch. How do I strengthen that which remains, and redeem the time now? That is the thing I am ruminating on presently. All I really have to share is who I am. I do that by writing, and also in my painting and jewelry-making. I guess that is why I have never been able to bring myself to sell stuff that I create. I don’t have my nursing career anymore. I’m not much of a cheerful conversationalist. I definitely can’t zip around in perpetual motion like the busy do-ers that encompass me on every side. But stillness has its virtues, too. I have had people, when they do come in and sit down in my home for a visit, comment “your home is very peaceful and inviting”. It’s not the décor, nor the ambiance. I can tell you that. I think it is probably the absence of commotion that they are enjoying, though they don’t realize it.
We have this nifty mechanism God built into us that relies on adrenaline to help us keep going for a while even after we have burned through our normal energy sources and stores. Some people use it to single handedly lift a two ton truck off their loved one after an accident, but I used mine to keep meeting the demands of raising my little chuckleheads. Either way it was a super-human effort and that was not the intended capacity for which God created it, but I sure am thankful He allowed me to make it through those years and do the job.
I thank Him too, that there “remaineth yet a rest for the people of God”. (Hebrews 4:9).
A statement made by a preacher recently (in some video I watched online) said “we can only minister to others in our lives out of the overflow”. Huh! No wonder, I thought. Not that I am not seeking the Lord in the Word and prayer as a matter of habit. But we had been going to a church for a while that depleted more than it exhorted and frustrated more than it facilitated function of the body as a whole. And other things in life, like my fatigue, my husband’s cancer, life in general, that try to suck out all your joy and vitality.
I don’t know. Sometimes I think God doesn’t fill our cup because we don’t stay there in front of Him refusing to budge until He does so. That’s sort of what I’m up to more than anything right at this juncture.
Being Me, thinking my thoughts
Some days I try my best to be as much of my formerly “whole” self as possible, and other days I just have to accept the limitations I have. I miss the old me. I loved the energy I used to have, and the streamlined way my mind used to function.
Most of the time, I am at peace with what is gone, but other times I am taken by surprise with a pang of sadness, when someone asks me “where do you work?”, and I simply say “I don’t”. Which is not entirely true, but it is the simplest answer. It is not always easy to keep my perspective of the things God values versus the things that the world admires and respects. I went to college, worked very hard for my nursing degree, and by God’s grace, I had the privilege of touching lives as an RN, loved ones of a dying patient, patients themselves who were fearful and suffering, and the privilege of being part of that community of special people who do what nurses do.
These days my “place in the world” is not as defined. I have never had any love for this world, that’s not what I mean. To the degree that I participated in worldly things, it was more an effort to fit in, when I was a young adult starting to move out onto my own life and figure things out. There is a period of reconciling what you knew growing up, and of also testing what you have been taught, faith-wise. I found it very hard to believe, for instance, that there are people who actually enjoy the taste of beer, or inhaling smoke from a cigarette. I figured they had to really work hard to develop that “appreciation” but then, I still think that. I can’t even begin to fathom liking those things.
I loved the Jesus I learned about in church. And even though there was a period in my life I was disillusioned and particularly susceptible to Satan’s lies about God and about myself, I never doubted God’s hand in my life and His uninterrupted awareness of and vested interest in what was going on in my life. I tried to pretend otherwise, but it was in that impetuous way that an immature young lady might try to pretend she is not craving the interest of the boy she has a crush on. I had a lot to learn about Him. And He has lovingly and patiently worked with me through trials and snares, and good times and bad times, to show me Himself as He has written in His book that He is.
I understand that the sickness I have had in my body is a byproduct of living in a fallen state in this present world. Once man, in Adam, rebelled against God’s way, we were set on a trajectory of entropy. Dying can be instantaneous, but from the time we are born, we are in a slow process of death. Even as cells inside us regenerate, and despite God’s built-in design of self-repair to a certain extent, these bodies we inhabit are not designed for eternity. Illness changed me. And even when I miss what I once could do, I realize that it is God’s grace to remove self-sufficiency and show us our need for Him, not just for salvation and sanctification, but in everything. The reason we have to crucify self is because everything of our fleshly being is anathema to all that is Holy. Even as I have learned with my mind, that flesh is opposition to Spirit, I have continued in the futility of trying to improve the flesh. I could sit in a church that was all about being good and “living right” and know somewhere in my budding spiritual understanding, that is wrong-headed and really a diversion from the truth, and still fall for it. I guess that is because what our flesh wants and has always wanted since the fall, is to have some merit of our own. It’s what, in us, defies God and His being all in all. It is that green-eyed jealous monster that resonated with what Satan whispered in the garden, “that ye may be as gods”.
Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. We were created, and those willing to receive salvation through Jesus, really were created for Glory, but you don’t get there through effort or pride. Glory can only be bestowed by God because God is the owner of all glory. He wants to share it with us, but we want glory that is our own.
I consider myself to be probably more hard-headed than most people. I figure God had to be harder on me to get me to see things than some folks maybe require. I know all of my trials have been for my own good. I still get mad most of the time when a new one comes along, though.
For me, this world seems so old. Been there, done that. But that is not a teachable spirit, is it? I have seen very little of God’s created world, actually. On the one hand, I know human nature pretty well. But God forbid, and I sincerely mean that, that I should become closed to learning more. That is sort of the dilemma of getting older. I have had abundant curiosity most of my life, but when interacting with people sometimes results in lessons that disappoint, the eagerness to discover more about people and things, can get stunted. No one likes getting burned.
When we close up like that, we start to stagnate. God meant us, I believe, to inter-relate with others, with a built-in need for companionship. When you have been married a long time, it is easy to fall into a mindset in which you consider it “established” and begin to neglect it. Being a Christian can get that way too, and especially for anyone who struggles with that aspect of Christianity, the fact it is a relationship.
Recently a development occurred in my life, that I never expected to face, and on its face, it was something that made me very angry. But it has served as a catalyst that has a relationship getting attention it was in desperate need of, and thus, at the end of the day, it could be said that it was good that it happened.
That is the way God takes things that Satan meant for evil, and turns them around on him, and brings about something for our good. I have watched God do that countless times in my life. You would think it impossible for me to expect otherwise, and that when trouble comes, I should be able to shake my head in resigned acceptance and not get worked up over how this newest trial will turn out. But do we ever get to that point? I don’t know, maybe some people do, but it isn’t looking real promising for this chick. Expecting the worst is a knee-jerk response. This life is so full of trouble that when we hit a patch of smooth sailing, we can tend to automatically and pre-emptively feel dread because the good times never last as long as the trials do.
Now, as a Christian trying to live a life pleasing to the Lord, do you ever look around and see those who don’t seem to care about pleasing God, and how care-free they are? It is kind of like a mom with three beautiful children God has blessed her with, looking with wonder and envy at a barren woman and being jealous of her never-been-pregnant body. That woman would probably trade in her body for the privilege of motherhood. Even if she was one of those women who has no desire to have children, even if it is because she does value her vanity more, she wouldn’t feel that way if she knew the miracle it is to bring a child into this world.
While we are living this life, we are a lot like that completely oblivious baby in the womb. We are subject to forces and conditions and an environment that we didn’t choose, and we have no idea what we are, nor what loving intent brought us into being, and yet everyone wishes for a baby to grow up strong and wise, and loved and to experience all the good that can be experienced. We have not yet even been exposed to all God created us for. We have only barely tasted any of it, in this shadow-life here.
So as I go about my days, different from that of a lot of other women today, not having a job outside the home, limited in my abilities to function because my stamina is so low, and my mind doesn’t always run efficiently, I strive to still honor the Lord with what abilities He put in me. From blessing my husband and sons in keeping the home, to painting a work of art, writing, praying, studying the Word, editing the works of other writers, and any number of other things the Lord puts in front of me, I just try to work at doing whatever I do, as unto the Lord. He doesn’t have the same grading system the world has. So when I feel scattered and unable to stay on task, rather than get down on myself, I just thank the Lord that there is no one else but Him that I need to think about pleasing and He understands me and even if I am not running as efficiently as He originally designed me to be capable of, it was only with His permission that I became the way I now am. If it is okay by Him, who am I to be ashamed by it? By the grace of God, I am what I am.
Another way of saying it, “I’m me and I’m good ‘cuz God don’t make no junk”!
I don’t mean that we are “good” in and of ourselves, but I am learning to appreciate that as a Christian, not being like the rest of the world is actually the point. We are supposed to be distinguishable from the unsaved. Set apart. There are whole generations of professing Christians who don’t know that. It has not been taught. God has a specific design for male and female, and they are not the same. Everyone is unique in how God made them. The world now more than ever, is clamoring to make everyone the same, and to eradicate any distinctions whatsoever. Even between male and female. It is a crime of prejudice to even observe differences in culture, even while out of the other side of their mouth, the world demands the acceptance of “diversity”. That’s how confused the world is. With each year, the world moves further from God, and nearer to self-destruction.
I am happy to appreciate the good things each day brings, and even as I never turn away or ignore the perils of life in this day and age, I appreciate all the more, the myriad little blessings God gives us through out each day. When I enjoy a patch of sunlight, I try to remember to thank God for it. When I get a call from a friend I haven’t heard from in a while, I want to thank Him and say a prayer for that friend to be blessed as well.
I wish for others to know the truth. Most of the world is severely and deeply deceived. So much so that they are embracing evil that masquerades as angels of light. Not just the unchurched, but entire churches are doing it. Everybody needs to know the true Jesus. He died for all the sins of the world. For His own sake alone, He deserves for us to tell others the truth. Even if it means reproach. Even if it means being scoffed at, as talk of our Savior is wont to produce. But it doesn’t matter. What is a little scoffing? Jesus was scoffed at, spat upon, ridiculed, even as he bore the heavy cross on his excoriated shredded bleeding back up Golgotha hill. Serious proceedings. So serious and somber and critical, as the sins of all the world were heaped upon the sinless Savior, and the sky darkened as God Himself had to turn away His face from such a visage of His beloved Son. And yet even those present and witnessing it, most of them had no inkling the magnitude and import of what they were witnessing.
Many today won’t know, until they are burning in hell. Then they will know what that day was about. And with sorrow and regret, they will finally acknowledge Christ the King, but too late for them. Eternally and irrevocably too late. Some of them will be the people who you passed on your way to work every day. Some will be the neighbor who lived next door for five years, whom you never shared the gospel with. Don’t let Satan blind you to the need. Ask God to open your eyes to see the fields white unto harvest. You can be a laborer right where you are. You don’t have to go to Bible college or the mission field. I doubt there is any bigger mission field now than America anyway. Proclaim Him. He promised that if we would only lift Him up, HE would draw ALL men unto Him.
Waiting on the World to Change
I am a fan of the sweeping epic novel. The one that starts with one child and weaves a saga that encompasses generations, and captures a span of history. It doesn’t have to be a true story, but it’s pretty cool if it is.
I have been young and now I am old. I love that line from the Bible. Life can be rather relentless. Sometimes it helps to be shown the greater scheme of things, so that one can be reminded that we are just a small part of a greater whole, a small player in a very expansive drama.
Sometimes a person can become nearsighted. It’s easier than one might think. I want to hope that some day when I stand before my Maker, there will be something that survives the refiner’s fire. But most of the time, I can’t imagine that there is anything that will. I can be so faint of heart. I used to be braver, I think. Now cynicism has set in like plaque in an artery. That’s what happens in a fallen world, to fallen people. I have looked around at this world, and I mean really paid attention to some things. I don’t like what I see. I do not understand the love people have for this world. I don’t mean nature. I mean the world.
There have been many nights that I laid my head down and just begged the Lord to take me out of here. But He hasn’t so far, and so I put that prayer away and try to keep going. It is because I know that before this world is going to change, it is going to get real ugly. It already is getting ugly, for those who have eyes to see it. Unfortunately there is no shortage of people whose vision is so bad and who are so intoxicated on worldly lust and pleasures, they are convinced of a beauty that is not there. Like the proverbial girls all getting prettier at closing time at the bar.
You know, there are people in the history of mankind whom no one marks when they are taken. God says it is the righteous person that this world will not miss. Why is that? Righteousness reflects badly on those who love evil. Righteousness comes from the Lord, and is not something we can conjure up on our own. Not that this fact stops people from trying, mind you, but only God is righteous. The only association we have with righteousness is in reflecting His. He allows us to do that when we believe Him. That’s all He asks. And we who try, fail as often as not.
Waiting on this old world to change. A lot of talk these days about that; the expectation of an “age of Aquarius”. It isn’t going to happen. The thing is, Christ will have perfect peace in this world when He rules with a rod of iron. Between now and then, the most terrible time the world has ever known, will take place first. That is the truth no one likes to know about.
We like to feel a sense of control over our own lives and destinies. So we tend to place hope in all kinds of things. Cryogenics. Now there is a long shot. For 200 grand, or in some cases as little as 25 grand, someone will freeze your entire body, or just your head, in the hopes of growing you a new body from your DNA in the future, when technology catches up to imaginations.
Indigo children. Heard of this one? The entire concept of parenting has evolved into a mental illness for a majority of the world, and evil is being celebrated. Not only do some parents believe their little snowflake is incapable of evil, but the newest trend is to attribute superior intelligence and supernatural powers to them as well, as if they are secretly a member of some chosen race, who will save the world. Messiah complex? Yeah, they call them the Indigo children. This was a new one on me. Some of the “common characteristics” are that they have very high self-esteem, are impatient, are creative thinkers, have trouble with authority, are often labeled ADHD, do not respond to guilt trips, have either excessive empathy, or no empathy at all, have a strong sense of entitlement. Funny, that sounds like what in my generation used to be referred to as a spoiled brat.
But this is what we get when teachers and guidance counsellors, starting with kindergarten classes, are teaching kids to seek spirit guides through meditation, and filling their heads with nonsense about being “one with the universe”. The fact that someone’s six-year-old seems to possess knowledge that no one has ever taught him, is not something to celebrate! It may be a sign it’s time to call the prayer team or deliverance ministry, though, and the fact that it is something aimed at children, is particularly sinister. It’s simply one of the more recent incarnations of the oldest deception known to man; “Ye shall be as gods”. It’s what the serpent whispered to Eve and to Adam way back at the beginning. Dark spirits, fallen angels, have been sowing another gospel for as long as man has been around. Satan is a busy evangelist. And the idea of a brotherhood of mankind sounds so nice, doesn’t it? But there is no universal brotherhood of mankind. Mankind is divided into two families. Children of the living God, and children of the devil.
But you see, this belief in God, and in a real Garden of Eden, this has fallen out of favor in this post-modern world. Man has matured. He has moved beyond the silly notion that there is an Intelligent Being behind all of the order and design in this world. Man is for the most part fully convinced of his evolution. He has believed a lie. Bought it lock, stock, and barrel. They may mock the Christian, but in the end, they will realize who is deceived and who is not. And now, the world holds its collective breath in expectation of something. But few know what. The promise of the world’s religion, is Utopia, but the reality will be hell on earth, and then eternity in a lake of fire. Truth needs only to be proclaimed. Apologetics is a fairly new “thing” among Christians who are convinced that the Word of Almighty God needs help getting itself expressed, as if they are wanting to sign themselves on as its publicity agent. Jesus said, “if I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me”.
Who am I that thou art mindful of me?
It’s not the world that needs to change. It is us.
Oh, but don’t tell that to the parents of the indigo kids. No. Don’t tell it to the self-made man, the liberated woman, the transvestite, the white girl who believes she is black, the “minor-attracted” male, the same-sex-oriented non-male-non-female. That’s where sin leads you. Down the primrose path, to that field of poppies before reaching Oz. Pay no attention to the pesky flying blue monkeys. It’s all just a dream, and you are in control. You’re sleepy. You are falling into a deep and restful sleep. You can write your own story. You can be anything you want to be.
Keep drinking the devil’s Kool aid. That’s where it will get you. Truth will be far, far away then. But there’s a day of reckoning. The buzz always wears off. The high doesn’t last. Reality is that thing that you can never get around.
We Can Never Go Back to Normal
When you are young, life flows in a somewhat predictable pattern for us here in the U.S., as we go to school, and progress from year to year. The move to middle school, then high school, then finally graduation. Then the decisions about what to pursue next, college, military, a trade, family.
When we are young, and life stretches long before us, we can hardly even conceive of what we might be doing in ten years, much less twenty, thirty, forty. Life changes happen to us, whether we cause them, want them, initiate them or not. Sometimes it is a spouse who decides they’ve made a horrible mistake in marrying you. Sometimes it is a death of someone we love. We weather these events, by virtue of the fact the sun continues to rise and set, and days pass. We somewhere in the back of our minds, have an expectation that after a while, things will “get back to normal”, but the truth is, there is no such thing really, as going back to the way it was. We leave a job behind, we finish college, we are forced to go onward without that dear person who passed too soon. There is no going “back”, only onward.
Sometimes there are relationships in life that seem irreconcilable. Something is wrong in it, and someone no longer is willing to accept the status quo in which one person does all the giving and all of the forgiving, while another person seems to get a free pass from accountability. It is sad to have to give up on a relationship. But it is necessary sometimes, and even more so in this day when scripture tells us that people’s love for one another will grow cold.
It is a me-centered world and we are called to put others before ourselves, and yet, when it comes to abuse, there is a limit to what the Lord expects us to just allow. We can forgive someone again and again, but if they are not sorry, if they do not repent of the behavior, that is to say, to turn away from it, and have no remorse whatsoever, then the forgiveness we pour out, just spills on the ground. True repentance is the vessel that receives forgiveness. A person can be forgiven many times, but reconciliation becomes impossible. The longer that I live, and the more people I encounter, I have learned that there are people in this world who truly seem to have no conscience and who have utterly no capacity of empathy whatsoever. They will never be “moved” by your telling them how much their action or words hurt you. I don’t know what makes a person that way. I am sure there are all sorts of psychological and human development theories on the subject, but I think that there are some people who are pretty much born that way. Others may get that way because of their own stubbornness and refusal to take responsibility for their actions.
Those people become toxic to anyone who is in close association with them. So unfortunately, spouses, children, parents, siblings of the person who has this “anti-social, narcissistic personality”, will suffer. The individual will flatter others, who don’t already know the truth about them, and convince the stranger that they are charming and thoughtful. While the family members of this person will be thought jealous or envious if they express anything negative about the offender. The offender does their ugly works in secret. When no one else is around to witness it. And when confronted, will deny ever saying or doing spiteful or ugly things, but instead will tell their victim it is all their imagination, they’ve taken it the “wrong way” or are “too sensitive for their own good”.
Life can get very painful for someone who lives with or is forced to frequent interaction with persons who have these antisocial personality issues. They are also called sociopaths or psychopaths. All of them are not violent or serial killers. Most of them function very well in society, because they cultivate a public persona that is very amicable and personable, and charismatic. But their employees, children, spouses, girlfriend or boyfriend, will know a different version of that person, that is never revealed to casual acquaintances and social friends.
This kind of paradigm is “crazy-making”! Because most people do care if they hurt someone else, whether it is a minor offense or real concrete damage, such as besmirching their reputation, or undermining them in some way, and would feel badly about it, probably apologize, or try to make amends once they become aware of the effect they have had. So when a “normal” person is embroiled with someone who has no conscience to speak of, who is unable to empathize, and who essentially has no real “feelings” of their own, they will always be perplexed by what they are hearing and detecting from the anti-social type. These folks are often effusive in their interactions, overly boisterous, gushingly admiring, over-the-top in their expressions, and love to be the very center of attention, and to be deferred to. It is a power thing.
So when someone grows up with a parent who is like that, you can only imagine how huge of a toll this would take on their own ability to trust their own intuition, and upon their own ability to correctly gage the mood or sentiment of other people.
This has been a situation in my husband’s upbringing, and it has been a very real and destructive issue in the course of our marriage, for him to understand how the abusive person in his life effected him, his perceptions, his confidence, and sense of self, and thus both directly and indirectly, our marriage.
Sometimes making the break from that person is not ideal due to the fallout this might have on another person who is also involved with the abusive individual. People who have a visceral need to exert control, will react with rage and fury when someone escapes that power they once held over them, and often the one or ones who remain in the circle, suffer the rage. It is hard, living in a fallen world, where people have drifted so far into selfishness and sin that they have been utterly blinded by it.
Some things are not “fixable”. I am convinced of that because we have been endowed with free will. So even though we pray for someone who causes harm and pain to others, for them to be delivered from their own sin, we also know that God doesn’t always extend grace when a person has already had many opportunities to change their ways. If that person professes to be a Christian, God also will set limits upon just how much they will be allowed to act out and drag the name of Christ through the mud. Have you not ever wondered about that verse (1 Corinthians 11:30) that says “for this cause many are weak and sickly, and many sleep”. The passage is about Communion, and the fact that when a born-again believer takes communion, he or she is supposed to examine themselves before God and forgive others, and confess their own sins, but also ask God to reveal to them any hidden sin within themselves which they are not aware of. When we take communion without doing so, that is partaking unworthily. It is a serious offense, and can result in a spiritual consequence of physical sickness and even death. I knew a man personally who had a criminal and drug history before salvation, who got drawn back to those things and with people in his life, fellow believers, confronting him, striving to bring him to repentance, he remained resistant to conviction, got involved in crime to support the addiction he had re-ignited, and a whole church full of people mourned his death by stabbing at the hands of the criminal gang he had known better than to go back to. You can get by for a while with some things when you are a babe in Christ, without such dire consequences, but God does not allow you to test Him. His wife loved the Lord very much, and she was suffering greatly due to his choices.
When you are the person who is on the receiving end of abuse from a non-repentant abuser, the only thing that you can do is remove yourself from them, pray for them, and take your wounds to the Lord for His healing, and trust His timing because He has already said that we all will be judged, and vengeance belongs to Him.
It is not easy to fight the bitterness and out-right hatred that can sometimes cultivate in our hearts when we have been subject to abuse of some kind. There is some truth to the adage that “hurt people hurt other people” but it is not always the case that the abuser was a victim of abuse himself or herself. I think we forget that the same heat that melts wax, hardens clay. Some people have a spirit of rebellion and self-righteousness in them, and when the Holy Spirit or even simply the “law” confronts them with their culpability, they will respond with rebellious denial. “I have done nothing wrong, it was all your own misunderstanding”, or “who are you to judge?”.
I have often said, trying to make any kind of rational sense out of someone who is behaving irrationally, just makes you crazy right along with them. When someone rejects the very idea that there is One in authority over us, they will believe anything just to avoid what is the truth. Most of the world now actually believes that truth is “relative” and we make our own “truth”. And even when your “truth” directly and diametrically contradicts my truth, they are still, somehow, true and valid. That is madness.
So, no, we don’t just go back to “normal” after something crazy happens. Whether it is losing a loved one, losing a job, having to face the reality that it is absolutely necessary to cut off ties with someone who refuses to cease and desist with their abusive ways, we are all created for relationships and we feel the hole where those things were, when something or someone is removed from our lives or when we have to remove ourselves from something or someone.
I may say this more than some people care to hear it, but I so look forward as a believer in Jesus Christ who has been saved, to the day that we are removed from this life, and carried away to the next one. I do believe in that life that is after this one. And in fact, many people today, even if they don’t believe in God, or Jesus, believe something has been happening in this world that is going to culminate in catastrophe. The Bible confirms this.
There will be no going back to the America we once were. That is sad, but the fact that the whole world is changing in drastic ways, is the more sure sign of this looming event. So many things are converging. Right now, in this moment in time, we are looking at an “election” cycle that is like no other one in American history. And the parties have not nominated their candidates yet. The U.S. is a tinderbox. The Middle East is a tinderbox. Asia is a tinderbox. What spark will ignite the first explosion? The earth is quaking, the fault lines are waking up, volcanoes are erupting, the world’s economy is teetering on the brink of collapse, every nation in the world is against Israel, and God’s cup of wrath is about to overflow.
My father-in-law went home to be with the Lord last week. It has been exhausting, but now he is the third family member who has made that journey in three short years. Little deposits from our life, now up there for safe keeping. I cannot help envying them. But I don’t think it is going to be long before everything changes. Everything is going to change. And so few people realize it. There will be people counting on the Rapture, that will not go up in it. There will be people who have heard about the Tribulation all their lives, but brushed it off as nonsense, and will know immediately when it starts, that they are in for hell on Earth. There are people who are already so deluded that they think everything in the Bible is bunk. But God is true, and His Word is Truth.
Every generation has had its own defining characteristics. We are the generation who will see the rapture of the church, the rise of the Antichrist, and the return of the true Christ Jesus, though I don’t plan to be here for the false Christ, and will be coming with the true Christ when He returns, just to be a witness when He destroys the last of His enemies.
I know there are a lot of people who could potentially read this, who will scoff and be possibly sincerely incredulous that I could believe this. But I do believe it, because I believe the Bible is God’s Word. I know that is out of fashion now. But fashion and going with the crowd are not really things I put stock in. Truth is the only thing that matters. And the truth is, there are a lot of people who are separated from their Creator by their state of sinfulness, and who will be banished to hell because of it. People don’t want to hear that they stand guilty and defiled before a Holy God. But it is the truth. We all are guilty based upon God’s law, which is pretty much distilled in the Ten Commandments, which most people know. The Bible says it is One Law. Like a swing hanging from two chains, if one link in the chain is broken, the whole chain is now broken. If you have lied or stolen the tiniest thing, or used the Lord’s name as a curse word, or looked at another person with lust in your heart, the Bible says you are a sinner, guilty and there is a sentence that awaits you. The wages of sin, is death. That is the sentence. That is the spiritual law. But God doesn’t want you to die this spiritual death, and He made a way to prevent that, by having an innocent man die for the sins of the guilty. Not just any man, but the only innocent sinless man who ever lived, which is Jesus Christ, God-in-flesh. Infinitely sinless, He laid down His own life for the penalty of our sins, and took His life up again after He had paid our debt in full.
I can’t tell you anything else to make this more palatable. This is pure truth, and you are of course free to take it or to walk away and leave it. But one day you will face your Creator, whether you believe in Him or not. And when you do, He will remind you about this message. You didn’t land here and aren’t reading this by accident. If you feel Him speaking to your heart, you dare not brush it aside. He is calling you to truth, and rescue from horrible wrath that is about to fall upon this Earth. This is not going to be like World War I, or World War II, or 9/11. What is about to encompass the whole world, is going to be horror beyond anything you have seen in movies, or read about in books. Suffering and bloodshed, and oppression and persecution. Because it is not just evil men and women in elite positions in this world who are behind the developments of wars and famines, and death, but supernaturally empowered evil spirits who rebelled against God and who know they are bound for chains and outer darkness, and want to take you with them when they go.
Call upon Jesus to save you from the wrath that is coming. Today is the day of salvation. Get a Bible, read Romans. Read Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and then read the books of Daniel and Revelation. When God removes His saved Believers from this world, all the “impending” catastrophe will crash down upon you. Fear and chaos and suffering will be miserable and only get worse and worse for seven years to come after that. If you call upon the Lord now, confess that you are lost and need a Savior, you can avoid what is coming. If you don’t now, you may not have another chance. God says in His word that those who love not the truth, will be given over to believe a lie. There will be a delusion that people will succumb to. And a world leader will rise, whom the Bible calls the Antichrist. There will be a mark of some sort that will be given for the purposes of all buying and selling and monitoring all of the people on Earth at all times. If you refuse the mark, you will be unable to buy or sell. And you will be a “wanted” fugitive from this new One World government. You have seen this stuff in movies and depicted in comic books. You have heard it in some form or another and perhaps thought it was all just a bunch of superstition or folklore. But soon people will have no more doubts and questions about the veracity of these claims. What is going to be, is going to be very soon. This may be the last warning you will get. Find a Bible and read it. It tells the whole story of God and man. From Creation to the present day, and on into the future. Many of the “unsolved” mysteries of science have been “solved” in scripture, for those willing to look into it and see it there.
Nothing is ever going back to “normal”. All you have ever known and taken for granted, is about to change. All who call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved. A thief hung on either side of Jesus as He died on the cross. One made fun of him, the other recognized Him to be the long-awaited Messiah, and called upon Him, and Jesus told the one who believed, “this day your soul will be with me in Paradise”. There are a lot of people who would love to add all sorts of additional conditions and terms and quid pro quos to the “transaction” but if a thief can be saved by nothing but belief during his final few breaths, then no works and no other action other than realizing you need a savior and are a sinner, and that Jesus is who He claims to be, that’s all that can be required of you. Do it now before it is too late! Jesus is coming for HIs own, and a horrible time called the Tribulation, will follow.
The Cost of Caring
Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill ye the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2. The entire Law is fulfilled in a single decree: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14. This is my commandment, That you love one another, as I have loved you, John 15:12 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Romans 15:1
Why don’t people care? When someone hurts, when someone is hungry, when they see someone assailed with torments why do they keep away as if what is happening to the the other is of no concern to themselves? How do you walk past someone crying alone, and not draw near and offer comfort, or at least inquire whether there is anything you can do to help?
Broken people aren’t contagious. They are wounded. What kind of human being can just walk past that, unaffected?
What has happened in this world that people just don’t care? Someone hurts, and the hurting one is disdained because it is viewed as weakness?
How small is your heart?
I need others. That, to you, is despicable. You write someone off after one offense. You are superior in every way. That is what you must believe. Even while you speak at times of being a nobody and a failure, that is really just a temporary glitch. You despise the same insecurities in others, their very willingness to admit they can’t do life alone.
I’m talking to you, Christian. You see me in my job, or in church, you don’t know the days I struggle. Because I struggle in private. Because it is considered indecent, obscene to struggle publicly. Nothing else is taboo anymore. But that sure is.
You are not “that kind” of Christian? The kind who would judge someone for being gay. The kind that actually thinks the Bible is true? But you are the kind of Christian that believes in being strong and self-sufficient.
Being human is shameful. We are all god-men now. It is time for our next evolutionary leap. That’s “what time it is’ and professing Christians are right there in line with everyone else.
For a time, I was fooled by that deceptive lie. “You can do anything, be anything you want to be, just believe in yourself, and never give up”.
Don’t count on anybody else. Don’t get bogged down with anyone else’s problems. Those things just hinder you and weigh you down. They’re so negative. Just don’t let that be part of your life, don’t give it your time or energy. They’re losers and you don’t plan to lose. This seems to be the acceptable way of thinking these days.
You know what, though? You can be going along in life, truly just riding the crest of the waves of success, having it all, feeling of course, you’ve earned it and are entitled to enjoy it. But what does that count for when something goes wonky in your brain one day and you forget a name, can’t find your wallet, wake up disoriented and forget to put your pants on? Fast forward a month, you finally broke down and went to the doctor, the diagnosis, Alzheimer’s. You slip into a hazy world and all that you have and all that you are and were, crumbles. You read up and learn that it is progressive. You have become someone who needs others. You are now “one of them“.
What does it amount to when you have thrown off the strictures of morality and religion, did it your way, indulged your every appetite, and then find yourself bleeding out on a crosswalk in Times Square one New Years Eve? One minute reveling, and the next minute, standing before your Maker and Judge?
Then you get a glimpse into the heaven you will never be admitted into, and you see multitudes dressed in fine white linen so clean and bright you can’t keep your eyes open, and among them you see the girl with cerebral palsy who was in your class in High School that disgusted you with her spasms and awkward speech and ever-present drooling smile. Among them also, the double-amputee Viet Nam Veteran whose patriotism you considered the epitome of foolishness. Whose flag you took issue with at the Neighborhood Association and smugly won your battle to make him take it down. You see your own mother, who raised three kids while working 2 jobs, who prayed on her knees, and had a pathetic weakness for men who ultimately always threw her away like an old worn-out shirt.
They are not there because they were weak and needy. They did not earn their place in Heaven because of their “suffering”, but it was their suffering that softened their hearts and let them see their own need of a Savior. You, the “lucky one” the “self-made man”, what do you see now? The same suffering you loathed, and allowed to harden your own heart. You made your choices. And when that man from the church knocked on your door you sneered at him, gave him a smarmy sendoff, topped off with some disgusting profanity just to knock some shine off his “holiness” as he retreated down your sidewalk back down the road to the next house.
You looked to the successful business man in your little town, who went to church every week, and closed his store on Sundays, and you thought what a sucker he was. How much business he was losing.
You went to college and you found your place. So happy to escape the smallness of your upbringing. You knew you were meant for better things, and you meant to see to it that you had them.
But now it is over. So what? Heaven is for suckers! You’d rather be in hell with all your real friends anyway. And so you are.
There are people in this world who call themselves Christians who feel they have believed as best they can, and “can’t help” what they can’t accept. They don’t believe the Bible is infallible. They will not believe in a God who allows tragedy or judges them because of who they choose to love. They certainly don’t believe that the devil is real. They know they have done some things that are wrong and they have just enough fear about the veracity of a God and existence of hell, to know they may better acknowledge Him, just to be on the safe side, but let’s not get carried away. They can believe that God is God and is more powerful than themselves, while they also believe He has rigged a system in which His terms mandate their obedience and accepting His Jesus, so they grudgingly complied.
They go to church, try to see things the way they are taught, find that every “Christian” they meet believes things different from one another, and every preacher seems to have his own version of what it means to be a Christian, and after a few rounds of that, come to the conclusion they are as capable as any preacher or other Christian, to decide for themselves what their own “religion” is going to look like. They’ve tried the Bible, and can’t really make much sense out of it. It just doesn’t seem to work for this fellow, but he’s happy for other people who seem to get great comfort out of it. To each his own, is how he sees it.
He “knows” he has done “the best he could”, even if he is a little bit aloof from people and can’t really bring himself to feel sorry for people’s struggles because most people are just stupid and get themselves into their own messes. Unlike himself, he is just the white male in America who everything is stacked against these days anyway. He has a wife who is a good person and honest and loves the Lord, but is too emotional, strong but fragile, passionate, but too complicated. It’s a burden. He has been strapped with this broken person, bless her heart, she can’t help it. But he’s earning his way and screw anyone who doesn’t think he is doing enough for the Lord. He thinks: What I do doesn’t matter, God isn’t worried about me, anyway. He has bigger things to worry about, and doesn’t the Bible say “God helps those who help themselves?” So he decides, “I’ll take my chances and forge my own definition of morality”
There is no end to the variations, misconceptions, assumptions, and incorrect conclusions that people come to about God, and about purpose in life. The fool says in his heart, “there is no god”. The fool thinks God is an accessory to be customized to suit the individual. The fool thinks there is no hell, no judgment day, no Creator, no payoff to be gained by concerning himself with the plights of others.
There are twelve forms of the word fool in the Bible (six Hebrew, six Greek), and a whopping total of 330 occurrences of all these various forms through out the Bible. Starting with the Hebrew, one is pronounced saw-kal which is to play the fool, be foolish, do something irrational and silly. Another is pronounce naw-bawl, and means to be stupid, impious or a wicked or vile person. Yet another word for fool in the Bible is pronounced kes-eel, (properly) fat, or stupid, silly, foolish, and derives from the root pronounced as kaw-sal which is a verb meaning to become stupid as a result of being taught by idiots. Then there is ev-eel, which means perverse (turned aside from right and reason, depraved, given over). Haw-lal to boast or rave, cause something to appear absurd. In the Greek an-o’-ay-tos is unintelligent and sensual (fleshly). As’-of-os means unwise. Af’-rone means mindless, egostistical, rash. Mo-rah’ee-no, to become stupid, to make (passively act) as a simpleton. Mo-ros’, heedless, dull, moral wretch, apparently absurd.
There are exactly two ways that a heart can go. Soft or hard. Life is like a forge. The human heart when exposed to or confronted with fire, pain, trauma, injustice, heat, whether directed upon self, or someone else, will tend one way or will tend the other. And the funny thing is, in life, you do have the ability to choose which way it will go, but some people don’t even give it any thought as a decision. Some people harden their heart. Most people. They are all about protecting self first and foremost. They will put up the walls, be willfully blind, and they will become bitter and small-hearted and small-minded and will be loneley in life, and resistant to God and wind up most likely, in hell. There will be others who will choose to love, accept, absorb a blow, try and help lift the burden of another, even when it costs them something, even when they have to swallow pride, miss personal opportunity, or deplete their own resources some (or a lot) in the process.
God chose the foolish things to confound the “wise”. He came not to call the “righteous” but sinners to repentance. Those who are already “whole” (self-sufficient) need not a physician.
I don’t want to meet any of God’s definitions of a fool. In order to do that, I may have to epitomize every single of the world’s definition of fool. So be it! I don’t think people are disposable, throw-away commodities. I don’t love like I should, not like God loves, but I know that He isn’t interested in making you rich with this world’s mammon. He is not interested in your being educated by idiots to love yourself first, most, and best.
The life of a Christian is anathema to this world. We don’t do it justice but some of us are trying. Some of us really want to not be ashamed before the Lord when He presents us to His Father. I want to acknowledge Him before men, because He is everything, and because I don’t want Him to be ashamed of me. I want to care for others, even if my flesh doesn’t always feel like it. I want to concern myself with what is right and I may do way too much “thinking” as I’ve been accused, (sometimes I accuse myself of this) but conscientiousness is a virtue, in God’s economy, because He tells us to live circumspect, redeeming the time because the days are evil. Redeeming the time doesn’t mean just being busy. Living circumspect means with attention to what is around us. A cup of cold water given in His name, counts in Heaven. He doesn’t care about things, so when He tells us to be aware of what is around us, He must mean people.
The more hurt I experience, the more I have to make that purposeful determination to keep caring. I am tempted to stop. At one time in my life I didn’t know it was possible to stop caring. Go through enough in life, though, and you will find out how possible it is, and how tempting.
God cares about you. It came at a huge cost. The difference between a millionaire dropping a few dollar bills into the Salvation Army Kettle and a poor person giving up their 2nd pair of shoes for someone who doesn’t have any shoes at all, is COST.
It has nothing to do with dollar amounts. And everything to do with sacrificial giving of what you have no matter how limited your resources. It has to do with not becoming stingy and hoarding.
God’s yard stick isn’t like ours. He not only measures by a different standard, He deems completely different things worthy of measure than we do. The things we “measure” are often nothing at all to Him. They won’t count. AT. ALL.
Commitment is another concept that is lost today. And confused, too. Because to most people commitment is a term they relate to career, success, accomplishment, rather than to family or fellow humans. I like the humorous distinction made between contributing and committing. It goes something like this: A chicken lays an egg and makes a contribution to breakfast, a pig is slaughtered and makes a contribution to breakfast. They both were involved in “giving”, but the pig was committed. It’s just a silly business fable, but it highlights an important distinction. We all like to feel like we contribute something in this life. But is what we give, enough? Does it even really count?
I know of a lady from right here in our little old Podunk town, whom very few knew was a multi-millionaire. She left huge endowments to various causes, projects, and services in our city when she died. As these things go, some of those funds are being fought over in court even as I write this. So, her name is known, all right. She is remembered. People are impressed, and a legacy is, for now, established. She is dead. Her body is in a grave, and God knows where her soul is. You can give a lot and it still not count for anything. In the eternal scheme of things.
Parks, schools, arts, libraries, housing, feeding the hungry, all those things have merit. But people, souls, that is all that really matters!
A guy approaches a homeless lady on Valentines day, and asks if he can spend the day with her. He takes her for a makeover, buys her a nice outfit, and treats her to a good meal at a nice restaurant. That societal castoff gets to feel human again for a day, feel like a “normal person” as valuable and as deserving as others. That is heart-warming and it is an inspirational gesture, but if five years later that homeless woman drinks herself into a coma in the cold of winter and dies of hypothermia in the night, without Jesus, her soul will wake up in hell, and her body will be carted to the city morgue, cremated or buried in a cardboard coffin somewhere. Or whatever it is they do with unclaimed bodies of people whom nobody cared about and no one will mourn, except God Himself.
God help us to care. We are a world of people who have hardened our own hearts.
There is rare, incongruent sort of day that happens from time to time, in autumn, sometimes in summer, when the weather is Spring-like and perfect in a way that just about takes my breath away, and sends my mind straight back to the most innocent essence of childhood. I don’t understand it, nor do I want to, for fear of ruining such a pleasant illusion.
The air is very breezy, leaves shimmer and flip on the branches like so many pom-poms in a pep rally, cheering us on in the business of life, or drift lazy on the air like confetti celebrating another new day. There is a hushedness and a dreamlike quality to days like this which make me feel pleasantly drowsy in a contented, deep-breath way.
I always feel a little melancholy along with the sweetness of days like that. It feels almost like experiencing all of one’s life in one moment of time, every good thing, every sad thing, every love, it is richness that is so poignant that it is nearly unbearable. But perhaps that is an internal experience that only we oversensitive folk have.
I think that in the way dogs can smell the tiniest drop of peppermint in a swimming pool’s worth of water, and cats can sense an approaching enemy with their whiskers, some of us detect changes in atmosphere, moods of others, even societal shifts, acutely, and you know something? It can be pretty overwhelming and exhausting. If we feel the stuff around us that acutely, try to imagine how intense our own inner atmosphere must feel.
My story that I have shared in the back pages here, tucked away amidst the deluge of verbosity that litters cyberspace, is no more significant than most of the rest. Everyone has stories. If you read mine and it blesses or encourages or fills you up in some way like a good home-cooked meal or slice of pie, that’s good. I just tell it because it is what is.
I, like most, made bad decisions in my early adult years. It took something out of me and when I met my now-husband of almost 22 years, I felt so very blessed that I would have another chance to maybe be truly loved and even have a family. And indeed he has loved me well and we have raised two great young men by the grace of God, who’ve turned out pretty well and are on their way to into lives of their own.
So here I am at that stage of life referred to as middle age, which is humorous, since I don’t actually anticipate most who are 52 are actually going to live to be a hundred and four. I certainly don’t think I will, nor do I want to.
I find personally, due to ailments that have stripped down the scope of my life some, that I face a quandary of sorts. There were a couple of disappointments that undermined that “life” I dreamed I’d have with my husband and our kids. Not about the health issues or loss of my career and the financial realities that placed us in, but that silly “White Knight” delusion I thought I had exorcised after my early experiences with “love”. I find I’m mourning something that never was, and I’m almost surprised by this. I know my husband is human and imperfect. But it’s dumbfounding the way I have managed to perceive him to be certain ways I so wanted him to be, and to then, over two decades in, face the reality of his human imperfections. That of course also means that I fooled myself yet again. And I just think; wow!
But at the same time, it is liberating. For all of our marriage, there was severe conflict of interest in the fact that his mother is, well, she is a textbook narcissist. I have such a damnable determination to believe everyone is capable of empathy and every difference can be worked out as long as all parties are determined not to give up until it happens. I have never met another human being that I could not make some sort of sense of, and thereby, couldn’t also generally accept and find the redeeming qualities that made it possible for me to appreciate that person. But my mother-in-law is the exception, and I hate the cliché of it. Even more, I hate the truth and reality of it. Because I know it could and should have been very different. But my Father-in-law died in May, and my husband has had no further contact with his mom since then. Over time I have learned that she is a person who literally has one face and persona she shows to others, and a very different and frankly, sinister face and persona she reserves only for those privileged to be called “family”. My husband is her only child. He was the last to give up on her. It is sad. My husband literally believes that his father’s relationship with his mother is best characterised as Stockholm Syndrome. Especially in his final decline into dementia.
My resentment toward my mother-in-law began with her intrusion into the wedding plans and grew with each successive instance of her meddling and self-insertion. I felt when it came to decisions and special occasions that there was a third member to this marriage and she often got the veto and my vote never counted. Having the history I had before meeting my husband, I chose forbearance in the face of what was obviously a very real inability on his part to change the way in which he dealt with his mother. I came to understand that fifty years of conditioning is not something one can just overcome. I pleaded for him to get counseling. Confrontations never turned out well. We settled on a certain degree of just putting up with her unreasonableness, with a huge helping of simply avoiding her as much as possible. Especially on my part. But the coping techniques and compensations we derive throughout our formative years, seldom work into adulthood and especially when the party who has always existed under that paradigm expects the newcomer(s) to go along with it like it is actually rational. And so when his father died and he no longer felt the false obligation to shield his Dad from her reign of terror by never rocking the boat, he finally took action in the only way he could, and that was to cut off contact altogether.
It goes without saying that it is tragic. But we have peace in our own household now that we have never had. No longer is there some “other shoe” always hanging over our head. She has a habit of using anything and everything against you, by that I mean, any news, any personal information, anything you share with her, becomes part of her arsenal.
Unfortunately, as my husband faced his father’s final decline, and the impending reality that once he was gone, there would no longer be a buffer, no one else left for her to terrorize, but that the full weight of who she is would become “his problem” my husband just kind of checked out on me. He wasn’t aware of it on a conscious level, and of course I didn’t figure it out straight away. He always was a person who focuses fully on whatever is on his mind in any given moment, to the extent he loses sight of the big picture. Most men are compartmentalized but he is like that almost to an extreme. It was especially frustrating for me when the kids were small. It made me really crazy sometimes, like the time he came in from outside and didn’t latch the screen door on our screened-in porch, when we had the front door open on a pretty day, and my cousin’s little 1 and 1/2 year old little girl wandered off down the street and scared the bejeebers out of all of us, and another time when we were keeping the children of a couple we were friends with, who lived in a trailer, and the girl, a very curious kid, asked about what was “in there” (referring to the door to our basement) and my husband said, “that’s the basement” and when she asked to see, he opened the door and before he could even flip the light on, she had tumbled down a flight of stairs with an open side, and landed on the concrete floor below. This is one of those things that can make a mother look at her husband and ask herself questions she does not want to even know the answer to. Both kids were perfectly fine, no harm, no foul, right? We can and do laugh about it today, but back then, well, you can just imagine.
But when his dad was rapidly declining and had to go into a home, and then ended up in the hospital, so much of which we feel might have been avoided if his mom would have listened to our input, (based on my nursing background) but with the history of such strain with his mom, we really could not afford to get drawn into conflict with her and knew that she would do whatever she wanted to do, regardless. It was a lot of strain during that whole year and a half. And at about Thanksgiving 2015 when his Dad got really in a bad way, I noticed this “there, but not really there”, state of my husband. I figured he was grieving, and coping, and it was all just taking a toll, but in the midst of it all, one weekend he dropped a bombshell. The kind that destroys marriages. Now, it’s not as bad as you might assume. But it was bad enough under the circumstances. And so I’ve been reeling a bit for the past thirteen months. And am only just getting my bearings. Things like this are seldom the real problem, but rather a symptom of the underlying “real issues”. The real issue had a LOT to do with his relationship with his mother.
I am encouraged that now we are dealing with the real issues. For myself, however, the means by which I coped with the underlying issue, took its’ own toll on me. Marriage is like that. Sometimes one person has a problem that is so deep-rooted, facing it and seeing it for what it is and finally realizing the toxic toll it has taken, is a monster of a thing to face. Sometimes the other person knows it for what it is, long before you do, and that person does a lot of forbearing for the sake of their love for you, their committment to the marriage, and an understanding of the sense of powerlessness we can often have when we have been conditioned a certain way. It was never easy for me to pray for my mother-in-law, and I had to pray for the Lord to love her through me because on the human level, there was, as they say, certainly no love lost between us. That my husband felt an exaggerated obligation to honor his mother, while frankly dishonoring his own wife, was not an easy thing for me to live with, much less accept. Being a person who has already experienced abuse and negligence in marriage, most people would have just called me a fool. But as a Christian, and as someone who eventually came to understand that this was not something someone really overcomes easily, when their family of origin was “messed up” but that person has yet to understand how abnormal the upbringing was, well, by God’s grace, God enabled me to endure until in His timing He got my husband to the right place for addressing it. But as I said, it took a toll. And the amazing thing is, though I have been sick and depressed many years, not the least of which is attributable to this paradigm I speak of, the last four or five God had truly given me a reprieve and delivered me out of that depression.
Yet, over the past six months especially, as we have finally begun to address and work through these aspects of our life together that were out of order and out of the Lord’s will, I have almost been convinced, at times, that the depression was back full force. It’s been hard. And as someone who does what I do here on this blog, being plugged in to some of the most distressing goings-on of our world in these times we are living in, doesn’t really need anything else hard emotionally, and yet, we don’t get to choose the timing on things like this.
Things are getting addressed, finally. I have described to people how when I was diagnosed bipolar and put on Depakote and Topamax, it took a good year and a half for me to start to feel normal again. It was like coming out of a coma, and finding that the world had changed while you were absent. Lights were coming on and I had not even realized I was sitting in the dark. That’s just a word picture of how it felt. You are only half-living when you are sick in your brain, your mind and your spirit. So now, it’s a little like that again for me. I have been living a life accepting the things I had no power to change, and just praying, but you tend to build up a callous where something chafes continually, and having to play second fiddle to my mother in law with my own husband, was pretty darn painful. We can’t dull one emotion without dulling them all. So again I was living but not fully. Sort of just a one-dimensional kind of living that is awfully similar to the “walking dead”.
As a pilgrim and stranger in this world, that is not as depressing as it might sound. I have always had my blessed hope, no matter what is going on here in this Earthly life, and that makes it possible to keep going when you really, otherwise, don’t really care to.
But it is kind of nice when you come back to yourself enough to enjoy an incongruous spring-like day in the middle of Autumn, too. Especially this time of year when the Holidays are upon us. That’s a time I have learned to dread. Because it always meant the gratuitous command appearance at the home of the “Queen Mum herself”, and all the accoutrements thereof.
It is sad, and as I said before, tragic, that it has to be this way. But you know, when someone treats you in a way that is wrong, and you put them on notice, yet they refuse to change, they are in effect forfeiting their right to be a part of your life. It is they who are making the choice, though they will invariably lay the blame squarely upon you. That’s fine, that, too, is their legitimate prerogative. They are free to believe whatever they want, whether it is true or not.
So, now my challenge is to somehow get up the energy and determination to rebuild in myself what those years have stripped me of. I don’t know how. So I have just been praying for the Lord to show me the way. My husband can’t do that for me. He feels guilty for it now that he finally and truly sees what those circumstances did to me, and to our marriage. But all he can do is work on himself. I have seen him sort of “blossom” since he cut ties with his mom. It’s great to see that, it makes me happy for him, but the irony is not lost on me, as he goes to the gym and loses weight and gains confidence, as here I sit, with my entire sense of self pretty significantly decimated. I have lost and reclaimed it before, so I am sure that I am capable of doing so again, but I’m not sure I am rested up enough yet to embark on that effort. I know enough about the human spirit to know God made us with an amazing capacity to heal and repair and rebuild, to rebound. When I am ready, I will do it.
Those family histories and ties and “ways” have a habit of biting you in the backside years down the road. Like those pesky viruses that hibernate in the nervous system, and show themselves in times of stress, they stick around, lurking and the older we get, the more vulnerable I think we become to them, instead of them being a non-issue, they can become quite significant issues. When you get older you have to accept that anything you take on will not be completed in a day, or a week, or a couple of months even. Most things are more a matter of being the tortoise and not the hare. Patience was never my strong suit. And though perseverance and endurance actually have been hallmarks of my ability to “overcome”, man, I gotta say, at this stage I don’t feel like I have much of those left either. What will be will be. Losing oneself is not the worst thing that can happen to a born-again Christian. Self is not all it is cracked up to be. Dying to self is actually not something we can accomplish within our selves. That is why God allows the hard things that happen to us. He who began a good work in you, will be faithful to complete it!
His ways are not our ways.
My Sepia World
I figure there is a whole science involving color. I’ve heard how yellows and oranges and reds tend to cause hunger. I know some greens and blues induce calm and well-being for me personally. Back when I was experiencing un-wellness of mind, I discovered this by happenstance. We took the kids to the children’s museum. There was one interactive exhibit that entailed transparent tablets of acrylic in a wide variety of colors. The kids could do different things with them. They could build things, or look at certain things to see how it changed the colors of what they saw, or use two different colored ones to do that three-dimensional effect. When I was in the state I was in back then, high stress, depression, high anxiety, nerves always torn up, any atmosphere of noise and chaos, such as that in an echoing room full of excited kids, was extremely hard for me to tolerate. I was having a moment that I felt very aware of the intensity of sensory overload, when I just happened to put one of the green slabs of acrylic up to my eyes and looked at everything through it. It was very similar to how I used to feel when I was swimming lap after lap in the pool at the Y. I experienced what felt like a huge dialing-down of the incoming stimuli, and a sense of calm compared to seconds before. It was awesome. I wanted to steal that piece of green acrylic and tape it to my eyes.
It is one of many little experiences in the life of this HSP (highly sensitive person) that stand out in my memory. Phenomena that probably everyone experiences but very few notice. I think that is why science geeks get so excited about stuff like studying the effects of color on mood. The people who are science-wired are generally the least intuitive. Therefore everything has to be established by replicable steps and facts. They never have experiences like that, so they have to get there their own way through experiments in a lab. Poor linear minded science geeks! All that rationality gives me indigestion.
The rest of us take most of it on faith and prefer to enjoy the “magic” of not having a scientific explanation for every little thing.
I write about what the experience of this life in this world, is like for me, personally. I can’t write fiction. Literally. All I can write about is what is real. I love to read fiction, but can’t conceive it. People tend to admire and wonder at how genuine and real I am, but it is not a choice I made. I just am that way. Don’t know how to be any other way. It’s how God made me. When I talk about myself I do so knowing I’m kind of a curiosity to a some folks. In a freak show kind of way. Ha!
I didn’t always know that about myself, even though I have been told all my life, “there’s something different about you”. Sometimes people have used the word “special” and I definitely don’t see myself that way, and always deflect with my usual comment: “yeah, special like them that rides the short bus”. It’s an old Mark Lowery line from one of his comedy bits. But it’s how I feel in the derogatory sense of that term a lot of the time, actually. And that is coming from someone who knows that the kids who ride on “short buses” are a superior species, not an inferior one. They are usually the ones who truly love unconditionally, who forgive freely, who delight in everything in the way that a little child does who is discovering his own toes for the first time. I can only aspire to be that pure of heart.
Living with depression for me, was like living in a world with no color. Since I have come out of decades of depression, I can’t get enough of color! I have a real love-hate relationship with my own physical body. Always have. As Christians we are to be cautious of the flesh, but also, there is an aspect of our actual bodies, the fact that God made it as our shell for containing our soul and interacting with a physical world, that demands appreciation for our own body as a gift, and also the fact it is the Lord’s temple and dwelling place among man, the body of a Christian. So there is an automatic sort of conflict-of-interests. On the one hand, we are to be good stewards, on the other hand, the flesh is an actual enemy. As a woman, it’s sooooo much more complicated than even that.
How is a Christian supposed to reconcile those things? Women have huge hurdles when it comes to our bodies, because of the conditions of the society we live in, and this fallen world, and the objectification of us.
The years of difficulty I wrote about in the last entry, (marriage years) and the experiences I wrote about in my autobiography, all tally together to have wrought havoc in this area of my life. The awkward task of growing from girl to woman, the shame and trauma that surrounded that in my 20’s, then the emotional trauma after having survived all of that, when I married my husband only to have the M.I.L. from you-know-where…! Recipe for body image issues and emotions getting mixed up with seeking comfort in food. How does a mother-in-law effect one’s body image? Sounds like a huge leap, but when you already have a history of it, and certain ways of coping, when your husband’s mother spent a lifetime emasculating the man who became your husband, when your M.I.L. furthermore is like a third party in what God created to be a “party-of-two-become one”, trust me, the two are not as unrelatable as they might seem.
Not going to go into the psychobabble. I operate from the principle that all our problems are indeed rooted in the problem of “fallen-ness”. I would rather say that than “because of sin” which, though accurate, can misconstrue things by virtue of the fact there are individual sins and there is also a state of being which we call sin. Bad things are not “caused by sin” in the same way punishment or the concept of “Karma” work. But rather more in the way that consequences follow certain actions by the law of physics. Drop an egg and because of gravity, the egg will hit the floor, and because of the design of the shell, the egg will break. The fact of the matter is, women are created to be intuitive and more “open concept” internally as a rule, whereas men are more concrete, and compartmentalized. I say this while acknowledging this is a generalization and there are exceptions to the rule, and it’s all on a sort of spectrum to boot. For men, one thing has nothing to do with the other, while for women every thing has something to do with everything else. Things in one area of life, effect the other areas. We were designed that way for a reason. As caregivers and guardians, we have to consider the big picture and can’t lose sight of one thing while focusing on the other. The world can’t function that way. At the same time, there has to be some brain cells free to concentrate fully on specifics, those designated brain cells are mostly found in the male brain, or lets just say a greater proportion of them are.
As for me, I’d fall on the extreme end of the female side of the spectrum, being extremely intuitive, and practically devoid of inner “compartments”. But that is not to say that I don’t have some sectors that are partitioned off. I actually discovered just how true this is, recently when I started processing some of my anger that I have had over some things. It’s like discovering a hidden room in a house. And finding it full of bees. My blood pressure was off the charts for a few days. No kidding. It has come down now. Don’t worry.(Mom!)
But in marriage, we give all we have. One partner is always compensating for the other in some way, and vice versa. That’s why God ordained the whole “it is not good for man to be alone” concept and came up with the idea of a helpmeet.
In concept, that makes perfect sense. In the actual playing out, however, it’s not necessarily so clean and neat and painless. I have been compensating in our marriage for something that was a condition of his upbringing, and he truly could not help how he was brought up. He couldn’t even see the problem for a long time. I spent a lot of years feeling a lot of anger, which I put behind that partition I mentioned, for the sake of peace in the marriage, but it was anger at him for something he was not aware of or to the degree he was aware, he was powerless in it. It was a conditioned (learned) powerlessness, and he is now getting set free from it, but a perceived powerlessness is every bit as paralyzing as a real one. Unfortunately. Until one learns the difference.
I have been told more than once that the habits and compensatory actions we learn in order to survive or thrive in our formative years, which “work” in our family of origin, but then cause problems in our “family of choice” later on, will often flame out spectacularly when we get about to middle age. Why then? I figure it is because before then, you are so busy building a life, paying the bills, corralling a family, putting out fires, that you really just don’t have an opportunity to be troubled by or to analyze the friction they cause. It’s only around that empty-nest season when things slow down, that the sum total of the damage starts to show. When it happens we often call it a midlife crisis. When it happens we feel like the wheels suddenly come off and we are positively dumbstruck as to why or what the heck is happening “all of a sudden”. But it’s actually not sudden, rather it’s merely insidious. Which is much worse!
So, yeah. That’s kind of where I’ve been hanging out this year. But I can say this, it’s been extremely mild, compared to how these things often go in these cases. We’re talking that divorce that ends a thirty-five year marriage, or some similarly devastating individual self-destruction that leaves others baffled and wounded by the fallout. Compared to that, this is a walk in the park. A blighted park in a slum with broken bottles and rusted monkey bars, perhaps, but still, a walk in a park.
What’s a little temporary colorblindness, compared to that kind of thing? If everyone in the world took their troubles and put them in a pile, and God said, okay, now in exchange for your “thorn in the flesh” go to the pile and choose something else you’d rather have to cope with”, most people would gladly take their own problem right back up. There’s always someone worse-off than you are. These cliches become cliches because they are accurate. The devil you know, and all that jazz. The bottom line is, God promised to make a way for us to bear whatever we are called upon to bear. And often we bring that thing upon ourselves anyway. Which in no way makes bearing the consequences any easier. But it does demonstrate God’s compassion and understanding, that He does make a way for us to bear even the consequences of our own bad decisions, as well as the consequences of others which we had no culpability in.
I find the statement “it is what it is” a very handy one. I apply it often. Because the truth is, that very often the only influence or power we have in a lot of situations, is the power to accept it and determine to be okay with it come hell or high water, even when we don’t like it.
My life lost all color during years I was kicking against the pricks. Pricks are prods that are designed to make the ox go the direction the driver needs them to go. We are to be in the yoke with Jesus. We are to take His yoke upon us, and learn of Him, and He will give rest to our souls. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Does that parable make sense to you? Do you know that the stronger ox bears the biggest brunt of the load? It’s a principle or law. As a strong adult, when your ten year old helps you move a heavy object, you are quite aware you are bearing most of the load, are you not? It’s the same thing. When we are in the yoke with Jesus, when we do the heavy lifting together with Him, He is doing most of the work. We still gripe at how heavy our burdens are. Sometimes it’s because we aren’t in the yoke at all. Other times we’re just being spoiled brats.
The good news is, for me color is coming back into my life. I’m not living in that sepia world anymore. The truth sets people free. The Lord has finally deemed it the proper time to enable my husband to see things as they are, about his upbringing, and about how it has effected our marriage, how it has effected him, and how it has effected me. It was a painful “surgery” and the recovery period is far from over, and only really just beginning.
For a good while, I was wearing a lot of color as a tactic meant to create the illusion of there being color in me. If I couldn’t have it in me, it seemed that having it on me was the next best thing or closest I could get. People would see the color and maybe not notice the pallor underneath. Where I had faded out to nothing. When things were really bad in my life when I was in my twenties, I wore black and navy all the time. It would have seemed akin to blasphemy to wear color when my spirit and soul were in solitary confinement.
Now I can’t get enough color in my house or my wardrobe. I can see it again, and appreciate it, and I am like a starving woman and color is food and water. Words are not enough. I have to express myself in word pictures these days. I ran out of words two or three crises ago.
These days as my husband reclaims the things his upbringing kept bound and inaccessible, it is like watching a flower bloom. I am happy for him. He is looking forward to things now, which neither of us have had the pleasure of doing for so long. He has prayed for my healing and for me to have energy and vitality again, for so long. I have been so happy just to have some quality of life that I frankly can hardly justify hoping for more, much less asking for more. And being that I am still kind of decimated, I also can’t conceive of the energy to have or do this “more” even if it became an option. No matter that he is an eyewitness to what this life has taken out of me, and no matter how much I may share about how it feels, how it has been for me, only God Himself will ever know, other than me, the cost and the sum of what I have lost, what in some cases has been stolen from me. I know a day is coming when I will be whole again, vital and full of life. That’s enough for me. I have mourned and let go of those things in the here and now, because I believe that the Apostle Paul has the right idea, learning to be content no matter what your circumstances, is the best way. Anything the Lord wants to restore or gift to me in the remainder of my days on this Earth, will be pure bonus. Icing on my fruitcake, lol.
It is enough knowing He has been faithful through it all. That is why God allows us to hurt. It’s the whole point. I am so, soooo grateful that I have an eternity of color to look forward to. Probably colors up there that don’t even exist or if they do, we are too limited creatures to perceive them. Let the heathen keep believing heaven is floating on clouds playing harps and singing hymns. Heaven is gonna be fun! Learning, working, everything that is good about this life, only much, much more! No tears, no pain. That’s already promised!
Hot diggity and Praise the Lord! (How can we not?!?)
What’s in YOUR future?
Mommas Who Love Too Much
I guess being a Momma that loves too much is better than one that doesn’t love enough. It is a fine line to walk. We all come to parenthood with our own perceptions and deficits. Nobody gives us a handbook. We are just thrust out there into the world of utter and complete responsibility of a little helpless human being to sink or swim on our own. I know mom’s who had no mother yet take to it like a duck to water.
Our first was a hard pregnancy for me. I have to say that I really never even had a thought of me ever being a Mom until I was at least 27. It wasn’t that I had consciously decided against it. I just hadn’t given it any thought one way or another. By the time our first came along, I had become open to the idea, but it happened so fast that I went into shock, I think. I know there are people who try for years. What I felt while carrying him, well, I was sick most of the 9 months. Morning (all day) sickness for the early months, and then a respiratory infection so bad that the doctor suspected pneumonia. He sent me for a chest x-ray, which ruled out pneumonia, but I was on antibiotics the rest of the way until he was born, and several different ones, because it was just a determined bug, I guess. I couldn’t figure out those women who glow and love every second of being pregnant. I frankly resented the alien that had taken up residence in my belly. Why are you taking so much? Why are you kicking me? Can’t you at least do it in the daytime? I am so tired, lol. Nothing rational, of course, but everybody experiences a different pregnancy. Even the same woman has vastly different experiences with each kid. The thing was, having never been pregnant or contemplated it too much, I had catching-up to do, emotion-wise. I didn’t know what I was going to be getting out of the whole development. The delivery was not any easier than the pregnancy. Twenty-five hours and then a c-section!
But he’s hardly gave me a thimble of trouble since then. Hard pregnancy, easy kid? Well, our other one came 2 years later, and the pregnancy and delivery were a breeze, but I never thought I would manage to get him to adulthood alive. This one is wide open, full throttle, and a born daredevil. If I hadn’t been so frazzled to start with, there is no telling what all things he might have tried. But I kept him close since I just didn’t have the energy to keep up with him if I let him open it up and have at it. He was happily jumping off stadium bleachers before most kids got the courage to climb them. He was always five steps ahead. At the same time, he didn’t always have much faith in himself. That may have been due to the fact I did have to keep him on a short leash. I always knew I would get to enjoy him better when his antics and choices were no longer my responsibility.
Both of them made us laugh a lot. We survived on laughter and seed faith. That was a fast quarter of a century, I tell ya. Fast and furious! Like a constant hurricane. It could be a little lonely being the only girl in a household of guys at times. But I was always glad we didn’t have girls. I just think that would have been more than I could have handled. I’m sure that we would have figured out girls if that’s what God gave us.
Now they have left the nest. It’s been a couple of years. Our oldest and his wife were with us for Christmas, and we walked out to the car with them to see them off. It was surreal for a minute. Like body swapping. We were supposed to be the young couple heading home, lol. I said something along those lines to the others, and said “next thing we know it will be them and a baby” Well, none of us knew it yet, but it was already them and a baby. They will find out Friday boy or girl. And the little butterbean will make his or her debut in September. I don’t know if there is any such thing as a Mamma who loves too much, but I can tell you from experience, just about any Mamma you can meet probably would tell you we sure can feel too much. Whew! Learning to be a parent doesn’t end when they are raised. You have to learn then how to be a parent to an adult.
The father-to-be, was away in the Army and I didn’t witness the actual transformation from boy to man. I think that has left me a little less confident about establishing that new way of relating. Your child is the same person they always were. That is what we forget when they move into the next phase along the continuum. You get a little wobbly getting back on the bicycle, so to speak, But it comes back to you. You know this young man. He’s that fellow you raised.
The perspective from the other direction, though, is also fraught with some pitfalls. I can remember the first time it dawned on me that I still thought my parents expected certain things when really having been through the growing-up process, they knew their role was changing, and with it, their expectations, Everybody is not as analytical as I am about everything. These thoughts are concepts many people never felt need to consider, much less analyze. They just live. I envy that to tell you the truth.
But I do try to tell our boys things like that, hoping to somehow make the adjustment smoother and avoid inaccurate assumptions of what they think we are trying to do when we address a subject. It’s easy to get onto the defensive at something offered on a “for what it’s worth” basis, because an adult son or daughter mistakes the exchange as an attempt to dictate their life and decisions when it is no longer appropriate.
Communication is hard, fraught with minefields more every day, Something happened to it. I think what happened to it was the internet. Smart phones, Especially when it comes to the generation who never experienced a time when they didn’t exist. It compounds the generation gap.
That’s what people say, who are about to be grandparents, I guess, lol. The circle of life, right?
How is it that a world can be as polluted as this? I don’t mean Earth, the atmosphere, the litter on the street. I don’t mean the oceans. How can a world be so full of pain and suffering? Evil is a problem here. Everyone readily admits that. But we don’t know evil is a problem in our own hearts.
Most of us think evil is something outside of us. But when evil is done to us, and we hurt, we find that capacity for evil in ourselves. That temptation to stop caring and trusting. It is a choice. The same sun that melts the wax also hardens the clay. The sun is the same, and not partial, and doesn’t treat the wax and clay differently. But the substance of the wax and the clay are different.
We are that way with adversity. We choose whether to bend and absorb and carry on despite it, or we choose to harden, nursing the indignation and anger like a newborn baby that can’t fend for itself. When we choose not to forgive, we bring condemnation upon our own selves.
Life can feel like a series of blows. But it is relative. I can be thankful I was not a Jew in the holocaust, thrown into a cattle car, starved and left for dead. I can be thankful I wasn’t born in North Korea. But all the worse suffering elsewhere, doesn’t actually diminish the pain I feel. The key is thankfulness for what is good in your life, and acknowledging where all that is good comes from.
Every person who ever lived has asked God “why?” at some point. If you haven’t yet, you will. It is true that when we excuse and try to justify the behavior of someone who commits an evil act because of their upbringing of negligence or abuse, it turns into a road with no end, and no place to aim our rage.
Our innate sense of justice tells us that there’s more to it than that, but what is it?
We know that there is right and there is wrong, because God created us in His image, and He is a just God. We may misconstrue what is holy and what is evil, what is profane and what is sacred, but none of us can claim to be unaware of those basic concepts.
Why does God let the evil continue? Why does He not step in. Sometimes He does, but not nearly as often as we think He should.
If I am a doctor, and there are people in my city dying of a plague of some sort, while others that I have treated are making full recoveries, am I responsible for those others who are dying? How can I save the ones who will not come to me?
God keeps 24/7 office hours. He is everywhere at once. There is no barrier between us and God and the remedy He has for us, except our failure to go to Him to get it. We can never accuse God of being unfair, quite simply because what God requires from us, God provides for us.
He wants everyone to have that opportunity for that “cure”. He could end it all today, and go ahead and mete out judgment and justice. That rapist, that serial killer, that despot leader, would finally get what is coming to them. But what about the good neighbor who would give the shirt off his back, but who once took a man’s life when he was a hot-headed angry kid? No one even knows about his past, everyone that knows him now, would say he is as kind-hearted as anyone they know, but God does know about the past. The man spent his entire life trying to atone for his deed. But the truth is, no amount of good can make him not a murderer. There must be a penalty for murder, and no judge in any courtroom is going to weigh the perpetrator’s good traits and good deeds to see if they “weigh more” than the murder, thus exonerating the man. That would not be just. Unless the man literally could bring the dead to life, there is no price that can be paid to atone for taking the life of another. No one can bring someone else to life by taking their place in death. But God can. Because He has authority and power over life and death. And that is just what God did.
God does love that neighbor. What’s even harder to fathom is that He also loves the rapist and serial killer and despot. God knows what they did, and God would love to be able to let them “off the hook” but He would be excusing and justifying their sins and that would be evil on His part. God is Holy and incapable of doing wrong. He is just and incapable of excusing sin. To us, sins are “big” and “little”, or “bad” and “worse”. God makes no such distinctions. God can’t let a murderer off with his crime because then where would be the justice for the one whose life was snuffed out! Where would be the justice for the loved ones who lost him?
God’s nature is love. He loves the murderer. That doesn’t set well with the non-murderers of this world. We want justice. While at the same time, we want God to overlook our wrongs. We compare our wrongs to the murderer’s and we think, “I’m not so bad”. But God doesn’t see sin as a spectrum. God’s measure of holiness is like our concept of sterility. So that even the smallest infraction renders a record imperfect. We all have a rap sheet. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
He loves the hurting, but he also loves the murderer. That is so hard to accept. We in our nature, feel nothing but hatred for the one who causes so much pain.
There is a story in the Bible about two sisters and their brother, who were very close to Jesus during H is life. Mary and Martha, and their brother Lazarus. Lazarus became sick one time when Jesus was away, and the sisters sent for Jesus to come back and heal him. They’d seen Jesus heal many others by then. But Jesus didn’t get in a hurry. He tarried where He was, finished His business there, and came a couple of days later. The sisters were inconsolable, and they asked Jesus the obvious question, “why?”. Why didn’t you come sooner? You could have saved him!
And Jesus wept! Why? Why did Jesus weep when Lazarus was dead, since He had the power to raise Lazarus up from the dead, and knew that He was going to do just that?
The scriptures say Jesus was a “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief”. It says that we don’t have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our infirmities. Sorrow is an infirmity. Sickness, loss, everything in this life that causes human suffering, falls into that category. Jesus cried because people He cared about were hurting. And maybe because He knows that it is the state of sinfulness that caused the curse of death and sickness to come into creation to begin with. We were created for beauty and life and joy, not for death and sickness and suffering.
God sent Jesus, and Jesus willingly came, to take our sin into His own body and defeat death on the cross of Calvary by dying, and rising up again in life. The Bible says Jesus “became sin for us”. Think about your fictional superheroes. The Iron Giant who intercepted the missile and saved the town, but was blown to bits in the process. Jesus took the sickness and death of sin, your sin, my sin, the murderer’s sin, into His own body, by some mystical process beyond our comprehension, and it was killed in Him when the Roman guards hung Him on the cross and He gave up His life willingly, because unlike us, He had the power to take His life up again afterward. He did it that whosoever is willing to have that atonement applied to their own sin, can be made innocent with the perfectly clean record of Christ Himself, because their sins have already been paid for, their sentence has already been served, by One who never had a single sin of His own to atone for. The wages of sin is death. He “took the bullet” for us, and offers us a “get out of hell” option, if we are willing to take it. But so many aren’t willing to take it.
Why does God stand by and let evil continue? Because He is love. Love is His nature. As only the mother of a psychopath can love her son after he has done such horrible things, God loves and wants to redeem all who are willing to own up to their guilt and receive that act of Christ on their behalf. It means admitting that God is, and that God as the Creator of all, has every right to judge and punish. It means admitting we have violated His standard of law, and have coming to us, a penalty, and humbling ourselves enough to receive such a gift of pardon.
I am not a murderer or rapist, terrorist or torturer. Most likely you who are reading this aren’t either. But we live in a world that has so rejected the authority of God that there are many who don’t even know what Jesus did and what God offers through Christ. Many don’t give much, if any, thought to that.
But let your child be the one murdered, let you be the one who is raped, or maimed in an accident with a drunk driver, and you soon find a new interest in justice and punishment, and a new willingness to entertain the notion that there really is a hell.And maybe that is one reason for the bad things God allows to happen to otherwise “good” people (by human standards). Because we think we are good, when we are not. We hope that we will go to heaven when we die, and hope that there is a heaven, but we don’t know the way there. Unless God tells us. And that is the purpose of the Bible.
I feel the hurt in this world. Not just my own wounds and scars, but I feel the suffering of others. Many people have that empathy. Yet daily it seems that number who cares about their fellow man is shrinking. There’s a lot of lip-service to that effect, but those who would lay down their life for a stranger are getting pretty rare. The Bible tells us that would happen. That mankind’s natural affection and compassion for one another would grow cold. The Bible tells us a lot of things that are good to know because they explain ourselves, to ourselves. People don’t like to read the Bible because while they are reading the Bible, the Bible is reading them right back. And they sense it. They feel themselves being examined, and don’t like how they measure up, so they get mad at the “scale” or the “ruler” and irrationally believe that if they just get rid of the scale, or ruler, or mirror, then they will not be found wanting. What a childish belief!
It’s a good thing I am not God. He restrains His anger, and the scriptures do say He is angry at the wicked every day, and that they store up wrath against themselves. I’d go around zapping all the “bad people” if I were God. But see, that’s the thing. God doesn’t want to see us destroyed. He wants to make us new creatures altogether. The Bible is history of God’s interaction with man, particularly through the line of Abraham, and on down to David, by which line the Christ came onto the stage of human events. Not marked by fanfare and royal processions, but as a lowly innocent helpless baby.
He is coming again some day, and when He does, it will be in majesty and power. In His glory, in His physical presence no one can remain on their feet. Mere humans are rendered prone before Him. And every knee will bow. Not because He aspires to be over all, but because HE IS OVER ALL. There is none greater than God. There is none more powerful, more wise, more kind, more compassionate, nor more perfectly just and Holy. He will set things in order. And those who have wished for Justice will learn that they themselves are on the wrong side of the law.
Those who reject Him and claim not to believe He exists, and claim there is no hell, will become believers when they see Him. But it will be too late then to yield their will and their life to Him. Their destiny will already be sealed.
There is no answer to mans problems in “religion”. Religion is man’s attempt to raise himself up. God says our righteousness is as filthy rags. Crawl on your knees to Mecca, life a life of solitude and silence in a Tibetan monastery, those things seem noble, but they do nothing to address the problem of sin which keeps us separated from the source of all life. See, that’s what death is. It is not a “thing” it is the absence of something. And that something has only one source. God Almighty! So all the theories that man has come up with in his self-confidence, are useless in the face of Truth. Truth is the only thing that can set you free. Every religion is just another counterfeit offering a false hope. Jesus Himself said “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no man cometh unto the Father but by me. History proves Jesus lived, you don’t need the Bible for that. The record of His death and resurrection are a matter of historical record. So the one question remains, what will you do about this Jesus? Was He a lunatic? Was He a liar? Or was and is He Whom He claimed to be? Very God in flesh. Emmanuel, God with us? What you choose to believe about that is the singular most important question you will ever be confronted with.
We have successfully raised two young men, while doing without any significant or consistent second income in a time when it takes at least two incomes to make it. Other than periodic full-time work, and periodic short-term or part-time work I did the first fifteen years of our marriage, my family and/or I have done without, (for various lengths of time, some continuing in the present);
- a dishwasher
- a second bathroom
- functional windows
- a decent vacuum cleaner
- new clothes
- smart phone
- any car
- new underwear and socks
- more than one pair of shoes for our boys
- fully stocked pantry
- reliable washer
- reliable dryer
- decent fridge
- central air
- needed renovations and maintenance on the house
- anniversary celebrations
- new furniture
- new cars
- videos, movies, CD’s, DVD’s
- any actual “set” of good cookware
- health insurance
- any income at all
- any savings at all
- swing set for the boys (when little)
- laptops, I-pads, I-Pods, cell phones for the boys (until they were in their teens)
- name brand labels
- professional hair cuts
But God has always supplied what we needed, and we have always had love, laughter, faith, shelter, and something to give when there was someone else in need.
We can all live without a lot of these things, and the standard of our “lifestyle” has been no different from many in America, and a whole lot better than others. We have been blessed beyond what many people ever possess or experience in most of the rest of the World. It is all a matter of perspective, and whether one chooses to be grateful for what they do have, or never satisfied.
I believe a hundred percent of contentment depends on our thoughts. Does that mean I am a hundred percent content, a hundred percent of the time? No! But I can honestly say that I am at least 90% content, 99% of the time! In a world where the church often tells you that you should always be smiling, and that any “trouble” in your life is due to your lack of faith, I’d say that’s pretty good! In a world where many people spend all of their energy either seeking pleasure, or working to earn money in order to seek pleasure, that 90% content/99% of the time, is no small feat.
To what do I attribute this, you ask?
Well, a big chunk of the credit probably owes to my simple and modest upbringing. Part of the credit also goes to having attended the school of hard knocks, and making it to middle age. A huge chunk goes to knowing this world and this life are not all there is. Another factor in the favor of contentment, is prayer which includes thankfulness. The rest I guess can put down to faith and to determination and intention to monitor and manage my mindset. There are things that throw it off from time to time, so that principle doesn’t always hold true, but for the most part, it’s like falling off a bike, you just have to get back on.
Some folks can’t comprehend how I exist on such an “only today” kind of basis. That is, I don’t assume a tomorrow that may never come, but I also don’t expect myself to accomplish everything today. Tomorrow will take care of itself. That’s what the Bible says. Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof! Sounds all virtuous don’t it? I didn’t get that way from my own effort.
According to my Mom, my Dad used to worry all the time, about everything. According to my Dad, one day he just decided to quit. Well, I think my Mom might argue that she was then forced to take up his share of the worrying. But is that accurate? We each can make the same determination or decision not to worry. It is impossible to hold two opposite thoughts in one’s head at the same time. So when we worry, we should re-direct our thougts purposely onto something we can count on, or something we can be thankful for. We don’t really take up someone else’s worries. If we do, we only borrow more worry unto ourselves without removing any of it from the other person, so that’s really just multiplication, isn’t it? I’m not great at math, but I think that’s about right.
Olympic-caliber worriers truly believe they are incapable of stopping their worry. And I concur that the more real (not imagined) responsibility a person has, the tougher it may be to not worry.
I can’t take a lot of credit for not worrying, because what led me to mostly give it up was my exhaustion. With chronic sleep disorders, I can’t afford the energy it eats up. Lower your expetations! That’s not something you’re going to hear from your average “motivational” speaker, but you ought to try it! Same goes for anger and bitterness, and in some cases, where you’ve done all you can to make amends and restitution, it also goes for regrets. These are lessons that took me a long time to learn. Circumstances being what they have been, by God’s sovereignty, I had a good bit pressing me that direction and would not have gone that way willingly on my own.
Now, note, I didn’t say I am happy 99% of the time, joyous 99% of the time, nor even positive and upbeat. If you go around with a dopey ever-present grin, I’d say chances are pretty high that you are totally clueless (ignorance is bliss), on drugs, or maybe brain-damaged. There are some exceptions to that rule. We all probably have known someone in our lives who literally, judging from all our experience of them, “unsinkable”. But we probably just weren’t around to see when they did sink. This expectation that everybody ought to be happy-happy-happy just flies in the face of, well, reality, to be frank!
Turn ourselves inside out, scrape out everything in us until we’re nothing but an empty rind, and it’s still not enough for being all that. Choices have to be made. A pie can be cut in half, and each half cut in half…theoretically speaking,indefinitely, but the further it goes, the more miniscule each successive sliver will be.
We have been falsely told that women can be everything a man can be, do anything a man can do. We are told that two dads or two moms are as good as one of each. Children are told that they can be anything they want when they grow up. Women are told they can be superwoman in the workplace and at home simultaneously, as mother, employer/employee, wife, sister, daughter, friend, all at once. Now we are being told that women can literally become men, and men can become women, just by choosing, and the non-insane among us are expected to fully affirm these delusions! I’m sorry, but your DNA would beg to differ!
Lies! A bill of goods. You’ve been lied to, people! Come on!
Commen sense has gone the way of the Dodo bird. Or, perhaps the afflicted are channeling the Dodo bird. Dodo birds were not actually stupid, they were just very trusting, foolishly so. And that’s what people are today, having been trained in the public school system and academia, to never actually think for themselves. They are like teenagers who prattle on about “individuality” while doing everything they can to look like everyone else. You’d think there would be better insight when those same kids got to be adults, but no, apparently not. Now they are being totally brain-washed while believing they are independant thinkers. Brainwashed by movies, network news, “think tanks”, politicians, spin-doctors, music, even social media.
I am so glad that God saw fit via the Bible to tell us that one day He is going to restore sanity and order in the world. Indeed, one day, all of this will burn and a new Earth will take it’s place!
Don’t know about you, but I’m really looking forward to that, myself.
E is for Empty
One of my most primary principles of life, is that we ought to encourage and help and support others every way that we can. I don’t recall consciously choosing to embrace and uphold this ethic, it simply always has asserted itself in my moral code. Maybe it is a standard that was placed upon me like a destiny by virtue of the name I was given. Sandra, a derivative of Alexandra, means helper of humanity. Carol, my middle name, means to sing. Music the way God intended, I believe is meant to uplift and soothe.
I can’t recall any time in my life that I was not presently and actively supporting, encouraging, or helping someone. It’s not a boast. It is simply an observation, made at this juncture when I am longing to help, encourage and support my self, and wrestling with the “selfishness” of that prospect.
I have come to a crossroads of sorts, of a similar magnitude to one I encountered before only in my early twenties, a moment in time when I am aware that if I don’t find a way to change my current mental and emotional landscape, I am going to bear repercussions for the rest of my life, of failing to do so.
That probably sounds dramatic. I don’t mean for it to. I do realize that my problems, in the overall scheme of the world at large, are minuscule and trifling. I am faced with a dilemma, a moment of decision. It is so complex and personal that I couldn’t possibly encapsulate it in a sentence or two or even twenty. Or maybe words just fail. All I know is, it is all off kilter. What do I fear? What regret am I unable to move past? What is the paralysis that has me immobilized when I have always, always been a person of action? I have assumed it has just been the cumulative result of many years of more resources going out than I have had coming in, that is in terms of nurture and affirmation and feeding my own spirit and senses and continuing to try to maintain my customary level of giving. Because maybe that has been standing in as an “identity” for me, particularly in the past couple of decades which have been, by all accounts, a period of “stripping away”. And I accept God’s prerogative to do that, and even understand the necessity and good of it.
It is entirely possible, and in fact, not at all unusual, for one to know things in their head, yet act in ways that would seem to belie that fact, ways that completely contradict it. Like how a person eats. We all know the basics that we should divide up our plate into fourths, and 1/2 of the plate should be non-starchy vegetables, and the lean meat serving should be the size of a deck of cards, cheese the size of the average thumb, whole grains instead of “enriched” breads and cereals that have been stripped of what is healthy for the sake of shelf-life, and then had a little of the nutrients added back in for the sake of propriety. We know we should consume unsaturated fats and omega-3 for “good cholesterol”, but still in very moderated small amounts. Yet many of us often eat as if we never heard this stuff in our lives. Why? Maybe because life is so darn hectic, and the healthy foods that made our grandparents sturdy and sound, are priced outside of our budget, due to modernity. And the stuff that is most readily available, even if it presents itself as farm-fresh (cultivated, harvested, and canned by automation) is riddled with genetic modification, pesticides, and substances which preserve the food, substances frighteningly similar to the stuff used to preserve our corpses for burial. In fact, I venture to project that the average corpse today requires much less “embalming” than once was necessary, as we are doing a lot of it before hand. A boon to morticians the world over, that is!
This thing we call aging, it was never in God’s intended design for us. It is ironic that mankind spends countless hours and countless billions of dollars seeking ways to counter this dilemma, all the while rejecting the one antidote that exists.
For a time, most folks counted it a noteworthy achievement just to weather the inevitable decline of aging with grace. That option is no longer upheld as virtuous, in this present age, however. The battle cry now is “never yield”! Fortunately for me, I have never put stock in what is “socially acceptable” to the degree it would dictate my course. I never chose to take up the mantle of nonconformist. It came standard in my particular design, I guess you could say.
I didn’t make the decision to be different. But I’ve been told all my life that I am “different”. It only took me about forty years of living, to finally concur, and that not without grudge. I don’t pride myself on this. I also don’t (anymore) beat myself up for it. Well, not as much as I used to, anyway. It just is what it is.
But here I am now, going to turn 53 this coming August. And I am disappointed in myself because I am not “finishing” the way I started. I am no longer such a “giver”, and I’ve allowed myself to cop-out. I am less loving and encouraging and supportive. I am, quite frankly, shriveling as a person, even as my body expands. I have had periods, since becoming a mom at least, when I continued to give but began to resent it. I continued to give because it’s “who I am”, and it’s “what I do”. I know this seems to run counter to the “Love one another” of scripture. Believe me, I know this. But then I go and read something like the account of Elijah after the momentous victory of exposing Baal as a false god, when he ran away from Jezebel, along with everything and everyone that lent security in his life, and sought to burrow away in seclusion because it was all just too much all of a sudden. I “watch” as God Himself ministers to Elijah, instructing him to eat a hearty meal and sleep. And when Elijah wakes up, the Lord (or the angel sent by the Lord) tells him to eat again, and sleep some more.
I long to have someone else be the one who is responsible to put a nutritious meal on the table for me to partake of. (Couldn’t we just hire a chef?) I long to have all the people who depend on me for friendship and affirmation, to just understand how depleted I am, and maybe step up and do for me what I have often done for someone, or at the very least, stop expecting anything from me for a while.
But I do realize that it isn’t their fault that find myself this way. People will willingly “take” whatever we willingly give. They may not even say thank you. But its human nature. And not everyone has that same “gift” or propensity for the nurturing and the giving. Which is why those who do, often end up feeling cheated. The ones whom everyone else counts on in their crisis, often face their own crisis solo. On the one hand, that makes it easier for us to retain our reputation of strength and fortitude. Lets face it, pride is always a factor. No one likes admitting they are a quaking coward on the inside even when you’d never know it from outward observation.
I have always been able to count on a couple of things from myself. Determination (stubbornness), endurance (stubbornness), and an absolute refusal to ever give up (stubbornness). But you know what I found out? Even stubbornness has its limits, not to mention its drawbacks.
I only wish that along with this epiphany, I also had received some corresponding new revelation about some other newly discovered something to employ in place of the now defunct stubbornness. Instead, I find myself in a stall. And I’ve been in it way too long for my liking. (Though I should be thankful there’s been no crash this time). What does one do when they are truly at a total loss for what to do now? And don’t assume that I have taken my eyes off of the Lord. I have continued to walk with the Lord, be in the Word, fellowship, and pray, with thanksgiving. Maybe not a lot of praise, though, I admit, not a lot of that celebrating of God for Whom I know Him to be, going on lately.
I feel certain we are looking at a case of need for old-fashioned rehabilitation. That going back to the basics and simply starting from scratch at figuring out how to be. I mean, sometimes life changes so much over time, that our managing skills, though necessarily adapted, have strayed too far from the medline. So what does one do, to start over in re-calibrating? It goes without saying that at this juncture in life it will require “baby steps’. Like the lovable “Bob” played by Bill Murray in the movie “What About Bob”. Over time, even the most pro-active, determined, confident and straight-forward person can be worn down by the demands and circumstances of life, and stray far away from seeing to their own needs in obvious and simple ways that healthier individuals (or those less service-oriented) take as their due. It would not be the first time in my life that I erred way over on the other side, in my determination not to go the way of ease and entitlement. The opposite extreme may insure against failing the Lord on the one hand, but balance is always crucial, can never be dismissed as dispensable. I think that is my fatal error. I act as if that law doesn’t apply to me. It’s an inverted form of pride, but it still is pride just the same. So the thing I was wanting to avoid, is the thing I end up accomplishing anyway. Sound familiar? Like something Paul the Apostle said about the flesh versus the Spirit?
Oh who will deliver me from this body of death? How long, oh Lord? And how long, indeed? Because one can’t actually stop living to wait on that promised deliverance. Well, one could, but it is hardly a sign of obeisance to the sovereignty and wisdom of God. It certainly doesn’t honor Him, when He has clearly instructed us to “occupy until I come”. Although there is a form of that verb that means to simply take up space, that is not what God meant in that verse. To occupy is to be busy. Doing what? Ah, that is indeed “the question” is it not?
Is there space in the devoted Christian life for leisure and “fun”, for a little R and R? Surely Jesus not only wept, but also laughed. He did get away to rest. Surely He worked but also He “played”? After all, He was fully human. We know He employed sarcasm at times. The Bible says that God laughed, but it is in derision of those who oppose Him. Yeah, life is sober. But Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time for everything, including a time to laugh. So surely Jesus laughed.Things have been too serious for too long in my life. I tend to feel such indignation over the pain and wrongs of this life, not just mine, but the suffering of others that I hear about or witness. I had begun to feel that laughter is inappropriate. Ever! I’ve taken an attitude of “let everyone else act like clueless and heartless buffoons, by golly, I won’t be one of them”! Unfortunately this constitutes holier-than-thou-dom.
Yes. Yes it does.
Why? Because it assigns a certain virtue to sobriety that surpasses God’s definition of it. How so? In that if I believe God is in control, then I must also concur that He has reason for allowing what He allows. Granted, sometimes certain miseries in our lives do result from something we had no part in bringing about, and we suffer unjustly for someone else’s evil acts. But not always. And besides that, even if we are innocent in that case, what about all the other times we were guilty but skated by without consequences (seemingly)?
So, you know, it all “shakes out” ultimately. Because the Bible told us not to be deceived, that God is not mocked. No one actually gets by with anything, because there is a day coming when all will be taken to account. No wrong will be left unaddressed.
I guess all of what I just said merely reiterates something I have often “preached” from this very platform. It ALL boils down to perspective, how we choose to look at any thing.
Which is galling to say the least. Don’t you hate it when the truth is so inconvenient? When the preacher is right? Even if you’re the preacher! I mean, I can’t escape the very sermon I preach. I have dodged it for a while, though, yes I have. But it is time to face the music. What worked all those other times, is still effective in my current circumstances. I just haven’t applied it. Maybe I just let myself become too comfortable in the familiar “can’t win for all the losing” paradigm we seemed stuck in for so long, between my illness, our financial limits, the problem of an interfering mother-in-law, a stalled economy, and a fallen world, that even now that “better times” might actually be possible, I am letting my dread of “inevitable disappointment” keep me from allowing hope to take root.
It’s stupid. And I need to get past it. And I’m trying. I really am.
I have taken this mantle of martyr. Oh, I can’t believe I am admitting that. It is my pet peeve and major bone of contention with others in life. Even as I write this, I am aware I am setting up some kind of expectation. I feel like I have been one of the hardest persons I have ever been expected to please and make happy or proud. It is not really even a dread of disappointing others. It is feeling I have failed to uphold my own standards. Is that self-centered? I don’t even know anymore!
Some people right now would say, “you know what you need, you need to just go do something for someone else, and stop thinking about yourself”. I agree that most of the time that would be an appropriate conclusion. I even agree that there is some legitimacy to it in this case, but I also know it’s not the whole answer. I know I have neglected to care for myself. And that is the biggest hurdle I feel I face right now. Because I have done it for so long. I feel as if the damage is irreparable, too extensive to ever overcome. I am a person who has lived my entire life in the extremes. I don’t know how to exist on “middle ground”, in the grey shadowlands. Give me noon or midnight, dawn and dusk are too darn vague. But again, that’s still all just perspective, isn’t it?
Well, I’m glad we had this little chat. Just maybe something in my subconscious will finally escape the internal blockage and things will start to flow once again. Because one thing I know for certain is stagnation has definitely set in. I have honestly felt for a long time that all the good of life is behind me. Even as someone who does practice blessing-counting, that’s a pretty darn bleak perspective to get stuck in. I lived most of my life with a philosophy of “do something, even if it turns out to be wrong, at least you will move from where you are”. Lord help this poor middle-aged peri-menopausal, bench-sitting type-A, overly emotional woman to get out of her own head and over herself!
Where is That Angel With the Bread?
I’m fat! I am not being cruel to myself in saying that. It is true. I am 5′-6″ and weigh 220. Medically that is obese! A few years ago I ran into a couple who attended the church I grew up in. I remember them both as being quite “stout”, when I was seventeen and running five miles a day and weighed 121 pounds. When I saw them, I was astonished at the weight they had lost. Only, they both said “no, we haven’t lost any weight”. It took me some years to actually realize what had changed so drastically was how near to their weight I had become. As a person with a profound respect and determination for living life according to what is, rather than what I wish was, I have burrowed pretty deep in denial and done so knowingly and purposely, in regards to my own body.
I was a naturally pudgy kid. Not very inclined to tree-climbing and that sort of thing. I was, for a while, the one girl, with two brothers, before we adopted my younger sister. Mom was protective. I was content to play alone as much as with others, so a summer day might just as often have seen me playing quietly with my Barbie dolls in my room, as outdoors hanging out with neighborhood kids. Almost never with my brothers, at least after my younger one got old enough to do things with the older one. When he was still the baby, he could be as content to play with either me or our older brother. When my sister was adopted, the age difference was too much for us to be playmates, and besides that, I had a best cousin nearer my age, who lived near enough that we often had time together.
My physical illness began with my first pregnancy, and never entirely let up. I would be repeating stuff I have written about elsewhere on this blog if I were to go into that stuff again here, and I get tired of rehearsing it anyway. Suffice it to say that profound sleep disorders resulting in debilitating fatigue and pain, are not conducive to weight loss. Feeling unwell was all new to me with that first pregnancy. I loved to exercise, I had pretty decent eating habits, most of the time, and when I didn’t, well, there was that love of exercise that allowed me to get by with it.
Doesn’t really matter how I got here or that I have stayed here way longer than my younger self could ever have imagined allowing. The facts on the ground at present, are that I am a good 55 pounds above the very highest “appropriate” weight for my height. And I hate to even speculate on my BMI now that it’s been an entire decade since I have maintained any semblance of regular exercise. That’s not to say there weren’t periods here and there that I tried, and even succeeded. But as someone who has never had much patience for “steps” in a process, someone who is pretty “all or nothing” in the way I go about things, I have allowed myself to get where I am. Yes, I had a lot of things going against me. But how long will I continue to let that be an excuse?
What is the hang up, anyway? I could pay a therapist to help me process this and figure it out. But I have been to enough therapy to understand the work you do is your work, you are the one who does it, the counselor merely facilitates. I have been through it enough to know what a counselor would say and do.I work it out with pen on paper. If I had money to spare, I might still go, because it is easier when someone objective speaks truth and forces you to decide whether to concur or remain in denial. It is harder to crawl back under your rock when there is someone to whom you now have admitted that you have been living under one.
Even friends can’t help much with that, at least in my case, because according to everyone that knows me, I am too intimidating. They end up backing down before they even speak up.
What am I going to do about this predicament? Right now, I don’t know. I thought that when I had processed some of the anger from stuff that has happened in our marriage, I would be ready to tackle this. Maybe I’m still working through the grieving process that we all go through when we feel betrayed. Maybe when I get finished grieving, I will find I am ready then. I hate psychology. I mean, on one hand, I think it is not inherently evil. Some Christians today want people like me to feel ashamed. I understand there are people for whom examining things, revisiting things, doesn’t work, and their way of moving forward is to let it go. I understand that letting go is the end-goal. But I can’t bring myself to believe that I can change from a person who has to process, to a person who can simply dismiss. That’s like telling a left-handed person that they have to learn how to be right-handed.
What we can change about ourselves is hotly debated. I don’t believe we have the power to change any and everything about ourselves which we might wish were different. But there are some things we can change. The trick is knowing which is which.
I guess it is a common thing for overweight people (or people with anything they wish to overcome) to believe there is some key thing that must happen first, then the time will be right and the desired result will then become easy to attain. I guess I am having trouble placing myself in that category because of the fact that all other times in my life I have been able to just set my mind to something and do it. That’s why the people who preach that very concept to me, make me want to punch them in the face. Because I was them once! I mean, not that I preached that at people, but that at one time I WAS capable of that, and so I think how smug that person is who is saying that to me. I was like that until….Until the day I encountered the thing that was bigger than my determination. Or the day my determination had shrunk so that something I had conquered previously was now not so conquerable. The truth is, what strengths God gives us, are not guaranteed for life. The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord, right? Where does this sense of entitlement come from? I cling to my “me-ness” (as well as my meanness), as if it’s my right. As Christians, we are not our own. But I have been arm wrestling with God over that. I don’t like it. I look around at others who get to do as they please, whether or not it is technically right, or moral, or kind, or fair, or just, and I’ll admit, sometimes I get to envying and resenting their liberty. I have heard women with jobs, families, hobbies, talk about how full their plate is, and think: “I remember when I had a plate!
I feel that I have had a greater desire to live as God would want me to live, than a lot of Christians I know. (not saying I am always successful in that endeavor). I realize that it is only by the grace of God, and yet I still feel as if I ought to get some “credit” for this, or like it ought to count for something in my favor when I am up against troubles in life that I am praying for God to deliver me from, and instead He continues to require that I endure them. I guess that is what I get for praying for God to make me what I ought to be. ( *rueful smile)
Gosh, I looked with envy on the world’s liberties when I was a young adult, and with horrible repercussions, yet I still want that latitude? Yeah, sometimes I do. Sorry to say, the Christian life doesn’t get easier. The longer we walk with the Lord and learn of Him, the greater our accountability, and more He expects of us. He doesn’t let us skate like He once may have, and we don’t get to point to a babe in Christ and say, “but why can she get by with that but when I do it, there are these consequences?” We especially don’t get to look at the unredeemed and ask that. We know the answer.
The thing is, that while we are working on one aspect of our “Pilgrim’s Progress” through this life as aliens and strangers here, we lose sight of some other aspect inevitably. What I have lost sight of is being a good steward of my physical body. As I have lived with fatigue, and depression, and pain, over time even as I was striving to accept these things with grace, there was this part of me that was secretly harboring self-loathing and anger at myself. Anger at others too, for some of the circumstances of life, but anger at myself for yielding. For actually doing the things God tells us to do. Submit one to another, not demanding our own way, not keeping account of wrongs, forgiving, forbearing. Still too much of that wounded warrior woman in me, I suppose. Double-mindedness never bodes well. Inner division doesn’t lend itself to stability. I would never have conceived of having this capacity for denial. But we all split and compartmentalize internally in some ways. Some do it in healthy ways. Men are particularly designed for that. Women, not so much, although we do foster our own version of this capacity. Like any counterfeit, it does not serve or pass as the legitimate version for long.
I am convinced women were designed by God with this internal “open floor plan” while men were designed like your local storage facility, with multiple divided units and compartments. Yet we live in a world where the differences between men and women, are increasingly vilified and denigrated.
Even when we are consciously trying to live according to God’s design, we are bombarded ceaselessly with the opposing indoctrination. It takes a toll.
I know I am far from alone in obesity. Western civilization, America in particular, promotes this, and anyone who may already have a genetic predisposition toward fatness, already had an uphill battle. Plus, the American food industry puts sugar in everything!
The inherent danger in our modern lives is not conducive to being outdoors and exercising. Fear should not rule, but where danger is real, healthy fear is only rational! The neighborhood we live in, is the same one I grew up in. Back then, it was a safe area where kids could roam and parents didn’t generally have to worry about them being kidnapped into human trafficking. The average person back then, still would have intervened if they witnessed a threat to a child or even another adult. But that is no longer true.
It didn’t start out as denial, when my weight started to go up. I was very aware of it. I tried to mitigate against it. I really did! I have real medical reasons why it is harder for me to exercise. The fatigue and pain. BUT! Just because it is harder for me, doesn’t release me from the obligation to take care of myself. I just have to accept that it is going to be harder and do it in realistic and manageable ways. I think many of us literally are kind of blind to obesity. We look around and it has become so prevalent, we feel we are average. So combine the extra hurdles I had, with the increasing prevalence of overweight bodies that surround us, add to that clothes that stretch, convenience foods laden with fat and sugar, and there you have it.
Whenever I write, I am preaching to myself first and foremost. I don’t see myself as a guru or fount of wisdom. Believe me, I am muddling through best I can, just like you are. This blog has served as a nice means of human interaction and engaging that excludes the visual aspect. It’s nice. Nice for that not to be a factor in a world where appearances are held in very, very high regard. But where it enables unhealthiness, maybe it’s not so great, huh?
I keep waiting for motivation to hit me. Motivation is a lie, though. It really is. What “motivates” you? Some people will try guilt. That doesn’t actually work, and mostly results in giving up. Some people think competition motivates. Maybe some people are motivated by it, but I’d wager the ones who are “motivated” by competition are not the people like me who have taken lots of knocks and blows in life, and been taken down several notches, but the people who are at the top of their game and know it. The thing about that is, it won’t stay that way forever. We don’t like to think we are a product of our circumstances and experiences, and we especially hear a lot of “preaching” that says we are not limited by those things. But those things actually are a factor. They are! If you think they are not, then you just haven’t been in the ring long enough yet. You are only in the first or second round in life. Your day is coming. Not to be fatalistic, just telling you the truth! I warned ya, is what I did!
Except there are those few we like to call “the lucky ones” that seem never to hit a wall. EVER! Be it due to charm, or money, or good looks, or obliviousness, or over-endownment of endorphins, there are people in this life who are like that stupid blow-up clown punching bag we used to play with as kids. Shaped like a Weeble. You punch it, and right back up it comes. Sometimes it even knocks YOU down, it bounces back with such fierce velocity! Like Cheerios, can’t keep ’em down, those kinds of people. I hate those people. Grrrrr!
For the rest of us, old-fashioned tenacity is all we have to work with.
I’m not discounting the Lord, our Helper. It’s just that the longer I know Him, the less “helpful” He tends to be. He actually does seem to expect us to have gained some degree of self-mastery and solidity and Christian maturity. Else why would He continue sending the challenges. Someone once said to me, “the Lord must think you are awfully strong to give you all of that to carry”. I don’t know whether she was being sarcastic or serious. Whether she was saying “poor you” or parroting something she had heard other Christians say to her, or whether she was truly admiring how well I held up in the face of those things. Doesn’t really matter which it was, I suppose. I don’t know what conclusion to come to myself, as to how God is going to grade me on the way I handled things in this life. Sometimes I am hopeful of hearing some expression of approval, other times I feel like not only a colossal failure as a human being, but also as a Christian. I had a non-believer say “it just doesn’t seem fair for one person to go through so much”. I never saw it as unfair on God’s part, never since my 20’s at least. I know sin is the culprit. I do wonder at times why it catches up to me, and others seem to stay ahead of the consequences and negative ramifications of life. They go through a disaster, but people step up from out of the woodwork to restore what they lost and support them. They lose a job, but end up in such a better one. That’s all so arbitrary, though. We are looking at isolated events, not the entire context of that person’s life. The grass is always greener when we are looking at it from across the way. We don’t see the barren brown spots from that angle. And besides, we have had things like that happen to us, an unexpected check in the mail, just in time to pay a bill, and a couple of times we found really great used cars that the seller is asking a more than reasonable price that we could afford!
It’s been a long haul, though. I am at a place where some heavy lifting and hard hoeing are perhaps finished for a while, and I haven’t yet fully realized it. I might be more capable than I realize now that the load is lightened, but I do need time to assimilate this fact. Right now I still feel pretty tired and in need of rest. Like when a tornado sweeps through a town, and the adrenaline allows you to work non-stop for days to clean up the mess, even help others tackle theirs, until there is finally some sense of restored order, at which time you realize just how tired you are. It’s like when you work sixty hours a week, and never take a sick day, because you really don’t have time to be sick, and then when you finally take a vacation, you get sick!
At least I think that’s what it’s like. Perhaps it is just more excuses. I don’t really know at this juncture. All I do know is that I can’t visualize changes coming. I still feel really tired and done in! Don’t you have to be able to conceive of something before you can achieve it, or is that just empty rhetoric?
I think I’ll sleep on it. Maybe an angel will wake me up with some victuals and tell me to eat up and go back to sleep a while.
I am a Rare Phenomenon
I have significant hearing loss. Not just any hearing loss, but like everything else I have wrong with me, I have a type that is rare. So rare, that I have searched the whole internet and can’t find statistics about just how common (or uncommon, as the case may be) that it is.
It is called cookie bite hearing loss and it’s almost always in both ears. (Bilateral) Also sometimes called pool or soup bowl or “u-shaped”. It is named thus due to the shape of the graph when you plot your thresholds in Hertz and Decibels. Hertz is the measure of pitch or frequency, and of course decibel is the measure of intensity or loudness. The full scientific name for my kind of hearing loss is Bilateral autosomal dominant, nonsyndromic, midfrequency sensorineural hearing loss (with tinnitus). I did find studies that went into the genetics behind this, which having been an RN, I am somewhat able to decipher, however, the genetic specifics don’t tell me that much. I also have some very Menière-like symptoms at times, of “spinning” or the world spinning around me, or feeling like I am pitching in an exaggerated manner in whatever direction I mean to move. It can literally result in falls, incoordination and overall clumsiness as well as nausea (motion-sickness). All I have deciphered is that those two factors (type of hearing plus equilibrium facet) point to not just one, but two different genetic mutations. Yipee! And autoimmune factors play a role. Hair cells die and other structures in the ear are mis-shaped etc.
Aging, noise exposure, infections, lots of things diminish hearing over time. But in a cookie bite situation, we hear some sounds just fine, and blank out other sounds, so that speech can sometimes sound like someone fiddling on the volume control while you are trying to watch a television prgram. There is distortion of the things you do hear, plus gaps, (accounting for sounds you can’t hear at all), and hearing aids can’t help much with these issues. Turning the sound way up lets me hear the “quieter” things, but where the louder, or high or low frequency sounds are thrown in there, those can be painful to me when the volume is set high enough for me to hear the softer sounds.
Hearing loss can be devastating to one’s social life, not to mention ability to work, sing, and even keep oneself (and your kids) safe, in some instances. It has definitely effected my quality of life greatly. Basically the spectrum of sound I am missing, is the one into which “normal volume” speech falls. What does that mean for me in terms of socializing? Isolation. Even in a crowd, (actually if the whole crowd is chattering, such as in a restaurant, it is worse, because I can’t decipher much of anything) so there I sit with conversation flowing all around me, and I can’t participate. People tend to get snippy when you ask them to repeat something more than twice. And most of the time, it takes three, four, maybe five repetitions for me. It helps if you rephrase what you say, using alternate words. It helps if you say it in a higher pitched voice, even. I also can hear lower pitch sounds than most people with normal hearing.
Our brains automatically fill in blanks when any sensory systems malfunction. Therefore it is possible for me not only to not hear what you did say, it is also very likely I may hear something entirely different from what you actually did say! It can be comical, and I try really hard to have a sense of humor about it, but over time, the fact is, it makes me sad.
When I go to the Christmas get-together with my brothers, if it is at my younger brother’s house, the ceilings are vaulted and the floors are hard wood, so it’s very echo-y. Everyone spreads out for seating, and there are always multiple conversations at once, and probably a television going, and I can’t hear ninety percent of what anyone is saying. It is also wearying, the literal effort I have to exert in trying to comprehend. I may ask for someone to repeat something once, maybe twice, and finally I will make some nondescript gesture and mumble something that I hope will cause the other person to think I finally heard, or feel so awkward themselves that they move on to other topics or, better yet, someone else to converse with.,
Having those things be a constant factor is bad enough. But I also have tinnitus. And it’s not just one sound. It is multiple. I have a constant screech/squeal that sounds like the old dial-up connection for internet, or that sound when you dial a fax number on your landline. Behind that I have what I describe as my “standing on the tarmac by an airplane” sound. Like the sound of their engine as they taxi away from the gangway. Sometimes, especially when I first wake up, there is also a whooshing sound. And adding to my repertoire, in the last couple of years I have started to have musical tinnitus. Not nice recognizable music, nooo, that would not be so bad. What I hear is the sound like a child banging out randomly on a cheap electronic keyboard. I am not sure Chinese water torture is any more madness-inducing than the sounds I hear 24/7.
Click HERE to hear what symphony orchestra music sounds like for me, and notice how difficult it is to even tell what pitch or key the music is playing in.
Click HERE to hear what tinnitis with moderate hearing loss sounds like.
Click HERE to experience some of the many different sounds tinnitus sufferers endure non-stop. In my case, there is not just that cringe-inducing high-pitched sound, but always three or more other sounds along with. My sounds are at 1:03, 1:48, occasionally I get the one at 2:03 that sounds like a heartbeat, also 3:40
The ones at 1:33 and 2:28 scare the bejeebers out of me!!! Glad I don’t have either of those! Some people hear people talking, and that as well as the musical tinnitus, are technically auditory hallucinations, but not the schizophrenic or psychotic kind. Just the brain trying to catagorize, evaluate and filter odd “sounds” and organizing them into something that makes sense.
The parts of speech that are hardest to hear: Vowel sounds are lower pitched but generally spoken more loudly than the consonants. Consonants are higher pitched but spoken at lower volume. The consonants and combonations of consonants s, f, v, sh, th, ch, are pretty significant in distinguishing the words someon is speaking, but these can all sound the same for me. Sat, fat, vat, that, chat, all the same. Fish, dish, wish, swish, ditch, witch, all the same. Goat, note, moat, dote, all the same.
“I sat in the ditch with a goat”, comes out as “A cat in a thick winter coat” or “is that gonna fix the remote?” As you can see, I heard the right vowels, but the consonants were a total “crap shoot”. Yeah, people with my kind of hearing loss experience a lot of non-sequetors. When we respond to what we thought we heard, we contribute non-sequitors of our own. Add that to memory loss, fatigue and fibro fog, and I feel more seventy than fifty-two.
It hurts to have someone get irritated and snappy with me when I ask them to repeat themselves. This is even worse in settings such as court or a doctor’s office, where staying on scehdule is important. Court is nerve-wracking and intimidating for anyone, whether it’s just to get your kid’s drivers license, or a speeding ticket. Doctor’s offices are also very stressful and guess what? My tinnitus is worse when I am stressed.
With my own family and friends, the ones who KNOW I have pretty significant hearing loss, I get snippy with them sometimes in my frustration, because it does not come natural for them to speak loudly and they forget to do so multiple times in a single interaction. I understand they can’t help it, they understand I can’t help it, but it’s still an irritant.
Since I have narcolepsy (rare), with cataplexy (even more rare) also, which effect perceptions anyway, you can just imagine how much fun it might be to, say, work in a busy E.R., or cafeteria, or a sales floor on Christmas eve. Angry customers who think you are ignoring them, when in reality they’re standing on the side of your “bad ear” (in my case, worse ear) and you just don’t hear them. But when I am straining already to hear one person, I do tend to “tune out” other sounds or voices as best I can.
Hearing loss, unless in babies who haven’t learned to speak yet, is not considered a health issue (by Medicare, Medicaid, and Health Insurances), therefore hearing testing and hearing aids are generally not covered. Hearing test are offered free by those who want to sell hearing aids. But hearing aids start around three thousand each, on up to 7 grand depending on the “bells and whistles, (pun intended). That makes shopping for a hearing aid daunting and subjects you to the dreaded sales tactics of high-pressure salespeople. I looked for a local place to have one of my hearing aids repaired, and when I got there, it only took sixty seconds of looking at the ream of papers the lady handed me, “before the hearing test” to figure out that “hearing aid repair” was just the pretext for getting people in there. They would do a hearing test, and then proceed to try and sell a new hearing aid, or preferably two.
Getting hearing aids is not a panacea. It actually was very hard to tolerate. It amplifies the speech sounds I struggle to hear, but it also lets me hear the hum of the fridge, the tick of the clock, the scratching dog, the dripping faucet, the birds and crickets, etc. I rarely could tolerate wearing them for more than an hour or two. Even though mine were designed and programmed to minimize “background noise” they didn’t do so consistently. The sensory overload was just as exhausting as the struggle and strain to hear and decipher without them.
That, is my sad saga of hearing loss. Only one of several conditions that contributes to my “disablement”.
The upside is that the older I get, the more I value silence! Silence is to the mind, what sleep is to the body. My silence isn’t actually silent though. What with the squealing, roaring, whooshing, and cacophany of the orchestra warming up and all. <Heavy sigh>
I Am What I Am
I am what I am. You can’t tell though. You see what you see, and there’s nothing I can do about it. If I am open, you believe you know everything there is to know about me. But you don’t.
If I am closed, you fill in the blanks yourself.
He sees apathy, she sees meanness, they see strange.
But those others see still other things. Everybody sees different things, and none of them are right because none of them see inside.
What is it that is not seen? That is for someone else to know. Not you. Even if I tell you, even if I show you, you can’t see.
Oh the places I have been. You wouldn’t believe it.
And you, you have your own ideas and opinions about those ideas. It doesn’t matter that you are dead wrong, because you believe yourself, and nothing anyone else could say would sway you.
So be that!
I am what I am. I have lived and loved and given and received, I have danced, and laughed and mourned and sang, and grieved.
I have seen 20,008 sunrises, and 20,007 sunsets. I have heard babies cry and watched them grow.
I have been full of life, and full of days, and I have been emptied out and filled up, and scraped raw.
I am no one special, except to my Creator, and a few humans.
I gave what I had, and not always wisely.
When it comes time to break camp, I won’t miss this.
I have, quite literally, my whole life ahead of me. This, this was a mist I passed through. One that obscured my view of the destination on numerous occasions, but when I couldn’t see it, I still knew it was there, and that was what counted on. No matter how thick the darkness gets, it is still what I count on.
A time comes when you are on the last lap. It is not a race of speed, nor a pageant, nor even a competition. A lot of times you don’t know it is the last lap, even. The only prize is in finishing. Yes, they say “finish strong”. Well, when your strength is small to begin with, finishing strong doesn’t mean the same for you than it might mean to others. Something to consider! God uses the simple to confound “the wise”.
It can mean crawling across the finish line, and still count.
It’s like the widow’s mite, in that respect. No crowds may be there still watching and cheering, when you arrive, but Someone will. At least one. That same one that always was there. In the end, that is where I place my hope.
Is it wrong to want to make a mark, something that proclaims “I was here”? Nah, I don’t think so. But not everyone has that calling or desire. No matter what impact you make, time will eventually erode it away. In fact, most of us are the bit-players, the stand-ins, the seat-fillers in life. All this about “you can be anything you want to be” is a bunch of hooey. Can a bloodworm be a butterfly? No, but a caterpillar can. Should the bloodworm try to be a butterfly? If I be you, then who will be me?
I am what I am. I am what I am, in any given moment. I can change my hair, and I can change my body to some degree, but I am still me. Everywhere I go, there I am. I can’t escape that. I can’t escape me. But that’s what most people are trying to do, all the while ignoring and rejecting the One Thing that can actually change a person.
I have no issue with “being all you can be” and “bettering yourself” in principle. But a lot of times, what folks are trying to become, is not, in fact any better than what we already are. Just different. Just a different facade, for the outside. For show. For other people to see. Maybe we enjoy it too, looking at our outside when we “renovate”, but then it happens all over again. We age, we morph, our own familiarity breeds contempt, or somebody else does something that changes us in ways we can’t fix, but it’s all cosmetic, either way. Why would a being that came into “being” when nothing, exploded, who used to be a fish and then a monkey, why would that being expect to arrive at some state that will never change again? For.EV.ER. Where do temporal beings even beget such notions?
Everyone is talking about their spirit these days. It’s the new fad. It is considered virtuous, to turn from externals and “stuff” of the material sort, but then there is the problem of discovering our spirit is not all shiny and good either. That in fact, there can be as much clutter and ambiguity and confusion there as the other.
Of course, some of us are very, very good at not noticing that sort of thing, pretending otherwise. Nice gig if you can get it. Ignorance, as they say after all, is bliss. We do manage to pull the wool over our own eyes.
In the end though, and I do mean the end, because even if scientists discover the secret to immortality, they will never overcome the consequences of sin, we will all find out what we are, if we haven’t done so sooner.
I know what I am. And I thank God that He does too.
Living at the Corner of Time and Eternity
I’m glad I’m not a scientist. I already feel like I think too much. Now that we have the internet, we are all privy to the vast, huge, enormous pool of ideas and opinions that are ever forthcoming from pretty much everyone. There was a time when genuine scientists were the sole purveyors of all things scientific, and by that I mean, not just those capable of wrapping their minds around such heady concepts, but limited to those with the financial means to study these things in the rarefied echelon of those who are capable of teaching them.
For myself, even the vocabulary associated with “high science” does something terrible to my brain. And bar graphs, pie charts, and those ones with one set of variables running down the side and another on the bottom, it’s like someone with terrible allergies walking outside on a day when the allergy index is off the charts. My brain seizes up and starts having spasms.
And yet I still sometimes veer over into musings about questions like “time, is it real or just an illusion?”
At one time in my life, I was very much into the idea of learning anything and everything, sort of like being presented with a huge variety of food flavors and enjoying them for the sake of the experience. It is like collecting anything else, after a while you realize the futility of most of it.
After a while, I came to realize that an awful lot of what is presented as “knowledge” is pretty worthless for anything other than showing off to people who know less than you do about something. There is a whole lot of “ever learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7).
Entire college curricula are comprised of fairly useless “knowledge” these days. It is useless because it is not accompanied by wisdom. It’s not accompanied by wisdom because it excludes the fear of the Lord, which Proverbs 1:7 tells us is the “beginning of wisdom”. In other words, it’s the very foundation.
What good is knowing Archimedes’ Law of Buoyancy if you don’t know or even believe in the One who enacted that law? People credit Archimedes for the “discovery” of this law while denying that there is Someone behind it who imposed and enforces it. And yet all of societal law is backed by the power of some authority or other, be it police, judge, prison system, etc. Our entire concept of law rests upon the fact that for a law to be of any good, there must be a means of enforcement by some intelligent being with power and authority over those who are subject to said law.
Knowledge without wisdom is personified in Hartle and Hawking’s “No Boundries” theory of time. These brilliant men wanted the Big Bang to be real so badly, they tried to “fix” it with the proposal that time has no end and no beginning. The irony! People who read Bibles call that “eternity”. Coulda saved themselves millions of dollars and countless hours, but nooooo! Had to “re-invent the wheel”
Had he lived longer, maybe Hawking would have accidentally proven to himself there is, indeed, a God and He created everything. Hard to find what you aren’t looking for, but does happen by accident from time to time!
He knows better now! God gave him plenty of chances. He lived waaaay longer with Lou Gehrig disease/ ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) than the average of three years or less. Diagnosed at age 21 in 1963, he just died 2 years and 7 months ago at age 76. Those diagnosed at young age do stand a better chance of longevity, but Hawking’s 55 years is the world record!
My theory about time ( and eternity) is based on 1st Thessalonians 4:15-17.
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
We (the living redeemed) won’t precede the dead in Christ, but will be caught up.
To be “caught up” can convey more than one meaning.
“The fireplane pilot swept low, skimming the river, and caught up about 16,000 gallons of water, then flew back above the fire and dropped it”.
“I am finally all caught up on my Chemistry homework”
I think that if heaven is outside of time, and Earth is inside of time, we literally “catch up” to the dead in Christ in the threshold or doorway between this realm to that one because, that threshold is where time stops for all of us!
When I Get There
I like to sit and think about Heaven once in a while. Are the people who are already there, helping Jesus build the mansions? I put in some requests for when I get up there. No, I really have! I want a house made of river rocks, with stained glass windows.
How will Jesus ever be able to get us all hugged when we go up in the rapture? Is there a procedure? A through D, you go that way, your welcomeer is Elijah himself, he’ll get you everything you need, and we will go to each of your mansions so you can drop off your Newby boxes. I’ll narrate a quick tour of each, and then our group will meet up with all the others and walk across the river together to meet Jesus. First time is amazing! just keep your eyes on Jesus. Works the same way here as it did for Peter down there. We will introduce everyone to everyone, and that is where we will match everyone up with their assigned orientation buddies. First order of business is Bema seat….Jesus will personally greet each of you. It’s his favorite thing!
We can only imagine based on things we have seen down here, and the Bible says we can’t even imagine it.
I have soooo many questions when it’s my turn to talk to Jesus, don’t you? Like, were you running out of ideas when you made the lightening bugs and that smiley face bug or did you do that just to make us giggle? Why the mosquitos and spiders, though? What does electricity look like? What does the wind look like? Did you really think about me, personally, when you were up on that cross? How do you make stuff with your voice? I mean, I know vibrations cause patterns in sand when you set it on a speaker and blast it with sounds and stuff, but that’s not even close to doing it with molecules and getting them to go in the shape of a tree, or cow, or person. What are cats and dogs, really? Is that how come you can see everywhere all the time? Do they have a live feed or something like that?
How did you come up with a language made from an alphabet, that also is a number system, and also a musical scale? If talking sounds like music, I can’t wait to hear what singing sounds like. Will you explain the Fibonacci ratio and where-all You put it in the creation? I know nautilus, and ears, but I know there are a lot more.What do we get to learn up here? Will we ever run out of stuff to learn? What did you do forever before you made us? Did you remember I requested to know how to play a piano? Do I know how yet or do I have to actually take lessons? Because that takes time and ya’ll don’t have that here. Do ya’ll even have pianos up here?
It’s gonna be so awesome!
You know how we often think back fondly over that time in life when we were children. Before heavy responsibilities ever touched our shoulders, and wish we could go back to not being the one who is responsible for everyone else?
Although I know that growing up wasn’t like that at all for many people. Some kids never experience being safe.
I think that will happen when we go up there. We will be like children again. Not that we won’t have responsibilities, but we will be carefree. I thought about heaven a lot when I was a kid. And even as a teen. Knowing I could talk to Jesus, to God, THE GOD! I talked to him constantly in my head. There was no piety in that, nor is there any in saying it, because it is not anything I consciously thought about doing. In all sincerity, it was probably that old hymn “In the Garden”…….I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses…and the voice I hear falling on my ear, the Son of God disposes…..aaaand Heee walks with me and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own, and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known. I had dreams of Jesus calling my name, up on mountains, looking for me because He wanted to spend time with me, and He sat by me in a swing and I felt His love. Those dreams were so real. I have never had any other dreams that vivid and detailed. But I had that one over and over for a brief period. I cherish them.
I loved hymns as I was growing up. I learned a lot from them. They teach scripture and doctrine and verses are etched into your mind by them.
It is so sad that most churches have done away with them and in their place, ugh, just noise! There were praise choruses first. Which were still Godly and based on scripture, for the most part. There doesn’t seem to be many in the “Christian music industry” who are the real deal. Either that, or they are simply so ignorant of scripture they don’t even realize that God gave us an outline of what He will accept as worship. They are offering up strange fire.
And there is a famine in the land. A famine of the preaching of the Word.
Just like He said it would be.
And with every passing day, I look forward to the reunion we will have with people we love, some of them we know and loved on Earth, most of them are strangers to us.
Most of all, we will see Jesus. Oh what a day to look forward to.
It Was Over Too Soon
The yard now stands empty where
Two little boys played
Who filled up our hearts
With memories made.
Baths in the sink, wagon rides,
Walks to the park
To climb monkey bars
From swinging on swings and
Sliding down slides
To driver’s license
And their very own cars
Hugs, and kisses with extra for later
Tucked for safekeeping, just under their bangs
I’m a sack of taters and I don’t care
Dad’s silly songs, Nights at State Fair
School busses, field trips, being room Mom
When those days were here,
they seemed oh soooo long
Another birthday bash
A trip to ER
A broken leg bone
Funny fam’ly folklore
Was gleaned on that day
And there was that time
A principal’s phone call
He did WHAT?
Oh no he didn’t do
The very thing
I’d expressly forbidden
He’s never been to my office
And he’s a good child
So I told him this time,
I’ll let him slide
“oh no you will not!”
is what this Mama proclaimed
What you’d give any other kid, you need to give him the same!
A moment of stunned silence, then she asked, “are you sure?”
“Yes, and when he gets home, he’s gonna hear more”
We couldn’t believe
That boy had the gall
For selling ghost peppers
to kids in the hall!
And there really are kids
dumb enough to try it
Choking and wheezing and puking and crying!
We gave him the lecture then took off our “parent” hats
I asked “who in the world would pay you money for that?”
He said “plenty of takers, I sold the whole lot. Made twenty-four DOLLARS at four bucks a pop!
i said “son, you’ll be the death of me”
But I have to admire
Now the other boy, he’s our quiet one,
But Mama suspects
He had adventures of his own.
He never got caught
He was smart enough to know
If you’re gonna break rules
Keep it on the down-low
He’s the kid that’s easy going
Never seen him get rattled.
Well, except that one time, I was primed for a battle
His coaches held “hostage”,
The entire team
Because a kid who lost his player
He wasn’t even s’posed to bring
He said Mom, the coaches, they all are volunteers, please don’t make trouble, they do this because they care
That’s when this Mom, ate some humble pie, put to shame and learning lessons from my gentle football guy
He’s the kind of person
Some folks call “an old soul”
From the day he was born
He came already half grown.
He has always been
Oh but keeping up his room?
Cleanliness is over-rated
Years later, in the army with lots of responsibility
He texted me saying Mom, I owe you an apology.
For being so messy,
I now understand
What a difference it makes, How much stress is relieved
By an organized space.
It’s a triumphant moment
Whenever we find out
They heard after all
Didn’t tune you out
You tell them and tell them
Then tell them again
Around the time they turn 20
And it finally sinks in.
“Enjoy every moment
It all goes by so fast”
Said every mother, ages past
So I held them and loved them at every chance
But I’m sorry to say
Childhood still didn’t last!
I FREQUENTLY wondered If we’d make it through
Because I felt like 60 when I was only 32.
So often I believed
It was not fair to them
But a Godly missionary
Made me think again
He said “You don’t know
But what all your sickness
Has been the best raising
They could ever be given
I received those healing words
And tucked them away
A word fitly spoken
For my hardest days
And I think he was right
They’re men of integrity
not because of but in spite of
Their father and me
Now they serve our country
Far away from home
We thank God for the privilege
Of helping get them grown
There’s never been a moment
They’re far from my mind
Precious mem’ries surround us
In our empty nest time
They’ve begun their own adventures
I know our God keeps watch of them
We look forward to what comes
As the cycle starts again
Why Do You Have That Flower on Your Head?
I can’t believe I have never written about this! Well, back before my narcolepsy was diagnosed, I lost my mind for a while. Seriously. In narcolepsy, you are always sleepy and tired, but never rested, even if you go to sleep, because you never get into the deepest, restorative sleep. So who knows how many years of sleep deprivation can build up before diagnosis. A lot of times, they will diagnose depression, Bipolar, Schizophrenia, etc, and I can vouch for the fact it can cause you to experience what looks and feels like all of those things. I think my narcolepsy was probably triggered by one of the shots nurses are required to have or else they can’t practice. In fact, we had to have them in nursing school too.
Anyway, I had been through quite a lot by the time it was properly diagnosed, and at that juncture the diagnosis was still yet future. But I decided that I should celebrate my survival of so many really difficult years. So I threw myself a ” Happy Party”. On the invitations, I stated that everybody who comes, should bring something that would make me laugh. It could be a joke, a funny story or personal experience, or a tangible thing. The flower headband was something I bought. Every winter, I would hang on to the hope that comes when the daffodils start to bloom. That was before I even knew Daffodils literally, universally stand for hope, in flower-language. That yellow daisy-looking thing was the closest I could get to a daffodil. All I knew was that my depression got much worse in winter, and spring meant I had survived another winter. I decorated with a springtime theme, and made it an open-house come-whenever-you-want thing, so I could spend time with each person who came. I was truly surprised at how many came, and from how far some came. I tried to grab a a photo with each guest, and we all took turns with various funny hats and headbands. So, that image came to represent my own personal “journey” through some very hard things, back into the sunshine. It covers so much more too, though. About being a woman, femininity, our concepts of beauty and worth, being vulnerable, learning to accept things, learning to forgive yourself. So many things wrapped up in that image of my younger face in that silly flower.
Same goes for the purple morning glories and the gold ladybugs. Little things that God sent my way, to remind me He sees and cares. Hope is a fragile thing. Even when you have done your best to put your hope only in the Lord, other things creep in there. Especially while you are still learning how to walk with Him. Which continues until the day you leave this life.
The shadows move in when the hands move back, signaling the end of warm summer days. We age. The days stretch long, run together. I miss my life. It has been a long time.
I try not to feel sad. Each day is a marathon and I just try to keep my hands, my mind busy. Waiting to see what comes. Because I don’t have much light to see by anymore. The road to here has been difficult for us. But here we are. Wherever this is. And I don’t think anything about Earth life is like God wanted for us. I seek Your ways and will. But there is too much of self that I can’t seem to shed.
Family-raising time is done now. I don’t know what I am here for. I don’t think I am pleasing You, or myself, or anyone else. I have felt so limited, for so long, that I feel I am no longer generous. I don’t have that desire to make someone else’s life better or to expend anything on behalf of others. I know I feel empty, but I feel very stingy. Yet I could not possibly apologize for it sincerely, because it is authentic. I despaired of even making it this far.
I wish I knew how to bear up better under what life throws my way. Mostly, anymore, I just want for nobody to expect anything of me, because even if I want to give, I can never seem to sustain it for long. Don’t count on me. Don’t include me. Just do your life and let me stay here, finally in this comfortable spot. Because I haven’t gotten to be comfortable much in life. So often, I was where someone else wanted me. Doing what someone else wanted, and trying to be what someone else had come to expect because once you start, you are going to disappoint somebody when you stop. I went out on a lot of limbs already. I went out of my way, multitudes of times. I desire to finish well, but it is not looking good. I used to be content in my own skin. Now, I settle for it. I miss when I had a body that felt whole. It simply quit doing what I needed it to do. But I must stay thankful. I know I still have so much to be thankful for, and I am, but I miss what I had, too, you know?
I am “content” most of the time, but it is not a fulfilled contentment. It is a contentment that my old self disdains for it’s insufficiency. Some people are so generous. They give freely of themselves. They want to share the things that bring them joy. I used to be that way. I don’t really know when that stopped being the case. Over time, it was drained. If I discover something good, these days, I want to keep it for myself. Usually, there isn’t anyone else that gets excited about things that excite me, anyway, but joy is designed to be contagious. I don’t catch joy from others these days either, though.
I tried selling some of the things I made. No one wants them unless for pennies. I can no longer make my hands do the delicate, essential details that differentiate a work as finished, polished, professional. I want someone to appreciate the hours, the effort, the determination, the pain that are involved. But that is not what they are looking at or paying for. If they like it, they might consider paying a buck or two, but they won’t care anymore once they have it. It means nothing. Getting is the point, not the having, just the getting. Do you see the difference? But they still want the better one. I read a book a couple of days ago, about a lady who lived in the slums, on the streets of Brazil as a child, with her schizophrenic mother. The mother took her to an orphanage, because she thought it was a school. She did not understand it was an orphanage. They would not give her daughter back and she ended up being adopted by a wealthy Swedish couple. She had everything she could want, and the best education. But she never forgot her real mom who loved her very much. In her 30’s, long after losing her adopted mom at 14, the woman returned to Brazil to search for her mother. She is reunited and meets other family she never knew she had. They still live in the slums, but not on the street. They are so happy and willing to share from what little they have, in spite of their poverty. And it is not lost on her. She remembers happiness from those days, despite the hunger and dangers. I want to be truly content. It is not my circumstances that need to be changed. It is my heart, my perspective, my thoughts. Lord, I am sorry for being ungrateful, unkind, unloving, self absorbed. Show me how to be better again. So much of the hard stuff is past, but I have not recovered. Can I have a generous spirit again? Can love and genuine concern for others be restored?
I am weary. I have waited so long for heaven. I am heartsick to know what this world has turned into. I hate it here. I hate what our boys have lost and will never experience, that they should have had preserved for them. But there is no getting it back. I want to be delivered and for them to be delivered, for all of Your people to leave this cesspool. I know we will. I know we are waiting on the last few. Please, Lord. How much longer? Please come for us very soon. It is awful down here. There is hardly any good here anymore. Nothing here to desire. But You know the hour. There is still work to be done. We may not do it with quite the vigor, but we have to finish the race. We have all missed the mark of the high calling. No one is good. But some of us really and truly want to be good. We hate the evil and we want with all our hearts to see you crush it. We look forward to new bodies. It has been a long darkness already. The things happening are horrific, and we don’t want to stay to see how much worse it is going to get. I could not have imagined the state of this world. We hunger and thirst for Your righteousness. We long to trade the tattered rags of ours, for that white robe. Glory and Honor are Your due. We are not worthy of your Grace, but You give it anyway. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. It’s a marvel, a wonder, and we have not even begun yet to learn what it means having been adopted.
It must be a little like how someone feels who is dying. There is no denying the days are limited even. Some things just don’t matter anymore when you know soon they will cease to be a part of your world. Turning our eyes toward the sky, looking, watching for Jesus. Ears tuned to a heavenly frequency, straining to hear the approach of the Bridegroom. The burdens and cares of this world, will melt away. Eye hath not seen, nor can the mind of man conceive of the things He has in store for us. There is a spiritual hush. Shadows fall, signaling the end of day, like house lights that dim before the curtain opens. Some day soon. Our deliverer. Our Savior. He will hear the command from the Father. “It is time, Go and bring my children home”.
One of His Sheep
Life is fraught with unforeseen happenings. No matter whether you plan or you don’t plan, what will be will be. As a Christian, a follower and disciple of Jesus Christ, my aim is to adhere to what I know by God’s Word, to be the will of God, but my status in no way depends upon how well I do at keeping His commandments. That is impossible. Hence our need of a Savior. My salvation is bought and paid for in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Yet I still feel disappointment with myself when I fail, and it’s easy to get very discouraged. In those moments I try to remember to tell myself what I would tell any other Christian who is struggling, and that is, “you are going to sin, that’s why Jesus had to die”. That doesn’t excuse the sin. I still need to confess my sin and avoid temptation, but the fact that I feel sorrowful about having sinned to begin with, is proof I’m one of His sheep.
Three Times My Heart Wanted to Quit Caring
I have a friend who is dear to me. In years past, I would share my heart with her. Maybe too much. She always listened, no matter what I was going through, she “got me”. The kind of friend that understands even when she doesn’t quite understand. She knows my heart, and she is there, just being someone I can tell anything, even when there was so much she would never know, she always would say, “you need some way to vent the frustration, and I can at least do that”.
Then one day, she misconstrued something the I one said. There were various attempts on both our parts, to try to straighten out the misunderstanding. But every effort we made, seemed to deepen the chasm that had opened up between us.
She lives in another state. We had met at church and we had gone on to become roommates in a shared apartment, both going through a transition at that time.
When she made the decision to move, to live with her sister, I drove her the sixteen hours to Sarasota.
She wasn’t a letter-writer. I always have been. I missed her really badly, but seldom heard from her after the move. It was before cell phones were ubiquitous.
My husband worked long hours in a franchise laser tag venue when it was, at that time, a brand new thing. He was manager, it was just getting established, and the busiest times were of course, nights and weekends.
I was an RN, doing full-time home health visits. Then we discovered we were expecting our first baby.
It was a rough pregnancy for me. I had morning sickness all day. I was kind of terrified about becoming a mom. The sacred honor, the awesome responsibility before God. Being in charge of a completely helpless little life, a human being I would be accountable for!
My parents were no longer living in VA and even so, they were raising two of their grandkids. Mom would have loved to share that all, but it just was not am option.
So it was a lonely time. My long-distance friend, who was still single, was one person I wanted to talk to and share the momentous life-changing development with, as good friends would normally do. But she was not married, and motherhood was not even on her radar yet. My other besties were not so much in touch at that time. One busy with her own substantial brood, aged (appx.) 7, 5, and 3 years old, and one that was 11 months, or thereabouts. A third lived in Boca, FL
I developed an upper respiratory infection that stretched from month 4 to 9, and got very little sleep. But I survived. I wanted this friend to be like an Aunt to my kids but it just didn’t work out that way.
Fast-forward about twelve years, she had married, and was Mom twice over, as I also was by then, and with that bit of background, we are back to the incident at hand, the big misunderstanding.
It was truly a strange thing. Somehow, we both seemed to be hearing things the other really hadn’t said, and taking them in ways that were nowhere near what we meant. That incident is the reason I came to believe that electronic communication is extremely vulnerable to the “principalities and powers of the air” scripture speaks of.
We we are dear to each other, but that seemed to be rendered irrelevant in this thing that became a falling out. We both came to the conclusion it was better to go our separate ways, than keep inflicting pain by trying to fix whatever had gotten broken.
I cried for months. She did too. We are like sisters. We both had been hurt, and felt misunderstood, each felt the other was taking things out of context or over-reacting.
My bipolar was being managed by then, but stressful emotional situations are destabilizing and they also trigger my cataplexy episodes Any strong emotion at all will do that. Anytime there us conflict, crisis, high stress, I will suffer whatever fallout it may cause for my conditions. But clearly these things happen in life, for me it is a fact of life I have to work around. The blow-up was like going into a skid on an icy road doing 45. You watch it happen. You are horrified. You try to compensate, and correct, but by then, the crash is inevitable.
I was devastated by the loss of that friendship. After about 2 and a half, three years, (interim in which I got pretty ill, lost a dear neighbor, my dad had died, and my husband went through cancer, surgery and chemo) the friendship resumed where it had left off before the trouble. Restored.
It was all a huge misunderstanding but it cost us those nearly 3 years of our friendship. I had said something that she equated with having questioned her faith. The irony was, she did the exact same thing to me a couple of years earlier. When she had challenged me, it hurt, but then I didn’t let it bother me too much because I knew what I knew.
I think God sometimes lets someone do to us, what we did to someone else, to show us how that other person felt when we did it to him or her. In fact, I think that is what the verse is about in Matt 5 that says “agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison”.
If we wrongly accuse someone of something, or if they are guilty, and apologize and we refuse to forgive, that is to say, we won’t judge ourselves and we neglect to obey what we know God requires of us, then God will judge, and hand you over to the “officer” and the devil is given legal grounds to put you on the receiving end of the same treatment. You will be tormented in that until you realize it is happening to you because you inflicted it on someone else, and refused to repent.
When that fallout happened, it took me a long time to get over the hurt. My heart just stopped being willing to venture out and put myself out there with people.
I did eventually cautiously open up a little, and at a new church, met a lady near my own age, that really needed a sympathetic ear in something she was grappling with. She told me a lot. I shared almost nothing with her of a personal nature.. It was one of those “but for a season” friendship, but even that one did not leave me unscathed at the end.
I don’t know how it is for other people. I had never had a friendship failure like those before in my life.
I normally have remained close to friends once a friendship formed, starting from my first friend in first grade, who is still my #1 bestie. One also from Middle School. If we drifted, I never let too much time go by not hearing from them, before I would track them down and touch base.
After that second event, my outlet was my blog. I really intentionally isolated after that. The personal stuff I wrote about, from behind the safe barrier of faceless anonymity provided by a computer screen. I could share in ways that might encourage others, but at the same time avoid aiming anything I said at anyone specific. Sharing my thoughts, and whatever I was studying in scripture, plus prophecy news. I “met” a few people in that community. But of course, to truly get to know someone online, you will both have to be pretty open people, and converse a lot over a long period. Even then, if you were to meet face to face, interact in person, you would learn a good deal more. There’s so much you can’t pick up through the web.
I guess I got used to that one-way communication writing a lot, with very little conversing. I heard from people, but it rarely got personal from their end, aside from 2 or 3.
I was bowled over by the viciousness that seemed to come out of nowhere when that 2nd (local) friendship came to an abrupt end. I knew something about her marriage that she herself had told me, and she should have figured out that her husband was reading her e-mails. She accused me of telling him her secrets. It was not my place to tell her what she was forgetting, frankly I was relieved when she had ” spoken her mind” and said this was the last contact she would be having with me. She had created a bit of a sticky web, and I did not want to be in it.
I still felt bad for her, because she was pretty torn up in the consequences, and I knew she had a horrific childhood, the kind books are written about, and also, had some pretty traumatic ones in adulthood as well.
And then came “strike three”. It was just as confusing and disheartening as the other times, and perplexing how badly someone can misinterpret something so much that a conversation about grace is construed as an attack.
When things become acrimonious, I have learned it is best to just disengage. In my life-guarding course in college, the first thing they taught us was how to get free from a grasping panicked drowning victim so you don’t both go down. Nothing good is going to come of a disagreement that gets that heated.
I actually appreciate when others help me understand what I said or did, by telling me in what way I have offended them. Then I also appreciate a chance to try to clear up misconceptions. Emails read out of order, or out of context, confused things even more.
Once the offended person arbitrarily concludes a wound was intentional, even if it wasn’t, there may be little or nothing you can do to convince them otherwise.
In the first incident, my friend irrationally insisted on telling me what I meant by something I had said. But she was so deep in defensiveness, if she had admitted I am probably a better judge of what I was trying to express, than she was, she would have to also face how wrongly she had judged me based on her wrong conclusion.
I know how torn up I get when I know anything is not right between me and someone I care about, so I try to acknowledge their feelings, and clear up the misunderstanding right away. Sometimes, though, the indignation of the offended party flares high and fast, preventing one from getting near enough to extinguish it. Others do the slow burn. They try to be generous and gracious. But they find resentment simmering when they think of it, and get mad all over again. At that point, it is pride at work.
I have fallen into each of those traps at times.
It really is enough to make a heart want stop trying to show compassion and support. But even Jesus, who is perfect, was misjudged! It didn’t bother Him though, because all he cared about was doing what His Father asked of Him.
Sometimes it is only a terrible misunderstanding. I think that is exactly what happened. But I cried all day the day it happened. From the fact it happened, that she was hurt, even though it was because she misread my meaning entirely. And hurt because I was accused of pounding her, and told I was a really nasty person. That is not who I am, and I don’t understand, but I do know I was not going to let it perpetuate.
I do not want to go through that another time. It is a minefield and I want to avoid further injuries to either of us.. If people who know one another well, can get each other so wrong, what chance is there for relatively new friendships.
I need feedback when communication lands discourse in the ditch. Otherwise all I can do is guess what triggered the mess. I am not a mind reader. And I am analytical, so I can make myself sick trying to figure out what happened to land us in conflict out of the clear blue sky.
Likewise, I like to figure out where the other party was coming from if someone hurt my feelings, which was the case in this incident.
I hate to hurt anybody. The only way I know of to clear it up is by discussion. The only way I know to keep boundaries safe, is tell someone they hurt me or are getting too close to a touchy topic for me. Hopefully, I would manage to do that gently.
But some situations are like approaching a wounded cat. The wounded cat, may not recognize that an approaching human is there in an attempt to help them. They just know they are extra-vulnerable in their wounded state, so they are apt to claw and hiss when the person reaches out.
In a situation like this, it’s not about trying to “be the bigger or better person”. It is more than that. We are obligated by the Word, to do all we can to be at peace with one another. We can’t offer God anything while we are at odds with someone else. If we offend, we are supposed to admit it, own it, repent, and make amends if necessary and possible. If we know someone else has an issue with us, likewise scripture says we are to go to them and try to get straightened out. Matt 18:15 and 5: 23-24. When you give them a clear opportunity to know how they effected you, that creates a chance for you to receive a sincere and specific apology. Just saying “sorry” without acknowledging the wound, is pointless.
I don’t like to toss around unspecified apologies. I don’t see much value in that, but without rational discussion, no meaningful apology can be made, and if it is withheld even while all is out on the table, and the offender understands the magnitude, and still is not apologetic, then I can walk away knowing I tried. That can’t happen if misunderstanding leaps to it’s own conclusion, and a fire of anger leaps right up with it.
I wanted to disengage, I was trying to do that. Ephesians 4:26: Be angry and sin not, let not the sun go down on thy wrath.
When name-calling and accusation became part of the mix, that is a personal boundary I don’t let anyone cross.
It also smothers any motivation to reconcile, and in my opinion, it signals that it is time to walk away. That is because I know how bad it can get, and frankly it is downright scary how bad it can get!
God knows each heart. The only one I have the power to do anything about, is my own. That doesn’t stop my wanting to fix the mess, I am a born fixer, as most nurses are. But I recognize I can’t. I am trying to learn to leave the things I can’t change, up to Him.
Forgiveness is mandatory but is not the equivalent of reconciliation.
Reconciliation is not mandatory, but is good if it can take place. it requires a desire on both sides to work through something.
Someone who has had nothing but “excuses” handed to them from people in their life whom they should have been able to count on, well, I can see how they might think any attempt at explaining is nothing other than excuse-making.
I have made that mistake before, after a long period of having been treated badly, when past experience still had way too much power over my perspective and self-worth.
Once I let the Lord heal my wounded heart, I could better recognize good intentions and not get on the defensive. It takes time to get there. The worse the abuse, the longer it may take.
Differences between people may not really be able to be “mended”, per se, but they can be worked around. If they are not, the same thing will eventually happen again.
Whether it is worth the effort, and walking on eggshells, that is something both sides have to decide for themselves. True friendships are valuable, and generally worth preserving. But that means investing emotional energy, which I already have to conserve. Whether others understand it or not. I owe that first to my own family.
This world is a dangerous place to have feelings in. But the only alternative is to feel nothing at all. I have been there too. The problem is, you cannot numb the potential hurt, without also making yourself numb to joy.