Thursday, February 11, 2016

Dwell on These...

I have written a lot about the painful aspects of my life lately, and I don't feel that this is giving a fair representation of the life I am living now.  I don't want to pretend that things are easy or I don't have moments of discouragement, I do.  But, I have found a lot of happiness and serenity in the midst of the turmoil.  I have strength I didn't even realize.

My life is essentially happy because I am free to express love to my family, to nurture friendships, to decide some things for myself and even make mistakes without criticism or blame.  I was venting about an unfolding situation at my counselor's office a short while back.  She encouraged me at expressing my anger and horror at the events that someone else was directing.  She indicated that she had not seen me do that enough times.  I didn't tell her then, but perhaps I will next time, I do a lot of venting here and in personal journals.  I have learned the value of expressing the anger I am feeling.  Not, so that other people can help me, although sometimes they have, but rather so that I don't stuff it down and start feeling as though I deserved the thing that made me angry.

And having expressed my upset feelings, I am free to dwell on the lovely, right and beautiful in my life.  I am warm and have everything I need.  I have more than I need.  I have some lovely and generous people in my life.  And there are sunrises and hawks and eagles if I just drive over the river road soon.  And I feel that these gifts, so numerous to be named are the bountiful gifts from my loving heavenly Father who has new love and gifts to give every single morning and all through the night.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ashes

Repeat after me--This is NOT a Holy Day of Obligation.  Yet most Catholics find their way to Mass on this day.  It is more than tradition or some fun practice.  Having black ashes smeared on your forehead and being reminded of your own death is not stuff for fluffy part-time Christians.  Yet even fallen away Catholics who rarely or never attend Sunday Mass, like to go to church on Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday as the beginning of Lent reminds us that repentance is necessary and change is possible.  Repeat and believe in the Gospel.  There is still time to listen to and respond to the call.  I thought I might not go to Mass today.  It is NOT a Holy Day of Obligation after all.  I am still searching for a church community, a Catholic Church Community.  And the joy and sorrow of living in the Rome of the West is that there are still a great many churches to choose from.  Even if I stick to ones within a 10 mile radius there are a lot of Catholic churches out there.  I am listening for a call to one of them.  I am attending different ones as I adjust to my new status.

So, this year, I have realized that I do need to go to Mass and have some ashes on my forehead and reflect on my status as a sinner and a penitent.  This year maybe more than ever before, I need to hear God's call to come back.

Monday, February 8, 2016

I Was Lost

I isolated myself for many years.  I was living a life in which I found that I couldn't relate to the experiences of other people.  Either they weren't honest, or my life was not going as well as most other people's lives seemed to be.  When people talked about events and emotions that didn't match my own experience in any way it is easier to isolate.  I gave the impression I had a happy marriage, lots of friends, family that I was close to, and interests.  In all honesty, my marriage was miserable on my end of things, I had acquaintances, but hardly any friends.  Those I did have got scared away when they witnessed events in my life.  They kept distance between us.  And maybe I was a little too clingy sometimes because I so longed for someone to talk to.  I was a mover and shaker in my family, but my siblings were sometimes uncomfortable with my marriage.  I quilted and crocheted and was interested in history.  But, I came to hardly know what my favorite color was or what I would really like to do on a free Saturday.

God called me to freedom, to love, to trust, to life, not death.  He set the captive free. Or He is working a new thing in me and freedom is in front of me.  This freedom is not a call to live a sinful selfish life.  This call is to bring joy and love and hope into the world.  He has made all things new. The first among those is me.

One of the discoveries I have made is--isolation is not good.  When I am not forcing myself to pretend that my life is not something that it isn't, when I am acting in a whole and authentic matter, I have people in my life.   It is not good for man to be alone.  It is not good to isolate.  How can I spread the Good News in an empty room?

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Prayers for Sunday

Dear Lord,
Thank You in the morning.  Thank You for the fresh start and the new chance to get it right, or get it close or at least to hope and try again. Thanks You for the blessings and the mercy that never ends.  Thank You Lord as Ordinary Time comes to a pause and the serious work of Lent is nearly on me.  Thank You for the breath and the beat and the song.  Help me to keep You in my heartsong. Amen

Saturday, February 6, 2016

What Do You Think?

When the house was built on sand, when the wall was never built strong and solid, when all is falling down around you, do you keep shoring it up?  Do you hunker down and let the bricks keep falling on you?  Does it destroy you bit by bit by bit as you hang on to security that never was?

Or do you take a step out, size it up, see if it is salvageable and then decide either to restore it or to abandon it?  And if it is the building above, you would say--tear it down.  If it was a person, you might say try to build him back up.  If it was a relationship, maybe you would say--it isn't meant to be.

Friday, February 5, 2016

The State of My Mental Health

Mental illness is a scary thought for most of us.  We rely on our brains, our wits, our minds to carry us through life.  We all of us come with some baggage--preferences, prejudices, some skew of reality or truth.  Perhaps the cause of it was the fall and our sinful tendencies.  I don't know.  I just know that mental illness is a scary thought whether it is personal, to a family member or friend or out there in the broader public.

I think metal illness wouldn't be so scary if there were an identifiable cause, a treatment, and a cure.  Some mental illnesses do have fairly simple diagnosis, treatment and management if not always a cure.  Figuring out that you have a problem, seeking help, finding the right help, and continuing to work at the problem even when it seems over or you seem better is the challenge.  A misstep in any of those areas often derails the well-being of an individual. 

Then there is the challenge of those mental illnesses that defy diagnosis or perhaps defy treatment.  Some people with mental illnesses don't really want a cure or don't want to do the work required to work on the problem, or don't believe that they have a  problem or if they did, that anyone could help them.

Our system is poorly equipped to help people with mental illness.  I know from excruciating personal experience that getting the right help is a painstaking and agonizing process.  I went to 3 different counselors/ therapists before my depression was diagnosed.   This is despite that the fact that I wept almost entirely through the sessions with the first 2 therapists. Wept, uncontrollably.  They were trained professionals and didn't think--this girl is depressed.The anti-depressant I am taking works great, I have few side-effects and I would and perhaps will happily continue on the medicine for the foreseeable future.

I am one of the lucky ones.  I was finally diagnosed.  I received appropriate treatment which was available for me.  I am still working with a therapist.  I am doing well.  The bumps in the road have become bumps again and not impassable mountains.  Some people are not so lucky.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Run, Run, As Fast As You Can.....

If only I had spent more actual time rather than figurative time running.  I was running away from feelings.  Running away from truth.  Ignoring, with wild abandon, logic and sense and reality.  I am a fixer and a please-er and a responsible one.  I was prideful.  I was confident that if I just tried hard enough, sacrificed enough, learned enough, gave away enough of myself, I could make things work out.  Or at least I could live with the consequences, find what serenity I could find and make the best of things.  If anything went right I was convinced in my own mind that it was now all better and everything would be coming up roses from now on.

Then somewhere along the way I got too old to run.  I got too fragile to handle and 'take' things.  I became weak and sad and confused.  I told God numerous times that His burden wasn't easy and His yoke wasn't light.  It was killing me.  I wanted to be rescued like I had so long tried to rescue others.  I needed help.  I could barely hobble along the path, let alone run. So I stepped off the path.

This isn't the life I had planned.  It isn't what I had envisioned. God showed me another way. Accepting this side path took me time.  I went to many people wiser than I am.  I was told that I would need all of my faith and trust and hope. I needed to turn my will and my life over to God. It required humility to let myself be in the position of one who is judged harshly and even despised.   Some people blame me for everything.  Some people would curse me and spit upon me if they could.  I am learning to unite those sufferings of mine with those of Christ.

I am not trying to run and carry everyone or anyone else these days.  The burden has gotten easy and the yoke is so light. Or lighter-ish.  For a while I thought since I have taken this side path, I would have nothing to share, that I was shame, I was the woman at the well. I thought that I should shut my mouth, close up my keyboard and slink away.

And I am, that woman at the well although  I intend to have no more husbands.  I have concluded that I am not a good or even reasonable judge of character.  Marriage for me was hard and sad and painful.  I don't look to take that journey again. Perhaps I am just not good at running with a partner.

But, the woman at the well, despite her poor choices, had something to share.  I don't want to advocate that anyone else take the road I am on.  It is hard and painful and rocky.  If there was any way I thought I could answer God's call and not take this path, I would do it.  I have tried to ignore God's message to me for nearly 40 years of my life.

But, it is important for me to be clear that I have not abandoned my faith.  I intend to investigate and work to heal with my church.  And perhaps someday my suffering will be recognized and acknowledged and perhaps I will remain a poor sinner throughout my life.  But, we are all sinners and none of us deserve the graces we receive.  Any one of us might be called out of our plans and sent on some other road.  Sometimes it is time to stop running and sit in prayer and adoration and let the God of the universe work in our lives.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

And Who Does God Call Me To Be?

I have written a lot recently about the person God calls me to be.  I am not sure who that person is.  But, I feel that it was not the person I was for a long long time.  I made a choice that did not provide me with happiness or joy.  I worked to make that mistake turn into something that was correct and beautiful.  I worked to make the best of it.  I was proud of how hard I worked and eventually I was proud of how much I suffered. I nearly broke under the suffering, or perhaps I did break because I did become depressed enough to need medication.

But, there wasn't much of an authentic person in me.  I acted a part to the best of my ability.  I tried to work under the adage--fake it until you make it.  I became an expert at faking it.  I didn't feel humble, I felt humiliated.  I came to feel that I was not good enough at anything.  I came to feel that either God thought I deserved all the bad treatment I got, or else He really didn't care.  Either view did not provide me with much faith or hope or love.

But with a great many people in my corner, I realized or came to realize that perhaps all the suffering was not what God called me to.  There was hope and joy available to me.  I am called to be fully human, working to bring about God's kingdom in this world.  Sometimes, although it is hard to accept and understand, the thing that would make me whole is not the thing that other people would expect.   Truth be told, not what I would have expected.

In this world there are troubles, and sorrows enough.  God has called me to a new thing.  Part of that call is not to be silent about it, not that I would advocate or recommend my actions to anyone else.  Staying the course and doing what is expected and being a solid example are good things and I would recommend them.  But, if I am being called to something else, then I need to share because there may be someone else in a sorrowful state who needs to know that God loves us and doesn't call us to suffer needlessly through another person's selfishness, or mental illnesses.

God calls me to dance with Him in this world, in joy and freedom and with love.  God calls me to generously give back for the love I have received. I am not sure who that person is, the one God calls me to be.  But I do know that God calls me to love.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Prayers for Sunday

Lord in Heaven,
I give You praise this day.  I give You honor.  I thank You for Your great lesson of love.  Help me and help those people who have lost their way, have forgotten your love, have wandered far.  Bring them home to You.  Calm their minds and hearts.  Calm my mind and heart. Amen

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Judging/ Walking a Mile in Someone's Shoes

I was/am a rather judgmental person.  A lot of the judging I did in the privacy of my own mind, but some things I shared with family or close friends.  Not on all things, but on a lot of things I saw right and wrong.  I felt that we are too given to shades of gray and giving a pass for bad behavior in this culture of ours.  I thought people have choices and they should stay the course and continue on the hard path of suffering if it was called for.

One of the areas I was judgmental about was divorce.  Seriously, I thought marriage is hard, you just make it work. You are stuck once the vows are spoken.  I believed and still believe that kids do better when raised by their parents all in one house.

But, now I am on the other path.  It is not a journey I can share with most others.  It is an attempt to heal and become the person God called me to be.  I have become much less judgmental.  I invite you, dear reader, to not judge the action of another unless you have walked a mile in their shoes.