Posts Tagged ‘spirituality’
I’ve had this post rattling around in my head for the past week. I’ve hesitated to write it — not wanting to put something out there that might not be a benefit. I think we need to be really careful when we start making proclamations in grand sweeps. So, I finally decided to put this disclaimer up first:
This is my list of hurtful words. They might not be your list of words. It’s OK if you don’t see the harm in these words. The words themselves aren’t necessarily bad words–they are just words that have caused me harm. The real point I want to get across, is that whatever your words are–if you’re talking smack to yourself, stop. You’re worth so much more than the tapes, the critics, the know-it-all voices in your head that tell you otherwise. Believe me. You are worthy, you are beautiful.
Words I’ve Stopped Using: Difficult, Poor, Ugly
Truth is, if you’re anything like me, the most harm you do with your words is to your self. I’m careful (usually) with what I say to my son and husband. Sure, I’ve made mistakes and I’ve had to repent and ask forgiveness. But, in general, I’m pretty careful. It doesn’t make me sainted–it makes me wounded. I know what it means to hear constant criticism and the wounds that a person carries from being exposed to such negativity. And I know the voice I’ve fought so hard to gain still competes with the voices in my head–pointing out my deficiencies, my unworthiness, my “difficult-ness”. So, as a parent especially, I’ve been careful: with others. I wish I could say the same about how I talk to myself.
The thing is, the voices in my head no longer belong to critical parents or disapproving family members. I long ago internalized those voices and the critic who stares me down each morning in the mirror shares my reflection. Damage done, right? Time to take responsibility for the nasty things I say to myself–their origin is irrelevant! I’m the voice behind the words now and as I’ve meditated on what it means to use words to uplift and empower others, I’ve realized that my greatest sin is against myself.
So, as I’ve sat with this–I’ve begun to examine the words I speak to myself. I’ve come up with 3, I’m sure there are more, but baby steps right?
A few years back, an email appeared in my in-box. I wearily looked at the sender and knew, “well, this won’t be good.” But I could not have imagined what was inside.
To say it was the most hurtful thing I’d ever read: well… that would have been true at the time. Since then, I’ve read worse — directed at me. But at that moment, it was devastating.
Reading it, my whole body shook: as if I was holding a real letter. No paper, just words on a screen and a violent physical reaction from me.
Never let anyone tell you words can’t hurt you. I’ll take sticks and stones.
And here’s the thing: I’ve written difficult letters. But never when I was angry: always trying to state the hard facts as FACTS. Not, “You’re a miserable person” — but “I can’t continue to be in this relationship.”
The end result is the same, I suppose. But I want to believe, actually I do believe that we all must speak our own truth: in love. Even if that love means letting go because it makes you safe and sane and human again.
But what arrived in my in-box that day wasn’t love. It wasn’t truth. It wasn’t even human. What it was? I’m not sure. I’ve sat with it for ages and I still can’t begin to tell you where to begin.
And it was eventually followed up (a year later) by an “apology”… that was really just more of the same. Only this time, it got worse. Somehow, all the bile that was sent my direction was now my fault, too. That and so much more.
And this is why you never say, “It can’t get any worse.” *smile*
Today was an amazing day. Day two of 60 degree weather so of course IZ and I found time to walk along the river and at some point on our walk this letter came up in conversation. IZ asked, “Are you going to publish it?”
I’ve been sorely tempted. At first to rebut it point by point. Then, because it would be therapeutic to put it to bed. Blogging has always been my way of working it out. Now, because some things should see the light of day: if only as a cautionary tale.
However, the timing has never seemed right. I’m not sure when that will be. But I have a hunch it will have something to do with finally letting go of figuring it out and letting the letter speak for itself.
Thought for the day… or question: “Why do we judge each other?”
Especially women judging other women. I get not liking someone. I get not liking what they do, or how they do it. When that happens, we should take my 80 year old friend’s suggestion, right? And just ignore and move on. But, we often don’t. Instead, we go all judgey judgey let’s totally tear them down because they’re not. like. me. We label, call names, pick, pick, pick.
–Imagined slight: She’s a ________________ (fill in the blank)
–Didn’t live up to my expectations: She’s a ___________________.
–Dared to do something I don’t think she should: Call all my friends “OH NO SHE DIDN’T”
I don’t get it.
And yet, I do it.
I don’t get why I do it. So, I’m working on it.
But I’d love to know: why do you think women pick on other women?
New Rules: Let’s get each other’s back. And if we can’t: Let’s Zip Our Lips.
This child. Is not a child any longer. Shh… don’t tell his mother.
This child is driving me crazy. By all accounts, anyone as disorganized as he is should be failing out of college. A point I make. Often. He is excelling, which is annoying. And who does that? Succeeds at Calculus and Physics straight out of the gate? Annoying.
But it all came to a head on Monday morning. 1:30 AM to be exact. After a long weekend, he was “working” on a calculus problem he said was “due” the next day. Um, that he “forgot” about until he “remembered” at 12:45.
I stood in his pitiful room. Looked at all the mounds of clothes and papers and cat hair covered things and my head exploded. Read the rest of this entry »
All over social media today. Anyone know the original source? I’d love to credit the artist.
Tonight I found myself on a milk run. (Why are we always out of milk?) It was one of those “days” and I needed a bit of time with my thoughts, so I told the college student “No, you cannot come with me and study in the car.” That’s his new thing. But that’s a different post.
So, while I’m driving to the store, I pass this woman walking a St. Bernard near the park. Something in the park had the dog’s attention, because his person could barely contain him. His person was petite and she was giving it her best, trying very hard to keep her dog under control. But as I pulled out of sight, it’s anyone’s guess if she managed to keep him from breaking free and tracking down his prey in the park.
A quarter mile later, I witnessed another dog “walking” a person. This time, no potential vermin at play: just a very strong sense of will. Pulling his person forward and up one of the steepest inclines in town. His head down, her arm extended and threatening to detach.
“It must be the national walk your unruly dog day, ” I thought as I drove. But then I found myself in Safeway, with a wayward cart that would only turn left– and I knew, the Universe was trying to tell me something.
It’s funny, it would be easier to put the cart back and get one that will actually go where I need it to go. It’s as if I take this test of wills with an inanimate object personally. I will over-come. I will succeed in bending it to my plan. I WILL make it turn right even if I wrench a muscle or two to do it.
No, easy is never an option. Instead I fight the cart that only wants to turn left– completely through the store. Twice. Because I couldn’t find something and the store has a whole new layout. Let’s call that a work-out.
One of the upsides to attending a church where the majority of the congregants are well past 70 is that there is a lot of life experience in the room. It’s not to say young people don’t have wisdom to offer, but even if you’re young and wise — you still haven’t lived as long as they have. Not even at 40. At the Bazaar on Saturday, a bundle of this experience (all 80 years of her) sat down at our table and began to talk. I’m not sure how we fell on the subject but at one point, she said to us, “My life is too short for negative thoughts. I don’t have time for them. In fact, if I don’t like a person, well, they just cease to exist for me. I don’t give them a second thought.”
She’s 80. She’s entitled. And while most of us mean that metaphorically, at 80 she’s not kidding around about the time.
We chatted some more, and as I started to tell her that life has been difficult for us lately, she stopped me to say, “But you’re young. Of course things are difficult, these are growing pains. Everything will work out.”
You see, because she doesn’t make room for negative thoughts. And she has the life experience to back that up. I shut up and really listened.
Because she is right. Wayward dogs, unruly carts, and negative thoughts are a work-out. In the case of my obsessions, exhausting. Who has time for that? Who has time to obsess over the negative noise that surrounds you daily?
I’m not advocating ignoring the injustices of the world or living with a head buried in sand. I’m talking about actively ignoring the petty comments, the gossip, the nastiness of others when it’s directed at you. Participation is optional, remember that. I’m talking about excising the toxic people in your life and not “giving them a second thought.” I’m talking about telling that voice in your head that says you’re not good enough or things are just going to get worse… telling it to SHUT. UP.
Life really is too short. Whether you’re 18 or 45 or 80. . . life is limited. At some point, choosing to disregard the noise for the beauty that remains is a choice worth making.
So next time, maybe put the wayward cart back and choose one that won’t yank your arm out of its socket.
via Pascale de Groof on pinterest
I’ve been sitting with this idea for awhile. It’s one of those thoughts that is both profoundly obvious and deeply challenging. On both sides of the coin, people are not who you think they are.
But in my case, I’ve been holding this thought in terms of the woman who married my brother. Because, I don’t think good things about her, if I’m honest. I’ve not been given cause to.
Five years ago, my brother stopped talking to me. When I heard through the grapevine that they were pregnant and no-one told me (not my mother, not my brother) I was heartbroken. I have longed to be an Aunt — it’s one of those life long dreams. But when I found out that being excluded was payback. A way of getting even for the wrongs my brother felt I had committed against him: I became resolved.
So, I severed ties with my family. There were lots of reasons to do so. But, my main reason was that after long, painful conversations with our son (who didn’t understand why he was being ignored and left out of things) it became clear that I needed to take responsibility and protect my child. He didn’t deserve to get sucked into a toxic situation. He needed ME to make the hard decision: so that he didn’t have to!
Since my brother wasn’t talking to me — I wrote a letter to my mother. And that led to an avalanche of hate speech from the woman who married my brother. I expected it. I didn’t lash back. I get that, from the outside looking in, I seem like a complete bitch. A selfish person. In her eyes, I’ve committed untold sins against her. And, who knows, maybe I have! But to hear her tell it, I’m simply not worth the air I breathe. She’s a therapist: she would know.
But, if my friends were to read her description of me — they wouldn’t recognize me. Nor would the people at my church or any of the other circles of people I relate to on a daily basis. Why? Because I’m not who she thinks I am.
And she is not who I think she is.
Sure, lately, I haven’t had anything positive to reflect on. But I am certain that she is making a difference in her world. In the lives of the people who love her. In the life of her precious child. She is not who I think she is either.
This is the test, friends — the real test of the gospel. Can we call ourselves followers of Jesus but refuse to see others as Christ sees them?
I don’t think so.
So, I’m a failed human being — doing the best that I can. And all I can do, in this situation, is protect myself from the things that are hurtful (I don’t read her blog or twitter any more) and pray. I don’t expect that will solve things. I mean, I don’t even know what “solved” looks like. And I don’t think it will “mend” things either. Prayer doesn’t change other people, it changes you. No, I don’t want her in my life after the things she has said to me. But, that doesn’t mean she is worthless. It means I have to work harder to see her as Christ does.
She is not who I think she is. So I pray.
I pray that she will love every moment of mothering the child (ren??) she is blessed with. I pray that she and my brother will know a deep and genuine love for each other –that only grows with time. And I pray that she finds within herself the true and abiding knowledge that she is beloved of God: and THAT is enough.
I am not perfect. I am not there yet. But I am trying to remember: that even as people strike out at in fear and pain and anger and hate, they are not the sum of those actions. Ultimately, none of us can be boiled down to just one thing. Just one moment in time. Just one mistake or even just one success. We are so much more than that, we are children of God.
And, so this is what I’m working on these days. The soul work I’m doing. I can only hope that eventually God will make perfect, in all things, that which is broken.
This month in Sunday School I’ve been teaching prayer practices that are accessible to children. This week, we prayed with our 5 senses. Praying with our sense of taste was the most popular! So, we shared this practice with the whole congregation at closing and it was a huge hit!
The next time you eat something sweet you can pray, “Thank you God for all the Sweet things in my life.” Simple. And tasty!
I posted this on Facebook this morning. I’m counting it as today’s blog post because I’m sleep depraved. ~~Wende
A Prayer for 4 A.M.
It’s 4 am. I woke up to a dog doing really disgusting things and I find myself up at our demolished house working on the order from hell. Hey, at least I escaped the smell.
And the thing is, God, it’s only Wednesday and already, it’s been a REALLY crappy week. I have friends who were shot, diagnosed with cancer, and facing extraordinarily hard transitions in their lives. Parents who are slipping away, and children uncertain of their futures, and, and, and.
It kinda stinks, God. I mean, more than what I woke up to, God. And I have to wonder. . . can you smell it too?
So, here’s what I’m asking, God. Blow a fresh breeze into the lives of those I love. A healing wind. A calming spirit. A fresh perspective. And, where it is applicable, a mysteriously but well-placed can of Lysol.
Because, God, it’s 4 am.
Day Seven: My Spiritual Director shared the following with me today, as a way of closing our time together. I’m sharing it with you, as a way of closing out this first week of Summer.
A Blessing for Equilibrium
Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,
May the music of laughter break through your soul.
As the wind wants to make everything dance,
May your gravity be lightened by grace.
Like the freedom of the monastery bell,
May clarity of mind make your eyes smile.
As water takes whatever shape it is in,
So free may you be about who you become.
As silence smiles on the other side of whatâ€™s said,
May a sense of irony give you perspective.
As time remains free of all that it frames,
May fear or worry never put you in chains.
May your prayer of listening deepen enough
To hear in the distance the laughter of God.
~ John O’Donohue ~