A Hopeless Hoarder of Helplessness

Isaiah 43 : 1b-3a

“ Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.

2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.

3 For I am the LORD your God..”

ღஜ♥ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ♥ஜღ

I love this scripture, but how many times have I forgotten it when faced with a crisis?  How often have I crawled into some dark corner of doubt, curled into a fetal position and surrendered to the tendrils of fear slowly wrapping themselves around my faith?

I wrote to a friend the other day that I felt I had become a “hopeless hoarder of helplessness”. Now sometimes – no, make that most times – our concerns are valid. In my case, it was a check that just didn’t arrive and it was one knock too many. How many is too many? Well, in the end, it turns out it’s just one … that one final event/knock/crisis that takes you to the edge of crippling numbness, that pushes you over the precipice of spiritual paralysis and ultimately makes you forget Who walks by your side, Who supports you when you’re too tired to take another step, Who gathers you up and allows you to cleave as He carries you through the torrent of fear.

Prayer, mine and that of some mighty warriors, along with time on my knees, wrapping my arms around my Savior, brought insight. Boy, do I cling to my problems instead of turning them over to Him. And then of course, there’s the step that’s paramount … actually letting go.

There’s no moral or object lesson here, but I know how very many people feel swamped by life right now. When it’s no longer possible to make lemonade out of life’s lemons, when you feel overwhelmed by stress or fear of what tomorrow may bring, stop hoarding those problems. If you sit back and – as objectively as possible – examine just how many troubles you have amassed, you will be amazed.

Someone posted this on Facebook the other day:

“I used to love yard sales. Now, I live in one.”

I realized this was a metaphor for my life. What started out as a small collection had become a veritable treasure trove of troubles. Troubles I had surrounded myself with for so long, I would be lost within them.

Somewhere in the midst of clinging to the Cross the other night, I heard a whisper. “Let them go,” it said.  Easier said than done. Ultimately, God knows what’s best for you, even if, in the moment, you aren’t always able to fathom His wisdom. Time and hindsight are great witnesses to the truth of this, but that takes – well, time.

Nothing physical has changed since the other night. Nothing except my heart. I don’t know what the future holds. I have no idea what God has planned for our lives, or how we’re going to overcome some of the difficulties we are currently facing. But I know that I feel like I held the world’s largest garage sale and didn’t have anything to pack away afterwards.

And it feels wonderful.

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Filed under Faith, fear, feeling overwhelmed, helplessness, stress, Uncategorized

‘I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.” Mahatma Gandhi

I’m so very tired of all the political rhetoric that is traipsing, uninvited, through my life these days.  Everywhere you turn, there’s bias.  No-one fact checks anything anymore.  People forward emails that contain vile untruths.  They post links on Facebook to sites that spew hatred, stir up controversy and advocate whatever action the site’s bias proposes, lawful or not, ethical or not, moral or not.  Pundits and political hacks go on TV talk shows and say anything to garner support.

Worst of all, many of these postings are made by people who purport to have strong religious beliefs.  Most seem to think that said religious beliefs justify their actions or emotions.

Why on earth would you want to spill your hatred into my life?  Why on earth would you think that I don’t have a brain of my own and that I’m not going to fact check anything you send me/post on my FB page?

Are you so emotionally delusional when it comes to your interwoven religious/political beliefs that you feel compelled to try and influence me with this garbage?  Is your hate-driven bias so out of whack that you don’t understand that I don’t feel the same way?

“I thought love was black and white … that it was wrong or it was right.” That’s a quote from a Missy Higgins song.  (Oh my goodness!!  I just posted a quote by a woman of questionable sexuality!!  See, that’s the kind of nonsense I’m talking about.)

But the truth is, I do believe that love is black or white.  There shouldn’t be any gray when it comes to love.  And Christians who profess love for Christ and their fellow man should remember that people of differing political opinion are ‘fellow men’ nonetheless, regardless of their political skew, religious affiliation or sexual slant.

I fear I fall flat on my face when it comes to understanding how you can say you’re a Christian and then walk around judging all and sundry simply because they don’t agree with you.   How you can justify vilifying another human being based on rumor or gossip or an inflammatory email or text message you got but didn’t check the validity of?

For me, the worst of the worst are those people who decide you are not a ‘good Christian’ because your political beliefs don’t line up with theirs.  Really?  You think Jesus would line up with your thinking?  You think he’d be pleased with the hatred, the bias, the desire to ruin someone’s life or reputation because you think they aren’t ‘Christian’ enough because of their political views?

My faith is personal and intimate and there is no room for this nonsense.  Not unless I’m prepared to let it all cloud my relationship with God, which has nothing to do with politics!  I will NOT let you walk through my mind with your dirty feet.

See, these are the things that make me agree with Gandhi when he said “It’s not Christ I have a problem with.  It’s Christians”. So why am I only going after Christians?  Well, truth is, I don’t care if you’re Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist or if you belong to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster,  the only vitriolic emails and texts I’ve had came from fellow Christians.  Christians who get behind politicians because of their religious affiliation, and not the content of their character.  I’ve gotten emails from people advocating for politicians who are dishonest, deceitful and completely untrustworthy if you just check their backgrounds.  But hey, they stand up there and espouse Christian causes and that’s all it takes to garner support from fellow Christians.  That’s not faith, that’s branding.  Sort of like Derek Jeter holding a Coke when he’s being interviewed.  And I’m sorry, but the end does not justify the means.   Just because someone says they’re a Christian is not sufficient reason to vote for them.  Not if their character doesn’t line up with the teachings of Christ.  Note I said character, not the political causes they give voice to.

Remember back to those early days, just after you first accepted Christ into your life and older Christians told you when in doubt, think about what you would do if Jesus were coming to dinner.   What books/magazine would you display, what music would you listen to etc. etc.  I’m sorry, but if Jesus was sitting next to you when you receive that email or text, would you forward it?  If He was with you when you get into a heated discussion with strangers at a political rally, would you share that gossip you heard, even though you haven’t checked whether it’s true or not … it’s just too juicy and will stir up feelings against that ‘enemy’ that are just too good to pass up?  If He was with you when you heard a politician justify their affair/ financial dishonesty/  sexual ambiguity/ lie about military service/ devious slander against an opponent etc etc etc would you still stand by that person, helping them get elected, elevating them to a position of influence, knowing that they don’t really live the life Jesus would expect them to live?  If Jesus was with you, would you still hold those political opponents to a standard you don’t expect your ‘Christian’ politicians to keep?

No, you wouldn’t.  and you know it.  So before you hit the send button on that next email/text message, before you pass along that salacious gossip or vitriolic slur, remember who you stand up for.  Remember who you represent and remember, He knows.

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Filed under anger, bias, Faith, politics, truthfulness

the gathering season

I know … it’s 90 degrees out there today, but i can smell fall coming.

i am always amazed at the squirrels and chipmunks at this time of year. they are out there from sun up to sun down, running around at top speed, gathering and storing their nuts and grains, ensuring a surfeat of goodness during the coming long cold months of winter.

we feed a fairly large number of animals in our garden, everything from the aforementioned squirrels and chipmunks to possums, skunks, raccoons and a bunch of stray cats. there are occasionally some deer that come through during the winter too. and there are crows, blue jays, cardinals and sparrows by the hundred. we go on nature walks and gather bags of acorns, horse chestnuts, beech nuts and black walnuts and bring them back for our critters and we are always amused at their exuberantly joyous reactions to the simple bounty we’ve placed before them.

now the gathering season has me wondering why i haven’t been feeling that same joyousness when i have been blessed of late. am i really that ungrateful for all the goodness that God has blessed us with? by no means have we won the lottery or come into sudden wealth. but God has seen to it that our needs have been met, when i truly wondered how we were going to make it some days.

our vet expenses have been staggering. the kitten has been in and out of the vets over the last two months and the costs so far have exceeded two thousand dollars. a lot for us to find when we live paycheck to paycheck most months. we also lost a lucrative freelance contract we’d had for a while, and that was an unexpected and serious blow.

but over the summer, God has seen us through. weirdly, we got a settlement check for a class action lawsuit that we didn’t even know we were part of!! okay, it was only a few hundred dollars, but it arrived when our bank balance was looking bleak. someone we freelance for paid us early out of the blue and a check we weren’t expecting for a few weeks arrived early. also, our plot at the community garden blessed us with a bountiful harvest and saved us from having to buy vegetables all summer long and we were able to pass along a lot of the produce to friends and colleagues.

i’ve realized that God doesn’t always do the big gesture thing. sometimes, it’s the little things He sends our way that count the most.

as a result,  i have decided to actively seek joy every day. it doesn’t have to be a huge thing … taking joy in cooking dinner for a couple who were struggling – that was fun!  the joy of making a cake for a friend who’d been involved in an accident. the utter fun and joy of a game of uno with my son. the joy that comes from kitten having a good day. the joy of a cool breeze after 90 degrees all day.

i can’t change the past. i can only go on from here … and so i say thank you.  thank you, God, for the joy you have given me and for the lesson i’ve learned.  sometimes good things truly do come in little bundles, but if you string them all together, they tally up to a vastness of joy, and for that i am deeply grateful.

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Taking up the pen of faith …

I think I’d better take the pen of faith and write my story. It’s not too late.  It’s blotchy and bloodstained, but darn it, a yarn of note!!!

and so we begin … i’m throwing out the book i was writing … stephen king said if you haven’t got a first draft finished in three months, it begins to feel like a dispatch from a foreign embassy … or something along those lines … and that’s how i’m beginning to feel about my book.

life has thrown so many curveballs my way this year that what once was fresh and unique in my head and under my fingers, rattling out across the keyboard like hail on a sunny day … where you run to the window and gasp in awe, smile stretching your face from east to west and beyond … has turned into a cold pile of ash on the hearth … something you know you have to clean up and get out of your day, but not something you relish doing … no, something you approach with droopy shoulders and a sigh …

and who wants to start their workday with that in their heart?  not i, says me.  so i am starting over … new outlook … new book?

hold me in your heart and before the God that blesses us all … and my yarn of note will soon be flowing over the pages, sassy and bubbling like that last, hissy part of a wave that positively runs up the beach and stops at your feet so that you are forced to pause and study those rainbow colored bubbles … and smile.

i want to feel like that wave when i write, not like the air, subsiding silently back into the sand …

there is a story that has been running around the back of my head for 3 years … and i know now that it is the story i am meant to write.  it came to me so clearly, so vibrantly but i thought it was too much for me to write.  now i know that God gave it to me for me to write … and i will honor His inspiration.

i raise my arms to heaven and say … thank you thank you thank you .

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