Category Archives: faith

I’ve Got Sunshine

We’ve had so much rain in Mytown this winter that when we see sunshine, everyone makes a mad dash to be outside. I work on a college campus. It’s warm today and the sun is out. Students, faculty and staff are taking advantage of the beautiful, albeit windy, weather. There are tables and benches throughout campus where folks are eating lunch, studying or just enjoying the nice day before we get another round of bad weather tonight.

I remember the first few months after I got divorced. It felt like months of very bad weather – no sun, rainy, windy and cold. There were days I really didn’t want to get out of bed. Sometimes it seemed like those dark days would never end. I clung to my faith and wrote a great deal in my journal. Thank goodness for my dogs, my friends and Cycle Dude. They all kept me from slipping into a very deep and dark depression. I am grateful for those little rays of sunshine in my early post-divorce days.

Today is glorious! I went outside at lunch and wanted to do a Maria Von Trapp (The Sound of Music) – twirl around on a hilltop and burst out, “The hills are alive!!!”  I remember feeling this way when the bad post-divorce months and years eventually passed. Monday, March 18, will mark two years since I moved in with Cycle Dude.

Sometimes I miss living by myself in the apartment – just me and the dogs. I miss the quiet intimacy of sitting alone in the dark, listening to the sound of my own heartbeat, praying and reflecting on my day. Then I remember the nights of loud music and even louder neighbors’ arguments and I am thankful that I live with Cycle Dude!

I am thankful that those dark post-divorce days are gone. I am thankful for the sunshine that is so prevalent in my life now – the laughter of my oldest grandbaby, the smiles of my children when I spend time with them, the hugs and kisses from the man I love, snuggles from my pups and the warm friendship of old and new friends. The dark days don’t last forever – sunshine is on the way!! Stay tuned . . . .

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The Big Lie

What do you need to make you happy – a new car, new home, a boyfriend/girlfriend, spouse, children, college education, new job, vacation, to lose weight, etc.? All of those things are fleeting. But no one will tell you that. Just watch the commercials during your favorite TV program.

That new Ford F-150, the sale at Macy’s, that cloud-like mattress, the new superhero movie coming out, that new hair color or mascara – those are just some of the things we are told will make us happy. Big NOPE! Yet, we tend to believe that Big Lie – that stuff, relationships, etc. will make us happy. Happiness is fleeting because happiness is circumstantial. Life is constantly changing and those things we think will bring us happiness are constantly changing as well.

The new Ford F-150 will depreciate and you won’t be able to sell it for what you paid for it. Bummer. The sale at Macy’s only lasts one day and your internet just went down. Too bad. The mattress ends up getting lumpy. Ouch! The new superhero movie wasn’t as great as you thought it was going to be. Darn. And neither the hair color nor the mascara looks good on you. Golly. Happiness is down the drain. There is no way to live in perpetual happiness – it’s just not possible when happiness is circumstantial.

I am a woman of faith and in the Bible I read about a ‘joy’ that surpasses happiness. This joy is akin to an underlying contentment that says, “No matter what happens, all is well with me.” Even if you are not a person of faith, you may be familiar with this joy. Joy is often mistaken for happiness. I believe joy is not contingent on circumstances. Joy says, “I may not have enough money to go to dinner with my friends (which would make me really happy), but my electric bill is paid and there is gas in my car.”

I love to go to estate sales because I can get some great stuff at incredible bargains. So many of the estate sales I go to are chock full of stuff, stuff and more stuff. It’s amazing to see the amount of stuff people have that they think will make them happy. No one else values the stuff except as a bargain. No one buying the stuff knows or cares about the sentimental value the owner once attached to that stuff. An estate sale is just a house full of someone else’s happiness.

My stuff makes me happy, but those things that bring me joy are intangible: the love of my family, my grandbabies’ kisses, Cycle Dude’s thoughtfulness, snuggling with my pups, sharing laughter with my friends. Those things warm my heart and make me smile. If my house burned down tomorrow and I lost all my stuff, I’d still have joy in knowing Cycle Dude and my family love me.

The Big Lie is that getting and having everything we want will make us happy. The truth is that it won’t because happiness is circumstantial and fleeting. Joy is the steady, underlying assurance that in spite of the circumstances of life, all is well. Stay tuned . . .

Shattered Faith

Cycle Dude and I listen to NPR (National Public Radio) a great deal. This morning, I caught part of an interview with a young woman who had been sexually abused in the 1990’s by the youth pastor in her church. The interviewer asked the young woman if she still has her faith. I did not hear her answer, but I got the impression she did not.

My heart aches for that young woman. Although I was not sexually abused by a member of the clergy, Catholic or Protestant, I was “relationally” abused by a Protestant pastor.

My family had attended a denominational church in Mytown for four years when my marriage started to disintegrate. I turned to a pastor for help, for marriage counseling. Ex and I were sent to a non-licensed, non-professional church member for counseling. For the first 30 minutes of our hour-long session, the man told us his story and why he liked the program he would use with us. This happened weekly for about a month before I finally said, “Enough. This is about us, not you.”

When ex sought counseling one-on-one with a pastor, he was told he could not be counseled because he had an issue with another member of the congregation. We were basically treated as pariahs because we no longer met the church’s definition of “holy”. My children were even treated with disdain – and they didn’t do anything!

One does not have to be sexually abused to experience abuse at the hands of a trusted church leader, church member or congregation. Christians have no qualms about shooting their own wounded.

For about a year and a half after the incident with the folks in the Baptist church, I shied away from church, attending occasionally out of respect for my children. My marriage did fall apart and I felt shattered – my life, my relationships, my faith.

I began attending another church that was led by a pastor I knew several years earlier. He put together a team to help ex and I walk through the separation and divorce. I was so thankful. He even said, “We’ve never done this before, but we know we need to take care of you.”

I tell this story to say that not all churches or church members are abusive. It is difficult to trust again after one has experienced any kind of abuse, no matter who the perpetrator is. My faith in Christ is stronger today than ever because of people like the pastor who knew it was his responsibility to care for a wounded member of his congregation. I know that my faith is not in man, but in God. I know that His heart broke as well as mine at the abuse my family and I endured.

My faith was shattered for a long time and it was painful to pick up the pieces. I had two friends who helped me to pick up those pieces. I have learned as a woman of faith that I need to extend a hand and to give grace instead of lobbing scripture bombs and judgement at my Christian brothers and sisters who find themselves in time of need. None of us are “holy”, no not one. Give grace. Stay tuned. . . .

The Golden Rule

I will be leaving my current job in a week and going back to work at my Alma Mater. I am excited to be on a college campus again and to be a part of all the activity. I enjoy helping students and faculty. I enjoy learning. I enjoy serving my coworkers. I enjoy giving back to the community.

Almost five years ago, one of the faith groups on campus started a food pantry for students. I am looking forward to serving the campus community by volunteering my time and resources for that food pantry. It wasn’t so long ago that I often wondered where the next meal was going to come from as I chose between food and utilities or gas. But God was good – my dogs and I always had something to eat.

But, I digress. The real purpose of this post is to share that many people have come up to me at work and expressed their sorrow that I am leaving. As I was running an errand at the hospital this morning, I ran into one of my good friends who is a housekeeper and is also an Elvis impersonator (that’s a whole ‘nother story for a whole ‘nother time, but he has an unbelievable ministry through his impersonation). Tom and I talked and I started to cry. I told him I was leaving, but that I was sad and overwhelmed at the same time. Tom encouraged me with prayer and scripture and told me that I had made an impact at myjob.

Why have I made such an impact? For one, the love of God. As I have received, so I give (Matthew 10:8b). Another is that I strongly believe in treating others as I want to be treated, or The Golden Rule (Luke 6:31). There have been times when I have been lost and afraid and in dire straits and others have reached out to me. I have been treated with love and kindness and that’s how I try to treat others. Is it that way 100% of the time? Heavens, no! I am not perfect and I will be the first to tell you so.

I find joy in serving others and treating others well. I know that I am doing what God has called me to do – to make a difference in this life. I may not be rich or famous, but I want others to know they are loved and valued. If I have positively influenced one person in my time at the hospital, then it has been worth it. If I have shown one soul the love of God and brought joy to their heart, then it has been worth it. If I have given one sad heart a big smile that broke through that sadness, then it has been worth it. And so I move on to serve others who need to know the unconditional love of Christ. Stay tuned . . .

Looking in the Rear View Mirror

When I was learning to drive (way back in the Dark Ages), my Driver’s Ed teacher told us we should constantly be scanning the rear view and side mirrors. I thought, “How can I do that and keep my mind on what’s in front of me?”

The aftermath of a divorce is sort of like driving – you have a destination and you need to keep your mind on what’s ahead of you, not constantly what’s behind you. Every now and then, my past raises its ugly head and I can easily get distracted and not be able to focus on the here and now and what is ahead. I have to remember that a) my past is under the grace of God and b) my past is past.

Sometimes it’s easy to go down that slippery slope and want to get caught up in the past. We have regrets, we feel angry, sad or bitter. Stop that!! Just like the rear view mirror on a car, the past is a tool: learn from your past, understand your mistakes, mature past your mistakes and move on. If you are constantly looking in the rear view mirror while you are driving, you’ll smash into something ahead of you! The same thing goes with your healing journey – look ahead, not behind.

In 1989, Christian Artist Bob Bennett released, “Lord of the Past”:

Every harsh word spoken
Every promise ever broken to me
Total recall of data in the memory
Every tear that has washed my face
Every moment of disgrace that I have known
Every time I’ve ever felt alone

Lord of the here and now
Lord of the come what may
I want to believe somehow
That you can heal these wounds of yesterday
(You can redeem these things so far away)
So now I’m asking you
To do what you want to do
Be the Lord of the Past
(Be the Lord of my Past)
Oh how I want you to
Be the Lord of the Past

All the chances I let slip by
All the dreams that I let die in vain
Afraid of failure and afraid of pain
Every tear that has washed my face
Every moment of disgrace that I have known
Every time I’ve ever felt alone

Today, resolve to spend more time looking ahead than looking behind. After all, you can’t change the past. Learn from it. Let God heal it. Stay tuned. . . .

 

 

 

Who Needs an Umbrella?

Today is Cycle Dude’s birthday. I got up very early to make him cinnamon rolls (the frozen kind) as well as to make a bouquet of chocolate covered Oreos (his favorite cookie!). We are going downtown tonight to do whatever he wants to do, then tomorrow we’ll have a birthday dinner with his son. I am excited! I enjoy making Cycle Dude’s birthday special because it’s just one way to show him how much I love him.

When I got to work, my boss was not in a very good mood. He has been very critical to me all day long. He has been short and impatient with me and has been getting easily angry with me. I was a little discouraged after several hours of his behavior. (But who knows what’s going on in his world?) My day started out so well and now it was not so well.

I had a choice to make – was I going to let my boss ‘rain on my parade’ or was I going to let the rain roll off my back and enjoy a wonderful evening with the man I love? I decided to enjoy the wonderful evening, of course.

We are faced daily with choices – are we going to choose joy or pain? Freedom or chains? Light or darkness?  It’s so easy to let others affect our choices. One wrong word can cause us to deflate like a balloon. But who has power in your life? YOU are the one who makes that decision. I did not give my boss the power to determine my mood or my value. I am the one who chooses to be happy or sad. Christ is the One who gives me value.

So, go ahead, boss, go ahead and rain. It’s not affecting me. I don’t need an umbrella because I choose joy with my sweetheart tonight. Stay tuned. . .

 

Getting On In Years

I recently found out that my eleven-year old Boxer/terrier mix dog named Jack has cancer. I was devastated! After surgery and consultation with Jack’s doctor, we decided to monitor the tumor since it is a low-grade, non-aggressive type of cancer. It took Jack a couple of days to recover from surgery, but he’s back to his old self. I have noticed, though, that Jack has seemed to slow down in the last year. He is getting on in years and seems quite content to live his life out in peace.

I, too, am getting on in years – but not how you may think. When I refer to “getting on in years”, I refer to the years that have passed since I got divorced. The years immediately preceding and immediately after my divorce were raw and angry – kind of like a cancerous tumor. It took a few years for me to work through the pain and anger.

I am now eight years on this side of the divorce. Life is good again. I have an amazing wonderful man in my life who I love like crazy and who loves me. My pups keep me laughing. I am going to be a grandma for the second time in January. My children and first grand baby are all doing well. My job is good. I have a wonderful church family. I am blessed beyond measure.

I still think about the past at times and remember the pain, the anger and the mess that my marriage had become. Those years were difficult, but they are getting further and further away. Like Jack, I am quite content to live out my life in peace – surrounded by those I love and blessed more than I deserve! Stay tuned. . .