Have you ever had a time in your life when you were proud and happy about accomplishing something really good – and you shared it with family members or friends, only to have them react negatively or not at all? You start fulfilling your purpose, you land that dream job, you get your book published, you conquer your addiction, you find your soul mate, you find God. And, perhaps not in these words, but in other words they say “who do you think you are?” Your bubble is burst, your ego is deflated, you feel disappointed, hurt, maybe even angry or bitter. I’ve experienced it many times as I have started growing in success and in life. And yet, you know you need to carry on, not to please “them” but with the conviction that this is God’s Will and it doesn’t matter what “they” say. (And hopefully your true supporters rally, uphold you and celebrate your joy.) That’s what happened to Jesus. He came to preach, teach and heal and his very own people basically said “who do you think you are?” and rejected Him. “Is this not the son of Joseph?…When the people in the synagogue heard (what he was saying) they were all filled with fury. They rose up (and) drove him out of the town…” (Lk 4:16-30). Fortunately, Jesus picked some great apostles to surround Himself with – and to support His cause. They weren’t perfect by any means and even they let Him down from time to time (just look at Peter and Thomas). But in the end, they stuck by Him. Surround yourself with new friends if you have to, let the old ones go if you have to, don’t listen to the naysayers and instead, listen to the Spirit’s stirring of your heart.
Monthly Archives: August 2015
I am deeply grateful that an issue which I was struggling over (and wrote about right here on this blog exactly three weeks ago) was resolved after much prayer (and relinquishing of stress!) Talking to my spiritual advisor (my priest) helped, venting to my close friends helped, even yoga helped – but most of all you readers helped. The blog about going through my struggle – which involved the mistake of another that looked like it would cost me about $20,000 and possibly delay a dream I have on my horizon which I was really angry and anxious about – received the most response ever from you…you said to hold onto my faith, to keep praying, to surrender to God’s Will, to be thankful and give praise even during and through those dark days. And you know what? You were right. I truly believe that because I kept trying to be thankful and give God praise (which forced me to surrender my anger and anxiety) I let go of expectations and only then, received a positive answer. (turns out that I tried a different way to approach the situation, apologized for yelling at the person who made the mistake and forgave them, and kept praying!) Sometimes, I know, we still don’t get the answer we’re looking for, and in a heartbeat, the positive can turn negative, a happy day can turn sad, another obstacle is thrown our way. But I believe that if we keep thanking and praising God NO MATTER WHAT, knowing that He’s got us in the palm of His hand NO MATTER WHAT, all will be well and we can be reasonably happy and joyful. Surely there has been at least one time in your life that God has answered your prayer? So if you’ve received a blessing, if you’re still waiting, hoping and praying for one, or even if you are in the “valley” and feel like your prayer has gone unanswered, please pray with me, “I will bless the LORD at all times, His praise will ever be on my lips…I sought the LORD, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.” (Ps 34:1-4). Thank You.
By now you’d have to be living in a cave not to know Pope Francis is visiting the US in September. Perhaps you also have heard that he plans to visit a prison while in Philadephia. At first when I became aware of this, I thought, huh, couldn’t His Eminency’s time be better spent visiting a school, a hospital or even a homeless shelter…instead of a bunch of criminals? After all, the Pope only visits our country every several years and he’s only here for a very short time and there are millions dying to see him. But this morning, sitting in church, praying about a difficult person or two in my life that it seems I am being called to work with (and am reluctant to), I realized something; the Pope is just like Jesus, leaving the 99 sheep to find the one that is lost. Jesus says “…there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.” (Lk 15:3-7) I was considering just “walking away” from one of these individuals in my life who is causing me anxiety yet may need my help – it’s too hard, I don’t have the time, it’s just not worth it, etc. It’s just easier to hang around the bunch of “good” sheep in my life instead of focusing on the problem “bad” sheep who is “lost.” But then what God calls us to do isn’t always easy, is it? And yet (usually I can see in retrospect) it somehow always helps us to grow – in humility and in love. This week I will try to love the “unlovable” in my life a little more.
I got to start my Monday morning in the dentist’s chair. Not anyone’s favorite time or place, yet it’s obviously something that needs to be done if we want healthy teeth. Now let me start by saying I’m not comparing time with God to a dental visit! However, I think maintaining my spirituality is a lot like like dental care (or any other routine); if I neglect it and wait until something flares up, I usually pay the price. It’s easier to maintain my spirituality on a daily basis – just like flossing and getting cleanings – to prevent painful “flare-ups” (ie., when people push our buttons, frustrate, disappoint or hurt us and we totally over-react) and subsequent “decay” (ie., we end up regretting our words or behavior as a result of our anger, making things worse – sometimes even causing irreparable damage.) So…how to do this? For me it can be as simple as spending a few minutes in the morning in prayer, scheduling time to do my daily spiritual & Bible readings, meditating, thanking God at night and whenever possible, being of service to others. And then, if I realize I’ve messed up or missed my maintenance (which I often do, like forgetting to floss), starting over and doing better the next day. The book “Alcoholics Anonymous” says: “It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do for alcohol is a subtle foe… What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God’s will into all of our activities. ‘How can I best serve Thee – Thy will (not mine) be done’. These are thoughts which must go with us constantly.” And the Bible says “What good is it if someone says he has faith but does not have works? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” (James 2:14-26) I know I not only need to read these words, but work to apply them in my daily life, constantly looking at myself and my relationships with others, asking God for His Help, especially when something is hurting or broken, and having faith that all will be well as long as I just show up and do my part!
I am going through a difficult struggle right now, despite all the blessings in my life, which involves the mistake of another that may cost me thousands of dollars and possibly delay a dream on my horizon. I have gotten angry at the person who made the mistake, I have tried to fix it (and am still awaiting the outcome of whether it can be fixed, which lies in another person’s hands), I have stressed and worried and lost sleep over it…and finally, finally, I am trying to surrender it and have faith that God has a plan and miracles do happen every day. I’m not sure if the outcome I want is God’s Will (although I pray it is); what I do know, from past experience, is that I can’t afford to continue to be angry or worry while I wait for an answer – the situation is out of my control and I need to have faith that all will be well. I have learned these lessons before…they started with recovery and working the 12 step program. I don’t think this much money has been on the line before…but I do know God has worked wonders in my life, even financially, before. In the Gospel, after the rich man left dejected because he could not sell all he owned and give the money to the poor to follow Jesus, and the disciples asked who, then, could possibly be saved, Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matt 19:26) Lord, help me to remember this today.