Tag Archives: faith

What, Me? Worry?

4 Mar

I have a confession to make.

I’m scared.

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I’ve been out of work for almost 7 months now (with no unemployment because my previous employer misinformed the unemployment office about my situation and made me ineligible). Our savings are depleted, including a couple of small 401ks I had from previous employers. My parents have offered to help, but who really wants to take funds from their fixed-income parents? I worry about them having enough to live on!

We’ve been blessed. Our household income was doing just fine until a few years ago, when both of our health situations soured and my employment situation went south. The combination of high medical bills and reduced wages has proved difficult for even the best planners among us. Oh, sure, we are still very blessed, and very spoiled. Unlike many Americans, we usually take at least one nice vacation per year. I just got back from Australia. How bad could things be, really?

Bad enough that I just took a job making a bit more than minimum wage, for which I am very grateful. Bad enough that, unbeknownst to Connie, I floated an ad on craigslist to see what kind of response I’d get for renters for our spare bedroom & bathroom upstairs, and, well, YIKES!

If you know me or have read my postings for any length of time, you know I am not into comparative suffering. Telling myself that at least we have a roof over our heads and food does little good when I wonder how many more months we may have these things if I do not find employment, and soon. It does not help to hear that “something will come through” or “God will provide” or “He never gives you more than you can handle” when you have seen so many friends in this exact position go on to lose their homes (four that I can think of without thinking too hard).

As a Christian, isn’t this when I am supposed to have more faith, not less? Isn’t this when I am supposed to remember

Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today. Matt 6:26-34 (NRSV)

We aren’t eating Ramen every night. We haven’t sold the pups. It’s not exactly the Dust Bowl, yet. I guess I just don’t like being this far out of my comfort zone.

Maybe that’s the lesson I need to learn.

Dear God,

You have given us beautiful shelter, clothes, food, frisky puppies, great friends, loving family. You’ve nursed us back to health every time we’ve needed it. We do not doubt you; we doubt our capability for patience. Help us be patient. Shine a bright light on the path you would have us follow. Take away our worries and replace it with trust.

Amen.

Loving Courageously

6 Jun

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This post is part of the June Synchroblog: Ordinary Courage, where bloggers are invited to write about ordinary courage. The other contributors for this month are listed at the end of this post.

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” ―Lao Tzu

What is courage? What does it mean to be courageous as a person of faith? The dictionary definition speaks to having the mental or moral strength to preserver and overcome difficulty, danger, or pain. Using this definition, I don’t think I know a single person who hasn’t been courageous at one time or another. Yet, if asked, I believe most of us would hesitate to call ourselves courageous. Why is this?

Perhaps we accept that we are called to be courageous when it affects us or someone we know in the physical sense, but we sell ourselves short in our moral courage; times when we “do the right thing” even if it is unpopular, shameful, or scandalous. C.S. Lewis defined integrity as “doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” The philosophers among us may question, “If no one is watching, does a ‘thing’ happen?”

Why does loving someone deeply give us courage? Because loving someone deeply requires that we are vulnerable. Everyone has been hurt – emotionally, physically, spiritually. To return to love, to open one’s self to another, to the possibility of more hurt, is a huge risk. Yet, if we do not do so, if we are not courageous, the “hurt” wins. The one(s) who hurt us in the past win. More importantly, when we forfeit the chance to love and be loved once more, we lose, and so do those who do not get to feel and return our love. Continue reading

Dark Night of the Soul – Almost

8 Feb
In the happy night, 
In secret, when none saw me,
Nor I beheld aught, 
Without light or guide,
save that which burned in my heart.

–3rd stanza, Dark Night of the Soul, Saint John of the Cross

A couple of days ago I fell into the abyss. I’d say in the measurement of my depressive episodes, it was in the top 5.

I have been affected by depression since I was a child, although I was not properly diagnosed until I was in my early 30s. Until almost that age, I just thought how I felt was how life was. In my pre- and early teen years, before acts like cutting became widely known, I used to do things like stick myself with safety pins and jump off things to try and break something. I think much of my depression at this age was due to the fact I was physically and verbally abused in junior high school. It got so bad with one group of girls that they actually had a high school sister (biological, not a sistah) come and join the beating after she found out I split her sister’s lip open. (My tormentors had convinced our PE substitute that we were in a unit on boxing and it was time for the bout between us. Really.)

It took me over 30 years to completely heal from that abuse. Thirty years. It was not until I attended a high school graduation reunion for that school district (not the one I graduated from) after reconnecting with some junior high friends and asked them why they didn’t help me that I finally healed. I was terrified that any of those “girls” would be at the reunion because I fantasized how I would deal with them, and frankly, those fantasies scared me. I was so relieved none of them attended. Since my healing, I seldom think about it and if I see them at a future reunion, it won’t bother me one bit. (My friends said they had no idea what I was going through. This inability to tell anyone is typical of this type of bullying because if you tell anyone, you know it will only get worse.)

My worst depressive episode came in 1988. I had left my husband the year before after finally accepting the fact I was gay. (I had known all my life I was different but didn’t start getting a clue what it was until in college.) I was in grad school and working full-time, living in a new area where I did not know anyone. I had started drinking when I was 12 (see above), stopped when I was almost 14, and started again at 17 when I went to college.

On this particular night in 1988 (July 2 into July 3), I was driving very drunk back to Philly from a lesbian bar in NJ after yet another night of hardly talking to anyone, not being asked to dance, etc. As I approached one of the Dead Philadelphian Bridges, all I could think about was driving off the bridge into the cold water below. While still married, I had tried to OD on pills, but my dog woke me up and saved me.

When I got home, the fact I had wanted to do this scared me, and I called information asking for the location of the nearest hospital. I was fortunate to get an astute operator who called 911 and sent an ambulance to my apartment to take me to the nearest mental health ward. I agreed to a minimum 10-day stay. I called my parents to come get my dog and put him in a kennel. In retrospect, I still cannot imagine how difficult this call was for them.

I was misdiagnosed in the hospital as manic-depressive, but there are no accidents. The meds for this required I stop drinking. I was willing to do this to get better. In the first few days, I balked at “stupid” activities like art and music therapy. By the time I left, I felt so very much better. My employer was very understanding and sessions with my therapist became much more helpful.

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I was properly diagnosed in 1990 with major depressive disorder and put on more appropriate meds. I am still on a maintenance dose of those type of meds, and still see a therapist on occasion. I have not had a drink since that July night in 1988. Two days ago I thought that might change but knew the pain would still be there when I sobered up.

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Before I considered myself a Christian but believed in the Holy Spirit and a Higher Power that I called God, I received a call to ministry. During a sermon on using your gifts, in a flash, I realized the reason I was sick of my profession was because all I was doing was helping middle-aged white men buy bigger boats, and I knew there must be a more valuable contribution I could make to the world. I went to seminary; it took 7.5 years to get my degree because I continued working full-time. A couple of years ago I quit a job because of that “you should be doing something more beneficial” call, but then changed my mind. The job and my morals collided not soon after, and I finally did leave.

Tuesday I received approval for a loan to buy a retirement home in Delaware because my spouse can retire in a few years and I believe the area is ripe for a church plant. That night I went into the abyss. “You are not doing what you are called to do!” “But I have to have SOME kind of income.” “Have faith.” “I am afraid.” All I could do is weep, weep, weep.

Wednesday things at work came to the point of no return – 2 weeks ago I received a bad review (meaning no raise) from the worst boss I’ve ever had. I refused to falsify corporate records. I was told I must. I called my spouse in a panic. I told her if I didn’t quit my job I might seriously put a gun to my head. (This was metaphorical; I don’t own a gun and I was not actively suicidal.) She said quit. So, I did. I immediately felt the lightness return. My boss called and said “good thing you did because I was going to put you on a performance improvement plan.” (What a jerk; it reminds me of junior high – “You can’t break up with me because I’m breaking up with you.”)

I have no idea what is intended for me, but the secular world is NOT it. As you can tell, I was a VERY slow learner on this.

I would say I took a leap of faith, but I was pushed.

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