Make No Mistake About It: You’re Loved!

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150

I laid on my bed and bawled. My pillowcase was damp on the edge, and I was desperately trying to muffle my sobs because I knew, I just knew, If I didn’t, that my mother would hear me, and then she would walk in and gently ask, “What’s the matter, honey?”

That always makes it so much worse.

And the pain. It would never end. Because… He… [choking]… He didn’t like me!

That, my friend, is junior high. I don’t even remember that guy’s name. His face, yes. His name, no.

*****

You’ve probably doubted it. At least once in a while. You might even doubt it right now.

Everyone has that feeling from time to time. “Nobody loves me.” Sometimes, we even question whether someone likes us.

I know exactly what you’re thinking. “Except for Abraham Lincoln. Man, everybody loved that guy, right?” Wrong.

“Well, except for Mother Teresa. She was certainly someone everyone loved.” Wrong.

“Okay. Fine. Jesus. Everyone loved Jesus.” Wrong.

I think you get my point. Everyone has feelings of being unloved. But most of the time, those feelings are based on things we do (/or don’t do).

People didn’t get angry at Lincoln because he was a big jerk, but because he did something jerky. Or, as this example illustrates, he said something jerky:

“I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races,”1

People didn’t think Mother Teresa was a big jerk. Probably ever. But they did (and some still do) think she was misguided (or worse, which you can see here), and some even think she’s in hell (some balderdash to that account is here—I don’t want people to think I make up everything on this blog).

As for Jesus, I think the crucifixion is all the example I need. (You can Google that, if you need to, here.)

When someone doesn’t like people don’t like someone, it’s generally because of what they do. (Cheats at poker, for example.) Not because of who they are. (Left-handed brunette.) God’s not like that. God loves us in spite of who we are.

Let’s anthropomorphize a bit here. (It makes things easier.) God never has a moment when, looking down, God says, “That Cynthia, she thinks she’s doing okay, but I’ve got news for her. She’s really quite a loser. In fact, by My standards, she does some pretty nasty things. That’s just wrong. I don’t even like her.” Guess what? That never happens. Nope. (God didn’t even say that about Hitler. I know, I wasn’t going to bring up Hitler. I hate bringing up Hitler. But, you’ll have to admit, in this case, it’s pretty useful. Because… Hitler.)

I, as a Christian, can point to various Biblical passages when I talk about how God loves me (and you).

But other faith traditions also believe this. Rabbi Shohama Harris Wiener writes poignantly of this in his article, “Does God Love Me?” For a Muslim perspective, there is this lovely piece by Quthrun Nada Djamil,  “Allah loves His servant more than a mother who loved children.”

I can feel confident that God loves me. So can you. Rest assured, you are loved.

_____

1That nonsense was uttered on September 18, 1858, in Charleston, Illinois, at the fourth debate with Stephen Douglas, the transcript of which you can read here. Obviously, Lincoln’s position evolved over time.

*****

I’m joining up with the delightful Holley Gerth for her series, “Coffee for Your Heart.” You can read about it by clicking on the illustration at the top, and read more entries (or link up yourself) here.

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Just pretending

Just freaking out.I am a fake. I’m pretending to be normal, and if they find out, something bad will happen.

*****

This is the current mental conversation:

I can’t deal with this. Don’t say “can’t.” You can deal with this. You’re right. I can deal with this. [Five seconds pass.] I can’t deal with this. Yes, you can deal with this. This is nothing new. Life is hard. Life can be a challenge. Life is a challenge and if it’s not, you’re doing something wrong. It’s normal for life to be challenging. Okay? Okay. [Five seconds pass.] I can’t handle this. I just can’t. Yes, this is the part where you remember the Bible verses. “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.”1 “Greater is He Who is in me than he who is in the world.”2 Yes, those things are true. Faith is not a feeling. I am an overcomer. [Five seconds pass.] I can’t deal with this…

I think you get the picture.

*****

I sent a friend the following in an email earlier:

I’m not doing well. I feel like I’m going to be sick. All this stress is freaking me out. I want to cry and hide under the covers. I need…oh…I don’t know what I need. The last time I had an issue with a doctor and meds was when I ended up going off them–for three years. I know I’m being irrational and stupid. I know I’m acting like a baby, and I’m afraid that if I’m honest with them they’ll say something is really wrong with me and mess with my meds and then I’ll be fucked. Maybe something IS wrong with me. I’m being ridiculously paranoid about this. I’m sorry. Oh my God. I shouldn’t even send this to you. You’ll probably think I’m crazy, too. How much longer can I go on like this? Pretending to be normal?

This is the kind of thing going through my mind. I feel like I’m being tortured. Over and over. Freak out. Talk myself back from the ledge. Wind up again until I freak out. Talk myself back from the ledge. Repeat ad nauseum.

I know you think I’m doing well, that I’m being brave. I don’t feel well, or brave. I’m terrified. I am about *this* close to wrapping myself up in a blanket and hiding in my clothes closet. I don’t know what to do.

I have no idea how I’m going to get through this, but I have to. I have to. I have to. I can deal with this. I can’t deal with this. I can deal with this.

*****

I need Gandalf. I need a kindly, but fiercely protective savior who will pound down a staff in front of the balrog of my fears and say, “You. Shall. Not. Pass.” Because I’m having a really hard time here. Fortunately, I do have a Savior.

*****

Scripture References:

1 Philippians 4:13
2 1 John 4:4

Five Minute Friday: Afraid

5-minute-friday-1Let’s just put the cards on the table right at the beginning and play this hand open, okay? I’m a Christian, and I’m a Catholic (although there’s plenty of people who think that never the twain shall meet, they’re obviously wrong). So, I’ll probably get all up in your face about Jesus, or Mass, or Mary at some point, which you may or may not like. And because of that, you may or may not like me.

That’s the scary part. I’m often afraid that people don’t like me. (I’m actually afraid of a lot of things. Don’t let’s go there, okay?) I’m afraid they’ll think I’m a lunatic who, indeed, would be better served by being on medication. Probably a lot.

But if there’s one thing I’m not afraid of, it’s God. As you can see from my previous post, I’m certainly not afraid to take on the Creator of the Universe in a giant, tear-stained-face, foot-stamping, roll-on-the-floor-in-a-fit-of-toddler-like-temper-tantrum blather that, frankly, often leaves me exhausted.

But then we’re cool.

Because the other thing I’m not afraid of is that He’s going to love me less for it.

Nope.

Not gonna happen.

I posted this on Facebook and Twitter the other day, and I really believe it:

God loves each of us so much. There’s not a single thing you or I can do to make God love us more. Or less. Realizing that will set us free!

*****

What’s Five Minute Friday?

A blog-prompt project dreamt up by LisaJo Baker, which you can read about here. The skinny is that you spend five minutes of writing, generally unedited (I correct typos, WAY too OCD not to do that, and set up links), on a prompt that she provides just after midnight via a tweet, then spread the word, and link up. Interested? Join up. Check it out.

 

Dreamless

Forest Fire Ashes

My mouth is full of ashes. I’m choking on dust. I can’t breathe any more…

You, there. Yes, you, God. Up in the sky, in my heart, whatever. I’m mad at You. You already knew that. I know that much. I’m not dumb. I never said You didn’t give me gifts, I’m just saying I can’t use them. It never works out. I’m always caught in the starting gate, left out in the cold, stuck on base and never crossing home plate.

“If we persevere, we get the promise.”

Why do we only get the promise in heaven? Why do the evil seem so victorious now? Why are You so far away? I’m so, so, sick of this. Sheesh, these same attitudes are all over the Bible, and things don’t seem to have gotten any bit better. But I’m not taking that well right now. Feeling like the hero of a Bible story, while giving me good company, doesn’t make me feel better, it just makes me feel sick. Yay! “Hey David, and you, Jonah, why don’t you all come and join me and Job around the self-pity campfire so we can moan and groan about God and all He’s NOT done for us. It’s not like you haven’t spent time practicing!” Proverbs 13:12 tells us that it is the deferring of hope that makes our hearts sick, and that the fulfillment of longing is like a life-giving tree. I’m tired of being heartsick. I’m worn out. I don’t feel like I’m getting any of my longings fulfilled.

“He doesn’t hold back because He is not a kind master. He holds back because in the pursuit we become like Him.”

Really? I guess I’m to the point where I can no longer see how I’m becoming more like You. If anything, I’m becoming LESS like You. Grumbling, tired, and bitter. If You’re really on my side, and all things are supposed to be working out for my good, why isn’t that happening? Seriously, I’m forty-seven. How much longer do I have to wait?

You told me, yes You did, right there in Proverbs 37:4, that if I found my delight in You, You would give me my heart’s desire. Yup. You did. Still waiting. Really, do I have to be in a nursing home before anything good happens? What good will it do me then?

I don’t have a God-sized dream. I don’t have any dream anymore. Why bother? Everything is ashes and I’m tired of the sand and dust in my mouth.

Too Much Is Never Enough

Sort of like my brain, but more organized!Some people probably think I’m a hoarder. And they might be right. But my hoarding tendencies go far beyond the usual I-Have-No-Room-In-My-Basement/Attic/Back Room/Guest Room/Fill-In-The Blank Room. I’m a virtual hoarder.

I hoard ideas.

My brain can barely function some days because I’ve got so many ideas jockeying for space it’s like the opening bell at the NYSE. This is exactly why I don’t write as much as I’d like: I can’t decide on a topic. I mean, I still haven’t decided what I want to be when I grow up. The ADHD I’ve got going on is enough to drive me around the bend. There’s a constant clamor of whatever book I’m currently reading  (and since I’m usually reading at least three books at the same time, you can see how useful that is) joined to the latest on whatever blog I’m reading (again, a number of them), accompanied by the unrelenting chatter of Facebook, and subtly influenced by the latest sermon I’ve heard.

For example. My daughter, Sophia, is taking theology at college (gotta love that). Her final exegetical paper was on the annunciation story of Samson in the Book of Judges. She bounced a lot of ideas off me, and I helped her research and type her paper. However, one of my favorite stories in Judges (indeed, in the whole Bible) is the story of Jepthah’s daughter. So, while I was finding articles in scholarly journals for her paper, I happened to find a number of them on my interest, which I gleefully saved to my computer for later perusal. And that’s the problem.

I have files on my computer for all sorts of things. It’s like a Victorian curiosity cabinet of all the strange, macabre, beautiful, interesting, novel, thought-provoking ideas. I’ve been going through my computer lately, trying to organize the pictures, and purge out the things I don’t need. What a bad idea! Now ideas that were long-ago novelties have come back, front and center, threatening to upstage my current favorites like an aging star of the silent screen who can’t get over these new talking pictures! (Did you guess? I like silent films, too.)

So, one solution is just to trash everything, purging out the files of everything I haven’t used in a year, like we’re always told to do with our closets. But that doesn’t work for me, because like most of my clothes, I can’t bear to get rid of them. (The clothes still fit, after all!) Those ideas just might come in handy someday.

Letter to Dannah Gresh

Dannah GreshI wrote this letter to author Dannah Gresh and am putting it here for your amusement.

Dear Dannah,

I’m hoping you will be able to help by donning an “advice to the lovelorn/Dear Abby” style hat!

I’ve read almost all of your books. I’ve hosted purity retreats based on “And the Bride Wore White.” But I still have questions, and concerns. As a divorced woman, with a somewhat checkered past (to say the least), I’ve had my share of sexual experiences. Some great, some not so great. I believe, believe, believe in the Bible, but I love, love, love sex. If I got married again, and my husband was NOT good, it would just be a disaster. I’m starting to date again, and I want to wait, but I don’t want to wake up after having a hideous honeymoon. What’s your advice? I feel like all the waiting is nice if you haven’t had enough experience to make an “informed decision.”

Many girls I’ve spoken with who’ve slept around have told me that they’ve never had a good experience (sad, but typical), even if they slept around during a time in their lives when they didn’t think it was wrong at all (so no guilt to contend with–at the time). Even in committed, Christian relationships, women are still complaining that men just don’t “get it.” And that’s what I’m supposed to wait for?

Would it be better to wait until menopause for me to remarry (it’s not that far away–I’m 46), just so I’m less inclined to think sex is that exciting, anyway?

I’m rambling… I guess I really am concerned.

Thanks, Cynthia

Worship

Statue of King David by Nicolas Cordier in the...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s not just for Sundays anymore! Or, it shouldn’t be.

In all truth, however, I don’t think I spend a lot of time worshipping when I’m not at church. And that’s something I’d like to change. In the first books of both Kings and Chronicles, we see King David worshipping at so many times, and when in so many situations that it’s obvious that he did it all the time.

I know that in the past I’ve worshipped God when I’m happy, but I tend not to worship when I’m sad or depressed, let alone when I’m angry. But we see David worshipping even after the death of the “love child” he conceived with Bathsheba. (Don’t get me started on that relationship. It’s for another entry!)

I’ve read a number of religiously-oriented books about depression that suggest worshipping when I’m depressed, and I’ll have to admit that when I’ve grudgingly (yes, I’ll admit it) started, it’s been a positive experience and has lifted my mood. The more I worshipped, the better the mood. I’ll also admit that there’s been more than a few occasions where I had no intention of worshipping, because I just couldn’t get there. (A few of those times I didn’t even want to get there! Sad…)

Could that perhaps be because I haven’t made worship a daily activity? Maybe if I was more in the habit of worshipping God every day, rain or shine (especially in the rain?), I’d be more inclined to worship Him when I’m not in the mood.

But what does it mean to worship God? According to the Oxford English Dictionary the act of worship includes:

1. To honour or revere as a supernatural being or power, or as a holy thing; to regard or approach with veneration; to adore with appropriate acts, rites, or ceremonies. b. To regard with extreme respect or devotion; to ‘adore’. c. To engage in worship; to perform, or take part in, the act of worship.

2. To honour; to regard or treat with honour or respect. b. To treat with signs of honour or respect; to salute, bow down to. c. To honour with gifts, etc.

3. To invest with, raise to, honour or repute; to confer honor or dignity upon.

Yeah, all that church stuff. (Odd how it doesn’t include singing!) It’s a lot easier to do this in a ritualized church environment. You’re already in the right place, at the right time, with the right sounds and smells (all these sensual experiences make it so much easier—it’s stuff Catholics like). We see all these things utilized—demanded by God even—in the Old Testament. Almost every religion uses the senses to help create a suitable environment for worship.

But there’s obviously more to worshipping God than the burnt offerings of the Old Testament Jewish Temple and the weekly religious services many of us now engage in (regardless of your religious persuasion).

So what does it mean to worship God at home, right now, in this day and age? For me, it’s a lot about the definition I gave above. Honoring God, calling to mind His attributes and characteristics, listing the many things He has done for me (things I don’t deserve). I may sing (with or without playing the piano), or even dance. Maybe I’ll even bow down!

What might you do?