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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J is for Jehovah

English: St. Joan of Arc Chapel on the Marquet...

St. Joan of Arc Chapel on Marquette University campus in Milwaukee, WI. ©2008 Matthew Hendricks (image self-created and owned by SCUMATT (talk) 03:37, 18 June 2008 (UTC); released under Creative Commons license) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve got a love/hate relationship with Jehovah, and it has nothing to do with God.

It’s now recognized to be a bad translation of the Tetragrammaton, but since it’s the King James default, I run into it all the time in music and literature. There was a time when some Catholic hymns used Yahweh instead, but now that’s been discontinued. But I can’t shake either my irritation of its incorrectness, or the way it’s gotten under my skin via songs I love and certain Bible verses. Alas…

Other oddball items that begin with the letter “J” include:

  • When my daughter was a tiny baby, she suffered mightily from jaundice. It was soon cured through non-stop breastfeeding.
  • I’m fascinated by Judaism and I’d really like to learn Hebrew.
  • Favorite words beginning with “J” include: jiggerypokery, jovial, jocularity, and joy.
  • One of my favorite saints is Saint Joan of Arc. The chapel she prayed at has been relocated to Milwaukee, and it’s located on the campus of Marquette University, and is seen in the photo to the left.

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A to Z April Challenge 2013I’m participating in the Blogging from A-to-Z April Challenge! Read about it here.

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I is for Me

Much easier than a knife, no?This is where the screaming starts.

The inner screaming. The pain that comes from not just slitting your wrist, but from cutting off your entire hand. Or seeing yourself do it.

The past seven to ten days have been okay. About as normal as I get. Not too bad. Nope. But I’ve never been a person who goes about things in a subtle way. So it was bound to fall apart, sooner or later.

When depression comes. It’s a black numb night with no stars. Everything becomes about me: about how God is taking special notice of my situation and punishing me. How nobody likes me. How every movement of the world is designed for my special torture.

Mania is all about the stars. Or, rather, the star: Me. Because when I’m manic, you’d be a fool not to notice me, want me, befriend me, sit in the sheer awe of magnificence.

There are people who think the mania must be better. “Whoa, like a natural cocaine, right?” they ask. Those people are mistaken. Both states bring consequences. A dirty litter like the bottom of a movie theatre after the show is over and the people leave. I’ve watched myself rocket around and how some folks shy away nervously, cautious about my exuberance. I only think of them later, realizing how they were on to me, only they usually didn’t realize it at the time. During the mania, I don’t have time for the feelings of others.

I haven’t been really manic in a long, long time. That’s probably good.

The sad comes more often. The erosion of any sense of optimism. Utter reliance on Word and saintly wisdom gets me through, brings me back.

I was stupid and could not understand; I was like a brute beast in your presence. Psalm 73:22

I spend a lot of time apologizing. I don’t always know if it helps.

*****

A to Z April Challenge 2013I’m participating in the Blogging from A-to-Z April Challenge! Read about it here.

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G is for God

Train Wreck at Montparnasse 1895Thank GOD my faith is not about emotion. When I’m crawling through the mental tar-pit of depression that is just one half of my bi-polar “issue,” I have to believe that. Have to remind myself over and over, over and over, over and over again, that God has not taped a “kick me” sign on my back. God doesn’t work that way. (Thank GOD for Aquinas!)

Of course, that doesn’t make me feel better. It has, however, kept me from doing a lot of stupid things.

I love having a big God who can take it when I’m screaming and shouting. Who sits next to me during my toddler rants and offers soul bandages and the healing balm of the Sacraments. Who doesn’t care about my dirty hair or that I’m still wearing the same jeans I wore two days ago.

God is good. All the time. Even when I don’t understand.

*****

A to Z April Challenge 2013I’m participating in the Blogging from A-to-Z April Challenge! Read about it here.

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God-Sized Dreams: Wanting More

God-Sized-Button-150x150 I’m afraid to dream. I am.

This week’s assignment (being shared here) was:

Link-up your blog post sharing: What do you really want more of in your life? Will you dare to say it out loud? Hint: it probably means having less of something too {ex: more joy, less stress}.

So, for me, it’s pretty basic. I want more confidence that pursuing ANYTHING in the way of a future will not be constantly derailed by depression, OCD or ADHD.

Up to this point in my entire life, every single dream (Dreams? Let’s just ratchet that down to a vague idea.) I’ve ever entertained for more than a month has been yanked off the tracks by the mental illnesses I struggle with. (I’m not even getting treatment right now—not my choice–so that’s not helping.) I can’t bring myself to believe that all God wants for me is to make it through my days without killing myself. Puh-leeze…

I’m taking baby steps right now, just to fight the unrelenting numbness. It helps. This month, it’s getting out of bed every single day, without fail. (If you suffer from depression, or know anyone who does, you’ll realize how much of an accomplishment this is.) I’m helping my daughter with her homework. I’m trying to clean the house and keep up. I’m taking my prescriptions to fight the anemia and the high blood pressure.

I’m reading Holley’s book, You Are Made for a God-Sized Dream. It’s a great book—really, it is. I just have a hard time believing that I, too, can have a God-sized dream. I’ve already learned one super encouraging thing: that a God-sized dream isn’t necessarily a huge, Mother Teresa-like, documentary-movie-worthy dream you’re going to hear about on the news, or from the pulpit at church. Thank God, really, because that probably isn’t going to happen. Holley writes,

I believe everyone has God-sized dreams. It’s not about how big or small they are, because [God] creates each one to perfectly fit the size of your heart.

How hopeful is that? Pretty hopeful, if you ask me. So, I just keep plugging away. I just keep asking, “Okay, God, where are we going with this? What do You have for me? I know You have something for me, I do.”

***

I feel like a fake, but I’m linking up with Holley Gerth and other ladies pursuing God-sized dreams at her blog here.

Five Minute Friday: Beloved

5-minute-friday-1I’m not feeling it.

Beloved is for the new bride, honeymoon-rumpled and smiling. Beloved is for the newly born, powder-fresh and still a little wet behind the ears. Beloved is even a slightly strange book by Toni Morrison.

But it’s not me. I’m not feeling it.

I’m bewitched, bothered and bewildered, but not beloved. I’ve been besotted. I’m currently bespectacled. I’m even a little bedraggled, since I just finished salting the winter-time sidewalks. But I’m not beloved. I’m sometimes benighted and sometimes even bedazzled, but I’m not feeling beloved.

Fortunately, my feelings have nothing to do with the truth.

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. … In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent His only Son into the world so that we might have life through Him. … Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. (1 John 4:7, 9, 11)

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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.

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Pull Your Pants Up!

Out of the Blue ThursdaysI really wasn’t trying to look at his butt. It was hard not to, though, since his pants were practically down to his knees.

This is part of living in a large metro area. There’s a lot of diversity, and, for the most part, I really enjoy it. Among other things, some of what’s covered by the diversity umbrella is apparel and personal style choices. Afros to Pentecostal Poufs, ballet flats to Converse, split tongues and pierced ears, it’s all there. Again, for the most part, I enjoy it. God is creative, and part of being created in God’s image is that we all have some sense of that creativity.

Thankfully, it’s not a super popular trend for young men to wear their pants quite so low, but whether this guy didn’t get the memo, or just decided not to cinch up the string on his baggy sweatpants, he definitely could’ve pulled his pants up a long way. We’re not talking low around the hips, we’re talking half way down his thighs.

Believe me, all this visual took was one half a second from ten feet behind him in the self-checkout lane at a store I don’t usually shop at.

I usually don’t consider myself a flippant pray-er, but it was really hard not to just send up a plaintive mental whining. “Jesus, really, would it be too much to ask for You to please get that guy to pull his pants up.”

And at that very second, the guy grabbed for his wallet, and pulled his pants up! All the way up, and even cinched the drawstring. I was surprised the sound of my jaw hitting the ground didn’t startle him.

I almost did a happy dance, right there in line. Seriously, I laughed. But, you know, under my breath, so he wouldn’t hear me. I mean, there’s no point in gloating.

God is good. All the time. All the time. God is good.

*****

Out of the Blue Thursdays is a group of women who write about surprises in their lives that God has shown them. You can read about it, and join if you’d like, here.