‘Bad’ or ‘Good’

I have tried all of my life to be a good person…kind, sweet, patient, compassionate, respectful.  I have not always been successful but it was my goal…my intention…because I was raised to believe that I was a ‘bad’ person …naughty, untrustworthy, immoral, and mean.  That was the default assumption of my parents and I never knew why.  If I dressed up, my father said I looked like a slut.  If I had a friendship with a boy, my father assumed it was sexual.  If I made a mistake. my mother accused me of hating her.  If my sister was unhappy with me, it must have been because I was having an affair with her husband.  If the neighbor hit me, I must have been doing something wrong to deserve it.

This craziness extended well into adulthood.  At work I wasn’t considered credible and most of my programming was discarded (without even looking at it) because it was assumed I was not smart enough.  I was not welcomed into the family business.  My husband made a game of never letting me have my way.  Family members suspected me of sabotaging otther family members.

The thing is, I was smart enough.  I was credible.  I was a good person.  Unfortunately, I am not made of bronze like the little girl on Wall Street.  The abuse made an impression on  me.  So, I decided to stop trying to prove everyone wrong.  I am 62 years old.  I let it all go…and I let go.   I expected to be angry or resentful or bitter…yet, I wasn’t.  I expected to be disappointed.  Nope, not that either.

Then, yesterday, I killed a bird…a robin.  It flew into my car.  That was my complete undoing.  I had to pull over out of traffic and I wailed.  (“Blessed little bird…I’m so sorry…I’m so sorry…”)  The crying released a whole lot of hurt…a lifetime of hurt.  I was wailing over my being a contributor to the pain in the world…in hurting an innocent created thing.   I was also crying for all of the small beings (people as well as birds) throughout the world and throughout time who are lost, alone, and beat up without deserving it.  I cried for children, as well as 62-year-old women, who feel tossed, misunderstood, wrongfully accused, neglected, and unprotected…people who haven’t a chance and have no way of knowing how to get a chance.

I assumed, as I cried, that having given in, darkness would soon take me over, but that didn’t happen.  I was at peace and I was still kind, loving, and compassionate.  God allowed darkness, mean-spiritedness, fear, guilt, and jealousy to beat me up for 62 years.  Yet, I still have free will.  If the Eternal Divine is allowing me an either/or…I choose neither; I choose Christ.

I am beginning to understand that polarities like ‘bad’ and ‘good,’ ‘positive’ and ‘negative,’ ‘light’ and ‘dark’ are necessary for life to be experienced, but neither one should be prefered over the other.  It is through the pain of bad experiences that we grow.  For an image to be an image, it must have both dark and light.  Christ encompasses all of it.

(I borrowed the image from the internet.  It belongs to CNN.)

Delayed Gratification – not what you think

I have not always appreciated the value and merit of my hard life. But with 20/20 hindsight, I can see that God has been answering my prayers…all along the way.  I find myself now in a place of honor.

The beauty is that I can stand toe-to-toe with scientists, professionals, bureaucrats, and managers; I have been all those things. I can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with single mothers, divorced women, abusive / neglectful parents, persecuted Christians, even the promiscuous because I have been them.  Now, I can look in the eyes of customers who are missing teeth, wear worn-out clothing, and are buying cheap food with EBT cards and show them ‘knowing love’ and compassion; my smile is genuine.  I can sit with patience as the crippled man and the one with slow speech get to the parts of their stories where the true deep wisdom of life comes out.  I am one with them because I am truly one of them. The ‘crazy’ woman in the doctor’s office is no different from me except that she is at a bad place in her illness and is unmedicated.

To be no better off than anyone around me is a truly privileged place to be.  I am never embarrassed by their poverty or uncomfortable with their conditions.  I sit easy in the DSS or Social Security offices because I belong there.  Jesus was able to break bread with the tax collectors and prostitutes because He was one with God.  For me, though, it took a lifetime of abuse, neglect, mistreatment, and illness.  But I had prayed for that…sort of.

When I was a teenager, I prayed for the wisdom that scripture said was so valuable.  I also prayed to have a mastery of words so that I might be able to heal and to help people understand life and to get along.  Then I forgot that I had prayed for all of this.  Thank God, God did not forget.

So, here I am. God has been answering my prayers for the past 61.8 years.  And God is not done with me yet.