‘Bad’ or ‘Good’

Have you ever been on the receiving end of “maybe if we ignore her, she will go away?” Sometimes, it can even feel that way when posing a question to God.  (However, I usually give God the benefit of the doubt knowing that God’s voice is sometimes very very small.)  Have you ever looked back on nearly 62 years of life and thought, “What ?!?!”

Late last week, I wrestled with the realization that 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, dirty, nasty, and mean.  That was the default assumption of my parents (for whatever reason.)  If I looked pretty by the world’s standards, my father said I looked like a street walker…a slut.  If I had a friendship, my father assumed it was sexual.  If I purchased the wrong thing for my mother, she assumed it was because I hated her.  If my care-giving of an invalid sister didn’t work out, it must have been because I was having an affair with her husband.  If I were struck with a belt by an adult friend of the family, I must have been doing something wrong to deserve it.

This craziness extended well into…well, the present.  “No, I’m not going to look at your data compression routine because you’re not smart enough to write something that sophisticated.” “No, you don’t get to (whatever); You lack credibility.”  “This is not a family business; it is my business and you have no place in it.”  “No, Catherine, you can’t have what you want.”  “You have wanted out of this situation for a long time; are you sure you didn’t poison her by feeding her organic food?”

On and on.

The world’s response to me has been the polar opposite of what I have deserved.  I did not do anything wrong; it wasn’t my fault; I am not bad.  Unfortunately, I am not made of bronze like the little girl on Wall Street.

So this past weekend, I decided to stop trying to prove my parents (and siblings, and co-workers) wrong; I’m almost 62 years old. I let it go…and I let go.  I decided to sink down into my sinful nature, if that is in fact what I have.  Perhaps my parents had known the truth, that I had at some point been bought by the devil and I was purely bad..  So be it.  I am tired of the defense.

To prove my change of intention, I essentially withdrew from a Lenten course (which had brought up the subject of darkness).  I had been open and vulnerable in sharing my story and loving in response to others but because I don’t quite fit in, (essentially, I didn’t graduate from the right schools), I was being ignored by the leader.  So, I made one final comment and deleted all of the comments I had written since March 1st, not wanting anyone to be able to look back and see why I might have left.

Days later, no one seems to have noticed my absence.  I expect myself to be angry or resentful or bitter.  I have a reason to clutch and rail..to identify myself as a victim.  Yet, I do not.  I feel unappreciated but certainly not surprised.  (Have you ever felt stunned or appalled…yet not surprised?)

Then, yesterday, I killed a bird…a robin.  Actually, it flew into my car but that was my 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…albeit unwitting…participation in harm, 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 61-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 darkness would take over me; that I would, from this point on, rage against the light and the dark alike…that I would inflict my wrath and indignation over injustice at every turn.  But…that didn’t happen, either.  When I envisioned facing my (possible) ‘dark owner,’ my response was “No.  My God can deliver me but if He does not, I will not worship you nor will I obey your commands…nor will I allow your precepts to influence my behavior.  So there.”

Yeah, I was a little angry.

But, then I was at peace.  I suppose my relatively new habit of releasing whatever and maintaining an open heart has been too well learned.  If, in fact, I have been sold to the devil, I have not been changed into one. I am still inherently kind, loving, and compassionate.  Go figure.

If God, for whatever reason, has allowed the dark side to have its way with me, apparently, I still have free will.  I exercise that free will and still chose to not go that route.  The eternal divine may be allowing me an either/or.  I choose Christ.

 

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

When dark clouds are on the horizon…

Many many people are in a panic because of the outcome of the election.  I empathize and would be in a panic, too, except that over the past few years I have found my refuge.  I have needed to go there frequently because of a variety of disasters, catastrophes, and onslaughts.  If Viktor Frankl can survive Auschwitz concentration camps by going to his refuge, so can we.

I am ‘borrowing’ the following thoughts from a post I wrote several months ago…a post which probably now belongs to word press.  I am not implying that any elected official is evil.  I am addressing how I respond to situations that leave me feeling fearful and despairing.  I believe now, as then, it is a time to hunch up close to Jesus:

This morning, …I felt powerless, minuscule, and controlled.  But then I remembered, I have God…not that God is in my back pocket and that I can whip Him out at a moment’s notice and hack and slash at my enemy, but it is a similar situation as fighting evil.  I am called to do what I can to be vigilant and to protect myself and loved ones with prayer and condemnations of Satan and his minions in the name of Christ.

However, when I am feeling weak in the over-arching presence of users, manipulators, and terrifying possibilities, I am reminded of a sweet homily given at the funeral of an 18-month-old child.  The wise minister did not give the typical come-to-Jesus sermon to his captive audience; instead, he addressed our pain and confusion over why God allowed this to happen.  Try as he did to satisfy our non-understanding, the words I clearly remember were, “Now is a time to hunch up close to Jesus.”

There are forces and actions in this world that are just not understandable.  Taking on the forces of evil is less effective and more dangerous than tilting at windmills; one can get lost in the darkness and overwhelmed by it.  I’ve said it before, this is not heaven; this is the life before the afterlife.  The safest place for me to be is hunched up close to Jesus.  He has the power to control and defeat the users and manipulators; I do not.  When I try to, I weaken myself by becoming angry, fearful, anxious, and destructive.  Those attitudes open me up to being influenced by evil and I refuse to play into that.

Say what you will; I may be turning a blind eye to the users and manipulators but am I turning a blind eye to evil when I refuse to focus on it?  I don’t think so.  I am weak. I am vulnerable.  But, hunched up close to Jesus, I am as safe as I can be in this life.  When I can’t feel Him directly with His hand on my head or His arm about my shoulders, I hear His voice or see His sweet gentle smile.  If I am not aware of any of this, I read His words and focus on His promises, because I know that in His presence the evil one shrinks, cringes, and slithers away defeated.

There are, and always will be in this life, users and manipulators.  I can not defeat them.  But, God has His ways.  The Holy Spirit is not computer illiterate.  The more technology advances, the more vehicles the Holy Spirit has.  I am not afraid or in doubt as to Who will win this battle.  It is decided; it is done.  All that is left is for it to play out.  There will be casualties and there will be victories, but, again, this is not heaven.

Thanks be to Jesus…

And to God be the Glory…