‘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.)

Protecting Cherished Hopes – My own teachable moment

In his book The Lifestyle of a Prophet, James W. Goll describes my own barrier to effectiveness.  Goll writes:

What will I look like if I do this?  What will others think of me?  How well will I perform?  …if we allow ourselves to be held back by the fear of rejection or the fear of authority or the opinions of others, eventually we will become people-pleasers, strangled by the anticipation of their opinions.  …Fear can paralyze us while authentic faith propels us forward.

I already know the truth of this and when I feel myself becoming self-conscious, my best response is to get out of God’s way, say what I am given to say, and move on.  (See All I Need to do is Show Up and Jesus, Keep me busy.)

But I find I have another barrier to true effectiveness…and true healing:  protecting cherished hopes.

For the past two years I have been releasing worldly attachments:  careers, possessions, reputations, dreams, aspirations, hopes, resentments, fears, illnesses,…

Last night, I wrote a letter to a person from my past.  Seems I have been holding on to a hope…or rather, I have been reluctant to give up on a lost opportunity.

When I met this person shortly after becoming a single mom, over 25 years ago, I was immediately overwhelmed by a desire to be close emotionally, physically, spiritually and so much so that I could not behave normally.  My fear of rejection was so strong that I could do nothing but create a situation that begged for it.

I have become aware, recently, that I was protecting this small cherished hope like a bar of chocolate tucked between two books in a bed side shelf…well-hidden and sweet.

But, in light of all that I have been able to shed these past two years, and in light of the clarity and strength of my connection to God that I am blessed with as a result, I felt the need to let this one go, too.

However, I am still human.  The sealed envelope that sits on the table, stamped and ready to be put in the box, contains a weak and flawed attempt to let it go.   How it is weak is how I am essentially asking if there is any similar feeling of regret on his part.  How it is flawed is in how I failed to mention to this person just what my life is all about now.  Like Peter during Jesus’ passion, I have essentially denied Who it is I follow…Who it is I serve…Who it is I love above all else and above all others.

For the most part, I am in a good place emotionally and spiritually.  From that good place, I felt the strength to get this wrapped up and done.   The writing of the letter, researching addresses, recalling events and feelings, however, opened small but unhealed wounds that have a bit of foul odor.  There is still pain.  It still hurts.  I’m still disappointed.  I still have tears to let drop.  Jesus is the only one who can hold me now.  and He does