Like so many, I’ve been having a hard time of it lately.
Frustration, resentment, bitterness, anger, stress, and despair have been my intermittent companions. I feel like the cartoon woman with the cloud that follows her around in the antidepressant commercial.
The Denver shootings followed by the outpouring of vitriol about guns and gun control along with bloodthirsty cries for vengeance. The vilification of a fast food CEO for his response to a question setting him up for a flash-fire of opposing viewpoints expressed in ways reminiscent of schoolyard bullying, including juvenile slandering (for the sake of ratings, I’m sure). All exacerbating the standard political posturing and mud-slinging in an election year already rife with shame and blame over war, unemployment, healthcare, and poverty.
Reading the updates and posts of soul-deep beautiful, caring, loving, and already wounded people, expressing how they’ve been harassed and verbally abused by (not so) well-intentioned strangers and “loved ones” trying to save them from hell. Witnessing otherwise intelligent and reasonable people turn into unthinking zombies and attacking anyone whose beliefs and opinions differ from theirs. It’s all very disheartening.
In the midst of these things is my day to day reality of bent, broken, and damaged relationships with just about every one I care about. Relationships which are a microcosm of the same issues described above. Most of the people I know are hurting and causing others pain. Often, I’m afraid I’m one of them. I don’t feel free to voice my thoughts and opinions, my needs and hurts, or my dreams and desires, because it seems there’s no one to hear them.
Then I read The Silence of God – I Am With You Always. If you have some time, please, go read it. Otherwise, please bookmark it and go back to it when you have a chance. It will be worth your time, I promise.
While reading it, I had a revelation. I’ve been carrying everything by myself again. Rather, I’ve been thinking, feeling and acting like I’m alone. Forgetting that in my weakness, God is strong. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. This means I can love the unlovable, forgive the unforgivable, and achieving the impossible becomes possible.
Whether or not these are “the end times” I don’t know. Honestly? I don’t care. If it happens, it happens. It is more important what happens in the here and now, today. Am I living my life to the best of my ability? No, not yet, but I’m working on it. Am I showing my love to people in constructive and healthy ways? Sometimes. It’s a struggle, but I’m getting there. Am I open to experiencing love, light, and happiness or have I lived in chaos, darkness, and depression so long my senses are twisted and what feels good, seems so wrong? Have I made room for what’s good and right or are those filters clogged and all that’s getting through is warped and wrong? (click “open” and “made room for” and you will understand what I mean) Hmmm, time to check and clean those filters, I guess.
While thinking about all of these things, I was reminded of one of God’s promises.
The people of Israel had been exiled from Jerusalem and carted off to Babylon. Because that’s what mighty conquerors do, they displace the conquered. The religious leaders kept pumping people up and rallying them around by saying God was going to save them and take them home soon. Jeremiah, a true prophet of God, because he listened and was open to hearing God, had a different message.
He told the people to settle in, settle down, make the most of their “bad” situation, and pray for prosperity and good times for their conquerors, because they were going to be there a while, 70 years as a matter of fact. Work with what you have, find what works and make it work harder. Benefit those around you, even if you don’t like them because it will help you out in the long run. Figure out what’s important: family, community, love.
Then he says something I found very interesting,
” . . . ‘Don’t let your prophets who are living among you and your diviners deceive you, and don’t pay attention to the dreams you urge them to dream.” Jeremiah 29:8 CJB
Hmmm. Is it possible that we have all this dissension, conflict, and confusion over religion, end times, and such, because, we the people, on some level are encouraging it with our attitudes and actions of dissatisfaction and inability to accept that we are where we are?
11 For I know what plans I have in mind for you,’ says Adonai,‘plans for well-being, not for bad things; so that you can have hope and a future. 12 When you call to me and pray to me, I will listen to you. 13 When you seek me, you will find me, provided you seek for me wholeheartedly; 14 and I will let you find me,’ says Adonai. ‘Then I will reverse your exile. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have driven you,’ says Adonai, ‘and bring you back to the place from which I exiled you.’
The difference is that He didn’t exile me, I exiled myself and He is waiting for my return.
I have been living in an exile of my own making. Inside of my mind and heart I have been living in areas that seem devoid of God’s presence. I have been driven by fears and insecurities, false beliefs and misplaced desires, good intentions and bad practices. God has plans for my well-being. I have a hope and a future. When I call and pray to God, He listens. If He is sought, He is found, but only if sought with a whole heart, meaning, I need to clean out the filters that prevent me from seeing and hearing Him.