religion

UBC 4/20 Day 11: Be the Church

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‘“I know all the things you do. I have seen your love, your faith, your service, and your patient endurance. And I can see your constant improvement in all these things.’ ~ Revelation 2:19, NLT

God sees us and knows us. In times such as we are in now, God sees how we love each other and those in the world around us. God sees the faith we have, which enables us to get up and move another day in this world of worry, fear, and chaos. God sees the many ways we serve each other and others we encounter, whether in person (from 6 feet away) or virtually. God sees how we patiently deal with the difficulties we encounter in our isolation or during the times we must expose ourselves to others who may not be following the safety protocols in place. Finally, God sees how, despite our falling short and missing the mark in these things, we still do our best to get better at doing all these things.

If you’re anything like me, you know exactly when you’ve acted out of emotions and attitudes other than love. Maybe you think the worry, fear, anxiety, anger, and a myriad of other feelings mean your faith is lacking. Perhaps, you think there’s more you could and should be doing for others during this time of struggle that we and most around us are experiencing. Possibly cabin fever is setting in and the irritability with those you’re sheltered in with feels like it’s rising minute by minute, day by day. “Oh,” we might think to ourselves, “I’m kind of sucking at this thing called life right now,” because of these things.

Good news friends, we’re actually not failing. If we are considering these things, it means that we want to do better. We want to be better. We are making an effort, however minor it might feel, to grow and improve in all these ways. God sees this and knows this about us and that matters as much as when we get it right.

God is walking through this time with us. Maybe he’s carrying us because we can’t take another step forward, for whatever reason. The Holy Spirit is with us throughout it all teaching us and encouraging us. Jesus is with us, guiding our way, showing us how to do the things that matter most on this journey. We are not alone.

The Anchor Prayer
I rest in faith, trusting Father
I walk by faith, following Jesus.
I hear in faith, obeying Spirit.
In You I remain.

This is how we grow in our ability to see, hear, and know God in deeper ways. This is how we put one foot in front of the other and do the things which need to be done. This is how we grow into the people we are being called to be: people of love, faithfulness, service, and patience. This is how we “be the church.”

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UBC 4/20 Day 4: Sitting on Pins and Needles

Waiting.

Waiting is one of the most difficult things to do, I believe.

I got a phone call on Thursday from the gentleman I had interviewed with the day before. The gist of the conversation was that I was only waiting to be hired until they found the right placement for me. He said they had a couple of positions. One is full-time, but, it requires working on Sunday. The other one is part-time, 24 hours a week, but, it gives me Sundays off. I haven’t really been employed for seven and a half years, unless you count my recent and very short stint as an H & R Block Tax Preparer – which I don’t. Since I’m incredibly out of shape, physically and in terms of being mentally focused for eight hours a day, part-time is probably best. Starting off slow and working my way up seems to be the prudent course of action.

After that phone call, I was explaining the details to my friend, who I’ve been sheltering in with. She gave me an incredulous look when I told her I was turning a full-time position down because I wanted to keep my Sundays because that’s the primary day I connect with the people in my faith community. She proceeded to tell me that while the bible has a place where it says to keep the Sabbath holy, there’s also a place where it talks about gleaning and healing being done on the Sabbath. In other words, even though attending church on Sunday may be sacred and holy, it’s still permissible to do what needs to be done.

First off, for a lot of reasons, I happen to believe the actual, biblical day of Sabbath rest is Saturday. I won’t go into why I believe that, I just do. For years my faith community met on Saturdays. However, for a variety of reasons, we moved our service to Sunday nights. The structure of those nights is a key reason I don’t want to give up my Sundays. Even though in our current reality we can’t meet in person, we are using technology to ensure we stay connected with one another and worship together. Prior to this time of social distancing, we spent about three hours or so worhshipping, learning, eating, and talking together, as well as praying for each other.

Secondly, I’ve volunteered weekly to support the worship team and helped to set up the building for the service. That’s probably the most consistent thing I’ve done and the only real structure I’ve had in my life since 2012. Now that we’re doing virtual church, I’m participating in ways that support the new way we have to do things. So, I still have structure and routine in my life on this day. It’s a touchstone for me in a world upended on itself.

These two things mean that holding space on Sundays isn’t a mandatory religious routine dictated by the evangelical interpretation of biblical scripture. It is an act of self-care and a very important way of me taking care of my mental health. It gives me structure, routine, and connection to a supportive community of people who know and care about me, whom I care about and want to deepen my relationships with.

I tried to explain this to my friend. I don’t think she gets it. I suspet that she doesn’t completely approve. However, that’s her stuff, not mine and I’m grateful that I’ve reached this point in my recovery process that I don’t feel the need to keep explaining myself in an effort to get her understanding and approval. I know she loves me and cares about me even if I don’t make choices that align with her opinions.

So, I don’t have to feel like I’m walking on eggshells with her while I’m sitting on pins and needles trying to wait patiently to hear about the job.

What if…?

Yesterday’s guest speaker spoke about sabbath, rest. She and I had talked earlier in the week about the subject, since I was the one leading last night’s discussion. Our conversation has been on my mind ever since.

After our conversation, I went to my R.E.S.T. group therapy class. I don’t actually know what that acronym stands for. I just know it’s a class about Dialectical Behavior Therapy. I find it coincidentally interesting that immediately after a discussion of “rest” as part of faith practice I would attend a class titled “REST.”

In class we talked about seeking happiness inducing experiences as part of managing our mental health issues. I think the two go hand in hand: rest and pleasure.

Rest means different things to different people and things which bring pleasure to one person are not the same as what brings pleasure to another.

What we, as Christians do know is that the Sabbath is made for people, not people for the Sabbath, at least according to Mark 2:27.

Another name for The Most High, The Almighty, The Lord, God is Abba or Father.

Now, if you’ve experienced the trauma of religious abuse or an abusive or neglectful relationship with your own father, this will be difficult, painful, or impossible to relate to, which is totally understandable and reasonable. I’m not trying to force feed my beliefs or faith on anyone. I’m simply saying what it means to me. You have free will and get to decide for yourself. No judgment. All are welcome here.

I never had a relationship with my own father. Nor has my life ever afforded me much of a sense of safety, an ability to rest, or experiences of delight. I didn’t grow up attending church, and I have had religion used against me and to manipulate me. It’s taken me a long time and a LOT of mental health healing to get here.

So, I find myself contemplating what it means to be a child of God, resting in his arms, and taking delight in him.

What if our hearts’ true desires are to be known completely and loved unconditionally? What if being fully known and wholly loved is our refuge and our shelter? What if what allows us to rest and let go of the tension, worry, and fear is a sense of safety? What if being rested opens our senses to be able to experience delight? What if this is what it means to become “as a little child?”

What if we could believe that God lives in us? What if we believed God is love? What if we believed God encompasses time and eternity?

Would all of this mean that we have constant access to God, who can fill us with love, offer safety, shelter, and rest, who can enable us to experience delight in the eternity of each moment in time…even in the midst of all the trials and pain?

What if…?

Untitled

In the land of the free
And the home of the brave,
Fear and greed
Create the mind slave.

In what was believed
A land of abundance,
Writhes hate unrelieved
And lost moral compass.

Not the lost you may think,
Facade’s fake appearance;
Words and deed don’t sync,
Cognitive dissonance.

Against humanity
A legal crime
Political insanity
Time after time

Right is illegal.
Wrong wears the crown.
No longer an eagle.
Now an orange clown,

Playing the people
With words of false faith.
We’re called sheeple
Considered weak wraith.

We must together,
Stop vanity’s fight
From God’s aether
Let truth take flight.

Let compassion rule.
Let empathy drive.
Make justice true.
The spirit will thrive.

Take a stand.
Walk the talk.
Be peace in our land.
Make love the bedrock.

©️ 2019 lem

Writing Prompt: August Scrawls Day 5

Faith Exploration

The shopkeeper looked up from the book she’d been perusing, The Christian Witch’s Handbook: Solitary Practitioner’s Edition by H. Fuller Hutchinson. It was a familiar sight she beheld: A younger woman, perhaps in her late 20’s or early 30’s, with a furtive demeanor and brightly curious eyes.

Having decades of experience, she innately understood that the young woman wanted the shopkeeper to be aware of her presence, but didn’t want direct attention.

“Welcome. Feel free to explore. I’ll be here if you have any questions.”

The young woman flashed an uncomfortable smile of acknowledgement. Then meandered down a wall aisle of books the shopkeeper knew to be for the curious and those seeking to learn about the various paths and practices. This aisle also contained all the basic ritual items one would need or want if they were just starting out.

She observed the young woman thumb through a couple of books, then put them back. Next she looked at the tools for ritual and practice. Her confusion was clear as she picked up both a dual edged dagger and a single edged knife seemingly more suited to using in the kitchen. She grabbed one of each and approached the counter where the shopkeeper stood.

“Will you help me understand the difference between these two knives?” She pleaded, overwhelm evident on her face and in her voice, as she carefully rested both blades on the counter.

“Certainly dear, I’m quite pleased to do so. The smaller blade has sharp a edge on each side and ends in a sharp point. The handle is has a hand guard between the handle, called a hilt, and the blade. It’s commonly known as a dagger. It is always used as a ceremonial or ritual tool and never actually cuts anything physical, it is strictly used for ritual. It is called an athame.

The second one here is a bolline. It’s also ceremonial, however, it’s also more of a practical tool, much like a kitchen knife. Notice the single edge blade and lack of a hilt.

Do you have any other questions?” the shopkeeper inquired.

The young woman tentatively replied, “Well, you see, I’m a Christian and even though I know church tradition considers witchcraft and paganism sins and heresy, I’ve come to believe some of the practices actually honor and serve God’s purpose of loving the world.”

Suddenly the shopkeeper understood there had been a divine and mystical reason for her to have chosen the book she’d been perusing just before the young woman came in.

“You know,” she began to explain, “There are Christian Witches. Here, perhaps this book can help you on your path.”

“Thank you sooo much,” the young woman exclaimed. “I was so confused and kind of scared when I came in today. You have been so kind and helpful. I’ll take the book and wait to decide which blade I’ll need. How much do I owe you?”

“I am always happy to help. Let me know how else I can help once you’ve read the book. That will be $15.”

As she placed the book in a bag, she grabbed her business card, inserted it in the front cover. Then handed it to the young woman, who left the shop with a more confident and purposeful demeanor than she had entered with.

The shopkeeper smiled to herself, mentally saying a prayer of gratitude for the encounter and that the young woman finds the path for her.

Depression is like Meth Addiction

I don’t know this for a scientific fact. I don’t even necessarily know it from a first hand experience with Meth addiction. However, I am stating this because of a recent conversation I had with a loved one.

My heart is aching and breaking for this person. Bright. Beautiful (inside and out). Stronger than strong to have lived through what life has thrown her way and to have survived and made it through the choices and consequences of those choices. She is a miracle.

She used to be a scrapper. She used to do extreme things to feel alive and drown the pain. Self-harm, street life, sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll. A juvenile felony record. Injuries, homelessness, and bad relationships. She’s under 21.

Yet, she has now taken a vow against violence and daily tells me to remove the word hate from my vocabulary.

We had a conversation the other day where we were discussing some of the current events of her life and she said that when people come down on her for her use of marijuana her response is, “At least it’s not meth.”  This statement usually generates a laugh and, “That’s true.” As though she made a light-hearted joke in order to avoid dealing with the marijuana issue.

“Every single day, I want to use. I’m dead serious.”

She told me she makes choices every single day to deny the craving that never goes away. She chooses to fight for her dreams in spite of permanent concussion symptoms from being hit by a car a year ago. She is battling to change her future while navigating the consequences of her past. She fights to focus on happiness, peace, and forward momentum. Yet, she can’t hold the tears and the fears at bay all the time. She is human after all.

“People tell me they envy me, that they want my life. They don’t even know,” she says as she works to stave off the tears and prepare to put on her happy face, to chase her dreams.

She jokingly says I’m an emotional vampire because she always winds up crying around me. I suggest that maybe it’s because I recognize her battle and she’s safe to let go.

For days I’ve been thinking about her statement, “Every single day, I want to use.” Understanding the gnawing, almost undeniable craving.

I have mine too. Only it isn’t an external substance that can be tangibly put aside, avoided, or consumed.

Mine lives inside of my brain, it has shaped the grooves, distorted the receptors, and sheathed every thought and perception about myself and the world. It’s name is depression, it’s companion is anxiety. It has been part of who I am for close to 30 years.

I have gone through therapy of all kinds. I have sought spiritual healing through prayer, laying on of hands, Reiki, salvation, and full immersion baptism. Jesus is my Lord and Savior who understands my open minded skepticism and inability to fully attach and commit.

Capturing thoughts, replacing negative for positive, focusing on what’s right and true can be shifty and shaky propositions when the net is torn. the poles are reversed, and perception is wavy and distorted.

How do I think myself better? How does she? She self medicates with the herb that helps sooth the raw and exposed nerves and enables her to quiet the cravings in order to function and fight to pursue her dreams. She offers me some, knowing that with my fibromyalgia I could qualify for a medical card. I choose not to for a number of reasons, not the least of which is my parental responsibility to Luna.

Go get help, then. Go get the medication you need to manage the chemical imbalances that keep the poles reversed and perception distorted.

I can’t. I don’t have insurance. I don’t qualify for state medical. I’m too non-functional to hold down a job with benefits, if I were functional enough to find one and beat the competition to get the offer.

I appreciate the encouragement. I appreciate the well-intentioned advice. But please, don’t read what I write and tell me to think positively. I am doing the best I can with what I’ve got and to be able to get out of bed each day, write, and hold on by my fingernails to look Luna’s teachers and service providers in the eye and be honest with them about where I am at and the things that I am doing to ensure both of our well-being within the context of what IS in our lives, is all I can do.

I know that others have it worse. I understand that this level and depth I am at is not going to last forever. I’ve been here before, with less understanding, less capability to recognize it, and less inclination to do something about it. I am more than I ever have been, even when I appeared to be more in the eyes of the world.

Matthew 5 – The Beatitudes

“How blessed are the poor in spirit!
    for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

“How blessed are those who mourn!
    for they will be comforted.

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved. Bible Gateway

I dare not ask how much more blessed can I be.

I know the plans I have for you

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.

I want to thank SaraDan, and Marc for their unknowing contributions. The biblical references are from biblegateway.com.

Light, hope, & faith

I woke up this morning about ten ’til three and am still awake almost two hours later (gotta love insomnia due to pain and discomfort).  I didn’t want to wake the sleeping child, but was hoping I could read myself back to sleep, so I opened up the Blue Letter Bible app on my phone and started reading the book of John, again. Mind you, I’m probably one of the most heretical Christians I know, since I frequently question the veracity and validity of the Bible, in it’s many translations and variations, at least inside my own mind.  However, I do believe and have faith in God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the power of prayer.  The fact that I struggle to hold onto those beliefs in the midst of depression and regularly choose to fret, fuss, and fume instead of act on them does not mean I lack faith.  It just means I’m human and am still a work in progress, moving forward.

The opening verses of John state that in the beginning was the Word.  The word was with God and the Word was fully God and that through the Word all things were made.  It goes on to state that in the Word was life that is the light of mankind.  That light shines in the darkness and darkness has not overcome it.

My apartment is filled with darkness…much like my inner thoughts and emotions have been due to the depression that I have continually lived with since adolescence.  Yet, it isn’t complete darkness.  The little red numbers on a clock, the ambient glow from the street light outside, silhouetting the blinds, the various colored led indicators from several electronics scattered throughout the apartment all shine through in the dark and provide enough light to keep me from bumping into walls and falling over furniture.  Darkness does not overcome these little spots of light, even though it permeates my home.

Darkness permeates this world – all the horror stories of what humans do to other humans, the reports of natural disasters & famine, and the ongoing decay and decline of the economy and the environment.  Hatemongers and conspiracy theorists abound.  It’s way too easy to find all the reports of darkness online, in print, and on television.  However, even in the midst of all of this darkness, there are bright little spots of light.  The driver who actually chooses to follow the rules of the road and allow a mother walking her toddler to cross the street in the midst of rush hour traffic where there is no crosswalk or signal; The laughter of co-workers teasing and joking with one another; a “friend” on a social networking site sharing a picture and sentiment intended to bless, inspire, and share hope; The smiles, giggles, and laughter of a child who is seeking attention and connection – these are all little spots of light in the midst of the darkness of this world.  While there are larger lights out there, they may not always be something to be found in the midst of darkness that seems to encompass and occupy the space all around.  Sometimes, these little lights are the only things that we can focus on to keep from being completely overwhelmed by the darkness.

Whenever I get too bogged down in the darkness of my thoughts and the circumstances of my life or what is happening in the world, there is always something that shines through it to shed some light and give me hope that somehow I will come through the darkness and experience the light.  This gives me hope.  For this reason, I believe in Jesus and have faith in Him.  I want life, I want light, and I choose to look for reasons to have hope and faith.

Shine Jesus Shine

“Too stupid to understand science? TRY RELIGION!”

I can certainly grasp why there are many people who have been turned off of Christianity specifically and religion in general because of the vociferous actions, religious abuse and bullying of many self-proclaimed Christians, who may or may not be TRUE BELIEVERS.  I once saw a bumper sticker that summed up the dilemma perfectly, “Jesus, save me from your followers.”

I identify myself as a Christian, but prefer to find alternate ways of explaining my faith.  I cringe and want to disassociate from those who claim the name while displaying bigoted and intolerant views toward people who don’t believe in the same doctrine or have the same understanding of what it means to be Christian as they.  It is not my job to point out the defects, faults, and limitations of others, according to my understanding of God.  I have plenty of my own issues I’m still working through and discovering.  Before I can attempt to remove the speck from another, I have planks of my own to deal with.

That being said, I make it a general practice to avoid arguing with someone who actively disagrees and/or despises my faith.  I have enough stress and drama in my life and, since I am continuing to work and grow in my own faith and understanding of God, it isn’t a constructive use of my time or energy.  It also tends to be counterproductive in reflecting God’s love in the world.  Unfortunately, occasionally, I will get sucked into it.  Today was one of those days.

A distant relative of my father’s (who I’ve never actually met and didn’t know existed until 2010) and I are “friends” on facebook.  Since most of his posts are in a language I have very limited experience in, I tend to let them float on by in the news stream.  Today, though, he posted a picture with the statement at the top of this page, “Too stupid to understand science? TRY RELIGION!”

BOOM! . . . I went there.  Here’s what followed:

  • ME:   I think that there are people of reason and logic who also hold a personal faith and belief system many would consider religious. Therefore, just as it is unconscionable for those who ascribe to a specific belief system to denigrate and discount those who don’t share in those beliefs, the same is true for people who believe differently from me to insinuate and judge my intellectual capacity because I hold to a personal faith
  • Him:  interesting, so… do u belive in evolution or creation? choose one 😉
  •  ME: I don’t believe they are mutually exclusive. Original creation has evolved, devolved, and transitioned over the years. My personal belief is that after we all end our time on this earth, everyone will discover how true, false, right and wrong our beliefs have been and that no one individual, group, organization, church, religion, or belief system is infallible or big enough to encompass Truth.
  •  Him: I can give u the true right now if u want so u can stop wasting ur time, money and life in church o any other building and start livin’ ur life without fear now not when u end ur time in earth, here we go: there is not cosmic jewish zombie who can make u live forever if u symbollicaly eat his flesh and drink his blood and telephatically tell him that u accept him as ur master so he can remove the evil force from ur soul that is present in you cuz a rib woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree, u r welkome 😉
  • ME:  Well, if that was what I believed in and what I was doing, I might gratefully accept your edification and illumination on the fallacy of those beliefs. I appreciate your concern and caring efforts to offer me your understanding of truth.

 That was it.  He “liked” my comments and that’s all there was to it.

I think it bothers me that there are many educated, rational, and generally tolerant people who turn into irrational, intolerant bigots themselves when confronted with the question of religion, faith, and spirituality.  They are offended, angry, and disgusted by the so-called faithful who spread messages of hate and intolerance, yet they have no qualms about spreading such messages themselves in response.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to waste a lot of energy and time going down this particular rabbit hole, it was just something for me to think on for a little while.  On a side note: The snarky part of me really wanted to point out the lack of intelligence suggested by the complete disregard of spelling, punctuation or grammar and to suggest that if one is going to insult the intellectual capabilities of a group of people, then one should avoid doing so in such an illiterate manner.

Grief vs Guilt

Matthew 5:4 They are blessed who grieve, for God will comfort them (NCV)

“Mommy” guilt – My definition: that feeling that parents have when they are conflicted about whether they’ve done enough, given enough, or done right by their children. A phrase that I believe was initially used when women began leaving the home for the work place, for whatever reason.

“Mommy” grief – My definition: that feeling of sorrow and remorse parents have when they see and recognize the pain their children are experiencing, especially when those children are unable to receive, recognize, or accept the fact of parental love due to historical action or inaction of the parent and the child’s perceptions that followed.

I’ve piled on the mommy guilt throughout the past 25+ years.  Recently, I’ve had others, including my children, indicate that I have much to feel guilty for.  Contrastingly, as I’ve been working through this particular issue, I have had a number of people confuse my expressions of grief as statements of guilt.

Here is what is really going on.  For most of my life I have diverted the grief and sorrow from many events and circumstances: I’ve ignored it, minimized it, covered it up, shoved it away, and buried it.  I’ve spent most of my adult life focusing on the externals as a way of “fixing” myself and my life or as the reason why my life has failed.  However, in the midst of all of that I’ve also known and believed that what’s broken is on the inside and that I don’t have the ability to make it better on my own.  So, I’ve also sought religion, spirituality, therapy, and medicine for healing.  Throughout it all, God has been strongly at work, bringing me to my current place of being.

I’m done apologizing for the mistakes and the missing pieces of my past and in my life.  I understand that I couldn’t give what I didn’t have; I couldn’t teach what I didn’t know; and I couldn’t be what I never was.  That’s where guilt ends and grief begins.  Coming to an understanding of what I didn’t have and couldn’t offer to my own children by seeing the pain they are going through now and knowing the pain their current choices will be bringing them.  Gaining the insight that there’s so much love and compassion that I have kept myself away from because of false beliefs, wrong understanding, and misconceptions opens up the vault of  suppressed grief.

So, as I talk about what is happening with my adult children and how our relationships with each other are currently happening, the tears flow.  That’s grief, not guilt and it’s ok.  I believe that unresolved grief is a significant part of the depression I’ve struggled with the entirety of my adult life.  So, it stands to reason that resolving the grief, allowing it to happen as it should is part of the healing process for my depression.

Sadness and grief are part of life.  These may make people uncomfortable to be around, but they need to be acknowledged and expressed.  If these emotions are not allowed to run their course and a person denies and suppresses them, then emotions such as joy and thankfulness are denied and suppressed as well.  I’m tired of living an emotionally suppressed/repressed life and all of my children and those around me deserve to have the most functional and present me I can be.  So, when grief wells up, I’m going to let it out.  But in your discomfort, please don’t mistake it for guilt and try to explain why I don’t need to be sad about it.  Thanks.