The Gift of Hard Times

Trauma raises consciousness; darkness reveals the presence of God; Loss removes the stuff that has kept God hidden all along.

Children who have been abused, neglected, or tormented learn to watch the signs to know when to move and when to duck. That skill serves them for the rest of their lives. That sight enables them to find their way by noticing hints and clues.

Ii is only when we are in the dark, that we search for light. If we run in terror, searching for a way out of the darkness, we hit walls and break toes. It is when we are still and our eyes adjust that we can see the shapes of our own making and know that all else is what is eternal.

In that darkness, when the shapes of our own making are most clearly defined, removing them one by one or all at once, reveals more of the eternal. It isn’t the job or the relationship or the dream that takes up the space, it is our terrified clinging…our attachment to those things. It is our hoarding of attachments that take up all the space.

If we don’t toss this stuff, life will. We can release our attachments now or do it when our bodies wear out; either way, it is going to happen…and the benefits of eternal life start once we do. If you are blessed (and we all are) these attachments can be tossed for us, ready or not. Our choice is whether to immediately fill that space in with another attachment or whether to pause and breathe and allow our eyes to adjust further to see God standing there. We have been God all along.

I am, you are, he she it is manifestation of God…covered over with stuff. All of us. (Yes, them too.) We are not separate from God. We’re just God covered over with tarnish, scars, scales, agendas, paperwork, … attachments.

If only just for a moment, peel that stuff away and let the God part of you breathe.

(I write this prompted by the injury of Deshaun Watson. Deshaun has very little ‘stuff of his own making’…very few attachments. He was not raised with abuse or neglect but with love; his faith has been nurtured through hard times, however. He will demonstrate this faith as he heals and reveals the presence of God he holds up for all to see. Watch him and learn. See how faith reveals God.)

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‘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.