Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Judgment, Verdict, Bitterness! Just for Lent # 4

One of the signs caution sign


is the tendency

to make "judgements" and set "verdicts"

on those that have wronged us or

shamed us or even done us harm.

To understand this, just think of a time when a family member or a close friend shamed you by ignoring you or said something they didn't like about you.

We bristle!

We begin to "judge" them as being thoughtless, uncaring, self-centered, a bad choice for a spouse or a friend, and we let that "verdict" against them...

settle into our hearts to protect ourselves from the deeper pain from the insult, yes, the deeper, almost unbearable pain of being un-loveable, worthless, no-good, ugly, or abandoned.
It isn't really the harm done to us by others that we need to get "settled" with God in prayer, it is these deeper beliefs that come as a result of others' thoughtless or intentional words or deeds. Have a conversation with God: Am I truly un-loveable? God, I believe I'm ugly....they just said it, and I remember when my Aunt told me that when I was young. Listen in the quietness of your soul for God's response... God... what do you think about me? Do you think I am worthless? He wants to speak to the very depth of your pain where lies about yourself are lurking. It is here you will get free of the wrongdoing of others.
Judgment and verdict are the "stuff" bitterness and hatred is made of. Anger, a fruit of bitterness makes us irrational and makes situations so much worse.
Getting free of our lies by drawing into the court room of our God, is where love begins and grows. Even the most horrible wrong done against us can be dealt with once we have that inner peace. peace Our decisions become more rational, our actions more precise and we usually make situations better. How wonderful it is to be free of the "power" that others have over me when I am in the midst of judging and giving verdicts.
When we become more adept at easily recognize signs of bitterness in ourselves, we can begin to take bitterness to prayer and have the Lord gently but surely release us from this strangle hold that it has on us, one layer at a time. You see, even bad emotions can be turned around for the good. women walking
They can actually be the impetus for our healing and holiness. Don't run away from them, afraid to see the ugliness that lies there. Be patient with yourself. We can be free indeed.

Oh, Happy Lent!


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Pope Francis, You Make Me Feel Uncomfortable!

Pope Francis, do you really take a bus instead of a limousine? I have only ridden in a limousine a few times, but I really liked it! It made me feel special, important, "better than".

Pope Francis, did you really go to the hotel to pay your bill personally?  I like a good “deal” and would have been so happy to have someone pay the bill for me… and also feel the “privilege of being special”. 

Pope Francis, you resisted the pressure and expectations that you needed to wear the “special” robes as you went out to meet the people for the first time as Pope.  You chose the simple white garments and a very simple “wave” as you greeted everyone.  I would have loved to put on the garments that singled me out as “the NEW POPE”, a unique position of power.
Oh, and were you sincere, Pope Francis, when you told your people in Argentina not to come all of the way to Rome for your installation, but rather,  “Tell the bishops and the faithful to make an offering and an act of solidarity to the poor with the money instead”?  You have already made me think about my life.  Do I need ALL of the clothes in my closet?  How do I seek after “privilege” in my own life?  Why would I want to be more “special” than someone else? 
Pope Francis, something in my soul rejoiced with all of the angels in Heaven with the simple choices I have seen so far.  They challenged me and made me uncomfortable, but they quickened hope in my soul that there can be one among us who loves at a deeper level. 
I think that we all dream of a society that would be more just and more generous, more genuine and trustworthy.   Seeing a glimpse of a man living these qualities these past few days reminded me of a man who lived and died so many years ago…centuries ago.  It reminded me of Easter Morning.  And my heart quickens with the realization that you, Pope Francis, are following Him.  And that this gift of discipleship is a call to each one of us today as it was 2000 years ago.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Keeping Watch With Those Who Are Bitter

Keeping Watch
Sunday, March 3,
Lent, 2013 Reflection Series:
#3 Keeping Watch With Those
Who Are Bitter.
Lenten Newsletter sent Sunday nights by midnight.
Are there those around you who are bitter at heart, whose suffering is large?
Do they sometimes take it out on you? Even blame you? taking it out on you
Are you tired of their unending stories of being wronged? Sometimes we just want to tell them to stop being bitter.
Rooting out bitterness is a work of God, a grace, a journey. Understanding and seeing past the ugliness that bitterness brings with it, is a work of grace.
As Jesus walks to Calvary, he looks into the crowd of bystanders and he loves them even through His pain. Jesus He knows their troubled hearts, what is good there and what is bad, and yet His eyes hold only love for them and compassion.
Can we take a second look at our loved ones and see their pain, and renew our desire to love them more like Christ.
Can we watch one more hour with them?
OH Happy Lent!
Colossians 3: vs. 12-14

"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience...Forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony."
A Story of a Bitter Man
Who Found "A Way Out"
From His Bitterness
From the Injustice Done to Him.
My friend, Jack, had worked his whole adult life in the steel mills.
steel mills
He regularly requested double shifts, so that he and Georgia would have enough money to travel when he retired.
He wanted to show his wife the world.
Soon before he retired, The steel company was bought out by another company, and part of the buy-out included a loss of most of his lifetime retirement savings/pension and hospitalization. How could someone just come in and take from him what was rightfully his? Oh, how POWERLESS he felt. Deep sorrow. Who could blame him for being bitter? There was a real wrong done to him and it impacted his whole life.Georgia told me that he would go down the basement and just cry. His soul was so weary and burdened. He was bitter because of this deep sorrow.
Jack was just a few years older than me but he looked like a very old man. old man sadness The mills and double shifts had taken a toll on him. Jack came down with cancer and died.
But before he died, he bought his wife a double wide trailer and felt as though he had given her something special.
Maybe not the vacations ,
but a home...something they owned. double wide trailer

Before he died, Jack turned his bitterness around...He made a new "picture" and didn't let the abuse by a large company tear his heart out completely, even though at times he thought it would break in two.
I was blessed to witness Jack's tears, to walk with him through some of his sorrow and to love his wife after he was gone.
Maybe you can help someone you love, or even a stranger, paint a new picture to help them out of their bitterness.