Archive for the ‘reality’ Category

How Fully?   Leave a comment

Like most of you, I’ve heard before that you should appreciate each day and savor each moment.  Live life to the fullest, follow your dreams or your calling, thank God for every moment, and stay in the present.

I think that’s good advice but only to a point.

The problem I have run into is that it’s not possible to do.

Of course I have a tendency to take things literally, but it seems to me that’s exactly what “live fully” means.  Live fully.  In each moment.  Savor life.

I don’t know about you, but life itself prevents me from following this rule.  There are many times of doubt, fear, concern, and worry.  There are tasks that must be done.  There are routine times when you’re doing everything you can to follow the rule, but you know you’re not staying in the present and living fully.

For some people (me among them or I wouldn’t be writing this blog) that is setting a standard that is too high–impossible in fact–which just leads to guilt and shame.  I don’t want to waste the life God’s given me or the opportunities at hand.  I would love to stay in the present and do this live fully thing.  But the reality is that I can’t.  I do sometimes.  But I don’t do it all the time.

Bottom line is it’s not up to us.  God knows our frame.  Yes, we are personally accountable for our actions.  I get that.  But as with so much else, our living fully is entirely in his hands.  Thus, there is no shame or guilt for not doing it “right.”

Pie in the Sky or a Great Hope?   Leave a comment

There’s a general feeling among many thoughtful believers that there’s been far too much time and effort put into trying to make people feel better on earth by telling them about the world to come, when there are problems that need fixing.  Throughout history, the church and other established authorities have used theological statements in order to control the destinies of the masses, instead of dismantling power systems that cause cruelty.

Utilizing your power to tell people that they will get what they need, finally, in the “glorious land above the sky,” while simultaneously treating them as objects and destroying them through slave labor, abuse or injustice is despicable.  Ignoring practical problems and suffering isn’t much better.

It barely needs to be stated that if assuming eternal life means that nothing done on earth matters, another error has been fallen into.  Of course it matters what we do here.  Of course it matters how we treat other people and our world.  It’s our job to take care of the people and the world, as hard as we can, in whatever way God leads us.

A valid concern that humankind respond to injustice now and live useful lives now has unfortunately led to the idea that there’s nothing to live for eternally.

I think there is something worth looking forward to.  The promise of God in Jesus and the reality of that promise existed before his church ever existed.  It says you’re not forgotten and you’re never alone.  And when you suffer, you’re still not alone.  Furthermore, you have the promise that it will get better.  There will be an end.  There is a place for you.  And there will be more glory than you can imagine.

I think of a friend who lives with Parkinson’s.  I think of two friends who have children with severe disabilities.  Neither of the children can communicate in speech, although they are no longer small.  These people can know, and can tell their children, “You are loved and you are not forgotten.”  These dear people can be sustained by the reality that this is not all there is.

And what of you?

You too can know that there is more to come.  You will be released.  The burdens will fall away, gone forever.

They will drop away from our bodies, hearts and minds, as we are finally able to run freely straight toward the prize, the joy and the glory ahead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted February 12, 2020 by swanatbagend in justice, reality, reflections, the church

Appearances   1 comment

Appearances can be deceiving.  Trite but true.

Over the last hundred years or so, image has become more important, more forceful in our culture.   Recently, of course, one of the main avenues for that is social media.

I’m thinking about this because I just updated my profile photo on Facebook.  We went to a friend’s wedding Saturday night and it was a cocktail dress occasion.  So I looked pretty good.  I wanted a photo of that because I almost never dress up like that.  I don’t usually wear makeup either.  So of course not only the occasion but how good I looked had to be commemorated by taking pictures.  Then once I had the great shot of me I had to use it on Facebook.

Well, I didn’t have to, but if you were 52, and you had a photo like that, and at that distance the wrinkles around your mouth were not visible, I’d lay money you’d have used the photo yourself.

So here’s the thing.  You get these compliments, and it’s nice to know that you look good.  But what’s inside?

At the same time that I managed to look pretty darn good, I’m still rolling through anxiety and depression, as I have been for the past 10 months.  It’s much better, yes.  But it’s still here and I’m still struggling.  But you can’t see that in the photo.

So how many of the other people out there that I think look great, either on their social media accounts, or that I see in person, and sigh because I can never, ever be as “together” as they are, are also struggling, suffering or silent?  Of course I’m never silent, but we’re not talking about me now.  Those other people you see every day.  Odds are I bet, they are fighting something.

…those “together” people.

Solution   Leave a comment

Our pastor said it’s like wedding vows–following Christ eventually points you to the same fact–you can’t keep the vows.  You could do a pretty good job, maybe.  But you can’t fulfill them completely and well.  You will mess up.  You will sin.

So, there has to be a solution.  Why are there the vows if we can’t keep them?  Why are there right and wrong things to do if we can’t always choose the right thing?

We know what’s right, but don’t follow through.  We need forgiveness in our relationships with our dearest ones and in our relationship with God.

Thank God for his forgiveness and mercy.

Posted July 29, 2019 by swanatbagend in reality

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Life is a Journey   1 comment

Life is a journey, not a destination.  Right?  I tend to think that once a problem is solved, I won’t have any more problems, and nothing else will ever go wrong.

But of course, that’s not how life works.

With my recent time of depression and anxiety, true to form, I assumed when depressed that I would always be depressed.  Then when I felt better, I assumed I was home free.

When I got depressed and anxious again, pretty severely, I thought that I had been sucked back into the Upside Down and would never be able to find my way out again.

It all started last fall after about a year and a half of life stress and transitions, followed by a too big dose of stress, and from October until March I was seriously depressed and so anxious it was impossible to believe that things were going to get better.  I couldn’t see a way into the future.  Things appeared to my eyes to be falling apart.  These negative thoughts went so far as to take the form of obsessive beliefs that most of our household appliances were no longer working, that our van’s transmission didn’t work, that there was a leak in the water pipes and our pressure wasn’t high enough.  What else?  There was one truth in my thoughts–our computer was so slow as to be completely useless. Thankfully, dh bought a new one at Christmas, so that problem was solved.

At one point in November of last year I really thought that my house was rotting from within and that with all the rain we had been getting, and the green mildew decorating the siding, that it would just up and rot, and collapse into the forest.

Nothing would go forward, nobody would live to grow up and survive.

In March, after five and a half months of that, the cloud of despair just lifted one morning while I was watching the birds I feed out my kitchen window.  “Could this be it? Is this really happening?”  I went through the day thinking it would come back.  It didn’t, not for three and a half weeks.

Then it descended again over the space of about 20 minutes one evening in early April.  After another month, it has lifted again.

So, the obvious observation is, it will change.  Whatever it is now, it’s bound to be different, whether that’s good or bad.

But above and beyond that is the reality that my fears weren’t real.  God did keep me alive, and he’s kept me and my family through a horrible time.  It wasn’t me, because I didn’t have faith that I would get better.  I didn’t have any faith whatsoever.

However it doesn’t seem that my faith had much to do with my salvation from this despair thing.  Seems like God does the work and does the providing.

I don’t know what else will come, but I don’t have a choice.  I go on knowing the cloud could come back down.  One thing I know–God has brought me safe thus far.  So here’s my Ebenezer.

Posted May 15, 2019 by swanatbagend in mental health, reality

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Enough   Leave a comment

Maybe everything is not my responsibility.

Maybe what I chose and did five days ago, ten years ago, was right and enough.

Maybe I don’t have to keep wondering if I am following God’s program correctly enough.  Maybe as I turn toward him and honor him more and more, I will be more able to trust that he is working in the world and in me.

Maybe the outcome is not my responsibility.

Maybe it’s really not as complicated as I think.

Wouldn’t that be great?

Posted October 17, 2018 by swanatbagend in reality

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Normal   Leave a comment

I observed last week that my life seems to be zipping along at a ridiculous rate, and I now have quite a bit to look back on.  What this made me think about was that in many ways, I’ve managed a variety of difficult situations, or chronic problems, over the years.  What I didn’t know starting out was how ongoing the problems would be.

There was always something that I was waiting for the resolution of.  Always something that wasn’t done.  First it was waiting to have my first child.  Then I had to recover from the experience of having my first child.  Then once I had adjusted to motherhood, I had to figure out what happened to me during that first labor and birth.  Once I figured that out I was ready to have another baby.  Then I had to contend with over two years of secondary infertility.

In all those months, things really weren’t normal and they weren’t wrapped up.

I did finally become pregnant and I did have my daughter, at home, avoiding all the problems of the first time.

The transition to parenting two was still a bit difficult, but after the first few months things were normal for a while.  Then she started waking up at night.  Once we got past that, we had diagnoses for my older child, who then needed some therapies.

By the time I had my third child, I figured things would sort out once I dropped the volunteering.  But, my third child slept much less at night than the first two had and we spent months trying to get that challenge sorted out so I could sleep again.

You can see where this is going.

I can count only a couple stretches of time where things were normal, where I wasn’t dealing with some challenge in life with either my children, their health and well-being, or my health.  So I’ve been living it for over twenty-two years now, and that was it.  That was my normal.

And, this year, we just finished a couple of months of what I guess I’d call sort of normal? it was summer, so there was travel, and family, and college orientation, and things to fit in that we didn’t do during the year, and recovering from family events, but there weren’t any major crises besides watching my husband deal with Boston area traffic, so I guess that was normal.  Maybe?

But, then school started with a bang this fall, and the one going to college locally has required more support than expected, and things have really picked up at work for my  husband, so…

Maybe you can take something from this, especially if you are at the beginning of the journey of parenthood.  I pray you get periods of time where it stays the same or there are no major problems to solve.

But it will be normal if you don’t.

Posted September 25, 2018 by swanatbagend in parenting, reality

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Visit 100 Islands. This is Important!!!   Leave a comment

https://www.thisisinsider.com/under-the-radar-islands-everyone-should-visit-in-their-lifetime-2018-8

Check out this article!  Wow!  cool!  Did you know that you should visit one hundred islands before you die?

It’s a super bucket list idea that we can all afford!

Come on everyone; join the race to run toward the prize of seeing your life as less than enough.

Posted September 4, 2018 by swanatbagend in reality

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What is Born Again and Why is it so Scary?   Leave a comment

Why is “born again” so scary?  In some circles, it’s the thing to be, but in others, it’s anathema.

I didn’t grow up comfortably with this expression, and there are certain risks to be taken when defining it.  The phrase has gotten a bad rap because of televangelists, bigots and hateful people.  Words that have been tarnished by misuse may be disliked, but that doesn’t mean they have lost their power.

Jesus used this phrase to explain a change the Spirit makes happen.

It is about accepting something you don’t understand and can’t control.  The wind blows where it wishes.  You don’t know where it comes from or where it is going, but you hear it and you decide you are going with it.

Being born again is what God starts doing in you when you acknowledge that you are not aligned with him, but that you want to be.

Born again is aligning yourself with his reality.  It is acknowledging that you are not with him and not where he is, and telling him that you want that to be different.

Born again simply starts with acknowledgment.  It’s what the son said to the prodigal father, who never stopped loving the son and longing for the day when he would come back home: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”

The father immediately brings the son in, clothes him in the best robe, applies the jewels, slips the sandals on, and starts the preparations for the biggest feast ever.  There’s no ritual washing.  There’s no list of promises the son must make to be allowed admittance.  As far as I can tell, this gracious father doesn’t even take time to reply to the son’s apology!

Notice the prodigal nature of the love that the father has.  Imagine what power the love of that father has in the life of the son.  Imagine what power the love of that father has in your life.

Born again is seeing what will happen.

 

 

 

Posted May 15, 2018 by swanatbagend in reality, reflections

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Stranger Things   Leave a comment

I read in a news magazine that Netflix streaming has taken over the media world.  I also learned that I wasn’t the only person binge watching Stranger Things.

I think I know why it is so gripping.

Other shows about aliens feature a creature from outside the world.  But Stranger Things is terrifying because the evil awful thing is here, in this world.  It’s there, just on the other side, and we know it could take us in.  I think this is our greatest fear as individuals and probably as a culture as well.

And why can we not vanquish this monster with a shotgun and some shells?  I admire Will Byers’ courage.  But as viewers know, it didn’t work.  He got sucked into the Upside Down.

I found myself thinking at the moment when Mike, Nancy and Jonathan set it on fire, that it can’t be killed on the up side.  You have to go where it dwells.

At the end of season one, catch the reference to David and Goliath as Will’s friend Lucas fires a rock at the monster.  I was hoping that would somehow be exactly what it needed to get it killed.  Like how the aliens in Signs were injured by water, maybe this one could be vanquished by a rock?  Nope, it was only a temporary blow.  Eleven realized at that point that as much as she would like a new life with Mike’s family, she was the only one who could take the thing down and remove it from this world and protect her first and only friends.

We need a messiah who can enter the Upside Down and slay our foe–someone who while of this world, is also not of this world.

Posted May 1, 2018 by swanatbagend in reality

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