Category Archives: acceptance (of life, of ourselves, of others)

It’s Always Something

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“There are no guarantees. There are no promises, but there is you, and strength inside to fight for recovery. And always there is hope.” Gilda Radner

Before I ever finished the first chapter, I threw away Gilda Radner’s book about living and dying with ovarian cancer, It’s Always Something. She sounded cynical and I didn’t like it. In hindsight, maybe I didn’t like it because it’s true …

It’s always something.

My son texted, “I believe 2017’s going to be a great year.” I texted back, “I think so too,” but troubling was a message I’d read about our bishop being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, and we’d just joined the church the week prior to the news. My husband and I talked about how, for the first time, we felt like we were going “home” – to a community where we’ve always wanted to live, to a house well-matched for us, and to a church with a spiritual foundation we didn’t even know we needed. “Shaken by the news” was an understatement, but I knew I didn’t want dread to wreck 2017’s possibilities, and that’s when it came to mind …

It’s always something.

I remembered Gilda’s book. Since I threw it away some 20 years ago, but still recalled it, I realized, like it or not, the first chapter made an impression. I found the chapter online and read it again. I still didn’t like it, but I understood more and accepted more because …

It is always something.

As far back as I remember, I’ve wished for all to be right in the world. Just once. Maybe for 24 hours. Maybe just 24 minutes. Like the part of the Lord’s Prayer that says, “ … on Earth as it is in Heaven,” so I pictured Jesus saying we’d have perfect times here meaning total perfection down to no dog hair on the floor, which is why I chunked Gilda’s book. She messed up the fairytale. Of course, a lot of things mess up fairytales because …

It’s always something.

I worked hard at having a clean house and laundry; a mowed, raked and edged lawn; washed and detailed vehicles; and a spiritually, physically, and emotionally balanced family (my husband, grown children, and their families) – all on the same day. But perfection’s elusive because …

 It’s always something.

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Addiction muddles love stories. A wayward child worries a mom’s heart. Financial difficulties unsettle financial security. Illness ruins retirement plans. The perfect partner doesn’t complete us after all. #whilelovingthepeopleinit

Disruptions happen like not being paid for a job, not landing a job, waiting for medical tests, waiting for a return call, and waiting to feel better, be skinnier, and get stronger. There’s a broken washing machine and dreams that break instead of flourish. There’s stress from car accidents, a car engine that won’t start, inclement weather, and, like our friends had happen, a tree falling on their house that caused tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage leading to a bout with the insurance company.

It could be a distraction as simple as spilled milk, and in spite of being told, “Don’t cry over it,” …

It’s always something.

Another story I’ve never been crazy about goes something like this: if we put our problems in a pile and have to swap them out for other problems, we’d end up taking back our own. I balked for a long time, but now I’m buying into it. I can’t think of a person on this planet with whom I’d swap lives. Not one, and it’s because I don’t want their problems.

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Our stories are about choice, like Gilda’s story too. She wrote about the bad and the beautiful. Our stories are the same. We live in vicious cycles alongside victories. I’ve been noticing my downward cycles are easier to pay attention to than perfect moments, I’m guessing because I’m human more than holy. I have to be intentional about taking my eyes off difficulties and getting my feet off slippery slopes like the past and future, and onto the present holy ground.

#selfcaringin2017 #gettingyourownlife #gettingyourownlifenow

I’m still not sure I’ll read Gilda’s book even though I’ve accepted “it’s always something,” and I treasure her saying, “And always there is hope.” My son’s right, 2017 will be great even with moments muddled and muddied because …

It’s always something, and sometimes it’s something beautiful.

What I love best about bringing this to light is we get to muddle together and hope together and we get to go through our “somethings” together. I appreciate sharing our passages, whether excursions or episodes, with each other. And while we’re together, please pray for Bishop Chuck Murphy because some of our “somethings” are scarier than others.

In This Together,
Kim

Pixabay.com shows off again with interesting images and at no cost. Thank  you, Pixabay.

A Frustrated Post Standing in for Acceptance

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“All conflict we experience in the world is a conflict within our own selves.” Brenda Shoshanna

Don’t you hate it when you’re on a roll, and then life throws a curveball or a donut just five minutes into committing to a goal, 10 minutes after you’ve undertaken a healthy habit, and 20 minutes since getting your own life?

At the end of last week’s blog post, I mentioned I’d be highlighting acceptance and tolerance next. I’ve learned my lesson about announcing upcoming posts after typing, backspacing, and deleting for hours only to end up with an abridged (and unhinged) version of non-acceptance that rambled on something like this.

“Acceptance is off the table. We’ve faked tolerance for years, some of us until we got our way and some of us until we didn’t.”

“We’ve read history books and the Bible, so time’s up for us to accept that we have never embraced diversity, stood united, or practiced political correctness. “We the People” have been at odds forever.”

“Acceptance is a fine idea until we disagree. Then, forget it.”

Just so you know, this isn’t the positive post I envisioned or the one to which I invited you. Authors of novels blame their characters for taking over scenes, however, I’m not sure who to blame for this. If I had known about this post, I would have sent a warning, not an invitation.

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I’m naïve, though, and figured most would be weary of … what’s the antonym of acceptance?  

Oh, yeah, dissension, antagonism, discord, rebellion, judgment, and nasty posts. I figured most would be weary of these. I was wrong. I googled “antonyms of acceptance” for the list above – all except nasty posts. I made that one up.

I planned to gush on about accepting others as a byproduct of accepting ourselves, an overflow of acceptance, of sorts – are you getting even a glimmer of that? – kind of like a volcano of acceptance. Ahhh, that describes more accurately how this post was spilling over.

Take heart, though, all who wander (into frustration) are not lost.

Okay, so at the moment, maybe we are lost. And unhinged. Yeah, definitely unhinged. I couldn’t figure out the problem, or a solution, until my husband texted from the bedroom at 4 a.m. and said, “Come to bed.” I looked at the clock. I felt like I’d been slapped awake.

Until he texted, there was no way I was waking up to and accepting the fact that, since last week, the gracious post I’d started about acceptance had turned frustrated, and so had I. My post about acceptance was off the table the same as acceptance was off the table.

But I had to wonder, since being “slapped,” why such an emotional reaction when I’d hardly been involved in any backlash during the week, or during the year for that matter? I’ve felt overwhelmed and scared and misunderstood in the shadows of it all, but not personally attacked, yet I was taking this week on like I had been. It’s like the quote says, “… it is conflict within our own selves.”

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So, there you have it, the problem and the solution.

The Problem: I take things personally that have nothing to do with me, which lands me in a frustrated place instead of an accepting one. I want to resign my inner conflict that tells me things outside myself are my responsibility, my fault, and mine to fix. I want to accept that friends who rage and name call and belittle aren’t talking to me unless they tag me, text me, call me, or knock on my door.

The Solution: Following through with acceptance means work, prayer, and writing to rid myself of fear, especially fear of others’ confrontations and disapproval. Following through means accepting their reactions are theirs to deal with, and also accepting I deserve contentment and I’ve earned the right to my own life, even unpopular opinions.

#gettingyourownlife #workseverytime #whilelovingthepeopleinit #acceptingmyself 

A friend’s funny comment to a disparaging one put the problem into perspective. He wrote, “Wash, rinse, repeat.” #lovetolaugh

And my daughter’s solution is the same instruction she gives to our nearly two-year-old grandson who overreacts, “Shake it off, buddy.” And he does. He shakes, wiggles, and stomps until he’s done with it. I won’t be cute like him, but if it helps with acceptance …

How is “getting your own life” coming along if you’re like me and easily distracted by negative noise? Sharing solutions help us all. And if you need to share frustration, that’s fine too because we’re in this together.

We sure are,
Kim

Thanks for the images, Pixabay.com.

Choose Well (a distracted Martha in a world that admires merry Mary)

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“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” Nelson Mandela

I’ve heard about Martha and Mary so often, I almost zoned out during Sunday’s sermon because the message is always the same, “Be merry like Mary.”

The biblical story (Luke 10:38-42 NIV) is about Martha preparing the house and food, and worrying about many things. While she worked, her sister Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and listened.

Instead of learning from Mary, I’ve sat in plenty of pews and resented her. What “Martha” wouldn’t? Mary didn’t mind sitting around while her sister worked. And Jesus didn’t suggest Mary help Martha so both women could sit at his feet. Instead, Martha ended up fatigued and frustrated while Jesus commended Mary for choosing well.

It wasn’t until last Sunday that I heard the sisters’ story changed up and Martha talked about with compassion. I had never heard anyone give her a break much less show her grace. I had never thought to do either one myself. I spent my time wishing I wasn’t like her.

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I teared up when I heard our minister talk gently about the Martha in scripture, as well as all the Marthas in the sanctuary.

For the first time, instead of focusing on and resenting Mary, I fell in love with Martha. I understood how hard it was for her to stop working, to stop doing, to stop trying. I heard how she loved Jesus like Mary loved him even though Martha couldn’t sit still and enjoy moments with him. I felt sad hearing how Martha missed the moment, the magic, and the message (from a quote by Rev. Chuck Murphy).

What I’d thought was Jesus’ criticism of Martha turned out to be his encouragement when he told her, “Do these things.”

He wanted Martha to follow Mary’s example, and not because Martha disappointed him and Mary was favored, but because he loved Martha. He wanted her, like Mary, to choose well.

 I thought, Maybe it’s time to forgive Mary, and time to make friends with Martha and myself.

I wish I could put into words what that moment was like, the moment I felt grace for who I am. I’ve wanted to think differently about Martha in the midst of a world that admires Mary, but still wants the job done. I’ve wanted to accept Martha’s dilemma in a world that secretly believes good works get us to heaven no matter how often the church says it’s by grace, and this may be the same church where we feel guilty for not doing enough. I wanted to help Martha in a world where we’re reminded we have a purpose, but we forget the reason is to glorify God, not “worthify” ourselves

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I gently remind myself a dozen times a day when I’m working feverishly, worrying, or distracted, “There you go again being Martha.”

This simple prompt helps me slow down and choose well. It helps me with #GettingYourOwnLife. It helps me “look up” like in this quote shared on Facebook by friend Lucille Zimmerman. Thanks, Lucille.

“The moon was reigning over their world, glowing its full splendor to all those willing to look up.” Irina Serban

 I hope something in this post helps you, as well.

In This Together,
A recovering Martha

Thanks for the golden photo that looks like heaven, Joel Carter. Thanks for the other photos, Pixabay.com.

 

What Died? (more about suffering, more about acceptance)

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“There’s nothing more depressing than having it all and still feeling sad.” Unknown  (Image from iStock)

“There’s nothing more depressing than having it all and still feeling sad.” Unknown 
(Image from iStock)

I’ve spent nearly a decade grappling with Dad’s death and with the death of thoughts that I had control over my now 36-year marriage. Both losses left me feeling lifeless.

When friends said grief takes time, I nodded. However, I knew this was more than being sad that Dad was gone. It was also more than letting go of the control I tried to have over my husband. Something else died and it scared me that I didn’t know what it was or how to revive it.

I prayed every single day for more than three fourths of those years.

I prayed for energy and motivation to write and exercise and live life as it came. I prayed to focus on myself instead of staring at what others had done to me. I prayed to know what died so I could begin accepting it was gone and move beyond days that were dark and heavy.

Prayer didn’t work (meaning it didn’t make the pain go away). 

Neither did gratitude lists that included seeing my first article published, celebrating our children’s wedding and engagement, and sharing a precious granddaughter with the world. The more good that happened, the darker and heavier I felt for not feeling grateful.

Neither did advice about my attitude, attempts to diminish my pain in the light of others’ more devastating pain, or my own self-contempt for not being able to shake depression.

And neither did attending church, reading positive passages, or talking to family and friends who looked sympathetic, but confused. Their expressions said, “Now, tell me one more time why you’re feeling sad and lost?”

I almost stopped trying to explain because I didn’t know myself what was happening. That was, until I tried one more time.

“Nothing’s motivated me like trying to get it right with you and Dad,” I said to my husband. “Sick as it sounds, struggling for your attention and Dad’s approval got me out of bed every morning.”

He heard me. 

I heard myself.

Since burying my dad and my marriage (as I knew it), I’ve been missing my sickness. I wrote in my last post that suffering serves a purpose, but suffering is a means to an end, not an end in itself.

Instead of learning and being changed by suffering, then moving on, I’ve tried to revive it by staggering too often into the past, flirting with fear and self-doubt, and throwing pity parties. Not that I’m saying this party girl is finished, but I’m over-the-top relieved to know what died – my suffering that masqueraded as purpose. When I’m ready, life is waiting.

And so is more suffering and I’m okay with that.

Are you smack dab in the middle of your sickness, your struggles, and your suffering? Are you feeling more dead than alive? I hope this post offers some answers, some optimism, or at least lets you know you’re not alone.

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – It takes what it takes for each of us. I’m grateful to be at another crossroad where I have insight and hope and choices, and, yes, awareness that there will be more suffering.

On the side: In hindsight, some of the things I listed – prayer, gratitude, church, reading, and sharing with family and friends – did work (meaning they made my days feel gentler, they moved me forward, they grew me up), just not as quickly or as dramatically as I wanted.

Here’s additional reading about suffering from A Holy Experience, “The 1 Unlikely Secret to Hold Onto When You’re Sad.” 

Too Much Suffering, Not Enough Fluff (about suffering and about acceptance)

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"Your greatest ministry will likely come from your deepest pain." Rick Warren (Image from iStock)

“Your greatest ministry will likely come from your deepest pain.” Rick Warren
(Image from iStock)

“God is more concerned about our spirituality than our comfort” came to mind during Sunday’s message about the purpose of our struggles. At first, I wasn’t anymore thrilled about the sermon than I had been the quote. After all, I just want to be happy.

I contemplated only writing light-hearted, fluffy posts. You know, so I’d be known as the happy-go-lucky blogger, but, then, I didn’t have much to say about that.

Next, I contemplated asking for prayer so I’d be more happy-go-lucky, but God didn’t have much to say about that.

Finally, I contemplated what God did have to say and it wasn’t about happy-go-lucky, although I’m sure he has nothing against our happiness. It’s just that, from what I keep hearing, our priorities are often times not his priorities.

The sermon and the quote offered insight into our suffering and an explanation as to why we don’t need to run from it or pray it away, even though I continue to try both. We’re supposed to be changed by it.

God’s obvious concern about my changing over the past nine years has left me wondering if he had concerns for anyone else’s spirituality, but of course he does. He has big plans for us all, even though I’ve been focused on the pain that I equate with God’s punishment. Painful events have led to painful thinking.

Suffering, however, is not about punishment, although it is sometimes a consequence as the result of our behavior. Suffering is a mirror into which we catch a glimpse of what’s inside of us. No, Facebook doesn’t cut it.

Suffering is for our own good and for a higher purpose. Our time here is designed to help us stop edging God out (ego) and, instead, start edifying him. Unfortunately, most of us are hard headed and some of us are hard hearted.

What gushes out during the tough times is what’s been inside all along. Usually it’s a combination of love and fear, grace and griping, humility and entitlement, meaning we all need the changing power of suffering.

What are you suffering through? How is it changing you?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Here’s to graciously walking through our suffering and being changed from fluffy-seeking to faith-finding.

On the side: Beth Vogt also wrote a blog post this week about suffering. Click here to read In Others’ Words: Wrestling Match.

Fix Your Face, part 1 (and maybe the only part)

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"Every man over forty is responsible for his face." Abraham Lincoln (Image from iStock)

“Every man over forty is responsible for his face.”
Abraham Lincoln
(Image from iStock)

“You better fix your face, young man, and you better fix it now,” said Mom to her son who looked to be about four years old.

I turned from the clothes rack where I was shopping to see a little boy shuffling behind his mother. He pulled his hood over his head, crossed his arms, and pouted out his lips like I do mine when life isn’t going my way.

His face tickled me and so did his mom’s orders. But I also understood his pain, especially when his mother threatened to take away the next day’s fun activities. Her warning reminded me of the pity trap I fall into when my own face needs fixing, but I’d rather feel sorry for myself.

The little boy’s scene looked a lot like God and me when I talked with him last October about relocating closer to our kids and our first grandbaby. Circumstances made it obvious the answer was “no.”  

I pouted. I cried. I accused God of taking away my fun.

The scene also looked similar to the day, just a few weeks later, when I heard the news that our son and future daughter-in-law were moving for two years to Oklahoma City.

Again I pouted. Again I cried.  Again I accused God of taking away my fun.

And when __________  (I can fill in the blank with any number of situations when God’s will hasn’t aligned with my own, and I’ve pouted and I’ve cried and I’ve accused).

But those times are a changin’ because I am a changin’. I’m fixing my face and I’m fixing it now.

Here is my “powder room” list:

  • I’m practicing being satisfied with God’s answers in light of choosing “content” as my word for 2014, knowing that he always knows best. Yes, always … trust me, I’m going on 56 years of hindsight.
  • I’m recapturing my faith. Thanks to friend, Lis Morgan, and her word “recapture,” I’m focusing on and praying for the restoration of the faith that I once lived by (but lost) for at least a portion of those 56 years.
  • I’m saying grateful things more than griping, and I’m again daily making a 13-item gratitude list.

Does your face need fixing? Are you fixing it now? Care to share tips from your “powder room”?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – I believe the quote from Abe Lincoln and I’m working on my makeover now.

The Equation (when life doesn’t add up and other equations let you down)

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“When life isn’t adding up, choose a different equation.”  Anonymous

“When life isn’t adding up, choose a different equation.”
Anonymous

Contentment has seldom been part of my life’s equations, especially when the car goes into the shop for new brake pads and comes out squealing, or when a relationship unexpectedly ruffles, or when our son hikes 60 plus miles with only his backpack and his dog, like he’s doing right now.

Too many times I give into irritation and frustration and concern. This time around, however, Sunday’s sermon came to mind. Our pastor talked about The Equation, capitalized here to set it apart from all the ones I’ve thought up.

Here are just a few …

God + marriage = All I Need

God + family + an impressive car in an upscale neighborhood = The American Dream

God + family + enough money to assure we don’t need Him = Control

God + family + a successful writing career = Happiness

God + family = Everything

God is always a variable. Then again, so are people as I evidently haven’t believed he alone is enough. Truth be told, when I post this, I’ll still be grappling with the latter equation not adding up.

The problem is, we’re let down by variables like people, possessions and professions. If I write a new equation, which I’ve been tempted to do since the birth of our three-month-old granddaughter, I’ll be let down by her as well.

Here is where I’m supposed to interject, “But God never lets us down.”

Instead, I’m thinking, “Now what?”

If I’m no longer pursuing happiness and the American Dream by way of family, money and career, what is my part in The Equation? Do I sit all day and read the Bible? Leave everything behind and, wearing sackcloth and designer shoes, head for a mission field? Ask our son to help find a mountaintop where I can do my chanting?

I might have a better chance of practicing any one of these before I work out the biblical equation that instructs my part is to be content.

Insurmountable as it sounds, I Timothy 6:6 (NASB) says, “But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.”

In the form of an equation, it looks like this: God + contentment = Great Gain.

According to this verse, I am content no matter the noisy brakes and others’ behavior. And never mind our son’s text about a bear that moments ago crossed the ridge above his campsite. I’m content, right?

What are your equations? Are they adding up?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – I’ve unknowingly blogged my part in The Equation – writing about being right where I’m supposed to be (and content). It’s time to put print into practice.

On the Side: Thanks to Iain Boyd, the rector at Trinity Church in Myrtle Beach, S.C., for simplifying scripture. I wouldn’t have recognized the equation without his guidance.

Also, thanks to Edie Melson for There’s No Math in Heaven. I received her post while working on my own.

I’m Hear If You Need Me (learning to catch your own fish)

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“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Chinese Proverb

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Chinese Proverb

“You know I love you and I’m hear if you need me” was how my friend ended her message that let me know Mom is under hospice care. I keep up with my mom through friends even though she and I have been estranged for more than a decade.  

My friend, the one who sent the message, is a publisher and a fellow writer who knows the difference between hear and here, so I’m guessing her misspelling was the result of divine grammatical intervention. It stirred me as much as the news about Mom.

God knows I’ve needed to be heard and understood probably more than I’ve needed to be loved.

I’ve lived most of my life with a desperate desire for others to listen and “get me,” which explains why I’ve talked non-stop to anyone who would sit in front of me. Only thing is, they’ve looked blank more often than not.

They didn’t get me at all, probably because I didn’t get myself.

I had no idea who I was because I listened to what others (you know, the people who didn’t get me) preached, conformed to what they expected, and tried to believe what they said even though I secretly doubted most of it.

The more I hang out with the trusted group of friends I have now, the ones who do hear and understand, the more I recognize that most, if not all, of us long for something. When we don’t get it, some of us run scared. I think that’s why I ran to more impressive homes, name brand people, and a noticeable writing career – I was too afraid to admit what I really longed for, but couldn’t have, not from someone else anyways.

And I was adamant that I didn’t want to do it for myself. I wanted hearing and understanding to come from my parents, my husband, friends, or a mentor.

Instead, I ended up with a God who, in the place of giving me a boatload of fish, taught me how to catch them. I never was crazy about that quote – well, until now.

I’m learning to honor myself the way God’s honored me all along, like in the message I’m convinced he sent through my friend, “I’m hear if you need me.” The misspelling was enough to jolt me into recognizing I’m being heard and understood by my God, I’m hearing and understanding the still small voice within, and most days, I’m enjoying catching my own fish.

What are you longing for? Any chance you’re trying to get it outside yourself when the only place it can be found is within?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Dear God, I wanted someone else to do it (fill in the blank for yourself) for me. You wanted me to do it for myself. Under duress, we’re doing it your way. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Keeping My Distance (from bad news, from pain and from Sandy Hook Elementary)

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“Don’t curse the darkness. Light a candle.” Chinese proverb, photo credit to Christy Young

“Don’t curse the darkness. Light a candle.” Chinese proverb (Photo by Christy Young)

I finished raking the yard yesterday evening about 11, just before bedtime.

Prior to taking the rake off its hook and rolling the green garbage receptacle to our front yard, I sat cross-legged on a wicker chair in our living room and babbled for more than an hour.

My husband John yawned and his eyes glazed over, letting me know he was tired even though I was nowhere near finished talking about how to stop sad events, like 20 children being killed in their classrooms.

Not one bit closer to an answer or peace, it seemed now was as good a time as any to do yard work. Our lawn was well lit by a front porch light, along with the streetlight. Rain stopped an hour earlier and I learned wet oak leaves rake easier than dry ones.

The rake scraped over the yard while I recalled some 32 years ago, John swinging an ax every spare minute for three days in a row and into the evenings. He stacked the wood high enough for dozens of fires even though the previous winter we’d only burned one.

Kind of like my raking, I guess chopping wood was all he could think to do the day after a masked gunman attempted to rob him outside a restaurant he managed in Columbia, S.C.

At gunpoint, John handed over the restaurant’s bank deposit and the keys to his car. He turned around like he was told and walked slowly across the parking lot without looking back.

A policeman, making his final round, happened upon the scene. He pulled his squad car between John and the gunman. The gunman ran, but when several police surrounded him, he turned the gun on himself.

The 26-year-old armed robber, only four years older than we were at the time, knew the nightly routine because he’d recently been fired from the restaurant chain in a nearby town. The police found photos in a wallet of his wife and daughter.

When I picked up John from the restaurant that evening, I hugged him, but detached from the story. We didn’t discuss it for years.

I noticed anytime negative things happened, I didn’t curse the darkness or even ask God “why” so much as I tried to figure out how to make it all stop … the bad things, the painful and sad feelings, and the fear. I tried to avoid, or at least distance myself, from anything unpleasant, as well as alleviate the same from lives of family and friends. Acceptance seldom came to mind.

Last Friday was no different. When I heard the news about Sandy Hook Elementary, the conversations in my head commenced.  

“I’m relieved our kids have graduated and no longer attend public schools,” but then I thought about our grandchildren. Our first is due in July.

“This sort of thing happens up north,” but the truth is it also happens in the east, the west, and in a restaurant parking lot in the south.

“My kindergarten teaching days are over and thankfully without incident,” but I can’t ignore someone else’s teaching days were cut short and not by choice.

“Sandy Hook Elementary is far away and I didn’t know the children who were harmed,” but now I do, through emails and Facebook and blogs, and each of their young faces reminds me of one I taught.

No rationalization lessened the hurt. It never does, but I’ve kept trying. Still, I can never muster enough indifference, or push the victims far enough away.

I only get crazier trying, which means if I really want to help, I come to terms with not understanding, with feeling shaken and out of control, with lighting a candle when I prefer to ignore the darkness.     

  • Light a Candle – I’ll mail a card because I have to do something. I always have to do something. Here’s the address if you have to also:

             Sandy Hook Elementary School
             12 Dickenson Drive
             Sandy Hook, CT 06482

  • Light a Candle – I’ll accept I can’t eradicate darkness by ignoring it, any more than by cursing it. I can, however, pray for the family of John’s gunman who I’m sure has not forgotten even though it’s been decades, and for the family of Sandy Hook Elementary’s gunman who won’t forget even when decades have passed.
  • Light a Candle – I’ll pray for the children’s parents and the staff’s families, that the upcoming holiday feels gentle, that life feels gentle. I’ll pray this for all victims, everywhere.
  • Light a Candle – I’ll grieve and be angry when appropriate, but I will not debate who is to blame – God, parents, gun advocates, a flawed system. It doesn’t matter and only intensifies the darkness.
  • Light a Candle – I’ll focus on what is good and right in the world. When life turns out to be the opposite, I’ll act maturely, taking responsibility for whatever is mine to do. Rather than sticking my head in the sand, I’ll face pain and respect that it serves a purpose even when I don’t know what that purpose is. I’ll listen instead of interrupting with neatly packaged answers (see link below).

How do you cope with pain and sadness? What can you add to the candle lighting list?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Pain is unpreventable, however, lighting a candle prevents darkness.

On the side: Click on its title to read a post about what to say and what not to say at a time like this, “Please Don’t Give Me a Christian Answer” by Proverbs 31 founder Lysa TerKeurst.

Thoughts about what we can do from “Brave in Brokenness” by Kelly Rae Roberts.

Self-Acceptance and the Stubbed Toe

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"Self-acceptance is my refusal to be in an adversarial relationship to myself." Nathaniel Brand, Artwork used by permission from Cindy DeLuz

“Self-acceptance is my refusal to be in an adversarial relationship to myself.”
Nathaniel Brand (Artwork by Cindy DeLuz)

“I took off all my clothes and stood in front of a full-length mirror. I told myself, ‘You’re going to stand here until you love what you see.’ It took time, but I did it. I walked away with some self-acceptance.

This quote is from an overweight friend who was at her wit’s end.

I thought of her just after I stubbed my toe in a frenzy to make our bed. My husband was on his way home for lunch. Instead of working that morning, I played on Facebook.

My little secret. Even though his iPhone notifies him each time I post, and hundreds of friends view my activity. Not to mention, there is a committee in my head that keeps up day-to-day.

“On Facebook again? Really? It’s all the time, isn’t it?

“Nothing unusual, of course. You promise yourself everyday to set limits, but you don’t.”

“No self control whatsoever.”

“What a marvelous day.”

Huh? Where’d that come from?

I’m not certain what brought my friend’s story to mind, or why my thoughts changed for the better. Maybe the pain in my foot brought to focus how much pain I inflict on myself emotionally. Maybe it was like a good talking-to.

A wake-up call, of sorts. 

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – I’d stub my toe daily for a bit of loving reflection and self-acceptance.  How about you?

On the side: My friend and I believe her time in front of the mirror contributes to her ongoing weight loss.

Visit Cindy DeLuz’s website for more great art.