Archives for category: prayer

Clearing Up

Photo entitled “Clearing Up” compliments of Joshua Burgard

It has been a week of drinking lots of fluids and taking antibiotics religiously every 12 hours—-but last night I finally woke up in the middle of the night and “coughed” the gunk out of my lungs. I know now I am going to be alive and well again.

The sun just came out —-and it is not raining, thundering, blowing, or too hot or too cold. I literally have no complaints, and I welcome the feelings of gratitude that are seeping into my awareness. They are so much better than feeling bored, tired, out of breath and questioning whether you feel tired all the time because  you are sick or if depression is rearing its ugly head again.

Last night, I read the scripture I am supposed to read in church Sunday, and although I did not have the breath to read it all out loud, the words brought comfort to my heart and tears to my eyes. The words reminded me that the presence of our creator is in the midst of all this wonderful and sometimes painful  mess we call life. The bible verses I was reading was about creation…..you know, the one about   “in the beginning was God.” As my breathy, croaky recovering voice read the beginning of these words out loud, hearing them and feeling them brought tears. It was as if God hugged me and said, “See, I am still here. I am still in charge. I still love you.” Sounds a bit childish, I know, but I needed to feel loved—-and although I know God and his love are always there sometimes I do not let myself be receptive to that love. I am letting myself be on the receiving end again and the love is flowing. Soon I will have “recharged” my love reservoir and be able to more actively share that love with others.

Well, that’s it. I simply wanted to try to explain how comforting knowing God is surrounding you with love can be when you set aside your intellect, your self-absorption, your worries, etc. for a moment and let yourself  really feel the love in every fiber of your being.  My experience cannot really be put into words, but seeing  blue sky and sunshine after days of storms provides a metaphor for where my soul has been this past week. It has been trudging through cloudy, gray, gloomy places feeling sick and tired of being sick and tired. Now things are clearing up,  and  my soul is basking in the sunlight of God’s love. It feels good to be back.

 

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Image courtesy of smarnad,/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

I’ve been reading a bit lately about the power “one word” prayers have. According to what I’ve been reading,  one word erupting from the heart and soul with emotional force has more power to “reach” God than all of the flowery, wordy  spoken and read prayers. I don’t know about you, but this thought brings me a certain amount of relief. When I am feeling something intensely I don’t have time to stop and think about wording my prayers just right. There have been times in my life when I was in so much pain I could only think “God have mercy; Christ have mercy.” Or, most simply, the thought or word “God.” Since I am alive to write this, I know God heard and answered those prayers.

With this “one word” concept comes the need for caution….as in the old fable of the boy who cried wolf so many times that when he actually saw a wolf and tried to worn his village no one believed him. Out of exasperation and/or irritation, I often think or say, “God!”  This borders on taking the name of God in vain—–and it may be getting in the way of God hearing my “one word” prayers in times of desperation.

The spoken word has great power. We know our thoughts have great power.  A wise teacher from Mexico once taught me that when thoughts become spoken words they become even more powerful. I believed him, and to this day I don’t like to sing the lyrics about dying or to make angry proclamations  akin to ” I could just kill you.” Once released, words have great power—-and they cannot be taken back.

So, before I grow “too wordy” and what I am trying to communicate gets buried in an avalanche of words, please pay attention to my main point: Be careful about what you think and what you say. Our thoughts and words create our realities—-and if a strongly felt “word” or thought is what gets through to  God, let us hope it is one we would like him to “receive.”  I know God is aware of what is in my mind, heart, and soul even before I am—-and even without me having to “put it into words.” So, wouldn’t it be prudent, therefore, for me to work on “cleaning out my mind” so that the thoughts and words there are ones I would like to be in God’s awareness?” So, today, I am going to be aware of my thoughts and words, and try to bring them into alignment with God’s love and will. May God bless and keep you.

 

God Boxes Sept 26 13

Photo by author of God Boxes made in group she co-facilitates.

The ideas discussed in today’s blog were triggered by listening to Father Al Jewson tell a true story in today’s sermon about something that happened to him and his grandfather many years ago. The story was about what we in twelve step programs often call a “God Box.” In the twelve step tradition, such a box is viewed as a receptacle for concerns and problems that we deposit in the box to symbolize letting them go and turning them over to God. We put things (our problems) in this box and literally give them to God.

But in this morning’s story the box in question acted quite differently. It was still a receptacle, but this time it held the Spirit and love of God (God’s Kingdom) and people who are  gifted with such a box are held responsible for sharing the box’s contents with others and eventually passing the box on to someone else even though they continue to “keep”  and “share” the gift the box gave to them.  With this sort of God box we take from God and give to others rather than just giving to God.

So, here we have two boxes symbolizing our communication with God—-with one box, we send things to God so He can solve the problems here on earth. With the other box, we receive a gift from God —-and it is our responsibility to share that love and grace with others.  It is as if one box is saying “Here, God. I can’t handle it—-I have to turn this over to you to handle” and the other is saying “Here is my essence, the only tool the world needs to prevent and solve problems. Here is the solution, share it with others.” One is a taking box and one is a giving box.

However, like all true communication, there needs to be both a sender and a receiver. We actually are responsible for practicing both roles. We need to be able to receive God’s love and direction, and we need to be able to share that gift with others. We also need to realize that we are not God, that there is a power greater than ourselves, and surrendering in love to that power is often necessary if we are to survive to be able to spread God’s grace and love.

So, in closing, I think the “take home” thought from this comparison of “God Boxes” is that we have a give and take relationship with God; we work in partnership as our lives unfold.  We let him “drive the bus” and we, in turn, receive and share his gifts with each other. We don’t try to run and control things, but we do help establish his kingdom on earth by being living messages of God’s gift of love and grace.

 

rethink

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Sometimes you hear yourself telling someone else exactly what you need to hear. Last Thursday, I met a very nice lady who was very distraught because she was afraid her daughter had “lost her salvation” because her daughter died as an alcoholic. I found myself telling her God loves us in spite of ourselves and that God’s love and grace are gifts we do not have to earn. I even reminded her Jesus used to hang out with prostitutes and tax payers—–sort of his culture’s equivalent of our culture’s “addicts and alcoholics.” I explained to her I am both an alcoholic  in recovery for over 32 years and a diabetic and my God does not love me any more or less than anyone else  because of those diseases. I also hugged her and asked God to bless and keep her. I hope she found my words comforting.

I didn’t realize I needed to hear my own words until I was sitting in church yesterday and the rector preached about how we often feel unworthy, and how our thoughts about ourselves are actually quite powerful. He talked about the importance of replacing negative self-talk (thoughts) with positive self-talk. For instance, if  a  new crochet pattern I am trying out is just not working, I may automatically think,  “I can’t crochet this pattern,—–it’s a mess! I’m stupid, I can’t learn a new technique, I can’t  get this yarn to work, etc.” I should, instead,  think, “I’m doing the best I can. What else  can I make out of this “project?” I actually have several nice things I’ve crocheted that are the result of just such creative moments—-ones that changes dismay and anger to something useful that I actually like! Now I need to work on doing the same thing with the way I unconsciously think of myself.

I think part of my discomfort last week was based on realizing I was distancing myself from God’s love —–and later that  under that “layer of the proverbial onion” is an even deeper insight that I, quite frankly, do not like to acknowledge—-that at a very deep, inner part of my being is  an almost unconscious litany of self-talk that tries to convince me I am not worthy of God’s love or of loving myself.  I remember recently asking God to help me love myself as much as he does. I think that was my slightly different way of asking God to let me feel worthy, not just of his love but also my own love. I realize my old enemies of low self-worth and poor self-concept  (powerful thoughts) can invade and control my inner being and consequent outer behavior if I am not careful. But I have to love myself enough to want to be careful, to want to allow God to love me, and to consent to live my life in partnership with him.

It is sad when a psychiatric  nurse has to admit she has problems with her own self-worth. What I heard yesterday from my rector and from myself last Thursday, reminded me I am both worthy and loveable.  The scripture supporting this belief is from Isaiah 43:4: “You are precious in my eyes, you are honored, and I love you.”  Now it is up to me to remind myself over and over again that I am precious, loved, honored, and definitely “worthy.”  God sent me two “Eskimos” last week to remind me, and he definitely is answering my prayer to help me love myself.

Just as God gives me the grace to make  something wonderful out of crocheting mistakes, I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that he is helping me transform the mistakes and negative thinking in my life into a creation we can both love and value.