Saturday, September 26, 2015

Journaling

During one of my monthly conversations with my spiritual director, she asks about what practices I have to nurture myself. Among other things I mentioned, I brought up that I’ve recently gotten into journaling. We went on to talk about other things. But it struck me that some of my story might connect with some of yours.

When I was a girl, it seemed everyone had diaries except me. I’d visit friends, see theirs, and think I was missing out on something. I wanted one of those little books with the tiny lock and key. I’d put it on my Christmas list, but did no more than that.

As a teen, I still hadn’t gotten a cute little diary, so I took a spiral-bound notebook that still had lots of empty pages and I started writing. I quickly found out that I don’t have the … interest in writing about my life every day. As has often been the case, I had “better” things to do than whatever practice I thought I wanted to begin. I believed I had failed at yet another thing. (Yes, there were quite a few.) Still, I kept writing occasionally when I needed the outlet.

I didn’t know I was journaling, but I guess I was. I wrote on and off, junior high through college – about school experiences, life at home, my near-nonexistence social life – and about my own responses to what was, or wasn’t, happening. I wrote poems and the beginning of a story. After college, I forgot about writing except when I’d find that notebook. I wrote rarely and only in extreme need.

Until, a few years ago when I read a New Year’s blog about journaling, and had two thoughts: "That’s what I used to do!" and "I need to do that!" I told Kay – the real writer of the family – and she decorated a nice notebook she was no longer using, gave it to me, and said she’d get me another when I filled that one.

I’ve been writing ever since, sporadically at first, but when I set a practice to write Sunday afternoons, it became much more regular.
Yes, practice – that’s another thing I’ve learned about myself. Although I never did the daily writing, it’s because it wasn’t important to me to do it. When something’s been important, like reading my bible each evening as a teen, or cleaning the litter box, I’ve generally made time for it. (Disclaimer: Although I read the bible for work, I’d gotten away from spiritual reading the last few years, and am only just getting back into it.)

I am not a failure, which I suppose was the reason I wrote this entry, so that I could assure you that you’re not a failure either. We can each take so many knocks in this life that it would be easy to conclude that there is something wrong with us. There’s not. We just need to keep at it, trusting that the One who made us “doesn’t make junk” (as a favorite toddler-sized t-shirt declares.)

Keep being the person you were made to be. And trust that the things that are important will get done, reassessing now and again if you need to, to make sure they really are the important things.

And may God bless you.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

to complain or not to complain

In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing so that no one can speak a word against you.  Philippians 2:14f 

What do you do when you feel oh-so tired? I mean besides sleeping eventually? Hopefully your list doesn’t include running a red light, burning dinner, or tripping on your way down the stairs, but what do you do?

A few days ago, I read a blog in which the author wrote about her experience fasting from complaining. She discovered that her biggest topic of complaint was her lack of sleep. As I read, I thought to myself, that’s what I do!

In a not-so-wonderful coincidence, that night I missed the middle three or four hours of my sleep. So the next day – remembering her words – I was able to observe how often I would normally have told people about being tired. How often, you ask? I didn’t count, but it would have been a big number. And this is after actively working – for years – to stem my complaints. I think I complain less than I once did, but it’s still too much.

I mean, really, what do I have to complain about? My amazingly talented daughter is beginning her higher education at a great school. My son – also wonderfully talented – is marrying an equally wonderful woman in two days. (Okay, enough with the superlatives!) I have a house I love and two goofy cats to keep me company. Plenty to eat, drink, and wear. I get to do work I’m passionate about.

Yes, I’m tired. This week has had more than the usual busyness. I wish I was healthier. I’d like more companionship. I really don’t want to mow the lawn. But these are first-world problems!

So… I’m making a decision. I’m going to get back to doing what I tried a few years ago, that I still kind of do, but have gotten rather lazy about. I’m going to practice gratitude – being thankful for every little thing. Because I really do believe that even the so-called obstacles are gifts. I just haven’t figured out how to deal with them yet.

Yes, I’m probably in danger of putting on my Pollyanna hat again. But, after all, life is going to be what it is, regardless of how I deal with it. And I’ve learned from previous experience that practicing gratitude doesn’t cost anything and my outlook is always better for having done it.


Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances...  1 Thessalonians 5:16f