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When I feel my temper
bubbling to the surface,
send a cooling breeze,
silence my harsh words,
open hands I’ve clenched into fists.
When I have felt
Your healing spirit,
let me see an opportunity to show
and Your patience —
the same kindness, love and patience
You pour down
Once in a while, I’m a little dense. Then there are those other days when I’m black hole dense. Apparently, last Monday was one of those days.
First my son forgot to make sure that he had a towel in his swim bag. After practice, he had to borrow the end of a friend’s towel and use the hand dryer in the locker room. I refused to take the blame and laid it right back in his lap.
Then, as soon as I started working, he announced that he couldn’t find his team suit for that night’s meet. Really? You’d have to look to find it. Nope. Still, no luck. I was less than kind when I handed it to him and then let him fold a large portion of the laundry that had masked its presence.
Let’s just say that by the time he was in la-la-land and didn’t even hear the call to his last event at the meet, I had had it. Big time. It wasn’t entirely his fault – they had canceled his lane. But if he had been paying attention, he would have been able to tell me that when I asked him why he wasn’t getting ready to swim. Instead, he ran around like the proverbial chicken.
The next day, storms cancelled practice. Hallelujah! I could get to work early, get done early, and he could attempt to find his brain. Because I so was not going to put up with another one of those days.
Plopping down in my chair, I pulled out my list of deadlines. July 15th – check. I’m working on that one. July 1st – under control. I had to get just a bit more information and then I could rough that one out. July 1st . . .
Didn’t I just look at that one?
I had completely – as in entirely – overlooked a deadline. I knew I had to write the article but hadn’t taken note of when it was due. I usually start these things at least three weeks in advance. Not a week and a half. How could I be so stupid?
Oh, I get it.
Just to make sure, I told a friend. He groaned. “You know,” he said. “God’s got quite a sense of humor. Sorry.”
Yep. That’s what I thought.
But seriously, a more subtle lesson would have worked.
I’m almost sure of it.
We’re all talking different languages,
but what we want is the same:
open my heart to the music
of strange voices;
be my simultaneous interpreter.
Let me apprehend,
make the connection,
like Helen Keller at the water pump,
that I might help them say it
so all the world can comprehend.
“Please and thank You.”
Please is the asking.
Thank You, the receiving.
Concise and right to the point.
But for the benefit of those who don’t know God:
Speak volumes with your life.
Be an ambassador.
Bring a level head.
Bring the best of you each day as you walk the earth.
The world will know you by your actions
before you speak a word.
Don’t just keep the faith. Give it.
Reading SueBE and Lori’s posts for this week, I noticed a theme – both of them are revising their own life-stories to incorporate more meaningful spiritual elements. This means taking on greater responsibility and challenging themselves in ways they may not have expected.
The other day I watched the biography of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and realized that when you’re no longer around, somebody else tells your story. Historians, distant relatives, the grocer…. Everybody weighs in as if they had something to do with your life.
After FDR had an affair, he and wife Eleanor led separate lives, but when he ran for president, they presented a façade of marital bliss. When polio made walking difficult, his son walked beside him, holding him up surreptitiously in front of the cameras so he wouldn’t appear weak. FDR ultimately built a substantive legacy, but behind the scenes, it was all smoke and mirrors.
Some historians weren’t even alive during FDR’s presidency, so they’ve relied on things other people said to determine the facts of his life. That’s why it’s so important to tell your story. Clearly. While you’re still here.
If you were to ask me for my story, I would say I’m a mother, a freelance writer, and a person of faith. The things that matter most to me are my son, my dog, prayer, and encouraging other travelers on the road of life. When obstacles get in the way, I do what I can and leave the rest up to God. I know that I can change my world from bleak to better just by lifting my eyes to the skies. No matter what else you might hear about me, this is my story. And I’m sticking to it.
After reading about SueBe’s latest endeavor, I was emboldened to talk about my own. Not that I’m ashamed of it. I’m thrilled, actually. I’ve been accepted into the Providence Associate program with the Sisters of Providence. With vocations at an unsettling low, the Sisters have instituted a program whereby ordinary folk like me engage in intense study and contemplation in order to become associates of the order. This means that one day, if my studies go well, I will be a part of spreading the mission and charism of the S.P.s.
I can’t wait to begin the journey; my companion in this endeavor will be my dear friend and mentor Sr. Rosemary Nudd, English professor extraordinaire from my college days. She will guide me along the way, provoking me to get and give the most that I can.
So why am I not shouting my news from the rooftops? To certain people, I am. My mother, for instance, understands my calling and shares my joy. Others don’t quite get it. “Will you have to wear the costume?” one well-meaning friend asked. (Just for the record, the Sisters of Providence haven’t worn a “costume” in many, many years. They dress just like you and me.) “Does this mean you’re leaving your husband?” someone else inquired. No, it doesn’t. I won’t take vows. I won’t be obligated financially to the order. I’ve simply expressed my desire to have an ongoing, formal relationship with them, to help them with their work in the world.
Unfortunately, what nuns are and what they do is still largely misunderstood in this world, so of course, my calling is something of a mystery to some. But it is my calling, after all. No one has to understand it but me. And I couldn’t be happier.
Some time ago, Ruth sent me an e-mail. “Sue, I think you’re being called upon to lead at your church. You go!” Ok, that’s a paraphrase but it gets her point across. My reaction? “God, help me.”
There are things I’m comfortable with and things I’m not. I can get up and lead a session at a writers conference with confidence. I love teaching about my passions, but most especially about writing.
But put me up in front of a group at church and I panic. P-A-N-I-C. Sweats. Cold hands. Churning stomach. Panic. So let’s just say that I shuddered off Ruth’s comment and went on with my life.
Those of you who read my posts regularly know that I am active at Florissant Presbyterian Church, most especially with my favorite activity – the church choir. I love music although I’m not likely to ever get a solo. Choir makes me happy. It keeps me balanced. It gives me hope. Its how I recharge my batteries.
Each summer, we take a more or less 10 week sabbatical starting right after July 4th. Most everyone else, including our choir director, relishes this time off. Not me. I dread it. I feel adrift. I need my anchor. So with the 4th rapidly approaching, I’ve been bemoaning my fate. “What am I going to do without choir? How will I stay connected?”
Be careful what you ask for. About two weeks ago a member of the Christian Ed committee caught me in the hall. She wanted to know if I’d be willing to teach adult Bible study as part of our Summer Bible School program. The topic would be parables. I chewed on my lip. Bible School is in the evening this summer. With my son on swim team, we have evening swim meets. Sometimes we even have two a week. This would be toward the end of the season. I couldn’t miss his last meet. I told her I’d check our calendar and get back to her.
At home, I flipped over to July. Swim practice. Swim meet. Boy Scout camp. But the week of Bible school had . . . nothing. There was swim practice in the day time, but in the evening? Nothing. No swim meets at all. No choir because we’re on break.
The message was loud and clear. This was how I would stay connected over the break. It definitely wasn’t the answer that I’d been expecting but it was one that even I could hear over the splash at the pool and the slamming of storm doors. Summer may be here, but my opportunities to learn and deepen are not on sabbatical. I just need to be open to the possibilities.
And, as Ruth predicted, it looks like I am, in my own small way, going to lead.
Ruth’s right. The world is getting less and less gracious by the millisecond. Perhaps it has something to do with our attenuated attention spans. The last time I was at Disneyland, I was astounded by the number of people talking and texting on their phones. You’re at Disneyland. How is that not exciting enough for you? How can you possibly need more stimulation?
The paradox is that we need grace more than ever these days. There are so many more of us to accommodate. So much more to forgive. I once tried to eat a lovely Chinese dinner while the woman at the next table enthused (loudly) about the intimate details of her father’s illness (his blackened toe, what it looked like after surgery) over her cell phone. And when one call ended, she called the next person and related the same. gory. information. I never needed divine intervention more. Also, an anti-nausea pill.
I’m going to suggest something radical. Let’s put down our phones and attune ourselves to those around us. Let’s become aware of each other. Maybe without our Smartphones glued to our ears, we will hear the needs of our neighbors. Because graciousness is goodness, and goodness is God-ness. I want to be in the business of God, and I’m sure you do, too. We’re just too busy talking on the phone.
Bless the fathers
that you have placed
on this Earth
to guide us,
to teach us,
to stand watch as we explore,
so that we can find ourselves,
and, in the process, find You.
How many of you find yourselves praying for God to give you patience with your husband? You don’t want to nag, but you find yourself stepping in verbally and physically as he helps put away the groceries or dresses the kids.
The solution may be closer than you think – this Father’s Day give your husband a very special gift. Let him be a father unsupervised.
Seriously. It just might be the answer to your prayers.
I know that I had uttered a similar prayer myself as I parented our toddler. “Please let my husband see the wisdom of doing things my way!” Ok, I’m sure I was a bit more subtle than that, but only a bit.
Then I went out of town. While I was gone, I heard a woman talking to her husband on her cell. Clearly she was giving him instructions on heating the meals she had prepared before leaving home, and just as clearly he was taking the kids out for burgers. Her frustration was obvious.
Wow, I thought. Why doesn’t she just let him take care of the kids? They aren’t going to die of malnutrition in four days. What a control freak.
You know how sometimes you can sense God crossing His arms and tapping His foot? Let’s just say that I had one of those moments. I can do everything my way and continue to fuss at God. Or I can let my husband use his God given talents to parent. Since our son is 12, I have to concede that my husband must be doing ok most of the time. Sure, his idea of an acceptable meal differs somewhat from mine but he sure can make a sledding trip fun.
Maybe if you’ve prayed for your husband to be a better parent, the first step needs to be yours. It isn’t easy. I still occasionally find it necessary to leave the room. Or go lie down. Or at least close the kitchen window so I can’t hear what they’re up to. God didn’t create the two of us exactly alike, but He did give us talents that compliment each other if I can have the Faith to give my husband the space to parent.