There are times we just don’t want to face the facts.  Sometimes someone we have idolized says or does something ugly.  Or someone points out something we’ve said or done that doesn’t jive with Christ’s commandments.

Whichever, whenever, wherever, our human tendencies are always the same.  We deny.  We excuse.  We try to shift the blame.

Does that change reality?  Not in the slightest.  We are human and we don’t have that ability.

Take a deep breath.  If that doesn’t work, take another.  Pray for strength if you need it.  Remember that humans are flawed from one end to the other.  Perfection belongs to God and God alone.

Now open your eyes.  The facts will still be waiting for you but so will God.

–SueBE

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Turns out the Texas shooter abused his wife, his child and various animals. Then there’s the guy who snapped a woman’s neck and gouged out her eyes for daring to reject his marriage proposal. And the ongoing accusations of exploitation and rape by Hollywood power brokers against women and children. Seems like hurting someone smaller and weaker than yourself is so endemic, it’s become part and parcel of ordinary life.

It probably always was, of course. Landowners abused serfs. Queens abused ladies-in-waiting. Children attack smaller children. It’s a jungle out there, folks, in the truest sense of the metaphor: Unless you’re an apex predator, watch out.

If you want to know where God is in all of this, look down, to the smallest and weakest of us. God always stands with the abused, the poor, the people on the fringes. That’s where God lives. Don’t believe me? Read the Sermon on the Mount again. Count the number of times and ways Jesus says that the last will be first, and the first, last. Picture poor Lazarus in paradise while Mr. Dives smolders away for all of eternity. And (at least from what we know), Dives never actively abused Lazarus; he just ignored him. How much greater will the punishment be for those who do mete out abuse?

So what can be done? Must we patiently wait for the next life for justice? Me, I’m going to pray The Litany of Nonviolence, written by the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, IN. Feel free to add your voice.

Provident God,
aware of our own brokenness,
we ask the gift of courage
to identify how and where we are in need of conversion
in order to live in solidarity with Earth and all creation.

Deliver us from the violence of superiority and disdain.
Grant us the desire, and the humility,
to listen with special care to those
whose experiences and attitudes are different from our own.

Deliver us from the violence of greed and privilege.
Grant us the desire, and the will, to live simply
so others may have their just share of Earth’s resources.

Deliver us from the silence
that gives consent to abuse, war and evil.
Grant us the desire, and the courage,
to risk speaking and acting for the common good.

Deliver us from the violence
of irreverence, exploitation and control.
Grant us the desire, and the strength,
to act responsibly within the cycle of creation.

God of love, mercy and justice,
acknowledging our complicity
in those attitudes, action and words which perpetuate violence,
we beg the grace of a non-violent heart.
Amen.

A few weeks ago, Pastor Sean told a story on himself.  “When I start something new, even something big, I only plan so far.  I spot the first few stepping-stones and start to make my way across the river.  And then, when I’m part way across, I realize that I’m not 100% certain where to put my foot next.  I have to have faith.”

I immediately got what he was saying.  As anal as I am about some things, I’ll set off on a project with only part of the plan figured out.  My husband thinks this is crazy.  He researches and researches and researches some more.  Than he thinks about it and researches again.  All the while, I’m whining and antsing around in the background.  “Let’s do it.”

He’s the safety net.  I’m the innovator.  We make a great pair.

Sometimes I fuss at God wanting to know why he matched me up with someone who is so stubborn.  But I know that truthfully he matched me up with someone who is solid.  Someone who can act as the anchor as I leap into a project with something like 3/4 of a plan.  My husband?  He’d quote Guardians of the Galaxy and tell me I only have 12% of a plan but don’t believe him. He’s just being funny.

–SueBE

 

It takes a lot to be a leader.  You have to be willing and able to speak off the top of your head about a wide variety of topics.  You have to be comfortable in front of people.  You have to understand that people are going to comment on what you say, what you do and what they think you’ve done and said. And, in spite of all of that, you have to be willing to step forward, to shoulder the burden, and to lead the way.

I really felt that Obama had these qualities.  I oh so badly miss my president.

–SueBE

 

It is so easy to let people get under your skin.  So easy.  Especially when someone is being hateful and unreasonable.

But the moment you let them anger you, you give them space. They take up residence in your head, in your heart, and, ultimately, in your soul.

Not that I’m saying you should let them get by with hate, hateful words, and hateful actions.  By all means, shut them down.  But don’t focus on them.  Focus instead on the injured and the insulted.  Pull them up, dust them off, and send them on their way with a healthy helping of Christ’s love.  How much better than letting them sully your soul.

Now if only I could remember to put this into action.

–SueBE

Credit: Lucky Jackson@mrluckyjackson via Twitter

Writer Anne Lamott re-tweeted this post from Twitter user, Lucky Jackson, and when I saw it, I realized something.

The phrase “thoughts and prayers” is analogous to “everybody knew.”

A lot of the people in Hollywood who were aware that men in power were abusive have come out with this sanctimonious sound bite: “everybody knew,” as if to say, Yeah, all of you other people. You should have done something about this! Shame on you!

And then there’s “thoughts and prayers.” Normally, I don’t have a problem with people using this phrase, but it’s starting to get under my skin.

It could be that those who were killed today in Texas were in a church already. They were already awash in prayers. Then someone with an axe to grind came in with a gun and ended their lives.

Now, if he’d only had an actual axe with which to take out his frustrations, more likely than not, he would have only been able to harm a few people before being stopped.

But with a semi-automatic weapon? Wholesale slaughter.

What’s irking me is the fact that these politicians are using this platitude as their entire response to the issue. As if there’s no other recourse.

So I say, yes, let’s keep the victims in our thoughts and prayers, but, simultaneously, put our heads together to come up with a way to end this insanity. There must be a way to restore the soul of this nation.

We all have gifts from God.  Why not aim high and really test them out?

–SueBE

“Minimum wage doesn’t need to be raised.  She should just get an education and a better job.”

“Insurance?  It’s something you have to work to have.”

“No one gave me a thing.  They should pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.”

We’ve all heard things like these.  Who knows?  Maybe we’ve said them too and probably believed they were True with a capital T.

That’s the funny thing about privilege.  Most of us who are fail to recognize it.  Whether your privilege is racial, economic or something else altogether, when you have it I don’t think you tend to notice it.  After all, you had to work to get through college, to hold down a job, to own a house.  You worked.  They weren’t just given to you.

Good for you.

But an awful lot in life depends on your footing.  Stable footing makes for a good beginning.  From a stable place you can reach out for something better.

And, who knows, you might also decide to have true compassion, to pull someone who is struggling over to also stand on firm ground.  Now that you know that it’s there why not share God’s blessings with someone else?

–SueBE

 

 

I have to admit that although I can manage to believe this when things are going well, this week?  This week, I’m having problems buying what Mandela was selling.

I want to buy it.  I truly do, but it isn’t coming very easily.

But if Mandela could believe it, certainly it must be true.  I can’t claim to have experienced anything personally compared to what he experienced.

So I try.  I try to believe.  But  I’m going to need the Lord’s help.

–SueBE

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