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On Wednesday afternoon I’m at church for about 2 hours.  We don’t have services on Wednesday but we do walk.  One of our members cleverly named the program Come Walk With Me.  We aren’t fast so plenty of talking goes on while we walk.

This week an awful lot of that chatter was about how mean people have become.  Flame wars.  Law suits.  Mean spirited tweets.  It seems overwhelming.

But I have to be honest with you. I think we can change it.  The first step?  Instead of complaining about it, find something positive to mention.  Miss Ruth is a champion at finding positive stories on-line.  And that’s why I’ve spent so much time putting together these Inaugurate Light images.  I want to put something positive into the ether.

Putting something positive out there amidst the negative.  Hmm.  Where have we heard that kind of advice before?  Working against great odds to do good?  It sounds just a little Biblical.

–SueBE

Photo by Jiyeon Park on Unsplash

Journalist Ann Curry appeared on a news program to promote her new project, which focuses on feel-good stories of people re-connecting with those who have had a positive impact on their lives.

But first the anchors wanted her to talk about a dark day from her past. They kept asking her about being let go from NBC’s Today Show. It was reported that Matt Lauer, now accused of sexual impropriety, had had Curry fired.

Even though she was clearly uncomfortable, Curry spoke in generalities about her experience, hoping to get back to her current project. It occurred to me. Isn’t this also the creation of a hostile environment? If she keeps stating she wants to look forward and not talk about a painful event and that boundary isn’t being respected, isn’t this a form of abuse as well?

And I wondered if #MeToo is not just about men in power, sexually harassing or abusing women. It’s also women, in a conversation, not hearing another woman saying, This is something that makes me uncomfortable. I’d prefer not to talk about it.

There’s an orthodoxy forming that could become just as exclusive as the boys’ club has been. I noticed that the women who started Time’s Up didn’t include the earliest voices of #MeToo, such as Rose McGowan, who was vocal in her criticism of Meryl Streep.

There’s a danger that a genuine groundswell may become another party that only a few are invited to attend.

I’d like to propose another hashtag: #YourTime, which is to say, tell your story in your time. When you’re ready to speak, we’ll all listen. If you don’t feel like talking, or even offering an opinion on these issues, that’s your prerogative, as well.

Advocacy is a lot like faith. There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all.

course correction

In a dream years ago, I was told that there are three keys to life:

  • Water
  • Full-body Stretch
  • Contempt

For a while, I struggled with that last one. Contempt? Why would something so negative be one of the keys to life? I assumed I must have read it wrong. Must have been “content,” as in, be grateful for what you have. Don’t be a complainer.

But it stayed in my heart as “contempt.” It took me a long time to listen, but I realized there comes a time when it’s not just acceptable, but necessary, to feel contempt.

When you’re in a situation that is unbearable, untenable, unbelievable, I can’t imagine God is sitting in Heaven, saying, too bad, so sad. It’s my will. You’ll have to endure this for your whole life.

Of course, there are times when it’s right to pray and be patient, waiting for Him to move on your behalf. But there are also times when it’s absolutely imperative to listen to your soul’s nudge, and take action.

Life after my marriage ended wasn’t easier; it was better, I wrote in an earlier post. Leaving a job that was sucking the life out of me wasn’t a decision I made lightly, but my health was deteriorating.  Careful consideration and persistent prayer made it clear what I had to do.

Some things are not open to debate. If you see a spider in the hallway, you don’t pray it out. You get it out  – of your house, right away. Why is it so much more agonizing to eliminate the negativity in our personal lives?

Leaving behind what doesn’t serve you isn’t quitting. It’s a course correction.

There isn’t a specific commandment to “Love Thyself,” because it’s implicit in “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

God created you. God loves you. Love yourself.

Don’t stay in a toxic, soul-suffocating situation if you can help it. It’s okay to say, This hurts me. I hate it. It’s got to go.

So don’t feed and water the monsters in your own life. Don’t fluff their pillows and leave a mint on the bed for them. Treat them with contempt. And show them the door.

Ash Wednesday ushered in Lent, a forty-day period before Easter in which a person reflects, sacrifices, and repents before the events of Holy Week. Seems like a grave time of year, all “giving up” and self-remonstration. But, as my pastor asserted, it doesn’t have to be. It can be a time of joy. Here are three words to keep in mind during this Lenten season.

Prayer: Is your prayer life all it should be or even all it could be? Are you praying by rote and not from the heart? Lent is an excellent time to review your prayer life and alter it for the better. Try praying at different times of day. Try rewording your usual rote. Read Scripture. Do whatever it takes to improve your communication with God.

Fasting: On Fridays during Lent, Catholics fast. This is not to say that we do not eat; we do. We eat two small meals and one larger meal, not to exceed the sum of the two smaller meals. We don’t snack between meals. How is this spiritually helpful? It requires discipline, for one, never a bad attribute to have in one’s wheelhouse. But it’s also physically helpful: It makes a person mindful of what she is putting into her body. How much do you really need to eat? What can you do without? It forces one to look at the intentionality of something one does every day, often without thinking. And living with intention is a good thing.

Abstaining/Adding: People often “give up” something for Lent: smoking, drinking, eating chocolate…usually things they enjoy. But abstaining isn’t the only way. It can be more fruitful to ADD something to your routine: “I will smile at three people every day” or “I will read a psalm a day,” for instance. The point of abstaining/adding isn’t to put yourself through a trial for forty days, only to shuck it off on Easter, however. As my pastor said, the point is to do something (or not do something) that will effect a positive change in you as a person. It is to change yourself in a good way, to transform into a better being. The hope would be such a change would stick long after Lent is through.

Forty days to a better you? How joyous to see Lent in such a light!

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