Poems, Personal Stories, and Observations

Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category

What’s in a Name?

This is long, but if it will save anyone some trouble, it will be worth it…

For people who may be applying for a driver’s license in the future, especially “real id,” a.k.a. “compliant,” be sure your identification documents are in sync, that is, the first and last names match EXACTLY. Also, if you’ll use your passport as an identifying document, obviously it must be up to date. Passport renewal can take weeks.

On 11/9/2021, I got approved for a driver’s license, after three tries. I don’t know if it would have been a problem if I had not moved to a new state. On my first attempt to change to my new state’s license after moving, I brought in a certified copy of my birth certificate, a certified copy of my marriage license, my Social Security card, my former state’s driver’s license, and two proofs of my new address, like utility bills.

My dear parents, may they rest in peace, gave me four middle names besides my first name (at the time, Clara). One of my middle names was Katalin, and over the years people started calling me Cathy, a derivation of Katalin. So, though my birth certificate and my marriage license have Clara as my first name, and four middle names, all my other documents, including my Social Security card and my former state’s driver’s license, had Cathy as my first name. So, because, of the difference in first names, my application for a D.L. was rejected. I cannot remember how I got a driver’s license and SS card with the name Cathy and not Clara (I’m 66.).

My husband thought and thought, then said, “Forget the birth certificate, use your passport, which has your name as Cathy.” That’s how he had gotten his new D.L.

I applied for renewal of my passport, which had expired. I paid extra for expediting the passport renewal. Some weeks later, I received a valid updated passport with the name Cathy.

Soon after, I returned to the licensing bureau, using my passport as an identifying document instead of my birth certificate. Things were going well until they checked my passport number. The clerk said, “It doesn’t match up.” Turns out that it takes three to six weeks, or more, for new passport numbers to be downloaded into the license bureau’s database. So, no go, again. The clerk recommended that I “come back in three weeks”.

I was tempted to give up, but I then emailed the state capital licensing bureau. They confirmed that it takes three to six weeks for new passport numbers to be downloaded.

After waiting four weeks, I tried and succeeded in having the D.L. application approved, using the passport! What a relief! I was so amazed, I left my checkbook at the bureau and had to return to get it, thanks to an honest person who turned it in.

During this ordeal, I briefly contacted two lawyers (no fees paid) who weren’t a big help. One option was to have my name changed in court. But you must reside in my state for a year before you can legally change your name.

Other cases I’ve heard of: 1) a woman whose only name differences were Catie versus Katie. 2) A person whose name difference was Julie versus Julianna. That lady got results by writing to her U. S. Senator. 3) A woman who had either “Grace Mary” or “Mary Grace” (I have changed her names) on different documents.

So, if you’re planning to get a D.L., you may want to work on getting all your identifying documents to agree on the version of your name, or use a passport that is synchronized, if your birth certificate is not.

I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t had a passport!

If anyone has had a similar experience, or advice on hindsight, please share.

Real Heroes

So many people go about quietly doing their jobs and fulfilling their family and/or civic duties. Some of their work may be dangerous, or sometimes achingly boring or mundane. They may never be famous. They may never be rich. There is nothing glamorous about them. Yet they are real heroes.

Who Can Stand?

“If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.” (Psalm 130:3-4)

Wow! Indeed, who can stand before a holy, pure God? If He were like humans, He would have destroyed us long ago. Humans constantly find fault with one another. But the Lord is patient and kind. Yes, we will suffer consequences for our sins, but unlike many people, once we have repented, God forgets our sins. (see Psalm 103:11-13)

A Worthless Slave?

“So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’” (Luke 17:10).

In his book, “Jesus, the Master Psychologist,” Dr. Ray Guarendi comments on the above passage: “Jesus never questions the infinite value of a person … [Jesus’] counsel: When you do what is expected of you, do not expect approval.” Guarandi continues, “Don’t seek praise when acting praiseworthy. [A worthless slave] is not a worthless human being … Being a worthless servant is the path to being a worthy disciple.”

In other words, we are infinitely valuable, but it is God, not ourselves, Who provides the value. Whatever we do to serve Him is not to our credit, but is only what we would be expected to do, because He is worthy of all service.

Confession

Whether you confess to a priest, a minister, a trusted friend, and/or privately to God, repentance and confession are powerful things. The Bible references confession, including “When you realize your guilt in any of these, you shall confess the sin that you have committed.” (Leviticus 5:5), “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16a), and ‘”[Jesus] … breathed on [his disciples] and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”’ (John 20:22-23). Stating our sins explicitly brings them out in the open, into the light. I believe Jesus knew that unconfessed sin was like an untreated wound; if not exposed and cleansed, it would fester.

Once, when I confessed resentment at being hurt or misunderstood, the priest advised, “Think of the hurt like a knife in your heart. You pull out the knife. Now you have a choice. You can keep dwelling on the hurt and/or stab the other person, or you can say to Jesus, “Jesus, I give you this knife and my hurt. You take it. I ask You to handle this because I cannot.”

I don’t always get such helpful advice when I confess, nor do I always have a dramatic experience as some do (for example, a radical experience of cleansing), but I trust that Jesus IS cleansing me and granting me the grace to grow in love for Him and for others.

[Perhaps I should add that wounds from others, or from our own sins, should not be ignored, but neither should we wallow in self-pity. Sometimes the wounds are so deep that we might need counseling from others, or serious therapy. But learning to let Jesus heal our wounds is a big step.]

Don’t be afraid to confess! Unlike with people at times, God will take you back, and all you confess and repent of will be forgotten in the ocean of His mercy.

What is Freedom?

Freedom is the grace to make good decisions, the power to do good. Freedom is being able to express your beliefs, while respecting others beliefs. Freedom is to receive forgiveness, to be released by the grace of God from the guilt of my wrongdoing, and to offer forgiveness to others. Freedom is receiving the grace to forgive my enemies, instead of living a life of resentment and blame. Freedom is letting go of the past, and having hope for the future. Freedom is appreciating those who have helped you have freedom. Gratitude increases freedom. Freedom is a great gift, and a great responsibility. Thank you, God, for the great gift of freedom.

Written July 3, 2021

The Confiteor

Some of you may be familiar with the prayer called “The Confiteor” (“I confess”). The form of this prayer that I’m most familiar with is:

“I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, (And, striking their breast, they say) through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault; therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin, all the Angels and Saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.”

Some time ago, I realized something new about the Confiteor. When we say the words, “Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault,” it’s not about me beating myself up and blaming myself for everything, it’s more about the fact that, compared to God, I am an extremely faulty creature, and in His great mercy, He has made a way for me to be saved.

When I compare myself to others (or focus on myself), it creates misery, but when I compare myself to God, who is all Perfection, it creates humility and gratitude.

The Creator of the Universe

The Creator of the universe,
the one who made quarks and galaxies,
amoebas and humans,
can live in you!

Ask Him today to make Himself real to you!

Complaint versus Criticism

Complaints versus criticisms. Example:

COMPLAINT: “I was so worried when you didn’t call that I stayed awake all night.”
CRITICISM: “You should have called. You made me stay up all night worrying about you. Talk about inconsiderate. [or, You’re a jerk!]”

COMPLAINT addresses actions that cause upset. CRITICISM attacks the other person, or their character.

Which do you think the recipient will be more likely to respond to?

Some people might not see a difference here; however I think some would be more hurt by criticism, whereas complaint will feel more reasonable and they’d be less defensive.

Adapted from “The Relationship Cure,” by John Gottman and Joan DeClaire, Three Rivers Press, 2001, pp. 71-73

Blueberries and Junk Piles

“… most marital arguments cannot be resolved.”
How about that for a startling statement?  Read on …

Now that my husband is retired, we have more “opportunities” to learn about each other’s perspectives.

Many years ago, I did learn that certain of my husband’s behaviors were not deliberate attempts to hurt me, though they often felt like it.  Now I am learning that we truly do see things differently, which is why we often have (usually settled amicably) conflicts.

Take the case of the blueberries.

One day we were beginning our breakfast routine, and Tom said he was going to put some frozen blueberries in his bowl.  I said, rather harshly, “Please eat the fresh blueberries first.”  A little while later, he asked me, “Why was it so important that I eat the fresh blueberries?  I like the frozen ones, because then the milk (or half and half) I pour on them freezes a little and it reminds me of ice cream.”

So I had to explain that I hate for food to be wasted, and I wanted the fresh berries used up before they became rotten.  Why didn’t I explain that, instead of being harsh with him?  Maybe I assumed he would have the same perspective I have, namely, the need to not be wasteful.  But he was seeing blueberries in a whole different way.

Then there’s the case of the junk pile, or piles.

I came home and noticed that my husband had kindly put out the trash bins on the street in anticipation of the following day’s trash collection.  When we went for a walk the next morning, he mentioned that he had started breaking up some items in the side yard, to “clear up more junk,” and had put them in the trash collection.  I said, “What exactly did you you put in?”  He named some items, and I said, “Wait a minute, I was going to give those to Goodwill or freecycle.org.”  “But I’m trying to clear up junk like we agreed to, and it was in the junk pile.”  “But,” I said, “the junk pile is in [area A], not the area you were clearing.”  He replied, “I thought the junk area was the whole side yard, and those items have been there for months.”

Well, besides us never having explicitly defined the actual junk pile area, and me leaving items out for a long time (because I needed to clean them before giving them away and I had procrastinated on that task), I realized that we needed to have a lot more communication.  “Why,” I asked, if he wasn’t sure about throwing something out, “did you not ask me?” “Because you weren’t home and I wanted to get the task done.”  Anyway, I thanked him for his effort and rushed home, but the trash collector had already come.  [By the way, afterwards I did clean up some remaining items and most have been given away successfully.]

So my point is that many disagreements have to do with misunderstandings and assumptions.  They aren’t necessarily examples of people being mean to each other.  Perhaps my husband and I have not talked enough about our perspectives, priorities, and what values are important to us (in this case, my value of frugality or not being wasteful).

In the book “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work”, by John M. Gottman and Nan Silver (Harmony Books – 2015), on page 28 the authors state, “… most marital arguments cannot be resolved.  Couples spend year after year trying to change each other’s mind — but it can’t be done.  This is because most of their disagreements are rooted in fundamental differences of lifestyle, personality, or values.  By fighting over these differences, all they succeed in doing is wasting their time and harming their marriage.”

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