Poems, Personal Stories, and Observations

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.

Mood Disorder?

First, a disclaimer: I am not a psychologist, and have no psychological training except a few college classes and one five-day workshop. However, I have been in and out of counseling/therapy since age 12 or 13 (I’m now 66), sometimes with a break of many years. So, any psychological terms I use will be my understanding of what they mean, as a layperson.

My main diagnosis through all these years has been mild to moderate depression, or dysthymia. If I understand correctly, dysthymia comes under a broader category called “mood disorders”.

There are many opinions about depression, including “Just pull yourself together,” “It’s because of your sins,” “It’s a lack of faith,” “It’s from ‘stinkin’ thinking’ (irrational, untrue, or unrealistic thinking),” and “It’s a chemical imbalance in your brain.” Of course, all of these can be true, or overlapping.

I am often (not always) in a state of low-grade melancholy, for whatever reasons, as noted above. I could even add the excuse of my cultural background, which is Hungarian. My parents grew up there and then emigrated to the United States. From what I have read, melancholy is a common characteristic among Hungarians. Again, this could be for many reasons. One of my theories is that Hungary, for hundreds of years, has been overrun by foreign powers and has been constantly at their mercy (if there was any mercy). At any rate, melancholy does seem to be common among Hungarians, indeed, many eastern Europeans.

But, today I would like to share a surprising recent occurrence for me, perhaps a small miracle. The other day, I was in the typical, mildly low, mood. Sometime around 5:30 p.m., it was like someone turned on a switch. I was happy! I felt loved, and worthwhile, like God, and some people, loved me! It was inexplicable! I repeat, it was literally like a switch was turned on in my mood. No longer the negative thoughts like “Nobody likes me,” “I’m evil (or at best, worthless),” “Things are going to turn out badly,” etc. Lest this sounds frightening to anyone, let me be clear; I sometimes have these thoughts, but I don’t give in to them. They are like attacks that happen periodically. I have found ways to combat them. I am not miserable anymore, as I was in younger days. I have the hope of Jesus Christ, which is what keeps me alive and functioning and purposeful. Speculating on where they come from could be another blog post.

Like any mood change, I cannot explain what happened. I’ve even had the opposite happen. I will be in a mildly low mood and plunge into a more severe depression. Happily, this happens less and less in my life.

What can I learn from this? I believe God is trying to tell me, “Don’t rely on how you FEEL. I am with you despite any moods, feelings, or thoughts. I never leave you. Do not base your worth on how you feel, or how others treat you.” Whether I feel happy, sad, or in between, I mustn’t take that as my major reality. My major reality is that God is present and will not abandon me. THIS IS THE REALITY, not what I FEEL!

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.

There Is a God

There is a God, unfath’mable,
Whom many do not know.
Dark forces work continually 
So that our faith won’t grow.


They work on unsuspecting minds
And turn our thoughts away
From heavenly things, from angel’s wings;
Mankind’s their greatest prey.


There is a God Whose love is deep,
Who knows our ev’ry care.
He woos us with a perfect love;
His love is everywhere.


He never lies; nor does he cheat,
Nor practice any foul deceit.
He will not force His ways on us,
But waits in patience so discreet.


A love that’s forced can never be;
A real love must be free choice.
For freely chosen love’s the way
We’ll enter heaven and rejoice.

Every Place

Every place

Has its ups and downs —

The smiles and the frowns,

The spooks and the clowns,

Disgraces or crowns.

You’ll find

Snakes or bugs,

Scorpions or slugs,

Crows or eagles,

Mosquitos or seagulls.

Every place

Has climate and weather,

The storms and the thunder,

Hurricanes or earthquakes,

Humidity or drought.

Every place

Has interesting neighbors

Who do you kind favors,

They help with their labors,

And pick up your papers.

Every place

Has frowning faces —

Won’t give you the time,

To judgment inclined,

Won’t lend you a dime.

Every place

Has pleasures and dangers —

Or are they both one?

Pleasure can be danger

If overdone.

Every life

Has its moments

Of goodness and closeness,

Of fear or of faith,

Of love or of hate.

O Lord,

Give me hope,

So with life I can cope —

To keep a deep peace

As my faith You increase.

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.

If not for the bird songs

My mind would be lost

With all the changes

With all the strangeness 

If not for the fairy fireflies

I would have lost the wonder

My mind torn asunder

I would have gone under

If not for the thunder

I would make the blunder 

Of sinking in sadness

Being blind to the gladness 

If not for your smile

I would have dwelt a long while

In a pit of despair

Might have torn out my hair 

If not for your kindness

I’d live only in blindness

A desert of dryness

So listless and lifeless

If not for God’s comfort

My life would be forfeit

My joy would be dormant

My thoughts tending morbid 

O, the greatness of God

Who lifts up the lowly 

Who brightens our story

Let us give Him the glory!

A distant cloud, with flashing light. 

A soundless thunder, a sense of wonder. 

Fireflies flirting; the sidewalk skirting. 

The air hangs heavy, hot and wet; 

I wipe away the beads of sweat. 

The bugs are biting; a little frightening. 

Imagining fairies riding fireflies, 

In evening silence, their dance delighting. 

For quite some time, I forget the biting. 

Until I wake at 3 a.m.; the itching has begun again. 

My long-gone mother comes to mind. 

She prayed for me; her heart was kind. 

So many changes; can’t keep track.

Need to recall– God’s got my back.

He comes to fill what I now lack.

Exhaustion is my current test;

In God I need to take my rest.

His plan for me must be the best.

Grief

I cannot excise your pain,
The painful, pounding refrain,
The unmet need
Of a  heart that bleeds.


I can only say I’m here
And wipe away a tear,
Or say that God is walking near —
The pain won’t disappear.


You will learn to carry it, accept it. 
And through that burning, searing stab,
The mending bone, the itching scab,
You’ll know you lived and loved.


One day the wound will heal
And only leave a scar.
You’ll know that you are real,
That you have lived and loved.

Tag Cloud