Poems, Personal Stories, and Observations

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!

Underneath His Sway

God comes to me in my grumbling
(Though surely I do not deserve),
Comes to offer His faithful love,
And for His love I have no words.

Nothing I do (or do not do)
Has bearing on His gracious love.
I’m helpless, hopeless, to be sure;
Still He pours down grace from above.

How can I learn to just let go,
And let the Lord God have His way?
Learn how to love, from what He does,
And be underneath His sway?

When will I learn that He controls,
No matter what things may portend?
Then I can be a little child —
Trust, peace, and His joy be my end.

Tempted to wallow in bitterness,
Tempted to sink in self-pity.
Conflicts threaten to do me in;
Inner thoughts sometimes are not pretty.

Trying to live in reality;
Having to face what is painful.
Need to refocus, see God’s in control;
Refocus and keep being grateful.

Maybe I choose to be miserable —
Keep looking for all that is bad.
Neglecting to know that God’s in control:
Forgetting that God wants me glad.

Trust is the way to go forward;
Accept what I cannot control.
Let others be what they’re destined to be,
And live in my God-given role.

Psychobabble

My ancestors had PTSD —
Wow, how unfortunate for me.
My problems could be epigenetic —
Is that why I am so frenetic?

Or is it all familial sin?
Destroying all the peace within?
It could go back to Adam and Eve,
When fruit was eaten from the tree.

The human race has many trials,
But also things that make us smile.
A laugh, a hug, and grateful words
Mitigate what seems absurd.

By grace of God we can have healing;
Eternal life is so appealing.
Consider suff’ring temporary
And keep your eyes on coming glory.

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

“… 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.”

Listening

I never liked the noise —
People squabbling, arguing, bickering.
Strong opinions — who was right?
So self-righteous; and not so humble.
Wouldn’t admit their own fragility —
For me, no unconditional stability.

Too many voices
Say what they think —
My life’s on the brink —
It’s hard to think.

Anyway, just have your way.
You’re always right —
Ain’t that the way?
There’s too much noise,
I have to say.

I’d rather sit in the silence
Listening for God to speak.

Counting Jacarandas

My spouse and I,
We go for walks
In neighborhoods,
And sometimes talk.
We stroll, we speed,
We take our ease —
Counting jacarandas.
He strolls, I speed,
Then turn around
To  match his pace,
So we can talk.
And all the while
We take our ease —
Counting jacarandas.
Some days we all
Must take a break,
Slow down the race,
Reduce the pace,
Do silly things
And laugh awhile —
Counting jacarandas.

History

Where has the past gone?
No one believes in history

People panic about things
That all happened before

Study the mystery
Of humanity’s progress and regress

Of climates come and gone
And come again

We don’t need to panic
It’s all happened before

Learn from the past –
Isn’t that wisdom?

Not to dismiss disasters
Or pass off plagues

But
It’s all happened before

Be prepared

This is the last day of May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month.  Below are a few of my posts related to mental health, from Facebook.


5/18/2019:

In one town in recent travels, we saw a disturbing sight while sitting at an outdoor cafe. We had a party of about 14 people.

While eating, a man approached who was either mentally unbalanced or high on something, or both. There was a low metal fence between us and him, and he stood across from one of the tables and just stared at us. His pants were sunk too low, to put it kindly. Eventually I approached him with a gift card to a restaurant and said, “Could you use this?” He answered, I’m afraid of that,” but accepted it.

My daughter says that, working with homeless ministries, they don’t necessarily try to converse with such people, but would definitely give them food or clothes, etc., if wanted.

People like this used to be “institutionalized”, sometimes perhaps against their will. What are people’s thoughts on how to help them, if they can be helped?

I told this story to a mental health professional, and he surmised that the man suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. Imagine being afraid to ask people for what you need! Pray for the mentally ill!


5/24/2019:

[I recommend reading] the [book] “The Hiding Place”, by and about Corrie ten Boom. After WWII, she was able to forgive a Nazi officer (face to face) who had mistreated her in a concentration camp. That was through God’s grace, because her human emotions rebelled against forgiving him. But God gave her the power to forgive the man.  (Apparently he was repentant as well, though it’s not clear in the story.)


5/29/2019

I read somewhere, something to the effect that believing one cannot be forgiven by God or others, or being unable to forgive, can be a big factor in mental illness. Makes sense; I think I would go mad if I believed I [couldn’t] be forgiven.

Spiritually speaking, when we receive the grace of forgiveness from God, we won’t be so tied to those people who won’t forgive us, seeking their approval.  [And, when we forgive, we are freed from the same unhealthy “attachments”.]

[A book by a “forgiveness therapist:]
The Forgiving Life


Besides the Facebook posts, here is an article about forgiveness, which mentions forgiveness “expert” Everett Worthington:
Setting Captives Free: Forgiveness and Freedom

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