Poems, Personal Stories, and Observations

Posts tagged ‘God’

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)

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.

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.

I Saw a Rainbow

I saw a rainbow,
And it held the promise
Of better things to come

My spirits lifted;
I sensed a message
From God, the Holy One …

He had not left me

The storm was passing,
The billowing waves —
Were calming, calming

Down

And rather than destroying,
They lifted me
To better things to come

In the Melting Pot

It’s a land of many strangers,
In crowds — and some lone rangers.
You might be in some danger,
But making friends — a game changer.

You look for what’s in common:
“Do you like pasta, or ramen?”
“Do you say ‘ae-men’ or ‘ah-men’?”
“Or how about ‘crawl-ING’ or ‘crawl-IN’?

You want to be understood,
But you don’t know if you should
Speak up or keep your peace — 
“Just pass the paprika, please.”

It can be so confusing —
The culture clash I’m losing.
But having no fear, must dry my tears —
Here’s wisdom for the years:

You look for the best in people,
Look up to the heights, like a steeple.
It’s others’ problem if they mistreat you,
God, who is love, won’t reject you.

There’ll always be those who mistrust you,
Or just tend to misunderstand you.
It’s just human nature; they don’t have the big picture.
Let it go, and you’ll be the victor.

Pleading

Pleading with you, Lord — 
The world at times seems cold,
My courage less than bold.

Emptiness does threaten,
The world my spirit dampens;
Please let a new thing happen.

I cling to You in trust,
My faith in You a must,
Till I go down to dust.

Deep down, there’s something solid
Since childhood I have followed —
Your Name, may it be hallowed.

Though many times I’ve wandered;
My talents I have squandered,
But then, forgiveness pondered.

Your love; I don’t deserve it,
So let me be Your servant,
And sing Your praises fervent.

The Storm

The air —
Laden with care —
With guilts, not graces,
With long-gone places,
With regrets, what-ifs,
With laundry lists.

And then —
A gust of wind —
The Spirit comes
And speaks in tongues,
Slamming doors,
Awakening snores.

The lightning strikes —
And thunder rumbles —
The tension crumbles.
Then sweet release
Of pent-up rain —
God comes again.

His tender care
Dispels all fear.
All will be well,
All will be well.

God Is Near

Cottony clouds and lullabies,
Seagulls wings and loud crow cries,
Blustery winds and rustling leaves —
Wondrous — and a joy are these.

Birds a-flockin’, squirrels a mockin’,
Kitten cries and puppy sighs,
People, ‘spite their sins and lies —
Glory, though appearance belies.

Storm and calm, a laugh and tear,
Worry, confidence, faith and fear.
Things aren’t always as they appear.
Through it all, God must be near.

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