Saturday, June 20, 2020

Not Good Enough



Not good enough, I heard you say, how can you make that call? You’ve seen my weakness, heard my pain, and watched me slip and fall? You sensed my need for reassurance and have given none. Your only object is my fate; your sentence now is done?

You think that I will just back down, and leave it all alone? Then you don’t know me very well; that judgment I can’t condone. There stand outside those yet unheard in this courtroom here today. Open the doors and let them in. These people have something to say. 

There is the woman that was in church sitting silent and afraid. Together we shared the words of light that a path through her darkness made. We took of the bread and water sublime, her hungry soul to feed. And when she left, she smiled and said, “Thanks for seeing my need.”

Next came the children, young and tender, smiling sheepishly. They sighed. “She is the one there in the front, the lady who gave willingly! She loved us and shared all that she had. We went to her home and prayed. When we were sick, she was there with us, though others had not stayed.”

Then there’s the friend from long ago that the Spirit said to me, “Go to her home, she needs you now. You have time to stop and see.”  She was on the floor, writhing in pain, her children crying about. All she needed was a helping hand, and the Lord had heard her, no doubt.

The words of others came pouring in, a murmur throughout the room: the smiles given, the hungry fed, the many lifted from gloom. The record books could not hold them all, the pages were joyfully filled. The hearts of many were lifted up, as compassion was there unveiled.

Then suddenly there came a crack as the wood of the gavel went down. The judgment time had come at last. No one dared to make a sound. My name was called and I walked to the bar with head and heart hung low. No witness or testimony sufficient, it seemed, how would I ever know?

“Not good enough,” was all I could hear, no matter how hard I tried. Then a hand came forward, “Enter in my rest,” “How can I?” I meekly cried. “I’m not good enough, and will never be, I cannot enter alone.” “You don’t have to be, I’ve paid the price. Come, I’ll take you home.”

“You are my child, and will always be, my love for you never ends. You have done all you could, you don’t have to make amends. The time has come, enter into my rest, lean on my shoulder now. Feel my love, it is all you need, the rest will work out somehow.”  

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Its Only Time



I hate weeds! They get in the way. They grow in places where I don’t want them to be. They are obnoxious, stubborn, and irresponsible!

Weeds mean work. I have to put on my grubby clothes, worn out shoes, and those uncomfortable work gloves, and then I have to get down on my hands and knees in the dirt. How humiliating!

Every time I pull weeds, my muscles burn. The sweat pours from my face, and my nose runs. My glasses get soaked, and when I go to clean them, I have to rise slowly or the blood rushes to my feet and I feel dizzy in the head. I just can’t seem to win!

It is then that I stop and rest a moment. I look around me, surveying the landscape. I breathe a sigh and start to relax. Rather than seeing weeds, I see the grass. I don’t remember it being this green before. The flowers are beautiful, and the trees, so tall and regal.

Remembering the reason I am here, I bend down once again, only now the weeds are easier to pull. The rhythmic motion allows my mind to wander. I think of God, the Creator of all things, and the life that he has given me.

I think of Father Adam and Mother Eve and how they must have felt when they left the Garden of Eden. They had nothing. There was no comfortable home to shelter them, no running water for bathing, and no grocery store where they could buy food.

What would it be like if I didn’t have these things? What am I doing with my own life, anyway? Where am I going, and why do I feel the way I do? I pray for forgiveness, insight, and inspiration.

For a brief moment, time stands still. I see my own destiny and what I can do to bring it to pass, and I feel and know the immense love of Heavenly Father for me.

Before I know it, I am done. The weeds are gone. I feel a sense of peace settle over me.  I know what I need to do and am ready to move forward. When I came out to pull weeds, I thought, “its only time.” Now, I know better, “it is eternity.”



Sunday, May 24, 2020

The Heavens Weep




The heavens weep each time it rains, they weep for you and me. They weep for those who are dead and gone, and those who are yet to be.

The heavens weep for the orphaned, the lost, for those who do not see the light. They weep for the silent who cannot speak, and for those who cry out in the night.

The heavens weep for the wounded, the maimed, for those who are not feeling whole. They weep for the childless, for those who have tried, and may not have reached their goal.

The heavens weep for the abandoned, the hurt, for those who have suffered abuse. They weep for the little ones who do not feel loved, and for those who cannot choose.

The heavens weep for the lonely, the poor, for those who live out on the street. They weep for the proud who turn their backs on the destitute that they meet.

The heavens weep each time it rains, they weep for you and me. For each drop comes from the presence of God, with love, unconditionally.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Gratitude



Lord, my feelings know no bounds, my gratitude to the heavenly host resounds! Life is a precious gift indeed, and when I see others help those in need, my heart is filled as a well that is deep. They are following Thee, they are feeding Thy sheep.

Not long ago, on a darkened night, I heard their cries. I felt their plight. I rushed to their side with hope and a prayer, not knowing what aid I could provide once there. The love that we shared at that moment in time filled our souls with a peace sublime.

We knew in an instant that God was aware of all that had happened. He really did care! The pain and the tears were but for a night, and yet in the morning there came the light. As it bathed our souls with its colorful glow, we embraced once again, for we really did know.

That Christ gave his life on that hill far away that we might return to Him one day. Such a precious morsel of daily bread gave us hope that we would always be led. We knew we could follow His footsteps each day, and have our needs met, come what may.

Now the crisis has passed, it is easy to see that forgetfulness comes so quickly to me. I forget what was said, how I felt, how I cried, how I pled for help at eventide. Instead of concern, I sit on the fence, passing judgement and giving offense.

Dear God, please forgive me and help me to be the kind of person who can truly see. Help me to find those in need of Thy love, and shower them with that grace from above. Only then can I be Thy hands and Thy feet, and prepared for the day we will finally meet.

For then, I will fall before Thee and cry, “I am but Thy servant,” and my heart will sigh. Once again, my joy will have no bounds, and my gratitude to the heavenly host resounds. For I will be in Thy presence again, never to part, worlds without end!

Sunday, May 3, 2020

How do I Forgive Myself?




I can’t believe I did that! What was I thinking? I should have known it wouldn’t work! Why didn’t I see the signs? How could I have been so blind?

When the disappointments of life come, our critical inner voice is released in all its fury. We are surrounded by a whirlwind of “should haves,” “would haves,” and “could haves” that beat down the walls of our self-worth, collapse the house of our dreams, and leave us groveling in a heap of rubble.

Before we even have a chance to assess the damage, our own private judge and jury finds us guilty as charged for not knowing, not being good enough, and not being able to see far enough into the future. We are sentenced to a life of hard labor for what we have unwittingly done!

Hold on! If someone we love makes a mistake and feels bad about it, we are quick to step in and reassure them that we love them. We encourage them to keep moving forward and give them a helping hand to get back on their feet. Why can’t we do that with ourselves?

We know ourselves too well. We have rehearsed our weaknesses and imperfections more times than we can count. We know what happens when they are played out on the stage of our lives. We have seen firsthand how the audience responds and the resulting consequences.

We think that if we punish ourselves first, then God won’t have to! We forget that he has already paid the ultimate price of our sin because he loves us. We think instead that surely he cannot love us until we have paid the ultimate price for our sin!

God’s love is like the sunshine. It is always there. Sometimes we cannot feel it because a cloud of self-doubt or a hailstorm of weakness and imperfection gets in the way. Groping around in the darkness and shadows, we forget that the sun will come out again, or even that it is still there!

In order to forgive ourselves, we have to find some small ray of sunshine to rekindle our hope. If we can remember the good that has happened in our lives, we realize that we are still worthwhile people. We are able to minimize our mistake, let go of the ill feelings, and move on.

In essence, we change our inner critic into our inner parent. Like a loving father, we wrap our arm around our shoulder and give ourselves some instructions. We accept the humble state of our weakness and imperfection, and give ourselves room to grow and progress.

Life goes on. Thankfully, the sun comes out! It always does. Disappointment and heartache are replaced by joy and happiness as we forgive ourselves. We move forward with faith and renewed hope that we can become the people that we were meant to be!

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Abuse is Never Okay



“You are less than the dust of the earth! You should never have been born! You can’t do anything right! You shouldn’t even be here! You are just a worthless piece of junk!”

We’ve all heard these words before. If they didn’t come from the mouth of someone we love, they came from a friend or a colleague.  Abuse is all about power. The one in authority demeans, belittles, and intimidates, taking no consideration for the needs of the victim.

Just like a spider spinning a web around its next meal, perpetrators of abuse form a wall around their victims. They limit the person’s ability to access resources and connect with the outside world. Before long, the victim feels like a puppet, only able to act according to the perpetrator’s will and pleasure.

Abuse occurs in many forms: namely physical, emotional, intellectual, sexual, social, and financial. The most difficult form of abuse to identify and eradicate, however, is self-abuse. We hold ourselves hostage under the most cruel and inhumane treatment and end up feeling hopeless and worthless.

No matter the source, the traumatic effects of abuse wound our precious souls, leaving scars that may never heal. How can we tell if we are abusing ourselves or others? Is it possible to stop before it gets to the point of causing irreparable damage?

According to Hidden Hurt, Domestic Abuse Information victims of abuse have low feelings of self-worth, tend to be emotionally or economically dependent upon others, experience depression, accept blame and guilt easily, are often socially isolated, tend to appear anxious or nervous, and have poor relationship skills (http://www.hiddenhurt.co.uk/abuse_victim_characteristics.html).

When we recognize that we are experiencing these types of issues, we would do well to look at how we are treating ourselves. Are we self-critical, self-demeaning, and self-punishing? Do we make ourselves go through extreme measures when we make a mistake or say something we shouldn’t? Do we withhold forgiveness when we do something wrong?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” we are at high risk of abusing ourselves and others. The expectations we have are so high that we beat ourselves up before we even start. Our relentlessness may spill over into our relationships with others as we hold them to unrealistically high standards rather than providing much needed encouragement for them to grow and blossom.

Our Savior said that we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matt. 19:19 KJV). When we accept our own personal weaknesses and imperfections and allow the Savior’s atoning sacrifice to be efficacious in our behalf. We feel his unconditional love for us and in turn, are able to love others.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

It is Okay to Feel Good



“I don’t feel good,” we often say when we are under the weather. We get a little bit of extra rest, eat right, and relax from the stress just long enough that we get back on our feet again. But do we really give ourselves permission to feel good?

As Christian men and women, we often get the mistaken notion that it is bad for us to feel good, that if we feel good, we must be doing something wrong. Perhaps we haven’t given enough of our time to help others, we haven’t sacrificed our own needs long enough for our families, or our suffering for the cause of Christ has not yet reached the level of purification that we think we need.

We examine ourselves and find that we come up short; therefore, we dive in once again, overworking ourselves, denying our own needs, and making sure that we give all that we have and then some. Unfortunately, the day comes again where we are physically exhausted. We say, “I don’t feel good” and we take some time off and do what it takes to get back on our feet again.

It is a never ending cycle, the notion that we have to give more and more until we are empty, unfulfilled, and in essence, burned out. Is that what God really meant when he said, as quoted in Mark 12:30, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength”?

Our motivation to love the Lord tends to slacken when we give so much that we have nothing left. We lose sight of the purpose in what we are doing, and may even turn against those we previously served willingly and ably. We realize that there is a limit to our physical strength, and that we cannot give love when we feel emptiness in our souls.

Christ paid the ultimate price so that we wouldn’t have to. How does this apply in our situations? Our love of the Savior comes as we recognize the personal nature of his atonement. We connect with him when we experience a small portion of the pain that he went through for us individually. Loving him in return motivates us to serve others.

It is not necessary, however, for us to repay the debt that we owe. We cannot be more than we already are. It is our responsibility to set boundaries in our lives to make sure that we do not overextend ourselves. Getting adequate physical rest, nutrition, and nurturing allows us to not only feel Christ’s unconditional love, but to share it with others.

Feeling good is not an event; rather a choice that we make. We find contentment as we pause, feel our Savior’s love, and find peace in the process of becoming more like him.