Kisses To The Holy Spirit

I work for a nonprofit that provides helpers for adults with developmental disabilities. I cannot share any personal details of the ladies I work with, but something happened yesterday that really blessed me.

Out of the three ladies that I work with, I work with one the most – the other two are in day programs during the majority of my weekly shifts. Let’s call the woman that I work with the most Mary.

Mary has had a very hard life. Despite the difficulties she has faced, she loves God with all of her heart. She reads her Bible every day, and when she wants to talk to God, she talks out loud.

There are times during my shift that it is my job to spend time with her. Mostly we watch Gunsmoke together on TV Land, but we also put a Gaither playlist together on my Spotify account because that is the kind of music she loves. (I’m not crazy about country gospel, but I’m crazy about Mary, so it’s well worth the sacrifice.)

The other day I had had a particularly good devotional time, and I felt prompted to share some of the Scriptures I read with Mary. After reading each one, we talked about what it meant, and I could tell that Mary was really enjoying it. At one point we talked about the Holy Spirit (even though the Holy Spirit was not specifically mentioned in the Scriptures I was reading to her). Mary told me that she is so grateful for the Holy Spirit because He is always with her and keeps her company. As I continued to read from the Bible, Mary began to kiss the air. She had a look of such joy on her face as she did so. I asked her if she was kissing the Holy Spirit and she said yes. She said that no one can see Him but He never leaves her alone.

Today we had other things that needed done that prevented us from reading the Bible together, but multiple times I observed her giving kisses to the Holy Spirit. This is what it means to have a child-like faith. This woman is strong, wise, and smart despite the struggles of her past, and in spite of all these things – good and bad – she loves God and trusts in Him like a child trusts. Unwavering faith. She has told me before that there is a reason that God has allowed her to go through what she has. She doesn’t know what the reason is, but that doesn’t matter to her. All that matters is that she trusts God.

God, give me a faith like Mary’s.

Planting Reality

Whatever we plant in our subconscious mind and nourish with repetition and emotion will one day become a reality.

Earl Nightingale

Many of us have heard the popular catchphrase “what you think about, you bring about.” It seems so trite to me – like a bossy older sibling talking down to you from their place of supposed superiority. Not that I know what that feels like from experience; I am the older sibling.

Regardless of my thoughts about the tone of the phrase, I find it to be valid in my life. If I believe it’s going to be a bad day, my brain will be constantly scanning for the negative. That said, I do not believe that it is true one hundred percent of the time. I can believe it’s going to be a good day and be proven wrong. This would be where a few radical people would step in and say that I could choose for it to be a good day anyway. I disagree.

I remember sitting in youth group one Wednesday night, listening to a guest speaker. She was beautiful, which made her message even more believable to an impressionable teenager like myself. She was sharing how after a certain point in her life (in which she had had some sort of Divine experience), she no longer had bad days. That she was able to continually choose that each day was a good day because Jesus was her best friend.

Whoa, wait a minute. I am about to say something that some of you might find controversial. But I politely request you continue reading with an open mind before you make a judgment. You might find that we do agree afterall.

Having Jesus as your best friend/Savior/Lord/Master, etc., does not make every day a good day.

Say what? It’s true. Nowhere in the Bible does it say “thou shalt have a good day, everyday.” Nowhere does it proclaim that your glass must be half full (or half empty if it’s full of something nasty).

We are not called to be eternal optimists.

For some of you, this is probably hard to agree with. For others, the chains are loosening, and long-buried hope is struggling against the dark soil of your struggle.

But what about salvation? The promise of heaven? The end to our present suffering? Joy unspeakable?

I think the What Would Jesus Do? movement of the 90’s can help us figure this one out.

In John 11, Jesus received word that one of His dear friends (Lazarus) was dying. Scripture made it clear that Jesus loved Lazarus, along with his sisters Mary and Martha, very much. Despite this love, He chose to stay where He was for two more days, saying, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” After a few days, He told the disciples that it was time to go, that Lazarus was dead.

When they arrived, Jesus talked with Martha. Even though Lazarus had been dead four days, He told her that Lazarus would rise again. He then met with Mary, and was “deeply moved” at her weeping.

Let’s pause for just a second. Jesus knew from the beginning that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. Okay, back to the story.

Jesus allowed his friends to lead Him to the tomb where Lazarus lay, and knowing He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead just moments later, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35) Read that again. “Jesus wept.”

He did not plaster a big smile on His face and act all cheery. There are two lessons in this: 1) Real friends grieve with their friends. They don’t pretend everything is peachy and tell their friends to “look on the bright side.” 2) It’s okay to weep, to be sad, to be angry. I won’t belabor this point because I wrote another post about this a while back.

As friends, we can usually see the bright side to someone else’s problem. As the person with the problem, sometimes we can see it too. Jesus didn’t just see the bright side, He was the bright side. But still He cried over the loss of His friend and the pain Lazarus’ friends and family members were experiencing.

So now that the pressure to be Positive Patty (no offense, Patty) all the time is invalid and unnecessary, what do we do with the whole thoughts become reality thing?

What are your dreams? What are you passionate about? What do you want to do that you are not sure you can do? (Realistically – even if we had the ability to fly, mythology makes it clear it’s probably a bad idea.)

We are capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for. It’s been twenty years since you graduated from high school and you want to go back to school to pursue a degree in a field you are passionate about? You can do it. As Mr. Nightingale said above, “nourish with repetition and emotion.” Do things that promote that dream. Even if they are tiny things, like researching the differences between online and physical college classes. Find blogs, videos on YouTube, Pins on Pinterest that motivate you to step out of your comfort zone. And then keep building.

One other aspect I want to touch on quickly is when we do need to look on the bright side. That’s when we start to wallow. You know, the woe is me, my life is over, things will never get better pit that we all seem to get stuck in at least once or twice in our lives.

Feelings are healthy. Feelings are not choices. Our choices come in when we choose how we will respond to our feelings. And as I have written in the past, there is nothing wrong with acknowledging and feeling our feelings. But we can’t just sit there forever.

Life is not easy. It’s time to stop pretending it is.

Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.

Wesley, The Princess Bride (written by William Goldman)

Best Not To Assume

I had originally planned that my first blog post back would be about something else – and that post is still coming – but yesterday I learned an important lesson…again. It’s one I’ve learned many times before, but I seem to have difficulty getting it through my thick skull.

I had been corresponding by email with someone and I completely misunderstood something they said to me. Because of this misunderstanding, I thought the worst about them, even though the truth was the complete opposite of what I assumed.

The misunderstanding is not what I am ashamed of. Misunderstandings happen – especially when you are discussing something important with someone who is not physically before you. I am ashamed because I shared my assumptions with others as fact. This was wrong of me, and I have been sure to let everyone know that I was wrong. But it doesn’t change the fact that I should have known better.

I should have known better for three reasons – one, because this has happened to me before. Two, because I know that it is not a good idea to discuss important topics through a text-based conversation because so much gets misinterpreted when you can’t see facial expressions or hear tone of voice. Three, because this person has done so much good in my life.

I have difficulty trusting people these days. Many people that I thought I could trust have proven otherwise, and it makes me quick to believe that people are not who I thought they were. However, I still should not have jumped to conclusions. I should have given this person the benefit of the doubt – just like I want others to give me.

I am usually pretty good with words. I could write blog posts that make it look like I have it all together, that I make few mistakes, like I know exactly what I am doing all the time. But that is not real. First and foremost, I want to be real. Not throw my dirty laundry in your face and tell you to deal with it real. Not stand on my soapbox and tell you exactly what I think about everything real. Transparent real. As in, this is who I am, warts and all (I don’t actually have warts though). There is enough playing pretend on the internet already. You don’t need another feel good blog that actually makes you feel worse because you can’t figure out how to fix your life. I can’t fix my life either.

But I know who can. I know that every time I get the breath knocked out of me, there is someone there who helps me get back on my feet. This is the part that might sound cheesy, but it’s true. That someone is God. He keeps showing up in marvelous ways. He has yet to drop a few thousand dollars, a really nice house, or a brand new car in my lap, but He has met all my needs. And to be honest, at this stage in my life, I don’t want a really nice house or a brand new car. I have my hands contentedly full with the life that I currently have.

So if you get anything from this blog tonight (this morning?), get this. Don’t assume. Be real.

God bless!