Saturday, February 4, 2017

When Others Despise You

In general I appreciate when people like me, as I think most people do. For me, it's really hard when people dislike me, even if I don't have to be around them all of the time. I get anxious thinking about the next time we will be in the same location and if I'll be able to just kindly avoid them or if there will be an awkward confrontation. There's a line in scripture about how blessed we are when others despised us because they hated Him first. Him, being Jesus, of course.

But is that always the case? Am I applying a section of scripture to a situation to which it has no relationship? Am I using a passage of scripture to make myself feel better about the actions that I'm going to take, to justify it to myself and others? Am I manipulating the Lord's words to promote my own agenda in the name of the Lord?

I wonder this regarding many things. Passages like "The Lord will fulfill His promises" in relationship to my relationship status. Did He promise that I would be happily married by 32? Um, no - and since that's just 6 weeks away, it's highly unlikely that it will happen. The Groundhog's Shadow this week didn't predict "Katie's husband arrives in 6 weeks" (at least that wasn't the story as I read it). Or "I know the plans I have for you, for your good, not your harm" in relationship to getting a promotion and raise at work. Could God be talking about prospering here on earth? Yes, of course he could. Is He? Maybe.

Ultimately the promise is eternal life if we follow Him. That's all we are guaranteed. Well, that's actually not true. We're also guaranteed suffering. We live in a broken world and are guaranteed to suffer either physically, emotionally, mentally, or all three., anytime, anywhere If we embrace that and use it for the glory of God, then we have a chance at eternal life with Him.

This all comes to me this evening because I received an email from someone who could only be called an acquaintance outlining all of the ways I am a detriment to the young adult program at my parish and all the parishes in Charlotte. How this person used to be like me but now has seen the light so is now a humble person, always joyful, and a light for all people. Okay, maybe that last phrase was a little much. The entire letter almost 1200 words and began with a paragraph justifying its sending with a quote from scripture. This morning in prayer, they were reading 2 Thessalonians 3, verse 11 and it compelled them. What does that verse say? Basically anyone not minding their own business is to be ignored so as to be put to shame and admonished as a brother. Basically given fraternal correction.

Now I'm going to pretend that I love fraternal correction, who does? I don't welcome it or invite it openly; however, I have received it and I have also given it. I believe there are a few important points to take into consideration when you feel fraternal correction is necessary. First, it should be done charitably so as to prevent the person from feeling condemned but rather invited to an interior conviction to change their ways. They should feel enlightened, encouraged, and loved as they evaluate their wrong actions and make a change for the future. Second, it should not be given in an emotional state or to satisfy the other person's desire to say "I know better than you so listen to me." It should not be about the person giving it at all actually. Done in a neutral manner so that it is a benefit to the entire community and the salvation of the person receiving it. Third, it should not include comparisons to other people. The correction should be based on things that can be observed by more than one person, typically more of a systemic program rather than an isolated event, depending on the event. Fourth, it should be given by someone the person trusts and has a relationship with otherwise, it will be seen as a vendetta against the person. Fraternal Correction is not about condemnation or self-seeking, it is about helping your brother or sister grow in their relationship with the Lord and hopefully help them see their own blindness so as to establish a life-long change in them.

The email I received from an acquaintance did not include any of these things. It would have been delivered better in person by someone I trust, not someone who I've seen 10 times in 4 years, especially since it concerns something larger than just an interaction between the two of us. If this person feels that I am a detriment to the program I am helping to lead, that it was almost dead, but our event this weekend seems to have revived it, then they should speak with the person who is actually in charge of the program, my pastor.

I've received correction in the past and have never feel demeaned, diminished, demoralized, despised, or dejected like I did today. I have felt emotionally drained - but that's because it's hard to acknowledge our imperfections and where we need to grow, especially if we, ourselves, haven't seen that area of weakness before during self evaluation. Today I felt all five of those "d" words - which as a wise woman told me years ago are from the devil. Citing Scripture as the motivation for ripping someone apart will never sit well with me. I think it's a cop out for not taking responsibility for yelling and screaming. I also believe keeping a tally of events for years just to pull them out all together is demeaning. Two sentences before you cited Scripture to explain why you were writing these "correcting" things - but you don't seem to have read an earlier part of the same book where it talks about forgiveness.

I haven't decided if I'm going to respond to this person yet. I believe I will have a conversation with my Pastor before doing so since it seems to affect all of the people around me in the ministry I help lead. I want something to work for young adults so badly because I want a group to belong to at my parish. I want to feel like I fit somewhere. I love my friends but we are in such different times of our life that I need some single friends too. I thought this group would be where I would find them, but I have been proven wrong. A few people there seem (according to this letter) to just put up with me, while the rest come once and never return because of me. Is that true? I really don't know, but I hope not.

If I replied today it would be something uncharitable and spiteful. I don't believe anything I could say would change their mind about why they emailed me in this way, like it was their good deed for the day. It wasn't. I can only pray that the Lord will use this experience to help me grow, that's all I can possibly ask for, as with everything. Whatever nuggets of truth are in there, let them shine through so I can bring them to reflection. Hopefully it will not deter me from continuing along the path the Lord has in store, whatever that actually is. Because my first reaction is to think the following thoughts: "I'm the reason this group isn't growing, why no young adult group I've ever been part of has ever grown", "There really is something wrong with me, that's why I'm single, feel lonely, and don't ever accomplish anything", and "I should just give up serving because no one wants me around anyway."

I will believe that none of these thoughts were this person's intention because a wise priest taught me years ago to "presume good will." I try (although I don't always succeed) to set aside what I think their intentions are and presume they intended good, even if it was misguided or to see the wider situation and how there could be many things affecting this person's behavior. I pray that is the case with this letter writer.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

I Look Into my Inbox and What Did I See?

I receive the weekly notes from the Catholic Match Institute since my unsuccessful dabble in Online
Dating some time ago (link) and today's included the face of one of my favorite priests. A man who helped me become the Catholic woman, for better or worse, that I am today. He is doing a series of five videos for CM through Advent. The first two are below ... I encourage you to watch them and stay tuned for the next three! Fr. Ananias, OSB - what an Advent treat!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Season of Advent

The Christmas season has come to my house. I love having my tree up so much that it didn't get put away until Ash Wednesday last year ... I could blame traveling, but that wouldn't be the whole truth... Anyway, I put my tree up on Sunday after I started Advent with Mass. I know it's a little early. I used to have a rule that decorations didn't go up until after the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, but last year someone gave me a tree on Thanksgiving weekend and I had to get it out of my hallway. I mean, I couldn't trip over it for two weeks. Plus since I traveled for about half the time it was up last year, I needed more time before Christmas to enjoy it. I promise to leave it up until at least February 2nd - the last acceptable day to have Christmas decorations up as it's the Feast of the Presentation.

This year as I was putting up my Nativity, a few mishaps happened. Well, a few years ago one of my wise men lost his head. Then last year another head fell off. I've tried glue, it doesn't work ... also I noticed today that there is lots of glue on many of these figures. I think a new nativity might be in my future for next year. Now to begin searching...

Beginning my 3rd annual Advent tradition, spending the time with Mary to prepare for my consecration anniversary. Although Advent started on Sunday - today, I begin my daily half hour with Mary to prepare for Christmas. Oh Advent!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Living the DIY Life Annie Sloan Style

When I purchased my house a little over two years ago, I decided I wanted to redo my kitchen cabinets because I disliked the gold knobs and wanted something different. Then, my entire downstairs was redone because of the flood of 2014 (remember when...) lots of other things happened instead. 

The Before
So this Fall, I decided that it was the time. It took me a month to make the decision and at the end of October, I went and took a class with my local Annie Sloan Stockist in South Charlotte to learn the techniques. When they asked what project everyone was planning, I told the teacher I was going to paint my kitchen cabinets. She replied, "Normally we recommend starting with a smaller project." Well, I say "go big or go home." So I went BIG at HOME!

So on November 8th I decided to clean everything and take all of the cabinets down and prepped my floors with paper. I did the cleaning with Krud Kutter and it took all kinds of things off the cabinets! This is fantastic stuff, but kind of gross smelling.

Open & Exposed
I painted the knobs with chalk style spray paint two coats and then poly'd them to make them shiny instead of chalky and matte.

The after, of course I did them outside and not inside, but
there aren't any pictures of that!
I purchased my paint, a brush, a roller, and went to town, painting, painting, painting. 

Annie Sloan Paris Gray
Clear Soft Wax
For three weeks with the tunes blaring. All of the cabinets on the walls, the drawer fronts, and door fronts got three coats of paint and the backs of the doors received two coats. 

Cabinets in the Dining Room
Cabinets down the Hall

I learned after this to prop them up on hangers to keep them
from sticking to the paper as they dried!

This made such a difference in the feel of the kitchen!
After painting and painting and painting and painting for what felt like forever ... but it was just a little over two weeks. The paint dries so quickly I could do two coats in one night.

Because some of my doors with underneath my drawers propping them up, I had two rounds of painting fronts and backs to do. Once everything was painted with as many coats as I was going to do, I sanded them. Not intensely because the paint doesn't need it. Just to even things out and smooth it up a bit. Then I reattached the hardware and rehung the doors. All with my little IKEA electric screwdriver!

Not everyone needs super power tools!
I was finally able to stop living on the paper covered floor, so on Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I threw it all away and cleaned my hangers which were covered with paint. I still need to rehang everything in my upstairs closet!

How Fantastic Already!
Then over the coarse of this weekend, I started waxing the cabinets. This was the hardest part - the uppers were the hardest since I couldn't scoot across the floor. I used the brush for the first coat and wiped off the excess with cheese cloth. For the second coat, which was SO much easier, I wiped the wax on with the cheese cloth. I was dreading the 2nd coat, but being able to wipe it on made it a lot easier and it went so fast!

I wanted to buff them so I purchased a car buffing attachment (that only AutoZone carries) and a friends Power Drill (maybe a girl does need power tools)! 

More Power!
After buffing, I put on my cabinet bumpers and replaced the knobs on all of the doors and drawers. 

These are so much better than what I
scrapped off when I started!
When adding the bumpers be sure to put them in the upper,
upper corner, so they totally miss the wall!
I cleaned everything up and added some flare to the top with frames (which need new pictures since those are from a friend's nursery), new signs from The Happy Little Zoo (check it out for yourself), and some left over twinkle lights. Now I have a happy little kitchen!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

I'm not seeing what you're seeing

As I prepare for Thanksgiving, tonight a comment my cousin made to me last month kept coming to mine mind. I was together with tons of my family for my godmother's 50th Wedding Anniversary. Some of the siblings hadn't seen each other since their brother died. Others in the family it'd been more than a decade, maybe since my grandmother's passing in 1999. Although not everyone was present at the party, we did have a great time catching up.

My cousin was taking photos as everyone came into the party and had us put our names on them. After about 10 of the shots were done, she realized that there was a setting on the camera to make them lighter. It was an old Polaroid, so no adjusting after the shot is taken. I was one of the people who had to take their picture twice.

When I teased about having to take a second photo, she said "come on, you never take a bad photo - ever since we were little, you've always been photogenic." Hmm, I don't particularly love taking pictures these days, haven't for years because I don't particularly love the me I see when I look at them later. I think I should be different. But as a kid, I mean - I was cute. Just check out this little girl - with those glasses (people pay big money for frames like that now - oh, and my baby brother - he was pretty cute too!

And this one - with my grandfather. This photo is the only thing I have of my grandfather and it is a treasured memory still today. The original is in a frame in my parent's bedroom, and now in my bedroom.

But now as an adult I don't always see a picture as a representative of who I am, or more truthfully, who I want to be. I have this issue in particular when I look in the mirror. The reflection doesn't always tell the truth. When I look into the mirror, I see a broken little girl who is trying really hard to keep it together. A woman who wonders if someone will love her forever, or if she'll be single her whole life. A sinner who doesn't know how to stop doing the stupid things she does over and over again and just get over her need to be in control of everything. I also see all of the flaws. The extra pimple that just won't go away, the scars from when I had terrible acne and popping pimples seemed like a good idea. The left over stretch marks from when I was 50 pounds heavier. The remaining 25 to 30 pounds I'd just like to lose once and for all, but cannot get past where I am now. All of these things make up my reflection. I see me at my most broken, and truthfully, that isn't today.

Today I am strong, faithful, good at my job, 20% lighter. But I see that as just not good enough yet. When will it be good enough?

After Mass this week, I saw a friend who I haven't seen in quite some time. She knows about my struggle with weight and self-image. She also took me shopping when I needed a new wardrobe this year. She asked if I had lost weight. That sounds like such a lovely question to be asked, right? Whenever I'm asked, I feel so discouraged because the answer is no. She had no idea that I had stepped on the scale just that morning and it read a number 5 pounds heavier than last time. Granted I don't know how accurate that actually was - but it's there, staring me in the face. Those numbers that are not what I want them to be.

Instead of saying "thanks" - I said "actually I haven't and I'm really discouraged about it to be honest." Although that's not the safe or polite answer, it is the honest answer. 

So I resolved to do something different beginning Monday. Regarding food, I'm going to plan my meals ahead of time - tomorrow's my first day on the "real plan" recipe roulette. And I bit the bullet and purchased my favorite online yoga teacher's new "Perfect Body Yoga Program" - which seems like it wouldn't be what I need - but the name means that "the body you have right now is the perfect body - work from there." 

Week #1's mantra? "I am enough."

I. am. enough. I. am. enough. I. am. enough.

Even if I never lose those extra 25 pounds. I am enough.

Even if I continue to go to confession for the same sins of pride, being controlling, and selfishness. I am enough.

Even if I'm still living in this house as a sixty year old single woman. I am enough.

I. Am. Enough.

Cousin, it's true. You. Are. Enough.

and pretty cute too, although no sporting the stylish glasses I am
we can't all have everything, now can we!

one more, including the woman we get our amazing spirit from, Viola Francis!