Think about those times in your life when you have felt inspired to something really great. Where does that inspiration come from?
The Holy Spirit. God inspires us to do great things with our lives.
----Matthew Kelly

Friday, August 18, 2017

{SQT} Stressors All Around

I'm trying to get back in the swing of Seven Quick Tips on Friday, hosted by Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum.

I've discovered that I'll never be a "big time" blogger...I don't have the issues that most of them seem to have. Has anyone else noticed that? I lived a very normal life in a small town in the South. Hmmm...maybe that's a good thing?
The solar eclipse is supposed to be at 100% in my county. All of the schools are going to be closed so we can all experience this once in a lifetime phenomenon. I was a little concerned about how scared the little ones are going to be, so I'm glad they'll be at home. The concern now is that some of them will look toward it without eye protection.
Daily prayer. I'm finding it really hard to get back in the routine since school has started. We have my son's dog staying with us until June (when he graduates); she's not quite house-trained, but she's almost there. How this ties in: it takes her a while to potty when I take her out. I'm not sure why; you'd think she'd be just about to bust when I take her out in the morning. That eats up time. I suppose I could pray while we're out, but I spend that time repeating over and over, "Come on, girl. Make your tee-tee" or "Make your poops". Makes it a little hard to concentrate on prayer. Did I mention that we don't have a fence, so she has to be on a leash, which means I have to actually walk around the yard with her? And, we live on a busy road...and she's a terrier and bolter?
Between the dog and the hellacious kitchen remodel, I was super-stressed this summer. It's been going on for 2 months and counting. Anything that could have gone wrong, has. I've felt like a prisoner in my own house, or rather, living room. With 3 dogs. There is an end in sight. Hopefully, anyway.
People in my house that don't belong here: That's a huge stressor for me. The beginning of the school year is another one. Oh, and the dog that didn't belong here, too.
Grown Boys. I have 3 grown boys: 1 lives in Washington, 1 in Louisiana, and 1 in the basement. The one in the basement is the least stressor of the three.  I'm still trying to let go and let God take care of them. Easier said than done.
Here's the thing: I don't deal well with stress. Stress makes me want to curl up in my bed and stay there until it passes. But...that's not real life. I feel like I've actually done a fairly good job dealing with the stress of the kitchen remodel...most of the time. Yes, I've shed tears in Home Depot. Yes, I've had to get a little nasty with the contractor. Yes, I will have a beautiful kitchen when it's all said and done. But, boy, if I had it to do over....

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Not Letting Fear Be the Motivator

Photo by Pexels
What is your first reaction when you meet someone who is "different" than you? I'd wager that 9 out of 10 times, it's fear. When I was growing up, any time I met a disabled person (whether it be physically or mentally disabled), I was scared. I didn't know what to say or do. I was also quite a bit anxious with some fear mixed in when, for 3rd grade, the school I attended went through integration. I was taken out of my white, middle class world and thrown in with a whole bunch of kids who were "different".
You're thinking, "yeah, well, that was when you were a kid", and that's true. As an adult, I know some people who are frightened when they see someone with a disability, and I can't say for sure whether or not I would be one of them. Since I work with disabled children, I don't have that fear any longer. I know people who, when they see a person of color, will automatically think the worst of him/her. I can definitely say that, when I meet a woman with a hijab (I hope I'm using the correct term!), my initial reaction is fear, but then I calm down and am interested. (I'm interested to the point where I really want to ask questions, but realize that it's probably not socially acceptable to walk up to a stranger and bombard her with questions about her beliefs & customs in the middle of WalMart.) Then I'm able to see Christ in that person.
Photo by Timothy Ah Koy on Unsplash
In today's Gospel (Matthew 14:22-33), Peter's fear makes him sink as he's walking on the water. He yells out "Lord, save me!", and Jesus reaches his hand out for Peter to grab. In the homily last night, Father focused on our fear of anything different than how we are.
When we feel fear and anxiety, we are refusing to see God in others' lives...in how they look and in what they wear. He urged us to not let fear be what motivates you; see Christ in everyone we meet. Fear is what takes us down. When we have those feelings, picture God's outstretched hand pulling us up and seeing Him.
Photo by Anton Darius | Sollers on Unsplash
I have friends who are protestant, or are agnostic, but I'm not afraid of them. Why then, does the fear creep in when I meet someone who is Muslim? If I met a Muslim who did not cover her head, I wouldn't know she is Muslim; therefore, I wouldn't have any fear or anxiety at all. It's the outside appearance that causes the fear and anxiety.
Our society is such that we have been programmed to look at the outside of the person first. What they're wearing or how they're acting causes our first impression. The media has a huge part in telling us how we should conceive those first impressions. What would society be like if the media reported on the inside of people, not the outside? How much nicer everyone would be to each other!
Photo by Sonja Guina on Unsplash
I wonder...do some non-Catholics feel anxious when they meet a priest for the first time who is wearing a collar?  I wear a miraculous medal necklace and a bracelet with a St. Benedict medal every single day. Still, I'm not easily identified by looking at me as Catholic because my miraculous medal is a very small part of the necklace (it's in a cross) and isn't easily detectable as such. But, if it were, I wonder how differently I would be treated.
The nuns (or "sisters" as we are now supposed to refer to religious who work in communities and aren't cloistered) who wore their habits...were people fearful of them? (I'm not talking about anyone who attended Parochial School!) What about the sisters who continue to wear their habits? Do they feel it? I have to say, I've never thought about that until just now. A cradle Catholic, being around it my whole life, there is not one ounce of fear or anxiety when I see them "out and about".
With the abuse scandals, do non-Catholics have that anxiety when they see a priest? Do they pull their children in closer to them out of fear? I think as Catholics, we may think it's silly, but think about it. How is that any different than many of our initial reactions to seeing a Muslim woman?

I challenge you to say a quick prayer "Lord, save me" the next time you come across someone who is "different" than you. Ask God to allow you to see Him in that person. If everyone did that, the world would be a much nicer place in which to live.