Friday, August 19, 2011

The mind's seductive tendencies

The title of this post is from my daily devotional reading's reflection written by Sr. Joyce Rupp, O.S.M. In her reflection on Psalm 146:7 "The Lord sets captives free," she talks openly about how recalling and replaying hurtful memories and incidents can imprison us so tightly we are unable to to get beyond our resentment.

I know this feeling. I harbor hurts like a wharf gives harbor to ships. I pack them in tightly and moor them with unbinding knots. I try to untie them, to release them, to let them find their way out to sea and far away from me. It seems never to work. They are with me always.

I talked with one of my counselors earlier this week. I talked with my dad. Both are full of wisdom in helping me understand that with deep, repeated hurts, or hurts that have wounded over long periods of time, it remains difficult to release those hurts. I try time and again to get past, get around, leave behind the hard feelings. It doesn't work. I thought that was bad, that I should be able to turn the other cheek. I haven't worked through enough of the hurt to be there yet. And perhaps on some level it's OK that I never do.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Whose kingdom is it anyway?

Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'In truth I tell you, it is hard for someone rich 
to enter the kingdom of Heaven.' --Matthew 19:23

 I'm beginning to feel as though it doesn't really ever go away. I talked with Nik last night about forgiveness for those who I feel have been hurtful, and spiteful in the past year. I know I have a part in any engagement, and this morning while listening to the radio I heard a story about snares and traps from the broadcaster's experience the night before watching a reality show. A woman on the show had been ensnared, trapped, pulled down and held captive, waiting for her captors to appear.

The story resonated. I had experienced that feeling. 

I didn't finish this entry on the day I began it. Overnight I had terrible dreams about the circumstances in which I have been trapped. Because of their ferocity, I wondered about the emotions I have attached to this experience of ensnarement. I went through, and navigate now as though I am still going through this period where I cannot get anything right. Nothing I do releases me from the trap I've entered.

With that in mind, I wondered: Whose kingdom is it anyway? Mine? Certainly not. God's? Yes, of course. I wonder how far I have strayed from the plan to find myself trapped in this way? I keep fighting to find my way out of the trap, and no matter what I do I no longer feel secure. I cannot say for sure if this is unwillingness or being unready to forgive my captors.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Whose kingdom is it anyway?

Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'In truth I tell you, it is hard for someone rich 
to enter the kingdom of Heaven.' --Matthew 19:23

 I'm beginning to feel as though it doesn't really ever go away. I talked with Nik last night about forgiveness for those who I feel have been hurtful, and spiteful in the past year. I know I have a part in any engagement, and this morning while listening to the radio I heard a story about snares and traps from the broadcaster's experience the night before watching a reality show. A woman on the show had been ensnared, trapped, pulled down and held captive, waiting for her captors to appear.

The story resonated. I had experienced that feeling. 

I didn't finish this entry on the day I began it. I had terrible dreams about it overnight.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Closing the door and finding forgiveness to move forward

This morning while getting ready for work, I considered my behavior yesterday evening at the dinner table. My husband and I have both been struggling with our places of work. He, because leadership demonstrates itself as lacking and I because I have been trying to understand what happened to result in the treatment I've encountered in the past ten or twelve months. My language and speech turned vile and judgmental--something I work on daily to what seems like no avail. I was embarrassed to hear myself talking in that way and apologized to Nik. He was forgiving, and supportive, recognizing that I've been keeping a lot of pain and anger inside that is finding its way out in any way that it can.

Yesterday I read a chapter from a book by Robert E. Quinn, Building the Bridge as You Walk on It. The chapter was on "Appreciative Inquiry" a framework for change that one of my dear friends and colleagues is researching with me as our workplace transforms.

Appreciative inquiry builds on strengths and positive attributes, eschewing trying to identify and change problems. The example in the chapter illustrated the benefits of leaving what's done, surrendering the past and focusing energy on the goal or future success. In the scenario presented in the book the consultant was brought in to bring a team that was 18 months behind on a multi-million dollar, five year project to alignment with the timeline before the 48 month mark. At that time a 30 million dollar penalty would be levied if the project was 18 months or more behind its timeline. Of course the consultant succeeded, but it was how the consultant succeeded that so impressed me. Through bringing members of the team together in small groups and maintaining focus and energy on moving forward and meeting the goal, the "problems" of being behind schedule faded away. The consultant came in under budget as did the overall project due to the change in perspective the team encountered. The leadership on the project constantly questioned the consultant's approach. The consultant listened to the concerns, acknowledged them but did not once try to explain how the problems would be addressed. Rather the consultant continued to focus on that drive to succeed.

As I read my devotional this morning, I read the Gospel according to Matthew, 18:21-19:1. The theme for this scripture is forgiveness. In which a king forgives the slave who cannot pay his debts when he begs forebearance and promises to repay the debts owed so that he and his family are not sold to another house to repay the debts. So when the king accepts the deal, the slave goes out to collect from another who owes him. The debtor begs forgiveness and mercy on the debt but the slave offers none. He is called for reckoning by his lord and is subjected to the punishment he escaped earlier.

So as I was readying myself for work this morning, I considered these things. When I met with my counselor, I acknowledged that I have been wasting a lot of time, wasting time I could be focusing on my future--endeavors at home, in the workplace and in my business planning on trying to figure out what happened, what went wrong and who should be held accountable or forgiven. It's just not practical.

So as I think about what I can appreciate, I can appreciate a small door to the future being cracked open, and the ability to start closing that door on the place I have been in the past year. I talk about my 'boxes' in which I put things to keep them under control. I believe that the ideal for myself is the need for fewer and smaller boxes--that I can be strong and face the things I need to process and leave behind more quickly and directly. And in doing this, I must continue to find ways to forgive myself and then I can move on to forgive others.

I talked with that colleague of mine earlier this week, the dear one who is researching and practicing with me on appreciative inquiry. She asked me if I would ever see myself managing again in the future. My gut feeling and immediate response to her was no. She clarified and asked if it was no for where I am now (this place of work) or for any place of work. I really believe that I have been uprooted to the extent that it would be no institution that was not my own. She told me she thought that was a shame because I am such a strong leader. I poo-poohed that immediately. I have vision. I know that. I am not sure about the ability to translate the vision into direction for others.

Should the time come that I can really leave this year behind, perhaps. It's a matter of forgiveness and moving forward, right?

Matthew 18:21-19:1, New American Standard Bible (NASB)

21 Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

23 “For this reason the kingdom of heaven [a]may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him [b]ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 But since he [c]did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. 26 So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ 27 And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the [d]debt. 28 But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred [e]denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ 30 But he was unwilling [f]and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. 31 So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. 32 Then summoning him, his lord *said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ 34 And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. 35 My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from [g]your heart.”

Matthew 19
Concerning Divorce
1 When Jesus had finished these words, He departed from Galilee and came into the region of Judea beyond the Jordan;

Friday, August 5, 2011

Denying myself, sowing the seeds and reaping the harvest

Jesus said to his disciples,
"Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father's glory, and then he will repay each according to his conduct. Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here
who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom."
--Matthew 16:24-28

For all that I am and all that I do in a given day, I do not know if I truly give my life over to others. I like to believe that do and would give of myself anything to help another human or life on this earth. I was better at this in the first half of the year, for sure. When Mom was diagnosed with cancer and received her initial treatments in the hospital, I gave up preserving my work. Though I struggled with what I felt was a personal deficiency in my commitment to my profession, I look back now and see the falseness of the profession, or at least with professionals I encountered in the workplace. I was given the security of a paid leave, but questioned its validity from the beginning. I did not trust. I did not have faith in the procedure and policy.

As time moved forward, I do believe I gave of myself. I no longer cared about the procedure and policy of the workplace, I no longer cared about what turned out to be empty promises that turned on end time and again. My faith in God's love, in Christ's strength were real. Each day when I gave more, I received more. I was able to feel the love and support of prayer coming from those who were giving of themselves for me and for my family. I did not dread my days.

I found comfort in the reading above, from Friday, August 5, Living Faith: Daily Catholic Devotions. I also found reassurance in this reading from today:

Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
--2 Corinthians 9:7

What a demonstration of simplicity and pure love this can be. I wish all could know the joy in finding and living that purpose and its beauty and reward for faith. In the days and months ahead, I plan to dedicate my time to the purpose in my heart, cheerfully, joyously and with grace.

An exercise in appreciative living:
I have been remiss in my weekly self appraisal, according to The Joy of Appreciative Living.
1. I am a professional woman, committed to a job well done in all that I do. I recognize that I do not always hit the mark.
2. I maintain a balance between home and professional life which honors God, my husband and myself.
3. Each day I wake up, hoping for more hours in a day. I learned a new tool for shifting my perspective from my Spinning trainer during Saturday's class. It relies on changing one little letter in one little word: Instead of saying, "I've got to." I embrace the fact that "I get to." Powerful and amazing what that small change can do!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Love one another...

My day started with a slump--I set the alarm for 4:40 with the intent to get up, walk the dog and go to Spinning class. I turned off the alarm instead of hitting snooze. I lay there thinking about my day ahead. The clock skipped forward to 5:30, the time my class begins. Whoops! I missed it. I called in to let the gym know I would not be there in case someone was waiting for a seat. I crawled back into bed with the light on and fell asleep until 6:15. I guess I needed sleep, so sleep I did.

Rather than beating myself up, I choose to acknowledge that my body and mind needed the rest. I chose to love myself this morning and take the opportunity to provide for my own needs. After catching up with Nik and watching the dog and cat continue to become more acquainted with one another, I readied myself for work and was out the door.

It rained overnight. I had no idea, and considered the rain also contributed to my extra sleep. I can sleep so soundly when there is rain and gentle storms are around me. With the storms that have been so strong in my personal life, I am learning to find comfort and joy even during turbulence. I appreciate the strength and grace that I receive.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The promise of a brand new day

A friend posted on her Facebook page yesterday a commitment to writing fifteen minutes a day--she linked to the original challenge. As an extension of some reading and research I am doing in my work, I'm in the process of reading a new book called The Joy of Appreciative Living. I'm committing to combining the reading with the challenge. I did not write yesterday, but pondered instead whether I could commit for the month. I'm here to try. :)

Those of you in the know are aware that I'm using this blog to explore myself and get myself back to me. I've had a bit of a year and I'm ready to hang it up and move on. I've decided that I am not focusing on what was, what has been lost, what didn't fit and what continues to add drama to the world around me. That's no short order, is it? In fact, it's going to take a bit of a miracle to meet this goal and maintain that sort of lifestyle.

Today's Gospel reading was from the Book of Matthew (14:22-36). This is the verse where Jesus walks on water and Peter steps out and does so too, until he becomes afraid. The crux of the reading is a call to step out to do more and to balance fear and courage. I know I am called to do amazing things. Why should I let fear get in my way?

The lessons I am learning in Joy of Appreciative living are threefold:
  1. Appreciate what is.
  2. Imagine the ideal.
  3. Act in alignment.

I haven't finished the reading, and yet I have a good sense of what these phrases mean in my life to date. While I do my best not to let fear get in my way, I have done that in recent months, particularly as it pertains to MPOW. I have had such confidence and courage in other areas of my life, and even here at work. Some people have expressed amazement. That feels pretty good, and yet it also sets a bar--must I always be strong? Must I always be fearless? Or can the bar that other have identified for my tenacity move and adjust with circumstances? Here is where I can apply what I currently believe it means to "appreciate what is." Each day of our lives is uniquely ours, and doesn't have a standard measuring stick. Why should I fear that today I will not have more or less strength that I need to face my fears? Why should I be afraid at all? In this brand new day, there are no limits, there are no standards for how I am and how I will be. A dear friend captures it so succinctly, "It is what it is."

Because I can appreciate that I have fear, and some fear is downright good, my friends, I can also appreciate what it is like to not have fear in the face of opportunities. I can step out confidently knowing that there is a plan for me, and I need to be true unto myself, in my faith, in my family and in my relationships with others. I participated in a training session at MPOW this morning. The topic was Preventing Workplace Violence. One of my colleagues who sat next to me expressed a great deal of anxiety. I wasn't sure if this was fear driven or not, but through some discussion, the anxiety was a reflection of his inclination to help his fellow man rather than protecting himself so that he could be around to help his fellow man. Given my husband's job and training background, and mine, I have, I believe, gotten myself to a survivor mentality and believe that I must survive to help others. I'm committed to doing what I need in order to fulfill my calling--and I firmly believe the bottom line of that calling is to help others.

As I read more today on fear and courage, I came across 1 Chronicles 22:12-14, "Only the LORD give you discretion and understanding, and give you charge over Israel, so that you may keep the law of the LORD your God. Then you will prosper, if you are careful to observe the statutes and the ordinances which the LORD commanded Moses concerning Israel. Be strong and courageous, do not fear nor be dismayed. Now behold, with great pains I have prepared for the house of the LORD 100,000 talents of gold and 1,000,000 talents of silver, and bronze and iron beyond weight, for they are in great quantity; also timber and stone I have prepared, and you may add to them." My ideal is to add to them, to give unto others of my talents and produce more.

One of my challenges is seeing a sibling who is struggling so very deeply with this concept of giving unto others. I am struggling with the fear of judging him for his words and his actions versus the opportunity to help him find a way to confront the fear or anger that continues to push him away from finding his ideal and joy. It's that first step from which he could benefit so greatly and then grow through following the next two steps. I am working to act in alignment--to push through my fear and to seek to grow opportunities. The way I see for this to happen is by sidestepping the drama and drawing boundaries in order to protect myself.

So, as I practice, as I write, as I explore, I'll continue to share. It's hard for me to do that. I tend to be introspective on most things that are personal in nature. Wish me luck, pray for my clarity and wisdom in purpose and enjoy the ride if you are so inclined.