Archive for the ‘Trials’ Category

Rejoice Always

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019

If you’re unhappy now, don’t fret or feel guilty about it. Guilt and worry only perpetuate misery. Instead, be happy. Change your mind about the outrageous impracticality of this advice. If the Bible says “Rejoice always,” there must be something to it.

But you object: “I can’t be happy, because I’m sick,” or “I can’t be happy because my husband left me,” or “I can’t be happy, because I’m sad.” Don’t you understand? Happiness is the very weapon you need to surmount all these conditions. Happiness doesn’t come to those who sit around waiting until life gets better. Happiness comes to those who grab hold of its proffered hand in order to rise up and conquer their struggles.

— Mike Mason, Champagne for the Soul, p. 130

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, February 22, 2015

Liberation Time

Saturday, January 12th, 2019

And yet, there is a resurrection that comes with loss. People can no longer see in us the person they saw before, true. But that is one of the gifts of loss. Loss frees us to begin again, to be seen differently, to tap into something inside of ourselves that even we were never really sure was there. But, whether we knew it or not, did badly want.

We can now — perhaps must now — be ourselves but in some very different ways. We don’t have to go on making a success of the family business. Or even being Mrs. Anybody. Or being called upon so often for the same things in life that we never get to show the world that we can do other things, as well. No doubt about it: Loss is liberation time.

Then we must begin even to know ourselves differently — as more than the mother or the son, the doorman or the doctor or the groundskeeper or the mail carrier. Now we have to dig deep inside us to find out what other parts of ourselves are waiting to be discovered.

— Joan Chittister, Between the Dark and the Daylight, p. 103-104

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, January 12, 2019

Pouting

Sunday, December 16th, 2018

If we think it unreasonable to expect ourselves to rejoice in suffering, try looking at the other side: Isn’t it unreasonable not to rejoice? Taking into account God’s great love and faithfulness, and the promise of our eternal reward in heaven, isn’t a joyless attitude like a small child’s tantrum? Feeling powerless, we either shut down or throw a fit as the only means of retaliating against the one who does hold power.

Unhappiness is a form of pouting. It’s a way of saying, “I shouldn’t suffer like this; it’s scandalous; I don’t deserve it and I won’t accept it.” Fine. Your unhappiness will continue until you do accept it. You’d rather be right than happy.

— Mike Mason, Champagne for the Soul, p. 112

Photo: San Pedro, California, January 2, 2004

Shortcut to Happiness

Sunday, December 2nd, 2018

Anyone can “consider it pure joy” when everything goes well. The time when such an attitude really counts is when “you face trials of many kinds.” Happy people can have just as many problems as unhappy ones. The difference is that unhappy people hate having problems, whereas happy people are content to work through their problems, finding joy in spite of and even because of them. Joy doesn’t result from avoiding suffering but from moving through it. If there’s a shortcut to happiness, it’s through trials.

— Mike Mason, Champagne for the Soul, p. 111

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, November 30, 2018

Gifts of Failure

Wednesday, November 28th, 2018

No, life is not about winning. It is about trying, about participating, about striving, about becoming the best we can be, not the best by someone else’s measure. That’s what failure does for us. It teaches us about ourselves: our energy level, our endurance level, what we’re naturally good at and what we’re not, what we like and what we don’t, what it means to do something just for the fun of it. Failure doesn’t mean that we cannot compete; it doesn’t mean not to give everything we have to doing what we do. It does mean that just because we play we don’t have to win. The playing is the thing.

Most of all, it gives us the permission to go through life without public certification. Failure enables us to take risks as we grow until we find where we really fit, where we can not only succeed, but also enjoy the challenges of life as well.

No, winning is not everything. But we will never really know that until we lose a few and discover that the world does not end when we lose. Now it is just a matter of trying again somewhere else, perhaps. Now we’re free to be unnoticed. We’re free to do what we like best, what is needed most, what will bring us to the most we can be: the most happy, the most competent, the most satisfied with who we are and what we do. That means, of course, that we have to make choices about what we want to do and why we want to do it.

— Joan Chittister, Between the Dark and the Daylight, p. 57-58

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, October 29, 2018

Praying for Problems

Monday, October 29th, 2018

When it gets unbearable, it’s worth remembering: These are the problems that you didn’t know you asked for when you were praying for those blessings.

— Chidera Eggerue, What a Time to Be Alone

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, October 29, 2018

Singing in the Midst of Evil

Sunday, August 5th, 2018

Singing in the midst of evil is what it means to be disciples. Like Mary Magdalene, the reason we can stand and weep and listen for Jesus is because we, like Mary, are bearers of resurrection, we are made new. On the third day, Jesus rose again, and we do not need to be afraid. To sing to God amidst sorrow is to defiantly proclaim, like Mary Magdalene did to the apostles, and like my friend Don did at Dylan Klebold’s funeral, that death is not the final word. To defiantly say, once again, that a light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot, will not, shall not overcome it. And so, evil be damned, because even as we go to the grave, still we make our song alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

— Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastrix, p. 201

[Photo: Great Falls, Virginia, June 14, 2013]

Good from Bad Things

Thursday, July 26th, 2018

This is a critical distinction, and one of the most important things to understand about how adversity can make you stronger. The science of post-traumatic growth doesn’t say that there is anything inherently good about suffering. Nor does it say that every traumatic event leads to growth. When any good comes from suffering, the source of that growth resides in you — your strengths, your values, and how you choose to respond to adversity. It does not belong to the trauma.

— Kelly McGonigal, The Upside of Stress, p. 201

Photo: Staffa Island, Scotland, July 13, 2003

Enemy of Joy

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

The greatest enemy of joy is fear. The quickest way to send your joy packing is to become afraid that it will leave or that something will happen to take it away. What a pitiful way to live! Nothing can be deeply enjoyed for fear it will soon be gone. Paradoxically, however, the way to hold on to joy is not to cling to it. When trouble arises and I say, “Oh no, my joy is gone!” — then it will be gone. If instead I relax my grip on joy and release it to adversity, accepting whatever life may bring, then nothing can intimidate me and steal my joy. Joy dwells in an open hand.

What are we so afraid of? Fundamentally our fear is not just of losing battles but of having to fight at all. Overcome the reluctance to fight, and the fear of losing dissipates.

— Mike Mason, Champagne for the Soul, p. 75

[Photo: Ruines de l’Oedenbourg, France, September 28, 1997]

Heavenward Door on the Latch

Tuesday, June 19th, 2018

God loves not sorrow, yet rejoices to see a man sorrowful, for in his sorrow man leaves his heavenward door on the latch, and God can enter to help him.

— George MacDonald, The Hope of the Gospel, p. 98

[Photo: Loch Ness, Scotland, July 10, 2003]