Loneliness: Sometime We Are The Author Of Our Own Pain

Loneliness can be devastating and hurtful to our overall self-image.  No matter how secure and mature we are, there are times when loneliness just eats at our very bones.  Lifestyles that promote aloneness such as widowhood, monastic life, isolating illnesses, to mention a few, are viewed by some as a fate worse than death.

Perhaps the saddest form of loneliness is that which we bring on ourselves by our behavior.  Unlike the situational loneliness described above, behavior induced loneliness sometimes goes on below our own radar.  We are not aware that our behavior is causing our problem.  As someone noted, awareness is the first step in correction our problems.

With that in mind, let’s look at a few of the behavior patterns that negatively affect our relationships with others.  Some of the sweetest people can still be know-it-alls.  No matter what the topic, they know more than others.  It may be presented sweetly, but others like to also ‘know’ things, too.  If we deny others the opportunity to contribute they will not be back, they will not invite us to go for coffee or a movie or lunch, and we are left wondering why.  Simply put, let others tell us stuff we may already know.  It can be a ministry.

Sometimes it is nothing other than the need to fill silent periods that turns off our potential friends.  We feel compelled to ‘Keep it going’ and there is no time left open to digest our thoughts or the thoughts of others.  The quality of our conversations suffer and we are not thought of as someone others want to spend time around.

God forbid we get the reputation for spreading private thoughts we have been entrusted with.  Or, worse, twisting pieces of their truth to make it more entertaining or titillating to others.  That will not serve as fertile ground for lasting friendships.

One common behavior that causes us problems is being negative or complaining about things.  People are attracted to others who are happy.  We don’t have to entertain or even try to be funny, just positive.  A good old fashion attitude adjustment  that leaves us with the ability to be a quiet ray of sunshine for everyone we meet will go far to alleviate the loneliness we so desperately want to escape.  Our God can help us, if we will only spend a little time with Him asking for His help.  Ask Him specifically to cross our paths with another human being who has the qualities we need to improve our lot.  Then watch for them and imitate them.

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God’s Perfect Plan For Our Life

We have all heard the saying that God has a perfect plan for our lives.  For years that meant to me that God had a scripted plan that I had to search out, discover, and follow step by step.  Sounded good to me off the top but as time went by and I heard that God was a great respecter of my free will, I began to be bothered by this seeming contradiction, “How could both be true” I asked.  What if that perfect plan for my life had components that did not align with my will.

Then one day as I rode along in my car with my new GPS system attached to my windshield, I missed a turn in the directions I had inputed and I heard my GPS say, “Recalculating…turn right at the next corner to return to the directions to your destination.”  I did not turn at the next corner, and the GPS repeated its spiel about “Recalculating…”.

At that point, I had an epiphany about God’s perfect plan versus my free will.  He does have a perfect plan about where He wants us to end up at the end of our life, but He flexes that plan to factor in our free will along the way.  He “Recalculates” as needed to ultimately get us to the right place He has for us.

So, the next time you hear your GPS say it is “Recalculating” take a moment to thank God that he loves us so much He wants to respect the free will He gave to us and factor it into His overall plan for our lives in such a way that at any given moment we can be walking in His perfect plan and still have some input into how that plan plays out.

 

 

“Principle Centered Leadership”

Gandhi noted there are 7 things that will destroy us:

1) Wealth without work – Getting something for nothing

2)Pleasure without conscience – What’s in it for me

3)Knowledge without Character – Putting a high-powered sports car in the hands of a teenager

4)Business without morality – Use the Golden Rule as a minimum

5)Science without humanity – Science can degenerate into man against humanity

6)Religion without sacrifice – No cheap grace

7)Politics without principle – What do I do to get re-elected at all costs

(Published in Principle Centered Leadership by Stephen R. Covey)

Prayer of Silence , by Nicholas

Lord, if I say I see your truth, blind me. If I say I hear your wisdom, deafen me. Deaden me to my senses, but do not deprive me of You. Bring me to the place of silence, where no words of guidance are spoken, but only that of Your presence, that of Your Heart, for You are the Heart of Perfect Silence, whose radiant love blinds me, whose resounding echo deafens me, so that I may perceive you, not as I wish to see, but as you are, truly and wholly. Take me to the silence, the place of my being, the place of my beginning, the place of my remembrance. Let me stay here in this sacred silence, the place of your presence, the place of my remembrance, the place where all that you are may become of me. Let my anxieties and fears be before me. Let me struggle if I must, but let my heart hearken to the call of Your presence, the call of Your heart. Let me stay and wander here in this Heart forever, to see all that You are, without sight, without hearing, without feeling, just the silent words of Your presence, and not as I wish to see. Rarely is the Truth just seen with our eyes, or wisdom heard with our ears, or love spoken from our lips, or knowledge understood with our mind, for eyes have not seen, ears have not heard, what You have planned for those who love You.

The Qualities Of A Pastoral Bishop

While in the Golden Isles to give a talk to the St. William CCW at their Advent Luncheon, Bishop Emeritus Boland agreed to visit a parishioner who had terminal cancer and was under Hospice care in her home.  Since the cancer patient was only told that she had a visitor and not who, she was overwhelmed when Bishop Boland walked in the door of her home.  I don’t think I have ever seen such unmitigated happiness in my whole life.  On and on she went proclaiming that happiness.

The Bishop spent several minutes alone praying with her.  Later he told us that he had asked her to pray for him, that her prayers were stronger than his because in these moments the Lord was closer to her.

After returning to the rectory to pick up his belongings in preparation to return to Savannah, he emerged still visibly shaken by the experience.  He said, “Never in my life have I felt so humbled to bring that much happiness to another human being just by showing up to visit them; I was the one blessed.”

Such humility was obviously why God chose him to be a Bishop years ago.

The Gift Of Friendship, by Henri Nouwen

Friendship is one of the greatest gifts a human being can receive. It is a bond beyond common goals, common interests, or common histories. It is a bond stronger than sexual union can create, deeper than a shared fate can solidify, and even more intimate than the bonds of marriage or community. Friendship is being with the other in joy and sorrow, even when we cannot increase the joy or decrease the sorrow. It is a unity of souls that gives nobility and sincerity to love. Friendship makes all of life shine brightly. Blessed are those who lay down their lives for their friends.

Have An Epiphany About The Epiphany

January 6th is the official date of the Feast of the Epiphany though it is frequently moved to the nearest Sunday.  In the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 2, we find the readings describing the visit of the Magi to the Christ child as He laid in a manger.  The Magi, likely astronomers, came from the Far East after “seeing His star”.  The event marks the revelation of Jesus to the Gentiles.   Jesus is now out in the open to the whole world, not just to His family and the Jews.  One could say the Magi had an epiphany themselves.  They saw something they did not know existed.

Throughout our lives we have numerous epiphanies as we discover new truth that opens our minds or changes the way we think about something.  When we discover a truth that changes the way we think about an issue we are said to have had an epiphany.

There is a remarkable similarity between the words epiphany, paradigm shift, and evangelizing.  When we share a truth about the Lord, or our relationship with Him with another person and it changes how they think about Him, then we can say they have experienced a change in their thinking, an epiphany, a paradigm shift, or have been evangelized. Obviously, there are subtle differences between all three terms.