“…the whole armor…”

I have had some amazing experiences over the past few months. I must say that my stress level is a little high right now, but I know God has got me in His hands, yet again. Last night I had to re-apply lavender several times to get into a good, deep sleep. And I kept praying over and over again. It is amazing when you opt to pray over all the blessings in your life, leaving the rest of it to the side, and in God’s capable hands. And I needed some restorative sleep; I really did. And the peace, and sleep, came. It was nice. I was recently told that if you wake up and can remember everything you dreamt, and in detail, you are not getting enough REM, or that deep and restorative, sleep. I am happy to report this morning that I don’t recall any dreams, just the prayers of thanksgiving that sent me into that deep REM state. God is good.

Speed ahead another day…got side-tracked while blogging yesterday. So LAST night I took my usual immune supplements that contain melatonin, which usually help me sleep so soundly. Anyway, I slept like a log. No dreams. It was wonderful. We also had a snowy night, so it was very quiet (it is so quiet when it snows and I love it tremendously – snowfall brings great peace) and woke up to sunshine and about 2″ more of snow. We have had about 12 inches the past couple of days. A winter wonderland. I love living in a snow state!

But I am dealing with so many stresses and one of the main stresses is how I am affecting those around me, because of it. I listened to a You Tube video this morning that I normally would not listen to. But I thought the person who offered it to me wanted me to learn something. And so I listened. Boy, did I learn a lot. I have learned in recent years that I have narcissistic parents. Mysoginistic narcissists. Yeah. It was a total revelation to me, and it made all these little pieces in my life fall into place. But what I am discovering is that being raised in that sort of environment has made some of the attributes I dislike the most, rub off on me. When I react to things in my life I can be doing so using the tools of a narcissist. Because I learned at the feet of masters. And I am a good student. I have struggled breaking the chains of this inheritance with all my heart. I did not want this passed down to my kids, and their kids in turn. I wanted it to stop. The speaker in this video showed me that sometimes when (and how) I browbeat those I love the most, that I am treating them the exact way I was treated. And I am allowing, even perpetuating the sinful disease that narcissism is, continue on in insidious ways.

Gaslighting is a term I was unfamiliar with, until recently. It basically means someone manipulates you into altering your reality. Like when siblings get together and remember a past event and it is different for each of them? That is just a shared memory from different perspectives. Gaslighting is when people tell you that you remember something incorrectly and they tell you “what really happened.” Or people will tell you things they recall you saying, where you know you never would have or could have said that thing. Or people insist you promised them something and you know you would never promise anything like that. They are attempting to re-align your perceptions of reality. They are changing your brain, on purpose, to re-align your brain with their will. It is common to parents who are narcissists. And I was manipulated by professionals. And this gaslighting makes you question everything. The narcissist will make you question every, single, area of your life and can make all these areas crumble. Especially if you call them out or disagree with them. And if you choose to go against them, they can make your life a living hell. Trust me.

This speaker in the video has made me question how I behave. And I owe apologies to so many friends and family members, for when I have “acted out irrationally.” In truth, in those most loud moments, I was defending myself the only way I knew how. But I am learning there are other ways. I need to not be alone in the woods (the title of the photo above) with this pain from my childhood. I need not isolate myself from people because of a fear about how I might lash out. No. I need to confront those parts of me I really don’t like too much. Those parts, that when I hold a mirror to them, I see an image of one of my parents.

My mom and dad loved us, the best they could They did not have much to work with. One of the great ironies of discovering all this, is that I deeply loved my paternal grandparents. I was closer to them than my father, in so many ways. And they made him what he was. But they did not try any of that with me. They just loved me. My grandmother often lamented the way they tried to raise my dad, and it always made me sad. She wanted to live with me, and not her own son, in her last days. I was holding her hand when she died, and not her own son. She did not trust her own son, and he only wanted to remember the mom he had as a boy. How awful. And now my father and I are not speaking. At all. I chose to cut him out of my life because of all the pain he inflicts on me, whenever we converse. Like I told a friend, he and my mom both know exactly what buttons to push with me, because they sewed them on!

How do those of us, like me, who learn of these things late in life, go on? I certainly do not wish any ill will to either of my parents. I see my mom about once a week. Sometimes it is every two weeks. She only misses me when she sees me and realizes who I am. But her daily life in Alzheimer’s is a happy one. Living in Assisted Living with other ALZ patients is good for her. It is a good situation. Her living with me was not good. And I realized, especially when my mother-in-law passed away, that when my parents die, it will not change much in my life. And that makes me very sad. Because there is so much lost opportunity along the way. Hours and days and moments we will NEVER have. And we never had.

One of the things in my life that is profoundly different from my parents is that I have an authentic, active, vibrant love affair with God. My mom has no concept of God anymore. My father has said that when he gets to “heaven,” he will explain to God where all His mistakes were and how my dad would have done it better. Yeah. Typical narcissist – he thinks he is more knowledgeable than God. The creature telling the creator how to do it.

Another thing I have is a life-long love affair with my husband. A man who loves God, perhaps even more than I do. And a man who loves me, regardless of my brow-beating or snotty comment ways. God, do I thank you for this man. He is saving me. For the past 37 years, he has been saving me. I am beyond blessed. And we walk hand-in-hand, regardless of the state of our marriage at the moment. Even in our ugliest moments, I know in my heart he has got my back. Always. And I trust this man with my life. And I know that together, we can help me heal. I could not face these facts about my life and my parents without him. And it overwhelms me some days.

There is a religious/spiritual movement/knowledge/discussion about Jezebel Narcissists and the Spirit of Jezebel being at the heart of this personality disorder. I have not even tipped my toe into this subject, because it is so outside the realm of my comfort zone (you have no idea how far outside my comfort zone this is) but I listened to this speaker talk about the spiritual aspect of narcissism as a strong personality disorder that is fringed with evil. And I can see it. I can. Because I have been the subject of it. And because I listened with an open heart, I can see it in all sorts of places and people around me. My eyes were opened to looking at it in a different way. And I love adding the spiritual aspect to this. Because if we believe in God and His miracles, His stories, His Grace in our lives, we have to accept His stories about evil. And as Christians, part of accepting this reality goes a long way in doing something about it. And so I have decided that I will continue to leave my dad out of my life for now, but I will confront this spirit of narcissism in me. And I will work to rid myself of this so that I can move on. I may, some day, be ready to take on dear, old Dad. That day is not today. But I am one step closer. Today I was made aware. Today my eyes were opened. Today I begged the Lord for forgiveness and I cried, I wept as I recognized myself in the examples this speaker gave. And to me, that goes a long way towards healing a broken heart and warped spirit.

 

Advertisements

“Where there is no prayer and fasting, there are demons.”

So many of us struggle to live out our faith in this world of ours. I know I do. Every day. Sometimes hiding our heads in the sand is so much easier. Fat, dumb, and happy – that was me. And then I decided to learn. To educate myself. Oh, I attended college, chasing the allusive degree. But I am more interested, as the years pile on top of each other, in eternal knowledge and eternal truth. Because, like it or not, that is where I am headed in the not-too-distant-future.

I was chatting with a High School friend, well, texting, and realized I have been out of high school for 45 years. Yeah – out of high school. Sigh. Where has the time flown? I remember thinking how old people who were 45 seemed to me back then. She and I will have been friends for 50 years pretty soon. It just seems surreal. And where am I right now? Am I closer to those mystical truths I was searching for? Some days it feels as though the Hand of God is on my shoulder and I bravely march into my day. Other days I am happy if I get dressed and accomplish pretty much anything. Today is more along the lines of that last comment.

Why is it we get this spiritual and emotional ennui, which is defined as a “listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement?” Some of the synonyms for it are boredom, tedium, lethargy, or languor. There are many avenues through which we seek the divine. We can attend Churches where the music is mighty, the overhead projectors show you the words to the songs so you can participate, and the atmosphere is jovial, almost like attending a performance of your favorite band. The aim is to excite you enough for you to pursue your faith doggedly and wholeheartedly, regardless of your moments of ennui. There are places where you can worship almost in solitude, and  at almost any hour of the day or night, and are referred to as Adoration Chapels. I love going there in the middle of the night, to just sit in the Presence of God in the Tabernacle, and seek His Grace. Just being in the presence of the Holy, when you recognize it, can enervate you to make those changes in life that wipe out these moments of lackluster living.

We can quietly seek the Holy in our world, without having to go to a place. We can play music that helps us. We can grab a rosary or prayer rope. We can open the Scriptures and dive into the Word of God in our pjs, grasping for dear life onto our morning coffee. The difference is that attending a religious service brings us to community. No man is an island, and no man is supposed to go through this life alone. No man. Some people feel that hermits and others who isolate themselves from the rest of us think they are holier than we are. That is simply untrue. Many hermits, or others who perhaps are in secluded monasteries of either gender, who are cloistered away from the world, actually feel inadequate to be in this world and are desperately seeking the Divine. And most pray, constantly, for all of us in the world. They isolate themselves because they feel the need to be alone with God and also are called to be Spiritual Warriors for the rest of humanity. Thanks be to God there are those who still seek Him in this way. They are who are praying for all of us, nonstop. It comforts me to think of them, praying at every hour, of every day.

There are those who serve God by leading us in prayer and worship. We need to spend time worshipping with our fellow believers. It lifts up the Kingdom of God and it lifts our souls to heaven, alongside people who believe as we do, singing mighty praise to God. Corporate prayer accomplishes such good in this world. And we also look to our religious leaders to actually instruct us, and to lead us to better ways of living our lives in the everyday. And every once in awhile, we experience something unique and special and it stays with us. As I was feeling so inadequate and so slow and with my feet really dragging today, I recalled the homily from this weekend. We were told that abortion is wrong. Period. That the taking of a human life in this way is completely unnecessary, and it is always wrong. Infanticide is always wrong. As a Church, a believing people, we are called to defend the defenseless, always. And I was so excited to hear, from the pulpit, strong language defending the Pro Life stance – in fact, in unequivocal terms. My heart just sang. Afterwards, I shook the Priest’s hand and I squeezed it as I said, “Thank you, Father. That was an incredible homily. It was incredible. Thank you.” Each word got a squeeze. Why? Because everyone is afraid to speak and I wanted him to know I supported every word he said. Everyone is so worried about offending someone else, they stand by and say and do nothing. The Governor of Virginia, the State of New York, and many national legislators, defended infanticide. They lit the Empire State Building to celebrate it. And every, single, citizen in this country should be very, very afraid of legislation like that. Every, single, Christian, should be standing up and just saying, “No! We are not going to take this stuff any longer. We want our country, and our world, back.” The Lord is sending us message after message in the things we see and hear all around us, that it is time to stand up for what is right.

Love, and standing up for the right thing can cost us our very lives, in some areas. The priests above stood and said no to guns and violence. They prayed over dissent and shooting and death, bringing the Word of God to a place that was unraveling. We need to see this sort of courage from everyone. Even me. Even you.

How can we be brave like this? We can call our legislators and tell them we are pro-life and all abortion and infanticide is murder. We can make public testimony when horrible bills are being proposed (most levels of government have ways for you to participate from your living room). We can support centers in our towns that save babies and support mothers. We can donate used baby items, new items, cars, time, talent – you name it – to the pro-life movement in our towns. We can offer to drive moms to pregnancy appointments. We can adopt a newborn. We can foster newborns. We can go to NICUs in our town and volunteer to hold the babies (yes, you can do this). We can knit or crochet (well, not me, but you. I am taking a class next week. So there is hope for me) booties, hats, and blankets for newborns and donate them to hospitals and pro-life centers. We can pray every day to save just one baby. We can add an intention every day, to pray for one mother who is considering abortion. We can take our lackadaisical attitudes, our ennui, and turn it into something powerful. No prayer is ever wasted. The Lord uses our prayers for His Kingdom. Please, do something. Our world needs each of us. Now.

 

“What shall we say to these things?”

“But Mary treasured all theses things, pondering them in her heart.” Luke 2:19

I like to think I am a thinker. A ponderer. A muser. Nowhere, on any scale, would I consider myself on par with resolute, professional thinkers. I have a dear friend whose eldest son has a PhD in thinking. Well, it is in Epistemology, Ethics, and Metaphysics (I think? LOL). But that is literally about thought and processing thought and ethics and the ultimate truths in the world. He could think me in circles! LOL! So do not expect that level, or even close, on this blog, or this post. That preamble being stated, I cannot stop thinking about truth. Well, the opposite, which is lying. Or untruth. And why is it so easy, simple, and reactive to lie our way through life? Where are we taught that lying is a good thing? How are we taught this? How have we come to think manipulating people through falsehood is an okay thing to do? The ends justify the means?

“Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

Somehow, somewhere, someone dropped the ball. Our world is saturated with falsehoods and lies. The Evil One is having a field day. He is winning the hearts and minds of this world. And so very easily. The Lord needs us all to step up and teach truth and do not depart from it. Because I see all around me lies piled on top of lies.

Recently, my grandson lied to me. And he was caught and it was taken care of. He even apologized to me later on, without parental prompting. However, I cannot get over the fact that as such a young person, the lies came so easily. When I was about his age, I lied about how many bags of chips I had consumed prior to dinner. My mom had just bought them, so she knew how many there were (this was back when the little cellophane wrapped boxes of small bags of chips just came out; the early 60s.) and she knew I had lied. She told me to stay in my room until my dad got home. I always dreaded dad’s discipline. Not for violence of any kind. He talked me to death. LOL. He would philosophize us into comas with his speeches. We were too young to recall his words, or even truly understand them. Now this event was almost 60 years ago and I still remember it. Why? Dad took away my Barbie car and Barbie Dreamhouse. He put them up on a shelf in the garage, above the washer and dryer. I could look at them, see all that pink, but was not allowed to touch them. For lying. And I have never forgotten it. Ever.

 

 

 

 

 

The memory haunts me to this day. I recall standing in the garage, staring at them, so angry at my dad. But you know what? It was all on me. I was the one who had lied, and I was held accountable. The things I treasured most were taken from me. No compromise; no relief. I believe it was a 2-week sentence. And to a young girl, in her 7-8 year old range, it was horrific. And it was memorable. I think it was one of the single, most memorable lessons of my life – and it was all because I lied, snuck around, and deceived my parents – on purpose. I knew what I was doing. I went to great lengths to hide the extra bag I had consumed – in a neighbor’s trash can, no less! Devious little girl that I was!!! Ha! But my dad, in his warped wisdom, imposed a sentence that has lasted my entire life. And I have never purposely lied since. I may leave facts out of conversations, but I do not deliberately lie. Ever.

With our kids, we held truth to be immutable and of the highest importance. We always told our kids that telling the truth may still merit punishment for their “crimes,” but lying only made it that much worse. And for the most part, I think we have pretty honest kids. Trustworthy. “Their word is their bond” – “let’s shake on it “- sort of men. Perfect? Oh my word, no. Struggling in this crazy world? Yes; yes they are. Raising their own kids amongst this horror that is blatant deceitfulness.

“The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked make themselves a stench and bring shame on themselves.” Proverbs 13:5

So, crazy world, how do we combat lies? The annual debacle, otherwise known as the Super Bowl, was yesterday. The game was a snoozer for me, and the half-time show was pretty bad (Adam Levine – what were you thinking????), so that left the commercials. Some were great, others funny, most boring. And for so much money!! WOW! $5.2 million dollars was spent by the Washington Post. It was narrated by Tom Hanks, showing lots of murdered journalists, and lots of scenes where journalists were “on the spot” where things were happening. All this to convince us that they are sharing the truth with us. It was laughable. It was, moreover, a ridiculous amount of money for the media to convince us, the public, that they have our best interests at heart, and are sharing us the truth of the moment, of the world. One of their tag lines that infuriated me the most was, “Because knowing empowers us. Knowing helps us decide. Knowing keeps us free…” and the worst was last: “Democracy dies in darkness.”

“An honest witness does not deceive, but a false witness pours out lies.” Proverbs 14:5

So the Washington Post, amid lay-offs and diminished benefits for its employees, spends $5.2 million dollars trying to convince us they are the harbingers of truth. The abject consumerism of the entire event was disgusting, but the pompous attitude shared in these commercials rankled. They had to spend all that money to convince me they bring me truth? Or that I need new insurance? Or a car? Or a beer without corn syrup? Nothing and no one touched on anything of social or political or historical importance. Oh, they were being over the top with their patriotism, trying to convince us the NFL are the good guys (uhm, we totally see through that). During half time, Adam Levine promised his truth warriors he would show them he supported them – and today, even they are rallying against him for his poor performance. Millions and millions of dollars later, where are we? Better off? More aligned with the truth? More apt to be good, honest people? I hardly think so. I spent most of the time playing Word Therapy and Angry Birds on my phone, or tickling my grandkids.

“What shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, angels nor rulers, nor present nor things to come, nor powers nor heights nor depths, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God, in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8: 38-39.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast more proudly about my weaknesses, so Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

And so I am pondering truth, and the falsehoods which permeate almost all aspects of life these days. Am I some great philosopher? I am not. But I see so much in our culture and how it is trickling down to our most vulnerable – our children. In New York and other states, we can kill a child – up and to sometimes including after they are born. What is next? Life is literally hanging in the balance. Our Lord spoke of the evils of abortion and infanticide in the Scriptures.

 “You must not worship the Lord your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.”          Deuteronomy 12:31

The thing I am getting to is that truth lies (no pun) within each of us. We are not supposed to cower in fear of the lies. We are not supposed to allow this evil to continue to permeate our world. We must stand up for what is right. Do we need to run for office? Perhaps, but not necessarily. Do we need to author bills to be added to our laws? Maybe, but perhaps reading and commenting on pending legislative acts would help usher in the reign of truth, instead of lies. Because if all of us who believe in the truth handed down to us stood and said no, then NY would not have the law they have and the Empire State Building would not have been lit in celebration of murder. But we have stood by and let it happen.

Maybe we need to take the basket off our lamp of truth and share it in the marketplace (See Matthew 5: 15-16) so others can be illuminated. Maybe someone needs their Barbie car taken away for them to see the value in truth. Truth is forever. It never changes. It never goes away, regardless of the hyperbole of the modern press. Truth is the value of humanity and our lives. Live in truth. Always.