Tag Archives: letting go

Quit Playing God

When I sit back and point out all the sins of others, look for opportunities to criticize them, and getting angry that they don’t do as I would do, or think as I think, I am playing God. It is not my job to pass judgment on everything that others do. So many of us take on the roll as the General Manager of the Universe. We actually believe that everyone should act and do as we expect them.

If taken too far, this causes resentment towards us in others and bitterness in ourselves. I believe that the root of bitterness is anger. When anger is closely held onto and unforgiven, it results in bitterness. Bitterness is a focus on the faults of others. We focus on those faults because we won’t forgive and we are sure that the person is going to once again let us down, or anger us, or hurt us in some way.

If we are not careful, bitterness eats at us, consumes us, and affects those around us. The solution is simple. To realize that I am not perfect. That everyone has their bad days, bad moods, and deal with their own situations. Often what they do or say has absolutely nothing to do with me. Once I realize that I have no real control over the universe and everyone who inhabits it, I can give myself a break from managing the universe and realize it’s just not my job.

Can’t I influence others? Yes, I can. But in the end, everyone is a free will creature and will do what they will do. I can pressure them, but if I push, they have three options: be pushed, push back, or just ignore me. It’s still their choice. They may do what I think they should do, but in their time, not mine.

Fred Rogers wrote in The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember, “Part of the problem with the word ‘disabilities’ is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can’t feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren’t able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities.”

The solution is simple, to give up the anger, the judgment, and forgive. But even though it is simple, it is hard to do. It is hard for us to let go. It is hard for us to allow the world around us to be outside of our control. But peace and joy lie in our ability to let go and forgive. Anger without forgiveness is a bitter poison and a cancer that eats us alive. Will Davis Jr. in 10 Things Jesus Never Said: And Why You Should Stop Believing Them, wrote: “Once you decide to forgive, you initiate the healing process. Forgiveness gives your soul permission to move on to the higher and healthier ground of emotional recovery. Forgiveness is to your soul what antibiotics are to infection. It is the curative agent that will help to fully restore your soul. It doesn’t immediately remove the pain of defense but it does start you on the road to recovery.”

So, if you are weary from running the universe, take down your shingle, leave the office and let our Maker do the job. Relieve yourself of the anxiety and disappointment that others will not follow your plan, your expectation, your will on your time.

I am happy not to be in charge of the universe. It is too much responsibility. The help is unreliable because they will do what they do. They do because they are free will creatures just like me. They are imperfect just like me. They suffer emotions, uneasiness, fear just like me. And I hope that they feel joy, happiness and contentment, just like me. I hope that I don’t steal their joy. I hope that I remember to always see their value as God’s child with God’s heart. As Dieter F. Uchdorf said, “There is enough heartache and sorrow in this life without our adding to it through our own stubbornness, bitterness, and resentment.”

We are all imperfect. Do not be bitter, be better. Forgive whoever you might be angry with and then forgive yourself for just being human. There is so little in our life that we can control, but we can control our own actions. We cannot control the actions of others, even God has surrendered controlling his children because He wants us to choose. That is why we have “free will”, and so does everyone else.

Is Messiness a Character Flaw?

Hi. My name is Harry and I am a slob. If you were to compare my life with the Odd Couple of years past, Felix Unger and Oscar Madison, I am very much like Oscar. Also, like that same couple, the other side of the relationship, my wife, is neat and organized. I do not go out of my way to annoy her with my disorganization but it happens that way.

For some people, a bed freshly made in the morning is the perfect beginning of the day. It makes all things right in the world. Humanity can continue on its journey forward. But it really makes no difference to me if the bed is made or not. It doesn’t even occur to me that an unmade bed has any impact in my day.

Clutter does not bother me. I do not like filth, but I do not mind clutter. I have always been disorganized. I was always scolded by my teachers for being disorganized. I could never remember the combination to my locker (so I jammed the lock, so it wouldn’t fully lock). My desk at work is a mess, but I get my work done, meet deadlines and exceed expectations. Albert Einstein quipped, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

“We have a tendency to think of messiness as a character flaw, but these people are generally more productive than neat people since they spend more time getting things done than they do straightening up,” David H. Freedman explains. “Plus, they’re often more imaginative than neater folks, since creative people usually find a bit of clutter to be stimulating and expressive.” David Freedman and Eric Abrahamson were co-authors of the book, A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder – How Crammed Closets, Cluttered Offices, and on-the-Fly Planning Make the World a Better Place

So, is messiness a character flaw? Maybe, but I do not think so. Are messy people immoral? You know, the whole cleanliness is next to godliness thing. I do not think that is the case either. I honestly think it is just how my brain works. It just may be that I am constantly distracted by more interesting things, at least more interesting than tidying up. Or, maybe, the cost of tidying up may be less than the potential benefits. On one occasion at work, an employee was filing daily order papers, in order, after entering them into the computer system. The organizing, sorting and filing took about an hour out of her day. Almost no one ever needed to see those papers. I changed the system to a 31 day file, where she simply stuck all the papers in the file, unsorted, by day. Searching once in a while took a few minutes to half an hour, but it saved 20 hours of filing each month.

Neat people are fine too. The organizations help them feel in control. I know I control very little and I am in no way interested in being the general manager of the universe. My wife has files and places and she likes to know that everything is where it should be. I depend on her organization skills and am very glad she has them. As a side note, almost everything I put in a place so it would not get lost ends up never found. I almost always forget where that perfect place was. Oh well, it certainly is safe from me.

I think the difference is personality and how our minds are wired. I have accepted that I am messy. I am happy to be me. If you are neat, then I am happy that you are. It would be really great if we were accepted as we are. Sure, we have flaws, we all need to improve. I do make the bed because it makes my wife happy, not because it means anything to me. Making the bed really is an act of love. Besides, I’m just going to mess it up again later when I crawl into it. Such is life. This is Oscar, signing off.

But, What If I’m Not?

We have just passed Thanksgiving Day and quickly moving towards the Holiday seasons. It is this time of year that we are reminded to be thankful and grateful for what we have. But, what if I’m not?

Life has its challenges. It has its darker moments for everyone. What if, at this time of the year: you lost someone close to you; you lost your job; you had a medical emergency; you lost everything? What if things just aren’t going well at all..

Hey, it happens. There will be times that will steal our joy and plunge us into the darkness of sadness, anxiety and anger. But these things, too, will pass. It is these times that you find yourself a quiet place, then scream, shout, cuss, curse, cry and just let it all out. But just for a little while, a few minutes or so. Expressing your anger, grief and disappointment to God will let you blow off steam. You will get it off your chest. Does this change anything? Not really. But it does give you a point to move on.

And for being grateful. You can still be grateful. You can be glad that you survived. You can be impressed by your strength to move forward. You can count the blessings of your friends and family. I try to be positive most of the time. But life gets to us all. It is okay to be alone, get mad and yell at the wall. It will clear your mind. And its okay if you break down in tears and let it all out. It is part of healing and moving forward. What is not okay is staying in that place and wallowing in the pain.

So I get it that you might not always be thankful. Life is hard. It doesn’t always make sense. But you get to choose to move on, to go forward, to cope and make it better. And no, I cannot always understand the depth of pain people can feel. But I know that it is never the end. It might be tough right now, but remember, that there is the power to pick yourself up, maybe even with a helping hand. There is something, somewhere that you can be thankful for even if it resides in tomorrow.

So what if you aren’t? It’s okay, there will be another moment where you can. Life is a journey of hills and valleys with lots of intersecting paths. Hope to meet you there.

Another Round of Layoffs

Yesterday, I hugged some co-workers  as they were processed out. It was their last day. They were victims of the latest cost saving measures and right-sizing of my employer. A year ago my position was deemed no longer necessary, but fortunately, I was able to move from a management to a non-management position. Although I was not overjoyed at first, it actually has been a blessing. I now have more time to dedicate to projects and get overtime pay for over 40 hours.

I certainly hope that those let go yesterday will find something that they can be passionate about. The transition of our economy to whatever lies ahead is going to be tough. Our parents, grandparents and maybe even great grandparents went through a transition out of the Great Depression. Even though I do not think we will experience the Great Depression as our ancestors did, I still think it will be tough. We have been accustomed to much more than our ancestors had. This will probably lead us to be impacted more as we have to do with less.

These are uncertain times. Everyone knows that there will have to be cuts, now or eventually, but at the same time, no one wants to feel the pain. That is understandable, that is human nature.  I believe that industry and jobs will come back. Will they look like they did before?  I don’t think so. We are a resilient people. We have, and always will have, talented entrepreneurs whose passions will shine. It can be hard to keep positive in our current environment, but keeping alert for opportunities, even from the most unlikely sources, is vitally important. Necessity is the mother of invention, and we definitely need the creativity. My very best wishes go out to those who must start a new chapter.

Born to Earth, Born to Eternity

I have been away from the blog for the past three weeks. I have been busy in and out of the hospital with Theresa and her father. Fortunately, Theresa is getting better. Unfortunately, Theresa’s father passed away on the 18th. He was 96 years old. In his life, he touched many lives. He worked as a lawyer and served on planning boards throughout the area. Theresa is one of eight. He worked hard to support his large family.

I could tell the lasting impact he had on his children. Not only was he surrounded by his children in his final days, but was visited numerous times each week for many years prior. He had a long, wonderful life on earth, and I have no doubt that he has begun his new life in the eternal as well. He will also continue to live here in the hearts and minds of those who loved and knew him.

Religions, or the lack of, have strived to explain or answer the question as to what happens after death.  Some believe that there is nothing after death – we’re here and then we die and that is the end of the story. Some believe in the journey of the soul to be transferred into the body of a newborn. Others believe that the soul is reborn into any creation, not necessarily human. Others believe that souls spend eternity in Heaven or Hell. Often people believe a combination of these, not really sure what to believe.

I believe that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Jesus died for all of us. There are those who defiantly resist God, and they will be dealt with as God sees fit. It is not my place to judge.

Funerals are for the living. They are a ceremony, not only to celebrate the life of the one is no longer alive on earth, but to support the family and say our goodbyes. It is part of the grieving process. Theresa’s father’s funeral was a positive one. I enjoyed listening to the memories and stories. Even though there were lots of tears and crying, it was wonderful to learn how he had touched the lives of so many people.

I was in the Army and so was Theresa’s father. He had military honors at the graveyard. A musician played taps on a very soulful bugle. It brought a tear to my eye. The carefully folded flag was presented to Theresa’s oldest sister.

Charles Spurgeon said, “When the time comes for you to die, you need not be afraid, because death cannot separate you from God’s love.”  I know for sure, that even in death, Theresa’s father will never be separated from the love of his family and friends.

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Letters from the Past

Tonight, while I filed a business letter, a file that held letters that I had sent to my family through the years popped open inviting me to read. The letter at the top of the file was one that I wrote to my father a month before he passed. Even though he lived with me, I still found it comforting to write him a letter.

I spent a little time skimming through the letters beginning with the one at the bottom and moving forward through time. I enjoyed reminiscing but was amused at what I found important to impart in the letter at the time seem so unimportant now.

It reminded me of the challenges that present themselves everyday. There are some very serious, sometimes gruesome challenges, but the vast majority of things that worry us, bother us or annoy us really don’t amount to much years later. Many don’t amount to much even days later.

Say you encounter a surly cashier that really dampens your day, do you really want to spend a lot of time being aggravated by that. Will it have any lasting effect on your life an hour from now or a day from now or even a month from now? If you reacted to that cashier with a smile and wished them a great day, you just may have made a lasting effect on them.

Besides realizing that many things that seemed important then are merely moments in my past, it was an enjoyable stroll through time. There were also some treasured memories in there as well, especially those letters that recalled day trips with my children or family events. It was never “things” that were important, it was the time spent with loved ones.

I guess I better start making more memories. I hope that all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and reflected on the blessings that abound around us.

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Forgiving Yourself

We hear much about forgiving others, and we should. Forgiveness is showing kindness and compassion to others, but it does more for those who forgive than those who need to be forgiven. One person we usually forget to forgive is ourselves.

It is natural to be harder on ourselves than others. We feel that we have to earn forgiveness or that we must pay, so we continue to punish ourselves. Sometimes, we continue to punish ourselves even after we ask God for forgiveness. God is always willing to forgive us. It is our refusal to accept this “gift” from Him that does not allow us to forgive ourselves.

Think about your situation and how it would sound coming from someone else. How would you advise them? More than likely, you would tell that person not to be so hard on themselves. That we all make mistakes and we all can be forgiven. This would be very good advice and is good enough to hear for yourself.

Forgiveness has been recognized by the medical community to have health benefits. The benefits are not just spiritual. The Mayo Clinic reports that forgiveness can lead to: lower blood pressure, less stress, less hostility, fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety, healthier relationships, and greater psychological well-being.

So, do not let your unforgiveness of yourself prevent you from accepting the blessings and gifts that God offers you each and every day. Continue to forgive others but remember to forgive yourself. Forgiveness is the essential element that frees you from your own private prison. Allow yourself the freedom to forgive yourself, accept God’s forgiveness and to take action, if at all possible, to repair the harm. It is not often possible to make amends. You cannot go back in time or erase words that were said. You cannot make amends for those who are no longer with us. Ask God for forgiveness, accept it and move on. None of us is perfect and we never will be. We can only try our best.

If you are harboring any unforgiveness in yourself or others, I hope that you will find the freedom that awaits you, as well as all the benefits that come with it by learning to forgive.

The Clock Doesn’t Stop

Tick tock, tick tock

The clock doesn’t stop.

Tick tock, tick tock

The clock doesn’t stop.

When you’re always on the go,

You want the clock to go slow.

When you want time to go fast,

The seconds seem to last, and last, and last.

Tick tock, tick tock

The clock doesn’t stop.

First of all, I want to apologize for being away from the blog for so long. Ever since my move it seems that I have no time at all. There is definitely not enough time to do all the nothing that I want to do. I honestly haven’t figured it out yet.

If you have children, the difference in time is easily apparent. If you don’t have children, and even if you do, remember when waiting for anything took f-o-r-e-v-e-r. A ten minute wait was an eternity. Ever tried to ask a child to wait patiently, it might last about 30 – seconds. C’mon, we were the same way when we were young. We wanted the days to last forever, refusing to go to sleep until the power of Morpheus overcame us.

It really doesn’t seem fair, does it; when we are enjoying something or just plain busy, time slips by, sometimes unnoticed. Just last Saturday I got out of bed at 8am and in a blink of an eye it was 11am. Then we went to the store and suddenly it was 2pm. I wish my days at work went that fast sometimes.

So what is time? God and the spiritual realm operate outside time. Jesus told his disciples that He would return in a “little while.” That was about 2,000 years ago. If the spiritual realm does have time, it must be much different than our own.

Is time merely an illusion? I am experiencing time, or at least I think I am. I am here in the present. I am aware of the past. I hope for the future. The next minute will be my present in about 60 seconds. Why does the time move steadily on the clock but my experience of time fluctuates so wildly. Why is the shortest period of time I experience occur between 5:30PM on Friday and 5:30AM on Monday. My weekends slip by. How can I grip time, hold the reins, and slow the clock?

As we live, we see time around us in nature. The sun rises, reaches it height at noon and the sun sets. We see the seasons come and go. We watch children grow. So we all realize that time is passing, even without looking at a clock or calendar. We are all given but 24 hours. The only time we really have is the present, the now. Look down at your feet. That is where you are. These moments are precious and they need to be appreciated. It is so easy to get caught up in the act of living that we forget how to live. I am guilty of this more often than I would like. I try to remind myself to slow down, smell the coffee, taste the bacon, enjoy the life that I have been granted. It takes time to hear the quiet, to see the world around us, to sense the stillness that brings peace to one’s heart.

To learn why I am so busy and where my time goes now, I must slow down and reflect. My job is incredibly busy and time consuming and so is creating a home for my new family. I think that I will rest after this writing and seek out the stillness that brings peace. I hope that you can do the same.

Take care, stay well, and be safe.

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My Butterfly Became An Angel

   My best friend passed away in her sleep during the early hours of February 20, 2010. It is not often that a person impacts your life in such a short time. I met her in October 2008. Just 16 months later, she was gone. I was attracted by her kindness and her loving heart. She was seeking the kind of love that was spiritually based. She wasn’t sure that kind of love was even possible. She appreciated all that I did which made it easier to do even more.

   We had a “safe” relationship. We could share anything with each other. She felt comfortable enough to cry in my arms and that she did often. She cried not because she was weak but as an outlet from being overwhelmed while being so strong.

   Butterfly’s children were her life. Their care and comfort were always her first concern. In the short time we had together, she learned that she could take time for herself as well. She did not get out as much as she had liked before meeting me. I made it a point to visit museums with her which always seemed to fascinate her. I even indulged her love for casinos with limits as to how much she could lose.

   Butterfly felt compelled to end our romantic relationship when she was spending time in and out of the hospital. She wanted me to move on so that I would not be tied down by her illness. I balked and argued but she stubbornly insisted. I finally agreed but could not be drawn away from such a loving heart. I kept in close contact with her by phone, texting and weekly visits.

   We continued to feel comfortable with each other. I was honored and privileged to be her emotional outlet. The most profound lesson I’ve ever learned was revealed to me when I cared for my father in the last 19 weeks of his life. You don’t help people die, you help them to live until they can’t live anymore. This was not my goal with my Butterfly as I did not realize her time with me would be so short. But this too has been a lesson. I will now help everyone live until they can’t live anymore as we do not know what tomorrow will bring. I do hope I brought joy to her life. I know that she brought joy to mine.

   I promised her that I would show her what God’s love looked like; that agape love IS possible. I hope that I had enough time to keep that promise.

   To my Butterfly,

   Although your body is here on the ground, I know your soul was heavenbound. I know you’re there in God’s loving care, no longer suffering, but at rest. We will see you soon, when we depart. We will soon again feel your loving heart. I love you deeply. I love you true. We all love you and we all miss you. You are my Butterfly and you always will be. But now you are an Angel; your soul is free. Butterfly, I love you and I always will.

   The Dash!

   There is no fiction in the words above. My Butterfly was known to the world as Laura A. (VerDow) Santelli. She was born, raised and passed away in Newark, NY. Her life spanned from 1957 – 2010. She was 52 when she passed. Hey did you see it? Did you see that dash? That dash represents a persons life. This is how Laura touched my life. This is what her dash means to me.

   If there was a special person in your life, please leave a comment about how they touched your life and what his or her “dash” means to you.

   Take care, stay well and be safe. Love to everyone. – Justin

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God’s Junk Yard

   Well, it finally happened. After a couple of close calls and some mild strokes, Frank finally had the big one. Yep, he passed away quietly in the hospital. Frank had been turning junk into treasure and cash for decades, a task now left to his sons.

   Frank arrived in heaven in his new body. He was amazed at the beauty that surrounded him. He stretched his neck when he was surprised by a voice from behind. “Welcome, Frank, we’ve been waiting for you,” an angel said. Funny, she didn’t look like any angel Frank ever saw in paintings, but somehow he recognized her as an angel. “Thanks, Claire, I’m glad to be here.”

   He thought to himself, “Now how did I know her name? I guess it’s a heaven thing.”

   Claire asked him what he thought about heaven so far. Frank said that it was great, full of beauty, but he already missed his junkyard. “God has a junkyard too,” said Claire.

   “What does God need with a junkyard? I bet there is some quality junk in there.” Frank responded. “Oh, you’d be surprised what gets collected there,” Claire answered.

   She led him to the Hall of Forgiveness, through the atrium and just past the reception area. She parted the curtains and revealed a large room filled with various objects. Frank was confused by what he saw. To his right, there were bits of rope with knots in the middle, but frayed on both ends. ‘What are these?” he asked, pointing to the ropes.

   She thought for a moment, “Those are the ropes of fear and apprehension that bind people and keep them from growing. When they finally release their fears and trust in God, then He cuts the ropes and they’re delivered here.”

   “What are those?” Frank asked pointing to the next pile of statuettes heaped in a pile.

   “Oh, those are idols. People can have many idols, like money, fame, prestige, work, drugs, and addictions. When people realize that their focus is on something that is not eternal and place their focus on God, then God takes the idol from them and delivers them here.”

   “What else comes here?” Frank asked.

   “Oh, we get dream bottles, those are the bottles that hold the dreams until people are ready to open them and follow the destiny that God has for them. We get heart shells too. Heart shells occur when hatred, envy and jealousy harden the heart. It creates a shell around the heart that needs to be broken by love, forgiveness and acceptance. And we also get the dust of apathy, plenty of that.”

   “Wow, what happens to all this stuff?”

   “It gets turned into B&L?”

   “B&L, uh, what’s that?”

   “Blessin’s and Lessons. It all gets recycled and turned into B&L for the good of people. That’s really cool, isn’t it.”

   “Blessin’s and Lessons! I really like that. Hey, what about those bouquets of flowers over there? Those can’t be junk.”

   “Those are the blessings that God gives to people, but for some reason, they won’t accept them. So they go back into the garden until a later time.” Claire explained.

   “Does God ever junk people?” Frank asked, hesitantly.

   “Never! God doesn’t make junk. People deal with a lot of junk, but God never considers THEM junk! He gives to all people, regardless of who they are. He gives to them when they offer their junk and lives to Him. He takes their junk and gives them blessings. It is just the way it works. God doesn’t want anyone to forego His love and blessings. That is why His junk yard is in the Hall of Forgiveness.”

   “This is where I want to be. I want to help turn this junk into blessin’s and lessons.” Frank proclaimed proudly.

   “We know, Frank, that is why I brought you here. You ARE the junkman. Proud to have you on board. Take the junk and turn it into treasure. Hardships lead to wisdom, character and strength. I’m sure you’ll do just fine here.” Claire smiled and walked away.

   Frank felt his new body fill with joy. Of course God needs a junk yard. How else could he lift the troubles from people? Where else would all the worries and fears go?

   Give your troubles, your fears, your worries to God. He will gladly take them from you if you trust him. Learn from your hardships. Know that God loves you. Know that He has filled your life with blessings. You are loved.

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