Monday, December 29, 2008

Offended self-love

Peace always seems to be a theme running throughout my life. Without it, things are not fun at the O'Brien household but with it, all is right with the world. That doesn't mean there aren't fights and that things don't go wrong but I am way more adaptable to these things when I'm peaceful. From the I Believe in Love book (my "playbook" for life along with the Bible);
"Another fruit of peace is equilibrium of soul. Peaceful souls are neither pessimists nor neurotics. They are not smug optimists, but have a wise and legitimate optimism, based on the Heart of Jesus, for they know that nothing happens but what God wills and that for man who lives in faith, everything is grace, everything is love. Mild temper, forbearance, goodness, and serenity grow only in peace." Further in this same chapter is this; "Notice that it is not by keeping you away from temptations and struggles that our Lord will guard you...Remember that the grace of Jesus is sufficient for you, and that it will never be lacking. It is so important to find calmness right away again after each fall!"
So, I feel like I've been on this quest for peace forever! Well, I guess that we all are because that's just human nature. I know the tools to get there but the realization of the difficult work that it takes gets overwhelming at times. This is where the importance of calmness after each fall comes into play. I pray that my response time to the falls shrinks.
I know that I have struggled with feeling peaceful since before Bill died because I remember spending many hours before the Blessed Sacrament begging Jesus for peace. I then started researching the word peace. I found a lot about world peace, family peace, and group peace but not much on spiritual peace - other than some new age crap that involves centering and yoga and blah! It was during prayer that God revealed to me (when I say that He revealed something to me - I don't actually hear an audible voice, He's just found a way to communicate with me so that I know that it is Him) world peace, family peace, and all the other kinds of peace all have one thing in common: humility or the lack of it (pride)
I have had the audacity to tell myself while waiting in line for Confession that I really don't have any sins to confess! Can you believe it? How prideful! As though because I have encountered difficulties and hardships that I am immune, somehow, to the "sin standards" of others! I realized this the other day and have felt panic attacks as I await my next opportunity to go to the sacrament of Reconciliation!
I have tried to figure out why I would even begin to think that my sinful words, behaviors, and actions don't "count." It all boils down to pride and a true lack of humility! I really despise my sins but the problem lies in that I regret the sin more because of how it might affect my life than regretting the sin itself! This is called offended self-love. I want the grace and the love of God but mostly because it makes ME feel good! I want God to feel good and to be happy and proud of me but, ugh, I think I want His approval because it makes me feel good! How awful!!!!!!! I have known this for quite a long time but I have not been able to admit it to myself or to others! I desperately try to do service for others through meals, babysitting, cards, phone calls, volunteering, etc. and I know that's because it serves God. I have sincere intentions in what I do and I most definitely want to lead others to Christ by example! Having said that, I think that I need to do more with my personal relationship with God. I need to find the peace that God intends all of us to have through his grace (it is enough) This means exorcising these demons of mine. I need to just get down to the bare essentials and focus on Him and His Love instead of my picture of what love is.
That was painful to reveal in writing! I am hoping that through this pain that I will now feel the true meaning of peace. Not just for me but for my children as well.

ps. I wanted to acknowledge on my blog the generous gift that I received from a 3rd grade parent. I did indeed get Briege an American Girl doll and she was so surprised and happy. I explained to her how I was able to do this for her and she was very moved by the kindness of St. Anthony's school parents. I have no way of thanking this anonymous friend except through this blog. So, thank you and God bless you! My little Briege will remember this Christmas always and I will too :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Depths of the Ocean

I've thought a lot about peace lately. I have felt such lack of peace in my heart and in my house. As the head of my household, I have a huge responsibility to maintain peace. It starts with me and it ends with me! If, in my heart, I don't have peace then my actions do not project it. This starts the cycle - I yell at the kids who yell at each other and then it begins again! I miss the quietness in my heart! It is missing because I've grown lazy in my prayer life. I've neglected the one relationship that brings me love, peace, happiness, joy, blessings, etc. I've neglected God! I don't know why it continues to surprise me that when I put God first in my life then everything else falls in line. That, of course, doesn't mean there is no drama or hardship, but God's presence is abundantly clear when we need Him most. My goodness, I sure need Him!
It's been hard to "find" him because my mind and my heart have been clouded with worldly thoughts of Christmas presents, homework issues, sports drama, family issues, and more. There is a way to have peace while also dealing with the every day life. It is not by putting God on the back burner - that hasn't worked so well yet! It's by putting Him front and center right in the hottest part of the flame! He is my buffer, He is my saving Grace and why don't I have Him front and center? It is much easier to just complain that life is hard and that I'm tired all of the time instead of finding a way to rejoice in these challenges and rising above them with His help.
"This peace comes through fidelity to grace, fidelity to confidence. It gives sweetness to your intimacy with Jesus. To lose confidence is to draw back from His arms, and at the same time it is to lose peace" (p.136 in I Believe in Love) Also from this book is this fabulous paragraph (it's long but so rich and worth it);
"The fruit of this peace is supernatural calm. The Devil fishes in troubled waters. Whoever lets himself be troubled does not see clearly anymore, stumbles, falls into a panic, and ceases to judge rightly. We can be very shaken, very upset, as long as it is only on the surface, but the depths of our soul must remain tranquil as the depths of the ocean, even during the greatest storms...Weep in bereavement or misfortune, but weep in peace." (also p. 136 in I Believe in Love)
I love the line about the Devil fishing in troubled waters. It doesn't imply that we won't have troubled waters or misfortune but that we have a choice to not become troubled we don't have to "let ourselves" become troubled while in the moment! We must hold on to peace and tranquility! We must remain faithful with full fidelity to our relationship with Christ Jesus!
I have told people that the most peaceful time of my life were the times that I experienced the greatest sadness. When I placed my baby for adoption 18 years ago, I can't explain to you the sadness that I felt! To get in the car and drive away from a child that had grown in my womb for 9+ months was excruciating! It was also peaceful. The pain that I felt was tied with the peace that I received (I was gifted this) in choosing this path for my life. I made these choices with God in my heart and with God on my lips and with God in my thoughts. The times that I have gone wrong have been the times that God wasn't a part of the process. When I brought Him back in (not that He ever left) my decisions were made peacefully not easily but peacefully.
Another time was when Bill died. The suddenness of it all was more than I thought that I could handle. However, I turned to my faithful family, my faithful friends, and my faithful clergy to help keep it all focused on God. It is hard to describe to anyone how I could physically feel the loving arms of Christ around my shoulders. Not in a figurative way but in a literal way! At times, I felt myself turn around expecting to see someone there only to see no one. The peace was tangible. It was as if I was on auto-pilot. I know that part of this was the grieving process but the other, more significant part, was that I felt lifted up by God Himself during this tragedy.
I miss that feeling! I mourn for that reassurance! It seems like so much "work" now to pray, to attend Mass, to acknowledge God each day. It is my cross right now! I am pushing through this dryness in hopes and in peaceful reassurance that it will only make me stronger and make my joy that much greater! The advice that is given to me is that I should lay these struggles at the foot of the cross and let Jesus take them from me! This is so hard for me because I feel as though He has taken so much from me and that it was my sins that got Him nailed up there in the first place. It's difficult for me to truly "give it to God" but I know when I do, peace will come!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Celtic Thunder

The Refrain in Gaelic:
A Lhiarana Dean Trocaire.
A Chriost Dean Trocaire.
A Thiarana Dean Trocaire.
A Chriost Dan Trocaire.

Lord Have Mercy.
Christ Have Mercy.
Lord Have Mercy.
Christ Have Mercy