Friday, December 27, 2013

Love Your Body into Shape

As we enter the new year there are so many resolutions to become better and particularly to lose weight and get in shape.  I do not know of any other New Year resolution so common and the poor round the year gym rats like me cringe when we experience the predictable influx of members who crowd the treadmills throughout the month of January then fade out near the end of March.  I applaud anyone who seeks to better him or herself, so I thought to give you some advice on this point.

Our bodies and minds are intimately and powerfully connected and when we think of our bodies negatively it affects our outlooks on life, our ability to work out, and makes our emotions harsh and brittle.  When remember and consider the blessings our bodies give us, no matter how they look, we become energized and filled with a full and joyful peace.  This may seem rather tiresome and merely philosophy but allow me to give you an example of how this works in the real world and how it can affect even the almighty and ever feared bathroom scale.

Today I was troubled by some difficulties that were pressing on my mind as I hopped on the elliptical. I started treading at a comfortable pace which for me today was about 3.3 miles an hour.  I am no runner and never have been.  But the discomfort of my mind was exhausting my body and I felt that I could not continue even so comparatively slowly as that.  I closed my eyes as I continued and brought my consciousness inside my body to the active functions of my stomach, bones, marrow and the like.  I found calm peace within and my breathing was even and steady.  I realized my legs automatically began to speed up and slowly I opened my eyes to view my pace no longer at a lowly 3.3 but at 9.2 miles an hour.  My breathing was as calm as though I were stretching in yoga.  Later I did the same mental exercise again and opened my eyes to find my pace reaching 14.1 miles per hour and still I felt no strain of muscle, heart, or breath.  When we love our bodies for their functionality and what they do for us, mentally express gratitude for their benefits in our lives, they begin to function better automatically and without nearly the stress or pain we would otherwise have.  I wish us all a wonderful 2014 filled with improvement, progression, and soul enriching peace. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas in the Cemetery

My children have inherited my undying passion for family history and after they opened presents and read the second chapter of Luke my son asked relentlessly to visit the cemetery and bid a loving and cheerful Merry Christmas to my late grandparents and cousin.  I confess my eyes lit up at the idea for a teaching moment had immediately dawned on me and I could think of few better lessons I could teach my little ones.  We hurried out of the house as we were with no flowers, wreaths or anything else to place on the graves of our family members.  No matter.

We sauntered past the very familiar tombstones to the far corner of the property, for we visit my grandparents' grave sites often and relaxed in the calm and soothing quiet and peace of the Binghamption Cemetery.  I usually relate stories of my grandfather's life or describe my very young cousin's sweet disposition but today something else was percolating in my mind.  My children poured out their usual love and admiration of our family who lay sleeping beneath them and as it happened, my six year old son found some artificial flowers that had blown away and into the desert on the edge of the graveyard.  There were three bouquets - just enough to place on each of the sites.  He indicated that this would be a good Christmas present for our family.  I smiled and asked him what he thought the best Christmas present would be for them.  He grew pensive and threw out a few suggestions - monuments, wreaths, and the like. 

We climbed a small hill overlooking the cemetery and I asked again what the best gift anyone could give them might be.  As we overlooked the peaceful grounds they again gave a few suggestions.  Finally I ended the mystery and told them that the best gift they could receive had already been given to them in the darkness of a Bethlehem night over two thousand years ago.  They received a Savior who could rescue them from sin and overcome even the tyrant of death.  Because of Him they could live again and gain eternal life in heaven.  My children took immediately to this answer and as the sun began to descend my seven year old daughter cheerfully began singing a made up song about Jesus having power over death to the tune of "Oh Susannah." I smiled.  It was beautiful.  I had been facing some very painful trials of my own in the last few days and had been clinging desperately to the strength and comfort of God.  As I listened and looked out across the horizon peace overtook me in a calm assurance that the Lord can heal all things, no matter how devastating.  Someday all can be made right, all wounds can be healed and the graves of the just can be opened in glorious majesty.  May our hearts rest calmly and peacefully in the certain promise of a kind hearted God and complete redemption, and Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Allowing Jesus to Save Me

I feel impressed to share an experience from one of the most painful times of my life, though for what reason the Lord would have me share it I do not rightly know.  There was a time, when post traumatic stress was at its height, when I was striving to heal, had exerted all the trust and faith I had, coming away a wholly broken woman and desperately needing rescuing.  I had time and again exerted faith that something would help me, that God or man would save me from the hell that had become my daily life only to find myself disappointed and feeling utterly rejected.  As one might imagine I began to place barriers around me, afraid of trusting again and taking a chance of further anguish.  I did what many people have done and decided that I wanted someone to force me to feel better, tear down the barriers of fear I had created and prove to me despite all my fearful resistance that there was indeed hope. 

I had become even too fearful to trust in God or to allow the kindness of the Lord Jesus Christ to touch me.  I wanted immediate and astonishing results, even violently powerful if necessary.  I felt I had done enough, suffered enough while trying to be Christlike, and that I deserved God to intervene and miraculously cast all of my fears, pain and inhibitions aside.  In this state I didn't want to do any more than I had done already or try to trust the Lord anymore.  And in despair and pain I fell to my knees in prayer and wept.  The answer I received, calm, gentle, and very firm was, "Even I can't save you if you don't let Me." From that day I fearfully and trembling, in miniscule steps, began to allow the barriers of fear begin to soften and then fall away.

We often feel that we need someone to force us to feel better in spite of our fears and stubbornness.  I have often counseled people who, in spite of having many proofs of love around them still refuse to see it or allow it to touch them unless it comes in the way they dictate and desire.  But it doesn't always work that way and the more we try to vie for our own way, regardless of the situation or extremity, the more we often sabotage ourselves and our personal progression.  The love of God stands always beckoning; it is for us to let go of our agendas and reach out for His hand.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Jesus Christ on Self Defense

I appreciate all those dedicated mothers out there who call themselves soccer moms.  I walk a bit of a different road.  I am grateful to be a karate mom.  When I am not in the dojo watching my kids kick and punch I am often practicing with them or doing kickboxing on my own.  There exists an intense spiritual power in martial arts and other forms of self defense, and the scriptures are filled with accounts when the Lord requires His people to go to war.  But there is another form of self defense that is my personal favorite and which one can find in the twenty sixth chapter of Matthew.  

After the guard's ear has been smitten off Jesus says, "Put up again thy sword into his place; for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.  Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and He shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matthew 26:52-53)   He already had a stronger bodyguard at His disposal than His mortal friends could supply.  The greatest self defense of all is faith in God.  

One may say, "Well, yes, the Savior can expect a rescue like that, but I am not perfect so God wouldn't save me."  After almost every miracle He performed Jesus told the person He healed, "Thy faith hath made thee whole."  If we can't believe that it can happen, then of course it won't.  But that doesn't mean it isn't possible if we have faith enough and if it is appropriate for that situation.  I have been rescued from death many times against all odds and when I have refused to fight back on principle.  I know with perfect surety that I am in the Lord's watchful care and that nothing can happen to me without His consent and without a positive, necessary purpose.  Does that mean we will always be spared pain and trial?  Well, consider what happened to the Savior immediately after this incident!  But He suffered voluntarily, for a purpose, He knew that purpose well and He voluntarily allowed it in order to save our otherwise wretched souls. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Character of Christ

Act in Doctrine, a marvelous book by Mormon apostle David A. Bednar, discusses the character of Christ in beautiful terms.  He outlines much of the Lord Jesus Christ's actions and life, and highlights one particular example of the Lord's character that is especially striking.  Let us consider the moment in the garden of Gethsemane when the Lord has just finished praying, sweating great drops of blood from every pore and has just been betrayed by one of His disciples.  In that state of personal agony He turns from Himself to one in the company of accusers and heals his smitten ear.  As Bednar beautifully says, "The Savior used His supernal powers to restore the guard's ear - a demonstration of His divinity He never would employ for Himself." (Bednar, 13)

Were we in that situation, Bednar muses, would we be interested in the comparatively petty anguish of someone else or would be filled with self pity and wondering if anyone cared about what we were trying so desperately to do?  It was part of the Lord's character that He turned outward in service regardless of His own physical and spiritual pain.  If we are to come to know Him, Bednar says, we need to learn to behave like Him. 

When we are angry, stressed, hurt, or saddened do we sink into a pity party all our own, or do we turn outward to serve others?  I have employed this concept in my own life and found something truly remarkable about it.  When we turn outward, the anguish of our own wounds lessen considerably.  It may not make everything perfect but we become more capable and we have the aid of heaven in our good deeds and in our personal lives.  I know that this is a powerful way to get to know the Savior, to come closer to Him, and to feel His influence more powerfully in our lives.  Let us remember in our haste this Christmas to turn from our own agendas outward and to the Savior Himself.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Defending the Bible

This is not perhaps strictly speaking a Christmas topic but it has been a concept that has percolated much in my mind for some time and pertains to bearing testimony of the truth of the Bible and the divinity of Jesus Christ.  We live in a society that increasingly takes sacred things lightly, belittles Holy Writ, and denies the the Lord Jesus Christ.  Intellectuals and professors may tell us sneeringly that the Bible has contradictions within it and that it has been changed through human error and corruption over the course of two thousand years.  They may argue that the Bible is not complete because there are allusions to prophets but does not contain the words of those prophets.  They may say that it is merely a history book of one group of people and their backward beliefs.  And granted, it is difficult to answer all these accusations for many of them have factual foundations.  

But I know of a way to counter every last one of these arguments.  There exists another book of ancient date that echoes the teachings of the Holy Bible, confirms the divinity of Christ, and proclaims unreservedly to the world that the Bible is true.  I speak, of course, of The Book of Mormon.  The purpose of The Book of Mormon is to act as a support to the truths we already have in the Bible.  It is a book written by ancient inhabitants of the American continent who knew of the gospel of Jesus Christ and wrote them in a history of their people.  I have heard people scoff and say that Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon but I would ask you how a 23 year old untutored farm boy could have written a complex five hundred plus page work that reflected accurately on ancient American discoveries that had not yet at his time been made?

To my fellow Christians, I would ask if you believe that God is the God of only one group of people?  Or is He the God of the whole earth?  In my travels to Meso America I have studied many of the sacred engravings and carvings there that reflect the truths proclaimed in the Bible.  I have read much of the Popul Vuh and have found its teachings remarkably reflected in both the Bible and Book of Mormon.  When I was traveling in Guatemala I came across this statue, recently excavated.  If not from the ancient tradition of the Jews, where could these people have gained the tradition of their kings holding in their hands and  reverencing a six pointed star?  I have seen that star before in my travels.  It was on the tomb of King David in the city of Jerusalem.  Is God not the God of the whole earth and is He not capable of speaking to one group of people as He speaks to another?  Let us rejoice that the Lord loves all His children regardless of who they are or which part of the globe they inhabit.  In this, The Book of Mormon conclusively proves that the Bible, though beaten and misused for two thousand years, remains true.

If Thou Be The Son of God

We do not have much record of the personal thoughts or frustrations the Savior might have experienced, or what might have been most a thorn in His side.  I doubt that we can altogether imagine or comprehend His thoughts even if we managed to have a record of them.  But He faced one repeated slight in different forms.  It is expressed in different ways throughout the Gospels but often it begins with something like, "If thou be the Son of God...." and followed by an injunction to serve Himself in some way.  It is a double insult to His pride and also a temptation to use His divine gifts to serve Himself instead of others.

The Lord faced this mockery not only in His wrestle against Satan in the wilderness but also on the cross and indeed, the bulk of what others did to Him was based on this premise.  All the evil mankind did to Him was because they did not believe who He was, or chose not to accept it.  Thus, they taunted Him.  I find it interesting that in all these instances He never once attempts to prove His divinity.  He answers this part of the taunt with silence.  Sometimes silence is the most profound and invincible argument.  Never does He try to argue the point of who He is.  He just knows who He is and stands alone in quiet majesty.

So it is with us.  Often people may try to get us to believe that we are less than glorious.  People may attempt to argue our value and self worth.  Do we need to argue back?  Or would a better confirmation of our dignity be to stand in calm and confident silence?  We never need attempt to justify ourselves to those who would belittle us, or angrily argue with them.  Indeed, arguing such a point only makes us stoop to a lower level than we need reach.  

Stand where you are and let your beautiful inner strength speak for itself.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Peace I Leave With You

In this era of the world and also in this most hectic of all months, peace is a hallowed and rare possession.  We may find it difficult to find peace in this tumult of crumbling values, financial and political upheaval, and the continual disintegration of the family.  Add to that the stress of the Christmas season with its unending demands on our time, attention and wallets.  But for the moment I would invite you to take a moment from the madness in which we live and simply remember peace and calmness.

Take a deep breath and hold it.  Now slowly release it, blowing out of your lungs not only air but tension and worry.  For this moment, don't hold on to anything.  You don't need to.  I have always felt that Christmas seemed far too exploited so let's take a moment to reflect on what worship really means.  Perhaps we might turn away from the bustle and recognize the fact that we can adore the Lord Jesus Christ in the quietude of our own closet, humbly kneeling in honest prayer.  What is more important or fitting?  The Lord did not bring us stress and worry.  He brought us a babe in a stable - the simplest of simple things.  What need have we to complicate this most straightforward and innocent gift?

If all we have this Christmas is a corner of a barn, if all we have is a meager pittance of stale bread for food, if all the concerts we can attend consist of the worshipful music in our own hearts, it is enough.  The Lord Himself did not busy Himself with the wealth ridden things of life.  He did not chase after agendas or harbor the worries of a perfectionist.  He walked simply along the dusty roads of Galilee reaching out to those beggars that came across His path and giving a smile and a blessing to those sinners who begged His compassion.  If we have not means to do more than that, what a fitting, honest, heartfelt gift is it!  If we would truly follow the Savior Jesus Christ, let us begin by remembering His example of simplicity and calmness, worshiping Him as He is and not as we would make Him.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Nothing Shall Be Impossible

Luke tells us right off the bat in his first chapter that with God nothing is impossible.  How often do we contemplate the magnitude of that statement?  I think we generally parrot it with the good intention of comprehending it and the hopes that one day we might, but I know that truly nothing is impossible with the Lord.  I have come to know this for myself through countless experiences.  Allow me discuss only one.  

Valentine's Day 2007 is a day that no one in my family will likely ever forget.  It became a standing testimony to all who in any way experienced it that God is truly over all things and that nothing is impossible.  I was driving to work on the freeway with my daughter, nanny and unborn son when a gravel truck drove us into a guardrail and hit the front of our car, sending it spinning across three lanes of traffic. We came to an abrupt stop when we smashed face first into the opposite concrete wall.  A second later a full sized semi barreled into our trunk and spun along with the semi, colliding with it again before finally stopping altogether.  The entire backseat was smashed into pieces except where my daughter was sitting.  She received one scratch on her nose and lost one drop of blood but was otherwise unharmed.  The nanny sustained a few internal and external bruises which healed remarkably quickly.  I also received a few light bruises and though I was hit directly in the hip my unborn son was completely untouched.  Word spread like wildfire throughout the hospital of our miraculous escape from death and when I checked out nurses gaped in awe at the woman who literally walked away.

Faith precedes the miracle and I had been prayerfully searching for miracles in my life prior to this situation, but it has remained etched in my mind as a very real, physical manifestation of God's hand in our lives unto the sustaining and preserving of those who follow Him.  It has proven an indisputable testimony to me that God is at the helm and though we may be called to walk through hell and fire, His protecting hand will never allow any pain or sorrow into our lives save those we need for our progression and learning. 

As a Little Child

I have a confession.  This is a topic that took me a great deal of time to learn, which is much to my discredit as the Lord discusses it repeatedly.  Becoming as a child seemed a step backward for me most of my life and as the youngest of four I generally wished to be older and more capable like my siblings rather than infantile as they sometimes viewed me.  And in this world we often measure success by education, promotions, and the like.  Often we scoff at becoming innocent and submissive as a child.

And yet, are we not all children?  In the great economy of heaven, do we really know much of anything?  Can we provide for ourselves without the care of the Almighty?  Not at all.  As a business executive I can readily see that the Lord leads clients to our doors and it is according to His will and not what I say or do that can make or break a contract.  Even in financial success, we can be plagued by devastating medical bills or  personal loss.  As powerful as we may think we are, the Lord truly holds all the cards in every aspect of our lives.  So doesn't it make sense to accept the fact that we are as but children in His stewardship?  Doesn't it make logical sense to accept the fact that we cannot do it alone and cling to our mighty Father who can protect and care for all our needs?

I am grateful for a rather extreme illness that I have had for quite some time.  I have had post traumatic stress for years, and through the extreme pain and overwhelming, near fatal trauma I have learned that there is no shame in being the daughter of a living God.  I have had to depend on Him for everything from preserving my life and sanity to rebuilding every aspect of my existence.  There is no shame in recognizing that we cannot do it on our own and allowing His hand to shape and bless our lives in a manner more powerful than we could have accomplished alone.  And thus, when we are weak, then are we strong.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Where Have All the Good Men Gone?

My dear ladies, I hope I may call you that.  I love my sisters in this world, and I hope I may have great joy of you in general and in the art of love.  We as women have a terrible burden to bear in this society, because this society tells us that to be a lady is to be inferior to being a rough, tough manly-girl.  It simply isn't so.  Being a lady is glorious.  Now, that being said, let me answer the question posed by this title.  Often, good men are right under our noses but we have been trained by the world not to recognize them.  

I have spent a great deal of time in the last year listening to men vent their frustrations in relation to women.  I have heard far too often that good men who want a deep, committed relationship find themselves used for sex by women and then abandoned.  Seriously?  I always thought it was generally the other way around!  I fear the moral standards of women in this world have been falling severely, and I promise you that as long as we continue this trend we will not be able to find any good men left, not because they do not exist but because we will have closed off our own minds toward accepting them.

Ladies, we really do have tremendous power over men.  It may not seem that way because they are strong, manly and often tower over us, but even the biggest guys will usually conform to what a woman wants because he instinctively wants to impress and woo her.  Not always, but in many cases, the woman sets the standard of how her love life transpires.  I know, we always think men should do that because they are the dominant ones, but honestly, they often will tailor their behavior to what we make plain we want if we are open and mature about it.  It is perfectly acceptable, even with the least morally apt men, to let them know unmistakably that we are more than a mere sex toy and if we are treated in that manner we will walk away without a second thought.  You have much influence, in fact, to turn a bad man into a good one, but you need to be a morally upstanding person first.  Use that influence, and you will find that there will be more good men in this world than you ever knew existed.  And if you are looking for a good man right now I have about five lonely, injured ones between the ages of 25 and 38 I would love to introduce to you!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

When the Sower's Hand is Cold

Some time ago I directed a song in my women's class at church entitled "We Are Sowing," which discusses among other things the fact that when we have done all we can in order to help others, make a difference and plant seeds of hope we sometimes find ourselves discouraged at the lack of result.  But, it reminds us, that sometimes plants do not come to fruition "until the sower's hand is cold" or in other words until we have stopped our labors and moved on with our lives, trusting the rest to God.  

I have often felt myself that my labors have been without fruition and that my efforts have been entirely wasted.  I was feeling so some time ago when a card arrived in the mail.  It was from a very dear friend who began by saying that it was long overdue that she thanked me for the kind things I had done for her.  She went on to tell me that she had been feeling downcast for the same reason when I chose and directed that song.  She took it to heart at the time and bore testimony to me that the words in that song were true.  What a miracle it was that after having sown seeds of inspirational music and feeling as though my efforts at kindness for others had been much wasted that seed I had sown came round in a full circle right back to me when I most needed it. 

My friends, sometimes we feel as though our efforts are wasted, that our hopes are irretrievably dashed, and that there is no point in continuing.  When we have done all we can, expended every inch of strength we have and nevertheless have been checkmated out of being able to do more, let us leave the situation to the Almighty and move forward in faith, not that what we hope may transpire will happen, but that the Lord knows best and will act for our best interests.  When we can do nothing more, leave it to God and remember that sometimes miracles do not occur until the sower's hand is cold.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Personal Government

Yesterday I spent some time listening to women discuss life as they saw it in our particular day and age.  They repeatedly expressed tremendous concern at the lack of morals in our country, the laws that they considered to be contrary to the doctrines of Christianity and the like.  I heard fear in their voices and a weak struggling toward heaven in wonderment and trembling faith.  My friends, let me calm some of those concerns.

We live in a day and age that is glorious!  We live in a country where for the most part we have a great deal of freedom.  Some may argue that we have too much "freedom" and that traditional values are being cast aside on every hand.  How true that is, and what a wonderful time to be alive.  Now, more than any age of the earth we have the opportunity to stand to our full heights and maintain our own personal governments.  We have a greater opportunity today than ever before to be true to ourselves and those things in which we believe!  People complain that it is so hard to be a good person in this era.  Yes!  And how strong and wonderful those are who can maintain their integrity!  We are not weaklings, and God knows who He placed on this earth at this time!  We are strong enough to maintain our own values even against great opposition.  Does a bodybuilder become powerful by curling five pound weights all the time?  No.  He or she lifts heavier and heavier weights to exercise their muscles and because they do everyone around them can testify to their strength and power at a glance.  What a wonderful compliment it is to know that God believes in us enough to place us in an era such as this, and to understand that He knows we are so strong that in order to progress and become better we need such powerful opposition as we see around us!

Simply because morally indecent things are legal does not mean we have to partake of them!  We can calmly, kindly turn away and rest upon our own personal confidence and the confidence that comes from following the Lord.  So my friends, the lower social values sink, the taller we can stand united looking heavenward to the God who is always at the helm. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Play it Cool

Life can be a rough game sometimes.  We all know that, and we have all experienced it in some measure or other.  But one tool that can open doors, help us recover from disappointment and remind us that the difficulties we face are truly only temporary is when we keep our chins up and smile. One gentleman was accidentally kind enough to teach me the power of keeping a smile in spite of overwhelming momentary failure. 

I have to admit, this is one of my absolutely favorite random memories.  I cannot think of it without grinning ear to ear.  Some years ago I visited Cancun for a week and in the normal course of shopping, playing, sight seeing and the like I found myself on a bus headed back to my beach side resort. It had been a long day and I was listlessly gazing out the bus window when we came to a stop beside a car dealership.  Almost immediately a salesman caught sight of me, grinned, stood up tall, straightened his shoulders and proceeded to strut forward toward the bus keeping the "I'm way too cool" smile on his face and a well practiced smolder in his eyes directed at me.  He was swaggering along watching me and obviously feeling himself a very hot item.  I don't know how long he had been working at this particular dealership but apparently he forgot momentarily that there was a step right in front of him.  You can imagine what happened. Trip!  His face and chest didn't hit the floor exactly but it was about as dramatic as you please.  I love anything classic and that was definitely a classic blunder that immediately sent me into hysterical peals of laughter.  But as soon as he steadied himself he looked up with a sheepish but very confident "I'm still cool.  Really!"  kind of smile.  I saluted him army style then and the bus proceeded on its way.  

It really is impossible to look down on someone who keeps a smile in spite of extreme embarrassment.  No matter how devastated we may feel on the inside, it doesn't generally help to get angry, beat ourselves up, or judge ourselves negatively in any way.  Just keep that smile on your face and the next time you may "trip up" in trying to accomplish a certain end, just remember the guy who tripped down the stairs trying to smolder a strange woman.  It just might inspire a grin, and that makes all the difference.  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Beautiful is a State of Mind

Sometimes we have a tendency to compare ourselves to others.  Sometimes we feel badly about ourselves because we see others who may have a better body, more attractive face, or socially graceful manners.  But comparison, as God has been quite amazing in illustrating to me, is the death of self love.  Let us compare ourselves to others and we will usually find ourselves coming up short.  Certainly there will be days when another will gain a blessing we want and in truth, we never need prove jealous.  We just need to rejoice in who we are and be the best people we can be. 

God illustrated this for me in a way I am not likely to ever forget some months ago.  Now, I must begin by saying that I have a fairly comfortable self image.  I work hard at the gym, I eat healthily, and I recognize that my worth is not based on my appearance.  Yet I too am human.  One day while I was stretching out after an intense work out, I caught in the corner of my eye a brief glimpse of a gorgeous woman, clad in skin tight black, whose movements were smooth and elegant and whose physique, it seemed to me, was one of those that heaven sent to this earth to make everyone else envious.  For a moment I began to get upset, to compare myself to this woman, and to feel negatively about myself in her wake.  It was only for a moment, but it was an extremely bitter one.  Then I caught myself and reminded myself that I could still be friendly and amiable and Christlike to this woman to whom I knew I could simply never compare in physical beauty, that she was her own kind of beautiful and that didn't have any bearing at all on me.  Her loveliness didn't negate my own personal worth.  I looked back up, determined to be calm and loving toward this woman and in looking at her again I realized that the image I had seen had been a reflection of myself in a mirror. 

My dear brethren and sisters, the most beautiful thing we can do has nothing to do with our external shell.  Even models often feel badly about their appearance.  What creates most powerfully a sense of personal beauty is how we choose to feel about ourselves.  That is where our true identities exist and our purest appearance makes itself manifest.  Beauty isn't about the body.  It's about the mind.  If we choose to think that we are beautiful, we will be and in truth, we will also find that others gravitate toward us more naturally.  And when we realize that we don't have to compare to anyone else, our own personal attractiveness can downright surprise us.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Did You Get Away With It?

Dante reserved the lowest circle of hell for betrayers.  They are frozen in ice to some extent, depending on the severity of their crimes.  These are people who thought they were getting ahead, getting away with something at the expense of someone else and in the hereafter found themselves unable to move.  It inspires a great deal of thought.  In all my many years of counseling people through their troubles and helping them walk away from their vices and as a very imperfect human myself, I think I can understand every single vice out there except one.  It is the nonsensical idea that certain, not all, people gain a kind of high level thrill at the idea of doing something wrong and being able to get away with it.

Allow me to dump some ice cold water on this idea, my friends.  We aren't getting away with anything.  Period.  One person I was counseling was beyond elusive and sneaky to the point that I was not certain of all that he was doing.  I just knew he was violent, depressed and didn't always make a great deal of logical sense.  I felt impressed at one point to tell him "the gig's up.  I feel impressed to tell you that you need to come clean with everything right now, or all those things you have been trying to hide from the Lord will come crashing down on top of you."  These were not my words for until that moment I had never considered that someone would try to hide anything from an omniscient God or think that they could.  The idea makes no logical sense.  But it scared the man stiff and that night was the turning point of his life when he began the long, painful road of reform. 

Even if we aren't threatened with the fires (or ice) of hell, do we really gain anything substantial when we knowingly, rebelliously chose to throw righteous action to the wind?  Do we not sell ourselves short, weaken our inner strength, and cast aside our own divine natures?  I have often thought of it this way: for all my insistence that I am justified, that it isn't so bad or the like, I cannot change the fact that every misdeed on my part is another lash of the whip as it were on the back of my Savior, Jesus Christ.  I would rather take that injury on my own back, and to have a perfect Being take it for me is a greater crime than I can bear to purposefully inflict upon Him.  So the next time we think "I can get away with this" let us please remember for our sakes and for His that every deed is noticed and every rebellious act has its eventual consequence.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Of Seizures and Charity

I don't usually wear the fact that I have certain kinds of convulsive seizures on my sleeve.  Life is about much more than that.  Indeed, most people who know me do not realize that I am prone to such traumatic fits.  And those who do know tend to forget it quickly.  A sweet friend told me recently that she frequently forgets that aspect about me and was rather amazed that I accomplish as much as I do in spite of that condition in my life.  These seizures are violent, potentially lethal, inspired by trauma, and severely limit or completely destroy my ability to function in certain respects. 

My friends, not one of us has a perfect life.  We all face trials and troubles.  We all have things that hold us back and frustrate our aspirations.  But it doesn't have to become our identities, and it doesn't have to be the primary focus in our lives.  I think of Jesus leaving Gethsemane, literally dripping with pain, suffering for the sins of those who had injured Him, and finding Himself arrested.  In the midst of that dramatic moment He turns from His own pain to heal the much slighter pain of the guard whose ear had been sliced completely off.  Were you or I in His place, would we have stopped to care about a comparatively minor thing like that? 

We have the commandments of God before us, to remember patience, faith, hope, and charity.  Period.  We do not have the command to be selfless and think of others provided we have nothing dramatic and frustrating in our lives.  We do not have the command to live a Christlike like except when we are under exquisite pain.  I firmly believe that when we meet the Lord at the judgment bar, He will not say "what trials did I give you?" but rather something more along the lines of, "how well did you strive to handle the commandments of gentleness and kindness that I gave you in spite of the trials I knew you needed?"  What happens to us does not matter nearly as much as how we choose to retain our Christlike charity in spite of any opposition. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Familial Conversation

I wander through a sacred, joyful night
And contemplate sweet movements in the sky.
How wondrous God's eternal judgments prove
In earth.  Now lofty heaven gathers nigh

To comfort martyred souls still drawing breath
Within this mortal journey here below,
And angels tread through barren waste to give
New innocence and let such blessings flow

As He directs, for elements themselves
Obey His law.  The sainted cosmos weak -
Without his strength the stars withdraw and fade
To wait upon His will, His word to seek.

They glitter on this holy night.  I watch
And pray with heart, once trembling, calm and mild
For He who makes the heavens laugh or weep
Looks gently down upon His wand'ring child.

Respecting Men

Now this is a topic about which I have long wanted to write, one very much near and dear to my heart and about which I have felt passionately my entire life.  I realize I have of late been writing much that nods to the glory of womanhood, and as a member of that sex I have every right to do so.  I have had several gentlemen in the last few days be so kind as to agree with me in placing women on a pedestal even to the degrading and abasing of their own gender.  But glorifying femininity does not in any manner demean or belittle masculinity and I have always had a very deep and abiding respect for men, their divinely given roles, and their individual potential as sons of God.  There is something tremendously powerful about a man and the divine worth he has.  And all men have exquisite amounts of divine worth.

Brethren, I understand that in many shows, movies and the like men are degraded and referred to as unintelligent and weak.  Please know that there is at least one woman in this world who vehemently disagrees with such ideas.  Within each and every man there exists a soul that has potential to shine brilliantly and eternally, that unleashed in purity has the power to overcome every obstacle the devil or this world can devise.  This is a truth I have known and felt keenly from my infancy and those who know me most intimately can attest that I believe and follow this doctrine even to the point of exceeding recklessness. 

You may not realize it yourselves but there is an aura emanating from you, each one of you without exception, that testifies of your individual potential.  That vibe of masculinity if you will, comes through and is strongest when a man is living an upright and morally admirable life.  Many years ago I was sitting on the floor watching a show and a guy I only somewhat knew happened to be standing next to me.  He was minding his own business, arms crossed, and was tapping his foot to the music.  He was not the type of guy to prove a temptation to me but as I sat next to him something hit me with tremendous force.  It was as though a great and overwhelming manly power wafted from him to me and for a moment there I had to catch my breath and shake off the dizzying intoxication I suddenly felt.  Had he chosen to act at that moment I likely would have ended up dating him.  I learned later that he was a very morally upstanding, innocent, righteous fellow and by the unstoppable power of his spirit I have no reason to doubt the genuine goodness I saw in his outward actions.  My brethren, look for that potential within yourselves, learn to recognize it and rejoice in fulfilling all that God intended you to be.  Chances are, you are far more exquisite in every way than you know.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Hopeful Redemption

*Just a moment of faith in the face of disaster.  We exercise it every day, but don't always take the time to record it in verse.  

I once beheld aurora spread
Across a blighted sky
And hoped that brightness wakening
Would raise my spirits high

For they had dropped in anguished pain
Into a blackened dread
and yearned anew to soar again,
Recalled from helpless dead.

I trust the light will call me back 
From heart and psyche's grave,
Reward my faith now purified
And ever spirit save. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Feel Like a Woman

As I look around me at this bizarre and mixed up world, one thing that tends to stand out as particularly strange is the fact that men and women have learned how to forget their personal identities and try to become the opposite gender.  Ladies, when was the last time a guy handed you his phone number and asked you to call him?  Last week?  Yeah.  I thought so.  Gender blasphemies of that kind are continually on the rise and it often seems rather unchecked.  Women often face expectations of forgetting the natural motherly instincts God gave them until they have proven themselves competing against men in the workplace.  My friends, let's go back to a very basic truth that we all know almost from the cradle but for some reason in adulthood tend to forget.  

Men and women are different.  Hello!

This really ought to be self evident, but in truth the distinction is becoming less and less clear.  So let's reestablish the facts.  Brethren, I respect you tremendously and recognize that I am hardly qualified to tell you how to be a man, but I can remind the women of who they are and were meant to be.  Ladies, one of the most powerful aspects of character that we have naturally inborn but tend to forget is how to feel.  We are often told that in "real life" women's emotions mean nothing.  May I remind us all that a woman's intuition is usually right even when it flies in the face of immediate logic?  How many people have been uplifted, how many solutions discovered and even how many lives have been rescued because strong, intelligent women have followed their gut instincts?  Countless.  And yet we are told that our emotions and inner spirituality do not matter as much as our abilities to do a man's job in the workplace. 

My dear sisters, we have the powerful and passionate gift of being guardians of the hearth, nurturers of the future, and beacons of compassionate light to the weary.  So take a moment to thank God for making you what you are and rendering you the divine inspiration to be an extraordinary woman. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

When I Pray for You

I have for many years had people ask me to pray for them or for loved ones who have fallen to the wayside or have some tremendous struggle in their lives.  Countless mothers have asked me to pray for their wayward children and never have I turned them down.  And with all this prayer one might expect that I have learned a thing or two about how to pray, effective prayers to render and the like.  There are some things that I have learned in the many years I have prayed for people that I had not considered before but have discovered to prove absolutely groundbreaking.  Allow me to share these ideas and attitudes with you.

Frequently people ask me to pray for someone's salvation.  I applaud that they pray for salvation!  I myself have come to pray somewhat differently and I will tell you why.  Let us suppose we have someone who is not interested in going to church, not interested in religion and the like and you just can't get him or her to take these very serious things seriously.  When it is someone we love we have the tendency to panic.  We want them to turn around immediately and immediately see results so that we can rest more easily.  I have seen loving relatives of wayward souls resort to desperation, coercion, coaxing, pleading, and threats without any change in their beloved's behavior.  That is because we panic and think, "Oh, but if I could just get him into the pearly gates, even if I had to drag him there, everything would be fine!"  My friends, I invite you to trust God more deeply and take a deep breath.  As stated, I never pray for people's salvation anymore.  Why?  Because doing so is like fixing the symptoms of a disease and ignoring the infection itself.  I pray that this person will look deeply inside him or herself and bring that natural God given potential to the surface.  When we do this, we remind ourselves that this is a journey and that God, who created this person, is at the helm.  We remind ourselves that this person is not ours to control but has an independent destiny and we learn to respect it.  Also, I truly believe that every person has the power to be a mighty force for good.  What is a better option?  To drag someone kicking and screaming through the gates of heaven or inspire them to stand on their own feet and valiantly not only make their own way toward God but bring many others with them?  When we fulfill our own potential, we become a massive powerhouse of spiritual strength and it uplifts those around us.  I have counseled countless people through their problems and I have never known this principle to fail. True, it takes some patience, but are we not already losing patience that our beloved is not immediately doing everything we think he or she should be doing?

People change their lives for the better when they are loved to the very center of their souls and that person who loves them also tells them the potential of who and what they can be.  They change when they feel they are being accepted for who they are and that all you want is to give them more happiness and joy than they could have had otherwise.  When they understand that they will pick themselves up voluntarily and follow the beckoning light before them. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Born That Way: A Word on Homosexuality

The idea for this post has been cruising around in my mind for weeks but this morning, though I generally do not post on Sundays, the Lord has impressed me so powerfully to do it that I think I had better lay everything else down and get writing. My friends, there is not one of us in this world that is perfect.  There is not one of us that has all the answers, has overcome every obstacle of life, or learned all there is to learn for the human soul and mind.  But life and God have taught me one principle that underlies much of what we face here in this temporal, mortal realm.  Who we are is determined by what we choose, not how we are born.  

Take this principle from one who knows this well.  Both my parents were born very poor.  They now enjoy a tremendous amount of wealth.  I myself was born with depression.  It was something I never thought I could overcome and which haunted my every waking moment for two decades.  Anyone who has seen my facebook posts in the last week and a half can readily see that there isn't a shred of depression left in me, and in truth, there has not been depression in me for years now.  I have never taken medication nor seen a counselor about it, and yet it is gone.  I have a friend who was born exceedingly bipolar.  Again, without medication or counseling from a certified therapist this friend now leads a relatively stable life.  How is this possible?  My friends, with God anything is possible.  

Our society likes to pose the idea that we must define ourselves by those passions and feelings with which we were born, particularly the immoral ones, and frequently says that if ever we have ever experienced homosexual feelings then that is who we are.  Not so.  We are what we choose to be.  I have always known without doubt that we are eternal beings who are powerful beyond mortal comprehension and are crammed into this mortal earth life where we do not have the mobility to recognize immediately our true selves.  I believe that people who have homosexual feelings are in great measure those spirits who have an overwhelming amount of natural love in them and a heart wide enough to embrace all mankind.  And I know by experience that if we choose to live by the laws of God, He will make us something better than we could have imagined.  He can take that exquisite virtue and make it manifest in a manner more powerful than we could have by following what the world tells us or following our own poor senses of direction.  And fear not.  Our trials are but the groundwork for the mansions in which we will eventually reside.    

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Beauty From the Inside Out

My dear friends, I feel obligated to begin with a rather shocking confession.  This blogger who some of you have come to know as ever focused on the soul, natural beauty and the deeper aspects of life has for some years technically been a Mary Kay consultant.  No, this does not make me a hypocrite.  It simply means that I recognize that as our souls need nurturing and self love, our bodies do as well and Mary Kay focuses not so much on physical beauty as it does on inner beauty and bringing women's divine potential to the surface.  Can't argue with that.  I have rarely employed this ability, though for many reasons I feel moved to begin selling cosmetics more frequently from now on.

But even as a cosmetics salesperson, let me tell you the real place from which beauty comes.  It comes from within.  Even physical beauty comes from within.  I myself wear precious little make up.  At the most I will wear lipstick, fill in my eyebrows a touch and if necessary dab a bit of concealer.  That is all.  But I have found that exercise, healthy eating habits, and clean living makes itself manifest in one's skin, hair, nails and the like.  Love the inner body and the outer body will to a great degree take care of itself.  And as to Mary Kay products, there are many fantastic creams, serums, etc that work from the inside out and which I frequently use.  Take care of the skin by cleansing and conditioning it, and you will have less and less need of make up to cover it.  It doesn't really extend its products to hair but the same concept holds true.  Refrain from burning it with irons and distressing it with dye - in other words, accept yourself as God made you - and you will find it shinier, healthier and fuller.  My hair tends to shed a bit when I am under stress.  Again, take care of the inner soul in meditation and trusting the Almighty and stress will damage the outer shell with less vehemence. 

And perhaps the thing that makes us the most physically beautiful is our own confidence and self respect.  It creates an aura around us that affects our posture, our walk, our mannerisms and which can never come from anything outside our own souls.  The realization that we are special, precious, divine creations in the image of God can and ought to prove the foundation of our beauty regimen.  And that is something that poverty, stress, mockery and disease can never take.  The power to be exquisitely beautiful is already within you.  And as to the rest, feel free shoot me a message if you like and I'll see if I can get you a deal on fantastic "inside out" beauty products from Mary Kay!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"Just Call it a Solo"

It isn’t often that one hears extraordinary pearls of wisdom on a dance floor, and certainly when I sauntered into my hip hop class some weeks ago I hadn’t expected to meet a beautiful, fun, passionate and wise substitute taking lead of the class.  As a gesture to help everyone feel welcome and to relax those who may have had some shyness or self consciousness she headed her lesson with a brief introduction and told us not to worry if we couldn’t master all the choreography immediately.  In her words, “If you start to go the wrong way” here she shrugged with dramatic hip hop indifference, “just call it a solo.”

Isn’t life like that?  Not one of us is perfect, and surely there is so much we could say about our imperfections.  We could allow ourselves to sit miserably contemplating our shortcomings and in so doing allow the whole of life to pass us.  I have heard some people say, “But this person or that is so perfect and never makes any social blunders.”  Let me tell you about two people - the only two people I know, who have never to my knowledge made an accidental social blunder.  My goodness, what miserable people they are!  One of them had longed for a certain blessing all his life and then when he had it in the palm of his hand, he looked around and in order to keep up a perfect image made unwise choices that caused this treasured blessing to slip out of his hands in a way that can never be restored.  The other prided himself so much on being right and never saying anything except what was “cool” by the world at large that he descended to the lowest circle of depravity in trying to destroy other people’s lives in order to make himself look better.  He mocked people’s ideas, mannerisms and even religion without any check on his behavior.  He made enemies of those who were most honestly eager to love him, and surely anyone who understands what he does can readily see that this behavior does not mean he is socially graceful but at the heart of himself is insecure beyond belief.  

Now, I don’t know about you, gentle reader, but I myself appreciate being around open, kindhearted, honest individuals who can be themselves even if it means that not every word that leaves their mouths is perfectly polished.  We are all human and we all have our own inner fire and natural charm.  And as for myself, imperfect being that I am, I make a great many accidental blunders but I do not see that such things ought to stop me from living, cause me to shrink in shame or give up in being the best person I can be.  Even if my whole life may prove one massive social mistake, hey, I’m going to “just call it a solo.”

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Though Our Sins Be As Scarlet

We all have things about our personalities that do not come from the teachings of our parents or experiences in life.  Some aspects of character simply exist within us, and they are so much a part of who we are that certainly we would cease to be ourselves if we were without those personality traits.  I have one such trait, or rather I might term it a passion and belief that no one necessarily taught me but which is the driving force of much of what I do and who I am.

I have always passionately known, even from my earliest memories, that all human beings have endless potential and the ability to change for the better.  It is a belief upon which I have acted in what would seem like absolutely reckless and even dangerous manners, but never once have I found this idea to prove altogether untrue.  I recall one person I insisted upon befriending, even though I had to do so somewhat in secret to avoid extreme persecution because the world around me was howling that she was a lost soul and would never be a decent person again, and battering against me for my efforts.  It took over two decades but she is now a striking lady with reverence for God and a determination to be the best woman she can be.  I have counseled would be murderers and helped them make peace with themselves and those they have injured.  I have watched truly hardened and hateful people turn their lives around and give themselves to the service of others, and I know for a perfect fact that no one is exempt from this ability.  No one.

My friends, not one of us is perfect.  I am surely very far from it.  But each one of us without exception has the inner light and power to be a force for good in this world.  And those who have done the most damage, the most wrong and injured the most people have an extraordinary opportunity to turn around and not only change their own behavior to goodness and strength but help those who face the same temptations and setbacks change theirs. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Why I Fight

I have for quite some time had people conjecture as to why I harbor such an undying passion in speaking out against pornography.  Please allow me to explain that there may be no confusion.  Pornography is often called a victimless crime and treated as an allowable and harmless diversion that is amusing and even beneficial.  Nothing could be further from the truth, and while I can I will tirelessly work to point out the very real dangers surrounding this social, spiritual and emotional disease.

When I was in high school I thought much as you may.  I considered it normal for boys around me to engage in pornography and though I knew it was wrong I simply accepted it as an inevitable fact of life.  

Then I grew up.

I saw two women that I had long known and loved in anguish because their husbands skipped work to go to strip clubs while they, innocent wives, were pregnant.  I spent a year counseling and aiding an exotic dancer, listening to her troubles, learning of her pain, and finding out about the pornography industry from a backstage perspective.  I found that women who plaster smiles on their scantily clad selves onstage hate the men who come to see them only slightly less than they hate themselves.  I learned that such women often turn to drugs, go mad or commit suicide.  Week after week my friend cried on my shoulder about how cheap she felt and how she hated her clients.  I watched as a woman who had every reason in the world to think well of herself crumbled into dust and nearly lost her mind because of the emotional abuse of her husband, who in a tremendously degrading manner compared her to every other woman he saw, treated her horribly because she was not the kind of harlot he watched on the internet, and treated her in every way with contempt on this point.  I have counseled with many women who have had pornography using husbands and heard how difficult it is for them to maintain some kind of self respect.  I have worked with men fighting this addiction and seen them break down in hysterics from withdrawl.  I have personally helped people struggling with addiction walk away from suicide and reached in to help save their lives when they tried.  I have seen pornography destroy marriage after marriage, and where there are broken marriages there are broken homes, vulnerable parents and shattered children.  This is no victimless crime, for I have held the aching victims in my arms on countless occasions and felt them flood my neck and shoulder with their tears. I think all of us have seen how vulnerable young women are in this society, thinking they have to wear scanty clothes, heavy make up and no dignity in order to gain some masculine affection.  And often young men are treated as a bizarre outcast if they do not engage in morally indecent behavior.

In short, this black and vile issue daily sweeps through not only our country but virtually every nation on earth, destroying love and natural expectations of romance as it goes.  It is beyond a doubt the most widespread and damaging epidemic in the history of the world.  And so, my dear friends, the next time you may wonder and pose the question, "Why does Michelle fight?" I would encourage you to follow it with a second question, which proves pertinent and far more important.  "Why do I not?"

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Celebrating Autism

I sometimes have the opportunity to listen to parents who are beginning the journey of having a child with autism, and I often hear the same concern.  The parent, and often the child, feel a sense of depression, lack of worth, and shame.  Many of my readers know that I have a seven year old daughter named Julia who is a creative, intelligent, beautiful and dynamic autistic angel.  In family gatherings she often steals the show with her love for drama, vibrant imagination and determined personality.  And I am profoundly grateful that God blessed her with autism, which gives her so many more positive attributes than handicaps. 

When I first approached her pediatrician with the idea that she may be autistic the doctor flippantly told me that Julia was not autistic and that her behavior was the result of my being an unfit mother.  Julia being my first child, I had no reason to doubt this and poured more and more energy into helping her deal with her screaming fits in which she thrashed around on the floor and sometimes even hurt herself in the process.  I literally dripped sweat in exhaustion and frustration on a daily basis while little Julia made it evident she didn't want mommy to hold or cuddle her.  But after I had my neurotypical son and observed the difference in behavior between the two and when Julia was three and still could not say verbs or full sentences the doctor saw the error of her ways and loaded me up with resources for autistic children.  It was as though 10, 000 tons had lifted from my shoulders.  

Many people suggested and even insisted that I read book after book on autism, study Dr. Temple Grandin and the like.  I refused.  Having that extra time working with Julia one on one before I gained an army of therapists to help was precious in the sense that it gave me the perspective to better understand one thing.  My daughter is not a textbook.  She is not a problem.  She is not a handicap.  She is herself with a passionately willed personality and a determination to take over the world.  Her autism gives her a creativity and imagination all her own and a photographic memory to help her attain the knowledge requisite to turn her dreams into reality.  Most of the inventors, engineers and scientists in the history of the world were autistic, and in great measure these are the dynamic souls so readily able to think outside the box that makes our civilization as we know it possible. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Love Your Enemies

It seems counterproductive, doesn't it?  Why would someone love one's enemies?  And why should we add strength to tyranny?  The Lord showed me the reasoning behind this in a powerful manner that I doubt I will ever forget.  Some years ago I got to know some people in a certain group and saw them frequently due to some similar activities we attended.  They were mostly kind and welcoming and I was grateful to God to see such goodness in people.  It did my heart good to know them.  But there was one exception to this friendly crew - a woman whose name I will not disclose.  She cooled these people from being overly friendly to me, and through her influence in part the beautiful friendship I might have had crumbled into dust and caused me much heartache and many bitter tears.  I heard her at one point inciting those mutual friends to mock me within my hearing.  When she spoke to me it was icy and condescending and with a superior smirk on her very beautiful face, for she was a tremendously good looking lady.  You couldn't help but notice it.  And I think that is one reason she had so much influence. 

Now, you may consider this weakness in me, but I believed that she was indeed more beautiful than I, more socially lovely and generally superior in this her social realm.  I was the relatively shy newcomer to this crowd.  I believed this so much that though I hated what she did I didn't take offense to it.  I assumed it was her right to treat me like a bug she could squish under her heel.  I didn't like it, but I didn't fight her or treat her with anything save respect.  Some weeks ago, as I took my children to the zoo I ran into this woman.  We were both startled to see each other and as our business took us to the same place we cordially greeted each other and stood in the same area.  Soon I heard her talking to one of her friends and I could tell they were making fun of another woman standing a few yards away and twittering with laughter like so many birds.  Then the impression came to me "She looks particularly beautiful today and you know it.  Compliment her."  I confess I thought at first, "but she is so hardened and mean.  Surely it would only make her behave worse."  Again the impression came to compliment her.  Obediently, I stood to my full height, squared my shoulders and nonchalantly, as though discussing the weather, said "You look lovely today."  She literally began stammering.  I ignored this and swept forward with, "but then you always look so gorgeous, so it's par for the course, really."  I said nothing but the truth.  She looked down and muttered, "no I don't." It wasn't a modest, blushing, smiling, kind of looking down and for one instant I could see in her face and hear in her voice that she bitterly and miserably meant every word she said and that it had long agonized her soul.  I kept my calm countenance and walked away as though I had noticed nothing.

But certainly I found in that moment a truth that most of us take by faith but don't really see on a daily basis.  Those who go out of their way to injure others who have done them no harm are truly the most miserable.  I wonder now if she behaved toward me as she did because she felt threatened by how much her friends had begun to like me, for indeed I was fast becoming a favorite until she intervened.  I wonder now if she thought I was more attractive than her and felt she needed to destroy what she perceived as a threat to her fragile ego. Love them, my friends, for they need it most profoundly.  Granted, compliments are not always what is needful.  We may have to walk away or distance ourselves from people we cannot immediately help, or sometimes have to engage in tough love for another's good, but remember that the center of all we do regarding others must be true and vibrant love. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sexual Abuse Backfires

One of my sisters recently finished reading a book recounting life as it was in a foreign country in an age now gone.  It recounts how men treated women with little respect and how women were forced into deranged sexual exploits by abusive husbands.  My dear brethren, this issue is still alive and well today and in our own neighborhoods; it may be alive in our own homes or that of our daughters, mothers, sisters, nieces, granddaughters or cousins.  There are men that are heartless enough to injure innocent women and force them to become slaves in this manner, but let me issue a caveat to those men who think that they can force a woman to give herself to him simply because he demands it.

As I have studied sexual abuse and domestic abuse in general, there is a lingering thread that weaves itself around each situation almost without exception.  The abused person lives in fear not only of acting in a manner that will excite turmoil but also has to hide her feelings and plaster a smile to keep her abuser from exploding in anger.  Everything must seem freely given, even when it is exacted with the cruelest of punishments.  Let me throw you a bit of logic.  It is impossible to treat a woman like an object, impossible to keep her under one’s thumb, and also retain her sexual loyalty.  

Why?  Because he didn’t earn it, and when a woman has to plaster a smile on her face and surrender because of fear to her husband, she will, out of a knee jerk reaction, similarly have the tendency to surrender to any other man who shows interest in her, inwardly cowering in fear.  Like Pavlov’s dog, she has been taught by the sword that when a man wants her, she is to submit, no matter how wrong, how degrading, or how much she may hate the idea.  When you make her an object to be acted upon, you immediately lose her, body and soul, in the very act because her psyche will learn to fear and instinctively surrender to the cruel, heartless side of masculinity.  A man may think he is gaining something by treating his wife as a sex object and may think he has her all to himself because of this coercive treatment and her terrified submission but in reality he is willingly, actively forcing her, potentially at least, into the arms of every other man she meets.