Sunday, January 31, 2016

Kindness: Wonderstruck

This challenge is to express kindness to someone in your life whom you don't naturally connect with or who intimidates you. Demonstrate God's goodness and love in a practical way, reflecting on how your actions affect your attitude with this person.

Well. Sometimes the person who intimidates you is someone quite close to you. It can sometimes be hard to naturally connect with someone with whom you have natural connections. My mother.  I love her dearly, but I often feel marginalized by her. It has gotten better as I have gotten strong enough to stand up for myself. But I have bipolar disorder. If I am struggling and have to deal with her, I allow her power to make me feel an inadequate child.

This happened recently as I went through a depressive episode. She reduced me to histrionic tears by criticizing my choices. I resolved not to contact her until I was stronger. Then this challenge....

So I called her. I asked leading questions. I even pretended interest when she told me about the TV shows she was watching as we spoke. (She rarely gives me her full attention, even when we're face to face. Another way to make me feel unimportant.) But I showed her kindness, no matter what she said or how she said it. I hung up from our conversation a bit frustrated, but not inconsolable. Actions do affect attitude. And that's the wonder of kindness.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Meaning: Wonderstruck

This challenge is to research the meaning of your name. God is involved in the details, even our names. Often, our names signify who God has created us to be or the work God wants us to do in our lives. Once you know what your name means, spend time in prayer reflecting on the demonstration of God's love and goodness in the meaning of your name as well as who He has called and created you to be.

Depending upon which language you use, the name "Lisa" means either "Devoted to God" or "Oath of God". If I live as though I am devoted to God, I will become a saint. Motivation follows action. This is how I am to live.

The second meaning gives me recollection and renewal of the love of God for me. He didn't just casually throw out a promise for my welfare; He made a covenantal oath. (Anyone who has read Scott Hahn knows what this entails and that it is deeper, richer, and binding to the end.)

God is deeply interested in my welfare. He took an oath on it. I am interested in His welfare and image. I will live devoted to Him. This is the wonder of meaning; of my name, and of my life.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Forgiveness: Wonderstruck

Today the challenge is to spend twenty minutes in prayer asking the Holy Spirit to reveal where you harbor unforgiveness. Write each down and forgive each one. Pray for your own forgiveness for holding unforgiveness in your heart, then pray blessing each name on your list.

I won't share in detail the results of this challenge. Most of the folks on my list probably wouldn't see a valid reason for being there. The others would have valid reasons to put me on a list of their own. Most of us don't set out consciously to harm those we love. And usually only those we love harm us. Obviously, I'm not speaking of being the victim of a crime. Just those niggling emotional pains that are so hard to overcome and so hard to forgive.

Which is why we don't forgive just once. People can't just forgive and forget; we're not wired that way. We are hurt. We forgive. Then, like a dog toying with a bone, we pull that hurt out at a low point and examine it anew. So we forgive again. Sometimes we're forgiving ourselves over and over.

Confession. Reconciliation. Penance. All names for the wonderful Sacrament where Christ, through the priest, forgives and ABSOLVES our sins. Even the same ones, over and over. That IS the wonder of forgiveness!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Generosity: Wonderstruck

This challenge dealt with generosity. And surprise.  The book suggested giving gift cards to unsuspecting people, but we live so close to the bone that really wasn't an option.

To celebrate my 50th birthday, I wanted to do something different. Something altruistic. Again, there's the lack of money. I asked all my Facebook friends to do a random act of kindness in my honor while my family and I did fifty (or more) acts of kindness during my birthday week. This was surprisingly generous ... to us!

We would make a fifteen minute trip to the library but put two hours worth of coins in the meter.  Pay for the coffee refill of the elderly man at McDonald's. Hold the door. We got the biggest kick out of engaging strangers in conversation, or just giving a smile to someone who looked like he needed one. Random acts of kindness are akin to good manners. They are a form of generosity. They are unexpected, more's the pity, by the receiver. And they grant the giver an opportunity to be wonderstruck!