Tag Archives: vocation

Becoming Ourselves

Photo of artist, Georgia O’Keeffe, by her husband, Alfred Stieglitz (PD).  Though O’Keeffe’s vision was compromised by macular degeneration in later years, she continued to work well into her 90s.

It has been said that we become more ourselves, as we grow older.  Superficial beauty fades, and a softer (or, in some cases, starker) beauty takes its place.  This incorporates our scars, evidence of the life we have lived, with and without our consent.

We long, in youth, to be part of a larger whole – the beloved or a noble cause, perhaps.  The paths we take determine greatly – and depend greatly on – whether or not that happens.

The heart calls us to venues and ventures we would never have thought ourselves capable of pursuing, let alone achieving.  Sometimes though it seems we are being led.  Not by our desires alone, but by some external force.

“…[H]e made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in His quiver” (Isa. 49: 2).

Most of us must deal with tragedy, along the way.  Some lives are cut short by it.  Grief and loss can arise from many causes in this imperfect world:  abuse, racism, poverty, and violence, to name a few.

We are shaped by these experiences, and can be broken by them.  Chances are, we will be forced to make difficult choices.  Almost everyone is.

For a tree branch to be made into an arrow, it must be stripped of leaves (John 15: 2); fired, so as to become pliable (Isa. 48: 10, Rom. 5: 3 and 8: 28, James 1: 2-4, 1 Pet. 1: 6-7); straightened (Eph. 2: 21 and 4: 15-16, Heb. 10: 24-25); sanded (Heb. 12: 7-11); and oiled (Ps. 104: 15, Gal. 5: 22-23, Eph. 5: 18) [1].

Ultimately, the arrow finds its target.  So, too, will our lives, in God’s hands, find their intended target…even if that target is not what we originally supposed.

We can rely on that.

[1]   All credit for this information about arrow construction, and the biblical citations associated with it goes to Fountaingate Christian Foundation. See, ChurchLink, Bible Study Warehouse, Series:  The Call – Lesson 7,  “Preparation for Ministry”,  http://www.churchlink.com.au/churchlink/bible_studies/call/call7.html. Copyright © 1981, 1996 Paul Bunty and David Collins. All rights reserved.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

 

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Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Poverty, Religion, Terrorism, Violence Against Women

Doubts

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them…” (Rom. 12: 6).

The doubts others plant in us can be suffocating. Stifling to our spirit.

Often this starts very early, with the harsh criticism of childhood endeavors, the imposition of restrictive adult standards on children too young to fulfill them. We learn to pursue perfection – ever elusive perfection – rather than develop our own art.

That applies whatever form our “art” may take:  poetry, sculpture, music, carpentry, cooking, laughter. You name it. Denied tenderness, we are robbed of words, robbed of rhythm, robbed of savor, robbed of joy. Denied our natural way of relating to things.

It is as if our hands were cut off, our lips sewn together.

We stumble on, unable to say why it is that we feel so clumsy. Why our efforts feel awkward, inadequate. Others have learned to dance on their hands, paint with their feet. Surely, we can, as well.

We search for the fault in ourselves, certain it must be there. Knowing it must be there. This emptiness, this persistent feeling of failure, cannot be the fault of those who raised us. Can it?

Still, we falter and lose heart. Our doubts loom large. And all because the adults around us did not have imagination enough to recognize what we might become. Continue reading

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Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Religion

If You Have Survived…

Sometimes, the critical voices from all sides can be overwhelming to abuse victims (and non-victims, for that matter).  Other times, the criticism of a single loved one will become the inescapable voice in our heads. This is a little advice to tuck away for such times.

If you have survived abuse or neglect, you are not a failure [1]. Having survived at all is an achievement. The scars you bear attest to your strength, not your failure.

It is not your purpose in life to meet the expectations of others, certainly not those of family members and other loved ones incapable of loving you in return.

Obvious as this may sound, make sure you seek validation from someone actually capable of giving it to you. Some people are simply blind. They lack the ability to see you clearly. Others may find it easier to focus on your imagined defects, than their real ones.

Anyone saying you should limit yourself, rather than use the gifts God gave you, may be worried about their own limitations. Criticism that convinces you that you can do nothing right will result in your doing nothing at all.

Self-blame is a paralyzing form of abuse. Try not to engage in it. If you’ve made mistakes, learn from them. That’s how life works for all of us.

Life is always better than death. Choose life… if nothing else to spite your detractors [2].  You have at least as much right to this world as they do.

[1] This is not to suggest that the victims of abuse and neglect who did not survive were, in any sense, “failures”. The label does not apply.

[2] Small joke.  Use every tool at your disposal, including humor.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

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Filed under Child Abuse, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Violence Against Women