Forgiveness

Forgiveness is difficult. This is especially true if the person you need to forgive isn’t sorry.

Everyone has someone in their lives that they need to forgive, whether it’s for something small or something really big. For me, forgiveness is a struggle for sure.

Some people don’t understand forgiveness, or misuse the very concept for their own benefit. Forgiveness doesn’t mean taking someone back into your life. Forgiveness doesn’t mean trusting them again. Forgiveness doesn’t mean making excuses for them. Forgiveness means that you have chosen to let go of any bitterness or anger, not for their benefit but for yours.

I am on a journey of forgiveness. It’s a process. I’m in therapy to try to work things out and I think that’s helping. If I want to be a disciple of Christ I have to forgive. I don’t have to tolerate abuse. I don’t have to take anyone’s crap. But I do need to find it in my heart to forgive those who have wronged me, who have mistreated me.

Developing a Gentle and Quiet Spirit

My spirit is much gentler and much quieter than it used to be. A gentle and quiet spirit in a woman is precious to God. But although I try to be gentle, sometimes I lose my temper. I don’t even try to be quiet at home. I am not even sure I am capable of being quiet!

What does it mean to have a gentle and quiet spirit? How does this pair with being a strong person, with having a strong personality, with being opinionated? Can they go together? It is such a hard issue to understand. What is wrong with a spirit that wants to do more and be more? There is a fine line between gratitude and complacency.

So far, although I am reading about it and searching scripture, the conclusions I have come to are this: do not be contentious, control your temper, and use soft words for the people around you. Perhaps being gentle and quiet has nothing to do with whether you are weak or strong, opinionated or not, or the color of your personality.

I have made so much progress on having a gentle and quiet spirit, but I have a long way to go to be pleasing to God. I focus too much on my own needs and not enough on my husband’s. I am short tempered and rash. I am too easily stressed out, instead of taking serenity from the knowledge that God is in control. My tongue is too sharp at times.

A Violet

Therese Lisieux was a Carmelite nun who lived in the latter half of the 19th century. Although she lived a very short life, dying at 24 from tuberculosis, the writings she left behind about flowers are compelling and influential in church thought. As Therese would meditate on flowers she would learn lessons about God. Her writings on flowers were compiled into a book called The Story of a Soul.

Sometimes she wrote about individuality and our place in God’s Kingdom. In one passage she wrote, “I realized that if every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness and there would be no wildflowers to make the meadows gay.”

What that really drives home to me is that whether you live your life in the Limelight among other people or not, you are important and God thinks you contribute to the beauty of creation. The violet is no less worthy than the rose. She goes on to say that the Saints are like lilies or roses and that we must be content to be the violets or daisies that God smiles at when He looks down. What I think this means is that while Saints’ souls have been perfected by fire, we are beautiful too. We can’t all be Saints, and we should not all be Saints. We may not stand out in a crowd of souls like they do, but if the world was filled with all the same kind of people everything would get very monotonous. Everyone’s variety and individuality is needed. It makes God smile, and anything that makes God smile is a necessary thing. God uses a macro lens when he sees us, examining our beauty in detail so that even the smallest of us flowers is gorgeous to Him.

Along those lines, Therese wrote that all of us can be perfect when we become that which God designed us to be. Popular culture seems to focus so much on perfection. And in Christianity we avoid the very concept because none of us are without sin, and to be truly perfect is to be sinless. But this is another, interesting idea of perfection that I like. God has designed each and everyone of us with a unique personality and temperament, with different skills and interests, and with different purposes. When we live out our purposes and function in the way He designed us, we are perfect. Obviously our souls are not perfect because we are sinners. Everyone needs Jesus. But our personhood can be perfect.

Then the question becomes, what are my gifts and what is my purpose? How can I fully live in accordance with my design, including my personality, temperament, and life circumstances? To what degree am I already doing this or to which I might have already fulfilled my purpose at least by and large?

I know that I was meant to be Craig’s wife. So day in and day out I fulfill that purpose. I was meant to be Angelica’s mother. God chose me to be her mother. So I try to fulfill that purpose to the best of my ability. God designed me to be very creative. So what is the purpose of that creativity? Although I enjoy making art I am by no means proficient at it. So what is the purpose? It could just be so that I can enjoy it. God wants us to be happy. He wants us to be holy first, but wherever possible we should be holy and happy. My life provides the opportunity to be happy and gives me chances to work on myself to be more holy. I should take advantage of both opportunities. What role is creating things or doing photography supposed to play in my life?

What about my writing? As a writer I sometimes feel so isolated. I always thought I would go to grad school, get an MFA and then a Ph.D, and start teaching at the college level. I thought that I would know other writers from my days in grad school and that I would be publishing books. But I was not destined to do that. God had other plans for me, better plans. But my passion for writing poetry remains, and I have very little opportunity to use that voice above a whisper, at a volume that other people can hear me. So what am I supposed to do with all my poetry? What is the ultimate purpose to me being a poet? I might get a book published but I might not. I may try to publish more chapbooks since I really enjoy chapbooks, but there is no telling if that will come through and I have not submitted in a very long time. Is God’s plan for me to have a book published? Or does He have other plans for me and my little poems? Do I need to start submitting again? Or am I supposed to take some other avenue?

Moving to Colorado with my husband has brought about tremendous change in my life. New place, new people, new schedule, new terrain, new opportunities. I am sure that this move was important. What am I supposed to be doing with it? I’m getting involved with my church and I feel like that’s the right direction to go in. I don’t know what will come of my involvement, but maybe my hands are needed. I want Angelica to really get something out of living in Colorado for 3 years, whether that is simply amazing and beautiful experiences, or a friend that she’s supposed to make, or maybe getting plugged into this church will make a big difference in her life.

Like everyone else, I have so many facets to my personality. I’m kind of a mixture of Victorian lady, 1950s housewife without the good organizational skills, and a dark, Gothic princess. God made me these things, and there must be a reason for each one of them. So how can I live out my life in such a way as to be authentically who God made me, fulfilling his design for me and reaching perfection in what He wanted me to be?

I may never be a rose, either in God’s eyes or the world’s. You never know, but probably not. But sometimes I don’t want roses when I go to the market. I want a nice bouquet of daisies, or maybe some violets. How does God want me to bloom?

Headcovering- a Spiritual Reminder

My veils remind me daily to submit to my husband. But more than simply supporting my husband in the decisions he makes for our family, it should remind me to be gentle. Serenity is precious in the sight of God. As a woman I should cultivate a gentle and quiet spirit. Lately I have been under a lot of stress, and I have somewhat lost touch with my femininity and my role as a wife. Some of my old, hard edge has come back. I need a refresher on patience, quietness, calmness. I need to be more humble.

I need to increase my prayer life. Drawing closer to God will refine me until I am the woman He wants me to be, and the wife my husband deserves. It is also important to me to set an example of kindness, submission, patience, and love to my daughter.

Part of the answer is to be more intentional when I wear my veils. I have been wearing them for a long time now, and perhaps putting on my veils has become so routine that I have let the beauty and power of it fade away. Wearing my veils has become too mundane. I have lost touch with the spirituality of headcovering. It is time to start donning my veils with intention. Before I put my headcovering on I need to pause and think about the meaning of it. I need to commit to obeying God, submitting to my husband, being gentle, guarding my tongue, and having a sweet and quiet spirit. Headcovering should never be mundane no matter how vital it is to headcover daily. Just as we should strive to pray daily without letting our prayers become rote, I need to headcover daily without letting my headcoverings become just a daily part of my wardrobe. It is so much more than that. Headcovering is spiritual, feminine, and powerful. It has brought me closer to God. I need to leave my complacency and let the headcovering that God expects of me bring me closer to Him. Obeying the Lord pleases Him, but doing so intentionally is even better.