Posts Tagged ‘points to ponder’


The New Chapter…

giving hands

Have you missed me? I’ve missed YOU! Don’t get TOO excited. My current schedule is ridiculously crowded right now, so posting will be sporadic at best, but I find myself missing the writing more and more the longer I’m away from it, so a-posting I will go!

Since I’m rather rusty at the writing thing, today you get “Random MaryAnn.” Okay…okay…okay…so that’s nothing new for me. But, it may take a while to get that WD-40 in the right squeaky parts of my ancient brain so that the creative writing juices are flowing as they should.

Remember way back when I was exploring spiritual direction as a new pursuit in my life? Well, I now have a scholarship to Heartpaths Training and will be pursuing my Spiritual Leadership certificate this year. Every time I meet with the Heartpaths staff, two things happen: I am instantly at peace and I feel like “I’m home” even though we’ve basically only met. They are all Heartpaths graduates, are so calm and “zen-ish” (Yes, I invented yet another word…Deal with it.) and they all say they weren’t that way when they started.

If these folks can get MaryAnn to “zen-ish,” then that place down south just froze over. I am required to be quiet in this program. Note to self: Look up “quiet” in the dictionary and actually learn the meaning of the word. Can you picture me being quiet? Yeah. Neither can I.

I start September 12th and I already have homework. But, instead of feeling stressed about this homework (a chronic occurrence during the pursuit of the master’s), I am actually giddy waiting for my first book to arrive from Amazon and begin that homework. (This is probably a serious symptom for something delusional in the DSM-V.)

The book? Soul Feast. I hope this doesn’t mean we’ll be feasting on souls…that sounds less than zen-ish.

Let’s all hope it means a feast for my soul. If so, then I’m all in. I love nurturing souls, particularly when it’s mine!

Doesn’t the title suggest a good cup of tea? It just brings that to mind every time I think it and that also sounds soothing and calming to me. Remind me to stock up on Constant Comment the next time I’m at the store.

This first year I will be intensely studying all different types of prayer. I hope that, as I take this journey this year, you will stay tuned to “this bat channel.” Because I hope it will inspire the ol’ MIP blog with some “Points to Ponder” and some interesting, thought-provoking stuff here.

And I may throw in a joke here and there just for fun.

Next note to self: I probably should stock up on duct tape now to work on that quiet thing. A 4 foot high pallet of the stuff may get me through the first seminar.


Point to Ponder: What bothers you about your prayer life? Does it even exist? Why or why not? Does it seem boring? Unproductive? What could be done to make it a more meaningful part of your life? Maybe start with a cup of tea??? Maybe get up before everyone else in the morning and journal your prayer instead of just thinking it? 


An Unlikely Mom…


Book Club Readers: I would like to know if you have done any of the devotions in Songs in the Key of Solomon and how it went. You can let me know anonymously by clicking here. Thanks!

Warning: War and Peace was shorter.

In 1985 I should have been the happiest woman on the planet. I had a sweet, funny, romantic husband who had just bought me a brand new house in a great neighborhood. I worked for a great Christian woman and did interesting work. I attended one of those “mega-churches” filled with lots of opportunities to serve and learn more about God. I was part of a wonderful Bible study group that caused my faith to grow by leaps and bounds.

But I wasn’t happy.

The hubby and I were trying to get preggers and nothing was happening on that front at all. While other friends our age were getting pregnant right and left, we were jealous and as Christians, we felt bad about feeling jealous! In my head I was thinking, “A good Christian would rejoice with her friends when they rejoice. A child is a blessing.” But, I was just sad that it wasn’t me who was getting to have a baby shower.

My head was also thinking, “It makes sense that God is not giving you a baby.” Why? When I babysat children as a teenager, they often drove me nuts. I had very little patience with them, honestly. This propensity made sense. I was the youngest in my family and thus, never really learned to tolerate the boisterous nature of younger children.

I also grew up in a minister’s family where quiet weekends were very normal because Dad was either preparing his sermon and needing the quiet or because he had just finished preaching and ministering on Sunday mornings and needed the rest. Thus, loudness, commotion and silliness were not my favorite cup of tea. I preferred to read, listen to music through my voluminous headphones (It was the 70s–everything was big.) and watching old movies. I liked solitude and solitude is not exactly synonymous with children!

And I had a knack for overreacting and saying the wrong things. How was that going to translate into good motherhood??? And yet, there was this burning ache to have a child.

We kept this torment to ourselves for a long time, despite some extended family members making it plain that they were waiting for us to make “the big announcement.” We so wished we could have complied with their wishes. And yet, our sadness was so severe that we couldn’t admit to them why we weren’t able to make “the big announcement.”

Weeks turned into months and months turned into years. Finally, we consulted an ObGyn for help. If you’ve never been through this process, it’s pretty embarrassing. You have to expose the most intimate details of your relationship with your husband to strangers and let your private parts be open “for inspection.” Okay, so it feels like an inspection.

In 1985 in vitro fertilization (IVF) and surrogate pregnancies were just coming to the forefront of the infertility field of medicine. So, the hubby and I had to discuss exactly how far we wanted to go down the “fertility treatment road.” We finally agreed that if the baby wasn’t totally ours genetically, then we would stop treatments and procedures and start working on adopting a child.

Few realize that if a couple chooses to adopt, they basically have to have some time to grieve. Yes, grieve. Why? Because an infertile couple has to say goodbye to the notion of ever having their own child genetically. If a couple doesn’t do that, in my humble opinion, the consequences could be really unfortunate for the child they eventually adopt. To grieve this “loss” can take years. While adopting would have been great, going down the grief road wasn’t my idea of fun.

To boot most procedures (including adoption) costs thousands of dollars not covered by insurance. This generally hits couples when they’re hoping to pay off college loans and have a mortgage. There isn’t exactly a plethora of disposable income at their fingertips during this era of their lives! This was true of us as well.

We were both tested for possible infertility causes to determine the course of treatment. I was the culprit. Now, no matter how many times I, as well as the hubby and the doctors, said I shouldn’t blame myself, I still did. How do you not do that when you find out you’re not ovulating regularly and that you have endometriosis??? Again, it seemed to be confirmation from on high that I was not the right kind of person to be a mom. I felt pretty worthless.

We tried fertility drugs to no avail. Soon, it seemed prudent to do exploratory surgery on me to see what could be done about my endometriosis and to make sure other things were not hindering my ability to conceive. The surgery was going to be thousands of dollars.

We made the decision to tell our Bible study group, because they would wonder why I was in the hospital anyway. I will never forget what happened next–a first-time experience for me. They laid their hands on me and just prayed that that expense would not be necessary!

A mere month later, I was telling them I was pregnant. The Bible study group members literally jumped up and down at the news. Surgery averted. Prenatal vitamins started! Miracle granted!

Nine traumaless months later the oldest son was born. Four years later, with the help of fewer fertility drugs, our daughter arrived. And without any medical science at all, another son arrived four years after that. (I still refer to him as “the immaculate conception.”) Guess God thought this selfish, quiet-seeking person should be a mom after all.

I’d love to tell you that I was a great mom from the beginning. I was anything but. It took a loooonnnnggg time for God to work on all that selfishness and huge desire to crawl in a big hole when things got too chaotic  for me. And I wasn’t all that great an aunt to several of my nieces and nephews (Again, there’s a reason why this blog is called what it is.) But over time and with a lot of instruction from the Lord and other great moms, I learned how to be a decent mom.

But, God didn’t stop there. He chose to give me “the adopteds.” Most of them are friends and acquaintances of my kids and a few I picked up along the way as I worked at our local university. I’m privileged to say that a few are also from the extended family. I would die for any one of them just as I would for my own children. Just the other day at the local grocery store, I heard a happy voice call out, “Momma A!” And I knew that happy voice was hailing me! Sure enough, an adopted was waiting to hug and greet me.

Today I marvel at how God answered the sad, desperate prayers of a woman who felt so unworthy of motherhood in 1985. Motherhood, in any of its forms, is such a privilege! And when the next generation becomes the people they’re meant to become, I am so proud of each and every one of them and how they, themselves, are triumphing over the sadness and obstacles in their own lives. They are a marvel, as well.

Perhaps now you understand why I find myself stalking “Mommy blogs” right and left, even though my active years of parenting are well behind me. And why, I have chosen to put the “Top Mommy Blog button” in the right-hand column of my blog. It still stuns me that I can offer suggestions, tips and encouragement when being a parent is really trying! And it may stun you to know that MIP is currently # 25 in the most popular “Everything Else” Mommy Blog category and # 565 overall, despite just being approved for mention on their site a few short days ago.

So, do me a favor: When you read a post here, please click on the Top Mommy Blog button before you leave. That will help other moms find my blog. I am so hoping that something I say here will resonate with that hard-working group of people and that I can be a blessing in their lives as they have been in mine. If you’re a mom, clicking on the button may help you find some much-needed resources and other blogs to help you with that big job of yours. And if you have a few minutes, please leave a rating and a few words about what MIP means to you. Thanks in advance–it means more than you will ever know.

Point to Ponder 1: If you’re going through infertility right now, what’s the most important thing you can do today to help your situation, either mentally, physically or emotionally? Pray? Confide in a good friend or relative? Tell me about it here? Consult a fertility specialist? Whatever it is, take the first step today to make that happen. You need allies in this fight! 

Point to Ponder 2: Do you have a friend or relative going through infertility right now? If you’re a mom, may I gently suggest that you do your “mommy venting” with friends who already have kids and just pray for your friend and relative and let them know that you care about what they’re going through? Tell them that you probably don’t understand their situation, but you would love to know how you could help them best.

Point to Ponder 3: Do you have a wonderful mother figure in your life? Let her know today how much you appreciate her efforts and influence on your life! We never know when that gesture or kind word of appreciation is the last time we may get to let her know that!

Point to Ponder 4: Having a rough day “at the office” with your kids? Been there, done that. Let an older mom know that. She often has suggestions on how to get through those rough times. My suggestion? Throw out all of those parenting books and just trust your gut. God gave you those kids because he thought you were the best person to parent them. Submit a comment below if you need more encouragement. I’m happy to tell you what this imperfect mom learned as she was “in the trenches.” And veteran Moms? What suggestions do you have for newer moms who are struggling to succeed at raising the next generation? Submit away below!

Point to Ponder 5: Have you clicked that button up there yet? What? You haven’t. What’s stopping you? Get it done now. And thanks! 🙂

Friday’s Post: Slow Reader Friday and August MIP Book Club Selection Time!

You Might Also Like: Go Ahead…Hate Me; Would You Like a Family Like This?; 56 White Men; The Tyrant; and The Honest Truth and Yes, That’s Redundant


Would You Like a Family Like This?

family vacation

When I look back on the major decisions I made in the first half of my life, many seem really bone-headed now. But one that most decidedly didn’t fall into that category was marrying into my husband’s family. They are a wonderful conglomerate of diverse Christians and somehow we manage to get along well. Unfortunately, as the years progress, we often fail to see each other due to living further and further away from each other.


Back in the early 2000s we decided that we needed another reason to gather together besides weddings, funerals, graduations, and holidays. The Reunion Vacation was born. We have been to Branson, Virginia Beach, Hilton Head, Nashville, IN, and now Estes Park. We do them every few years whenever we think the majority of us have been able to save up the necessary money to do such a destination vacation. We started renting out one large vacation home and despite renting out one the same size this time, we now don’t fit, because of grandchild marriages and subsequent great-grandchildren. So, now we rent two large-sized homes, hopefully close to each other.


Yes, four generations come together and we actually raise the eyebrows of the local residents, not because we’re the typical tourists tearing up nice vacation homes and not because we are usually fighting to the death with each other by the end of the vacation week. No, we raise eyebrows because we actually get along and actually enjoy each other’s company and do our best to leave the homes in even better shape than we found them. The first generation, aka Gram and PaPa, raised their kids right! And that has been passed down through the generations.


Now, it’s not all wonderful. We are human. For one thing, there are few shrinking violets in this group and so we can wind up with too many “Indian Chiefs”. And those few family members who aren’t as Type A often have to seek seclusion outside for mere survival’s sake from time to time. I, too, had to learn this skill since my own family was quite small.  Many of us are in our 50s and thus, none of us hear the way we once heard. Thus, all of these vacations feature excessive loudness! Again, a brief respite outside can often help.


And we do screw up, sometimes in a major way. Few of us can reasonably say we don’t have a few pounds to lose. Few of us are flexible (We breed stubbornness!) about some situations we passionately pursue. Few of us know how to quit working and thus, a feast with my husband’s family is likely to ensue at every meal and spreadsheets for all vacation logistics will often hilariously collide. (Yes, actual agendas, maps, handouts and spreadsheets abound. The Battle of Iwo Jima took less planning.) Individually, we all struggle with some internal mess at one point or another probably like any other family in America.


So, how do we cope with all of that? Grace.


Yes, we say grace, but I’m talking about the kind that comes from above. Because He loved us and forgave us, we choose to love each other and forgive each other as we congregate. Is that always easy? Nope. But this is perhaps the best part of marrying into a large family: if we get disgusted and lose our patience with one member of the family, there’s always another member we can hang with! Once I practice this little strategy, I seldom lose my patience for long and after reconnecting with those who remind me what patience looks like, I can regain some patience with the person who was driving me nuts a short time before.

Would you believe that there are 9 married ends of this family now and none of us have divorced? That love and forgiveness thing works, in more ways than one!


I hope all of you have such a family when everyday life seems joyless and pointless. But, if not, perhaps a few of the Points to Ponder below will help you begin to create such a family, even if you have to become “Gram & PaPa” and start with your current immediate family to create the next 4 generations of wonderful togetherness.


Point to Ponder 1: Name the 1 issue that seems to escalate tensions at your extended family gatherings. May I suggest that you ask for a banishment of that issue from the next “reunion”? While I firmly believe in talking things out, there are some subjects that are just too painful for some families to bear. If someone forgets that the topic is off-limits, agree beforehand to use a code word to stop that person from going any further with it. I suggest using some silly made-up word that creates a smile for most of your family members. Keep in mind that change begins with you and you may have to stop yourself from bringing it up and you may have to politely remind people to “cut it out.”


Point to Ponder 2: Can’t do # 1 because there are some really huge issues going on in your family? Here’s the good news and the bad news: You have a lot of company in America. If so, it may be time to take your immediate family and try to change only that end of the family for the better. Consult a pastor or counselor or other mental health professional to ensure that your family knows when it, itself, is getting into the same dangerous territory as your extended family. This isn’t weakness! It takes such strength to admit you need an objective opinion from someone who deals with such issues regularly.


Point to Ponder 3: Done # 2 and feel your immediate family is in a good place? Congrats! That’s awesome! Celebrate by beginning a weekend vacation tradition with your family whenever the money’s in the bank to do so. You can just go to the next town over and camp in a park or some other beautiful area, if the budget’s tight. You will be amazed at the conversations that take place merely because you are away from home. Keep practicing any suggestions that your pastor or counselor has given you to make sure the vacations keep going in a positive direction. (Sometimes a change in location can cause some to revert to old negative behavior patterns.) Your offspring will probably start to treasure these times unless they’re currently teenagers. But if so, have no fear—eventually they grow out of it.


You Might Also Like: 56 White Men; The Tyrant; The Honest Truth and Yes, That’s Redundant; Eulogy for a Brother; and We’re Still Losing This War


The Tyrant…

Saddam Hussein

Book Club Folks: Do you have Songs in the Key of Solomon yet? If not, click here to order it from If you already have the book, click here for the suggested reading plan for July. I’m already reading it and I think I’m in love with this book!

Warning: You might want to get 2 of your favorite beverages first. 

With age comes wisdom. Or so it is said. Often, I don’t feel as if that is all that evident in my life, but I do think some of my thinking has evolved over the years. Perhaps it is wisdom. Perhaps it is not. But, all I know is that when I let the evolved part of my brain loose, I am happier. Because of that, I am trying to let that part of my brain free on a more regular basis. It isn’t always easy. But, let’s examine one area where I think it has evolved.

Relatively early in my life folks often said that I was an “encourager.”  People have also said they can let their “guard” down with me and thus, when people do, I am so honored to have that privilege. When given that privilege and since I hate to see good people hurting, I do my best to try to find the “silver lining” in each person’s situation. I truly believe we can learn from any circumstance in our lives–good, bad or indifferent. Let’s be honest–sometimes we learn more from the bad stuff than the good.

Two things often result for me when I have such a focus: 1) The fear about the impending doom seems less capable of hurting me; and 2) I suddenly have a wealth of ideas on how to conquer that situation. Learning something new is a very powerful thing for me–it keeps life from being boring and it makes me feel more alive. How about you?

Why would an awful situation suddenly produce “happy thoughts” just because I think can learn from it? I thought differently. When we choose to change our thinking about a negative situation, suddenly new possibilities for solving the issue just “show up.”  Soon after that, the situation is usually resolved one way or another.

Not true? Wrong! Think about when you are ready to buy a new car. Let’s say you decide you want a blue Ford Explorer. Suddenly, wherever you drive, there are blue Ford Explorers everywhere! (Dang it–you hate it when I’m right, hunh?!) In all reality there were just as many blue Ford Explorers on the roads near you as there were yesterday. But, because you are now “attending” to that little desire to buy a blue Ford Explorer, your eye notices a lot of blue SUVs and pays even more attention to those that are Explorers!

If the above is true, then imagine what we can achieve if we merely make a decision to go out and achieve it. Here’s another example of what I mean: If you make the decision that you want to make the world a little kinder place, you start focusing on what you can do with the resources around you that would help the world become a kinder place. One of the easiest ways to do that is to “pay it forward” literally at your local drive-thru. We’ve all seen in the media how 1 person paying for the order of the car behind him started a “chain of kindness” of people paying for everyone else’s order for an entire weekend at a Starbucks! In fact when it rolled around to a Monday morning at one location, the person who originated the “chain of kindness” also received a free order because that person was back in line at the same location that following Monday morning! That means they just created a kinder world for themselves, too!

All because one person changed their thinking and made a decision.

The same is true about other areas of your life. If you decide that you are finally, once and for all, going to lose that weight and keep it off, sooner or later you will find what works for you and take it off. You won’t let temporary failure get in the way–you’ll simply regard it as discovering what did not work for you. And you’ll amaze yourself at how much you really know about successfully taking off weight if you sit down and write it out on a legal pad or computer screen, without even having to consult Google!

If that is true, then so is having a lot of discretionary cash at your disposal after you quit spending your hard-earned cash on cigarettes. So is learning a new language or being a better parent or being a better son or daughter.

Today is my youngest’s 20th birthday. Yes! No more teens at my house! (That’s been a long time comin’ around this humble abode.) The youngest has had obstacles at every turn–bad allergies, two over-achieving older siblings, learning disabilities that aren’t recognized by most special education programs at public schools, bullying and constant teasing at school throughout his academic career, and two perfectionistic parents. But, despite all of that, he is slowly learning how to deal with those overbearing parents of his, has ignored the bullies and teasers, worked around the learning disabilities (and even excelled at three subjects in high school), put up with the two siblings and takes allergy meds for those crazy allergies. He just chose to think differently about things so that he could still find joy in a world that doesn’t understand his unique brain. He could have chosen so many other paths that were much more destructive. But he hasn’t.

Is he perfect? Nope. Do I still wonder how he will turn out? Yep. Could he still decide to go down destructive paths? Yep. But, I bet that even if he struggles and makes some bad decisions this coming year, we’ll still be celebrating his 21st birthday with him next year. Why? Because he’s made the decision to not let the world get the best of him.

Are you going to let yourself be defeated?

Point to Ponder 1: If you could choose one area of your life to “remodel,” what area would that be? Your marriage? The way you treat your friends? Are you a little pudgy in some places? Is it alcohol or nicotine?? Whatever it is, walk somewhere away from everyone else (because this is going to get you labeled a mental patient!) and yell to that area: ” (Insert your biggest nemesis here!), YOU are not going to have ANY power over me anymore!”

Point to Ponder 2: Now that you know who or what “the enemy” is, spend a little time thinking about why this “nasty boy” is ruling your life like a tyrant. When are you the most vulnerable to an attack from this tyrant? At certain times of the day or night? What’s going on inside your head during those times? Because I guarantee you that whatever you are not acknowledging as a thought is what’s causing that tyrant to get the upper hand in your life. Write this all down somewhere so you can read it several times throughout the day. (My suggestion? Tuck it in your wallet or put it in your desk drawer where you keep the office supplies.)

Point to Ponder 3: It’s time to go on offense! You’ve identified the enemy and its tactics. What thoughts can counter those tactics? I realized that’s it’s pretty hard to stuff my face if my hands are busy (and now you know why I blog!). Can you distract yourself ? Replace bad thoughts with good ones? Now, post those on a sheet of paper on your bathroom mirror. If you think of more, add them. Read them each day to remind yourself that YOU are worthy of a positive change in your life and in the lives of others. YOU were put on the planet to make it a better place. And there’s no better place to start than with yourself.

Point to Ponder 4: Tyrants don’t give up easily and they WILL identify one of your weak spots or an area you still haven’t acknowledged. So, make “Plan B.” When that tyrant gets the upper hand again, what are you going to do to keep that tyrant from “winning the war”? Plan B should be about your “emergency thoughts and actions” that will take back that area from that tyrant. It may mean re-thinking one part of your original plan and adjusting it to meet the new challenge from an old foe. But, whatever it is, this time Plan B will thwart your enemy! Just because you lose one “battle” doesn’t mean you have to lose the war.

Go forth and conquer! 🙂

Monday’s Post: Two people knew the Word of the Week. Are you number 3???

You Might Also Like: The Honest Truth and Yes, That’s Redundant; The New AnniversariesThe Real Memorial Day; Eulogy for a Brother; and We’re Still Losing This War


The Honest Truth and Yes, That’s Redundant…


Warning: War and Peace was shorter.

Today I had every intention of discussing that God seems to have me on a bent of reading books about death, even though I don’t actively chose such books! But, I feel God pulling me in another direction, so I hope you will indulge me (I’m sure I will get around to the intended topic eventually!). What might prompt me to get off-topic? (Generally, not a whole lot is needed–just ask my family and friends!) Honesty. Yes, honesty.

Enter a book called Chasing CharlieI found this book in late December and considered making it the MIP Book Club selection for February. But Chasing Charlie is rather long and probably not a good selection for the Book Club as a result. However, I do feel you need to know about this surprising book and how it relates to honesty.

At first I thought Chasing Charlie was going to be about 2 FBI agents not unlike the ones depicted on the popular TV series, Criminal Minds. And at the point when Chasing Charlie came into my life I needed such a diversion reading-wise! In fact 2 of the agents fall in love with each other. Even better for a much-needed distraction, if you ask me!

But perhaps the most refreshing quality of the book that I had not anticipated was that, unlike so many espionage action thriller novels these days, several of the main characters, one-by-one, decide that they need the Lord. They each had resisted going to church for the typical reasons in our society and had formed several bad habits in the process. But, the book never gets “preachy” and the characters never push religion on each other. This would make it far different from a lot of Christian novels I’ve been reading! In other words, they approach this slow, gradual re-adoption of faith like most “former Christians” might do that. There are no overnight epiphanies and no people practically cajoling them into faith. Just little by little, they realize they need a relationship with the Lord for particular things they are facing in their lives. And like most of us, the bad habits don’t instantaneously go away. Some days they are really good at not pursuing those bad habits; some days they cave completely, despite their new-found faith. Even better, they admit defeat when it’s obvious they can’t hide the truth from others anymore.

Several have said that what they appreciate about my writing is that I’m blatantly honest about the stupidity that is my life on most days. Believe it or not, there are things I don’t share here (not many, mind you, but there are!). But, I have never understood why we don’t openly and honestly discuss our human frailties. It says in the Good Book, “For all have sinned…” In other words all of us goof up somewhere. So, why would we not just admit that we struggle in some areas and get on with dealing with these things? Because, our social media world often condemns us when we do. I am well aware that there are many who think I’m a fool because I am so honest about being lazy, caffeine-addicted, selfish, loud, verbose and often prone to eating too much food. (Trust me, I could go on!) It used to worry me, but now not so much.

The longer I’m on the planet the more I realize that “For all have sinned…” really is true. Even if someone always looks like the perfect little person, there is something about their lives that plagues them–sometimes it’s that they don’t realize that there is something that plagues them. But, eventually the truth comes out and often in a very embarrassing, public way. And then the public considers them fools or calls them fools.

But, have no fear–we’re in good company. Jesus’ own people from his own village considered him a fool. Heck, one of his own disciples so thought Him a fool that He deliberately conspired against Him.  Many who followed Him from village to village thought Him a fool enough to eventually quit following Him. The scholars and ministers of His day even thought He was weird and criminal. And all Jesus was doing was being honest.

So, obviously we fear we will lose the respect of our fellow man and fellow citizens if we admit to imperfection. But, I think we also think that Christians are supposed to be good role models, so when we’re imperfect, we’re providing a really bad “testimony” of what a Christian life looks like. But, notice that God actually likes us being honest. Remember the publican and the poor person in the Temple? The publican made a real pretense about pretending to be perfect, but the poor person was so honest about his sinful nature that it drew unwanted attention and a lot of nasty judgment from other onlookers. But Jesus said that the poor person’s honest display was the one that would garner help and attention from God–not the person who seemingly had it all “together.” Both had faith, but God rewarded the one with a more honest relationship with God.

Unfortunately, being honest today could lead to criminal or civil action against us. Thus, we live in a society where few ever take responsibilities for their actions, particularly at work. I know many fine Christian lawyers and even a few good legislators, but honestly, both vocations often create a society where everyone fears taking responsibility for their actions in case they are sued or sent to jail. It’s a legitimate fear and one to be seriously considered.

Even Jesus acted cautiously if He knew it wasn’t “His time” to be somewhere where His honesty could land Him in jail and keep Him from telling how people can have eternal life and a better life here on Earth. Eventually, despite knowing it was going to be painful, He takes the ridicule and punishment of an unjust society. Perhaps that’s what we should remember: when society punishes us for our honesty, it’s because they are already corrupt themselves (For all have sinned!) and thus, them being judgmental about our behavior is more about them and less about us. That doesn’t mean we should go out and deliberately break the law! It means we can relax when the law doesn’t square with being a reflection of God’s mercy. And thus, we should rely upon God to handle their wrath for us and go on bravely admitting the truth and sharing God’s great gift for being willing to do that once we trust in Him.

What, MaryAnn? You’re saying I need to be honest even if it leads to my ruin, my family’s ruin and lands me in jail or worse, sentences me to an early death? Ummm….gulp…yeah. I didn’t say it was easy. 🙂 And I didn’t say I don’t struggle with that.

But, when I’m not being honest, when I’m not subjecting myself to the punishment of a corrupt world because of fear, aren’t I also saying that I’m not totally trusting my God to see me through whatever is in store for me as a result of my honesty? And it’s probably better, even from a corrupt world perspective, to “come clean” than to hide things, and then have that corrupt world dig up the truth from the deep recesses of our lives.

Finally, I think we hide the truth from each other because we know, all too well, what pathetic beings we really are. As a result, we try to create facades of greatness for ourselves so that we feel a little better about our pathetic-ness. At least I know it’s true of me! And the more I try to make myself seem wonderful to others, the more I fail at it! It becomes a vicious circle and I wind up becoming even more pathetic! And being pathetic is no fun to face in the morning mirror. We hide from ourselves as well as the rest of the world.

I’m trying really hard to learn not to think of myself as pathetic and in need of self-promotion, but as a typical human servant of God. Some days I do well at being a servant; other days I fail miserably. Some days I get to share the part of myself that reflects the gifts and talents He has sent my way and other days my worst faults are the only part of me that prevail for all the world to see. But God actually delights in that because it gives Him a reason to exist in our lives. We wouldn’t need a Jesus if we were perfect and our lives would be so boring without a Jesus!

I would like to suggest that if we all admitted our failings, most people would probably ultimately respect us for that honesty and would forgive us. In fact it might be refreshing for them and give them the impetus to do the same. We might even convince a few government leaders to do the same. And if we do that, we might change the world for the better.

So, my dear reader, will you be my “honesty partner” and help establish a new “world order”? 🙂

Point to Ponder 1: What about yourself is weighing you down internally? Is it so embarrassing that you can’t even admit it fully to yourself? Been there, done that! Start an “honesty journal” and just jot down what’s bugging you…honestly! Keep writing every day until you “release” all the things that bug you onto paper. When you feel that you have exhausted all the things that you feel guilty or shame about onto those journal pages, remind yourself that God sent Jesus to this world to permanently erase all that stupidity, once and for all! So, go burn that journal as a symbol of your freedom that comes from a loving God! (Be safe about doing this, please! Don’t do it where there are burn bans, you Texans!)

Point to Ponder 2:  Confess to God anything that is still bugging you in the guilt and shame department. Remind yourself that God isn’t upset about it–YOU are. God forgave it a long time ago. When it still bugs you, that means it’s a faith problem, not an honesty problem! (If only I could remember this on a regular basis!) Ask God to remind you that He can still use you, imperfect as you are to help others and make the world a better place. That’s why He chose you! That’s why He died for you! You are worth that to Him! Ask Him to remind you of these things when you let shame and guilt about your imperfections gain the upper hand.

Point to Ponder 3: If something is still weighing you down, consider discussing it with a trusted person. Can you tell your spouse? Can you tell your parent? Can you tell a good friend? Can you tell your pastor? Can you tell a counselor? (The latter two are bound by confidentiality!) Sometimes the only way to release the power of shame and guilt in our lives is to freely admit it to someone else that will still consider us a decent human being afterwards. You’re just too cool if you can manage this! Pat yourself on the back for being so brave!

Monday’s Post: Word of the Week Time!

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