Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Lessons from an AA meeting

Attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meetings was such a beautiful experience; they are so raw and honest; so inviting and non-judgmental. 

What I learned:
  1. They are blessed to have gone through this experience because they no longer live with an ‘I can do anything’ attitude, like so many people do.
  2. They know the truth about human weakness.
  3. They know that to reach a goal it takes the support of those around them as well as the will power to keep trying even when they mess up.   
  4. They know we can do nothing on our own. Their everyday is focused on giving up control of their lives because they know God is the only one who can make it better. 
  5. They accept everyone, regardless of their past. 
  6. They know that the things they buy for their family aren't nearly as important as the time they spend with them.  Their children would rather have daddy home to play with than have daddy bring them a toy after working all day. 
  7. They know the importance of taking things one day at a time.  Making the right choices today will lead to a better tomorrow. There is no need to worry about the future. 
  8. They know that we don’t control the world around us; things don’t always go according to our plan and we must accept that. 
  9. They know that problems don’t discriminate between class or race.
  10. They know not to judge someone based on their past; people can change.
  11. They know that Praying to God is the only way to through the day; with Him, all things are possible.

>>>They are truly lucky because they know
the truth for  'when I am weak, then I am strong’
                                              – 2 Cor 12:10 

What is Islam?

My diversity class this semester has really forced me out of my comfort zone and caused me to critically think about my life and the way I view other cultures.  This class, as well as going to India has really allowed me to see the value behind every culture and religion so I made it my goal to learn more about the other cultures this semester.

I had my first opportunity a few weeks ago at the Saudi Arabia event going on in the Union.  I will admit, my first reason for going was to try some of the food, but it led to a long conversation about food, culture, values, and dress.

Speaking with some of the girls there, they explained why they wear abayas which cover their whole bodies and even sometimes their face.  I always made the (wrong) assumption that it was because Islamic men viewed women as their property, not wanting anyone else to look at her, as well as because they wanted to be dominant and silence her voice by not letting her show her personality.  What I found was the complete opposite.  These girls loved wearing abayas and being covered from head to toe.

They said it let them express their personalities even more because when people speak with them, they get to know them for who they are without assuming things based on their figure.  they also really enjoy the fact that men do not simply looking at them because of their bodies, they know that people truly like their personality.  How many of us can say that those around us like us 100% for our personality and not because of the way we look and the way we dress.

Now I am not saying we all need to change the way we dress, I do see truth in the fact that God created us in beauty and that we shouldn't hide it, but what it has taught me is that we need to step away from our assumptions and get to know the truth behind other cultures.  I also see great value in dressing modestly and not flaunting your body so that those around you like you for you and not because they like to look at you.

Another interesting thing I learned was who they believe Jesus is.  Fascinatingly enough, they believe that the Virgin Mary was the mother of Jesus and that Jesus preached the truth about God.  They do then go off track and say that he is simply a great profit and not the Son of God, but still, I didn't realize the similarities.  At the bottom of a pamphlet I was given, it describes their religious views and I must say, they have a strikingly similar outlook on life.

...."Surrender your imperfect and fickle will to the perfect will of the Power that is greater than you.  you will then find the peace and freedom that only the Creator of all things can provide.  Then you must do what is right and good to your fellow creatures"....

To anyone who actually reads this post; I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and go somewhere that you are the minority.  Go in with an open mind and you will be so amazed at what you may learn. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

God Cancels Class

Today’s gospel is one that is brought up often and we always hear the same sermon over and over again.  Be like Mary, sit and listen to Jesus instead of being like Martha always constantly running around trying to do everything perfectly.       

Luke 10: 38-40
Now as they went on their way, he entered a village; and a woman named Martha received him into her house.
And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching.
But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me."

No matter how many times I reflect on this reading, it always hits home and reminds me I need to straighten out my priorities.  The last month I have been trying to tame the Martha in me and be more of a Mary.  I used to try to do every possible church activity thrown at me from two bible studies to Theology on tap to lots of classes and meetings, and it was really weighing me down.  I couldn’t handle it all and it wasn’t making me feel like I actually knew God and it really confused me why not. I was being a Martha; doing everything I thought would please Jesus, but I ended up ignoring Him.  Sure I gained lots of knowledge and know way more about my faith now, but through being so caught up on these things, I lost my relationship with Jesus. I pridefully thought I could become holier by taking charge and learning every possible thing there is to know about the faith. 

What I really needed though to be happy and calm myself down was to put my relationship with Jesus first before everything else. Don’t get me wrong, bible study and classes are great, but if your top priorities aren’t mass and alone time praying to Jesus during a holy hour (or holy 10 minutes) to build your relationship with Him, then you will never feel fulfilled. 

Is it really possible to get to know someone from only listening to others tell stories about them or discuss some of their teachings? No.  We may know a lot about them, but we don’t know them personally.  Same with Jesus.  Until you take time to talk to Him daily, you won’t know Him or all the wonderful things he wants to give you.  When you care about someone you make time to talk to them every day.  Do you make sure to talk to Jesus every day?

When you make time for God, He makes time work for you.  These last crazy few days it would have been really easy to come up with a good excuse to pass up going to mass or holy hour so that I could gain some needed time for homework.  By the grace of God I stuck to my plans for holy hour, even when a rush of thoughts telling me I could never get everything done attacked. Did I get as much done as I hoped to that day, no? But I did walk out of mass with a sense of peace and awareness that God would help me get done what needed to be done.  Amazingly enough, I got exactly what I needed done the next day and then God even felt like being more generous and canceled my three hour class in the afternoon. He is always sending me little ‘don’t forget I love you’ messages.  

Now I am not guaranteeing that by doing a holy hour God will cancel your class, but by spending time silently with Jesus, building that relationship, you will receive the peace and calmness you desire because you place all your trust in God.

Luke 10: 41-42

But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things;
one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Prayer to fulfilling the will of God

Prayer to fulfilling the will of God

‘Lord, if it be your will, so let it be, and if it be to Your honor, let it be fulfilled in Your name. Lord, if this be for my good, give me the grace to use it for your honor, but if you know that it will be harmful to me and not profitable for the good of my soul, then take away from me such a desire.’

‘O most merciful Jesus, grant me Your grace, that it may remain with me always and persevere with me to the end.  Grant me always to will and desire what is most pleasing and acceptable to you.  Let Your will be mine and let my will always follow Yours in perfect conformity with it.  Let my will and desires always be one with Yours’ and let me be unable to will or not to will except as You will or do not will.'

'Grant that I may die to all worldly things and that I may be despised and unknown for love of you.  Grant, above all things to be desired, that I may find rest in you, and that in Your heart alone may be my peace.  You, O lord give true peace to the heart and perfect rest to the body and soul.  Apart from You, all is difficult and never still.  In that peace, in You who are the one, supreme and eternal God, I will sleep and take my rest (Psalm 4:9)’ Amen