i have a good life. no. a great life.
sometimes i wonder, though, how everything appears from the perspective of my blog… let me reassure you, my life is great and amazing, but it is not without it’s troubles and heartache – past & present.
i’ve got a lot on my mind right now, a lot going on in my life that feels really heavy, even in the midst of all the happiness, excitement, & awesome-ness. it’s just that i have a deep belief in goodness, in light, in the possibility of transformation. and this is what i choose to focus on. i do not avoid these difficult things. on the contrary, i deal with them straight on. but, i do not lay it all out here for everyone to read. however, if you talk with me, i’m pretty much an open book. some call me the eternal optimist. others, the naive little girl. but, whatever. call me what you like. you see, i have had (and still have. and will have again) my share of pain, disappointment, fear, and brokenness; but instead of dwelling on the pain, i have learned how to understand that that pain, those moments that feel like the bottom, are simply the beginnings of something new. i learn something from everything i experience. and all of those experiences make me who i am today.
the hardest thing for me to deal with though, is the pain & brokenness that others feel in the world, whether i know them or not. the darkness and injustice that exists in the world, the closed-mindedness and violence… these things keep me awake at night sometimes. and i get overwhelmed. i wonder what the hell i can do to make a difference.
and then i remember, all of us are hurting. all of us are broken.
about 10 years ago i was working with a fellow minister in a church in north carolina, and we decided to have a weekly group that met to talk about john wesley, the founder & father of the methodist church. this man was a great man. someone who sought reform in the church of england, a place that had forgotten how to talk to the masses, how to be relevant, how to make a difference in society, and how to encourage the personal growth of its members. so, john wesley, set out on a horse and traveled around doing the unthinkable. preaching about grace & love to all people in the fields (unlawful according to the anglican church), setting up small groups as places where people could meet and share their fears, hopes, & dreams with each other, and calling each person to a life of holiness – something that he believed we all could attain – through personal spiritual development & love for society. his faith was a balance of personal & societal transformation. it focused on strengthening the inner life and building bridges & hope in the outer life.
in modern day terms, it is setting aside time for things like meditation, yoga, & support groups, and taking time to volunteer & give back.
as i studied this man 10 years ago, reading biographies and his personal journals/sermons, i came to understand just how much i am inspired by his methods, but how much i would not have really liked him as a person = i don’t think i’d want to hang out with him.
the legend of john wesley was crushed for me. i read many personal details, thoughts, and wonderings which humanized the legend for me. i discovered his faults (his obsessive methodology), his quirks, his fears, and his failures.
but, because i learned all of this, i grew to respect him even more. as a human being, not as a legend. and something clicked inside of me… this idea of brokenness as the thing that connects all humans to each other. we all experience it; but we also all try to hide it. why? why must we pretend that everything is perfect? why are we afraid to be vulnerable?
ok, back to my thoughts about making a difference. i used to think a lot about mother teresa. and i actually felt stress that i could never be as amazing as her. and then, i read some of her writings. did you realize that almost the whole time she was working & living with the poor in india she felt far away from God? this amazing woman, whom the world imagines was in communion with God at all times, was simply getting up every morning, going through the motions, and wondering where God was in the midst of all of the suffering she saw.
if mother teresa felt this way, then i am in good company.
and i am reminded by her words of what i need to do. and what i do not need to do. i do not need to save the world. i do not need to solve all the problems. i cannot do that. all, i need to do, because there is suffering all over this world, even in my city, even in my family… is love the people that i come in contact with every day – strangers, neighbors, friends, family. the way that you & i can make a difference, can make a dent in all of the shit in this world, is to use our tiny little lives, wherever we are.
yes. my life is amazing. yes. i have pain & suffering, even today, in my life. but much more than that, i have hope. i know there is hope. i know that this world was intended & created to be a place of beauty & joy, and that beauty & joy can still be found. so, perhaps my work in this world is to point out the beauty that i see, to share the joy that i feel, to meet people & listen to their stories, and to share my own stories of heartbreak & hope.
my friends, we are all connected, whether we admit it or not. i don’t want to live my life cut off from everyone. i want to seek out comfort from others & give comfort. i want to share life… to laugh, love, & cry together.
so, i guess my little blog here, is one of my attempts to connect. to connect with my inner self through writing & reflecting, a spiritual exercise. and to connect with the world by sharing those little moments of my life that bring me peace & joy with others. to share my fears, frustrations, and brokenness as well. i suppose i crave comments and other bloggers because i am given the gift of taking a peek into another’s life, perhaps finding a kindred spirit, and receiving inspiration to continue my journey.
for me, blogging has become a sacred ritual of my day. something that i cherish deeply. my attempt at balancing & achieving a holy life, in which john wesley believed… a life of inner reflection & connection with the divine, and a life that seeks to share and build community with others, sharing grace & love with all.
so, thank you to all you readers out there, to all you who comment & inspire me, and to all you fellow bloggers. thank you for reminding me every day that, even though there are dark times, there is always light, and life is truly amazing… especially when shared.
peace, even in our brokenness.
Right back atchya!! (thank you too :))
The bit about mother teresa/reaching out to people in your own community reminds me of something a friend said to me once. I was telling her how much I want to do something great and be someone great and she said that she thinks that some of the most important, meaningful moments are the everyday ones that we don’t hear about. Some of the greatest people never get the limelight.
Amen to your friend! I totally agree. xo
“so, perhaps my work in this world is to point out the beauty that i see, to share the joy that i feel, to meet people & listen to their stories, and to share my own stories of heartbreak & hope.”
What a beautiful statement! I can tell you that, at least from my perspective, you ARE making a difference. Reading your blog definitely helps me to remember the good things in life– beauty, peace, love, etc.
And I agree with you 100% about John Wesley! I took my Wesley class over the summer, and as much as I thought Wesley himself was very obsessive and a little bit arrogant, I couldn’t help but be drawn in to his version of the Christian faith. The balance between personal and social holiness, the need for both inner spirituality and outer expressions of it through social justice… and the unbending commitment that grace is available to ALL people. You expressed it well in this post, and it was another reminder to me of why I’m trying to follow that same path.
a brilliant & weird man. 😉
“the hardest thing for me to deal with though, is the pain & brokenness that others feel in the world, whether i know them or not.”
Me, too. Having empathy can be pretty crushing sometimes. I guess it kind of goes back to some strange notion we people have that everything ought to be perfect, all the time. Then, when reality shows that it isn’t really that way, we get all upset & down at the news?
I look at life now as a sensible-optimist: accept that life tosses roadblocks, get past it, & then truly appreciate the good times.
Great post, Liz. 🙂
thanks, tracy! a sensible-optimist. i like that. 🙂
I didn’t know Mother Teresa felt that way. I like your interpretation of it. I feel much better now and less panicked to strive for the perfect self!
glad to have eased your burden some. hehe. 🙂
Bless you and thank you for being a reminder of hope in this world! You are one of the rays in the darkness.
you are so kind, b!
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Hey Liz, I used to think there was too little love in the world. But since I’ve been blogging, I’ve started reassessing this idea. Our lives are complicated, but this stuff does make a difference. 🙂
hey, i totally agree. this blogging thing has given me inspiration, hope, and some sunshine. connecting with people through it only confirms my belief in our human connection and need for each other. sending you thoughts of joy. xx