What can be Learned from a Dead Battery?

As I was driving home, the other day, I stopped at a cross walk and ended up stalling the car. That wasn’t so bad, but then I couldn’t restart it! My heart rate quickly increased as I started to freak out. I called my husband on the phone, blurting out my situation in a high-pitched voice on the verge of tears. I managed to coast backward a little ways to get myself out of the way of traffic, then – with the help of the first of a few kind Samaritans – parked in the driveway of a little parking lot, where I could ponder my situation and, deciding that it was probably a dead battery, ended up calling my neighbours for a jump-start. It turned out that they didn’t know much (if any!) more about cars than I do, but at least they had a running vehicle and I had cables; try though we might, however, we couldn’t get my car to start.

My husband showed up 15 minutes later, so I thanked our kind neighbours and sent them on their way. Try though he might, though – and he knows a lot about cars! – he couldn’t get the car to start, either. After much trying, he had it towed to the garage, and, a few days later, we still aren’t sure what the problem is. At any rate, I had some down-time while I waited for my husband to fetch another battery part-way through the operation, so, with nothing better to do, I took the opportunity to pause and reflect on my situation. What can be learned from a dead battery, anyway? I had some profound insights:

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Complete Safety From the Hells

“From true conjugial love there is power and protection against the hells.” When I hear this phrase, the first thing I think of is an innocent newborn, wrapped lovingly in its parents arms. The safety of being surrounded by celestial angels.

The next place my mind goes is thinking about married couples working on conjugial love and getting protection from the hells. And from there my mind goes to being single, and lacking that protection from the hells. I know this isn’t everyone, but as a single new church woman, my mind always floats to “If I were married I would be safe and happy.” I know that marriage isn’t a cure all, and I know that it takes work and isn’t a breeze. I even know that married people aren’t basking in this magical protection 24/7. I know all that, and yet still “power and protection against the hells.” That phrase is so powerful and enticing. If only I were married I would have power and protection against the hells. This is how my brain works.

This is how my brain works. So what? My brain also tells me a lot of other false things. Brains are not hard wired to think rationally, and in fact need more information to form thoughts that are good and true. As appealing as that stand alone phrase is, I need more data. Let me look at more of this passage:

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Humiliation

I’ve had a humiliating year, in many senses of the word. Before 2019, my body was young, obedient to my wishes, and in decent shape. Thanks to a healthy childhood and easy young adulthood, my mental health was balanced. Looking back, I was kind of proud of myself for having it together–as if I’d done everything right and deserved my good health. I was even hard-hearted about others’ poor health. Pull it together, people. 

But a difficult pregnancy and a rough postpartum has changed a lot. After the birth of my baby, I began to suffer from clinical-level anxiety, hypochondria, and pain more intense than childbirth. I could hardly recognize my body or my mind; I felt like a different person than 2018 me. I was so wrapped up in my own suffering that COVID and civil unrest barely registered on my radar.

I’d never been good at asking for help or admitting weakness. My primary emotion surrounding my situation was embarrassment. It was my fault, and my problem to hide. I must’ve done something wrong. What was wrong with me, that I couldn’t take care of myself, much less my family and home? 

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Divine Providence 182

“The merely natural person says to himself, “What is Divine providence? Has it any reality, or is it any more than a term used by the common people, having heard it from a priest? Who sees anything of it? Is it not prudence, wisdom, cunning and malice that accomplish everything in the world? All other happenings, then, are they not inevitabilities and consequences? And are not many of them also chance occurrences? Does Divine providence lie hidden within them? How can it be present in scams and swindles? And yet people say that Divine providence is responsible for everything.

“Cause me to see it, therefore, and I will believe it. Can anyone believe in it prior to that?”

So speaks the merely natural person. But the spiritual person speaks otherwise. Because the spiritual person acknowledges God, he also acknowledges Divine providence, and moreover sees it. However, he cannot show it to anyone who thinks only within the realm of nature in terms of nature. For such a one cannot elevate his mind above nature and see in its appearances anything of Divine providence, or form conclusions about it from its laws, which also are laws of Divine wisdom. If he were to clearly see it, therefore, he would introduce nature into it and so not only envelop it in misconceptions but also profane it; and instead of acknowledging it, he would deny it. And one who at heart denies Divine providence, also denies God.

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