“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.
Continue reading Complete Safety From the Hells
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:
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?
Continue reading Humiliation
“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.
Continue reading Divine Providence 182
When the deadlines were sent for submitting my two articles to New Christian Woman this year, I was pleased to see the date for this one was just after the Gathering Leaves women’s retreat to be held at Purley Chase in the UK. I had booked to attend, and thought this article would be a perfect chance to reflect on that weekend and its theme: Fruits of the spirit.
Then Covid-19 began its rapid takeover of the world. At the end of May, Gathering Leaves was postponed until August 2021. My clever plan to write up that retreat was thwarted.
Yet now, three months later, I realize that since March I have been witnessing firsthand the fruits of the spirit mentioned on the Gathering Leaves webpage (except perhaps ‘joy’ and ‘peace’). Here’s the list: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
The ‘fruits’ most visible in the village where I live have been love, kindness, goodness, gentleness. Foodbanks have been set up to tactfully help anyone struggling. People have been getting groceries and collecting medical prescriptions for neighbours and anyone self-isolating. A dad and his two young children grew extra vegetable seedlings and put them outside their property for anyone to take. On our permitted daily exercise, strangers as well as friends have struck up friendly conversations (usually from opposite sides of the lane). For a couple of months, folk stood outside their doors clapping appreciation for the National Health Service once a week; right after the first time, a young singer stood before a microphone in her front garden singing an aria that drifted through the warm night to much of the village. One woman has made over 1,000 facemasks and given them away, hanging them on a string against her front fence. Similar things have been happening throughout the UK (and the world). People have been hungry for human connection.
Continue reading Fruits of the Spirit