Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I suppose everyone has insecurities and hang-ups about how they fit in with the rest of the world.  Well, maybe not everyone, but I would venture to guess a fair number of people have this issue, and I am in good company as one of them. Looking back, trying to unravel these feelings, I have to recall some not so wonderful events in my childhood.  I remember in first grade my mom not showing up for the parent/child luncheon at school.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Love It or Hate It. I can't Decide.

I have a love hate relationship with the Internet in general and with blogging in particular.  On the one hand, I love the freedom to gather information and write whatever I want to that blogging affords me.  I also like that other people can read what I write and give me feedback versus simply writing my thoughts down in a spiral notebook (of which I have many tucked away in various corners of my house) where no one will probably ever read what I have written.  I also enjoy connecting with new people and reconnecting with people from my past.  Those are a few of the positive aspects of being 'out there' in cyber-space. 

On the other hand are the negatives that I can't seem to shake to the extent that I could a few years, or even a few months ago, so I find myself reevaluating the usefulness of continuing to blog, which is essentially laying my heart and soul bare for others to view, dissect and discuss.  One of the most disturbing aspects is my feeling of irrelevance.  This is not a new feeling.  I have felt incidental in most settings all of my life.  Not hated or rejected so much as invisible.  No, it's not a new feeling, just a new setting for an old feeling; a feeling I would dearly love to put aside and never have to revisit.  I am not sure that the cold world of the Internet is the place to master this desire, however.  I think that by making myself vulnerable in my writing, by writing about such personal things, I have only exacerbated my feelings of insignificance because I can see that it's really not that important to anyone else.  I'm not that important to anyone else.  Except maybe someone who has an axe to grind with me, or someone who wants to find a reason to dislike me.  Those people seem to be the only ones clamoring to read what I write. 

I'm not here to throw a Pity Party or to make people take notice out of sympathy.  I am just stating how I am feeling about the whole blogging on the Internet thing.  When you think about it, who really does care about random, meandering ramblings from any isolated person on the Internet?  We are, most of us, random and isolated on the Internet, big place that it is.  I suppose there is the occasional stumble upon it encounter, but for the most part, what we write on the Internet is the same as what we write in our spiral notebooks and tuck inside our nightstand drawer, never to be seen by another soul.  Very few people are sought after in great numbers for their scrawled out pearls of wisdom.  For the rest of us, we must find a way to feel significant in spite of our obscurity.  I am finding, at the moment, this to be a daunting task.

I'm not sure where I am going with this piece.  I am just thinking out loud.  Well, typing out loud? I guess you could say.  I guess it doesn't much matter if I make a wonderful point or spew out an enlightening nugget of insight - no one is going to read it any way,  right?  So, I guess I will just end with, I have not decided yet whether I love or hate Internet blogging, but I have decided that it is worth pondering.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Justice and Mercy

I having been thinking a lot about justice and mercy lately.  On the surface justice and mercy seem dichotomic, that is to say, mutually exclusive or unable to coexist.  It is almost impossible to show mercy to a criminal, for instance, while still seeking justice for his crimes.  It is difficult for us to separate the act, or the crime, which we feel needs justice meted out, with the person, who made a human mistake and just needs mercy.  Our mind war over which is the better course to take, because we feel that neither will give us the feelings of closure that we seek.

This same battle goes on in our lives, as well as in the criminal justice system.  When someone has wronged us, hurt us in some way, we want to punish that person, make them pay for their crimes against us.  It seems only fitting that they should suffer, after all, they caused us injury and personal pain; justice is called for.  On the other hand, we can see that their actions were a mistake; their own painful past is what perhaps made them act in such a way, so we want to be merciful, forgive and forget.  Our minds and hearts rest on mercy for a moment and then, next thing we know, we are back to a place of just wanting that person to pay.  On and on the circle goes - justice and mercy, two sides of the coin, waging war inside of us.  It can be such a conflict that we become stuck in the cycle, unable to puzzle out the right way to react.  Neither justice nor mercy, in exclusion, leaves us feeling satisfied to lay the matter to rest, once and for all.

So it is with me.  I find myself in a place where justice and mercy are battling for victory in my mind (and heart) and I am stuck in the cycle.  As it is with most problems in my life, make that all problems in my life, the answer to my dilemma can be found in the life of Jesus.  Who better to learn a lesson from, than the man who showed mercy to the very people who crucified him, when most of us would have wanted severe justice to be served had we been in his position.

It's not that Jesus didn't have it in him to mete out justice.  He did that many times.  He told his followers, as well as the religious leaders around him of the consequences of their disobedience and/or non-belief.  He was very clear about the lines, where they were drawn and laid down rules about the justice that would be served to those who crossed those lines.  He had no problem following through with what needed to be done as a course of punishment.  And yet, he never failed to see the humanity within each person with whom he dealt, showing them his love and his mercy whenever they needed it.  I am in awe of how he did that, because for the life of me, I do not understand how it is possible.  I know it is, though, because Jesus never expected more of himself than he expected of his servants, so if he was able to achieve it, there is a way for us also to achieve.

I have to learn, how to achieve this goal of justice meeting mercy, if I am to grow, so I need to dig a bit deeper into this subject in order to gain some wisdom.  In so doing, I have come across this passage, the 23rd chapter of Matthew.  Jesus is talking to a crowd of people and he warns them not to do as the religious leaders do, that being, acting pompous and pious on the outside, while dull and merciless on the inside.  In verse 23 Jesus calls the leaders Blind Guides and admonishes them for straining out a gnat, all the while, swallowing a camel.  Yikes!  I think maybe he is telling us not to concentrate so much on the small things other people do, but to look at the big picture.  Not only that, but also to look at our own dirty hand whilst we're at it.  This is a lot to chew on.

When in conflict with others, there are always things we wish we had done differently.  Perhaps it is better to focus more on ourselves, and the things that we might have done better, than it is to focus on the other person and how they hurt us.  After all, the only things we control are our own actions and feelings.  It does no good to examine and revisit what someone else did and wish that it had been different, because, try as we may, we will never be able to even fully understand, much less change what they did.  We can only change ourselves; learn and grow our own insides. 

Along the way, we have to learn also how to marry justice and mercy in our own lives, by changing the things that are wrong, and then setting it aside after a while.  We can't live in a state of self-flagellation all the time.  There comes a time when we have to be merciful with ourselves, knowing that it was in our own humanity that we erred.  Nothing we ever do is irredeemable.  We have to give ourselves permission to forgive ourselves along with forgiving others; take the good that has been learned and leave the junk behind.  Yes, I have decided that justice and mercy can indeed live hand in hand in our lives.  It is a delicate balance, but it can be done.

Downhere - At War