Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Hurricane of Devastation

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble, with the comfort that we ourselves have received from God." [2 Corinthians 1: 3-4].

On October 29, 2012, a massive "hybrid" storm of historical proportions slammed into the East Coast of the United States. Hurricane Sandy was actually a hurricane, wrapped in a Nor'Easter.

The storm hit Atlantic City directly. The famous boardwalk is gone, crumpled like so many insignificant matchsticks. Portions of the New Jersey Shore are on fire, and there is too much storm debris for rescuers and firefighters to reach the area. The New York City subways are flooded, and some underground walls of brick have collapsed. Cars are floating like toys in toxic waters. People have been swept away.

Some would say that this storm is Biblical in its destruction, and that the hurricane is a result of God's wrath.

I say, No! I fail to believe that. I refuse to believe it.

My God is my Father, and the Father of us all. He did not cause this destruction. He has not come to destroy us, but to comfort us.

I have spoken extensively in this space about how I grew up in a zone of destruction.

When I was three, there was a fire in my grandparents' home. Afterwards, my family took me to the scene to "reassure me" that there was no fire. But I knew from the acrid smell and the way that my Grandmother's easy chair had been been burned beyond recognition- - that there certainly WAS a fire.

I almost drowned when I was about four. As I sank, I remember thinking, this must be what it is to drown. My mother pulled me out, even as I began to swallow water. The family never spoke of this again.

When I was six, I came home and my mother had given the family dog away. Even the family dog was not inevitable.

When I was ten, my grandfather died. He was the only one who allowed me to crawl into his lap and snuggle deeply into his arms for comfort. No one else hugged me or told me that they loved me.

At that time, I was dealing with an uncertain supply of meals at home. When I could not eat what was served, I was given nothing else. I learned to plan on going hungry.

If I was cold and asked for a sweater, I was told to "Stop acting up." Being cold became "normal" to me.

There was alcohol abuse in my home, verbal abuse, physical abuse. I learned that I was not safe anywhere in the house, not even in my own bed at night.

When I was in middle school, a member of my extended family took her own life. Once this story was told, it was never spoken of again. Suddenly all pictures of her disappeared. It was as if she had never existed.

About that time, my family abruptly stopped taking me to church. I wondered if they could take even my faith away?

I learned that the things we all take for granted---  security in our own homes, comfort and kindness from our loved ones, restful sleep, food, a home secure from disaster, the warmth of a sweater, the life of a treasured relative, even our faith -- are not inevitable. I learned that I live in a precarious world.

A week before Hurricane Sandy, what was in the news? A report that Starbucks customers are livid that the shops are running out of pumpkin latte's. Vitriolic and increasingly personal campaign ads for the upcoming election. Talk of who "won" the Presidential debates. And our ever increasing fascination with "reality TV" shows.

I have always said that "Reality TV" is a manufactured reality. What I went through as a child pales in comparison to what is happening in our world now. . . . What can be more real than Hurricane Sandy? Or the brutal civil war in Syria? Or the continuing aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti? Or the devastating effects of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan?  Or the violent situation in Sudan? Or the continuing struggles of the people of Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina? Or the horror of the attacks on Sept. 11?

The political ads on TV have gone deathly silent. Some television shows cannot be aired because TV studios are inoperable. Wall Street was closed for 2 days. Subways in NYC are still under water.

And so I ask you, where is our infrastructure now? Who, or what, can we cling to now?

A dear friend who lost his wife to cancer a few years ago, told me after her passing that he felt like he had gone through a kiln of fire. He said, "I realize that all we really have is each other!"

My friend knows, and I know, that all we have is our God, and the Love that comes from Him. Do YOU know this now? How much do you dare to love and to serve? How much do you dare to forsake all else, that used to seem so important?

I pray that everyone stays safe in the aftermath of this storm. Especially, I pray that we learn to love each other, now more than ever.

(c) Spiritual Devotional 2012. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

I Want To See God

" As Jesus and His disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving Jericho, a blind man, Bartimaeus was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, 'Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!' Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more. Jesus stopped and said, 'Call him.'  So they called to the blind man, 'He's calling you!' Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. The blind man said,  'Teacher, I want to see.'  'Go,' said Jesus, 'your faith has saved you.' Immediately, he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road." [Mark 10: 46-52].

"I want to see."

Simply by asking-- actually by persisting, despite the rebukes-- Bartimaeus receives his sight. He regains his physical sight, to be sure. In addition, by his faith in "the Son of David", Bartimaeus receives his spiritual (in)sight. Immediately after Bartimaeus receives his sight, he follows Jesus.  

How many of us today can say, "I want to see God"??

We say, 'I want a lot of money in my bank account'.

'I want expensive clothes, so that people will think that I am "somebody". '

'I want a powerful title at work, so people will step back when I walk past, and stare at me in awe.'

Not me. I have spent my entire life trying to see God. Often I did not know it at the time, or appreciate it. But all that wondering and longing was really a faith that a Higher Power was out there somewhere, and could help me when I was in need.

When I was about five, my grandmother, (when she was able to get me alone), would try to teach me the Lord's Prayer. I was pretty quick, so I memorized it fairly easily. But the words were too big and sophisticated for me. What did "hallowed" mean, anyway? Or, "trespasses"? And where was this "Kingdom" they were talking about?

I found that God was not in a rote prayer, that was not readily understood in a  real-life way.

When I was ten, my beloved grandfather died. I was supposed to be fast asleep the night that they carried him out of the house on a stretcher, after he had had a stroke. I knew that he was still alive, because he was shifting around. But in my heart, I knew that I would never see him alive again. And so, I really did hope to see God one day, so I could see my grandpa again.

When I was thirteen, my mother and grandmother told me that I had almost died before I was born. It was then that I knew that there IS a God, because He made sure that I was here, and that I was given this life; even though the grown-ups pretty much changed the subject when I brought up God, and squirmed uncomfortably in their seats.

I realized that I would not always find a true sense of God in the adults around me. It seemed, as a child, that I was the one more in tune with needing to find Him. I wanted to seek to another adult who could talk to me about God, but I did not even bother to ask to see the priest in town. I knew that the answer my family would give me would be,' No.'

When I was fourteen, my grandmother died. My parents stopped taking me to church. I thought that, in doing so, they could take God away. I thought that by refusing to take me to church, they could take my faith away.

And yet, as a young adult, years later-- especially at times of trauma and crisis in my life-- I came to pray, and God answered me! I saw that God is not just in church, and He does not reside exclusively with the priest (although these are irreplaceable venues and persons in which to find God.)

At one time of immense crisis in my adult life, when it felt as if the world had gone black, I thought that God was gone. I raced to the parish priest and he told me, gently, 'God is NOT gone. He never leaves you. You are just too busy.'

I began to talk to God more regularly, and in a heartfelt way; and not by rote prayer. God came racing back to my side.

It was then that I decided to convert. I wanted to seek God in a more meaningful way. I wanted to see the workings of God in my everyday life. But as I began to pray to God daily, all the pain of my past came surging forth, so searing a pain, that it blinded me temporarily.

As I sought God, though, I began to see His Hand more and more. I began to see the Truth about my life. It was not always the message that I wanted to hear. It was as if I was reliving all of the most deeply traumatic parts of my life, but this time, at least God was fully present and not seemingly hidden from my view.

It was a cathartic conversion, like the Conversion of St. Paul, who went blind temporarily because of a thunderbolt from God; but who gradually saw the scales fall from his eyes. And then he knew the Truth about God. [Acts 9: 1-22].

I began to recognize God in the most miraculous ways. I saw God in the rainbows He sent, when I was at my most anguished. I saw God in the butterfly that actually landed on my hand, the day that I had to leave my mother, after my father's funeral.

I see God in the man my husband is, who holds my hand when I am scared, or who tells me that he loves me. His Love is a soft balm upon the traumas of my cruel childhood.

I see God in the Love in my heart. Since no one ever hugged me or told me that they loved me as a child, this Love must be from God. This Love IS God.

My son asks me, 'Why is God so big?' And He IS big; as big, literally as all the heavens. God is everywhere, and God is nowhere in a definable, physical sense. God is known to us, but ever mysterious.

I am still seeking God. I seek Him everyday.  Do you seek God? Do you see God?

If you invoke His name, you will start to see God everywhere you look. You will "throw off your cloak", that blinds you to His healing presence; then, you too, will truly see, and you will get up and follow Him.

(c) Spiritual Devotional 2012. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Election Day

" I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in love." [3 John: 4].

The first Tuesday in November is Election Day in the United States. This year, 2012, is a Presidential election year.

We have heard all the debates. We have watched the incumbent President and the opposing candidate, each at the second debate, circling each other like lions in a ring. We have heard the accusations and the counter-accusations. We have seen the President and the opposing candidate interrupting each other so much in debate, that no one can hear what they are even saying.

Many Americans are now more confused than ever about what each candidate stands for. Many are sick of the politics, the "spin" of the advertisements, and the ugly atmosphere. The nation is divided and the results on Election Day promise to be extremely tight.

What is this Election really about?

Listen to the concerns of a young student of politics and social studies:

No.1: I am concerned about war. Why can't nations leave each other alone and live in peace?

No. 2 : I am concerned about taxes. Why would some people pay 40% of their income in taxes, but other people are homeless and do not have enough to eat? Can't we come up with taxes that are fair to everyone?

No. 3: I am concerned about terrorism. I am worried that someone within Al Qaeda will get into this country, become part of the CIA and steal  all of our secrets.

No. 4: I am concerned about global warming. Now there are too many droughts and because of that, we have food shortages. We cannot keep using fossil fuels. They pollute the earth and they will run out. Why can't we use more renewable energy?

No. 5: I am concerned about jobs.  Why are there so many people who are poor, going hungry and they do not have jobs? They do not even have what they need to live.

Who IS this young student?

He is my son. And he is 12 years old. . . . [He wrote this by himself for a Social Studies assignment].

Ask your young son or daughter or grandchild --- what do THEY worry about in their future? You might get a sobering answer. I thought my son was not really listening.

Maybe it turns out that we adults are the ones who are not listening. . . .

(c) The Spiritual Devotional 2012. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dare to Serve

" James and John, sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus. 'Teacher', they said, ' we want you to do for us whatever we ask.' --'What do you want me to do for you?', Jesus asked. They replied, ' Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.' Jesus said to them, 'You do not know what you are asking.' Jesus called all of the disciples together and said, ' You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.' " [ Mark 10: 35-45].

 In my dysfunctional, childhood home, I did not receive peace. But I worked for peace, because I longed for peace.

I did not receive Love in that house. No one hugged me or said, "I love you."  But I gave love, all days, and in all ways, because I longed for love.

I did not desire power, in order to lord it over my family. I knew that I had no power in the family. I was the baby and the daughter. I was the one whom they overpowered, with their verbal abuse, their physical punishment, because they hated who I was. I endured their studied lack of affection, their medical and physical neglect.

The only power that I had was to annihilate their hate by pouring out my Love. I believed that I could neutralize their cruelty with the exercise of my Love.

When they tried to bribe me with their assets, money became insignificant to me. Money is not true power. Love is true power. And despite what they believed, money is not Love. Even as a child I knew that.

They wanted me to follow their rules, simply because these were their rules and they wanted to control me. But if the rules made no sense, if the rules went against God, their repeated recitation of their rules had no power over me.

They wanted me to believe them, when they said to worship "The Almighty Dollar", but instead, I whispered to myself, "You mean, Almighty God." In my whispering the Truth, their lies had no hold over me.

I decided to stop speaking, because I did not want to utter their falsehoods. I wanted to become invisible.

The more they wielded their power against me, the tinier I became, until I almost disappeared. I made myself as Nothing. I died to self. No one can conquer someone who is invisible, who has slipped away to absolute nothingness. If I gave them no inkling of my Self, they would have nothing to grasp onto, nothing to fight.

Except that silently and without complaint, I tended their gardens; I picked at their barely edible food and yet, found nourishment elsewhere; I mended their torn clothing; I painted their walls; and brought in flowers to beautify their ugly atmosphere. I sang songs when alone in my room; and I gently slipped out of their house and sat high up on a hill, under a sweet pine tree.

They thought that they had ultimate power over me. Even more, they secretly boasted of their superiority over others. But in the infinite depths of my Love, in my capacity to ignore their abuse of power-- but to love anyway-- I became the ultimate victor. They did not know that Love became my default mode and that, no matter what they did to me, I would not become them and hate them back.

The world thinks that power means the cruel influence of money. The world thinks that power means the ability to push others around, to make others bow down to them and to force their opinions on the weak.

I know that the only true power is the Sacred, not the profane.

I have gone hungry and so, knowing what that is like, I feed those who hunger and thirst.

I have been oh, so cold. And so, knowing what that is like, I clothe those who have no way to keep warm.

I have been unloved and even hated. And so, I love everyone as a brother or a sister. No One is my family. Therefore, everyone is my family.

I create such Redemptions in order to obliterate my family's supposed power over me, even now that they are dead and gone. The ghost of their memory shall not haunt me, as long as I have the strength to love and to serve.

Did they really have such power over me after all? Or, were they the ones who were weak?

Do you, would you, dare to emulate the Love I have given? Do you dare to vow silence, rather than utter falsehoods? Do you dare to leave father and mother and brother, and to go out into the world, armed only with your Love? Do you dare to serve others with humility, in order to vanquish the hate that is aimed at you because of who you are?

Do you dare to speak the Truth with Love?

(C) The Spiritual Devotional 2012. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Generation That Disappeared

" Jesus stated: I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." [John 10: 7-10].

Recently, I had a difficult conversation with my pre-teen son. (No; not THAT conversation-- about human sexuality.) The conversation was about how there is something called abortion. And how in multiple states, abortion of a fetus with an audible heartbeat, is still legal! I told my son that the mother could simply choose to get rid of the fetus.

And my son cried. I could see the hurt in his eyes. I asked gently how he felt. He took my hand and told me, "This is very upsetting."

I have a new-found, unfailing barometer for right vs. wrong. If it makes my son cry, it is WRONG!

I decided to look into some statistics, in order to put this issue into perspective. Here they are--

Number of Americans who died in:  American Revolution            25,000
                                                          American Civil War             625,000
                                                          World War I                         116,516
                                                          World War II                        405,399
                                                           Vietnam                                 58,209  
                                                           War on Terror                          6,280

Number of lives eliminated due to abortion since 1970:


That is right. Six million.

Is abortion a war? I believe it is. But it is an underground war.

Underground, because the victims are nameless. And faceless.

There are statues commemorating the American Revolution. There are monuments dedicated to the lives lost in the Civil War, both World Wars, the Vietnam War, and the War on Terror. There is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington D.C. There are museums and exhibits on the Holocaust, so that we will never forget. And this is how it should be.

But no one dares to mention the 6,000,000 lost to abortion. Did they not also not die? Or do we not bother to notice them, because they never had the Right To Live?

An entire generation is missing-- and we celebrate our (contraceptive) freedoms?

 I dream of a day when we regard abortion with as much horror as we now do slavery.  

(c) The Spiritual Devotional 2012. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Precious Wisdom

" I prayed and prudence was given to me; I pleaded and the spirit of wisdom came to me. I preferred her to scepter and throne, and deemed riches nothing in comparison with her, nor did I liken any priceless gem to her; because all gold, in view of her, is a little sand, and before her, silver is to be accounted mire. Beyond health and comeliness, I loved her and I chose to have her rather than the light, because the splendor of her never yields to sleep. Yet all good things together came to me in her company and countless riches at her hands." [ Wisdom 7: 7-11].

In the upside down and cruel house in which I grew up, I came to care for nothing except for Wisdom; and for God, who was the source of my wisdom.

My mother bestowed no emotional empathy upon me. When I was about four and I fell down the stairs, she told me, "Get up. You are not hurt." Still stunned by my fall, I sobbed, and folded into a crumpled heap at the bottom of the stairs.

When I was about six, I came home and the family dog was gone. My mother had given her away. As I walked back to school, I cried. I wondered what kind of mother I had been given?

When I was thirteen, I came home and my mother had given all my stuffed animals away, the ones who all had their own names and personalities; the "friends" who gave me comfort.

When I was in graduate school, my mother left me alone, in a far away city, after I was the victim of a major crime. I had almost died that day. She told me not to come home.

In my heart, I left my mother that day. She was unable to nurture me.

I tried to love my father, but if I could not eat the dinner put in front of me, there were no substitutes. He told my mother, 'Do NOT feed her anything else.'

My father was either emotionally, or physically absent. Or, he breached parental bounds, tripping over the line. He was unable to protect me. And so, in my heart, I left my father behind, too.

My sibling called me ugly every day. He booby trapped my room, so I could not hide there. When I went outside, he rounded up the neighborhood children to call me names until I ran home in tears. He was unable to befriends me. In my heart, I left him behind, too.

In Mark 10: 28-30, Peter tells Jesus, 'We have left everything to follow You!' And Jesus tells His disciples that, " No one who has left home, or brother, or father or mother for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in the present age, ( homes, brothers, mothers, fields and homes - and with them, persecutions), and in the age to come."

I decided that what I really needed was Wisdom. Then, I would know how to take care of myself and how to protect myself. I thought that if I could sit in my room, and make my homework perfect and read all the books in the library, I would fill myself with Wisdom. I even set about reading the dictionary, believing that maybe some words in there would enlighten me.

But Wisdom came to me in other ways.

My health faltered badly in those years. My chronic lung condition was not treated past my early teens. Some days, I had my health, other days, I felt seriously ill. I learned that one's health may come and go, but Wisdom is always there.

I gave up on riches, because of the way that riches were promised to me as a kind of blackmail to shape my behavior. I was told, "Study this in university, because if you do not, we will stop paying tuition". I studied what they wanted me to, and I also studied what I wanted to; and I was a hundred times smarter.

I was told, "Study the piano and we will pay for lessons and give you a piano." But I said no,
because I did not think I could practice diligently with a price over my head. It is more prudent to make only those promises that you know that you can honestly keep.

Being called ugly every day, I gave up on my "comeliness". I did not want my appearance to become a power struggle. I learned that we are more rightly judged by the love and peace in our hearts, than by appearance alone. I hoped that  the Spirit in my eyes would be beauty enough.

I stayed up late every night until the family was in bed. I thought I had to protect myself, but as I fell asleep, Wisdom watched over me and kept me safe. Wisdom never yields to sleep; She is always there.

I learned to work at keeping the peace in the family. I gave Love where there was strife. I learned to abide by the Wisdom of Love. Those who did not protect me, I nevertheless protected. I learned the true meaning of unconditional Love.

After some years, I finished my schooling. Physically, I left my father and my mother and my sibling and my home to live on my own. But in my spirit, I had left them a long, long time ago.

 And so what did I have in the world, with no mother, no father, no brother, no home? I had seemingly lost everything. But what I also lost was the hard heartedness towards me, the blackmail, the ugly names. What I had gained was Jesus. Now, I also have my God.

Above all, I have Love in my heart and peace, too. And Wisdom? - She is still more precious to me than scepter and throne, riches, priceless gems, gold or silver. I have left everything for Wisdom. I have left everything to follow Jesus.

[Related Posting, "Prayer For Wisdom", July 23, 2011.]

(c) The Spiritual Devotional 2012. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Predator Vs. Prey

"They close up their callous hearts, and their mouths speak with arrogance. They have tracked me down, they now surround me with eyes alert, to throw me to the ground. They are like a lion hungry for prey, like a great lion crouching in cover." [Psalm 17: 10-12].

My young son is not even a teen yet, but he has already felt, many times, the sting of being bullied. How to explain this to him? He knows in his heart the cruelty and unfairness of this verbal and physical abuse.

I tell him that he is "one of the good guys"; that he does not deserve to be treated this way.

Yet-- how can I tell him that the world is essentially divided into Predator and Prey?

Am I exaggerating?

I tell him, as gently as I can, about war, about ethnic hate, about border skirmishes, about child abuse, about death threats and the torment of being bullied, about domestic violence, about stabbings and abortions. His eyes turn wide. He does not want to believe this about his world.

Above all, I do not want him to "internalize" the things being said and done to him by the bullies. If we are called fat or ugly or loser, or stupid every day, at what point do we begin to believe this about ourselves? When do all the hateful words become a part of our identity?

And so, in honor of National Bullying Prevention Month, I offer this list of famous people who were
once bullied during their childhood. I did not make up this list myself. You have only to Google it and
you, too, will find the names:

Christina Aguilera
Maya Angelou - abused
Clay Aiken

Mel Blanc (his teacher called him a "blank")
Joseph Biden
Justin Bieber
Mel Brooks
Humphrey Bogart
Susan Boyle
Giselle B√ľndchen
Victoria Beckham
Tyra Banks
Christian Bale
Pierce Brosnan
Sandra Bullock
Mary J. Blige (abuse)
Mayim Bialyk

John Cleese (Monty Python)
George Clooney
Henry Cavill (Superman)
Winston Churchill
Chevy Chase (abused)
Tony Curtis (by his mother)
Sean Connery
Lewis Carroll
Michael Caine
Tom Cruise
President Bill Clinton
Hillary Clinton
Jim Carrey
Jackie Chan
Miley Cyrus
George Carlin (dad bullied him)
Kevin Costner
Billy Connolly
Alan Cumming ( dad violent)
Joan Crawford
Barbara Corcoran - Shark Tank

Sammy Davis Jr.
Zooey Deschanel
Danny DeVito
Daniel Day-Lewis
Neil Diamond (by his dad)
Gabby Douglas (2012 Olympic Gold)
Viola Davis
Jason Day (abused)
Patty Duke (childhood abuse)
Leo DiCaprio
Ellen DeGeneres ( sexual assault)
Roger Daltrey (bullied)

Albert Einstein

Ian Fleming
Megan Fox
Harrison Ford
W.C. Fields
Ella Fitzgerald (childhood abuse)
Sally Field (childhood abuse)
Jame Foxx
Jane Fonda (childhood abuse)

Dr. Temple Grandin
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Mel Gibson
Bill Gates
Gloria Gaynor (childhood abuse)
Lady Gaga
Whoopi Goldberg
Cary Grant
Joel Grey

Bob Hope
Anthony Hopkins
Dustin Hoffman
Buddy Hackett
Jimi Hendrix - abused
Darryl Hannah
Prince Harry
Billie Holiday (sexually assaulted)

Billy Joel
Paris Jackson
Janis Joplin
Janet Jackson
Angelina Jolie
Elton John
Steve Jobs
Michael Jordan
Michael Jackson
Mick Jagger
Mahalia Jackson (abused)

Nicole Kidman
Gene Kelly
Yul Kwon (CNN reporter)
Stephen King
Yayoi Kusama - Japanese artist (childhood abuse)

Heather Locklear
Ralph Lauren
Demi Lovato
Cyndy Lauper (abusive step-dad)
Jeremy Lin

John Lennon
John LeGuizamo

Rita Moreno
Marlee Maitlin (abused)
Zero Mostel (his parents called him a zero)
Tracy Morgan
Lea Michelle (star of "Glee")
Marilyn Monroe (abused)
Cesar Millan - the "Dog Whisperer"
Bette Midler
Kate Middleton
Elon Musk
Eva Mendes
Dudley Moore
 Curtis Martin ( Childhood abuse)

David Niven
Chuck Norris

Eugene O'Neill
George Orwell
Flannery O'Connor
Barack Obama
Ozzy Osborne

Tom Petty
Elvis Presley
Robert Pattinson
Michael Phelps
Rosie Perez
Michelle Pfeiffer
Brad Pitt
Dolly Parton
Wolfgang Puck (stepfather hit him)

Al Roker
Leann Rimes
Mr. Rogers ("Mr. Rogers Neighborhood")
Gilda Radner
Eleanor Roosevelt
Daniel Radcliffe
Winona Ryder
Chris Rock
Renee Russo
Dorothy Rodham - Hillary Clinton's mother
Julia Roberts

Seal (physical abuse by dad)
Artie Shaw
Sam Smith
Meryl Streep
Rod Stewart
Dr. Jonas Salk - inventor of polio vaccine
Jon Stossel
Barbra Streisand
Kristen Stewart
William Shatner
Jon Stewart
Ben Stiller
Sylvester Stallone
Stephen Spielberg
Bessie Smith (abused)
Taylor Swift
Sir Patrick Stewart
Dr. Oliver Sacks
Adam Sandler
Michael Strahan
Bruce Springsteen
Frank Sinatra
Amy Schumer
Will Smith
Darryl Strawberry (childhood abuse)

Joe Torre (abused)
Pete Townsend (The Who; abused)
Steven Tyler
Justin Timberlake
Bella Thorne

Kirsten Vangness
Meredith Vieira (domestic abuse)

Andy Warhol
Gene Wilder
Barbara Walters
Robin Williams
Michelle Williams
George Washington (his mother called him a failure)
Virginia Woolf
Sigourney Weaver
Bruce Willis
Rumer Willis
Tiger Woods
Oprah Winfrey - abused
Emma Watson
Kate Winselt
Lawrence Welk
Stevie Wonder

Lou Zamperini

Now, these folks cannot ALL  be "Losers"!!?

[Related Posting, "Love is Kind", February, 2011.]

(c) Spiritual Devotional 2012. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Alone And Broken

" The Lord God said, 'It is not good for man to be alone. I will make him a suitable partner.' Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man. The man said, 'This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.' For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.' " [Genesis 2: 18-24].

"So, they are no longer two, but one. Therefore, what God has joined, let no one cast asunder." [Mark 10: 8-9].

Today, marriage has become most unpopular. Among the American white working class, marriage is down 36%. Barely half in this group marries at all. Studies show that young people do not buy houses or purchase cars either.

What is this aversion to commitment? Do we believe that marriage is too constricting? Do we believe that a life shared is a life less fulfilling?

I grew up in a highly dysfunctional family. Given my experiences, I never should have been able to get married. And yet I did.

I arrived at adulthood truly broken. In reaction to the dysfunction and abuse in my home growing up, I gradually shut down. First, I stopped showing emotion. Then, I stopped feeling emotion. Nothing changed in my family home. So, I stopped speaking. I began to stay awake at night, keeping vigil until everyone was asleep. I all but stopped eating. My chronic lung disease was not treated past the age of 14. I began to have difficulty breathing.  I wanted to be invisible. I became an empty shell.

Then I met the man who would be my husband. Our first conversation was excruciating. He asked questions. I gave one word answers. But on our first date, he came by my place to pick me up. We never ended up doing anything or going anywhere. We just talked. We talked for hours! I was speaking again.

On our dates, we often went out to a restaurant. We shared meals together. I was eating again.

As I got to know this man who would become my husband, my partner for life, I began to be filled with emotion. This was the person who, for the first time in my life, told me, "I love you!" As I got to know this man who would become my husband, my partner for life, I began to be filled with emotion. I thought I would never trust any human being again. But gradually, my heart softened. Soon, my heart leaped, and I was filled with joy. I was feeling again.

After we got married, my nightly bad dreams continued. But I never had to sleep alone and fear the dark again. I was sleeping again.

My lung disease has not been cured. But I am receiving medical treatment. Today, I still tire easily. If my husband notices my fatigue, he pats the seat next to him and urges me to sit down. I am breathing much better now.

My family deeply distrusted this man in my life. It was a huge detriment in their eyes that he is a committed Christian and a Catholic. Whenever my husband was not in earshot, the family criticized him bitterly-- to my face.

After my husband and I got married, we became One. In criticizing my husband, my family was criticizing ME. If anyone hurts my husband, I hurt too. This is the meaning of, "Let no man cast them asunder." In the face of this barrage against my husband, we only became even more united. No one can divide and conquer us!

And so, I cannot understand this recent notion that marriage is too constricting or confining. To the contrary, my marriage has set me free! My husband -- and my marriage-- saved my life!!

My husband is healing my profound brokenness. I am no longer an empty shell. I am a living, breathing, feeling, loving person.

Why is this kind of love so freeing? Because God's Love saves us, all of us who are broken simply by virtue of being human.

" If we love one another, God remains in us and His love is brought to perfection in us." [ 1 John 4: 12].

(c) The Spiritual Devotional 2012. All Rights Reserved.