L is for…

His father caught sight if him and was deeply moved.
He ran out to meet his son, threw his arms around his neck and kissed him.

From Luke 15:30

L is for Love. This is a tough one. I don’t have a bit of trouble loving God. Though I admit to having had words with our patient Lord, this is simply the result of my certainty of God’s love for me. God invited me into a relationship. When I accepted, I committed myself to being completely honest in our interactions. After all, if I choose not to share my true feelings, God knows them nonetheless.

Early on, a wise teacher shared that there is something lovable about every one of us and that it is up to us to discover what this is. This observation has helped me a great deal over the years. Though I don’t have a flawless track record, I can honestly say that I don’t hate anyone. Still, though I love my neighbor in theory, putting that love into practice sometimes poses a challenge. The good news is that I try and that joy is the result of these efforts.

The toughest part is loving my neighbor as I love myself. Sometimes, I’m judgmental toward myself. If I fail to love myself enough to allow myself to err on occasion, how can I love my neighbors enough to allow them the same luxury? The passage above from Luke is taken from the Parable of the Prodigal Son. It’s an invitation to stop judging one another and to stop judging ourselves. Like that son, we must allow ourselves to be forgiven and to move on.

As you see, love is a tricky endeavor. Still, it’s the best work we can do and the greatest source of joy available to us.

Loving God, thank you for creating us in your image, especially when it comes to our ability love.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Advertisements

Love’s Priorities

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart…
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Mark 12:30-31

This third week of September, the world around me has reached the normalcy that comes with a new school year. The teacher in me impels me to gauge the moment at hand in accord with my life in academia. Since I entered kindergarten, I’ve settled into a comforting routine by this time every September. This remained true for the years I spent as a student and the years I spent as a teacher and an administrator.

This year, I’m having a little trouble finding that comfortable routine. Unexpected events in the lives of those around me and in my own life disrupt my self-imposed schedule more often than not. The trials and tribulations of this world pull at my heartstrings. I can’t seem to organize and prioritize effectively because there is so much on my mind. When I try, the things I truly want to do always find their way to the bottom of my to-do list. “You’re not getting any younger,” I tell myself. “Something has to give…”

With that realization in mind, I reread the scripture I cited above. I love God with my whole heart, so I care for the things God loves. I love my neighbor as myself, so I care for my neighbor. It occurs to me that I’m one of God’s beloved as well. If I’m going to love others as I love myself, I need to truly love myself. This means that, on occasion, I get to accommodate my own heart’s desire.

Dear God, help me to find some balance as I strive to love as you do.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Mercy Enough For Us All

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Do not judge and you will not be judged.”

Luke 6:36-37

I admit that I’d engaged in a bit of self-deprecation. I’d been emotional and angry, sometimes with reason and sometimes for no reason at all. I questioned my life’s work, wondering exactly what that might be.

One morning, while heading to the kitchen for breakfast, I passed the wall of family photos. When I noticed my dad’s picture, he seemed to be smiling at me. Suddenly, words he spoke to me decades earlier echoed in my mind. My dad had told me, “You’re much harder on yourself than anyone else would ever be.” Though I didn’t understand what he meant at the time, I understood that day.

I’ve spent much of my life second-guessing myself, wondering if anything I said or did was good enough. Though during childhood I was blessed with the company of numerous encouraging adults, a single harsh word sent me into a tailspin. It took me weeks or longer to recover. Of course, most of those around me were completely oblivious to my self-imposed pain because I persisted in trying even harder to please them. It wasn’t until years into adulthood that I realized God’s mercy wasn’t only to be imitated in my relationships with others, but also in my regard for myself.

That morning, I promised to stop judging me. Today, I’m pleased to report that I’ve kept that promise for the most part. When I find myself faltering, I repeat my dad’s words to me and start anew.

Loving God, thank you for inspiring my dad with your amazingly merciful love and for inspiring me to listen to him.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

My Resolution

I am a voice in the desert, crying out:
“Make straight the way of the Lord!”

John 1:23

New Year 2017 fills me with memories and wields a self-imposed challenge. Though I learned long ago not to burden myself with a list of impossible and improbable resolutions, I hope to improve myself meaningfully this coming year. This time, however, I will view my need for improvement with God’s eyes rather than my own.

You know, we humans can be a critical lot when it comes to judging one another. To remedy this, I hope to relieve myself of the burden of judging others. I never get it right because I cannot see into another’s heart. When I foolishly voice my misunderstanding or misinterpretation, I almost always make things worse. Since this is the case, why judge others at all? Though I may occasionally need to step in to prevent harm, I need not accompany my intervention with judgment. So it is that I will try.

You, know, we humans can also be a critical lot when it comes to judging ourselves. Whenever I consider my own failings, hopelessness looms overhead. I consistently fail to view myself with God’s eyes rather than my own. As I consider this, the picture of my sons on my desk catches my eye. I love them more than anything and nothing they do will ever change that… What was that? “I love them more than anything and nothing they do will ever change that…” God loves me even more so and nothing I do will ever change that either. Not ever!

It seems to me that the best way for me to spend the next the three hundred sixty-three days of 2017 is to view my fellow humans and myself with God’s loving eyes and to treat them and myself accordingly.

Loving God, remind me often that your love is meant for everyone, even me! <e

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

L… for Love

You shall love the Lord your God…
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

From Matthew 22:37-38

L is for Love. This is a tough one. I don’t have a bit of trouble loving God. Though I admit to having had words with our patient Lord, this is the result of my certainty of God’s love for me. God invited me into a relationship. When I accepted, I committed myself to being completely honest in our interactions. This is my only choice. After all, if I choose not to share my true feelings, God knows them nonetheless.

Early on, a wise teacher shared that there is something lovable about every one of us and that it is up to us to discover what this is. This observation has helped me a great deal over the years. Though I don’t have a flawless track record, I can honestly say that I don’t hate anyone. Still, though I love my neighbor in theory, putting that love into practice sometimes poses a challenge. The good news here is that I try. The better news is that joy is the result of these efforts.

The toughest part is loving my neighbor as I love myself. Sometimes, I am judgmental and much of that judgment is directed toward me. If I fail to love myself enough to allow myself the luxury of being a frail human, how can I love my neighbors enough to allow them to do the same?

Love is a tricky endeavor at best. Still, it’s the best work we can do and the best source of joy. The passage from Matthew above isn’t a directive. It’s an invitation to heaven on earth.

Loving God, thank you for creating us in your image, especially when it comes to our ability love.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Refreshment For A Weary Soul

…be converted …that the Lord
may grant you times of refreshment…

From Acts 3:19

It is only a week since Lent ended and four days since Easter. Still, I find myself falling into some old habits that I thought I had left behind. When I choose something to do for Lent, my intent is to work diligently at my cause for the forty days we are given and then to carry this through long after Easter. This is not the case this time around. I lost track of my efforts early on due to the unexpected expectations of others whom I chose to accommodate. This isn’t an excuse. It’s just what happened.

Still, if I truly intend to change something that is important to me, I need to commit myself for the long haul and to make this commitment a priority. When it comes to improving myself or my circumstances, it is up to me to see to it. Since I didn’t do this well during Lent, I’m turning my eyes inward where I will acknowledge my weakness in all of this. Then, I will turn my eyes upward where I will ask the Lord God for a small reminder that I am indeed loved and indeed worth the effort.

Compassionate God, thank you for your ample gifts of hope and love. Open my eyes just a bit more, that I may recognize these gifts whenever I need them.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved