Wednesday, February 23, 2011

You Haven't Seen The Last of Me

I had my iTunes on shuffle earlier tonight and the song "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me" from the movie Burlesque came on.   The song talks about being down and coming back from the ashes and I thought about how that theme correlates to the spiritual life.   I'd be willing to bet the farm that the neither Diane Warren, the writer, nor Cher, the singer, thought about the song in the spiritual sense--especially since the underlying theme is, "I'm tough enough to come back from this" with no mention of God.

In the movie, Cher's character, Tess, is about to lose her night club and is on her last leg.   We can all relate to being in the place where Tess is"
       Feeling broken
       Barely holding on
She continues:
       I've been brought 
       down to my knees and 
       I've been pushed 
      way past the point of breaking
Perhaps it's in the troubles of the every day world such as Tess is fighting or perhaps it's in our daily spiritual battles where we are fighting sin and it's temptation.   Sin can really beat us down and if we are in a state of sin we are definately broken and barely hanging on.  Fighting back from those temptations can take us to our knees and past the point of breaking.

Tess shows hope--the same hope we need to have--when she says:
      And I'm down but I'll get up again
      Don't count me out just yet.
      I'll be back
      Back on my feet
      This is far from over
      They haven't seen the last of me yet
This is the confidence we need to have--maybe not just in ourselves, like Tess seems to have--but in the fact that God is with us and as St Paul said, "If God is for us, who can be against us." (Romans 8:31)

I especially like the part that I can imagine talking to Satan--the great tempter:
      You don't know me
      You don't know who I am
      Don't count me out so fast
This doesn't mean to demean Satan--because sadly, he does know us very well.  He knows our weaknesses and which buttons to push to get us to stray away from God.  But he does NOT know us as God knows us.   God knows us far better than we even know ourselves because He loves us so much.   So, when we are standing behind God, we feel like we can snub our nose at the Devil and say, "You don't know me!  God knows me!"

In a way, this song is about the gospel.  It preaches the good news.  That it doesn't matter where we are spirtually.  It doesn't matter how beaten down we are.  God doesn't care how entrenched we are in sin.  He only wants to lift us up again so we can be with Him.  From the druggie to the thief to the cheater--all God wants is to be reconciled with us.

The down fall to this song is that it's all about "I."   The truth of the matter is, we can NOT do it alone.  We MUST have God's assistance.   That is the difficult part about reconciliation---getting past the "I."   We must put our pride aside and walk into that confessional.  It is only then that we may hear those blessed words, "Through the ministry of the church, may God grant you pardon and peace and  I absolve you of your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Serenity Now!!

A few weekends ago, I was have a really cruddy couple of days.  Nothing horrible happened.  Just nothing really to write home about.  I was just feeling down and in the dumps.  We went to Saturday evening mass and I happened to see a fellow parishioner who I knew had just suffered a tragic loss.  Seeing the grief and sadness on her face just ripped my heart out.  It sort of brought me back to reality and made me wonder why I was having such a pity party.

Looking over my life I think I'd be safe to say that it is filled with blessings.  I have a great family, a beautiful wife who I am madly in love with, good kids who are healthy, a job I enjoy going to, I'm well fed (obviously) and I have a roof over my head.  On the other hand, I know people who have been through hell.  I know a guy who grew up in a war torn country and tells the story of him and his family escaping from their house in the middle of the night (he had to crawl through his bedroom window--not knowing what was happening to the rest of his family)  I know people who are going through divorce.  I know people who have lost their spouses to death.  That doesn't even take into consideration the grief and torment I see people go through on the streets.

It sometimes makes me wonder what's wrong with me?  What am I complaining about? Who the heck am I to complain about the small little things that are going on in my life when other people's turmoils are much worse than mine.   Well, here is the thing.  I think it's good to acknowledge the lows in our life.  I think it's okay to say, "Today has sucked!"   Not only is it good to acknowledge it but it's good to let that frustration out.  Heck, sometimes just me telling someone that I'm in a bad mood and them acknowledging it is all I need.  When I do not have that release valve everything seems to pile up.

I also think it's good to acknowledge someone else's sufferings, no matter how trivial they may be.  Don't belittle them.   Yeah, you may want to whack someone upside the head because they are complaining about their favorite television show getting erased of the DVR when you are fighting to keep your head above water financially.  How much easier it to at least empathize with them.   You understanding that they really wanted to watch Jersey Shore may be just enough to pick them up and get them out of their funk.

The important thing is not wallow and bury our sufferings--even it is something trivial.  This doesn't mean you need to sit on the street corner wailing, "oh whoa is me!"   But maybe you just need to take time to relax.  Maybe you need to do some light reading.  Maybe you need to go to the gym and run or workout.  Maybe you need to call a friend and venting on them.   The worst thing you can do is hold it in though.  It will just make you feel even more miserable inside.

The best thing you can do is--of course--take it to God in prayer.  Talk to Him about your day and lay everything out there for Him.  "Lord, I was looking forward to A, B, and C happening today and instead I got X, Y,  and Z.  What's up with that?"   You may not find your answer as to why your day stunk in prayer.  It may just be that all you might be able to do is offering up your sufferings for those who are suffering more than you.  I do guarantee you this though.  You are not going to find true peace and serenity unless you do let Him take care of you though.  St. Augustine said, "my heart is restless, Oh Lord, until it rests in you."  No amount of relaxation, or exercise or carrying on will truly make us happy until God is in the picture.