Journey


Excerpt from manuscript I’m working on:

Throughout my childhood and adolescence the emotional lessons I was learning at home were paralleled by the spiritual lessons I was learning in church (Catholic) and in school (Catholic). While I was learning at home that I had to earn my parents’ love and acceptance by what I did, I was learning in church and in school that I also had to earn my way into heaven. Church and school were virtually interchangeable. We would frequently attend Mass during the school day, and religion was part of the curriculum.

I learned that my salvation was dependent on what I did (good works) not on what Christ did for me. I learned a very complex system of checks and balances in which certain types and amounts of good works and penance made up for certain sins, and sins were divided into categories of venial and mortal. I learned that if I died with mortal sins on my soul that I had not sufficiently made up for with good works and penance, then I would spend time suffering in purgatory to purge my soul of these sins. The amount of time I would spend in purgatory would depend on where I was in this check-and-balance system regarding sins and good deeds at the time of my death. This greatly increased my anxiety and contributed significantly to my sense of not being able to measure up no matter what I did. Due to this I was not only afraid of life on earth, I was also afraid of life in the hereafter.

My picture of God was of a very cold, distant, critical God who didn’t care about how I felt or what I needed, and who had very high expectations of me, so high it was doubtful I would ever reach them, and he wouldn’t love me or welcome me home unless I achieved them. He certainly was not someone I could trust or depend on. He was someone to be afraid of and stay away from.

During my early adulthood, I drifted away from church and away from God.

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I’m posting this as an encouragement for anyone who has a dream in their heart for a business or a ministry or anything, and is having a difficult time turning that dream into a reality in the world. Remember, anything worthwhile is not easy.

DON’T QUIT

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will

When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,

When the funds are low, and the debts are high,

And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,

When care is pressing you down a bit

Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

 

Life is strange with its twists and turns,

As everyone of us sometimes learns,

And many a person turns about

When they might have won had they stuck it out.

Don’t give up though the pace seems slow–

You may succeed with another blow.

 

Often the struggler has given up

When he might have captured the victor’s cup;

And learned too late when the night came down,

How close he was to the golden crown.

 

Success is failure turned inside out–

So, stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit,

It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.

Author Unknown

Some individuals who did not give up:

Abraham Lincoln failed in business three times and lost seven elections before becoming President of the United States.

Henry Ford failed and went broke 5 times before he succeeded.

After his first audition Fred Astaire received the following feedback from an MGM executive: “Can’t act. Slightly bald. Can dance a little.”

Max Lucado’s first book was rejected by 14 publishers before finding one that would give him a chance.

Dr. Seuss’s first book was rejected by 27 publishers.

A so-called football expert once said of 2-time Super Bowl winning coach Vince Lombardi: “He possesses minimal football knowledge. Lacks motivation.”

NBA superstar Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Later in his career, when he was playing for the Chicago Bulls, he said: “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost more than 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Albert Einstein wasn’t able to speak until he was four years old. Teachers said he would never amount to much.

Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper for lacking imagination and having no original ideas.

Thomas Edison was told by a teacher that he was too stupid to learn anything and that he should go into a field where he might succeed by virtue of his pleasant personality.

The Beatles were rejected by Decca Recording Studio who said “we don’t like their sound; they have no future in show business.”

Oprah Winfrey was demoted from her job as a news anchor because she “wasn’t fit for television.”

J.K. Rowling’s first manuscript, Harry Potter, was rejected by 12 publishers before one was willing to give her a chance. That publisher, however, told her to get a day job because she had little chance of making money in children’s books.

 

 

 

As I have journeyed through life I have had different purposes for different seasons of my life.

When I was a senior in high school I took a psychology course. I was fascinated by the concept that there are reasons why people do what they do and feel what they feel. This course was the beginning of a lifelong desire to understand what makes people tick. I subsequently majored in psychology in college, went to graduate school where I earned a master’s degree in clinical social work, and embarked on a career as a psychotherapist. I also engaged in therapy myself as a client to understand what made me tick.

The desire to understand what makes people tick grew into a passion for helping people live healthy, happy lives emotionally and relationally. When God called me to lead a Celebrate Recovery ministry in August 2003, I was given another avenue through which to help people heal the hurts, habits, and hang-ups which impeded them from living the lives they were created to live.

In July 2014 God narrowed this passion to focus on women. He lit a fire in my heart to help his daughters be set free from the belief systems and practices that tell them they are second-class citizens, and stop them from being who God created them to be. I put form to this passion and calling by writing When Going with the Flow Isn’t Enough, Swim Upstream. In this book I focus on how the Christian Church has contributed to maintaining gender inequality in the United States. I hope that the men and women who read it will be encouraged to swim upstream against gender inequality wherever they either see it happening to others or experience it themselves. I finished this manuscript about one month ago. The publishing process will begin in January.

I don’t know what else God may want me to do. I don’t need to know right now. I just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other, trusting that he will let me know what he wants me to do. “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

turn turn turn the byrds lyrics

My name is Mary. I’m a recovering people pleaser and approval seeker.

Growing up I learned that other people’s opinions were very important, that their opinions were the source of my self-worth and of love. I, of course, didn’t realize at the time that I was learning these things, however, I grew into an approval seeker and people pleaser PAR EXCELLANCE!

I lived this way for my first forty years on the planet. I then became a follower of Jesus Christ and my idea of where my self-worth and where love came from slowly began to change. As I walked with Christ he taught me that my source of self-esteem and self-worth does not come from the approval of people. It comes from my relationship with him. I am a child of God and therefore I have worth. He loves me, period. Jesus taught me that I cannot and do not need to earn his love. I cannot make him love me and I cannot make him not love me. He loves me no matter what, and he knew me and loved me before he placed me in my mother’s womb.

Fairly early in my faith walk (mid to late 1990s), I started experiencing a nagging sense that I was supposed to do something for God. It kept gnawing at me inside and wouldn’t go away. Though I had this sense, I didn’t have the faintest idea what God wanted me to do. In an effort to try to understand what it was I was supposed to do, I served in a number of different ministries. Though each of these were good and enjoyable and somewhat fulfilling, not one of them felt like the right fit. Each one felt like putting on a jacket with shoulders that were too tight or sleeves that were too short. I didn’t give up though, and eventually I found the right fit.

In 2003 God let me know beyond the shadow of a doubt that he wanted me to be a Celebrate Recovery leader. As I served in that capacity I knew I had finally found the right fit. I knew I was walking in the will of God for my life. This knowing was accompanied by a profound inner peace and joy that was unlike anything I had ever experienced. Soon after this I developed my personal definition of success, i.e. to faithfully fulfill my God-given purpose. That definition has not changed. I am now living my life for an audience of One. I am living to please God, not to please human beings. This extends to all areas of my life, not just the ministry I serve in. My ultimate measure of success, which flows naturally from my definition of success, will be to hear, when I stand before God, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

Since I put God in the driver’s seat of my life, I have not always been successful in leaving him there. There have been times when I put myself back in the driver’s seat, doing life my way. When I allowed God to be in the driver’s seat of my life, I experienced an internal peace and joy that surpasses all human understanding. The reason for this is that kind of peace and joy can only come from God. When I put myself back in the driver’s seat of my life, I was looking for that peace and joy to come from human achievements and human relationships. What I received was the peace and joy that the world gives. Having experienced both of these scenarios, I can tell you that the peace and joy that the world gives is hollow compared to the peace and joy that God gives. Nothing can compare to that deep certainty you feel when you know you are right where you are supposed to be, doing exactly what you were created to do.

I heard this song for the first time during worship this morning.

Casting Crowns – The Well (w/ Lyrics)

As I listened to the lyrics it occurred to me that this is the message I am trying to convey through my writing and speaking. That is, there is an emptiness built into each one of us, whether we are aware of it or not, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. We try to fill it with accomplishments, possessions, relationships, money, power, influence, whatever the world has to offer. None of this quite fills it though, because the emptiness is a God-size hole that only He can fill. He is the only thing that is ENOUGH.

Introduction to manuscript I’m currently working on which will be titled When Going with the Flow Isn’t Enough, Swim Upstream:

Political and social movements which have changed the course of human history have always been orchestrated by individuals with a clear vision, a consuming passion, the courage to swim upstream against the status quo, the willingness to deal with the consequences of swimming upstream, and the perseverance to keep going no matter what.

As a woman who passionately believes in gender equality and lives in Lancaster County PA, I swim upstream on an almost daily basis. It’s tiring and it’s isolating. In light of this, then, you might be wondering why in the world I continue to do it. I do it because I have a dream. I have a dream that the following words of Robert Kennedy, the Apostle Paul, and Martin Luther King, Jr will finally come true.

o“Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.” Robert Kennedy spoke these words repeatedly as he campaigned for the democratic presidential nomination in 1968.
o“There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). The Apostle Paul wrote these words to the church in Galatia in the first century.
o”I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”. Martin Luther King Jr. proclaimed these words to thousands of people on August 28, 1963 @ the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

My dream is that children, as well as adults, will be able to pursue their dreams regardless of their gender, rather than being assigned roles based on their gender. Though I have this dream I do not have any illusions that I will lead a political or social movement which will result in full gender equality. I also have no illusions that gender equality will become a reality in my lifetime. Rather, I am hoping to plant seeds for change in some hearts.

Watched Harley and the Davidsons, 3-part series on TV. Reminded me that success is never easy or quick, and that it is definitely a marathon NOT a sprint, with many hills and valleys.

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