Saturday, January 14, 2017

“It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being.” ― John Joseph Powell


        You will heal and heal faster from hurts inflicted by sticks and stones than you ever will from the hurts inflicted by words--despite the old saying.  A popular psychologist in the seventies was known for one sentence he uttered more than the entire body of rest of his work.  He said, “No one ever says anything they don’t mean.”  I think he was right on.  Maybe you didn’t mean to say it aloud, or in that tone of voice, or where it was heard by people you didn’t intend, but according to that psychologist, if you said it, you meant it.  Think about all the parents you’ve heard telling their children that they were stupid, or ugly, or crazy, or fat, or lazy, or perhaps worst of all, worthless.  Children need desperately to be loved, hugged, cuddled, and told repeatedly that they are loved and worth everything to their parents.  They need to be shown this as well when their parents are talking to others about their children because words alone can destroy a child’s entire life and by so doing, destroy others around him or her as well.  I just recently finished reading a biography of Babe Ruth (that I recommend “The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth” by Leigh Montville) about a man whose parents told him they hated him, beat him, and, and at the age of seven, dumped him into an orphanage where he would stay for thirteen years, convinced that he was worthless, unloved, and would never amount to anything.  He probably wouldn’t have amounted to anything either, had not Brother Matthias from the orphanage seen his baseball talent and encouraged it.  Babe Ruth became the most famous man in America for many years because of his baseball skills, but his off-the-field antics, his drinking, his carousing, his woman chasing, his overeating, all of it can be traced back to how he was treated by his parents.  A psychologist who studied the Babe said that the parents had created a hole in the child that the adult Babe could never fill.  He, the psychologist, believed that the Babe was trying to replace his mother’s love and his father’s respect with cheap thrills that may have taken the edge off of the pain at the time but did nothing to eradicate it.  It was a sad book, in the end, that someone who was a hero to so many people could never really feel good about himself.  Which of us could handle having thousands of fans who had cheered for us just one year past, now booing, hissing, calling us names, and throwing things at us?  If I just suspect that my wife isn’t happy with something (she has “the look”) I’m doing, that’s usually enough to make me change my behavior.  I really identified with Babe Ruth in a lot of ways, and as I read passages to my wife, she could see how closely the two of us were in the ways we had been psychologically hurt.  I couldn’t hit 60 home runs in a year, or set baseball (or any kind of) records that would still be standing seventy years later, and I will never be well known or a hero to tens of thousands.  It’s been a long haul for me just trying to overcome the holes in myself that were not of my own making (I did add some).  The holes are still there, but I have discovered that devoting my life to helping others does more to fill those holes than anything else I have ever done.  I have borne and bear the titles “Reverend” and “Pastor” and now “Bishop,” but I have never felt I truly deserved any of them.  I’m not alone in thinking I am not deserving of other people’s trust and respect, there are millions like me out there.  Millions who have never really liked themselves or thought that they were good people, but I also know men, now pastors, who were abandoned as babies, or lost their parents at a young age, or were raised in a succession of foster homes who have successfully overcome their past and truly deserve the trust and respect of all who know them.  I have also known couples who have raised foster children, who have adopted children out of foster homes, and who have adopted from other countries who have been better parents than those children could have ever had.  Yes, I’m talking about you, Cathy Blackwood, and Bob Griswold, and James and Cindy Walker, and Jane Coover, just to name a few.  Probably, almost everyone reading this knows some like the ones I just named who have changed the universe for the children they loved and raised.  You may also know others who didn’t get what they needed growing up and have tried unsuccessfully for years to fill the holes in their souls.  Happily, we all have a Father who loves us and loves us unconditionally.  A Father who sent His Son to be with us for a while, to show us what that love looks like and feels like.  There will always be orphans and unwanted children, but there will also always be the love of Christ waiting for them.  Christ told us to always take care of the orphans because He knew their needs.  Psychologists will tell you how important it is for babies to be held, touched, and loved, but you don’t need them to tell you what you instinctively know.  We need the arms of others to be around us at times.  We need to be told and shown that we are loved, and if there aren’t humans around to do it, Christ promised the Holy Spirit to always be there to comfort us.  These were not empty promises.  I have felt that comfort and that love in times of great aloneness, isolation, and darkness.  I have seen the light in the distance drawing me closer to the love that passes all understanding.  I pray that you grew up surrounded by love, and, if not, have discovered the all consuming and spiritually invigorating love of Christ Jesus.  If you have, the light you now are will be a beacon in others’ darkness and will draw them to Christ as well.  If you have that light, it had better not be under a bushel, to quote someone I love. 

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