Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Can You Be a Peacemaker When You’re at War with Yourself?

posted by mpratt
Image Courtesy of Janes Barker/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of Janes Barker/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

We all have heard the Beatitudes, and especially (no doubt) remember, “Blessed are the peacemakers…” In a world of trouble, violence, and anti-faith, this is a tall order!But there’s another thing that makes being a peacemaker in our world even harder: Being at war with ourselves.

Chronic illness and pain are not welcome inhabitants of anyone’s life. It’s so easy to go through the painful days and flares thinking, “My life would be so much better without [fill-in-the-blank-diagnosis].” Or, to repeat over and over, “I hate [diagnosis]! I hate [diagnosis]!” Easy, yes, and very human, of course. But, as I frequently say, illness and pain “just are.” That is, as much as we’d like to live without them, at present, we can’t. And the more we deny the situation, or battle ourselves internally, the more “at war” with ourselves we’ll be – and the less able to bring peace within or outside our corners of the world.

Too simplistic? Too childish? Too naive?

Sometimes, what is most “simplistic” is, actually, spot on. Sometimes, we adults can make things way too complicated. Sometimes, the fruits of stark, “adult” regard for suffering (that is, attitudes of “life is hard and then you die”) are just the opposite of what we, children of Our Lord , need to be able to live our our faith and truly shine.

Accepting pain is difficult, but if it is our lot, our journey, then bountiful peace will make it easier. Loving ourselves, as we love others, will enable us to have clarity when we go into a situation where peace is required.

In writing a play, there are lines, the words actors say. Bubbling underneath is a whole other way of communicating called “subtext.” It can be as simple as a character saying, “No,” and behaving, “Yes,” or more complex as scene after scene unfolds with action occurring one way, when underneath it, other things are in motion to counter the overt.

Life is like this, too. We might say, “I want to be a peacemaker.” But if, inside, we’re at war with ourselves, that is, if we’re battling the lives God has given us, we’ll be sending out mixed signals, at best. A “subtext” that runs counter to bringing true peace.

We probably cannot accept our lives with pain and illness all at once. And, we’ll have days when we would rather these burdens weren’t part of our lives at all. But the more we pray to the Lord for acceptance and peace, embracing all that we are and all that these wondrous lives – gifts from God – entail, the more we’ll be able to go forth and carry an amazing example of peace to others.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

Peace in the Storm

posted by mpratt
Cover design: Amy C. King; Cover photographs: flower (c) Charles Nesbit/Photonica; clouds (c) Charles Gullung/Photonica

Cover design: Amy C. King; Cover photographs: flower (c) Charles Nesbit/Photonica; clouds (c) Charles Gullung/Photonica

Nine years has gone by in a flash!

April 19, 2005, my book, “Peace in the Storm: Meditations on Chronic Pain & Illness,” first appeared in bookstores. I remember holding my first copy, looking at the cover, and wondering, “What will become of this? Who will find it? Will it be of help?”

Truly, my impetus for writing the book was to help others living daily with chronic illness and pain to walk closely with God. A few years before, I had been diagnosed with lupus, and was in contact with many more people who had the disease or other serious health challenges. One of the things I heard from my fellow patients was, “Why me?” And the next thing I heard was usually, “What will my life become?”

Each person’s journey from diagnosis onward takes a distinct, individual path. Ups, downs, curves, detours, straight-lines – yes, it’s different for each of us. But, even if I couldn’t discern what someone’s life would be, I did know one thing: Without faith, we cannot possibly get through it all.

It was with this beginning that I took meditations and prayers that I’d been writing in a journal and began “Peace in the Storm.” All along my writing the book, which was exhilarating and exhausting, I kept in mind my fellow patients and their loved ones and asked, “Where is God in the moments? Where is God in each individual’s life? Where is faith in the questions that have no answers?”  I focused on specific examples, practical questions – no “just have a positive attitude and you’ll be fine” – because it is in these things that we truly live out our faith and find God’s comfort and guidance. Yes, even when there is a fog around us so thick that we can’t see anything but blur.

Blessedly – and I praise God every day for this – “Peace in the Storm” finds its way into the hands of those who need it. Church support groups, patient groups, individuals, and even medical professionals and caregivers – I am so grateful to be able to help others, even when I cannot physically be present to do so!

As the book’s journey continues, I can’t quite give definitive answers to the first two questions that I asked when I held the first copy of “Peace in the Storm.” “What will become of this?” and “Who will find it?” are open-ended, ongoing. But the answer to my question, “Will it be of help?” is clearer: Yes.

Not only has, praise God!, the book been helpful to others, it has continued to bless my life. There is nothing more uplifting in a life of pain and illness than to know that you can be helpful to others.

So, I encourage you – find your “Peace in the Storm.” Find a way that you can reach out and bring light to other people, no matter how tired, isolated, or pained you are. This is our ministry-in-illness, our portion-in-pain. And this is our very special way to take what we’ve learned and believe and help others to hope and heal.

Thank you to all who have and will find “Peace in the Storm!”

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

 

Building up Strength

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicA friend about to undergo chemotherapy. An aging parent who is wobbly. You, terrified of the next doctor’s visit and what news you might get.

Right now, there are many of us who are anticipating something that will require much fortitude and strength. But perhaps you’re not feeling particularly strong. Perhaps you are unsure of your own abilities to face a new health challenge. Maybe, just maybe, you are afraid.

Not exactly a recipe for success, but this is perfectly natural. Especially if you’ve lived with illness or infirmity for a long while, the thought of yet another fight, yet another uphill climb might be, well, unthinkable.

But there’s a way to make the way easier, and it doesn’t require a lot of extra time, only mindfulness of the mental struggle you’re engaged in – and the power that God has over and in your life.

For every trembling moment, remind yourself that you are a beloved child of God, who is all-caring.

For every doubt that creeps into your mind, push it back with, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.”

For each whimper, tear, and anguished cry, be gentle with yourself and insist, “It’s all right to fear, but it’s in me to be courageous.”

With every positive movement and word that we can bring into our fear-filled days and nights, we are building up resilience, we are stocking up on strength. And, the more mindful we are of God’s presence, the less we will feel like sinking in sadness. How can we be despondent when we have the Creator in our lives?!

I pray today that you will start to build up strength for whatever challenge looms. And, as you meet it face-to-face, I also pray that you will be heartened by the strength that has been building up inside of you – all along,

Blessings for the day,
Maureen

Done Something Foolish?

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of Tina Phillips/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Tina Phillips/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In honor of April Fool’s Day, some thoughts about those foolish moments – better known as “Ooops!”

We’ve all had them. Those moments (or days, or months…) when we’ve known better, but still…

We knew it would be better not to attend a social gathering, but did anyway and for days afterward, felt the effects of too much of a good thing.

We knew it would be better to get the refill on a prescription before vacation, but didn’t and got stranded at an airport without our necessary meds.

We knew that respite from flares meant the disease was still lurking, but acted as if it wasn’t, and, wham!, stirred up a recurrence…

Yes, sometimes we don’t act in our best interest. Perhaps because of peer pressure, frustration over “I’ve had this [disease] for so long, I’m tired of it!”, or another reason. But, even as we might pay harsh consequences, we don’t have to think that we’ve caused a long-term, downward spiral.

We don’t have to flog ourselves with guilt.

We learn. We pick up the pieces. We move on, wiser and more resolved to do better next time.

And, know what? We do! We do “do better” next time (in most cases), and that’s probably the point of those foolish moments.

We’re human. We’ll stumble. We might even fall, foolishly. But we can learn. We’re never too old to learn. And, as the lessons sink in and we’re able to do better and get stronger, we’ll find reason for thankfulness. Yes, even for those foolish moments.

Blssings for the day,

Maureen

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