No More Same Old, Same Old

Years ago I worked with a Negative Nell who continually whined and complained.  Often, my co-workers and I heard her mutter, “SSDD [Same Sh**, Different Day].”  We rarely escaped a meeting without her bemoaning her lot in life and her railing against God for all the misfortunes she faced.  No matter what any of us said or did to encourage or support her, we heard the same thing: “Why bother?  It’s always the same old, same old.”

Perhaps, Blessed Reader, you know the type: Someone who not only can’t see the glass half full, but can’t even see the glass.  Who believes that God is some kind of wicked tyrant or capricious ruler, condemning them to a life of woe and suffering.  Who wants everyone and everything else to change, but who doesn’t know how and/or isn’t willing to think or behave differently.

As a pastor, I realize: Some people haven’t yet heard the message that on this spiritual journey we call our lives, we have numerous, divine opportunities for transformation.  These people don’t yet know that God isn’t a master puppeteer in the sky pulling our strings, giving us more than we can handle or doling out gifts to a favored few.

I want them to know this instead: God is Divine Creator of all things, including us.  God is Ever-Abiding Grace, Infinite Compassion and Unconditional Love, everywhere, all the time.  Therefore, we are divine creations, born with all the faith, strength and wisdom we’ll ever need within us to live glorious lives.

Furthermore, as divine creations, we’re also free agents, which means we have free will to align ourselves with God, to choose who we’ll be, what we want, where we’re going and what we’ll do.  So, no matter what we may have been, thought, done, or believed before, we have the power to transform our lives.  Especially if any of our self-talk sounds like the same old, same old.

The truth is: We can choose to transform ourselves, because transformation begins with us.  Only when we choose to change ourselves and do “it” differently, whatever the “it” is, do we reach the place where transformation is possible.

Rather than believe that we’re automatons which must react in the same old ways, as if we run on only one internal program, we can delete the self-defeating, life-draining mantras and re-wire our thinking and adjust our behavior.  Inevitably, though sometimes slowly, this allows us to alter our circumstances and enjoy new, more enriching outcomes and experiences.

Ultimately, transformation requires trust; first in God, then in ourselves.  And, as we discern and travel our faithful life journeys, we discover wondrous things are unfolding through us and for us, one sacred step at a time.

 

© 2016 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks.  All rights reserved.

Present in Prayer

The man called Apostle Paul (1 Thessalonians 5:17) tells us to “pray without ceasing.”   As a pastor, I wish always I did this to the letter, but I admit that I do not.  Occasionally, I forget to pray.  Nevertheless, I have what I call “pastoral radar,” and at particular moments, I know, the only thing to do is pray.

Such was the case this past week, in an unlikely setting, while I waited at the opticians to order new contact lenses.  I was talking to the optician about being able to see the whole sanctuary when another woman, also awaiting assistance said, “Did you say you’re a pastor?”

I turned from my chair to see before me a woman with vibrant dark eyes, lush curls, and rich chocolate skin.  She wore a bright, neatly pressed cornflower blue print, and her voice exuded a kind of love and gentleness which reminded me of my grandmother.

“Yes, I am,” I said.

“Oh, please” she said, stepping closer.  “Would you pray for me?”  Then, as if releasing a great weight, she began telling me about her struggle with cancer (which wasn’t at all evident to me by her outer appearance), as well as with her faith.  She wanted me to ask God to bless her.

Forgetting in the moment where I was or who was around us, I said, “Would you like me to pray with you right now?”

Her vibrant eyes widened.  “Would you?” she asked.

“Of course,” I said.

I took both her hands in mine and began to pray, praising God, blessing her and her magnificent body temple, affirming God’s ever-abiding grace, infinite compassion and unconditional love for her.  As I prayed, she whispered along, several times saying, “Yes, Jesus.”  Perhaps the prayer lasted a minute, maybe two.  I don’t remember every word I said; I rarely do in such divine moments.

When I concluded with thanksgiving, I saw tears in her eyes.  She squeezed my hands tightly and as I looked at them fully, continuing to hold them in mine, I felt tremendous warmth flowing between us.  Two strangers, connecting through the intimacy of prayer.  In an unlikely place.  In a powerful way.

I don’t know much else about this woman, except that she and her mother had been visiting that office for many years, and that her mother also had survived cancer.  I don’t know where she lived or which church she attended or anything about her personal feelings and beliefs.  None of which matters.  Because, in that moment, we were one with God, connected, each of us transformed in beholding the Presence of God in one another.

It’s especially in those moments that I know: Prayer doesn’t change God.  Prayer changes us, opening us to see, hear, feel and know God’s Beauty and Presence everywhere, in every one.

Pray, Blessed Reader, wherever you may be.

© 2016 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks.  All rights reserved.