answered prayers

Life is funny. It’s also amazing and beautiful. I think that when we don’t focus upon beauty, it’s harder to notice it in all the nuance of living. To focus upon something is to notice it more often. And, just because you’re noticing something now doesn’t mean it wasn’t always there. Attention is a gift that we get to use as we wish.

I’m going through a phase of maturity. It’s funny how we talk about that with kids, but we don’t discuss it with adults. We love watching children mature and we expect it, but when it comes to adults, we expect the opposite. We expect stagnation. Long, long years of stagnation until, suddenly, the adult is “old” and we expect them to have gained wisdom worth sharing with us.

What is wisdom but the result of maturity?

I made two prayers in deep earnest this past week and I’m glad I have the clarity to see that they’re being answered. It used to be that I would pray and then spend time feeling despondent because I thought my prayers were being ignored. Back then, I didn’t understand that answered prayers don’t always look the way you want or expect them to look. I mistakenly assumed that if a prayer wasn’t answered the way I wanted to see it, that meant it hadn’t been answered.

Part of maturing is understanding then accepting that things don’t have to be the way you want them in order for them to be true.

I think our societies and cultures are going through a maturation phase right now and I’m not sure how we’re faring. There is a lot of pushback against progressive, humane ideas and there is also a lot of nonsense being promoted as progress. Diversity of thought is still one of the things I find most interesting about humanity. No one is creating these things we call thoughts or ideas; they just descend upon us. And, we nurture them and take their growth and assimilation very personal. But, they don’t even belong to us!

Maybe our maturity doesn’t belong to us, either. Maybe maturity is a function of grace. I can accept that all I’ve done is prayed to be a better person, to have more clarity. I just desired and asked and focused. I accept that I haven’t done anything wholly unto myself.

That is maturity. Accepting that we aren’t living this life by our power alone is maturity. It’s humility. I used to think humility meant thinking I am less than, but now I know it simply means knowing that I am not all there is, that I am not the most. And, not being the most does not inherently equate to being less than.

For years, I could not understand or accept that. But, through grace, I now understand (and I don’t mind understanding or standing under something, because I know the power of bridges) and accept that humility is about perspective, not size.

With that humility, I can see answered prayers with more clarity. When I ask for support focusing upon my business endeavors and an opportunity for community disappears from my life, I don’t have to lament the loss because I remember the prayer. I am humble enough to accept the rationale that the more time I spend in community, the less time I’m spending on my business endeavors. I can greet that shift (because it’s not a loss) with a “Hallelujah”.

With that humility, when I ask to more fully understand why something happened to me in the past and I keep feeling the urge to watch YouTube videos that touch on more fruitful ways to move through loss and purpose, I understand that my prayers are being answered.

Some would call it coincidence, but I’ve lived enough to accept that there are no coincidences. There is only grace.

In this moment, I appreciate the divine guidance of my life. I appreciate the prayers that have been prayed for and over me. I appreciate the clarity and insight and maturity and humility I have been able to apply to my vantage point.

What a beautiful lens grace and humility and maturity create. It reminds me of those oft-lamented rose-colored glasses.

If this is what wearing rose-colored glasses is like, I’m okay. I’m going to rock these babies!

Image source unknown.

false humility is a crime

If you’re a good person, just admit it. No one really cares.

This is what I’ve learned in life: the only people who are judging you by how good you are are the messy folks. And, they only judge you because they feel so horrible about themselves.

When they start cleaning themselves up, they judge you less.

Other good people just like being around you. They probably haven’t even had a coherent thought about your goodness, yet. They just feel good when they’re around you and that’s a good thing. It can be scary out there with all the people.

I don’t like it when good people can’t admit that they’re good people. There’s always a discussion about it and a kind of embarrassment. Why? We’re supposed to be good. It’s not exceptional, it’s the human default.

I think people tend to confuse goodness with perfection. No one is claiming that, I hope. I’m certainly not. I’m a good person. Why? Because I want the best for everyone, I tend to have good intentions, and I enjoy helping folks.

I’m just a basic human.

You can find these characteristics and tendencies in your normal 2-year-old. There’s absolutely nothing spectacular about being a good person, so I feel unable to get a big head about this.

It says a lot about what we have been programmed toward that we think goodness needs to be celebrated. Basic human decency has become a limited commodity.

Because we have normalized inhumanity, we find true humanity awe-inspiring.

Does that make sense?

Nope. Doesn’t make sense, at all. But, that’s what we’ve created: a world in which we think being bad is normal and being good is not as normal.

Both are normal, but we are training ourselves to look for the bad more than the good.

It probably started with our parents. They pointed out things we shouldn’t do. We had to pay attention to that. Some scientists will tell you this is human nature, to be more mindful of what’s bad. I don’t think they’re correct. Just because something is a statistical norm and people talk and write about it often doesn’t mean it’s human nature.

But, kids tend to want to please their adults. So, we were kids and we wanted to please our adults and because we weren’t perfect for your typical capitalist or patriarchal model of living, adults pointed out ways we needed to improve.

Some kids take that a lot harder than others. Some adults are harsher about it than necessary. Sometimes, you get a combination: really sensitive kid with really harsh adult. That’s a combustible combo.

But, it happens.

And, it also happens in a kind of reverse. We get those really sensitive adults who are quite horrible at providing appropriate boundaries. The kids in their lives could benefit from more rigidity and less fluidity, but they can’t bring themselves to provide it. And, if you get that kind of adult raising a really strong-willed kid, who knows what can happen? (Assholes, generally, but it’s all a crap shoot.)

One thing I enjoy about assholes (while we’re on the topic) is that they tend to lack humility. I find that refreshing. I enjoy people who just are who they are. However, that is also a tendency I dislike, because a lack of humility is often coupled with a lack of empathy. I don’t enjoy that.

What I had to learn was that what I really didn’t enjoy was false humility. Real humility, genuine humility is beautiful. People who know they aren’t the most important aspect of life, who know there’s a lot of mystery to living… I enjoy that. And, that’s all humility is.

False humility is what I see when people can’t accept any accolades for their amazingness. We should be able to celebrate one another because we are, each one of us, absolutely amazing! Our bodies are amazing, our minds are amazing, our abilities are amazing. Why would we choose to never acknowledge that? Especially when we live in societies and cultures that want us to dislike ourselves and mold ourselves to unnatural expectations?

Just because you’re not “that special” doesn’t mean that you’re not special at all. Of course you’re special! You are a mystery in the flesh. How did you even become you when all you began as was a clot of blood? Look at you… blood all grown up.

Don’t downplay that. And, don’t let it go to your head. That’s real humility.