Finding Peace in Times of Negativity

Many in Portland, including myself, feel we’re living in a dystopian world created by issues beyond our control.

We are attempting to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve watched the peaceful protests for Black Lives Matter escalate into all-out conflicts with federal troops who were not invited to our city. Then “grab and snatch” tactics by the uninvited and unidentified troops to control protesters by loading them into unmarked vehicles left citizens feeling unnerved. Our city is rid of the uninvited and unidentified troops.

All of us are entitled to support, compassion, and a just and equitable environment in which to live and raise our families. Government leaders and citizens of Portland are now in discussions to make support, compassion, and equity primary to all actions taken in Portland. 

However, behind the scenes, there are many suffering and struggling with depression and emotions out of control regarding all of these strange and unusual dilemmas we’re facing. I am one of them. And I know I’m not alone.

Many are writing blog posts and articles on the state of our mental health and how to relieve the stress of it all and ultimately find peace. 

I stumble around each day looking for something to do that interests me. My writing flounders. I write that with abundant kindness (it’s worse than floundering!). 

What can I do for someone else during these times? Write a note, make a call, send a text or email? Maybe. But somehow silence and solitude sound better. And I know that’s selfish on my part.

God gifts me with a new day every morning, and what do I do? After reading emails, I spend too much time on social media. Scrolling through my feed in search of something positive seems a waste of time these days. Then I am angry with myself for wasting a good part of His gift.

Finally, the other day I found something interesting and helpful. My friend, Robert McBride, posted something well worth reading. Robert provided his thoughts on an article appearing in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Mental Resilience Can Help You Through the Coronavirus Pandemic; Here’s How to Build It” by Andrea Petersen. Among his words, I found the following:

My idea is to think of my brain’s tendency toward negativity as something like a dog that’s a little wild but could be trained toward better behavior with consistent, loving effort. If I train myself to recognize pointless negative thoughts the moment they happen, like a dog lunging while on a leash, I can reflexively take control, since my hand is on the other end of that leash, right? I can control the dog if I just make the effort to do so. And I can curb my regativity the same way. I can put myself on a short leash and make the effort to train myself to think differently.

This makes a great deal of sense to me. If I sit down, plug into social media, and bombard myself with negative thoughts, my brain absorbs the negativity. The negativity will pull me down into the muck and mire of that news feed. Immediately on reading Robert’s words, I knew I wanted and needed to start building mental resilience and fight against negativity. I’m working on it.

The other way I’m working toward positivity vs. negativity is by making lists of things I need to work on. Today I made three lists: (1) administrative projects (I called it that when I was working; I still have similar tasks in retirement to keep us operating as a family), (2) personal interests (things I long to do, including writing), and (3) struggles (things I have difficulty facing, including writing).

From this, you can see that if I wanted to I could find a great deal to occupy my time. However, there is something inside me that bucks up against some of these things. It’s up to me to figure out how to balance all of this out while “walking the dog” and changing my mindset and my mental resilience.

For this reason, I’ll be on social media only minimally for awhile. I will continue to write here posting as it comes to me and seems worthy of your time.

John 14:27 states God’s promise. It should be sufficient in times like these.

 

 

Cool June Days

I dedicate this post to Rev. Joshua Dunham, our former Associate Pastor and Youth Leader. Joshua brought light and understanding to the words of Micah 6:8 in a sermon a few years ago. Since then, I have read it, studied it, and prayed on it. God bless you, Joshua!


These are cool June days.

First thing each morning, our black Bombay kitty, Ignatz aka Iggy, cries to go outside. He doesn’t like being indoors, but he complies with our nightly wishes to stay in. Depending on the weather, he may change his mind.

Today and for the lasts few days the morning air is cool, the sky gray. Occasionally, a beam of light slips between these tall trees, and then it’s gone. Continue reading “Cool June Days”

The Center

Like storm clouds gathering, I felt the darkness creeping in the last couple of weeks. I fought hard to stave it off. Yet, it’s a battle I wage from time to time. 

Just as I sensed clarity and brightness in my well-being, the world fell victim to COVID-19. Each day’s news included escalating numbers of cases and staggering deaths. No treatment, no vaccine, no real plan for a pandemic. I began to read and listen.
 
It is a topic hard to push aside. My best try was to take time off from social media and online news. And yet what I’m trying to ignore seeps in. 
 
On May 25, 2020, it was as if a second catalyst took our country by storm. George Floyd, an African-American man, was murdered in Minneapolis by a police officer.

Continue reading “The Center”

Sunday Morning Love Affair

This post originally appeared in a previous blog, Sowing Seeds of Grace. For a variety of reasons, I found it hard to come up with a new post this week. So, I dug into my old blog posts and found something I enjoyed reading again. The original post was published May 7, 2014. Minor changes were made to the title and text.

It began just a few weeks ago. Intermittently they appear together because of his schedule. All are watching with amusement and charmed hearts.

He is many years her senior, but they don’t seem to notice. Just the rest of us.

This past Sunday was one of the best to date. As he moved throughout the building, there she was. Right on his heels in her red sweater and beautiful spring dress painted with red poppies and light green leaves on a white background. She even wore matching shoes—red patent leather. Continue reading “Sunday Morning Love Affair”