Happy Mara Prose Monday, Prosers! This weekend was absolutely stellar. My first born graduated Cum Laude from high school. It was a perfect event, and I did not even allow the tiny mishaps or an uncomfortable moment to overshadow her day. I am beyond proud!
This weekend, I re-watched one of my favorite movies, Doubt, starring Meryl Streep and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. In one scene, Father Flynn (played by Hoffman) delivers a riveting sermon about the dangers of gossip that I have copied for you here:
A woman was gossiping with a friend about a man she hardly knew— I know none of you have ever done this—that night she had a dream. A great hand appeared over her and pointed down at her. She was immediately seized with an overwhelming sense of guilt. The next day she went to confession.
She got the old parish priest, Father O’Rourke, and she told him the whole thing. “Is gossiping a sin?” she asked the old man. “Was that the hand of God Almighty pointing a finger at me? Should I be asking your absolution? Father, tell me, have I done something wrong?”
“Yes!” Father O’Rourke answered her. “Yes, you ignorant, badly brought-up female! You have borne false witness against your neighbor, you have played fast and loose with his reputation, and you should be heartily ashamed!”
So the woman said she was sorry and asked for forgiveness. “Not so fast!” says O’Rourke. “I want you to go home, take a pillow up on your roof, cut it open with a knife, and return here to me!”
So the woman went home, took a pillow off her bed, a knife from the drawer, went up the fire escape to the roof, and stabbed the pillow. Then she went back to the old parish priest as instructed. “Did you gut the pillow with the knife?” he says.”Yes, Father.” “And what was the result?” “Feathers,” she said. A world of feathers.
“Feathers?” he repeated. “Feathers everywhere, Father!”
“Now I want you to go back and gather up every last feather that flew out on the wind!”
“Well,” she said, “it can’t be done. I don’t know where they went. The wind took them all over.”
”And that,” said Father O’Rourke,“is gossip!”
The image of those feathers floating in the wind made me think, that is exactly what I am doing when I ask God to guide me at the crossroads in my life. See, at every major intersection of my life, there have been crossroads – should I go left, right, backwards or simply keep going straight. If you are like me, the many choices we have in life can sometimes become overwhelming and leave you wondering, where does God want me to be?
In the past, I believe I always made the wrong decisions when I tried to solve things myself. When I listened to my feelings and then reacted, or when I listened to someone else instead of giving it to God. We all want to be the masters of our own lives. We want to feel empowered and feel confident in our decision making, but without God, you will never experience real victory.
The feathers in the air resonated so well with me because I feel that is how I have come to handle major decisions in my life. I simply take the feather of an idea, a want/desire or a life altering decision, and I toss them to the wind, step back and let God decide where it lands. That feather floats around in the universe until God returns it to me with His answer of direction. Sometimes that feather floats around and around and around for quite sometime before it eventually lands. Then there are other times, where it immediately floats to its intended destination. The key to understanding these decisions is realizing and accepting I am not the author, God is the author.
As an author myself, you have no control over the direction of the material I deliver to you. When you are reading my work, I am constantly guiding your feelings about a character, shaping your opinions about the situations my characters face and leading you to the book’s conclusion via my own self imposed narrative, not yours. In essence, the sole purpose of my writing is to guide my readers to the exact place I want them to be by the time the book ends. And, as long as you keep reading, you will arrive at the desired destination that I have set before you. By the time you purchase the book, it is already written and there is nothing you can say or do to change the words that have been published.
So much like my skills as an author, that is how God is directing your steps throughout life. When that feather floats in the universe for a longer period of time than we want or expect, we always make the foolish decision to try and guess where God intends for that feather to land. At times, we may even take control and try to guide that feather to where we feel God wants it to be. Again, this is folly. Our life story is already written.
I have learned that when I am anxious about a decision, that is simply fear because I want something so bad and I am afraid I will never have it. Again, that is me trying to control my own narrative. I have learned to trust that God knows what is best for me and what He has planned for my life is so much better and greater than any life I try to construct on my own. God does not operate in anxiety, that is our unreliable feelings controlling the narrative and not trusting God. We have to be careful that we do not allow the baggage of life to weigh us down and keep us from experiencing a fulfilling life. Hurts, pain, and disappointments can close us off, shut us down and keep us in a place of stagnation.
I encourage my Prosers today to turn down the volume of those constant thoughts that are on replay in our heads and start to do more of a mental clean-up. Clear out those dust webs of doubt, start to sanitize the unhealthy thoughts and replace them with new, fresh and positive mental chatter that inspire and encourage us to be a better version of who we have been. Basically, be very mindful of what you allow yourself to think, feel and believe. We are not the author, but we can contribute to the narrative by supporting the story God wove for us and actively participating in the developing chapters stretching out before us that He has already written.
Until next time,