Posts Tagged With: prideful

Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 16

Day 16 – Tuesday – 10/9/12

Well, the split-meal thing worked out ok, but I think I need to give it some more time to see if it makes a difference. I didn’t really notice much of a difference yesterday as far as feeling hungry is concerned. In fact, I think it actually lessened the hunger because even though I ate the same amount of daily food. I was eating more often. The only difference so far was that this morning I did feel slightly hungrier. Be interested to see if that lasts. Last night I regretted not having my daily mealtime at supper. Why? Tono’s family. ‘Nuff said. 🙂 His family is from the town where we live, and they have been missionaries with FMC going back many years ago. They recently moved to another part of Mexico to be missionaries and are in town a few days to visit. We went over to their house after night prayer to visit because we didn’t know if we’d see them again before we went back to the states. Stupid gringo that I am. Shoulda known there’d be amazing Mexican food cooked by his wife Mari. 3rd stupidest thing to do in Mexico, is to visit Tono’s family while fasting. I did allow myself one flour tortilla and a few pieces of really good cheese some other lady made/brought. It really was good to see them though. I’m glad we got the chance to go, since we don’t know if we’ll see them again before we leave at the end of November.

On a more serious note, I realized two things this morning during my morning walk: 1.) I need to stop praying for humility and charity so that God stops testing me in those areas. Because we all know that when you pray for something like humility, charity, patience or whatever else, that he doesn’t automatically grant them to you. He tests you in those areas to help you develop in those areas. That takes work and time, and isn’t easy/painless. 2.) I’ve got a LONG way to go in developing love and concern for the poor. Obviously I don’t mean #1 literally, but it’s just hard to be tested like that. Number 2 is the truth for sure. This morning on my morning walk around the plaza in front of our house, I saw a lady I recognized coming in my direction. It pretty much looked like she was headed straight towards me. When I moved, she seemed to move in the same direction, almost as if she was actually trying to run into me. You know what I was thinking? “Lady, please get outta my way, stop trying to get in front of me. I don’t have anything (not true), PLEASE don’t ask me for anything.” Really cruddy stuff to be thinkin’. Especially considering that I’m a missionary, and I’m supposed to be an example of holiness and charity, and a servant of the poor. That lady was Jesus in disguise, and I walked the other way. :/

It’s like I still have that attitude of self-centeredness, that somehow I can’t be bothered. If it’s on my terms, I’m fine. But if it’s not, it gets me all twisted. That’s just it though, life and it’s needs and ministry opportunities are not “according to Sid”. They’re not on my time-frame, not on my terms. It’s GOD’s time-frame and terms that should be the guiding force. However, the paper-thin lining of this large gray cloud of self-centeredness that’s really obscuring the SONshine, is that God has blessed me to recognize that I struggle in this way. Now that I’m more aware, I can go to God and ask for his help.

I’ve also noticed one of the negative parts of being a poor missionary, at least as far as it pertains to me personally. It’s the whole notion of self-preservation or non-sharing. As a poor missionary whose funds seem to be perpetually VERY low, I find it easy to self-preserve and hard to share. After all, I don’t wanna give away everything and not be able to provide for myself, right? Well, that’s true but only to a certain extent. While I have to be able to provide for my legitimate needs, I also have to be willing to go out of my comfort zone to share with others and give out of my need (and not just my excess). This is the essence of true generosity. But I have not done this well, not at all. I have allowed myself to somewhat devolve into a justified existence of not really giving as much as I could/should, as well as becoming prideful and judgmental of those who ask for help, making it way too hard for them. All under the seemingly laudable guise of “prudence”. I’d like to think that the downturn in people who come to our door is because they know we aren’t just walking-talking wallets who give out cash willy-nilly. While that may be partially true, I suspect it’s more likely that they don’t want to have to deal with me. Even if you’re really in need, is it worth being humiliated or disrespected?

But as I alluded to earlier in this journal entry, at least I know this now and can begin to work on it. I also half-jokingly/half-seriously commented to one of my mission partners that I’m learning what NOT to do in order to fruitfully and effectively serve the poor. That’s why I wanna do a third year of missions. Now that I’ve finally arrived at the point where I know what to do and what not to do, I wanna be able to take that knowledge and put it into practice. The other thought that crossed my mind after all of this, is that The Bible says God’s power is perfected in our weaknesses, therefore we should boast of our weaknesses so that God’s power may rest upon us. If that’s the case, then my self-perceived self-proclaimed weaknesses make me one of the strongest people in the world! :p

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 11

Day 11 – Thursday – 10/4/12

So, I think one of the fruits of my fast that I’m already beginning to see is an increased level of appreciation. Just in general. I seem to be appreciating stuff more. It also seems like my general/overall “happiness” level is up too. At noon today is the first of two St. Francis feast day Masses at our church parish, San Francisco de Asis. And the retired Bishop Emeritus, Francisco Villalobos (who sounds like the voice of God when he talks and reads) will be celebrating Mass. Kinda neat that Francisco is celebrating Francisco’s feast at the parish of Francisco. Feel like that’s Catholicism’s way of ensuring a gaping ripped hole in the space-time continuum that will create a massive black hole that will swallow us all and send us to a much earlier than anticipated meeting with our maker. (edit: as you can tell, the whole “rip in the space-time continuum black hole” thing didn’t happen. But what did happen is that I got to briefly chat with the “voice of God”, aka Bishop Villalobos briefly after Mass. Super holy, super nice dude)

He’s a really good friend of our missionary company’s founders, Frank and Genie, from way back in the day when they first came here and he was the bishop. Speaking of fasting and eating, maybe if I play the “I’m Frank and Genie’s missionary” card, he’ll invite me to eat a delicious lunch with him. I mean, bishop’s gotta eat, right? So why not eat with him? 🙂 We’ll see…… (edit #2: didn’t get to play that card, so I’ll never know. Ended up eating 7 missionary hot dogs for lunch. A missionary hot dog is a hot dog that uses a slice of wheat bread for the bun instead of a regular hot dog bun. Ends up be a little healthier and ALOT cheaper)

I think aside from clarity being a product of my fasting, I’m also starting to notice that I seem to have more spiritual insight. Lest I be mistaken as prideful, I can assure you that any and all insight is a gift from God and has nothing to do with me. For example, when we comment on the scripture reading during our community prayer, I feel like the scripture is more alive and that I have more to say and share. And of course I also seem to have more spiritual insight in regards to my own personal journey with the Lord. Well, I’m off to enjoy the singing, dancing, and other fesitivities that lead up to the main event later tonight, the fireworks! 🙂 As a near and dear missionary brother of mine says, Hasta La Pasta!

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We are our own best friend & our own worst enemy

Friday, August 24, 2012 – 4:00pm – under a bridge at the edge of town – General Cepeda, Coahuila, Mexico

Strange spot for a desert day prayer time, I know. But, it was the quietest and shadiest spot I could find. Even though it happens to be under one of the main roads in town. When you live in a small town like this, the “main roads” are not all that busy. We were also short on gas so we had to pick a close spot, and this was the best we could manage.

The bible verse I got today is Acts 16:9-10: “One night Paul had a vision: a Macedonian appeared and kept urging him in these words, ‘Come across to Macedonia and help us.’ Once he had seen this vision we lost no time in arranging a passage to Macedonia, convinced that God had called us to bring them the good news.” Now my point here is not to talk about visions, as great as they may be. And my point here is not to determine whether it’s better to have this foreigner or that foreigner appearing in your dreams. My point is simply this: God can work in your life much easier when you are relaxed and open. How much more relaxed and open can you be, than by being unconscious in a state of sleep? I think that’s why God so often has used and continues to use visions and dreams. But before you rush to the neighborhood pharmacy to buy some Melatonin, realize that you don’t have to be unconscious for God to speak to you. You just have have to be humble, willing, and ready to hear him.

A few other tidbits that came to me:

1.) We are our own best friend & our own worst enemy. – Sure, there are lots of things that are not within our control. There are also alot of things that ARE within our control. One thing that is always in our control is how we react to life happening. All too often we hide behind the lie of being helpless as a way to excuse how we react to certain things. All too often we see defects and problems that are noone else’s doing but our own, and we despair. How do you fix yourself if you yourself are the root of the problem? We are our own worst enemy because of this. But (there’s always a “but” in the vocabulary of the ever optimistic Christian), this should also give us great hope. If we are our own worst enemy because of the power we wield against ourselves, then it should follow that for this very same reason we are our own best friend. Who controls whether or not we react with charity or anger? We do. Who controls whether or not we go to Sunday Mass or stay in bed? We do. Who ultimately makes our choice for good or for evil? WE do.

2.) Giving out of our need – as a pretty frequent 10% tither in the past, I was comfortable. It was a little more than I wanted to give, but not so much that I felt uncomfortable. I knew I was doing good, and that was enough for me. Now, as a foreign missionary, I have become acquainted with giving out of my need, instead of giving out of my excess. 10% net tithing of an American sized weekly income, even when small, still leaves alot left. Giving ANYTHING when you live in excess of $6000 below the poverty line, is a little tougher. It’s where the rubber meets the road. It’s where our words that we preach and profess are tried and tested, to see if we’re ready to live it. Never before did I ever think I’d be stingy about a single apple, or a few slices of bread. Never before have I felt the remorse I feel when I think I’ve not given enough to someone who is truly poor. And never before have I felt the immense joy of truly giving out of my need. It ain’t easy, but it’s worth it. For their livelihood, and for your holiness.

3.) Giving lovingly and not begrudgingly – It’s SOOOO easy to give begrudgingly. Resenting that poor person because you think they’re too lazy to work for it, or because they’re bothering you at an inconvenient time. How dare they do such a thing! And to tell you the truth, I have a long way to go in this area before I get to where I wanna be. But I’m glad it’s not easy. I’m glad it’s a challenge. Because I know that when I do get to a point in my life as a Christian, that I can give to those in need, and do it with LOVE, then I will indeed be blessed.

4.) Voluntary poverty – Now why on God’s green earth would someone choose poverty? That’s just straight up dumb! If that’s the hand life deals you, then ok. But to choose it? You mean to tell me that you WANT to be poor? You want to give up the securities of a financially comfortable life? WHY?!?!? I’ll tell you why. It’s for the same reason that our omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent God decided to incarnate himself to save us. To truly serve with compassion those to whom God has sent us to serve, we can’t look down on them. We can’t be prideful. We have to live among them. We have to be friends with them. We have to suffer with them. We have to feel their pain. It is only then that we can truly minister to them with a sense of urgency, passion, and care.

5.) Maybe it’s God’s plan to allow us to struggle – This one ties in pretty closely with #4. Looking back on my first year of missions, I spent WAY too much of it trying to retain a level of comfort and security which would remind me of life back home in the States. I resented the fact that my mission partners, while cooking a sufficient quantity of food for us to live off of, cooked food that at times was humble and far from fancy. And not gonna lie, at times I could have eaten alot more that what we had. Mission life is hard enough already, why skimp on food? This year, I still struggle with not wanting myself to struggle. Since we’ve been here, and especially in my time since language school, it seems like me and my mission partner’s meager monthly stipends have been burning holes in our pockets. We have just barely enough to survive, but not enough to survive without having to worry. Part of me hates this. Why should I have to worry about whether or not we can put gas in our van? Why should I have to worry about whether or not I will have to live off of hotdogs for the next 2 weeks? But as these worries flood my mind, I start to realize some of what those who are truly poor have to go through all the time. And then I hang my head in shame. While I simultaneously thank God for all he has given me. God you’ve made your point. Well played, my Lord. Well played.

That’s all I got this week y’all. Hope you have a blessed week. Ciao!

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