Month: May 2017

Love vs. Fear: How 1 John 4:18 Bears on Insecurity

Long, long ago, in the primeval depths of Chaos, a hideous monster was spawned. The sin of Adam unleashed it on the earth, permitting it to ravage him and his offspring. It crept up so stealthily that its victims might not even notice until after it had taken hold, sinking in teeth and claws, after which it destroyed any who did not fight it well. Or rather, it creeps, it destroys; the monster roams the world still. In fact, you’ve probably encountered it . . . it goes by the unassuming name of Insecurity.

Insecurity may be defined as habitual fear of one’s own inadequacies and what others may think of them. It might seem a fairly innocuous problem, calling simply for a pat on the shoulder and assurance that, as One Direction put it, “You don’t know you’re beautiful!” Such responses are good in themselves; indeed, sincere affirmation is crucial for these sufferers. But if offered too glibly, this approach treats their affliction as harmless and perhaps even charming, a sort of excessive modesty. It overlooks not only the intense pain that insecurity causes, but the potential damage to the person’s soul and relationships with others.

To clarify, insecurity is not, in itself, a sin, nor is the person who suffers from it usually to blame. Far be it from me to be hard on any who have endured this monster’s cruel torments. Such a person is, however, at fault if he does not work to overcome his insecure tendencies. If he does not understand this, he may not realize the importance of fighting back. If you, dear reader, have noticed this affliction in your own heart, I hope to help you reject and break free of the thoughts that it inspires in you.

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To my Mother

You raise all sorts of flowers, bright splendor from the dirt;

Their beauty thanks, rewards you, in speech of fragrant words.

But when it comes to washing that hundredth smelly shirt,

Scrubbing that thousandth plate off, or picking bunny turds,

Or raking through the thicket of toys and who knows what,

Or once again erasing that pencilled backwards 5,

Or cutting food for hours, yourself oft getting cut,

Vacuum, detergent, wet wipes, grocery bags, miles to drive—

These may not seem as lovely, their fruits meager and mean;

Scarce color or sweet fragrance floats up your work to hail;

Scant thanks on earth for toils of the domestic queen,

No praises for her battle when chaos-weeds assail.

Yet eyes of higher justice, that watch the hidden things,

Observe her life of giving and see there nothing small;

For her is kept a splendor beyond the themes man sings,

Where something fair shall blossom from humble labors all.

And know you that your efforts are altered even now,

By wise and mighty wonder, to sweet resplendent bloom,

Glowing bright hues exquisite, all gathered—who knows how?—

Around the King of Heaven, His high throne to perfume.

The Mercy of Fatima

Twenty long centuries back through Earth’s story,

Broken man heard gracious words from her Son,

“I came to lead up the fallen to glory,

Seeking the lost, lest sin bring them undone.”

So she, one century past, came descending

Out from the splendor and peace near His throne,

Down ‘mid the ugliness and hate unending

That men were reaping, as first they had sown.

 

She came, our Mother! all mercy and brightness,

Strong seaside beacon, all blazing with grace,

Seeing in tattered souls the divine likeness

Hurtling through lonely chasms of space.

Through humble messengers she gave her warning:

“Turn now from sins, lest they tear you apart!

Answer my Son with your love, not with scorning;

Come and learn virtue from your Mother’s heart.”

 

Her chosen seers, they saw her heart bleeding;

With Heaven’s sight she saw all, maybe wept,

For she beheld many loved children speeding

Through empty lives, faith and pledges unkept;

Swarms of the suffering, deep rivers running

Thick with the flow of their blood and their tears;

Cold, careless souls all the agony shunning;

Stony eyes seeing naught but what appears.

 

Yet in her breast her Son’s own heart beat truly,

His will, His love, were hers, burning to bless;

Dear Mother, gathering her children newly,

Clement Queen, pouring forth Heaven’s largesse!

By words and wisdom, by her Spouse the Spirit,

By lights on high and the sun’s changing face,

She made that field, for all who drew near it,

Even in thought, a great wellspring of grace.

 

Come, tortured hearts! fly in hope to your Mother,

Come, doubting souls, hail your most gracious Queen;

No foul grime-clouds can once hope to smother

The Heaven-star now at Fatima seen!

Once with the sun’s mighty flame she dried sweetly

Thousands who gathered in tempest and rain;

Now souls, with pain or crime sodden completely,

In her Son’s flaming love she warms again!

 

Through this past century, blackest and bleakest

Of any age that has known foolish man,

How many heard, when their spirits grew weakest,

Her gentle call, “Rise, come home–you still can!”

How many came to that high-favored field,

Seeking their share in the grace that she brought,

And found their mustard-seed faith, sown there, yield

Harvest of joy beyond all hope or thought!

The House of Vision

Stars glistened in the darkness above the house. Konom stared up at their tiny lights, floating about the scarcely visible outlines of the high roof and the surrounding trees. For all these decades, this place—the weathered stone walls swathed in ivy, the cluttered kitchen, the quiet tower room, and oh, the East Wing—had been his home and his life. What was to happen now?

Abruptly he shook himself and strode back toward the front door. Having taken his time as usual, he had about made up his mind concerning the next order of business. He only had to go back and review the day’s records.

Once in the vestibule, he took the flickering lamp hanging just above him, as the house was mostly dark now. He turned left, as almost always. Right was the East Wing, and while he brought guests there every day, he hardly ever had occasion to go there himself. After all, his life was so simple . . . usually.

Konom made his way through the hall and across the kitchen, still lit and still strewn about with herbs, leaves, vegetables, grimy pots, and other things. Yes, it wanted tidying; he would see to that later. Coming to the stairs, he began ascending—carefully, as he grimly recalled the proofs in recent days that his body required more caution now. The winding stone steps spiraled upward for two flights. He paused at the top of the first flight, not because he meant to enter the library, but because he was tired—well, it had been a long day!—and in order to give an affectionate, half-sad glance at the intricately carved doors that guarded the books. Yes, it was a fine collection in there, as no one—or almost no one—knew better than he. He would ensure that they continued to be appreciated.

Breaking again out of reverie, he turned back to the stairs and climbed up to the top. Here was the tower room, not really mounted on much of a tower, but high enough to be fairly secluded. For Konom, it was a sort of study, containing a battered, stained desk, a few books for his own personal purposes, a pad of blank pages and some loose papers, some dried leaves of various kinds, and, of course, the Record Book. Were there any more of its kind left in this part of the world? Not likely. Standing upright against the back wall, a little taller than Konom himself, it collected within its fine brown-green leather covers all that transpired in the house each day.

With a short sigh, Konom set the lamp down on the desk and approached the book. Its back was facing toward him, of course, so that the most recent records would be on top; but the two covers were identical, both bearing the Chari-King’s seal and the house’s name, Domus Horoma. The House of Vision—a lonely but steady beacon, Konom thought, more needed than ever in this fogged world, when men had forgotten the higher powers and wonders of the world, once their source of guidance and security. Folk always needed guidance—they were foolish at the best of times—but now they really had grown blind, living in empty places inside their own minds, blind to a better existence that could be theirs. At least there were still places like this to which they could come.

Lifting the back cover, Konom briefly glanced across the nearest page, where the shimmering images, pale but quite lifelike, depicted all that had gone on that day. It had been a busy day, with several calls, but the important part had not come until the evening. Locating its beginning near the bottom of the page, without further ado, he stepped in.

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