Latter-day Jane

A happy diversion of life, love and sisterly advice for Jane Austen fans everywhere. [There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart. -Jane Austen]


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We’re either helping to STOP or ENABLE domestic violence. How will we use our voices?

Seven weeks ago, I shared a very personal experience involving domestic violence. Hours after posting it, I felt consumed with REGRET. It felt as though I had emotionally stripped down in front of everyone. When I went to bed that evening, the flood gates opened and the tears poured out. I felt raw and exposed, and I wanted to hide my feelings from everyone, including myself. My husband was there to help me through it. I know it is difficult for him when this ghost of the past unexpectedly resurfaces. It doesn’t come back often these days. But when we write and recall, a part of us re-lives what we’re writing, and that’s what I experienced. [Here’s the original post: “I can understand why some men abuse their wives…”]

break the silence

I’m posting this again as we close out Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I hadn’t planned to say anything. All month long, I have avoided acknowledging it, hoping I could slip quietly into November. But here we are at the end of the month, and I’m realizing that I’ve been trying to spread the rug over the mess rather than spreading awareness, and that’s exactly what we have to STOP DOING. 

So today, I remember, and I hope that you will also remember. There are women (and men) out there who need us. Today, I also give thanks. I give thanks for a kind husband with a generous spirit. He loves me, he believes in me, and we do our best to lift each other up. He opens my eyes to things I might not otherwise notice — including an awesome Taylor Swift song with a powerful message that I hadn’t considered. And comic relief in the form of a Spanish-language variety show called Sabado Gigante. He is a beautiful man and I know that I am a lucky woman.

I also give thanks for incredibly supportive parents. They were there to help carry me through when I needed help standing. They still do. My husband and parents, along with my siblings and their families, aunt and uncle, cousins, and a handful of best friends, formed a team of support that proved essential.

Never doubt the difference you might make in the life of another person. If you know someone who may need a listening ear, or a word of encouragement, don’t let this moment slip by. Do something.

Sometimes, it’s enough to say “I’m here.” 


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Instead of casting stones, pave pathways of hope

casting stones, paving pathways final

I’ve been giving some thought to the peaks and valleys that make up this landscape called life.

At times, the mountains we are tasked with climbing seem impossibly high, while the valleys into which we descend seem far from the sun’s light. We traverse raging rapids, as well as enjoy the occasional respite of a gentle stream; we feel the burn of blistering heat, and the cooling waves of a much-needed breeze. This landscape translates into joy, sorrow, pleasure, pain, and a myriad of other experiences and emotions.

There are obstacles. Some, we experience for a few passing moments, while others, we battle or endure for the better part of a lifetime. Some, we choose. Others are chosen for us, by environment, by circumstance, maybe even by our genes.

We each have a deeply personal experience while we are here on this earth. No two lives are exactly alike. We each fight battles that at times, are very difficult to understand.

But here’s something we can understand:

Casting stones is a choice. Further, casting stones can be cast aside. 

It’s understandable that we want to explain the difficulties of life. As humans, we have an innate need to explain what’s going on around us. ‘What’s the root cause?’ we want to know. Why is someone dealing with disease, disability, illness, cancer, depression, divorce, abuse, violence, or some other trial?

In some cases, answers are readily available. Other times, there are no answers – or at least, no satisfactory answers. Regardless of the answers or lack of them, regardless of how the obstacle came about, we have a choice in how we respond to those who are suffering. We have a choice in how we educate, teach, and spread awareness about these things that trouble us.

Whether we lift and encourage, or diminish and discourage – it’s a choice.

This doesn’t mean that we can’t share our deeply personal journeys of pain and heartache. It doesn’t mean that we have to turn a blind eye to injustice, burying painful experiences deep within ourselves, for fear of inadvertently casting a stone. It also doesn’t mean that we have to agree with everything and everyone.

It does mean that we should be less judgmental of the heartache and suffering of others.

Vincent van Gogh, The Parable of the Good Samaritan

Vincent van Gogh, The Parable of the Good Samaritan

It means when we see others suffering, robbed, stripped, and dying along the proverbial highway of life, rather than haughtily distancing ourselves while wondering how they brought about such misfortune, we choose to follow the example of the Good Samaritan.

We show compassion.

We bind wounds.

We give shelter.

We treat them as we would want to be treated. 

Instead of casting stones, we can choose to pave pathways of hope.

Our struggles here on this earth are part of the reason we’re here. They bring about learning and growth. They give us the chance to lift each other, share our experiences, and ultimately, to choose whom we will serve and how we will live our lives.

Our loving Heavenly Father has far more compassion for our broken spirits and bodies than we can fully comprehend. Only He truly knows our minds and our hearts.

 

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“Defend your beliefs with courtesy and compassion, but defend them!” ~Jeffrey R. Holland