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Thoughts on life by Teri McCarthy

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The Misery of Being Misunderstood

Posted by admin in November 2nd, 2016 | 4 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

The more you try to explain, the worse it gets. Ever been there? The more you try to bridge the gap, the wider the gap becomes. One of my greatest struggles in this world is the angst I get if someone misjudges me. Makes.Me.Crazy. There is a hilarious episode of Everybody Loves Raymond titled “Somebody Hates Raymond.” The entire episode Ray is trying to figure out why this guy hates him so much and how Ray can clear the air and make things right. Doesn’t happen. The writers were able to hit on the average Joe’s struggle with rejection over misunderstanding. “If they only knew my heart!” Or, “If I could just explain, I know I could make him understand.” And the always useful, “If we could just sit down and talk…” But sometimes, for whatever reasons, there will be people in our lives that simply want to keep their negative opinions of us. Why? I have no idea. But it happens and I guess the upside of it all is that it happened to Jesus too…a lot. As Jesus Followers we are called by God to be conformed to the image of Christ and most of the time that happens through suffering, “…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His image…” (Philippians 3:10).

You know how Scripture tells us that Jesus was in all ways tempted? You know how Scripture tells us that He understands our burdens, pain, and most of all our humanity? (Hebrews 4:15). Well, He does. And He especially understands rejection. He was falsely accused; He was misquoted; He was wrongly labeled; hateful and evil motives were assigned to His good deeds. Hmmm…any of that sound familiar? Suffering the injustice of being wrongly accused and misunderstood actually allows us to participate in the sufferings of Christ. Make sense? These situations afford us the opportunity to be formed into the image of Christ and that, well, is a good thing. And it is a thing that I myself have not yet yielded too. UGH. It is hard.

Cami Otman, MS, a contributor to Psychology Today writes, “One of the hardest burdens to bear is being misunderstood by other people. All of us at one point or another experience looking into the eyes of another person and realizing that he or she simply does not see us the way we truly are, and probably never will. How you respond to being misunderstood will be the difference between spending a good deal of time trying to correct other people’s misperceptions of you or being free to carry on with your life no matter what others think of you.” What? You mean I can actually go on living my life even if there are people in the world who do not like me? Who have misjudged me? Who have a wrong opinion of me? Is that for real?!?

Otman goes on, “Whether those who misunderstand you are strangers or family members, you have to choose what will drive your behavior: your own conscience or your fear of what others might think of you. Choose your conscience. It lives inside of you and goes everywhere you go. Tolerating the fact that others believe you are dishonest/unkind/stingy/rude/hypocritical (fill in the blank) is not easy. It takes a great deal of self-control not to retrace your steps and try to constantly explain yourself so that people might see you the way you truly are. But trust me, you’ll never finish the race if you do that.”

Oh boy. And finishing the race is kind of what it is all about, isn’t it? What does the Apostle Paul say (back to Philippians 3), “…but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Then Paul says in Acts 20, referring to great trials and tribulations, “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

It is tough and I sure haven’t learned the lesson. But I believe at some point in all of our lives we have to reach the decision that there are things here in this world we just simply cannot fix. Check with the loved ones around you who know you and whose walk with God you respect and ask them, “Am I wrong here?” Ask the Lord to reveal any hidden sin or bitterness in your heart and always keep your heart open to any reconciliation that may manifest in your life. Because ultimately there is only one opinion that truly matters: God’s. And eventually, maybe only in the sweet-by-and-by, it will all get worked out. Peace.

Road Signs

Posted by admin in October 6th, 2016 | 7 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

Am I the only person who likes road signs while driving? I like them because they tell me what is ahead and if I need a warning. Caution: curve ahead. Yield: there’s oncoming traffic. Slowdown: school crossing. Love those road signs. Need them.

There are some “road signs” in our Christian walk, but not always and not as many as I would like. In July 2015, Daryl and I moved back to the US after a dreamy and wonderful five-year existence in beautiful Lithuania. Loved my job. Loved my students. Loved my friends. Loved Lithuania. I truly felt God’s good pleasure (in the words of Eric Liddell). But we knew in our last year there that God was calling us back to the US. Promptings. Urgings. And some tangible evidence that we were needed back home. So we packed up our wonderful life in Lithuania and returned to the States with joyful expectations and a plan. Plans are funny. Plans are stupid.

On the night of our arrival back home in Kansas City, all of Daryl’s kids greeted us at the airport and all the grandkids were there too. It was a lovely sight and all felt as it should […] Continue Reading…

Heroes, Transitions, and Faith

Posted by admin in April 20th, 2015 | 3 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

Whenever I write a post for this blog, I always wish that it could be brilliant. I wish I could be a brilliant writer, but I’m not. I have this deep desire to write profound thoughts as well as thought-provoking ideas. I’m that land-locked penguin that wishes she was a swan. But that doesn’t stop me from trying.

Sadly, after five years here in lovely Lithuania, Daryl and I are moving back to the USA. But leaving Lithuania is not the only big change. After nearly 20 years of working with IICS (now called Global Scholars) neither Daryl nor I will be with the organization any longer. Our departure from Lithuania inadvertently becomes our departure from IICS.

Wow. Big change. Big transition.

Here’s a piece I put together for our colleagues and friends. My words, though not eloquent nor terribly weighty, do come from the heart.

Greetings from cloudy and very cold Vilnius! Spring in Lithuania is more of a state of mind than an actual season change. I hope and pray that you are flourishing in your walks with God, your host cultures, your classrooms, and of course your families! All of you—each of you—have been a tremendous […] Continue Reading…

Am I a Pharisee?

Posted by admin in March 1st, 2015 | 6 comments 
Published in freedom, obedience

Recently I received an email from a sister in Christ calling me a Pharisee. Hmmm…a Pharisee? The dictionary gives two definitions of Pharisee: 1) A Pharisee was a member of an ancient Jewish sect that emphasized strict interpretation and observance of the Mosaic law in both its oral and written form; 2) A hypocritically self-righteous person. I think my sister was probably referring to the second definition. And maybe she’s right. However, it is that first definition that I was really aiming for – in a New Testament kind of way. I think anyone who knows me, knows that I live in a black and white world. I am devoted to absolutes: right/wrong, good/evil, yes/no. I am teaching a semantics class this semester and I repeat again and again, “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” Yup. Pretty black and white.

Sadly our world is often lived in the gray areas. Gray. Dismal. Unclear. And if you try to draw clear distinctions, as I am prone to do, then there is the question of being judgmental. Are we as followers of Christ ever directed by Scripture to be judgmental? And what is Christ referring to when He […] Continue Reading…

Walking About On My Own

Posted by admin in May 11th, 2013 | 5 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

I hate being a hateful person who hates people. A good friend of mine wrote to me today, “You know one of the reasons I want to be in heaven is I want to see what it feels like to have no sin in my life—I am not sure how we get rid of the hate and frustration…and I am sure my sin clouds my view of things. So I would love to know what it feels like to have no sin.”

It was the first time I’d ever thought of Heaven in those terms—as being sin-free living. To me Heaven always has meant seeing Jesus (yay), being healed of all of our diseases, getting along well with others, and being able to live in peace. But being completely free of sin hadn’t really entered my mind; not like that. I read my friend’s words and just started to weep. Yes. I want to be free from sin. I know I’m forgiven each time I ask God to cleanse me of my sin. And I know the Holy Spirit works in me to convict me of sin and help me to overcome it, but I can honestly say […] Continue Reading…

A Postcard from the Ledge

Posted by admin in December 4th, 2012 | 9 comments 
Published in faith, Lithuania, obedience

I love being in Lithuania. Especially on days like today when the sun is shining and there is fresh snow on the ground. A delicious 21 degrees Fahrenheit is for me a perfect temperature. But not all days are like this…some days it’s a struggle. Not because of Lithuania, but because of homesickness, missing family and friends. I often wonder what am I missing in the lives and events of those I love back home in America?

Obedience means different things to different people. For some it is raising a family; for others it is starting a small business or keeping financial records at an organization that provides humanitarian aid. For Daryl and me it has meant to travel 5,057 miles away from home to live as strangers in a foreign land. We are deaf—we have no idea what is being said around us. If someone was to call out, “FIRE”, we’d have no idea what was going on. We are illiterate: as academics it is a difficult struggle to not be able to read or write; not to comprehend something as simple as a label on a jar. We are mute: we can’t answer when people speak to […] Continue Reading…

Patches of Godlight

Posted by admin in October 1st, 2012 | 5 comments 
Published in faith, Lithuania, obedience

In our apartment building here in Vilnius we are required to clean the common areas/entry areas of our building every third month. There’s a list on the door as you leave the building reminding all the tenants which month is their month to clean. Welcome to the cooperative neighborhood of a former Soviet State. September was our month.

It’s not that I mind this duty so much, it’s more of a hassle than anything else. Daryl and I do clean the area together, sweeping, dusting and mopping. We also shake the welcome mats and clean off the sidewalk leading up to the building. But to be perfectly honest, it’s not my favorite thing to do. Once I just half-heartedly swept and didn’t even mop! There are times when it is our turn that we take a paper towel and spot clean. Not really the right way to do this job. Argh! (Not the pirate argh, more like the ugh argh).

But recently Colossians 3:23 kept rolling around in my head, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” Not just when you get paid? Not just when people are watching? Not […] Continue Reading…

Who Remembers Second Place?

Posted by admin in May 23rd, 2012 | 9 comments 
Published in Lithuania

Okay, I gotta start out telling you how all this came about. I wanted to read the Book of Acts this year and remind myself of the life and times of the early Church. This has to be at least my 20th reading of this book, but for the first time EVER something hit me. Let’s look at these verses then I’ll explain.

Acts 1:21-26: “‘Judas must now be replaced. The replacement must come from the company of men who stayed together with us from the time Jesus was baptized by John up to the day of his ascension, designated along with us as a witness to his resurrection.’”

(Insert: So we’re talking about 120 people. And out of that band of Jesus’s followers they selected two…)

“They nominated two: Joseph Barsabbas, nicknamed Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed, ‘You, O God, know every one of us inside and out. Make plain which of these two men you choose to take the place in this ministry and leadership that Judas threw away in order to go his own way.’ They then drew straws. Matthias won and was counted in with the eleven apostles.”

For me, this story illustrates perfectly how guys […] Continue Reading…

Waiting…

Posted by admin in November 21st, 2011 | 5 comments 
Published in Waiting

I spend a lot of time waiting these days. Waiting for the bus. Waiting for FedEx. Waiting for OTR carpools. Waiting for water delivery. Waiting for laundry to dry. Waiting for translation. Waiting for Daryl. Waiting in line for groceries. Waiting.

Funny thing about waiting in a foreign land–it’s not like waiting for a checkup in the doctor’s office back home or teeth cleaning at my dentist’s. For those things I usually take a book, a favorite magazine and a nice cup of coffee and actually enjoy the wait. Waiting in that way is different. No real worries like, “Did I misunderstand my appointment?” “Am I sure I’m waiting in the right place?” “What’s holding things up?” “What am I missing here?”

Waiting in a foreign land is more difficult than in one’s native country. Why? Well there are two main reasons: one, if you don’t speak the language you are a deaf, illiterate mute. Secondly, you can never rest while waiting in a foreign land because you are constantly looking for cues, clues, watching others, ‘on alert’ in case an announcement is made and the crowd moves. In a foreign land you are always defining, redefining, interpreting and most […] Continue Reading…

I’m Simply Not Good Enough

Posted by admin in August 10th, 2011 | 8 comments 
Published in Lithuania, missions, obedience, teaching

We are one week from leaving for Lithuania and we still don’t have a place to live. But I keep humming the Christmas carol, “No crib for a bed…” Even the Son of God on His advent to earth didn’t have a place to live. That strikes me as so strange. It wasn’t like God didn’t know He was sending Jesus to earth during a census. That’s so odd to me. Is there a lesson in that? Probably.

I’m still struggling with certain aspects of leaving the U.S. We kept our grandsons for several days last week and I found myself crying at every funny phrase, every hysterical expression, every tender moment. How can we leave such precious ones behind? Will they forget us?

I found myself saying a bad word on Monday when I dropped something on the floor. What a mouth I have! And yet I want to use this same mouth to proclaim the Good News of Jesus to the lost. I’m such a weirdo.

We’re trying to get packed and I am fretting over what to take, what not to take, what we’ll need, what we don’t know we’ll need and over and over in my head […] Continue Reading…

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Recent Articles

  • The Misery of Being Misunderstood
  • The more you try to explain, the worse it gets. Ever been there? The more you try to bridge the...
  • Road Signs
  • Am I the only person who likes road signs while driving? I like them because they tell me what is...
  • Heroes, Transitions, and Faith
  • Whenever I write a post for this blog, I always wish that it could be brilliant. I wish I could...
  • Am I a Pharisee?
  • Recently I received an email from a sister in Christ calling me a Pharisee. Hmmm...a Pharisee? The dictionary gives two...
  • Walking About On My Own
  • I hate being a hateful person who hates people. A good friend of mine wrote to me today, “You know...

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