Marcy S., age 62, North Carolina

A long silence! For several weeks now a group (between 9 and 11) of us has been meeting at the church every morning (M-F) between 6 and 7 for prayer. At first I had planned to join them a couple days a week, not wanting to give up my private time with the Lord, but after a few mornings of experiencing the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, I couldn’t stay away. We form a circle, holding hands, and each one prays and intercedes as the Spirit directs. Instead of feeling exhausted after an hour on our feet we feel refreshed and strengthened. Our prayers are being answered, too. What a mighty God we serve! 

Most of the members of the group are much more “fervent in spirit” than I am. Lord, I have known for years that my No. 1 enemy is fear — fear of people and of rejection. In order to protect myself from being rejected, I tend to withdraw (although not as much as I used to) from people instead of reaching out in love. Then I feel left out, on the outside looking in, and that’s an even more painful form of rejection (which I bring on myself).

Your Word tells me that perfect love casts out fear and that You have not given me the spirit of fear but of love. Father God, You are perfect love. Your precious Son died on the cross to set me free from every form of bondage. Your Holy Spirit of love is living within me. How can I still be bound by fear?

Last night You gave me the grace (or whatever I needed) to let go and give my body to my husband in a way I haven’t been able to for years (because I didn’t want to and thought I couldn’t). This morning I feel a sense of release — some inner barrier was broken down last night. Your perfect love cast out some of my fear. I want it all to go Lord — I want to live every moment in Your perfect freedom and glorious liberty. Without fear I’ll be able to love freely and give of myself and pour out to others without self-consciousness or embarrassment.

You are setting me free by Your Holy Ghost power — You are setting me free this very hour. Down deep in my soul, You’re making me whole. You’re setting me free, free, free by your Holy Ghost power and I praise and bless and thank You with my whole being!

Marcy S., age 47, North Carolina

From One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

“…I’d take a look at my own self in the mirror and wonder how it was possible that anybody could manage such an enormous thing as being what he was… That ain’t me, that ain’t my face. It wasn’t even me when I was trying to be that face. I wasn’t even really me then. I was just being the way I looked, the way people wanted. It don’t seem like I ever have been me. How can McMurphy be what he is?”

The eternal search for one’s real self. I wonder if anyone ever finds himself long enough and fully enough to be himself. The rare moments that I have found and been my true self have come unexpectedly when I was making no effort to find and no effort to relax. This search isn’t like looking for a lost item around the house where you do have to make an effort. That is, if you’re looking for something that someone else misplaced. If you misplaced it yourself, sometimes you remember where you put it if you just stop trying to remember.

What is a person’s real, true self? Is he born with it or does it grow within him as he lives? I think the true self is a gift of God — it is creative, it is free, self-giving, open, trusting and trustworthy. Is this what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit? Integrity, wholeness. When we lose our lives we find them.

Is it because we are finite that we are incapable of figuring things out for ourselves, of conducting our own search for self and finding and being who we really are? If we believe that God created us then we really can’t find ourselves apart form Him. There’s a verse in the Bible about “our lives bing hidden with Christ in God” (or in Christ with God?).

Marcy S., age 47, North Carolina

We hate what we fear — or at least have very strong feelings of hostility toward that which we fear. So my fear of men has lots of hostility in it. Stop this!! I hereby take a vow that between now and January 1, 1972, I will not indulge in anymore negative analyzing. I may not have any control over my feelings but I can certainly decide what thoughts I’m going to entertain. Each day for the rest of this month I’m going to write a positive thought in this book.

Trust the Holy Spirit.

Marcy S., age 47, North Carolina

How can I stay in my Adult and still not take things (and especially myself) too seriously? My predominating image of an adult is someone who is rather grim and stern. And worse than that, cynical and hard. Sometimes when I am this way I’m very uncomfortable. But my image of a child is distorted, too — a weak, dependent, insecure, frightened little person. Both these images are based on feelings.

Somewhere in the shadows I catch a glimpse of an adult who is warm and gay, compassionate, trusting, courageous. Once in awhile I feel this way and am able to act accordingly.

Marcy S., age 47, North Carolina

Last night I was thinking about the old question: Is it a matter of enjoying life if I could or if I would? I would if I could, or I could if I would? That can really get confusing, but I decided it was probably the latter. Because every time something good and hopeful and exciting comes along, I either reject it completely, or put off acting upon it — instead of saying yes! and latching on. I’m letting despair and boredom dominate my life. I seem determined to reject all of God’s great gifts. All of a sudden I realized how stupid I’m being — and how hard I’ve been working just to be miserable! “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Now I know (just as I’ve known many times before and lost) what my part is — not to make any great effort to be worthy of God’s love, not to hand everything to God in a neat package, but simply to accept. God gives; we accept His gifts. And our lives are changed, transformed by the glorious power of His love and joy and peace.

Marcy S., age 47, North Carolina

Lord, if I could only relax and enjoy life. Pickett signed his letter “we wish you happiness and laughter and peace.” And that’s what I wish for my family and myself. But there’s always (nearly) this holding back inside me, this feeling that happiness occasions, it won’t last. And it’s not a superficial happiness I want — everything going along smoothly, no problems — it’s the deep joy and peace of experiencing God’s love and acceptance and presence.

It’s as if I’m forever saying “no” to life, to love, to happiness and peace, to good feelings and good things.

Is it because I really enjoy being miserable and lonely and unhappy? Maybe so. But that’s just as much of a prison as being miserable because of deeply ingrained feelings of unworthiness, etc.

Both of my parents had a good sense of humor and I remember many happy times when I was a child. But they were also grimly serious about the evils of drinking and “too much” social life, and that it wasn’t right to enjoy extra comforts when some people are starving or homeless.

I think I feel that it’s somehow wrong to be happy or to enjoy life when there’s so much suffering in the world. Even though this isn’t logical because my being miserable is only adding to the suffering, not alleviating it.

Marcy S., age 17, Tennessee

Dear Diary — In some states this is Thanksgiving Day, but not in Tennessee. George’s school observes it this week, though, so George and “a guy” left Ben Lippon yesterday and were supposed to arrive on the 7:00 p.m. bus out at Shelley’s last night. Mother, Mrs. McClure and I drove out to meet them but “no soap.” Two buses came and stopped but no boys. Decided that they have missed connections in Knoxville. 

It was fun sitting in the car and waiting, though. We discussed various subjects, among them “Johnny” Winslow, whom I saw raking leaves and whistling on my home this afternoon. Needless to say, I nearly passed out. He is Mrs. Winslow’s 50-60-year-old son such a book-worm that he’s a bore, despite a sense of humor. In private he’s “Johnnie” to us; boasts that he hasn’t read an English book for five years. (French is his passion now) and gets up at midnight to listen to a news broadcast. A carload of soldiers stopped at the filling station and restaurant across the way and — well, there’s something about a uniform! About 7:30 we gave up and drove home. Mother blames Clure for the mix-up, ’cause she is so indefinite. I washed the dishes which Daddy had put to soak, and then read A Girl of the Limberlost till bedtime. No sign of the boys. Mother said that at 3:00 this morning she heard a car stop and a door slam and had her suspicions — sure enough, it was George and “the guy” arriving from Shelly’s in a taxi, having left Knoxville on the 12:30 bus. 

This morning we awoke to cloudy skies and rain, which was certainly welcome. I practiced with a vim, and could hardly wait to see George. Then, however, we weren’t even sure they had arrived. Went to school in the rain minus my “elephant’s feet” for the first time in my life. Mother and Daddy were concerned, however, that I would be in bed with pneumonia or something soon. No chapel, but Spelling exam. Then in Chemistry class Mr. Goddard returned yesterday’s test papers for us to look over. When he handed me mine with a grade of 98 on it he remarked, “That’s a pretty good grade for a ‘little girl.’” I certainly felt grand. [In margin: “Mary suggested that we take turns be week wearing the Friendship ring — she put it on my finger for a week.”] Then in English Mrs. Bunch gave out our exam papers, which we discussed. I made 94, next to the highest grade in the room. Then she discovered that she had made some mistakes which raised my grade to 95. We didn’t have time to recite the lines from Macbeth before the class (thank goodness!) so Mrs. Bunch appointed a captain in each row to whom everyone else the row was to say his lines some time before tomorrow morning. I was captain in our race. Marg. Louie said her twenty-eight lines (twenty-five required) to me before the bell rang and made two mistakes. Hence to Latin exam, which was wonderfully easy. In glorious mood. When Margaret and I finished we retired to the back of the room where I recited my sixty-five lines to her. When the first bell rang I got excited and said a “that” for a “which” — my only mistake. Yippee! It was still lovely and rainy at noon and William came for Mary, who invited us to be driven home, too. Helen sat in the front with Willie, as usual, with Mary and I in the back. We exchanged a few whispers, and driving up Cumberland Street with the almost bare trees on each side and a carpet of yellow leaves in the street was lovely. Mary expressed her love of days like this, and I dittoed it. We alighted in front of my house with thanks. Then Helen and I dashed in to see George but he and the “guy” had gone to town. Clure said the other boy was quite a bit older than George. We went home for dinner, planning to try again after school. I was in a glorious mood and Mother tried to calm me down. She doesn’t approve of a “depth” mood one day and a “height” mood the next. I try not to be moody, but sometimes I can’t help being up or down. It was lovely going back to school — not raining, just cloudy and breezy. The trees blown bare of leaves, looked so strange. One tree at the Yeargans’ still had an abundance of red and yellow leaves on its branches, but on the sidewalk was a carpet of red, yellow and green. I just wanted to stand there and gaze to my heart’s content. In history class we had time to work on our Monday’s assignment. Exam tomorrow. [In margin: “P.S. P.T.A. so we were excused at 2:45.” And below this: “In fifth study hall I listened to some more Macbeth recitations. One girl with twenty-eight lines made twenty-five mistakes!”] After school Helen and I took Barbara and went down again to see George, but his mother informed us that he was at town! So — Helen and Barbara went home and I went in to study. Mother was at P.T.A. — I called Mary twice but the line was busy. So I sat down with history to study till 4:30. About 3:30, however, just as we were winning the Revolution, I heard a loud and familiar noise next door and realized joyfully (?) that George was home.

Marcy S., age 47, North Carolina

I can’t decide whether I need to keep trying to “think things through” or to stop trying. The latter is something I can’ seem to will to do — it just happens from time to time. So maybe it is necessary to keep seeking new insights — who knows what is going on in our subconscious minds? Insights affect feelings and I guess feelings have a lot to do with being able to relax and trust — so when it seems impossible to stop trying, I’ll plow on. But I always wonder whether this is the leading of the Holy Spirit — or whether He wants me just to be still and wait.

I’m afraid I feel that God can’t heal me until I understand all the whys and wherefores of my fears, hang-ups, etc. etc.

This sounds so familiar — I’m forever getting stuck in this rut!

Some insights came a few days ago and I kept putting off thinking about it — now it’s nearly gone. It had something to do with my not wanting to be around people I know — especially in a public place like the grocery store. I don’t mind people as long as I don’t know them and so don’t feel any obligation to speak or carry on a conversation — I often wish I were invisible so that I could just go about my business without anyone noticing me. Is that because I’m so afraid of people’s acceptance? so afraid of not measuring up, of letting them down?

Marcy S., age 47, North Carolina

Insights often come when I get up in the night to go to the bathroom — when I’m not quite awake. This popped into my head the night before last — I’m afraid to be myself in the most basic relationship of all — with Harold. Just as I was afraid to be myself with my parents as a child. Because every time I tried to assert my independence I was punished — often by the “deep freeze,” which was the most devastating form, I guess. Everything was fine as long as I was a sweet, docile, obedient, completely dependent little girl. No wonder I lost my identity and began to feel like an appendage of my mother. There was often a sense of unreality about everything.

Which is the way I feel now with Harold. We’re playing a game about ignoring his drinking problem — pretending it doesn’t exist. Even when I have faced it and confronted him, he denies the problem and we start playing the game again. We’re both acting like children. The other day I determined that the next time I saw him coming out of the closet with a glass or heard him closing the drawer where he keeps his bottle I was going to tell him very calmly and without anger or judgment that I knew what he was doing and that I just had to be honest about it. But did I? — no, it was like it always has been — he looks like a little boy who thinks he’s getting by with something and it would be cruel of me to make him face reality. I’ve always been chicken-hearted — could never bear to show anyone up or see them put on the spot. At least not someone I cared about so maybe I really do love Harold.

No, maybe it’s not that I care so much as it is that I’m afraid. Because we played games when I was a child — Mother and Daddy and I — but being a timid, insecure child I never had the courage to call them. I feel the same way now, even though I’m a grown woman and Harold is my husband, not my father.

Marcy S., age 17, Tennessee

Dear Diary — Another Armistice Day. Exactly twenty-three years ago today the great guns ceased and the white dove of peace flew over the bloody battlefields of France. Last night I saw “Hell’s Angels” at the Webbo, an old picture, but with excellent fight scenes. Photography has certainly improved, as well as make-up, action and unity of plot. There was a short subject on American history and was very interesting. I came the very nearest I ever have to swearing when it showed the horrors of war in Spain and China — little children, Barbara’s age and younger, hobbling around with crutches — legless, armless. It was so pitiful, and so maddening! I nearly screamed! 

This morning dawned bright and cold — I was glad the weather had improved for the sake of the parade, the Legion program, and the game, but I love cloudy Armistice Days — they seem more in keeping with the feelings you have (or I do) on that day. Slept till 8:30, due to no school. Daddy left about 9:30 to tend to some business (the parade was scheduled for 10:15). I kept the home fires burning while Mother went next-door to seek Clure’s aid in concocting a salad for the Legion “feed.” Then, just before I left for school, I went over my piece once more, and got Mother’s stamp of approval. 

At 10:15, dressed in Glee Club uniform, I arrived in the high school gym, where the other members were also gathered. Rufus was beginning to get nervous. We went over our two pieces once and then started for the auditorium. Before we left Mr. Walters came in with his camera, having been too late to get a picture of the parade (for the Arrow). He is quite good-looking, but for some reason I don’t like him. Perhaps it is because I’m off all members of the male sex for life! Anyway, when we got to the auditorium there were quite a few people there and the State Guard (Home Guard, I suppose it should be called), Legion, Drill Team (part of it) had already assembled, the parade being over. Ruth and I, with the help of Clay, got the piano on the stage opened and the bench transplanted from the other piano to that one. Then we sat down front until the speaker, Daddy, and others went up on the stage, and we followed. 

About ten till 11:00 Daddy (Commander of the Legion) asked for the colors to be advanced and Mr. Adkisson, a veteran of the last war, and his son, who is in the present army, carried the two American flags to the platform. It was very impressive. Then the chaplain of the post, Mr. Taylor, gave a beautiful invocation, followed by the singing (group) of “America” (two stanzas), with me trying to carry the men in front along, who didn’t seem exactly sure of the words. At 11:00 Bobby Rutherford, also on the stage, arose and stepped to the front. We all faced the west with him, as he played “Taps.” It certainly put me in the right mood for my reading, which was next on the program. 

Ruth sat down at the piano and I went to the edge of the stage and announced “The Unknown Soldier” by Billy Rose, to the accompaniment of “I Wonder Where My Buddies Are Tonight.” Silence — I waited for Ruth and she waited for me. After what seemed an hour to me, but what in reality was only a few seconds, I gave up and plunged in, Ruth following. I wasn’t a bit nervous, and dared to look people right in the face, as I asked my questions from side to side. Rufus didn’t play the bugle call as I had expected her to, but it didn’t matter. And she ended up fine, a moment after I had finished, with the chorded climax. Instead of standing there until she finished, I forgot myself and turn to go off, but remembered just in time, and waited. We got quite a good hand as we left the stage to take our seats with the Glee Club. As I stepped over Jean Robinson she whispered a nice compliment. 

Then, out of place (the Glee Club was scheduled to sing at that point) Mr. Smalley, after reading a poem suitable to the occasion, introduced the speaker, Mr. Dausset, past State Commander. He immediately mentioned “that beautiful musical reading” just rendered, which was very nice of him. He is a fine speaker, but “carried on” just a bit too long, repeating himself rather frequently, and some of us began to get restless. I was on the verge of doing something desperate when he at last took his seat and the Glee Club was introduced. Oh, yes, once during his speech, my mind wandered and when I came to, everyone was clapping. A fine time to day-dream! 

Well, the Glee Club rose to the occasion, and we took our places in front of the stage, below it. Our numbers were “Taps ’Til Reveille,” and “God of Our Fathers.” I looked out in the sea of faces when my courage permitted, and there near the back was little Barbara, sitting dreamily on her mother’s lap. She showed all the signs of having just awakened. We were then asked to lead the audience in singing the national anthem. Jean Robinson, next to me, took my hand, and I felt so nice and friendly inside. I sang with all my heart, with my eyes on the flag draped in the center of the balcony. Mr. Taylor then delivered the benediction and the program was over. We Glee Clubers went back to our seats for wraps, etc.