Friday, December 28, 2018

We Are One


Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink” (NIV, 1 Corinthians 12:12-13).

  We are one.  We exist to be together, to be there for each other in ways that we are able to comprehend but also in ways that only the Lord in His great wisdom understands.  We were created by Him to love and live with a freedom and acceptance for who we are and to experience fulfillment in our purpose for being here.
  Sadly, there are people who don’t understand they have something unique to offer this world. They feel alone and misunderstood.  I know because there was a time in my life when I felt that way. I thought if I could do things myself that I wouldn’t have to rely on anybody else for help.  I was wrong though. It wasn’t until I met the Lord that I started to realize just how wrong I was, and it was during the times of my greatest failures that I learned to look up and pray to the Lord for help, realizing I wasn’t strong enough to make everything in my life work out the way I wanted it to. It still amazes me when God reaches out to me helping me in ways only He can.  He makes me feel valued and like I matter.
  A common theme many authors and speakers discuss is how many people don’t feel loved.  Instead, they feel as though nobody really cares about them, and sometimes they sink into a depression or even commit suicide because of this.  It’s sad how many people seek to be perfect in front of others because they are afraid that if they don’t portray themselves as someone who has it all together that somehow it lessens who they are as a person. We want to protect ourselves against being mocked or receiving indignation for not fitting in when, in fact, we’re all human.
  Our weaknesses open us up to criticism from those who pretend they’re above everyone else even though they aren’t. Actually, it’s because of our weaknesses, not in spite of them, that we get down to the meat of our purpose for being here.  All facades are torn away, and we’re left with the bare bones of who we are, raw and exposed with nowhere to hide. It’s uncomfortable to feel emotionally exposed, but when we fight it, we only make it harder on ourselves. The truth is that only those who are afraid that their own faults will be exposed are happy when their fellow man falls.  I believe people need to see it’s okay to have flaws because then the barriers of perfection break down giving us the freedom to be who we are underneath.
  Ever noticed how in movies and books we root for the underdog?  Why? It’s because we like it when someone is able to conquer their problems head on, and though they sit out of life for a moment, it doesn’t hold them down forever.  The fight between who we think we are and who we actually are comes down to the deep down knowledge that we are so much more than our surface person’s agenda.
  Many of us conform to societies’ definition of perfection when, in fact, we are completely different people than we allow people to see. We are not meant to conform.  God didn’t make cookie cutter people, and He sure as heck doesn’t mean for us to place ourselves on the cookie sheet of life, being baked in an oven that is way too hot for us to stand anyway.  
  We are one.  Once we understand that we were created to be together, to join with other people in one body, then the pressure to be perfect is taken off our shoulders.  In joining together as a unit we have no need to expect more from ourselves or others because we understand we aren’t put here to live life alone. In reality, our seeds of greatness come out when we plant them in the soil of unity.   
  We are lacking in nothing we need.  We are put on this earth fully able to achieve our purpose, and nothing can stand in the way of that except our self.  We don’t need to envy those with gifts we wish we had. God loves us just the way we are, and it’s love that gives us the freedom to choose who we’re going to become.  He has enough patience to let us make mistakes, to let us figure out what works and what doesn’t. The choice is truly ours. However, when we don’t see love nodding His head at us to just try our best, we are unable to grasp the fact that it isn’t our purpose to be perfect.  That’s already been taken care of for us. That’s the reason Jesus Christ was born. It was His purpose to reach His highest potential, one that saved every human being that ever existed and will exist.
  
   

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Still Here



Ever feel like you’re walking around in a shell of your own body? I do.  I look out noticing my surroundings and the faces of people I know, but it’s like I’m observing the world through a bystander’s eyes.  There are days I feel completely disconnected from people.  I know I should be social and pretend everything is okay in the midst of a group, but I can only bring myself to be partly there.  I don’t like relating to others like this, but I refuse to be fake. 

Maybe, the observational part of me is practicing mindfulness in my own way.  But, instead of sitting still and meditating, I walk and talk to the world in a different way.  I admit, it gets lonely sometimes, but at least it’s real in its own way. My body and mind go to a different place, here yet not.

I can feel my feet grip the floor, my toes flex against the wood.  I notice how my surroundings smell, and I zone out and really taste the food I eat.  I notice things that might not seem all that significant, but for some reason they become the most important things to me, things like how I am breathing or how everything blends together into a single memorable moment in my life.  I also pay attention to my thoughts, especially things I don’t understand, like my feelings or why I can’t seem to figure out what I truly want out of life.

The Bible tells us in John 8:32 “...the truth will set you free,” but though I search for my own truth, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for. I know I have a higher purpose.  I play a part in God’s grand plan, yet I still can’t figure out how to use the gifts He gave me to the best of my ability. I feel lost, yet not entirely.  God’s light is the only point that makes sense to me.  Though I am only half here on some days, I still rest in the fact that God is my home. Whenever I feel disconnected, I can take comfort in that.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Time Is Not Guaranteed

I was on my way home after dropping my son off at school this morning when a song came on the radio, and the subject was about time.  I started getting into the beat, bobbing my head while I sat at a red light, and the words made me think about how people always think we have more time to do the things we say are important to us.  Our "Oh, I'll get to that tomorrow" mentality ends up hurting us in the long runI started wondering how many people treat the state of their eternal soul as something that can be put off day after day because they believe they have all the time in the world to get to it someday.  But, what if someday never comes?   

Our souls are such a precious gift from God, but unfortunately, some treat it like just another piece of property like a house, car, or newest cool app.  But, our souls should never be compared to a thing that will eventually rust, decay, and fade away. It's the one thing we take with us when we pass away.  

The soul is everlasting. It survives no matter what century we live in or whether we treat it like the treasure it is or we don't.  It goes with us to heaven (or hell), and the state of it should never be put off until tomorrow.  Tomorrow isn't guaranteed, and neither is the rest of today for that matter. 

Do you know where you'll be spending eternity?  If not, why not?  All it takes is a few minutes of your time to make the most important choice you'll ever make. I chose my eternity when I chose to have Jesus Christ back me.  I accepted Him into my life because I had questions about where my soul would be going once it left this plane, and I wanted to make lasting good changes in my life.  I also started thinking about the importance of the consequences of my decisions to do right or wrong in the here and now.   

Time is one thing we don't have plenty of. It's not something we like to think about, but not thinking about it isn't going to change the fact that it still flows by, we still grow older, and inevitably we all will meet our Maker one day. I want Him to know I took the life He gave me seriously.  I want God to know I listened to and heeded His Son's message about how to be sure to spend eternity with Him.  Now I'm secure in the knowledge that my soul is safe in the Master of time's hands. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

To Go or Not to Go to Church

I don't go to church.  Never really have actually. There have been stretches here and there where I'd either force myself to go alone, or there have been times when I've gone with a family member, but I have never been a church-goer per say.  I didn't grow up in a family where it was something we regularly did. 

I'm not exactly sure why I've never found a church family. I know, according to the Bible, I'm supposed to go, but I never feel like going. People there are always so happy and smiling. It's almost surreal because I can feel God's love, and the people match the feeling.  But, I've felt like an intruder of sorts because there are times when I've had to plaster on a fake smile when there.  My face has actually hurt because I did my best to not disappoint people because the atmosphere is one of worship and praise.  I didn't feel like there was room for anything else. 

Quite frankly, I can't pretend anymore. I can't pretend I'm happy or full of joy on days when all I want to do is stay in bed, curled up with ice cream and television.  When I get depressed, the last thing I want to do is be in a crowd of people who make me feel bad because I'm human. It's not a criticism towards them. I love being around positive people, I truly do. I just don't want to be the one who brings others down. 

I have to wonder how many others smile and pretend everything is great when they go to church when all the while they might be sad inside?  Human beings have so many emotions.  We don't automatically feel a certain way because we a supposed to.  So, what can I do on days when Ben and Jerry sounds more appealing than the people who, I know, would love to help lift my spirits?   

I know God wants me to go to church. I've felt Him urging me to go for months now.  I know I need that support system, and television church can only do so much for me.  It's all the inspiration without the commitment to others really, and that's not good long term.  But, I hate feeling like an outsider too.  I hate stepping inside those doors not knowing if I'll truly feel welcome, though I do realize how strange that probably sounds since churches are supposed to make everyone feel welcome.   

Sometimes, I think the pressure I put on myself to pretend to be happy all the time is really the evil one telling me nobody will accept me if I do any less than that. I mean, I know God loves and accepts me no matter what mood I'm in or what I do.  I want to put my best foot forward though.  He deserves it, and so do the people I associate with.  I know the only real answer for my predicament is prayer and taking a step out in faith to one of the churches in my area.  May God help me and give me strength to find the family I need.  And, for those who get what I'm saying, I pray the same for you too.  God bless! 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

My Mantra

On July 15th, I sat down and wrote my life mantra for the first time. I have been studying mindfulness meditation lately because there are plenty of times when I need to take a step back and look at things from a different perspective, one that is clear of fear or any other emotion that would typically hold me back from my best self. I know by looking at different situations as an outsider looking in and noticing the entireness of the situation, I can become more fully aware of my experiences. 

It's my hope that one day I will master mindfulness. Though, I realize I am not a monk, and it would take many lifetimes to do this. Still, I think it's a worthy goal to work toward. Anything that helps center us and helps us learn more about who we truly are is a good thing. This is why I decided I needed a mantra, to have something to focus my thoughts on during the times they are scattered and when I feel like I've lost a sense of direction.

My Mantra as written on July 15, 2017: 

I am a Christian. Jesus Christ is my wholehearted Savior. He is above all people and all things.  

I also believe there are certain truths in other religions. I believe there is value in finding the highest truth I can. I will not be close-minded. I will always strive to love God first, my neighbors as I love myself and to find truth and compassion for all people.  

I also realize there will be times I fail to live up to these things. Yet, I will forgive myself and others when needed and keep moving forward. 

The past will be used only for looking back to see what it's taught me – not to be dwelled upon or lured back into. The present is for learning and loving. The future is yet to be determined. What I do today will either benefit or hurt me going into the future. Therefore, I must mindfully move forward.

Every lesson, no matter if I learned it in joy or pain (which is more likely), has enabled me to become who I truly am, my highest self, so I will love myself in all seasons of my life, those I have already been through and those that are yet to come. 

I give myself permission to be human and fully experience all life offers, yet I will maintain a good moral standing to honor God, others and myself. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

First Kiss

Written on 6-11-15
Re-published on 5-25-17

“No one is perfect, until you fall in love with them” (off photo from Grey Schneider article).

I was lying in bed about a month ago, and I can only say that what I started thinking of must have come straight from God Himself because I felt an overwhelming sense of peace about it.  I started thinking about this particular picture I own.  It’s of two angels, and one angel is kissing the cheek of the other.  I believe the title of the picture is First Kiss.  It seems so innocent, a simple kiss.  The angel giving the kiss looks as though he has found his soul mate. The strange thing about it is that the angel being kissed seems almost uncomfortable, as though she’s struggling with the feelings she has for him. The expression on her face says she doesn’t know how to react to being the object of such affection. I could see in their faces genuine true innocence in that simple act. In a perfect world, that’s the way love would always be.

Sadly, many times the way a person looks in their skin becomes our basis for love. The suit may look good, but what’s underneath could be pure poison. We fall in lust with the person, and in the beginning it's always great.  The feelings are flowing back and forth in a wave of euphoria.  We feel so desired and in sync with each other. But, eventually the honeymoon wears off when we discover our partner has faults like everyone else.

That type of unrealistic love isn't supposed to last anyway.  Though fairy tales are nice, they are just that - fairy tales.  Real love in its purest form goes so much deeper than that, beyond skin, mental stimulation and charisma.  It is beyond our understanding, but in this world we get sidetracked relying on what it doesn't mean, not fully recognizing what it should be. To genuinely love someone isn’t always easy. It takes work and time.

Just like many others, I've gone into relationships in the past where I didn't look close enough at the person I was getting with, and I ended up broken-hearted because of my blindness. I wanted someone who fulfilled the idea I had of the perfect guy, but I chose not to see past the reality of who he was. It’s funny how we can trick ourselves into believing in the illusion of perfection in our partner when the person in front of us isn’t what we’d really choose because they don't possess the qualities we find important in a mate. We put together the bits and pieces of what we want by forcing the parts together into some mismatched puzzle, which isn’t based off the truth.

Many people put on a show when they meet someone they’re interested in. They don’t reveal who they truly are because they don’t know if they’ll be judged for it, and this is also part of the reason we get blinded by the person we perceive as Mr. or Mrs. Right. They show us what they know we want to see, and we choose to overlook the things we need to be focused on the most. Yet, we hurt ourselves and our potential partner when we go into the relationship with unrealistic expectations. We all have a side to us we don’t want others to know about.

On the flip side, we also still deserve to be with someone who’s honest with us about who they really are, or the relationship will be based off lies. Love can only take us so far. Trust and communication are necessities too.  Unfortunately, there are many reasons a person may be misleading when in a relationship from being afraid to be vulnerable or perhaps they don’t take into account how they hurt their partner by hiding things they know the person would not like. Still, everything always comes out into the open one way or another.  The Bible tells us in Luke 8:17, “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open” (NIV). The truth allows each person the choice of deciding where the relationship goes from there.

I am reminded of those two angels, and I especially think of the one who seemed uncomfortable being kissed.  Though I think it's sad when we are unable to be vulnerable, I do see a sense of hope in the fact that if we find the person we love enough to stick by them no matter what, we might be able to reach the place where the reality of who they are meets up with the reality of who we are. This is where the truest form of love is found and nurtured.

I believe the angels were experiencing their first real kiss, and I have to wonder how many of us have really experienced the magic of that moment in the same way. Sure, we may have physically kissed people before, but was it really our true first kiss? I’d like to believe the real one comes when we’ve seen the good, bad and ugly of our partner and still see them as the only person we could ever imagine ourselves being with, and I believe it’s in this place where a little piece of heaven on earth is found.

New International Version. Biblica, 2011. Biblehub.comhttp://biblehub.com/luke/8-17.htm

Quote from photo source:
Schneider, Grey. "4 Tips To Help You Find Your Soulmate." Urbane Women. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2017. <http://www.urbanewomen.com/4-tips-to-help-you-find-your-soulmate.html>. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Walking With Isaiah

                
I wrote this about a week ago...

It’s midnight, and I can’t sleep.  Racing thoughts and shifting dreams of what will come invade my mind.  I know by now to expect this ebb and flow until 3 AM and still past that.  They say 3 AM is the ghosting hour where shadows show their form, but I know it’s just my overactive imagination on high alert again. It’s annoying how night after night I have the same thoughts tumbling around in my head.  For the life of me, I can’t figure out how to sleep.  I’ve taken sleeping pills, drank hot tea and have read boring books in an attempt to calm my mind, but nothing helps during these kinds of nights.

I counted sheep for the first time in my life tonight. I got to 33 little fluff balls jumping over an imaginary wooden fence before I found it too ridiculous to carry on. Because of my bipolar disorder, this is how my nights pass by half the time. I wonder if I should get out of bed, but I rarely do. Instead, I try to tire my mind by watching re-runs on Adult Swim. I know most of the episodes of Family Guy and American Dad, among others, by heart now. The channel shows the same episodes of each about 3 times a night. Last night’s episode of Family Guy was pretty disturbing, but the story itself was good. Stewie and Brian bonded in a bank vault through truth and poop. Gross.

Typically, I try to surround myself with positive things, though I admit I have a weakness for crime shows.  I have Biblical verses written on little note cards hanging in my view on the wall next to me. My favorite is Isaiah 43:2 (NIV). “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

Something about that verse really resonates with me. With mood swings flipping back and forth, it’s comforting to know the Lord is with me, and it’s even more comforting to know He doesn’t judge me for my perceived insanity. There have been plenty of times when I’ve gone through a depressed episode where He’s been the only One who I’ve held on to. He’s been the only One who understands me at all.

I trust that God is with me every step of the way though. Whether it’s night or day, He’s with me. When I’m confused or scared, He’s there. The best times are when I discover something new about Him or myself.  It’s during those times that life makes a bit more sense. It’s like a treasure that He reveals right when I need it the most. That’s God’s character though.  He always gives me the strength I need in different ways in all circumstances.

I think of the mood swings I go through, and I compare them to turbulent waters and fires in my path. Then, I think of God’s promise to always be there to lead me to the other side safely. I may get soaked in the rivers or smell like soot once I cross through the fire, but I still make it. I know above all I can count on God more than I do myself, and sometimes that’s all I got, but He’s more than enough.