Posted: February 8th, 2016 |
Filed under: God | Tags: aftermath, change, faith, freedom, grace |
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I read this recently: “It’s hard to let go of the demons inside. They were the only ones holding you when no one else would.” It was a message written across a photo of a skeletonish looking thing holding the face of a man who appeared to be crying. The person who shared the photo added the caption, “True!” to his post.
I know this person’s story and I know the “demons” he keeps at bay. I also know what he means. What is familiar is more comforting than what is unfamiliar. This is true even if the familiar is pain. I’ve been in the place of holding on to the pain to the point of sabotaging anything that would threaten to heal it. I would do this unconsciously, as a survival instinct, because I knew how to navigate the darkness.
When you grow up the way I did, you learn to pack light. Joy, love, and relationships are all too bulky to carry. They slow you down and ultimately put you in danger. It hurts to lose what you care about, so you try to care about very little. When life starts to settle and joy starts to inject hope in the future, that’s when you pull out the demons to protect you. The drinks, the sounds, and the memories all serve to remind you of who you believe you are and keep you from believing that you can be anything more. You say whatever terrible thing you have to say until you can see your pain in the eyes of anyone who falls for you. And a relationship that dysfunctional is all you’re capable of.
Preferring the familiar is part of the human condition. It’s not a special dysfunctional ability reserved for the strong few. It’s why commercials make sticky songs, toxic products spend tons of money making you feel like you know them so that you’ll bring them home, and people stay in the dead waters when they could set off looking for vigorous rivers. People prefer the ruin that they know to the decay that they don’t. They would rather get hit in the same nerve damaged spot over feeling new pain in a new spot. These people are strong. Some of the strongest you’ll ever meet, but their strength is their abuser, their captor, their own demons, and they might even be smart enough to know it.
I’ve walked through that on my own journey, and I’ve found my way out. I can write about this subject because, instead of finding comfort in not trying, I’ve found the life that I’ve always wanted. I don’t get to reclaim or redo a lost childhood, but I get to break the mold that that kind of hurt forges. Life, I’ve discovered, is in the challenge and the anticipation. It’s still heavily weaved in difficulty and disappointment, but not like the emptiness of remaining the hiding child peering at life through the cracks. It’s possible to outgrow the comfort of familiar demons much like the “normal” child outgrows depending upon his parents. You mature. Like an infant redwood in an indoor planter, your potential is grossly underestimated.
We, “children of Cain”, have an opportunity of which the others are not aware. We have the freedom to create whatever we want. We can stamp down new paths because our old ones aren’t lit. We can start new lives and build new structures because our old lives with its old structures are the products of someone else’s poor construction. We can leave it all behind and let God create something brand new within us, around us, and through us. We are not cursed and neither are our children. What happened to us, as children, is not a reflection of who we are. It’s just something that we lived through.
“Afflicted city, storm-battered, unpitied: I’m about to rebuild you with stones of turquoise, lay your foundations with sapphires, construct your towers with rubies, your gates with jewels, and all your walls with precious stones. All your children will have God for their teacher—what a mentor for your children! You’ll be built solid, grounded in righteousness, far from any trouble—nothing to fear! far from terror—it won’t even come close!” – Isaiah 54:11-14 MSG
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Posted: February 5th, 2016 |
Filed under: God | Tags: faith, grace |
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“No king succeeds with a big army alone, no warrior wins by brute strength. Horsepower is not the answer; no one gets by on muscle alone.” – Psalm 33:16-17 MSG
People who are spiritually asleep prop themselves up with all kinds of false hope. They rely on their intent, knowledge, and upbringing to back them up. They carry weighted scales to measure their sins against the sins of others. They reason with sifted scriptures and manipulated truths. They go into battle not knowing that their tools may be functional for a while, but they’re emptied of meaning at the core. The Kingdom life may, at times, be animated in flesh and blood, but the reality is entirely spiritual. You aren’t really living if you’re spiritually asleep. You can’t be saved by your ability to reason in a religious argument. The sooner you find yourself useless, the sooner you will find your real life.
I believe that every single one of us has a purpose. We are called through our uniquely human and undeniably flawed condition into a meticulously orchestrated and predetermined divine role in the Body of Christ. We came out of the womb with our own predispositions and have been stamped with the damage of our own experiences. None of which is a mistake, an oversight, or a setback. It’s who we are, it’s who God loves, and it’s how we’re going to find (or have found) the Gate to spiritual life.
It grabs my attention when I hear people use the name of God, the gift of grace, and the message of truth to support their lives without crushing under that Name, understanding that Gift, or living that Message. People like that are why I get inundated with arguments against grace. It makes people want to dumb it down so that it’s not misused. I fully acknowledge that people will say whatever they need to say to get them through a conversation that makes them uncomfortable. Those who don’t walk with their Creator through their own Garden of Eden will use His name to support themselves and attack others.
I wish people understood that it’s not about being right or wrong. It’s not flesh and blood argument. Your understanding of the error in another person’s spiritual condition is not used to balance out the error in yours. If you are getting by on the strength of your own understanding, then what happens when your strength wains? If you’re justified by your own ability to argue, then what happens when you reach the end of your logic? You were not created to ever be enough. That’s why you fight this deep vibration of utter loneliness. You need Him. He’s your only hope.
“We’re depending on God; he’s everything we need. What’s more, our hearts brim with joy since we’ve taken for our own his holy name. Love us, God, with all you’ve got—that’s what we’re depending on.” – Psalm 33:20-22 MSG
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Posted: January 11th, 2016 |
Filed under: God | Tags: change, grace, love wins |
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“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. “ – 1 Corinthians 13:1 ESV
We produce a lot of noise. Much of it is lies. Fear, hate, pride, ignorance, jealousy, gossip, bigotry… It’s a crash of sounds that make no sense and bring no life. It’s the smog that clouds out the sun. We’re pale and deficient and have no idea.
Fear steals your breath. It shallows you and keeps you faint. Hate is an excuse. It keeps you from grabbing the responsibility to learn what you’ve yet to learn. Pride is the greatest shortcoming of all. It’s a branch that won’t fuse; a light hidden from the dark. Ignorance is the most frustrating noise. It talks endlessly about what it does not understand. It doesn’t learn because it doesn’t know what to ask. Jealousy is the smashed mirror. It diminishes your beauty, your accomplishments, and it taunts your soul. Gossip is not a bandaid for your wounds. It twists the truth and wrings the beauty of grace and hope out of other people’s stories. Bigotry is a lice infested top hat. It fills the void where self-worth should be.
What if we only spoke of love in the language of love and left all of the ugliness to find someone else to do its bidding? Would the gong soften and the cymbal sing? If the music of love replaced the nonsense of pride, would our lives organize in harmony? I think so.
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Posted: December 17th, 2015 |
Filed under: life | Tags: change, grace, hope, love wins |
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I don’t love facebook. It’s fine in small doses, but it’s not where I spend my time or share much about my life. I know that people have different relationships with their social media outlets than I do, and this isn’t about that. It’s about keeping a healthy perspective when you’re scrolling down the life-snapshots that people put out there. The potential for negative emotion is too high to not consider a few things.
Branding isn’t just for brands.
People are creating an image for themselves. It’s common to struggle with feelings of inadequacy when you’re looking at someone else’s feed. They’re showing you what they want to show you and they’re spending a lot of their time to do it. Something that a cognitive therapist will know that the average human won’t is that you will give yourself excuses for your own behavior, but will not give the same excuses to another in the same situation. This means that you are aware of what went into your own social media feed and you can see everything that no one else can, but you only see the finished product of someone else’s and believe the facade.
For example, you may freshen your makeup, mess with your hair, and take about eight selfies before posting the picture, but when you see a picture of your friend, you don’t put him or her through the same routine. You assume that things are as they appear and it has the potential to make you feel less satisfied with your own situation. The remedy for that is to look at your own feed. Spend time looking at your own “brand” and you’ll buy what you’re selling, too. It’ll make you feel better …if you’re selling “happiness”.
Be a creator, not a consumer.
You’re a leader in your own space. Someone somewhere is actually paying attention to what you’re saying. If you spend all of your time reacting to the garbage in your feed, then you’re contributing to the garbage. A tell-tale sign that you’re contributing to the garbage is if you’re post starts with, “I don’t usually post things like this, but…” or “In light of all of the negativity, I just want to say…”. It’s social media consumerism and even if you don’t instigate the negativity, you’re contributing by reacting to it.
It seems like a lot of hate and fear is circulating out there, but it’s all the same old chew. Someone picks up what someone else spits out and everybody takes turns chewing on this nasty bit of garbage like it holds answers. Move to a different, less trampled, part of the human pasture. Have you ever seen a field after a herd of cattle graze and laze for too long? It’s littered with waste and has nothing life-giving to offer. It’s needs to air out and regenerate.
Your outlook is your choice.
You can see the light or the dark. You can find the fault or the truth. You are in charge of your attitude and perspective. Your situation is not in control. Every time fear creeps in, rewrite it with gratitude. Every time hate knocks at your heart, cancel it with love.
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. -Philippians 4:8-9 MSG
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Posted: November 17th, 2015 |
Filed under: life | Tags: change, faith, freedom |
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If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you’re still better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that they’re the ones who need a bath. It’s better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That’s what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God.– 1 Peter 3:13-18 MSG
Your own journey can take you through some weird places. Maybe places you never knew existed. You hate that you care too much what other people think. You let it guide you for too long and you start to notice that you’re not being you. You’re being some overworked, overextended, translucent version of what other people want of you. In this case, they’re your opposition. They are between you and who God called you to be.
You already know that you should be focusing on Jesus, but we get that idea messed up, too. You lose your vision a little and He starts turning into something on a checklist instead of your perspective. You reduce Him to “should”.
You alter yourself to meet the expectations of others because you’re not being honest about where you are on your journey. You think that if you’re not like everybody else, they’ll think something is wrong with you. Maybe it’s time that you try to articulate why you live the way you live. Form a complete thought, an elevator pitch, about this place in your journey. You’re there, so you should be able to look around you and glean the wisdom of a clear conscience.
You don’t have to defend your reality with God when someone else’s reality looks different. You, do, however, have to be ready to respectfully speak up about it. It’s okay if people oppose you when your conscience is clear. You’re so worried that they’ll judge you that you completely miss an opportunity to be a voice that echoes God’s to them. They could end up learning something from you.
“Journey” by electroncloud
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