It’s Noisy In Here

The past few days I’ve realized that my mind is noisy. Without a daily venting space like Facebook, I find I am left to the echoing of caverns in my mind – and that’s not necessarily a good thing. 

I want to be able to share my message of love with those who most need to hear it – my friends who are disenfranchised because of their heritage and religious affiliation, and my friends who struggle to see their fellow humans as humans. It makes me very sad. What makes it worse is that even when I share my thoughts and feelings, there are still those who don’t “get it”. 

My mind turns in circles trying to rephrase things or use a different analogy, hoping to somehow create an “aha!” moment that finally breaks through the mental and emotional barrier that this hatred has created. And these thoughts take up a lot of emotional energy in my brain…emotional energy that could be used for helping me focus on a more important task such as cleaning the dishes or finishing my work notes, or planning the structure of my day.

My poor brain is exhausted from thinking and feeling. It’s why I had to step away from Facebook for a while. I have more important things to accomplish in my day than sitting and reading through articles and status posts, processing the emotions, then attempting to respond in an appropriate way. It often involves me spending multiple hours invested in this process.

So, I completed my first Facebook-free week rather successfully. I did sign on for some time on the weekend, responding to relevant interactions and checking out the latest social reports. But, for the most part, I realized that the notifications were just another distraction and the posts I missed sharing could just as easily be shared here on my blog. And here I preserve my sanity by not having any back and forth interactions with people who feel the need to prove their point. I am just as bad as the next person at letting myself get worked up about something in wanting to prove a point. (It’s something I am actively working on and why I step away). 

I do hope, though, that some day we can all recognize that we are being fed a line. A good portion of the North American nation is being duped by the manipulator in the hot seat.  The fear mongering is feeding a hatred that has welled up from the underbelly of society. The only way to stop this is to practice radical love and acceptance. To my fellow Christians especially, I speak a word of caution. Jesus came and lived a life of quiet love. His radical acceptance of those who were different is what set Him apart and drew people toward him. This is not the practice of a good portion of today’s so-called Christians. Let’s change that.

Peace be with you. 

The Doctrine of Love: Part Two – Grace

As promised, this is the second part of a blog that has sort of been rolling around in my head for quite some time. The concept: grace. It’s a big one, I know.  Or perhaps it’s obscure enough that you’ve never really thought about it before.  Hopefully this blog will provide some food for thought.

Having grown up in the church, the concept of grace is something that I have had first-hand experience with for my entire life.  However, it wasn’t always learned from those in the church.  Talk to anyone who has been a part of a church family, religious organization, sect, or passionate group, and you will likely hear stories of un-grace or “dis-grace” – which is ironic because any true God-related practice should have grace at its very core, oozing from every pore of its being.  After all, that is how Christ demonstrated His true love for us.  And yet that is the furthest from the Christian “norm” in most cases.

What sets Christianity apart from other religions is its fundamental teaching of grace.  Our entire redemption is thanks to the grace of God and His gift of salvation through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.  It is nothing we can earn through good behaviour, rather our positive behaviour comes out of our understanding of and experience with grace.  As a believer and follower, then, I therefore find myself wrapped up in the beauty of this concept.

Though I am fascinated and overwhelmed by the significance of grace, and though I am deeply touched by its meaning in my own life, I find that my humanity betrays the essence of its spirit and has restricted my own practice of it.  Yes, as contradictory as it may seem, the ones who are most aware of a reality are quite often just as susceptible to its malpractice as those who are unaware.  And yet, the awareness itself brings us one step closer to incorporating the concept more fully into our lives.

I say this for those of the Christian faith, and anyone else as well.  The concept of grace is not something only for the Christian believer – it is for everyone.  I think all of us, both Christians and others, too often practice judgement – in the name of love, of course – thinking that somehow that will bring about the change we seek (in others or ourselves).  To be quite honest, I believe a person’s best catalyst for change is their expression of love seen in their capacity for grace.

Think about it…how often do we criticize others, thinking that our own methodology or thinking is the “right” way (whatever the topic may be)?  And how often do we end up acting or thinking a certain way out of feelings of shame or guilt or obligation due to the critical judgment from others? So what is the answer?  How is this reconciled or rectified?

The answer is grace – unmeritted favour…respect, honour, kind regard – just for the sake of it.

The essence of love is not found in righteous judgment but the humility of grace.  Again I say, “when in the existence of human kind has the use of negative reinforcement ever proven to be ultimately successful in increasing a person’s self-awareness, contributing to said person’s intrinsic motivation (or ultimately accomplishing the goal of bringing meaning and purpose to life)?” It hasn’t.

And so…this is the focus of my journey.  In retrospect, it has been for a very long time – likely, my entire existence.  And I think the same can be said for many people.  It is a daily re-awakening to my true self, the joy within, and – through that – experiencing a connection to the world around me.  You see, I don’t think we as a people are just seeking validation (though it can be helpful) or reciprocity (though it may be comforting); I think we are ultimately drawn to the greater concept of grace (the freedom to be and become who we are and have been created to be without fear of persecution).

Imagine a life lived in a world where the purity of love (for others and ourselves) was the norm. How would that change the way we see things?  How would it change the way we treat one another?  How would it change the way we see and treat ourselves? What would you pursue more fully or how might you express yourself differently if you lived without the judgement of friends, family, society, or yourself?  You might not even know at this point.  You might not even be aware of your own interests, passions, or abilities.  Why not take some time to explore those things? Why not use this day to share that exploration with others?

Imagine a world full of self-aware, genuine, loving, gracious people…a world free from guilt, grudges, bitterness, anger, fear, and hatred…

A girl can dream, can’t she? 🙂

…this is my life. ❤

Change

The last few months have been filled with change for me. Ironically, they say that those of us with brain injuries don’t deal well with change, so we are instructed or encouraged to set up as much structure in our lives as possible. But, as I think I’ve mentioned before, I have benefitted more from learning to deal with change rather than trying to construct a world of no change. The former is a lot more practical and, in the end, more effective.

So my motto has become the words to an old country song. “Life’s about changin’ nothin’ ever stays the same…”

This song has been a favourite of mine since the very first time I heard it. Every time it plays I tear up, I just can’t help it. Probably because letting go is one of the hardest things for me to do emotionally, and secondly the imagery of the girl’s relationship to her mom reflects the closeness of my own relationship with my mom (and I’m crying just writing this). 🙂

Anyway, the whole point of this post is not to describe how emotional I get (although that would make a good post lol) but to express how well I think this song depicts the struggles we all have in letting go of concepts, people, and things in our lives. If there’s one lesson I’ve learned in my education and through my life experiences, letting go is one of the most useful tools toward personal development and empowerment. Letting go of emotional obligation, expectations, and attachments can be difficult. But through the acknowledgement of the emotion, the thoughtful detachment from that, and the focusing of intention on future possibilities and opportunities we can benefit from the process of embracing change.

First of all letting go of a concept or ideology enables and empowers us to experience the freedom of living life without emotional obligation. This is huge! Without feeling like we HAVE to do this, that, or the other thing we can CHOOSE to do it in love with conviction, and in a positive and constructive way. Let go of the idea that you “have to” and embrace the “want to” in your life. Replace thoughts of obligation with intentions of empowerment and creativity. You have the power to direct your life! Same goes for letting go of ideological programming. Learning to process information through ones own filter of the world, rather than subscribing to someone else’s “programming” or train of thought, is one of the most liberating experiences I have ever lived. So let go of the need to please or adhere to what others “should” on you, and make your choices based on your own awareness, knowledge, and conviction. In the end, you will be the one to live the outcome of your choices (for good or for bad).

Secondly, the song quite vividly portrays the “letting go” of people in ones life and how difficult that can be. We have all experienced the loss of a family member or friend/acquaintance, whether it’s through death or change in life-circumstances. Either way, the grieving process or “letting go” is an important one. I have had very close relationships with family members and friends who have then passed on. I had the most success in grieving through feeling every feeling, acknowledging its reality, then just letting it be. The change is unfortunate but it is what it is.

The “letting go” process reminds me of “Richard from Texas” in the movie Eat, Pray, Love. The main character is recounting her experience with a recent boyfriend and how much she missed him (due to an unhealthy emotional attachment). Richard exclaims, “Then miss him! And send him light and love every time you think of him. And let him go.” What a great point he makes. We are so afraid to feel feelings that we miss out on the opportunity to fully process them.

I have found this to be true for all of my relationships and dating experiences, my strong attachments to family, and even to people I only knew for a short time but with whom I had a significant connection. In each case, when there comes a change in the circumstances and I find myself needing to let go of a person, I need to follow this recommendation. And it usually isn’t a one time deal. It doesn’t happen over night. The letting go process is exactly that: it’s a process and it will need to be revisited in most cases.

Relationships are complex and built over time, so most people would agree they are the hardest to “let go” of. We find safety, security, and even our own identity through relationships, so we don’t just have to let go of the person physically but also emotionally, embracing a new world and everyday experience without that person’s influence or involvement. But again, through the acknowledgement of the emotion (“miss him!”), the detachment from that (“send him light and love every time you think of him”), focusing on future possibilities, opportunities while remembering the positives we have gained from the experience, we can move on to the next part of our journey with a fresh outlook and grateful heart (having had that person in our life for a time).

Finally, we have all had the experience of attachment to things. Then in a moment of loss – whether it is misplaced, stolen, or damaged – we realize how dependent we were on its usefulness or it’s contribution to our comfort or routine. I don’t care who you are, or what the item is, I know we all know what I’m talking about (a house, a car, a cell phone, the internet, etc). Again, the attachment is different in this case, but the outcome of the change is no less emotional. How upset do some of us get if our routine is interrupted for one reason or another? How inconvenient is it to have to rework our plans or replace an expensive investment? Yet just as we mourn the loss of a person or “ideal” we can go through the same process for our attachment to possessions. It may sound silly but it is no less significant in the mind’s eye. If we embrace the loss or change as well as the opportunity to replace that thing which was seemingly “good” or even “great” with the possibility of something BETTER, we can begin to live life in a pro-active way. No longer will we be directed by emotion, but free to live a life of choice and intention.

So in the newness of another year, I pray that each of us is able to let go of the past and the things that don’t serve us – the attitudes, thought patterns, people and things that don’t contribute to your positive experience of life. Embrace the possibilities that lie before you and make the most of every opportunity. Acknowledge reality, be aware of your contribution to that, and choose to actively participate in creating a life you love.

…this is my life…

I Choose Love

Today I am thankful for the amazing people in my life – friends of all shapes and sizes, ages, and stages of life. I am grateful for the genuine connections I’ve had the pleasure of making and the awesome support I have because of that.

I want to encourage you today to choose to surround yourself with strong, genuine people who encourage both love and laughter. You owe it to yourself to build a life you enjoy, through which you can fulfill your purpose (of just being you!) I was struck today by the realization that each of us has a different story – an account of our unique journey. And our ability to open up and share that with the people around us is such a crucial part of making this journey meaningful.

We were not meant to travel alone, friends. We live our lives in community, in relationships of all kinds. So make the most of every opportunity: Go home and hug your kids today, tell your family you love them, and make sure your friends know they are appreciated.

“We never know how far reaching something we think, say, or do today will affect millions of lives tomorrow.” (B.J.Palmer) And it’s true – in both a negative and positive way. We need to take these words to heart and evaluate our attitudes as well as our behaviours. We can choose to invite and facilitate love and life in each day, or focus on the negatives and perpetuate our problems.

I choose love.

…this is my life…

Where’s Your Focus?

I love hymns….not only for their accurate expression of genuine feeling and faith, but for their historical value and realism. I love learning the story behind their writing.

This is the first time I have read this story, and it speaks to my heart particularly because of its association to my favorite scripture. No matter what we do in life, we are called to do it all as unto Christ. Let us keep our eyes on Jesus… 🙂 amidst my daily struggles, this verse has brought me peace. Let “the things of earth grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”

———————-

England born Helen H. Lemmel (1863-1961) lived most of her life in America. She was a gifted concert soloist, a music teacher at the Moody Bible Institute, and music critic for the Seattle Post. She also worked as director of a woman’s choral group that was a regular part of the Billy Sunday evangelical meetings. Helen wrote the words and music of Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus in 1922, to be sung at those meetings.

The inspiration for Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, which Helen entitled The Heavenly Vision, came from the writings of author and artist Lilias Trotter (1853-1928).

Lilias Trotter was a brilliant artist whose talent opened the doors to wealth and influence. Her other love was missions. After struggling in prayer for two years, Trotter came to the conclusion that she must lay down her love of art in order to fix her eyes solely on Jesus, and on His calling to the mission field. She subsequently served for more than 38 years as a missionary to Muslims of Algeria. She also authored several books and tracts. The following is an excerpt from her tract, Which Passion Will Prevail?

“Never has it been so easy to live in half a dozen harmless worlds at once — art, music, social science, games, motoring, the following of some profession, and so on. And between them we run the risk of drifting about, the good hiding the best.” It is easy to find out whether our lives are focused, and if so, where the focus lies. Where do our thoughts settle when consciousness comes back in the morning? Where do they swing back when the pressure is off during the day? Dare to have it out with God, and ask Him to show you whether or not all is focused on Christ and His Glory. Turn your soul’s vision to Jesus, and look and look at Him, and a strange dimness will come over all that is apart from Him.”
– Lilias Trotter

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Refrain:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
.
O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s a light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

Refrain

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion
For more than conquerors we are!

Refrain

His Word shall not fail you, He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

Refrain

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus.” (Hebrews 12:2)

http://www.sharefaith.com/guide/Christian-Music/hymns-the-songs-and-the-stories/turn-your-eyes-upon-jesus-the-song-and-the-story.html