31 January 2013

Who's Shoes to Wear?

Our perspective is vital to us but also easy to get trapped, become trapped in one power of focus and miss out on all the other angles from which to see things. In a way, we know we do it. We know that we decided to only view things from one perspective. In a way, it is necessary to maintain a focus to stay headed in one direction. The cliché about walking in someone else’s shoes or the phrase “if I were you” get at the idea that we don’t see things the way they truly are but the way that we want to see them. It’s fine to not consider other perspectives if the one we have is right, but what if it is wrong? It’s fine to live most of the time from one perspective, but it should be a decision to live in that perspective. It’s important to think about the shoes we are in, and the shoes that others are in. Important to know and understand why we do things that we do and why people do the things that they do. It will help make a lot of sense out of things that would otherwise make no sense at all and also help us to relate to and understand other people.
So, there is a balance between walking in the shoes that you are in, and considering what it is like to walk in the shoes of others as well. We can become hostages to thoughtlessness if we do not consider the thoughts, lives, and actions of others. But, we can also become distracted and unfocused in life if we only consider others and what they would do. It’s another one of life’s balances. It seems that so much of life is learning to maintain a balance of two opposite things for which the middle between them is the ideal.

29 January 2013

A Glance

It started with a single smile and a look in the eye
There was a question asked in that moment of silence
It brought me to wonder if there was a reason why
There was a possibility that the heart had spoken

When the time came for me to ask you for a chance,
I started with a word and got caught up in your eyes
There was a silence as I fell into a sudden trance
When I came to I had introduced myself to you

Your name was something lovely and sweet
I had it in my head after it was time to sleep
Hoping it would not be long until again we meet
Wondering how a glance can steal away a night

28 January 2013

Forgotten How

It's odd that, as a whole, we believe our society is more advanced, smarter, healthier--simply better than societies have been in the past--when in reality we are less happy than we were a few years ago on average according to polls. If we have everything so figured out and together, why don't we know how to do something so fundamental as enjoy life? We may have gained a better understanding of how to increase our life-spans, but are less sure what to do with those extra years. We know how to watch TV, but not how to watch our children grow up and enjoy the moments spent with them. We know how to text a friend but not how to look them in the eyes and understand their heart. We know how to get happy but not how to be joyful. We know there is a problem but not how to fix it. We know more but understand less.
I’ve eaten lunches with people who are so busy on their phone or computer or tablet to ask me my name. Sure, they may work next to me, they may know that it, but they don’t know to reach out to a human being. They don’t know how to make eye-contact. It’s completely contradictory that we humans are afraid of what it is to be a human and unwilling to learn. Even though they know that to be human is to be real and that to be anything other than that is to not be at all—aside from being a fake. We are so attached to things and the acquisition of things that we have lost sight of who we are and what we are made to do. 

The Habit of Thinking About Habits

Habits, make a habit of making good habits seems to be the center of the true heart concerning how to be successful. I’ve read several books on how to be successful, how to be good at such and such a skill, and it all seems to come down to having the strength to form good habits. It’s not so much as  making good choices as it is fixing our minds to no longer think in ways that are not good.
In a way, it’s not really a surprise that I’ve begun to reach this conclusion. It is no real secret, only now revealed. In the Bible, there is a lot said about renewing your mind. Think about certain things, not others. But the one thing that is still difficult to do, and is not yet will understood, is now to actually be successful in developing new habits. I find that it is the most difficult thing to form a new habit. My whole mind is used to thinking one way and geared to continue doing that. It has a momentum to it a direction of motion that it wishes to continue on.
 I’m referring to my brain as a separate thing than myself now because in reality that is what is actually occurring. Our brains develop a wiring system as we think one way for a while, that become automatic after a while.  It’s like when you are driving down the road, and decided that you will now be going the other direction. That is a decision that you can make, but the car and everything around you is still moving in the other direction. It will take time and effort to stop the car and change directions and momentum. If we t think about ourselves in this way, it helps to realize why it takes time to change a habit. It’s not going to be easy. It will never get any easier either.
In this way, we are trapped by our brains. We know what we want to do. We can make decisions, but our decisions will always require effort to bring to fruition. We can’t park the car and walk wherever we want. We are bound to drive this way forever. But knowing this about the way things work is helpful. If we know what to expect, then every time we make a decision, we know what to expect. We are not surprise by who we are. 

27 January 2013

Shades of Gray, is a Dark Way to Think

Samuel Johnson once said, “The fact that there is such a thing as twilight does not mean that we cannot distinguish between day and night.”
We are so accustomed to shades of gray that we become blinded to the obvious contrast between black and white. Truthfully though, although there may be shades of gray, there are also many things that are plane to see as right or wrong. While it may be wrong to assume everything is simply right or wrong and that there is an easily assigned ruling of right and wrong for all actions, it is equally wrong to assume that there is no such thing as right and wrong at all. It is no easy task to judge between right and wrong. We must be wise and discerning not to lightly consider things of moral nature—not assume that any standard imposed on us from any source is to be trusted of the merit of its spoken voice but by testing and weighing. We must not faint from the task of thought and the council of reason and heart in matters of right and wrong, we must not surrender under the burden of discussion and debate. We must acknowledge the challenge and pour ourselves out on the balances until a verdict is reached. We must never conceded the war to avoid the demands of battles. We must fight to know and understand what is right. 

26 January 2013

The Man in the Arena

This nation, The United States, has had some great leaders in character and strength over its history. We have been privileged by true men and women willing to step into the ring and fight for greatness, not for their selfish ambition or ego, but for the whole, for you and me. Theodore Roosevelt is one president who’s charisma and character are the backbone of for great example in a lot of ways. He was an imperfect man, but he is remembered still as a true leader.

He once famously said the following in a speech in Paris, France:
"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

For me this quote strikes a nerve in me, it’s a welcome spur in the side to stand up from among the crowd and fight and try and dream and hope and be more than what the critics say and believe and try to keep me as. It’s also a reminder that far too much energy is spent  fretting over vacant criticisms from those who’s words have traveled beyond their right to speak because they are not my peers, not my equals because to be my equal means that they would be tasting the same dirt that I am, bleed from their own veins like I do, and if they truly understood me and my endeavors as I do, they would not have dared raise a criticism against me. The truth about the critics is that they are afraid to try, and seeing someone with the courage to risk where they cannot is a reminder that they are weak—and they do not like the truth. And last, the quote reminds me that it is better to try and fail than to accept defeat without trying, to live each day afraid to try. To step up to the plate and not ever swing. 

Long after the man has passed away, his legacy of courage is still an inspiration.

Compassion, True Strength to Dare Greatly

Recently I was listening to an audio-book “ daring greatly” and one quote by Pemma Choron that stuck out to me above the other many great points that she made. The quote was simply and eloquently spoken as:
“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It's a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”
The essence of what he is saying is the simple truth that in order to experience true compassion for someone—what people desperately need—we must be willing to abandon our aloof disinterest and bare our own wounds as a human, to reveal our own weaknesses and vulnerabilities to them, and that the prerequisite to healing someone with our own compassion is to reveal that we are as wounded and broken as the person that we are seeking to console. The quote struck me because it answered the question I've been asking, “why is compassion so rare, why are people so afraid to be human?”
 You see, for a long time now, I've been walking around and feeling a social disconnect with people. At times I've wondered if it is something about me, if there is something wrong with me that drives complete strangers from engaging me as a human, but the truth is that we are all afraid, afraid to bare out wounds with people, show up as a real person with all the real problems that face all people. Somewhere along the way, we as a society have bought into the idea that we are weak and ruined if we admit that we have weaknesses. But the truth is that having a weakness, to fall down and make mistakes does not reflect anything beyond that. The truth is that it takes extreme courage to show up as yourself—all of yourself not just the side that you think people are OK seeing. The truth is that it takes great strength to admit weakness. This strength is what is missing. I believe we are a people that has forgotten what it means to be human and have put up a front, a façade that we are strong. But in pretending to be strong, we are no longer being the strength that we all wholly need and want. 

23 January 2013

Your Way, God's Way

So far, 2013 has been the best year ever. I know it’s early to be saying so, but that is the way that my year has been. What has been making this year so great? It’s not been a something as much as a someone. But the real surprise is not that it’s a someone, but who it is. It’s been God. I've been placing prayers and thoughts in my mind and heart. Praying and thinking about God. Not in an intellectual way as I have generally done in the past but in a heart way. Simply sitting down and taking the time to talk to God. To read His Word. To  meditate on the meaning of verses. Listening  to  music with the conscience thought of singing it to God, not just to sing.

When we draw close to God, he will draw close to us. That is what I have been doing, and that is what I have been doing. Nothing else. If there is anything or anyone keeping you from God—Father—something has got to be done. You are not living until you are living in the mental and spiritual presence of God. I have experienced a great many things, many of them great, but there is nothing even somewhat close to what it is like to be close to God. You, everyone really, has the chance to reach out to the Creator and find His 
hand there waiting for you to take yours the whole time. 

What is keeping you from doing the only thing that really matters. Does it make sense to continue to do the same thing that will not ever yield any better results. If you  have tried doing things your way, maybe give God a chance to do things his way. You will be amazed at what a difference it can make.

22 January 2013

Gun Control, People Control, Self-control

I agree that if we took all the guns from everyone, we would have fewer deaths by guns obviously, whether or not that would cause other crimes to rise or not is highly debated. Honestly though, I don’t think the real problem is guns at all. I am a big supporter of taking responsibility for actions as individuals, as a nation, as a whole--always.

We are aiming our anger at an easy target, the gun, when the gun is just an object that needs to be empowered by a human hand. It is not fair or honest to point fingers at guns when it was a human finger and will that ultimately is pulling the trigger on that gun.

You see, guns have been around for a long time and we have not had the problems that we have today. My father tells of when he was a kid, it was perfectly normal for kids to drive to school with full gun-racks in their trucks. No one thought the wiser about it because no one was massacring anyone. Now, something has changed to where having guns at school is a terrifying thought. What changed? We have changed, the guns are the same as they always were.

And here is my point. People are the problem. I think that the most terrifying thing about school shootings is that it reflects just how dangerous we are. In the most recent shooting where innocent first grader children were executed, we see an evil that we have not seen so clearly in a number of 
years—at least not so close—and the reminder of what humans are capable of is terrifying.

But, taking away guns won’t fix the people. We as a nation have become a people of violence. I don’t wish to live as a member of a society that wishes to kill one another but cannot, but to live in a society that wishes to do good for each other--one that where I do not need to be protected from each other. That will not occur unless we are honest and focus on the things that are at the root of the violence. We need to take action to raise kids up with care and nurturing them to where they would never consider doing the things that they are capable of doing. We need to fix the people. We need self-control, not gun control.

20 January 2013

Knowing How to Bend a Bronze Bow

Knowledge is powerless without the power to take action on it.

Once there was a famous worrier. He was a great archer, and his natural gift had brought him riches and much acclaim across all the lands. Rumor was that he could strike down a goat from a thousand paces. There was nothing that he had ever hunted that he did not eventually prevail over. His skill was one of rumor and renown. One day, he was hunting a very elusive prey in the mountains, but could never get closer than fifteen hundred passes from the creature before it would see him and escape, knowing that he could not shoot an arrow that far. Extremely disheartened that there was a limit to his skill, he got the idea of making a stronger bow that could shoot an arrow that far. He took a large sum of his money to a local bronze-smith and told him to make him a perfect bow from bronze that could fire as far as two-thousand paces. After weeks of hard work the smith had the bow ready and a glimmering spectacle of skill and labor on the part of the smith.

The great archer came and at once took the bow to the mountain to claim the victory over the creature he so wished to defeat. From nearly sixteen hundred paces, he saw the creature standing in plain view. Thinking to himself that he had at last won, he placed an arrow on the bow-string and began to draw back the bow. But as he went to try, he was faced by the unwelcome fact that he was not strong enough to draw the bow. He was angry and shouted in frustration as he tried over and over to draw back the bow. The creature took notice of him and approached him rather daringly. “You knew what it would take to defeat me, but you did not have the strength to of mind to succeed.”

The moral of the story is that knowing what to do, having knowledge, is only one side of the coin. The other is having the discipline—strength of mind—to take action and to keep taking action to complete what should be done. The archer could have gone about strengthening his arm so he could have drawn the bow. He should have worked hard and practiced and prepared. But, he trusted his natural skill and was not willing to put in the effort to discipline himself to the point of drawing the bow.
It takes discipline to and knowledge. Knowledge without discipline is not power. 

There is Always a Choice

We are ultimately in charge of our lives, even in the decision to believe we are not in charge. We always have the choice. There is always a choice, and we are always the one who has to make that choice. It is a scary thing sometimes to have that much say over our lives. It’s easy to try run away from that truth, yet impossible to actually get away. Trying to get away from being in charge is somewhat like in the movies when someone is trying to run away from a villain who can materialize anywhere he wants to. Every time the protagonist opens a door or turns to get away, he finds himself looking straight into the face of the one he is fleeing from. It is the same way with our responsibility, from our in-charge-ness. Even if we give it up to someone else, we always have the ability to change our mind, as long as we have our minds, we are in charge and have decisions. As long as there is a decision, you are in charge.
Trying to run will never relieve the stress of being in charge. You were born a leader, a leader of your life. So lead. Lead in whatever direction is right. 

09 January 2013

More than a Feeling

It’s easy to get swept up in moments particularly heavy with emotion and believe that it is love—to confuse attraction with love. Most people have ideas like, “love at first sight,” and “happily ever after.” The sad thing is, that those are all just fictitious fairy tales. There is no such thing as love at first sight or any of that other hoopla that is so famously fantasized about.

Those feelings are important and should probably be found in any healthy relationship—if it were missing I would be concerned. But that is not to say that every single moment should be filled with those feelings. Love is much more a commitment to do what is right for someone regardless of whether you feel loved by them. Love is really  setting one’s own feelings aside and seeking to make the other person feel loved. It’s true that love is confrontational at times too, but that is not its general purpose.

In any relationship, someone has to do the dishes and clean the toilet. You will probably not feel that love at first sight feeling in the pit of your stomach when you are scrubbing a toilet, but the fact of the matter is that those type of things are just as important in a relationship as anything else is. Sometimes you say you love someone to let them know that you do. Often , though, the way you tell someone that you love them is the small and consistent things that you do for them on a daily basses.Things that don't seem like much, but leave the dirty dishes in the sink for a week and see how that goes over.

In a way, it is exciting news to know that love is more than just a  spontaneous feeling. Love is much more than that. It’s much stronger than some random feeling you get for someone and don’t understand why. It is a commitment that transcends the feelings and is fixed in the mind as well as the heart. 

08 January 2013

Don't Listen to Your Heart

There is a lot of talk about the heart. We talk about broken hearts. Stolen hearts. Hearts on fire for someone. The villain in Spiderman advises the other side of his personality to "attack the heart." We talk about giving our heart away to someone. The heart is really important yet it seems that most people don't really understand the heart.

It's well-intended and frequently given advise to listen to our heart, but that is terrible advice. We should listen to our heart, like we listen to the Devil--with caution knowing that it is probably a partial truth. Our heart is by nature a problem we need to fix through ingraining the thoughts and wisdom of God into it. We must teach ourselves by God's Word what is right and then do that. Whoever told you to listen to your heart was either  very misinformed, trying to hurt you, or had a good heart and didn't realize that most other people do not have good hearts from the start. We need to work and train our hearts. Kind David prayed for help in fixing his heart.

You could say that ever since Adam sinned, the problem of being human has been fixing our hearts that have been given up to darkness. So, whatever you do, don't trust your heart. Trust God. Ask God to help you. Put God's Word into your heart and push out the darkness. Then and only then can you trust your heart. It's always better to trust God. In all things trust God.

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