Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Random Thoughts on My Life at this Point

I know I wasn’t put on this planet to consume, to get, to live selfishly. I know I was put here to reflect my Creator, to grow, to give, to learn, love, influence and be influenced, to stand and to fall, but to get back up and keep going. I wasn’t put here to go through tribulations and trials to have them not produce long term results of character. I wasn’t put here merely to take up space, to fill a place in society. If I weren’t here the world would be just fine, the world wouldn’t stop turning, my job would still get done by someone else, probably more qualified.

But I am here and the people, places, relationships, jobs, trials and temptations I’ve faced are so unique and yet so much like everyone else’s. Some of the experiences I’ve had I wouldn’t want others to have to go through and yet they have made me who I am and I think that is a pretty good thing at this point. Not because of me, but because of God who gives me the ability to learn, grow and change. Some days I want to lay in bed never to get back up again because the world seems too harsh and I’ve had just about all I can take of heart break and disappointments. Then there are the days when I can’t wait to begin and take on whatever it brings standing in the midst of pain, heart ache, loss and still having peace and joy. That contentment is what I truly desire to have each and every day. But I wrestle with myself daily to stay in this state. I find I have to literally tell myself to “stop!” or to redirect my thoughts so that my emotions don’t follow suit and next thing you know I’m way off base and being tossed around by every whim. I am thankful for what I have even though I feel I have lost a lot but I know that I am never alone even though at times all I can feel is loneliness.

So, I know that I’m not here merely by accident or by some fluke and all my experiences and pain is not all in vain. Some days I don’t want to be where I am, sometimes the pain of the past is too overwhelming and I just want to escape it, and other days I can’t wait to see what my next step in life will be. Yet, I still don’t quite know what I’m supposed to be doing right now. The phrase, “One day at a time, one moment at a time” has calmed my anxious heart and mind on many occasion. I may not know why I’ve been through what I have or where I will go or if I’ll share my life again with someone, but what I do know is that God promises to work ALL things together for my good. Romans 8:28 And I know I can trust Him, even when I DO NOT understand why or how or when….especially the why. But I know He loves me and has a purpose for me and I’m not here merely to take up space, but to live and live abundantly-whatever that may look like.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Contentment

What is it?
How do I know when I am content?
What steals my contentment?

These are some questions I’ve been wrestling with lately. I’m not going to attempt to find the absolute answers for these questions, assuming that they exist. The definition of contentment doesn't even seem to be absolute; and obviously the answers to the other two questions will be relative as well.

I found the following definitions on the web:
a. happiness with one's situation in life
b. Contentment refers to the neuro-physiological experience of satisfaction and being at ease in one's situation, body and mind (John Money via Wikipedia)
c. A state of mind in which one's desires are confined to his lot whatever it may be (1 Tim. 6:6; 2 Cor. 9:8) New King James Version
d. More than a passive state of mind. It is a virtue to be actively cultivated in order to free the mind from the effects of pleasure and pain (yogaconcepts.com)
e. A quality or state of being (Webster)

1 Timothy 6:6-7 (Amplified Bible)6 [And it is, indeed, a source of immense profit, for] godliness accompanied with contentment (that contentment which is a sense of [a]inward sufficiency) is great and abundant gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, and obviously we cannot take anything out of the world.

I looked up the above verse in every translation, thanks to Biblegateway.com and I felt the Amplified version gave the best, most expansive rendition. Many people have heard this verse said as the NIV puts it: “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” The key here for me was reading “inward sufficiency”. This is exactly what I have been pondering. My state of contentment or lack thereof is directly related and reflective of my inward condition. That be, my mind, emotions, heart, soul, etc. All these things are connected to one another. The end goal here is to reach that state of peace and contentment regardless of my outward circumstances.

Some of my outward circumstances that I have to put in their rightful place as just that, circumstances, or experiences and not set in my mind as definitions of character, are: (I’m being completely transparent here)
a. my divorce
b. my financial status and/or material things
c. my vocational status (title, rank, salary, etc)
d. my educational status

These are some of the things that I unknowingly and subconsciously allow myself to identify with in negative or positive ways. As if these things define who I actually am or make up my character. They do not. Obviously, who I am will determine the status of many outward circumstances, but let’s face it, we can’t control other people, events that take place that affect us, our family and origin of birth, our heritage, etc. These things all exist without giving us a choice in the matter. What I can control, however, is my reaction to them.

I actually really liked the definition of contentment from the yoga website when it says, “More than a passive state of mind. It is a virtue to be actively cultivated…

I think this definition shows how clearly contentment is something that is cultivated and must be actively pursued. I do think that obtaining contentment would free oneself from the crippling effects of negative outward circumstances or events. Does being content mean that I can’t or shouldn’t have an emotional reaction to positive and negative happenings in my life? I don’t think so…I think it just means these circumstances are not allowed to alter the core of what identifies me in this life or my foundation. And who would want them to? I liken this to riding an emotional rollercoaster never knowing when or if the next high and low was coming. Part of being codependent is allowing other people and circumstances to affect my happiness to a point where I’m no longer actively choosing or aware for myself of how I really feel or why I feel that way. I think this is an easy trap to fall into especially in relationships with spouses, children, boss’s, co-workers, etc. People that daily are a part of our lives and their state of being have an effect on ours, but to what extent? This is the question I have to deal with everyday in my job and in my family and personal relationships. Many times I have to ask myself, “is this something I am really upset, happy, disgusted, indifferent, etc. about or am I allowing myself to identify with someone else’s state of being because I either don’t value my own feelings, thoughts, opinions, or I see another’s as more important than mine, or I have no idea how I feel so it’s easier to associate with someone else’s.” Honest answers to these questions will tell me whether or not I am walking in emotional/mental/spiritual health.

So, contentment for me is peace throughout. And when something negative happens in my life I can accept it for what it is, deal honestly with it and move on or through it not allowing it to cripple me, hinder my thought process or work and try to immediately find some positive in it. If there is no positive in the situation, I will try to write out a list of all the other things I can be grateful for in my life. Doing this has helped me keep a healthier emotional balance, so that I do not allow the emotional scales to be tipped unevenly and I can maintain a peace of mind.

I have many more thoughts on the subject, but for now….contentment is the goal.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Birthday Fun

There's really nothing better than celebrating my birthday with family and close friends. For the past three years we have gone to Buca di Peppo and I must say I thoroughly enjoy this experience. It's such a fun atmosphere!! In addition to dinner at Buca, the following week we also had a get together at my parents house in honor of my older brother Jeremy's birthday (April 24th, my dad's birthday, April 18th and mine, April 19th). These times in life are my absolute favorite. I love having all my family together and closest of friends and spending the evening in laughter and fun. I know when I have my own family, I will make these times a tradition and find any excuse in the world to get everyone I love in the same room together! A special thank you to everyone who helped celebrate and make this birthday special for me, Jeremy and my dad! And a special thank you to all my long distance friends who wished me a happy birthday via Facebook! You are appreciated!


















Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Trust

I’ve been thinking about this word a lot lately. Reflecting on its meaning as well as reminiscing about the ways in which I have earned trust, broken trust and had my trust in someone shattered. Trust is such a precious commodity that it should be guarded, protected and valued above all else in any relationship.

Trust issues seem to be prevalent in many relationships especially pertaining to the ones romantic in nature between spouses and significant others. Trust is something that until it is lost can be taken for granted, but once lost it’s the hardest thing in the world to find again. Trust unscathed is one of the most beautiful and priceless gifts we can offer one another. Trust says, “I have your best interest in mind; I am looking out for your heart; I value you; I honor you.” And so much more. It’s one of those rare and highly valuable gifts we are able to give and receive at will. We always have a choice whether or not we trust and whether or not we are trustworthy.

Webster’s Dictionary offers a few definitions of the word trust:

1. assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something b: one in which confidence is placed2 a: dependence on something future or contingent
2. a charge or duty imposed in faith or confidence or as a condition of some relationship (2): something committed or entrusted to one to be used or cared for in the interest of another

Definition number 2 got my attention with the words, “in faith”. This implies that there is an act of willful belief in someone prior to adequate evidence shown of their trustworthiness.

Trust is both an emotional and logical act. Emotionally, it is where you expose your vulnerabilities to people, believing they will not take advantage of your openness. Logically, it is where you have assessed the probabilities of gain and loss, calculating expected value based on hard performance data, and concluded that the person in question will behave in an honorable manner.

In practice, trust is a bit of both. I trust someone because I have experienced their trustworthiness and because I have faith in them. For me, the desire to trust implicitly is a desire I cannot control. Its existence is intrinsic and I’m fine with that for the most part; it’s the times where I want to exercise this trust however I am not completely convinced beforehand that the exertion will pay off. This is where the risk comes in. This isn’t entirely new for me in my life; however having the actual pay off is a foreign concept in many ways. I pray this is redefined for me in the future. I look forward to it actually. In the meantime, my assignment in regards to trust is to trust the One that has NEVER let me down. My Savior, Jesus Christ. And His words are comforting to me. He says,

Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you. Ps.9:10

But I trust in your unfailing love. Ps. 13:5

In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. Ps. 22:4

And there are so many more!!

I’m confident He’ll teach me how to trust and be trust worthy as this is part of the firm foundation I know is rightfully mine for the taking.

And as I exercise my trust in this way, I am able to ward off the seeming impediment of skepticism that desires to “logically” piggy back on my personal experiences of broken trust. BUT awareness is power!

Thoughts??

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Deciphering Me

Sometimes my heart is overwhelmed with a sense of wonder at what God is doing and has done in my life and many times I feel completely inept at expressing it adequately, if at all! The most prevalent by far is my sense of gratitude. This is one of the reasons for wanting to blog again. It’s an outlet for me to share what God is teaching me and all that I experience in life. It’s also a privilege to have the freedom to express myself so freely in this beautiful country through an online diary of sorts. My intention in blogging is not to gain a multitude of followers. I do, however hope to encourage people along the way or make them laugh from time to time as I can be quite the goofball and I love to share things that express my personality with others. (And let me just put a disclaimer out there right now to all that I will no doubt offend. I am not politically correct and I write what I feel. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. I say this with all the kindness in my heart!)

One of the most amazing aspects of this life is the God-given aptitude to inimitably express ourselves. This is by far one of the most delectable aspects of life for me. I see each person as a thread and each thread is a different color and texture, when these threads all come together as God intended a wondrous fabric is created. This fabric is a picture of God’s character and personality and we are indeed living expressions of Him. With this understanding comes a sense of freedom for me. If I am uniquely created, fearfully and wonderfully made as God’s Word tells us in Psalm 139:14, then I am free to be uniquely me-an expression of my Creator. So, why do I give way to fears that say “you have nothing to offer” or those subtle but penetrating doubts that say rejection is inevitable if I’m truly myself? Because somewhere along the way I stopped or maybe never truly believed what my Creator says about me and I chose to believe the lie. It’s always a choice-my choice. But that is a sermon for another time.

Part of my personal journey over the last year or so has been identifying how I best express myself and how I can improve on this. I didn’t even realize how much I had repressed for so long. Communication is so vital in every aspect of this life and it’s worth taking time to develop and improve for many reasons, some of which are obvious, some are so subtle. Communication is much more than words though, it’s tone, body language, facial expressions, the written word, pictures, music, verbiage, etc.

It’s such a fundamental process; however it’s one that can get buried beneath or devalued with the challenges, trials and changes that life brings. This area in my life is something in which I feel God is calling me to a higher more refined standard. We each have a story to tell and I want to be a conduit of God’s clear, simple, abundant love and purpose for us.
Having said all that, I am a work in progress. I look forward to feedback from everyone and growing together with friends near and far through this blog. Thanks for stopping by!

No Insignificant People

The following is taken from "You Are My Hiding Place" by Amy Carmichael

To some of us, there often comes such a sense of the vastness of things and of our own insignificance it can ba a shaking thing. It can even shake our faith in the truth that our Father regards with compassion even the fall of a single sparrow. (Matthew 10:29)

To me, one fo the proofs that God's hand is behind and all throughout this marvelous Book we know as the bible is the way it continually touches upon this very fear in us-the fear that we are so insignificant as to be forgotten. That we are nothing. Unconcsiously, His word meets this fear, and answers it-not always by a distinct statement, but often by giving a simple loving story.

Isn't it beautiful that there is no rebuke at all for our human weakness? "The soul of the wounded calls for help, and God does not regard it as foolish." (Job 24:12)

He comforts. He lays His right hand on the soul wounded by weariness, or fear, or any kind of weakness at all. And He says, as if that one were the only soul in the universe:

"O man, greatly beloved, do not fear: peace is with you. Be strong, yes, be strong!"
Daniel 10:19