Since We Have Such Hope…

Some Words About Peace, Faith, Hope, Love


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Avoidance

There are so many things we anxiously avoid because we do not really want to know. We do not want to know the answers to our questions, so we do not ask, we do not search, we do not try. When we do search, we many times find that what we were fearing is not real. Other times, we find that our fears are well-founded and then the job is to overcome the fear by facing it. Either way, we must move toward the stress, toward the details, toward that which evokes anxiety. We must figure it out, see it, examine it, admire it, accept it.


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Being Here and There

As we become adults, most of us gain the ability to have self-awareness – being able to look at ourselves from the outside, the equivalent of seeing ourselves from another’s perspective. And many of us know that when you do this sort of self-analysis ad infinitum, you can get lost inside yourself. This is partly because when you are doing your own self-analysis, you don’t need the perspective of others. It causes a serious drag on our processing, though, and it fatigues us from over-thinking (also called anxiety).

There is effort, then, put into trying to “live in the moment”. When our brains are the most occupied (in a good way), it is when we are in the moment and also outside of the moment at the same time. This is when we are fully present and engaged with what we are doing and doing just enough self-analysis to correct our behavior. Most of us aren’t able to maintain that balance for extended periods. We tend to be either too self-analytical or too impulsive, not giving any thought to our actions. Here’s to finding balance.


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Grieving

IMG_2552 (2)In order to love and accept our life and those around us as they are, we must learn to grieve what we thought they would be. Without doing that, we will always love our ideals more than we love the actual thing. This does not mean we have to stop wishing for things, for hope is a good thing. In fact, if we do not do this sort of grieving, we will not be able to hope. We will only have depression – the kind that follows when we do not get what we thought we should have. Everyone goes through this kind of disillusionment – mostly in our adulthood (there is a normal developmental idealism that carries us through our youth). Our marriages, our careers and our lives in general undergo this disillusionment and it is totally normal! Maturity is the consistent “surrendering” of our ideals to attempt to love what is, rather than what we hoped would be. Again, the hope is good. Our demands for what we hope are what are dangerous.


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Archetypes

In order to truly love someone else, you must surrender your rigid beliefs about what you yourself “should be”. Most of us travel around with these inner archetypes by which we judge ourselves and others lovable or unlovable. As long as you are holding onto yours and hoping that you measure up, you will also use it to deem others valuable or not. Our deepest fear and dilemma is that we do not even measure up  to our own created archetypes. The gift is to know that although we do not measure up, the measure is not needed. We do not even need to judge ourselves. We are valuable only because we belong and we are loved.


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Reaching New Heights

2013-06-27 20.58.32Think of your deepest pain or fear. Those are the places we tend to think God cannot go, for if we let him go there, we would be healed. God is most fully real and himself in the worst parts of our lives, but letting go at the point when you feel the most fear and pain is difficult. Oddly enough, we prefer to hold onto our fear and pain because they keep us in control. Trusting at those points is like letting go when the source of your pain and fear is just before you; you tend to tighten your grip to protect yourself. This makes sense, but just like many profound truths, the solution is the opposite and counterintuitive. You must let go at that very point when you feel most threatened. That is when your healing will become sublime and you will reach new heights. That is also when the same old fear and pain will not keep weighing you down. Worth it!


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God Is System

IMG_3864How profound the thought that God, within himself, is relationship. He is greater than the sum of his parts. He is not Father, Son, or Holy Spirit. He is all and the interactions which occur between. He is always moving and his character is tied up in the ongoing dance. As well, we ourselves can never cease being in relationship. Just try to live apart from others. Even saying you are going to become “independent” is a relational position.

Remember, too, that what you see before you is all system. Even what appear to be objects at rest are formed by atoms and molecules spinning within themselves and forever colliding with one another. Nothing is static. Everything is involved in the dance. Those who appear different than you are there to offer you a chance for balance and growth. Being self-contained and self-sufficient is overrated (let alone impossible). What you perceive as your “self” is not real apart from the relationships which have formed you. Your “ideas” are formed from ideas which have been shared with you before. Your beliefs, values and emotions are all formed in relationship, too. Once you have accepted this, you will start to see the real reality and you will start to see yourself as you are: a system intermingled with others, never static, always moving. It is amazing.


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The Stories We Tell Ourselves

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The stories we tell ourselves are very important. I heard someone say once that the thing that separates humans from animals is that we as humans attach meaning to our experiences. Think about it: an animal encounters stress in the form of a predator and acts on instinct to get away or fight and probably does not give it much thought after that. But think about what we tell ourselves when we encounter lesser threats: “I’m never going to catch up on things,” “life is not turning out the way I planned,” “I’m a failure,” “God is punishing me,” “I can’t handle this,” “life is not worth living.” The list is endless. What we call stress is not the physiological responses we have to threat or difficulty; it is the stories we tell ourselves and the meaning we abstract in difficult circumstances. These are what weigh us down and erode our well-being.

If we avoid telling ourselves these negative stories, we can use our body’s stress reaction to help ratchet up our performance. The anxiety is there to help you pay attention and be able to perform at a high level. If you allow it to do so, you can meet the challenge and then allow yourself to “come back down” when you need to.

Consider some different meanings we can assign to our difficulty: “God trusts me to handle this,” “I must be important enough to encounter this hard thing,” “my life must be worth something,” “this is just another challenge that will soon pass,” “there must be something important to take from this,” “my body is wired to help me meet this challenge,” “pain is the way I grow.” These are not just positive reframes to help us feel better. I think they are actually true.
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