Saturday, November 7, 2009

Entry # 9 --- Asking the Silly Questions

Ok, I admit it. I have not been good about posting in my journal. I have let myself become lazy about being dedicated to my writing. But because writing is in my blood, in my soul and in my heart, to it I will always return.

I have been reading my book about journal writing and it has really given me a lot to think about. One thing that jumped out at me while I was reading tonight was a question about looking at a room as if you were a child and to describe what you saw. It immediately took me to a similar conversation I had with David not too long ago. I was laying on the bed and letting my head hang over the edge. As I was looking up at the ceiling, I told David that I used to do that a lot when I was younger. I used to look up at the ceiling from the bed and imagine if the room were turned upside down, where the ceiling was the floor and vice versa. I used to think if that were true, the house would be so clean and simple. With no clutter and everything looking so pure, how unusual that would be. The memory in itself may sound silly, but it reminded me of how I don't think about things in life with that kind of curiosity anymore. I mean, I still ask questions and try to figure things out, but they are no longer of a simplistic nature. I just feel as though I have allowed myself to become so rigid and fixated on certain aspects of life, I have let the inquisitive part of myself diminish a bit. This has put some perspective in front of me. I want to start focusing on noticing the simple things. I want to ask silly questions, questions that may have no particular relevance to the "bigger picture." In some weird way, I think this new look will allow me to appreciate the "bigger picture" even more.

I think I will start by laying on the bed and letting my head hang over the edge... :)

Entry # 8 --- Thoughts on Life and Loss

Life is breathing, feeling, doing...... A gift, a chance, the only chance we have to do something meaningful... just inhabiting the earth doesn't make us's what we do while we're in it....the people we touch, the smiles we bring, the laughs we share, the hearts we warm, the lives we make better because we were here to listen, to talk, to inspire, to teach, to learn, to understand, to feel...... fear, pain, anger, loss are the curses of humanity......but we have to learn how to deal with those things....because, above all else, they exist and if we can make it through those things, we're that much stronger, that much wiser, that much more significant..... no one ever said life was easy or fair or not IS unfair, it is hard, and it is scary.....but it's also joy and happiness......and every time u lose a piece of any of those things, they appear again.....maybe not the way you want them to appear, but they are just have to make sure you keep your eyes open to those things....don't become blinded by the pain..... in time, you will find happiness again and you will feel a smile from up above and it will shine right through to your heart..... In this life, it's not what we lose that truly's how we react to those we react to anything that is thrown our way, good or bad, that's what makes us who we are. And that, my friend, is how we stand out in this world. Because everyone experiences loss in life....but not everyone reacts the same.....remember that.... maybe you don't think your life matters if you lose the things that you feel made you, you.....but remember that your life is constantly touching other lives....and as insignificant as you may feel, you might be everything to someone else....... the concept of 'you' might be clouded right now but i promise, you will be able to see you will catch glimpses of yourself from time to other people, in places, in sounds, smells, touches and slowly, piece by piece, you will come together just takes time..... But never deny any part of who you are because of the bad things that happen, because if you're not you, then it defeats your purpose and you owe it to this world, to God to be you, no matter how broken....

Entry # 7 --- Spirit Beyond the Pain

The pain I feel goes beyond words; deeper into the body, mind and soul than you or I could ever travel. Underneath the softness I have and the smile I wear is an agony that is indescribable. Layers upon layers of hurt, regret and sorrow plague my being everyday. What I show to the world is a mask, with a top layer that can be anything. But, when I am alone, the layers shed and I am once again, open, vulnerable, like a wound that doesn’t heal.

Despite all that, for one glorious instant, none of that mattered. I wasn’t playing my part, but the wound didn’t seem to hurt. I know it was still there, but never did I feel pain. What I felt was the part of me I tucked away so long ago, spring to life. I felt a joyous pleasure that I thought still remained untouched. It scared me, and it still does.

Today, I wore my mask again. And as I sit here alone, I still feel the top layer peeling away to expose that wound. My hope, my wish, is that I might once again feel that part of me that I gave to you. You hold it right now and I hope you will take care of it. Even if you never again use it, please take care of it. It is a gentle, yet fragile spirit that I once owned. I gave it to you, not knowing how or why. I am still unsure. Yet it rests with you. Thank you for breaking that spirit loose and letting me feel something real.

I may never again share that spirit with you, but I will never regret letting it go. Because for one brief moment, I felt like myself again and that means more to me than you could ever know…

Entry # 6 --- My Testimony (Re-visited)

My Testimony Re-visited: Trust, Faith and Prayer

I once wrote down my testimony, but somewhere along the way, I misplaced it. I looked in many different places to find it, but to no avail. I had no luck finding the original, so I thought, “why not just re-write it?” With everything that’s going on at the present time, I thought it might be appropriate. I feel that God has laid upon my heart some words that I can share with other people.
So, here goes. Growing up, I was basically a good kid. I did well in school, I steered clear of most major pitfalls, and aside from the normal scuffles, basically did good things. I decided to give my heart to Jesus after I attended youth camp one summer. I publicly admitted my faith through baptism. Time went on and I made it through the first three years of high school, untouched and unscathed. It was the summer before my senior year that tragedy befell me. I visited an ex-boyfriend, then trusted friend on a summer afternoon. That day, I was raped. My entire sense of trust for men was shattered in an instant. Afterwards, I couldn’t talk to any man. Even men I had known for years (my pastor, my brother, even my own dad!), I felt scared to turn to. It was difficult for me to comprehend what had happened. I never, ever thought that someone so close to me could hurt me so bad. It made me fearful to trust anybody. I pretty much shut down. I couldn’t sleep, I had nightmares, and I cried all the time. Something I want to try and convey to others is that rape carries with it very ambiguous feelings. On one hand, you want to run up and down the streets, telling everyone what happened to you. On the other hand it’s the single biggest vulnerability that you have, so it’s not easy to talk about. So, you see, I wanted to talk about it, but wasn’t sure who I could turn to.
One might question why I didn’t turn to God right away. Truthfully, I must admit I thought he might be angry with me. I mean, how could I put myself in that position? Not only that, but I was at a point in my life where it was hard to trust anyone. You see, my problem didn’t lie in believing; it lied in trust and faith. It’s easy to believe in God, but when something happens to shake your world, your faith and trust are put to the test. My faith had never been tested before. It isn’t until your world is turned upside down that you really have to rely on your trust in God.
I cried myself to sleep every night until I finally broke down and spoke to God. It was such a release to finally talk about my feelings. And the best part was that I really felt God was listening. I prayed that he might give me the strength I needed to get through all I had endured. It was a slow process, but I found that the more I prayed, the more I could trust again. God showed me that even though I was betrayed by someone I trusted, not everyone was like that. He was patient, gave me plenty of time to come to him with the weight on my heart and then gently lifted it. He was there to listen and because of that, I knew that there was someone I could always trust.
I still wish that I didn’t have to experience that, but it did make me a stronger person and it also strengthened my relationship with my Lord and Savior. I feel this is my true testimony. Anyone can believe in God, but I think a true Christian is founded when trials test their faith, yet they’re still able to trust in God.
I believe that I was able to make it through such an ordeal based on three key ingredients: 1.) my trust and faith in God, 2.) prayer, and 3.) reliance on God to take care of me. It is through these key things that we must live our lives as Christians. We must also convey these things to others and use our testimony as proof that these things truly work. However, even Christians are fallible and prey to losing faith when things get rough. God wants us to trust him that he will take care of us.
I am reminded of Peter and the night he walked on water. He saw Jesus coming toward the boat, walking on the water, and found that when he got out of the boat, he could walk on water as well. But, when he saw the waves and storm around him, he was frightened and began to sink. But God held his hand out to Peter and helped him. We must remember that, even when the waves surround us, God is there, extending his hand, taking care of us. This is why we must always go to him when we’re in trouble. He will take care of us; the promise is true.
We also have to trust the power of prayer. The Bible says, “God answers prayer” (Psalms 138:3). It doesn’t say that he only answers certain prayers. He answers all prayer. No matter how menial or daunting, prayer is answered. It may take some time, and it may not be exactly how we pictured it, but God hears us talking to him and takes care of our needs.
Lastly, we must trust and have faith that things will work out in the end. The Bible says, “You can be sure that even small faith can accomplish much” (Matthew 17:20). It also says that, “Trials may test your faith, but hang onto it” (I Peter 1:7). Faith and trust go hand in hand and in order to maintain our relationship with God, we must have both.
The bottom line is this: God is the sole person who can help us in any situation, trial or tribulation. Everyone and everything we know is this world will pass away, but God will always remain. Even in the grimmest of times, he is there for us. We have to trust and believe that things will be alright if we put our trust and faith in him. Because when our hearts and minds are set on God, doors open up and new solutions present themselves. I feel I am privileged to say this because I am living proof of what trust, faith and prayer can do. I survived an awful ordeal, and here I am now, a strong and successful woman. I owe it all to him.

Entry # 5 --- Shedding Light on Success and Happiness

Shedding Light on Success and Happiness: James 2:13-26

I love observing people. I enjoy watching interactions, seeing people’s facial expressions, and watching reactions to everyday encounters. It’s in these reactions and interactions that I’ve noticed what a self-absorbed society we’ve become. Everyone consumes themselves with how to make the most money, how to lose the most weight, and how to acquire the greatest (monetary) wealth. It’s within this self-absorption that we forget about other people, and often lose ourselves too. It’s no wonder that many of us end up in cycles of depression. When we get caught up in chasing meaningless dreams, and when the glitter of that chase fades, were left with an emptiness that we weren’t fully aware of and when we look in the mirror, we scarcely recognize the face that looks back.

How do we get to this place? What keeps us there? And what can we do about it?

I submit to you that we reach this state (this place) of self-absorption in a vain effort to become successful and happy in a worldly sense. If we were to take a poll, I’m sure there would be a consensus among all Americans that success is equated with happiness. Furthermore, the definition of success would include: having an ample amount of monetary wealth, being physically appealing, and having a position of power. All of these things are consistently reinforced on TV, in books, and in magazines. Basically, it’s everywhere, the status quo, so to speak. In essence, we think it’ll bring us happiness.

The second question is why we stay in that place. I think we stay there because it’s a comfortable place to be. Other people notice you, appreciate you, even admire you. After you’ve been in this place for awhile (false sense of happiness), you wonder why these things make you happy. You realize the chase is nothing more than looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Essentially, it’s all an illusion; namely, because the thirst for success is never quenched. Once you’ve lost the first fifteen pounds, then you’ve got to lose fifteen more. Once you earn that first million, then you have to earn another million. And once you’ve become President of the company, then you’ve got to become the CEO. The chase leads you nowhere and then you’re left to try and understand why you’re still unhappy.

This leads us to the final question, what can we do about it? We must come to realize that it’s not about doing what pleases us, but doing what pleases God. God wants us to understand that although faith is a necessary component in our walk with him, “faith without good deeds is dead faith (James 2:17).” We have to look beyond ourselves towards the greater good. We can’t see God, yet we believe in him with all our hearts. However we see, (with our own eyes) our fellow brother/sister suffering, we walk right on by. This happens all the time and we’re all guilty of this, including myself. How many times have you been late to work and you’re stuck in traffic, and refuse to let someone in front of you? How many times have we seen someone try to walk into a building, overloaded with things in their hands, and not held the door open for them? How many times have we simply just smiled at someone for no reason? God isn’t necessarily asking us to move mountains. He’s just asking us to live our lives the way we proclaim to be. He wants our actions to match our faith. This is such a small and simple thing to do. Jesus died on that cross for each and every one of us. It was done selflessly. We must learn to live the same way. And, in doing this, we will find the ultimate happiness. It’s a happiness that no fame, fortune, or power in the world could ever buy.

I present to you today, a challenge. My challenge to you is to create a new definition for success and happiness through doing good deeds. Challenge yourself to become successful in a godly sense, as opposed to the worldly sense. I challenge you to one good deed a day. These deeds don’t even have to be complicated or hard. Something as simple as smiling at someone else will do. Once you’ve accomplished this, raise the stakes. Eventually, the challenge will change to habit, and these are habits that will ultimately lead us to divinity. These habits have the ability to change the world, but will also change you in the process. The change will shine through and people will know you believe by the things you do, which makes you become a better witness for God. What better tool to witness to someone than personal experience. If you need proof, you have it in yourself.
This happiness I speak of, my friends, is a happiness that cannot be bought, sold, or traded for it comes from within, from above. This is the complete happiness we all strive to attain. And if this is ever difficult to remember, just think about what Jesus has given to us---the ultimate good deed, his death for our life. So, make use of that, people. Make a deposit into your account with God by living through him. See if it doesn’t change you. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Entry # 4 --- Structure, Definition and Order

We are constantly forced throughout our lives to order, structure and define everything that comes our way. We define things that happen to us, situations we find ourselves in, we structure our activities, our schedules and in all that, we come to find a certain order to how we do things, say things, act upon things. Well, recently, I've been approached with the idea of doing things with no definition, structure, anything. This has me completely freaked out. I've always been the kind of woman to plan out everything to the last detail, and over-analyze everything thrown at me. But, even putting all that aside, I was still weirded out. So, I've been making it my mission to figure out exactly why structure and definition is important to me, or anyone for that first, I was stumped. I was really forced to look at things from a different perspective and I have go to be honest...the conclusion I have come to, I did not arrive at here goes....we as humans need structure, need definition for the simple fact that we experience emotions....if we do not define things, do not structure things a certain way, we get scared, confused, etc....essentially, we experience disequilibrium....when we experience this, we can easily become insane.....structure and definition is what keeps us out of the crazy house....even now, I am proving this point...I have to DEFINE why we need definition so I can feel everything I'm doing is for a reason...the question that remains is....what is so wrong with being a little insane sometimes?? I have always been surrounded by a certain amount of 'crazy' so I don't know why I'm so terrified of it.....I think it all boils down to one big conclusion I am trying my best to avoid....and that is, if I allow myself to live without definition and structure, that would mean I'm taking a risk....taking a risk means that I would become vulnerable, and thus exposing myself to being what to do????

Entry # 3 --- The Meaning of Life (according to me...)

The meaning of life is….there is no meaning of life. Rather, we create meaning in everything we do, or everything we don’t do. I think meaning is subjective and personally defined. Let’s assume someone thinks the meaning of life is to sit back, drink beer, and watch TV all day. Who am I to say that that’s not meaningful (to that person)?

We will never arrive at an ultimate conclusion about what life is really all about. We were all created so differently that everyone is able to shape and form their own meaning of life. And what if there was only one conclusion about what life’s really all about? We would all be like robots, with no imagination, no creativity. We’d have nothing to strive for personally, our lives would be laid out for us by the time we were old enough to talk, read, and write. I can’t imagine living without being able to live on my own terms, create my own being, etc…

In essence, life can be whatever you want it to be. It can be as simplistic as working a 9-5, coming home and spending time with the family to exploring outer space to winning a Nobel peace prize. The important thing to remember is that creating meaning is up to you and to find the answers you are looking for, all you have to do is look within.