Category Archives: Personal Growth

 Where is God when you need Him?

I love my friends!  I’m blessed and very fortunate to say that I have many.   Not just acquaintances or people I merely like, but many genuine and good friends.  My friends are diverse and come from every walk of life.  They’re a melting pot of humanity and experience.  I love them all! (I love each of you dearly).

I learn from each of my friends and sometimes, I learn from their interactions with each other.  Occasionally, those interactions strike a chord within me and compel me to reflect on what they’re saying and what it causes me to think.  The outcome, is the result of how I understand their dialog and what it has caused me to reflect upon based upon my own understanding and experience.

One such occurrence happened recently between two of my friends. Let’s call them… Thelma and Louise.   Thelma made an initial post on Facebook which almost made it past me (almost).  It was within the context of the following dialog with Louise which challenged me to consider how I felt during the unfolding of their discussion:

Thelma: “Perhaps, God is with us all the more in the worst of times.”

Louise: “I’d have to disagree. That would make his presence dependent upon our emotional condition. That is no God at all.”

Thelma: “You’re right. But my point was that if it is in the worst of times that we feel alone and without God, HE IS THERE. It is just hard to see him… If that makes sense. It’s easy to see God in the good, harder in the bad… That’s what I’m trying to say.”

I wanted to write to both, but specifically to Thelma.  While writing my reply to her, I was really challenged to understand what this question looked like in my own life experience.   The result is this blog post.

As I’ve grown in my faith, I’ve come to find and sense God throughout my day(s).  In some ways, it seems odd for me to say that, because sometimes… I doubt!  I’ve been witness to miracles and yet… I still, sometimes experience doubt.  When I thought about this question in the context of my doubt, I realize that my doubt is rooted in my frailty and need, not in the lack of God’s presence in my life… He’s there, but my emotion and need crowds Him out at times.  This is especially ironic since I’m the one calling out to Him in my moments of need and vulnerability.

I have felt as Thelma describes, but as I’ve grown to know God, I realize, as Thelma and Louise both say, He IS there.  It’s in my times of sadness or despair however that I sometimes still feel alone.  Being on my own for the past number of years, you can imagine I’ve had opportunity to experience this feeling more than once or twice.  Moving away from my home of 42 years was particularly challenging because I was moving to a place where I really knew only two people.  Of course, there were more than that, but local to me, there were only two.  I felt very alone and isolated.  Bless those two friends for their seemingly infinite patience.  They’ve helped me forge some great new friendships as did the Pastor of my new Church family.  I was welcomed from the moment moved to my new community and when I walked through the front doors of my new Church (Bless you YAC).

So… need!  Yep, we all have them and that’s not a bad thing.  In fact, knowing and understanding our needs is very healthy for us as they will guide us in our relationships and their definition.

Occasionally though, our needs can get in our way.  Knowing who we are and what makes us tick, understanding the things that motivate us and define who we are is essential; but letting those needs overwhelm who we are is where we can get off track.  Sometimes, we may need so much that the need in itself becomes fear… and who wants to live in fear?

So, to get back to Thelma’s question, is God more prevalent or present in the worst of times?  Well, if you sense God more in the worst of times, Bless you because at least you know you’re not alone, but as Louise states, He’s always there!  I think it’s a matter of us needing God more when times get tough.  When things are going well, most of us (if we’re honest) will say “thank you God” and move on with our day.  Sometimes, we’ll offer praise and thanks, but good times are easy to let happen, even take for granted.  It’s in our times of great need or even fear, that we’re compelled to cry out!  It’s in those moments that we more acutely need to feel God’s presence and so, we pray, weep, get angry or whatever we feel we need to do in the moment.  Notice a thread here?  Who’s doing the changing?  God’s is constant and consistent, but WE change with our need.  During good times, we need less or maybe, are less dependent, than we are during times of trial or desperation.

I think the healthy path here is to try to walk with God ALL of the time.   It is a friendship… a relationship.  When you value someone, you make time for them.  You go out of your way for them, because the relationship is important to you.  That can become difficult at times, because we can become focused on our lives.  We tend to focus on what’s in front of us.  It takes effort to maintain a relationship.  If it’s a healthy relationship, that effort may appear “effortless”, but make no mistake, you’re still making a choice.  The same holds true in our relationship with God.   We need to make time to acknowledge and spend time with God!  That effort may be through prayer, reading scripture or going for a walk and simply talking to God.

I try to include God in my day, wherever I am or go.  I have grown to a point in my faith that God simply IS!  He’s a part of me and I walk with Him through all things, good and bad.    That doesn’t make it easy or easier, I just permit myself to allow God and His wisdom into my life, no matter where I am.    While that hasn’t always been the case, I’m grateful to say that I think my relationship with God is for the most part, fairly balanced.   What I mean to say is that I believe I have a reasonably healthy relationship with God.  Sometimes, I have to remember to let him have a part in my walk, but that doesn’t happen as often now.   With that said however, I find that I will cry out more when my need or dependence is greater, though I think that’s true in most any relationship.  It’s OK to ask for help and in fact, it’s healthy as long as you also appreciate that when we ask for help, we must do our part too and accept that help.  Sometimes, the help may not be what “we” want to hear or see, but if we’re going to learn or grow in the situation from the help we receive, we need to put our ego down and reflect!

Where is God when we need him?   I can’t answer that for you, but I can tell you that in my experience, He’s always been with me.  On one occasion, I even demanded he show up!  I was feeling very alone and vulnerable!  I very much needed to feel his presence in my life!  I was on my knees sobbing and utterly vulnerable.  My understanding of His presence in my life wasn’t enough… I really needed to “feel” God’s presence and in that moment He came through for me!  It was personal, but I was touched and assured of His love, compassion and presence.  I’m truly grateful for God’s love in that moment, but I had to do my part too.  I had to ask!  I had to be willing to be vulnerable and ask!

Your relationship with God is between you and God.  Some might say that it seems one sided.  I’ve even felt that way in the past, but I realized I was being selfish.  I realized that God is with me everywhere I go, all of the time!  I realized that because faith is a part of my relationship with God and that since He’s always there long before I need him, I have to do my part to ask for help, look for or listen to Him.

Is God more prevalent during our darkest hours, our times of trial or deeper need?  No,  It’s just happens that in those times, we’re more dependent and in need of consolation or reassurance.  If you feel I’m wrong, then ask yourself this… when you’re in a troubling situation, do you phone a friend, reach out to your Mom or Dad or someone you trust, simply because you don’t want to be alone?  We’re wired for relationship and need more when times get tough and that’s OK, because the alternative… well… that’s another post!

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Religion and barf bags…

It’s been awhile since I’ve read anything truly thought provoking and then… I came across an article, written by a guy named Chris Kratzer, entitled:

“Why modern Christianity makes people vomit”.

http://chriskratzer.com/why-modern-christianity-makes-people-vomit-2/

I knew I wanted to read the article, but I waited until this morning because I wanted to give myself time to honestly evaluate whether it offered anything of value or challenged me in any way.  I guess I found it engaging because I’ve written something of a response to it.  One of the things I found most notable about the article were the comments.  One person “Matthew” offered his very “real” and direct life experience at the hands of what this article calls out.  (Matthew’s comment is below)

http://chriskratzer.com/why-modern-christianity-makes-people-vomit-2/#comment-129199

I found both very thought provoking to say the least.  I’ve been where Chris describes a number of times and I’ve also been surrounded by a “grace first” church congregation (and still am).  I’ve also spent a good deal of time during the last 4 years of my life as a single man hoping to find a relationship with someone who shares my faith.  During my search, I encountered in the online “Christian” world  much of what Chris describes in his article.

I was raised by two very loving and kind parents (unlike Matthew) who were heavily indentured into “religion”.  That’s not to say they both didn’t love Jesus… but it is to say that they allowed ritualism to blend into their faith, which then they tried to “have” me follow in too.

Long ago, I decided for myself that religion itself can be truly manipulative in nature (this is not restricted to Christianity alone), but in the same statement, I also acknowledge that’s not what Jesus came to teach or model, nor is it what many people of faith view as the basis for their life in faith.  That said, this was not my take away from the article.

You see (and I agree with a lot of things Matthew mentions in his comments), the one thing the article does not speak to is self-reflection and personal accountability.  The article goes a long way in exposing the underbelly of religious Christianity.  How it is rife with legalism and judgementalism, but it does not directly talk about the root of both of those labels which is based in a lack of choice and personal accountability.  “Matthew” in his comments, appears to have taken a very sober inventory of his life and has made a decision based on what he’s learned in the face of what he’s been taught and seen demonstrated in his life (sadly… he had, what by his account seems like an awful example and teaching).  Matthew’s taken the time to reflect on himself and his experience instead of blaming others as his mother modeled.  Some would call her actions “blind faith”.  I call it deliberate ignorance because it requires no personal accountability or action, just blind, unconfirmed or acknowledged obedience.  A very good friend (who also happens to be a pastor) once said to me “if you don’t question your faith, your faith is questionable”.  Damn straight!  Why do you believe what you believe and what do you stand for?

Unfortunately, there is much of modern Christianity that appears to the world as Chris’s article describes… it’s easier to label someone as horrible or sinful (insert your descriptor of choice here) to make yourself feel better about your own crap!  It’s easier to point a finger than it is to look at yourself.  The sad part though is that this behaviour is not held exclusive to religious behaviour, though the hypocrisy is far more common and prevalent.

Chris (the author), seemingly in frustration, appears to label the people he alludes to rather than simply handing them a mirror.  What they choose to do with that mirror is up to them, just as it was Matthew’s choice to turn away from God (my words), or deny His existence altogether.   Matthew evaluated for himself and made a choice.

It’s no secret that religion has been used as a tool or weapon of manipulation throughout history and my words or the words in Chris’s article are not likely to change that.

Jesus died for us to bring us freedom and yet, we still cling to and deal with chains!   I know that Christ was one tough Hombre when he needed to be, but in all things He taught and lived, He simply presented and modeled truth.  The rest is up to us to weigh and decide.   God leaves the choice to us.

Sadly, there are many who hide behind or twist God’s message to us to make their own crap seem more justifiable by manipulating or quoting scripture out of context to suit their means or worse… to whip and torture people with guilt and shame.  In the end though, they’re rationalizations and nothing more.    The result however, is that children and people who just need someone to be human and walk with them are judged as sinful and are scorned for their vulnerability and honesty.  They wind up being chastised for being honest and reaching out for help.  I suppose you could say that they too are being handed a mirror, but that mirror comes with a context of disdain and judgment rather than being offered in humility and love.

I have no idea of what it was like for “Matthew” to live what he has, but I do know what it was like to live what I have and that’s what I can own and more importantly, reflect and share.  I can offer to sit with someone like Matthew and reflect what I see when I look in my own mirror in the face of my life experience.  Hopefully, I will be honest with myself about what I see and Matthew will see the sincerity and integrity in my account, through my humility and humanity.

Chris’s article mentions (please read the article to get the whole context):

“Nothing enflames the passion of your cause more than to discover a new enemy. If you can’t find a real one, you simply string one together—homosexuality, liberality, wars against Christianity, prayer in schools, transgender equality—always some ax to grind. Nothing takes the wind out of your sails than to be absent of sin-targets for which to take your self-righteous aim— those who sin differently than you, your favorite sitting duck.”

While this seems an accurate account, it doesn’t mention the downside of identifying this without offering some personal experience or testimony.  It winds up achieving  the very thing you’re upset about.  To be honest… I agree with nearly everything Chris writes in his article, but the article only identifies the behaviour so many have come to suffer from or revile.  It doesn’t challenge the reader or the subject of his text (religious, judgemental people) to take a look at themselves before looking for something or someone else to blame so their living is easier to bear or justify.

As someone who leads in worship, I was a little startled by these words:

“Where are the choruses, “My life sucks right now, and so does God?” I know, that would be too raw and real to where many are truly at I guess— doesn’t fit a starch-ironed, pleated theology, or look good on LED-shaded projection screens.”

Worship is a lot more than lights and music… it’s a willingness to sit with someone or welcome them in their pain or joy and share your shoulder and honest experience too.  It’s also about being vulnerable when singing “Lord, I need you, Oh, how I need you”, because you honestly find yourself doing that whether you’re crying in a pew, singing from the stage or all alone in your bedroom at night.  Gratefully, I “live” in a church where humanity, humility and grace come first.  Where everyone is aware that someone walking through the doors may have used what seems like their last bit of strength to be there and the last thing they need is to have their ass kicked by “religion”.   I also want to add… not all songs sung in church are about feel good praise and worship.   Many dig deep and say… life hurts, but there is a flip side…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgGUKWiw7Wk

Thanks J.J. … this is a personal favourite… and then there’s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEn74zP1glQ

Which has seen me wondering this on more than one occasion.

Modern Christianity itself doesn’t make people vomit, it’s some of the people practicing it that makes them ill!  When people find out that I’m a “Jesus follower”, they immediately say “oh, you’re religious”, to which I reply… “No, my faith is in Christ because He meets me where I live!  My life isn’t about rules, it’s about choice.”  The article misses something very important.  The “Christians” it mentions are using the Bible as a hammer, rather than a mirror.

I used to get “sick” myself and on some occasions, I even allowed myself to be hurt or angered by much of the rhetoric and judgmental garbage the article identifies.  Then I realized that the very people who are pointing their fingers and looking down their noses are also in pain.  They too need grace and forgiveness… they just don’t realize it because they’ve been taught to and find it easier, even convenient to judge, hate and fear rather than be humble, vulnerable and self-reflective  enough to ask for help and receive love.

I apologize for the long winded response, but if there’s a part 2 to the article, I think it’s what I mentioned in my response to “Joe” who asks about a “next steps” proposition.

The next steps are simple… take an honest inventory of your life and be prepared to be completely honest with yourself about what you see.  Be honest with yourself about the good and the bad and then, be willing to own it.  The rest may be hard because, if you don’t like what you honestly see, it probably requires action and accountability.  The steps are simple, I didn’t say the work would be.   It isn’t for me!

This article itself points a finger, but doesn’t propose a solution (though I think it’s implied).   The solution is to ask yourself with no one else around… Who are you really?  What do you honestly believe if there’s no one there to judge you?  Do you like who you are, your convictions and how you’re living?   Do you like the choices you make for yourself?

Now, with that in mind, act based on your answers about yourself and if that seems overwhelming… ask for help and be prepared to be honest and vulnerable.  Hopefully you’ll find someone just as flawed as you are to help and encourage you… just like I did.

A good friend of mine sent this to me yesterday… the timing seems a little uncanny, but maybe this will help you when it comes time to finding that honest someone…

Character and words

Love in the face of truth…

If you know me, you know how important love and relationship is to me.  You know that I am someone who loves friends, friendship and quality time spent with someone to whom I am deeply committed and connected.

Many times, love has found me… or was it love?  I know the feeling of love was a part of the relationship, but was it truly love?  You see, I almost always allowed my heart to rule my head.  I let the feeling or perception of my deep feelings guide my willingness to engage and commit to someone.  That’s not a good thing, if you’re not doing a “check up from the neck up”.  So many times, I have hoped for the promise of a great relationship filled with love, but I ignored the signs which indicated that an actual relationship with that person was simply unwise or unavailable because they weren’t ready or we didn’t share the same values and goals.  I’ve been in relationships where the “friendship” and love was undeniable and powerful, but there were mixed values or life goals.  I could go on and on, but the right combination of things seemed to somehow elude… both of us and yet, we carried on in the hope the other would change.

I spent many years wondering… “Who is going to be able to settle on and accept this conundrum called Tim?”, “Who is going to accept me for me?”… and equally importantly, find me accepting the other person too; accepting them for the right reasons and not just because they were amazing and loving!

Choosing a relationship is confusing and scary because it’s such a dynamic process.  Being honest with the other person while “you” are unveiled and vice versa can be dizzying because it sometimes happens at a very rapid pace.   Even if you both choose to start out “slow”, the relationship will dictate the pace at which it will unfold and often, we succumb to it.  If it’s right though, you will find a balance in the pace which will be comfortable for both of you.  You find that comfort because you can be honest with yourself about what you feel and what you see!

The statement about choosing a relationship was once very true for me, but I am grateful to say, I think that is finally a thing of the past for me and for one very important reason.  I think I finally value myself enough to choose wisely and to be honest with myself when I consider being in a healthy relationship, because I’m willing to act in the light of what I see; in both me and the other person.

In the past, I was always ready to set myself aside.  What I mean by that is, I would ignore simple truths that I would see.  I would not rise to question the obvious differences or be willing to make a stand in the light of what I valued.  I was always so concerned about giving the other person the benefit of the doubt, because I saw that they were a good person and deserving of love.  I also, selfishly, wanted the intoxicating feeling of being with someone.  I can recall example after example, but in the end… they were excuses made by me.

At the end of the day, when you’re in a relationship and you’re serious about it, it’s OK and necessary to talk to your partner about your feelings and part in it!  If they don’t value what you value or they’re not in the same place (relatively) and don’t see themselves moving forward in a way similar to you… then it’s time to be honest with yourself and them and then make a decision.    Once you’ve made your decision (which may be to leave), it can be hard to let go and put the relationship behind because it satisfied many things for you.  Unless it satisfies all the important things though, it’s wise to cling to your decision because after all, you saw enough to choose to leave in the first place!  We are who we are which doesn’t make us bad, it just makes us unique.   Two people can be great friends and love each other desperately, but that doesn’t make them right for one another.

I’ve always said “It just shouldn’t be that hard” and that’s the truth when you’re in a healthy relationship unless you’re both really expert at lying to yourselves and each other.  When you meet the right person however, it simply isn’t hard because it’s easy to live with them and the truth at the same time!  Hard questions aren’t that hard to share or face.  This is the rest of your life… so you’d better do your best to be honest, get it right and make sure the person you’re with is the best for you.  It’s great to find someone who makes your heart go pitter pat, but that gets old fast when you can’t count on their commitment when the going gets rough.

What’s worse still is when you find that special someone who understands you utterly, who makes you feel very loved and accepted and they find you the same.  They struggle and simply can’t allow themselves to commit to you no matter how hard they try, because they’re fighting a conflict within themselves that’s obvious, but that they desperately want to deny… you aren’t right for them!  You don’t match THEIR values or goals!  You’re only cheating yourself if you don’t question it and they’re cheating you if they’re not honest about it.  It might be easy to be with them at a love and friendship level, but that lifelong choice thing, that’s another matter entirely.  Choosing to be with someone should be easy because “EVERYTYHING” is obvious.  It’s obvious you’re attracted, it’s obvious you share passion for each other, it’s obvious you share laughter, but it’s also obvious that you both share the same values, goals and honesty too.    Honesty about everything!

There is nothing worse than dancing around an elephant in the room, and lying about it only makes it worse because someday you’re going to have to deal with what the elephant leaves behind.  You see, life brings both good stuff and crap too.  A couple’s willingness to engage in good and bad together, while sharing an abiding respect is what defines the basis of a good and lasting relationship.

If you value a good career and financial stability, choosing someone who is entrepreneurial and frequently lives on the bleeding edge of financial ruin because they’re a risk taker is probably not a good fit; no matter how incredible they are to you.  Sometimes, our partners are completely honest with us… they want or don’t want to have kids.  If raising a family is something important to you and non-negotiable and your partner doesn’t want to have kids, you have little choice no matter how great the rest of the relationship!  Staying is keeping you from being with someone who values the same things you do and it keeps them from achieving their life goal too.  Choosing not to stay doesn’t make the other person bad for you, but does make them a bad CHOICE for you!  If however, your family choices are negotiable, and foregoing a family life is something you can live with… well I guess your choice may not be so difficult.  As long as you’re willing to be honest with yourself about what your partner shares with you, you can make healthy choices.  If you choose to leave, they will respect you because you’re valuing and respecting them too!

If someone pursues you after the relationship has ended, it’s easy to be tempted back because, after all, it wasn’t all bad.  It’s sometimes hard to honour our choices because let’s face it… being alone sucks!  But hanging about and playing with the fire of a past flame keeps you from moving forward and finding the right relationship for you.  I’ve struggled with that too, but I’ve learned my lesson after having been burned by playing with that very fire.  Fortunately though, I was not scarred because I feel I’ve learned from my experience and now have the ability to be honest with myself and make hard choices when necessary.

I’m not saying that you can’t feel completely connected to someone who is different to you, but you have to be certain that difference is something you can live with; because giving and committing your heart to someone should be about a forever choice!    “Every rose has its thorn” might be true, but if you can’t live with the pain you feel from what is otherwise something quite beautiful, it’s better to leave it alone.

Too many times, I held onto hope while waiting on the other person.  I waited and hoped that that the depth of our love would conquer our differences, but each time, that hope found me disappointed and ultimately… alone!  Sometimes, I chose to end the relationship and sometimes it was the other person or a mutual decision.  Thankfully though, it ended because continuing to live in the expectation or hope that I or the other person would change our mind would have resulted in frustration, anger and likely bitterness or resentment.

A very good friend of mine offers “Granny’s” advice.”  “It’s better to be alone than wish you were!”   Damn straight!  It’s scary to choose someone, but it’s worse when you hold onto someone when in the back of your mind, you know you shouldn’t be there.  Because you think the world of them however, or because you don’t want to be alone, you choose to remain in something that’s not right for you.  That’s just the wrong reason to be in a relationship and more… it’s really selfish!

It can be hard to be honest, but when you’re with the right person, they will accept what you have to say, knowing that it’s probably hard for you to share, but because they value integrity and because of their self-respect and integrity too, they listen knowing that you have their best interests in mind.

I have waited a very long time to find someone who sees me as I am, who finds me devilishly handsome, makes their heart go boom, accepts all of the idiosyncrasies that comprise me, who accepts and shares the goals and values we both have and who, in the light of all of those things is willing to talk honestly and openly about our life.  That is someone I can make a commitment to because that is someone within which I can place my trust.

The hardest part of being in a relationship when it first begins and then throughout is being honest.  It can be hard to be honest with yourself and then with your partner because sometimes, the message isn’t easy.  Of course, there are many other parts too, but it all starts with honesty!  Without it, you can never have integrity, honour or respect.  Often, when we find love, it feels easy, but without honesty and respect, it’s shallow and baseless!  Finding a great love, a love in which you share, values, goals, respect and above all, honesty… that’s not so easy, but it’s so worth waiting for!

I’ve spent the last 3 years of my life more or less on my own.  I’ve shut down my small business and joined a large software company, moved my home after 42 years and started another part of my life.   I’ve had to undergo a lot of scary stuff and become very honest with myself about who I am and where I’m at!  I’m not willing to toss all that aside for the first bit of “feel good” that comes along.

When you find the “right” person for you, you’ll know, but only if you’re willing to be honest… with you!  Here’s hoping you find the right person for you!

Soul Pic

vox … animo quid dicis

Our voice in an incredibly powerful thing!  Our voice provides a way to share who we are and how we see the world.  It is valuable because with it, we share our ideas, our passions, our convictions and hopefully, our feelings.  I want to be clear about something though… our voice is not merely about making sound!

The power of our voice expressed through how we share our thoughts is an awesome thing.  I don’t mean awesome in the sense of “hey… wow… that’s really great!”   I mean it in terms of being influential and impacting.  When we share our thoughts, whether they be written or spoken, they will have impact!  How the recipient receives what you share through the expression of your voice will depend on many things.  How you choose to make your expressions, your tone of voice, the disposition of the recipient… and the list goes on.

Once we’ve used our voice to share our thought(s), we have no further control.  In fact, even while we conceive our thoughts, no matter how deliberate we are, we have no control over how they will be received.  That said, it is incredibly important to consider carefully what we share.  It is equally important to listen to what others share with us.  This can help to shape our voice in a healthy way.

We can tie ourselves in knots trying to come up with the “politically correct” statement, the aim of which is to be non-injurious to the vast majority.  In many cases, in the interest of political correctness, the message gets watered down and the fundamental truth in the thought is lost.  Unfortunately, that may leave us guessing at what a politically correct statement is actually trying to say.  It may leave us searching through carefully crafted rhetoric and ambiguity for what the intended message is instead of actually receiving the intended thought and potentially learning something (whether we agree with it or not)!  I could go on and on about this, but political correctness is not the point I want to make today.  Sharing our voice should be about an expression of truth and should also seek to cause provoked consideration and maybe even self-examination.  It should not lead to situations which cause the recipient to feel pain (unless the pain suffered is the result of a realization of truth which hopefully causes a new healthy self-awareness and growth).

I’m talking about using our voice when saying things like “she looks like a whale”, “he’s a wimp”, or “what an idiot”.  Opinion is important of course, but how you choose to share that opinion is a part of your voice.  Just because an opinion varies from yours doesn’t give you the right to demean or attempt to silence someone.  Even more, it absolutely doesn’t give you the right to viciously malign anyone.

There have been quite a few things I’ve noticed this last week which have both challenged and saddened me.  I’ve seen a significant number of people make expressions steeped in ignorance because they are unaware of a situation or topic and are only expressing their opinion based on their finite understanding of that given situation.  An example of this might be like saying “Ford sucks”, just because you’ve only known GM!  I’ve seen people get angry and venomous because someone was using their voice to try to inspire thought and discussion.  Yet, because of pre-disposition, the need for political correctness and to maintain the status quo, that voice was all but silenced and an important societal foundation was muted!

Many of us throw our opinions around like they are law!  Well…. Here’s a newsflash, they aren’t, but your voice will still have an impact!  Consider your words carefully because they can hurt or in an instant, change dramatically how someone perceives you.  I have to remember and apply this in my life because I’m highly opinionated and outspoken.  I think a great deal and like to share my thoughts, but not only because I feel I’ve something to say.  I share what I think because I am interested in perspective…. the perspective of others on what my thoughts provoke in them.  In part, it’s how I process information and learn.    Voicing my opinion and discussing my thoughts causes me to really think about what I think for two reasons.  What you to think when you hear me share what is in my mind and also, hearing myself voice the thoughts in my head and also the way in which I choose to share them.

When you must resort to demeaning someone when sharing your voice, I think you need to ask yourself why.  What about what you’re trying to say causes you to need to demean or manipulate someone with harsh or condemning words?  Are you fully informed on the subject you’re feeling challenged by or have you always driven a GM?  If a dissenting opinion shared by someone else frustrates you… have you asked yourself why you’re frustrated by what you’ve heard?  Do you understand what frustration is?  Frustration is the inability to control a situation to an outcome that YOU would have!  Sounds pretty self-serving doesn’t it… well, that’s because it is.  Sometimes though, frustration can be a good thing… especially when it causes you to rail against tyranny or oppression.

We also have to guard against feeling injured by someone’s voice because of our own insecurities.  Sometimes, no matter how politely someone shares a thought, it will not be taken as intended.  And sometimes… it’s not about us at all!  People don’t think about us nearly as much as we think they do and so, we might mistake a thought as being directed toward us specifically when it wasn’t about us at all.

The internet has changed our society and sadly, I think in a societal context, it’s been changed for the worse.  We can easily hide anonymously behind a keyboard and monitor if we choose, and spew some of the most horrible thoughts and language without any idea of the impact that our voice causes.  More and more, I see this stemming into daily life.  What’s wrong with us?  It’s not ok to be rude just because you don’t agree with something or like something.  I also believe things have gotten to a point where I think it’s causing many people to feel afraid to take a stand on anything for the sake of political correctness (I’m going to limit this to much of western culture).    We need to get back to some core values and be unafraid to live them, but we also must learn to voice those ideas with consideration and respect.   We can learn from fear and ignorance but we must speak and act with wisdom and truth.

I guess it all boils down to… if you can’t say something kindly and respectfully… keep it to yourself!

Have a great day folks….

T

Life, choice and attitude!

Well… Here I am, almost six months on in my new home and community and I have to say, it’s not been an easy transition!  After the furor of packing (thanks Liz and Bryanna), moving and the newness of a new home and community have worn off, I was left with what I thought was just me.  While in part, that was true, there was a bit more to the story; or so at least, that I’ve recently discovered.

Self-pity… it’s not something I’ve fallen into the clutches of for the majority of my adult life, but it has happened from time to time.  Very recently too which is why I’m writing this today.

A friend of mine recently tweeted “Don’t let self pity get the upper hand… Instead of sinking into doom and gloom, encourage urself!”  Fortunately, my attitude about life has over the past month, found me in a much healthier and happier state of mind.  The statement in this tweet however, reminded me of where I was a just a short while ago and what my attitude toward life was like.

If we have the privilege of knowing each other personally, you know… we’ve hung out, you’ve probably come to know that there are a few things that motivate me.  I’ve discovered that one of my greatest motivators and sources of value is service.  I always thought it was being around people, but I’ve come to learn that isn’t the case.  Of course, people are a part of that process, as is the feedback I receive from them, but that’s not what fries my bacon!  Service is!  Giving and enjoying the journey while making an effort or serving, is a huge part of what fuels my human fire.  I came to realize though, that I somehow managed to remove myself from that process.  Many friends said… you’re uprooting your whole life… give yourself a break… your path will come in time and you will find your way.  I guess I figured to a degree, that gave me an excuse of sorts in that I needed time to acclimate and connect with my new community.  Instead, I found that I had taken myself further away from any connection or opportunity for service.  I had begun the process of wallowing.   I just didn’t realize it because I started in the shallow end and slowly let myself get comfortable swimming in the cold water!

Sometimes, we need “down time”.  We need a period of rest and time alone, but that shouldn’t be at the expense of our community and service or whatever our life drivers or motivators are.  Of course, I needed the opportunity to see where I can be a part of service in and to my community, but I also discovered something else that is very important.  I discovered that I needed to serve myself to a degree.  I thought that meant making a home, resting and taking time for me, but what a very good friend of mine reminded me of was key in turning my cycle of self-pity around.

As I said… service is a big value component in my life, but something that goes alongside it for me is gratitude!  I have so very much to be grateful for and I’m not talking just about the big stuff like an incredible home, living 200 meters away from mountains (which also happen to be my backdrop).  I’m talking about simple things like having plenty of food!  A great career!  Wonderful and giving family and friends.  The ability to hear and see the Canada Geese as they fly overhead while I write this to you.  The smell of fresh air!  I am truly blessed!  There are people who lay suffering in whatever circumstance life has brought them to and who would love to say… “I can sit outside, smell the fresh air, sip on my coffee and listen to the birds!”  The ironic part is that I’ve seen many of those same people expressing their gratitude for what they have in their less than ideal circumstance!  Gratitude is a choice of attitude!

Sometimes, we need to remind ourselves that there is so much more to life than what is happening around us and to us!  I have nothing to complain about and yet, I do and I know I will continue to, but there’s a big difference for me now.  I’m reminded!  I’m reminded because I have chosen to make myself aware.

I lost touch with my gratitude somewhere along the way.  For years, I used to always talk about how blessed I am and how fortunate I am that I get to live the life I do!  What a revelation it was that in the unfolding of the choices I’ve deliberately made to start this new part of my life… choices that have brought me to a beautiful new home, new friendships, a new community and affirmation of the friendships I’ve been blessed with for many years; I’d lost touch with the simple pleasures in life and the gratitude for them that I should have been acknowledging.  I’m right now, sitting on my deck with the sun just peeking around a tree and the mountain scape it overlooks and I’m reminded of what I have!  I have plenty!  I have the love and acceptance of great and loving family and friends and I more than anything else, I have the Love and acceptance of God!

Gratitude is a choice of attitude!  Damn straight it is!  So… in that knowledge, I want to say thank you to my friends and family who have been so patient with me during this new part of my life.  Sometimes, we need to bump along the hallways of life to find our way… and sometimes, we need someone to turn on a small light!

I wish you were here with me right now… the air smells like I’m camping by a stream in the pine forests of British Columbia… what’s wild is… that’s where I currently live.  Now, I’m just going to give myself the opportunity to enjoy what I have and more importantly, to be grateful for it!  So in that spirit… rather than just looking at the mountain I call beautiful, I decided to get off of my ass and climb it!

Thank you, for being willing to hang out with me and for flipping the light switch from time to time!

I’m giving the last words to a very wise man who wrote some things which have long been on my Facebook page… I’m glad I finally came to my senses and started to live them again!

“I believe the single most significant decision I can make on a day-to-day basis is my choice of attitude. It is more important than my past, my education, my bankroll, my successes or failures, fame or pain, what other people think of me or say about me, my circumstances, or my position. Attitude keeps me going or cripples my progress. It alone fuels my fire or assaults my hope. When my attitudes are right, there is no barrier too high, no valley too deep, no dream too extreme, no challenge too great for me.”

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it”

-Chuck Swindoll