Love… Why Don’t We Express it?


I had a great conversation with my grown son Joshua (Yoshie) this weekend. We talked about how people, especially people that are close to one another have such a hard time expressing their love, or for that matter expressing all types of good things they probably should be saying. What is about being kind and tenderhearted that causes us to take pause instead of moving forward? Why would we wait until people are sick or dying before we endeavor to communicate years of wonderful feelings we haven’t ever shared, or at least haven’t shared with any meaningful consistency? Why would your love for someone be left unspoken?

I remember some years ago adapting a Dale Carnegie principle regarding building people up, to my immediate family. I called it, “I love you because…” The object of my little experiment was to make an opportunity for our family to say things to one another we may have never said before. Basically, each of us wrote on a 3 x 5 card the family member’s name with the phrase, “I love you because…” to be filled in with some meaningful reason we loved that particular person. We chose one person to be the receiver of our words and went around the table expressing why we loved that specific family member. Then, each person expressed verbally why they loved their sister or mother etc. Once each person had shared to the family member, we moved on to the next receiver. Little did I know at the time, there would be such heartfelt emotion behind those words. Between the wine and the words there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. We didn’t just shed a teardrop here and there, but took part in some full on crying in our deeply felt love for one another. In that moment, between tears, I realized something profound. We all loved each other so much, but rarely felt permission to openly share those feelings. The love was always there and the tears weren’t sad tears at all, but we simply rarely said things like that to each other. Thank God we did it! (And for being the biggest part behind that little idea.)

So, if we feel it so strongly, why won’t we say it? Is it because it makes us feel vulnerable? Do we fear it won’t be reciprocated, ridiculed or made fun of in some fashion? All of us had a different upbringing. All of our parents had their own upbringing as well. In some homes, expressions of love flowed freely like water. In other homes those words were hard to come by. But, if those words were rare, it’s hardly fair to blame your parents. Chances are those words were scarce in their homes as well. Imagine trying to feel comfortable expressing your love for someone if hardly anyone ever expressed those words to you. It’s such a conundrum because though not expressed, we know that the love is there. So, we wait for some dire situation to force us into saying the things we haven’t said before. It’s like there is no time left to wait. But, here’s a thought. The people you love so much need to hear those words now, and later, and often in-between. You cannot really lose by saying those things. Even if the person you love makes fun of your heartfelt notion, inside in their heart, underneath all of that cover and pretend toughness, they needed to hear it from you, right when you said it! Just say it!

It’s so odd that in the world today, feelings of tenderness and kindness and love are shunned as if they represent weakness or perhaps aren’t manly or appropriate. It’s like to be a man you need to withhold your love in favor of toughness as a sort of preparation for the things your offspring (namely boys) might experience in the world. I can assure you, the best way to build someone up to face the challenges of life is with your love. You want your son to be strong? Shower him with love and acceptance. Ironically, few people have any trouble expressing their love to young children. Young children are safe recipients of our love. But, what about being a teenager or young adult negates that principle? Your 30 year old daughter needs that expression of love as much, if not more now, than when she was 5. We all need it desperately. Your brother you grew up with, who drove you absolutely nuts, needs your expressions of love. Your father who didn’t treat you right (God bless him as he was trying to figure it out also) needs your heartfelt expressions of love. Don’t wait until they deserve it, do it while they don’t deserve it. Do it now.

The only way to break the negative cycle is for you to break it. It really doesn’t matter if you receive it first. You be the first to break the cycle. Shower people with your love and kindness of heart. Have you ever ran into a truly kind person and left the better for it? You know what it did for you, right? So, you do it. Tell your wife you have being quietly residing beside for 30 years, how you feel. Tell her she is beautiful. Tell her what living with her has done for you over the years and the better person you are as a result of it. Tell her! Yes, I know she knows, but you tell her anyway! Your friend who always has your back and stands with you despite all your bullshit, tell them as well. It’s not weird or out of place. It’s weird not to tell them. You see, you and I have to be the initiators of the love. Take the first step. Don’t make it odd or difficult or risky. There is no risk in loving someone. The risk is found by not saying what you feel when you feel it. That’s the real tragedy.

Don’t love in silence even though you both know the feelings are there. Love outloud! Say it, express it, do it. I love you because…

Just some good thoughts…

 

Finding Your Missing Peace…


Life can be a topsy turvy affair. You are definitely going to experience your share of ups and downs, highs and lows, good times and bad times. Sometimes things work out for you and other times they may not. Some circumstances are going to challenge you down to the very core of your being. Chances are you will experience pressures, stress, negativity and downright agitation. But, did you know that the turbulance, the unrest, the feeling unsettled, the churning inside is all an indicator that something is not right and needs to be changed; to be remedied; to be fixed. It’s not something you must learn to accept or live with, nor is it a necessary part of being a human being. In its basic essence it is the absence of peace. You need to find your missing peace…

Children do not live with agitation in their hearts. When something is bothering them, they instinctively know they need help to get it cleared up. They don’t put up with it for very long. It’s only adults that try to acclimatize themselves to the unrest or worse find things that cover up the distress. When people are suffering inside, it’s only reasonable to seek the source of those feelings. But instead, people just sort of move on or ignore it. They wait for a new day or for some length of time to pass hoping something will change and bring their peace back. They think that peace is something you need to attain, rather than a natural state that has been tampered with and manipulated. They never consider that there is something they are doing or choosing, knowingly or unknowingly, that invites in the agitation. Wrong thinking and wrong behaviors steal away your precious peace. They promise something good, but fail to deliver on the promise. Error in all forms cannot produce good, no matter the adornment or appeal. Darkness wears many disguises, but regardless of the costume still brings in darkness. In order to find your peace, you have to learn what is wrong, what is error, what is darkness. You cannot go by what people say or the masses or the so-called experts. You’ve got to go by what God’s Word says…

There is a verse in the Bible that states, “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts…” The Greek word for “rule” is brabeuó which literally means “to umpire.” It (the peace) let’s you know if you are safe or if you are out. Things you think about that cause you agitation are out! Thinking fearful, worried thoughts cause you to churn inside. The churning, the unrest, is the umpire telling you, you are out! If you continue to stay your mind on those wrong thoughts your peace will not return until you stop thinking those wrong thoughts. Some behaviors you engage in cause you to feel good about yourself. Other behaviors cause distress. Behaviors that cause distress are the wrong behaviors or you have some wrong teaching concerning those behaviors. If someone taught you years ago that dancing is a sin, then every time you dance you will feel agitation. However, the error is not in the dancing, it is in your thinking. You are believing something that is not true based on wrong teaching. The world is chock full of wrong teaching and it has been tying God’s people up for centuries. It’s hard to find someone who feels worse about themselves than the average Christian. Yet, it’s not their sin that is defeating them, it is holding on to wrong thoughts about themselves, condemning themselves, focusing on themselves, that’s killing them. You can multiply this scenario out indefinitely. Yet, for all this, you already have the solution within yourself. Does what you are thinking about cause you to be at rest or unrest? Do you have some behaviors you engage in that always leave you feeling bad? The peace inside is your umpire and that umpire never misses a call.

If you are unpeaceful as hell, you have to ask yourself what have you been feeding your mind? What are you dwelling on and focusing on and concentrating on? Where does your mind naturally go? All of that fear and worry you have been dutifully entertaining has never, ever led you to anything good. It’s not good information that helps you feel better. Has it ever helped you feel better? Does contemplating your or your loved ones demise help you to live? You see, you have to get it out of your mind that fear has any useful purpose! Fear thoughts, worry thoughts, anxious thoughts, doubtful thoughts are all error and will take away your peace faster than a speeding bullet! The key to overcoming fear is found in your refusal to consider the thoughts. Oh I know, you think you can figure it out if you just invest enough churning. But, you aint going to figure it out! Instead, you will just become a big mess inside, drinking liquor and taking pills to make it stop. Your mind is feeding on something and you are the one responsible for what you feed it. The crippling negatives of the world are everywhere and have been ever since the first man went astray. But, just because they surround you doesn’t mean you have to perpetually contemplate them. Don’t let them in…

Do you want that wonderful peace inside that assures you everything is right and nothing is in need of repair? Do you want that inner calmness that makes life sweet and beautiful and tender? Do you want to find that long lost feeling of repose and know that you are safe and protected on every front? Then, you have got to do something different with your mind. You have got to change how you have been thinking. You have got to alter what you have been feeding your heart. Life will still be full of ups and downs, but you won’t be. You will still have to face pressures and stressors and threats, but you don’t have to remain agitated by them. There will still be hard times and hard days and hard circumstances, but inside you can remain at peace because you know who ultimately has your back. I hope you find your missing peace…

Just some good thoughts…

Slow Down to the Speed of Life…


All of this social distancing and requirements to stay home have inadvertently provided us with some important clues about how we have been living our lives. Most of us are moving too damn fast. We have so many things to do, much of which are self-inflicted, too many obligations, too many commitments. We have been literally running for our lives from thing to thing, activity to activity, trying to get it all done and by all I mean everything we have read we should be doing. In between all of our “must-dos,” we fill the remaining moments with our televisions, binge watching Netflix series coupled with our incessant need to check Instagram and Facebook and whatever else pops us to use our every remaining moment. Like an addict, we have been convinced we need something else like non-stop activity to be okay. God forbid we should have nothing to do! The things we do, we don’t do properly or give our full attention. We ram and cram and make do ever trying to get to the next moment, the next fun time, the next vacation. And while we are being completely preoccupied, we have stopped thinking and dreaming and planning desireable future moments. We no longer have time to get the bottom of our issues. We don’t have time to think or so we think. Someone convinced us we have to figure everything out for ourselves and work harder and do more etc. We are driving ourselves crazy. We need to slow down and return to the speed of life.

There was a time when we didn’t have the Internet or for that matter TV (or TV consisted of 3 channels and they all went off around midnight). We didn’t know what everyone was doing at all times and it was good for us. The news we did get was very limited, reserved for the big things that threatened our happiness. Today we devour the bad news, filling our minds with it in excess under the guise we are keeping ourselves informed. How much more do you want to know about the virus?  How much more is there to know? It’s not education, it is fear being fueled and fed by more fear. It’s no wonder the world runs on anxiety. The world can appear to be a scary place, but how much more so when your mind is constantly being filled with all of the things that can get you? That’s maybe why we are so dang busy. If we take time to slow down, we might actually have to deal with it all. But, dealing with it is exactly what you need to do. You have to take time to do something with your mind about the things that are bothering you. You HAVE to deal with them. I know you would rather not. Me neither. But, like any obstacle impeding your happiness, you have to take them on and move the roadblocks from your path. They aren’t going to move themselves no matter how busy you make your life. Slow down, breathe and take the time you need to get things straight. Get things clear. Take the time. You cannot get to the next place until you learn to overcome the challenges in your current place. Slow down people and learn to live again.

Life was never designed to be this frenetic experience where you run from thing to thing, from pillar to post, hoping you end up somewhere good. Life is full of variables and things that need your attention, many of which aren’t monumental. Sometimes I think that God is more pleased that you took the time to fold your sweater than He is with all of your super accomplishments; that you took the time to organize that harassing evil called your sock drawer, over all the money you donated. Don’t you see it? Your only requirement is what the day demands of you and whatever that is, that you invest your whole heart fully into its accomplishment.   Call your mother. Clean out the closet. Write the poem. Tell someone who has been on your heart how much they mean to you. Buy someone a gift instead of the gift card. Think! Make time for yourself to think and consider. What has been eating at you lately? What, like a splinter, is under your skin? You can either get it out or wait for the infection. But, either way, it has got to come out. The unseen problem with the frenetic life is that you don’t have time to handle you! You haven’t given yourself an opportunity to get you straight. But, trust me on this one, you gotta be straight before you can get anything else straight. Murky and confused isn’t going to get the job done. Clarity and clear perception gets the job done. Slow down and get things straight.

Slowing down to the speed of life is about getting back on God’s wavelength. God is not in a hurry. God doesn’t miss anything, ever. He isn’t running you around like a squirrel, herky-jerky, flitting around, full of anxiety and care. He is calm and relaxed and sure of everything. He wants you to feel the same way. He doesn’t require that you know all the answers, but rather acknowledge that He does and in so knowing, lay it all on Him. Everything that ever bothered you, bothers Him when it isn’t resolved in your life. Like any good parent, He wants you to be happy. He already knows what has been screwing you up and exactly what you need to know and do to make it stop. But, in order for you to know, you have to give Him a little time. You have to slow down in your quest for self and trust someone outside of yourself. You need time to think. You need time to pray. God is bigger than any virus!

Stop running man. Stop dashing lady. Stop letting fear dominate and rule your existence. There’s an infinitely better way and you can find it (Him) by slowing down to the speed of life…

Just some good thoughts…

 

He Who Smelt It, Dealt it?


Forgive me for grabbing your attention with a foul metaphor (smile). While you are likely familiar with the saying, thankfully I’m going in a different direction. Many times in life we can get so caught up in what other people are doing to us, how unfair they are and how insensitive they can be to our own needs and wants. Yet, it is easy to forget about our involvement in the equations. Your life, my life, is really about being the best version of ourselves. It’s about choosing our own thoughts and actions and taking full ownership of our lives because ultimately, he who smelt it probably dealt it!

Have you ever stopped to consider that you play a key role in every relationship you have, be it foul (there it is again) or fair? The one constant in every relationship you have is you. When you find yourself confronted with the same challenges or the same unwanted judgments or the same faulty conclusions about who you are, maybe it’s not because the people you deal with are all idiots (been there), but rather because of what you are giving off. Maybe, just maybe you are sending a consistent message, accurate or not, about yourself that isn’t really true. Perhaps you have been so accustomed to playing a specific role with others that you are loathe to let it go, even if you don’t enjoy the results thereof. Many of us become familiar with a certain performance we put on for others; one they faithfully enjoy and demand, that leads people to a false understanding about who we are. The world is not always a nice place and its inhabitants not always offering us the benefit of the doubt. It’s not easy to be authentic in our interactions and in so doing we set up circumstances and conditions we do not like. The first requirement in building lasting relationships is to be an authentic person.

In a relationship, it is incredibly easy to hone in and discern the faults of others. Whether it be mild annoyances or full on agitation, it is suprisingly effortless to figure out things about other people you do not like. But, sadly perhaps, it is very difficult to recognize the things we do that others may not like. That’s not to say we should mold and shape our character to meet the demands of others, but rather that we should become humble enough to admit we’ve also got some unpleasant bits. Maybe we aren’t as funny as we think? Maybe they should know we mean no harm, but after they have told us otherwise a hundred times, we should have perhaps gotten the message by now. There are, it seems, certain people that have the capacity to drive you nuts! They have found your buttons and joy exceedingly in pressing them. But, have you ever considered that maybe before they sent you a message, you already sent them one? Sometimes your tone of voice, your facial expressions, your approach, already communicated your thoughts about them being a moron and in like manner they have rightfully perhaps decided to assault you back. Naturally you are aghast at their behavior, yet cannot conceive you began the conflict yourself. In relationships it makes sense to pride yourself in being altruistic, but often, imperceptibly, we may be the one that needs to make a change.

In marriages or lasting relationships, couples often spend a lifetime wishing their partner would only listen to what they are telling them and change, yet refuse on the grounds of principle to change themselves. Or they dutifully carry a lifetime of assumed responses based upon “knowing their significant other” without really knowing them at all. How could they know them after deciding 20 years ago exactly who they are? Bitter, long since burned out couples, could not hear a good thing from their partner if it slapped them in their face! They have already concluded and in so doing have already closed the door to change. The other person can scarce bring up a topic without their spouse already knowing where they are heading requiring them to head it off at the pass. Bad realtionships are seldom not formed by the actions of the present but rather on the thousandfold actions of the past. No couple can honestly survive such closed-mindedness! The answer isn’t found in the other person, it is found in yourself! Someone has to stop the madness and it may as well be you. So, you find yourself divorced and finally living out your dreams, yet never considered that you might be treating your “new” person in all the ways your “old” person would have loved. You gave your new person a chance…

What you should you do when you find yourself in such a dilemma? Stop assigning responsibility for the relationship to the other person because the responsibility rests with you. You change you! You be the best you, you can be. You give the love first. You decide to be sweet, loving and kind. You decide to listen and really hear the messages with your heart. You’d be surprised what can change when you change. You may find out the person whose faults you have been faithfully cataloging for years has qualities you never before imagined. You might just discover true love, not based on endless expectations, but rather on your decision to love first. You may at last recognize the love you have been searching for a lifetime is right there waiting for you and has been all along. Take ownership of yourself first and in so doing stop making it always about them. Sure they will still have faults and failings and blind spots, but criticism never ever cured them, only love can.

Whether your relationship is a marriage or dating or people you work with or your family members, the success of them all is first dependent upon you and the hidden messages you are transmitting to them. Seek to change the only thing you can change – you! Becausee two people are involved it may not always work out no matter what you do. But, at least you will have done your honest best. Remember, usually, he who smelt it probably dealt it!

Just some good thoughts…

 

Win the Moment… Win the Day!


Did you know that by the time you are full of anxiety and fear; when you feel like something is wrong and you can’t seem to get it straight; when you feel out of sorts and disconnected, confused, bamboozled, lost, defeated, chances are you have been losing the day, day after day! It happens to all of us at times. We get distracted by the world and all of the things that assault and perplex our minds. We get overly focused on our future and perpetually dragged back to our past. We have failed to live in the moment and win the moment. We have failed to win the day.

Your mind was designed to function within a 24 hour period. The great processor, your brain, was built to handle all of the demands of the day. It was never intended that you would tax your brain cells to decipher and figure out a future you could not possibly discern, nor waste its resources on a past you can neither change nor modify nor improve. Instead, you function best devoting your full attention to the moment at hand. The moment at hand is always something you can handle. Otherwise, you quickly find yourself losing track of the moments, rapidly forging ahead when you needed to slow down. It is in the moment that negative thoughts hit your awareness and it is in the moment that you must handle the challenges with which you are presented. Anxiety, for example, is simply misplaced fears that whittle and carve their way into your thinking. Once misplaced, they surface as feelings of fear that you can no longer put your finger on, much less address! Confusion and feeling lost don’t happen today, but during a hundred yesterdays you failed to recognize appropriately. Feeling out of sorts and disconnected doesn’t just fall upon you suddenly, but develops slowly, imperceptibly over time with one misconnection following another. The reason you cannot get something straight is because by the time you are experiencing the dilemma, its cause has long since hidden itself. You cannot track backwards and solve your issues. You solve your issues by winning the day.

The source of your troubles works in secret. The less you know about your opponent, the better success your opponent enjoys. Every thought stone you leave unturned turns again to rend you. Your opposition works by distraction; by overloading your awareness with worries over the future and regrets about your past. Your enemy convinces you to let things go you should not let go and instead focus on things that do not really matter. Your opposer cooks up a gigantic spaghetti bowl of confusing and distracting thoughts which when completed leaves you wading through the noodles, in vain searching for solutions you are long past obtaining. They count on your lack of attention and sneak in again and again until they render you defeated. You will never find them in the collective, but only in the singular. Alone they can be overcome, but fortified in your awareness they gain strength. The intensity of the contest demands your full awareness; your full attention. And your full attention is found only in the moment in which you find yourself. You need to win the moment.

You learn to win the day by learning to win the moment. What negativity or threat just hit your mind? What prediction of doom or future danger just took a swipe at you? What accusation about who you are; the motives you have; who you really are as a person, just took aim at your heart? When you live, as best you can, in the moment, you are much more likely to see what just happened to you. And, in seeing and hearing, there is something you can do about it. Like any good fight, you have to learn to fight back. Just as you would not tolerate (for long) someone punching you repeatedly, in the contest you have to fight back. Sure you don’t feel like it, but it doesn’t matter as long as you are getting hit. Yes, you can lament and wish it wasn’t this way, but it is this way at least as long as there is evil in the world. So you fight, in that very moment. You confront the wrong thoughts. You challenge them. You take a stand against them. In fact (or better in truth), you fight back until it they shut up. You are in a spiritual fight so you don’t try to fight with your human logic or by being rational. You fight by countering the negatives with the positives of God’s Word. Don’t try to be so smart! What does God’s Word say that counters the evil consideration? Say that! If your opponent threatens your health (i.e. Corona Virus), you counter by proclaiming God’s promise to keep you healthy or forever heal you when you need it. Somewhere in that Good Book, God says often fear not; be anxious for nothing; you are not wrong and He will make all of your paths straight. He says you are always connected; have the answers you need; have been found when you were lost; are not confused and definitely have not been defeated as He always causes you to win! It’s all in there folks and is the perfect answer to every challenge you will ever be confronted with!

Learn to slow down a little and live in the moment. Take on the obvious challenges of the moment. Deal with what is standing right in front of you. Recognize what is traveling through your mind in the moment and decide whether it can stay or it can go. Take it on in the moment! And, as you win the moment, you decide to win the next moment and the next and the next. Pretty soon, you find yourself able to win the day! Tomorrow is tomorrow and yesterday is yesterday. No matter what happened or where you may have fallen short, win the next moment. Soon, you enter the realm of the kick-ass human that God always intended for you to be.

Don’t you want to win the day? I know I do!

Just some good thoughts…

Spread a Little Sunshine…


The Corona Virus pandemic has certainly done a fine job of screwing with everyone’s minds in various proportions. Some folks have taken to buying one hundred toilet paper rolls guaranteeing unlimited wiping for the foreseeable future. Others have seen fit to hoard bread and soup and even the spices. Salt anyone? Oddly, bottled water has reached an epic peak as preparation for Armegeddon marches on! Some geographic locales have locked the populace down entirely for fear of an increased spread. Whatever the reactions, ranging from mild annoyance over lost conveniences to abject terror, ye old virus has done a dandy on the minds of Americans. So, what the hell can you do about it?

First, it is important to put things in their proper perspective. Things like this have been happening in the world almost since time began. There have been world wars and rumors of wars. There have been plagues and other health vexations for centuries. There have been catastrophes of unparalleled proportions. The threat of nuclear annihilation only just recently fell out of fashion. In short, there is always something going wrong, somewhere, to some people. It is all a million variations of the same threat, namely fear. Fear has no logical endpoint, because as soon as one fear is overcome, another pops up to take its place. Fear doubles down on bad circumstances and invites more and more disaster. Fear seeks to convince you there is nothing you can do about a situation; severely limits your options and boldly asserts that God is dead! But, God is not dead my friends and He is inifintely bigger than any dreadful thing that rises up against you. Fear is a liar from the father of lies. Remaining in fear you cannot hope to win. Fear is negative outcomes accepted and believed before they come to pass. Fear is truly your only enemy!

In the midst of trying circumstances, you really have only one responsibility. Stop being afraid. Fear not! Fear will have you engaged in all kinds of crazy shit! (toilet paper anyone? – pun intended) Decisions made in fear are not decisions at all, but rather forced behaviors you neither chose or agreed to. Fear is a bully taking advantage of your mind and your human tendency towards futility. I mean, how much control do you really think you have over world events? What could you possibly do in your little reasoning machine to effect any change over what is going on? You cannot wish away negative circumstances, but you can sure as hell refuse to participate any longer. Do you really think that you or a scientist or the medical profession can have any serious, lasting impact over things that are based in the spiritual realm? The only thing that defeats spiritual negativity is spiritual positivity! In other words, instead of furthering the spread of negativity and fear, you must learn how to spread a little sunshine instead. Literally, shed some light on the subject. Be part of the solution. Wake up, stand up and get out there expecting something good to happen. You may not change the world, but you can change how things are going to work out for you. You are the only thing you can control. Instead of falling in line with the other sheep heading towards the cliff, turn around. Go the other way. Decide, “not me boy” and get out there and live.

It has been my experience that God can turn anything around if enough people can get behind that notion. I’m quite sure God is very familiar with what is going on right now. I’m also sure He loves your loved ones at least as much as you do. If you got sick, I’m quite sure He could heal you. Nothing that ever happens comes as a surprise to God. He has foreknowledge which means He already knows. And because He knows, He also has a solution for you. Your job is not to try and wrangle with fear, but instead trust God and find the solution. The alternative is almost certain defeat. God is infinitely bigger than anything you will ever come up against! Trusting God means making a decision to stop being afraid. Then, in response to that, let that shit go Elsa! (Peloton reference) Walk away from it. Let it go! Don’t worry yourself over it for another second. If there is nothing God can do when faced with a world pandemic, He certainly wouldn’t be much of a God, would He? Well, there is something He can do, but you have to learn to trust Him and let Him do it! Start spreading a little sunshine…

This too will pass. One day you will look back on this time and wonder how you let it get you so shook up. But, you will have wasted a lot of time in churning and stressing over something you had no control over. If you think about; I mean really consider it, nothing you have ever feared was ever within your realm of control. At some point, hopefully, you decided to let it go. Trusting God is always about letting it go. Just as you have enjoyed a beautiful day basking in the sunshine, put that sunshine on in your mind today. Inject some light into your thinking. Stop reasoning with potential catastrophes and walk in the light. Walk in the sunshine feeling the warmth of the One that invented sunshine. There’s a reason sunny days make you feel so happy. It is God, don’t you see it? It is God enlightening and uplifting your life. Sure, we may have some hardships to endure, but just as there are rains and storms in life, the sun always comes back out. It has to…

I, like you, am not sure what lies ahead. I have also considered economic collapse, sickness and mass misery in the days ahead. But, I haven’t considered it for very long! I decided I am going to continue spreading the sunshine, no matter how dark it gets, because my life isn’t based on what things look like, but rather on the promises of God. You too, my friend, can spread the sunshine. Help somebody else out and get your mind off yourself. Bless people, love people and remember God is bigger, much, much bigger… There will always be a way out for us. Believe that and spread a little sunshine instead…

Just some good thoughts…

Change Directions…


All of us get stuck sometimes in life. We are such creatures of habit and those habits develop so deeply that sometimes they are difficult to change. At times, you might feel like you’re sick of yourself; tired of struggling with the same issues, month after month, year after year. Maybe you’re in a relationship that is heading nowhere fast. Perhaps you’re weary of your job and your co-workers or the hierarchy and the politics. You can feel mired down in circumstances, smiling when you aren’t happy and playing a role in a production you do not enjoy. Maybe you wish you were something that you are not and the distance between the two is widening. No matter what has happened in the past, what is going on today, or your unhopeful prospects for the future, don’t fret my friends, you can always change directions…

No person living hasn’t experienced this in some form or fashion. In happens to us all. You get a few years under your belt and things dry up a bit. What was once gloriously hopeful and full of possibility can be eroded away through life and experience, especially negative experiences. You get sort of grooved into certain paths and it becomes hard to extricate yourself from the trail. It hasn’t occurred because there is something fundamentally wrong with you. Despite the multitude of your private, negative self talks, you are not the primary cause. There are forces at work in the world whose sole purpose is to beat you down. They convince you to do the things you hate and prevent you from doing the things you love. They skillfully drag you down the same rotten roads where you end up at the same rotten place! They promise you liberty then enslave you. They use you against you. You are living in a spiritual world heavily influenced by things you cannot discern. Instead of settling into the mediocrity and the misery; instead of becoming angry with God; instead of giving up and giving in, you need to simply change directions…

Not understanding what is going on spiritually in life is your number one problem. You need to understand. You need spiritual understanding so you can finally see what has been happening to you. It’s no coincidence that the whole world suffers from this as the whole world is being subjected to it. It’s certainly not God’s fault and it is definitely not God’s will. God, the God of life, is the answer to all of your questions. He is the satisfaction to your frustration. He is the fruitfulness to your futility. He is the forward progress to your feeling stuck. He is the way out, indeed the only way out. He is not chastising you. He is not judging you. He has not sentenced you to a crappy life. He is the polar opposite of all the pain and suffering, in ignorance, you have endured. But, we haven’t always learned that just yet. We are on a journey and we have to learn it for ourselves. We have to be, at last, willing to learn. Our lack of progress, lack of results, lack of fulfillment is always the first clue that we are chasing the wrong things and heading in the wrong direction. But don’t let the apparent complexity of error cause you to faint. Truth is clear and simple and in the end it requires that you simply change directions…

No change can occur in life unless it is preceded by a decision. It doesn’t first require discipline and force of will as you have already long proven to yourself. You don’t need a sudden stroke of luck or a miraculous circumstance to turn your life around. You need to simply decide. “You have to become sick and tired of being sick and tired.” (Thank you Fannie) You have to finally consider, “Why sit we here until we die?” (Thanks Bible) In other words, you have to make up your dang mind! Stop waiting for the circumstances to change before you decide. Stop waiting for full understanding before you decide. Stop waiting for retirement, for your kids to grow up, until you find your person, (Thanks Grey’s Anatomy), until you’ve earned your first million, until you feel better and on and on and on. Change is only and always preceded by a decision. Then, the strength of your efforts match the strength of your decision. Strong, resolute decisions naturally supply the energy to carry them out. Weak “hope so” or “I’ll try” or “I’ll give it a shot” decisions will not be accompanied by any determination of will and will naturally fail. You’re not stuck because there is no way out, you are stuck because you have not yet decided! Once you take the time to make the decision, you can simply change directions…

You will encounter tremendous opposition, of course. The same hidden forces that trapped you are going to fight like hell to keep you trapped! They are going to offer you counterfeit, alternate directions that sound so good and hopeful, but still end in misery and defeat. In truth there is only one direction that leads only to victory and God is more than willing to show it to you. “This is the way, walk ye in it…” Changing course is not about becoming super religious and swearing off booze and cigarettes, sex and anything else that feels good (smile). That route, often followed, and worse believed, is yet another alternate route that reduces God down to how good is man’s behavior or how little he uses cuss words. How silly and insulting to God who invented mankind. Religion does nothing but salve the ego of man convincing him that he can affect spiritual realities with human efforts. Changing directions happens first in your mind. You have to stop thinking and considering and entertaining the same old garbage that tied you up in the first place. You have to do something different. You have to learn to think differently. You have to simply change directions…

Don’t fret my friends, you can always change directions…

Just some good thoughts…

Living in a Dark House…


Being a lover of light, I’ve never understood how people could tolerate living in a dark house. They have all the blinds shut and the curtains drawn to keep out the light. Over in the corner is some old, dim lamp with a sad, 40 watt bulb throwing out yellow shadows. There’s usually a bookshelf or two chock full of old books, covered with thick dust from years of neglect. There appears to be some type of carpet, but you can’t really tell what color it is. It seems to lead down dreary hallways to even darker bedrooms. And, the people inside? They’ve got that look on their faces that says nothing goes on in here and it hasn’t for a long time, and they seem okay with it. They have grown fondly attached to their darkness, however dim and blasé, because it is familiar and feels safe. Are you living in that old, dark house?

Nature itself teaches you that the light feels good. There’s nothing like a beautiful, sunny day to lift your spirits. People are happy in the sunshine and warmth and travel many miles to seek it out. But, when the weather is gloomy, people don’t feel so good and sort of hang on until the sun comes back out from behind the clouds. Sunlight even has a positive effect on your body. It’s as if all of creation is beckoning you towards the light. In the light you can see clearly. Colors are more vivid and details are overwhelmingly apparent. In the mornings and evenings, the shifting sun highlights the terrain and casts pleasant shadows on all of the other beautiful things. Without the light we could not live. Without the light, you do not live.

Although you may dispute it, you live your life from within the frameworks of your own mind. Your mind is your house. You have the freedom to decorate it as you see fit. You may fill it with bright, inviting artwork or pictures depicting misery and pain. You can adorn the walls with pleasant, serene colors or with dark, gloomy shades. You can open all the doors and windows to freely admit the light or you can close the blinds and draw the curtains not allowing any light inside. Whatever you choose and however you do it, it is always your house and the choices of decoration and lighting always remain with you. Many people in ignorance, not willful, allow their homes to be decorated for them. Instead of choosing the adornments, they allow something else to choose for them. Once the negative and uninspiring images get inside, they permit them to stick around instead of immediately shooing them back outside. Through disappointments and false representations, they allow their windows to be closed and their doors to be shut. Little by little, their homes gets darker and darker, drearier and drearier. Soon they become accustomed to the dreariness and expect it as just a necessary part of life. The darkness becomes familiar and safe, though it is slowly killing the owner inside.

The simple solution to this complicated dilemma is to turn the light back on. Turn the light on so that you are able to see what has been going on. The trouble with darkness is that once it gains entree it is difficult to extricate yourself from it. Darkness begets more darkness. Darkness is never overcome by exploring and investigating the darkness, it is strengthened. Darkness may only be overcome by light. The light exposes the darkness for what it really is…a lie. Darkness paints a picture of life that is not true. Darkness convinces and persuades you to close your own windows and lock your own doors. It threatens and intimidates with the aim of getting you to retreat inside in the darkness and to remain inside without coming to the light. Scores of people miserably dwell in a dark house of their own choosing, completely unaware of the remedy, found only in the light. It is not that the people no longer want the light. The darkness has discouraged them. The darkness has defeated them. The only way out is to return to the light. The light is always there patiently waiting for people to open their blinds and their curtains and let the light back in. Many a frightful terror is easily dissolved in the light of day.

The light; the true light is found in God’s Word. It is the only light capable of defeating the darkness. You are not going to turn the lights on in your home with your human wisdom or your human logic. It’s your human logic that has been defeated. Your human brain is no match for your spiritual opponent. God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. His Word is light. It is the answer to every question. The more you seek it, the more light you gain access to and the more your path is brightened. Things that have escaped you for years suddenly become apparent. You begin to see things for what they really are and in seeing can make real changes. Soon the role you have been playing in your own defeat enters your awareness and you can finally stop cooperating with evil, leading to your own downfall. Only the light can deliver you from that darkness and if you want it, it is there for you.

Decide today to stop living in that old, tired, dark house. Step out into the sunshine where life is good. Open the windows and doors of your soul and let that light inside. Let it shine inside of you and reveal every dark crevice and thereby set you free. You don’t have to spend another night in futility as the day is at hand! You don’t need a dim lamp to light your path, you have something brighter than the sun.  Choose the light. Look for the light. Desire the light. Your days of living in a dark house are over. Choose the light!

Just some good thoughts…

 

 

Divided You Fall…


When it comes to your life, you’re it! You are the only you, you have to work with. You can only be you and never another you. You are incredibly unique, unrivaled in your ability to be you. And, while you are busy being you, you only have one chance, one shot at your life. You only have one grand, relatively short opportunity to be the best, most blessed, happy version of you, you can possibly be. Given this all encompassing, unchanging reality, how could be ever be persuaded to be against you? How could you ever let anything come between you and you? How could you have come to accept an internal existence where you are your own worst enemy? Indeed, divided you fall…

It probably should have dawned on us a long time ago that something takes place between our ears day by day, not working for us, but actually working against us. We were all born with this inner critic who refuses to give us a break. It is relentless in its conviction to talk us out of who God made us to be and to make us into something else; something weak and defeated instead. According to this perilous maleficent, you are usually wrong, don’t measure up, deserve bad outcomes and will likely never get the things that are most important to you. It works to derail you and push or pull you off course. It is your old nature and it arrived shortly after the fall of mankind. It resides in your blood stream as an unintended corruption and is passed down from person to person, to everyone born into this world. And as such, it is the negative counter to every positive. It is indecision and self-doubt. It is error and it must be overcome. It is always a lie.

As a thinking being, don’t you find it strange that the voice inside your own head is so often negative? As soon as you gain some ground and begin to develop some confidence, the voice speaks up and reminds you that you are actually fraudulent and that it is only a matter of time before you are found out. You learn something new and helpful; you receive some flash of insight and then that dark specter goes to work persuading you against your own best interests. It seeks to make you afraid and threatens you repeatedly with some awful doom waiting just around the corner. Even the good you enjoy is portrayed as short lived with an end date looming on the horizon. And sadly, the whole world is subject to its work, seen in the faces of defeated people, worn out, miserable and without hope. Its primary work is done in your thought life and without recognizing and changing those thoughts you are destined for failure. It was never God’s will for you to live this way as His will was characterized by paradise. However, it arrived as a result of man’s free will choice and continues or is overcome in light of those important choices.

The only way for you to win in the great competition of life is to learn how to think properly; to think things that are actually true. God does not work to tear you down in order to build you up. God does not engender doubts and fears. God does not threaten you. God does not assault your mind with an endless stream of negativity in order to humble you. God is always for you. He heals you and teaches you and helps you. He wants you to understand what the heck is going on. What you have been experiencing is not natural. It’s not just how life is. It is an aberration and its consequence is felt within your own experience of life. God seeks to make you whole. God wants to fill in your rough spots and make your way smooth. God is for you and never against you! Knowing this truth, your job is to be for yourself.

Remember, you are the only you, you have got. As such, you have to take care of yourself; be kind to yourself; be patient with yourself. You have to stop thinking or speaking cruelty to yourself. Stop berating yourself and give yourself a break. You are a human being and you came into this world attached to an old man nature you are not going to be finally rid of until God gives you a new body and a new mind. Until that blessed future day, you have got to learn to defeat your internal opponent. It’s not just you opposing you. How could that be? You are your only you. If you aren’t even for yourself, how can anyone else be for you? And, why would you be against your very own self? Can you see the logic involved here? How could you look in the mirror and not like the person staring back at you? Who could have gotten you to the place where you don’t even like your own self, your own flesh? Who convinced you that you are so worthless, so stupid, so incapable? Who talked you into the fact that you don’t deserve anything good; that life won’t work out for you; that you are somehow destined to lose? Absent this wicked taskmaster, you would be free to think the best of yourself; to expect great things; to succeed in your every endeavor, to be and do everything you ever wanted in this life and God would be blessed with you for so doing. It doesn’t matter how long this has been going on (and we are all subject to it), what matters is what are you going to do about it!

Life is hard enough (thanks to this same opponent) and you don’t have to cooperate with it for another moment. Give yourself a break. Forgive yourself and learn to love yourself again. I think if we could see all the spiritual influence behind our wrong choices and mistakes, we would be a lot more compassionate with ourselves than we are. But, God sees it and made a way for you and me to win. Our job is simply to begin thinking how He says to think. The next time your old man nature maligns you or seeks to make you less than you really are, confront it; challenge it; take it on! You cannot be all divided against yourself and expect to win at life. You have to be for yourself, not because you have a big ego or are somehow selfish, but because you are the only you, you have got!

One life. One opportunity. One chance to be the best version of yourself you can possibly be. Don’t spend another moment as a cooperator in ignorance, but choose instead to vote for your own happiness and blessings. God would have it no other way!

Just some good thoughts…

 

Change Your Script and Fix Your Relationship…


Your successful relationships with other people form the basis of one of the most needful, necessary elements in your life. Your happiness, your personal feelings of fulfillment, your peace, your love, your joy, all rely heavily on your ability to successfully navigate your relationships. So, what can you do when your relationship lacks some of its original luster? Is there a way to escape the mundane and rekindle the once present emotional availability? Can you somehow steer the ship off the rocks and back into the deep water? Is there even anything you can do about it? Is it really all about your partner, or is it maybe about you?

Any couple who have been together for many years can tell you that things change over time. Goals change. Priorities change. People grow. People regress. The hopes and dreams you held in such high regard in high school are barely recognizable in middle age. Your body ages and things you once took for granted don’t come as easy as they used to do. You’re generally smarter and a little more assured about how things work. And, like anyone that has done the same thing for a number of years, you develop habits; many, many habits. Habits are built for efficiency. But, not all habits are good for you. Habits tend to be morally neutral. In other words, you can engage in certain habits for a lifetime and never feel they need any revision because of how long you’ve been holding on to them. Relationship habits can make for heaven on earth or make life a living hell. But, at the end of the day, they are your habits!

In order to have a successful relationship, you have to embrace the reality that people change. Your spouse is not the same person they were when you married them. Chances are they have grown, evolved and need different things to be happy. You also have changed, grown and evolved. Your needs are now different as well. To hold your partner in some sort of time-lock is categorically insane. To continue to think and rehearse that same old, tired, irritating version of them is also insane and entirely unfair to them. To perpetually strengthen and maintain in your mind all the things they have not done that they should have done or the things you didn’t like about them when you first met or the person you wish they were when you were first building your negative pictures of them, is to drag about a weight of epic proportions! In life, every day is a new day. Every moment is a new moment, unique and one that has not existed before. Your partner is also afforded the opportunity of a new day, a new moment. You have to be able to give them the same chance at doing better that you give yourself. You have to accept the reality that they, like you, can change. You see, things start going south not because of your relationship reality, but instead because of your rehearsed, mental reality! Things become worse and worse because your thinking has become worse and worse. You couldn’t see the things you so desperately want if they slapped you in the face, because you are stuck, trapped in rehearsed negative feelings and memories from the past days! In order for things to get better you have to get better.

Many, many people like to play the victim in their relationships. Poor old, unfulfilled me. “I just need someone to love me.” “I just need someone to accept me for me.” If only they were nice to me, then I would be nice. If they ever took time to offer me love and affection, then I would offer them love and affection back. But, they never do that for me and they’re not going to, so poor, poor me living my life in misery. The problem with this mentality is that you are playing a role in a drama that you are writing. You are acting in a play as the main character that you and you alone have assigned as the victim. And, as the victim it feels good to dredge up all the wrongs done to you and to fantasize about how good life could really be. But, would it really be good for you? How could it be? In order for your role to ever change, you have to change the script. You have to write a new story. Look, if you found a new relationship you would likely change the script and start thinking and acting like the person you wanted to be, which in turn would probably return to you the feelings you wanted to feel as well. Well, your solution is that you can do that now in your present relationship. Change your script. Edit your character. Stop rehearsing and ruminating and harboring and cleaving to every single thing you haven’t liked for the past twenty years and start fresh. Give your partner a chance to be someone else as well. I can assure you that they have some tremendous qualities waiting to be shared with you in your life once you finally give them the opportunity to do so. Don’t remain stuck in yesterday, live today.

One of life’s strangest dichotomies is found in relationships with other people. When you change towards them, they change towards you. You have to give love to get love. You have to show kindness to receive kindness. Waiting for the other person to change is a perilous waiting game. You might be waiting for a long time. Maybe you don’t feel fully accepted for who you are because you are spending so much time rejecting who they are. Maybe, just maybe you don’t feel like they like you because your behavior says you don’t like them! You cannot make other people do anything and you know that. The one person you can control and change is you. Are you doing for that person you are so upset with, what you would like to be done for yourself? Are you willing to let them be something other than the negative picture you have made them to be? You can become so accustomed to your habitual way of thinking that you don’t even recognize it anymore. Change your mind. Change your script. Change your bad habits of negative thinking and negative expectations.

Relationships take work to be successful, but it’s not the kind work you need a vacation from. The work is in learning to think properly. The effort is in refusing to harbor and maintain negative stories, likely only partially based in reality. Your energy is used to build and bless and help and warm which is always reciprocated when done from your heart. You can recover any relationship that has gone astray if you want to, but most of the work to be done will involve yourself first. That’s not to say that every relationship is worth preserving or repairing, as some relationships need to dissolve. In those scenarios there will be no doubt. But, it’s still worth your time to work on yourself to avoid it the next time.

It certainly takes two to tango, but the only dance moves you can improve are your own. Life is short and your chances at happiness sometimes fleeting, but a loving, warm, mutually committed relationship is worth every ounce of your effort! Decide to live love, it’s irresistible… Decide to forgive, it’s refreshing. Decide to make every day a brand new day, it’s life changing…

Just some good thoughts…