Clarity…


hero-obscurity-and-clarity-03152017I’ve often thought, it’s not an effort thing that holds people back from their pursuit of the things that matter most. We all likely procrastinate and push aside future hopes and dreams for the comforts of the moment. But when we finally wake from our comfortable lethargy, we innately know that we have to move if something good is going to happen for us. We suddenly want to go fast and get there quickly, but we can’t really move fast and get their sooner because we do not know the road ahead. Alas, in life you seldom get to know the road ahead, especially when traveling in unchartered territory; the mysterious place you know you need to get to but you’ve never been there before. Thus what you need most isn’t more effort or energy, directions or more speed! What you need, my friends, is clarity, crystal clear, sharp and vivid – clarity…

Those nagging issues that have been plaguing you for years have likely done so from a lack of clarity. It’s not that you aren’t clear that something is bothering you or distressing you in some fashion, but rather you haven’t taken the time to get clear about what is going on. Some things in life come at you with such subtlety you are scarce aware anything even happened. All you know is that suddenly you feel agitated from an apparently unknown source. That source, though far removed, gains access by the thoughts you are entertaining. Perhaps a family member has intimated something is wrong with you, later vaguely confirmed by a co-worker. Instead of maintaining control of your thought life, you begin to consider what they implied and before you know it you are wrestling with an issue not grounded in reality necessarily, but rather someone’s negative judgment on your life. Thus clarity isn’t about proving yourself to those who would judge you, but instead getting clear on what you have been thinking about and whether or not it is profitable to keep thinking along those lines. I think you may be surprised by how many so-called helpful criticisms are actually grounded in evil, albeit carefully hidden from view.

How many times have you found yourself writing out some goal you would “like” to accomplish that is very familiar because you have been writing it for the past ten years?! Instead of signing up for a motivational seminar or reading yet another book on “feel the something yet do it anyway” clarity begs the question, “Is that goal something you really want to do?” Is the thing important to you and do you really want to do it? Or, more clearly, is the goal something you want to do yet maybe doubt you can do? Or, focused better, is your goal something you are capable of doing yet fear might not be something done well or something that may be criticized by others? Clarity tells you it is your life and all of the choices are yours and yours alone! If you don’t want to do it, don’t do it! If you cannot gather up enough excitement to even begin the project, then maybe the project isn’t worth it to you. Wherever you may arrive and whatever conclusion you may draw, just be sure you took the time and made the effort to be very, very clear about the why…

It may interest you to know that truth is always clear and contrary to popular opinion doesn’t hurt! The truth is the starting point for reality. The truth isn’t simply the opposite of a lie, which you can boldly declare when you catch someone in error, i.e. “The truth hurts doesn’t it?” No way! The truth is the absolute reality of a thing; the very essence of what is real. Its polar opposite is error which is always confusing, always muddied, always elusive and hard to pinpoint! When you feel confused or bewildered, error is definitely on the horizon or most likely already a part of the picture. Error strings you along, sometimes for years, chasing after things that aren’t real or do not matter. Error sucks away your time and your life energy! Clarity, on the other hand, cuts through the mud and clarifies the picture. Clarity settles you down and relieves you by revealing the real problems and the true sources of disturbance. Clarity eliminates fear by ridding the mind of the phantoms hiding in the closet.

You may have heard of the truth being referred to as light. Besides coming from a Source that is pure light, truth enlightens and illuminates. The truth sets you free, not by deciding not to lie anymore (how simple-minded is that?), but by revealing error for what it is…error. Once you finally can discern what is going on, you can now free yourself from things that formerly bound you up and defeated you. Clarity comes from the truth and is true. It’s the image at the bottom of the pool not distorted by the water. Clarity is peaceful assurance that comes about when the lights are on and everything is revealed. Walking on a cliff top is only dangerous if it’s dark outside. Otherwise you can see the edge and avoid it!

Your life is worth taking the time to get clear on some things. Your happiness is important enough to decide you are going to track down the cause of the things that perpetually defeat you. There are answers to these dilemmas and just because you don’t know the answer yet doesn’t mean you cannot ever find the solution. Behind every truth in this life is the great Architect of Life and He is more than willing to get you where you need to go if you are serious enough to make the decision!

Choose clarity. Choose life…

Just some good thoughts.

 

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Untangling the Spaghetti Bowl of Your Mind…


5030637-Boiled-spaghetti-on-white-background--Stock-Photo-spaghettiA good bowl of spaghetti gets there one noodle at a time. No matter the size of the bowl, each noodle is a single entity that only gets tangled when it’s added together with the other noodles, one noodle at a time! Remember that intently because you will never untangle the mess in your mind until you do.

If you are like most people, you tend to put off unpleasant tasks until you are forced to deal with them. It can wait, right? But, sadly, all the little things you put off slither into the bowl unnoticed. Imagine how many random thoughts you think in a day. How many of those thoughts are hurtful feelings of inadequacy? How many seethe with self-criticism and condemnation? What tired notions repeat themselves over and over begging for resolution? The worries, the doubts, the fear? What “what-if” dramas clamor for your attention? Oodles and oodles of noodles…

It’s been said that your outer world is an indicator of your inner world. Have you ever visited someone with a messy house? Or (ha ha) is it your house? Well, how did it get so messy? It became a mess one messy, misplaced thing at a time. All of us are confronted with the mess, but not all of us choose to clean it up. The best time to vacuum up the popcorn on the carpet is right after the popcorn hits the carpet. That’s not being anal, that’s cleaning up. Conversely, how do you feel when you visit the clean house? You feel relaxed, don’t you? You see, someone invested their effort in making the environment peaceful and you got the benefit of it. I dare say none of us really enjoy the cleaning up process, but we probably treasure the cleaned up feeling!

When it comes to your thoughts, sometimes you have to take the time to clean up. I mean you have so much to do in a day, right? You’re busy, busy, busy and there are many demands clamoring for your time. Well, that’s nothing compared to the time you spend sifting through the madness to find your car keys. In this live in the moment life, generally the best time to do something is now. You feel yourself getting a toothache. You don’t like the dentist (who does…they kill lions) or you don’t have dental insurance or you don’t have time to go. So you decide to wait. Maybe it will go away. Maybe it will resolve on its own. Maybe? In reality it will probably get worse until it hurts so badly that you cannot do anything else until you get it fixed; not to mention the two months you put up with the agonizing dull ache in your jaw. Can’t you see it? We have been lulled into a complacent state where we don’t handle what we need to handle. We foolishly think we can wait, but really cannot afford to wait. Each moment we spend unresolved is a moment we don’t get to really live!

If you are honest, what you really want is clarity of thought. You want that noise to quiet down. You need your mind to slow down and take a breath. You need some peace. But, peace normally comes at the end of the fight. You have to win the fight. Unfortunately you don’t get to choose not to be in the fight. The fight is there every single day. God never promised you wouldn’t have to fight, He said He would help you to win it. You win the contest by winning the battle in your mind. When a nation wins a war or a football team wins a game, they have to do it one battle or one play at a time. You can’t skip plays nor can you overlook key battles. The contest starts every single morning. You decide what you will think and challenge any opposition to those thoughts. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, what matters is your willingness to fight!

One day, when it finally dawns on you that your mind has become a hot slithering menagerie of pasta, and your persistent sense of fatigue and depression begins to overtake you, remember you can clean up any mountain of mess if you take it on one small mess at a time. You can’t spend time thinking of the outcome, instead just think of the next play. What thought or series of thoughts are causing you the most stress? Start there! Challenge those inane thoughts. Just because you think something does not make it true. Where did we ever get that idea? Probably from the same source as the thought.

This life we are blessed to live is best lived in the moment called “now!” You have 24 hours in a day, maybe 16 waking, perhaps 8 after work, 5 after meals and maybe 30 minutes after the television. But no matter what is clamoring for our time, whether work or sleep or mealtimes or electronic mediums, we can only work with the time called “now!” The time to deal with the troubling thought is now. The time to vacuum the carpet is now. The time to repair the broken appliance is now. The time to do the task that’s eating at you is now. The time to get things sorted out in your mind is now! Now, now, now!

That peace of mind you are ardently seeking is seeking you as well. It’s there for you, always right there for you, waiting for you to stand up and get into the fight, then win it… WIN THE FIGHT! You are worth that much.

Everyone loves a tasty bowl of spaghetti, right? But a peaceful mind trumps a bowl of spaghetti every single time.

Just some good thoughts…

The Elusive Moments of Clarity…


ClarityRecently my sister in-law suffered through the untimely death of her brother. He had an aggressive form of cancer and despite having lived longer than projected, he ultimately died. The whole experience, besides the unfathomable grief, produced in her moments of clarity she hadn’t really expected. It seems in situations when our own mortality is forced into our awareness, the most important things in life rush to the forefront of our minds. So, that got me thinking… Is the clarity we all desire, contingent upon dire circumstances? Do we have to face life threatening situations firsthand in order to finally see what is most important?

Clarity can be defined as those seemingly rare times in life when we finally “get it” or are able to see the things that formerly eluded us. Clarity seems to follow focus and nothing demands more focus than facing the possibility of actually dying or the death of someone you love. And amazingly, in the face of death we contemplate life. Suddenly the important things take on a huge significance. No one speaks of their beautiful home or their possessions, but instead consider the people in their lives and those significant relationships that mean the most. Near death experiences and the perils of war awaken the survivors to a world they previously took for granted.

This life; this precious life is alarmingly short. And despite the brevity of life, we all march on entranced in our routines virtually asleep to what matters most. We stop looking; really looking at our spouses and our children. We desensitize to our surroundings. The good we enjoy we grow accustomed to and even make time for complaint. We dream and yearn for the day when we finally have “such and such” and when we arrive, we pause then quickly begin our ascent to the next plateau.

It shouldn’t take the threat of losing it all to alert our souls to the perfection we have already. We move too fast. We think too fast. We expect results too fast. We want more and more and need less. We look for happiness in transient things while ignoring what endures. People endure. Relationships endure. Love endures. In those rare moments when I imagine my last days, my children gathered around me, I think what I might say to them. And for the life of me, all I want to communicate to them is how much I love them; how proud I am of them and who they have become and that i did my best to be my best for them.

Clarity isn’t elusive. Clarity is all around you. Clarity is found in the eyes of your child, the smile from your mother, the understanding glance from your best friend. Clarity is found in your relationships with other people and most profoundly with our God that made us. Clarity comes when we finally step out of the rat race of endless distraction and focus on the things that matter most. It is not reserved only for times of pending tragedy and the threat of death, but more for times of reflection at a speed that allows for it. The clarity we ardently seek is seeking us.

If we are honest, our perpetual striving for things that matter less, is based on fear; the fear of what we think we are supposed to be. We’ve bought into the story that says we must have the money, the stuff, the acclaim and lost track of the reason we do it all. We forgot that the excitement of the new car is lost if we don’t have someone to share it with. No one enjoys the vacation in the exotic place, alone. It’s people and our connection to them that makes this life worthwhile.

The maximized, glorious life is a life that makes time for what is most important. To say there isn’t enough time is to admit a loss of control. The rush, the busy-ness, the constraint isn’t from the demands of life but rather from the fictitious demand of what is not. It’s a distraction of unparalleled proportions. It’s a bait and switch game that purports activity equals productivity and urges getting things done over taking care of people; our people. It emphasizes appearance over people’s hearts and facades above humanity. It’s not clear it’s fuzzy and the finish line is out of view.

Clarity is there for us every single day. Clarity doesn’t elude us, we elude it. We miss it a lifetime from being swept away on a current; a rushing river of activities that steal our time; our focus, our life. Clarity comes from focus; focus on what is most sweet and enduring. Our life comes into focus in direct proportion to our willingness to adjust the lens. We adjust the lens on a subject we choose and not on a subject chosen for us.

Thank God for those moments when life suddenly comes into focus and the false; the illusory fades away. Thank God for the glimpses of light that clear the path ahead and captivate our attention in order to make the necessary change. Thank God for the privilege to see and at last understand. Thank God!

Just some good thoughts…

Take Off That Mask!


imagesI have often mused that underneath our fixed exteriors we are all very similar. We all have insecurities and doubts, with those proclaiming most loudly to the contrary, even more. We all feel embarrassed at times. We’ve all been the brunt of the joke. We’ve all done things we regret. We have hopes and dreams and ideals and visions of ourselves that we have a hard time living up to. We get mad and say things we don’t mean. We zig when we should have zagged! We get anxious; we fear the future; the past; rejection; death and disease; failure; other people’s judgment; God, the devil, life etc. All of those things we work so hard to keep secret; to hide from the world, are what makes us human beings. So, why oh why, do we toil so ardently to present an image of ourselves that isn’t real? How exhausting it is to put on that costume day after day. How maddening is it to laugh at what isn’t funny; to feign a preference for those things we abhor; to keep up appearances…

I know the types of things I say to myself at times and can imagine what you say about yourself! Many things we hurl at ourselves in the quiet chambers of our minds would provoke a fight if you said them to someone else. Yet there we are castigating ourselves for this and berating ourselves for that. Who convinced us that we are all so bad that we needed to pretend we are someone else? What got to us so deeply that we are no longer comfortable in our own skin? What? Who decided that all human beings should behave the same; have the same preferences; say the same thing; look a certain way? Who? I think if you would dare to look  at yourself honestly you would see that something tripped you up; got to you; is messing with your psyche! Something is after you man. Something doesn’t have your best interests at heart!

You can’t blame God for what’s happening, though that seems popular today when we face difficulty or distress. Yeah, some guy at church told you God was angry with you and to escape from God you had to pretend to be something else. Imagine you made a human being; gave it free-will; allowed it to make choices; layered it from head to toe with feelings and sensations; devised a mind to run it all, complete with a million variations of emotion, then incredulously found yourself shocked when it didn’t do everything you designed it to do.  Add to that having foreknowledge or the ability to know what was going to happen before it happened and then still finding yourself reeling with disgust because it made mistakes. Unbelievable, wouldn’t you say? It seems more reasonable that if you had the superior intelligence smart enough to build it, you would also have at least enough common sense to understand it and maybe have compassion towards it given it’s freedom of will to choose and often choose poorly! Ya think?

The reason we’re all making such pains to present that unrealistic , perfect image is because something or someone talked us into believing that the real ‘me’ isn’t good enough; what I really think is of no value; and that my true feelings and thoughts cannot be trusted! That something is your enemy and mine; the one that steals everything that you value; kills everything that you love and destroys that which is most precious to you. And along the way, he’s got you and me walking around pretending to be something we are not. Crazy, I know. Unfair, for sure. Unable to be changed? Definitely not!

So how can we change things around?  How can we get out from behind that silly costume and start living? The simple answer is to take off your mask! Decide to stop agreeing with things you don’t agree with! Take a stand for yourself. Be on your own side even if the whole world is on the other side. Express yourself exactly how you want to express yourself. Don’t you admire people who act without pretense? Doesn’t your heart thrill privately when someone says what they really think, be it unfashionable, politically incorrect or otherwise? That’s honest folks; being honest with yourself. Don’t be scared to show your vulnerability. If someone asks how you are doing, don’t say fine if you’re not fine! If you are afraid say so. Have you ever heard someone say repeatedly that they aren’t afraid of something? If you are a betting man, you can bet they are afraid. People who aren’t afraid have no reason to say it (smile)! So, get off your own back. I mean what chance do you have in life if you’re not even on your own side? When there is a question concerning your goodness, choose you…

The injustices; the pain and suffering in life; the things you fear are what convinced you to put on your mask and be someone else. But you don’t need to comply. You are the wonderful person God made you to be whether you ever see that for yourself or not. Your thoughts and feelings do count. They count for one just like everyone else’s thoughts and feelings count for one. You matter no less than any other person regardless of their lofty titles or accolades.

Let the world see the real you with all of your frailty, insecurity and everything else. Let the genuine you shine forth. Hey, you might be surprised to find out that people like you for who you really are!

Mr. or Ms. Human, take off that mask!

Just some good thoughts…