Do Hard Things…


hard thingsI think it sort of dawns on you over time that you have aspects of your life that need some revision. If you look up hedonistic in the dictionary, you may find a picture of me. Nobody likes to have a good time more than I do. But, sometimes with your good times you discover excesses that require modification and those modifications aren’t always easy. Excesses can appear in any category of life and you recognize them by their impact on your life. There’s a reason God says all things in moderation. Whatever fun stuff you enjoy that may have become too much fun requires a change in your behavior and more importantly your thinking. Vices are called vices when they replace the real you with some added activity you need in order to function normally. That’s not to say that you must give up all vices, but rather those vices that no longer assist you but instead seek to control you. If you can’t have a good time without adding something else in, you may be getting tripped up. If you have lived any length of time, you know this is true. With life comes an expectation of control, not servitude or slavery, but rather setting limits and sticking to them. In this, you sometimes have to do hard things.

All people love liberty and freedom to do as they please. This is part of the foundation of the American way of life. But, when your personal freedoms begin to impact you and other people negatively, a change will be required. No-one sets out to become a drug addict or an alcoholic. Yet both result from a lack of control. No-one chooses a life of obesity and the litany of related health issues that accompany it, but those consequences remain hidden in the pleasure of consumption. No-one plans on ending up a workaholic, until that satisfaction from always working ruins family and health and the future. It doesn’t really matter which areas of your life have excesses; too much; a lack of control, what matters is being able to discern them before it’s too late, then take steps to modify and choose new pathways. This will require you to do hard things.

On the other end of the spectrum of control is over-control. There are people that deny themselves all pleasures. Some even go as far as to say that they are doing it for God. I can assure you that God who invented pleasure isn’t opposed to pleasure. Yet, He also sees through the deception of pleasure excesses. Emerson aptly stated, “Punishment is a fruit that unsuspected ripens within the flower of the pleasure which concealed it.” Pleasure and pain both have the capacity to deceive you or at minimum influence your decisions. In this, man always seeks to add rules such as taste not, touch not, handle not, yet God was not behind it. Instead He said, “Prove all things and hold fast to the good.” In life we are free to experience our lives in all of life’s manifold variety and stick with those things that are the best. Some things begin well but end poorly. Other things appear to be good but have poison hidden in them. And many, many things are good as long as you enjoy them in moderation. But, lest I put chains on you that are difficult to extricate yourself from, you and you alone must make that choice. It is your life and you are the one that best knows what works for you and what does not. Some people choose not to eat meat and it’s their mouth, not yours. Others abstain from alcohol, but that doesn’t mean you must. Some people require ten hours of sleep and others only six. All of us have free will, unless we surrender it by excess. If there is something you do that is too much for you and begins to hurt you, you may have to do some hard things.

Even the term “hard things” is really a misnomer. Control is no harder than making a firm decision. What becomes hard for us is changing habits that have solidified over time. Habits are great for useful endeavors, but habits spell disaster when connected to our excesses. Worse, habits become invisible to our awareness and we are forced rather to experience some pain or consequence before they come into view. Doing hard things is really more about making hard decisions. It’s about proving to yourself that you can. I think one of the most important aspects of our own mental health is in sticking to the decisions we have made. Nothing like following your plans for needed improvements to boost your self esteem to record levels. Conversely, there’s nothing like saying one thing and doing another to bring you down into the dumps. If it’s going to improve your life immeasurably, do hard things.

Finally, in some cases, certain things or harmful activities have gotten away from your control . Maybe you have traveled too far down a certain path. Perhaps you got caught up in something that was bigger than you are. Certain aspects of life have forces working behind them that exceed your personal ability or strength to overcome them. In these unfortunate, but common cases in human beings, you will need God to help you escape; God, the Higher Power. God who sees all, knows all and is over all is well able to rescue you. All that is required on your part is some humility; some willingness to admit it (whatever it is) has gotten away from you. God has not left you without remedy, nor will He ever. It doesn’t matter how hard your hard thing is, with God nothing shall be impossible.

My friends, we all need help at times; we all get tripped up; we all end up at places we never thought we would end up. There’s no sin in getting tricked. But, when you know what you have to do, you must require of yourself that you do it. Make the change. Modify your behavior. Cut back. Limit yourself. Control yourself. You will be so incredibly happy on the other side. Change doesn’t happen overnight, especially when dealing with well grooved habits of thought, but it will happen and God will make sure you are real blessed along the way. Try it for yourself. Do hard things.

Just some good thoughts…

Hurt Hearts Hurt Humans… Healed Hearts Heal Humans!


broken_heart_8220916All us good folk living our lives the best we can have one thing in common. We’re all carrying around some bullshit we need to get rid of! We have all been hurt. We have all been mistreated. We have all made mistakes; lots and lots of them (multiplied by our current age). We were brought up by parents who made mistakes. They were raised by people who made mistakes. Our teachers taught us things that weren’t true. Employers may have used us. Others abused us. And, while we may not be psychopaths, we are all damaged goods in some capacity. We are imperfect creatures in an imperfect world living among other imperfect creatures. And sadly, knowing the futility and insanity of our own thoughts at times, we insist on demanding from others that which we don’t even get from ourselves. Hurt hearts can only hurt other people.

If you will really think it through, none of us want to do things that are wrong or hurtful. None of us. But our pain, our unresolved issues really aren’t centered on others, they are centered on ourselves. Our frailties, our weaknesses, our issues pave the way for the foolish things we do. We say horrible things to people not with intent to hurt them, but to salve our own wounds. We gash and tear and bash other people because we are gashed and torn and bashed ourselves. Couples fight, inflicting verbal wounds on one another’s hearts in a misguided attempt to protect their own hearts. Wounded hearts wound other’s hearts.

Oh how compassionate we would become if we ever got past our own bullshit long enough to see and feel the other person. But, we cannot see past the bleeding wounds of our own souls. A compassionate heart is one that is completely and thoroughly in touch with its own absurdity and as such is willing to easily look past the absurdity in another. A person with a compassionate heart forgives freely because they remember how and for what God has forgiven them. People often compliment me personally on how non-judgmental I am, never considering the heavy judgments I cast on myself. A compassionate heart helps people heal.

In order for people to actually get past their baggage and their bondage and their bullshit, they have to be made whole. But, they can’t be made whole without God. All the counseling and positive thinking and affirmations in the world can’t repair the breach because the real source of the breach is always spiritual; a spiritual enemy, ever veiled from view, yet ultimately behind both the suffering we experience and the suffering we inflict. All healing is first spiritual as all pain is first spiritual.

There but for the grace and mostly mercy of God, go I. We are all the same. We all have hopes and aspirations and dreams. We all endure fears and pain and suffering. We all need love, compassion and understanding. We’ve all hurt and damaged and messed others up. We’re in this boat together and though it appears others are awful and we are saints, wrong is still wrong is still wrong. The damage caused by the jaded heart is the same as the hurt caused by the gentle heart. Our life’s work is not to exhaust ourselves in improving ourselves but rather to expend ourselves getting to know and understand the One that heals us.

How does God heal our hearts? If anyone has the right and authority to judge us, it would certainly be Him. But, as One not subjected to the deception of evil, He heals not by pointing out our absurdities and faults; not by seeking to punish our foolishness and frailty, but by knowing who we really are and remaining faithful to treat us in that light. He sees behind the smoke screens and facades and clearly discerns what got us; why it got us; and how the heck He can get us out of it. With Him we can only succeed and without Him we can only fail. Life is too big; too tricky; too perilous to figure out this thing on our own. God heals hearts and healed hearts help others heal.

Once God heals our situations spiritually and trust me, He does, it’s still up to us to put it on in our minds. And though our earthly minds will never reach His perfection, we can still get so repaired of a lifetime of bullshit that we can actually heal. We can become so blessed, so forgiven and encouraged that we become a source of valuable help to others. We have no difficulty looking past the so-called egregious errors of other people because we finally understand why. And once you know why, you never have trouble with the things people have done. Sure some things are worse than others, but underneath it all lies a human just like you. Healed people forgive others.

Simple logic tells you that a broken machine doesn’t work like it should. When it finally blows up and breaks stuff, you get why it damaged things and instead of blaming and accusing and assaulting it, you seek to get it repaired. Humans are no different. We may have free-will and minds and thoughts and decision-making ability, but when we break down we tear stuff up. The solution is therefore to help it (them) get repaired. A child, guilt ridden for the wrong he did doesn’t need a lecture, he needs forgiveness and an approving, unconditional loving response. That’s what God gives you. That’s what you give to others. A healed heart sets people free!

We find ourselves all lined up in the same boat on a similar journey. Don’t allow the wrongs you have suffered to make you a cause in the suffering of others. Instead accept and love yourself for all the foolishness that you are and be grateful for your perfect God that saves you and saves us all! Healed hearts love the unlovable until they become lovable too.

Just some good, healing thoughts…