Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Lonely – Overwhelmed – Sad – Tired – (LOST)

CONNECTION was the elephant in the room of what was missing. I looked into the mirror and hated who looked back at me. I hissed at that image. I shrieked, not comprehending what was going on.
I sought connection but embraced distance. I hunted light but entered darkness.
I heaved uncontrollably for several seconds, and then, feeling pathetic, I laughed at and cussed at myself. I felt I was going insane. But the insanity of it was feeling conflicted; estranged to logic yet calculatingly cynical at the same time. I was self-destructing.
Two hours later I was fine. Not brilliant. Not as happy as could be. Just better. Defeated, but better. My hope quotient had improved a significant though slight ten percent.
I have experienced this cycle of events many times in my life — acute situational burnout, followed by meltdown, then complete emotional letdown, following a mental breakdown.
During such times I’ve felt abysmally lonesome, overwhelmed beyond any momentary conciliation, flat-out sad, and worlds tired. The personification of spiritual attack. Such a state usually came with the build-up of too many conflicts; the perfect storm of myriads of tasks to do and too many people to see, and especially during relationship upsets.
Thankfully, these days, what I’ve described here is a comparatively rare event. But it’s never unwelcome. I’ve learned that feeling lonely, overwhelmed, sad and tired isn’t a state to be judged, but empathised, the quicker the better.
I recognise that not everyone feels lost. Some people never feel like this. But I also know there are many more people that suffer feeling lost than care to admit. We all seem normal until you get to know us! And yet, how encouraging to know, in feeling lost, we’re not alone.
There are redemptive qualities in being lost.
Until we’re lost we cannot hope to be found. Recalling the Lord’s great love, He finds us afresh in our sincere calling out, “Help me, God!”
Until we’re lost we don’t know how far we’ve walked away from God. And in simply doing an about face, we fall into His unfailing arms.
Until we’re lost we don’t appreciate the simplicity and the healing need of surrender.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A vision of those last living moments

EVEN amid a semi-migraine experience, flashes before the eyes, a loss of visual equilibrium, God gave me a paradoxical vision: my last living moments.
Suddenly what flashed before the eyes of my heart was the irredeemable fact: living, breathing, sensing, life was fading in the final seconds. Sorrow filled my soul’s gaze. Yet I was caught up in something myriads higher. A profound depth subsuming me. Being absorbed into the Eternal.
Sadness came for the fleeting glimpses of those Id not said goodbye to: my wife, my daughters, my son, my parents, my brothers and my friends.
Sadness yet wholeness for that Something Bigger. Somehow understanding filled me and my sight for the entirety of life was perfected but completely without ability to explain it.
As God took me into Himself I began to feel the absence of corners and sides and boundaries and of beginnings and endings. I was coming into what is, always as it has been and will ever be. And everything not of God ceased to exist.
Finally as I understood this simply as a vision, God caused me to be thankful. I was grateful in accepting the extension of His moments. More breaths ahead. Possibilities ahead to enjoy God and all of the things He blesses me with.
These final moments were not the end, but the beginning of the broadening  and burgeoning of awareness.
Ends inspire fresh beginnings while there is still life and hope. Be open to beginning again and hope for the stars. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

5 experiences of existential pain we must get used to

THE ABYSS. It’s where God wants to take us. Not for our harm, but for our good. Not for no reason, but for a purpose. And we only realise this when we stumble on it by accident having been forced to go there by the cruel circumstances of life.
One experience of going to the abyss will teach us more about the purpose of life than ten lifetimes without it.
Yet it is denial or flight or attack of myriad sorts — our fear of pain — that causes us to resist the sort of pain that has life as its core.
Yes, inside pain is the irrefutable core truth — don’t resist it or resent it and we come to the end of ourselves, and hence the beginning of God.
Only in the abyss do we learn how quickly we reach our creative limits. Only there do we ever begin to contemplate life lived as a possibility; that comfort and the absence of pain may not be the objects of life.
Sitting in that place of pain may not make us able to bear the pain any better, but it can teach us that life is not centrally about avoiding pain, but in the ability to hold it close without it making us bitter.
But inevitably we need to experience the sharpness of bitterness to experience the folly of it. It seems a viable response to pain, but it takes us away from contentment.
Five experiences of existential pain we must get used to are:
1.      Frustrations that are common to life that cause us to become overwhelmed cognitively, emotionally, spiritually. Learning to accept what we cannot change will help us to accept those experiences of being overwhelmed, and that pain is mastered.
2.      Grief outbound of loss. Life when it is analysed is a long series of grief events, but it’s only the major iterations of grief that promise to crush us sufficiently to cause us to surrender enough to learn by being humble enough to be taught.
3.      Anxiety that is common of a normal human’s experience presents us with a pain that estranges us from the bond of connection. When we learn to stop judging our everyday anxiety we bear it and suddenly it is no longer a problem for us, and we can explore the thinking behind it in order to challenge it from a healthy, productive creative space.
4.      Understanding that sadness and sorrow have their cherished place in the human experience. Nobody likes being depressed, but in our depression we master depths of understanding we never would otherwise. See how even depression can have a deeper life purpose?
5.      Time moves forward and onward, always, all the time. We lament the passing of time and seasons of past. It’s normal. Rather than simply staying in a place of despair, we have the opportunity to revisit those places and bear our understandings as real in our experience. And those times we cannot bear to think we ever had are gone. In this regard, time is inherently redemptive.
Pain has its purpose in teaching us the deeper matters of the realities of life.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Valuing of Awkward Listening Silence

ONE of the key skills of listening is silence, allowing awkwardness its cherished place in relationships.
In the awkward silence is space where God works in liberating truth from guarded lips, as a person courageously trusts the caring moment.
How few relational interactions feature the space of silence? Too few. Too many exchanges occur when both parties insist on having their say, neither listening to the intent, motive and message of the other.
But entering the silence is simply the art of one person agreeing to say nothing until the right time comes. This person may have a simple question to ask — that’s all.
There is power in that one question. Could be five words. Could simply be one.
As something is said in rigid simplicity power emanates from that word.
The opportunity to lay one pregnant sentence into the communication is only available when we listen sufficiently through silence, communicating through body language and gestures where at all possible.
If we ever wish to have a transformational interaction, to cause someone to think, to encourage someone to heal, to show empathy, we must trust the silence within which the ministry is to occur.
We put off the desire to give them our advice. We leave home the truths we believe will help. The words of distraction remain in the car or in another room. Focus and attention comes in the silence.
And in the silence, listen for the Spirit. He needs no words of our assistance. The Spirit will communicate something in the awkward listening silence. Remain there.
Listening has such value in communication, and many times more listening that trusts the awkwardness in silence.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Two Rare Expressions of Wisdom – Both and Neither

DIVISION is the way of the wise in a world where God is pushed far into the nether regions of thought. We hear so much these days about the Left and the Right, about Conservatives and Liberals; as if everyone must be painted into one or the other corner.
It is almost impossible to stay neutral. And it is rare indeed for people to opt for both or neither side — with diligent intention.
The wisdom of both is a proposition of taking appreciatively all views. It respects all views because partialities are a non-issue. The heart is at peace. And a person has no reason to bend their integrity into the shape of coercion.
When we employ the wisdom of both most people look at us as if we’re nuts. Fun, isn’t it?
Likewise, the wisdom of neither takes the option of bowing out as a conscientious objector, which is every bit as active as non-violent resistance. Neither enjoys the option of opting out in an age where the vocal minority seem everywhere (on social media at least).
But the wisdom of neither transcends merely staying quiet on social media. It actively seeks to be free of a view. It treats having a view as a distraction to other, more important matters of life.
What a masterstroke it is when we choose one of these two options in any and all situations, agreeing to support the ethic on both sides or to completely withdraw all mental and emotional investment.
If we’re given to the stress of arguing the point, or we hate being thwarted, the wisdom of both or neither can help us feel greatly empowered in a Kingdom way.
In a contentious world, what Kingdom wisdom there is in choosing neither or both sides. Try it and see God free you.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Overcoming anything through overcoming yourself

EVERY thorn in life can be overcome, literally or spiritually. We can learn to transcend it or acquire the patience to tolerate it.
Most changes we wish to initiate and attain take much more effort and work than we first realise. Until we get close to our goal, having smashed that glass ceiling. Then God shows us the fact; we are overcoming. Every step until that momentous point is one trudging, begrudging step up the hillside after the other.
Only by faith will we get to the top of the mountain to run down the other side.
God blesses nothing more emphatically than the hard work we put in toward reaching our goals. And the truth is we’ll need to fail several times at some big goals before we’ll succeed.
Can you see now how failure is integral to success; that without failure there can be no ultimate success?
God blesses us through the diligence we display for taking the ultimate responsibility for our lives. If we don’t, who will? We must be the ones who grasp the opportunities time allows. It’s all that matters in the long run. What we do and who we are.
Taking responsibility is the key to achieving all growth in the spiritual demographic.
We overcome by overcoming ourselves, by surrendering our plaintive power that makes us feel important to a power that overcomes through our weakness.
When we get out of our own way we begin to see that, all along, we have been the barrier, and then we understand the power of change. Change comes from within.
When a challenge comes ask, can I transcend this or must I learn to tolerate it?