Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Course Correction

I run.  I choose a course and prepare to run it.  If a friend goes with me, that is fun.  While we share the course, we are unified in purpose.  Can you imagine running a course with a friend who was resistant to the course?  A disagreement about the direction, pace or duration would necessitate a change of plans.  Either I would have to compromise my course or we would have to part ways instead of running together.  While running, we might pass another runner going in the opposite direction.  Their course being completely different would have different results.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”  He is making himself equal to the course.  Anyone who runs with him is sharing his course.  Anyone who disagrees with the direction he is going would have to part ways with him.  I can’t imagine Jesus changing his plans to accommodate one person’s ideal course.  He is the ideal course.  Others are running in other directions and will end up somewhere else.

Then Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”  I look at the commandments as par for the course.  If I resisted a commandment for whatever reason, I would have to split with Jesus.  I really can’t run with him if I’m going somewhere else with my life.  I can certainly choose to go somewhere else, but not with Jesus.

This doesn’t leave much wiggle room for worshipping wealth, profaning God’s name, breaking the Sabbath, lying, stealing or coveting.  Jesus talked about all these common sins.  He also talked about being merciful, pure in heart and a peacemaker.  Each of his teachings are part of his course.

I know He saved us when He died on the cross.  His death promises us a resurrected body and a new life.  What it doesn’t promise us is that we will abide in his love on Earth.  Jesus said, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” (John 15:10)

In my own life, I’m willing to run the course with Jesus, but I’m resistant to abiding in his love as shown by others.  I avoid the warm fuzzy rewards that people give each other and me.  I don’t feel loved by those around me because I have built up a resistance to it.  I have a negative belief that praise and gratitude are for someone else and not for me.  I have thought about why I avoid this positive feedback.  I think I must have questioned someone’s authenticity when they praised me.  I became emotionally allergic to their words.

Resistance in myself is evidence of an injury.  I don’t want to go where it hurts.  Jesus says, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  I allow the pain to stop me from trusting that the course will take me to the glory God has planned for me.  Jesus says to me, “don’t allow that because I will give you peace.”

Jesus said, “Love one another.”  I’m ok with loving others, just not receiving love.  I know it doesn’t make any sense but this is what I’ve observed in myself.  My resistance causes tension in myself.  It’s hard to trust with this kind of emotional allergy. 

So I run the course and resist slightly.  I want to go where Jesus is going so I make myself keep going even though it hurts.  (I do that in my physical run too).  Over time, I have tried to understand my resistance and where it comes from.  In time, I’ve come to new conclusions and my perspective change has lessened my resistance.  I think that faith is running the course.  Hope is believing it leads to glory.  Love is what I give myself when I acknowledge my fears and resistance.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

51 Shades of (Grey) Love

Love is not obsessive sexuality.  Love illuminates life, is vibrant and beautiful — not lifeless and grey.  If you’ve ever felt shut down, you know that love can seem lifeless.  However, the truth is that love is life-giving!

Major holidays like Valentines Day shut down some people.  The fear of failure and rejection just make it impossible to think of any plans that will work.  And the fear that there is no plan to celebrate love can make other people feel unloveable.  Somewhere, away from all the hype and grand expectations is the place where sincere affection is offered and received.  She decides what will make her happy and creates it.  He decides what he likes and offers it.  Together they enjoy what they like and celebrate living love.

So here are 51 shades of Real Love
  1. SERVICE:  a foot massage
  2. WORDS:  a love letter
  3. TIME:  putting aside the never-ending texting to talk
  4. TOUCH:  caress my face
  5. GIFTS:  a box of chocolates
  6. WORDS:  a sincere compliment
  7. TIME:  Walking under the stars
  8. SERVICE:  doing up the dishes and cleaning the kitchen
  9. TOUCH:  soft kisses
  10. GIFTS:  my favorite cologne
  11. SERVICE:  changing a diaper
  12. WORDS:  surprise sticky note on the dash
  13. TIME:  picnic in the park
  14. TOUCH:  respectful sex
  15. GIFTS:  a flower
  16. WORDS:  a poem about whatever
  17. SERVICE:  washing his car
  18. TOUCH:  a hug from behind
  19. TIME:  watching a sunrise
  20. GIFTS:  forgiveness
  21. WORDS:  verbal acceptance
  22. SERVICE:  doing laundry
  23. TOUCH:  sharing a blanket
  24. TIME:  a visit
  25. WORDS:  a handmade card
  26. SERVICE:  pushing the grocery cart for you
  27. TIME:  turning off the tv to look in my eyes
  28. TOUCH:  a little tickle
  29. WORDS:  a serenade
  30. GIFTS:  jewelry
  31. SERVICE:  cooking a great meal
  32. WORDS:  I thank you
  33. TIME:  sitting on the porch swing together
  34. TOUCH:  giving a back rub
  35. GIFTS:  a photograph of us
  36. SERVICE:  I’ll paint your nails
  37. TIME:  nature walk
  38. WORDS:  a phone call
  39. TOUCH:  holding hands
  40. GIFTS: a home movie of us
  41. TIME:  listening
  42. SERVICE:  working in your garden
  43. TOUCH:  feeling your pain and offering comfort
  44. GIFTS:  lingerie
  45. WORDS:  Top 10 things I admire about you
  46. SERVICE:  bringing you breakfast in bed
  47. TIME:  staying up late for your arrival
  48. TOUCH:  holding your heart gently in my hands
  49. GIFTS:  a care package
  50. WORDS:  complimenting your work in public
  51. LOVE: three little words — I love you
A friend of mine wrote a blog post called True Love that I really like.

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image credits:  Paint swatch | Flickr/See-ming Lee, watercolor box | Flickr/Jerine Lay, palette | wikipedia

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Ye are gods...

This post is about the divine potential in all of us.  

Some criticize me for believing that this life is a time to prepare to meet God and become gods.  I find it interesting that the idea of becoming a (little g) god is in the Old and New Testament.

Jesus, the Son of God, in the flesh was about to be stoned for saying that he was (big G) God.  In a conversation with his accusers we learn:

“The Jews answered him, saying, ‘For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.’

“Jesus answered them, ‘Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?  If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?’”  John 10:34-36

So where is it written that “Ye are (little g) gods?” 

The process began in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve tasted the fruit.  In Gen 3:22, the Lord God said, “man is become as one of us.”  If their action was bad, which I don’t think it was, that action changed them into god-like creatures.

One difference between us and God is that we are mortal.  
Psalms 82 says, “Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.  But ye shall die like men and fall like one of the princes.”

Jesus quotes part of this verse and says that the scriptures cannot be broken.  To me this means, that this is a promise and God will not break this promise if we keep our end of the deal.

Jesus, as the Son of God, would logically be an heir — the only heir.  But Paul says that we are all heirs.  No one but a legitimate child is an heir.  By this, I mean that we mortals are not just God’s creation but his offspring and heirs. 

“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together…which glory shall be revealed in us.”
Romans 8:17-18

There is no doubt that we don’t look or act like gods in our fallen, mortal state.  However, our glorified state is being created as we speak and live here.  In other words, our matter is being refined.

In 1 John 3:2 it says, “when he shall appear, we shall be like him.”  I don’t think this is a fantasy.  I really think this is what we are about.  

My faith is big on agency.  So when we say that we can become gods — we are saying that we can choose to receive this gift or choose not to.  And the choice to receive is a summation of all choices.  Here’s a verse in D&C 93:20 which says, “For if you receive my commandments, you shall be receive of his fulness, and be glorified in me as I am in the Father; therefore, I say unto you, you shall receive grace for grace.” 

So the gift isn’t bestowed as much as it is received which connotes a different action altogether on the part of the recipient.  And it is received incrementally which kind of goes with Paul’s idea that the glory is revealed.  The agency of the recipient is always respected and at any time the recipient of glory can withdraw.  And we all know how easy it is to withdraw from God’s glory in this fallen world.  We are absolutely as close or as far away as we want to be.  Jesus said, “I and my Father are one.” (John 10:30)  He’s so close that there is no distance separating him from his Father.  When we are one, like that, with Him, we will be gods.

Image courtesy Wikipedia:  Universum by C Flammarion

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

All I Want is Clarity

I have been blind for many years.  Because what I had was not what I wanted, I focused on what I didn’t have.  I chose not to see the good in my life and only focus on what I lacked.  This type of mindset obviously leads to despair.

To change this mindset, I have been working to open my eyes.  What we interpret about what we see determines how much we see.  We sometimes allow an automatic or cultural response to blind us.  I became unempathic to the situation in front of me.

Karla McLaren puts it this way, “No matter how much trait empathy we have, our empathy can drop to near-zero when we interact with someone unusual or unexpected. We’ve all experienced this empathy drop when a person or group we don’t agree with appears on the news; in fact, it’s completely normal to believe that people who are unlike us are suspicious and incompetent. It’s nearly automatic for us to drop our empathy in the presence of difference.

“We are all, every day, engaged in mind-blindness against people we do not agree with or comprehend. We are all unempathic about some people and some groups, and it is a normal feature of human nature to be unempathic toward people who are not like us. This is why it’s so important for awake people to challenge stereotyping and prejudice.”  Source

Jesus, “the rock of offense,” came into the world, “that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.”  (Isa 8:14, John 9:39)  Why would Jesus’s message make some people blind?  Well, it was so unexpected that they immediately put up their “mind-blind.”

There are always two ways to interpret a situation — favorably and with acceptance and with skepticism and rejection.  With respect to Jesus’ message, a skeptical response results in blindness and a choice to disassociate.  I do not think there is no hope for the blind.  Rather, the light will be greater and more obvious in contrast to the “dimness of anguish” they currently inhabit.  (Isa 8:22)  Isaiah promises that eventually the light will shine and it will be “great”.  (Isa 9:2-3)

Here are some ways that we are blind by choice:
  • We try to deny the truth
  • We forget what happened
  • We ignore other people’s feelings
  • We distract ourselves
  • We blame others for our emotions
  • We repress our emotions
  • We minimize our responsibility and inflate the role someone else played
  • We "cast out” people who make us feel guilty
  • We go to sleep rather than face the reality
  • We drown out memories with TV
  • We “move on” to other relationships
  • We procrastinate
  • We fantasize what we don’t have
  • We don’t appreciate what we do have

image courtesy ilhu industries
We choose blindness over awareness to minimize pain, guilt, the nagging feeling that we ought to do something to help, and even to protect ourselves.  Often we have no idea that this is a choice we have made because it was a learned response.
I’m not immune.  I’ve done it too.  Shame is not the solution.  We need to move in the direction of awareness.  We need awareness of our own needs and feelings.  We can offer awareness of others even if we don’t have a solution.

Clarity comes when we face our fears and approach the truth.  It is possible to see double-vision on any issue.  We can see both our fears and the possibility that this is where we need to bloom and grow.  Reality is what we do have and who we are — right now.  Seeing reality is knowing and accepting the truth.  After seeing the truth we might want to judge ourselves harshly.  The healthy response is to love ourselves.  This is a learned response.  It is the beginning of all love.  Next we must believe that God loves us and has our best interests in mind.  If we have faith in His guiding hand, we will have “power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in [Him].” (Mor 7:33)  We will be able to bring down the “mind-blind” and see the potential for good in what we do have. 

Shifting our perspective to the potential for good is the beginning of hope and the opposite of despair.  I have some strategies that I’m using to shift perspective.  One is a Gratitude Journal.  In this book, I record at least one good thing that happened at the end of the day.  This helps me to see over time the pattern of good things in my current reality.  In terms of my marriage, I have created a document where I visualize the good in my spouse with words, pictures, and symbols.  I also use this document to imagine the good things that we have in our future.  If my “mind-blind” was toward the reality of God, then I might choose to focus on His good attributes, document His blessings as responses to my requests and even the little miracles that happen without my asking (like car accidents that don’t happen and storms that don’t do damage).

You can go from despair to hope!  Seeing is a choice.  Seeing is loving.  Love is real.

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:

“Give me a light, that I may tread safely into the unknown!”

And he replied:

“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the 

Hand of God.

That shall be to you better than light and safer than 

a known way.”

So, I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly 

into the night.

And He led me toward the hills 

and the breaking of day in the lone East.

Image courtesy opus moreschi
If you have this habit, please get help.  Porn causes blindness.

This is a short video about a woman who was blind and what it was like for her when she began to see again for the first time in years.

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Poem Source - "The Gate of the Year" by Minnie Louise Haskins

Cover image of eyeglasses courtesy 0four