Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I Hurt, I Mean Really Hurt

Before you pray fervently for miraculous healing, know that my body will never be perfectly healed. I know that, and I accept that. Before you argue that God doesn't work that way, that God never wishes pain on His children, and that I just have to have faith, read 2 Cor 11:24-33 and 12:7b-10 and understand the apostle's trials, that they were inevitable and necessary; that God preserved him from death but not from harm. And then he prayed for reprieve from an abiding pain but was rebuked.

Have I suffered as much as this person and many before and after him for the sake of love of God or the love of others? Hardly. I'm willing to accept my "thorn in the flesh" because I know there is a good it can be used for. Every ill we suffer can be used by us to to relate to another through their own suffering.

I have a certain friend in mind who is in constant pain that brings tears not sighs; that wakes from sleep or prevents it entirely; that trudges on in desperate, hopeful prayer for strength but nevertheless embodies psalm 6. Remember when you pray for others, your prayer is all the more effective when you can pray for that person as if for yourself, when you can reach into that pain and take part in it through the love in your heart. Remember also that the best comfort you can offer can never be mere words but your presence and love.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Stuck Thinking: While You're There

We were thinking of being stuck and we can slide into thoughts that drive alongside with momentum of their own. We get stuck in thinking about being stuck. When we do we are taking the passenger seat with our dilemma as the driver, and that thought may not take us where we want to go.

While you're busy being stuck there, you can ponder a new thought: "Now what? What options do I have to make this situation better?" The simple act of looking around at the area could make you see something you'd missed before: a new opportunity, different way of thinking, a renewed positivity may present itself with just a little clearing of your view

Now ask: "How do I get unstuck?"
Now that you've looked around you may see a different thought come through with God at the wheel, and when you sit in this passenger seat you see the way ahead is not just up now but forward. And forward isn't so hard. When you put it that way, getting away from the "down" and putting it "behind," you don't feel so heavy as you did before, and gravity becomes less dangerous. It's harder to look behind than down because it requires actively turning around. There is such a thing as "falling" behind, but it requires a comparison and a deadline of sorts, and never seems to be as devastating as "falling down," which implies a stop not just a slowing of progress.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I Have a Statement to Make ...

... and request at the end. Please read this through.

I am heartsick and dismayed at people right now. I value and respect the rights and needs of all people to form and express their own opinions: most of the time I keep my own thoughts and opinions to myself - as I am sure many would tell me to do if I expressed a dissenting opinion to them. Yes, I do get offended. It does not make me overly sensitive or unreasonable. I have the right to be offended or to disagree, whether it matters to you or not, and I have the right to say so, though I usually do not. 

I do not simply un-friend or block or even remove from my feed those I disagree with because of our disparate views because I am not so childish as to simply remove from my experience that which bothers or contradicts me. Also this is because I do not assume people to be one-dimensional and easy to define, but know that people are multi-faceted - amalgamations of fault and virtue. 

And I understand that certain opinions on various issues do not indicate that any person has naturally evil intentions, innate stupidity, or the exact characteristics of predominant stereotypes. I cannot just say I know what a person thinks, feels, wants or intends because "those people are just like that". 

Some things I will strive to do (sincerely and earnestly)
1. I will value and respect the rights and needs of all people to form and express their own opinions. 
2. I will hear out those opinions I feel to be faulty because I am not afraid to be proven wrong or shown that I have been narrow-minded. 
3. I will view all things with semi-credulity until by examination it has proven itself to be in error or extremist. 
4. In all cases I will seek at least to understand there is a reason why a person holds their particular opinion even if I cannot understand that reason or doubt its inherent validity.
5. I will not pick fights or allow anger to guide my responses.
6. I will not twist words or make accusations.
7. I will not act to intentionally wound or offend.
8. I will show respect at all times.
9. I will not rely on assumptions.
10. I will not judge others.
11. I will apologize for rudeness and admit when I am wrong.

I commit to these things, and when I fail at one or more, I will renew my commitment to follow through on what I have said I will do. I ask those that read this to do the same. 
Adrianne Sterley

Friday, August 24, 2012

Stuck Thinking 2

You're working your way up that wall climbing out of your rut and you've hit a spot that just seems impossible to get past. You've lost your momentum, and you just don't seem to be moving at all. You're frustrated. You're discouraged. You're tired. You're stuck. And while you're stuck, you're thinking, "I'm stuck."

You're only stuck if that's as far inward as that thought goes. So let's say it stops there where your progress seems to have stopped. The thought from that point can remain at being stuck, but it's not likely to for long. If you don't move your thoughts along and get on your way, eventually your mental focus starts to slip from ahead back into "rut mode". You were looking ahead and looking up, at the end of the climb or at the next hand-hold a few feet above, but now you find yourself staring only at that knot in the rope where your hands are now. You are aware of the fact that you aren't going anywhere. You are thinking of how rough it is to keep trying, having to push yourself forward, pull yourself up, keep going, no breaks, and how you are fighting against odds here. You aren't a super athlete, by the way, no spiritual Olympian, just you.

Beware! you are in danger of forming a new rut or falling back into the old one. The next thoughts to drive up as you are stuck there have momentum of their own and might be of a few varieties, the first being that you figure you might spin your wheels there for a while, just for a little break. After all, you've gotten here, you deserve a little slack, right? And that might be alright, as long as you don't let your motor die or turn it off yourself. You're idling, not parking, and do NOT shift into neutral!

Another thought that might occur is reversal and is likely to be fatal: "Why did I try to climb up here in the first place?" This thought can be weighty if you slide on board as it has many companions and moves quickly through smooth connections. For example: "What made me think I could do this?" leads to: "I should have known I couldn't succeed." leads to: "I just can't do it." and then: "I give up." These are all justified by: "I'm just not strong/smart/good... enough." And who can really expect that much of you?

God! God expects that much of you. But never without His help. Your main contribution to the climb is your trust in Him to get you to the top. And somewhere in your life, there is always an outlet for you to build a support system to hold you up when you're afraid something will knock you down. God has you secured, and He has put others out there for you to connect with, to join hands. If you trust God to provide the muscle to get it done and have the patience to let Him guide your progress, you will succeed.

Say a prayer. Remind yourself of the success you already have. Thank God for what you've achieved so far. Give Him praise for being the awesome God He is and for the amazing things He has done. Take the focus off of you and what you can do, and put it on what God can do. God loves you, and He'll get you safely where you need to go.

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Tapestry

I was just thinking on how confusing life gets; how when a person tries to make sense of mind- and heart-twisting events, it's easy to get lost in the muddle of humanness and see only randomness and chaos. I'm reminded of how hard it is to separate the self from the situations and untangle when the mental, emotional, and physical get wound up.

When people try to portray God in a way they can understand and relate to, God is often described as a creative artist. I've heard of God equated to a puppeteer, an architecht, a potter, and a weaver, to give a short list. God as a weaver brings to mind beautiful expanses of bright-colored cloth decorated with intricate designs and complicated patterns, and what we are most likely to picture is the finished side. But every tapestry, rug, or embroidered work, however simple or complex, humble or extravagant, has both a finished and a working side. The side that gets the most acclaim is naturally the finished side, and the working side the most criticism.

The working side is usually not as pretty as the finished: it tends to look more messy, and we are less proud of it because it doesn't look as nice. But the working side gets more of the attention of the artist during the weaving or the sewing. That's where mistakes are worked out and stray ends worked in. Transitions in design, pattern, and color are all worked in on the working side so that the finished project looks seemless and smooth from the finished side.

A few women in my family have been that type of true master whose projects often could be accidentally flipped over and no one would notice the difference. Their handiwork evoked both admiration and envy, but the method of the craft has been passed down through the generations by practiced hands that took lifetimes to learn. For each, their first creations were both simple and messy. Excellence came with practice, and I know of no one who has ever created a perfect work.

Human life is much the same, especially when we think of ourselves as the craftsmen. We tend to be clumsy and our designs crudely worked. Those of us who study under the Master Weaver Christ will learn best over time to create designs we are proud of. And our lives are ultimately woven together not by our own efforts, but by God, who sees the whole design in its completion as well as the value and beauty of our personal experiences and our individual designs.

Another thought to leave you with is that no work can be completed entirely from the working side. It must be turned over from time to time, with the final product in mind, to mark the progress, check its quality, and to simply be admired.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Things Your Therapist Didn't Tell You

You've had a really bad day, and you're ready to strangle whoever comes across your path. And that is primarily because you can't strangle the person who ticked you off in the first place (your first issue there being that you'd have to get rid of the body). You fume all the way home. You fume at home. You go to bed fuming. Instead of spending the night in an aggravated fitful insomnia and waking with a headache in the a.m. (whether from lack of sleep or your ill-advised remedies), I suggest you stop at the party store on the way home.

I do not recommened alcohol or crepe paper streamers. Go buy a big box of those little bottles of bubbles they hand out at weddings. (uh, what?) That's what I said, you need a whole buch or those small sized bottles of bubble liquid. When you get home, crash on the bed with a bottle of bubbles in hand and blow bubbles until the bottle is empty.

This works wonders for a sour attitude, and is especially cool if you have a ceiling fan and can find the updraft. With skill you can actually catch a bubble on the wand and use it to blow a whole new batch without dipping it again. Using your creativity, you could easily spend an hour and more finding ways of steering bubbles around the room, keeping them from popping, or aiming them at various targets.

If you could seek them into the office, It might not hurt to keep a bottle or two hidden in your desk, just in case. Every time you take a breath, say a prayer; breathe out slowly; and let your tension, frustration, and anger float away and disappear in dozens of tiny spheres of soap.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

In the Bad

It is hard to focus on God at times, but God never stops focusing on His creation. Even though life may seem unforgiving, and we might feel like giving up, it is God who sustains us gives us strength to see it through. He shines His light down on souls in darkness. Jesus did not come to save the wealthy and the righteous, but the poor of spirit and weak of heart.

In our hardest times, we wonder how it is that misfortune has to happen to us. Earth is not Heaven. If earth were like heaven, we would not appreciate the blessings we have for what they really mean to us. We would take them for granted. It would be easy to forget all that we have, our gifts, our strengths, our very lives are from God, and it is by His will that we live to greet each day. We might feel no remorse for our sins, feel no need for atonement, feel no drive to improve ourselves. These things are important to remember when mere existence seems unbearable.

Adam and Eve were sent out of the garden for disobeying before they truly understood the difference between right and wrong. Now we do know the difference, and there is no excuse for us not to strive to better ourselves and overcome temptation to sin. We are sinners all, and even though we be righteous, we are not blameless.

God tests us and our convictions as we go through hardships. Even when our hardships are resulted from our sin, God is there with us to carry us through. We simply have to put our trust in Him. Will you pass the test or give up on the problem?

How often do you stop and wonder why? Why does he have a better job? Why can she afford a new car? Why are their children so healthy? Why not me? These are questions we all ask God and ourselves. this is where we can pull a lesson from the book of Job.

Job was a wealthy man, a righteous man with boundless faith. All his possessions were destroyed, his children killed and his body overcome with illness. This was all the work of the devil, and Job did ask God why. In the end it was his devotion and faith in God that redeemed him and brought him out of his misery.

If Job can do it so can you. Even his faith wavered, but he found it in himself to stay strong in his adversity. It is not always an easy thing to do, but in every travesty you overcome, you will find that it brings you closer to God.