Changes


Too many times we, as weak human beings, believe that our plans are bound to come to fruition according to our own time table. Then comes a thing called CHANGE. It’s something we all face, usually on a daily basis. We cannot avoid it or redirect it or stop it. We should embrace some change, but even the changes we do not like or do not want must be dealt with. Remember that not all change is good, and not all is bad. There may be some to which we can say ‘NO,’ but there will always be the change with which we have no recourse. The one constant, however, is that there will always be change in our lives.

So, how do we deal with change? We simply rely on our Hope with an open heart and a calm spirit. Most changes in our lives are not under our direct control, but they are still in our lives and we have to learn to adjust. Whatever that change may be, we must find a way to fit it into our lives, and reshape our thoughts and behaviors to positively accommodate it. We cannot mull over what life was like before the change and how difficult it will be to revamp ourselves. Likewise, we cannot disregard the past in order to focus solely on an amazing new change that has come upon us. We must think of change as more of a transition. That way we can focus our attention and our prayers on what will become of us as time progresses and the results of the change become apparent.

Yes, change has many faces. It has many benefits and it may have many consequences. But the important thing is how we handle it. Is it with grace, or with anger? Do we smile through it, or do we frown? And how are we treating those who bring the change to us, with love or dislike? Jesus Himself faced many changes, yet He continued to shine through them all, even while suffering on the cross. He went through the ultimate change…from life, to death, to life again.

So look at your life today, and when you face a change, embrace it. Whether it be good or bad, think about what it means, what you will have to adjust to deal with it, and how you can turn it into something positive, no matter what it is. Then thank God that you can assimilate change into your life, and if it is a difficult one, ask Him to give you wisdom and grace to handle it. Find opportunity in any change, and use it to enrich your life. Do not allow it to hinder your walk with God. Rather, face it as a new adventure, with joy and excitement and wonder.

Listen, I tell you a mystery; We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed.   – 1 Corinthians 15:51

Change in all things is sweet.   – Aristotle

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Note on Humility


Nobody likes being put in a position where one’s helplessness is the only way out of a tough situation. Complete submission and humility combined are a virtue that brings about immense spiritual and metaphysical reward. Often times we get caught up in situations that immediately demand that we become defensive, even if we know we are wrong. Other times, we are confronted by a person or circumstance that presents a great challenge to our pride or dignity, and the tendency is to resist stepping back and instead put up a foolish fight, whether it be outwardly in word or deed or in inwardly in our own heart.

Gentleness and lowliness of heart are among the first blessings we observe in the Lord Jesus Christ’s earthly example. It is not from an angel, a man, or from a book you learn lowliness of heart, but from Christ Himself. That is how we learn humility, from the meekness shown by the Lord Jesus Christ on the earth and throughout time. His perfect example and the examples of the righteous saints should act as a guide for how to handle today’s temptations and challenges.

How do you know when you have crossed the line from simply having confidence in yourself and your abilities to falling into the sin of pride?

Acquiring humility requires continuous exercises. First we must come to recognize our weaknesses. True humility is attained by work and the knowledge  that outside behavior affects the inside human feelings. The Lord taught us how to attain humility in a very practical way. As He washed the feet of the holy disciples, he also commanded them to do likewise. In today’s society, that does not mean to literally wash feet but rather to humble yourself in submission and obedience to the infinite Will of God. For those struggling with this concept, the Lord will send you multiple opportunities to humble yourself (sometimes one right after another), and it is then incumbent upon you to recognize those moments and seize the chance to learn a lesson and grow. If you pray for humility or even just reduced pride, you must understand that it will come to you throughout the course of your daily life once you start recognizing its manifestation.

Do not mistake the virtue of humility for a lack of self-worth. Each person must have a level of confidence in one’s own abilities insofar as being a vessel of God, a tool for Jesus Christ to work with, and a temple of the Holy Spirit. The difference between being proud and self-confident lies in how much you trust yourself and how much you trust in God. The self-confident person trusts in God, and that is why he is self confident: “I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). The proud person trusts in himself with the underlying belief that he does not need God. Don’t be the latter.

Just as salt is to food, humility is to every virtue.   -Saint Ephraim the Syrian

The humble person would not judge his neighbor, though he may see him worshiping idols.   -St. Longinous of the desert

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The Labyrinth of Life


The combined model and method I like to follow is summarized under the term “The Labyrinth of Life.” The Labyrinth of Life is based upon a notion that our lives might be likened to an often confused and aimless traverse through a kind of labyrinth. We seek direction and understanding, and are also handed advice from a whole lot of different sources about the right way. The problem in searching for answers outside of ourselves is that we are lead here and there without getting any wiser or getting any closer to our goal, whatever that may be. We hardly ever know what we are looking for! Anyway, the result is increased confusion and being more and more lost.

How should one go about then?
Well, by becoming aware of the labyrinth and its construction, and getting access to tools for the deconstruction of it, one is able to get a bearing on one’s own struggle and release unimaginable amounts of locked-in-life force and vitality. This can only be achieved in one way: stop following in others’ footsteps and start walking our own path. A path we may only find by opening our heart, as we all have a built-in compass that continuously points us to the center of our own very personal labyrinth. All we have to do is accept it and start paying attention to it. It’s about courage. It’s about breaking through the shells of fear one encounters. It’s about making the best of every situation, going with the flow and accepting everything one discovers about oneself. It is about surrendering to God’s Greatness and opening up to His gift of life itself.

My personal experience? Exploring the labyrinth of life is a way of life, a way to relate to life and the experiences it presents to us. Most of the exercises I read about and tried did not work for me, since the main objective seemed to be to remove or suppress whatever one did not want to experience in one’s life. Some part of me, however, resisted this and refused to be put down. In retrospect I am truly grateful for these parts of me for putting up the fight they did. The frustration about not working as one obviously should, coupled with my growing aversion toward the suppression of parts that evidently were important for my wholeness made me rely completely on the existence of God in my life. You, too, are not alone here. Change is life.

You are in the Labyrinth.
You decide if it is to be a Labyrinth of Death or a Labyrinth of Life.
The adventure is waiting for you.
What are you waiting for?
-unknown

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Decoding


Many times due to the weakness of our limited human understanding, we find ourselves trying as hard we can to decode events in our lives. The most common question in the history of human development is, of course, “why.” In order for us to receive a satisfying answer, usually something tangible must happen where we can feel the effects of our question being answered. For example, a cataclysmic event is ordinarily credited with the answer to a vast variation of questions ranging from, “why me” to “why now” to “why this.” Everyone is looking for God (as they understand him) to “speak” to them somehow for the sole purpose of trying to understand why it is that certain circumstances befall them. If something is amiss, a second chance is naturally what we seek.

I, as I’m sure is the case with many others, struggle with the line of thinking that eventually leads to more confusion in search of just the opposite. I ask myself, “why was this event allowed to happen to me” or “why was this person allowed to enter my life” or “why was I not allowed to do something I desired so much?” These and all other like-minded inquiries are a direct attempt to realize the incomprehensible and infinite glory of God’s Wisdom. Like most, I am the type that must know why in order to truly believe in what I am doing and thus, do it right or at least as best I can. That means that if I am not given an answer yet am still forced to comply, it becomes a daunting task of minimal effort riddled with challenging questions such as “why this” and, the most popular one of all, “WHAT’S THE POINT?”

However, enjoying the freeing feeling of total understanding is not always beneficial to a person at a particular time. An event that seemingly occurs in the natural course of life and that becomes systematic and continuous in our lives generally is seen as the perfect beacon for what we believe is correct or good. Then it ends, or worse, it gets distorted and drags on unhealthily. A person in that situation has no idea what will hit him/her later. It will be a time of reflection filled with what ifs and whys that will lead to nowhere in particular except maybe more confusion. It is only when a person relies on the Will of God and the understanding that to try to decode Him is a challenge of His Wisdom that a person will truly find inner peace. The ability to move on from the trials and tribulations set before you becomes so much more bearable when you realize that there is a never-ending Strength that created your human weakness.God’s will is not an itinerary, but an attitude lesson of humility.   ~ Andrew Dhuse

People see God every day, they just don’t recognize him.   ~ Pearl Bailey

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Plan B


Everyone always wants to be successful all the time with whatever they have planned. Fact is, it doesn’t usually happen that way, and that’s where we get burned. It is always better to err on the side of optimism than to be pessimistic, but it is also a fact of life that not every plan we make will be successful. Rather than approaching your goals and targets with the mistaken notion that success on your first attempt is guaranteed, a far better approach to your goals is to make sure that you always have a Plan B – a backup plan that you can revert to in order to give yourself a second chance if your primary course of action proves to be ineffective. You can have a Plan B (and a Plan C and even a Plan D, if necessary) in each area of your life. The important thing is to create such backup plans before you need them so that you can immediately adopt a new approach if your original plan proves to be less effective than you had hoped.

What happens if you don’t have a workable Plan B…?
Surely we have all been in such precarious states of discombobulation and utter confusion because of the mere lack of a new idea. At times, we trick ourselves into believing that some event(s) will surely happen bringing about desired results that will make us happy. Then, they don’t happen. Some may panic and some may despair. Still others may even fall into a deep depression with seemingly endless self-loathing especially if we’re talking about major life plans, i.e. careers, spouses, lifestyles. Of course, such depressive states of being revolve around and are nourished by a complete lack of faith in the omniscient Will of God for one’s life. We must believe that there is an Almighty Power controlling our destiny and that it is up to us to earnestly pray that we may find it and carefully realize it.

However, there is a truly monumental difference between being cautious and being pessimistic. Having a Plan B isn’t a pessimistic approach to life, but a very realistic and practical one. By being prepared in advance for any possible road-blocks and diversions, you can smoothly switch to a different route and still arrive at your destination on schedule. So take a tip from the Boy Scouts and be prepared. If you always have a Plan B when you set out to dominate your life in any area, you will always be able to achieve your goals by the grace of God, even if your primary plan proves to be unworkable.

Here’s what you can do when God doesn’t show up the way you thought He would: 

  • Run towards God, not away from Him
  • Give up trying to fully be in control
  • Take steps of faith
  • Listen in your prayers
  • Make God your top priority, everything else comes second
  • Place your faith in God instead of in certain circumstances that seem favorable
  • Trade negativity for gratitude
  • Love God more than your dreams
  • Wait well, find hope, choose faith, and pray diligently
  • Remember, the only thing guaranteed in this world is that nothing is guaranteed. 

“There hath no temp­ta­tion taken you but such as is com­mon to man: but God is faith­ful, who will not suf­fer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temp­ta­tion also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”    – I Corinthians 10:13

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”   – Jeremiah 29:11

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Prayer for a Heavy Heart


In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God. Amen.

My Dear Gracious Lord and Heavenly Father,

Thank You so much for allowing me to pass this day in peace. I also thank You for blessing me with the ability to know You and love You and be Your child. I know I am undeserving of Your ineffable mercy and Your infinite loving-kindness. I come to You broken, humble and heavy-hearted and ask that you heal me from the inside out and allow all the negativity in my life to turn into positive circumstances that will ultimately be used to lift up Your Holy Name and Glorify You. I pray that I am able to be more vigilant in my prayers through the good times and the bad. Please hear my sighs, Oh Lord!

Lord, I feel encompassed about with all sorts of situations that have not gone my way in the recent past and wish that I can see Your Omniscient Will gleaming through it all. I know I am weak, sinful and proud beyond measure and at times, I lose sight of what would be pleasing to You in order to merely please myself. However, now, it has become too much for me to handle and I now have learned to rely on Your never-ending mercy and compassion. I entreat You, my Lord, to grant me the strength necessary to press on productively in life in the face of adversity and to deal intelligently and forgivingly with those who have offended or hurt me whether knowingly or unknowingly. My heart has been shattered so many times throughout the course of my life and You, Lord, have always been the only One there to comfort me and restore me to an ever better state according to Your Will.

I ask You today Lord, to fully take control of my life and guide it by Your Almighty Power because I have failed miserably in trying to bring about my own happiness. As I encounter unsavory people, delicate circumstances, and sensitive situations I submit myself to Your Will, which includes all the suffering and consequences that I may have to endure hereafter with the knowledge of good things to come. Here I am, God, kneeling before the Throne of Your Glory and begging for Your forgiveness and mercy. Please accept my supplication offered with a contrite heart and grant me the patience to see and understand Your guiding hand. Unbreak my heart, oh Truest Physician and Father, and restore me once again to the serenity of a peaceful life  and the harmony of being in communion with You at all times, through the Grace, Compassion, and Love of Your Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit to whom be the Glory forever. Amen.

Amen.

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Learning to Love


We may complain about our life and how difficult and negative it can be, however we forgot to remember that this is something we chose to go through. The soul wants to grow. Everyone’s business on this planet is love. No matter how much of a bad person or a sinner someone may be, their soul’s purpose for being here is to learn to love. Love is the sole decision-making force that determines the success or failure of our business here on Earth. So you can always ask yourself in difficult situations, what is my soul learning from this? What lessons of love does this experience offer me? What kind of love am I missing and searching for right now? People can chose to live a life of suffering to become a great soul or to help dissolve the darkness of this world – to help integrate love into society and create a better environment for everyone, especially those lacking that privilege.

So start thinking about what it means to love others and to love God. It will be difficult at first because honestly, nobody has any idea what love means. Is it even real?

So do your best to start loving others and loving God, and amazing things will start happening that you will eventually realize are the fruits of your labor. The more you start loving others, the more heaven and the world will start loving you and the more loving reactions will come your way. Love, you figure, must mean, to have a positive mental, emotional and spiritual regard of gentleness, kindness, hope, patience, faithfulness, and essentially oneness with others; that is, helping and supporting others, helping the needs of others and overtly bowing to the soul of others.

God created and designed us to be relational with affections, longings, and desires; rational with thoughts and beliefs; volitional with motivations and actions; emotional with feelings and moods; and physical with bodies. Thus, God calls us to love one another with the whole heart—relationally, rationally, volitionally, emotionally, and physically. It is not enough to simply treat one another with an elevated level of decency because as Christians, we are called to LOVE even our enemies. It’s a tough task, no doubt, but spending a lifetime trying is really all it takes.

Learning to love is like learning to walk. Both are attempted and eventually done with relatively little knowledge on the subject matter initially. Both are not done very easily as one is bound to fall many times during the course of perfecting the craft. Both MUST be done in order for one to survive and live happily in the normal sense. Both require multiple second chances and assistance to some degree from someone who has experienced success at some point. Lastly, both eternally change the course of the life affected by the acquisition of a new skill which is ultimately for the betterment of that person.

Love fails, only when we fail to love.   — J. Franklin

Do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbor; act as if you did.As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone you will presently come to love him. — C. S. Lewis

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Thoughts


Sometimes we find ourselves just sitting there, spacing out, and aimlessly thinking about whatever. Most of the time it is because we are alone somewhere and we are trying to reflect upon the days events or future plans or even regrets we may have. And they say the tongue is hard to control…

Thoughts are equally, if not more, difficult to corral. For instance, we can see people and think they are hateful, yet we would rarely, if ever, go up and tell them we think they are hateful. We may think people we talk to are jealous, but we wouldn’t say it to their faces.  A boss, a co-worker, a friend, a lover, a stranger, a relative, a husband, a wife, a teacher, a student… When we interact with people we face situations in which our emotions can rule our thinking. To me, it seems harder to tame one’s thoughts than one’s tongue.  What must we do to tame our thoughts? For starters, we must consider our own condition, our own sin, and most importantly, our own weaknesses.

The human existence is a series of thoughts followed by the execution of those thoughts which are our daily actions. That inherently means that our thoughts control us. However we know that we have the power to control anything in this life if we submit ourselves into the hands of God. Then, through Him, we have the power. In Christ we have power through His Holy Spirit. It’s “divine power” to destroy strongholds – things that wrestle with our thoughts and devotion. We cannot know what we will really say and/or do in a particular situation. We may know what we’d like to say, what we’d prefer to do – yet, still fail to control ourselves. We need to yield our pride and emotions, and self-sufficiency into the hands of God. We need to keep our minds on Christ and His presence in our lives. We need to obey our Lord and pray that He gives the power overcome the heavy chains that bind us, which are our thoughts.

“Don’t spend your precious time asking “Why isn’t the world a better place?” It will only be time wasted. The question to ask is “How can I make it better?” To that there is an answer.”   ~ Leo Buscaglia

“Nothing is good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”   ~ William Shakespeare
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Pivotal Decisions


Let’s clear some specifics up really quick so that we’re all on the same page here. A decision is pivotal if any of the following is true:

  • A significant degree of risk, exposure or uncertainty surrounds the decision. Failure in some form is a distinct possibility.
  • Some form of change will follow, with the decision itself being a catalyst for or a precursor to some set of “next steps.”
  • Radial impacts will ensue from the decision, affecting one or more of the following: the responsibilities of individuals involved, spiritual structure or system of beliefs, fundamental individual values, or one’s reputation.
  • None of the choices attendant to the decision includes a win/win with all options having some advantage. Instead, pivotal decisions are so because they are either win/lose, with considerable distance between the best possible and worst possible outcomes; or lose/lose, forcing a choice between two or more equally negative outcomes giving rise to “the lesser of two evils” system of choosing.

How you manage pivotal decisions eventually shapes your adult life; shapes how others view you; determines the quality of your relationships going forward; reveals your core values and moral code, and as a result, sets precedent, molding your future in its entirety. Failing to recognize the special nature of pivotal decisions increases the likelihood that your decisions will be reactionary and/or careless, generating unintended and complicating consequences that are more severe, harder to endure, more taxing to remediate, and harder to recover from. Before you sit there and think to yourself, “I would never do this, or be with this person or that (for a myriad of reasons), or be open to this idea or that,” think in your heart about the times where you deviated ever so slightly from something or some idea that was rock solid in your mind. Those are pivotal moments.

Furthermore, the fact that you did not intend the consequences is not mitigating; the fact that you are not sensitive to any resulting negative perceptions is not comforting. Instead, primary among the negative outcomes of mishandled pivotal decisions is an erosion of your credibility – something that is virtually impossible to rebuild, especially in some cultural communities. For example, the way one views their future is through an idealistic lens which may not always be realistic as far as when the individual is actually placed in that position. Everybody plays the “what if” game with friends and loved ones and through it, people are able to convey a moral mode of operation from which they pray they never deviate. Truth is, though, humans are fickle beings ultimately subjugated to the Omniscient Will of God.

Every single person in the world has their own rules for themselves; that is, what they would and would not do under given circumstances. If, however, those rules are not rooted in a fundamental understanding of the presence of the Will of God for one’s life, one will surely never be fulfilled. Don’t ever be too sure of something. Don’t ever say that you would definitely not. Don’t ever criticize or judge others for their moral standards especially if what they would do is different from what you would do in a given scenario. Of course, everyone must have a basis by which they make such life-changing decisions. Remember, pivotal decisions are frequently necessitated by that which should have been anticipated in the first place.

It is bad enough that people are dying of diseases, but no one should die of ignorance.  ~Elizabeth Taylor

In deciding a course of action, one must always consider all options, then reconsider them with faith. ~George Burns

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In Confidence


A true friend is always there for us when we need them the most; through the good times and the bad times. This even means that they will be there for us if we suffer from stressful conditions like anxiety, fear, heartbreak, or unfamiliarity. Anxiety and fear usually are not topics we care to discuss with too many people because those that suffer from them are usually very insecure about speaking out. Heartbreak and unfamiliarity are two conditions that can sometimes go hand in hand and lead the sufferer down many different paths of coping.

The truth is that there is hope in overcoming all of these tribulations. It really doesn’t matter if you need to overcome one or all of them alone or with the help of someone you can trust. The important thing is that you feel in control of your life again because any barrier can keep you from enjoying life to the max. Some people turn to prayer, spiritual therapy and guidance, and/or professional help. Still others turn to drugs, alcohol, and violence in utter despair. My recommendation with respect to coping is that you are able to find an open and willing ear from a close friend or a select few close friends who can keep your secret and respect your vulnerable state. Vulnerability is nothing more than the state in which one is willing to accept analysis and criticism of oneself in hopes of bringing about positive change. In short, a support system is the key to staying sane.

If you feel alone in your suffering just know that you are not, because there are thousands of people that suffer every day from what you are going through. Talk to a good friend about your feelings because your friend will encourage you and give you some advice on what it is that you need to do to overcome it. A valued friend will be someone who listens first, and then conceptualizes your thoughts into a possible action plan that is feasible enough for you to embark on and complete successfully. Be careful though, because inherent in the act of confiding in a friend, is the subconscious element of a deep trust shared between the two of you. The belief in the value of sharing one’s deepest sense of guilt, regret, and turmoil with others has always been a basic tenet of some aspects of religion, psychotherapy and folk wisdom. However, it is cathartic for the soul and can actually be healthy for the body as well.

“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.”   – William Shakespeare

“A friend is not only someone who you can confide in, it is someone who can mirror the trust you have shown by confiding in you as well.”   – Ashley Young

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