#firstworldproblems

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I tend not to complain out loud about my problems unless I am talking to my mother– since we all know it’s every mom’s duty to listen dutifully to just about everything you have to say regardless of whether you are 25 or 40. If I complain about my issues to anyone else it might sound overwhelmingly like #firstworldproblems, an impression that may only be partly wrong. I called my mom once… –just last week if I’m being honest–in the middle of the night after I hadn’t been able to sleep all night for 3 nights in a row, plagued by my own mental demons, and she picked up. She picked up– even though at that time she was with a patient who would be taken off life support soon.

 

She was just reading a few bible verses to him, and I am pretty sure he couldn’t hear her and was totally unaware of his surroundings or anything else for that matter, but I was shocked that she as a physician was taking time out of doing her rounds to read some verses for a patient that couldn’t hear her and to pray for him before he passed… and also that amidst all this that she picked my call because she was worried about me. I proceeded to tell her I was completely fine, she should get back to work and after I hung up I began to cry. The perspective that the call gave me forced me to tell myself that: hey you should be happy and grateful you’re not deathly ill or dying, and that your problems are so small, and in the grand scheme of things– probably even meaningless.

 

But the truth is minimizing our problems by comparing them to someone with bigger problems can be both helpful and at the same time hurtful. It can invalidate your hurt and your pain and trust me it is incredibly hard to heal from something you don’t fully let yourself feel. If you don’t come to terms with pain in your life because ‘hey there are people starving in Africa and you have it much better than them,’ which may very well be true, but that doesn’t mean that your suffering, albeit privileged suffering, is any less real or any less hurtful. Much of our own life is shaped by our mind–our thoughts, and thoughts can be powerful enough to cause a person to pull a trigger, jump of a bridge, or prevent them from trying to achieve something they have always wanted to achieve.

 

It is good to be grateful and to see life from a perspective other that your own. Be thankful for your privilege. But also be gentle with yourself. Know that it is okay to let the small things sometimes get to you. It’s okay to not be invincible all the time. To feel weak, overwhelmed. It’s okay to simply just let yourself feel. Now it’s another thing to dwell, to sink, to never move forward. But just for today I want you to be honest with yourself about the emotions you’ve been keeping bottled up, the frustrations laying there right under the surface of all the pretense and fake smiles and cheerful demeanor. If you can’t be real to people at least be real to yourself, because honesty takes you to a place where true healing can finally begin.

 

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Refusing to pray 

(Please excuse the formatting and any typos in this post. I’m writing it on my phone, which is all I have right now. But that is a story for another post.)

When it rains it pours. And tonight it is pouring. To the extent that I felt the urge to pray but then almost immediately I dismissed it. But I was/am desperate so I prayed. After I finished praying I asked myself if God would hear me. I doubted whether He is moved enough by my cry to change His mind and let His will be subservient to my will. 

It’s been almost two years since I prayed. How is that possible you might ask. Especially if you know me; I’m very active in the church, always preaching, teaching and ministering to others. So maybe I should qualify my statement. It’s been almost two years since I’ve genuinely prayed for myself. I can easily pray for others and know God will hear me but a part of me thinks that God doesn’t hear me when I pray for myself. Or that my prayer won’t change anything about my circumstance. 

As soon as I think these thoughts I’m reminded about the words: “prayer doesn’t change God, it changes us.” Or I think about the fact that we are supposed to pray for “God’s will,” that somehow, some day our will, will align with His. And I truly want all those things. But sometimes I find myself reluctant to pray because I wonder if God cares about the things I care about. If they bother Him the same way they bother me. I think about mothers who lost their children to sickness, they must have prayed. God must have heard? But what did that change? Miracles happen. But more often than not they don’t. Those are the stories that don’t get told. The testimonies that don’t get sung. 

I think about my own prayer two years ago, I was night and day on my knees. I prayed in faith. Knowing God would do it. Trusting Him, claiming the victory. A victory that never came. I have since come to terms with that loss and even now see the gain in it, but today when I really needed God to step in and do something for me I found myself hesitating. Hesitating to ask God to do any miracles on my behalf. Why would he? Why should he? There are a million people more deserving, with more pressing issues they’re facing. 

But somehow I managed to pray for my own miracle. I don’t know at this moment if my cry will move God. But I am reminded of stories in the Bible when Jesus said, “your faith has made you whole,” or when Jacob fought with God and said “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Thus I will hold on to God a little longer. And whether or not this prayer is answered, my tiny prayer has already changed me, and my will is slowly learning to become subservient to His. 

Chilled

Right now I would really love to cling to self-pity like a blanket on a cool day. I try and wrap myself up in it, but somehow either it is too short or I am too tall and my toes end up peeking out. When everything is going well, something, one thing has to just completely fall apart. If I cover my feet, my shoulders get exposed if I cover my shoulders the chill grips my feet.

 

Why can’t everything just be perfect all at once? The bad definitely doesn’t outweigh the good. But like a persistent and painful bug bite the pain that targets one little spot can shift the equilibrium of the rest of the body. We never get a bug bite and say “thank God” the bug just bit me right on my foot, or just on my ear, it could have bitten me all over. No instead we swear that we got the cursed bite in the first place!

 

It is true that we don’t know what we have till its gone, and we don’t appreciate the simple things till its absence reminds us of its importance. This is the same way we can focus so much on what is wrong that we don’t appreciate all that has gone right. Yeah tonight the proverbial blanket has left my toes out in the cold, but I will try and be thankful that in this chill I find myself blessed with a warm thick blanket that covers the majority of my body in the first place.

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Victim mentality

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When you begin to think about all the negative things that were done to you or against youthe people who betrayed you, mistreated you, or left you… 

 

    Do you see yourself as a victim?

 

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Somehow the effect of others on our own lives is sometimes unreasonably magnified. We begin to see ourselves through the eyes of other people instead of seeking ownership of our own identify in order to flourish despite hardship. To allow the actions of others to change you in a negative way is to give them a power over you they don’t deserve. It makes you twice a victim: a victim in the moment of abuse or hurt, and forever a victim holding on to a hurt that festers and multiples. We let ourselves become bitter and disenchanted, continually carrying a chip on our shoulder, when we should just take whatever pieces of wisdom and life lessons that experience taught us and live life fully empowered.

 

As a victim often times you are living with a burden that your abuser does not share. They may have moved on with their lives, but you can’t… or won’t let yourself do the same. The greatest comeback from any kind of difficult situation is happiness with self and peace. You are not your pain, or your abuse. You are greater than that and you have the power to mentally let go of the pain that you may have physically walked away from years ago.

 

Life is more than a series of good or bad events that happened to you. Well at least it can be more than that, if you decide to be an active participant in your own life. You are sitting in a parked car, and as the seasons change the heavy rain fall turns to bitter hail. All around you looks bleak and gloomy. But you are unaware that right across the street from you is a gas station. If you look into your pocket you will find enough bills for you fill your tank. Key in hand, tank full. YOU decide where you go. You can drive to the safety of shelter and rest close by, or if you are willing to travel a little further you can dwell in warmth and sunshine. You have the key. Your future direction is in your hand.

 

The past has already been written, but your future is a clean slate of endless opportunities. Be encouraged.

I won’t ask who you voted for…

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Politics can be extremely divisive, and this space is not really one that seeks to be political.

However, I do think there are positive lessons that one can learn from this election regardless of who one voted for. In the case of Hillary Clinton, I would say that I respect her even more after this election than I did beforehand. It is not an easy task to concede something one has wanted for so long and fought so hard and so publicly for.

Speaking at a Children’s Defense Fund benefit on November 16th, one week after the election Hillary was quoted as saying “I will admit coming here tonight wasn’t the easiest thing for me..” “There have been a few times this past week where all I wanted to do is curl up with a good book or our dogs and never leave our house again..”

 

I can definitely relate to that. I haven’t yet faced a defeat as public and brutal as hers, but even the small challenges life throws my way sometimes makes me want to curl up in bed, throw my phone away, eat my feelings, cry my eyes out and give up… Hillary though didn’t end her statements there. She went on to say “‘Service is the rent we pay for living..'” “Well, you don’t get to stop paying rent just because things don’t go your way.”

 

How true is that? Though sometimes we feel down or discouraged, should we simply throw a pity party, dragging all our friends and family into whatever despair we are currently in? Tempting, but no. We should yes clean our wounds, bandage them up, but sometimes we gotta keep fighting even while old wounds are still healing. If we don’t we risk the hurt, pain, and disappointments in our past taking something far worse from us– our futures.

 

 

In terms of the lessons we can learn from Donald Trump… .. .. I would say that I have learned from him that sometimes having a dogged stubborn resilience–that sometimes borders on delusional–can be just want you need to propel yourself to the next level. Aside from what one may think about him politically… he is a successful businessman for a reason. Sometimes you need to believe in yourself more than anyone else in the room does. And if you can elevate your own worth and believe in yourself enough… pretty soon you might convince others too as well.

 

That’s my two cents folks, but remember…

 

“We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.”
– Martin Luther King

Risking it all

Is it just me or is it frightening to realize that often times we can never really know what another person is thinking? You could be in a relationship for years and your partner could have mentally left you, months if not years before they physically walk away. You could be investing money and time in a friendship with someone who really thinks you’re just a stepping stone in their life. Your cubicle mate at work could share jokes with you but then turn around and talk down about you to your colleagues and your boss.

 

It seems to me that letting people in, letting them get close is one of the greatest risks we can take in life.

 

Currently when you look at the statistics for things like marriage you begin to question even more. If more than half of marriages end in divorce, not to mention the remaining half; how many of them are bitter, unfaithful, miserable, and wanting a way out? Many people will then begin to share cliches about love and pain and how love conquers all and it’s always worth it. But statistically speaking it does seem that we are fighting great odds.

 

Growing up I always used to wonder: do people change so much that you could go from loving someone to… not? Little did I know then, and barely do I know now, what my mother always tells me “human relationships are complex.” (lol), I always laugh and role my eyes when she says this in her woefully sage voice, but I know she is right.

 

Human relationships are complex.

 

Thats why I won’t end this post with any cliches or thoughts on external (other-person) relationships, positive or negative. But I will say that I wish you the best in whatever complexities you face. In the midst of all these complexities however, you owe it to you, to be true to yourself.

 

Be honest with how you feel, what you think, and be honest to those around you. That is the best thing you can offer to someone whether you care about them or not, whether you love them or not.

 

It’s easier to live life when you aren’t lying to yourself about who you are and what you want. Know that life is a revolving door. People will walk in and out. Let them. But you are the person that will remain constant over your life. You are going to have to deal with you at every stage in life. So get to know yourself, learn to like yourself, and be gentle and forgiving to yourself.

 

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I’m angry at God

Sometimes if I am honest with myself, I have to admit that I am completely and totally angry with God. 

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Okay, maybe as a fellow bible believing Christian you’re confused, so let me try to explain.

 

I suppose I can compare it to the kind of anger a child feels towards a parent that is ‘absentee.’ Maybe a father or mother who serves in the military. You get the weekly calls, the gifts on your birthday, you know that they love you, but you’re angry because you simply feel robbed.

 

You miss getting tucked in every night, the in-person bedtime stories, or even just waking up in the middle of the night, running to their room when you’re scared and knowing you’re safe in the house because you can see that they are still there.

 

I’m angry with God because I can’t see Him. I don’t care that this is how it has to be or whatever theology that is present to explain it away. I know I am being unreasonable, a petulant child,  and I still don’t care!

 

It’s not always enough knowing that ‘God is there or that He cares.’ Sometimes I want to see Him! I want Him to come down off His throne, and give me a hug and show me that He is there. I want Him to sit with me late at night and tell me stories of how things were back in the day in the time of Moses, or Ezekiel, and Joseph. I imagine His voice to be so deep and comforting.

 

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I want Him to paint me a picture of how beautiful and bright the future will be. I want Him to hold my hand, to envelop me in a hug. Let me crawl into His bed when I’ve had a bad dream, or to be able to look into His eyes after a long day and see that my suffering causes him pain too. I just know that He would look lovingly back at me and simply say “There, there my child.”

 

Sometimes I feel so broken inside and I know He is the piece of me that I’m missing. When sleep eludes me, or I’m wrestling with my demons inside, He is the one I want to tell.

 

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If I could have anything I wished for in this moment, I wouldn’t wish to end world hunger or violence or pain, even though all these things weigh heavily on my mind. All I would wish for is to just once see His face, to say “hi” to God, and hear him respond with a “Hello my child. I see you, and I’m right here.

 

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