Friday, November 1, 2013

True Strength

In the last few days, things have been less than ideal.

I was upset. I didn’t understand things, and really I had a right to not be okay or happy or peppy or cheerful or embracing each new day with every precious moment <3. That was sarcastic.
However, I was most upset because I was allowing myself to react so negatively toward my circumstances.

I thought I was being strong by just toughening it out, just waking up each day and completing the necessary tasks for that day. I thought that was what strength was.
It wasn’t until I observed another person going through a trying time whose attitude was drastically different from my own, that I realized I wasn’t being strong, or saintly, or great. I was being just “okay”.

Strength is finding and embracing your circumstances and not being just “okay” with them, but rather finding joy in a place where joy is not easily found, where joy is not suppose to be found, by the world’s standards. Strength isn’t just toughening it out, and putting on a brave face. Strength is pushing yourself and striving for better than fine, because things are often better than you perceive. You determine whether you are fine, or whether you are great. Be strong.

I am a firm believer in laughter. I believe it is the one rope tying you back to sanity. When all else rips away happiness from your life, and you yet find something to take joy in, that is a strength, that is a gift, that is a saving moment.

Because, honestly, that is what is going to make people look, wonder, question. Don’t settle for the expected. Strive to exceed the unexpected. That is what is going to not only reach your own heart, but much more importantly, others’.

“Be joyful always.”1 Thessalonians 5:16

Friday, October 11, 2013

Love Is Asking Questions.

“What a man desires is unfailing love” Prov. 19:22

Just today I heard and read multiple comments expressing hurt, frustration, and loneliness. The causes of these feelings probably vary, but I found one thing to be in common with each life- a lack of care and love.

For me, today was hard- just one of those days where, inside and out, nothing is easy. But- there were moments and people that “made my day”, as is casual to say. It’s a cliché, but it has truth nonetheless. Those people made my day okay, bearable, and in the end, actually enjoyable. Even through the pain.

What comes to mind specifically are certain conversations that went deeper than a “hi” or simple talk about a math class. Certain people who stuck around longer and paid attention more; people who gave up their own time, whether aware of it or not, to share it with me. Like one who, on my walk back to the Cranbrook campus from Kingswood, not only waited for me, but also walked with me all the way. It may seem simple, overlooked, possibly somewhat silly to point out, but it meant more and was timelier than they may have known.

It seems obvious to say: love, care, share, etc. And, perhaps it’s said too much, used too much, even by me. No matter how many times it’s stated however, I don’t think it looses its sense of immediacy and necessity.

In another light, on the road to trying to love and care for others more, I have caught myself suddenly trying to love the world, and every single person in it. Impossible. Rather, going deep with someone means much more than staying shallow with many people. Both in their life, and I believe, in yours. By going deep, I mean really committing to giving to that person. Giving anything, everything.

Through many experiences, I have realized (mind you it’s a realization not easy to stay faithful to) that you don’t need to get attention, just give attention. I suppose you could connect it to selflessness. Easy? No. Rewarding? Incredibly.

Selflessness. Giving. Loving. Life is so much more than books, than classes, than me.  How much of myself can I give away so that when I do struggle with something, maybe such as pride, there will be less of me to deal with?

What a man desires is love. For unfailing love, we have to look above. But what is more important when living and growing with others than love? It changes an outlook. It changes a day. It changes circumstances. It changes people.

Yet, for those of us hurting…

The road is two ways. And perhaps, this is the more intimidating side.

“What a man desires is unfailing love”

If we desire love, yet we don’t know how to accept it, how will we ever really know what love is?

Someone sits down next to you and asks how you are, and you say “fine” just to get them off your case. Why is this?

Is it considered a failure to be weak? Is it the audience’s fault for potentially passing judgment? Is it the world’s fault for creating an environment where weak is worst?

Love isn’t always found in strength. In fact, most times love comes out of weakness. If we can’t accept, share, admit, or be open about our weaknesses, how can we then know true love? And not true love relating to ourselves, but true love in relation with others.

That bond, that love, born out of weakness and formed between people, is that possibly the love that we each desire? Yet often are too scared to reach for?

Speaking not to answer questions, but to raise them.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

There is no mask.

In brokenness there is no mask. There is no deceit. There is no deceiving.
When you are completely torn from the inside and all you know is gone, you have no spirit left to pride yourself in. Here, we are all equals.

There is no “I am hurting better than you”. There is no wasted time with self-pride, self-righteousness, or trying to pull above or ahead of others. When you are truly torn, all that is left is genuine. This realness is something that I have grown a respect for.

I’m not sure why we spend so much time packaging ourselves to sell to others, always trying to “one-up” someone else. I can’t say this isn’t me, for I know many times it has been. But on the other side of life, on the side opposite of happiness and pleasure, there is none of that. Instead, we who are hurting cling to one another. We do not try to push them away, or try to show them we can cry more. That is ridiculous. Rather, we open ourselves. We are a people pleading with everything, even though we don’t always show it.
In this place of despair, there are no social rules, because you need none. You are just trying to survive; to take each breath as it comes and hope you live to see the next one.
Pain is pain and brokenness is brokenness.

In conclusion? Well I haven’t reached there yet. This thought is open, some could argue incomplete.  But I do believe it is true. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Hold My Hand.

Hold my hand God.

You don't have to make the pain stop,
just hold my hand.

I'm not crying because  I'm angry or bitter. I'm just crying because I'm scared. It's not like the flu, when you know you'll have a couple days of fevers and maybe a few times spent in the bathroom throwing up. It's different, each minute is different. It changes, and I never know when it will reach it's climax or when it might recede. It could be in a few minutes, it could be in hours, it could be in days, or what if the pain doesn't stop? I never know how far it will take me. Will it just remain a small pain in my gut for the time being, or will it proceed into the hours of the night, where tears fall and silent screams are released as I lie on the bathroom floor unable to cry out for anyone to help. It's scary.

I'll go through it, I'll take the pain, I just need to know you're here with me Jesus.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Hope and Dandelions

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19.

Hope I’m finding, and the promise of hope, is a key to true life; true life being more than just living. It is being alive with a purpose and an energy and a sense of joy found simply in the gift of life.
For me an opportunity arose to discover a tried, and a true, hope.
More often than not, humanity keeps a negative outlook on difficult circumstances.  It is our automatic fallback.
In trying to push aside all that has fallen apart in my life, I have continually searched for the path God has for me. This is not a simple task of just brushing aside those things in life that I have lost.  Believe me, there have been countless dreams crushed (those of sports, activities with high school friends, rigorous studies), where it appeared that God removed them without showing His regret. At least it felt like God hasn’t understood  
all that I wanted and loved.  I know, of course, that He has a plan for my life and that His ways are above my ways.  I also recognize that He understands fully the struggles of this world. However- it is one thing to know in your mind, and another altogether to feel this in your heart when enduring great trials.
Nonetheless, even though my courage wavers, I will not give up on my life or on finding the path that I have to follow; one that will not collapse on me.

This would be where the hope comes in.

For some reason hope and love are closely linked in my mind. When I am feeling most hopeless, I realize that I am also feeling immensely alone. However, when I begin to remember others, to reach out to them, and to love them, there is suddenly a point to the world. I am not here to live for myself and love myself, but to live for and love others- with everything I have.
Even when the darkest days come over me, if I am able to remember that I still have the capability to love others, I rejoice.

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to serve at a workday at my church. On these days many people come together and give their time to help clean, weed, and repair the church building itself. When I decided to go, it was more of my mind that decided, not my body. My body was weak and nauseous and rejected even the thought of work. But this is not a praise note for myself for having “heroically” attended. Rather, my point to the setting was that it was a darker day, and with help from above, I was able to go and serve.

After the first 15 minutes, a little girl approached me and began to talk to me. She showed me the great dandelions she had picked, and was beaming with excitement.  Remembering times from when I was little, I immediately praised the weeds and told her if she could pick 10 more, I would teach her how to make them into a crown. Grinning, she ran off to complete the task. When she returned, we took a seat in the shade on the cool grass and began to chat. Asking each other questions, I slowly showed her how to insert one dandelion into the other to make them into a circle. She quickly picked up the idea and called them “dandelion chains”. After we finished she seemed unsure of our creation, and had me wear it. I went back to finish my raking chore, and only minutes after I began to see other workers with dandelion chains on their heads. I looked around and saw her on the grass diligently crafting dandelions with a large pile of yellow and green at her side. I felt humbled to see that by simply loving someone else and giving them some time and attention, you can open up their world.
As my world continues to gradually close I long to increase my love towards others, to help open up their own, and give whatever small gifts I have to bless another.