Category Archives: Of the Heart

How to Fight Brokenness, Do Good

The world hurts. All around I see things that are broken, divorces, yelling matches, ongoing jaded arguments, affairs, violence, controlling behavior, bigotry etc. I see things that are not necessarily broken but just ugly, a mean word, negative assumptions, miscommunication, obsession, unhealthy habits, pushing work on to others and more. It all comes down to relationships. Broken and ugly relationships between family members, among friends, students and teachers, politicians and their constituents.

I know friends struggling with a divorce, another an eating disorder, another that feels lonely and neglected, another wasting their life on a career they don’t love. People matter a great deal to me and all of these hurts and pain can be overwhelming. I immaturely can default to just keeping busy in my own world to distract from everything I see. Not only those people I know personally but the eyes and weary faces of those at the grocery store can weigh on my heart.

Even more so I am burdened when it is through my hand that the ugliness comes. From obvious things like saying unkind things to those that are close, being mean to my mother, failing to respect boundaries, or most recently the subtlety of planning to be able to deal with a bad marriage rather than working towards being ready for a great one.

That last one, that subtle move from focusing on negative to positive is very helpful. In a world with the media spewing all of the things gone wrong with the world from violence, to political systems, to laws, child kidnappings, sex trade, etc. Where can we even begin? What really helps? There are those that have a voice and an audience with several million views. Me? I had seven views of my blog yesterday. Mostly from Canada. Where I am pretty sure even thieves say they are sorry.

Do good. Do right. Have compassion. When someone is posting inflammatory language on Facebook, siding with one person or another, listen to their heart. They are probably hurting. Coming back with the other extreme probably won’t help. Even if kind words won’t change their view, they will contribute to beauty in the world and not an ugly argument.

Do good for the world in front of you. You may be able to go out and serve at a homeless shelter or spend hours a week mentoring children at risk. But if you don’t, then simply do good to all of those around you and what touches your heart. Do at risk youth touch your heart? Then play with kids you know. Share words of advice. Encourage them and tell them nice things. Share stories of your life that teach a lesson.

Do divorces pain your heart? Then listen to those struggling in their marriage. Have compassion on the divorced, and do good in your own relationships. Listen, understand, communicate, encourage, write letters, leave notes for others, especially a significant other. Kindly speak up when you see ugly behavior in others that are single or taken.

For me, most of all, I just feel for those that are sad, stressed, burdened or confused. So, I smile. I smile in public, I smile at the gym. I may not change their life, but for a moment I share something meaningful. I am trying to add being as encouraging and uplifting as possible. I believe in the potential of all my friends whether they see it or not. I want to remind them of who they are, because we all forget who we are at times.

The best way to combat wrong is to do right. Actively. That may be actively targeting a specific wrong, or it may just be doing the right thing in your own life. Spread beauty.


Love is Simple

Hollywood produces a steady stream of movies that portray stories of fantasmagical proportions. Heroes such as James Bond and Captain America are both larger than life, but are portrayed in a very rapid carefully strung together story line with a seemingly endless rising action. Even true to life stories are cut and edited to grip the audience. Even the most mundane become spectacular.

A simple father becomes a hero to find his son. A child becomes a king. Several ordinary men save a country. Most significantly love is built up to almost scripted perfection. Though some hero stories are based on real life, and some real life love stories are worthy of the big screen, these are few and far between, and are, in actual life, more filled with the mundane than the spectacular.

In real life we eat pizza, cook soup, walk past stores, sleep, clean, drive, make coffee, and work for most of our lives. Love is involved in simple flowers, chocolates, a smile, a clean dish, a folded article of clothing, a short walk and a hand picked flower, kisses on the cheek, and even a slice of cheese.

Love can be very simple. All of the large plans, carefully thought out trips, and adventures lose their luster if we cannot say I love with the very things that we touch and do every day. And that is why, I love country music.

To be continued…


My Broken Crown: Pride

In my crown I have found another large crack. Pride.

I have always thought myself humble. Even though I am loud and will quickly express my opinions, I am generally (at least believe I am) quick to change them when I am presented with sufficient evidence to the contrary. I act confidently (in most areas… except relationships… then I cower) in what I believe is true because that is all I have to go off of. When I turn out to be wrong; thank goodness for grace.

Although I perceive that I do not think that highly of myself in the present; I often do not understand when people compliment me. When I think about myself in the past I am arrogant.

I am one that is prone to regret, guilt, and a rehearsal of what could have been. Whenever I think back on my mistakes, sin or just choices, I always think, “I knew better” “I should have known better” “that isn’t like me” or “It is just because I didn’t try” and “I knew what to do, I just didn’t care”

Under this is the presupposition that I am better than my choices. Rather than giving myself grace because I am flawed, I prove my arrogance by believing that I was better… and just made a slip up. I could not come to believe that I am dishonest. My arrogance could not except such a flaw. “I was caught up in such and such” “It is because of this” or “I deserve more patience” What I should have done was admit: This is where I am at. These are my flaws. I may be 24 years old but I still have not grown up to such and such a level of maturity.

It is only when I can accept the truth of my flaws being who I am (not some restrained version of a better me that needs release from society, family, or the like) that I can then accept grace in a way that allows for growth. Without this truth, grace leaves open the door for laziness and licentiousness.

I have made many mistakes as of late. I have a lot of growing up to do. I have been humbled by those younger than me who are more honest, have more follow through, are better time managers, love others better, and show wisdom far beyond what I have been able.

My crown is not one of someone who has arrived. I talk about how I could do this or that if only I cared to. No, regardless of reasons who I am is who I am. So I present that my crown is that of a child slowly waking up to the world. Embarrassed, crawling, I sit up and spin the propeller on top and say, here I am, this is me: thank goodness for grace because I am still growing.


My Broken Crown: Confession of Dishontesty

I am probably most proud of my first post on broken crowns. I love the imagery. So I choose to continue it here.

We all live as though walking through a room dimly lit. Regardless of how much we try we will never be able to see our external, internal, and the spiritual world perfectly clearly. In this room we wear our crowns with an only partial understanding as to what they are. I perceived mine to be shining, and with gems in place. Several scratches and dents, but on the whole perfectly wearable. My fault, I believed, was that I did not always wear it. That is to say I know many things that I ought to do, but simply do not do them.

I was approached by two lights that revealed to me the true state of the world, and my crown I proudly wear.

I am deceitful and lie. Four times now I have lied directly to my family. Countless other times I lead them to believe that which is not true. I tell one version of a story to one group of friends and edit that story for another. The person who I present is ever changing and morphing beyond just situational wisdom. The person I present myself to be does not exist.

Even more with the men that I profess hold me accountable I partition different faults to each. I speak of this sin to this man, and this other one to this. In doing so I prevent any of them knowing just how wretched I am.

When I finally have seen my crown in the light it is not polished, it is dented and malformed and the gems are but shards of glass. I sided with satan and wore a deceivers headpiece.

There truly is only one light that reveals to us the state of our crowns. He is Jesus. He does choose to allow his light to be reflected off of those whose crowns have been tempered, fixed, and shined. I met one of these individuals with a crown shined in honesty. I stubbornly would not bring my tarnished crown to be repaired. Instead I continued to hide behind the covers and fake paint applied to it. By the time I finally came to admit my crown is in need of repair, my dear reflector of the light had gone.

It pained me to see my sister post a meme, “A real man will be honest no matter how painful the truth is. A coward hides behind lies and deceit” It was painful. But pain sparks growth.

So I humbly speak as one that must become worthy of trust. In order to see myself repaired and made whole I must do the very thing I avoided. That is with complete honesty present myself to others and to God. It is only in my last counseling appointment that I was able to speak out and say all of the wrongs I had done, and I pay him to listen to me. The journey is slow and tiresome. Lord have mercy.

Thankfully Christ has a plan for my crown and myself who wears it. This plan included realizations as to who I am, who I am not, that my life affects those around me, that I must speak the truth, that close loving relationships require vulnerability and complete honesty.

 


Doubt, and Faith

I doubt God. I have difficulty, very often, believing in his goodness. Although I know all of the theological answers, the sin in the world around me forces me to ask, why? What purpose? The sin that affects my heart causes me to ask, why? Where are you?
I don’t see him in events surrounding sin, and the ripple affect that it has on my life. MY LIFE. I have a hole in my heart from hurt and pain. I want it filled. I want it answered. Rather than see answers, I see more pain. I am too focused on that current pain to look forward to what God has. I want my answer now, I say as a true instant gratification American. Justice, now.
I want to see God. I want to see him act and change the world around me. Not just tell me in a book it will happen some day.
So I turn to people. They are here, they are present. But then, the hurt in my heart doesn’t just ask for a shoulder to lean on, or someone to walk with. It demands to be filled, and to have an answer. So rather than relate with another I find myself taking from them. Their energy, their emotional stability, just to satisfy my need. This obviously causes problems.
I blame myself for these problems. But I am God’s creation, and he has supposedly guided my life? So I ask why, and I do, as I have always done, the same thing to him as I do to everyone else. I demand an answer and I demand a healing to my soul. I don’t relate, I don’t listen. I don’t just tell him and watch.
Watching. Listening. Waiting. I do not do that very well. So I doubt. I don’t see God as present. He must be aloof. Watching from above. Waiting to see if I ask enough. Then, then he will come to me in a voice. Then I read a book, have a realization that I am not being grateful, so I begin thanking God for what I have. Of course, it wasn’t God who taught me that, I read it in a book. So I keep waiting for him to speak.
Of course, he doesn’t.
I get hurt.
I want healing.
The cycle continues.
My arguments get more and more idiotic. I remember telling a friend once, “The worst part about my argument with God, is that right now, I think I am winning”. Never a good place to be.
I even admit and often joke that it is hard to tell whether what I am feeling is something I ate, or the voice of God. I recently was at a bible study, left early because I get up for work early, but then went back for the prayer portion. When asked why I was back I said, “Well, I think that God told me to come back. That or I just wanted more attention. I really can’t tell which”
I don’t know what did it. What changed my thought. But I suddenly caught myself in this bitter trap of disrespect and ungratefulness. So I finally began to thank God for things. Then I had an emotionally devastating event occur. I called out to God. But for some unexplainable reason, it was different this time. It finally clicked, the connection between God and my world. I asked God, “Please refine me and purify me, guide me in your paths by any means necessary, people, nature, dogs” I was running, and passed a peacock. It was beautiful.
In asking this way, I am living in faith that God will answer. And I am removing from myself the excuse of, “that was just a coincidence” God can work through anything. I must be thankful to him for all good things, for his hand is in all things we do that are good, for that is part of his image.
In reality, I do know where this clarity came from. It was a gift, from God. And that is something that I do not doubt.


Challenging Questions of the Heart: “Are People Worth It?” part ii

                Previously I shared how a friend of mine that I had poured hours of my time and energy into told me that no one showed that they cared. It was as though he did not even see me. I also know that I was not the only one giving him time and energy. But his eyes were blind, he needed to see clearly.

                Seeing people as worth it involves being able to see them as ones made in the image of God, one who if we saw them in their true nature would inspire in us awe that we have not known, which will be the topic of my next post. But for now we must also make sure that we relate with others wholly and not allow our culture to short circuit our ability to love and be loved. My friend wanted something, connection, but had learned to only see it in certain ways. Personally I think he really wanted a romantic relationship, so all other forms of love were missed.

                One of the problems with our relationships is that we have been tempered by our society to, “have it your way,” the hashtag of Burger King. We have been taught since we were little that we were special and unique. Advertising caters to this desire to be special and receive special products. Chicken Soup for the (insert any market that has money and wants to feel special) soul. So when it comes to love, we want it our way.

                As smart Christians, we do this a little bit better than the advertising gurus, or at least that is what we tell ourselves. The Five Love Languages teaches us how to cater how we love to others and how to ask to have love catered to us. This instills in us a desire for life and relationships to be a certain way. If we have something outside of that it is a problem that needs to be fixed with more self-help books. Combine that with no societal trained ideal of “choosing to be content” and a constant desire for more and you have a natural bent to desire to be loved in a very specific way without being content with other alternatives.

                As people who are servants of Christ, we need to be able to reach out to others where they are at. Step into their shoes and do what we can to love others on their terms. However on the same token, we must also be willing to accept love, and choose to be content with it when it doesn’t look the way we want to. I personally am not into stuff. I don’t like stuff. I would be happy if I had almost nothing. However if a friend gets me a gift, I need to be able to see that it says, “I love you” and drink it up even if it isn’t my cup of coffee, but tea instead. 


Challenging Questions of The Heart: “Are People Worth It?” part i

                Over the last several years I have been asking myself the question, “Are People Worth It?” Are they worth the time I put into them? Are they even worth having relationships with? I don’t ask this question in relation to specific individuals. Most of my close trusted friends are most definitely worth it. I have relationships with them that I trust and have patiently put time into being trustworthy and trusting them. I ask this question about humanity in general.

                When I was growing up, I never asked this question. I loved and had faith in everyone I met. When I was in college I had several friends that I gave many late hours, and several letter grades in two classes for that all told me, “No one has done or cared for me.” I remember the exact conversation, where I was standing, where my friend was sitting. Several days after that conversation, I began to question whether it was all worth it. I know other people who have large communities around them trying to help them, and they make seemingly no progress. Are they worth it? For several years I have been answering that question, no. I lost faith in people.

                I often hear current ‘wisdom’ telling us that we need to have boundaries with these people.  We need to keep our time because we are not being responsible with our time if it is not showing fruit. That is a really nice way of saying some people just aren’t worth your time. Are their times when some people literally are using you for their needs? Yes. But we should keep boundaries with them not because they are not worth our time, but because “helping them” is not helping them.

                The act of judging whether or not people are “worth” our time is fairly arrogant. We don’t know the depths of the human heart, or what even goes on in others heads. We will never know on this side of eternity weather or not our actions saved someone from depression, gave them hope, or prevented suicide—even if we don’t see growth.

                As someone only human, I am exasperated when I do not see fruit from my labor of love. (Though I must be careful that I love the person, not the labor itself). I want to see people grow and become better people. I want to know that I helped them through rough times. But I must resist letting that desire become the goal. I must love people regardless of how they respond. How much has Christ loved us and done for us without us growing in fruit for long periods of time? Christ says that others are worth it, even when I can’t see it.