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Taking Love Back from the Media

The greatest lesson I’ve learned in my quarter century of life is love is the most important thing in the world. Love has the power to heal broken hearts, inspire people to change, give people the freedom to forgive and the strength to move forward.

I’m not talking about the superficial “love” the media wants us to believe is the real deal; the lustful, possessive, demanding, materialistic, selfish emotion people confuse with real, active love. I’m talking about the love in 1 Corinthians 13 that places love on the highest pedestal, setting it above wisdom, skills, abilities, faith and even generosity and kind deeds. It says all of those things are worthless without love connected to them. The second paragraph talks about what love is and contrasts it against what it isn’t. It seems like common sense but when you look at the kinds of relationships people stay in, it seems there are many people who have the wrong idea of what love actually is, or they don’t have the desire for it.

I think we need to step back from all of our relationships once in a while and revise what love really is, how we have been loving and where we need to improve. Everyone enjoys a good song about how love is all you need (The Beatles) or one declaring it’s the one thing that will stop wars, repair broken homes, stop slavery and end world hunger, yet no one ever asks what love actually looks like. How do you get love that can move mountains?1 John 4:8 says “God is love.” All good things come from Him and knowing He loves me and watches my every step gives me the peace to know even when all my plans and hopes fall apart He is at my side, disappointed and hurting with me — I’m not alone. He knows the thoughts of my heart before I can find the words to speak them; no one knows me better. Despite all the darkness in those moments or months or years, there is a light that continues to shine, which reminds me God forgives everyone who has a repentant heart, and those without. He gives His love and forgiveness freely even though none of us ever deserve it. If He can see us as good and deserving of that peace of heart and mind then we should give that same kind of love to others. This kind of love as I have just described is the most selfless, moving, life-changing gift you can give to another person. It’s contagious and it turns heads. Jesus drew massive crowds of thousands of people by being such an example of love, so imagine the joy you could bring to the lives of even just a handful of people by following suit.

Love is something that should be lavished onto others, not held back and reserved for people who try to earn it, not given in small doses to keep someone on their game, not given and taken away like an object and not used to manipulate others into giving you what you want even if it’s to make you feel good about yourself. Love is a constantly-offered gift you give to give to people you like and people you don’t. It will give you peace to know you are good to everyone, you will be a light and an example to everyone who meets you, and you will please God.

Love got me through the hardest times in my life and it will continue to do so throughout my life. This life is too short to waste believing in a false MTV version of “love.” It’s more than romance, dates, gifts, text messages and Facebook statuses. It also requires you to have an open heart to receive love and give people the benefit of the doubt. A bitter or prideful attitude will get you nowhere, believe me, I’ve seen it. You will attract love by loving others, appreciating them and treating them like they have value, and gradually things will begin to change in your life for the better. So get loving! (Zero to a hunnid, real quick.) ;)

– Sarah

P.S. Thanks to everyone who has been reading these blogs, I really appreciate it!

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Past FX Present FX Future

This morning I was thinking back on a job opportunity I was offered a few months ago but had to pass up because it clashed with my current job. I was thinking about how it was a lost chance to gain experience in an area I am passionate about and how disappointed I am. But then a thought hit me like a tennis racket to the face! If one single thing went differently over the summer or the past year, the present might not be the way it is. Call it Fate or Divine Intervention but when you look back and think about situations that happened and consider them in regards to your current position in life, it’s clear that our present decisions, even the seemingly insignificant ones, directly impact our future. Sometimes even the bad things that happen end up turning into blessings. God can turn something tragic into an opportunity for something incredible!
 
Each decision we make today, every place we choose to go or don’t go, every person we meet, all have an impact on us in some way or another and they can teach us lessons, open our minds and give us opportunities to grow and gain wisdom. You can meet someone or lose someone solely for the purpose of coming to the realization of the kind of people you should not have in your life. Sometimes you will meet amazing people who will help you see the ones who were a detriment to your life and help you set your standards higher. Not everything happens for a reason, sometimes bad things happen. But in the end, it’s what we take away from it or what we make of it that builds our character and helps us discover new things about ourselves and about other people. 
- SD

Sometimes all it takes is one simple change, just one simple thing done differently or added or removed can have a profound impact on our future.
Sometimes that “one simple thing” is blatantly staring you in the face but other times it is quite elusive.
Sometimes the ensuing effect is the one desired other times not so much.
If only we can know which “thing” to chose or do for the desired results we seek.
This one comes through much prayer and fasting, not leaving out the analytics
- L. D. S.
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Striving to Achieve the Impossible Goal of Perfection, Starting with My Attitude

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

– Romans 8:18

I’m sitting at my work desk wondering how on earth to begin writing this post. I have had this on my heart for a long time but haven’t had the time or words to express myself, but it needs to be said and needs to be heard so here I go.

COMPASSION is absolutely essential to life. I can’t tell you the things I’ve been through this year but it has moved me to redefine my standards and find value within myself outside of anything else. It has also challenged me to love and forgive beyond what I thought I was capable of and have the courage to reach for what’s good for my life. But let me start somewhere else…

It’s much easier to do the wrong thing and seek to defend ourselves in battle, than it is to do good and show mercy to others, but it’s a worthy effort for the sake of showing real love to another broken, hurting person [Matthew 6:14]. Humans are naturally rebellious to good and flutter towards evil like moths to a flame. We don’t realize the danger as we draw towards the alluring, flickering light, until it singes us or flat out burns us alive. We almost can’t help ourselves and that’s one fact we have to realize about each other. The desire for evil is so much stronger than the desire to do good [Romans 7:15] even though we all think of ourselves as good, wholesome life-seekers. This is why compassion and mercy are imperative.

Since we all fall short of goodness [Romans 3:23], since we all fail over and over again and since we all screw up and cause harm to the people we love, we all need the compassion of others to help us change and move forward. One of the saddest, most heartbreaking things I’ve ever seen is when people get so consumed with their guilt and shame they get paralyzed in self-hate [Ezra 9:13]. When you’re so consumed in hating yourself for who you are, what you look like, or the mistakes you made in the past, you cannot move forward to embrace the compassion and mercy of others and you refuse to see any good in yourself because you feel you deserve the punishment. This view of oneself is a misleading, incomplete image. Everyone has evil AND good in them. Guilt forces you to only see the bad. Accepting the compassion and forgiveness from the person you’ve wronged is the only thing that can help you overcome guilt and heal from your pain. It is the only thing that works and it takes faith on YOUR part. No other person can do the healing for you and if you believe another person is the sole reason for your healing, you are a) mislead and b) going to unintentionally make them your crutch. I cannot emphasize this enough… healing takes action on your part.

Unfortunately the common thing that happens is people try to fill the void of hurt with objects and people. The problem is, coping is sometimes like a black hole. It sucks in everything in its path: the people you love, the things you enjoy, your hobbies, your goals, all the good things and the bad things, until you’ve used up everyone and everything and you’re onto another fix until you’re hollowed out and unfulfilled. You suck the life out of people because you’re trying to fill a void that cannot be filled. The only solution is to destroy the void completely — obliterate self-hate through the acceptance of how someone Greater values you.

Another obstacle to this recovery goal is people try to get forgiveness from each other… rebuild their earthly reputation, regain dignity and respect. All of that is super important and it does help, but it doesn’t get deep enough. There’s still a speck of dust in your heart you just can’t scrub away with the approval or compliments or encouragements from others. When you truly despise yourself, nothing anyone does or says will convince you of your value.

But then there is God who designed you in His image [Genesis 1:27] and made you who you are, loves you and deems you worthy of existence, wants good things for you, waits for you, accepts you where you’re at and wants to draw you to where you need to be for His purpose in you. He sees the GOOD in you and loves you DESPITE the bad. Knowing someone greater than you, who PUT you here on this earth will, without a doubt, help you surrender to REAL love and put your mistakes behind you. In God’s eyes we are all valuable and accepting that truth ultimately helps me get through every rough day when I feel like my own flaws and failures define me. As I said before, healing takes action on your part. Sometimes the first step is believing and having a constant faith that you are loved, forgiven, capable of improvement and worthy of this life. You can choose to take this present challenge as an opportunity to be transformed [Matthew 5:6, 2 Peter 3:18, Philippians 4:13].

For those of us who are recovering from hurt or dealing with people who have hurt us, we have a responsibility to show compassion to everyone, even the people who hurt us. We don’t know the level of guilt, shame and self-hate going on inside of them and by having a bitter, hateful, vengeful, hostile attitude towards them, we do far more harm than good to ourselves, to them and to loved ones new and old. Think about it. What if the last words you spoke to someone were “I hate you.” What if that was their last day and that’s what you left them with. Now you have to go on for the rest of your life in guilt because you didn’t tame your tongue and find peace in your heart to be compassionate. It is much easier said than done, especially when our focus is on our internal hurt or betrayal. Don’t get me wrong, there are people with an evil state of heart, who deliberately and consciously do horrible things and have zero remorse for it. Protect yourselves and flee from such people. But keep in mind that only God knows the heart of each man and woman [1 Corinthians 2:11] and learning to be compassionate at all times is not just for them, it’s also for you. What’s that saying? “Forgiveness isn’t for them, it’s for you.”

I honestly believe with God everything is possible and without Him, nothing truly is [Mark 10:27]. I often try to do things on my own because I’m impatient and I think I know best, but then I get a wake up call and realize how off the path I am and how much re-direction I need. Our attitude towards others could be a life-changing factor for them and for us. Every challenge we face is an opportunity for us to learn and grow from it, building our character and strengthening our morals and standards. This shifting of attitude is something I have to work on in myself and man, do I suck at getting this right most of the time, but that’s life: A CONSTANT EFFORT TO ACHIEVE THE UNREACHABLE GOAL OF PERFECTION. Aim high, love big.

– SDS

“What has happened to us is a result of our evil deeds and our great guilt, and yet, our God, you have punished us less than our sins deserved and have given us a remnant like this.”

– Ezra 9:13

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Tangibility is dust, intangibility is life

Sometimes I wonder if humanity has strayed away from its natural self. It seems as if the crucial intangible elements that were the original essence of humanity have been pushed aside to make room for the focus and importance we place on a material kind of value. As a whole, the importance of things like honesty, love, respect, faith, honor, and selflessness seems to be overshadowed by the desire to be our own number ones.

We would never survive if the value of the intangible diminished completely. It is only the intangible that will last, everything else is dust. When we find ourselves getting frustrated and so involved in the items we own and the objects we use, we should pause to remember that in the end, these things mean nothing. They break, they wear out, they expire, they get replaced.

I was having this conversation with my friend the other day, and we had an epiphany. What if our focus changed to creating something tangible only so that we could use it to share an intangible feeling, idea, or meaning? Our first thought was, of course, Music.

Music is an intangible series or pattern of sounds that are manipulated to evoke certain emotions and inspire certain kinds of thoughts in a listener. That seems to be its most common use currently, but it has been known to be used for many other reasons: battle calls, warnings to nearby villages, and other forms of communication. Music is unique to each listener because the effect it has on one person, might be the opposite on another. Probably the greatest part about music, is that anyone can create it even in its most base form. Either way, sometime back in history someone had a feeling and decided to hum. Someone came up with the idea to tie animal skin over a hollowed log and beat it with sticks in different rhythms. Someone discovered that different levels of water in a glass could create a musical scale to make songs. Someone crafted a stringed instrument in a similar manner to work the way our guitars do today. I don’t know which came first, in what order, by whom, or from where, but I do know this intangible feeling people have inside of them drives them to want to share it. Humanity has created all sorts of instruments to share those feelings.

No matter how much scientific understanding or knowledge, fame, monetary wealth, or success you can obtain, it will never touch the happiness or replace the peace of heart and mind that you can receive from something intangible. These intangible things are indispensable to our truest sense of humanity.

– SD

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Some Things I Learned About Love…

Love isn’t just some feeling that comes and goes away like the flu.
Love is constant; a way of living in regards to another person.
Love has the power to make it through the most difficult situations.
Love has the self-control to think carefully before acting out of fierce emotion.
Love has the perseverance to never give up.
Love has the selflessness to do what’s right for someone else, instead of defending your own “rights.”
Love sacrifices even when it’s at its reserves.
Love has the patience to bear the hard, separated silences instead of insisting on its own timing for resolution.

Choosing to love someone the right way really shapes you. Instead of “love” being this back and forth motion of affection, it can become something that’s painful at times and challenging at many but overcoming these challenges is what makes love so rewarding and magnificent. It’s like a muscle that wears and tears as you work it out, eventually becoming stronger as it rebuilds. Love is exactly like that. If you quit and walk away, I guarantee you, your love will never get stronger. You have to endure the hardships along with the good times to gain this beautiful gift God has blessed us with.

I can only attribute my ability to love better to the LORD. His love pours into me until it overflows and this is the love I give out. Even when my humanity is weak, burdened and hollow, I can be restored over and over again to continue to love more and love right.

– SDS

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Fake it ’til You Make it Through

When you struggle with social anxiety or low self esteem and you’re interacting with others, usually you’re the only one who is thinking negatively about yourself. People might see you as shy but that’s usually as far as it goes. These kinds of feelings come from within and they usually don’t stem from the feelings and views of others.

A good way to help take the internal negativity off yourself is by focusing on doing good things for others. Doing things to help, encourage and inspire others helps establish a selfless attitude and perspective within yourself. Finding joy in doing good for someone else is one of the best ways to help overcome the negative focus on yourself. I’m not saying completely neglect your feelings, but sometimes taking action for the sake of taking action produces great results, rather than sitting at rock bottom.

– SDS

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Everything Coming Undone (lol)

The Future is like a ball of yarn you spent all your past carefully wrapping together but then all of a sudden this evil cat called Life decides to unravel the threads in an excruciatingly unexpected manner that drives you insane because you’re simultaneously trying to put the ball back into shape because you’ve spent your whole past building this ball but that annoying brat of a cat keeps messing with it until you just get tangled up in it and now you can’t tell the colours from the rest and you can’t see clearly because the strings keep clouding your eyes and all you can do is stand in painful confusion wondering where to begin to put the ball back together again and if that’s even possible and how long it will take and how long do you wait for that obnoxious cat to stop playing with the yarn!

– SD