Thursday, May 31, 2007
When you Say you Love Me - Part 1
When you Say you Love Me - Part 2
One of the other songs is called You Are a Child of Mine:
Child of Mine
Saturday, May 26, 2007
I guess the idea that all religions are the same is based on certain assumptions. The base assumption has got to be that we are as we are meant to be, in that, nothing is wrong. Even though there is evil in the world, for some reason this is how it is meant to be. That we live and then die, and that there's some afterlife; that there's an intentional haze between God and man, as opposed to one as a result of something going wrong; that your life is what you make of it, in that, you can make choices toward or away from "god" and evil/negativity is a purposed obstacle to perfection or enlightenment.
With those assumptions, I guess it makes sense, then, that everything is ok, and every one is on their own journey. Some find God through the ways of Buddhism, some through Hinduism, some through Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Voodoo, Hedonism, Satanism, and even Atheism (maybe the assumption is that God is the enlightenment).
But, assuming the presence of evil is good (per se), what about God? This way of thinking also seems to imply that God isn't, or that God is merely an idea, that human perfection or enlightenment is the goal, that it's about us. I only say that because all the different "paths" have a different concept of who or what God is, and saying that all these paths lead to him/it cannot possibly be true. They all go different places. They all have different philosophies, different objects, different obstacles that must be overcome, different levels of enlightenment, a different goal or afterlife. Yes, there is room for perception (and by that I mean, if many different people look at a piece of art, it will mean something different to each of them), but there also must be room for truth (by that I mean, it is a painting, it is oil based, it is red blue and green, it isn't a portrait, it isn't in a frame, it is on a white canvas, etc).
There are certain truths about you, no matter how wrong the perceptions of you are (ha, I know this full well!). And if God is a being (like we are beings), there are certain truths about "him". The Atheists say he isn't there, the Hedonists say it's us, the Hindus say there are thousands of them, the Buddhists say the existence of God "tends not to edification", the Jews' and Muslims' monotheistic God says different things to each group, and the Christian God is the one who came in search of man. How is it possible for all of these religions or thought-methods to be leading to the same place?
I think that what is essentially being said by these people is "we don't know", and that is absolutely valid. It's a way of saving face, and it's precious. However, it's better to admit not knowing something, than to insist knowing something you don't. This is also a way of combating the arrogance of one-wayers. To them, the concept of there being one way is offensive, exclusive, and downright rude. However, perception isn't the only way of looking at God, there must be room for truth too.
There must be right people, and there must be wrong people. And within that giant spectrum, there must be those who are somewhat right, and those who are closer to wrong. How to know? How to know but to keep searching, but to keep questioning your own beliefs? How to know but to keep journeying? How to know but to keep an open mind, and especially an open heart? The truth must eventually be seen ... at least that's what I think. :)
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
As noted earlier, our whole faith is based on forgiveness, under whose radar has slipped the grand condition (see Matthew 6 quote below in red). Forgive and you will be forgiven, don’t forgive and you won’t be. How to be saved without being fully forgiven? In essence then, the manifestation of forgiveness is your complete forgiveness of others.
I used to have a heavy load of offenses to forgive; and I hated the load. I had the will but not the way. I would pray and pray and pray about it, and ponder, ponder, ponder, trying desperately to find some way to forgive. Somehow, I think we know deep down that forgiveness is freedom; it’s in our hearts. I tried everything, nothing worked; I read so many books, and though offering insight, none told me how! I remember at one point making a little blank booklet and carrying it around me so that whenever a memory popped into my mind about someone hurting or offending me, I’d write it down with plans to burn the book in some metaphorical ceremony when I was done. That didn’t work.
After I had exhausted any method my mind could muster, I came to resign in God’s love, and I think that’s where forgiveness begins and ends. I read about Joseph, whose horrible tale of betrayal and hurt ended royally. How could he possibly forgive his brothers for what they did to him? How could he forgive his prison mates for forgetting him, the ruler’s wife for framing him, and above them all, God for letting it all happen? In fact, he wasn’t let out of that prison until he had made peace with them all, and until he even had a heart of thankfulness towards his offenders for what they had done (see Gen. 50:20). What he didn’t realize until the end was that God held the keys to his prison, not Pharaoh. And it’s the same for us.
Consider this: Did the Lord forgive me because He felt sorry for me? No. Because He looked at all the things that made me the way I was and determined it wasn’t my fault? No. We’re all at fault. He forgave for no more and no less than His love for me - His pearl of great price. Everyone can blame everything wrong on anything and be absolutely right, but until we own everything that’s wrong with us, dismissing all who’ve made us this way, we have nothing to offer God to forgive us of. That’s why: forgive and you will be forgiven.
There’s a big front door to forgiveness. Make a list of all the wrongs against you, and manually squeeze them out of your blame membrane. Long, tedious, imperfect, and a work that can be boasted of. There’s also a small door to forgiveness, around the corner, a few steps away, and kind of hard to see. It’s the “I Love You” door. Everything, everything, everything that makes up the word “you” on its banner is preceded by “I Love…”. I love you. If He loves who I am, who I blame everyone else for making me, then I guess I’m ok. This is me. This is who I am. This is who He loves. Now I can set everyone free!
I love the story of Joseph; it’s my favourite. I find so much help from his life. I’ve come now to realize, just like God helped Joseph do, that my life would not be worth living had I not come through what I have, nor would it's future have any meaning. And without going into detail (since this post is quite long already!), I have literally experienced resentment re-formed into love, bondage converted to freedom, and mourning become dancing. And it all happened within me, not externally. It was a work of the heart; a simple revelation of His love for me, permeating my entire existence (of both time and space).
*deep, happy breath* It’s so good.
Monday, May 21, 2007
If I were to ask you what the foundation of Christianity is, the bottom line, I think most of us would come up with the same answer: forgiveness. But I am always surprised how little attention this gets, and how little teaching, especially when the following words of Jesus are brought to mind: For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forigve you; but if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins (Mt 6:14,15). The weight of that verse is huge, even astronomical. To think that our forgiveness, the very provision of salvation, is implied conditional! They should really be talking more about this!
As someone who's had to do a lot of forgiving in his day, I discovered something of great value and help a while back. It was in finding a key to loving people, because I have not always loved people; I have mostly always hated them, in all honestly. I got to thinking about how every single human being is lovable; every single human being has been loved (if you'll allow that generalization). Even horrible murderers, rapists, and even despotic psycho-rulers had someone cry when they died. If even they can be loved by someone, if by even one person, then it is possible for me to love them too. If my own offender is loved by others, they are lovable by me. I believe this is how God views us; after all, He loves everyone as well right?
In realizing that, honestly, it wasn't much help, but it was a stepping stone. It doesn't say how to love, to look past flaws, and even look past their direct offenses against us. I had Stephen in mind; this is the forgiveness I wanted the capability of (see Acts 7:60).
It was in contemplating God's love for me, and trying to figure out why some would and some wouldn't love me (understand context, I only have myself to contemplate as I know myself the best). It came to the fact that God understands, because He's seen all and knows all my motivators and deep psychological triggers, and most of all, He sees my heart - his pearl of great price. I realized then that it's in understanding. The worst psycho-killer can be found to have been tormented as a child, and while yes, he has made horrendous choices and decisions, is largely a product of his environment. And we can blame it on the parents, but they are the way they are because of their parents, and so on. We can keep pushing blame up the family tree (sins of the fathers...) until we get to Adam. (There's much to be said about taking responsibility for your own offenses as well; after all, how can you give something away that is not in your possession? This, however, helps those of us on the forgiving side of the equation).
Point is, every human is understandable. However, this doesn't excuse them, it just makes them lovable, and for God's children, forgivable.
Now, as it is impossible to fully understand even one person, let alone every one we need to forgive, it's easier to then make simple assumptions. Good assumptions. We can assume, now, that all humans are understandable, and let that fact alone fuel loving them. Also, we can assume that because they are understandable, they are all lovable. And finally, because there are so many indicators of this in the Bible (John 3:16, 2 Peter 3:9), we can assume that in each and every human being is a heart, a centric yet oft-neglected object capable of so much good, a pearl of great price. I mean, consider that price, let it describe the worth of each and every one of us.
This all helped me, so I thought I'd share; maybe it'll help some of you. It's so hard to forgive, yet so necessary.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Saturday, May 12, 2007
In any case (jeez, I get sidetracked easy!), I'm approaching my 25th birthday, and thus far, have done so with an air of indifference, until yesterday. I slipped into a state of melancholy, due to some recent, life-impacting changes, and suddenly my 25th seemed more of an occasion than I thought. The past year, for me, has involved quite the dose of change within me as a person, and before this set of changes, there were quite a few in the previous 5 or 6 years. A great friend, Paul, says "not many people find a sense of ‘person’; they spend a lifetime in self discovery". I feel as though I've finally come into myself, I'm finally living as me. My life had been so fearful, so hindered, so painful before, but all of that has been shed, thank God. So many of my "issues" have been brought out into the open, exposed, and shot down (again, thank God). I feel as though I'm a new man, but the same man; as if I was the false Matt before, now the real Matt. And of course, I can't stop telling everyone how happy I am! (I hope people aren't bothered by it, but I can't hide it!)
So with this "new lease" on life, and with other things changing in my life, I was thinking yesterday that maybe I should treat 25 as a milestone, a turning point. I view the first 25 years of my life as preparatory years, years of establishment, then breaking that establishment, and creating a new establishment. And of course, a good foundation is the beginning of any building project. Now I can begin to build, to live as I am meant to live, to do the things that I feel are in my heart to do.
Please don't read that I think I've reached perfection (haha!), but that I've reached a good place to start. If I had tried to do the things that were "in my heart" to do in my former self, I would've left disasters everywhere I went. I don't think there should be shame in saying that you are better than you were before.
I now want to face 25 with a conscious objective. I want to use the above reasoning as ammunition against procrastination and laziness, and as fuel for perseverance. I want to live proactively, instead of my current reactive way.
So I'm going to take some time to reflect on the past few years, to take a look at what I've been doing, how I've been living, the effects and their causes. I'm also going to [try to] apply what I learn from that to the beginning of the next 25 years. That is, what am I doing wrong? How can I do better? What am I doing right? Also, I need to figure out what exactly it is that I feel I must get done in my life; what should the first few years of my next 25 involve? What is my (dare I use the mystical word) destiny? A retreat is an order.
I've got a week off work (thank God!) and a head full of thoughts (oi!), so I'm excited to get to it.
Oh ya, and I'll be doing this on the sandy beaches of Oregon, starting Monday!
I'll let you know how it goes ...
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
In having this comment in the back of my mind for some time, I've thought a lot about emotions and emotional maturity, and I've come to realize that there is a fine line between 'emotionally retarded' and 'emotionally mature', or at least the perception of which is which. I know that sounds odd at first, but do let me continue...
I think what this person was referring to was the ability to feel, or feel much. To me, this can be said as I don't wear my heart on my sleeve. This is very true, and I find nothing wrong with it. I'm not entirely public with my inner workings, at least I haven't been in the past. However, this does not mean I don't feel, or have perception of the feelings of others. Quite the contrary ... hello! I write poetry! :)
I find it is in fact those who feel uncontrollably that are lacking some maturity. That is, you can feel all you want, and have feelings to no end, but to have no control, and to learn nothing from the experiences of having uncontrolled emotions wreak havoc on relationships is not the ideal emotional state. It creates misery for more than just the "emotional" one.
I've had my share of emotions, I've had truckloads, cement truck loads, and of course, when that happens to us, we learn to cope. We learn what's real and what isn't, what's worth dealing with and what is based on stupid guesses or assumptions. We learn about the intentions of others, about how difficult it is to communicate, to hear what's really being said. For example, when suddenly offended by something someone says, is being upset really valid? Was it said with the intent to offend? Or am I drawing offense out of a statement meant otherwise? Yet the ability to pick our battles is impossible without inner strength, being defined inwardly, rather than by the words of others.
For emotional maturity to come across as being "emotionally retarded" did well to teach me what emotional maturity really is.
My rants on emotions... thanks for reading!
Monday, May 07, 2007
and to loving my own self
i've lost those who
shared my former insecurity
and loathing self;
how can one be so repulsed
by my new way of being,
by my freedom from a hindered life,
by my pure and growing joy?
so joy becomes coupled
with casualties and pain
like ying with yang
and black with white;
the greater joy
the greater loss
the higher prize
the higher cost.