What is Your Personal Choice and Responsibility?

Choice matters, either by our own hand or by another, and in this ability to choice we are faced with understand perception of power or eventual realized power.

So, I was once told, “no matter what anyone says or does, you have the ultimate power”.  Implying, I had the power of choice, either right or wrong, I was the captain of my ship.  Sometimes, no matter how carefully we choose, the results we are faced with are nothing we could have imagined and presents us with new paradigms every day.  Though, this is what I would call outlier theory, and one which shouldn’t be presented as a mainstream ideology of thought.  Instead, for the vast majority of people, we make good decisions and we are greeted with good results.  Thus, the opposite is true for any poor decisions we happen to embark on.  I personally see good and bad decisions made by people on a person level extending all the way to an international level.  I know I can never be the voice of reason to many of the people I see as they are on their journey of decision making (i.e. life), but objectively I can rightly anticipate their result based on their decisions.  In our current global climate, I think we are bombarded with people who make decisions, ranging from bad to worse, and we are foolishly led to believe this is the way of the world now.  However, if we all sit back and think about our lives and the people who touch our lives, I think we can envision many people who consistently make good decisions and by their own actions will us to make good decisions as well.

Perception of personal choice is one of tremendous power, but as is quoted often, “with great power comes great responsibility” (Voltaire), and this power is sometimes obvious to each and every one of us.  Though, for most of us, responsibility is made aware by exposition of choice.  When our choices become clear to us, in a causative based relationship, we can see the benefit or lack thereof presented to us.  We can see how our personal choices affect us and the people around us.  However, when we make choices, and we are not aware or are not permitted to know the effects, we perceive a lack of power within our own choice ability.  We don’t perceive our choices to have any effect whatsoever, and we behave accordingly.  For instance, if buying gas for one’s vehicle were a matter of life or death, and we were aware of this fact, is it possible we would be more sparing about how we used it or at least why we used it.  This is more to the point of my topic in this essay; our perception of responsibility within choice, is as important as anything we could possibly do.  To consider anything less would be letting ourselves down and those who are directly related to us through contact and familial relation.

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The phrase, “the devil is in the details” has never been truer than in my life and the decisions I’ve made.  I’ve looked past events which I should have made my focus, and I focused on decisions which had no more profound implication in my life than to acknowledge a necessity for moving forward as a matter of course.  My wife, for sure, is brilliant with the details, she pours over decisions.  Focusing on the details and covering ever angle to make sure she is covered in her process of choice, and the result is a woman who, short in stature, is as powerful a woman as I have ever met.  She knows she will not always make the right decision, but because of her ability to size up a situation, I rely on her opinion daily as it relates to me.  I can dress myself, and even though my kids think I dress like a dad, I can mix and match properly and blend in with the crowd.  Though, I ask my wife her opinion and I’ve never been disappointed by her choice.  I know the use of this example seems perfunctory towards the larger goal of my topic, but run with me for a second and you will see my point.

As dressing seems like something we do always, and a matter of dressing is up to the person, their body style, and the budget, we can’t be too critical of how people dress.  Though, if we imagine a person as a capable individual, we see a power of perception in the details of their lives on display for each and every one of us.  When we see someone disheveled as a matter of daily habit, we may intuit their inability to make good choices, and we are affected by this.  My wife’s ability to focus, with appropriate measure, gives an understanding to some that although I didn’t make the choice to wear what I have on, I was at least smart enough to trust the person who would make the choice.  Ok, now, we are getting to the meat of the matter.  Choice matters, either by our own hand or by another, and in this ability to choice we are faced with understand perception of power or eventual realized power.  In any context, and ability for choice constitutes power, and any country which resolutely puts the choice in the hands of the people, gains immeasurable power.

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Today, I was reading a good deal of op-ed pieces focused on two sides of immigration debates, and some articles were focused on the ever-increasing push for a secular world view.  All of these articles create a landscape of dotted morals and ever-changing rules as we understand them.  From the diminishment of life either in abortions or euthanasia, to the bravado exclaimed by a society which is bent on shooting as a means to an end, and finally cultural view of materialism the likes of which the world has never seen.  Nothing about what I read or was subject to was indicative of a society which bows in reverence to the Almighty God, nothing about what I was exposed to lovingly attached itself to where I was at to indicate there is something beautiful upon the horizon of our lives.  Instead, I was introduced to hate, lies, skepticism, posturing, and rampant desire.  I will admit, I was a little put back and could only shake my head for a second, before I realized none of what I was looking at was the truth.  None of what I was reading encapsulated what I know to be a real labor of perception in choice and power.  Instead, I was exposed to maligned theories of those who have yet to realize their own powers of choice.   The truth was, and has always been, we possess the ultimate power of choice.  We can never truly say any one person made us do anything we didn’t want to do.  If we did or do anything which carries a negative impact in our lives it was always our choice, we weighed the options and in doing so created a culpability of conscience and consequence.  We have the ultimate power, either do or don’t do, but at any rate we must accept the responsibility of so much power.

I’m sure I could jump on the band wagon of cultural criticism, and I probably have at one point or another, but in this specific instance of responsibility, I would encourage everyone to create an atmosphere within their own control of proper choice.  Don’t blame the person next to you, men don’t blame your wives, if she is doing something you don’t like, you have a choice to communicate with her your disdain.  Now, I know that may be a loaded statement for some out there, but it must be done if there is ever to be an expectation of an equal yoking between spouses.  She must be able to hear and appropriate a proper response to you and likewise, we men should be accepting of the reciprocal action.  There must a desire to affect a proper change through proper distribution of behavior and perceptions.  This tends to break down, as I’ve seen in the past, when one or the other party in a relationship (either marriage or dating) doesn’t pull their weight.  It creates frustration and an anguished feeling of despair for the other leading to regret and poor decisions.  Then the blame game begins, and the spiral downward to an inevitable crash seemingly occurs.  Though, this can and should be prevented by both parties in the relationship.  The popular or contextually unpopular Bible verse (Eph 5:21-29) indicates when read fully, a subordinate attitude or choice, out of our reverence to Christ.  Most modern day feminists or even an atheist attempting to make their point, will illuminate only certain points of this passage to assuage a fear in those who fail to recognize the potential in their choices, and at the same time bolstering the dominance some seek to over-wield a perceived power.  Neither is acceptable without the balance God brings to our lives.

Men, this is where we are at in our lives in a culture which seeks to rip apart those natural abilities we all possess as outdated idioms relegated to a time and place which no longer will accept wisdom from the past.  A culture which takes the stance, presumably from those portions of the societies we live in, which desires equality of outcome based on a subjective reality.  So, what is your personal choice?  Where do you go when everyone blames you for the failure which will inevitably befall everyone who fails to recognize the power they possess in every decision they make?  God!  God is your answer to all things.  This may seem simple to some and complex for others, but I assure you, God is the focal point for our decisions.  Let me give you an example.  The other morning, while driving in what seemed to be more traffic than normal for this particular time of the day, I was cut off by a driver who was obviously in a hurry.  Perhaps they were late to work, or maybe worse, they enjoy driving fast and don’t care too much of anyone else on the road.  They know if they cut off another vehicle, the vehicle my honk their horn, but will eventually slow down and allow a right-of-way to be accessed.  This indeed was the case with me, I yelled a vitriolic rant of disapproval, honked and in a matter of minutes the car was nowhere to be seen.  I made a choice to denigrate the very decision capability I possess to allay a need for anger.  My perception of this driver was poorly crafted and in my lack of concern for this person, I was willing to stain my own soul in a sinful diatribe only to regret my decision later.  I would imagine many of us are like this, in a split second, anger takes over and creates regrettable moments as if we never learned from our previous mistakes.  Our ability to make good choices, has become reflexive as a matter of course, we just exude anger because we can.  However, the reverse also creates in us a measure of squeamish subordination, especially when it relates to others as they view our actions.  If I were to repeat the situation, but now with an audience, I most assuredly would never have said what I did.  I would have received looks of disapproval and even words of discouragement of my behavior.  We are two different people, one of truthful maligned anger when no one sees us at our worst, and acceptable members of a relationship when on display.

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This is where my choices derided me in the past, my duplicity was never in check, except by my perception of the situation I found myself in.  I was unable to make competent choices as a matter of principle because I was always trying to control the situation and out think whatever was going to occur.  Well, I’m not that smart, and many things blew up in my face, most importantly my marriage became uneven, and it was all my decision.  This has taken me years to acknowledge, my decisions were ruining my marriage, my relationships in my family, and they were taking their toll on me.  I was drowning in a complex web of lies and manipulations, all the while creating a perception of control which never existed.  The inexplicable answer to the whole situation was to tear everything down, and build it properly this time.  Everything began with an understanding of how my decisions impacted my life, and how much control or power was to be realized.

I am part introvert and part extrovert, if this is even possible.  I can talk to everyone and for as long as they can handle my conversation, but at other times, I can’t stand being in large crowds, it feels like the walls are closing in.  Likewise, I can be a leader and control any situation I see fit, though I find most of my comfort in situations where I’m happy to take direction and seek to please whomever I am in contact with.  I find joy in the subordinate quality of principled behavior to glorify God.  Nothing else comes close, nothing I’ve ever attained in my life creates a situation where I can almost smile in the face of defeat as does the joy of knowing God.  This is where my decision patterns have developed over the last few decades.  Everything I do, is for the greater glory, I don’t always achieve what I want to do, and like my example with the impatient driver, I am brought to repentance as a matter of course in my decision to seek God.  This is where we are at, our personal choices must start from a foundational understanding of who we are and where we desire to be.  There is only one decision which will create a fulfilling effect in our lives though, and this fulfillment creates an understanding of the true power we possess.  This power is the strength to withstand those storms, as we see them enter our lives, it allows us to recognize the vitriol and fear mongering our culture is addicted to and desires.  Our responsibility is one of humility and recognition, we must understand how the foundation of choice and responsibility is set in our lives if we are ever to build upon it.  I can’t imagine a world which doesn’t have some strife, there are always people who want to pursue choice abilities in order to control the perceived weak.  However, perception is the most powerful tool we can possess.  Jesus, was perceived as being little more than being a common man, poor, unworthy of exaltation by any authority.  When the fruition of His earthly life came to actuality, he was nailed to a tree after being beaten and scourged.  Nowhere, and at no time, was there a reminiscent or abject stance of dominance to be seen.  Instead, with more love than we can possibly imagine, he stood there, not in a stance of cowering, but one of resistant love, and accepted what was to come.  His choice, to love those who condemned him became a symbol to each and every one of us.  Our choice first and foremost, must be a choice of love.

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As husbands, we must be willing to openly let God into our lives through our choices, especially those choices we make as we are yoked evenly with our spouses.  As fathers, we lift up our children, not by giving them what they want in order to appease them, but by deciding what we know to be the best decisions for them, until the day and time they must make their own.  Our example of a loving decision maker is paramount to reflecting the light of Christ in their lives.  This is our power in choice and responsibility, the long game as it were, we may never see the benefits of our choices reflected back to us.  It is in this we must always look to God and trust the path he carries us down.  May God bless you and your family!!!

 

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

 

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What is Life Worth to You?

We can no longer sit idly by, and allow people who have no self-professed reason to honor life, God, or humanity make our decisions for us.

This week we learned a sitting Supreme Court Justice (Kennedy) will be retiring and stepping down from the Judicial Branch in the United States.  Within minutes of the news, reactions were popping up on every major media site I have.  Reactions were coming in from as far away as Asia, and vitriol was being spewed in both directions over the potential new Justice and what this person will be like.  One half was groaning over the loss of a decided case (Roe v. Wade) and what this would mean to popularized stance of the hypocrisy of life and how selfishly they would be affected.  The other side high-fiving the chance to right a perceived wrong, the death of millions, yes millions, of unborn children.  So, I’m sure you can guess where my stance is on this, but not perhaps at my disdain for both sides.  A law, as powerful as it is, isn’t the measure by which a society functions.  Instead the morals and ethics by which we govern ourselves, creating an almost unnecessary need to be dictated in law, permeates society’s every fiber.  This isn’t what is happening.  Our society, hangs on the most delicate balance of majority in every situation, especially on those topics which there should never be a question.  Currently, everyone’s thoughts are on the palpability of seeing a legal injustice (as perceived) righted and justice being served.  Though, this brings about another question.  What are we going to do about all the people who utilized abortions for contraceptive methods?  Have we taught them anything?  Are we going to instill more familial values in our world, so instead of ubiquitous sexual encounters, we see a development of true loving relationships?  By my measure, this is why I write this blog, because there is real potential to see the law of the land mirror the values and morals we have to uphold the sanctity of life, but the hypocrisy will still be brimming under the surface.

When I was a teenager and I was talking with my friends, we all couldn’t wait till our first sexual experience.  We objectified the very act of something, which so beautiful in its own right, was degraded into an object, an activity to display prowess or desire.  We were typical, by all societal standards, and in our attempt to attain an average acceptance of society at large, we disordered something which is the very cornerstone of life.  The very action and all emotion which, with God’s Graces, creates a beautiful life.  Allowed to let nature progress (save any outlier such as medical emergencies etc.), we see a baby grow and be born into this life.  As the baby is born, there are two parents, who’ve set aside their own personal selfish pursuits, and decided to raise this child.  In their decision to raise this child, they do so in a loving home, because there is no longer any place for egotism, instead sacrifice is the measure of the day.  Sacrifice in time and effort to teach the rights and wrongs of life, a desire to have this child see the light of Christ, and a measure of self-reliance which gives the child a chance to live this life in a world looking for destruction.  Never, in my wildest dreams, did I envision destroying life so I could maintain a carefree lifestyle, one which would have been prevented if I was required to raise a child.  This is where we are at, and as a matter of perverted thought, we are bombarded by those who wish to make a case for their own bodies as a plight of decision rather than life.  Let me be clear, if a man and a woman have sex, and a pregnancy occurs, the natural order is such that a baby will be born in approximately nine months.  To do anything to stop this pregnancy by unnatural means (e.g. abortion, murder of the mother), constitutes a disorder of the Will of God.  A destruction of life, is an egregious act, which no society should stand for or allow on the context of decision alone.

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Ok, so where am I going with this?  I’m simply stating, a society which holds life as a precious gift, a society which gives recognition to natural event, should never permit the destruction of said life.  From another perspective, the conceived child never asked to be conceived.  If the prospective parents engage in ill-timed sexual activities, and are faced with a consequence of life, then it is up to society to hold them to this decision, not give them a chance to become worse people.  “It takes a village” is a true contextual observation of our lives as they are, not as we would like them to be.  A strength is needed, to correct the wrongs, the moral misgivings people have, a strength to stand in opposition to everything which seems to be going against us.  I have learned, over the years, to find comfort in God, even though I find discomfort in the opposition I bring to a room of unlike minded individuals.  Not to create disquiet, but to present an objective truth.  This is to say, all life is valid, beautiful, and of the love of God, to diminish it or destroy it is always unacceptable.  The child which is created by good, bad, or indifferent decisions, should not be punished.  Instead, the growth of the adults creating the child is what is as important as the raising of this beautiful representation for life.

The real substance of what I’m getting at is what will change if the law changes, when an overwhelming number of people don’t seem to care about a law, except for the fact they don’t want to be incarcerated.  The spirit behind why a law exists should transcend the population and create a redundant measure of justice to confirm our reality.  As I see it, it begins in the home, we are challenged to teach the next generation of kids and even create a learned paradigm ourselves pertaining to the sanctity of all life.  We can’t be hypocrites about life either, if life is precious, then we must hold it to be so.  What I mean is, we must push to have all corners of our culture embrace life, old and new, infirm and unhealthy.  We can no longer sit idly by, and allow people who have no self-professed reason to honor life, God, or humanity make our decisions for us.  Standing up in defiance, not fighting, not running, but defiant opposition to those who diminish life is paramount to our survival.

I’m sure I could look up statistics and quote very real numbers as to the veracity of life, but in the end if anyone is like me, there should be something innate within all of us, where we see the natural progression and growth of an individual.  The progressive potential of someone who as they enter life possess the potential to do wonderful things, and by the Grace of God, become a reflective light to all of us.  The key here is a doggedness which pursues the truth over and again and never rests until we rest in the presence of God.  Unfortunately, before abortion was made legal, illegal abortions were being performed, and in the process both baby and mother would sometimes perish.  The procedures were awful, and the “doctor” would use various means to destroy the life in her womb.  The real question was why was a woman willing to go through this to destroy a life and potentially put hers at risk?  Society, at this time society was unforgiving for women who chose to have sex outside of marriage and then become pregnant and produce “bastard children” as a result.  They would rather go through the risk of death than to face the humiliation, they most assuredly we see, if they kept the child.  The humiliation was from all facets of society, church, home, work, and strangers.  Everyone had an opinion and those opinions seemed devoid of compassion, giving rise to alternative routes of dissemination in result.  The problem became multifaceted, families failing to speak about truths, society unwilling to be compassionate, people unwilling to face discipline of their own lives as well as the discipline which results from decision making.  A ship going down in the middle of a storm and no one was willing to do what was needed, except those willing to look at the light of Christ as a beacon for hope.  Ok, so the law is passed.  Society can relax right?  Now, men and women can have sex, protected or not, and worst case scenario, if the woman gets pregnant she can terminate the pregnancy and it’s all legal.  The best part is, because it is the law, it must be right?  I don’t think this is a fantastical way of looking at the issue, many people believe the law is an extension of moral correctness and apply it as such, and in the ever-shifting sands of the law, they rely on the very words of the law to apply a life’s compass to their wandering.  Some of those who opposed the law, which should be every Christian ever, approached a tactic of shame and absolutism, for the ones who decided as a means of contraceptive measures to abort their pregnancy, and take a very unchristian approach.  This was wrong!

So, where are we now?  As a father I can tell you this, I love my daughters, and I don’t want them to ever feel as if they should be shamed by their actions, regarding any of this.  Thankfully they have not done this, and it is my goal to teach them as long as I have breath in me, about the utter sanctity of life.  This is to say, if they choose to walk the wrong path, it is up to me, through compassion and the Love of Christ to bring them back to the light.  This isn’t done with force and requires the patience of time to pray and show them the truth.  At the end of the day, bringing them back is a matter of their choice and acceptance of truth, even if they are my kids and I love them beyond measure, they must make their own decisions and live with those decisions, like we all must do.  However, a measure of compassion on all of our parts is needed.  Jesus, accepted those who sinned and dined with them as a physical way of showing how precious they were in the eyes of God.  Which brings me to my final point, God made each and every one of us, we are beloved in the His eyes, and as such, it must be understood, if even I am beloved, isn’t also the unwanted child of two people who conceived because of their pursuit of pleasure?

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All children are wanted, needed, and loved.  God fashioned each and every one of us as a testament to love, to say, look at your ever-changing curves and wrinkles, look at your hair or lack thereof, look at what you’ve learned and the impact of your decision on the lives of those closest to you and then think what would this be like if you’d been aborted.  Just like any good argument, we must take the extreme and the reality is, some of the greatest impacts on our culture and societies have come from people who were originally cast off from society.  Society even wished them dead or to go away as though they were dead, in order to remove them from the conscious reminder, but they didn’t and with enough time and love, and the Graces of God outpoured, they became a radiant reflection of the Love of God.  St. Francis of Assisi is the best example.  A wealthy son of a merchant, and no stranger to sin, renounced his sinful ways and embraced a lifestyle of humility and degradation.  He became an outcast, so much so, his father renounced him as a son, and he was dead to him.  Though through the Love of God, he began to win over hearts and minds, and where people once wished him dead, they fervently celebrated his life unto his death by following the path he followed in Christ.  His life, although seemingly unworthy, created a fervent desire to approach God with love which hasn’t stopped since it began.

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We must have the wisdom to look past what we see now, and know what is possible in the future as we approach a compassion for life and a desire to see all life flourish.  Babies must be allowed to grow to birth and be loved.  Those children must be taught to adulthood, to create a reverent and loving society.  Those adults must be compassionate enough to embrace the change which will come, and stoic enough to resist the temptations of man.  When life fades for all of us, we must accept it with a joy of God’s Will rather than an end to an unfinished life.  My wife and I have had the conversation over the years about conceptualizing death, and why it is such a hard concept for us to grasp.  Here is my answer, and I hope it can give some people some solace.  I believe in God, completely, and in doing so, I know this life on earth is a matter of a means to the end, the end being of course Life in Christ.  To be embraced by God, as both Heaven and Earth are once again joined in balance.  I know what we endure here in this life is a matter of course for the greater glory, and in a truer understanding of time and place, become a blink of an eye on a scale of eternity.  As I understand all of this, I am challenged to think of those I’ve loved and lost to this temporal existence, to know the joy I will feel when I see them once again.  Though we must feel the pangs of sorrow if we are truly to understand the joy of life, and this cannot be taken for granted.  Our every action must be accounted for, repented of, and compassionately understood.  If there is anyone you know, who has confided in you a decision to abort their child, pray for them, bless them for better decisions going forward, but above all else stand for what is right (life) and show them compassion beyond measure.  Don’t accept sin, but be willing to embrace the sinner.  I am a sinner, I know this for sure, and I am willing to embrace all because I know we are all looking for the light of love and compassion in our lives.  Be the light for someone who is desperately searching!  There are many alternatives to abortion, please pursue them and find a path to life.  For all the fathers, and husbands out there, stand your ground, don’t ever let someone make the argument of choice, there is only one choice and life is it, anything less is an abomination to the Will of God.  May God bless you and your family!!!

 

http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/parents-and-parenting/index.cfm

https://www.catholiceducation.org/en/health/abortion/

https://www.catholic.com/tract/abortion

Catechism of Catholic Church:

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a5.htm

 

 

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

 

What Can We Hear in God’s Whisper?

When we apply the understanding of the objective truth we find calmness in the midst of a storm.

Sometimes, especially when we position ourselves properly, we receive news which indicates extraordinary events explainable only by the Grace of God.  I know I’ve heard more stories than I can remember of events related to people which inextricably have no answer other than to associate a divine presence as the author.  I don’t want to diminish or dilute the faith of anyone, but I’m not referring to events such as a near miss or someone was sick with a common cold and got better.  These are happy events, but not miraculous.  I’ve spoken on the topic of miracles in the past, just a little, and so I was thinking about our perception of the mode of arrival in which God lets us know his presence.  In Kings 19, we read about God and his discourse with Elijah.  We expect the presence of God to appear with great whirling winds and earthquakes as the chapter alludes to, but this isn’t the form with which God spoke.  No, instead it was in a whisper, a faint representation of the Almighty’s power which to our human estimation presents us with either doubt or misinterpretation of strength.  When we as men, especially today, think of strength, the cultural landscape we live in dictates a confusing juxtaposition of strength and weakness.  We are presented with a need to be stoic and unmovable on points of rightness, and yet have the knowing capability to bend with a pliability needed for every situation.  I’m not sure about anyone else, but we can’t have both.  We can have one path to follow, and in this we will represent strength, compassion, courage, fear, and love.  Above all, we will find our thirst quenched in our loving pursuit of this whisper, which in its perceived weakness, is the most profound strength anyone of us could hope to discover.

Never have I been more confused as when I watch any thirty minutes of television today and attempt to figure out what society is looking for from men or fathers.  Morality seems to have taken a backseat to general wants, and those wants are paramount to material wealth or physical pleasure.  The objective truth, which does exist, is pushed aside for a version of “my truth”, which is nothing more than the perspective of any individual based upon their experiences and intelligence at the time of the thought.  It could change from moment to moment, and what’s worse, if someone is exposed to an experience less than acceptable, their moral line in what they are willing to accept or do, could be what’s needed to push them over the edge of a precipice where darkness consumes the soul.  I know this seems very extreme in the context of our normal lives, but I would argue this, if an alcoholic knew by taking their first sip, they would become an alcoholic, would they take that first sip?  We seem to be wandering the desert right now, and where there are beckons of light in the darkness, there are unseen hands grabbing at us to pull us down and away from those lights.  So, what do we do?

I won’t pretend to have all the answers, but I can tell you my journey, my struggles, and where I see a path of righteousness in pursuit of Christ leads us.  As I was detailing earlier, morality is a big button issue at the moment.  There are causes and movements swirling around us, so much so, I’m not sure anyone of us comprehends the depth of any three causes, except for what is explained through our media outlets.  Just recently we’ve been subject to sexual scandals, the ever-present abortion debate, and the stance on leadership as it pertains to our governments, and the need for a religion to strengthen our faith.  There’s a lot going on!   I want to address some of it, because by my estimation it is relative to the whisper of God’s voice in our lives, to the silence in our hearts where God resides patiently waiting on us.

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I would like to begin by saying, if you ask yourself before you do anything, “Is there love in that?” You will find an ability to ask yourself the harder questions and have a distinct answer which is not only resolute in its solution but creates a paradigm to explain what love actually is.  To begin, love is not an emotive decision process, no matter what the movies tell us.  It isn’t the license to treat people poorly because we’re bored with our situation or we in other words have found something or someone else to gravitate towards.  Love isn’t the process to find wrong in others, so much so, we risk true joy and happiness for pursuits of the physical.  In other words, we miss true love poured upon us, because we insist our partners or those we love should fit in a precise paradigm of diminishing returns.  We want people to look and act a certain way, and we delude ourselves into thinking, once we have what we want, we’ll be happy.  Wrong!  The question of love in our actions becomes imperative, it becomes something we must utilize as a presence of being, a tool of sorts, to delve deeper into actions, meanings, and where we want to be.  When we apply the understanding of the objective truth we find calmness in the midst of a storm.  The storm is our person, our society, our loved ones circling about us and yet we must find the calm, because only in the calm can we ever hope to hear the voice of God.  In this calm, we find love.

Ok, so love is paramount to understanding everything, much like Jesus was referred as the cornerstone (Acts 4:11) “He is ‘the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone’”.  We must apply the love of Christ as the cornerstone to anything we look at, any argument we face, and any hot button issue which seems to plague us today.  I will promise this to you, if you truly apply the objective truth as it pertains to love, you will have an answer to any issue you find, and the issue will become no longer up for argument, but rather a means of understanding to approach your life.

For the topics I mentioned earlier, I want to attack each one, and put to rest what should have been put to rest already.  The current environment of sexual proclivities including sex of all types, pornography, multiple partners, artificial contraception, and a willful acceptance by a growing percentage of the population has presented us with an aberration of truth as we see it contextually.  This is to say, we haven’t a problem with what’s going on, until we do, and hopefully you’re on the right side of the fence when the problem becomes apparent.  Now, this isn’t to say poor behavior such as rape, harassment, or sexual perversion as it relates to unlawful behavior has ever been ok.  Instead, it seems to be more an ideological perception of what right and wrong in the context of right, and then pushing and extremity to areas where it was never considered or was simply put back on the participants.  Let me give you an example, a woman being raped is awful and should never happen, and based on the individual circumstances is how to determine the degree of severity with which any justice is to be applied.  However, in our cultural climate today, we find, the presumption of guilt no matter the circumstance.  The accusation is levied against an individual, and without any due process whatsoever, we hold this person in contempt and they have now become a pariah we wish to turn away from.  We no longer find the promiscuous behaviors of the population as a matter of unacceptable path to personal destruction, but instead we honor the victim (poor decisions and worse consequences and all).  We don’t ask why this event occurred and what the factors were leading up to it transpiring.  We don’t ask if the event ever occurred at all, because it becomes too risky for fear of reprisal in either a private or public forum, usually both.  We don’t want to be the one to pour salt on a wound which has already potentially caused someone pain, we haven’t the stomach for this.

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I do want to set the record straight, I love having a physical relationship with my wife, it is a gift from God, at its most basic understanding it’s a physical representation of love to express our oneness with each other in the covenant of marriage.  A marriage which is brought together by the Graces of God to perpetuate life, love, and the objective truth as set forth by the Divine Christ.  To extend this even further, it’s the natural progression of life as was ordered by God.  Anything outside of this, from a physical intimate portrayal is a disorder of its intended purpose.  In Humane Vitae, Pope Paul VI, intuits a destruction of familial truths in society (Section 17) as a result in the creation of artificial contraception.  He indicates the failure of will, to be replaced by want.  No longer do people need to worry about the societal implications of their actions, as long as they got what they wanted.  Before anyone thinks, they know what’s best for their lives, I would caution this method of thinking, we don’t know from day-to-day what our lives have in store, and to explicitly challenge objective truth and replace it with our own, should be analogized as trying to play chicken with time.  It just doesn’t work, and when we try, we inevitably fail.

Now, I know what some people think when they hear this, and at first it appears Puritanical.  However, if we approach the entire paradigm with a lens of love, we see this is the furthest aspect of the truth.  It’s not that rules are for us to follow, but when we apply love to our decisions, we find we follow a pathway with the truths and these truths become objectively speaking a rule or guideline to stay on the path to God’s love.  Which presents our next cultural challenge, abortion, the destruction of life, to preserve our own way of life.  No matter, the decisions it takes to get to this point, killing life is unacceptable.  Christian Faith, and specifically Catholicism, is a religion of putting to death a sinful life and a rebirth of spiritual purity.  To put it bluntly, you must allow your old self to die, before you can be raised up to the light of Christ.  This is not, and has never been achieved by the destruction of life.  This is to say, we can’t move forward as a culture if we create a culture of promiscuity and sexual disorder, then allow the circumspect behaviors towards those involved as they continue to make poor decisions.  I’m sure at one point or another, we’ve know someone who has had an abortion (if there are women reading these words, it’s possible you may have had an abortion), and it’s not a matter of condemnation.  Instead it’s a matter of compassion for those who have sinned, but if we don’t change the behaviors then the sin continues unfettered and this becomes the culture we are being forced to embrace today.  I’ve heard arguments for a very long time in the position of “pro-choice” and “Pro-Life”, and yes I capitalize my life stance for the inflection of importance.  Life is always more important than any one of our choices.  To give our lives for another is a choice which still places life above anything else.

The way I’ve always seen the arguments crafted for abortion is a matter of the utilization of outlier (i.e. extraordinary events to make us think about what might happen) and prevent any movement whatsoever on the topic, which has so divided everyone.  The vast majority of abortions are performed as a matter of contraceptive method, a decision to regret sexual behavior, and instead embrace a pathway which leads away from accountability.  At the end of the day, there are two stances one can take for the argument against abortion, a scientific one (very valid when speaking with secular groups or atheistic religions), and the second it the faith comprehension of truth and applicability of love in all situations.  If we apply love to this debate, then we see, no loving person could end the life of another soon to be fully functional human.  Just isn’t possible, and if anyone thinks I’m accusing those who’ve had abortions as unloving, you’d be correct.  We all have the ability to love, but we must learn how to love, and we can’t learn to love if we are pursuing our own selfish ends.

The final topic of discourse is our need for leaders in this world.  Do we really have anyone we can look up to?  Maybe, but at this moment, we are so unwilling to hold ourselves accountable on the most objective level, how can we expect to hold our leaders.  They are a symptom of a much greater problem.  We must start with the family, we must start as fathers and husbands and hold ourselves accountable to each and every person we come into contact with.  We can’t deny our failures, we must embrace and learn from them. “It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick” (Matt 9:12).  We have to acknowledge to ourselves, we are sick and in need of healing.  A healing which can only be provided by God.  Our leaders begin with us, they begin with a family which is both made up of a father and a mother to teach our children the proper objective truth in life.  To accept pain as par for the course, and yet continue to move forward as a matter of life and the pursuit of life and the light.  Though the most important gift we can teach our children is to be charitable.  Our charity, or love, towards others will help us to be leaders and to pick leaders who meet our ideals and share a common pursuit of objective truth in a time of hegemony of subjective morality.  Our leaders are an extension of our pursuits in life, these leaders have the courage to stand up and show us the way.  Don’t be afraid to stand up for a leader who embodies these principles in life.  There are too many good people in the world to give an excuse for the selection we have now, but because of the ever changing moral climate, it’s impossible to tell unless you calm yourself in the midst of the storm and listen to the whisper of God.

I only briefly touched on topics which in themselves have been the inspiration of volumes of books, dissertations, and essays which explained my topics much better.  Though at the end of it all, we don’t need a full explanation, sometimes, to know deep down what is wrong.  Be only with a spouse, it is more ordered and special in this context.  Don’t kill innocent life (this really goes without being said, one would think), when left untouched, life blooms, we can’t hide behind choice, life always takes precedent.  Our leaders are an extension of us, if we don’t like who our leaders are, perhaps we need to take a longer look at us and fix what is apparently broken.  God gives us the strength to fix what is broken, but like anything learned, a level of pain is needed to correct a wrong.  Even if the pain is the intrinsic understanding which alludes to ridicule of one’s self for failing for so long.  Pursue God, pursue love, and the answers you seek will become all too clear.  May God bless you, and your family!!!

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

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Are We Really Finding Humility?

As a father and husband, I feel like I am challenged to walk this humble line constantly by trying to be the living example of what Christ wants us to be, and to be a man in this world.

So, for the last couple of weeks I’ve been diligently working and spending time with the family, and a curious question was raised, which I thought was food for thought.  When we see our fellow man act with some level of contrition, are we associating a measure of humility to their actions or are we so focused on our lives we don’t notice at all?  Does humility require us to be subservient, contrite, or on many levels something other than ourselves as we feel we should be?  Is humility an ability to self-deprecate and lower ourselves so we can be liked by perceived superiors?  These are the questions which have been rattling around my brain, so I wanted to go more in depth with you and hopefully we can find a way to embrace our humility and yet retain all of who we are and how this applies to our pursuit of love in God.

When we look at a simple definition of humility we see the most basic of answers; “freedom from pride or arrogance, the state of being humble” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).  When I think of the word pride, I immediately imagine a patriotic banner swaying in the air, and music which evokes an emotional response tied to heroic events sweeps through my mind.  Though, in this case the pride which humility seeks quash, is the pride we take when we can’t accept our wrongness as it pertains to us and the people around us. The first example I can think of is when the devil tempts Adam and Eve with the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge (Genesis 3), their desire to know as much as God and their pursuit of control amounted to a prideful pursuit of self-sufficiency, to rule themselves as they see fit.  This pride became arrogance as the devil continued to whisper in Eve’s ear about how she could do things and make decisions just as good as God, and the combination of her pride and arrogance mixed with Adam’s own pride and arrogance gave rise to an unhumble desire to control.  Isn’t this what an unhumble person becomes, someone who can’t be told what to do, a person who can’t accept their fallibility, or a person who sees what they are doing as wrong (by all conventional and moral standards) but desires the control and will do anything to keep it?  I’m sure we all know people (could even be us) who fit the bill, and as Christians we are bound in our pursuit for the love of God, to be a representation of someone who is humble in life.

Now, isn’t it just that easy?  You say to yourself, “I want to be humble, so now I’m going to be humble.”  I find, it is much more difficult to put into action than just saying those words.  Peter Kreeft, Angels & Demons, remarks about the super intelligence both angels and demons possess.  Their intelligence on it’s lowest level makes our smartest human beings resembling the intelligence of a dog.  This isn’t to say we are dumb, just not as smart as they are.  As we understand and apply our knowledge of the intelligence paradigm, it is much easier to understand the crafty nature of the devil and demons which pursue us and latch on to our arrogant and prideful natures.  It is also not too difficult to see how playing on someone’s need for attention and need not to forcible made to be meek in the sight of everyone would prompt them to take a path where humility is looked down upon rather than something which seeks to harness the true reflection of God’s light.  At every moment of every day, we are being tested to make decision which have no humility whatsoever, so we can pursue earthly accolades.

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As a father and husband, I feel like I am challenged to walk this humble line constantly by trying to be the living example of what Christ wants us to be, and to be a man in this world.  I’m constantly challenged to be kind in the face of insult by exterior events, but at the same time I’m challenged to be humble in front of my family, especially when I’m wrong.  Truly wrong this is, I’ve lost my temper and acted so poorly in the past, I was faced with two options, either accept the humiliation of my wrongness or continue to move forward with my unjust behavior and in doing so create an example to the people whom I love dearly, with an example which leads them down a path of selfishness and despair.  We all, as a matter of learning our humility, must in many instances face the humiliation required to learn this very basic but important learning block of our spiritual development where the result is God’s love for all eternity.
This is an interesting turn of events, when we think about what we must learn to continue in our growth.  Much like we all had to learn to write letters before we could read or compose full sentences.  We must learn how to accept what creates our unhappy nature before we can pursue the joyful path.  This is to say, we can’t possibly know which path to walk down, unless we’re shown this path, and in some cases irrespective of our desires we choose the wrong path, and in doing so we are given perspective to decide to continue this path or face the humiliation.  This humiliation hopefully causes us to take stock of our decisions and never walk the wrong path again.  The instances of humiliation we face from day-to-day, are seemingly poignant reminders of our straying from the desire to pursue God.

I’ve faced humiliation more times than I care to remember, and one lesson I can take away from my learnings is the complete and total embarrassment which set me on a path, so I wouldn’t repeat the behavior/process again.  I hated the notion and even the feeling of setting myself down a notch, especially in front of those people who were blameless yet suffered my pride and arrogance.   At the same time my embarrassment was reaching its zenith, I could also feel a growth in my behavior.  I could feel a movement past where I was currently at in my growth spiritually and in my understanding of others.  In other words, I felt as though I was learning to love, through my own humility.

We can never hope to gain all humble circumstances within the confines of our comfortable surroundings, we are pushed through our life to move from one changing circumstance to another, and in the process of doing so, we learn the pitfalls which allow us to gain traction in understanding.  This isn’t to say we learn on the first time we fail at anything, I personally have failed more times than I care to remember, on the same subject or topic.  The more difficult the topic the more times and effort may be needed to fully comprehend the humility we hope to attain.

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As a husband, I know I’m in the dubious leagues of eating some humble pie to attain a paradigm of understanding and application of love.  When I was younger, I foolishly thought my passion for life and what I did, would translate to an application of love.  I thought, if I approach everything the same way, with the same amount of fervor, I would have fair to similar results and this would be fine for me in life.  I was a perfectionist when it came to my hobbies and general pursuits in life, and I just figured, everything would fall in place when it came to my spouse.  I intended to just approach life in the same haphazard manner I approached everything, and I would just learn along the way.  Marriage just isn’t this way!  To begin, marriage is a sacred covenant between your spouse and yourself, a focus only to be beaten by your faith, is absolutely required.  This person, who is your spouse completes you, they balance your place in the fabric of time, for however long they are here with you, and evenly yoked, they present the challenge of family and faith as a matter of path for your very existence.  You mission, as it were, becomes the movement of both husband and wife through and ever-changing landscape, requiring a steadfast approach to compassion and love, but to bend as the tree will do in large storms but never break.  Though, we do break sometimes, we do need to be fixed sometimes, and in the processes, which requires the time and attention needed by both spouses, continually sets the foundation of solid stone and regrows (obviously with God’s help) a loving environment.

So, this is where I was at with my own relationship with my wife.  I needed to humble myself, and truly understand where my wife was at, more than choosing to think I was the only one in pain.  She also needed this, and together we were both broken, but we needed each other to mend our brokenness.  My wife, who is an angel, was in pain because of me and because of failed expectations, I was in pain because of me and failure to care what the expectations, which were lovingly asked of me, were needed to grow our love in God’s eyes through the covenant of our marriage.  In the end, we both became fighting and selfish to what we wanted, and the irony was we really didn’t know what we wanted.  We thought we were going to do everything ourselves, our pride, our arrogance was going to fix the problems we inevitably faced because of our pride and our arrogance.  This became a revolving door of misery for us, no matter what I attempted to do, I was getting things wrong, and no matter what love she tried to show me, I interpreted it as anything other than love.  We didn’t trust each other, and we didn’t want to be the first to give in, for fear of showing weakness, or so I thought.  In my monumental arrogance, I failed to see, my wife was there with open arms, and in her unconditional way was giving me herself (much like the day we said our vows).  God helped her in a humble path, and she was humbly waiting for me.  I am completely floored when I think about this now, when I realized this at the time, I was embarrassed and didn’t know how someone could love me so much.  She did!  Little by little, she patiently waited, and we eventually were yoked evenly again, and since this time, we’ve moved side-by-side in patient step with God’s will.  We recognized, it is far better to stand together, realizing God lifts us both up, and allowing his light to shine in everything we do.  It’s not about whether I got what I wanted, or she obtained the expectation she hoped for, but it is, and has always been about the journey to find truth in love.

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This is a funny concept, one which I’ve met people over the years, and I’ve had them explain to me their perception of what a truth is, and as a matter of course, they indicate a destination of understanding rather than a journey.  Humility isn’t just about knowing what we did to bring us to the point we are at now, but instead it’s about perceiving just how every step can affect every perception and every action we take.  Our journey in life is what forms us so when we do meet an expectation or a goal, we will know just what to do with it.  Humility must be attained if we are ever to understand who we are in relation to a loving God.  If you think back in your life and you meditate on those individuals who carried the most influence and seemed to show a love in one way or another, you should see the marks of an individual who humbled themselves to be a loving foundation of your life.  If you are one who has never been able to knowingly acknowledge a presence of love, look deeper and know, there have been people all along the way, but with every ounce of humility they are harder and harder to find.  Which is a good way of saying, they are involved with you daily.  Those who are so humble as to be almost non-existent in your life, not because they aren’t there, but because you never noticed those things which they do for you to carry you forward.  Perhaps someone holds the door open for you, allowing you to walk in first, maybe someone at work is willing to accept more work because your shift has ended, and they intuit your need to go home, or maybe a beggar at the stop light, looking for a handout stares at you and with fluidity says, “God Bless You” and then walks on.  None of these instances carries with it a perceived notion of a life changing event, but in their humility, they give what charity they can (the effect of a true charitable love).  Of course, we’ve all talked to a friend who states, “those beggars probably make more money than we do”, or they might say “well if they are willing to stand at the corner, then why can’t they work”.  Though the truth of the matter is more nuanced than the simple observation of an impropriety or perceived laziness.  Perhaps the real humility is to recognize, someone of lower societal stature than yourself, can look into your eyes and pray for you with three simple words, and your inability to recognize this humility is indicative of a path still untrod and still in need of travel.  You must humble yourself to understand, even if the person doesn’t mean what they say, you can draw a deeper understanding a deeper meaning and in this newfound perception your humble response should be one of gratitude.  A gratitude for a truth being revealed.

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I know for some; a perceived naivety can be construed by what I’ve written but allowing those who wish to fool us or take advantage of us grants us an understanding (at times) to understand the person who is in enough pain to hurt another.  Yep, that’s right, someone willing to hurt us in one way or another is truly in pain.  They’ve left the path of love, which exudes joy with every step, and they’ve entered darkness, and although they may not realize exactly where they are at, the innate need for God’s love in our lives will project pain when we push the light of love away.  This pain will be reflective in outward actions towards others, your humility and understanding are paramount in these situations.  Your ability to put your pride, ego, arrogance, and need for honor will steer you and hopefully those who need your example in the proper direction.  The best example of those who need the most influence are our children, as we all know, they are easily influenced and respond to exhibitions of natural and unconditional love.  This means, yes you must say no and be the bad guy.  In the end, their acknowledgement of truth, as a humble person would accept truth, will in its recognition through their own humiliation of being wrong or even right create a loving individual on a path to find God.

So, are we really being humble in our every day lives?  I know I am not, I know I can find more and experience more in my life to create in me, a humble heart.  I know I can find love in the darkest of places, those places exist in my heart and in the hearts of the people I am in contact with every day.  As we find those places of darkness, we see despair, desolation, a sense of hopelessness and it only appears this way because of the darkness.  Find humility in your every action, find a sense of right through your wrong.  Don’t be fearful of being wrong, it just might be what you need to find the path God has set forth for you.  Above all else, be the light which burns the brightest because you’ve lowered yourself and attained an overflowing measure of humility.  To find humility we must seek understanding, as we journey for understanding, we find humility was the ability to recognize our weakness and our wrongness as the foundation for understanding all along.  Look within yourself and you will find the humble place your heart desires to be, because as we are made in the image and likeness, this humility is the unconditional love given by God.  May God bless you and your family!!!

 

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

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What Is Heaven To You?

Those obstructions are laid before us, that we might know, God will be there when we fall.

This is a loaded question, and one with no really good answer to the average person.  Though, it does carry with it a sense of finality and its elusive context provides the backdrop to our finite reality on this earth.  When I turned 35, I didn’t go out and do anything uncharacteristic, nor did I push the envelope of proper behavior.  No, what I did was take a figurative look back at the previous 35 years, and my first thought was, “whew, this went by way too quickly”, but as this began to set in, so did my mortality.  Just who am I?  What is my purpose in this life?  What am I truly meant to do? Where is it I go, when I die?  You know, the easy questions in life.  Of course, it’s been several years since I asked these questions, and although the answers were not necessarily what I wanted to hear, they were what I needed all along.  I hope in the next few paragraphs, you will see some of your own questions come to light, and perhaps you will find an answer yourself.  At the end of the day, God is always the answer we look for, but finding the path, He crafted Himself for us, is the first step to the hardest and most rewarding decision of your lives.

Let me start from where my “mortality enlightenment” occurred, and then I will push forward from there.  My realization of a world which passed me by, like bullet train, was beginning to sink in.  My kids were much older now, I was much older now, and I wasn’t further along in my career.  I wasn’t doing anything professionally or socially important with my life.  I wasn’t attending church on a regular basis.  I didn’t have many friend or even acquaintances, except for those people I talked with at work.  Though, I hated my work, so I understood, as much as I enjoyed talking with people, this eventually would go away.  So, back to square one, I thought, “where am I supposed to go from here?” I intuited I needed people in my life, but at the same time, I didn’t want anyone else but my immediate family.  I was going to take the quasi loner’s life, and I would wear the invisible cloak of struggle.  At the end of the day, I was creating my own paradigm of failure, and this mortification of self through a deprivation of human contact was probably one of the lowest times in my life.  I didn’t feel unhappy though, I was content in my solitude, but desperately seeking human interaction.  I only noticed this, when someone would give me the slightest attention, and it was as though my world was set to right, and I could function as I should.  At the end of the day, it would always go away, and a false reality would set in.  The words seemed to pop into my head, indicating, “This is all you’ll ever have, and you should be happy”.  Now, I’m not sure about anyone else, but sometimes faced with an acceptance of less than we anticipated can be demoralizing at times.  At any rate, this is where I was at in my life.

Now, it’s taken me years to seemingly self-diagnose this and realize, I was the problem, not everyone else.  God isn’t asking me to suffer my situation, but rather as St. Theresa of Lisieux would point out in “Story of A Soul” it was a matter of embracing what it is I am and giving it to God in every possible way.  To begin, I looked at all the years which to this point passed me by, gone, I can’t get them back now!  I sat quietly thinking, at best, I may have another 35 or 40 years left, and I’m on a downhill trajectory at this point.  I was very depressing to be around, but it is just like the darkness next to the light, always seems to be more enveloping and consuming until we become illuminated.  As was the case for me.  I began to move my thoughts from, why the years seem to move so fast, to just who I am as a man.  What is expected of me as a man?  What is my purpose?

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As a man, this was a pretty hard question to answer for a couple of reasons, the first being, and my expectations as a man, because I’m a man.  The second being, my expectations as a man, because society sees me as a man.  When I tackled the first, I was constantly convoluting it with our cultural expectations, and rendering a poorly imaged portrayal of what a man should be.   There was always a defect in my mind’s eye, and I continuously was exposing the flawed characteristics of my manly personality and my frustration began to grow.  This mixed with my attempts to teach my son about being a man, becomes more confusing to him, which in turn frustrated me. However, just like anything we do, with enough time and attention, we begin to get a little better, we look for better sources of information in what we seek, and we hold ourselves to a higher standard as we increase our skill.  My higher standard is God, and my recognition of the source of my manhood was the illumination I wrote of earlier, it exposed the good and the bad.  It was the medicine I needed to heal the festering wounds of pride, hubris, ignorance, and a lack of love in my life.  Let me be the first to say though, it wasn’t easy to take, it wasn’t a picnic facing the exposure.  My wife, in her unconditional love, fought hard to ask me the question and have me realize the answer, “where is the love in what you do”.  Seemingly a simple question, but when we dig deep, the exposure of an answer, “I haven’t been giving my love, I’ve been holding back for fear of rejection, loss, and failure” entered my mind.  I was in my anger and removal of myself in situations creating a distance which allowed an insularly effect protecting me from my fears (at least I thought so).  As hard as it was to take the answer to the question posed, I found it harder to look in the direction of God, shame was winning and the worst part was, I was letting it win.

I must emphasize my shame in this, I thought I looked like the biggest fool to everyone and to everything.  I was arrogant, and put myself in a place where I didn’t need anything or anyone (or so I thought), it was like being a mile in front of everyone in the race, only to realize I took a wrong turn.  My embarrassment, especially to my wife, created a sense of anger in me and confusion.  I always felt as if I need all the answers to anything asked.  I read, study, and constantly try to know everything I can for a couple of reasons.  I need the human attention so bad, I wanted to immediately be valuable to anyone if they just asked, and the second reason was I needed to know as much as possible, so I can never look foolish.  When my wife pulled me back in, she did so in the way a wife loves a husband or as a woman can love a man.  She unconditionally asked me the question, and I had to answer.  It’s the best question I was ever asked, and I didn’t have the answer this time.  I couldn’t make an excuse for me any longer.  Happy 35th birthday, right?  It was probably the best birthday, I’ve ever had.  It was as if the door was opened, and I was exposed to the “real world” the objective truth as it were.

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A couple of things changed on the onset, first of all, every detail didn’t escape my notice.  Now, I’ve always been hypersensitive to my environment, but in a way which was entirely self-serving.  This time though, I noticed one simple change to my perspective, and then everything seemingly fit into place, even when I didn’t have an answer.  I could see love, in everything.  I don’t just mean, pink hearts, or people smiling a lot (which is nice, but overrated).  No, I could see the love of God, in everything.  It’s truly amazing!!!  I can’t describe, the joy which can overwhelm me in an instant at the thought of what I see.  I have stopped to embrace this all-consuming experience, and many times, because of our cultural perspective of manliness, I will conceal my tears.  Peter Kreeft, once remarked in his dis-belief of those who claim to speak with God, and yet seem to have no emotion or memory of emotion which isn’t fervent or believable.  In other words he indicated, God, in His sheer goodness should shake us to our core and in being within the presence of this goodness will inadvertently cause us to look within ourselves and be repulsed at the sin which we have allowed to corrupt our very nature.  I would use this example to further explain my point, when I’m around someone who I can very clearly tell is good and kind in their nature, I carry with me a sense of shame because, in my pursuit of God’s love, I am immediately exposed to the truth, I can do more than I am doing as this person has clearly (without saying a word in chastisement) has shown me.  This is what my wife’s question did for me, and this is what my experience is when my hypersensitive experiences are introduced.  I have less of those experiences now, than when I first started having them, but they still come back, and I fully embrace the chance for a realization of emotion attached with a recognition of my failures.  Embracing our sin as a cognitive device to remove it would be the same as a doctor acknowledging the sickness before he can remove it and make you well again.

Right, so there I was answering the most important questions of my life, and the next question popped up, “what is my purpose?”  This question, is on the minds of everyone at some point, I would imagine, and some have answers and some don’t.  When I asked this question, I was at a point in my career and my life where it was evident I wasn’t achieving the goals I set forth for myself.  I had clear intent to attain my degrees and work a job, all the while moving up the ladder of success.  This did not happen, at least not in the way I would ever have imagined.  I was challenged to look at my perceptions and goals, and place a new perspective on something other than a material view.  What was I doing for others, how did I show God’s love in everything I did.  This was further exposed by an understanding of God’s place in my life.  God, who lovingly created me, put me where I would have the greatest opportunity to find love in my life, he does this for all of us, although be it, in different ways.  Some of us must go through great struggle and there are others of us, who must be willing to push those earthly gifts away to create a sacrifice in life for God.  Those little sacrifices are to push those things which keep us further away for the light of Christ and embrace everything we see with an acknowledgement of love.

I was meant to be a loving husband and father.  I was always meant to pursue God and embrace His love with every fiber and ounce of my being.  These were my true goals, and at 35, I realized I had wasted too much time on my personal wants, rather than a determined focus on the unmitigated love of God.

My wife deserves a husband who is patient and loves her for who she is.  This meant for me (I’m still working on this), accepting those things which make her who she is, not who I want her to be.  This can’t be stated more clearly, how can we love anyone if they are not free to choose who and how they want to reciprocate the love in return.  My children deserve a father who is willing to place the principle of love before all things.  This doesn’t mean, I’m their best friend or I won’t become upset at their actions, what it means is I’m willing to teach them what true, unconditional love actually is, and I do this through my actions towards them.  I will admit, my son tests my patience beyond measure at times, but when I give myself enough time to think about him, I am transported to what my mind imagines the pain God must feel when we constantly and without rest test his love.

We test God every second of the day when we fail to repent, through our sinful behavior and through the repulsive behaviors which push Him away from us.

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This brings us to the final question, and the hardest from the standpoint of truth.  We as humans have the power to decide two pathways to travel down.  The first is the pathway which God has placed before us, a pathway which is laid with obstructions and bends so severe we risk failure at every turn.  Though this is our perception when we look with our eyes, it is much different when we acknowledge what we see with our hearts.    Those bends and slopes create in us a need to slow down and find God, nothing in life is truly gained by running so fast we miss everything around us.  This is the first path, the journey is our journey of love, the pathway we might seek to embrace an unconditional love of God.  The second path is a path of self.  A pathway where we control our destiny, or at least we try to control our means and end.  This pathway is straighter and less narrow, it has less obstructions, and we find there are many people on this path but no one person is concerned about us and our journey just their own.  How can we find joy in people who aren’t concerned, at every unconditional level, about us?  The answer is, we just can’t, and we can’t pursue the desires of another and hope to find the joy of God.  Ok, so the moment of truth came when I was tasked to answer, “Where do we go when we die”?  This was the fundamental question, the question when once asked and answered should be the direction we base our entire lives going forward on.  So, I did.  Based on everything I know of this world, and those who’ve been kind enough in their lives to exhibit God’s love, I chose God.  I want to be in an existence where I can fall in love with the creator of all things and do so in a way where I’m not creating an issue of being forced to decide.  This was the inevitable truth and I accepted it with all my heart.

At the end of the day, the decision was a fork in the road.  Either I could believe or not believe, and if I chose to not believe (deluding myself from every bit of evidence and what I knew to be certain in my heart), then I would lead a life answering only unto myself with a moral compass set only to an emotive true north.  On the other hand, believing in God presented a multifaceted acceptance.  An acceptance of an objective truth, a way as it were for me to direct my energies.  I was given a solid black and white paradigm to accept, it was the belief in a true right and a true wrong.  Something I could tangibly rest my back upon for the rest of my life, and this was what I was always searching for.  My heart longed for something and I tried to fill it with everything possible, except the one thing which would keep it full.  God’s love is what I was searching for, and in this I found the answer to absolutely every question I ever had.

The meaning in my life was God, the joy which was a side-effect of loving God has brought a fulfillment of riches regarding my marriage and my family life.  I see people so much more differently now than I ever did, and in the process of seeing them differently I recognize everyone is precious in the sight of God.  If God loves you as much as he does me, then how can I not love whom my heavenly father loves.  Heaven is the joining of this world and the throne with which God sits.  Since my pitiful attempt to describe the indescribable is the best I can do, we will just have to imagine the original tear in the fabric of life being brought back together where we will walk in communion with God in the cool of the evening as Adam once did.  May God bless you and your family!!!

 

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

 

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What Does Devotion Mean to You?

In my own life, it took falling down, and disappointing almost everyone I knew for me to realize, my desire to seek selfish goals was achieving the figurative equivalent of pouring out God’s precious blessings.

Devotion is such an interesting word, often overused to indicate one’s pursuit of a goal as a means to an end.  Though, if we delve deeper into just what devotion is, I think we might be surprised.  Every example of the definition of devotion has a moniker of love associated with it.  Either through the pursuance of faith, religion, or even the love of a spouse and children.  Typically this might involve a sense of urgency as it relates to want or desire pertaining the devotion.  It would perhaps carry a zeal or enthusiasm as we approach anything in context to our devotion.  Where we begin to trip up is the self-interpretive benchmark our culture lays on our shoulders to create a devotee status which is worthy of our peers.  In other words, our society seems to place an importance on our personal devotions which is neither substantive to our personal pursuits but instead becomes a socialistic collective of ideas bound to meet an ideology of equality in outcomes.  Ok, so this is was a mouthful, the lay version of this is, people have their own pursuits and want us to want what they want.  If we do, they are pleased with us, and if we don’t we seem to be a pariah to them or to their cause.  So, the question comes back, and hopefully we can discuss this in depth as a matter of interpretation and fulfillment of our devotional development.  Where does your devotion stand, based on the influences of our culture?

Let me begin by saying, everyone is on their own spiritual journey in life, so for anyone of us to think or believe we’ve cornered the market in devotions would be tantamount to a priggish snobbery.  There is no place in the Heavenly context we talk about for behaviors such as this.  However, if we approach our faith and our interactions with all of God’s people as a matter of zeal and an enthusiasm, seeking not to tear away (as is the devil’s desire), but to bring together as in one “church”, one “body”, then we’ve found the truth of a true devotion.  Every day, I run into people who are on one path or another, some are seeking the spiritual guidance of God, and others are just trying to tread water in this world long enough to see earthly goals realized.  Though, objectively speaking, where do we go when we’ve been blessed to see our earthly goals come to fruition?  Do we stop, or is it human nature to seek more and more?  My money is on human nature, although imprinted with the image of God, seeks to fulfill its own accord or desire.  Sacrifice isn’t apart of measure of achieving more.  In my own life, it took falling down, and disappointing almost everyone I knew for me to realize, my desire to seek selfish goals was achieving the figurative equivalent of pouring out God’s precious blessings.  I was shouting in the silence, “I don’t need you”, all the while being miserable with what I was seeking.

There are numerous types of devotions, and I want to discuss what I see as the top three.  The first being our pure and truthful devotion to God.  The second is our devotion to the covenants and missions we chosen in life.  The third is one’s devotion to their family.  As you can see, none of the devotions can be truly realized without the first, in the context of truth.  However, when we attempt to put the second or third devotion over our devotion to God, we find a misappropriation not altogether wrong, but somewhat misplaced.  Take for instance the beauty of a flower, to recognize its beauty is epidermal, and to associate a function of the senses proves to be yielding of purpose.  Though this purpose could wane with mood or time, and our once simple devotion no longer exists as a matter of course.  This all changes, of course, when we look deeper into the meaning of the flower and to its lineage of creation.  This is to say, when we peel back the layers of the flower’s inevitable creation, we see God as the architect of this beautiful, and seemingly insignificant portion of our lives.  Now, the observation takes on a new priority, and in this priority, we find as we stop and “smell the roses” we are not just appreciating the sights and smells of this beautiful example of nature.  We are also finding appreciation in the gifts God gave us as a matter of natural design.  So, perspective changes all solutions.  This is to say, our devotions will take on new characteristics as our perspective of God and our natural existence changes.

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In descending order, let’s look at the devotions one-by-one.  The third, family, a devotion worthy of kings but given as a gift to even the poorest of beggars.  The family is so important to God, he choose to lower himself, as a man, and be born of a woman, who was betrothed to man.  Then to be raised by this family, until such time as the fulfillment of the ultimate sacrifice would come to pass.  The apostles walked with Jesus, and created an ad hoc family of believers specifically focused on the evangelization of the world.  As we can see, family should be in the upper three and we should never dilute the importance of family, let alone allow culture to dictate what the definitions of family should be.  Here is where devotion should play its most significant part.  We devote ourselves to raising families and teaching our children the ways of Christ, and in doing so we build upon the stone foundations set by Christ Himself, leveled and adjusted as the cornerstone of life.  Men, our wives are there for us and we are there for them.  We enter into a covenant with God, when we enter marriage (nothing to be taken lightly, I assure you), and we create a physical family focused on the rearing of children and teaching them the ways of Christ as they were taught to us.  So, what if we weren’t taught the ways of Christ, and this is all news to us?  Good news, The Catholic Church is the “Universal Church”, in other words, the biggest family you could ever know.  Not here to judge, and never here to condemn, but instead here to pour forth compassion, and teach us everyone is invited to the table of redemption and love.  This is what we must teach our children and this is what we must show our spouses.  This isn’t easy, to be certain, choosing the covenant of marriage and choosing to raise children with my wife, has been by far one of the toughest choices of my life.  However, I tell my kids all the time, “go to the hard” your results may vary, and you might just fail, though failing isn’t the end, it shows we must try harder.  The knowledge of seeing where we must go is God’s gift to us.

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I personally can attest to the forgiving nature of my wife and my kids when it comes to my failures.  I cannot state this with enough importance, I am a hard person to know, and I thank God for the gifts of my family, and of the family of The Church.  We are all one family, maybe not by blood or in the natural law abiding sense of the description, but as devotion goes with God, we are all family in the ecumenical bonds set forth by Jesus Christ himself, even with those who don’t believe at all.  Just like a family member who refuses your company (I have one of those), all we can do is lovingly want the best for this family member, and then pray this blessing for them.  Perhaps they will walk our path with us once more and we can rebuild and repair as we journey through redemption.  Make family a priority, treat everyone as a meaningful person who we can be more with, in doing this we might just be able to move the obstacle of egotism away from our path.

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The second devotion (covenants and missions) is more hidden in our lives but carries with it the interpretation of God, and the point of views we possess as they translate into our daily activities.  I already wrote about the covenant of marriage, and in this I discussed its application as a familial matters are concerned.  Now, let’s talk about the covenant as it relates to our spouse.  This person whom you choose and they choose you, and just how this daily gift can be looked at as a struggle or as a blessing.  Early on in my marriage with my wife, I perceived everything I did as “the struggle”, never to be undone but to be layered one struggle upon another.  In doing so, I blamed everyone else for my problems, and I wanted them to feel sorry for whatever predicament I was in.  Even if this predicament was of my own making, and if as a matter of course I was facing the consequence of my decisions.  As a point of fact, I didn’t devote myself to my marriage and this was its faltering.  My wife was willing to work hard until she could see I wasn’t and in the overall process we allowed our feelings and egos to decide best course of action.  Emotive responses are good for the movies but have little place in the decision to do what’s best when discussing true problems with any relationship.  We often forget, the dynamic of any covenant is a realization of our place within the covenant.  Too often, in our culture, we see people demanding an answer for evil, demanding to see a relationship with God on an inverse level.  They subordinate the Most High, into a subservient position as a requirement to answer questions which within the context of understanding or not knowable.  Cardinal Sarah (Power of Silence) indicates we neither can know the highest of the highs or the lowest of the lows, but we insist on an answer.  The covenant between us and God, isn’t a matter of knowledge as to how, but rather as to why.  The answer as to why, is all just a matter of love.  Love is God, in every pure and concentrated way possible, and as we approach our covenants and missions we must do so as God has done with us, in love.

The second part of the second devotion is our mission, our perception of the work with which God lays out before us.  A choice as always, because love is not love if we don’t have the free will to choose to love in the first place.  Though our perception of a loving God, is the fire for the enthusiasm to approach our mission as reflect the goodness and love of our creator.  I’ve discussed “mission” in the past, and let me say, my mission is what brings to reality the true desire to seek the redemption God is so willing to give.  It is also the pathway which allows me to stop wandering in the desert of doubt, and instead head for the mountain of faith.  Without my mission in life, which for me is to be a husband and a father (in that order), and to be a reflective light for all of God’s people.  No matter the perception of anyone else, I am here to be a reflection of the Light of Christ, and in doing so be an example to show love in any and every way possible.  I must confess, I still have a long road to travel, I seem to trip and fall a great deal, but this hasn’t discouraged me one bit.  I can still see the mountain, and I am as energized to and full of strength to pursue my faith as I’ve ever been in my life.

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Finally, the first devotion, God.  This is a devotion we were all born to realize.  Some of us do, and some of us fail to see where devotion should always be.  When we pursue anything in life, without the guidance or devotion of God, we find the pursuits can be meaningful at times, even to fulfill somewhat the desires we set as goals.  Though, with enough water which passes under the bridge, we become unfulfilled once more, seeking more goals to get us back to where we have a sense of purpose or even belonging.  If we think of this like the addict we might just see many familiar traits, both ending in death, and both being abundantly clear to the objective observer, this life was wasted in the greater context of life in general.  As I discussed earlier the cultural predication, we deserve an explanation, runs counter to any meaningful relationship we could possibly want or know.  Logical fallacy as a matter of course seems to be the ruling ideology of the day.  We can apply, as a culture, a system of fallacies which neither prove a point nor can be sustained as a pillar of an argument, and then we vacillate between fallacies in order to create false equilibriums of perceptions and right actions.  Supposition, as we know it today, is more an art form of fallacy, than it is of following and interpreting evidence of anything as one would deduce a set of clues.

To be sure, evil exists in our world, and this evil is set on the destruction of love, the separation of covenants, the diminution of family, and the belief there is nothing but what we see and what we know as the objective truth.  Our devotion to God, changes all of this.  I know evil exists, and I know this evil does terrible things to all people no matter the place or time, but I also am aware of an existence of the loving embrace of God.  This embrace is indicative above all else, which is as terrible as evil is, it becomes inconsequential to the overall narrative with which life has been written.  It is our choice to accept what we can’t change, but to know it is God who lifts us up, and not the other way around.  The topic of devotion to God, has filled the pages of books, beginning with the Gospels, epistles, writings of the Old Testament, and the inspired writing of authors for millennia.  I would never presume to come close to the writings of the masters who were titans to my insignificant attempts.  Though, if I had one take away to give to anyone reading, my life has utterly changed with my devotion to God.  For years I was stumbling around in a darkened room of awareness.  This awareness, seemingly innate, was telling me to open my eyes to the truth.  It was painful, to the extent, I wasn’t forced to tear anything down, and I gladly did so.  The truth hurt because it was growth, and any real growth in our lives should involve a level of pain.  The pain which I felt, in some cases has become the signal my devotion was right, and in other cases has become an expected portion of my spiritual growth.  I would be ridiculous to think my devotion to God was as simple as truth and understanding.  The hurt still hurt, the poor still exist, and the evil in this world still hunts the weak of spirit.  Our devotion to God, is our first line of defense against the, for lack of a better expression, ways of evil this world chooses to thrive on.

None of us are immune to sin, and we’ve all let our devotion wane from time-to-time, but the redemption we seek is a matter of accepting the truth.  Hans Urs Von Balthasar remarked about the “theo-drama”, a play which is produced, directed, and written by God, only to be countered by the “ego-drama” which is a play written, directed, produced, and stars us.  This is something we all insist on being in, and why our devotion seemingly diminishes or at least teeters on a brink at all times.  We are all cast in God’s “theo-drama” some big, some small, but the truth is we have the perfect part, one written especially for us.  This is the truth, no one want to witness a play where one actor upstages all, and demands more than others.  Instead, we want to be a part of something which allows our devotion to expose the relevancy of our existence as it translates to the creator.  We want to play the part with the most love we can provide.  Remember, truth isn’t a matter of interpretation, it just is, as God is “ispsum esse subsistens”, the very nature of being itself.  God isn’t changed and will forever continue on the path of existence within our lives whether we accept this truth or not.  I hope I’ve brought salient points of interest to the forefront of your mind with what I’ve written, at the very least, hopefully these topics will allow you to think and discern the needed devotion to God and the way in which you love yourself, those closest around you, and for better or worse the world.  I pray God places many blessings over you and your family, and these abundant blessings will help you attain a new perspective on your devotion to life and God.

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

 

Are You Wandering In The Desert?

God’s Grace is the living breathing functionality of love, and then all at once it culminates in the one great sacrifice, Jesus.  Within this sacrifice, we see the desert for what it really is, a treacherous gift.

From time-to-time we hear about someone wandering the desert, and I’m not sure we assume a literal translation but either something of a metaphor or an allegory to teach us what we may need to know. At the very least, remind us of what we’ve forgotten.  However, if we look at the overall paradigm of our lives and their relation to an eternal existence, we see how the wandering we do in this desert of life is set more profoundly than we could ever imagine.  There is a deeper meaning to all of this, if we’re willing to look around and ask those hard questions which never come with easy answers.  This desert write about, seeks to confuse us with mirages and the promise of salvation just over the next hill.  This false hope we chase is bent on giving us an earthly fulfillment but when we really examine the fountain of knowledge we see, we find nothing more than the proverbial sand and wind so many have endured before.  So, are we truly lost in a desert?  Are we being led to the oasis which is a truthful promise of our life and salvation, or are we just wandering aimlessly, just filling time as we see it? Do we attach ourselves to those people who will help lead us through the desert of life, and do we trust them enough to help lead us?  The next question which comes to my mind, is who do we trust, and how do we know to trust them?

I’ve read, and listened to speakers talk about the wanderings of Jesus, as he didn’t so much wander in the desert, but embraced it.  Jesus, fervently approached a time of fasting and want as those necessary steps in the ultimate sacrifice he would inevitable make for each one of us.  St. Theresa of Lisieux, who in her writing “Story of A Soul”, remarks over and over again about her excitement in the sacrifice which would be asked of her.  Her story of course, is an extraordinary one, but not a story of bewilderment.  She approached The Trinity with a fervor and an innocence, I’ve never encountered before.  Her laments in life were over what we would admonish as a mere triviality, and yet she begged in some ways for hardships and tests so as to prove her devotion.  She aggressively pursued a relationship with God, this pursuit, until her death, was a reflection of the vigor Jesus displayed to all of us as he walked in the desert.

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So, the question comes back to the forefront.  How and who do we know to trust to lead us through the desert we wander in life?  I know it’s too simple to suggest we listen to the voice of God, but in truth, this is the answer.  Quiet yourself, allow your heart, your ears, and your soul to hear the silent voice of God as you begin to pray.  It’s not a matter of sitting still, though it can be, but more a matter of the willingness to be patient and focus on all around us.  To sit in awe, as it were, and notice every inch of every movement, and every sway of every branch to be the integral creation (beyond our mere comprehension) of God.  God’s Grace is the living breathing functionality of love, and then all at once it culminates in the one great sacrifice, Jesus.  Within this sacrifice, we see the desert for what it really is, a treacherous gift.  I know this may sound like your standard oxymoron, but let’s think about it.  In past writings, I imbued the concept of falling, not for the sake of our pain, but for the instrument of God’s love in the greater cognitive reality of our lives.  We stumble, that we might realize the need and love in our lives provided by God.  Isn’t this true for everything?

I had a discussion with my wife the other day, and we talked about the incomprehensibility of people only willing to accept part of a truth.  In other words, they cherry pick what is important to their point and seemingly forget the rest, although to fully accept the truthful logic presented, one must accept the whole truth.  We can’t drive the car without gas, we need all of it for it to work.  The objective truth, is neither concerned or acknowledges ignorance or willful disobedience.  Though you cannot willfully acknowledge an untruth and carry with you the credence of logic or proper discourse, there will always exist and fallacy of truth exposed by the existence of objective truth.   It just is, and in its being, we can either accept or deny.  Even though we can exist in the gray matter of ambiguity, we are still challenged to accept or deny as a matter of faith, logic, understanding, and pursuit.  Some of us get into trouble, pursuing an ends, which is neither truthful nor morally sound.  We attempt to pursue a pathway which is untruthful, whether we acknowledge this or not.  Any pathway which leads us from the truth carries with it, the opposite of love, and the opposite of God.

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Ok, so why is the desert of life a treacherous gift, because we need this gift to understand who we are and who God is to us.  We need those hill which move constantly, and those hidden enemies which test us at every turn, but more importantly we need the mundane and never ending perception of blandness to remind us our sacrifice and struggle in our lives and those of the people we come in contact with are the most important.

If any one of us has ever been in a desert, you will find, there is a rugged beauty to what we see.  This goes away quickly, and what we begin to see, is harshness.  There is no water, the animals which seem to inhabit this forsaken land are treacherous.  Snakes, scorpions, and even the plants are all living warnings telling us to stay out.  Though, after our initial shock (especially in life), we begin to look past the epidermal layer of fear, and notice a whole new world of beauty.  We come back to the rugged beauty of our surroundings and we notice, on a deeper level the colors, the movement, the history, and the uniqueness of those entities which desire to keep us out.  With enough time, we are no longer worried about the danger, but wish to explore a newer brighter world which pushes us further and further into the exterior of everything we know, and we push past the barriers to see everything.  All the while, we rely on a deeper voice, God’s Voice, to give us direction in where we must go.

This is where I’ve been in my life, not truly knowing where to go or what to do.  Many friends and family have benefited from the clarity of purpose in their lives as a focus on family or careers.  I wasn’t blessed with this type of focus, but for me, the clarity of a more providential purpose has been my focus of faith.  How do I translate my faith into purpose for my life, and for those around me?  How can I become a true reflection of light to everyone I meet?  In the end, this hasn’t been easy, to say the least.  I seem to be challenged at every turn, either from my relationships in a professional or social environment, to my son and his never-ending challenge to what seems like me personally.  I would translate this as when we first step into the desert, and our perception of the desert.  How we must take everything in before we can truly appreciate it all.  It’s not about the paradigm of the desert, but rather, it is about our recognition of mission as we journey through the desert.

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In my personal relationships with people, and the frustrations which come along with these relationships, I find there is excitement in getting to know the people and finding out about them personally.  This can be difficult to a large extent, especially when everyone is so guarded these days, and we all seem to exhibit an atmosphere of underlying hostility towards society at large.  Though, if we can only imagine, we have opportunities everyday to show God’s light in every situation we are faced with.  Now, I’m not writing this with an exuberant level of optimism, but instead, our situations are loving means to our inevitable ends.  The end being an eternal relationship with a loving God, who desires to be with us and longs for us with open arms.

This becomes the paradigm we exist in, if we accept our faith journey, then truly no matter the situation, our faith becomes paramount.  I know this seems in some ways rudimentary, but the real questions are can we apply this new focus on faith to all situations?  For instance, you’re diagnosed with an inoperable and incurable disease, given only months to live.  Can you accept you’re almost through the wandering desert of your life and although this last challenge will be the hardest, it will be the one you gain the most insight, the most ability to love, and the greatest opportunity to show God’s love.

As we believe we are truly lost in this life, truly lost in this desert, this is where we should be learning to let go and give God the control.  Ok, so what does it mean to give control?  Control, is another way of saying to be patient, accept not everything will go your way, but above all show the true light of God and give love at every turn of your life.  To accept one’s way as a matter of course and quit lamenting the perceived negatives is the first step in our personal focus to look past the barren landscape of the desert and we start to see the colors and beauty of God’s work.  St. Theresa looked forward to the hardships of life, and her laments were more concerned with the frivolities and luxuries of life.  Jesus was asked by a wealthy man with many possessions, because he followed all the commandments, what must be done to inherit the Kingdom of God, and Jesus’s response was “Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to [the] poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21-23) Truly all which is being stated here, isn’t the obvious, but instead the focus of our lives.  How can we accept God, if we can’t give ourselves to the journey?  The journey of our wandering through the proverbial desert has become our mission as we seek God.  In Mark, Jesus was asking quite literally and figuratively to follow him.  In the literal sense, he desires us to drop our worldly need for possessions as we seek him, and in the figurative sense, Jesus seemingly was eluding to our ability to focus on the beauty of life, even as we walk through the desert.

So, as I begin to focus on my own desert, I realize, I need my children to challenge me to be a better father.  It’s at those times when my consternation is at a heightened level, I begin to see the colors with which God painted the sands of my life.  They are truly beautiful, and I’m blessed with an abundance of joy and gifts truly given to me by God.  Just now, as I’m writing this, I receive a wonderful blessing as my son tells me goodnight.  He is growing to be a handsome and responsible young man.  He has his whole life ahead of him, and yet he still finds the time to come and tell his old man good night.  I’m not saying this is what fatherhood is about, but instead it is one of God’s blessings to allow me and his mother an ability to focus on our task as our son’s parents to teach him about God’s love in its completeness as we understand it.

I’m not saying I have everything figured out, in fact, I don’t.  I get more things wrong than I get right, and this frustrates me almost to the point of exhaustion.  Though, I see everyday the light shining brighter and brighter in my life.  With every passing moment and every written word, I find more strength to become a reflection of this light and become a beacon for others who wonder in their own deserts.  This has been done for me, by my parents, and by those people who have entered the pathway in my life and lovingly helped me.

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Why do we wander?  I think above all else, we wander because we are looking to be filled, much like the man who was unwilling to give away his possessions.  We want eternal love, but at first, we might just be too unwilling to put in the work, especially for something we can neither tangibly see or know.  However, this is our faith.  This is the journey, to give one’s self over to God, even when everyone disagrees.  To wander the desert with him, and know, he holds us up through everything which comes our way.  To realize, although things don’t turn out the way we imagined or wanted, to assume we know the narrative of God’s plan is to become the epitome of arrogance.  This is perhaps why we wonder the most, we allow our egos to interceded and decide our path, instead of our hearts.  We look for excitement, instead of love.  Love is our decision, a decision to accept what we cannot change, a decision to embrace who we are and why God loves us.

I hope as you wander through your desert of life, you seek the reflection of God’s light in those around you to indicate which way you should go.  Don’t rely on easy answers for your journey, but don’t expect every step to be drudgery.  Look around, look at God’s beauty in everything.  Who hasn’t ever watched a storm roll in and been amazed by God’s presence in nature?  I know this is an overused line, but stop and smell the roses, and then look deeper into the pistil and the petals.  Go further and think about the design of something so insignificant yet so beautiful in this world.  When God goes to this level for something like a rose, imagine to what level He would go for you.  You are precious in His eyes, and because of his love he longingly wants you to see the beautiful canvas He’s painted for you.  I pray God blesses you and your family in everything you do!!!

 

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

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