Pain and Change

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Most of us have faced difficult seasons so it probably goes without saying that pain can feel debilitating at times. Pain has a way of making life feel overwhelming. Occasional distress in life is unavoidable, but often we are missing the purpose behind ongoing sorrow. Pain often couples with a need for change. Change is difficult. Change disrupts everything we build to protect ourselves. Change elicits emotions, and emotions are often fleeting. Nonetheless the purpose of emotion often suggests an urgency that something needs to change. Perhaps the change is as simple as more accountability to your daily schedule or maybe it is more significant, such as healing from intense grief or trauma. Most of us would fall somewhere in the middle; we know without a doubt that change is prodding at the foundation of our safety net, but we aren’t sure why.

 Of course the irony to our safety net is that we don’t really feel safe, we just feel safe enough not to want to “make things worse” (aka change). Most of us tend to shy away from things that are uncomfortable. The unknown is daunting and we would prefer to make the best of what we have today rather than delve into charting waters with hope for a better tomorrow.

  • I’ll start eating better on Monday
  • I can’t afford therapy so I just have to face my pain alone.
  • I shouldn’t go to school because there is no guarantee I could pay off my loans.
  • I can’t heal my marriage/friendship because it is too damaged.
  • I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety so I will never be happy.
  • I want to go to the gym, but I’m too out of shape. I don’t want to feel out of place.
  • I will always be poor because no one in my family has ever managed to “get ahead.”

Change is the most promising challenge we face in life. The opposite of change is inertia. You cannot desire an outcome without sacrificing the source that feeds the thing which drives you. Consider for a moment visiting a psychiatrist office that diagnoses you with Major Depressive Disorder, ushers you out the door, and says “sorry”. You receive no tools, no medication, and most importantly no hope. Change is what drives hope and vice versa. Without one another there is only empty declaratives. Yet how often are we the ones making daily declarations about the things we can’t do, the people we can’t be, and the pains we just can’t seem to heal from. How often do we choose temporary discomfort over permanent change?

I haven’t been blogging for a few months because my life has demanded the need for change is now. The changes I have made and aspire to continue making require a constant presence to my life. No longer can I dismiss my discomfort. No longer can I accept that the gaps as they are. No longer can I contend with myself, for I will always be wrong. The most difficult aspect of change is that it requires you depend on what you know rather than what you feel. Neither fleeting emotions nor hopelessness can change daily opportunities to make choices. Your depression won’t just go away, that relationship won’t just appear, the gym won’t beg you to come workout, and the pain you feel will continue to keep you downcast. You are safer if you aren’t strong. This is the lie. Find hope in your own life, in your own way, through your own avenues of change.

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Ridicule of Faith

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No one forced me to be a Christian. No one brainwashed me or shoved me into a confessional. No one took away my ability to think freely. No one forced me to go to church. There were no mandatory Jesus meetings in my home, no memorizing bible verses, and there certainly were no “religious fronts” where I (or my brothers) were expected to behave like perfect God fearing angels.

My home was filled to the brim with a bit of everything. From the alcoholic who had no family at Thanksgiving, to the 6 musicians of a heavy metal band passing through, the Bishop of Bulgaria, foreign exchange students from 4 different countries, individuals of wealth and individuals of poverty, heterosexuals, homosexuals, felons, mentally handicapped, and the homeless. This is not to say, look at what wonderful “christians” you all were. No. This is about humanity. It’s about respect. It’s about the assumptions, the many assumptions, that have been made about me and I’m sure, my family. I will not speak for them because the truth is we all vary to some degree in our beliefs and relationship to God. Nonetheless, our commonality is the diversity that we were purposefully surrounded by.

I would hope that my life reflects my morals, values and faith all of which are interconnected. I would hope that if you have spent any amount of time with me, I impressed upon you a sincerity through my words and actions. I would hope that even if the aforementioned qualities were not translated, that you at least felt respected by me.

Here is where things become a bit blurry to me. I have friends of all walks of life, status, beliefs, and ethnicities. I can confidently say that any one of my friends, and many of my acquaintances would agree that never once did I hit them upside the head with a bible or slander their lives by using scripture as a weapon. I believe they would say I am typically defenseless, a solid listener, and an active advocate for enriching their lives however I can. What I don’t think some of my friends would accept is that the core of who I aspire to be is a direct product of my faith. Not in the form of “because I have to” but “because I get to”. You may think I’m full of it, that’s fine. I’m far from perfect. I’m human, and I’m flawed, and sometimes I’m down right living in ways I’m not proud of. Yet, here I am.

But why is it that the most “tolerant” individuals mock and ridicule my beliefs so harshly?

Why do I as an individual of Faith have to be directly tied to everything you hate about religion?

Why is it that I automatically get bundled into this view of bigotry, judgement, and hatred?

And how many people of faith, any faith, have you had real discussion with?

Opposing beliefs in no way shake me, but I do at times become weary of this very generalized perception of what it means to be a Christian. I know many of you are pissed and you believe that the God I worship is responsible for the suffering in our world. I know you would like to sit down and hack at me all the tough questions, and to be honest, I would love to talk about them as well. But, we will never get there. Because you have already made conclusions about me and about my beliefs. That divide, the divide that breads on assumptions, rests on a lack of respectable conversation, and capitalizes on the seemingly unexplainable heartaches we face perpetuates estranging misconceptions on both sides of the discussion.

I think you would find that I too have had heartache, questioned my faith, lived dishonestly at times, and lacked hope. I think you would find that we are far more alike than we are different, and, I would even venture to say that we could have a respectable conversation about both my story and yours. I don’t want to have these conversations because by God it’s time you get saved, I want to have these conversations because you’re a person and I like people.

Maybe next time you make a slanderous post about my faith, spread messages of hatred by religiousness (man made not God made) you’ll consider the ones who respect your beliefs or lack thereof. Perhaps you’ll think of the ones who don’t demean your beliefs or lack thereof. Even saying that I know I’m gunning for ridicule, because, that is the way the internet works. Nonetheless I think it’s worth mentioning, and I also think it’s worth  remembering we only know as much about each other as we are willing to discuss. Much love and many blessings.