Posts tagged ‘Choices’

On Blind Faith

A Break in the Flurries: Blind No More

Whether one hold to a religious faith or not, most are familiar with the phrase “on blind faith”.  Some are absolute proponents of the necessity in some circumstances of believing in something without proof.  Some will believe nothing without proof.  I believe there is a middle ground.  Personally, I am a very spiritual person, so I’ll make no apologies for my belief in a Higher Power, but I won’t tell any one else what to believe or that they should.  I mean instead to remind everyone that whether by divine creation or a pure evolution without a firmly known origin, we have a brain and ought to use it.  I’m simultaneously annoyed by, amused by, frightened for, and disappointed in those who trust completely in the words of another without exploring or examining an issue for themselves – “the followers”.  Most often such feelings wash over me in reference to those led by charismatic, self-identified religious leaders, but I’ve experienced the same even in looking over comments on blogs and social sites.  I could write a whole separate article on such “leaders”, but I’ll refrain for the moment except tp say one thing.  Ignorance masquerading as intelligence is a dangerously contagious virus.  I believe followers sometimes just don’t know where to turn for or how to access information, but often times I think followers are simply afraid to take on the responsibility of making decisions for themselves because they must accept that they are then fully responsible for the consequences of those decisions and the actions or inaction that results.

Sometimes we must weigh all the factors and make very difficult choices.  THose choices are our own and we owe no one an explanation or an apology.  If you have any faith in a Higher Power, in “salvation”…a belief that involves seeking enlightenment…a basic belief that you are meant to grow and change…even a belief that you are a meant to be an active participant in the evolution of the human race, then you know that ultimately, YOU AND NO ONE ELSE is responsible for YOU.  Only YOU know what YOUR heart is telling YOU, and only YOU have lived YOUR life and intimately know YOU.  NO OTHER PERSON know YOU better than YOU.  So, what will YOU choose?  Will YOU choose what is true? what is best for YOU? what YOU know is right? what YOU have discovered for YOURSELF?  Or will YOU believe simply what someone else tells you they believe.  Choose to believe what you will, but remember that beliefs aren’t necessarily facts, no matter how assertively or intelligently they are declared.  If YOU choose to not investigate or think for YOURSELF, YOU are still making a choice and YOU are responsible for that choice.  Similarly, be prepared to know that YOUR words have the power to lead others astray if such persons are ignorant of how to access resources for their own investigation or are lacking in the mental capacity to make reasoned decisions.

Two Ships That Crash in the Night: Bipolar, Personality, Relationships

The Starry Night

Image via Wikipedia

Failed relationships amongst people with Bipolar occurs for multiple reason, almost all of which are rectifiable, so there IS HOPE.  1) Ignorance – educate yourself about Bipolar in a way that you can accurately relay it to others besides just explaining how you “feel” or what you “do”. Gain more of a medical understanding. From there, consider how and when to educate others – my Journal entry, “Do You Hear Me? Are You With Me?” may be helpful. 2) Alienation – Persons with Bipolar have a low tolerance for distress and difficulty with emotional regulation. All people when highly stressed, revert to unhealthy coping skills and make unhealthy choices.  When we do so, we alienate (push away) others. As we make healthier coping skills habit, learn distress tolerance and emotional regulation techniques, employ tactics for reducing our overall stress-load and make amends for past harmful actions, we ill see improvements in our relationships. Although originally designed for the treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder, DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) is fast becoming the method most successful in treating a variety of disorders marked by emotional dysregulation, including Bipolar Disorder. DBT is an interactive educational therapy, usually presented to a group in a class with the support of individual DBT coaching to learn application of the techniques to personal circumstances. However, even if it is not available in your area, you are not without options. There is a DBT workbook just for persons with Bipolar. You can also check out http://www.dbtselfhelp.com. Therapy in general is a key component of treatment for Bipolar. 3) Withdrawal – Whether because we feel misunderstood, we’re afraid of hurting others or of embarrassing ourselves, or because getting out just seems like too much effort, we CHOOSE to withdraw. Isolating ourselves is probably the worst thing to do if we want recovery but the easiest thing to cling to if we want to avoid change. Recovery requires change. Change necessitates loss. Loss leads to grief. The process of grief, until resolved, is unpleasant. When the pain of remaining the same is more than the pain of change, it is then that we begin to recover. For most o f us, recovery is stop and start. Far too many people stop here and don’t start again. That is called choosing misery. Misery is the opposite of joy. It is an attitude in action, reject and retreat. Misery is not to be confused with sadness, an emotional response to stimuli. It also is not depression, a neurobiological response to a chemical imbalance caused by genetic defect, neurological damage or the exhaustion of our ability to cope. Being miserable is a cognitive response, sometimes a subconscious one, to our emotions. 4) Personality Disorder – The Personality Disorders Described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) were designed to reflect the natural tendencies of all persons when highly stressed. When unhealthy patterns of relating to others becomes habitually, usually due to diminished coping resources or prolonged high levels of stress, and create disorder (a repeated inability to function in a way beneficial to one’s progress toward self-actualization) in a person’s life, such person usually meets the criteria for a Personality Disorder. It should be easy to see why persons with one of the major psychiatric conditions is also likely to have a Personality Diagnosis. However, it is SO common that many psychiatrist don’t bother making a separate diagnosis. Most therapists operate under an assumption that such a diagnosis exists, with certain ones being more common to each of the various Axis I diagnoses, which in turn often gives them a clue to appropriate areas of focus for intervention. Whether a “full-fledged” Personality Disorder exists or not, our common patterns of relating that arise from our struggle with Bipolar, rather than the actual symptoms of Bipolar are more often the cause of our failed relationships than anything else. This is one of the most compelling reasons to enter long-term therapy with an appropriately trained professional. Armed with this knowledge and these suggestions, you can put an end to loneliness as soon as you are ready. I am on the journey myself. Come join me.

Imagined Reality – image

Reality, you seem so true, but I know I only imagined you. Tomorrow, I’ll imagine a brighter hue. Indeed, we are co-creators and tomorrow is another day! Be mindful of the present. Believe in the power of a positive attitude. Be willing to dream and create. Perception is quite the artist, but attitude is its muse. Hope. Live. Love.

Hearing God’s Voice

up the garden path

Image by seriykotik1970 via Flickr

People often ask me how I discern God’s voice from some evil spirit’s or my own ego’s. I share this guidance because it is what I do and it seems to lead me on a righteous and serene path when I am faithful to its practice. I can’t honestly say though that what i think is God’s voice always is; that is for each person to discern for him/herself.

Ask “What’s the next right thing to do?” When two completely different sources – in voice or print, direct or indirect – give you the same answer, go with it. The echo is your assurance that the answer harmonizes with your soul, that it is the voice of Spirit.

God speaks to us constantly, but far too rarely are we listening. If you do not ask and actively listen with just one thought in mind, you can neither be sure you didn’t miss the echo and are only stretching to conform an unrelated message to Your Ego’s desire nor be certain of the context of the guidance you have been given thus sending you in the right direction but down the wrong path.

However, do not fret, even when we head in the wrong direction or down the wrong path, God is constantly calling us back and so with due diligence we shall arrive. Some of us just enjoy a more “scenic” route to Enlightenment, Nirvana, Heaven. When I can though, I prefer the shorter path, however difficult or narrow, because I am convinced the Eternal Valley is of greater splendor than any route which might lead me there.

In a future post, I will share some of my experiences applying this practice.

Thank You Gray Skies – image

Die Gartenlaube (1887) b 437

Image via Wikipedia

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As foster parents, my spouse and I have found it beneficial to develop rituals, but ones that respect a child’s right to develop their own spiritual beliefs. One way we have found to do this is for each person to recount three things specific to the day for which we are grateful while we eat dinner. I’m a little quirky in that I love the smell of rain and the freshness of the air much more than bright sun that makes me squint, cooks my flesh and makes me perspire. So I sang my praise to God on one particularly gloomy day to the dumbfounded amazement of the foster child in our home at the time. The image below developed from the brief conversation that ensued. I hope it keeps you encouraged and focused on the positive. Take care.
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Meditation to Evoke Empathy

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I learned from Eastern meditation a method of reflection whose Americanized name is “Pillow Pause”. You place the problem as you define it on top of the pillow. At each side, you place your response. You act when your response leads you peacefully to do so, when thought and emotion harmonize and come in tune with the greatest good that you are capable of at that point in your spiritual journey. If none of the four responses leads you peacefully, you flip the pillow and challenge yourself to reinterpret “the problem”. You may continue to flip the pillow as many times as necessary. I’ve never in 20 years quit in frustration before being lead. My choices today are not the same as a year ago because I am in a different place on the journey, but I can expect no more of myself than my development allows. The practice of this meditation has gradually caused me without purposeful exercise of the meditation to find less and less reason to judge and more and more ways to act with empathy.

Dwindling Church?

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...

Image via Wikipedia

[Note: What I’ve written here is partly in response to another blogger’s thoughts; see the link  just below this post.]

Our growing world challenges us as faith communities to grow with it.  Persons create organizations, religious included, to do together what none of us can do alone. Organizations organize, allowing efficiency and productivity in meeting needs, including spiritual, to prevail. Jesus first organized his disciples about him. He set the example for further organization in the distribution of the loaves. He rarely sent anyone out to preach alone. He gathered people together. He sent his disciples to do the same as they spread the Good News. Organizations serve people by serving the purpose for which the people created them. As our world changes, expanding across the miles, we must learn to clarify our mission and modify measures for living it out.

I’m 39. Social media IS social because social means connecting. Connecting flows in many currents but the common conduit is communication. We must have both a voice, eyes and ears to connect. The only communication entirely lost in the cyber-world is touch, which could be another blog topic entirely. I attend services at as many as four different spiritual communities per week because they each communicate God’s message to me. They each fulfill a different need at different times. I am most disappointed and unfulfilled when I expect more than an organization or person can offer me.

One of the greatest needs I have is to exercise my spiritual gifts. Countless times I’ve told the admins of religious communities, “Here’s what I can do for you. Here are my limitations. How can I give?” The most common answer I receive is…nothing. Eventually, I move on. Recently, I joined a new community. I like to sing. I get sick often. Their answer, “Come sing with us (the choir) now, whenever you want. Sing what you know. Lip-sync the rest. Praise God. Come be WITH us.”

That church‘s population is dwindling in size, but recent statistics show they’re giving more financially per person than most other churches in the area and they run a homeless mission that serves far more than the church’s population. Across the street, I attend services at a different community. It is large and growing in population. It found the resources and faith to embrace multimedia and cyberspace.  It’s giving percentage is small but sheer numbers sustain it. The smaller church could continue as it is, but it recognizes the need for change. It will soon band with others near it to share resources, including staff, collectively.

Both communities will survive for now. BOTH are actually growing, just in different ways. I am quite sure the larger will never shut its doors. I’m equally sure the doors to the smaller one’s heart will never be closed. Its mission will remain the same, while its methods may mold themselves to the modern world in a different and ever-changing way. My questions are these: How will each of us as co-creators, having been given choice, mold and remold ourselves to live our personal missions as Christ‘s followers in the modern world? How much am I willing to change in order to grow? By what means will I be so moved in the Spirit that I am joyfully able to proclaim the Good News? Am I ready to thrive? Am I even surviving? Make me a channel of Your peace, O Lord. God made us to love and be loved. How am I loved? How am I loving? Love your neighbor…

“A Painful Experience” at the OpenPath blog

 

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