Time & Authority

     I began reading “On The Shortness of Life” by: Seneca the past couple of days because of well the pandemic and the growing number of deaths around the world.  It immediately began to strike many chords within me.  Aware now that the secret to a full life is being aware of how one might choose to spend his/her time on a daily basis.  Fully knowing that our time is not promised, and will eventually…run out.  

selective focus photography of brown wooden book shelf

Those who forget the past, neglect the present, and fear for the future have a life that is very brief and troubled; when they have reached the end of it, the poor wretches perceive too late that for such a long while they have been busied in doing nothing.“~Seneca, “On The Shortness of Life”

     The recent changes that most everyone have been forced to make to their own routine has brought about some very pertinent questions in me, one being… Am I spending my time wisely?  One might think that we should have more TIME to get everything accomplished.  Here is the kicker, there are still only 24 hours in a day. How am I spending my 24 hours?  Have I been busied in doing nothing?

     I do have a little bit of a routine in how I like to spend my time. I know now that I enjoy waking slowly. I may have always known this, as I have never liked the sound of a blaring alarm.  I then like to make my way to the kitchen for my morning must-have, my coffee. Then I will proceed in taking care of everyone’s breakfast as they wake up, one by one.  I used to worry about many other things, but everything that I have been worried with lately has been based mostly on our internal needs. Health being the top priority.  Growing knowledge coming in a close second.  I took a moment to analyze how I choose to spend my time. This is what I came up with, my Weekly TIME BUDGET…

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     Why do we think we have all the time in the world? At what point does this lie get planted into our minds? The time we have been given, is all that we will ever have. There is no way to store up more time for later.  There is no way to earn more time. It’s not like we can do things on “time credit” that concept will never exist.  We only have what we have, and instead of treating TIME like it’s our most valuable asset that we will ever have any control over, we ignore our authority over it.  The authority we have over it, has it’s limitations. It is limited to how one chooses to spend their OWN time, and once that time has been spent, it can’t be returned. Seneca suggested that the only way to add time to your life is to learn from those that have already lived. “They annex every age to their own; all the years that have gone before them are an addition to their store.” ~Seneca To take their knowledge and add it to ours. How does one do this?  READ, READ, READ!

   Choosing to learn from those that have already lived, will also teach you how to let go of your obsession with things that aren’t necessary. We become obsessed with being distracted.  “They strive for something else to occupy them, and all the intervening time is irksome.”~ Seneca.  We need distractions, without them, we complain of being bored.  I hear it daily from my kids.  They need a distraction almost every waking moment.  I am actually bothered by how much they need this.  Look at your life now, how much of it is spent on distraction?  How much of it is spent on something useful and productive?  What is your definition of useful or productive?  Some people define productivity, by the amount of money made. As a teacher, I define productivity by a couple of things… was something learned, did someone grow?   

     We can learn from our past, and from the past of others.  Those that do not take account of the past, have no concept of time and therefore will not feel like they have lived long no matter how long they may have actually lived. It’s almost like running a race.  If you know you must run a certain distance before reaching the finish line, but you have no clue at what point you started the race. You will not know how close the finish line is to you until you have crossed the finish line. By then its too late to say you didn’t know, we are all running the race.  
photo of man running during daytime
Photo by Tembela Bohle on Pexels.com
  This lie robs us of actions that we believe we’ll have time to do later, the things that mean something to us now should be our focus. The truth is, the only time any of us have is now. The trick to leading a full life with a reign on time is knowing that TIME can’t be stopped, but the authority of how your life is spent is up to YOU.  

Good luck and GODSPEED! We must put down the distractions. Society can’t keep putting things off.

I have been reading “On The Shortness of Life” Seneca on the app, Scribd

 

A N G E R

Responding like a stoic…

Is anger a good thing or a bad thing? Anger, when first recognized, is actually just simply a warning. A signal from your amygdala blasting throughout your brain, sounding an alarm via chemicals, that warns your body that something is not right. Message received as, “there is a present threat and there is a possibility to fight, flight, or freeze.” Anger can therefore be seen as a natural response to external stimuli. It is a response that was designed in humans to help protect us in perceived dangerous situations. After reading what Seneca wrote on Anger, I concluded that he deduced that anger wasn’t natural, that reasoning was natural. The truth is, it requires more brain function to engage the logical areas of the brain. Leaving me to believe, emotion is more natural than thought.

The emotional response happens automatically. This emotional part of our brains (amygdala) is so much more developed than the logical part of our brain, which is known as the prefrontal cortex. The emotional part of our brain has kept us alive, reacting to the world without much thought to consequences, other than one that is primal, “Stay alive!” While this much developed area of my brain has kept me alive, it has also assumed for far too long that it is in charge. I have now learned that the prefrontal cortex can be trained/stimulated so that it can show the amygdala whose boss. Seneca was then saying that allowing our emotional brain to just run rampant in our lives wouldn’t be natural. The natural thing, the “good thing” is to have what we call In DBT, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, your wise mind always aware of what your amygdala and prefrontal cortex are doing. After studying stoicism and understanding that Cognitive Behavior Therapy was designed using stoicism. I can see how it’s philosophy is also helpful in The therapy I am currently receiving now. That this higher order thinking, being cognitively aware is the practice of stoicism. “through Stoic training, Aurelius was able to master his perceptions and see each obstacle as an opportunity to improve”(dailystoic.com) mastering our perceptions, added with the knowledge of how our minds naturally respond will help most manage anger.



You can find some exercises for the prefrontal cortex below…

https://heartmindonline.org/resources/10-exercises-for-your-prefrontal-cortex


If you have read any of my previous posts or know anything of Borderline Personality Disorder, becoming a stoic is changing the natural way in which my BPD brain will more than likely over respond to the difficult to digest external stimuli. Like black is to white, BPD is to stoicism. The way in which one chooses to respond to this automatic alarm system is what I believe answers our question today. When anger is triggered inside the mind, it is neither good nor bad. It is not decided until we respond.

Anger, shows duality, with the possibility of being both good and bad. Stoics believe that there is no good with anger. They were told to see that there is no good, because of all the “evil” it created. They want every stoic to believe that there is no good to be found in anger. I see the justifications of their message. A calm and sound mind, not writhing with “passions” can be controlled. One drowning in anger or other “passions” cannot. So then, if looking at it from this perspective, serenity isn’t the final goal, but rather control. Or does control get us to the place of serenity? I have had moments, in which I have given into passions of anger and it has kept me alive. So isn’t it necessary to be alive in order to be serene? Can we have one without the other?

I absolutely want to be a stoic sage someday, using this higher-order thinking to get through the most complicated of situations with clarity and peace of mind… I’m left perplexed at this particular question. While I understand what the stoic philosophers were trying to convey to their followers in those times, teaching people to seek serenity. Being calm and collected leads to logical thinking and sound decisions. I have also experienced anger on several levels. Ultimately, anger has ensured my existence during some pretty tough times. More recently, I find that I am just angry at myself and my mistakes and this anger has propelled me to find better ways to manage myself, my disorder, and my life. Has it been pretty? No, fighting my way to this point hasn’t been pretty. I feel that’s why we are all built in this way. There is no way to determine which human will be placed in prime conditions and which will be placed in tough conditions. The emotional tools we are equipped with may not be dispersed equally, but we were all equipped with the ability to learn. I choose now as I am on the verge of entering my forties, to learn this higher order thinking. Working a portion of the brain more and more, so that my logical mind becomes stronger every day. My ultimate goal being serenity in this deeply maddening world.

I had a discussion with my students the other day about anger. One student said, “as a kid, my counselor told me not to show my anger, but to keep my anger to myself.” I felt that wasn’t a very healthy way to teach a young person to deal with such an intense emotion. I asked him, “How has that advice worked out for you?” My student responded with, “I’m still trying to find a useful method to control my anger.”

I then asked, “what if we started looking at anger differently?” A lot of puzzled stares looking back at me. I then said, “what if we started looking at the positive ways in which anger can be of use to us? Can anger be of use to us? Can we manage it? Or do we let that emotion manage us?”

What if we started looking at the positive ways in which anger can be of use to us?

What are positive ways anger has helped you?

Can anger be of use to us?

Can we manage anger, or do we let anger manage us?

Emotions indicate so many things for an individual, learning to understand our emotions and why we choose to respond in certain ways, increases not only our emotional intelligence but the control we possess over ourselves. Why then should anyone just ignore this emotion, anger? Especially, when anger is often the first emotion we go to when life gets confusing, or when we are afraid, when we feel threatened or rejected.

“Anger is temporary madness: the Stoics knew how to curb it” By: Massimo Pigliucci, here he states 10 ways to curb anger! Maybe one of these can help…

  • Engage in preemptive meditation: think about what situations trigger your anger, and decide ahead of time how to deal with them.
  • Check anger as soon as you feel its symptoms. Don’t wait, or it will get out of control.
  • Associate with serene people, as much as possible; avoid irritable or angry ones. Moods are infective.
  • Play a musical instrument, or purposefully engage in whatever activity relaxes your mind. A relaxed mind does not get angry.
  • Seek environments with pleasing, not irritating, colours. Manipulating external circumstances actually has an effect on our moods.
  • Don’t engage in discussions when you are tired, you will be more prone to irritation, which can then escalate into anger.
  • Don’t start discussions when you are thirsty or hungry, for the same reason.
  • Deploy self-deprecating humour, our main weapon against the unpredictability of the Universe, and the predictable nastiness of some of our fellow human beings.
  • Practice cognitive distancing – what Seneca calls ‘delaying’ your response – by going for a walk, or retire to the bathroom, anything that will allow you a breather from a tense situation.
  • Change your body to change your mind: deliberately slow down your steps, lower the tone of your voice, impose on your body the demeanour of a calm person.

My Conclusion: I thought about anger for an entire week. Oddly enough it kept me from getting angry. While I may not have answered the question for everyone here, my answer is… Anger, like all other emotions is necessary. It is neither a good or bad thing. To let it get out of control is bad. To see what it can do for us when we need it to survive, is good.

Have a great day! The end! 🙂

A game that could help improve logic… Chess

**Wanted to include a huge thanks to @dailystoic and @stoiccoffeebreak for wonderful podcasts! Thanks for stirring good thoughts and inspiring and motivating me to change the things I can control. Check out their podcasts if you are learning on the stoic philosophy.

I Am Pleased To Tell You, I Am Not Here To Please!

I mentioned in my last post that I am beginning a personal journey of becoming a Stoic. A practicing Stoic that also has BPD, learning more about the Philosophy of Stoicism has actually been quite therapeutic for me and has offered many great coping skills to help with my daily struggles. Does this mean I have figured out how to regulate my emotions when they become dis-regulated? Not entirely, not yet, but what it has shown me, is that it’s ok to feel certain ways about certain things. That these feelings don’t always have to be agreeable with others. As they are MY feelings. That the moments I am asked for my opinion, thoughts or feelings on a matter my response at that point only requires honesty, and if I’m not sharing my honest opinion, thoughts, and feelings about things and I am just telling a person what I feel they want to hear, I am in fact using a form of manipulation. As they aren’t seeing a true version, but a version I’ve created for them. (My life in a nutshell!)

“In order to please others, we lose our hold on our life’s purpose.”

Epictetus

This one personality choice. Choosing to please others, a choice that was made without really being aware of the harm it would bring me and my loved ones during my adult years, is one I hope to break. It truly seemed harmless. I was just pleasing others. No, I wasn’t. I had been painting a picture all those years. Only the picture I had been painting was not a true picture of who I am, and now no one knows what the hell they are looking at, (I’m left looking like a Picasso!) At some point in my life before I had made that decision, I had learned that I liked making others happy, or thought that I had some sort of control over making others happy. Stoicism, tells us we only have control of our internal/external responses for ourselves and only ourselves. living as a people pleaser had not only proven to be exhausting, it proved to be a downright painful existence. I’d wonder about, latching on to other’s opinion’s or beliefs and then think who am I? Where do I stand? It was becoming more and more apparent that I had no solid grip of my own identity. No consistency with who I was, no boundaries, just out to please, no limits. Do you know anyone like this? Are you like this? Is it wrong to be this way? Maybe the question is better asked this way, is it right to live this way?

“To find yourself, think for yourself.”

Socrates

I have been a self-prescribed people pleaser for so long it’s hard for me to pin-point the age of my youth at which this actually started, but it wasn’t until adulthood that I started to really feel the negative repercussions of this prescribed way of life. I wouldn’t stand up for what I wanted, because I had no actual clue of what that was. I would easily go along with whatever it was anyone else wanted to do, or agree with what was said just as long as they appreciated or made note of my easy-going personality. I wanted to be liked. Not for the things that made me unique, or the things that actually made me, me… I just wanted to be liked and this meant at any cost.

Wearing masks is actually a part of having BPD ( Borderline Personality Disorder) I’d say it’s a side affect of being a people pleaser as well. I listen to several different stoic podcasts daily for inspiration and direction. One morning, I hear that masks are important in stoicism, but they are referred to as roles. When I am at work, I fulfill a role as a teacher. When I am at home, I have two roles, my first role being a wife and second role being a mother. Our first roles are generally given to us when we are born, either as a son or daughter. I grew up thinking that I never fulfilled my roles very well. Especially after my parent’s divorce. Now, after looking at it through the lens of stoicism. I observe that the expectation I once had of myself may have been impossible. I kept trying to fix everything that was broken. That was not my function, which is why I felt my role was left unfulfilled. I look back and notice that I was raised primarily by my dad and was the only daughter. I was also the only grand-daughter on my mother’s side. No one taught me how to be a daughter. I just discovered what that meant on my own, just like we all discover our roles. I can only expect to function in my role, no more and no less. I can only do my best. My best is what I will do. That is all!

I am just now learning how to respond to the world in an honest way. I know this will take major mindful intentions in order for me to make these changes. I plan on making these changes daily and have already taken the first steps. I’m pleased to say, I’m not here to please everyone, I am here to be me. Have a great day, just be you! Those that love you for who you truly are, truly deserve to be in your circle!

**Wanted to include a huge thanks to @dailystoic and @stoiccoffeebreak for wonderful podcasts! Thanks for stirring good thoughts and inspiring and motivating me to change the things I can control. Check out their podcasts if you are learning on the stoic philosophy.

Can An Individual With BPD Become A Stoic?

Emotional dis-regulation might be the opposite term one could use for Stoicism. I’ve lived most of my life without acknowledgement to my dis-regulated emotional state. In my teen years, emotional dis-regulation could be seen on most days. This dis-regulation often misinterpreted as just being a teenager. As teens are often moody, impulsive, and emotional. It was a convenient front being a teenager, as everyone assumed I was behaving normally. As a child I can remember being so upset at times that I required a paper bag to breathe into just to help with hyperventilating. This happened many times. Again, the excuses were she just needs to calm down, she is just sensitive. Being a shy little girl, I was unable to communicate properly about the things I was feeling. This made it easy for others to believe I was fine. I still at times get almost to the point of hyperventilating when I experience an event that I have perceived as negatively emotionally-charged, or I perceive I am being blamed. I have moments where I feel my entire person has been hijacked and is now under someone else’s control. This is the danger of being highly emotional and highly reactive to your situation/s. You become subject to reacting without logic, thus leaving the person feeling like a puppet being manipulated by someone else. If I am not in control, then who is?

The stoic philosophy says that one shouldn’t react but rather look at the situation as something that you can not control. The only thing that you do control is your thoughts and your reaction in that moment. The stoic philosophy reminds one to stay mindful, in the present moment. Not to worry about the future, but educate yourself that tragedies and challenges are sure to be expected. That one shouldn’t take this personally as each of us are being challenged.

Understanding this philosophy has helped create some control for myself. I have been able to halt an impulse, as I consider the way in which I can be better received. It is my way of having some control in every situation. It alleviates the constant push and pull that we often feel when dealing with difficult situations. It’s understanding that you do hold some power, but that this power is limited to just your own actions and responses. Once you try to push your power onto something or someone else it is no longer a power, but a wasted effort or wasted breath. You then push everything out of balance and something may fall apart. In my experience the thing left falling apart would be me.

If you think about yourself as a lightbulb, it might help explain my understanding of this philosophy a little better. A lightbulb’s main function and purpose is to produce light, to lift darkness. Some may say that your light isn’t bright enough, others may say it’s too bright. Stoicism says, it doesn’t matter what others say, as long as YOU are shining as brightly as YOU can. That is all you can control. You don’t control where you are placed. You don’t control when your power is cut off, or how long you should last before your light burns out, but you can do your best knowing that you did your best at what you could control, and be happy that you were able to shine your light. This thought is so soothing to me, I honestly feel it has helped my anxiety more than my anti-anxiety meds.

I have several roles I fulfill on the daily, who doesn’t? My life is not so different from most. I am a daughter, I am a sister, I am a wife, I am a mother of two, I am a teacher, I am a friend, etc. we could list the roles for a little bit longer I am sure of this. The beauty with stoicism isn’t to compare your role to that of another, it’s to ask yourself while on a said task, fulfilling specific roles, are you genuinely focused and completing the task to the best of your ability? This has changed my daily life in a huge way. When I find myself doing something I don’t particularly care to do, the complaints cease and I am left repeating the question, is this the best I can do? Which leaves me doing a much better job and feeling the intrinsic reward of completing something at my best.

I am just starting this journey, practicing and learning stoicism. Hopefully the question is answered in my progress. I do hope someone with BPD can become a stoic. Have an empowered day, knowing that you can only do your best and that is more than enough.

* if you are on a similar journey please share your thoughts/feedback on stoicism in the comment section. Have a mindful day!

**Wanted to include a huge thanks to @dailystoic and @stoiccoffeebreak for wonderful podcasts! Thanks for stirring good thoughts and inspiring and motivating me to change the things I can control. Check out their podcasts if you are learning on the stoic philosophy.

Combat Of Black Friday

I am a veteran of the United States Army. Even in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, I pondered how I might be able harm another human being. I had so much trouble with the idea that I’d often say to myself, “it’s me or the enemy!” I never had to assess whether or not I would be able to take someone’s life or injure anyone in order to save my own. Although, I was living close to combat I didn’t have to test my nerve in that way. I can also be sure I wasn’t the only soldier who pondered those very same thoughts, and our reasons for war are suppose to be for honorable reasons; freedom, security, or acting as allied forces. I’m also a lover of the outdoors and often observe nature. I killed a deer once, and understood the reason I pulled that trigger wasn’t to hurt the animal, but to help provide food for my family. Pulling that trigger was necessary in order to do that. Both situations were difficult, as it challenged my internal motives and my beliefs. I would only shoot someone, if I was in danger and I would only kill an animal, to provide food for my family. I watched videos of Black Friday chaos a few days ago and watched it again with my class.

My thoughts… Are these actual people or wild predators? I’d like to see National Geographic do an episode called “The Bargain Shopper” the worst and most dangerous of the species being “The Black Friday Shopper”! What has happened within our society to make us act like animals in shopping centers.

Survey says that around 50% of people who partake in the madness, do it selfishly. Not buying gifts for anyone except me, myself and I. We have become the most selfish and greedy place on earth. To see people trampled leading to multiple injuries and one recorded death… one worker died after being trampled to death because the mob rushed the entry and I guess she wasn’t fast enough to move herself out of the way. Talk about insanity. That is absolute insanity. And for what, why are they acting like this? They are behaving like this for items that will more than likely fill the shelves of a thrift store, yard sale or landfill with the next year. We use, and abuse everything in our society and I want to just say, I’m sorry!

I first want to apologize to my kids. I’m so sorry my loves that you will grow up in such a materialistic world. I’ll try my best to keep you aware of what is necessary to be a good person. Lesson 1:

Let’s agree that Black Friday shopping can be done (if necessary) on Monday during Cyber Monday sales.

Christmas isn’t about gifts, and Thanksgiving shouldn’t be the precursor to the purge! I was completely disappointed in our culture and lack of respect. What will happen if we just decided not to buy their items, but stayed home and enjoyed leftovers and family, not to mention the warmth of our beds at 4am!

I had to vent!

God Bless!

Back 2 School Anxiety… Anyone?

Anxiety, what does it feel like?

Before being diagnosed and prescribed medication for anxiety I had learned to live with this feeling. In the mind it’s like having an argument that you will lose no matter what. It’s frustrating and irritating. I have this constant annoyance of being me. The guilt I carry from feeling not good enough;inadequate. The scared & nervous feelings that were ever present that people would discover my insecurities. I wouldn’t say I would worry about things going wrong in my life. I would just remind myself numerous times every day that they would. I felt that what I was feeling daily was a feeling everyone dealt with. Even with a Master’s degree and years of being an educator. I was ignorant of my own mental health. I had dealt with this feeling my entire life, so there was no way to know that there was something going wrong internally. Physiologically, it feels like an intense burn in your chest and buzz in your head. It flares up at times if certain things trigger stress for you. If you are anything like me anxiety doesn’t visit without bringing his friend guilt. Every time I start feeling anxious I also feel guilty for not being a better person, a stronger person. I still feel like this at times, but medicine and counseling have definitely helped me manage it better.

With school starting back this month; people everywhere are dealing with their own batch of anxiety. I know I deal with this daily, but for people that are new to managing anxiety, I hope you find some relief from my personal experiences.

How long I lived life without knowing I had anxiety?

I wouldn’t say I was born with anxiety, but I feel that it started at a very young age. My parents divorced when I was 9. This was a traumatic event and the years preceding solidified my struggle to find peace within myself. I would say it was about 33 years before I knew there was something not ok, and that it was OK for me to accept that things were not ok.

Why I struggle with anxiety?

There will always be people as well as events that show up in my life that are outside of my control or influence, this can cause me anxiety. Knowing that these things will in fact happen without my permission, and people will enter my life that have negative opinions of me. This can swallow me up into an ocean of self-doubt and the need for other people to approve of my existence develops. This feeling and annoying need, causes my habit of people-pleasing to perpetuate out of control. I then begin to relinquish my control to others, and my other habit of codependency rears it’s ugly head. My struggle has always been to make others see me as a pleasing person. I struggle because I know that I am not perfection and my pleasing someone is not certain. This uncertainty brings about my anxiety and a plethora of insecurities. Recently this has been happening less and less as I remind myself that the only person I can control is myself and I can choose to be me no matter what others may think of me.

5 coping methods that have helped me deal with anxiety.

1. Breathing – This is easy and effective! Take time to just breathe.

2. Tapping- Applying rhythmic taps to pressure points located on face, side & head help alleviate the stress I may be feeling in overwhelming situations.

3. Laughing – find a good comedy or a good friend that causes you to laugh. This is a great remedy to help pull you out of anxious moments in life.

4. Exercise – The release of good chemicals help the body feel better and manage stress more efficiently.

5. Pray – If the other 4 don’t work… say a prayer and start again. Sometimes you’ll find you needed to do all 5 to begin with.

It may not fully go away but with awareness, acceptance and treatment it can be managed. Take back control.

How I Define LOVE…

I heard this week on a YouTube Channel that “Love is not an emotion or a feeling, but just the lack of hate.”  It was something I couldn’t let go of.  I kept the thought rotating on the spit in my mind like a huge chicken roasting on a rotisserie… A chicken I had just named LOVE.  Thinking, oh when I am done roasting this thought, it will taste so good for all who choose to eat with me.

The thing is the longer I think of it, ponder on it, the more love I feel.  The longer I get lost in my memories, the more I am directed to moments that I received care, received compassion and forgiveness.  These are all actions that have made me feel loved.  How do I show love?  Do I show love to myself, and do those I do love know that I love them?  Is love sacrifice?  Is love pain?  Is love just good feelings and happy thoughts?  Is love tears of joy or sadness? What if it were more simply described for all of us?  I can sum it up in three words.

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I believe I can be a caring person, a forgiving and compassionate person.  Can I be those things to someone who irritates, frustrates, or ignites anger in me?  Why do some people cause us to react negatively?  If I am a loving person, can I react like that to anyone?  I have to be accepting of everyone, no matter their background, political affiliation, educational level, financial situation, no matter what.  I have to accept everyone to show love.  So if I am to love everyone, I must hold judgement of everyone?  I must accept each and every person on this planet in order to LOVE.  I have to love murderers, and rapists, and pedophiles, and hookers, and white supremicist, and terrorists and even the boogie man, I have to accept ALL?  Oh my! No wonder there is so much hate in the world.  It is so much easier to judge and only accept the things we like in others.  What if we could heal all of those things with LOVE.  Thinking of this creates a nice picture and maybe my internal drive of perfection is taking over, but doesn’t it take you to a utopia?

Want to know love?  If God is love, here is the description of LOVE. Sounds like an unachievable perfection, doesn’t it?

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Anyone that has lived longer than 5 years has experienced an unloving moment, has learned not to trust, not to hope, to be rude, to be impatient, to tell a lie.  We were all born with a root of evil and a spirit of love.  How do we release ourselves with this entangled root of evil.  Where do we find the ability to release it from ourselves.  We have to know GOD.  I know most of us that chose to go to Vacation Bible School when we were younger or maybe even forced to go; had to learn a scripture.  John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believed in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

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If I dissect this one scripture, I can discover so much.  I have repeated it so many times in my life, and yet I have never actually looked at the scripture as a key to living forever.  “The WORLD” = each of us!  All of our sins, our misconducts, our flaws, all of us.  Every single one of us make up THE WORLD. He LOVES us (the world) so much that he sacrificed perfection, for us.  His SON = perfection.  The only perfect being ever made was sacrificed for our messed up, imperfect lives.  Once we believe in LOVE, we have EVERLASTING LIFE?  Wait, what?  What does it all mean?  He should have chosen quality over quantity, right?  We do! What am I missing, what have I been missing?

If God can give up his most beloved and perfect masterpiece, what is holding me back?  I want to love and yet I can’t even get over myself.  My insecurities keep me fearful.  I can’t speak the truth, afraid of others reactions.  I have built a prison and I should be living free in the spirit.  His Spirit.  Even now while I am mulling all of this over while I am writing I am considering the responses I might get from people who might label me a bible thumper, religious freak.  Honestly, I consider that an insult.  I believe in God, but don’t categorize me as one of THOSE people.  Look there it is, that ROOT.  Rearing it’s ugly head again.   I know everyone has an opinion.  Maybe we shouldn’t!  Once we require an opinion we should pray for the Spirit to lead us to the correct one.  I know that this sounds a bit like the rantings of a lunatic, but what if they aren’t?  What if they are from Him, and he is using some misfit teacher who has failed multiple times in marriage and who has had to fight to keep everyone that is close to her as a messenger of LOVE.  WTH?  I can’t even believe I just wrote that.

My brother and I throw ideas, revelations, scriptures back and forth to each other; through text messages.  He sent me one that said, “Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit.  Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness.  For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness.”  I bring this up because I began writing a blog to vent my thoughts and to help others that might be experiencing life the same way.  I kept looking for something to make me feel better, something to make me look better, something to make me appear perfect.  All of those things were selfish and my actions were coming from the root of sinful self-interest.  I watered that root until it had nearly taken hold of every fiber of my being.  I saw nothing wrong with my endeavors, nothing wrong with what I was seeking.  It was for a better me!  Society tells us that is what we should all be doing.  “Don’t stop yourself, indulge!”  “BUY MORE! LIVE MORE! BE MORE!”

My message is this, That root of sinful self-interest can never get enough and it has been planted inside each of us.  Have you ever actually dug a root out of the ground.  It is quite the job.  It is not like we can just find it and pluck it out.  We must work it out, and realize why it had been planted there in the first place.  Without it, we wouldn’t have the need to look for LOVE.  I still don’t know how to rid myself of the thoughts or the shameful places this “root” takes me, but I know I can no longer feed it.  I must acknowledge that it is there and find the spirit that is of LOVE and water & feed it, to show this “root” there is no longer any room for it to dwell inside of me.

Do you know why I must accept this “root?”  If I can’t find it in myself to accept who I am and understand what I am capable of, and love myself in spite of all of that, my love for others is only coming from a place that only serves my self-interest.  I am only loving so that I may be loved.  I have to forfeit that idea of romantic love. My ideas of fairy tales can not be my description of love.  I must accept all the parts of who I am, the dark and gloomy parts, the weak and scared parts, the indulgent and insecure parts or I will never be able to have love for others.  It will all be artificial.  Be real with yourself!

I have heard from several people in my life that I am not judgmental.  Immediately, when I hear this I think… “Yeah, I know I don’t want others to judge me so I don’t judge others.”  People living in sinful self-interest, can’t handle shame.  I didn’t want to impart my honest remarks on how others chose to live their life, what if they decided to be honest about my choices.  That would bring shame and that would hurt my feelings.  My precious ego wouldn’t be able to survive.  Can we grow without honesty?  I think I cleared that up last week.  I believe no growth can occur without honesty.  Love rejoices in the truth. Start LOVING this week by being HONEST with yourself and be led by the SPIRIT, not grounded by the ROOT of sinful self-interest.  Teach others that it is ok to love the messy and messed up.  BE the change this world needs to see by spreading truth,   without judgment.239b2aeb45415859920af6834f9b22e6

My definition of love is this…  It is releasing your needs, and helping others.  It is accepting the mistakes and misfortunes of others.  Love is not about YOU, it is about His Spirit.  His Spirit is in each of us, so when we accept that we are all imperfect yet truly loveable, we are truly loving ourselves.

Do not SEEK love my friends, seek to TEACH everyone where it can be found.  We all have it, someone might need to water and nurture it a bit more than others.  I will leave you with this to think of as well.  A bit of wisdom spoken by my dad a few days ago.  When asked “What is the cause of human suffering?”  My dad said, “It’s real simple, we must love our neighbor!”  I think the world needs a refresher course on what love is, then we need to show love to each other.  Love does meet the requirements of a four letter word.  But this word isn’t dirty or shameful, it isn’t evil or self-seeking.  It is a word we all need to become better acquainted with, and it is a word that should most definitely be felt by each of us.  It should be felt growing inside each of us.

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Have a great day! Love, Michelle