The heart of the matter

I’m always fascinated by the power of music. Psalms in the Bible shows us that music is for God. Today, we see music used in various expressive ways, which was true in David’s day, as well. I don’t pretend that mankind has always used music for worship of God, as it should be used, however, one thing that we mortals have always understood is the absolute power of music.

Music can return you to a time and place with the first strum of the guitar. It’s like a time machine…you can even feel the feelings you had that very day. Songs can remind you of a person, they can bring you sorrow, make you feel great joy, bring movement to your body, inside and out, and make you connect with someone you felt like you didn’t have anything in common with.

We can lift our voices in praise and worship Jesus Christ and we can do so even with songs not designated for that purpose, with some minor tweaking and a right heart.

Because, you see, it is the heart of worship that matters. Whenever I see churches that are so concerned with their worship team that they hold auditions, it’s disturbing. There are ways to allow someone such joy as being a part of the worship team even if their singing needs refinement. Why do we limit our fellow believers when God looks at the heart?

God told Samuel not to judge by the outward and David was the anointed future king. David, however, could sing and beautifully at that. Later, the word of God tells us that David was a man after God’s own heart. The heart, you see, is what matters. The heart of worship is all about Jesus Christ.

“Let our voices rise like incense, let them be as sweet perfume.” Return to the heart of worship and let your praises rise and be not concerned with those before you or around you. Your Father God is desiring to hear your voice. Will you lift it up and praise Him?

Behind my mask

I think that we can’t empathize, or even sympathize, with people who break down mentally over, say, the lack of paper towels, as one Christmas episode of Family Guy showed us, because we refuse to acknowledge the person’s value and worth. Now, many may not think that this is true and would argue with me, which I would allow, but I also consider that, when we discredit someone else’s stresses and annoyances and consider their tears wasted and wasteful, well, how much value are we putting on the person?

Well, even staying sympathetic and never becoming empathetic is not valuing the person, in truth. We consider them to be not worth our investment and our emotions and concern and we just pat them on the back and say, “There, there, at least you have toilet paper.”

But, truthfully, this wasn’t even the point of my blog. Oftentimes, my ramblings never are. This time, though, I caught on early enough that this blog should, in fact, be short and, well, not sweet, but to the point…somewhat.

My thoughts actually are orbiting around my own angst and the fact that, well, people say that it will all work out and they sympathize with me and then they go about their day and I truly and completely get it. I do. My level of sympathy for some is about the same. I offer the superficial platitudes and then continue on with my life. Simple enough. Sometimes, though, I do empathize and I climb down into that pit with them and listen and I don’t try to solve the thing with my words, but I let my actions do what can be done, while I am a presence for them to feel and see and touch and know.

I’m in a pit, people, and none of my friends or family read my blog because, well, they see me and hear me ramble and rant, so why take the time to invest in reading something random from yours truly. It’s fine. I’m not really bothered by that. But, here’s the deal. I’m in a pit. I’m sitting in a pit of despair. I didn’t really consider it that big of a deal a couple of weeks ago that I didn’t have a field placement set up yet. I just kind of figured it would all work out for me. And then I entered the Valley of No.

No answers.
No field placement.
No options for some random class that the program is suddenly insisting must be taken in the summer. Ha. Fat chance.
No thank you for the Phi Alpha project from the recipients.
No apology or attempt to right a wrong in regards to a nomination submitted and never considered.

Yeah. So, many of you look at this and shrug your shoulders and think, “First world problems,” Yeah. I get it. Hey, guess what, though…I am allowed to have these problems acknowledged once in a while. I spend my days hiding so much from the social media and personal interaction worlds. I exhibit a great amount of restraint. I want to bash the SFPS system for giving my 8th-grade nephew an A in English when he reads at a 5th-grade level. I want to bash my self-centered brother who has the nerve to be a verbally abusive jerk all the flipping time to my mom in HER OWN HOUSE, myself, and my dogs. How about the fact that I’m not doing the things that God has called me to do and there is no place for me to do them at this time? How about the fact that I hate my job because it is WORTHLESS and isn’t helping ANYONE, and those of you that know potential or current social workers know how much they desire to help others and can see how a worthless, pointless, paper pushing job with constant input and no output can be frustrating, yes?

Okay, rant done. The point of this blog is that you don’t know. When you see that person have a mental breakdown in the grocery store because there are no sunflower seed bags of the large variety, there is more going on than just that one thing. When you see a loved one lose it over one cruel word spoken or one missed invite or one missed birthday or one missed phone call or one missed time of hanging out together, there is more going on. While those who sympathize and quickly move on care less about the value of a person (not saying they don’t love them, they just can’t be bothered), those who can see and fully understand that there is more going on than meets the eye and are willing to do more than verbally pat them on the back and say, “Well, at least they have small bags of sunflower seeds,” those are the people to cling to.

Because I will tell you the truth about me. I very rarely get to this point. I always carry things hidden behind my mask. Not a mask of happy, happy, joy, joy, mind you, but behind the mask of strength and the ability to do all things and anything and believe that it will all work out.

Right now, folks, I’ll be completely honest here: I don’t believe it will all work out.

I’m not being anti-social, I’m just burned out

A couple of days ago, I realized that I’m just too burned out to function socially. I try, you see, because my desire to help others overcomes my burned out life. But, I am struggling with some difficulties in my life that others would not consider all that bad at all. And that’s okay, because they’re really not, but when one is burned out, well, it changes their ability to cope and understand and continue.

So, I’m sorry. I’m not being anti-social. I’m just burned out.

Cold or Warm

Sometimes tears are cold and sometimes they are warm. Why is that? Some will say it is the temperature of your skin. I believe it is the source of your tears. Surface tears lack warmth while soulful tears do not. Science will disagree, but frankly I don’t care. Science, while beneficial, believes we evolved from apes, so why would tears have any meaning deeper than clearing debris from an eye or changing temperature based only on the feelings on the surface, on the skin? Tears express feelings…some surface, some deep. Cold or warm.

I guess I’m used to it

I have begun to understand the truth of the situation of my life. Firstly, which was not going to be included here, but as I am walking through the Valley of No, I have found that I am spoiled. I’m not spoiled rotten, you see, but I have a good, good Father God and He spoils His princess very much. He tells me no, of course, in order to keep me from rotting. However, I am in a place where no is all I am hearing and I have to say that I don’t like it very much. Daddy, my bags are packed. Can we go now?

Additionally, and the reason I started typing this blog in the first place, I cannot find a field placement. I am weeks away from having to be established in my place of practicum for my Senior year and all I’m getting is silence. No one has told me no. No one has told me anything. Why? Because this is Santa Fe and it is rare indeed to find faithful people in the response department. We’re talking 16 hours a week of free social work and no one will call me back? Madness.

But, I am in the valley, so, well, it’s expected, I guess. Or , it should be. But I’m used to yes! Not constant yes, but when it matters yes. You know? Maybe you don’t. Maybe you aren’t one of those people that pay attention to God’s moving in your life. I am, though, because He is my source of all things good, even correction, and so I’m here, defeated and tired and just plain frustrated.

And I’m at the edge. I’m standing at the edge looking down. I’ve realized that I have lived most of my life this way. Blame it on childhood trauma. Blame in on procrastination. Blame it on just plain old being unaware of the danger until you face it. Whatever. I’m here and every once in a while, I move closer to the edge and the wind drags me near the point of falling before I lean back into safety.

But I never leave the edge.

Lately, God has been showing me about fire doors and their value in our personal lives. Fire doors, you see, are made specifically to slow the spread of a fire in order to give people time to evacuate safely. The issue, you see, is that my work doesn’t care and the doors are constantly left propped open…despite a note on there in bold and brilliant type that says: Fire Door Must Remain Closed.

See, a fire door doesn’t work at all if it is left open. At all. It does nothing but give the fire access to a hallway that would have been prevented or delayed had the fire door been closed in order to do what it is purposed to do. Fire doors are made of different materials than regular doors, you see. They are specifically designed to do something and that something is save as many lives and as much property as they possibly can.

So, by all means, leave the doors propped open because it’s too much of a burden to open the door as you walk down the hall.

I’m ranting. That wasn’t my intent. My intent was to admit that I have finally realized that I never leave the edge. I just stand there and hope that I’m able to lean away from it every single time I am dangerously near it. It’s exhausting, to be sure, but it’s also the way I’ve lived my life as far as I can remember.

What happens when I’m being pulled by the wind and I’m dangerously close to falling? Well, I begin to hate myself again. I’m not talking about the random moments of shame or guilt that come that make us really dislike our darker, worldly selves. Nope. I’m talking about the straight up hatred of me as a person. My looks. My personality. My gifts. My failings. Everything. I just hate myself. And, while I don’t harm myself in these moments and I don’t think suicidal thoughts, I also don’t handle negative comments very well. It’s easier to beat my head against the window, say, than to listen to one more backhanded compliment or obviously negative comment about the horrid waste of space I am.

This is mostly considered depression, I realize as I write this. Self-loathing is a dark thing, especially since we keep it hidden and no one knows. Hey, here you are world, if you’ve read this far, you now know the cold truth I carry deep inside.

Another thing that happens is that I become a great deal more aware of the lack of things in my life. I can focus on the fact that I lack self-control in the area of finances and it, well, sucks. I wish as a writer I could find a better word, but hey, since we’re on the subject, when was the last time I wrote something amazingly great? Years, my friends. Years. And, what about Bible studies? Yeah. Vacant halls and walls.

Despite all the things going on in my life, I feel like a failure. A constant failure. I’m graduating with an Associate of Arts degree in May and yet I’m disappointed that my honorary Phi Alpha nominee was never received and never even considered and no one cares but me. No one. My job is a vapid waste of time and life. Who am I helping? What benefit am I bringing to the lives of others? Waste, waste, waste.

So, these thoughts and many others are what happen when the wind is pulling against me and if I don’t lean back quickly enough, I’m overwhelmed. I find that I stare at things bleakly and I feel like it is just so crazy worthless and that I’m going to die. Every night, as I lay down to sleep, I just know that God is coming to take me home. Why wouldn’t He? I’m on the edge, aren’t I? I’m not doing my best. Not at all.

See, and that is the thing that I find myself saying, here on the ledge, every single day, wind pulling at my soul or not. I have to be a better person. I’m sorry I’m not a better Christian. I want to be a better person. And then I go out and do the same stupid things I did the day before. And I’m not talking about these huge rebellious things. I’m talking about spending money I don’t have. I’m talking about not being a hundred percent focused on my work. I’m talking about the self-loathing, because let’s face it, as a Christian, we cannot hate ourselves.

Now, we can hate the sin within us, but to hate who we are as a person, our character and our personality and our looks, well, that’s insulting our Creator in so many ways. So, I don’t like myself as a person which just adds to the self-loathing, and there you are.

I don’t even know what the point is of this blog. I just feel so tired and drained and amazingly worthless and just abundantly emotional and it sucks. It is aggravating because when you try to talk to people, they are dismissive.

Have you ever noticed that? You tell them things and they just kind of shrug and give you a pat on the shoulder and expect that to work. That is called sympathy. I don’t need sympathy, folks. A vacation to the Bahamas, yes, but sympathy, no. It is rare indeed to find someone that sits and listens and doesn’t say, “Well, did you read the textbook? The textbook tells you what to do,” when you say you can’t understand a Math problem. Yeah, dude, I read the darn textbook and guess what? I’m still crying and I still can’t solve the stinking equation!

So, the Bible has the answers and so does God and there are no better alternatives. I am not saying that this isn’t true. I just want you to listen and not shrug your shoulders like my feelings are just stupid and don’t matter. Because they do. Sometimes, you know, they just matter and need to be seen as mattering.

I get this. In fact, I live this most of the time, listening and being there and not placating the person, but actually seeking to help them process and understand what they’re going through. Heck, that’s why I’m seeking a degree in the realm of helping people. Why doesn’t anyone want to help me?

Well, it is rare that I share, you see. This is the most raw blog I’ve ever written. I censor myself, even here. Best foot forward at all times. Must appear strong and in control. Must not show just how raw and torn and weak and upset I am. I have to keep it all together so that I can help others. I can’t have anyone focusing on helping me, you see. There is too much going on in the world, too many people that need strong people like me to help them.

Maybe I’ll start an annual Social Workers conference where they can just come and be needy and be helped and exercise a weekend of self-care and not having to be strong all the time. Of course, I’d be running the thing, so I’d still have to be strong.

The person closest to me is my mom and I can’t even share any of this with her. She gets angry, you see. Well, maybe angry isn’t the right word here. Irritated? Frustrated? Yes, frustrated that her daughter has suddenly become this needy and crying person overwhelmed by negativity and stung by rejection, truly feeling those moments of single life and thinking what man could love a broken and angry person like her? So, in those rare moments when the tears fall in front of her or the frustration is vented, she gets irritated. I get it. So, I spend my life irritated, too, and frustrated and so I am quick to snap and constantly do so.

I want to be happy. So, I started to ask God why I was so miserable and unhappy. Maybe that’s why He is walking me through the Valley of No right now. Maybe that’s why He’s showing me the edge and just how raw I am inside, just how sensitive I am to anything that touches those raw wounds in my heart and life. My bags are still packed, God. Ready whenever you are.

When did happiness become such an elusive thing? I don’t know. You know, I’m graduating May 13th with a degree I didn’t even expect and I should be off the walls excited. Yet, I’m sitting here and thinking who I should and shouldn’t invite and why (it’s a 3 hour drive and there are other graduations that day) and I’m thinking of how my mom will respond to things and I’m wondering if I will make it across the stage with a smile or a scowl. What will the pictures look like? I hate myself, you see. Ugh, so ugly.

Yeah. Raw, folks. Raw. I’d rather you didn’t read this, truthfully. But, if you did, maybe you’re feeling the same way I am. Or, maybe you like to read about other’s pain. We all have those evil moments in us to read about the breaking of a strong person. Good for them, those strong individuals, those favored people. It’s about time they were broken.

I’ve always been broken.

All right, this blog is over 2,000 words now and I think that I could go on for thousands more, so I won’t. I don’t have anything to offer you if you’re in the same boat as me, except for this:

I will pray for you, if you let me know that you want me to. I will listen to you, if you need someone to do so. Because, in truth, I can’t avoid the desire, deep inside me, to be there for others in the way that no one, except Christ and paid professionals, are there for me.

So, if you want to have someone listen, if you want me to pray, send me an e-mail.

Purity.Gods.way@gmail.com

Have an amazingly blessed day, all. Thank you for reading through my angst, judgingly or not. 😊

The Stigma of Association

The Bible tells us that bad company corrupts good. This is more than just the person being swayed to bad conduct while spending time with those that gravitate toward rebellion and illegal acts. It also applies to the appearance of such things. Consider that family members are pinged as crooked or evil when a family member is arrested for embezzlement or murder or sexual deviancy. It matters not at all if they knew what was going on or not, they are labelled as criminals themselves through association alone.

 

Consider that the Bible tells that we shouldn’t even have a hint of immorality in our lives. What constitutes a hint? Living with a roommate of the opposite sex certainly applies, but what about someone of the same sex? In this day and age, people will label you however they choose to do so. How, then, can a Christian live without even a hint of immorality?

 

Is it all or nothing? Many Christians feel that it is. “When in Rome…” These are the ones you can’t separate from the world, the ones that pay lip service to Christ but live no life in honor to Him. These are the ones that condone and excuse rebellion and sin in their lives and in the lives of others, the ones that say, “What you do in your own house is none of my business.”

 

I always ponder that statement, because I used to say it as a teenager. Of course, I grew up and gained wisdom and I know that if a man is molesting his children or beating his wife in his house, it is my business. I know that if a wife is poisoning her spouse or abusively neglecting her children, it’s my business. So, just because we don’t want to call a spade a spade, we pander to the political correctness of sin and shrug our shoulders and move on with our own sin-filled lives.

 

Christians must choose their close friends and advisors with intricate care. They are not to remove themselves from the world, but are to navigate the world as ambassadors and warriors for Christ, determining which one to be in which season. Mostly, we are lights. Or, at least, we are supposed to be lights. What excuses do we present to the world when we condone things because it suits us?

 

For me, it’s entertainment. There are shows that I watch just because I like them. I will fast forward past things in these shows, when necessary. So, do I have hints of immorality in my life? Indeed I do. No one is perfect. No one can be. Yet, we are called to remove all the leaven from our homes and lives. All of it.

 

In Jewish culture, when they were preparing for Passover and the unleavened bread, they would comb their houses thoroughly in order to ensure that no leaven remained. Minute and close inspection of every nook and cranny to ensure obedience to the law. Jesus, of course, spoke of the inner-leaven. He spoke of the sins that we permit and excuse in our own lives. We are to remove the leaven of pride and gluttony and anger and sloth…and so many others. With intense focus, our lives should be cleaned thoroughly.

 

But, as I mentioned, we’re not perfect.

 

God will call us to things. He will call us to fast from things or to remove things. We must be obedient. I used to collect dragons. There were assumptions from others regarding this, telling my mom that it is the sign of the devil and that it brings bad spirits into our home. This is both true and untrue. Anything, in truth, can be used as a conduit of evil, depending on its origins and its purpose. If I built shrines to worship the dragons, by all means, be concerned. If I purchased them from people who practice witchcraft and chant their incantations over them as they make them or ship them, then, by all means, be concerned. If I order them from a collectors site like Hamilton Collections or Bradford Exchange or I buy them from Wal-Mart or Target and I collect them because I enjoy the fantasy genre and think dragons are cool, then there is no danger. None whatsoever.

 

When my mom asked me if I’d get rid of them, I said no for the very reasons above. I have a firm understanding of what is what in that area, at least, and I didn’t appreciate the rigidity of religion dictating to me what I could and could not do or own. The Bible does, in fact, tell us that the disciples wondered about meat sacrificed to idols. God told them through Paul that if they were aware that idols are just stone and have no power, then who cares if the meat was sacrificed to them or not. It wouldn’t harm the true believer in God because they know that there is no power in the sacrifice to a false god. Yet, God adds the warning that if ingesting said meat would cause a new believer to fall into sin or deceit, if it should cause another to stumble, then it should not be done. Discernment, you see, is key.

 

So, while I told my mom no, God and I had a conversation. “What if I asked you to get rid of them?” He asked me later that day. “Well,” I replied, “then I would.” And He did. And so the dragons were given as a gift to a co-worker who collected dragons in greater amount than I ever did. And that was that.

 

Do you see the difference? I didn’t get rid of them because religion told me to. I didn’t even get rid of them due to danger or darkness or decree. Rather, I got rid of them for the relationship with God where He asked me, ever tenderly and gently, to do so and it wasn’t for any reason other than obedience.

 

I have been in both places, you see. The gentle urging that can, in fact, be refused with no consequence…but also with no reward…and the fierce insistence that danger and triggers exist and must be removed forever from my life. I’ve obeyed both. I’ve also had moments where I’ve refused both, to my peril and dismay nearly every time.

 

We are labelled by who it is that we associate with. If you associate with Christ and are a light, than that is how you will be seen. If you mix with Christ and the world, then that is how you will be seen. And if you are a Christian in name only, this, too, will be seen. You are who you associate with. You are who they see you with. Even if, inside, you are not a delinquent and disrespectful person, if you associate with these kinds of people, you will be seen as one and, eventually, as the Bible says, you will take on the characteristics of the bad morals.

 

The point is that while Jesus was described as a Person that ate with tax collectors and sinners, it was apparent that He was good and amazingly wise and full of compassion and love. Jesus would often take time away with His disciples, and then with John and Peter alone, and then with Him and God alone. He was always aware of the balance required in order to live the life that God had called Him to live and to ultimately pay the price that He alone could pay to ransom us all.

 

 

As believers, we must be aware of our associations and we must be aware of the time spent with God, believers, and the world. There must be interactions with all three and the greater two are God and believers, in order to be filled and equipped to enter a world of bad company and not allow your good to be corrupted, whether in truth or in reputation.

The Dump

Garbage. Garbage. Garbage. Garbage. Life is not so much worth the time and effort consumed in deciding that love is necessary to survive. It isn’t truly a questionable thing. There’s a song saying it’s all you need, after all, and another that says the world needs it now. Of course, I could sit here all night long and tell you the songs that permeate the world about love. Sickening garbage, is it not?

To those who’ve found love, well, it isn’t garbage, I guess. To them it’s some magical fairy blessing that descended from on high and brought about the wonderful euphoria they experience for a time. It’s rare that it lasts for a long time, but it’s long enough to bring about the end of single life and the beginning of marital bliss and contentment and other such things that the single folks know nothing about.

To single folks, I think, love isn’t garbage, either. Love is some unobtainable dream that they strive to reach and fail to touch. Sometimes, they settle for a thing that is merely lost and unrequited feelings of passion…sometimes. But, then, they can see that that is the true garbage and the emptiness they face is destructive. If love manages to swoop in like a superhero and rescue them, all can be well. Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t.

Some single people never experience the garbage of love in either sense and they can go through the days with the intention that they are great successes in life, because they are not burdened by caring for or loving another. Their freedom can be an illusion at times, but most of the time, they are happy and contented. I think it is the same with those truly in love. While the illusion can exist, it is mainly truth and contentment that rules in their lives.

I believe, quite firmly, that the ones that truly find garbage in those four little letters are the ones where love was a harsh guise of abuse or darkness or sarcasm or pain. I think that those are the ones that can see love only as a smelly heap they were deposited upon, broken and bleeding and weeping. They are the ones that look at those seeking love and being in love as foolish twits that can’t function outside of a paper bag…or find their way out of it. Something cliché and out of date, yet still relevant to those in wounded and hidden pain.

The loss of love is a mighty strong counteractive to the desire to fall in love, to pursue love and have love pursue them, even to open upon the heart to be touched by love, however soft that touch may be. It is too much, knowing about the banana peels and the coffee grounds and the empty chocolate boxes and the dead flowers. They would stand on the street corner and warn the world.

But, instead, they hide their wounds and they walk with their heads held high and no one ever knows the pain inside and the truth about their definition of garbage.

Take Ten for Writers, page 165 Exercise 78 “The Dump”, choice 6 – garbage – April 1, 2017

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