A Certain Point of View

watson mill

Luke: You told me Darth Vader betrayed and miurdered my father.

Obi Wan: What I told you was true, from a certain point of view.

Luke: A certain point of view?

Obi Wan: Luke, you will find many of the truthes we hold are from a certain point of view.

We have all heard the cliché, possession is 9/10 of the law. I think it is equally true, if not more true, to say perception is 10/10 of reality. Our reality is shaped by our perspective – our interpretation and understanding of the events and external stimuli we encounter. How we perceive the world around us becomes our reality. We approach life, situations and problems based on the way we interpret the external influences on us.

What’s the big deal about this? So what? This is critical because it sets the framework for how we react to life. I have been told I’m a ‘the glass is half empty’ kind of guy. I tend to have what some call a pessimistic, defeatist outlook. I would argue, it’s a practical, reality-bases outlook but whatever.

Many circumstances we face can swallowed much easier if we have a proper perspective. As I got up and got ready for work, ate breakfast, drove to work and arrives do late what was the cause? Did my alarm clock purposefully not go off at the appropriated time? Did my boys refuse to get dressed solely to irritate me? Was every other driver on the road setting out to get in my way? Is the world just avainst me today? Or did I have a unique set of circumstances which led to me arriving to work later than I planned? Did these circumstances allow me a few more minutes with my family this morning? As annoying as it is to catch every redlight, I can’t help but wondering what I may have avoided on the road by being stopped at those lights.

Our perspective sets the tone for our attitude and outlook on life. Here are three ways to keep perspective in perspective:

  1. Remember we aren’t alone – We barely are facing a situation which has never been faced before. We aren’t the only ones who have suffered in the way we are suffering and likely not the only ones suffering in this way currently. Remembering we aren’t alone is powerful in dealing with whatever life is throwing at us, because we know we don’t have to do it alone, all by ourselves.
  2. Remember there is a lesson in this – I have come realize even the difficult times of my life have taught me something… especially, he difficult times in my life have taught me. It is through the fire that the core of my being has been forged and made me into the man I am today. I am who I am because of what I have learned in the midst of the chaos that has been difficult times in my life.
  3. Remember someone may need our help –  It is possible there are others around us who are also suffering who need us to be there for them in the difficult times. If we can look around us and see those around us who are suffering, we could be in a position to help those who need it. Maybe we are both on the same journey and we are farther down and have words of encouragement to share. Maybe we have already conquered what they are struggling with. Maybe they can find strength and the ability to carry on because of what they see in us.

Life isn’t always easy. We don’t have the ability to control life, but we can control how we approach it and we can control our response to it. Are we going to assume we have to accept the garbage we face in life or are we going to try to look at life in such a way that we can make the most of it?

Rest

The great philosopher Bon Jovi once said, ‘I’m going to live while I’m alive, and sleep when I’m dead!’ And while I don’t specifically subscribe to this way of thinking, I find that it subtly works its way into my behavioral pattern. I find myself thinking of rest or sleep and unnecessary or not really needed. I find that I attempt to get by with as little sleep as I can. This may be the way you do things. This may be your approach to life, I don’t know.

What I do know is this – we need to rest. We need to have time to veg-out and chill out and rest up. One of my favorite passages of Scripture is in Hebrews chapter 4 when the writer speaks of the Sabbath Rest for the people of God. The writer, I think, is making an analogy towards Heaven… but what I really like about this is it gives the idea of there being a time when I can rest… I mean really rest, when my mind doesn’t have to be racing thinking of what I am not doing because I am resting. I can really relax, because there isn’t something else I should be doing.

I find myself to be a relatively driven, purposeful individual. A few years ago, I had a mental breakdown. And there have been many lasting repercussions for this event, but the most frustrating of them has been my drive has diminished. No, I am NOT talking about my sex drive. I am talking about my drive to accomplish things, to do stuff, to be the leader, the father, to invite my wife on the adventure of our lives with me, to cherish her and my kids, to make life exciting, to set goals and furiously work towards them.

By the grace of God, each day I get healthier. And I get healthier the remnants of that illness fade away. With each passing day I become more of who I used to be (the good parts) and less of what I became. And in becoming more of who I used to be and less of what I became, my determination, my drive have returned. This is a very good thing.

But this is also a thing that I must watch very carefully.

I must guard against over-extending myself.

I must guard against biting off more than I can chew.

I must guard myself against getting too busy that I miss the things that truly matter.

I must guard myself against trying to fill my life with so many things to keep me busy that I fail to rest when it is needed and I begin to, as one of my counseling professors used to say, decompensate.

Rest.

We all need it. It takes different forms for each us. What is rest to me, may not be rest for you. But the key to rest, whatever it is, is that it refreshes. It rejuvenates. It encourages. It gives us more energy. It makes us whole again.

What do you do to rest? What keeps you from resting more?

I Like to Live Alone, but it’s Crowded Inside

In 1995 the movie Se7en was released.

On the soundtrack was a track by an unknown band at the time named Gravity Kills, that song was titled Guilty.

The band’s first album was self-titled and featured Guilty as the leadoff song on the album (after the intro track). Seven tracks later was Never, which started with the lines: “I like to live alone, but it’s crowded inside sometimes.”

When I first heard the song at 17/18 it blew my mind. I was like, wow… for some reason it just seemed to fit. This was years before I became acquainted with mental illness. I’m not suggesting that I have more than one person living inside. But maybe I am.

Let me explain.

I am almost a month into an counseling internship. The clients that I see are homeless or the next best thing to it. They are single mothers, single dads, and families whose lives have taken a drastic turn in a direction they did not expect or want. As I have been counseling these clients, I have been reminded of something I realized sometime ago. Whether we suffer from mental illness or not, we all have multiple persons that live inside us.

We all live daily with at least 3 persons inside us:

We live with the person that we want to be. This is the DREAMER. This is the embodiment of our dreams, hopes, passions, aspirations… everything that excites us, gives us reason to get out of bed in the morning. This is the person that we want to be. This is the person that we want others to view us as being. This is who we define ourselves to be. This is the person that thrives in our dream world. This is the person who wants us to succeed more than anything else in life. Unfortunately, this person often doesn’t get to be the primary reflection we see in the mirror. This person often gets drowned under the other persons.

We also live with the person that the voices in our minds tell us we are. No, we don’t all hear voices, but we do hear lies that we tell ourselves about ourselves. This is the LIAR, because they rarely tell us the truth about who we are. This is the person who wants us to fail. This is the person who is actively trying to make us fail. This is the person who never has anything good to say about us. This is the person who constantly beats us down, only focuses on our failures and weaknesses. This person has a very loud voice.

The third person that lives inside is the person who is just making it through the day. This is the PRESENT. This is the person who has succumbed to the weight of the world and everyday life, this is the person who just wants to survive. This is the person who has almost given up on dreaming… because they can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel… they don’t even realize they are in a tunnel, they believe they are in an endless cave. This person lives with the constant stress and pressure of life. They feel the weight of it every moment of every day. They are almost defeated… many times they are outright defeated.

Therein lives the struggle. Deciding which person is going to be our reality. It is possible to hear the voice of the person we want to be and not be the person we want to be, yet let their voice be the loudest calling us, urging us, forcing us to move forward, to make difference to change our circumstances to be the person we want to be. Too often, we settle to hear the vice of the liar or of the present and we don’t listen to the voice of the dreamer.

We don’t let the dreamer excite our passions.

We have settled.

We don’t dream.

We don’t get excited.

This can be a sad, depressing way to amble through life.

There is another way out…

Christ.

This may not solve all the dilemmas of our life, but Christ does provide peace.

He does provide a truth.

He does provide acceptance and LOVE.

He allows us to dreams and encourages us to dream big. He shows us that the voice of the liar and the present don’t have to be our reality. He holds us close until we realize we were meant for more.

We are WORTH more. We have infinite value to a God who loved us enough to die for us.

It is difficult to drown out the voices of the liar and the present by ourselves. It is much easier to do when we are wrapped in a passionate embrace by Christ our Savior and God.

Who are you going to listen to? Are you going to let the liar and the present keep you from being the dreamer that God designed you to be?

I Like to Live Alone, but it's Crowded Inside

In 1995 the movie Se7en was released.

On the soundtrack was a track by an unknown band at the time named Gravity Kills, that song was titled Guilty.

The band’s first album was self-titled and featured Guilty as the leadoff song on the album (after the intro track). Seven tracks later was Never, which started with the lines: “I like to live alone, but it’s crowded inside sometimes.”

When I first heard the song at 17/18 it blew my mind. I was like, wow… for some reason it just seemed to fit. This was years before I became acquainted with mental illness. I’m not suggesting that I have more than one person living inside. But maybe I am.

Let me explain.

I am almost a month into an counseling internship. The clients that I see are homeless or the next best thing to it. They are single mothers, single dads, and families whose lives have taken a drastic turn in a direction they did not expect or want. As I have been counseling these clients, I have been reminded of something I realized sometime ago. Whether we suffer from mental illness or not, we all have multiple persons that live inside us.

We all live daily with at least 3 persons inside us:

We live with the person that we want to be. This is the DREAMER. This is the embodiment of our dreams, hopes, passions, aspirations… everything that excites us, gives us reason to get out of bed in the morning. This is the person that we want to be. This is the person that we want others to view us as being. This is who we define ourselves to be. This is the person that thrives in our dream world. This is the person who wants us to succeed more than anything else in life. Unfortunately, this person often doesn’t get to be the primary reflection we see in the mirror. This person often gets drowned under the other persons.

We also live with the person that the voices in our minds tell us we are. No, we don’t all hear voices, but we do hear lies that we tell ourselves about ourselves. This is the LIAR, because they rarely tell us the truth about who we are. This is the person who wants us to fail. This is the person who is actively trying to make us fail. This is the person who never has anything good to say about us. This is the person who constantly beats us down, only focuses on our failures and weaknesses. This person has a very loud voice.

The third person that lives inside is the person who is just making it through the day. This is the PRESENT. This is the person who has succumbed to the weight of the world and everyday life, this is the person who just wants to survive. This is the person who has almost given up on dreaming… because they can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel… they don’t even realize they are in a tunnel, they believe they are in an endless cave. This person lives with the constant stress and pressure of life. They feel the weight of it every moment of every day. They are almost defeated… many times they are outright defeated.

Therein lives the struggle. Deciding which person is going to be our reality. It is possible to hear the voice of the person we want to be and not be the person we want to be, yet let their voice be the loudest calling us, urging us, forcing us to move forward, to make difference to change our circumstances to be the person we want to be. Too often, we settle to hear the vice of the liar or of the present and we don’t listen to the voice of the dreamer.

We don’t let the dreamer excite our passions.

We have settled.

We don’t dream.

We don’t get excited.

This can be a sad, depressing way to amble through life.

There is another way out…

Christ.

This may not solve all the dilemmas of our life, but Christ does provide peace.

He does provide a truth.

He does provide acceptance and LOVE.

He allows us to dreams and encourages us to dream big. He shows us that the voice of the liar and the present don’t have to be our reality. He holds us close until we realize we were meant for more.

We are WORTH more. We have infinite value to a God who loved us enough to die for us.

It is difficult to drown out the voices of the liar and the present by ourselves. It is much easier to do when we are wrapped in a passionate embrace by Christ our Savior and God.

Who are you going to listen to? Are you going to let the liar and the present keep you from being the dreamer that God designed you to be?

Introverted Extrovert

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Have you ever taken a personality test? I have. Many times. I always score very highly as an extrovert. Which isn’t particularly surprising. I’m an outgoing, loud, obnoxious, boisterous, larger than life, center of attention, life of the party kid of guy. I do very well in settings where I am in front of people. I like to be in front of large groups of people. I like to be in charge. I like to lead. I like to administrate and tell others what to do. I have done very well in jobs that have allowed the freedom to think outside of the box and troubleshoot my own answers and then implement them.

Having said all that, there is still a piece of me that wants to be left alone to sit by myself without another soul anywhere in sight. I like my alone time. I’m at camp this week as the missionary speaking about h2o church and I realize that I’m good to be ‘on’ an in front of people for about 3 days. After that, I need to detox to decompress and relax away from everyone. This is hard when you are a dad… and you’ve brought 66% of your kids with you to camp.

Sometimes I chastise myself for being like this, telling myself I should be able to be in front people constantly. Then I think about how Jesus frequently retreated away by himself. I feel like the Gospel of Mark catches this about Jesus. In Mark 1:35 we read, In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. Jesus got up and went to be alone. He started his day with time to himself (in relationship with God) so that he could give himself to others. Not that I am Jesus, but maybe it is ok to need time to myself.

I have taken enough time to myself and must rejoin the masses.

Be Still

Psalm 46:10

the Message: “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.”

NIV: He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

NASB: “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

I don’t always do this.

What is the root of what God is asking us to do here? Let him be God. I think he is reminding us that when we take things into our hands we are putting ourselves on the throne and by doing so we have removed him from the throne.

This is a problem. This was the beginning of all of the problems of the world. We tried to be the boss.

Not good. We aren’t big enough to be the boss. We don’t even know that we don’t know enough to be the boss.

I think God was reminding us when we try too hard we are trying to be God, trying to take his role.

I’m gonna try to be still, to cease striving, to step out of traffic and let God be God of me and my life.