Like Jesus Does

“All the crazy in my dreams,
Both my broken wings,
Every single piece of everything I am.
She knows the man I ain’t,
She forgives me when I can’t.
That devil, man, he don’t stand a chance.
She loves me like Jesus does.”

I heard this song for the first time yesterday afternoon. It’s called “Like Jesus Does” and it’s sung by Eric Church. I absolutely love it. Why? Not just because it’s a country love song, but because it has such an important message. God’s love  is all-powerful and everyone should love those around them with that same unfailing love.

loves me like jesus

God gave everyone free choice, it’s what makes us humans instead of robots.  That means that each one of us has to decide to love others the way Jesus does every day no matter what. It’s not a choice someone else can make for us. What does loving someone like Jesus mean? I think Eric Church nailed it: you accept and support everything about a person, not just the good, and you forgive them and let them know it. It means accepting that everyone makes mistakes and accepting the good with the bad in a relationship, whatever that relationship is.

Of course it also means the people around you can choose to embrace or ignore the love you give. Jesus died so we could all be free from sin, but not everyone chooses to accept His salvation. It doesn’t mean He loves them any less, and eventually He will have to let them go no matter how painful it is because of their own choices. Sadly, I can draw parallels in my life.

How can I love a stubborn, hard-headed, pain-in-the-ass man like Jesus does when all he does is turn his nose up at me? I loved him the only way I knew how until I got tired of fighting with him and gave it all up. Can anything really change? How can I love someone like Jesus does when I only talk to them once a year, but each time it makes my skin crawl?

These are my struggles, but God is telling me not to struggle with them anymore. I am called to love others like Jesus did. I am called to strive towards a Christ-like character of love and forgiveness. People can reject the love and forgiveness I offer, but I will find peace only by resting in Jesus’ love and sharing it with others to the best of my ability. Jesus experienced the ultimate rejection of being sentenced to death for His love and His belief in the goodness of humanity, and yet He loves us and always will.

I can rise above my struggles only by asking for God’s strength and letting Him guide me.


Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself

There are a number of things on my mind today, one of the chief things being the terms selfish and self-centered. A number of things have contributed to my thoughts on the matter and being the analytic person I am I have decided to write them out to try to bring about some sort of cohesion and peace of mind.all about me

First off, I looked up the definition of both terms. The online definition of selfish is:

1. devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others. 2. characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for oneself

That is pretty self-explanatory. When someone is described as selfish they generally don’t care about the well-being or happiness of anyone, but themselves. The online definition of self-centered was deemed synonymous with selfish, but also holds more than that one meaning:

1. concerned solely or chiefly with one’s own interests, welfare, etc.; engrossed in self; selfish; egotistical. 2. independent, self-sufficient. 3. centered in oneself or itself. 4. fixed; unchanging.

I have been referred to as selfish and self-centered at different times in my life by different people. This isn’t surprising or outrageous. Most people have been called one or the other if not both in their lives and I believe it’s pretty much true. I have had my moments as everyone does, why try to deny the fact. The problem isn’t in having those moments, but in whether or not you live in or move past those moments. That is what makes the difference in a person being selfish or self-centered as an action, or being selfish or self-centered as a state of being (character).

“Here I am going to say something which may come as a bit of a shock. God doesn’t necessarily want us to be happy. He wants us to be lovable. Worthy of love. Able to be loved by Him. We don’t start off being all that lovable, if we’re honest. What makes people hard to love? Isn’t it what is commonly called selfishness? Selfish people are hard to love because so little love comes out of them.”
― William NicholsonShadowlands

My list of faults and mistakes are lengthy, but one of my biggest strengths is the compassion and love I have for living things. It doesn’t matter that I’ve had a number of bad experiences with people, I still love them. I love people who have lied to me, beaten me, used me, and attempted to break me. I love people who have met me at every turn with vile words and accusations. God has given me a deep desire to show Him to all living creatures and to be a living example of love. I stumble, I fall, but I always strive towards that goal.

Some people think that is a cop-out. They say I’m using it to avoid taking responsibility, but I’m not. Having pure intentions doesn’t excuse my mistakes or my faults. I still have to apologize and take responsibility for myself and my actions. I still have to nurture and rebuild relationships with people I have unintentionally wounded, mentally, physically, or spiritually. I still have to monitor my words and my actions around people who don’t trust me (and may not have a reason to yet). love them anyway

Unfortunately, sometimes people you love and care about deeply take one of your actions and brand it as a characteristic. It is, in my opinion, one of the most hurtful and unnecessary things a person can do, but it happens. Speaking from experience I will suffice to say that once a person has characterized you as such it doesn’t matter how you interact with them or how much effort you put into making their life more beautiful, they will always look down their nose at you and say you are selfish or self-centered. Few wounds have left such a deep mark.

Nonetheless, life goes on. Love thy neighbor as thyself is the command Christ gave us. It doesn’t have an ‘unless’ clause or an ‘until’ clause. It states love thy neighbor as thyself. That’s a period afterwards.

So I continue my life. I may still have my selfish or self-centered moments, but I will not make it a characteristic. Instead I  will continue giving of myself , loving those who may or may not love me, and improving myself in whatever mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical capacity I can. self centered radius

Finding Something to Write About

I made a writing goal of 500 words a day a couple of days ago. It seemed rather easy at the time, but today not so much.

I’ve been reading books, reading blogs, playing games, and thinking about a ton of random things that I’m sure normal people don’t think about, but when I go to a blank page to write everything just seems to empty out of my mind. The white nothingness glares at me, almost daring me to put something on it, knowing that if I do it won’t be anything I like. *sigh*

Today has been a lazy day. Not bad, just lazy. I’ve had zero motivation to do anything constructive. I did force myself to job search online and I forced myself to put my games on hold for a couple of hours to begin an application process for a job. But in the end I yawn, look at the time for the zillionth time, and wish it were late enough for me to go to bed. All I really want is to sleep and wake up to a new day refreshed and ready to get out of the house. Of course at today’s rate I just want to feel refreshed and motivated enough to leave the bedroom…

Yawn. It’s still not late enough to go to bed, I know because I just checked the time again. My word count is at 228…

I suppose today will become one the “almost made my goal” days. My first thus far since making a writing goal (all of 2 days ago). It is becoming increasingly painful to find something to say now because my blurb of a thought on not having a thought to write about is pretty much done. I suppose I shall make tomorrow’s goal 750 words to even it out. Eh, maybe not.

334 words is my final count, not because anyone reading this truly cares, but because my OCD won’t let me NOT take a final count now that I’ve been talking about it…

There is No Magic Pill for Anxiety or Depression

I have a confession. Sometimes I have irrational fears.

Sometimes I’m afraid of the dark. Sometimes I’m afraid that I will walk outside and my dogs will be gone or simply dead, lying lifeless on the cold concrete of the car port where they are tied. Sometimes I’m afraid I will walk into a room and everyone will turn and stare at me for no reason.

anxietyattacksQuite often I have anxiety attacks when I think about such things. My heart starts pounding. My breathing gets faster. My thoughts start racing and each thought is more horrible and gut-clenching than the last.

Nowadays when this happens I know that it’s irrational. I know that I just need to take a few deep breaths and calm down, but it doesn’t ever really work like that. My brain is screaming that I need to chill out, but the rest of my body doesn’t comprehend the command. Everything else in my body is screaming that I’m under some sort of attack, so the rapid pulse, near-hyperventilation, and racing thoughts continue.

This anxiety has happened for as long as I can remember, starting before college and before high school. I knew it was odd long before I could categorize it as irrational. There were even times I would have vivid dreams that would cause me to sleep walk and when I woke up in the middle of them with someone asking me what I was doing I would have a panic attack and go back to bed without answering them.

Unfortunately, as my anxiety got worse around people I found myself falling in and out of depression. I would have crazy, wild mood swings where I’d go from happy to cursing angry to bawling my eyes out in a matter of hours. The worst days were when my anxiety triggered my mood swings which generally triggered my depression.

The older I got the worse everything got and I became more and more of a social recluse who was too anxious or depressed to be around anyone else except when I absolutely had to be. Eventually I recognized my mood swings and depression as having somewhat of a cycle, but I still couldn’t control it. It took many, many years before I found a close friend to talk to about it and many more to talk to others about.anxiety cycle

Now, I know many of you who are reading this would like to hear a happy ending about how I realized what was going on and I took a magic pill and everything was rainbows and roses after that, but that’s not how it worked, at least not for me. It would be nice if it did, but it didn’t. In fact I still struggle with anxiety, panic attacks, mood swings, and depression. I do a myriad of things and talk to specific people about it to keep it under control, but it’s a constant struggle. There is no magic pill, no secret antidote for it, just me and the resources I utilize to make it better. That may be very discouraging and seemingly unhelpful to some of you reading this, but don’t let it be.

There were times in my life where I couldn’t function as a normal human being. There were times when I was so crippled by what was going on inside me that I would sit on my living room floor with my arms wrapped around my knees sobbing and thinking about ending it all. But somehow I pushed on. I would tell myself that it was selfish to commit suicide when I had family members and friends who loved me so much and would be devastated if I did. It may seem silly to some, but just having my dog Dirk depending on me every day helped pull me through some of those dark times. He would sit close and let me cry into his long, soft fur and he would lick my cheek and tell me in his own quiet way that it was going to be ok and he needed me to be there.

Each time I would come out of my depression I would try to find something or someone else to help me stay out of it a little longer, or manage it better. I talked to my best friends, I made lists of coping skills and things that made me happy, things I felt blessed for. Eventually I summoned up enough courage to talk to a counselor and try to find the root of the problems. panicattack

It’s not easy. Like I said before, I still struggle with it on a regular basis. There is no perfect answer, but it can be overcome if you really want to overcome it. There is help that doesn’t include drugs and alcohol (I tried the latter one and it failed miserably). So if you’re reading this and you feel overwhelmed and hopeless, take a deep breath. The sun is still there I promise. There are people who care and there are ways to change wherever you are right now, no matter how low or dark that may be.

Sincerely,

An Anxious & Depressed Individual Who Fights to Overcome it Every Day and Wins More Often Than Not

 

I Celebrate My Friend, Maya Angelou

Tonight I finished Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou. For those of you who haven’t read it, it is a rather moving collection of essays and poems about Maya’s life. The last few chapters were a bit random and didn’t seem to fit with the feel of the rest of the book, but it was worth the read.

The best part of the book though was the revelation that Maya Angelou sounds just like one of my friends, Winter S. She happens to be a 6′ tall African-American young woman with a fiery passion for life and she has humor and wit that could rival Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act (which by the way is a great movie).

Winter is a woman who will meet you at 7am, after coming off a long third shift, and spend an extra 15 minutes sharing her newest book and/or comical experience to start your day with a smile. She is a strong-willed, independent woman and, not unlike Maya Angelou, she inspires women around her. She encourages them to look at the positive side of any situation, she influences and challenges women around her to aspire to be better to themselves and others.

ImageToday’s society celebrates people with money and power. The media spends all of their time talking and writing about celebrities like Britney Spears, Tom Cruise, and Reese Witherspoon. The media cares about what shoes these people are wearing, where they go shopping, and how much their cars and houses cost.

They celebrate Maya Angelou for her beautiful poetry and insightful memoirs. That’s great, but what about women like Winter? Winter, who makes a difference in other people’s lives not by writing about her own, but simply by living as an example. What about women like Winter who make my life richer and more complete.

Today I celebrate those women. I celebrate Winter, my friend. She shows joy and love to everyone she meets. She is proud of her independence, proud of her character, and so am I. So today I celebrate her friendship and her beauty, inside and out. I celebrate the woman she is and the woman she is becoming every day.