the mindset shift of questioning your accepted “truth”

 

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“I am privileged to explore and create my life’s journey.”

This mantra came to me while reading a new book today. I have been reading The Path Made Clear by Oprah Winfrey. Honestly, upon first selecting this book, my expectations were not high. Growing up, I had heard quite a bit of criticism directed towards Oprah Winfrey. Looking back, I think it mostly stemmed from my deeply religious family and friends’ critique of her spiritual beliefs, but the damage was still done.

However, as I have been diving in deeper into spirituality, and questioning my own place in it, I have noticed a monumental shift in my mindset.

My preconceived notions of people and their opinions have been vastly surpassed. As in, my mind is more open to hearing others’ opinions that may appear quite contrary to those I was taught growing up. Thus, I have been reading Oprah’s book.

I am about halfway through, and I have been beyond pleasantly surprised. I have been greatly surprised.

People I had held great criticism or, in some cases, great distaste for, offered up some valuable nuggets of wisdom throughout Oprah’s book. Joel Osteen, the televangelist I held (and honestly, still hold some) deep skepticism for, even offered some great advice. Despite my misgivings about some of these people’s fame and message, they all held some of the very same beliefs as I did!

I have been realizing that my long accepted truths, may not be as true as I thought them to be. Perhaps, these people I have dismissed as “wrong” or “delusional” may actually hold some wisdom that I have been willingly ignorant to.  The beginning of questioning my own beliefs has opened me to acceptance of other people’s beliefs.

The reality of this breakthrough has become clear to me: no one holds all the answers. Even the great prophets of the Bible did not know all of the answers. We are all human, therefore, we are all fallible. The best we have to offer is to work with what we have, our natural talents and skill, follow our intuition, and offer ourselves in service to others and the universe.

I believe we can set out to achieve that by always questioning everything, listening with intent to understand, and maybe the greatest soul shift of all.. opening our hearts to the notion that perhaps our competitors, those we consider the complete opposite of us, may have a bit of wisdom to their ways too.

 

does God exist?

I have been stuck inside my mind as of late.

As you know, I am a Christian. I grew up in church, and (I thought I) fully realized the depth and weight of God’s love in college.

However, since getting married and moving out to the middle of nowhere, I have found myself face-to-face with never before seen questions.

Questions like:

“Why does God hate women?”

“Why would God not affirm LGBTQ+?”

“What proof is there really FOR God?”

“Why does the God of the Old Testament seem so hateful and vengeful, and so far removed from the loving and accepting God of the New Testament?”

For what was once blind belief has now been replaced with a sharp skepticism.

I cannot say I am upset by these newfound questions. I do not believe God would be upset for us having doubts when it’s been quite some time since he spoke openly to His children, unless I missed a burning bush moment along the way.

Can you blame me here?

23 years and not a shred of doubt?

C’mon.

Though it has uprooted some inner spiritual turmoil, I cannot say I am not glad it is happening.

What better way to either reaffirm or (dare I say it) shift away from my beliefs?

What better way to gain knowledge and clarity on something I hold so dear?

My experiences make me hold fast to the idea of a rich, spiritual world, but what does that look like? It does not look like my upbringing in a Southern Baptist Church, I will tell you that much.

I have so many questions, and no one to really ask them to. My family is adamantly Christian, and any form of questioning is borderline heresy. My husband does not have much interest in it or changing his beliefs (that is definitely not a dig at him, I wish I could be as comfortable and firm in my own), so he is not entirely interested nor is he really up for discussion. I also tend to dive in pretty deep with research, and that is not everyone’s forte. I get it.

However, it has been plaguing me, and I cannot help myself. The quest for answers has been weighing on my mind constantly, and my heart burns for answers. At the very least, it feels incredibly lonely.

Lately, accepting the fact that it is okay not to know has been somewhat comforting.

If God is really omniscient, then He knows my heart. I am not on a quest to burn my religion to the ground, only to seek answers to my long-neglected questions

For now, I intend to continue my personal research. I intend to reach out to those who have studied this in greater depth. Maybe I will come to some sort of conclusion. Maybe I won’t. Perhaps I will forever be on this spiritual path of wonder, intrigue, and oftentimes confusion and skepticism.

If nothing else, this journey has truly opened my mind to the wonder and mysticism of the Holy Bible, and the stories contained within it. Who knew this ancient book could hold such weight in 2019?

As always, I am open to opinion and debate. What do you think?

Is there a God or is there not? What makes you so sure?

 

living with depression

Living with depression is strange.

I always thought the idea of depression being a “stigma” as somewhat laughable. With so much talk about the important of mental health in today’s society, why would it be difficult to talk about? At least, that was my thought until I found myself unable to talk about my own struggle with depression with close loved ones without feeling like I sounded like I was desperately vying for attention.

I mean, after all, how do you say, “My world just feels really heavy today” without sounding dramatic?

It is difficult to explain that life has always felt tinged by shade of gray. To explain to your friends or spouse that depression has been with you for many years of your life, but you did not realize there was a word until you were an adult and able to seek the help you needed.

How do you say “I stayed in bed all day, because I feel like a waste of space anywhere else”?

Depression is a very lonely pain, quietly burning in the background of your life. Sometimes it is so loud that I seem aloof, distracted. Sometimes it makes me head feel fuzzy, and I cannot focus on much. I feel numb.

I had hoped to make this a hopeful post. Sometimes it feels better to reach out a hand and say “you are not alone.”

So ..yeah. I guess that’s it:

You are not alone. Better days are on their way.

 

 

 

i am the evergreen

Changes are taking place. I feel blown about like trees in the wind, branches swaying, leaves flying.

Like leaves change colors in the fall, I find myself changing, growing.

Sometimes, I feel like the crumpled brown leaf, subjected to the untimely cold, and shriveling under the harsh temperature. Other times I feel as strong as the evergreen, ready to withstand winter’s harshest blows.

I have been telling myself : “I am resilient.”

I desperately want to believe that is so.

growth shunted by legalism

I have been thinking about this a bit..

I feel my spiritual growth has been shunted lately by a deep attachment to legalism..

What if I am being “bad”? What if what I’m reading or studying is too hokey or woo-woo New Age-y nonsense ?

I have come to the conclusion, the same phrase made popular when I was in high school :

it’s just not that deep, bro.

Superficial and flippant-sounding (and still funny to me, honestly) , but it is true:

I overthink. And overthink and overthink and overthink.

My husband and I were doing a couple’s bible study together yesterday and we were instructed to list 4 fears present in our lives.

I told my husband that I was afraid of bypassing my faith, overstepping into the land of heresy.

“I think, maybe,” my husband hesitantly looked me in the eye and then pursed his lips,” you just overthink it.”

Somehow that was earth-shattering. Admittedly, it was also lightly offensive to my tender ego.

It’s just not that deep, bro.

That was his nice, but firm, way of telling me that I read too far into my own situation and mindset.

I know where I stand in my faith. I need to hold firm to it. Quit doubting.

While, undoubtedly, I will be wrong eventually about some of my spiritual stances. However, I vow to never stop learning or searching for truth about God and our spiritual experience.

Show me your ways, Lord,
teach me your paths.

Psalm 25:4

I am constantly learning. I need not be so tightly bound to legalism that I close my mind off to other ways of doing things. I don’t discount the Methodist or the Presbyterian as believers just because a few of their ideas disagree with me. In the same way, why am I being so hard on myself?

I still believe in the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ. I believe in the saving, life-changing power of the Cross.

I will continue to search for new insight into the Bible and its teachings, as well as the human spiritual experience.

Following God’s commandments is good. What is not good is excessive adherence to His laws that actually interferes with your spiritual growth. As in, being afraid of new books, new ideas, being afraid of the unknown…

Do not be afraid to read the books or listen to the podcasts. Like all teaching, listen carefully and check the scripture to double check the writer’s message. Be wary. Pray for wisdom. You’ve got this.

Lord, I pray we not be slaves to legalism, but keep our hearts open to the message You may be sending our way. I pray for heavenly wisdom, not earthly wisdom, to fill our hearts and minds. Amen.

joy through pain

Harv finds his zen

Meet Harvey, my shih tzu. He is a year old, and enjoys morning meditation, as you can tell from his mini photo shoot . He also enjoys grunting like a pig when you rub his belly, long drives, and peanut butter off the spoon.

I got Harv when I graduated college, and found myself in a very dark place. Focusing on raising this tiny furball (he used to barely fit in the palm of my hands) helped me focus on something greater than my pain.

Nurturing Harv (baby floof, as I used to call him) helped me focus my eyes and heart on the joys still lingering in my life.

Sometimes, in times of great pain in our lives, it can be helpful to focus your energy outward. I’m not saying we shouldn’t grieve or shouldn’t feel pain; rather, I think we should feel our grief and work through it constructively.

Sometimes that looks like crying into a pillow. Sometimes it looks like helping a friend or a neighbor. For me, it meant raising Harvey.

My prayer for you today is that you find joy through your pain. Despite your pain.

Mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance.

Jude 1:2

Peace and blessing, friends.

how to find power over your fear

 

 

As you guys know, I have been struggling with anxiety.

Yes, maybe I am beating a dead horse at this point,  but it has been a difficult journey. I have learned much about myself and my faith through this difficult season.

However, I have found something to be true lately. Let me back up though.

The past month, I have been struggling with the same irrational fear. It has kept me awake at night, paralyzed by fear and shame.

Last week, I had an appointment with my doctor. On the way to the office, I was glued, white-knuckled to the steering wheel. “I have to tell her I have to tell her I have to tell her” echoed in my mind. Dread echoed right back.

What if she thinks I am crazy? What if she judges me? What if, what if, what if..

I beat around the bush the whole appointment, right until I was about to leave.

“There was one more thing I wanted to talk to you about..” I mentioned timidly..

I closed my eyes, squeezed my hands together, and out tumbled the words.

My greatest fear, my greatest dread. It was hard.

I squeezed my eyelids together, lest the tears of embarrassment come streaming out. I paused several times, my sentences lasted too long and drifted off too much..

But I did it.

I left her office feeling lighter, better. I called my best friend on the way home, and surprised myself by admitting that seemingly crazy, irrational fear to her as well.

A shift had occurred. Something crazy had happened.

The more I spoke out about my irrational fears and thoughts, the less power they had over me.

 

Just being able to spit out those broken, messy words about my fears to my doctor made it that much easier to speak about. I suddenly didn’t feel so shameful, like I had some burning, embarrassing secret.

All the power these fears had over me seemed to diminish after I just owned up to them.

It was like saying them aloud made me realize how ridiculous they sounded.

That is my prayer for you today. That you find power over your fears. Speak truth to them.

Lord, please help my friends find power over their struggles and irrational fears. I pray for peace and healing in abundance to them. Lord, I pray this post speaks to someone struggling. You are the ultimate Healer and Peacemaker, God. Amen.

quiet the noise

I cannot express the healing that happens when I meditate.

I believe we need more quiet, more times of tranquility in our lives.

I encourage you to take 5, 10, 15 minutes to just slow down.

Find a comfy seat.

Find a YouTube video or a Spotify playlist with calm beats or instrumental music.

And just breathe.

Breathe deeply, in and out.

Take a seat as the observer of your thoughts. Don’t judge them, but just recognize how you feel.

Embrace them, then let them go, and focus on your breath.

Inhale for 4, hold for 7, exhale for 8.

Continue until the end of your practice.

Give your spirit some rest and love today.