Archive for the ‘Self’ Category

Who Are You?   1 comment

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One of the interesting aspects of all the social and professional networking sites on the internet is the creation of an online profile.  Each of these websites asks questions in an attempt for you to share information which will introduce you to the world and identify connections with others.  A person has to determine what information she/he chooses to share and how to best describe one’s self.  The major question which is being asked is, “Who are you?”

I find this question a bit daunting.  Most of us begin to answer this question by describing our employment.  We have been trained that one of the key purposes of our existence is to work.  This alone is an interesting topic which is best discussed in another blog post.  Once a person describes the type of employment, then the challenge is to determine where to go next.  Should the next response be to talk about my marital status?  Should the next mention be about my children?  Should I tell about where we grew up?  All part of my life, but does it really answer the question of who I am?

I struggle with this question for another reason.  I struggle with it because at times I wonder if I really know who I am.  Again, I can share endlessly about the factual aspects of my life.  Yet, I know that a life is much more than a list of facts.  I know that a person is much more than his/her career, family, or place of origin.  However, if I am going to go beyond the facts, I have to spend time trying to understand who I really am.

Then there is the issue of how much personal information to share and how comfortable others may be with receiving the information.  There are appropriate boundaries regarding personal information which should be observed.

So maybe this is not so much about trying to fill out the information for a personal profile on a website.  Maybe that is just a catalyst to ask a bigger question of who I am.  What I am truly grappling with today is if I really know who I am.  What would I tell someone if I was asked for more than just the factual aspects of my life?  I think this is a question which will require a much longer process than just one day.  I guess I have created a challenge for myself which will take a bit of time.

What would you share if you were asked, “Who are you?”


From A Seed   Leave a comment

Autumn tree with seeds.

Autumn tree with seeds.

One of the interesting things about autumn is seeing some trees prepare to drop their seeds.  Outside the window of my home office is a tree that has small berries or seeds on it.  Almost all of the leaves have fallen from the tree but these seeds hang on.  Wrapped by a soft, protective covering, I know there is a seed.  I also know that this seed will at some point fall to the ground just like the leaves of the tree.  When it falls, if it lands on soil that is accepting, the seed will be buried in the soil where it will sit over the upcoming winter.  Then if all the dynamics are correct, this seed will produce life when the warm sun of spring and the rains come.  From this new life will be the potential for a new tree to begin.  This occurs year after year with all forms of plants.  This whole process came into my mind when I looked out my window and saw the tree but it also caused me to think of its reality in human lives.

Much like the trees and plants which we see in creation, we also drop seeds throughout our lives.  Sometimes they are seeds of wisdom.  Sometimes they are seeds of values.  Sometimes they are seeds of behavior.  There are many types of seed but as we go through life and encounter others, we share our seeds with them.  Like the seed from the tree I mentioned, if the soil (the life of another) is accepting of our seed, our seed will bury itself where it may sit for some time only to be warmed and watered into new life within another person’s life.  The seed from the tree must lay somewhat dormant over the winter months and so it may be with the seed we offer to others, a period of dormancy may occur.  However, if all the dynamics are correct, it will produce new life.

This concept is symbolized in two very different ways which come to my mind today.  The first is through a song from long ago entitled The Rose which was made famous by Bette Midler.  The song speaks of a love between people.  One line from the song states, “Just remember in the winter far beneath the bitter snow, Lies the seed that with the sun’s love, in the spring becomes the rose.” The song writer wants to remind us that we can plant seeds of love which may take time before we ever see them blossom.

The other way that I have seen this concept symbolized is in the words of Jesus as he shares a parable regarding faith.  He speaks of different types of soil receiving seeds of faith.  The success of creating a healthy faith is found in what type of soil the seed lands.  You can read what Jesus says in Matthew 13:1-23.

So today I think about the patience of one who sows the seeds of life.  The sower must realize that she or he may never see if the seed takes root but must continue to sow and be patient.  I also think about being receptive to the seed which others may sow in my life.  What kind of soil am I going to be?

Something Bigger   Leave a comment

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Sometimes in life it is easy to get caught up in the daily details of your life.  You get to worrying so much about those details that it seems they become huge.  Everyone has struggles and challenges.  Without even noticing it, you can become so worried about your details that you forget that you are not the only one in the world.  Unintentionally, your focus shifts to you and what is going on in your life without giving consideration to the challenges in the lives of other individuals.  This situation is something which Jesus referenced often in his teaching.  He continually questioned people about what is the central focus of their lives.

Then there are days when a person is given the opportunity to be awakened to the bigger aspects of life.  I find this type of day to be a great gift.  I am reminded that there is something bigger.  Without denying the situations occurring in my life, I am made aware of a much bigger life which includes the situations in the lives around me.  I also am given the reminder that there is someone bigger than myself who is much more capable of handling the various situations which create challenges in life.  Also, on days of awakening, I am able to see that there are more positives than negatives in life.

So today, I say thank you to the Lord for the days which awaken me to something bigger.  I say thank you to the Lord for being much bigger than myself and much more capable of handling my struggles and the struggles of my family, friends, neighbors, and those who I have not met yet.

Grave Clothes   3 comments

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One of the passages in the Bible that I find great meaning in is found in the story of Lazarus’ death.  Lazarus was a friend of Jesus.  Jesus had become close to him and his two sisters.  When Jesus received word that Lazarus was very sick, he waited a few days before going to Bethany where Lazarus and his sisters lived.  Lazarus died before Jesus arrived.  Jesus speaks to the two women and cries at Lazarus’ tomb.  Then in a stunning move Jesus tells them to remove the stone covering the entrance and calls to Lazarus to come out of the tomb.  Lazarus does come out of the tomb but remains wrapped in the cloth that his body was covered with according the burial customs of that day.  Jesus then says, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”  This statement is what intrigues me the most in this passage.

I think that the reason that I am so fascinated by what the Lord says here is that it appears to be very applicable to the lives of many people, including myself.  Last month I wrote a post about removing the layers which life places on us (See “Removing Layers“).  The thoughts which I shared in that post is similar to the thoughts which the line from John 11 evokes in me.  However, I think that this line takes it a step farther than what I was referring to in the earlier post.  This line reminds me that we often get wrapped up in the garments of death even while we are living.  Beyond the concept of the resurrection after death, I believe that Jesus communicates to me in this statement the importance of removing the grave clothes while I am still living so that I may be free to live the life which God has so graciously given to me.

Over time, I have found that there are situations, settings, and individuals who seem to suck the life and the joy of life from me.  There have been many books written on the subject of toxic situations and toxic people.  Many times even after we have removed ourselves from those situations and relationships, we still wear the grave clothes that were placed on us during those times in our lives.  We need to hear the words Jesus speaks at Lazarus’ grave.  We need to remove those grave clothes so that we are free to live life.  This removal may take time or it may occur with a dramatic cutting away of sorts.  Whichever method, it appears to me that Jesus is indicating that we must do the removal.

I am confident that God has given us life to enjoy and to bring joy into the lives of others.  We all must labor but I believe that God desires us to be joy-filled.  Life is an awesome gift given to us.  I encourage all of you to remove any grave clothes you may be wearing and live in the freedom of the life which you have been so graciously given.  Live the resurrected life today; it is not just a future event for which you must wait.

Being Remembered   2 comments

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Yesterday I heard a sermon which had as one of its points that each of us is remembered by name by God.  I was grateful to hear that message because it provided comfort for me.  That statement has resonated in my mind for the last twenty-four hours.  So as I sat down this morning to write my post, I decided to spend a little time thinking about why I was comforted by those words and why they are resonating with me right now.

When a politician is coming to the end of her or his elected time in an office, many of the political pundits begin to speak about his or her legacy.  What is it for which they will be remembered?  What type of legacy will be left behind?  We hear of individuals who want to secure their legacy through some sort of contribution(s).  When donors give to an institution they often have their names engraved on something or placed on a building or room within a building.  (Granted, the big the gift, the bigger the recognition)  All of this speaks to the human desire to be remembered.

I confess that I have such a desire.  As I think about my legacy, I definitely think about my two sons.  I am very proud of the young men who they are becoming.  I am pleased with the influence that I have, and continue to have, on their lives.  They are to me the greatest legacy that I can ever leave.  In addition to them, I desire leaving a legacy which encompasses having a positive impact on the lives of other people.  I want to be remembered as someone who helped another person grow and become who they are called to be.  I have always desired to assist people in growing in faith, growing in their skills and abilities, and growing in their perception of themselves.  I realize that in some situations I have lived into that desire and in some situations I have failed in that desire.

So today, I want to know for what you desire to be remembered.  I also want to remind you of the truth which I heard in the sermon yesterday, you are always remembered by name by our Lord.

Finding Good   1 comment

One of the things that I think is lacking in our world is the acknowledgement of good.  Occasionally, someone will share a story of the good actions of someone or a group.  However, most people seem inclined to spend their time identifying the bad in people, groups, and situations.  Many individuals go to great lengths to find something bad but will not expend the same level of energy trying to find something good.  This may not be new to norms of society but recently I have felt overwhelmed by the amount of negative energy being spent pointing out the bad in people and situations.

As I have tried to understand this trend in myself and others, I can identify a lot of reasons which this may be true.  I think that in part this trend is due to a perceived need to raise one’s self above others.  I also think that it appears a lot easier to identify the bad than it does the good.  Some of this trend may be due in part to the easiness which we have in finding fault in ourselves which I addressed a little in my post from earlier this week, Accepting Yourself.

Whatever the reasons, I would like to challenge myself and you to fight this trend.  I would like each of us to try for twenty-four hours to name as many good aspects of people and events as possible.  Then stretch that attempt to three days.  Then take it one more step to one week.  How might this change our perspective on life?  How might this change our attitude toward others?  How might this change our mood?

Let me know what you discover.  Please stay posted to see what I discover.  I will share my discoveries in this blog.

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Posted October 16, 2015 by thoughtfulbeliever in Christian Living, Leadership, Life, Self

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Accepting Yourself   3 comments

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I think that one of the most difficult things that many people struggle with is the ability to accept themselves.  I know that this is an area in which I have had struggles.  Each of us grow up with images of the “right person.”  We are shaped by what we experience, what we hear, and what we see.  We form a definition of this “right person” which is often  a composite of characteristics from many different individuals.  Then we spend a majority of our lives trying to become the “right person;” only to eventually accept the reality of the non-existence of the “right person.”  Once reality sets in, then we are left to try to determine who we truly are and what that means for us.

Over the past few years, I have come face-to-face with this reality.  I came to realization that I had been trying to live this image of the “right person” who I had developed in my mind.  The truly frustrating thing about this was that I never seemed able to obtain the goal of being the “right person.”  I had various times when I would participate in counseling.  Each time I was engaged in counseling, I would identify a piece of the puzzle regarding how my image of the “right person” had been developed.  I would identify the individuals and the comments which contributed to my development of the image.  Yet even though I had obtained many of the pieces, I still was not able to see how impossible it was to become the “right person.”

Fairly recently, I began embracing the truth that who I had been created to be was alright.  My attributes, skills, and abilities were the right combination of who I was intended to be when I was created.  My responsibility was to enhance those attributes, skills, and abilities, not change them.  The truth is that there was nothing wrong with who I was but instead there was a lot of wrong in denying who I was.  My education, my training, my efforts should have the positive impact of helping me to become more of who I am.  The relationships in my life should contribute to me being who I am not distracting me from it.  Only with this viewpoint would I be able to be authentic and real in my life and my relationships.  When I am destructive in my relationships, when I make bad choices, when I am destructive to myself are those times when I deny who I am or I fail to enhance the wonderful gifts of myself given to me at birth.  Yet knowing this, the most important first step was to accept myself.

When I have truly accepted myself, a lot of doors unlock.  By accepting myself, I am able then to realize that my faults, my failures, and my bad choices are part of me.  Those are the part of my attributes, skills and abilities which need more polish.  The frequently used “diamond in the rough” analogy applies to each one of us.  Each one of us have rough edges which need polished.  Those rough edges are part of who we are.  Our time and energy should be spent on working to smooth those rough edges, not to be something other than a diamond.

All of this takes hard and vigil work.  It is very easy to try to conform to the “right person” image which we have created based on the input of society and other people in our lives.  Yet the conformity will be futile because we can never obtain that “right person.”  I have come to realize that the Lord created me perfectly as the “right person,” I just have some rough edges.  I have also come to realize that by working on those rough edges while accepting who I am will move me toward being the perfect creation of the Lord.

So I ask my readers this, “Are you striving to live into an image of being the right person or are you ready to accept yourself as already being the right person who is working on smoothing off your rough edges?”