Sometimes we sugar coat things, thinking we’re sparing others upsets or upheavals. But, if we choose to deny anyone the truth by withholding from them the reality of a situation, we don’t really do them any service at all! Speak the truth, give the facts as you see them, relay honest appraisals whenever possible. Trust and deliver the difficult truths with kindness, compassion, and an earnest heart determined to help others.
Our challenge shouldn’t be how we can hide facts and the truth, for now, to protect someone we love from possibly being hurt, but rather our consideration should be how we can best deliver or present to others what they may need to know to make the most optimal choices for them, to face their dilemmas head-on as they are presented in life, while standing up to what they must! Some of the purposeful omitting or concealing we do may seem to soften a blow to others, but truthfully, it might also be that we don’t want to be responsible for having to give bad news or to burden another when they’re under significant duress! It might also be that in white-lying, omitting, or actually distorting reality, we are making assumptions about others which suggest that we believe them weak or incapable of facing reality. And that projection upon them might be a serious disservice to them!
The truth is truly what each of us deserves to know, process, and ruminate, even when that truth seems like a bitter pill to swallow or a hard left to our already-battered head! Some of the storms we face in this life actually provide great lessons and the impetus for significant and positive change, but if we’re always hiding in a shelter of our own making or in one provided too readily by others, we run the risk of missing those important life lessons! Not all storms can and should be evaded. They serve as necessary opportunities for individual growth and personal development! We have to give that chance to ourselves by facing each obstacle and trial in life head-on, but also others deserve that same opportunity! Honesty, reality, and truth are the power of knowing what to do, where to go, and how to proceed. The light of truth reflected in life is always preferable to the darkness of uncertainty and ill-preparedness.
So many people these days are insecure, riddled with self-doubt, and unable to positively identify themselves by decisive means. They are lost, meandering through their lives looking for validation and for acceptance! It’s really sad to watch seemingly successful, established, attractive people flailing about looking for the approval or esteem from outside that should be naturally flourishing from within!
You probably have seen these people around you every day. They may have jobs, careers, families, friends, and present themselves as well-adjusted and successful at reaching their goals in life. But, in fact, they are struggling with insecurity. This insecurity stifles their creativity, befuddles their pursuit of goals, and hinders the real progress they could make in relationships as well as personal development.
Insecurity is visible! It shows up as narcissism, jealousy, anger, envy, intolerance, excessive criticism, and in those who are always easily offended by others. Insecurity is when we don’t quite believe we’re worthy, or that we’re attractive, talented, capable, our opinions or beliefs are valid, or that we’re loveable. It is any sense of our lacking when we’re estimating the value of others in comparison! Are we as popular, pretty, slender, wealthy, successful, talented, smart, (or whatever measurement we’re using to compare and contrast our life with the lives of those around us)?!
We’re meant to get our value and worth from the knowledge and assurance that we’re beloved children of God! He’s our Creator, so He made us as we are with inherent human value and worth to achieve the purposes He has designed just for us! But many of us don’t believe in God’s dominion over our lives, and so we don’t know that our value is derived from knowing who we are through Him! We instead get our value from other places then, from other people, from the things we’ve collected and boasted of routinely, from the position we hold, from the level of our personal or professional achievements, from how attractive others think we are, from our ability to do certain things, or to hold particular positions. Without having that relationship with God, as Father, we are always going to live our life comparing and contrasting, competing and defeating, dwelling and then repelling all the subjectivity of flawed and irrational human thinking, our own and that of others! We spend a lot of energy and time dealing with insecurity as a result, which takes us from our life pursuits, the purposes God has in mind for us. And when we’re insecure, we spend a lot of time finding fault with others in an effort to raise our own self-perception!
When we know that we matter, we’re loved, we’re loveable, and that we were created as we were meant to be by the Lord, we don’t need to feel insecure about our appearance, our thoughts, our beliefs, our talents, our bodies, or our level of achievement in any area of living! We can go into anything certain that He goes with us, He has prepared us or will for whatever we face, and that we needn’t doubt our ability or any other facet of our being. He leads us, He goes with us, He is our strength, and He is our guide. Now, it’s true that those who don’t believe won’t grasp this difference! That is obvious. But they also don’t see the nature of issues with insecurity rising in this nation as we push God further from our personal lives! Such rampant insecurity is a clear indication of lives lived without the sense of God’s value known for certainty within them! Even believers struggle at times with thoughts that can erode our confidence and our assurances! When you know you matter as you are though, then someone else’s wealth, acclaim, position, race, sexual identity, possessions, and beliefs won’t seem threatening at all! And our own struggles to achieve the success we think we should attain won’t become such an overwhelming weight upon our souls! Knowing God is our designer sets us free from the embattled sense of entitlement, jealousy, envy, narcissism, greed, self-doubt, self-obsession, constant self-promotion, and any other eroding measure! Struggling is part of life, but to wrangle with insecurity, lacking confidence in ourselves as God’s invaluable creation, is to struggle needlessly even more so!
Welcome, my friends! Welcome to the new normal! We seemingly have forgotten how to be civil, not just in our physical contact, but in our discourse as well. We Americans are so attached to our divided sides in matters now that we often take on the role of mob member and willing participant in our verbal, or even physical attacks on others. The mob decides who is right. The mob decides what is right. The mob with the weapons, the mob with the media exposure, the mob with the most judges, or the mob with the paid assemblage of thugs is always the victor. We used to discuss and even debate issues in this nation. We used to laud our nation’s protective stand for the precious and infinite value of free speech, varying opinion and the right to speak in direct contradiction to one another. We mostly did so civilly, without attack and without using the tools the mob uses to silence others. We used to value our electoral process and the correlating inherent philosophical differences which created at least two sides of the coin in the first place. But no more. We now bash the freedoms which made this nation something exceptional. If someone says or does something we don’t like, we want to silence them or shut them down! We take the very liberties which are God-given and impugn their existence in those with whom we have philosophical differences. We choose sides, only now the sides often have sticks, bats, clubs, aggressive networking tools, paid participants, and blood-lust agendas to enforce their side’s point of view, and to ultimately render silent or destroy any opposition.
Our melting pot’s civility and desire for freedom’s preservation have always been our bulwark. We even allowed groups deemed highly offensive by the majority of our citizenry to share their voice as long as their voices weren’t the tip of a more brutal iceberg for inciting violence. But now, sadly, we have many citizens who cannot handle even the most mild-mannered voice if it represents dissent from their prevailing opinions. They assemble in mobs under the guise of peaceful protest to silence the speakers with whom they disagree. They destroy property, physically cause harm to other people, and breach their promise of civil protestation all to make their point. They desire such unanimous, non-diverse expression of opinion, that only their’s matters and so all others must be rendered unable to even speak! This forceful suppression is happening now on many college campuses, in many venues, and upon many streets in our once liberty-conscious nation. It is the growing trend towards mob rule in our neighborhoods, in our towns and cities, upon our college campuses and in our populace as a whole which threatens our Republic’s existence.
It’s hard to watch the decline of my great nation by the hands and will of those who don’t actually value America for what we were and still are. It’s that willful abhorrence or apathetic ignorance as to America’s standards for maintaining liberty for all and preserving our inherent rights which are the catalysts for our destruction. We simply cannot exist in lawlessness, chaos, or by mob rule. We cannot accept civil disobedience, purposeful judicial or legislative abuses, and mob mentality as our normal construct. If we are to maintain our inherent freedom in this nation, we must agree to disagree without impunity. We must accept that there are voices, beliefs, opinions, and ways of doing things other than our own. We must not shut others down to give our own raised voice more importance, more distinction, or more credence. If we cannot agree, we at least must be civil in our disagreement. Most of us have had to accept that not everything will go our way all the time, and we don’t take to the streets punching others or destroying their property as a response to that! If we must disagree, then let our protests reflect our intellect, our ideas, and our ability to persuade rather than our desire to silence, to browbeat, or to brutalize others for who and what they are.
It’s very difficult watching the demise of our exceptional nation through divisiveness because we are losing our ability to peacefully and willfully be different, unique, and to value the individual and all of our individual expression. Our nation is exceptional because it begins first with the individual, the inherent freedom to be a unique individual first and foremost. Our nation’s founders knew that no individual should be so constrained or modified in thought, word or deed by a governing body as to lose the freedom’s inherently bestowed to them by God. We must be law-abiding, civil, and desirous of that state of peacefully cohabitating this chunk of land known as the United States of America in our individual states of being. Otherwise, we become mobs of discordant, unruly, and dangerous unravelers of the very freedoms which weave this nation’s melting pot of citizens together! We must agree to disagree, we must look past our differences, and if we want to stand up for our own points of view, we must respectfully not endeavor to bully others, to beat them down, or to sue them into submission. We cannot accept another’s forced silence as our victory, as silence means we’ve rendered all perspectives and opinions but our own as null and void. That desire to submit others to ourselves is always a reflection of our own insecurity in who we are! We should securely tolerate and even encourage open discussions, criticisms, and even arguments knowing that to do so doesn’t take from us any measure of our self-respect, intellect or value. We must maintain our civility and respect for others while doing so, as that individual humility is necessary to maintain our collective national civility amid such diversity of personal culture, opinion, and behavior!
I pray each new day for civility to return to my nation. I pray for people to concede that political correctness and suppression of free speech are the poisons which are stripping our inherent, God-given freedom to believe, to think, to opine, and to behave as we believe and desire. And I pray that we each again choose to individually accept our share of personal responsibility for preserving freedom by also individually accepting the consequences of our personal choices in that regard. We only all prosper if we are able to be uniquely and individually ourselves in these United States. We only stand united through our civility, our lawfulness and our desire to preserve our Constitutionally-protected, God-given, inherent individual freedom. Mob rule has no place in our exceptional Republic comprised of individuals desirous of freedom and liberty! Peaceful protest is our nation’s birthright, but such protestors don’t throw stones, hide behind masks, accept payment for participating, or seek to physically bully others into submission! I’ll keep on praying.
Have you ever seen a baby born? I’m sure we all have, whether on television or in real life! We’ve noticed the striking similarity of all babies born in the world, regardless their skin color, their nationality, their nation’s economic status, or the timing of the arrival. All babies born in the world come without anything. They come sans clothing, food, shelter, shoes, or material goods of any kind. They all come via some parentage, but many are even separated permanently from that human connection. What we should find most striking in this comparison isn’t that we come at all, but that we all have made it as far as we have!
We have much to ponder when we consider this fact: perhaps we don’t have all that we would want to live by our own standards when born, but in some way we have all we need, otherwise we would surely all come bearing something more than just ourselves. Perhaps we’re truly meant to find our way into various compassionate communities (for example – family, friends, neighbors) where we are taught to be good members of that community and to be responsible for one another? It is only when we start to believe we won’t be given all we want, that we start to think we’re deserving and entitled to more than we need. Our desire to have that which isn’t our’s easily or naturally morphs from a noble motivation to attain and achieve some personal goals as well as dreams, into instead a raging fuel which ignites our lust, jealousy, greed and thus, tyranny.
Whatever it is we amass from birth with integrity, through our own efforts, with a lack of malice is ours rightfully. God blesses us each differently, each uniquely according to His desires. What is ours is ours, what is someone else’s belongs to them. It is not our place to deem His motives, but to make righteous our own! And we have each other, lest we forget that the hands we rely upon to take us from our bare-naked infancy to sustainable life, are our fellow humans. Why do we then learn so easily to repudiate these essential components of community into which we are surely purposefully born, all the while choosing often to be self-serving and self-involved instead?! We’re meant to be for each other without taking from each other. We’re meant to coexist without coveting. We’re meant to weave together as one patchwork of variation (language, color, beliefs, etc.) without repudiation! Perhaps what was inside of you when born actually matters more than anything on the outside anyway?!
Our nation was built on inherent rights which serve as the backbone of human freedom, but those become meaningless when citizens no longer hold themselves to the standards of behavior necessary to maintain such freedom! It is indisputable, people simply cannot do whatever they want without regard for the consequences. There is freedom, as we know it from the day we are born, but with maturity, we have to learn to be lawful and civil to dwell with one another sans chaos. Self-discipline and self-control are essential counter-balancing measures for people to live lives which shun the additional restraints other men seek to place upon them. Someone or some other entity (like a government or a law-enforcing body) always step in to take up the slack for our lack of self-control and self-discipline. And every time that is necessary, a bit of our freedom is eroded!
Thanks to the eroding behaviors of the lawless, a free society like ours can no longer maintain the same state of freedom which feels comfortable for the entirety. No man is able to decide for another how he should live his life, but that is exactly what happens in a society in which morality and civility decline! With fewer of us caring to self-regulate our behaviors and accepting personal responsibility for those errant choices we make, external control by some other entity becomes a dire consequence we all must then endure. We all must endure more laws, more regulations, more restrictions and more controls upon our freedom and choices, even though the chaos still grows more noticeable from the burgeoning lawless portion of our society. What is obvious is that the lawless already not obeying laws or self-controlling their behaviors will not respond to even more controls and laws!
The answer to our societal problems is always found within each individual, making them responsible for their own actions and behaviors is essential. No one else has the right to say for another how their life is to be lived, unless and until that person has ceded their own self-control and self-discipline by a choice or a series of choices. Otherwise, what we have, as a result, is a national “prison” of laws, restrictions, regulations, and rules which bind the law-abiding right along with the lawless. That is why “we” should stop asking for more laws and controls to be placed upon society as a whole from a faceless, growing government of gigantic bureaucratic agencies unable to keep themselves in check. “We” should start calling for enforcement of the laws already on the books and accountability for those who are truly at fault when laws are broken. If you consistently enforce the value and necessity of morality, ethics, civility, and insist upon lawfulness by insisting that people are held accountable and pay their debt or recompense to society, a society stands strong against the chaos of freedom left unchecked and unbalanced! And this standard must be set from the top down at a universal Federal level all the way down to our communities and households! Each and every single one of us must be a responsible participant and each one of us must be accountable for our choices. Only those who are unable to self-regulate and self-discipline, such as children prior to maturity, are excusable for not exercising self-control. Such freedom as is inherent in us is hard to restore once bound and restricted! And if we lose our freedom here, God help us and the world!
I enjoy wearing my small cross around my neck when I go out into the world, not to proclaim to others my chosen beliefs as a Christian, as it is barely visible there; but to remind me of the living example by which I am to be shaping my behavior, words and thoughts. I may not always live up to what others think of me or expect from me; but when I feel that cross of Christ hanging around my neck, my first thought is about what He will think of me and how much He loves me.
It has been a wonderful reminder, as a positive impact in my daily life; but also as an indictment for errant thoughts, words and actions for which I needed reproach or correction. That seemingly insignificant piece of jewelry stops me from being snarky; it often silences me from gossiping and from reacting in anger or from acting out in some other inappropriate way, when my quick-thinking mind and mouth just want to react. Maybe I put too much power in that little cross; but I have found it a significant way in which the Holy Spirit reminds me of my commitment to spiritual growth and maturity as a follower of Christ!
God works within us through the Holy Spirit, with His Word; and externally through others to teach, shape, change, develop and challenge us to become more like the Son whom He sent to save and redeem us! If we aren’t willing to be His pupils at any moment and in every moment, we will miss many chances to willingly sit on the Potter’s wheel; we will stunt our growth and undermine the ongoing processes of spiritual maturity which God sets into play the minute we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior! God wasn’t looking for a stagnant body, content to stay where we are when we find Him; but rather He created us all to be an obedient body of disciples who are actively pursuing and developing our individual and very personal relationship with Him! So I look for all ways in which I may draw into God through the Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus . . by way of the cross!
When you are walking stridently down a particular path, often there are obstacles and barriers, detours and distractions, impatient people and those who try to convince you that your chosen route is erroneous. But if you are on that path purposefully, by choice, and the path itself brings you immeasurable rewards, then why take another course?
It is often the case that what is put before us in our footsteps is meant to test our resolve, to try our patience or to see how easily or readily we’ll give in to some manner of temptation; and in that temptation, we’re promised ease, comfort, happiness, pleasure, and all manner of things we surely won’t find on our chosen way. Temptation is often the lure which takes us from our desired goal. It lures us by promising us a momentary satisfaction, or a pleasure we might be missing. It steals our self-control and takes from us our discipline to remain committed to things, to people, to efforts and to the way we’ve chosen. But temptation is a trick played on a tired, restless, uncertain, tested mind and heart. It often doesn’t bring us anything lasting; and can actually take from us more that would be satisfying, such as the sense of accomplishment after a long, hard trial or effort! How many of us succumb to temptation in a moment of weakness, when we don’t have the strength of resolve to stand in discipline and self-control against it? But we can learn to overcome all the ways in which we might be drawn from a path which promises us success, rewards and hope. We can learn how to be so self-controlled, that no matter who might be tempting us, trying our patience or convincing us that we’re wrong, all will be proven unconvincing against the willful power and determination of our steadfast spirit and disciplined mind!
We are truly not as weak as we might seem. We just need to stand strong a few times against the very things which serve to weaken us to prove that point and to develop those endurance muscles! If you stand against the forces which threaten to weaken your resolve, to break your spirit or to defeat you in your journey towards reaching goals, then you will develop stronger backbone and more enduring discipline! It’s inevitable! Stay the course if what is promised at the finish line means enough to you. And it should when you’ve set your entire life in step with its accomplishment and achievement. Why do we give up when we have already come so far? Why do we quit when others come along with their failed histories, promising us they know better than we what is good for us? Why do we let anything keep us from the rewards we know wait for hard work, effort and endurance? Even if we spend an entire lifetime and still don’t realize a goal, isn’t there much to be gained in the effort which we wouldn’t know within us were we to quit? All too often we let the voices outside of us tell us where we are in our journeys, why we’ve sidestepped in our successes and how we might fix it all according to their limited awareness of our lives! But in actuality, we are most appraised and aware of why we are on that particular road, headed in that certain way, towards those goals waiting to be reached.
Stay the course, learn to adapt to handle the distractions, the interference and the alterations necessary; but don’t give way to temptation or to taking a road promised as easier. Only you can be anointed to live your life and to do what you are called to do by your abilities, talents and experiences. Don’t let others talk you out of the life you’re meant to live just because they seem to think your choices and your direction seem flawed. Remember that their view and vantage point is limited, especially when it comes to the perspective they have of your life so far and the vision of what might lie ahead of you on the pathway you’ve taken! Believe that you are anointed, confident and assured; ask for advice if you need it occasionally, but rely upon the muscles you’re developing from within just by living and venturing onward!
A quick mind is not always a blessing, in that the mouth has often spoken before the soul has had time to gauge the temperature of the message. It’s not just for the sake of others that we should learn to use constraint in our thoughts, words and deeds. We have a lot to gain from self-control and discipline, especially when it comes to the emotional reactions we have or might have while our buttons are being pushed! Often times, we react before we have had time to assess the value, venom or vile in our own words! And our words can be even more harmful within us than they are powerful or life-altering to others.
It’s not entirely unacceptable or ill-advised to criticize, to reproach or to correct others in their behaviors and speech; but when we do, we expose ourselves to all of that in return, all while exposing at heart our motive in doing so. Unless we are doing so to help the other person, to rectify a misjudgment or to correct the circumstances within a particular situation, we’re possibly lashing out just to be right. And that is often not as advisable a seat from which to launch an attack on someone! We all have our right to opinion, belief and freedom of expression. So when another shares an opinion in which we have a momentary negative reaction, perhaps it provokes in us some anger, then we owe it to all concerned to examine why we feel as we do. Perhaps we’ve jumped to our reaction. Maybe we’re not open to a new point of view. And just maybe it is something we know for a fact is wrong or ill-advised. The best response is always a thoughtful one! If we know there is a price within us for our words, thoughts, deeds and the way we behave towards others, then we will temper and measure from within first. We should share with others our opinions, beliefs and thoughts. We should act in accordance with those. But we shouldn’t assume that our way is the only way, that we are always right or that it is up to us to change others to suit us!
Too many people nowadays react and respond without thinking through the cost of such a step to those involved and more importantly even, to themselves. We must learn to mature in our ability to control our emotions, such that when we feel the need to react, we are first able to control and discipline ourselves enough to examine our own reaction prior to responding. Maturity is not about having the need to be right all the time or the requirement to vindicate one’s own beliefs, thoughts, words or actions. Maturity requires a more disciplined and controlled approach to life; it requires going beyond the seconds involved in a reaction and response, to consider what might happen next. Maturity looks ahead at the cost of reactions and responses, it weighs the virtue or detriment to every thought, word and deed. It measures the soul’s weight before and after an emotion, considering the potential for baggage which comes from reacting in error! Maturity teaches us the invaluable lesson of responsibility, consequence and lightening our soul’s load. Maturity within gives us confidence and supports our self-esteem, so that we don’t have to prove our ego’s cries for vindication, rightness or acclaim! And when we learn those lessons, we are more civil in society; we aren’t as concerned with our ego’s own need to be right, we’re less fragile and insecure, we’ve less need to put others down for the sake of building ourselves up. We truly are more tolerant and accepting, no matter the opinions, words, beliefs, thoughts and deeds of others! Inner peace is the badge of honor we get to possess when we master a level of maturity which self-controls and self-disciplines emotions, reactions, and responses.