Fighting Despair

How do you avoid despair?

 
I believe one of the biggest mistakes we make in treating weariness, depression, anxiety, or despair, is that we treat it as if people are blinded to all the good flooding in around them and only focusing on one little shadow that covers up their life.
 
Now, that does happen. I’ve seen it happen. I’ve done it myself more often than not… when a fear or evil or bitterness in your life slowly grabs a hold of you, strangling out every last bit of light that you can see till there is nothing else in your life that matters save for that one issue you can let go of… that is a true problem… but I’m also not gonna lie…
 

Life stinks….

 
It does… This world is unfair. The cruel and inhumane win. The only way to earn money is to have money. The ones with good looks or charisma get treated well while the others get overlooked. The people placed in charge are usually the last who deserve to be. The first to be yelled at are usually the least to be able to do anything about it. There are lies, corruption, propaganda, false facts everywhere to the point that it’s near impossible to remember what truth even is anymore. There are a whole world of people people don’t even realize exist. We hold ourselves to the standards of fake lives we’re shown because people are too scared to show that they can’t live up to the standards of the fake lives we show. People are living 5 to a house because the products available to us weren’t designed for this economy. People are working 3 jobs only to make half the income needed to live and spend half of that paying off the debts to schooling that was promised to give them a better life.
 
This world is a rotting cesspit of greed, bitterness, lust, and anarchy, like a train that has long since driven off the tracks and people are beating each other hand and foot to climb to the last car so they can survive just a few seconds longer when it finally hits the ground. So I really don’t think that depression, anxiety, and despair always come from obliviousness. In fact, I sometimes feel that it comes from being able to see too much. Being unable to distract yourself like many can. For seeing the world as it is, and how terrifying a place it has become. How meaningless the set path before us looks. For seeing the people who fell off the road and what happened to them. It’s scary… I know.
 
And yet… at least at this point, I don’t feel despair. This year and a half has been ridiculous. My body’s broken permanently at age 27, lost my job, my finances, my future goals, friendships, opportunities, family members, and more…. I feel trapped.. I’ve been beaten and burned several times, and almost every door I’ve tried has been slammed right in my face. Meanwhile people stand on the sidelines chastising my laziness for not making it through the doors they could easily.
 
There have been times during this last year and a half where I have felt despair… I can probably count on one hand though what those times were like. Those nights when you don’t want to wake up because what future is there for you. When you don’t want to fight anymore because you’ve already lost. When you stop eating, the world starts spinning, you’ve broken out into a cold sweat, and your mouth tastes like something died in it… I have experienced despair a few days… and I’ve had numerous bad days, or days when I just don’t want to push forward anymore… but even still, there’s always been a spark that’s kept me going… and having talked to several people these last few weeks who feel like their lives are worthless, that they’ve seen everything there is to see and there’s just no point in going on… I start to realize that in spite of loss, I’ve also gained something not everyone has.
 
Hope….
 

But what is hope. Where does it come from?

 
First off from God.
 
And no. I don’t mean the half baked “Pray every day and be a good person because those are good life practices that will help you mature” type beliefs that many people push these days… I mean the faith that comes from thinking… from realizing the implications of your faith.
 
Don’t half-bake your faith. God either is or He isn’t. He isn’t here when it’s good doctrine and then gone when it comes to your responsibilities. He isn’t a God you should pray to, but then you’re the one in charge of your own fate. Stop being such contradictory flip flops!
 
DO YOU BELIEVE THERE IS A GOD?
 
Then stop thinking like this world rests on your shoulders alone.
 
DO YOU BELIEVE GOD CREATED THIS WORLD?
 
Then why do you struggle to realize He can help you too?
 
DO YOU BELIEVE HE IS WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS HE IS?
 
Then why tell yourself He hates you or let these things happen to punish or harm you? Do you think you let God down?? You’re human! You were never holding Him up! At your very best you always were a sinful person unable to save yourself but by the grace of God. Don’t think God suddenly got offended and fed up with you because you struggled with a mistake that even tweaks your conscience!
 
If you believe in God, and that He’s real, and all the Bible says He is… then realize the implications of that.
 
1. You AREN’T alone!
You were never asked for results. You were asked to follow. You were never asked to make things happen. You were asked to trust and believe. You plant the crops. You listen for God. That is hard enough. Don’t try to make the skies rain as well. That was never your place to begin with!
 
2. God does ALL things for your good and for His glory.
Things are going poorly? Your world is falling apart? It feels like you’ve been beaten beyond your abilities? Seek God. Ask to see what you need to learn and to grow stronger for it. In order to rebuild something stronger, you must first take it apart. In order to refine something you must first melt away all the junk. What you see as destruction may actually be rebuilding. God has seen a lot of nasty evil people do some pretty horrendous things. Do you honestly think He decided you would be the one so bad that He’d make special exception tormenting your life? No. He has a reason. Even if that reason is just to slap you awake to realize you never could do this in your own strength. Rely on Him!
 
3. HE is in control!
People do as people do. People will offend you. People will destroy the world. People will do crimes, inhumane acts, talk during movies, all sorts of evil evil things! You may feel like God is losing the fight against so many evil things…. you’re looking at the battlefield at too low a point. This isn’t a battle between good and evil. This is God showing how even the scariest things people may try to do for the worst reasons. The harshest pains. The most hopeless situations… God can turn them all around and do greater good than there ever was loss.
 
Now that you start to realize that you aren’t alone, realize you aren’t powerless either.
 

You are still alive! That means there is still hope!

 
Don’t give up on life. You may feel like you understand where you stand better than anyone else in the world…. but realize this is just your first attempt at life, and most of you probably aren’t even halfway through that attempt yet. Don’t act like you know exactly what you can and cannot do. Don’t act like you can tell the ending from the climax. We read stories and wish we had happy endings like that as well… but we so easily forget that those people didn’t know when the ending would come either… there were times when they felt like there was no hope, no point, no reason to move forward… but they endured. And it was because they endured that they lived long enough to see the ending.

 

Find out what you are living for!

 
No I don’t mean something simple like “To get a job and a family.” I mean seriously ask yourself. If you could be remembered for one thing in your life…. if you could make one impact on the world around you. What would it be?? For me, I decided back in high school. I wanted to make the lives of everyone I met at least a little better than before they met me, and to empower people to do things they never thought they could.
 
This goal is important. Why? Because we’ll have many goals in life. I wanted to be a bush pilot. I wanted to run a spreadsheet design company. I wanted to go to Japan and teach English. To fall in love by 18, get engaged by 21, married by 22, and have kids before 25 so that by the time they were teens I’d still be young enough to keep up with them… yet here I am… almost 28, single, under many health issues, and forget kids, I can’t even keep up with people my age anymore….
 
I’ve had many plans and even more failures…and yet, that initial goal hasn’t changed. In fact, in each failure I’ve had, I’ve learned, I’ve gained resources, contacts, and more…. I haven’t failed my goal yet. I’ve just added more tools to my toolbox I’m using to achieve it.
 
As humans we need something to work towards. We weren’t designed to drift through life… to be dragged down paths we haven’t decided, or to have no idea where we were going. In WWII POW camps they proved that was the greatest torture of all… the loss of purpose… and honestly it’s lethal.
 

YOU

 
HAVE
 

PURPOSE!

 
Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Know you aren’t alone. Know you aren’t powerless. You are alive! You are unique! You have something that no one else in this world can bring! It’s okay to take the time to mourn, cry, mope, or more. It’s human. But don’t give up! You’ve got this!
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How Can a Good God Let Bad Things Happen?

“How can a ‘Good’ God let bad things happen?”
 
How many people have left the faith for this question? How many churches have split over it? How many people wave it proudly as their banner in their self proclaimed crusades against religion.
 
This year especially I’ve seen this question raised a lot. I’ve met people forever cursed to suffer. Children lose their lives after long battles with sickness. Young adults lose their lives, or even their functional futures after momentary freak accidents. I’ve watched parents and children alike mourn. I’ve watched idiots threaten to destroy the world with their posturing. I’ve watched lives get flipped upside-down, and my own has been flipped so many times I forget which way is up.
 
“How can a ‘Good’ God let Bad Things happen??”
 
The first thing you have to ask yourself is, “Are things really just good or bad?” A birthing is a painful event, but it brings forth a brand new life. Exercising hurts like crazy, but it enables you to live longer and better before. Studying is something I bet we could all do without (I am maybe being stared at judgingly by my abandoned textbooks as I write this) but the intellect we gain gives us so many more options.
 
All gains come at a cost…. but all costs come with some gain. The balance may not always be equal, and sometimes you have to search pretty hard to find what you gained or lost, but it will always be there.
 
That’s the way the world works. Why does it work this way? I am not the creator so I cannot say. I will point out that in order to receive love and worship, the being you receive it from must be sentient (or else it is just lip service), in order for something to be sentient, it must have choice, (lest it be forced to live its life constantly questioning its actions but without being able to control them). And a choice is only as valuable as the consequences to it.
 
Is this the right answer? Unfortunately, this is the only reality I have lived in, and my perspective within it is limited at best. However this does make sense, in my opinion and I believe is a good foundation to work off of.
 
Secondly then, if we accept that we are given choice and in order to be given choice we must also be given consequences to our choices, we must also realize that while everything will fall within God’s plan, not everything is necessarily how God wants it.
 
Have you ever worked with an annoying person? I am sure you have… if you haven’t you probably are the annoying person… in fact even if you have you may be an annoying person in your own way as we all tend to prick and bump each other in ways we don’t necessarily like.
 
When placed in charge of a problematic group, you learn that you have to compromise. Yes you know that that guy’s plan is going to fail. You know that he hasn’t told anyone in charge about it yet has told his team to arrive at the location he hasn’t booked to use the materials he won’t order…. You KNOW that this is going to be a failure… but there comes a point when all you can do is damage control.
 
Message the people in charge so that they are aware and prepared. Try and get what you can together so that when things turn south there is a backup plan. At times you feel like that dog in Loony Toons that would get itself nearly killed trying to let the oblivious cat walk safely through the construction site, but you do what you can to make it work!
 
In the same way, God is looking at the world. Not in our limited human perspective and resources, but as an all knowing God who created all things. He knows that we will make bad choices. He knows that innocent people will often get hurt by them as well as ourselves. But He loves us and lets us keep that free will. He knows that there are consequences to our actions and the actions of those around us, but He plans for them, and gives us people to be there for us through it.
 
AND HE DOES SUPPORT US THROUGH IT!
 
Even if it feels insufficient. Even if we can’t see it in the moment. Even if we feel totally abandoned, no matter how dark the tunnel gets, there is always at least a glimmer of hope.
 
Finally we need to realize, we aren’t done yet. We are hurt. We are beaten. We have lost a lot. We feel unmotivated and unwilling to go forward. But we aren’t beaten yet. Even in death we are not beaten. Do you realize how many people that influence our world are dead? We are not beaten, and we have not only lost. As I said at the beginning. For every gain there is a cost, but for every cost there is a gain.
 
Now it is possible to throw these costs aside. It is possible to devote our lives to bitterness and hatred. To tearing down anyone who even reminds us about our pain. To go on a self righteous crusade of vengeance…. It is possible to waste all the gains you have received through your losses, and become someone who does nothing but cause greater pain and losses to those around you… but even in that, you are gaining. You are gaining the experience and insight that should you ever turn around, and realize just what a destructive and terrifying force you have become…. you become someone who is better able to recognize it in yourself and in others, and as such warn them before they walk the same path you did.
 
You are not beaten yet. Your story is not done. You’ve experienced pain but gained compassion. You’ve felt loss but gained perspective. You feel lost, but have gained determination. You are not beaten yet, and God cannot use you.
 
Following God does not promise an EASY road ahead… anyone who’s read the Bible can tell you that fairly easily. But it does promise “A” road ahead.
 
You are not relying on only yourself! It doesn’t matter if you can’t see a path forward, or if everyone around you has abandoned you, even if you have nothing you can do are invest or give… because it was never about what YOU brought, it was about what God could do through you!
 
So am I saying to stop whining? To suck it up and keep moving forward? That anyone who feels down or complains needs to man up and take it on?
 
Pfft! No! Such advice is ludicrousy!
 
LIFE IS HARD! What you are going through is hard too. You need to mourn. You need to cry. You need to let all your pain and frustrations out. Burying them down to let them build up and boil will help no one.
 
BUT YOU ARE NOT BEATEN!
 
You are strong!
You are irreplaceable!
You have a future!
You’ve got this!
 
/endrant

Faith Through Pain

You know what… it’s time to be honest… this past year and a half has been miserable… possibly the worst I’ve had in my life… I’ve had a slew of health things pop up including (but not limited to)

  • The tendons in my left kneecap being stretched to the point that my kneecap won’t stay in place causing my knee to collapse and be in constant pain
  • The tendons in my right ankle being stretched and messed up so my ankle is always stiff, locks up, and are also in constant pain
  • Finding out I’ve had fibromyalgia all this time, so there was actually a reason I could never keep up with people
  • Finding out I also had NASH which compounds the Fibro symptoms and means my liver is basically constantly destroying itself (Still getting tested for if I have liver cancer as well)
  • Finding out that by trying to be responsible and “Kick it up a gear” all these years I’ve actually been permanently destroying my body

In addition to this there’s been car troubles, losing my job, missing out on unemployment insurance, realizing I didn’t qualify for disability insurance, having literal hundreds of job applications lead to nothing, my dog dying, my grandmother being hospitalized, family stress, heartbreak, offensive accusations and rumors, nearly going bankrupt, having most my dreams and plans for the future go down the tubes, increased debt, being forced to be a burden to those I care about, losing independence, having to get rid of the furnishings of my old apartment (and simultaneously admitting that it might be years before I could ever use such things again), time and time again hitting the barrier of “lack of working body” or “lack of finances”, the list goes on…

So why bring this all up? Believe it or not, it’s not just so I can whine… (though a good whine feels good from time to time…) It’s more so you can understand exactly where I’m coming from when I say what I’m about to say.

You see, my generation REALLY liked motivational speakers. I’m sure many generations had their motivational speakers, but my generation practically thrived on them. Every year we’d have 3 or 4 come to our school… And being the naturally cynical person I am even at a young age, there were two things that always bugged me.

First of all, there was the obvious thing… These people were paid to come to schools and businesses to tell them about how they were once hopeless and considered a failure by all… but now they had achieved true success…. By going around to places and telling them how they were once a failure, but were now a success…. I mean come on! I may have been in the third grade, but even I realized this was pretty cart-before-the-horse!

The second thing was probably a bit more subtle… You see… it might be encouraging to hear of people who were once failures but were now successes… but it’s not very educational… How did they survive those times when they were in the dumps? How did they think of a way no one else ever thought of to get out? Did they ever lose hope? Were they only able to act so confidently now because it was all over? Hindsight 20/20 afterall…

And so… I wanted to say this now. Now that I feel hopelessly lost. Now that my heart is breaking. Now that I feel like I’ve taken three knife-wounds to the chest in quick succession. Now that I don’t want to stand up even though I have to go to the bathroom because putting weight on my legs feels like my bones are made of shattered glass cutting into my muscles. Now that I wince as I type each letter because of the pain in my hands. Now that it’s hard to even think straight because the brain fog is so thick. Now when there’s no possible way visible to get out of my predicament… I’m standing up to my neck in a burning fire on a platform that’s crumbling away… and even if I were to gain the “Ordinary life” tomorrow out of nowhere, it would still take probably over a decade to recover from all the damage I’ve taken through this… While all my health problems are not only prominent, but also incurable. When I don’t want to fall asleep because it will mean I have to wake up. When I don’t want to wake up because what even is the point. When I walk through life behind a fake smile and lies about being fine because quite honestly, I’m never fine. At this point in my pain filled, stress filled, loss filled life, without even a glimmer of observable hope for the future I want you to hear me say…

 

GOD IS SO GOOD!

 

No… I’m not being cynical here. I haven’t gone to the looney bin either, nor was I overexaggerating my mood previous… My life stinks. I’m not blind enough to not see that. I try to ask people twice my age for advice, and once they hear the reality of where I am, they start to sweat and say they don’t know what to say. Major damage has been done, and major damage is being done. I’m not getting any younger, and peoples’ expectations of what I’ve accomplished by now are only rising as my options are vanishing. Life is horrible, I’m stressed, I’m depressed, I’m scared, I’m heartbroken, and there are days I just wish I’d never been born. But even still…

 

GOD IS SO GOOD!

 

So how can I say that? How can a “good” God let things like this happen? How am I not rebelling against my faith even now? People give up on God for way less than this… so why am I still here?

Instead of answering right away, I’m going give some encouragement… or at least some wisdom I’ve come to find when it comes to dealing with grief, despair, and the hard times of life. See, I think there are three things that every person needs to hear, no matter what they are facing.

  1. What you are going through IS hard.
  2. You are NOT facing it alone.
  3. God is with you, you CAN get past this.

 

What You are Going Through IS Hard:

This is an important one for you to understand first off. I don’t know what it is you’re going through. It could be the loss of a loved one… relationship stress… persecution… bullying… school stress… family stress… depression… ANYTHING really. But whatever it is, I’m sure there is something in your life that is in your mind that is stressful and weighs heavily on you.

There is a very unhelpful thing we have a tendency to do for the most innocent of all reasons. I’m sure you do it with your own problems… I’m sure a bunch of you were doing it to me while I was listing off mine… and that is telling ourselves “So what… at least it’s not *insert worst possible thing we can imagine happening to us*.

Now a part of me honestly gets this. We don’t want to become whiners. We don’t want to feel entitled or put ourselves into a corner where we stop trying to move forward and are just sulky about how our lives stink… BUT THIS IS NOT THE WAY!

First reason I don’t like this tactic is that it gives us unrealistic expectations as to how others are doing. When you belittle someone else’s problems, you simultaneously tell them “You have no right to feel stressed over this because I definitely wouldn’t.” Even if that is not your intention. Even if you totally would be way more stressed than they are right now in the same situation… that’s the front you give them. In our idiotic world that tries so desperately to hide any fault or struggle we have, we already struggle with trying to live up to impossible standards. Don’t encourage people to repress their stress. It just makes the problem worse!

The second reason I don’t like this is because, this is NOT how pain works! Out of all the functions of the human body, it’s ability to adapt is the most amazing. In the same way, if people get used to an incredibly arduous lifestyle, something rough might not seem as bad.

For me, I have been pain, which is too strong to ignore in every one of my joints. To many, the thought of this is insane, and to tell you quite honestly, I’d probably be able to accomplish a lot more if I wasn’t in pain, but here’s the thing… I’ve been in pain my WHOLE life! I don’t really know what it’s like NOT to be in pain. As such, it’s not really something I would notice as much as someone who doesn’t live in pain. When I say “I’m fine.” What that actually means is “I’m in a frustrating amount of pain right now, but it’s not causing too much of a headache and I’m still able to move without any limbs giving out which is pretty good for me.” Some people may have trouble understanding this, but it’s my life.

A better way to explain it might be to imagine you sitting in a car. If the car goes from 0-70km/h in a matter of seconds… well… honestly you might black out the pressure would be so extreme! However, if you go from 110-115km/h you would barely notice the change, even though you’re going WAY faster!

It’s not the intensity of pain as much as the amount of change from our norm that determines hardship.

The final reason I don’t like encouraging people to suppress their grief is because it’s downright unbiblical. Job, who God called “a faithful servant with no one else like him” spent an entire book talking about how horrible his life was and how he wished the Lord would take his life or cursing the day he was born. There are numerous psalms written by David where he expresses his doubt of God’s plan and exhaustion of trying to move forward. Jesus Himself even mourned twice! Once crying over Lazarus’ death, and the second time begging God to take the cup of wrath away from Him which was the entire reason He came!

At the same time, not all grieving is considered good… God got furious at the Israelites about their whining in the wilderness. He got frustrated with Moses for his complaints that he was too weak a man for God to use… so what is it that separates the acceptable grieving from the whining in the Bible?

I am no pastor… nor a prophet… nor even a very smart guy… but if I was to wager a guess, I’d say this:

God is okay and invites us to bring forward our pain and complaints to Him SO LONG AS we still hold Him as worthy and wise, and as long as we still decide to follow Him, even if we don’t understand why.

God knows what you’re going through is hard. It’s called a “refining fire” not as something beautiful… but as something harsh and deadly, which from it will melt away everything except for the most valuable and beautiful pieces. This was never going to be easy. This was never going to be comfortable. But know in you heart of hearts, that God lets these things happen for a reason. And trust in Him even when it hurts. He doesn’t ask us to feel no pain, He asks us to trust Him through it!

What you are going through right now, WHATEVER it is… it’s hard. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! But… know that God is having you go through this for a reason. Let this pain drive you to run towards Him, not away from Him. Let Him show you what He can bring forth from this!

You are NOT Facing it Alone:

If you are reading this post… you are most likely alive. If you are not alive you most likely cannot post a comment to argue this point because I’d probably have heard about something like that by now.

Humans are fragile creatures. We aren’t designed to live alone… in fact for the first 14… somethings 60+ years of our lives we CAN’T live alone. We’re young, frail, poor, weak… and most likely pretty dumb too.

I’m not here to fight or defend family matters. I know many people whose home lives make me cry or want to throw up. But all I will say is that, raising someone is not easy. If you are still alive, that means SOMEONE took the time and effort to do that. You are NOT alone… there are people who care about you. As you grow and impact lives, that number will most likely grow with it… even if you don’t fully realize it.

Ah… but people…. People…. People…………………………. People… People are both the greatest asset to helping you move forward, as well as the greatest barrier keeping you from moving forward… sometimes if they are incredibly skilled, they can do both at the same time. As they often say at my church… “We’re like a bunch of hedgehogs in the winter… we need to get closer to stay warm, but the closer we get, the more likely we are to stab each other!”

The truly mind-blowing part is that, people don’t even need to intend harm to cause it… I have been told far more destructive things out of love than out of hate. When someone hates you, you can at least be angry at them for being such a jerk… but when someone says something horrid out of love… well then all you’re left with is the crushing realization they really think you’re that stupid.

There was one case in particular however, which really changed how I viewed how I want to react to certain inputs. I had someone come up to me, older, supposedly wiser, and tell me that God had put it on their heart to tell me something…

Now this is my cynical side speaking again, but I instantly get apprehensive when people start a conversation with “God told me to tell you.” Because

  1. Why is God telling you? I was talking to God just 15 minutes ago and He told me a lot of stuff. Why wouldn’t He just tell me then instead of telling you to tell me? It seems inefficient!
  2. I always find it interesting how many people hear “God telling them” to tell other people things, when they very rarely hear God telling them to tell themselves things.

This is of course NOT to say that you should never trust someone who says such things. God has allowed me to touch the lives of people in ways I could never imagine in the past by putting it on my heart to ask them things… However, when faced with this, it is usually wise to take the biblical approach of analyzing what is said against much prayer and comparing with the scripture. If God could tell them, ask God to tell you too, because you serve God, not them.

But anyways, the person then went on to tell me their message… It was amazing… It was 100% the worst thing I could possibly hear at that moment… It took every insecurity I was trying to stand strong through and shot a cannonball through… It made me feel worthless, stupid, and like I had been a piece of garbage in everyone’s eyes this entire time only barely put up with.

Now I am a non-confrontational person… but unlike most non-confrontational people, it is not because I stink at fighting. In fact, it is the reverse. I am a fighter by nature. I am in fact such a fighter by nature that should I get mad, I will absolutely demolish my opponent till there is not a shred of them standing. Me letting myself get angry at provocation is like a guy with a Gatling gun finishing off a toddler with a water balloon, and quite honestly, I scare myself. It is for this reason that I usually don’t let myself get mad… but at that moment I was fairly close. Like a cornered and scared wild animal, I was ready to lash out with every last bit of righteous anger I had in me. I could hear the twitter replies coming in saying I was totally justified and for once I was going to fight back… But then God tapped me on the shoulder…

He asked me, “What if I did send this person?” no… not as an encouragement, or wise message, or advice. It accomplished none of those goals and God admitted that… but what if God sent that person at that time to see if I would still choose to trust in God, or instead lash out in my own strength….

It was at that point I realized how much we chase after the wrong enemy. We waste so much time and energy getting angry at humans. “HOW COULD THEY SAY THAT!? HOW COULD THEY DO THAT?! HOW COULD THEY LET THAT IDIOT GET VOTED IN?!” that we forget how much we aren’t acting in faith.

The Babylonians in the Old Testament were DEFINITELY not Godly people. Sex crazed, cruel, irrational, impulsive, sadistic… even history textbooks tell stories about the horrible things they were known for doing… Yet if you read in the Old Testament, it’s very clear… GOD sent them… GOD raised them up… it was part of GOD’S plan that they would do what they did. It does go on to say that they go to far and as such God punishes them… but the Bible is very clear the only reason they rose to power was because God let them… and He let them rise to power, not because He was angry and wanted the Israelites to suffer… but out of love to save the Israelites from their own corrupt ways. To make sure they would survive even though they demanded they wanted to live in such a corrupt manner.

When people hurt you… don’t waste your energy getting angry at them… Quite often, even the most hurtful people act out of love… but what’s more, it was God who decided to blind their eyes to what you’re going through. It was God who decided to let them say what they were going to say at that time you were closest to bursting… If God lets it happen, there is a reason for it, even if it is to make you stronger through enduring. When those around you hurt you… yes feel pain… yes grieve like we said before… but don’t hold bitterness and anger against them… it will only destroy you. I know this because I struggle with it myself. But pray to God. Ask God what it is He wants you to see. Pray for the strength to forgive and the wisdom to learn.

There is however, the other extreme as well. I HATE asking for help…. Which is a bi hypocritical considering I’m a busybody who’s always pushing to make sure everyone who lets me be in contact with them is alright. But still I hate it. I feel like I’m burdening them. I feel like I’m a bother to them. I feel embarrassed by all the things they’ll judge me on. I hate going through the repetitive task of trying to tell them “Yes I tried that… No, I really did… Okay see I’ll try it again… and no it still didn’t work… and yes I got hurt again trying it…” but most of all… I feel like if I can suffer alone, isn’t that better than letting others suffer my fate as well?

 

DO NOT BE ME! THIS IS WRONG!

 

We are human beings. We were never designed to stand alone… in fact we can’t. We’re like incomplete puzzle pieces. Each one of us are different and unique, but it’s only by fitting them all together that the true picture can be seen.

David could not stand alone when being chased by Saul. Moses could not stand alone when leading the Israelites through the desert. And yes, even Jesus did not stand alone, having the disciples with him.

There are people who care, but communication is key. Most people can’t tell what your intentions are, and as such all of their judgements are based on your results that they can see. Results and actions are THE WORST WAY to understand who someone truly is because there are so many causes that can bring forth the same results.

You have to communicate and build a relationship with people. Most people are open to doing this, because quite honestly, everyone knows what it’s like to feel pain, it’s universal. And those who feel pain, most often, don’t want anyone else to feel the pain they went through.

Even if you don’t know if you can talk to your family, or your friends… there are professionals out there too! Pastors, Counselors, Suicide hotlines… People are out there. And they’ll listen to you. They’ll help you the best they can. At the end of the day they can’t take your pain from you, nor can they always give the answers for you. These are things which only you can bear. But to quote Sam Gamgee from The Lord of the Rings, “I can’t carry it for you… but I can carry you!”

God is With You and You CAN Get Past This:

Now time for the point of encouragement. No tunnel lasts forever!

Yes, while I’m writing this, I feel like I’m climbing out of a pit where the walls are made of loose sand, and the longer I climb, the more caved in the exit seems to be getting to the point that there’s barely a pinhole of light left in it. Yes, there are times where I wonder that even if I get out of this… what will I have left to come out to? But when I think of it… Joseph was sold into slavery, accused of rape and then thrown into the worst jail where he was forgotten about for years. David was chased by an entire army for years having everything stripped from him by the one he most loyally served and was forced to live with the people he had killed for years. Job lost his family, house, wealth, health, friends, and more…. And yet… it all worked out for them… in fact, in spite of there being no logical explanation for it save for “God”, they all ended up with far more than they even started with or could have ever dreamed of getting if any of this hadn’t happened to them.

Many people point out that “God won’t test you any farther than you can handle.” But I’m going to put an asterisk on that… Because God DOES test us farther than WE can handle… I’ll tell you right now, I was ready to give up after the second month of this past year and a half. I remember crying in the shower in despair, because God put it on my heart “What if I don’t save you from this yet? What if I let this go on for 6 months? A year? Will you still trust me then?”

God tests us FAR farther than WE can handle… on our own… but we aren’t on our own. God is with us. Rely on Him. He wants us to! He wants to show us what He can do through us.

“But I have nothing left to get me out of here!” you would probably be thinking, if you’re like me… A verse that has really stood out to me recently is in the book of Mark where Jesus and the disciples are on a boat. Jesus had just gotten frustrated with the Pharisees and told them “Don’t eat the yeast they provide” meaning “Don’t listen to their words.” Which the disciples had taken to mean as “We didn’t bring enough bread.” At this point, Jesus points out to the disciples the two times he fed thousands of people with just a few loaves of bread. The first time he fed 5000 with 5 loaves (1 loaf of bread/1000 people… TOTALLY DOABLE!) and they ended up with 12 baskets of leftovers. The second time he fed 4000 people with 7 loaves of bread. Now… even if you’re bad at math, you can probably figure this one out… You’re feeding less people with more loaves of bread… THERE’S GOING TO BE A TON OF LEFTOVERS THIS TIME! But… there were 7 baskets.

This was on purpose! It illustrated that it’s not about what we bring to God. It’s about what God does through us. If you are feeling trapped because you have nothing left, so what kinds of things can you do with your life… YOU STILL HAVE GOD!

These past 6 years, and ESPECIALLY this past year and a half has taught me that there is honestly nothing you have that can’t be taken away from you, EXCEPT FOR YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD! That is one thing you can never have taken away from you, because you can only give it up yourself. And even when you do give it up… no matter how far you run… no matter how long you’re gone… no matter how impossible you feel it would be to go back… you turn around and repent, and BAM He was there beside you all this time.

You may feel like you have nothing, but with God you have everything!

And don’t underestimate what He’s doing in this time as well. Too often we view times of trials like “The waiting room.” We want them to be over so life can start again… YOU’RE ALIVE RIGHT NOW! SO LIVE!

I am not where I want to be. I have no “real job.” My health is a mess, my finances are worse… There are massive giants swinging their clubs one after another and no matter how hard I pray, God seems to be ignoring them… but if I look harder… I realize that around me, a number of other giants I had been ignoring are falling one after another.

My relationship with my parents is stronger than it’s ever been. My organization skills are rising. I’m fighting procrastination. I’m eating healthy and exercising. I’ve read through the bible cover to cover once and am going for a second lap. I pray every day. I’m learning skills they don’t teach in schools. I’m stretching myself and what I can accomplish. For the first time in my life I’m a high 90’s average and it’s in University. I can hold a basic conversation with people in Japan in Japanese. I’ve been home to look after the house while my grandmother is in the hospital so everyone else can be with her. I’ve made tough decisions about what matters and what doesn’t, both in physical items and who I am as a person. I’ve understood my limitations better and am learning to say no. I’m learning to rely on others more. I’m growing in confidence. I’ve accepted that I don’t just want to live a mediocre/safe life anymore (in fact I honestly can’t)

These times hurt a LOT… and the areas I want to get fixed, and where most people seem to be looking remain untouched. But God IS at work. I’ve seen His hand so actively in my life this past year and a half in ways no one can expect. The exit may be getting more blocked in, but He’s been making me strong enough to come flying out when He clears a way. I don’t know what the future holds, for all I know, I could die tomorrow. And quite honestly, that would be alright. God has still used me in this time. I could spend the rest of my life living a meager life alone… and again, if that’s what God decides, it’s His choice… I’d rather it not be that, but it’s God I follow not me… even still though… no matter what happens or how far it all falls apart… I know God CAN turn it around at any point. Because it’s not about what I bring, but how much I trust in Him.

So, whatever it is you’re going through in your life, know that it IS tough. You feel stressed and upset by it, and it is totally alright to feel that way. Don’t give up pushing forward, and let this pain drive you closer to God so He can help you. But don’t feel you’re weak because you feel helpless or in pain. Strength was never about not feeling helpless or defeated… Strength is about being willing to stand up again in spite of that and fighting again!

Remember you’re not alone! I just wrote about 5000 words to tell you that I know what you’re going through and care enough about you to be this raw and real with you about all this! On top of that you have friends, families, professional services, and more out there for you. Don’t try to carry life’s burdens yourself. You can’t. And that’s okay. Rely on others, and be there to help them when they need help too. A chord of many strands is not easily broken!

Finally, know that by relying on God, you CAN get through this… and what’s more, He’s using this time to make you stronger. Don’t fret and be dismayed about how you’re going to get out of this and all that you’ve lost, because God knows what you need and He can return all that and more as easily as can be! Live, learn, trust, grow. One day you’ll be able to help someone else through a similar time because of what you’re going through now.

If you’ve stayed with me this long, I thank you for your endurance… and hope this was encouraging for you. If you know someone else who’s going through a rough time and needs encouragement, feel free to share. This is no scientific study, or theological thesis… it’s just the writings of an ordinary guy being very raw, very real, and hoping that by being honest about what he’s going through, that he can encourage even one more person to not give up fighting forward.

So once more… in full recognition of the state of my life, the consequences, the implications, the slander, the pain, and more… I just want to say this one last time to tell you just how honestly, I believe it. In spite of my circumstances, my fears, others’ judgements, or more…

GOD IS SOOOOOOOOOOOOO GOOD!

 

Amen

~Malcolm

A Prayer of a Broken Heart

“And Lord, I pray to you through the storm. Not because I am strong, but because I never was.
 
As paths around me crumble and there seems to be no way forward, I walk towards you, on the path I cannot see.
 
Though the world around me my disappear, and everything of value to me may be taken away, I cling to you who is of greatest value, who no one and nothing can take away.
 
Though pain and hardships have become my daily bread, and I feel too weak to walk forward again, still I follow you. Not for what I get, but because you are, and have always been the only way.
 
Lord, though you pull me beyond the extents of my endurance, the bounds of my wisdom, the distance of my foresight, still I will trust in you. For the limits I can go are but a drip in the ocean from the journey you can take me on.
 
So Lord, do not forget your servant, though he is battered and bruised, still he clings to you. Though the days come where I feel too weak to stand back up again, I shall crawl towards you and cry to you until these days shall end.
 
I know all you have taken away can be returned 10 fold at a mere word from you. But even if my life were to end at this time, I know my life has not been for waste in your plan. No matter the results, no life spent chasing after you first-most can be considered a failure. And so I shall pick myself up yet again, shakily on tired fight, and continue to cry out to you, until the day when it all makes sense.
 
You cannot expect a simple life if you wish to let God do amazing things through you.
 
Amen”

Looking Back at One Year

Welp, we’ve officially reached a year since I had my injury that started all of this. This year has not gone like I had expected. In fact if you had told me last May that 365 days from then I’d still be unemployed, unable to walk for long periods of time, and dealing with the further diagnoses’ of NASH and Fibromyalgia…. I might have given up right there.
 
This year has not gone like I expected… There have been many tears, sleepless nights, close calls, and hard discussions. There have been days where I’ve felt like I would give anything to make the pain stop even just for an hour…. there have been days I’ve wondered if I’ll ever have an income again. I’ve taken direct hits to my pride in places I never even knew I had pride.
 
Becoming a burden on those you care about, losing your freedom to do what you want, gaining weight no matter how hard you exercise or how much you change your diet, being open about mistakes in the past, being barely able to even do your own chores, not being able to help others do heavy lifting or shoveling of snow etc because you physically can’t keep up, wondering if you’ll ever be able to be self sufficient, wondering if you can ever be a breadwinner in the home, wondering if you’re even worth marrying or could even raise a family, getting judged as “just not trying hard enough”, the fear of going bankrupt, the fear of getting cancer, the fear of never being able to walk again, the list goes on…. but at the same time, it was all pride.
 
My situation may not have changed and my health my be in shambles, but even if my situation is still the same after a year, I am not. God has been working hard on me, and I don’t know why. But there are times in life when we aren’t meant to question. They’re times when we’re just meant to rise up to the challenges He presents.
 
I have become more organized, more studious. I appreciate the fleeting aspects of life, that I don’t have to stand alone. I used to believe that as long as I could have a house and a family and live a peaceful life, then that would be enough. Now I realize that I don’t want that, and can’t just settle for mediocre. I want to push myself to what only God can do through me.
 
I’ve realized that blame is pointless. It’s not about whose fault it is, but about what you will do moving forward. People can waste their lives obsessing over those who wronged them, those who couldn’t understand them, God for letting it happen…. but what do they gain from it? Can being angry at someone undo what was done? Did those who wrong you even do it JUST to wrong you? Chances are they were acting as best they could. And quite honestly it wasn’t other people who decided whether you rise or fall but God. And God does all things for your benefit, not your loss, so why blame him and miss the strength He is teaching you through it?
 
The truth is that all the things around you…. finances, relationships, health, comfort, future, world order, peace, chaos…. they are all nothing but waves crashing around you. Nothing but a distraction that doesn’t even matter. Keep your eyes on God. The rest doesn’t matter. Keep your eyes on God and He will strengthen you to endure waves that come at you, or may even block the ones you are not ready for.
 
How can I know this? Because it was not by my own strength that I have made it this far. I believed that all things would end come December, and yet here I am still standing. Things are still pretty bad, but this has been a peaceful walk compared to what it could have been. Compared to what it should have been. God is still working on me even though I fail Him time and time again.
 
Yes this road is getting to me. Yes there are days that I break down. But can I truly despair? No… because no matter how bad things get…. no matter how hopeless the future looks… I truly believe that God could undo all of this by tomorrow morning if He so wished…. but even if He doesn’t. Even if things continue to get worse (which I pray that they don’t) I have come to realize He will be with me to help me endure… and to protect me from that which I cannot.
 
There are a multitude of speakers out there who have been through rough times and are now on the other side. But I think it’s equally important to speak up when you’re in the midst of the storm as well. It is easy enough to say things like “I lost my job and it was the best thing that happened to me because now I have this successful company!” or “I was destitute in $80,000 worth of debt and now I’m a millionaire!” but… what can that give other than a brief moment of encouragement? It is good to hear that there is an end to the tunnel, but isn’t it better to hear what the person did to get through it? How they coped on those days when they could barely wake up? Or on those nights when they were so stressed that they couldn’t sleep? To realize that they were stressed and hurt…. and it’s alright to be human like that? That feeling too weak to move forward at times doesn’t mean that you never will?
 
And so if I can encourage anyone else standing in the midst of the storm, I’ll speak now. Because to ignore all that happened this past year would be to waste it.
 
My hope and prayer is that I become strong enough that I will rely on God just as desperately in a time of plenty and blessing, as I do in a time of pain and want. I’m not where I want to me, and there are days when I’m tired or scared…. but even still… God is in control. Whether I am blessed or cursed, does it really matter? Does my current situation limit what God can do through me? Does my current situation deem my worth? Even King Nebuchadnezzar was raised to a seat of power by God, and then later had it taken away by God. Even though he believed it was his own doing.
 
So no. While I do want to live without pain, or have a lot of the stresses crushing in on me to disappear…. I’ve come to realize it is not my ability that will determine which way life will go…. God will bring me out of this if He so wishes, or provide for me to endure if He decides for me to stay.
 
God never asked for us to provide results, only to do the best we can with what we are given and to keep our eyes on Him throughout it all. and quite honestly, that is labour enough! So, as we pass the one year mark, no I am not where I want to be… but I am where God has placed me which means I am where I am meant to be.
 
Amen.

I Blinked…

I was driving along the 400 a few days ago, when all of a sudden a car appeared right in front of me, clearly not aware (or caring) that I existed.
 
Now thankfully, I grew up in the city, and therefore was pretty used to such homicidal driving styles, and as such, was able to slow down, even on icy snow, enough to not get a newly reshaped front bumper… but I had to ask myself, “How did he appear out of nowhere?” and then it dawned on me…
 
I blinked…
 
Now, a normal person would have just left it there, but anyone who knows me should realize, that I am most definitely not normal… so it really got me thinking….
 
I blinked…
 
See, people know about blind spots…. They know we have areas we are naive and unwise in… we invest millions in technology and training to minimize the effects of those blind spots (much like how we install mirrors on the sides of our car and train ourselves to look way back before turning so we can keep an eye on our blindspots) but that doesn’t change the fact that….
 
We blink….
 
This usually doesn’t affect us much. It’s usually something we don’t have to pay much attention to. After all, we usually only blink for a second, and we can usually catch ourselves afterwards pretty quickly… but as any gamer can tell you…. a lot can happen in the fraction of a second…
 
and so we blink….
 
we miss stuff… we get blindsided by things… We make incorrect assumptions due to corrupted observations. It’s not always bias. It’s not always pride. It’s not always incompetence, laziness, stupidity… sometimes…
 
We just blink…
 
I think this is important to realize. ESPECIALLY in today’s modern age. I see so many people running themselves into the ground with anxiety. They have to micromanage every aspect of their children’s lives or their children will rebel! They have to micromanage every part of their finances or they will be blindsided by debt. They have to micromanage every calorie of their health, or else they’ll end up overweight, sick, and dying of cancer…. but here’s the thing…
 
You can learn every technique, manage every detail, download every app, buy every fitbit, protein shake, gross kale combination, and non-everything recipe book you can find… but at the end of the day….
 
You blink….
 
You can manage your health as well as you can, but then one accident will send you down a rabbit hole of slow recoveries and missed medical issues because….
 
you blinked…
 
You can save every penny. Squeeze 50 cents out of every nickel, live as frugally as you can… but then one lost job and bad economy later, you find yourself having anxiety attacks every bill you get, because…
 
You blinked…
 
You can focus on “Fixing every mistake your parents made with you.” Read every pinterest article. Be the most empowering parent you can possibly be giving your children every frivolity and experience you feel you lacked in life, yet still have them rebel against you and say they hate you when they hit teenagehood because while you were focused on what to do you missed that….
 
You blinked…
 
You can do every thing you can imagine. And study further to learn things you couldn’t imagine… but no matter how responsible, strong, or mature you may become…. you will never be able to fix the fact that you are human…
 
You will blink…
 
And that’s why we can’t take the stress and strain of the results of our lives on our own shoulders. We were never designed to be able to handle such a vast and broad thing. Our perspective is tiny and limited. No matter how much experience we gain, we will never be able to grasp every detail we need to to know what the result will be.
 
But that’s okay. Because God knows that we are weak. He made us this way. God never asks us to “Make this happen.” God tells us what He’ll do through us and asks us to trust Him enough to follow Him as He does it…. And it’s hard… and it’s scary…. I write this honestly not knowing if I even have a future worth seeing…. In all honesty, if I was to carry it all on my shoulders there would be no point… I am way too small and far too many of my plans have fallen short by this point… but I’m going to keep following, and I’m going to keep trusting…
 
Even though I can’t say I feel it every day… God is with me… I may not see any freedom… but I would not have lasted this long without Him… It is honestly one of the hardest lessons to learn…. but at the end of the day I give me best… that is all I am ABLE to give… Sure, I’ll look back, and there will be things I SHOULD have done differently. I’ll see things I was dumb on. See things I could have avoided… I already do… but as I’ve kept saying…
 
I blink….
 
So I’m not going to rely on my eyes which blink. I’m not going to rely on my ears that misshear. I’m not going to trust my sense of touch that can go numb…. I’m going to trust God, who says to keep moving forward and trust in Him… because if I do that, the results are His, and it doesn’t matter if…
 
I blink

In His Hands

You know… when I really think about it, there’s absolutely no difference between living a life of comfort and ease, and living a life where every day is a battle and any moment everything could fall apart.
 
No matter how rich, powerful, or well off you are, God could wipe you out in but a single word. No matter how weak, broken, or destitute you are, God could raise you up just as easily.
 
Whether we have freedom or captivity, our hope for the future remains the same. For it was never on our abilities that we were to rise or fall… But by the hand of God.
 
So do not take pride in your standing, and think “I did good and now I am safe to do what I want”…. even though it is easy to do so.
 
Do not despair and say “God save me! I am going to drown!” Even though it is so very hard not to.
 
Your situation hasn’t changed. Your potential hasn’t changed. Your future hasn’t changed. You were, are, and forever will be in God’s hands, whether you follow Him or not. Find comfort and humility in that.
 
Amen