Category Archives: Religion

My Story Is Spelled My.Stery

“Deja vu” is the mind affirming a familiarity with a circumstance. Was it a dream or a coincidence? That moment that causes us to stop and question ourselves, when we look around and know that somehow we’ve been here before–that is the moment that we realize that there’s a higher consciousness and a heightened sense or awareness.

We are leaving clues for our future selves intermittently. Pictures, mementos, and miscellaneous scribblings that capture something meaningful are unimportant at any given point in time except for the one moment that means everything.

Our mental health is gauged not only by how we interact with the world, but also by how we manage our own thoughts and feelings. A person who collects things assigns meaning to each souvenir. Awards and trophies are merely framed papers or inscribed tin fastened to molded plastic or crafted bark. The more important, the more likely we display these artifacts to the world. And what the world honors, we covet.

We are proud of those things that we’ve been taught are valuable. Yet we treasure most those things we’ve come to craft and mold on our own. Our creativity spawns all kinds of ideas. From our flesh comes offspring, and from our conceptions come legacy. Any deviation is an opportunity for evolution. And as convoluted as this may seem, we all have that moment when we hear a familiar sound or whiff an almost forgotten aroma. It triggers memory. It’s at that moment that we question our being and recognize that we are not just present in that moment, but we’ve become increasingly aware more than we once were.

Wise men don’t know everything. But they earn wisdom from learning that they can not know everything. There’s a calmness from surrendering a need to have more, to know more, or to understand everything. Some call it bliss in ignorance. Others call it letting go to let God.

That higher consciousness is merely a lack of consciousness. An unknowing, un-relentless, unfamiliar mystery for which the end is neither foreseen nor aforementioned…

This is where we are right now. Only a fool would assure us otherwise. The clues we leave are the clues we find later… and this prescription for fulfillment is what we call happiness. Because in that moment, we believe that things happen for a reason.

Until we are again clueless…

Advertisements

Sorry, Not Sorry

Spending many years in reflection

Fewer years in regret

A moment or two mourning losses

A second or so welcoming the growth

There are more than five human senses

More than seven wonders of the world

The provable truths can be disproven

The wrongs are too embarrassing to discredit

Our lives are not our own

Like ants we are apart of something bigger

A colonization vulnerable

Enough to be washed away by one hefty

Spring shower

Our selflessness has eroded

Consumed by what is personal

We may never earn the glory

That we so badly think we deserve

Entitlement

Enrichment

Enhancement

Deplorable

Disenfranchisement

Deposable deniability

Dorian

Grey

Black

Life

Death

Surreal

Matters

No one is sorry

Except for the ones who didn’t cause the pain

Lacking empathy, sympathy, or concern

The voices in our heads don’t silence us

No filters, no compassion

We think it, we say it

We see it, we photograph it

Our newsfeeds are cluttered with other’s posts

(Without an original thought of our own)

No illusions

Nothing concealed

Proudest, boldest generation in history

Killing each other, killing ourselves

Watching the genocide

and dispelling the lessons we were supposed to

Never Forget

The fear fuels the ignorance

Which justifies the hatred

Personal losses are the only ones

That drive change

(the kind of change that’s inevitable)

There’s an expectation

For change to occur. It is both

Demanded (by those who need it)

& Resisted (by those who control it)

So many are not sorry

Because so many will never own their

Thoughts

Actions

Behaviors

Beliefs

Words

Missing the One That’s Gone (mistreating the one that’s here)

The title suggests that relationships are backwards. But consider a deeper concept. We mourn at funerals, but the emotional commitment to sadness doesn’t usually last long. We eventually level out…chemically emotional, spiritually. And although the memory stimulates disappointment for the loss of a loved one, it also allows us to recall the good times.

We reminisce!

We are learning more about our genetic code. Commercially branded exploration such as 23andMe, Ancestry and myHeritage.com connect us to lives that we never knew, experiences we would not endure, and family we’ll never meet. But doesn’t it seem awkward to pursue “extra-” life when our own is right before us? The option to abandon the present in exchange for knowledge of the past lineage.

It’s every history teachers’ fantasy to have so many students of the world want to know where they’ve come from. In one way or another, we are all connected to some legacy.

But what of the present?! Can we be motivated to enhance our lives to do better? What lessons have we’ve absorbed from our ancestors? The history books could only convey a story from the perspective of the story tellers. But are these new methods of history-sharing impartial and unbiased? Is someone really telling us our story. Or are we getting a digitized rendition of similar narratives all dressed up with political correctness? Has our DNA been exploited to sell stock?

Pharmaceuticals are the capital for the scientists and bioengineers. DNA testing could be the conduit to normalize scientific explanations of the past–all the while omitting the gemological data that resembles all that is wrong with the world. Who is dealing/selling/marketing this to us? And raise your hand if you’re buying it.

Perhaps we as a society are so eager to embrace the positive and exciting aspects of our history. We don’t want to be burdened with the condemnations of a society gone array.

Ellis Island was a new beginning for many, but for others it was a resting place for family, cultures, and tales that could no longer be passed down to the next generations. (You absolutely must go back a click on the link). But please don’t forget that there were many nations that were torn apart and destroyed only to be reconstructed poorly in the new world. The original coming to America is vastly under-told. No cotton swab can ignite a recollection like that (and we wouldn’t want it too). American can’t handle it. We’ve become obsessed with the obsessed and numb to the pain.

Tabloids and opioids…junk for the mind, junk for the body. THIS is where we are. Reactive, we ponder treatment options in lieu of reconciling the pain. Mass shootings become last week’s news because the anxiety of “now” is too great. The precautions and the prohibitions do nothing to make us safer; instead these menial drills grasp at our insecurities and ignorance of the present.

We will react to the loss(es) of (un)loved-ones. We will pick up the pieces. We will search for something to ease the pain. As our eyes roll back and our existence begins to fade, your choice of chemical (or tactile) will ultimately determine (or UNDERmine) your future.

The art is longer imitating life. Our lives have emulated art.

Eighty years of radio/television, forty years of video games, thirty years of internet, twenty-five years of music videos and reality TV, ten years of smart phones and tablets, five consecutive years of hate, violence, and mistrust of organization and institution…equal the destruction of safe spaces.

We miss what’s already gone. We are mistreating what is already here.

Let’s digress. After all, it is just the day after Friday!

Broken (?)

How many times can we be broken before we are beyond repair?

How many breaks can we withstand before the lost pieces can no longer be replaced or filled?

That missing piece (that missing peace), where has it gone?

Are we stronger after the repair?

How delicate are we now having been broken and repaired?

Where will the next break occur?

When will it happen again?

Are we ever truly restored?

Who are we now? Who were we before?

Were we ever whole? How do we fill the hole?

Where do we go from here?

What are we talking about?

(Insert your hurt here)

Praying for your healing

#restoration

Guiltless

A few years ago I was dating someone who was living what she called an abstinent lifestyle. Her consecration dictated that she’d have no lover before marriage; and further her courtship was to be a spiritual walk during which she’d be able to determine how’d “equally yoked” they’d both be. A relationship like that brings with it all types of challenges.

I may have thought that I was confident and spiritually grounded, but I learned some very interesting things about my tolerance of others’ beliefs during my journey.

40 Nights

One Lenten season, I asked my girlfriend what (if anything) she’d given up for Lent. I’m not catholic but I believe in self-sacrifice in the 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday. I smile at the idea of giving up chocolate or soda in hopes that the sacrifice may evolve into a healthier lifestyle. I’ve been successful on a few occasions, but usually become glutinous on the other side of the “fast.” But my faith has not required me to give too much of myself. Moderation. Moderation… A mustard seed of faith is all that is required. No need for extra!

Well, she didn’t see it the same way. Her response sent us down a path of true faith-building that would last years. She said, “I’m giving up intimacy.”

Intimacy…

Our relationship had already been defined by abstinence that was occasionally diluted by kissing and heavy petting. I was in uncharted territory but defended (to myself) that I had already endured a sexless marriage. If distance can make the heart grow fonder, then abstinence can make for short engagements, RiGhT??

So to try something new would be as easy as offering a kid an amalgamation of fresh uncooked vegetables. Carrots, celery, broccoli, and cauliflower…

Not so fast!

And that’s what she said…often! Shaking my head sadly, I accepted the rules of engagement. (Pun intended!)

So she’d given up intimacy. In search of just one more simile, it was like asking a diabetic to give up chocolate. I had to question the lunacy.

“Who told you to do THAT!?!” One of the stupidest questions I could ask, I realize now.

“God!” she affirmed.

“Well, did He tell you that you couldn’t stay here anymore?”

“You mean I can’t spend the night?”

“No!”

I suppose at the time I was more superstitious than religious. My faith wavered more towards punishment than grace. And I was already certain that if I pressed this 40 year old virgin to give in to her hormonal urges, I would be struck by lightening for sure.

I had figured that this would signal the end of the relationship. I was not offering a compromise, nor did I plan on playing games with our emotions. After all, a direction from the Lord did not require my consent.

For me it was a spiritual awakening–an opportunity to assert my own beliefs, develop a sense of responsibility, and most importantly model for my own daughter a balance between religion and self-love.

She asked, “what will you be giving up for lent?”

“Guilt! I’ll be giving up guilt.”

“What do you mean?”

“What I mean IS that I’m tired of feeling guilty.”

Lust, gluttony, sloth, greed, wrath, pride, envy…cardinal vices. Carnal too. Flesh. The world…

I’m being asked to live according to someone else’s standards. I’m expected to live a life of decency despite the temptations that my brothers (and sisters) in Christ lay before me (?) and, AND, and…

This was years ago. I recount the years that have passed since my life changed. The seasons have cycled many times, but one theme has become constant in my life. I now live guiltless.

That doesn’t mean that I live carefree; nor does it mean that I allow myself to discard the beliefs of others. What it means is that I refuse to allow someone else to project their values on to me.

I can not feel bad because someone else has regret. I must not be held accountable for someone else’s hang ups. I must be free from their sin.

“You mean I can’t stay here for 40 nights?”

“You can not stay here at ALL!”

The love I had for her changed that day. It grew less as my heart and brain began to work together for the first time in my life.

Reason

I began to reason with my own conscience. I began to question how my faith drives my actions. I developed the ability to stay “no”. And only after years of practice have I become proficient is saying this too:

“I don’t believe that I can offer you what you deserve…”

What do we deserve? We deserve to be happy.

Happiness requires our own actions–our own growth and development–hard work and dedication–and most importantly…faith.

No one can give us that.

And that is what she wanted. She wanted me to have faith in HER. She wanted me to adhere to her belief system and to honor her in the ways that she wanted (that were also subject to change whenever HER god saw fit). The god in her was not the God in me.

And the God in me said, “no more”.

The God in me said, “I release you from your own chains and the invisible chains that have shackled you to your ‘future queen'”.

“You can never stay here again.”

“But I’ve come all this way for you!” she exclaimed.

“Don’t come here. I have children who are watching me closely. I have a daughter to whom I should never have to explain that we sleep next to each other, but we don’t touch each other. I don’t want to lie… down to anyone. I don’t want to feel guilty!”

I stood up. Standing on promises. Standing up for my future generations. Building a new legacy. Starting now…no wait. Starting NOW. No wait! StArTiNg…NoW

Christ died for my sin. He spread his arms wide, and His believers cried…so that I may never have to cry again.

“I don’t have to die. I don’t have to cry. And I don’t have to lie (or lay) next to you again.”

She left. And although she came back, she didn’t stay.

She didn’t stay.

Forty days passed. And 40 more. Till there were no more.

“Don’t let the door…hit you on the way out.” What began as a challenge, became a life lesson and a new diet–a diet filled with moderation and understanding and a relationship with God that was far greater than a relationship with any person.

Someone else can bear that cross. Some other man will make her sacrifice. If it goes well, it won’t be a sacrifice at all.

But isn’t Love a sacrifice. Must it be? I may never know again. But that’s a beautiful thing too. Not knowing…there can be beauty it not knowing. But it can be painful as well. Devine agony.

What agony, to love no more?

And now her beliefs are beheld by another, till death do them part.

I recall a time when that destiny was mine. But with the will to change (my mind) and the desire to live for me, I am guilt free.

And no less…

I am guiltless.

Guilt-Free V-Days

Two days before Valentine’s Day, I find myself sitting at a kitchen table while my student reinvents herself through a group science project. A project that is designed for a group, yet doled out for an individual student while she’s on medical leave….

THIS is what I’m facilitating as a blog from one of my favorite bloggers catches the corner of my eye.

Beauty Beyond Bones is one of the few blogs I read–mostly because I get an email every time the author publishes. But it’s easy to proclaim a favorite when there aren’t many others for which I will sacrifice my time. For as long as I’ve been on this reflective journey as a blogger, her blog has caught my attention. I suppose it’s because her persona reminds me of someone who I once loved. I say this with no guilt, however. And that’s because I gave up guilt for lent nearly four years ago.

That’s right! I gave up guilt for Lent. Here’s why:

This person I once loved, she has a name. But for simplicity, let’s just call her Love. She had convinced me that she was the one the Lord held aside just for me. She’d been praying her whole life for what she called “my sweet king-to-be” (MSKTB) for which became the moniker for this blog thread. She waited her whole life–and I mean she WAITED.

Her unrelenting chastity was something I honored. I’d figured that she was worth the sacrifice especially since she’d already sacrificed so much. But as the years passed I began to question the validly of a “sacrifice” of something that was never experienced. I longed for the integrity of a pure relationship. After all, no relationship prior had yielding a godly outcome.

This particular relationship did not come without its conflict and confusion. This was uncharted territory for me. I’d been divorced for nearly five years. My beautiful children and much-needed experience where the fruits of that union. Alas I’d experienced a sex-free marriage. How hard could an abstinent courtship be?

And believe it or not, it wasn’t difficult at all. The challenge was understanding the “rules” of an abstinent relationship. Love, well she didn’t make it easy. This courtship, as she called it, forced me to recall medieval times when marriages were arranged and fathers held the key to the mystical chastity belt. Weird!

It made me wonder if there were occasions where restricted access was circumvented somehow. Or if the whole concept was more-or-less a myth. I suppose I had a front row seat to my own private show. It was an interactive one-act play where I was both the star AND the antagonist. It hinged on torture, but Love led me to believe that it was necessary to truly appreciate the sanctity of marriage.

She had a hold of me. To my circle of friends, it looked like a circus. I thought I was the lion-tamer. Nah, I was merely one of the clowns (the one without the makeup).

As our relationship entered its first Lenten season, I asked her if she’d given any thought to what sacrifice she’d make for 40 Days. I figured it would be akin to my own fast of soda or chocolate. No! Hers was much deeper!!

Intimacy!

Huh? What?

I was confused. How much more un-intimate could we be??? I pressed her for an explanation. She obliged.

She said she’d spoken to God about it, and he told her to take her sacrifice deeper.

I thought this was a joke. But Love doesn’t joke about God. I began to plead with her. And then I realized that there was no integrity to in that at all. So I encouraged her to explain further. She said “no touching!”

Yeah ok.

“No kissing…”

Huh?

“No lustful gazing…”

To which I replied, “where will you be staying?”

This is where she became confused. I continued.

“When you spoke to God, did he tell you where you’d be staying when you come to visit me?”

I realized at that moment that I was venturing into a very ugly territory from which there’d be no return. But there was no turning back.

I gestured gingerly, “Hun, I know that you come a long way to see me. I know the sacrifice that you make to be with me. You are tired when you arrive, and most weekends you want to lay down; which results in you spending the night.”

“But you’ve also got to realize the challenge that comes from you spending the nights here when my children are home–the challenge created from trying to model this righteous behavior in the face of being “chased”.

My daughter had begun to emulate pristine behavior. She asked for a purity ring of her own. She spoke of the importance of waiting…

What father wouldn’t want that? Now I was offered an opportunity to step up. I’m not taking one for the team. I’m embracing a responsibility far greater than a “man-in-waiting” (is there such a thing?); or was my search for masculinity manifesting into a fatherly responsibility?

It didn’t matter. For a moment–perhaps minutes at best, Love melted. Her eyes gazed upon me and I felt appreciated.

But that too was confusing for me. And so I did what I do best. I stuck out my chest and…

Ruined it!

She asked me lovingly, “what will you give up for Lent?”

“Guilt! I’m giving up guilt!”

Love was lost.

I defended that if God was going to have a private conversation with my love, I was going to assert my role in my relationship with God. I looked up to the ceiling and continued, “you can’t stay here, wear sexy pajamas in my kitchen, tell me I can’t look at, touch, or kiss you and stay here. It’s teasing and it’s mean.”

Well maybe I didn’t say it was mean. It was a bad memory. What do you want from me?

“I Am giving up guilt for lent!” The Lord died for my sins. The fornication, the lust, the adultery, and all the other illicit stuff that I reluctantly confess to. I don’t need to harbor any guilt.

I sorta thought that I should have consulted a priest on this one, but…

I’m not catholic.

Love left that night. She went home to her father’s house where he and her mother later praised me for raising my own daughter to be a queen. I’m not sure how I felt about that, but…

Now THAT Ash Wednesday did not fall on Valentine’s Day (like it does this year), but the sheets have been cold ever since. Well, cold on Valentine’s Day at least.

As a middle-aged man who is on the cusp of denial, I will love myself this Valentine’s Day. And once you get your mind out of the gutter, you’ll probably do the same.

In case you didn’t know, the boxes of chocolate go on sale after 6pm at most pharmacies. And the Ex-lax is a few isles over.

Happy Ash Wednesday!

(Not) Making Love To The False Prophet

I shall use this as an opportunity to reference a lesson that I’ve spent the past three years learning.  When I thought that I was in the presence of God, I was instead being protected by him (which is far more personal). I endured a storm so harsh, others could not have survived it.  But I came through unscathed.

I’d been fooled and conditioned into thinking that I was on the path to blessings.  All along, however, I was being led by a temptress who called herself the dream maker. My naivety cloaked her harmful ways.  And although she could spew scripture and scoot in and out of sanctuaries unaffected, she was no angel.  To the contrary, she may have been a minion–a false prophet indeed.

I’m safe now, but she’s only begun to call upon the next like a siren.  The next guy is the son of a preacher man. That guy may not stand as a good a chance than I because, as a descendant of a holy messenger, the bounty is far greater.

I pray for his soul; that the Lord create a hedge of protection around him; and I pray that he is more discerning than I was.

Much has been written about false prophets, but as I searched for images, this is what I discovered instead.

False Prophets Mimic the Spirit of God!

The Story will be told by many men.  It will be a story of a woman who claims to be the heir to the throne.  She will argue that if she has to prove her legacy, her challengers simply lack faith.

She demanded that each man she tempted believe in her. In doing so, those “kings-to-be” will have a Devine connection to the Almighty.  It was believable.  I admit that I too conceded. I tasted the forbidden fruit, and it came easily. Am I condemned as well (for trusting this wolf)??

Do we chastise the ones who believe the lies?  Do we judge the fools?

God protects the children and the fools.  The children do not know better, but the fools are in peril because of their simple ignorance.

“Tomfoolery is alive and well,” she used to say!

In short, she was a liar!  Or was she??  She choose a narrative that was not genuine. And she sold it.  A sucker is born every minute…every minute that he spends with her.

Her entire story was a cover up of a life she choose to live–a life of ill-repute and a life of regret; a life that could have been forgiven by her Savior. She may never gain forgiveness because she choose to lie about it instead of testifying.

After searching many scriptures, this one gave me every certainty that I was in the midst of a raven:

“If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. That prophet or dreamer must be put to death for inciting rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. That prophet or dreamer tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.”‭‭(Deuteronomy‬ ‭13:1-5‬ ‭NIV‬)‬

She inspired a higher belief in God (accidentally).  Having survived her clutches, I am affirmed that He protected me. I was bathed in the blood of Christ.  Her plan was foiled. She did not mean for me to get closer to Him.  She wanted my essence for herself.

While in the midst of a spiritual attack, during a fast or consecration, I would to say to her, “are you ReAlly surprised that these attacks would come now?” I’d say this to her each time we witnessed God’s glorious works; each time he protected us from certain destruction. Any time we weathered a spiritual attack, we knew He’d protect us.

She must have secretly been crossing her fingers.

My prayer today is simply that the Enemy release His hold on her life so that she not be destroyed nor damn her victims.

Peace be unto her, for I refused to sleep with the enemy nor make love to the false prophet.