Tag Archives: darkness

Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto…

Who else would roll his eyes, make comments, and point out the obvious if Tonto wasn’t there?

Even the Lone Ranger needed someone.

Yesterday I wrote about community and the need for being in the right community.  Today, I want to talk about the evil stepbrother of community: Isolation.

Isolation is a nasty, four-letter word in counseling.  Here is it’s definition (according to the American Oxford Dictionary):

isolation |ˌīsəˈlā sh ən|noun

  • the process or fact of isolating or being isolated : the isolation of older people.
  •  an instance of isolating something, esp. a compound or microorganism.
  •  [as adj. ] denoting a hospital or ward for patients with contagious or infectious diseases.
  • PHRASESin isolation without relation to other people or things; separately : environmental problems must not be seen in isolation from social ones.
  • ORIGIN mid 19th cent.: from isolate , partly on the pattern of French isolation.

I want to pay particular attention to the first meaning, “the process or fact of isolating, or being isolated…”  There is some action implied in that meaning.  In fact, the definition points two separate process “isolating” and “being isolated”.  The first one we do to ourselves, the second, others do to us.

Just recently, I entertained the idea of isolating myself from my community about a particularly painful problem in my life.  I have felt judged (in my opinion unfairly), I have felt like people didn’t get my pain, I have felt like people were too eager to move me from my grief into a “happier” place without considering the cost of such a move.  I just haven’t felt supported in my struggle the way I feel I need support.  I love these people so I have no desire to separate from them in any significant way, but I just didn’t want to talk about this particular problem anymore because it is too painful to feel about the people I love.  It is easier to withdraw and go off by my lonesome on this subject.

Or is it?

Let’s consider the cost of isolating myself.  Even though I feel like I have been failed by my community on this problem, withdrawing entirely means that I have absolutely no support at all.  Nothing.  NO one can pray for me.  I WILL not have an ear from anyone.  I WILL struggle alone (for you Christians out there, I know I am not truly alone.  But I am without people which runs contrary to God’s desire for all of us).  I will have no one.  And, I have to ask myself if isolating myself from my friends is worth the price of not feeling the pain of relationship?  Because even the best of relationships are sometimes painful, especially when people disagree.  In all honesty, I have to say, “No.”  Being alone has never been nor never will be a great idea.

Isolating allows you to lie to yourself.  You have nothing to compare your point of view to.  Isolating means never having contact with another person.  Never feeling the warmth of their presence and care.  Always feeling alone and depressed.  No one will be there to throw you a rope when you most need one.  Isolating sometimes means death.

Being in relationships with people is a good thing.  And,  I’m not talking about just  surface relationships.  I talking about down-in-the-mud, helping-you-fight-the-good-fight kind of relationship.  These kinds of people  have your back when you are weak.  They tell you the truths you need to hear, but maybe don’t want to.  They bring you casseroles during traumas, and take you to Starbuck’s and listen to you drone on and on about this, that, or the other thing.  They pray for you.  They tell you to stop whining and act like a grown-up.  They can be there for you.

In my case, it is my responsibility to speak up and say how I feel about other’s behavior.  It is my responsibility to set boundaries with other people.  It is no one else’s responsibility but mine.

We need other people.  We need truth-tellers in our lives.  We need fellow mountain climbers.  We need someone to hand us tissues when we cry.  We need people to shine a little light in our darkness.

So reach out find your Tonto…

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

So tell me, do you have a Tonto?

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For I am free…

Satan is a liar.  He  is the king of lies.  He twists words and ideas into something that I can easily believe that traps me and holds me captive.  Captive.  Like a person chained to a wall.  Lies like “Nobody’s listening, so why bother telling your story.”  Why bother telling  my story?  Lots of people know my story, so why keep hashing up the past?  That’s a good question.  A really good question.  Maybe I am just talking to myself to keep myself going and to keep pushing higher up the mountain.  Maybe it’s because I hope that someone, somewhere will hear my story, and that person will feel hope and will keep moving up higher themselves.

Funny thing about believing in Satan’s lies, they are an illusion, an illusion that keeps me trapped as long as I believe in them.  As we all know, an illusion is something that is not really there, our eyes (or hearts, or minds) are playing tricks on us because we buy into the illusion.  Oh yes, he can hold a mirror up to us and show us the ugliness that exists in our hearts and  minds.  He can push us into believing half-truths because he is a master of illusion.  We can believe that there is no way out of this darkness we have gotten ourselves into.

The truth be told, I hold the key to breaking the chains of the illusions.  That’s right, I have the key.  The key is Jesus.  He is the light that shines in dark places when we think we see something that isn’t there.  Satan would hold us mesmerized in the darkness that is full of illusions that cause fear in our hearts and in our  minds.  He would have us chained to the wall of half-truths.  He would have us be captives for the remainder of our days.  But Jesus, he ripped the veil that kept humanity separated from God when he died on that cross.  He broke through the barrier and defeated death.  He defeated Satan.  That’s right, Satan, the master of illusion and lies, is defeated.

When we grab hold of the light and undo the chains with our wonderful Jesus, we are free.  We are free to go around and share the light with others.  We are free to ignite the flames of passion for the true living God in our own hearts.  We are free to help Jesus beat back the darkness that surrounds people’s hearts.  We are free to become whom we were born to be.

I was born to tell my story so that other’s may see the glory of God in my life.  For I am free.

Eyes- Day 7 of the Just Write! campaign

If  you have been following this at all, you know the drill about what I am doing.  If not, click here.

I  skipped day 6 last Thursday because I was in the hospital with a kidney stone.  I actually missed not writing Thursday (despite the tremendous physical pain) and not writing the 5mf on Friday.  I am taking that as a good sign.

So today’s word is Eyes.

Eyes

Your eyes see me and all that I am.

You are not satisfied to let me stay where I am.

Your eyes look at your creation and say “It is good”.

But, you are not satisfied to leave things tarnished and undone.

Your eyes see my hidden and dark places despite my efforts to hide and shelter my pain.

You are not satisfied to let the darkness rule  my being.

Your eyes see the potential I have despite the sin in my life.

And you are not satisfied to let me leave  my gifts on the floor untouched.

Your eyes see my beginning and my end.

Your are satisfied to water, nurture, and give sunlight to the time in the middle.

You are satisfied to make me a priority and to help me flourish.

You are satisfied to help me be more like Jesus more and more everyday.

Because your eyes see me and all that I am.

Apples of Gold in Settings of Silver

Proverbs 25:11 Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.

Proverbs 25:12 Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear.

 

Everyone should have someone in their  life that is a truth-speaker.  A wise truth-speaker.  Anyone can point out the bad stuff in our humanity, but a wise truth-speaker will bring life.  Truth spoken is like a fresh breeze flowing into the dark, dank corners of the mind and spirit.  Conversely, truth spoken can bring death to that which should be dead.

To be sure, truth spoken can be difficult to hear, particularly when we cannot admit to ourselves our wrong-doings.  We want to hate the truth-speaker for bringing light into the dark caves in our lives.  Light exposes the pile of dry bones, the festering wounds on our flesh, the seriousness of our defeat.  We feel embarrassed, ashamed, and sometimes, attached to the pain in our lives.  We don’t want to let go.

But God in His great mercy doesn’t leave us at the mercy of our flesh.  He sends us people that will lovingly uncover the wounds in our life.  Exposing a wound can be painful.  But once uncovered healing water, light, air, and salve can be applied.  Healing and wholeness can begin.

 

Do you have a truth-speaker in your life?

How does this person bring light into your life?

 

Down in the valley so low. Up on the mountain so high. And tighten up that brain, why don’chya’?

Moments of clarity can be blindingly brilliant.  Bringing light into the dark places, reveals the what’s been hiding in the dark.  Which makes these moments of clarity something to fear.  When there is no light, no one can see the mayhem that the darkness brings.  Who wants to see the mess they have made of themselves, right?

I feel so low right now.  All I know right now is feelings of defeat, despair, self-loathing, and anger at my stupidity.  And, I really have no idea why.

Paradoxically, I feel like Noah’s dove bringing back the olive branch that I found on tree that is high up on a mountain top, free of the floodwaters.  Free to go off and do what I was meant to do in the places I am meant to do them.

Such a strange place to be, both high and low altogether.

As I was sitting and pondering all of this my brain was listening to the movie playing in the living room, Spy Kids.  This is not a deep or profound movie.  But the moment that I tuned into the dialogue the father spy, Gregorio, was explaining some research he had been involved in to his wife spy in a flashback.  The research was for developing artificial intelligence and was called the Third Brain.  While the various researchers are busily working on their versions of the “Third Brain”, the spy in charge of the project walks by one of the researchers, pats him on the back and says something like, “Why don’t you tighten up that brain.”

Hearing this gave me pause.  It’s as if God is challenging me to “tighten up” my brain.  God, in His grace and wisdom, teaches us in our infancy how to live our lives according to His rules.  The bible says that He doesn’t give us more than we can handle.  I take that to mean that God expects me to be able to stand on my own two feet and walk out this salvation of mine.  Especially since His strength is flowing through my veins.  Which means that I have the power to speak His light into the dark places in my soul.  When I get to the realization that I need to tighten up my brain I usually go here:

Psalm 42

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?

My tears have been my food
day and night, while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
under the protection of the Mighty One
with shouts of joy and praise
among the festive throng.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.

Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.

By day the LORD directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”

My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

Which generally leads me to repentance of my attitude.

Repentance is a funny thing.  Imagine that you are standing in the darkest of caves.  The master of the  light has given you a torch and a match, of which you light.  And there you are, crouching amongst the bones and debris of your sin, filthy and in tattered rags, hair matted against your head.  You are both crouching in fear of the light, and the light-bearer.  You need to coax yourself out of the corner and gently reveal the need to say to the source of the light, “I am sorry I fled from your light.  I don’t want this cave of darkness anymore.”  Repentance seems so simple, but it is so hard to do.  Yet, the reward is worth the price.  As soon as you turn to the light-giver, He breathes life into the dark place and blows away the filth and yuck from every corner and every crevice so that the cave has no remnant of the sin it bore.  And you look as if you have been undergoing the year-long beauty treatments that Esther underwent so she would look her best when she met the king.

Lord, please forgive my unbelieving attitude.

It is now time to tighten up my brain and say to myself “Why are you downcast, oh  my soul?  Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”  Amen.

Do you have anything to repent of today?

The Garden of You

This post
is dedicated to a precious person, Jessica who has a beautiful blog.
Reading her blog is a delight, like visiting a garden.

Dear Precious Friend, I came by your garden today for a visit. I
saw you in the distance with the wind playfully attempting to
displace the little straw hat (You know, the yellow one. With the
polka dots) sitting prettily upon your head. You seemed engrossed
in your work as you hummed gently to yourself. Knowing you, you
were probably composing a song. Then you saw me. You turned and
laughed, then waved at me to come on over for a spell. On my way
over, I noticed a little pond you had put in. There were flashes of
red, gold and white making ripples in the water as if to welcome me
here, to your garden. In another little nook I noticed that some
fairies had been busy building a little home for themselves,
knowing in their hearts that you wouldn’t mind. You looked warm and
a little tired from your work, but happy. There may have been a
little stick or two in your hair, it was hard to tell amongst that
deep brown hair. Little clods of dirt had stuck themselves to your
legs. Honestly, the dried mud didn’t look very comfortable, causing
your skin to wrinkle and pucker. However, you barely seemed to
noticed the dirt clods because you knew they would meet with their
ultimate demise; to be washed away. You squatted down by some
recently disturbed earth. I noticed a multitude of hardworking
earthworms busily making their way back into the soft, moist earth.
Those little guys are a definite sign of good soil. They are always
working to soften the hard ground, just below the surface where you
can’t see them. You asked me to come closer and take a look at what
you had been doing. You explained to me that this little plot of
land had almost been swept away by a flood recently. But, you had
managed to keep it safe. You said your gardening teacher had been
by and helped you protect this area from the swift, unforgiving
waters. You told me he had said that this was a special little
place, destined for greatness and beauty. “And see,” you said,
“I’ve already planted the seeds.” Having come to visit your garden
a few times recently, I feel I understand that making this place
special has not been easy. Blights seem to pop up out of nowhere
ravaging your precious plants. Or, crazy weather comes screaming
into this place bringing darkness and flooding that attempts to
desecrate and destroy the life here. By no small miracle, every
little petal, blade of grass, and leaf survives, and, in spite of
the storms, thrives. Whenever I come to visit, you take me on a
tour of delights. The sweet, soft scent of those perky red roses
reach up and tickle my nose, daring me to smile. The gentle sway of
the weeping willow by the water allows me, for a moment, to safely
feel some sadness, which is a balm to my soul. Sometimes the little
rabbits come out to peek at us and twitch their noses as if they
know something we do not. We stopped at your new pond. You showed
me the little fish that you put there. “My friends” you said, with a slight tilt to your head.
They come to visit when you arrive, even when you have nothing to
give. Sometimes you sing them a song, sad or otherwise. Sometimes
you tell them a story. They absorb every morsel you give them then
radiate back love to you for your gentle gifts. Eventually, we
arrive at the heart of your garden, that most sacred place. Here is
where you sit, hours upon hours, with your gardening teacher.
Listening, learning, asking tons of questions. Sometimes, I come in
to visit, sometimes I don’t. And, that’s ok. Because that is your
special place. On the way out, we always pass the little patch of
earth that you intentionally leave untended. It serves as a
reminder of what this garden used to look like. You have
worked so hard ,my friend, to put your land back together. And it is
amazing. Even more amazing than before the hurricane that nearly
wiped this place of rest and beauty from existence. Thank you,
Precious Friend, for allowing me to visit your garden from time to
time. Stephanie