Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Mental Renewal

Romans 12:2New International Version (NIV)
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

It has been a long time since i have written on  this blog. When I was writing on it regularly I wrote about creative block, depression, anxiety, productivity, prayer, goal setting and much more. One of the reasons I created this blog is because I am easy prey to all the bad things I write about, especially anxiety and depression and when it's time for me to embrace good habits and practices I am easy prey for the resistance that stops me from doing it. As Paul said in Romans 7:19 - For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. On my blog I write about things publicly that I hope could help others but primarily it has always existed to help reinforce my own tools for living a healthy God focused life.

I don't have excuses for abandoning this blog as it is ultimately my fault it's gone away. I've had a lot happen to me in the first few years. I do not feel like the same person that I was when I started writing on this site. But the site is still here and I want to bring it back and prayer led me to that fortunately. 

My daily bible verse today was the one at the top of this post - Romans 12:2 and I want to follow this advice and renew my mind. I want to renew it through prayer, and through focusing on piety, study, and action. 

Here was what I thought while reviewing my own mental renewal process:
  • Piety - Piety is making God the center of my life. I am going to practice this value by not only remembering to do my daily prayers but to encourage myself into activity that keeps me prayer focused. Also, no more missing church on Sunday. 
  • Study - My old study goal was to hit Bible Gateway every day. I have fell out of this habit so I am going to bring it back. To reinforce it I also want to add 2 daily studies to my practice - 1. A daily Bible in hand study 2. A daily pre-seminary focused study. Once I find that I am comfortably following this daily habit I am going to set a project to find an in-person Bible study.
  • Action - I confess, I am currently not doing any kind of regular apostolic action. I witness when I am given the opportunity  but I don't stick it out. Refocusing on apostolic action is the main reason I am starting to write on this blog again. 
So as I have done before in previous posts I am going to end this post in a prayer.

Dear Lord, please give me the words I need to type in prayer today. 
I am a failure when I try to do things myself. .It's easy for me to take an arrogant view and attempt to live my life without you and I confess that I have done that. I love you Lord and I thank you for loving me even when I surrender to sin. I pray to you to thank you for being in my life, for making me, me and giving me the free will that you gave me because you love me so much. Please Lord help me to surrender to you. Please fill me with your spirit and help me to be an instrument of your will. Thank you for everything Lord and give me the strength to keep it up. I can't do it without you. Please give me the faith that I need to know that you are always there. Thank you for loving me when I am at my worst.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Mistaking Feeling Tired for Feeling Low

I was laying on the couch tonight, watching TV after a long weekend and started to feel like I was depressed. I started to dwell on all the mistakes I'd made all weekend and the deep hollow feelings of shame started to build. All the things I'd said wrong, bad choices I had made, and doubtful thoughts I had started to build in my head and I started to feel like I was losing control. I began to spiral into shame.Feelings of frustration started to build because I really didn't want to feel anxiety, stress, or depression. I thought ok, I need to stop for a second, say a prayer, and figure out how to handle this.

Dear Lord,
Please tell me what to do. How do I focus on you and not this emptiness.

God answered my prayers.It came to mind right away. I remembered how tired I was and even though I am tired, this doesn't ruin my day. Even though I am tired I still have a choice to focus on being grateful for God's gifts. So I decided to be tired, but to still smile and enjoy being able to lay down after a long weekend and to focus on on my accomplishments and what I am grateful for in my life than my failures and what I want to improve.

last prayer:
Father God,
Thank you for answering my prayer Lord and thank you for the gift of being able to smile no matter what. Please help me to remember this lesson and integrate it into my life. Thank you Lord for telling me it is ok to be tired and with your help I'll try not to mistake being exhausted for feeling low.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Don't know how to be humble on my own.

Ephesians 4:2
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
I read a verse like this and I get mixed feelings. The first thing that comes to mind is, "That's nice, those things are good to be" but on top of that I get "how in the heck can I do that? When I try to be humble I'm the first person to brag about an accomplishment, I don't know what being gentle means, I can't be patient for 5 seconds, and there are definitely people I can't bear with especially in love. What an unfair demand!"

If looked at in a larger context it makes a bit more sense:

4 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
The addition of the Spirit brings it together. Through Christ's sacrifice we are given his spirit which works with us to do the things we can't do on our own.

My prayer:

Dear Lord,

I continue to read your scripture and can't even try to understand it half the time, I read about doing things that make no sense to me and even come across to me as foolish. Father God, I confess that I can't do anything on my own, I am full of sin and unable to. Dear Lord thank you for giving your Son for me so that I can be capable of more. Please walk with me as your Spirit and show me the fruits of the spirit of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Help me to come to an understanding with these things and give me the strength to make the choice to walk in your way rather than my own.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Just an awesome Psalm today, to soothe the spirit.

Psalm 86:5
“You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.”

Thursday, January 10, 2013

True Feelings - A real close look at shame

I wrote this in October of last year and never published it. I was trying to sort out some feelings. After yesterday's post and talking about shame it felt appropriate to post it because it really embodies what kind of emotions causes resistance. Here it goes:
I am depressed

I am writing this as a confession of real feelings. Something I would never post publicly because I am too ashamed, embarrassed, and every other adjective that admits that I am not strong enough to pull myself out of this depression on my own.

I started this blog to pull myself out of my own weaknesses  out of depression and anxiety. At the time I started it I was working in a job that I label as high pressure (IT tech in a call center) job, even though I am sure there are higher pressure jobs out there. My job stressed me the hell out and I wanted to accomplish something more so I started writing to give myself an outlet, the original purpose of the blog was just to have an outlet for whatever and not care about who read it. I posted random thoughts, funny pictures, things I thought that were neat about productivity, pictures I took, etc. It became an outlet for my own interests. In addition to the blog I took pictures, kept journals, prayed, went to church, read the bible, and had daily reminders to keep me on path.

Over time the process worked well. It wasn't a planned process but it was action. Action to move me forward and to keep me productive helping me to train towards improvement and a path of defined purpose. It had it's ups and downs but because there was a process I was present enough to respond to those by journaling, looking for help, even seeing counselors on occasion.

Along the way I made some accomplishments that when reflecting on now I feel good about. At work I headed up and completed projects taking on a leadership role in my department. I wasn't perfect and really let the stress get to me a times but I made some real strides at times and for those I feel really good about. In my relationships I made new friends and worked to maintain my existing ones, this lead to reconciling things with an ex girlfriend and forming a strong friendship with her that outshines our failed relationship, forgiving grudges I had maintained for a long time, and made new friendships to support spirituality, productivity,and creativity. In my personal life I helped make milestones including get out of debt, help my family get out of debt, move out on my own, and get in shape losing a lot of weight. My biggest accomplishment I made along the way was to accept that God is asking me to get on the path to seminary and possibly the ministry and start moving towards that path.

Two years ago in the same month I lost my job and my brother committed suicide. I had to move back home. It hit hard but I was still motivated so I resolved myself to embrace unemployment as a gift (I even called it funemployment at the time) and that I wouldn't let it stop me. I continued school for a year and completed my transfer credit so I am all ready to start moving towards to my bachelors!

But no, I have not moved forward. For the past year I have been spinning my wheels.
While reading this I get a sinking feeling in my heart. I am reminded of the shame I felt and still feel some shame for what I describe as spinning my wheels for a year. Wasting time.

How do I deal with the shame? 

What was the reality of the situation?

 I was feeling really low. Resistance had been really strong that year. I had experience the psychic trauma of losing my job and two family members (I lost a very young cousin to a failed heart at the same time) in the same month just two years before in the same month, October.

Had I handled it well? 

This is a hard question to answer because the shame clouds my outlook on myself. I leaned pretty hard on my parents but I have been working for them as a household manager (coined this term recently because it has been hard for me to explain to people what I do from day to day, finances, organization, errands and bill paying.) and have stayed home quite a bit with my step father who took ill this year. I have trouble taking credit for this stuff as a good thing because I feel like I am just doing what I am supposed to be doing.

What kind of outcome do I want?

This is another hard question. One of the problems with shame is the feeling that I don't deserve to get what I want. How do I deal with that? Prayer.

My Prayer
Dear Lord,
What do I do? Please give me the words for this prayer because my thoughts are so shrouded by shame that I need them.
Please help me to have the strength to get past shame. Please remind me that you died for my sins and I know longer have need for shame, guilt, or worry. Remind me that all my strengths comes from you and rather then pushing myself, I can fall into your arms and let you carry me. 
Father God, please fill me with your spirit and show me your will. Please make it plain as I have never been good at noticing it on my own. Thank you for being there for me Lord and reminding me that you are always there. Help me to stay in prayer and not turn my back on you Lord.
In your ever present Holy Name Lord,
This was a very hard post to write but I do feel better. Just the fact that I was able to write this down is a sign that God is helping me and I have hope that I can move forward and accomplish some good prayerful outcomes this year. I like that -  prayerful outcomes. It seems like God is answering my prayers already. Future posts will have to continue to explore shame, motivation, guilt, fear, and this new term - prayerful outcomes.

Thanks Lord.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

2013 - Writers Block and Cliches

It feels like a cliche to be writing the, "haven't written in a while" post. I see a lot of blogs that go on long hiatuses and I see this kind of post a lot. The cliche phrases are:
  • I haven't written in a while due to ___________ personal problem and I want to get back into it.
  • I found myself getting into a rut in my blog and I am starting over with new content
  • This blog is going to have a brand new purpose (now that I haven't written in a while and I want to be a blogger again)
  • More of the same vein.
All of these reasons and excuses come to one word - Shame. Looking at the blog causes pain due to the feelings of guilt, embarrassment, unworthiness, and disgrace of not being the person I was when I was posted regularly. I look at past posts of this blog and think "boy there is a lot of good content of content on there. Who wrote that?" and I try to get back into it and I just can't come up with the content that I use to. The fact is, I am not the blogger I used to be, I am a different man now and in order to start writing again, it's time to start thinking about it.

Who was I back when I was writing regularly?
Let's sum it up in a parargraph:
When I was writing regularly I worked in a high pressure corporate job in an IT management position. I used the blog as a tool to express my solutions for struggles in that job; those struggle included stress, anxiety, and depression. The tools I shared were physical (breathing, physical, yoga, etc), mental (meditation, mnemonics, etc), and spiritual (prayer, devotions, Bible Study).  I was a strong Christian (still am) and was on the path to seminary(still am) and used my faith to solve a lot of my problems and used the blog to show those prayers, devotions, and ideas.

Who am I now?
This is a much tougher paragraph to write:
2 years ago I was laid off from my job. in the same month I had two deaths in the family. Since then I have moved in with my parents. I live with my Mom, my step dad, and his brother. I am a volunteer Organized play RPG coordinator, I am a student, I am a nature photographer, and I am the home manager for my parents because my step dad is very ill and I help him and my mom around the house. I have finished my associates degree and am currently working on being able to go to university for my bachelors and then seminary after.

So let's talk about shame. I haven't regularly written in a long time and a lot of that has to do with shame. I wrote on this blog about resistance a lot before and for me, the resistance won and a lot of that had to do with shame. I am embarrassed about living at home, I am embarrassed that school is slow, and I feel a lot of shame that I am not doing "it" right.;"it" is life in this case.

With the new year starting I am through with shame. I spent 2 years defeated by  life and the things that happened to me and I am done with that. I am not going to set a goal of how often I am going to write, I am not going to set a daily routine or set expectations of myself. I do want to think of myself as a writer again. I want to write and I want to build the motivation to start doing it again. Why? Because it makes me feel good. it feels good to express myself on a blog, to share tools and techniques I have learned that helped me, to hope that I am helping others, and most importantly to share God's word.

My Affirmation:
I am a writer, and I write often. I write about resistance, faith, getting things done, photography, creativity, art,shame, ways and plans for managing shame, anger, pain,  and anything else that comes from my heart. Whether it is positive stuff or negative stuff, I write about it.

My Prayer:
Dear Lord,
I confess that I have surrendered to shame. I have surrendered to Satan's resistance from what I need to do and instead I want to surrender to your will. Thank you for the motivation to write this and giving the gift of not having to feel shame, worry, anxiety, or any of the other fruits of sin. Thank you for the spirit to replace that with strength, and the will to follow yours.

In your ever present holy name,