Friday, June 3, 2011

Do You See What I See?

"Good judgment comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgment"
How often are we told not to judge?  Yet, it is through our judgment and preconceived notions that we begin to learn and appreciate what life has to offer.  We learn best from our own mistakes, not the mistakes of others.  Although we can look at another and decide whether or not we want to make the same choices, the appreciation for the life we live and the lessons we've learned come from our own experiences.  We start to understand what we are capable of doing.  We come to a fork in the road and are forced to make a decision that can only come from us - because we will do exactly what we want despite the opinions and views of another.  We discover things about ourselves that we never thought we would find.  We learn how to better prepare if this same situation crosses our path in the future.  If experience is necessary for growth and clear skies, then how do we accumulate good judgment if we are trying to avoid making bad judgments?  And if our judgment is bad regardless, because everything we do is a new experience, then who's judgment are we meant to trust?

"I have long since come to believe that people never mean half of what they say, and that it is best to disregard their talk and judge only their actions"
Some of us willingly trust in others until they do something that causes us not to trust them anymore.  For the rest of us, we do not trust anyone until they prove they're trustworthy.  Do we risk getting hurt or do we cover all our bases first?  We are often told that "actions speak louder than words" and something I often heard in my younger years - "If you can talk the talk, then walk the walk".  Both of these phrases hold so much truth!  We all say things that we may not necessarily follow through with.  What we say does not have a hold until we can reflect our words with action.

"We judge others by their behavior.  We judge ourselves by our intentions"
How many of us have said or done something with a certain goal in mind, yet those involved reacted to you in a way you did not expect?  All was done with good intentions, right?  Sometimes I think we all have a hard time finding that balance in treating others the same way we would like to be treated.  We attempt to do things with the intent to end with positive results, but the recieving party does not reciprocate what we were trying to put forth.  Instead, it is blown out of proportion and before we know it - we are caught in the middle of a rip.  The only way to get out of a rip is to completely relax.  The more you try to fight it - the stronger the current pulls you under.  Some of us find it hard to let go and minimize all tension.  We think if we just keep swimming then we will eventually get out - this is why people never make it out of rips and end up drowning, or needing rescue.  We think if we stop to take a breath, and relax every muscle we have, then we are giving up - when in fact, it is when we submit ourselves to the current and stop forcing a paddle, that we come out on top and find ourselves in calmer seas.  A dear friend of mine, Natalie, told me "You can win both battles if you allow yourself".  Troubled waters come with risks but challenge the mind, they're easy to miss but hard to find.  Think about it.

"Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding about ourselves"
We as humans are flawed in so many ways.  We are so quick to point a finger at a fault within another before we even find the strength and humility to realize that three fingers are pointing back.  If we hate a person, we hate something in him that is part of ourselves.  What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us.  I have made several life long friends in the short life that I've lived, and reflecting on those friendships I have realized that each one of them brought out a different part of me.  Most times, those "parts" were ones I did not like, but as time progressed, I saw that I would never have come to accept that part of myself had they not walked into my life.  Embrace what it is that you 'hate' about another, and ask yourself - do I possess the same hated quality?  Remember, judgments prevent us from seeing the good that lies beyond appearances.

"When we judge others, we have no time to love them"
Taking a more spiritual approach, in Matthew chapter 22 versus 36-40, Jesus gives us His two most great commandments - "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy mind, and with all thy soul" and second "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself".  Both these commandments sum up all traditional ten commandments (if you need a refresher, look in Exodus 20).  Christ's teaching reveals that the first four commandments given to the children of Israel are contained in the first statement above - the last six commandments are contained in the second.  Knowing this, there really is no room for judgment - if it is a law of God, and a commandment given from Christ, then who are we to oppose?

"It took me a long time not to judge myself through someone else's eyes"
It takes more strength NOT to care about what other people think, than it does TO care.  It is easy to let yourself fall into the judgments of another - it is hard to see yourself for what you truly are and then believe it.  You are who you are - embrace it.  What you see is what you get - accept it.  If you don't like who you are, or what you see - change it.  It is a waste of YOUR time and energy, to cut yourself down due to the judgments of another.  You ARE of value.  Your worth IS of great importance.  And you WILL be all that you want to be and MORE!  Do not limit yourself - God doesn't.  Because if He did, you would not be who you are today, let alone even be here.  He sees the same thing you do - your eyes should match His - and if they don't, you are the one who needs to make the adjustment.  Nobody knows you like YOU do - which is why it is important not to care about what others think.  Trust that you are exactly the way God intended you to be - Creation's Masterpiece, cause God don't make no junk! :)

Take time to Reflect.
Learning from your mistakes will be the best thing you will ever do for yourself.  You need that personal growth.

Have no Regrets.
Mean what you say, and say what you mean.  You need to do more of what you say in support of what you mean - people listen better with their eyes.

Let Go.
Allow yourself to fail.  You will appreciate the feeling of success, if you can see how much you have given up to get there.

Be true to Yourself.
Separate yourself from others.  You will never know another, if you do not know yourself - accept the good AND the bad.

Love one Another.
Render everything for love.  Your life will be so much happier when you push aside faults - give and reciprocate.

Look Inward.
Trust and give yourself credit.  You deserve every bit of praise that has come from seeing yourself as He does - keep that eternal perspective.

"[Your] view of the world is a confession of character"

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Black or White?

"Judge a man by the questions he asks, rather than the answers he gives"

Have you ever wondered why you always want to do the opposite of what someone tells you?  Or why a good person can do so many bad things?  Maybe it bothers you to watch your best friend keep going back to her abusive boyfriend?  Or you get upset when someone says one thing but their actions show another?  Do you ever get the feeling something bad is going to take place, so you warn the people involved, but nobody believes you until after it has already happened?  Or maybe you felt impressed to do something, but didn't do it because you didn't have time?  Did it ever occur to you that maybe your life is like a play - each person with a script needing direction in every scene? 

We all have this thing called "agency" or "free will".  If life is divinely guided, and everything happens the way it should in the end - do we still have freedom of choice?  If the end result is going to be the same despite the choices made, then does it matter what we choose?  Are we given a divine path to follow with many choices along the way, allowing for a change in course at any given time?  Or are the choices we make, the ones we were supposed to make, and we are still on this same path given and directed through divine nature?

We tend to think that if our lives are a little rocky, it is because we are doing something wrong.  Do you think that maybe it is BECAUSE we're doing everything right, why all of a sudden we need to be tried?  We don't understand why our child does not want to go to church, and that his spiritual withdrawal is leading him astray.  Do you think that maybe this is the path they are supposed to lead, and that maybe this is our trial and not theirs?  We often look at obstacles as if they come from Satan, and that Satan has nothing to do with God.  Do you think that maybe God uses Satan as a puppet in our lives so that we can reach out and become closer to Him? 

We are told that we are not given anything that we cannot handle.  If trials are put into our lives, that He knows we can overcome - then would it be safe to say that despite how we found the end result, He knew it would turn out the way it did?  So then when and where can we exercise our agency if in the end, the results are the same despite the choices we've made previous to that?

In the Bible, we are taught that Satan is cast out of Heaven and that he took a third of the spirits with him.  If this needed to happen in order for The Plan of Happiness to take place, did God then set up His spirit children for failure?  And if Satan was cast out of the presence of God, how was it that he was able to tempt Eve to partake of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden where we know she dwelt with our Heavenly Father?  Did she really have a choice - or was it predetermined?

Maybe these thought provoking questions are offensive to you - I don't know.  What I do know, is that there is opposition in all things.  Without opposition, there is no choice - without choice, we cannot learn - without knowledge, we cannot grow - without progression, there would be no need to question.  When our growth is stunted, we have reached a level of ignorance.  We don't care about the amount of information we still need to acquire, nor do we care about anyone but ourselves - because if we did, we would not have come to a complete halt.  When we stop, we let go of responsibility for any repercussions for the choices we have made.  Although it sounds nice to not have to decide, we lose ourselves when we feel a lack of control.

There was a study I learned about in my psychology class.  A group of people were selected to participate in obeying an authoritative figure.  One by one each subject was put in a room with the domineering officer in charge.  When asked, the subject was to push a buzzer that was believed to zap/electrecute another person in the room next door.  The subject never saw the person being hurt, but was able to hear the screams and cries when shocks were subjected.  The subject was released from all responsibility of the damage and pain caused to the unknown person.  All the subject had to do, was listen to the officer in charge.  If the officer said to push the buzzer, the subject would.  As time went on, the officer became verbally aggressive and even threatening if the subject would not push the buzzer.  The subject continued to push the buzzer if they had the reassurance that they did not have any responsibility for the person in the other room (no persons were actually harmed in this study).  In the end, 100% of the subjects killed the unknown person due to having no responsibility for the hurt individual and following the orders of someone in a position of authority.

How easy is it for us to give away our free will if we don't have to claim the repercussions?

Another study we discussed was one that was supposed to last 7 days - but only made it for 3 or 4.  A group of people were selected to fill the roles of prisoners and guards in a prison cell, resembling a hostage situation during the war in Iraq.  As these days slowly passed, each person had literally become their character and the study had to be stopped.  The prisoners started to mentally decline and the guards had become physically abusive.  Each filling their roles, giving up their will to a 'title' or a 'name', had caused negative results all the way around.

This just goes to show that the agency we hold, even with the expected results that are known only to God - we still find comfort in having some kind of control over the lives we lead.  The questions we ask ALL have room for choice.  The answers we are given, give us a choice - we are shown we CAN decide. 

Whoever came up with "Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me" - lied.  Words are the most powerful source of control, so we must be careful in how we use them.  Our names all give us something to live by, and the positions we hold give us a responsibility.  Uphold those names and titles with dignity and reflect what they are meant to portray. 

It is through our inquisition and the magnifying of our personal beliefs, that we find satisfactory answers with the agency we've been given.