I Didn’t Know What To Call This, But I’m Back

This is usually the part where the blog writer explains his or her long absence with a list of reasons why they haven’t blogged since August of last year. However, my reasons for not blogging were kind of boring (Depression, school work, blah, blah, blah) What I’ll do instead is just move right along to the next topic.

In the past seven months, I have noticed a change in how I approach reading and writing. I’m a lifelong bookworm, and in 2012, I successfully completed 100 books. Since then, I’ve completed one year of university, and now, when I read anything, my inner editor automatically picks up the punctuation errors.

A few days ago, I was reading a response to a question on the Ask FM app (in which the people submit anonymous questions). My first thought was, “Dang, girl, ease up on the commas! No one takes that many pauses when they speak.” Then, I remembered that I was not reading an essay, so the person could put the commas wherever she wanted to, and her mark would still be the same. (Zero, because she’s answering questions about her life, not being graded for her writing.)

I also moved, and found out that I spent most of my time working acquiring stuff that depreciates in value. You know what’s mildly depressing? Having to fill out a form for renter’s insurance and realizing that you don’t have anything that would qualify as an “asset.” What I do have is a bunch of stuff that is valuable to me, and perhaps, my niece. (My makeup collection is enormous, and she loves it.)

A few weeks from now, I have to do a presentation about the “Desert Saints.” They were a group of Christians from the 4th century, who believed that struggle and self-sacrifice were an integral part of one’s spiritual development.

I have to say, that it’s something that I connected with right away. If I’m too comfortable, complacency sets in, so for me, some discomfort is necessary to keep me on track. Since I’m an introverted person, it’s easy to find things that make me uncomfortable.

I’ll be the first to tell you that my life as a Christian has been full of adversity. There are years of my life that I wonder how I got through them without completely losing my mind. I love being comfortable. In fact, I prefer comfort, but there’s something about going through a good battle and coming out alive that energizes me and reaffirms my faith in the God who got me through it all.

I always hate going through the tough times, but with each level I pass successfully, I learn something new. Life isn’t just about pursuing happiness, getting what you want, and making sure your people are well. It is about passing along what you’ve learned to others.

One interesting thing about Antony, one of the desert saints I read about, is that, while he lived in isolation for much of his life, he didn’t keep the blessings from God to himself.

He taught people and prayed with them, miraculous things happened, as a result. He wasn’t just eccentric for eccentricity’s sake. He used his years of struggle and sacrifice to allow God to work through him to help others.

I was initially attracted by the “away from people” aspect of his spiritual life, but I also know that I can never completely disengage because there is always someone who needs encouragement or support. A life in ministry is not one I would have chosen for myself, but now that I know “what”, I have to keep the “why” in perspective.

The first act of my life was all about me. My job; my feelings; my wants and needs, but the second act is all about what I can do to serve God best.
So far, I’ve got being kind and respectful to people with different belief systems, and being less hostile to fellow saints whom I believe are too exclusive and cliquey.
(It turns out, I’m much better at the former than I am at the latter. Oops)

Before I started school, a friend told me that the person I’ll be once I leave school will be different from the person who started. I didn’t know what she meant, at the time, but I’m already noticing a difference. Whatever happens along the way, whether it be a struggle or a peaceful journey, I pray that my experience will help someone else.

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Be Wary of an Easy Ride

There are hundreds of colloquialisms about how the road that appears to be the easiest ends up being more costly in the end than a hard-fought journey. We hear, “Too good to be true” usually is; that the road less travelled is the one we should take. Even the Bible tells people that the gate to heaven is narrow, but the gate to hell is wide. It’s cliche, but adversity does make people stronger than they would be because weakness and uncertainty are a forerunner for adaptability and strength.

A few years ago, I listened to a radio program about the plight of the homeless in western Canada. One of the volunteers at a shelter said that people he meets deal with misfortune on a consistent basis and that makes them tougher, more adaptable, more resilient and more appreciative than those of us who live comparably easier lives.

Sometimes formidable a opponent is just what a person needs to shake them up, and get them back on track. Through experience, I learned to treasure the good times when they come, as well as prepare myself for the tough stuff. Everyone hates discomfort, and we don’t like the uncertainty that goes along with strong opposition. However, just as a video game gets more difficult with each level a person beats, day to day life gets more difficult with every challenge. How a person handles a tough challenge could mean the difference between moving up a level, or staying at a plateau. Life will knock us down—often. It is not falling down that tells the tale. It is whether we learn from the hard knocks and get back up to fight again.

I don’t think I’d be the same person had I not had so much opposition. I would not have known how to handle conflict if I never had anyone oppose me. I would not know the right thing to do if I had not gotten  so many things wrong. Opposition, it turns out, is the friction that sifted the nonessentials in my life away, and left the important things behind.

We may despise the appearance of weakness or vulnerability, but it is in that weakness that we find strength. A so-called “easy ride”, may make us feel good, but it does not prepare us for real life. Life can be an easy ride, but sometimes it isn’t. Just like an elite athlete in training for his or her next event, we need to be prepared both in season and out of the season because we never know when we’ll get the call to step up. We may not need as much power while things are going well, but we still need to build our muscles for when things go wrong.

Do not get too freaked out when challenging situations arise. Remember that every day is different, and things can turn around. Don’t allow past mistakes to infect the present. Take every opportunity to learn and grow. Adversity can crush a person, but it can also push them to succeed.

Don’t let the fear of failure kill your confidence. If life has knocked you down, remember that, as long as you’re living, hope is not lost. You were born to prosper.

 

Peace,

Erie

Talking About God Tuesday: My Favourite Psalm

This passage has special significance for me because it is one of the first ones I learned to recite from memory. The psalmist likens his relationship with God to that of a shepherd and his sheep. No matter what happened in his life, he knew that God would be there to take care of him.

Rather than hearing me blather on and add my own thoughts, I’ll give you the passage so you can take from it what you will.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

(NIV)

And here it is in song form.

Peace,

Erie

 

 

Off The Cuff Thursday: I’m So Mean (And Other Stuff)

This is what is on my mind today.

  • In the interest of full-disclosure, I have to admit that I’m not always kind. I’m straightforward, and sometimes  most of the time my straightforwardness puts people off. After being bullied for most of elementary school and Jr High, I developed a thick-skin. (Unfortunately, I had to go through years of depression, anxiety, and PTSD  to acquire that thick skin, but it is what it is) As a result, I automatically assume that everyone handles verbal jabs the same way that I do– either by ignoring them or by laughing them off. More often than not, I say something that I think is funny, but to the person I’m speaking to it’s rude, tactless, and uncaring. I have to work, every day, to curb this character flaw because if left unchecked, it can be destructive.

 

  • Living with peace is so sacred to me that I will do whatever I can in order to maintain it. I was an anxious child, who grew into an anxious teenager, and then I spent 7 years as an anxious adult. Admitting that I needed help was the best–and most humbling–thing I have done to date. I love to help others, but I can’t stand asking for assistance myself. Acknowledging that I was not perfect or indestructible meant that I could be human, with all of the messes and foibles that go with it. (See previous thought.) I can’t do everything, help everyone, and fit in to what others expect of me…and that’s okay. As the famous quote says, peace doesn’t mean the absence of chaos, difficulty, and disturbance, it means that you have an inner calm in spite of what is going on around you. Now I know what that feels like.

 

  • If I never get another blessing from God, I will still be thankful for the role He has played in my life. It seems as though the message of God’s love has been drowned out by much louder voices that preach hatred, intolerance, and division–while using the Bible to back their beliefs. Well, the God I chose to serve as a 14 year-old girl is only after one thing: reconciliation by unconditional love. 

 

  • I didn’t watch the entire season of The Bachelor Canada (It was on too late), but I have to say, we did pretty well. The bachelor was engaging, intelligent, and funny, and he really loves the woman he finally chose to marry (who is also a lovely person, and an R.N. like my mom 🙂 ) As an avid reality TV watcher, I think they’re the real deal. (I have watched lots of these shows. I can always tell.)

 

  • I heard on the news today that all internet, cellphone, and cable access has been blocked in Syria. This is beyond disturbing because it means that no news is coming out…or in. Sending prayers.

 

  • This morning I posted a random list of things my father has told me. He’s (infuriatingly) modest, but he’s one of the smartest people I know. When I was younger, I used to get annoyed when he gave me advice, but now that I’m older, I find myself asking his opinion. Since I’m me, I also tell him that some of his advice is wrong, but I’m glad to hear it nonetheless. Some people aren’t as blessed.

 

  • I don’t believe in karma. (I’m not well-read on the topic, but I think it has something to do with Hinduism?) I do believe that each person reaps whatever he or she sows. (Leave it to Jesus to give a parable about farming :P) So don’t expect rose garden when all you have planted are weeds.

 

  • Learning how to live comfortably with discomfort is better than having everything go your way. There’s a laziness that sets in when you grow too accustomed to being comfortable. You don’t work as hard. You take fewer risks in the interest of self-preservation, and you don’t always notice when things are about to go wrong for you. Discomfort, on the other hand, keeps you on your toes. Since you are always prepared for the worst, it doesn’t throw you off when your fears become reality. Handling distressing situations with grace is a sign of growth, and whenever you run away–or worse–try to control them, you run the risk of missing the lesson.

Well, that’s all I can think of for now. I hope you’re doing well, and thank you for reading 🙂

Peace,

Erin

 

Change

“If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.”
Gail Sheehy

 

There are a lot of changes being made at  my place of employment and I can honestly say I don’t mind them. (I’ve been with the company for nearly 12 years, so at this point, resistance is futile.)  Accepting change is an entirely new thing for me because I spent many years being averse to it. In other words, I would fight against it with everything I had. My former supervisor and I used to debate all the time because he loved to make changes, and I never failed to challenge his decisions. Especially when I knew thought they wouldn’t work.

Like most people I enjoy being comfortable, and for me, comfort has always been consistency, efficiency, and predictability. I didn’t learn how to adapt to change until I had to adapt to many changes–all at once. (2008 will forever be known as, “The Year I Got Way More Than I Could Handle”)

I have since learned that change isn’t necessarily a bad thing because it encourages us to step outside of our comfort zones. (I’m pretty sure I was pushed, but I’m not bitter.)  In my experience, I have grown more by being placed in new–and often uncomfortable– situations, than I have by staying within my cozy little bubble. (No matter how cozy it is.) I learned that I cannot control my environment, but I can control my reaction to it. I may not like change, but I have decided to embrace it.

After all, some of the greatest blessings I have ever received came disguised as curses.

Happy Friday, Y’all 🙂

Erie