Monday, September 29, 2014

Vulnerability

I am not good at being vulnerable - I admit it! Yet, I believe being vulnerable is such a beautiful thing! It actually takes courage to be vulnerable...


A part of knowing and learning who I am is realising how much I need to embrace vulnerability. This is definitely a learning curb in my journey and it is filled with pitfalls and errors. I find life beautiful even with the struggles - especially with the struggles. Interestingly enough, all life is filled with troubles and yet James, the brother of Jesus, tells us to consider it 'an opportunity for great joy' (James 1:2). I find it fascinating! An opportunity for great joy? Yes! It is because when we fail, struggle and fall that we are able to grow as we learn to endure. Is it fun? Nope not so much...


As I reflect on my life's journey and the mistakes that I have made, I realise that it was because of the mistakes and overcoming those pitfalls and being vulnerable enough to recognise the areas where I am weak that I am stronger today. "At the core of vulnerability lie shame and fear...but also joy, creativity, belonging and love" if we learn to let go, accept our weaknesses, realise that we are enough and get past the fears and shame of the past (adopted from Brene Brown). When we do, we discover that pot at the end of the rainbow filled with the love, joy, creativity and belonging.


The weakness that I have struggled with the most is perfectionism, and I have been working on it. Being aware of it and admitting it was the first step towards vulnerability. Posting it in my blog, that is probably step #100! I must say, it's not always easy admitting the areas where were are weak, but bringing these things into the light is what takes the power away from having them control us.



Today I realise that it is not because I have my ducks in a row (which I don't), or because I have it all together (which I don't), or have things figured out (which, again - I don't) that I am strong. What makes me strong is knowing that I do not have to be, that I can be vulnerable and I can embrace my weaknesses, fully accepting the fact that I am not meant to rely on my own strength because I am human. I am human, I am weak...and that is ok, because I am His and He is STRONG!


What makes me strong is the One who created me gives me the strength that I need in my weakness. I am learning to let go of the illusion of being in control and learning to fully rely on the One who is the source of strength knowing that I am enough.

...and for that I am thankful!




Sunday, September 21, 2014

Digital Detox Challenge


The last 24 hours I made a commitment not to allow any digital distractions, which included smart phone, computer and television (and everything those gadgets had to offer). TV is never an issue for me, but the computer and the phone detox were an interesting experience for me, so much so that I want to challenge myself like this every week!

When we 'detox' from something it already implies that those things bring a certain level of toxicity and cluster into our lives. Those are the things that take out time and distract us from things that could be far more beneficial and fulfilling. The absence of something that is toxic makes you, first of all, realise how much time is lost or wasted doing it and, secondly, appreciate the other activities that are far better for your soul.

This morning when I woke up instead of turning on the worship or listening to Joyce, as I often do when I get ready for church, I got ready in silence. I had the urge to occupy my time and that silence with something and had the urge to pick up my iPhone, but I resisted the temptation. Instead, I allowed my mind rest. Although I already enjoy my own company, the silence made it a lot more pronounced and in that silence I sensed God's presence even more than when the worship music or a message is playing. It was almost like being 'naked', stripped away from all the 'noise'.


Driving in the car with one of the young girls who spent the weekend with me and who also took on the challenge (brave girl!), we ended up talking and I realised how much more she began to open up. Last night we had a sit-down dinner together and just talked - it really is incredible sometimes to learn so much about another human being and how their mind is thinking. This morning, there was this sense of being comfortable in sharing the silliest and also the most honest things. For both of us it felt like we can just be ourselves. It made me realise how much the 'noise' of life really robs us of these moments of realness in our relationships. When we do shed those distractions - how much more we can be ourselves and how much more we can share of our true selves with those we are close to.


As the day progressed, there were some 'automatic' urges to pick up the phone and check what was up...but as I resisted the temptation of doing that, I was a lot more present and it was good in the sense of spending more quality time with people that were around me and having meaningful conversations with them. However, as I became more and more present it also revealed some things I realised I was running away from. They were thoughts and feelings that became more pronounced as if calling for my attention to address them. Today, as a result of this detox, I was able to begin to give my attention to those thoughts and gain more clarity.

The other thing it helped me realise is the value of any detox - physical, mental or spiritual. Whatever area that we need to get more clarity on or perhaps an area we need to focus attention on - doing a fast or a detox is extremely helpful and beneficial. Cleansing oneself from distraction and toxins of any kind can really help see clearly into oneself, examine our own hearts and pay attention to areas we need to realign with God's will, unclogging those spiritual arteries from confusion and clutter that causes us to not see clearly. Many times it challenges us because this also means taking the responsibility for the change that we want to see, but that change is so worth it. Un-cluttering and detoxing our lives should take place as often as possible. Doing the digital detox challenge revealed and taught me a lot...

...and for that I am thankful!

Signs You Have An Unhealthy Relationship With Technology

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Love vs. Grief

"We love as deeply as we grieve and we grieve as deeply as we love".


I have been hearing this all week!
The interesting thing, no one wants to grieve, but when we do grieve it lets us know that we are capable of deep love. Have you been so hurt that in the moments when you are alone you cry because you grieve loss of a relationship or a loved one? Grieving a relationship, a marriage is as bad as loosing someone to death, except the corps is still walking around reminding you of that 'death'" - a quote I heard tonight from someone...


According to the opening quote, the 'good' news is that you are capable of deep love. The important thing is to make sure you give that love to someone who is worthy of it and who can appreciate who you are. In order for that to happen, make sure you know who you are and appreciate who you are first. Otherwise, you will let anyone walk into your life and not know how to guard your heart from the way they choose to treat you. 

This human experience sometimes makes me think that we are not even trying to learn how to be with one another. The longer I live the more I see how rare it is to find people who really are intentional about self respect, self growth, self investment and self discovery. That is when we have love and respect and are able to invest in others. None of this is possible without aligning oneself with the One who created each one of us. There is a beautiful quote that I discovered this week that I really believe applies here and if only we were all committed to grow in that one area, I really believe the world would be a better place...Here is the quote:

"It's not about the mirror, it's about the One we're trying to mirror"

The One who created us is the only one the knows who we really are. We can read books or do all the therapy we want...but until we consult with the One who made us, we will be lost and it will be challenging for us to know how to operate this thing we call life. In relationships, the ones that are actually successful are the people who recognise that and strive to continuously know who they are, lining up to the will and purpose of the One who created them. That is when both persons find themselves on the same page and are able to work together, making a relationship successful.


Doesn't it seem strange to you that we all want to have someone to call our 'other half' yet the majority of us are all struggling in this area? We write songs and books about it and how to be good at it, we even go to therapy in hopes that we will be better prepared to be successful in this area, yet we are so stubborn to admit we want this? It's ok to want to be with someone, it is not good for a man to be alone...but somehow this has become so counter-intuitive and we are too proud to be vulnerable...on top of that, we as a society have completely forgotten what it means and what it looks like. This evening was tough in many respects, but it made me think a lot...

...and for that I am thankful

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Definitions

Being on the same page is having the same definition for things. Today was a tough day...it was a challenging day because over and over I felt like even though I was speaking the same language with people it was still in a way as if we were speaking different languages! There was actually a point where I found myself feeling angry...


I realise that there will be many moments when I will find myself in situations when it is inevitable to be on different wavelengths with people. These are moments that I do not particularly enjoy but those are also moments that help to shape me because they challenge my thinking and in a way reinforce what I believe on certain subjects.

Today I realised that depending on where a person is in their life journey, we can have completely different definitions of the same words. This happens so often that we fail to realise we may be talking about one concept and yet see it from such different extreme angles. We might have the same word that we use in  the conversation but have a completely different definition depending on our experience with that concept. This especially applies to the vocabulary used in dating. I mean, the word 'dating' itself can mean so many different things depending on the individual. It makes me appreciate knowing that when I am talking to someone we are actually meaning the same thing. We must really clarify our definitions. Now-a-days I always ask people to define what they really mean when they refer to certain concepts...


It was especially frustrating to talk to a group of adults who were discussing real time issues and the topic of infidelity came up. Excuses such as 'they are men' make me go crazy when it comes to the double standards for our cheating men in this Bahamian society! It was if the men are excused from the responsibility and, thus, are enabled by the women, even the wives! I was furious and had to really try hard to hold my tongue while speaking my mind without eruptions. Speaking to people on the topic of relationships and fidelity I have to be reminded that people may not always share the same convictions and then there is that cultural influence. Oh how I hurt for that kind of mindset. Call me naive, but I still believe in monogamy and faithfulness. With God and developing His character I believe that all things are possible!


It is so easy to be in my comfort zone and be around people who are like-minded. In fact, we strive to surround ourselves with people who are like us. In many ways that is a good thing, because together we are stronger. We encourage one another and get to stay on track as believers. However, it is only when we are challenged that what we believe gets tested. Today I celebrate diversity! We do not have to all be in the same place in the way we think or the way we believe and look at life. Today I recognise the variety, the brokenness and the diversity of the world we live in and I celebrate the one thing that is constant in all this madness - and that is God and His principles...

...and for that I am thankful.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Hammock Reflections

What a week! Words really cannot describe how loaded this week has been in so many ways! It was filled with amazing miracles, incredible moments filled with learning and teaching opportunities and times of rich conversations and silly laughter! This week was full and I feel full and grateful.

Was this week easy? By no means. This week was one of the most revealing weeks I have ever had. This was a week of tremendous discovery of how God can move mountains and how He really operates, providing His people the opportunity to stand up, rise up and experience firsthand what it means to partner with Him in the works of the Kingdom!

The one thing that God is showing me during this season is, firstly, that He never breaks His promises. The other one is, that if or when I want to see something manifest in my life, if I want to see fruit in a particular area, I first need to plant seeds. If we want to see love manifest in our life, we must plant love in others. If we want to see kindness, compassion or genuine care manifest in our lives, we first must plant them in a life of another human being. The harvest will depend on the seeds we plant all around us.


I love it when God speaks into these moments and even more so when He gives the opportunities to plant. Don't focus so much on the harvest until your have focused the same amount of energy on planting and investing in another person's life. It is amazing to see how your faith and the faith of those you touch increases and grows! Priceless!!!


Today is the end of the long week and it is time to rest and reflect. This is Sabbath :)
Luckily for me, I got to spend my sabbath in a hammock on the beach reflecting and bouncing thoughts about life with an amazing person. What makes this person amazing is the likemindedness. One of the best feelings in the world is to be able to share a moment, space and time with someone who is on the same wavelength. The hammock was just a complete bonus! From now on, I am spending my sabbath in a hammock, on the beach, with amazing people, reflecting and relaxing. That is what ultimately makes life beautiful...

...and for that I am thankful! 


Friday, September 5, 2014

The Spectrum



One of my favourite things to do is to have an intelligent and stimulating conversation with someone. I am not one of those persons who enjoys talking about 'the weather' for hours, I would just get bored. So, engaging in a meaningful conversation is always a highlight of my day :)

One of the things that I believe makes a conversation fulfilling is when people can talk on one topic and honestly share their thoughts, opinions and feelings without the pressure of feeling judged or boxed in. Such discussions are enriched because they are infused with authenticity and thus prove themselves to be productive because everyone involved gets to either learn or teach something. I love that in all of this we get to exercise the freedom of one's will to choose what we take away from each encounter, no matter on which side of the spectrum we stand. 


Yes, the 'spectrum' is commonly used to express a broad range of conditions, behaviours or experiences with extremes on either end. The wonderful human experience provides large range of those experiences and opinions on any given topic, which makes our existence so exciting and entertaining. When we connect in a conversation and respectfully allow the other person to express where they stand on that spectrum and in return being able to safely express our position - that is the ultimate experience in verbal exchange. So much can be learned and expressed which can actually lead to achieving the common goal of exploring and arriving at the Ultimate Truth. 

The problem with the way conversations often go, making them unproductive and unfulfilling, lies with the fact that someone would try to bring the other to their side of the spectrum on whatever is being discussed. Sometimes it is done so forcefully and disrespectfully that it only causes people to put up walls and become deaf to the opposing point of view. We tend to forget that we get to choose where we want to stand on any given issue and topic. 

As I was talking to my new friend, it was really interesting to engage as we explored the questions of life and spirituality. My companion was actually an agnostic and was very humble and respectful in the way he explained where and why he stands on the issue of spirituality. Based on the way conversation went I would hope that my views and convictions were not shared in a way that would make him feel pressured to believe the same. 

One of the things I believe we are called to do as believers is share the Gospel. However, I am learning more and more that it is not us who really change the hearts of people, it is the Holy Spirit Himself that does that. Jesus never forced anyone to accept the Truth, He just proclaimed it, lived it and showed it through love and compassion, even when His own did not accept Him. In fact, the advice He gave to His disciples was that if anyone was not to receive or listen to the message, they were to shake the dust off their feet and move on from that house or town (Matthew 10:14).


Although we are called to spread the message of the Good News, we are never called to force anyone to believe it. It is each person's decision to choose where they will stand in the colourful spectrum of life and faith. I am glad that Jesus is the point of reference in my deciding spectrum. He is my Constant beam of light...

...and for that I am thankful.


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