Friday, December 21, 2012

Love Is My Refuge

Arms enfold me, shutting out the cold
I lose myself in the safety of that embrace
It destroys the darkness of my doubts
The dangers of the world are held at bay
Because here, I am untouchable
Here, no harm will come to me
These arms hold me for an eternity
Protect me while I catch my breath
They tighten around me as I cry
With every pain-ridden sob, they pull me closer
Trying to erase the fear, the regrets, the brokenness of my spirit
But eventually the tears abate
Eventually, my breathing slows
I’m ready to look up, peek out of my refuge
Out at the world again
But the first thing I see is the face
The face belongs to the arms that have held me close so protectively
 The face is that of Love
And Love reaches up to wipe the last few tears that traced their way down my cheeks, beneath my tired eyes
And Love gently takes my hands and pulls me up, so that I’m standing again
But my pain has made me weak, and I threaten to crumble
So Love grips my trembling hand, and keeps me standing
And Love smiles, whispering to my heart, ‘Fear not'
Because Love promises to never let go of me
Love will be there even when I try to pull away
Love will still be there the next time I break
And then Love will be there to hold me again
Love will give me the strength to face the world once again
Love will never leave me or forsake me

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Past, Present, and Future

You don’t know when it happened.
You know something changed, but you can’t put your finger on what it is that’s no longer the same.
You know this isn't the way it used to be, but you don’t really remember what life looked like before.
The change snuck up on you.
And it caught you, and spun you around, and confused you.
But it didn't register at the time.
You didn't realize what had happened.
There was a delayed reaction.
So the change seemed gradual.
And then one afternoon, in the middle of a perfectly normal day, it hit you.
Suddenly nothing is the way it once was.
And you don’t know when it happened.
But now you’re here, in this chaotic world that reminds you of another life, your past life.
You know that this life is reminiscent of the past, but the past is some far-away world you can’t seem to see clearly.
Your past is a collage made up of memories and moments.
But your head is so muddled that you can’t bring them into focus.
Because when you look at your past, it doesn't seem real.
That collage confuses you.
And sometimes you can’t remember which part of it is real, and which part is only a leftover fragment of a long-forgotten dream.
It’s only when you look at it closely, like a child with their nose pressed up against the glass that shields some precious treasure, that you realize the significance of your past.
You see what was real, and what lingers on in your memory as a shadow of some abandoned fancy.
And the more you see your past for what it really is, the more you come to realize that it’s not so different from the present.
Change occurred.
Just like it always does.
Either it eased into your life without attracting attention, or it smacked you across the face and sent you reeling.
But even though change makes your past and your present seem miles distant, and worlds different, it is not always so.
Because the one thing your past and your present always have in common is you.
You change, slowly or suddenly.
But you are always you.
And even a glance at your past reveals who you were then.
And a good look at your present can show you who you are now.
The difference seen between your past and your present scares you.
You’re scared by how easily everything can change.
You’re scared by how easily you can change.
And so you look closely at that collage again, and you realize that it is the changes that confuse you, and make the whole of it seem blurry.
But then you step back, and let the big picture sink in.
And you realize that the change is what makes the collage – the picture of your past flowing into your present – so beautiful.
Your past was responsible for shaping your present, just as your present is responsible for shaping your future.
You will always change, but if you’re smart, you will never fully leave the past behind.
Your past was once your present, until something changed.
And your present will become your past, because change is always taking place.
And change may make the past feel unfamiliar, but you can’t be so afraid of it that you run away when it threatens to take place.
Because you can’t get to your future without change.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

In spite of Fear...

It’s hard.
But that’s no reason to quit.
You’re afraid.
But you don’t become a quitter just because you’re afraid.
Fear is no reason to quit.
Fear is not honest.
Fear distorts reality.
Fear preys on weakness, makes it grow.
Fear only lives when doubt exists.
Fear turns doubt into despair.
Fear is deaf to hope.
Fear is blind to truth.
Fear does not admit the possibility of victory.
Fear foresees only failure.
Fear sees every reason to quit.
But Fear is a liar.
Fear sees only what it wishes to see.
Fear stifles the presence of Courage.
Fear takes the easy way out.
Fear is a coward, who does not want to fail.
And so Fear quits, so as to fail on its own terms.
Because Fear deceives itself, and does not see quitting as failing.
But in truth, quitting is the deepest form of failure.
Because quitting is failing even to try.
And in truth, failure is not to be feared.
It is better to fail than to quit.
Failure is a result of effort.
Effort takes Courage.
Courage tries in spite of Fear.
To quit is to deny yourself the chance to be brave.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Moments Worth Remembering...

Time is deceptive.
In all its length of passing, its dragging on and its illusion of infinity.
It seems to take so long to move forward.
The future seems to be so far away that it has become invisible to the eyes of our hoping hearts.
Time likes to make you think that the here and now will last forever.
That what is to come will come, but not before you've had to wait a lifetime for it.
But it's all a farce.
A charade.
We've made time into something it's not.
We've made it something we think we can control.
We hatch plans with a determined gleam in our eyes because we see the future as we think it ought to be.
We think we can plan ahead.
But then one day, we are ahead.
One day, today is actually yesterday.
And yesterday was really last year.
And time has gotten the better of us, with all our schemes and hopes for grandeur.
We look back on those days that seemed to never end, and we look through a window fogged with the passing of time.
The past is blurry.
The past feels surreal.
And we look back and wonder: was that really me? Was that really you? 
Did we really say and do and think and feel all those those words and actions and thoughts and feelings?
No, of course not.
We're too mature for all that.
Only we forget.
We forget what used to be.
Who we used to be.
Time changed us and pulled us along, and we didn't even realize it was moving forward.
Our plans are no longer the same.
Our dreams and hopes and even our fears have all shifted and changed shape.
And in the rush of today and the urgency of the present, we forget what used to be.
And we forget that someday, today will be just another yesterday.
But sometimes, you remember.
You pull that old t-shirt from the back of the drawer and remember what it was like to be fifteen again.
Or you find an old note in your madly-scribbled journal and you remember everything you were feeling when you were seventeen.
You remember how much of a dreamer you were.
You remember how simple life seemed to be.
And you remember the day that you realized how wrong you were about yourself. 
You remember the year that you started to understand what life is really like.
And the past is a blur, but some images stand out in sharp relief, cutting through the haze and resonating deep within your heart.
And though your heart may change, there are some moments it never forgets.
Time is made up of moments.
Some moments seem to last forever.
Some moments are over too fast.
And those moments that stand out in our minds, the memories of which can pierce our hearts and make them soar, are the moments that make the endless times worth wading through.
Those worthwhile moments pass quickly, so we should make as many of them as we can while we still have time.
Because we don't have as much time as we think we do.
Time is not something we can control.
We can't forget that today will soon be a yesterday. 
So what do we want the memory of today to be?
What moments are we making that will be worth remembering?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Is Love Worth It?

Letting yourself love is dangerous.
No matter what kind of love it is, the moment you let your heart be touched you are making yourself vulnerable to hurt.
To be open, to let yourself care for someone, is so so dangerous.
Because what will inevitably happen?
That person -- whom you loved -- will not always be there.
Some day, they won't be there with you, for you, anymore.
They may turn their back on you, betray the trust you placed in them when you decided to love them.
They may turn their back on you, because you did something -- something you will always regret -- and they can't trust you anymore.
They may just drift away, because you don't fit in their life anymore.
Or, they may just leave this earth, and there's nothing you can do to change the fact that you're left behind when they've gone.
Love is dangerous, because someday the one you've let yourself love will be gone.

But love is amazing, too.
It's such a beautiful thing, is love.
It makes you overlook wrongs.
It makes you care about someone besides yourself.
It makes you want what's best for someone even at cost to yourself.
It makes you realize that there's more to life than just you.
It makes you see the world differently. 
It makes you see yourself differently. 
It makes you be more than you could ever be by yourself because when you love someone, it's not all about you anymore. 
And that realization, that change in mindset, makes all the difference in the world.
It makes you whole because by yourself, you are wanting. 
Love is necessary, because it changes you.
And you need to be changed.
Letting yourself love is revolutionary.

But now, how to reconcile this? Love is both dangerous and necessary, both painful and beautiful. 
What then do you do? 
How to love wisely, that you are not hurt, and yet love fearlessly, that love will change your life?
I don't know the answer. 
I understand very little about how life works, and I'm not even near to comprehending the issue of love.
Love is frightening, I know that much.
Love is also the most wonderful thing to receive and to give, and I know this too.
And I know that Someone loves me so much He gave His All for me, though He knew I would hurt Him.
So maybe, this issue of love is a case in which you weigh the pros and cons. 
Maybe then, you decide that diving headlong is worth the risk of crashing and breaking. 
Maybe, the beauty of love is, in the end, worth the pain that comes with it.

Because just like love makes you grow, so does pain. 
Pain is not something to fear, but something to embrace.
Pain, like love, changes you.
If you let it change you for good, then yes...I think its worth it.
Just like loving is worth it.

Someone I know is near death.
I don't know him well, nor have I seen him often.
But he touched my heart.
I loved him, and I didn't realize it 'til now.
Because now, he's going to leave.
I'm probably not going to see him again this side of heaven.
And the thought of seeing him there is a beautiful picture to anticipate.
But because I love him, it hurts.
But I know that because I love him, I'm a different person.
He hardly knows me, doesn't remember me when he sees me, because he doesn't remember much at all.
So he doesn't love me...
But I love him.
And love makes all the difference.

"Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead." ~ Oscar Wilde

1 John 3:11 ~ For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Can You Become A Leader?

This is an excerpt from the book Spiritual Leadership: Principles of Excellence for Every Believer, by J. Oswald Sanders.

It's a textbook for a class I'm taking, and each chapter is pretty short, but it packs a punch every time. 

I read chapter 5 last night, entitled "Can You Become A Leader?" and loved this list.

I think it's challenging and thought-provoking, not only in looking at myself and how I lead, but in thinking about how I want to be led. Many of the characteristics of a good leader aren't limited to a leader, either, but are qualities that should be cultivated anyway, no matter what position you are in.

Can You Become A Leader?

  • How do you identify and deal with bad habits? To lead others, you must master your appetites.
  • How well do you maintain self-control when things go wrong? The leader who loses control under adversity forfeits respect and influence. A leader must be calm in crisis and resilient in disappointment.
  • To what degree do you think independently? A leader must use the best ideas of others to make decisions. A leader cannot wait for others to make up his or her mind.
  • How well can you handle criticism? When have you profited from it? The humble person can learn from petty criticism and even malicious criticism.
  • Can you turn disappointment into creative new opportunity? What three actions could you take facing any disappointment?
  • Do you readily gain the cooperation of others and win their respect and confidence? Genuine leadership doesn't have to manipulate or pressure others.
  • Can you exert discipline without making a power play? Are your corrections or rebukes clear without being destructive? True leadership is an internal quality of the spirit and needs no show of external force.
  • In what situations have you been a peacemaker? A leader must be able to reconcile with opponents and make peace where arguments have created hostility.
  • Do people trust you with difficult and delicate matters? Your answer should include examples.
  • Can you induce people to do happily some legitimate thing that they would not normally wish to do? Leaders know how to make others feel valued.
  • Can you accept opposition to your viewpoint or decision without taking offense? Leaders always face opposition.
  • Can you make and keep friends? Your circle of loyal friends is an index of your leadership potential.
  • Do you depend on the praise of others to keep you going? Can you hold steady in the face of disapproval and even temporary loss of confidence?
  • Are you at ease in the presence of strangers? Do you get nervous in the office of your superior? A leader knows how to exercise and accept authority.
  • Are people who report to you generally at ease? A leader should be sympathetic and friendly.
  • Are you interested in people? All types? All races? No prejudice?
  • Are you tactful? Can you anticipate how your words will affect a person? Genuine leaders think before speaking.
  • Is your will strong and steady? Leaders cannot vacillate, cannot drift with the wind. Leaders know there's a difference between conviction and stubbornness.
  • Can you forgive? Or do you nurse resentments and harbor ill-feelings toward those who have injured you?
  • Are you reasonably optimistic? Pessimism and leadership do not mix. leaders are positively visionary.
  • Have you identified a master passion such as that of Paul, who said, "This one thing I do!" Such singleness of motive will focus your energies and powers on the desired objective. Leaders need a strong focus.
  • How do you respond to new responsibility?