Let it go

Okay confession time: I was planning to do a mystery post. But I found out, I do not write good mysteries. So I say “forget it.”

I wrote about not giving up in my last post so this is ironic. But I did admit that there is a time to give up. And there is a reason why. No one is good at everything, all the time. If you keep trying to excel at something that’s just not important, you’ll wear yourself out and feel guilty, which take your mind off other things you should be doing. writing mysteries is not my gifting nor am I really that interested in it, and trying to finish that post which isn’t that good to begin with will just waste my time.

But that is not to say just because you aren’t good at something you shouldn’t try. In this case I’m quitting because the story isn’t that good, nor inspired, but if you commit to something keep that commitment. Also it takes time to get good at something. I wrote stories for years that were boring and commonplace before people actually began to enjoy my writing. Currently I’m struggling with Geometry. I hate math, especially Algebra, Algebra 1 was not pretty. however I’m refusing to accept defeat this time around. I do have a secret to success. I can sum it up in two verses:

“Don’t worry about anything, instead pray about everything.” (Philippians 4:6)

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 2:13)

I haven’t told many people this, but my writing improved after I prayed about it; and doing math is easier when I pray through it. Most people would call this positive thinking and yes, that’s important. You have to have the right attitude. But positive thinking won’t make you understand it better. Which is what I needed. You can think that it was just me, but my personal belief is that God gives understanding. Not to mention ability. And that’s actually the number one reason to not try to do things you are not meant to do. You have no ability because it’s not for you. Or you have ability but you feel driven and empty in your actions. There are a lot of reasons people feel like their lives are meaningless, don’t let participating in activities you don’t have any joy in be one of them. As my title states: let it go. It’s okay to be bad at something. It makes accomplishment sweeter.

“Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God.” (Ecclesiastes 2:24.)

Go one more.

Sorry for the long time with no post, I’ve had Author’s fever and have been busy writing other stories.

Today I want to write about something I want to learn personally. Which is to never quit.

A little known (or little practiced) secret to success in any area of life is to never give up trying.

I’ve sure felt like giving up. On myself, on other people, even on my faith. I think some people never realize that being a Christian is not just an opinion, it’s a fight. Anyone who thinks it’s easy isn’t one. To be fair, in some ways it’s easier in America, but in other ways it’s harder. I’m not writing this to complain though, I’m glad to live in a country where I won’t be killed for believing in God and Jesus.

But there are many who aren’t so fortunate. (At least what we would call fortunate.) If I may be so frank, I’d like to say this article isn’t about persevering at a job or in a class. If I may just speak from the heart…last year was a difficult year for me in my faith. I suppose a non-Christian won’t understand this, but I felt distant from God for around six months, straight. I’ve never been through anything quite as painful as that experience. But what it proved to me was that my faith is about way more than feeling good, because I didn’t. I felt depressed most of the time, last September was the worst of it. I would get up and just feel this weight on my soul, and I couldn’t understand it, I’m supposed to have the answer for getting rid of weights and sadness. Right?

Actually Jesus never promised us a painless life, He didn’t promise us an easy one; He promised us an abundant life. Abundant means to have plenty and not be lacking. Even to have more than enough for just us, enough to share. sometimes you have to hurt to know how alive you are, and you have to face death to realize how precious life is. Or you won’t want more of it. Ever meet someone who’s life is no bigger than their job and their TV and cellphone? Or whose life is so choked with activity that it’s more of a slide show than a life? one thing I learned is that nothing in this world can possibly take the place of God in my life; it’s a joke to think it can.

Even knowing that, it is still hard to resist those feelings of worry and discouragement that come when a fight is not being won as fast as I want. But I have a reason for not quitting, if I quit on this, I quit on everything.

There’s a song by the band Superchic called “Go One More,” and the lyrics pretty much sum up what I’m talking about:

It feels like I have lost this fight, they think that I am staying down, but I’m not giving up tonight, tonight the wall is coming down. I am stronger than my fears, this is the mountain that I climb. Got 100 steps to go, tonight I’ll make it 99.

I have everything to lose by not getting up to fight. I might get used to giving up, so I am showing up tonight. I am my own enemy, the battle fought within my mind. If I can overcome step 1, I can face the 99.

A lot of things cause us to give up, folks; fears, failures, injuries; I’ve had them all. But what keeps me going is knowing this: It is so worth it. The Bible actually says that Jesus, for the joy set before him, endured the cross. That joy was us. If He endured all that for us, then we can live through this life for him. That’s my take on it anyway. And one year later I can definitely say that I have joy in my faith now. I wouldn’t change what I went through. And I believe God never left me, actually my problem was I stopped trying to see Him and was only trying to feel Him. When I write about things like never giving up, on this blog, I mean it. Even if there seems to be no reason to keep going, don’t stop trying; because often we don’t know the reason for continuing until we’re on the other side of it.

We are stronger than we think, giving up in a choice every time, not something we’re forced to do. Being stubborn can be a really good quality.

One more thing, giving up on some things is okay, if it’s not going to affect most of your life. But when it’s important, you have to decide just how much it really matters to you. Some things are worth dying for rather than losing, others just don’t matter that much. Which is obvious sounding, but we don’t live like it. We live as if things that will break in four or five years, or four or five months, or even will be gone in four or five days, are so important. And the things that may be here the rest of our lives, we neglect in the name of not having enough time. Prioritize, Persevere, and keep Perspective. That’s my advice for the day.

Good to be alive. Puppet or person?

“Life sucks!” “I hate my life.” “Things always go wrong for me.” “My life is so boring.”

Have you heard people say these things? I’ll bet you’ve said them yourself. I’ve certainly felt them. But what if you weren’t alive? You couldn’t see anything, feel anything, hear, or taste or smell or know. A robot can hear and see after a fashion, it can move, but it will never feel anything. It’s not alive.

I’m sure the story of Pinocchio is familiar to you. A puppet without strings who can walk and talk; hey, it sounds like a dream come true. He can’t drown. (Or he shouldn’t be able to since he can’t breathe.) It could take a while for him to wear out and he’s fixable. As long as he stays away from fire, heat and cold won’t bother him, anyway. (I had to say it.) So why is he so desperate to be a real boy?

Not that real is a matter of what you’re made of, it’s not. Real is a matter of love. Love is life. And a boring life is one not filled up with love, a bad life is one that doesn’t let love in, and a life you hate is one you haven’t realized the power of love to transform. Being brave and truthful is all very well, but not until you’re unselfish does it mean anything. You can be dying to be something you aren’t (such as a person when you’re a wooden puppet,) but it’s not till you stop complaining and make the most of what you’ve got that you’ll ever change. We’re put in our form for a reason. It may not even be the right form for us, but we are to learn what we can from it.

Your body isn’t what makes you real, it’s your mind. If you are capable of choice than you are already real. But you may not know it. Hence, we don’t taste and see and hear and feel, we just sit around and act bored. Or depressed. Or both.

Suffering is what makes us become more real. You can be a real thing but not be alive. (We use the word real so often, it has different meanings.) When we suffer it forces us to feel and to prioritize, and that’s when we understand what really matters.

If we let love in, and choose to keep it, then we begin to wake up. We start to see that life is beautiful and exciting. Have you ever just been thankful that you could breathe? Or walk? Or see? If you can’t feel thankful yet, than try blindfolding yourself and walking around for an hour, or tying one arm behind your back, or moving on one leg. Or even just try imagining what that would be like. Imagine if you couldn’t move your limbs. Chances are you know or have known someone who’s been in that position. Try something wacky and stand in front of an inanimate object and tell yourself all the things that you can do that it can’t. Take a bite of food and be glad you have taste buds; go outside and smell a plant and be glad you have a nose and don’t have to use your feet like a fly. I’ll bet you’ll crack yourself up thinking of all the goofy things you can do. And that’s good because laughter makes you smarter. I’ll close with a well known scripture anyone would like. “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are your works, and that my soul knows very well.” (Psalm 139:14)

Being wrong and surviving

Long story short, when I get it wrong it really sucks. I like figuring things out. I like feeling smart. I like it when other people think I’m right.

But no one is infallible. And I make mistakes. I perceive things incorrectly. And that’s okay. Though it’s also uncomfortable. But it humbles me and reminds me of my limitations.

The Bible strongly warns against not accepting correction. It can get you killed. A person who can never take advice can never mature. And if you can’t say you’re sorry you’ll destroy the relationships in your life.

What if someone else is wrong and won’t admit it? I don’t like it, but sometimes you just have to let it go. Let them be right even if they’re wrong. For the sake of peace forgive and try to forget. But don’t be too good to ask for forgiveness if they think you’re the one who screwed up. (Unless it’s something so morally important that you can’t apologize for it without being a hypocrite.)

This has been a hard lesson to learn, but perhaps one of the most important. And sometimes you have to admit out loud when someone is right about you. That’s not fun. But watch how you’ll mature if you do it.

Having it both ways.

In my previous article I talked about different views on life and how to live it. Also on whether we’re stuck with living out something other people have chosen for us. The thing I didn’t address was if it seems like our moral obligation to do what they want. I want to talk about when it is and when it isn’t.

There are times to do what our families or friends want us to do. Sometimes they see what’s best for us when we don’t. But when someone else asks us to do something  we need to ask ourselves a few questions.

Firstly, is what they’re asking morally right?

Secondly, is it truly beneficial to them?

Thirdly, will it hurt us to do it, and is it worthwhile? Case in point, suppose you mom or dad wants you to take over the family business, or take up the same profession as them; maybe that’d be a good idea; maybe you’d like it; maybe you have the talents for it; maybe it’s a great opportunity… or maybe not. There are other examples. Listening to the people close to us is a good practice, but this occupational area of family and friends’ influence is very limited at best. The more important and more subtle influence is over our morality and world view.

Even as a preschooler you know that when you go to your friend’s house there are different rules and you have to follow them, and likewise your house has different rules that they have to follow. Some are clearly just a matter of preference. One house lets you eat in front of the TV, the other does not, etc. But when it comes to the intangibles the contrast becomes much more apparent. In my family we don’t lie, that’s a rule. But in other families lying is an accepted fact of life. The trouble is, we think lying is wrong for everyone. If you are only going by what your family thinks is best, than sooner or later you’ll hit a situation like this. I trust my families judgment but if they tell me to do something that I think is wrong, I won’t justify it because everyone thinks it’s right.

But here’s the catch. When I’m deciding whether something is right or not, shouldn’t I go by what seems to work out the best for everyone. Lying to get myself out of trouble is wrong, but what if I’m lying to protect a bunch of my friends or my family? Is it still wrong? What if it’ll damage them more if I tell the truth? Now, two people could argue back and forth over this for hours and not find a resolution, my point is that you need a third-party; but not a human third-party, because as mere humans our reasonings are all equal just as our brains are equally capable (usually.) Hence the popular belief of humanism that morality is just our opinions. Well, I’m not going into that, but suffice it to say that nothing is resolved that way.

As finite, limited, human beings, we can’t see the future and the ultimate result of our choices. We don’t have the knowledge to make wise choices in our own reasoning. There is  a verse about this “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12.) That being said, I think the need for God is clear.

God can work out the toughest situations to the benefit of both parties, but it doesn’t always look like it to us. He has ways we don’t understand. Which He tells us bluntly. (Isiah 55:9) The paradox I’m trying to show with this article and my previous one is that we do, in a sense, choose our destiny. You see God has set before us life and death, He will not force us to choose either; so we do indeed have our choice. We should be thankful; imagine a world where you had no choice, either live the way you are told to or cease to exist. But God makes it clear that there is only one right choice, therefore He knows the right way, and if you choose Him, He will work out the rest. (Romans 8:28.)

In a moral dilemma sometimes you have to choose God over the person in question, but it is better to choose God who knows what will happen than the person who only can guess what will happen. At least that makes sense to me. It’s summed up in this last verse “in his heart a man plans his course (his path of life) but the LORD determines his steps (the things that happen to him for him to react to as he chooses.)” Proverbs 16:9, personal paraphrase.

So that’s my take on choice. My conclusion is that if I trust God with my life, than the pressure is off me, but I am still responsible for whether I choose to do what He says or not. I hope you enjoyed this article and it didn’t come across as too preachy because it’s really just what I’ve been learning  in my own life. Until next time–Natasha

The choice is yours.

I talk a lot about choice and I write about it too. And lately I’ve been watching a show called “Ever After High.” I don’t usually watch shows about teenagers going to some special high school. But I ended up really liking the plot. The main point is this: Can you choose your destiny or are you born into a lifestyle that you can’t control? And I feel like that’s a question that is so relevant right now. What I mean is, we don’t think about it, but the authority figures in our countries tell us a lot of things about our future. Scientists have told us that hang-ups and mental conditions are handed down to us from our parents, which is partly true. But does that mean we can just blame our parents… or worse, what if we want to be different, but we can’t be.

That’s the idea that has scared me. I have an alcoholic grandfather on one side, an uncle in prison, and my dad was once on drugs and into a ton of bad stuff. He’s not anymore, since becoming a dedicated Christian, but if I listen to science, my chances of being a drug abuser went up. Anger issues run in my family, bitterness, insecurities, and I could just accept that all that falls to me…but should I? Is it true that I have no choice? Perhaps I may never pick up a bottle of alcohol but if I ever do, do I have to be addicted? Do I have to try drugs when I feel empty inside? Do I have to be angry? Do I have to end up in jail? I bet everyone is thinking “No! How ridiculous.” At least I hope you’re thinking that. What about the smaller and more subtle ideas? Like do I have to think I’m ugly or unlovable. Do I have to complain? Or eat too much? Do I have to live in fear? Big things or little things, the thinking creeps in. And we make excuses.

It can be difficult to take responsibility because it means work. You may have to actually think and not let the media ad Hollywood think for you. Are we just cruising through life or are we here for a reason? I’ll give a few examples from the show, see if you can find yourself in them:

Briar Beauty: This girl is the daughter of sleeping beauty. She is resigned to the fact that she’ll have to sleep away 100 years of her life, which is almost the same as dying because she’ll miss out on all the people she lives around now. Briar wants to party it up (in her own words) because she wants to enjoy what little time she has, but as the time to seal her fate approaches she doesn’t feel like she’s really been fulfilling her time. Parties are fun, but her friends are what she’s really going to miss.

Ashlyn Ella: She’s the one who finds herself in a Romeo and Juliet situation. I don’t have much to say about it, except that she does have to consider the price of following her heart, which is often downplayed in movies as not really being much of a price, but for her it is. Is the good everyone else agrees on always the one you should go with?

Dexter Charming: Ever feel like you were born the odd one out in a family? That’s Dexter. He isn’t common hero material. And he is so blinded by the expectations of the world that he can’t see that being a hero is really the matter of your heart and there he has what it takes.

Duchess Swan: What if your only reason to exist was to carry on someone else’s story? And not only that, but you knew for sure that story didn’t have a happy ending. If someone told you that you had to work this job to keep your family alive, but you would end up poor and homeless on the streets, you might not be too happy. It might be noble to do it, but isn’t that a waste of your life? does it matter? Aren’t our families the most important thing in the world, who better to sacrifice for.

Apple White: There are those who like society’s role for them. The lucky few who have the body to be on a magazine and the personality to make everyone feel important, and maybe that’s not bad. But is true heroism all in running things smoothly and making people feel important? Or is it in actually believing other people are more important than yourself? Apple will be on your side as long as it fits with her plan of what is the best good for everyone, but dare to suggest that another option might be better and you will find her as close minded and stubborn as a mule.

Raven Queen: This is my personal favorite character. Raven Queen does not have all the answers, and she may end up having to live a life which she hates the idea of. But is that gong to stop her from being the best friend she can be now? No. Raven’s attitude is that if she only has a little time to live the way she wants, then she’ll spend that time being the best person she can be. Pursuing her creative interests and helping her friends and fellow students. Raven is also not going to blindly accept that a life of repetition is all she can have.

Which is the most noble way to go? Everyone wants to have a good life. Not everyone is willing to have it. Most people will choose Briar’s path of having the best time they can have because they have so little they can’t waste it in doing boring things, a serve me type of thinking. Or they will fall into Dexter’s rut of thinking they don’t have the skills to make it so why try? Then there’s the smaller group of people who will decide to break the rules, but only as far as it suits them and makes them comfortable. There’s also a group of people who will sacrifice their lives to help those closest to them, but they themselves end up unhappy and alone, and the people they sacrificed for don’t really respect them. In the much smaller privileged world of celebrities; those talented individuals whom people like, they make their mark, but rarely do they pay any price to do good things and somehow all their goodness reflects back on them, which is no different than if a person went around telling people “I’m awesome” 60 times a day. (Enough said.) Then there are the very few people in this world who are committed to doing what’s right no matter the cost. They are the ones who face the tough questions and find answers and aren’t afraid to get help. They don’t need to be in the spotlight all the time, but neither do they reject it if they can use it to do more good. These people don’t do just what they feel like doing, they do what they think they should do.

Newsflash: Each of these ways of life is a choice. No one forces you to accept them because no one can. They only way anyone can make you be anything is if you let them. I’m not a drug addict, or a person who is always angry over something, I don’t gorge myself on food, and I don’t live in fear. It’s not because I’ve never been given the message that I should; believe me, I have; but it’s because I finally realized that the message was a lie. I am a bit sorry that this article ended up being so long, but I hope it was worth the read. I meant every word. But there’s one more component to this that I haven’t covered and I will in my next post. Keep reading!

Natasha