Turn: Part 3

“A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;” Ecclesiastes 3:4

Of course I’m excited about this post. This is right up my alley. But I’m not always laughing or dancing for all that.

Last week was Thanksgiving week, and that brought some things to mind for my family. We have a lot to be grateful for; business has picked up, and we have our friends and of course our faith has grown this year. I loved spending the Wednesday before with my two cousins who I only get to see every so often and that next month I’ll get to see my other cousins who I only see twice a year.

 Today I also found out a girl with a YouTube channel I watch was in a bus crash last week. (Her channel is called Katie Gregiore) She seemed okay but a little emotional about it. It’s true life is short. Morbid as this sounds, a few years ago I didn’t even know if I’d make it to 2015. People thought the world would end in 2012. Well of course here we all are. But life is not less precious because we have more of it. Life does not equal time. Perhaps you already know that, maybe you’ve spent the holidays without people close to you. Maybe you’ve had a rough year. It’s not a sin to cry on a holiday or use it as a day to remember people who made a difference in your life.

There is a time to mourn and a time to weep:

Actually it can be quite a relief to hear that it’s okay to feel sad and to grieve loss. The way I see it this verse is speaking three different ways.

  1. To all the people who do nothing but mope about their troubles: stop it! There is a time for that, but it’s a season, and depending on the loss a few weeks or a few years, and it’s time to move on. Not to be unsympathetic or anything, losing something you can’t replace will always hurt, but hurt doesn’t have to be the center of your life and it shouldn’t be. Cry, be angry, talk it out; but do not pitch your tent on the hill of sorrow.
  2. To the people who never face their troubles. Or who drown them in merriment and parties and busyness, until you go numb: This is almost worse than burying yourself in sadness because it means losing a part of you that is the key to you health in soul and body. It’s okay to “crash and break down” and be human, so long as you don’t switch to blaming other people for it.
  3. To the people who haven’t faced sorrow or trouble yet: There is a balance to maintain between you negative and positive thoughts and emotions. better to know it now then find it out after trouble comes and mishandle it badly.

There is a time to laugh and a time to dance:

I have heard that we should celebrate things in our lives, ourselves, other people, personal and public victories. Whether celebrating means throwing a party, dancing around your house with the blinds shut, or just giving yourself a much needed or wanted break; I think it sounds wonderful. Or celebrate other people by telling them you care about them. If you’re like me and words are awkward try gifts or doing little things for them or spending time with them even if it’s something you don’t enjoy. It is perfectly okay to do this, and with the holidays coming up what better time to start making a practice of it. You may not have relatives you look forward to seeing but let’s face it the holidays are not about you, they are always about doing things for other people.

THANKS + GIVING= A holiday . Holidays are celebrated for the purpose of being glad for good things. To give thanks means to think, speak ,and act grateful for our blessings. However many or however few we have.

So with the good things and the bad, the happy and the sad, I hope you enjoy the holidays this year.

Have a great time!–Natasha

Turn: Part Two

“A time to be born, and a time to die. A time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up.” Ecclesiastes 3:2-3

Birth-death, planting-plucking, kill-heal, break down-build up. I notice a theme. Beginning and ending, making and destroying.

I’m not going to use this terminology too literally for my points, that might get weird, but I’ll try and be more analogical.

Birth-Death

You had a time to be born, and you have a time to die (probably). You couldn’t choose to be born, and you should not choose to die either. Until we can make our own bodies work we can’t say we have full power over them. So the attitude people view living with nowadays bugs me a lot. This life is not a long one to begin with. Why throw it away? According to the Bible, God Himself is the source of life, and sin is the source of death. All throughout history wicked men have this in common: not a single one of them valued human life, or any life really. In this age, death is everywhere you look, and movies treat it like it’s a thing to be toyed with and life a thing to be experimented on. What?!!! There is a time to die, but the danger of focusing on it so much is that, quite soon, it ceases to be real to you. I know people who will tell you that the plots of horrid movies are not real to them, so they have no affect on their minds. Never mind the psychos who’ve used such movies as inspiration and the actors who’ve committed suicide over them. Losing value for your life is far worse than losing value for your death. Most people think their death might matter to a couple people, but their life seems to matter to no one. This is wrong because whether you know it or not, every life touches so many others. The movie It’s a Wonderful Life gets it about right. My conclusion is that birth and death are out of our hands and YOLO  and YODO aside, it’s best not to focus on them.

Planting-Plucking

We do have control over what we plant and what we reap. We can literally plant food, or we can plant ideas, words, money, gifts, talents, and so on. But we’re human; it would be silly to suppose everything we plant is good. We’ve all said dumb things and acted badly. We’ve given people false information, and we make mistakes with our money. Sometimes you have to try to undo what you did.

But the idea of reaping really deals with good crops. You can take the wheat and sort out the weeds, but if you plant well there will always be more wheat. It is okay to profit in some way by the work you do. There is a time to give and give (sowing), and there is a time to receive it back. But be sure to share your wealth because the more you sow the more you reap. In one way or another.

But a seed is quite different from the fruit. You could sow money into a charity; you won’t get money back, but the reward of having helped another person. You could sow effort into a project and you will get a finished project, not more effort. This does seem to be a statement of the obvious, but it’s surprising how often we expect to get the same thing back as we gave. (Like in relationships. “I did __  for you so you should do it for me.”) In all honesty, sometimes you sow more seed than you get back. No one says it’s fair or that it isn’t often exhausting. The only thing to do then is conclude the crop was more valuable than the seed anyway. This especially applies to relationships; as well as education and charity work.

[Never be afraid to examine your work for “weeds”; it’ll improve your field in the long run.]

Killing-Healing

This is trickiest of all because killing anything, even an inanimate object or feeling, is a serious thing. I will not suggest ever killing innocent things, (like the daydreams of a child.) Nor do I suggest killing deep things (like love and a sense of justice.) Those are better redirected. But there is a time to kill. For example, there are dreams that never will come true, and if they are not really important to our psyche, it’s better to let them go. There are ideas that are not good for us and should be killed as soon as possible. (Lies about ourselves and about other people, envy, greed, pettiness, are all such ideas.) You can kill a thought by immediately calling it what it is (bad, wrong, a lie) and rejecting it. Imagine you’ve shut your mind to it. Or, even more ceremoniously, writing out your goodbye to a dream that isn’t good for you or a memory that haunts you. (Something I wish soap opera screen writers would do.) Then heal. It’s okay to cry, but healing truly comes by replacing the old things with new. Replanting so to speak. It’s great when one can heal other people, but seeking healing for yourself comes first. And you have to believe it’s possible. Kill the lie that you are stuck with your hang-ups and faults; there really is a cure for all of them. Though it probably won’t be the same for each. (Not that I really have to state that, but there’s always one who’ll try the one-size-fits-all method.)

Break Down-Build Up

We cant pluck away some of the parasites in our lives, but a lot of problems have to be broken down bit by bit. My dad works with bricks quite a lot. In masonry, it’s one brick at a time, each cemented to the next; until, hopefully,  you’ve built a sturdy wall. (If you know what you’re doing.) Tearing down a brick wall isn’t a matter of wrecking balls or other such tools. Bricks are valuable because they’re re-usable, and you don’t want to damage them if they’re still any good. So again, step by step. It’s hard work.

Some things we build in our lives are too crumbly to be useful and tearing them down is all we can do. But most ideas, activities, and relationships have good stuff in them somewhere. Then is the time to be careful about tearing down. It’s okay to have a break down (emotional ones included) if you can pick up the pieces and rebuild something stronger. Sometimes the brick wall can become a brick road if you go about it the right way. But know the people you’re with, know how to perform your activities, and know the truth of your ideas, or I guarantee it’ll be built all wrong crooked and unstable.

Take, for instance, the play “Much Ado About Nothing.” Claudio and Don Pedro do not really know Don Jon’s character nor Hero’s, and trust Don Jon’s word over hers, causing much trouble over something that never happened. It takes very extreme methods to rebuild after that. Of course their trust wasn’t built on the right thing in the first place.

This is already so long it seems unfair to keep going. I hope my examples made sense. I’m looking forward to writing part three. Until then–Natasha

 

Turn: Part one

“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven:”

I’m finally doing another multiple part-er because I’m writing about a topic I can’t do justice to in one stretch; and that is timing.

Time itself is the most elusive thing in our lives; we can’t stop or start it; we can’t save it or hold it still; we can’t see it. Because we control it so little, it is the most precious of our commodities and though people say that few of them understand it. I don’t myself. I can’t possibly fit all the time in the world into my head. I find myself time-bound and not by choice, and perhaps the reason we try to ignore it is simply because of that very fact. As Fern’s mother says in Charlotte’s Web, “I don’t like what I can’t understand.”

Nonetheless some understanding of time is necessary, and I don’t mean the physics of it. The beginning quote is from Ecclesiastes 3, and that’s what I’ll be using to launch my discussion of time.

I’d like to note the verses says “…every purpose under heaven.” Not in heaven. According to what I’ve read, there is a succession of events in heaven but no limitation. Eternity is literally time without limit. God is not bound to our time. This is important to know because I don’t want to imply things have to happen by deadlines and rigid schedules to be organized and valuable. That is utterly silly and not a faith based viewpoint at all. No, I mean what I’m going to call seasonal timing.

Ever work a seasonal job position? I have; it lasted not even two full months that I recall. It wasn’t that I was a bad worker or the boss was mean. I simply was no longer needed. Things in our lives that are seasonal are the ones we need for a while, but then the time comes when we no longer need it, and just like a plant, it dies away.

A job, a car, a book, an organization, a hobby, even a church; these are all things that can be temporarily the right thing for us, but then we outgrow them. Not every time. Some jobs are your life’s work, some organizations are your job, and you can find the church you should stay in forever. But if that is the case, you can be sure those things will change with time, otherwise we would get too comfortable. C. S. Lewis explains in more detail in The Screwtape Letters about the parallel of change and consistencies, his own example(s) include that we have four seasons every year, but each season is different. And serves a different purpose I might add. Which will neatly bring me to my next point.

“A time for every purpose…”

Every season has a purpose in teaching us life lessons. Having this blog is a seasonal thing, and I recognize that it teaches me to be a better writer; I can hope my articles will help someone else out in their seasons, but at least I know it is doing one person good. Therefore, it has a purpose. Purpose is one of the most important words in the English language. We can’t do a thing without it. (Try thinking that over for a few minutes.) It can also change the way we thing of our seasons. I have often heard preachers say that the bad times are only for a season, and suffering is but a season. And for awhile, this satisfied me. But naturally I began to wonder why the season had to come in the first place. This subject is far too complicated to cover in one post (or even a whole book) but one way to at least retain sanity through suffering is to see it as serving a purpose. Maybe it makes our character stronger, or it teaches us not to take good things for granted, or it shows us how frail we are and how limited. Turning us back to God. (Some it turns away from God, but that is another story.) Suffering also teaches us not to make the same stupid mistakes over and over again, because honestly some of it is our fault. Suffering gives us more compassion for other people’s problems and pain.

The other half of purpose is, of course, in the good times. Remember even good times have something to show us. We aren’t supposed to drift through them and get lazy. No way! Our brains need to keep learning to stay sharp and stay happy; stupid people usually aren’t happy. (If they are, I dare say they’re not as stupid as they seem.) So if you don’t learn when you’re not in school and don’t work when you’re not at your job, your life probably feels meaningless, like you’re going nowhere, and who really needs you around anyway? No, I’m not reading your diary, this is not-so-common sense folks. Use every season as a tool and a stepping stone into the next.

[Teenagers!: Read the book “Do Hard Things” by Alex and Brett Harris or visit their website http://www.therebelution.com, for more about this subject.]

Integrate seasons and purpose into your way of thinking and see what a difference it will make, until part two readers–Natasha.

To be a princess.

My siblings and I just finished reading “A little princess.” That story is a riches, to rags, to riches one. The heroine of the story, Sarah, tries to remain a princess even when she is reduced to poverty and maltreatment. Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve always liked the idea of true royalty. Money and glamor don’t distinguish the royal from the celebrity, nor does title. A title is meant to tell us something about the person in the position. Prince Charming has been reduced to a joke in our culture, we forget that he used to represent real virtues before people made him out to be too cliché. Of course being charming isn’t necessarily a virtue, just like beauty alone doesn’t mean someone isn’t a beast inside. But it used to be a prince was charming because he was good and a princess was beautiful from the inside out. Bad-boy isn’t really attractive, and neither is mean-chick, maybe some people embrace those ideals because goodness seems too boring and cotton candy. But I fail to see how the ability to rise above your adversaries is boring. As King David put it “My head is lifted up above my enemies.” Rising above petty offense, and above letting yourself be bothered by vain and ignorant people’s cruelty is a strength of character few people attain. But if you don’t rise above such people you will become one of them.

I know, I know, in a society of bringing everyone down to the lowest level to be equal, suggesting rising above someone seems arrogant. I’m sure you’ve heard of this phrase though “He who does not punish evil commands it to be done”–Leonardo da Vinci. I would further add that he who cannot rise above evil will succumb to corruption by it. To not punish evil is to say you agree with it being okay. To let it dictate your behavior is saying it is stronger. Royalty is one example of rising above evil; but when they do not, they become the worst perpetrators of it. Just something to think about.

Remember royalty is not who you were born to so much as it is who you devote yourself to; and what you let become you’re domain (field of expertise), but your domain influences you as much as you influence it. So if anything from drama and whining, to riches and ruling, is your domain, beware. You become a slave of it as much as it of you.

But rising above that is possible, in my experience, only with divine help. “For in the day of trouble he will conceal me…he will lift me up on a rock.” Psalm 27:5

How to handle disappointment

I usually post about positive things because I hate being depressed, but let’s face it, not everything that happens is happy.

If you’ve seen The Princess Bride you might remember two of Wesley’s lines, one being one of the most depressing in the movie. “Life is pain, highness, anyone who says differently is selling something.” The other, said to Inigo in reply to a question is “Get used to disappointments.” I don’t like either of these two lines, they reflect a view of the world that bugs me. Whether Wesley meant them or not is really beside the point. many a cynical laugh has occurred because on the first one. and even the second is rather dismal when you think about it.

Should we “get used” to being disappointed? it can’t be denied that we are often enough. Our plans don’t ever pan out the way we expect; people make promises to us that the don’t keep; we resolve to change and we stay the same.

Sometimes it takes people their whole life to come to the very obvious conclusion that we are just not smart enough to control our lives. If a person could make money by sitting at home, watching TV, not talking to anybody but the made up characters (we all do that,) then there are plenty of people who would give up on life and do it. But even if they were surrounded by plexi-glass with air conditioning and ready made meals, one earthquake, one bad storm, one disaster… and their whole world would fall apart. We’re really good at building intricate card houses. Even card castles. We’re geniuses at lining up domino bricks in our lives, each activity leading neatly into another; but the more work we go into the more fragile our homes are, and one little blow knocks the whole thing down.

Jesus once used this example: The wise man built his house upon the sand and when the rains cam and the floodwaters rose his house collapsed; but the wise man built his house upon the rock, the rains poured down, the floodwaters rose, but the house on the rock stood firm. Sand may be anything we pick that’s unstable. You can build your house out of the finest materials this world has to offer, but it’s still a house on a bad foundation. Now we seldom build with good materials anyway.

Maybe I’m alone in this but I feel like in America we’ve given up on what really matters. Family and friends are too much work, so we’ve made them a side, and who’s number one? Us and our needs. Who cares about the other guy? Let him do all the work and we’ll get by with as little as possible…and we wonder why we feel like losers who have no joy in their life.

Did we choose this because life disappointed us? As kids, so much seemed possible, we could do anything and be everything, but along the way we found out people expected us to be a certain way. We were compared to other kids and found lacking, so we tried to measure up or we rebelled, neither way seems to have helped. We’re still part of the statistic as adults or teenagers. More so than ever in fact.

Well I hate to break it to you, but you will never be safe in this life from statistics and people who put you in a box. The best thing you can do is to stop doing the same thing to yourself and others. when life disappoints you don’t accept defeat as your inevitable goal. You aren’t a percent, no one can tell you that this is how far you will go and no further. No one except you.

Life is not pain. Pain is a signal that something has gone wrong and is not as it should be. You didn’t always feel it and you don’t always have to. But facing disappointment takes courage folks. In the words of this song:

You believe in freedom, but you don’t know how to choose;

You’ve got to step out of you feelings that you’re so afraid to lose; 

And everyday, you put your feet on the floor, you’ve gotta walk through the door, it’s never gonna be easy;

But it’s all worth fighting for.

You can’t control your life. Period. So stop trying. Disappointment if often the result of false expectations. You had no right to expect your plans to work out if you made them for the wrong reasons and based them on the wrong goal. Your mind can’t figure out life, you can’t even figure out yourself for crying out loud. Your plans are a house built on sand.

The good news is Jesus is the rock. Psalms 138 states “The Lord will work out his plans for my life.” God alone can successfully plan our lives. You may not like me coming to that conclusion, but tough luck, it’s the truth. If it helps, God’s plans for us are way better than our own. “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11.) I know someone reading this may scoff, a lot of us have doubted God’s good intentions. To that person I would say this, you don’t even know yourself, you don’t know everything about you house, you car, your neighborhood, your country or anything close to you. But God does. How then can you claim to understand what He is doing? I guarantee that whatever your grief is, it is not what you think. That doesn’t mean it isn’t horrible, or painful, and you shouldn’t grieve it. It’s okay and healthy to mourn over our pain, but don’t be stuck in it, don’t think you see all of it. It takes awhile to get to the point where you can see past you hurt and disappointment, but if, for now, you can at least believe that you will get to that point, then you’ll be okay. I do speak from experience.

If it would also help, know that God feels our pain and is right there with us even when we can’t see Him. He doesn’t despise us for feeling that way, but He won’t pity us more that He should. He won’t lie and say we ought to have set our hopes on anything other than Him. He’s God people, wouldn’t you take that over a house of cards? I hope the answer is yes, but even if not keep watching for more posts, I may be more cheerful in the next one. Honestly though, I do hope this helped somebody. Have a good day–Natasha