The Do-good principle

Hate, love, they’re talked about a lot. As are the reasons for doing either. But I’ve noticed one reason in particular has been overlooked, and I think it’s worth mentioning.

If anyone besides me has read “Mere Christianity” (and the odds are you have) you may remember a point Lewis made about people who ae cruel, and people who are kind. He  used the Nazis as a more widespread example, but there are plenty of others, you’ll have encountered them yourself. Lewis’s point was that the Nazis were cruel to the Jews because they hated them, and then they hated them more because they were cruel to them.

Likewise, if you love someone and are kind to them, you will love them more because you were kind.

I think it’s simple really, when I do bad to someone, I am seeing the worst in myself, which I don’t like, therefore I will not like them, not through any fault of their own, but because I choose not to take responsibility for my own actions.

and if I do good to someone, I will always remember them as someone who caused me to bring out the best in my character, so I will like them more than ever.

Sounds straightforward, doesn’t it? But boy, is it overlooked.

To me, this explains why the Gospels start off with John the Baptist’s calling to repentance, before Jesus’s calling to love. Because if this principle is true, then the first step toward loving people is to admit your sin was your own.

Because it seems to me that hatred for someone you’ve abused is just misdirected hatred toward yourself and your sin.

I am not saying that hatred of others is not real, I am saying that in this case, it is unjust, and a product of our desire to shun responsibility.

In my case, I’ve had people who would say things to me that were wrong, but the more they said them, the more they believed them,  till it wasn’t what I did that really mattered anymore, but what they felt I did. I’m sure you’ve been there too.

This is the explanation for racism. Whatever kind. The white people hated the black people because they were cruel to them, the black people hated the white because they eventually returned the cruelty; pick any two races, two parties, two families who are feuding, and you’ll find the exact same thing.

Take even the recent election. The more one side rails against the other, the more they hate that side. Even though, any sane person knows that victory or defeat depends a lot more on what you do with your own party than on what the opposition does.

This is also why people who serve each other tend to be nicer, more forgiving people.

The only cure for hate is to start doing good for the people one hates. It is the hardest thing perhaps in the world to do that, but it must be done.

This rule will apply to more than hate, it will apply to laziness, envy, greed, jealousy, an almost any vice. It started with the person doing something wrong.

But let me clarify: hate can begin before someone has ever met the object of it, therefore they could not have sinned against them. I won’t deny this is real, but it is rarely self-begun in that case. Usually there is a cause for such hate, and then the solution is not repentance but forgiveness.

But I’d say that’s only 10% of the hatred out there, the rest is taught or grows out of our own selfishness.

It works even if it’s not hate per sec. Children who are rebellious started off at one point disobeying once or twice, then made it a habit, and the more times they did it, the more they felt like doing it.

I can even cite a non-biblical, or religious, source for this idea.

Watch your habits for they will become your character, watch your character for it will become your destiny.

It’s the same idea. What you make a habit of doing will become your character eventually.

As you can see, I’m not the first to hit upon this principle. But it is not well known enough, and never has been. It’s too hard to retain. It’s more natural to us to blame others for our behavior, or excuse ourselves, or even in some cases enjoy being bad.

Like I said a few posts ago, evil will change your idea of fun (Girl Meets World) and this principle explains why. Call it the snowball effect, or something akin to that.

The Golden Rule is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I used to think that meant if I was nice, others would be nice to me. Well, that is a possibility. But the Golden Rule is really for us. If we treat others how we want to be treated, eventually we will come to love them as ourselves, which is just paraphrasing the Golden Rule. (Jesus said both things real close together after all.)

Simple, profound, and difficult. It must be right.

One last thing, I’ve mentioned before how our culture is obsessed with evil people. If you think hard enough, the Do-good principle is at the heart of this too. The more we choose it, the more we like it. Any character that starts off as good guy and ends up a villain will be applying the inverse of the principle.

I think that wraps it up for now, until next time–Natasha.

A strong mind and a soft heart.

Someone said recently, in a video I watched, that many people now have weak minds and hard hearts and we need more people with strong minds and soft hearts.

And I agreed.

But I suppose I didn’t really ponder what that meant, until I was reading “The Problem of Pain,” by C. S. Lewis. (Who, as some of you know, is my favorite author.) This book is as brilliant as his other books, but not fully developed in his style. It’s one of his earliest intellectual apologetics books.

But brilliant, just the same, if you can follow what he’s saying. (A lot of words ad terms that people would have known in the last century, but we wouldn’t know make it hard to always know what he’s referring to.)

Anyway, I remember back when I hadn’t read any of Lewis’s books except the Chronicles of Narnia and eventually “Mere Christianity,” I had the mistaken idea that he was very much a reason-driven person; but once I learned more about him and read some of his other works, I found out that despite being brilliant, he was very much a believer in feelings being a guide as much as the mind.

To put it more concisely, Lewis would have favored both a strong mind and a soft heart.

The thing I noticed lacking in his non fiction was an acknowledgement of how God affects our feelings, and uses our sense of need much more often than our sense of morality. But having looked closer, I see that he did addresses that, just in a very reason-oriented way.

This appeals to me, since I hate to have things be too dumbed down for me to feel at all like I’m learning; but I have little respect for people who can’t get out of their mind and into their heart.

For me, it’s a temptation to despise people who are much less intelligent than I am, because I have never in my whole life been considered of average intelligence. I admit, I do get my share of vanity from this, but it’s no credit to me. I figure I just use the brains that God gave me, and the only reason I’m smarter than a lot of people is because they don’t use their brains.

Yet, I am not at all intimidated by people who are smarter than me in their ability to learn and retain information. Because I value wisdom even more than intelligence. (If they really are two separate things, and those who lack wisdom but have a high IQ are not really just smart idiots.)

Frankly, I don’t consider even those with Special needs as stupider than me, because often they see things more clearly than a genius would. If anything, a lot of intelligence blinds you to the obvious. I have social awkwardness problems because I tend to get wrapped up in my own thoughts instead of sensing other’s feelings and reaction. As far as that goes, a dog might be more aware than the hyper-intelligent person.

Genius is not a bad thing, and when it comes out of a place of a lot of suffering, it can actually be a persons link to sanity, the ability to go inside themselves and their creations instead of focusing on what’s around them.

But my point here is that intelligence is not the same as having a strong mind, a strong mind is a wise mind, and mind with a  sense of humor. If you ever check out the book of Ecclesiastes, you’ll find a man who is wise, in a morbid way, but seems to have no sense of humor.

What about a soft heart?

Well, hard-heartedness is rampant nowadays. (When has it ever not been? The natural tenancy of man is to be selfish, unless he is consciously trying not to be.)

It’s a term we don’t really think about now, but it means to not let anything penetrate your heart. Neither pain nor pity nor love.

I move that technology has made us more hard-hearted. Charles Dickens would have agreed with me.

Also, being bombarded with negativity, and also propaganda. We have started to celebrate the hard-hearted; cold; and evil people of stories and real life.

You put out what you get put in.

As wrong as I think it is to admire any evil person for being good at what they do, I have to admit we’ve made it awful hard to admire the good. If someone is good, there is always some attack on their character, some dirt dug up, some rumor spread; to be fair, even the bad people get made  worse by rumors, but that only furthers the point.

Look, it’s okay to admire a good deed. I recently saw a short documentary of a celebrity (Julia Roberts I believe) taking vaccinations to a village in Africa. I think what she did was admirable, and she proved to be more of a down-to-earth person than I would have expected. (Because Hollywood seems to drive people crazy.)

That is admirable. I know nothing about Julia Roberts when she is at home, and not in front of a camera, but what she did was good. It’s good publicity for her, sure, but also for the cause she was supporting.

Getting back to the subject of a soft heart: A soft heart is an open heart, but not open to the wrong thing, that’s why you need a strong mind too. You need both.

And there is equal danger in lacking one but having the other, either way.

A soft hearted, but weak minded, person may end up supporting the wrong thing and in the end doing more harm than good to the same people they were trying to help.

But action without heart is sure to lead to an empty life or worse, one spent doing harm.

There’s plenty more to say on this topic, this post was sort of an introduction to the idea so I can reference it later without confusion, but for now, I’m done.

Until next time–Natasha.

The appeal of evil.

I have an unusual subject for you all today. (At least I hope it’s unusual.) What is the alluring power of evil?

Believe it or not, this was sparked by a chapter title in The Ever After High book “The Storybook of Legends.”

In this particular chapter, Shannon Hale takes a rather startling turn from the rest of the book, which has dealt with our protagonist, Raven Queen, feeling unfit for evil. WE all feel bad for Raven, but in this chapter Hale shocks us with a rather long inner battle in Raven’s mind about whether evil might actually be an intoxicating thing. There was a lot of power at Raven’s fingertips. (Literally.) A whole army of evil servants willing to do whatever she wanted. And she could even take revenge on everyone who “had ever made her feel like dirt.” While shes’ thinking this, Dexter, one of her few friends, comes up to her and says he almost didn’t recognize her because she looked so angry.

Personally, this chapter made sense to me. Right from the start of the day Raven feels the pressure to sign the book and seal her fate. She dresses up in her mom’s cape, puts on striking make up, and looks the part. She even feels the part, mistaking the inner turmoil shes’ feeling as evil, when in reality, it’s her uncertainty mixed with her fears of both signing and not signing.

But is the power of evil really so appealing?

Many sources recognize that evil appeals to our desire to control, to have absolute power, to manipulate others and ourselves. Pretty much any book with magic in it will deal with that part of evil and power at some point. (And if it doesn’t; frankly, I question how relevant it is.) Take the ring in the Lord of The Rings. It isolates the person wearing it, and tempts them to keep using it, to keep having control. Another example is The Green Goblin, whom I mentioned in my post about Spider-Man. The Goblin offers Osborne more and more control, but the price is to do evil. We all know which he chooses.

But though it’s easy to identify what desires in us prompt us to give in to this kind of evil, I rarely hear it discussed whether the desire itself is not evil to begin with.

A lot of kids, sad to say, are rooting for Raven to be evil. Why? Because it’s so darn cool. (I don’t speak for myself, here, of course.) Because she’s so much more intimidating when she’s evil. Even people in the story are rooting for her to be evil. Which is infuriating both to her and to the fans.

Girl Meets World pointed out the fact that just when we think we’ve seen the worst of it, someone finds a new way to do evil. Why? “Because it’s evil that fascinates us.” Heck, there’s a whole movie about that coming out on Disney Channel, and I am not endorsing it. Seriously, no one watch Descendants 2, it’s terrible. Whatever you’ve heard about it, if you’ve heard about it at all.

Girl Meets World actually tackled the subject of evil in another episode, and Riley’s dad said something wise, that evil changes our idea of what fun is.

The fact that evil is a kind of thrill is a sad fact of life; but it does not give us a pass.

Let’s go back to Raven. She has always felt like evil is not a good fit for her. But she knows other kids at school who are destined to be villains who like it. They have no pressure on them to be nice, in fact, they are applauded for being nasty. And Raven could have gone that way. It was tempting.

And what is it that makes it tempting? Is it not our desire to control things? And is that desire good?

Because when it comes down to it, it’s all about motive. Evil would not be appealing to someone who had no evil desires, and every human being has evil desires. As James 1 tells us, and as any honest person will have to admit. I’ll admit it right now, I sometimes have desires that I know are bad. I get angry, and I don’t always want to let it go, though I know I must. I feel like hiding the truth. And I give into fear.

I don’t do any of this as much as I used to, but I still feel like doing it sometimes. Something is wrong with some part of me.

This doesn’t make you a bad person, in as much as any human being can be a good person. But it does present a problem. It means none of us are perfectly good.

And if so, aren’t we all evil?

I don’t need to protest, you’ll all probably do it for me. Because nowadays our immediate response is “Don’t judge me.” Or “Nobody is without flaws.”

And yes, I am not one to judge. But I can at least go so far as to say, it is not good to have evil desires.

But does that mean Raven has already lost? And does that mean we all have?

Yes and no.

We are none of us good by nature. But neither are we completely bad. The mistake the Ever After High books are highlighting for us is that is it wrong to think anyone is automatically all good just because they are supposed to be, and it is wrong to think anyone is all evil just because they were taught to be.

Raven Queen has the purest heart of just about any modern character I’ve encountered, but even she was able to see why evil can be tempting. So why did she decide not to choose it?

Why did she give up control?

Well, Raven is smart. She figured our that by giving up control, she was really taking control for the first time. But not of her destiny, per sec; but of herself.

Raven saw more clearly than most of us that signing away your life to evil will never be a happy fate, no matter what perks it seems to have at first. One big part of it was she didn’t want to become full of hatred. Which she would have been, because she’d always blame her destiny for her unhappiness. (And not unjustly either.)

Unlike the foolish Apple White, who put aside all misgivings in order to do what she thought she was born to do.

In conclusion, it is the desire to give in to evil that we all need to guard against. It is what prompts us to do wrong, and it needs to die. Every time it comes back. I know of only one way to accomplish this, and that is through Christ.

But even so, any of us can choose to resist it. We should.

Hope you enjoyed, until next time–Natasha.

Give or Take?

Hey everyone, get ready to dive down deep.

In my post about Spider-Man, I mentioned something about being given something or taking it.

I was specifically thinking of power of course, since that was the thing in question. Spider-Man was given power, if you don’t believe in fate, at least you have to admit that technically the spider did give him its power.

And I mentioned Elsa.

Now, there’s been a lot of movies and books that explore the idea of whether all special powers are evil. I mean, a lot, it’s a huge theme now.

So, what’s my take on it?

Better yet, is there a biblical take on it?

Because the first mistake many Christian kids make is thinking that it’s entirely up to them whether this stuff is okay or not. People have justified horoscopes as being harmless.

But are they?

Okay, no one wants to hear the Christian freaking out over invisible demons type of thing on a blog, so I won’t. But I can’t avoid it either when talking about power.

We all have seen or read, or heard of in real life, a story about someone grasping for material power. Authority; wealth; strength; sway. Some of us think that’s dangerous, some of us are still grasping.

Assuming for the moment that we all agree that it’s dangerous, than good. WE won’t try for it. But I notice another trend that’s prevalent in our culture.

Magic. Real or fake, magic sells. Kids think it’s cool. And I think it’s all right in a fantasy context.

Magic, however, is all about power.

Which is why it can be a great symbolic way to teach us about the follies of being power hungry, but it can also masquerade as something harmless and fun. This happens even in stories.

(Ever see Disney’s Sword in the Stone? All the magic in that ends up backfiring in several ways, despite how harmless or fun it seems. Merlin actually teaches Arthur that in a way, magic is no toy.)

Plenty of people think there are powers we can’t understand in the real world. Some are even scientific. That’s no great leap of logic.

But is power given or is it taken?

You’ll find that in real life and in stories, the villain often brings the tale to just that sort of crux. Where the hero must choose whether they take power, or whether they use only what they’ve been given. In Prince Caspian, this amounts to calling up the white witch, or using the forces they have and believing Aslan will show up in the end, with help. We all know what the right choice was.

The truth is, real or not, things like horoscopes; and Ouija boards; and tarot cards; and magic tricks; they all are rooted in the same thing: Wanting power. Often sold as wanting knowledge. Knowledge of the future, mostly. After all, our greatest fear is not being prepared for the future. But as the saying goes, knowledge is power.

We think if we know, we’ll have the power to control it.

Like in Macbeth, where Macbeth finds out the future from three witches and tried to make it happen, only to be killed in the end. Because you cannot control your fate.

Even in Frozen, when Elsa is told fear will be her enemy. I don’t think it was wrong for the troll to warn her of that, but her parents immediately tried to control her fate. Elsa learned to do the same.

Often in The Bible, and in old myths, people are told the future without asking for it. And that is a given thing. Usually in the form of a prophecy. You might notice that it rarely has the same negative outcome as seeking out such knowledge does.

God may choose to reveal to people what will happen, often the knowledge only prepares them, they can’t do anything to prevent it.

That’s the difference you see. Control is different from preparation. Or even prevention. In the end, somethings in the future are changeable, but most aren’t.

We’re told to focus on the present, and that is a wise thing. Live in the now, even commercials will tell you that. I’d just add that there’s a lot your better off not knowing or thinking about.

But one final not on power: Everyone has some. Everyone is indeed born with certain powers. The power to choose being the most famous one. That is a gift. Use it wisely.

And it’s okay to have the gift of music, or athletic ability, and to build on those gifts. I don’t want anyone thinking I meant that was a bad thing.

It’s going outside of your natural talents that leads to harm, in whatever form you do it in.

That said, I’ll end this here. Until next time–Natasha.

It’s not what you do.

I’d like to start off by personally thanking all of you faithful readers who keep coming back to this blog, even on days I don’t post, it really is encouraging.

Also, it was finals week, so I had to devote more time to finishing up my project, that’s why I only blogged a couple times, but it’s Summer Vacation time and hopefully that will get better. You other bloggers know what I’m talking about.

So, today’s topic: What’s wrong with Millennials?

Okay, that was kind of a joke.

The thing is, we get criticized a lot, and I can’t be the only one who feels like it’s a problem. People judge us before they even know us.

Movies aren’t helping either, they show us more and more often addicted to our handheld devices, or they show the next generation down (whatever they’re called) addicted even more.

On the other hand, movies at least feature main characters who aren’t typically glued to a screen, because who’d watch that movie? Not me.

But, this is no time to start whining about how nobody understands us.

I actually sympathize with the older generation who thinks we’re throwing away our lives on things that don’t really matter.

They say we’re not mature.

And a lot of us aren’t.

But, it’s not all our doing either.

I notice a constant theme in the material aimed at our generation: Self Discovery.

I like Self Discovery to an extent. It’s perfectly healthy to be independent and creative and try new things.

It is crucial to your development to know yourself.

But I have some concerns about where this train is taking us.

I saw a bit of a show the other day, one of those “reality” shows where they aren’t filming actors, but the lives of real people. And there was a baby shower happening, and some moms were passing around advice. But to my slight horror, all they said was “Let the little things go” and “Don’t worry because you’re going to be a great mom.” Don’t doubt yourself, basically.

Look; it’s all well and good to not be afraid of being a mother, but since when is that all you need to know about it?

Isn’t it kind of selfish to focus on how you feel and not on how your child is going to feel growing up? I think some advice in that area would have been timely.

Plus, “Let the little things go,” is advice most of us aren’t taking. Who is famous for freaking out about every little inconvenience?

Yet, simultaneously, we also are known for going with the flow.

This is not everyone to be sure. It may not even be most of us, but it is what is being made into our image. Thank you, television.

The worst of it is, we are warned about not accepting what the people around us think about us, but not against not accepting what the TV and Movie industry says about us. I find what they say very offensive a lot of the time.

We all should take a moment to ask ourselves who made teenage promiscuity, drinking, and rebellion, cool in the eyes of the culture?

Who made dark and gritty the new face of teen movies and novels?

Who made a mockery of parents?

Beep be deep a deep– The Entertainment Industry.

With a lot of help from other sources of course.

See, it’s not what the majority of people do that makes it a cultural trend, it’s what the majority of people see as normal.

For example, we all have lied. But if it wasn’t accepted as normal, few people would admit to doing it. And less people would keep doing it.

I don’t lie, at least on purpose. The scary thing is that there are kids who, when they hear that, scoff at it.

What have we done?

In all fairness, a lot of blame does go to parents, since it’s not like it’s a law that kids have to watch certain shows, and shows or no shows, it is the parents who set the moral tone of the house.

And the shows warn us that parents don’t understand us, but guess who does? The shows themselves.

But I’m sure you’ve heard all this before.

And I don’t want to make things harder for parents by making them feel guilty.

But we all need to think, hard.

Personally, I’m considering the effect movies with swearing and a lot of sex jokes have on my mind. Just because I won’t tell those jokes, or swear, does it mean it’s not affecting me?

But I’m lucky that the only way I see the corruption of the world is generally through the screen, literally. Most of you probably see it every day, in person. If its’ disheartening to me, it must be worse for you.

It is exhausting to stay positive in a world with so much negativity. But let me offer a small tip before I close.

Remember that comic book I keep referencing?

Well, there’s a very important character in it, Auralie. She’s got only one line, but it’s what we see her doing that is important. It is said of her “Her thoughts are beautiful, she creates beauty with her mind, imagine doing that on a world like Apocalips.”

It’s really not what’s around you that makes you happy or hopeful, it’s what you grow inside you.

For me, that is faith.

And if Millennials and other generations alike choose to focus on growing those good things inside ourselves, then it won’t matter what’s happening around us. I mean, it won’t harm us.

It’s not many who will make that choice, but everyone has the option.

Those are my thoughts for now–Until next time, Natasha.

Lessons from a five year old.

I consider myself a spiritual person. I pray, I worship, I read my bible. Which is all great. But every now and then I run into something I haven’t thought of before, that somebody else gets.

My cousin just recently discovered church and she loved it. The child came alive at each service, and I was loving watching her.

But she went farther than I thought possible. And watching her, I noticed a few things.

One was that she always prayed using the words “I hope,” instead of “I ask.” If you pray you know the drill, everyone has their way of beginning and ending, and I wouldn’t say one way is better than another, but I thought “I hope”? Is that right?

Then I thought, on the other hand, maybe the kid’s got a clue. I mean, why do we pray if not for hoping it will affect something? That’s why people who haven’t prayed in years may do it when they’re at then end of their rope.

A lot of people don’t like the idea that people only come to God when they’re desperate, they think that they should be able to use logic, reason, knowledge; things like that, to find God.

Which is all well and good, except the majority of the population will not use any of those things to make most of their decisions. (You know what I’m talking about.) And no matter how smart you are, you’re never smart enough to understand God. At some point, you have to be humble enough to admit you need him if you’re ever going to accept Him. That’s the plain truth.

Which, bringing it back to prayer, means that you need to admit it even to yourself, what you’re really asking when you pray is for things to get better, and to get better in ways you can’t do yourself.

A while back I saw the movie “Bruce Almighty” for the first time, hopefully the only time, I didn’t like it. It wasn’t all bad, but it was close. In that movie, the grand solution Bruce finds to his problems, after being God for week or so, is that people have to solve their problems themselves, and help each other. I agree that we should help each other, and try to help ourselves when it’s appropriate, but beyond that, I don’t think there’s a worse conclusion the movie could have come to.

Praying is not about helping yourself, but about recognizing that you can’t. Until you do, your prayer is empty. My cousin gets that prayer means hope. That’s something I didn’t really grasp before.

There’s one other thing she taught me:

The Bible tells us that Jesus makes intercession for his followers, which means He intervenes on our behalf when we’re in trouble, whether of our own making or of another kind.

I knew this already, but my cousin discovered it in a unique way, and made me realize what it actually means, if you think about it.

To have Jesus sticking up for you would give you so much more confidence if you believed it. But Christians generally don’t think about it much because, honestly, it sounds too good to be true. And a non-Christian might scoff at such a notion, or just think it sounds cool, but not believe it.

Frankly, most of us don’t think of Jesus doing anything except dying; but according to our faith, He’s not dead still. Check out some Revelation Descriptions of Him and see how dead He sounds in there.

It’s easy for people to see why my cousin would buy all this, she’s five, anything is possible. But it’s more puzzling why someone my age, who’s supposed to be jaded and apathetic and disconnected, can believe such things.

I really think the majority of us spend our lives trying to hide from those ideas, in one form or another. Whether we live in a country where appeasing spirits is the normal thing, like cleaning house; or we live in a Western civilization where believing in them at all is enough to make you  a freak.

But freak or not, that’s the way I think. And it doesn’t bother me that a kid can believe the same thing, because we are told to be like little children in our faith. It’s not that we put reason on the back burner, no, just ask C. S. Lewis about that, it just means knowing that our reason is limited but there are more answers out there than we know. Every kid knows that.

Being Christian means buying the whole package,  just like anything else worth being. There is no pass, no get out free, and that’s fine by me.

And my cousin is a smart kid, I think I’ll probably learn a lot more from her before we’re through.

Until next time–Natasha.

Speed Limits

Lately I’ve been studying my Drivers Manuel so I can take the test–yippee.

I just want my license, but it’s a slow process.

Anyway, I noticed something yesterday, not reading the manual, but just thinking about cars and trucks in general:

Every single vehicle has the ability to go almost twice as fast as it’s allowed to go.

That’s true with other things. Ovens can go up into 500+ degrees, whoever cooks stuff at that? Have you ever used all the levels on an electric beater? Microwaved something for longer than five minutes straight? You can. But you don’t.

And if you have done those things, God help you.

As far as I know, those temperatures or times aren’t ever used for practical purposes. And it’s illegal to drive faster than the posted speed limit, as we all know. (If you have one.) Of course everyone breaks that law out where I live, unless they are superbly law abiding citizens.

I started to think this was odd, that they even make cars to go so much faster than they should, or build other things to go over the safety limit.

But then I thought, they’re actually wise to do that. There may come a day when people will make stupid laws that cars cannot be built to go faster than say, 80 miles per hour, but if that day comes, we’ll be no safer for it.

Driving is dangerous, but necessary, (as I have found out in trying to find a job without having a set of wheels available.) A lot of things are like that.

And it’s good that things are dangerous and have risks. Because in the end, it’s safer to have a known danger and to teach people how to deal with it responsibly, than no have little or no danger, and give them free reign.

It’s good when we teach each other a fundamental truth about how God works.

The way God set it up, living is dangerous. Not always in that it can kill you, but of the risks you take of falling. Of messing up. Of sinning. God set us a speed limit.

If you want a happy life, you have to balance it, you have to stay within the speed limit. And as oversimplified as that sounds, in the end, it works.

But here’s the thing, you need to have the ability to go faster than you are supposed to go, because, as we all know, different roads have different rules. And the criminals won’t follow any of them, so it’s important to be able to switch gears.

Parents, teachers, government officials; all of them can be quick to try to make a safer environment, and to an extent, I’m okay with that, but you have to allow for some amount of risk.

The risk is there whether you see it or not, so to tell children there is no risk is to lie to them, it’s better to let them face some risks and learn how to deal with them so they’ll be able to face the ones we don’t see coming.

The reason cars can go faster than they should is so in an extreme circumstance, you’ll be able to protect yourself, or you’ll be able to switch gears on a different road. It’s the same with guns. The same with fire.

Good things aren’t generally safe things.

Heck, I painted my nails today with deadly poison, called nail polish; but it’s harmless once it’s dry, and if you do it outside where you won’t breathe it in too much. (I wouldn’t do it every day though.)

Even germs are actually healthy for you in the right amount. Because the only way to protect yourself from danger is to embrace it, and you can quote me on that.

That’ll be it for this post, until next time–Natasha.

Hinds feet on High Places.

I like to talk about movies a lot on this blog. It’s fun, people have watched them so they know what I’m talking about, and I learn from them.

But if there’s one thing that’s been even more important to my spiritual learning process than movies, it’s books.

There was one book in particular that shaped my life in a huge way, and it’s not very well known.

That book was Hannah Hurnard’s “Hinds feet on High places.”  The title is taken from a verse in Habakkuk, “He maketh my feet like hind’s feet and setteth them upon mine high places.” That’s the whole premise of the story. The main character must travel to the High Places and develop hind’s feet.

The first thing to know about this book is that it is an allegory. The backdrop of the story is purely spiritual. Mountains; deserts; the ocean; the meadows; the valleys, every place people use when they are being metaphorical. And why not? It is an unabashed allegory.

In case you don’t know what an allegory is (and I didn’t till I read this) it’s a story about inward realities, but told like a regular fiction story. But all the places and people are symbolic. They have names like “Much Afraid” “Mrs. Valiant,” and of course “The Shepherd.” The most famous allegory is “The Pilgrims’ Progress.” I’ve never been able to get through that book all the way, even I have a limit for old English speech. But the book I’m talking about has very quaint and simple language. Easy to read and entertaining.

But the most important thing about it is that the main character, Much Afraid, was me. Literally, if I had been called by a name depicting my inward state, Much Afraid would have been the perfect fit. If you’ve read any of my posts about Frozen maybe you know this. Let’s just say Elsa would have identified with this book.

Much Afraid is one of the Fearing clan, and she has fearing in the blood, as we are told. And only the Shepherd can really help her. Much Afraid is also disfigured. She has a crooked mouth and crooked feet. She can only limp along painfully and she is ugly. But it is her fears that are her real trouble.

We are not told exactly what she fears except for pain and her relatives. Who bully her and plague her and try to kidnap her. She is weak, and they are all cowards. Much Afraid needs no object, she just fears period.

How well I know the feeling. Well, I can’t tell the whole story here, but after the Shepherd offers to take her to the High Places where she can be cleansed of her imperfections, Much afraid accepts, and even allow shim to plant the seed of Love in her heart. Though it hurts. Immediately she feels different.

When I read this the first time, I was not yet a Christian, though I believed in it. I have never not believed it was true. That was why the book made so much sense to me. Everyone in that book knows who the shepherd is. Some of them hate him, others love him. But they all believe, in that sense, that he is who he is. No one at any point denies that the Shepherd is real. Because everyone can see him.

That was how I grew up. There was no question of whether God was real, or whether Jesus was, but of where I stood with them.

That’s the only real question when it comes down to it.

Anyway, so I read the book and honestly, I did not understand it. Oh, I got the point about overcoming fear, but I had never felt real love, or been free from fear for longer than a few hours for most of my life. But Much Afraid has the same experience. She feels bold for a short time, and then she is ambushed by all her relatives and in the end faints dead away. To make a long story short, she is still able to go with the Shepherd, and she sets out, with his two helpers Sorrow and Suffering as her companions. They undergo many obstacles, dangers, and attacks from her enemies, and at the very end of their journey Much Afraid is asked to give up what she ahs staked her whole hope and life on, the promise she was given about having new feet and a new heart. And she asked to give up her human love that is in her heart like a weed, its roots going deep into her soul.

Much Afraid can hardly believe it, but in the end she does as she is told. After both these things are removed and burned on an altar, she faints and wakes up feeling different. Then she washes in a stream and discovers all her blemishes have been removed. Then the Shepherd calls her and she bounds up, with her new feet, and joins him.

More stuff happens, but I’ll stop there. When I first read this, I didn’t know you had to surrender your will to God. Maybe I had heard it, but I hadn’t made the connections. My fear was a terrible thing, but I still chose it over God so I could protect myself from having to do things I didn’t want to do. Fear was an excuse.

It was really to the point where I had no will at all except to resist God. I couldn’t resist fear. I was foolish, as everyone is with their besetting sin, but I didn’t know it. I wanted to be free but I didn’t want to pay the price.

God will set you free, but He demands that you give up your chains, and yourself. and give it all to Him. The reason people hate that idea is because they want control. Fear is a huge problem for all of us. I count myself fortunate that I at least knew it was my problem, many of us don’t.

I didn’t really become saved till I laid down my will to God. And I only knew to do that because I had read this book. To this day I still learn new things from it.

I know it wouldn’t mean as much to anyone else, but it would still mean something, so I recommend checking it out.

Until next time–Natasha.

The S-word.

First of all, let me apologize for not posting so consistently, my problem is partly not having access to a computer as much.

But today I figure I need to post, so let’s talk.

Yesterday I had a unique experience, I went to teen bible study that talked about 1Peter 3. A little context, on that chapter, it’s about submission, honoring your wife, faith, and Jesus’ victory over hell and the devil.

Where do you start?

But of all the subjects that are controversial in a youth group, or in church period, or in any culture ever, submission is one of the top 3 or 4.

Now you all know my stance on feminism, and it’s no surprise then that I don’t view submission as a bad thing, but…I confess I haven’t liked the idea in the past, and I’m still growing into it now.

My problem with submission goes back farther than I even can remember; and it’s the same for many women. But it always, always is about not trusting men.

Most girls who have no initial problem with submitting to men have had good male relationships in their lives, and like a lot of girls, I haven’t. Partly because my contact with guys has been extremely limited living at home with my mom and no brothers, and only male in the house, my dad.

Despite my trouble with submission, I have stood up for it in the past, and still will; because it’s in the Bible, and God commands it, and for me that has to come first, before my issues, my mistrust, and my fears.

And fears are a big part of this. I don’t care how strong she seems, any woman who hates men and hates submission is afraid, deep, deep, down; and she is afraid of being found out.

Many women have been abused, physically and emotionally. Nearly all of us have been yelled at, manipulated, misunderstood, or mocked, by men. I won’t say it doesn’t hurt me when men act like women’s feelings are too much to handle or not worthy of respect, and then they mock things we are interested in.

But… that’s not every man. There’s a good portion of nice, sensitive guys, or strong and brave ones, hopefully a mixture of both, who are out there, and they treat women with respect. It’s a rare breed of men who would meet my standard of Uncommon (hence the term) but there are plenty who aren’t bad guys, and don’t deserve the sort of disgust and contempt they are often treated with.

And for the record, there are not many women who are what I would call a real woman, either. It’s rare for both genders nowadays to really be what they are. But I’ve talked about this before, so let’s get back to the subject of submission.

Like I said, women are afraid. That chapter we studied, 1 Peter 3, actually is one of the only passages in the bile to address that issue as the root of our struggles. It’s a big problem for men too, but women have a different sort of fear then men, and it’s harder to pin point, which is probably why it’s not talked about enough.

But in a nutshell, we are afraid of rejection, just like anyone, and also of not being enough; and if we’ve been hurt before, we are afraid that if we are hurt again it will break us.

So we tend to harden our hearts to avoid this, and we resist authority, or if we are not the type to do that, we resist love. Or maybe we hide instead, a lot depends on the personality, but the root of it all is fear.

I have been afraid, but unwilling to show it, so I would be belligerent instead. I’d put  up a fight over something not that important because something important had not been fought for a long time ago, and I was upset about that.

But the thing was, God never said you can get out of submission if you’ve been burned, on the contrary, it’s even more important then, and here’s why:

It’s easy to submit when you’ve never been deeply hurt, but it takes a very tough woman to submit when she has been hurt, and even more so if she knows she will be hurt again, whether she submits or not. (By submitting I do not mean submitting to being hurt on purpose, only to the possibility of it, which is very different.)

Doing the right thing is always harder at first than doing the wrong thing, but this rebellion against men has hardly helped our case anyway, and it’s destroyed many relationships. Sometimes you have to do the right thing and trust that God will take care of you no matter what.

And that’s a difficult thing to do, but so, so necessary if you want to heal. I know personally.

A word to the men: I just want you to keep in mind that girls need understanding. We aren’t taught about this sort of thing, and it’s left a lot of us feeling clueless about how to treat the men in our lives. Also, men need help with this too, it’s not just about girl power, it’s about man power too. I personally regret that guys get so overlooked on this front and they deserve respect just as much as girls do,.

But we need to keep in mind that it takes a lot less to upset a girl than a guy, usually; and so all of us need to watch what we say to and about people of the opposite sex. Also, though not always, it’s our actions that say the most to men about how we feel around them. And how we interpret their actions.

But since I’ve never been in a romantic relationship, I wont’ say anything about that, it’s just a general rule in any relationship.

Some final advice:

Men, don’t be afraid to invest in the women around you. Even if they misinterpret it, even if they hate you for it, and even if you have no clue what you’re doing, you’ll get better. And please, do not take any crud from girls just because they are girls. Stand up for yourself, but do it in the right way.

Women, don’t be afraid of every man just because you have been hurt. Don’t date anyone you can’t trust (a general rule actually) and don’t marry anyone who doesn’t treat the women in his life well. But also, don’t put down men just because they fail. We all fail. Most of us don’t really now what we’re doing. We need to accept that and be willing to forgive.

But even more so if a man (or woman) has been cruel to you, and especially if he or she has done it on purpose, the strongest thing you can do is let it go. It only gives them power over you if you let what they did ruin the rest of your life. And this goes for any relationship.

Now, read my advice to each gender and flip it around to apply to the opposite, because the truth is, we all struggle with the same stuff, in different ways.

Okay, I’ll stop this here, until next time–Natasha.

Running away from Sadness.

Continuing from my previous post…

Now that I have defined Joy and explained how we find it, I need to expound upon it.

This, more than any other topic, is a Church related one, because it’s in the Church that the word is mainly used; and many people are frustrated that they can’t find it.

If it were as simple as I made it sound, than more people would have joy. Because accepting sadness is totally simple…right?

Wrong is probably what you all thought, but actually, it is simple. It’s just not easy.

We run from sadness. From our own and other people’s.

I know people who will cry over nearly every movie they watch, but they don’t talk about what’s going on in their life so much.

I also know people who seem to be perpetually depressed, and by choice, not medical condition; it offends these people if you tell them to cheer up.

You know, Pollyanna actually had a sequel, Pollyanna Grows Up, and in that sequel Pollyanna tells her friend Jimmy about a man she heard say that every time someone said to be glad, he just wanted to go out and shoot someone.

A rather extreme way of reacting, but how many of us have wanted to scream when someone makes light of our sorrow?

Which is the last thing I want to do, I’ve had sorrow too, and I’d be a horrid hypocrite if I pretended it was minor.

I handle sorrow in an unusual way, when I experience real loss, I am oddly unshaken by it. I am sad, but it is not crushing. I suppose it is because I have never lost anyone close to me. Another thing is I constantly hear false alarms, one side of my family is always having one problem or another health wise, but they get over it.

but when I have relational pain, it can be very depressing to me.

I think because all our self worth issues get mixed up in that sort of pain.

I won’t say either type of pain is less selfish, or better than the other, but it is true that the latter often makes us act very selfishly.

The worst is when we don’t feel the pain, but it remains there, undealt with, and affects all our behavior.

Which, if I go back to Inside Out, is what happens to Riley. Though she can’t feel her pain any more, it remains there, buried or lost in the subconscious.

Years of living like this are what make people develop neurosis and sometimes psychosis; it is also the source of anger issues, difficulty in committing, and submitting to abuse because one feel like they deserve it. Pain turned to hate against ourselves is lethal.

And it turns to self hate when we neglect is.

But there is hope. Through counseling, or our own personal journey, we can go back and grieve over what we have lost.

After that process, or even during it, comes the time to have joy again.

There is always a reason to be glad, no matter how bad things are, they are never without some silver lining, but it’s hard to find. Plus that is not exactly joy.

Joy is, as I said before, bittersweet, when it first starts. It begins as the feeling of peace after sorrow, or during sorrow. after you have stopped running from it and have chosen to embrace it.

But one cannot live in sorrow, Ecclesiastes says in chapter 3 that there is a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, there is a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to laugh and a time to weep.

I can’t really explain how you know when the time of mourning is over, I think it comes if you are waiting for it but not rushing it, you just know.

When this time comes, you put away your mourning clothes, so to speak, and you start enjoying things on purpose. You open your heart to new love, you might start a new hobby, or devote more time to an important person in your life. You move on.

It’s okay if it takes a year or two to completely move on, sometimes it takes longer, the idea is never to stay in one place too long, but to keep growing.

I think it has been said that the joy is in the journey, and I think that is true. Joy can be present when you stand still, but usually you need to be in motion.

That’s why joyful people dance, sing, paint, and write; or do whatever they do to express themselves, joy wants to be shared.

In fact if you are hogging your happiness, that’s a sure sign it’s not joy.

We will all run into sadness, but the key is to then run out of it, and leave it far behind. Though we will not forget, nor should we, because the sadness will eventually turn to joy if we are willing.

Those are my thoughts for now, stay joyful–Natasha.