Tag Archives: fear

Can Mustard Seed-sized Faith move a Mountain…of trash?

Some days you take your faith to the scales. You wonder…is it up to mustard?

Today is one of those days–and it’s epitomized in the not-so-scenic view from my front porch.

Will you pray for me?

What do you need faith for today?

Welcome to my Dojo

KARATE!

It’s so cool.
I have half a mind to buy a karategi just to feel feisty and strong.

I took a 10 week Karate course when I was about 12. I’m not sure what belt that would translated into now, but I’m pretty fierce, so maybe a corduroy one or plaid (tartan preferably) . And, frankly I’d rather a drawstring than a belt. It does the job without giving your attacker a chance to strangle you with your own accessories. Always a plus.

The spiritual life isn’t something we do, like I did with Karate. It’s like Mr. Miyag said in 1984 in his backyard surrounded by all the cool classic cars, “…Either you karate do “yes” or karate do “no.” You karate do “guess so,” (squish) just like grape.” Mr Miyagi compared training in the art of karate to crossing a road. One can’t “kind of” cross a busy road, or it’s a squish like grape moment.

waxing on before chopping the red block (click to find source)

This website is a bit like a dojo–a spot to learn and train. But, it’s not a dojo as well. For one, I typically a wear bathrobe, or pajamas when I’m writing, not a fancy martial arts getup. The other reason is that when we enter spiritual mentoring and training it is best as a face-to-face and life-to-life lifestyle decision. We simply can not just try it on, like Halloween costume, or take it on a spin, like a hobby.

(Also I take liberties around here to throw in breaks in dojo stuff with general zaniness and humor. And that’s just plan too silly for a real dojo.)

SO! If you took on Christian spirituality and development like training at a dojo, what would you like to know? What problems, or questions would you have? What would you need?

A dojo-like community makes better disciples. That’s one of the aims here. I thank you SO MUCH for reading. And, I invite you to be a part of it a bit more by clicking the subscribe button (marked as “Alluring Button”).

Even though, I might not be your sensei, but I’d like to know.

Did you ever try Karate?
What was your favorite Karate moment? (films included)

Hiya!

Shame and wanting to poking out your own eye

There’s a feeling you can get, after you’ve done something horrible. It’s so bad, that you might consider poking your own eye out (if for nothing else than a viable distraction.)

My first job (besides babysitting) was as a hostess at Eat’n Park Family Restaurant. A woman about 10  years older transferred there. She had been a waitress for a long time (even a decorated one. Yes, Eat’n Park is special like that.) She also had the name “Lisa,” just like me. That’s about all the ingredients needed for good communication and lasting friendship, right? um. No.
Background:
Sometimes I’d goof off and crack jokes in passing with Lisa. No big deal. (If you know me, this is all highly typical behavior.)
WELL-
One day, like a stoke of retardedness, it came into my head to wisecrack when I noticed Lisa had a blue pen scribble on her forearm. I noticed it was actually a very sloppily rendered mark of her own name. The “L” was super long on the bottom, and not in a cursive way. It was just odd. It struck me as humorous. I already knew she had a 4 year old daughter. Her little girl had probably been playing with her waitressing pen and wrote out her mom’s name all by herself. Or maybe Lisa had done it–for a joke, or because she was bored. So, feeling my comic Einstein vibe coming on me (which is inversely proportionate to my rational thought and good judgment), I said–rather flippantly, I might ad–“Hey, what’s that on your arm? Is that so you don’t forget your name?”

Sudden. Dead. Powerful stare.
Awkward pause. I could hear a spider near the salad bar blink.
Then I noticed she had a sort of sad “How could you, you freaking jerk?” look on her tired face. (I picked up on that because I’m really good at feeling people out!)
It was a tattoo.
A horrible one.
A mistake.
Perhaps a drunk boyfriend or trashed stepdad scrawled it there. Who knows. But whatever the story was, it was part of a painful past. A past she did not want thrown in her face by some stupid and insensitive quip from a dumb teenager.
My heart froze with panic. It’s the kind of panic where you start to smell yourself. Sometimes a cold sweat mustache erupts on your lip.
Would she stab me with a steak knife?
Plan to burn me “accidentally” with a scrod entrée platter? (Wicked hot, they are!)
I fumbled around, and got out, “um… hahah… I’m just kidding.” I was trying desperately to appear nonchalant. I considered whistling a tune to prove it.
Still, she just looked at me–steadily.
“I’m sorry,” I said, getting up the nerve. It felt like a blanket of shame washed over me. Self-loathing–all over the place.
She shook it off, and went back to work. From then on I tried to be extraordinary nice to her, in every way I could think of. I bused her tables, and got her refreshing beverages, and tried to be as pleasant, and positive as I could. She didn’t hold it against me, beyond a day or so.
Once, after a 10p.m.-5 a.m. shift when my dad failed to pick me up, she even drove me home in her weary beater of a car.
I still wonder about her.
It was poke-your-eye-out shame.
I’ll never forget it.

Have you ever had “inner death by shame”? (you can just answer yes or no, unless you want to be brave and tell your story)

Learning to Swim

photo by stephen jones (steve p2008 -Flickr)

I couldn’t swim until I was 11 years old, and even then, it was a pretty panicky endeavor.

Today I taught both of my kids (ages 7.5 and 10) how to swim in about 3 hours.

Both were super afraid of being in the deep section when we started. Because they trusted me; it worked. I gave them pushes to the side, and skill tips, and once the fear was nearly gone, they could do it.

Much has to do with trusting that one is fairly buoyant in the water. Thrashing is not helpful, tense muscles tend to sink. For my son, who was quite scared, I told swim, “swim gently.” Something clicked. He saw/experienced that when taking his time, he could maneuver and stay afloat. The terror of sinking like a rock eased away. He probably jumped in the deep end to swim about 150 times after that.

For my daughter, distracting her with techniques, like a flutter kick and slicing arms through the water, distracted her from her over-thinking. The paralyzing fright of trying something new and “dangerous” settled out, and made way for real progress. I would hold her under her belly, to qualm her fears, and then I’d take her into deeper water so she wouldn’t stunt her learning by cutting it short: standing up each time she wasn’t sure of things, or when she felt scared–which, at the start, was about every 4 seconds. Once she saw how far she could go, by obeying my instructions, she realized she was ALREADY swimming. Then the fear (well, more the 50% of it) subsided. She got far more comfortable in the water.

It’s like that in life too, isn’t it. Much of what we think is beyond us, or too scary is part of how we’ve let our fears and false notions get in the way. We all must learn to float and not fight as God teaches us how to manage deeper water. Otherwise we are trapped in the kiddie pool.

How old were you when you learned to swim? Or do you have Aquaphobia a.k.a fear of water?

In what ways, to you, is the art and skill of swimming related to growth, or your own personal journey?

Any other thoughts?

P.S.

I’m looking for a pop up camper… keep your eyes peeled.

(Change the channel or take a walk?) “The Show About Me” (part 2)


One of the most common responses people have when they get fed up with the re-runs of living their own small show is that they try to flip to a different channel. That is, they somehow realize a kind of radical change in life is necessary, so they try to re-make themselves.

Perhaps they start a new relationship, change careers, adopt a baby, buy a vehicle or expensive toy, go back to school, get plastic surgery, switch churches, move away, or in some way try to live out a better story. You’ve probably tried it, I know I have.

Maybe a person gets into religion, or he gets away from it. Maybe they start to need anti-depressants or anti-anxeity medication. Some abuse substances or live more dangerously. Something just seems wrong–and one tries to fix it.

Plenty of the time, these efforts do bring some distraction and change, and therefore a certain kind of freedom or renewal is felt (at least for a bit); but down deep, nothing important has changed at all. After a little while, the person still feels frustrated or undone. (Or something else unpleasant.) The channel may have changed, but what is lived out is just a Spin-off of “The Show About Me”. Sadly, very few fully realize that their perceptive, and how they live out reality, is fairly the same even after a massive change. The same troubles will assail them, in some way. However, the baggage gets heavier.

Our Creator is the true center of the Show (not us). The Supreme Being is irresistibly calling out, wooing us, and our thirst deepens.

It’s a fact that when a person is too dehydrated they may actually stop craving what they truly need-water/hydration and replenishment of nutrients. They may feel tired, ill, hungry, or numb, instead of thirsty. In an ironic twist, the person doesn’t desire what will make them healthy again. It’s a perilous situation. Without help, people die this way.

This kind of confusion happens spiritually too. Often, in fact. A common (household) term often used for what turns out to be a spiritual problem like this is most often called a “midlife crisis” or sometimes an “identity crisis.” It’s common for people to get a point where they need to “find themselves,” or re-define themselves, sometimes multiple times throughout one’s life. This “want to” to change is healthy, though many times misread. An identity shift like this may happen once or several times in one’s life where a person tries hard to better one’s circumstances, and find relief.

If you haven’t enter a stage like this yourself, I’m sure you can think of someone who has. For instance, in the last 18 months seven marriages at our church have spun out of control or failed. I believe a misunderstanding of this spiritual opportunity is a big reason why.

What must happen to be truly free, and on a full path to growth? Something more like a walk has to happen rather than a small show we create. A walk with God and changing one’s perspective to surrender to God and “his” Big Show (the authentic one “Reality”) is a path few take, or attempt for all that long. It just isn’t a simple or smooth road. It is a mysterious, sometimes troubling one, where the answers are rarely simple or pat. This is the path of faith (believing in what you can’t see, but still know is quite real). Sometimes changing the channel, multiple times, seems like the only sensible thing to do. The negative part is that we only get more of the same when we do that. It’s still our story we want to control, and our story stays small and frustrating.

As many who have done the enormous personal work to recover from drugs or alcohol can attest, one usually has to hit “rock bottom,” (or be fully ready), before surrender to a new, and bigger Show occurs (a life centered in God’s Reality). It all starts by doing something very rare and counter-intuitive. It’s something we all fear: Losing control and Humbly yielding to the Higher Power, and admitting that without grace, and true dependence on God and others, a better way cannot be possible. Perhaps the scripture comes to mind, …”if you try to save your life, you’ll lose it. But if you lose your life (yourself) for my sake, you will find it…”

In contrast, we wish to be self-made.… yet, only a small show about “me” is self-made. Transformation, growth, and sturdy happiness (joy) comes instead through the bravery of surrender to the greater Reality, and taking the more treacherous but rewarding path that comes with this decision.

In part III installment on this topic, I’ll mention some things that happen once this pivotal choice is made. A person’s attitude and outlook change; and how one orders one’s life undergoes critical and unavoidable development with radical shifts in thinking, acting, and relating to others–for the better! We’re talking here about spiritual formation.

I’ll describe that a bit more, soon, in part III. Check back in the next few days and see.

This is a lot to chew on, especially if this is a new concept, and you’ve never encountered these ideas before. Some people call it “being born again”…. and in a real sense, a new life starts for the person who is ready: A whole new life begins.

…to be continued…

Reflections questions:

Have I been living my own small story?

Have I longed for a richer life, but have really only being encountering re-runs or spin offs of a short-changed Show?

What is stopping me from walking a new life?

What are your responses, insights, or thoughts on this topic?

ANGER: Venting vs. ?

WOW! 25,000 times readers came by to check out this blog! What an honor. Thank you for being a part of something that is much bigger than me and you. May God’s love and grace be with you. May the posts and comments here be a benefit to your growth and your relationships.

I encourage you to link up (scroll to the bottom, click the “Yes!” button). to get email updates when something new gets posted (you pick whether that happens daily or weekly.) Your interaction is very much appreciated. Thanks for participating when you can.

Steam pipe, for machines or Cyborgs

Edited from ethoughts weekly 5/13/04

Lisa Colón DeLay ©2004

Letting off steam regularly is fine-- if you're a train

Anger: Venting vs. ?

Indulge with me in a short scenario to see if you can relate:

Suppose one beautiful spring evening you sit in your living room enjoying a good book, or something on tv. Outside you hear the sound of adolescent laughing. Mildly amused, you peek through your curtains and see some familiar neighborhood youth tossing several ping-pong balls to each other as they go up your street. You smile and settle back in your chair reminded of the simple but fun antics of your younger days. The following morning you go outside to find your car crusted in egg yolks and smashed shells.

You fume with anger. “How dare they! Rotten kids,” you think. “Those weren’t ping-pong balls! If I had known they were going to egg my car I would have stopped them.” Your blood boils. You fantasize of chucking an egg at those ankle bitters who made your car a target of vandalism. You feel the need for a good vent for your fury. Right?

However, as you approach your car you notice a mother bird in a tree branch high above your vehicle fussing about her nest nervously. Suddenly an egg falls from the nest and lands amongst the other destroyed eggs. You realize the young people had nothing to do with your car’s condition. Does your attitude change? You feel a certain sense of relief, right? If so, what happened to the anger? Where did it go?

I contend that the notion of purging or venting our anger for good mental health is actually a myth, and a destructive one. It seems it rarely is necessary for feeling better at all. We don’t go around like human forms of unopened soda pop that have bounced down the stairs. One crack in the container, and–POW!

The only thing that cools, or adjusts the anger, in the scenario I mentioned, and many others like it, is the change of the mind. It’s a choice, rather than a reaction. It’s a way to see a happening without being emotionally hijacked. In reality, all that is required to alleviate anger is a change in mentality, or a new perception. As one modifies anger, the feeling is consequently neutralized.

I think the idea of the venting our anger as a tactic for good mental health may have been birthed when those burying anger found it coming forth in baffling and unconstructive ways. (The technical term is repression.) The discovery of psychoanalysis was pioneered by delving into the sub-conscious mind; including the newly named matters of “repressed feelings”. If matters are dealt with– pop psychology  tells us– in a proper visible “exorcizing,” we won’t have unexplained, reoccurring anger problems, frustrations, and related psychological disorders. This kind of “repressed anger management strategy” of our era is so intertwined with our culture and norms, we scarcely see it as a recent invention.

Notwithstanding, repressed anger is real and dangerous, like submerged toxic waste. I will dare allege anger buried becomes guilt; and this anger pointed inward (guilt) ferments, and turns into depression. It is also quite avoidable–without ever discharging the anger like steam from a blazing locomotive. These negative emotional features and many others surface because anger isn’t transformed or neutralized. Buried, anger of the past however; in contrast to present-day, situational anger, is not the same matter.

Surely we should attend to anger and not stow it. A constructive, respectable dialogue regarding upsetting issues is quite wise. Unfortunately, what often happens in using venting as anger resolution is we may feel entitled to vent, or ill at ease if this venting doesn’t transpire. This is simply not accurate. In reality, expelling our anger is so often counter-productive or damaging. It can be like throwing a grenade on a comfy campfire. Additionally, we are bound to be angrier people if we rehearse being angry and letting the vehemence rocket rather than changing our perspective.

Next time something deplorable happens we can think to ourselves, “How can I consider this differently ? Do I have all the fact to warrant blowing up, probably not.” This will transform the mind and transport us from anger. We don’t have to rely on the ventilation of anger. Understanding this is truly a victory. We need not be captive, or slaves, to anger. We need not give vent to it, like detoxifying a poison from our system, if we truly resolve it, and more importantly transform it.

If something offensive occurs soon think of it as a chance to practice this principle. I believe it will also develop our strength of character to think this way more often.

Please leave your thoughts about venting, anger, or anything related to this topic.

Freaked out!

The face of "Freak out"

I got this on Facebook from Susan Sims. Me thinks she pulled it from somewhere online. If anyone knows the proper source for citation, give me a shout out.

I thought this picture just perfectly captured what happens on my insides when I get suddenly horrified or surprised. Notice the weird hand gesture of fright. Classic.

In a rather unrelated note, due to my employment research, I found this, and I thought it would make a fine read, even for those not in recovery. Please note the restorative humility it takes to get well seen in these steps. It makes one wonder how many of us are all that well, right?

(I welcome your thoughts and comments!)

12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (& Biblical References) by Alcoholics Victorious

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol … that our lives had become unmanageable. “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” (Romans 7:18)
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. “… my grace is sufficient for you, for my POWER is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) ..for it God Who works in you to will and act according to His good purpose.. (Phil. 2:13)
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of GOD as we understood Him. “… If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23**)
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:40)
5. Admitted to GOD, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)
6. Were entirely ready to have GOD remove all these defects of character. “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land.” (Isaiah 1:19)
7. Humbly asked Him to remove all our shortcomings. “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (James 4:10)
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23, 24**)
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. Give and it shall be given you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38**)
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it. “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith GOD has given you.” (Romans 12:3)
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with GOD as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will, and the power to carry that out. “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14) “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” (Col. 3:16)
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and practice these principles in all our affairs. “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:1-2) **The words of Christ