What do you see in your mind?

October 15, 2018

In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Jack Freed used this quote to write about the wonder of our minds – “To different minds the same world is a hell and a heaven.”  (J.B. Priestley). Jack’s post talked about how our brains perceive things and he shared a book, It’s All in Your Head, that modern school kids are using to explore how their brains work. A fascinating statistic that Jack cited is that science only understands what about 10% of the brain does, with 90% still to be discovered.

We use such phrases as “in my mind’s eye” and “it’s all in your head” to describe how we perceive and react to the world around us. Some people’s brains work differently. Try todepression2 imagine having two minds inside your brain, one which sees the world as heaven and one that only sees darkness and hell. A bi-polar person may actually be living that experience, although only one of the minds may be in control at any one time. Schizophrenics may house many minds, perhaps with more than one “mind” fighting for control at any given time.

The mind is where fantasy and reality are supposed to be sorted out and kept in order, but for some that process doesn’t work well and we say of them that “they are living a fantasy world.” For some an imbalance in the brain may drag them into the dark pit of depression. Fortunately, for people suffering from depression, science has discovered solutions that can maintain a better balance within the brain and allow them a more “normal” life.

It is interesting that we have evolved to the point where our brains are contemplating insightthemselves and how they work. Much of the work in this area of science has focused upon how the brain controls various functions of our bodies or how it gathers, sorts, stores and recalls the information that it encounters in order to build our knowledge base. Yet to be understood is how the brain is capable of original thoughts. It may be that most of what we think of as original thoughts are really just well organized paths of discovery of the origin of something or the solution to a problem.

An even more interesting question is did our brains invent the concept of God or did God invent our brains so that we could “see” Him in our minds. Having been a Star Trek fan from the very first episode on TV, I can conjure up a vision that talking with God is like the Vulcan mind meld, with God playing the role of Spock. Imagine how far back God must have to throttle His mind in order to have a conversation with the small minds thatwoman-praying He encounters here on earth. When you talk to God through prayer, what do you “see” in your mind’s eye? Does God sound like James Earl Jones when he answers you?

It is inevitable that religion and science intersect, even in contemplating or own minds. I like a little saying from Einstein – “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” As scientists study our brains and the minds that they house, they will come to dead ends where the next steps can only be explained by religious belief. Where science stops is where God begins. Perhaps we should spend less time contemplating why things are as they are and spend more time just appreciating the beauty of things as they are. Stop and look at the beauty all around you. Anne Frank put it this way – “Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.” 

It is in the appreciation of that beauty that you will “see” the hand of God in your mind. Have a beautiful day!

Advertisements

Turn that anger into votes…

October 13, 2018

A post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog some time back had this little quote – “Did you know that Dammit I’m mad spelled backwards is Dammit I’m mad?”  (Sent by Norlene)

I read an article in this week’s BusinessWeek magazine about female anger and why it is so often suppressed and allowed to fade away. The #MeToo movement brought to the surface a lot of that repressed anger from women who have been taken advantage of and abused by men during their lives, especially in the business environment. The article speculated on whether the sense of anger and frustration that boiled over this summer, culminating with the confirmation hearings for Judge Kavenaugh, will affect the angry womanNovember elections and change the face of American politics. The article pointed out that a record number of women are running for office this year at all levels of government. Certainly, replacing the good old boys in government with women is one way to overcome the issue (at least in government).It will take a longer, more concerted effort to change the business world. So, maybe the #MeToo movement is morphing into the #OurTurn movement, and that’s a good thing.

In the political world, turning anger into votes is what got Donald Trump elected. He successfully read and tapped into the anger of the voters over issues on which they felt the traditional politicians had abandoned them. He was able to cast the professional politicians who ruled Washington at the time as a part of the problem and offer himself as the solution. It worked because those same politicians had become isolated from, and arrogantdisdainful of, their constituents. They had become focused upon feeding from the trough of lobbyists’ money and doing the bidding of those who paid for their attention. It became well known that the lobbyists were writing the legislation being sponsored by their toadies in Congress and that did not sit well with the breakfast crew at the local café. Given little other outlet for their frustration, it’s no wonder that so many voters took the chance to vote for someone like Trump, who claimed that he wanted to “Drain the Swamp” in Washington. Whether he drained the swamp or just brought in a new crop of snakes and alligators is the topic for another day. He turned that anger and frustration into votes.

Now it’s the women’s turn to change things. The anger level has been building throughout the year as abuse of women scandal after scandal erupted onto the scene. The #MeToo movement may have started out of things that gained attention in Hollywood; but, it has always been there, just below the surface. It was suppressed in the homes and workplaces of America. It was hushed up in the churches and schools of America. It was winked at in Americas’ board rooms and in the Halls of Congress. But ityoung-woman-furious was still there; festering; the anger building. This time, maybe it won’t fade away. This time, maybe it will once again turn into votes. This time, maybe the women of America will do what the President didn’t do and drain the swamp that American politics has become. We shall see on November 6. That’s the day in which women have the opportunity to say “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more.”


You are never alone with God in your life…

October 5, 2018

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog used this little quote –

“People love company, even if it is only a small burning candle.”  (George single candleLichtenberg)

That quote caused me to think that it is out of our aversion to being alone that we give voice to our pets, speaking for them and sometimes carrying on conversations with them, if only in our minds. I also remembered the Tom Hanks movie Castaway and the volleyball he called Wilson. For the Hank’s character, Wilson was a companion and that meant he was not alone.

Yet, we are never really alone, if we have God in our lives. He is always there, ready to listen to us and sometimes to talk back to us (if we are ready to listen).

“God is with you – wherever you may go and no matter what life brings.” – Joshua 1:9

For many people, the flame of that small burning candle in today’s quote represents God, bringing light into our lives and overcoming the darkness that might surround us.

helping handsIf you are a person who feels uncomfortable or even fears being alone, try reaching out to God in those moments of panic or fear. He is there; ready to answer your call.

A side benefit is that you can have a much more intelligent conversation with God than you can with your dog/cat or a volleyball. Try it the next time that you feel alone. He will be there.

We are not alone.

 


I don’t need to hear you talk…I need for you to listen

October 4, 2018

I recently wrote a post about getting things out of the shadows. One of those things was depression. As happens every time that I mention depression, I got several likes/comments/follows from people who are dealing with, or have dealt with, depression.

I sometimes go look at the blog sites of people who follow my blog and in this case I perused a post on one of the blog sites that had some interesting advice for those trying to be a help to someone suffering from depression. That post was titled “Why I tried to Commit Suicide”

The gist of the advice from that post was that the person suffering through depression who may reach out for help is not looking for a cheerleader to tell them that everythinggirl with smile picture will be OK. Instead, they are looking for someone to listen to them, share their pain and perhaps offer support.

This blogger also pointed out a common mistake that would-be helpful friend often make – trying to help by reminding them that things could be worse.

In today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, the quote that Jack used seemed appropriate –

“Knowing that there is worse pain doesn’t make the present pain hurt any less.”  (Gordon Atkinson)

I would characterize the advice of the blogger who shared her journey through the dark tunnels of depression to those who may be trying to help someone suffering through that trauma as follows:

I don’t want your pity; I want your support.

I don’t want to hear how great things are from your point of view; I want you to help me find a way out from my point of view.

I don’t need to hear you talk; I need for you to listen.

That last point may be the most important. When we try to “help” people we all tend to rush to some quick conclusion of what we think we need to do and we start talking.  Basically, we stop listening and start giving advice, even if we don’t yet understand the problem.  We usually miss the signs from that person that we just made a mistake.depression2 Unfortunately, the person who was seeking our help sinks back behind the shield that they had temporarily lowered to ask for our help. They may smile back and nod their head in apparent agreement, but we blew the opportunity to really help.

There is a difference between listening and waiting for your turn to speak. (Simon Sinek)

Unfortunately, most of us are so full of ourselves that we are just waiting for the next opportunity to speak, in order to show how brilliant we are. We don’t understand how stupid phrases like “I know how you feel” or “I feel your pain” sound to the person that we think we are trying to help. A more honest statement might be, “I can’t imagine the pain that you are feeling, but I want to try to help.”

caringYou can’t really help until you understand the issues that are causing the pain for that person and you will never understand them until you listen to them. If you have to speak, just ask more questions to keep the conversation focused upon getting to the root of the problems that the person is having such trouble dealing with. Only then can we begin to really try to help.

There are many ways to approach problem solving, once we understand the problems. I have posted her a few time on approaches that might help in this situation as well as helping us solve our own problems. See –

https://normsmilfordblog.com/2014/03/05/problem-solving-101/

and

https://normsmilfordblog.com/2015/02/05/making-the-turns-in-life/

Those are two of those posts on problem solving.

However, the point of today’s missive is not to give advice about the solution that you may offer to someone who seeks you help; but, rather, to help you find the best way to help them by listening to them. You may not need to do anything other than that for them.

I think L. J. Isham  put it well – “Listening is an attitude of the heart, a genuine desire listento be with another which both attracts and heals.”

If you want to help – LISTEN!


Getting other things out of the darkness…

October 3, 2018

Yesterday I wrote about not allowing hatred, fear and prejudices to lurk in the dark shadows of your mind and influence your daily life. There are other things that lurk infacing the wall 2 the dark places in the minds of many; things which can be debilitating and cause them pain. Fear’s cohorts – anxiety and depression – can live there, too. Self-doubt at the dusky edges of the darkness can lead to self-loathing in the depths of the pit. The sense of powerlessness and hopelessness that may accompany these things can lead to thoughts that suicide as “the only way out”.

Jason KandorWe saw on the news last night the story of a man, Jason Kandor, in Kansas City who withdrew from the race to be mayor there because he suffers from PTSD and depression from his time in the military serving in a war zone. The memories of that time had been living in the dark places in his mind for over 11 years and had pulled him into bouts of depression. For years he suppressed it, because that just what we do.

Some of the women who have come forward in the #MeToo! Movement have described the experience of suppressing the events of their sexual abuse in terms that sound a lot like PTSD – reactions of fear, anxiety, depression and more resulted not just from the actual event, but from the holding in of it, rather than reporting it.

Compounding the problem form many, especially the men, is a macho, sports-oriented culture in which phrases like “shake it off”, “man up”, or “play through the pain” are used as solutions to both physical and mental injuries. It wasn’t until recently that football player1athletes began to realize the permanent, life-changing damage that concussions can cause. Before that, it was “shake it off and get back in the game.” We still don’t appreciate as a society the debilitating impact that depression can have on people. We are still saying to them, “suck it up and get back in the game.” We try to force them to push their depression back into the shadows of their minds. For most that really doesn’t work.

It would be easy to throw in some reference to Jesus and God here; and some readers would probable say “Oh good, he finally got the religious angle in”; but that is not appropriate here. This is not about religion and whether or not the person suffering help-methrough depression believes in God or not. They may have doubts about that because of their depression, but just telling them to pray about it is not the answer. If you want to tell them to pray; tell them to pray for the courage to get these things out into the light and to seek the help they need to deal with them. Tell them to make the same decision that Jason Kandor did and admit to themselves and others that they need that help and will seek it. This is not something that they can shake off or that they need to suck it up about, nor is it something, for which they can play through the pain.

So, what is our role when someone we know finally gets these dark things out into the open and seeks help? Many might turn their backs to them, trying to avoid being associated with someone who has “problems”. This is a time for unconditional support and friendship, helping-2not for criticism. This is not the time for a “Get back in the game” pep talk, nor for a “Oh, you poor thing” pity party. Those who are truly Christians will open their arms and ask, “How can I help you?” They need more than a pillow to cry on; they need a pillar to lean on. Be there for them. Be there to listen. Be there to understand. Be there to comfort. Be there to encourage. Be there to accompany them on their journey out of the darkness. You will never do anything more important in your life.

Have a great day in the light of the Son. If there are those around you who are dwelling in the darkness of PTSD or depression, be there for them. If you are wearing one of those little WWJD bracelets you will know what the answer is to that question when you extend your hand to help. Be there.


Get out of the shadows…

October 2, 2018

Jack Freed had a post that is so good today on his blog Jack’s Winning Words that I need to re-post the whole thing before I add any comments.

“We’d forgive most things if we knew the facts.”  (Graham Greene)  Being prejudiced means to judge before knowing all of the facts.  RLS wrote: “I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me…” and that shadow, at times, can be the tendency to form opinions based on partial knowledge.  Racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, nationalism…these are more than words.  Leaning, left or right…we daily have to examine “our little shadow” of pre-judging. – Jack

It’s interesting that this tendency to pre-judge, to be prejudiced, comes from the shadows, preacher-pointingfrom a dark place – a place in our hearts and minds where the sun doesn’t reach or perhaps where the Son doesn’t reach. Just as these preconceived notions, most born in ignorance and fear, could not stand the light of the truth, they also could not stand having the light of Christianity shined upon them. The fact that many words of hate and prejudice are hurled from the shadows by people thumping Bibles and loudly devilproclaiming to be Christians just shows the power of the Devil in their lives. They have allowed fear and hate to overcome the love and acceptance that Jesus taught.

Get out of the shadows…

What “little shadows” do you allow in your life? Is it a fear or prejudice against of people of color? Is it disgust or disdain at hearing others speak a foreign language in a store? Is it the ignorance and loathing of homophobia? Is it just the discomfort that you feel being around people who are “different”? Perhaps you sneer at eyes of revengea women wearing the Habib or those who look or dress differently. Perhaps you have allowed yourself to become a snob about some things and tend to discount the tastes of others who do not share you appreciation for that thing. Maybe your little shadow is just the indifference to your fellow man that allows you to turn away from the homeless beggar in the street, rather than reach out to try to help.

Get out of the shadows…

Whatever your personal little shadow is, you need to get out from under it. Shine the light of Jesus teachings on those fears and prejudices. Get yourself one of those little WWJDWWJD bracelets and start wearing it. When you find yourself in a situation where the shadow of pre-conceived notions is starting to darken your judgement, take the time to look at the bracelet and ask yourself that question. If you take the time to ask yourself What Would Jesus Do in those situations, you will find that the shadows go away. They cannot stand the light of the Son.

Get out of the shadows…

Have a great day walking in the light of the Son.


Are the outcomes really coincidences?

October 1, 2018

From a recent post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog – “When I pray, coincidences happen.  When I don’t, they don’t.”  (William Temple)

Temple is referring to things that “happen” which seem to be the result of, or at least associated with, a prayer. Sometimes, if the coincidence is important or significant enough, it may even be called a miracle. A logical explanation that one may pursue is thewoman-praying thought that praying for something in particular, or some outcome to an upcoming event, forces one to visualize the steps necessary to achieve that outcome. Visualization is a well-known technique for success in athletics and other pursuits in life.

Another possible explanation for the coincidences of success after prayer might be that prayer puts one in a positive frame of mind and being positive and confident going into a situation has a strong influence on the results. The feeling that you have God on your side is a huge positive motivator and comfort through any adversity. I’m sure that research could prove some proof that prayer releases some endorphins inman praying the brains of those who fervently pray and they feel better (perhaps even invincible) as they tackle the challenge that they prayed about.

Perhaps prayer forces us to take the vague and amorphous fears that we have about whatever it is that we are praying about and put them in a box that we then hold up in front of God and ourselves. We are able to acknowledge that we need help with the things in that box. The fact that we express that need for help in prayer allows us to admit to ourselves what our fears are mind at workand forces us to deal directly with them. The feeling that, through our prayers, we have God on our side in dealing with those fears provides the strength and courage to take the first steps towards overcoming them. Prayer often provides that little push that we need to get started.

Oft times, we allow things in our lives to grow in importance all out of scale to their actual meaning or impact. I posted not too long ago about a great piece of advice that I got from a friend who had noticed that I was obsessing about something that had little real significance in the grand scheme of things. He just looked at me as I was lamenting something that I hadn’t done and ask, “Did anybody die?”  As absurd as that sounded initially within the context of my diatribe, it was actually the exact thing that I need to hear and think about to put things back into perspective. I use it often now to re-position the importance and priority of things in my mind

Finally, taking things to God in prayer allows us to reset our perspective on things thathelping hands might be going on in our lives.  In my prayers, I often use the little phrase “not my will, but Thy will be done”. For me, that is the quickest and easiest way to let go of things that I have no control over anyway and put my trust back into the coincidences that God makes happen in our lives.

What works for you?