…While I’m Making Other Plans.

…While I’m Making Other Plans.

I know I was destined to write this entry. 😄

The inspiration – a little of it, anyway – was the movie Edge of Tomorrow, which I’ll describe simply as ‘”Ground Hog Day” during wartime,’ so as not to spoil it for you too much. A bigger part of where this post started was my thinking on how to answer the question, “So what do you do?”

The best response is “G.H.R.O. W.I.S.E.R.” This is, of course, an acronym, a handy literary tool that helps me remember stuff. In this case, it’s where I want my focus to be. I’ve determined what’s important after careful deliberation. And that included deciding what I can live without. If you’re curious, the acronym stands for:

God
Health
Relationships
Objects

Writing
Income or Investments
Singing and playing music
Encouraging others
Recreation – that is, an appropriate amount of downtime

You might say GHRO WISER is my mission statement. It’s my list of priorities, the areas of life I want to concentrate on, in some kind of order. Today, however, I’m not writing about the goals I have, but more about the need to have a firm idea on what they are. I’m talking about the act of choosing and planning, and whether it makes a difference in life. Or not. 

So you may have heard the saying, “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.” This is basically a consideration of fate vs free will. Which is it? Can life – a Christian life – be both? I think it’s critical to make the following distinction:

Do my choices make any difference?” is one question;

Does God already ‘know’ what I will choose?” is an entirely separate matter. And, it’s the less vital one.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.
Isaiah 55:8

The gist of this verse is, I think, that there are things I can know, and things I may never know. Much of what God has done – and how He does it – falls into the latter category. I want to concentrate on the former and not waste too much time speculating.

What do or can I “know?” Here are three crucial choices:

  1. I can choose some very important stuff, like my attitude and acceptance of circumstances; like getting up when I fall; like asking without shame for help from others and from God; like not worrying about the aforementioned unknowables; like who I live and do for
    Here’s a quote off of inwardquest.com which sums this up nicely:

    “…Instead of our story being … linear… with a set beginning, middle, and end, it is like a ‘choose your own adventure’ book. Each choice you make takes you to a different fate… destiny… future. Who we are is made up of our responses to events in our lives. If we change our responses, we change our future responses, as well.”
    This is the heart of recovery from addictions and compulsive behavior.

  2. I can realize that I do, but God determines the results; if I don’t do, nothing will be different
    This emphasizes the importance of action, of not being “so heavenly-minded as to be of no earthly use.” I love this quote from Ronald Reagan:
    “I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do.
    I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing.”

    Remember the definition on insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
  3. I can remember and be aware of the evidence of my past, and that, by far, it has been good
    I’m still alive, and the analogy of a sports team in the post-season is a great one. I like the direction my life is going now, and that has everything to do with living it for and with God.
    Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.
    Romans 8:28

To sum up, for me the question of whether I have had any hand in what’s happened to me, past and present, is a definite “Yes!” My choices certainly brought me to rock bottom. I believe I was saved when I finally chose not to force my own decisions on life.

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    Who’s In Charge In Here, Anyway?

    Who’s In Charge In Here, Anyway?

    Have you ever made a New Year’s Resolution? Ever had to make the same one more than once? Have you ever started a statement with the words, “I want to…” “I’m going to…” “I think I should…”? Have you actually reached those goals in your life? Do you have compulsions to act in certain ways or have plain old bad behaviors? Are you a serial procrastinator? Are you addicted to anything?

    img_2915Think about this for a moment: If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, then quite simply, You are doing something Yourself doesn’t want to do. Did you catch that? Does it sound like there are two people, two wills, operating inside you?

    There are. There is the one doing those things and the one who doesn’t want to do them and instead, wants to do these other things, that are probably much better for your health, wealth, and your true happiness.

    Would it surprise you to learn that this has been a problem for people for thousands of years? Here’s a quote from quite a long time ago:

    “Instead of doing what I know is right, I do wrong.”

    Or to put it another way:

    “I do not do the good things I want to do, but I do the bad things I don’t want to do.”

    img_0885So I have a question for you, “Who’s in charge inside of you, anyway?” One way to answer this is to think of those two selves as your body and your mind. Body wants everything that’s fun and pleasurable; Mind has dreams of being something in this world. The two are at war because bringing dreams to life requires hard work and sacrifices; it means Body gets less – sometimes far less – of what it lusts for.

    I have good news and bad news for you. There is a way to break these habits, BUT it’s no miracle cure, no single button to be pushed or spell to be incanted. Transforming your life is a day-by-day journey, a voyage of discovery, and likely is a lifelong trip.

    If you want to be the best you can be, take hope, it is very possible, but there are a few important facts to know before you start.

    #1 The right word

    First and most importantly, your “best” is that condition you have reached when you’ve run out of time. It’s the furthest you’ll ever get in this life. Were you ever to reach your “best,” you’d have nowhere to go but down. Better to want to be … better. Better today than you were yesterday, last week, last year. Behavioral change is all about progress, not perfection.

    #2 You can’t do it alone

    small-groupThere’s a saying, “People don’t lack strength, they lack will (power).” The way to build the determination you need is with support, especially support from others who are traveling the same path as you are. This is the idea behind 12-step programs like “______ Anonymous” and “Celebrate Recovery.” You meet with and get to know people who understand what you’re going through and why, and you share the struggle, out loud. You talk about it. You listen. You learn helpful stuff.

    It also is a benefit (a huge benefit) to have an “authority” figure with expertise in self-improvement, in renewing lives. (For many, that ‘higher power’ is God or The Creator of everything. The reasoning is that He created each of us, so who better to know how to get us working well and feeling good?)

    #3 You can’t “stop,” you must replace

    I have a saying, “Thinking about not doing something, is the same as thinking about doing effortit – you are still thinking about it.” Call this a Law of Attraction. If your mind is focused on a thing, your body will follow right along to that thing. When you try to leave one habit behind, you must have somewhere new to head toward. With Mind focused on that (and not the old actions), Body follows and becomes able to do things you never thought possible.

    #4 It’s no overnight stay

    IMG_3215Here’s a great example: Imagine you’re relocating to a foreign country. It’s a permanent move, not a vacation. You have to learn the language, the customs and geography you now find your self in. You immerse yourself in it, but it’s still going to take time. Eventually, you’ll feel at home again. Each day you’ll make progress – sometimes only a little. It’s a process of improvement. It’s growing.

    To conclude, I have a quote from one of my favorite movies, The Matrix. The characters in this film leave the real world to enter a simulated environment – a virtual reality. Their bodies remain behind, comfortably seated. If they die in that alternate setting, their bodies die, too.

    “The body can not live without the mind.”
    -Morpheus

    cslewisWe could go deep into philosophy and theology here and argue about whether the mind continues without the body or not, but the body definitely does not live without the mind. For me, that means that “I” am first my mind (the order giver) and secondly my body (the order taker).

    “You do not have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”
    -C.S.Lewis

    Christianity Is: “Not Me!”

    Christianity Is: “Not Me!”

    I’ve been on a movie-watching kick recently, particularly for action/adventure films. Two that I’ve seen in the past week or so are Schindler’s List, about World War II Poland (which I wrote about in The lords Of This Age) and No Escape, about a family of Westerners trapped in a coup in a third-world country. This is not a review of either film but their plots are the starting point for my thoughts – a blog prompt, if you will.

    These stories show “the very darkest side of humanity,” which is how I wrote it in my journal. Schindler’s is based on a true story, and Escape claims to be fiction but looks an awful lot like the fall of Phnom Penh to the Khmer Rouge. (It compares well with The Killing Fields, which is based on a true story.)

    As I took in the scenes of unspeakable violence (complete with ultra-modern special effects), a movie quote came to me. In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Theoden King says, in the height of a losing battle,

    “So much death. What can man do against such reckless hate?”

    Reckless hate. I checked the definition of ‘reckless:’ (of a person or their actions) without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action. These movies depict incidents of repulsive violence, a complete lack of care about people, places or things. And it didn’t matter how the actors came to take these actions. In the first, the Nazi party worked from within the “civilized” democratic system, being voted into power. In the other, rioting gave way to an overthrow – in all its raw, base nature – of the existing government. (‘Base:’ adjective, without moral principles, ignoble. Synonyms: mean, bad, wrong, evil.)

    And that brings me to my main point. I hope you have heard of “us versus them” in social/societal interaction. We humans seek to belong to a group – any group – as an instinctual form of security and protection. People in our group are “us.” Anyone not in our group is a “them,” an opponent to be wary of, at best, or a blood enemy to be killed on sight, at worst.

    I submit that, at its very heart, this actually stems from an attitude of “me versus the world,” and is the ultimate drive behind a wholly instinctual survival of the fittest. Furthermore, I say that this is, for a human being, a perspective of immaturity – but it has nothing to do with chronological age. It is childish in the extreme. It is seeing everything outside of myself and my little world as “Not Me,” and a rival.

    As an example, I give scenario “the last two people on earth,” and the last bit of food. Result: they fight to the death over it.

    Maturity is a change in this piece of our instinct-driven, animal nature.

    When I was a child, I spoke… understood… thought as a child,
    but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
    1 Corinthians 13:11

    Definition ‘mature:’ adjective, having reached an advanced stage of mental or emotional development characteristic of an adult; (of thought or planning) careful and thorough.

    Quite the opposite of reckless. In my own words, “an understanding that I/we are not alone in this existence, and not meant to be alone; that I/we need others and others need us.”

    Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 …Two are better than one … a cord of three strands is not easily broken.

    I believe that we start our transition into maturity when we realize this need, and specifically when we encounter another human who needs our help, whether it be from a lack of ability or due to negative circumstances. For us, this being needed is a brand new experience. The perfect example is becoming a parent for the first time.

    At that instant, we begin to change our use of the phrase, “Not me.”  Instead, it becomes, “Father, not me, but you (or another).”

    Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me;
    Yet not my will, but yours.
    Luke 22:42

    Take that scenario of the last two people on earth, only make them related to each other, siblings or parent/child or married. Result: one will offer the other the food. In both movies, when it comes down to it, the main characters both show/display this attitude of giving and sacrifice or risking everything to save another.

    Our Creator meant for us to strive for this conviction in how we live our lives. And Jesus is the ultimate example of living that out.

    :13 This relief offering is a prod to live at your very best, showing gratitude to God [The Creator] by being openly obedient to the plain meaning of the message of Christ. You show your gratitude through your generous offering to your needy brothers and sisters, and really toward everyone.
    :14 Meanwhile, moved by the extravagance of God in your lives, they’ll [some, a few will] respond by praying for you in passionate intercession for whatever you need.
    2 Corinthians 9

    Reckless hate is countered by passionate intercession.