be your best self

Doubt

Some Christians (not all), like myself, have been taught from a very young age that in our faith there is no room for things like doubt. That if we just have a muster seed of faith then we could move mountains. I won’t lie I was in perfect agreement with this that doubt could not only be an issue for my faith, but possibly even a sin.

Conviction against doubt in faith is like telling a blind man the water in front of him isn’t an ocean, but a puddle. Wouldn’t it be nice if it were a puddle, but without being able to see he must have faith. Can he truly be faithful when the puddle could be an ocean? Just the thought of falling in with no chance of escape, when he could have stayed safely on the shore.

Doubt in faith is a necessary feeling as faith untested is no faith at all. It is easy to believe in something when you have never been challenged by it before. Haven’t we all seen some YouTube video of people fumbling with attempting to state their beliefs about a subject? We wonder how they even had that belief at all when they are so susceptible to changing their mind at the first sign of conflict.

Doubt offers us a perspective, a challenge to overcome. Sure if we want to believe in something then we can find a rational reason for the belief, but it is much harder to lie to ourselves if the doubt is confronting. If we doubt something, we aren’t sure, then we seek truth. Truth is individualized and different for everyone, but our personal truth guides us to a better self.

I doubt that God in today’s world speaks to people in the same way he did in the Bible. I doubt this for many reasons, but people have been angry with me about this before. People are can also be angry when I say I don’t believe in anyone having the ability to heal now by laying hands on an individual, people speaking tongues, or that any person on the face of earth today has seen the face of God.

This doubt doesn’t make me a bad Christian it just means I have a different truth than someone else, and my doubt has given me renewed faith. For me I don’t see any objective signs of God because if God is going to do something it will appear as if he was never there.

Doubt is protection. We doubt that we will win a million dollars from the lottery so we buy one ticket instead of betting the house. We doubt the salesman in front of us, but listen to our friends with a review. We doubt in this world because we have to. Doubt promotes a better understanding of the subject in front of us. In faith isn’t bad, it just means that it’s time we dig just a little bit deeper to seek the truth.

Seeking Change the True Self

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” 

― Mahatma Gandhi

We have to be the change we wish to see in the world, but we must understand ourselves before attempting to solve the worlds problems. There is never a shortage of people who want to be the star that solves big issues. Tackling things like world hunger, or taking on an evil corporation that is polluting the water. The issue with this is we can’t even take the first step of being that change if we cannot step outside our own door. There is a part that all of us can play, and this part in what we seek to be the change is our true self.

Of course I have a passion for helping youth. It has been a goal in my life to make the difference in the lives of young adults (my peers), to teenagers, and kids. I don’t always have the means or the ability to make those great sweeping changes that would make a large impact in the overall quality of life for youth. I might not get to assist in writing legislation that will eliminate the need for students to pay for school lunch, but I can volunteer at a organization that prepares meals for kids without money for school lunch. This will in turn help serve the part of me that is my true self.

Start with the achievable before going onto the next. In a sense we must know that we can handle the small tasks before we can be trusted with the larger overall goals. While this seems like a simple concept in reality most of us get tired of our goals long before they really begin. I believe that everyone at some point has attempted to write a book, yet it is those that continue to do the daily grind each day that accomplish the task. They dive in the mechanics that make up a book, and study the writing’s of other authors. If being a writer is our passion then that is being true to ourselves, but then there must be work shown for the effort no matter how small.

Anything can be the true self, while we like to see ourselves as grandiose , and sweeping many of us may never find that situation that puts us in the hallmarks of history, but this in no means a good enough reason for us not to try. For what is humanity with out dreaming?

All I am offering, and all that I am saying is this: We may never achieve the goal or the life that we seek to live, but if the pursuit of this goal is what we desire then we are living a true life. We are living true to ourselves, and becoming the change that we seek in the world.

Acute verse Chronic: Healing from Trauma

It’s a big issue when you lose a hand at work. It’s actually pretty life changing. I mean you did have this appendage your entire life. You used it to eat, to bathe, to do pretty much everything. Now that it’s gone where do you go from here?

Well you are in the acute phase of the injury, or the post trauma healing. You have two options for this. You can either allow the loss to fester, and grow. Never learning how to get over the loss of your hand, and giving up. No one will blame you for this as you did lose your hand. However, you also have the choice to go to therapy. Work on learning how to use your other hand for everything. You go through the pain of healing, and take back your life.

We all suffer and all have loss. It’s how we deal with this trauma that allows us to either go from a acute pain to healing, or acute pain to chronic pain. Humans are meat sacks full of emotion. Worse still we have emotion that we sometimes cannot even begin to describe. This pain is life changing. Going through a divorce, being cheated on, witnessing a traumatic event, experiencing loss. These are all things that give us emotions. Emotions are often painful, or extreme.

Now most of us know that we are hardwired to deal with pain, we all have natural defense mechanisms. For me, in a difficult situation, I deal use humor. It can seem inappropriate to others, but I find that if I can laugh at a situation it helps me cope with what is going on. What happens after the coping is done, what happens when all that is left is the hole?

There are two paths, and neither is easy. I went through something hard in my life, and it’s a bit too personal to share with everyone, so I will just say that it was life changing. I was in college when this happened, and really had to come up with what my next step was going to be.

To be honest I enjoyed wearing the chip of pain on my shoulder. I liked the way it made me feel to think of myself as damaged. I let the pain define me, and I could use it to excuse my actions. The trauma I felt could be weaved in to every part of my existence, and used to show that I never really had a life at all, that my existence was just pain. It never got better and nothing changed because I never wanted to.

As time went on, I became more determined to make something of myself, and make a change in my life. I took it upon my myself to begin healing. Healing looks different for everyone, but I believe that healing pain is similar to everyone. It is like therapy after losing a limb. It takes so much to relearn how to use your body after a loss, just like it takes so much effort to learn how to live with a loss. The person going through the healing has to fight everyday, and commit everyday to make this change, to be a little better then they were yesterday.

Overcoming loss is made up of little victories that we take each day one day at a time. It hurts to move, it hurts to clean, it hurts to think about anything other then sitting back and letting the pain define us. However, each day, a little more. Then a little more, and finally a little more. After so many “one more days at a time” you will look up, and see the clearing in the clouds, and think how wonderful your life is.

Nothing worth having comes easy, nothing worth fighting for happens overnight, healing from trauma is hard. So, there it is. We can say you don’t know my pain, and can’t even begin to understand my suffering, and let it fester or we can try to heal one step at a time.

Commitment to Yourself

This will be a fairly brief post. The mission of a Work in Progress (A-WIP) is to better ones self. I have, in previous posts, outlined what this means to me. Through photography, philosophy, and creative writing I find the best way to live for me. I share this better self of me on this blog as an example of taking control of my life. Now this this idea of being better is different for everyone. Here at A-WIP we want everyone to reach that ideal self, and we believe the only way to do this is to make a commitment to yourself.

I want say this as gentle as I can, but this commitment cannot have excuses. I know that many people suffer from issues be that of mental, or physical and my goal isn’t to mitigate those issues. However, saying I cannot because of _____ just tells me that you have a crutch that you cannot let go of yet. To make a commitment to oneself is to know that these issues may affect us, but should not control us. There is the difference.

To make a commitment to yourself first find out what it is you want out of life. For me it is to live an accepting Christian lifestyle, this could be different for you, but what does life look like to you in the future? Who do you see yourself being?

Know what challenges are ahead for the choices that you make and create a plan for overcoming those challenges. If you aren’t sure what challenges await then at least create good coping skills for when issues arise.

Finally when you create this commitment let us know, and let us know your progress. If anything we want to be supportive of you in your journey along with us in becoming our best selves.

Toxic Positivity

This is a rather odd idea, how can someone being positive be toxic? We know that usually a toxic person is someone that brings us down. They might be extra critical of others, have strong views that they over share, or just are a generally negative person. A toxic person is someone that most of us try to avoid for our own sake, and sanity. How can they ever be positive?

Toxic positivity is the act of always encouraging positivity, but never allowing for processing. When we go to our friends and ask them for help, usually the last thing we want them to say is your fine just get over it. I’m obviously not fine, and that is why I wanted your help.

In a sense it is like when someone says that they are depressed or stressed, and someone answers with, just be happy or calm down. This is not a solution to the problem, but it mitigates the problem. That isn’t fair to do to someone else. Mitigating their problems is an issue because what they are going through may be the hardest thing for them.

I see this a lot in the church and I am just as guilty of it as anyone else. Someone may come up to me with a problem, and my response might just be, well you should pray about it. Yes, of course they’re going to pray about it, but that isn’t why they came to me. They wanted fellowship, and someone to listen. Just saying, well you should pray about it, mitigates their problem.

We all like to use comparisons. You think you got it rough, well look at them. This type of thinking is unfair to those that are suffering. If two people break an arm in the same spot doing the same thing, but one person has a broken arm every other week, and the other never has had a broken bone, who felt the worse pain?

Our pain may be relative to our situation, but it is no less troubling than if it was happening to someone else, or someone “stronger.” We are shaped by our pain and through our suffering we learn. I would hate for someone to learn through their suffering that they cannot count on me to be there for them because I mitigated their situation.

Just get over it

Go pray about it

You know I had it rough

Just be happy

Everything will be ok

These are positive things to say, but it isn’t what the person suffering wants or needs to hear. Instead of thinking of a response to say, don’t say anything at all. Let the silence be the response, I hear you. Sit close with them, and when they are done ask them, Is there anything I can do to help? If the person says no then you can tell them that, I know it is hard, but I believe in you. God believes in you.

Empower the weak, empower the suffering, empower those who are going through a hard time and feel like they are drowning. They deserve to have comfort in their suffering just like you did. Don’t mitigate what one person feels because you think it could be worse, understand that we all suffer. Why does God have us love our enemies? Because they are human like us, they suffer like us, they feel pain like us, they need help like us. Be a force of good for someone, but do it in a way that empowers that person no matter who they are or what they face.

Also remember there are of course the outliers as well. People who create suffering to feel empathy from others. For situations like that, do your best. They suffer in other ways.

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