Finding Peace in Times of Negativity

Many in Portland, including myself, feel we’re living in a dystopian world created by issues beyond our control.

We are attempting to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve watched the peaceful protests for Black Lives Matter escalate into all-out conflicts with federal troops who were not invited to our city. Then “grab and snatch” tactics by the uninvited and unidentified troops to control protesters by loading them into unmarked vehicles left citizens feeling unnerved. Our city is rid of the uninvited and unidentified troops.

All of us are entitled to support, compassion, and a just and equitable environment in which to live and raise our families. Government leaders and citizens of Portland are now in discussions to make support, compassion, and equity primary to all actions taken in Portland. 

However, behind the scenes, there are many suffering and struggling with depression and emotions out of control regarding all of these strange and unusual dilemmas we’re facing. I am one of them. And I know I’m not alone.

Many are writing blog posts and articles on the state of our mental health and how to relieve the stress of it all and ultimately find peace. 

I stumble around each day looking for something to do that interests me. My writing flounders. I write that with abundant kindness (it’s worse than floundering!). 

What can I do for someone else during these times? Write a note, make a call, send a text or email? Maybe. But somehow silence and solitude sound better. And I know that’s selfish on my part.

God gifts me with a new day every morning, and what do I do? After reading emails, I spend too much time on social media. Scrolling through my feed in search of something positive seems a waste of time these days. Then I am angry with myself for wasting a good part of His gift.

Finally, the other day I found something interesting and helpful. My friend, Robert McBride, posted something well worth reading. Robert provided his thoughts on an article appearing in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Mental Resilience Can Help You Through the Coronavirus Pandemic; Here’s How to Build It” by Andrea Petersen. Among his words, I found the following:

My idea is to think of my brain’s tendency toward negativity as something like a dog that’s a little wild but could be trained toward better behavior with consistent, loving effort. If I train myself to recognize pointless negative thoughts the moment they happen, like a dog lunging while on a leash, I can reflexively take control, since my hand is on the other end of that leash, right? I can control the dog if I just make the effort to do so. And I can curb my regativity the same way. I can put myself on a short leash and make the effort to train myself to think differently.

This makes a great deal of sense to me. If I sit down, plug into social media, and bombard myself with negative thoughts, my brain absorbs the negativity. The negativity will pull me down into the muck and mire of that news feed. Immediately on reading Robert’s words, I knew I wanted and needed to start building mental resilience and fight against negativity. I’m working on it.

The other way I’m working toward positivity vs. negativity is by making lists of things I need to work on. Today I made three lists: (1) administrative projects (I called it that when I was working; I still have similar tasks in retirement to keep us operating as a family), (2) personal interests (things I long to do, including writing), and (3) struggles (things I have difficulty facing, including writing).

From this, you can see that if I wanted to I could find a great deal to occupy my time. However, there is something inside me that bucks up against some of these things. It’s up to me to figure out how to balance all of this out while “walking the dog” and changing my mindset and my mental resilience.

For this reason, I’ll be on social media only minimally for awhile. I will continue to write here posting as it comes to me and seems worthy of your time.

John 14:27 states God’s promise. It should be sufficient in times like these.

 

 

Did Jesus Really Die? | A Day in the Life (Episode #8)

Children have a way of catching you off-guard, don’t they? Specifically, they have a way of asking the wrong question at the wrong time, literally.

The following incident happened several Easters ago. Yet, each Easter since it’s a memory I still recall with a combination of joy and trembling.

One of our choir members had brought his four-year old granddaughter with him to the early service (8:00 a.m. *yawn*). Her grandma was home preparing Easter dinner for the family. Monica, the granddaughter, and I were good buddies so her grandpa asked if she could sit with me while the choir warmed up and during the service. Not a problem!

As the service progressed, our pastor stepped forward to bring the Easter message. In it, of course, he made reference to Jesus’ death and resurrection.

At the words, “Jesus died on the cross…,” she turned to me and in a whisper others could hear said, “Jesus died?”

Via Google Image
Via Google Image

The stricken expression on her face told me I needed to quickly respond with something comforting. But what would a four-year old understand about death and resurrection? Talk about feeling put on the spot!

Quickly I asked God’s help and just as quickly received an answer.

Giving Monica my full attention and getting down on her level, I quietly told her that yes, Jesus died on the cross as a gift for us. I also told her God brought Jesus to life again.

I then indicated we needed to be quiet and encouraged her to ask Grandpa more about it once they got home.

Her response? “Amazing!”

Yes, Monica, it is amazing and stays so year after year.

Romans 6:23
Via Google Images

Have you ever been put on the spot by a child asking similar questions? Perhaps you’ll be willing to share below if you have.

Header image attribution: Via Pixabay/no attribution required

Remembering Along the Way

Blog Post Title

Palm Sunday, this last Sunday, is a time for reflection on Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem. Palm Sunday also marks the beginning of Holy Week and the last days of the Lenten Season. We are now approaching the end of Holy Week and our arrival at Easter Sunday.

During Lent, our congregation celebrates the Last Supper or Communion every Sunday. Our usual tradition is to partake of Communion the second Sunday of each month. Some traditions practice Communion every Sunday all year, others once a month, some every other month. There are as many and varied ways of honoring this symbolic sharing of Christ’s Last Supper as there are denominations and modes of faith practices.

For me, the most important part of Communion is the remembering …

remembering why God gave His only Son in this way

… remembering why Christ died on the cross and shed His blood

… remembering why we symbolically partake of Christ’s body and blood

… remembering what I am giving in exchange for the life I have been given

… remembering I am to spread His Word abroad

and I am hopeful you can add to this list.

It was not for nothing that God chose to give up His only Son. God was giving us the gift of forgiveness and eternal life through His Son’s death and resurrection. Truthfully, I have only one child, a son, and despite how often he irritates me, I cannot imagine giving him up and watching him die.

It was not for nothing that Christ died on the cross shedding His blood for you and me. His precious blood was shed for the forgiveness of our sins and the gift of eternal life in Him as long as we confess our sins and walk with Him.

It is not for nothing that we symbolically partake of Christ’s body and blood. In 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 (CEB), Paul relates the Last Supper with Jesus’ disciples:

… He took some bread in his hands. Then after he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Eat this and remember me.”

After the meal, Jesus took a cup of wine in his hands and said, “This is my blood, and with it God makes his new agreement with you. Drink this and remember me.”

We partake because Jesus instructed us to do so to remember Him.

Via Google Images
Via Google Images

And what am I giving in exchange for this life I have been given? I am to give myself wholly to a walk of Christian faith, to witness and live so that others may see Jesus in me.

And am I spreading His Word abroad? I try, I honestly try. Wherever I go, I want to let others know I believe, that I am a Christian, and so I carefully think about my words and my actions wanting to show the best He has given me. Abroad is a hard one to manage living as I do in the U.S. and rarely travelling outside the state of Oregon. But with this blog and in connecting with others, I do pray it happens.

Most importantly out of all these things, I believe it is the instruction to “remember me” that we are called to bear witness to.

Required to remember so many things in this busy world–business appointments, doctors’ appointments, kids’ after school activities, where to be when, where you put your keys or cell phone and more–we often forget to remember Him in the middle of our daily activities. But it is what we are to do.

The week between Palm Sunday and Easter is considered by many religions to be Holy Week. During this week, many observers re-enact, duplicate, or otherwise repeat some of the acts of Jesus between the of his entrance into Jerusalem and his crucifixion and resurrection. It is this journey we draw close to during Holy Week.

Remembering the path he walked … and why.

And as we approach this holy time near the end of Lent, are you remembering? Are you able to add to my list above?

Featured Image Attribution: Via Google Images

Gratitude: The Healthy Attitude

As my recent writings can attest to, my focus the last couple of years has been on renewing and recovering health. Step by step, inch by inch, exercise by exercise–progress is being made.

With Thanksgiving Day just hours away, my thoughts have focused not so much on how I feel or don’t feel, but on what I have to be thankful for. On Sunday, we gathered with our son and part of his family to celebrate a sixth birthday for our great-grandson. And additional family time is planned throughout the holiday. Family gatherings or any other gatherings are beautiful expressions of shared love.

In the past couple of years, although some days haven’t been so easy, I’ve learned that showing gratitude for something improves my attitude. It’s a prescription that comes without monetary consideration. Lately, I’ve been letting my gratitude slip and the difference is notable. And it’s so simple. Gratitude is truly a healthy attitude.

Before I go, I want to wish you and your family a beautiful Thanksgiving celebration. May your turkey be juicy, your stuffing not dry, your cranberries a deep red, and your favorite pie on the dessert table!

Attribution: Aliexpress.com Attribution: Aliexpress.com