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faith

Girl Before a Mirror by Pablo PicassoThe body’s misleading. It looks like us, is recognized as us & certainly embodies us. Yet, we’re short-changing ourselves if we overanalyze what we see in the mirror. While we need to make peace with that reflection, no matter how good or bad we perceive it to be, we also need to look beyond it. Not only are we immensely affected by how we see ourselves, it affects how others see us.

As obvious as that statement seems, it’s literally up to us how we’re perceived; even physically. The age-old idea that we’re told of someone’s “good personality” as compensation for any lack in their appearance has a more valid application in that personality can present first. Point in case, I don’t technically have a beautiful smile (thanx to quite the overbite :-D ) but, due to its sheer enthusiasm, it always leaves a positive impression.

Ensuring that our inner beings reach beyond our physicality is two-fold in its necessity. It’s both key to being seen for who we truly are & the means of not letting the physical dictate that truth. Neither the shape of one’s body nor the workings of it should be afforded undue consideration. Just as we must make peace with the totality of its immediate representation of us, we also need to challenge the parts that make up that whole.

By far the most important thing to realize is that our whole is made of far more than our physical realities. From illness to gender, no piece of the puzzle is in itself us or has meaning of its own. A single factoid cannot be afforded singular importance. The fact that I’m physiologically broken shouldn’t break me psychologically & doesn’t make me any more broken than the rest of you. ;-) We’re all broken & simply striving to make sense of the pieces.

The idea that we were made in God’s image may seem downright laughable & is certainly often confusing, regardless of one’s take on it. Here’s the thing; it’s not our physical form that emulates Him nor solely our soul.. He/She/the entity scarcely encompassed by but aptly named God is a trinity. So are we: body, mind & soul. Furthermore, the reason we keep striving for democracy is that we are one; our majority rules.

If we unduly focus on one or even two of these three things that together create us, we find ourselves out of balance & essentially unhappy. There is a vote constantly being taken &, due to the brokenness we all share in one form or another, our bodies typically have the odd vote out. It’s up to us to give our minds & souls votes that can be heard; ideally, in a unanimous voice. My body struggles to function so it can’t help but vote me ill yet I don’t have to be defined by that.

The Body's Way FlowerIt is, however, what will be seen until or unless the other facets of me take the helm. I know, I know; puzzles, caucuses & now ships. Of course, we already know that we are vessels but it’s really just our bodies that are. Thus, if our bodies aren’t indicative of the whole story, we need to bring the truth forward. You should no more believe the lies born of focusing on physical traits as flaws (it’s all comparative, thus relative & subjective, anyhow) than you should settle for the story your body’s telling.

Whether change is needed environmentally or physically, can be aided by breathing or hormones, is one of perception or projection; find the incongruity & – outwardly, inwardly or both – be exactly who you are. Don’t worry about who others think you are or perhaps expect you to be as that’s merely a perception of them & ultimately they’re going to follow your cues. When we’re whole, literally at one with ourselves, it’s our minds & souls that lead the charge.

Using myself as my own best example again; neither my body nor mind work as they should or could. Yet, for all their failings, my soul soars. I’m not sure my body should work well per se though I’m still aiming for basic functionality. :-) Along the same lines, my mind’s limitations are due to damage to my brain rather than my intellect. Just as with our senses, what’s weakened gives way to the strengthening of an equal &/or opposite force.

All that we are is all that we’re seemingly not. Our whole is not only greater than its parts but is part & parcel of what’s unseen. That whom we are meant to be is found beyond the visible & manifests visibly when we are whole.

|_|) “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” ~ C. S. Lewis

PS: This is lovingly dedicated to my brother as it’s his birthday & he’s an exemplar of evolving wholeness; HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JORDAN!!!

Happy Birthday to you!

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In that small pocket — supposedly for coinage — my jeans provide, I carry a small cross inscribed with the word HOPE. My mom carries its twin but for a different inscription: BELIEVE. We bought them as gifts for each other during a joint vigil while my Grandma was in hospital.

“In all things it is better to hope than to despair.”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe ~

While we mutually agreed the wee crosses were charming reminders of essential things & must be exchanged, we each chose the other’s. There was a basket full of concepts worthy of being toted on one’s person but absolutely no contest as to which should be chosen.

“Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.”
~ George Iles ~

For as long as I can remember, Momma has chosen to believe.. Phenomenally enough, in belief itself. While she was susceptible to doubting herself, she refused to doubt the possibilities that lay within her children or the world at large. She’s an active reminder that anything is possible.

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.”
~ Anne Lamott ~

The beauty of commitment to that level of belief is that it’s mind opening. Not only does it free you to think outside the box but said box becomes a mere dot on the horizon. Your hopes take on shapes never before designed. Your dreams are no longer fathomable by many.

“Hope is the dream of a soul awake.”
~ French Proverb ~

kanji triptych

The irony is, when you grow up understanding you really can be whatever you want, you’re not likely to opt for anything imaginable by most. The ideals you doggedly pursue may seem a far cry from ideal to the casual onlooker. There are no limits & happiness is a choice you repeatedly make along the way.

“Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without words, and never stops at all.”
~ Emily Dickinson ~

The seed of faith my mom planted has grown into a life without regret. No matter what form my life takes at any given time, I’m thrilled to be living it & excited about where I’m headed. So invested am I in the journey rather than the destination that I’m willing to take my time. I don’t want to just smell the roses, I want to watch them grow.

“What oxygen is to the lungs, such is hope to the meaning of life.”
~ Emil Brunner ~

Momma always called me her “Pollyanna” whose Glad Game is second nature to me. Due to my passionate curiosity about the world & beyond, I’ve seen its darkness as well as my own. It’s that contrasting view, without the benefit of rose-colored glasses, that gives meaning to what light shines through.

“Hope is the feeling that the feeling you have isn’t permanent.”
~ Jean Kerr ~

While admittedly an eternal optimist, my optimism is tempered — no, balanced — with realism. As a realistic optimist, my circumstances are never tainted by hope but neither is my hope ever diminished by circumstance. Difficulty & possibility are met shoulder to shoulder.

A person’s optimism in the future seems to be controlled by a small front part of the mid-brain, according to a study that used brain imaging.

That area deep behind the eyes activates when people think good thoughts about what might happen in the future. The more optimistic a person is, the brighter the area showed up in brain scans, the scientists reported in a small study published online Thursday in the journal Nature. [source]

Now I know, I’m physiologically justified in my extreme optimism. It just so happens that part of my brain is wired that way, just as the part of my brain that perceives pain is likely wired wrong.

“When you say a situation or a person is hopeless, you are slamming the door in the face of God.”
~ Charles L. Allen ~

It may seem my faith in God makes sense of my determined hope yet hope was my first basis for faith. My life is in halves now; the first half being lived by that determination alone with the discoveries made since adding untold dimension to hope. This article touches on the fact that no evidence is needed to support expectation:

“Understanding healthy optimism is important because optimism is related to mental and physical health and to success. We can have people who are not necessarily depressed but have different levels of optimism,” said another of the researchers, Tali Sharot of University College London who was at NYU when the study was conducted.

With all outward proof currently lacking, I nonetheless know my hunny & I have made progress toward our inexplicable goals. Moreover, that we’re right on track & just where we should be.

“Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well but the certainty that something makes sense,
regardless of how it turns out.”

~ Vaclav Havel ~

Living wholly in the here & now, rather than for the future, may look like failure to some; it certainly takes some bizarre detours but, as my Grandma always says, “This too shall pass.”

(|_|*cheers*|_|)
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
~ Thomas Edison ~

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Christianity — no, wait, don’t leave.. honest :neutral: — is in a quandary. Ironically and ever so sadly, it’s actually Christians who play into its PR nightmare. Any form of faith as merely religion loses its authenticity amidst cultural expectations. [Alliteration warning] A firmly founded faith is freeing. If people spent more time exploring their beliefs rather than avoiding what they dare not believe, they’d discern the freedom to consider the possibilities. Within a context of surpassing truth, there need be no fear of what may be true.

BELIEVE

Each piece of the grand puzzle we uncover expands our own potential of being. Only with a narrow world-, not to mention universe-, view do we settle for being less than we could. Less in so many devastating ways too; less understanding thus less forgiving, less patient thus less present, less tolerant thus less human. I cannot express how maddening it is to have my beliefs cited as justification for so much that utterly contradicts them. In a world of religious insanity, it’s beyond refreshing to find a sane voice; Julie, on her since edited blog, “Observations From the Roof of a Building,” shared:

I’ve been embroiled in a constant struggle to examine things like artistic expression and contrast it against my Christian theism. It’s led me to a whole lot of weird places. I’ve been putting stuff like sex, violence, language, etc. under the microscope for years now, but the past year especially has found me wrestling especially with my inner demons. I think it’s because I’ve learned a lot about myself through pretending to be someone else.

I’m not a perfect person. I’m not even what you would call a well-adjusted person. I’ve done stuff and had thoughts that most of you have never had to wrestle with and I think I’m a bit of a damaged person because of it. I’ve not killed anyone or done anything along those lines, but I’ve seen the inner monsters nonetheless. I was 18 when I became a Christian, which is more than enough years for someone to do a few really asinine things and things like the fact that I got married at the age of 17 are not mere coincidences. You can debate the psychological reasons amongst yourselves, the point of all of this is that I have a very definite dark side I’ve not had to face until now.

So, when I became a Christian, I had a very gross misconception of what a Christian should be. I was taught very early on that there were things one does not read, watch, listen to, think about, like, hate, etc. that were part and parcel of the Christian code of conduct. Some of them have some veracity. Other stuff was just Evangelical tradition and/or false piety run amok. But the person I became is not the person I am. And the veneer finally started to crack a few years ago and has been shattering progressively ever since. I’ve tried to pretend far too many things about myself are true when they’re not.

Concepts of faith versus religion thus Christianity are seldom agreed upon. Definitions aside, the only truth to be found in any of these topics is whatever remains once the various expectations imposed on them have been dismissed. As I said in my reply to Helium’s query “How religious faith causes problems in society,” the very topic answers its own question:

For, while faith has indeed been the excuse for many a problem throughout history, faith itself is not the culprit. As there are all types of faith, it’s understandable that it must be specified which is being asked about. Yet, herein lies the rub for it’s religion rather than faith that can cause societal problems. Religious faith is indeed the most infamous of all faiths since it helps create the fervor that gives religion its ego. Whatever form faith takes, using it as an excuse to further a cause rather than the basis for becoming who we hope to be is what gives rise to problems.

(|_|*cheers*|_|)
“Human beings are perhaps never more frightening than when they are convinced beyond doubt that they are right.”
~ Laurens van der Post ~

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