I was in the shower today. And as you do when you are in the shower, you tend to philosophize and sing. Don’t pretend you don’t. Anyway, my shower philosophy of the day was stumbled upon as I thought about the future, which is something I’ve been doing a lot of recently. The thought that was this: are my ambitions guided by what I personally aspire to, or are they shaped more by the views that others hold of how ambitions should be shaped? Maybe it seems like a silly question. Until you think about it. Do I do what I do, to whatever level of consciousness, because I have this view of what is seen as ‘cool’ by others? And to be perfectly honest with myself I’d say yes; my decision making is, subconsciously or otherwise, shaped by others to a large degree! And this is not an issue of self esteem. It’s simply a condition of the society that we live in. A society that kicks the personality out of you and says “this is what people before you have done to fit in around here, and don’t think you’re any different.” Hey, to hell with that! We were meant to live for so much more than conforming to such shallow ideals. A question to end on: are you living to please the image that society has built or are you living to LIVE? Think about it.
I must offer a disclaimer before all that is said here is read. What I offer here, like all my other postings, is opinion. Based on fact occasionally, but an opinion nonetheless. Please do not get offended. Recently, I’ve been thinking about the role of money in society. It is quite central to all that we do and quite a necessary evil in a sense. We couldn’t survive without it; we have a need for this common currency to purchase staple items to fuel our existence. I recognise this. I also cannot begin to imagine the stress that finances can put upon a father trying to provide for his family, a mother for her children, and how that little bit of extra comfort can help so much. However, the pursuit of material wealth above and beyond what is necessary has got me worried. I’ve decided that the pursuit of riches is not just a trivial factor among a number of others in our day to day lives, but has become the main driving factor. The central force that drives all that we do. And though this may be a sad realisation and one that I am not happy to admit, it is a very true and sobering thought. Think about the measure of a country’s success, it’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The GDP measures the balance of accounts based on the influx and outflow of capital, exports, imports, and so on. This index measures a country’s success in purely economic measures yet is still used as a measurement of ranking standard of living. Why must our standard of living be based on an economic measurement? I much prefer the Gross National Happiness (GNH) index which measures a country’s general wellbeing outside of economic terms. Thinking about my own life it seems I have been subconsciously conscripted to this “GDP” pattern of thought. My whole life it seems has been built around building a base of knowledge through various sources of education, through to a University degree, in order to increase my long term economic wealth. It seems that every action I take is in some way supposed to increase my commercial value and marketability to employers. My life is not a CV. Perhaps it has become so ingrained in our culture, chasing the “American dream” as such, that we hardly notice how commercialistic we really have become. Personally, I have no desire whatsoever to reach that pinnacle of wealth and status that we all have been conditioned to aspire to. And I think this has something to do with the fact that I have found a purpose above what is seen on this earth, that I know what is beyond all the worldly dreams that we so pointlessly chase. I have a purpose in God. In this light, I can see why people chase material wealth! It’s just a way of trying to find themselves, trying to find a purpose, to fill that hole which they feel deep within. When my time on this world is said and done, I don’t want others to remember me as the Managing Director of this company or the Executive of that corporation. What meaning does this really have at the end of the day? If I can make a positive change for others every day, then my purpose is complete. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” Matthew 6:19-20
These are not my own thoughts as such, but something I heard and have expanded upon that I thought is applicable in my life and yours I’m sure also. Conflict situations are nasty; nobody really desires to be in a position where a level of tension exists between themselves and associates. Sometimes when we get into these positions and we feel that the other person has wronged us, there is a certain sentiment that it should not be our own duty or responsibility to try and repair what has happened since we have deemed it a fault not of our own that the conflict came about in the first instance. It’s almost that we feel that justice must be served and that the other person should feel shamed by what they have done, and so by facilitating that peace would be to remove the justice that we feel should be served. It takes a great degree of humility and grace to be able to proactively seek to accept the shortcomings of both of you, but in a way that puts you below the other person. Although we shouldn’t be stood on and allow ourselves to be messed around, we should quell our pride and think always first to seek peace rather than slow the healing process of conflict situations. When you next find yourself in a place of conflict, breathe slowly, open your mind and look to peace rather than exacerbating the tension.
I have some outright amazing friends. And I don’t tell them enough how much I appreciate them. Not at all. Without their love and support, I wouldn’t know where I would be today. I often think how different a person I might have been if I had not had what I would consider to be good influences from friendships in my life. Sure, I’ve done some silly things. Haven’t we all? But, I know that even if I do something stupid, my friends will be there to pick me up. I can rely on them; depend on them; share my sorrows and thoughts with them; laugh with them. I have amazing friends! I thought about what would happen if one of them were to die. And this seems like such a morbid thought, but it allows quite a different perspective. Going through this thought process allowed me to truly understand how much I appreciate my friends, and what a gaping hole there would be if even one of them were to be taken from my life. If you are reading this and you are one of the friends that I have been blessed with, you are amazing! I recommend to all that you think deeply about how truly special the friendships in your life are. We are blessed so much.
Never be ashamed of who you are or what you believe. I see it all too often: people hiding their true colours because they are afraid that who they really are underneath all the masquerade is somebody that nobody will like. I’m sure I don’t speak for myself in saying that rawness is beauty. Your true character, your real personality, that’s who people really want to get to know. The real tragedy is that these fake masks we put up are so consuming that they can destroy a person’s true self. Reveal yourself, open up to people. It’s an amazing thing to find yourself, you won’t regret it.
Often we walk this world in such a routine fashion that we forget that God’s spirit is present with us in a very real way, walking delicately with us. It is easy to forget the true power of God, a power that is ours through Him. Instead of viewing Heaven and Earth as separate, remove the walls that block our ability to take hold of God’s supernatural authority. It’s not a lack of God’s power, or a lack of His desire to move in our lives, but that we often put up mental walls blocking our potential in God. What we perceive as natural limits God’s power. Loosen your mind and do not be trapped by a worldly perception; blur the line between our world and the Kingdom of God and step out in faith as a tool for God’s will.
I have been away for a while now, so forgive me for the fact that there has not been an update on this blog in about 2 weeks. Since being back I’ve also struggled with inspiration. In the past, I believe what has been written for the purpose of this blog has been God inspired. Recently, my mind has been blank, unable to find enough words to fill a post. Instead of forcing an issue, I would rather wait until my words find meaning. However, I will share with you something that God has shown to me over the past 2 weeks or so. One thing I have been struggling with so much in my Christian walk is pride. In this fault, I have often been self-focused. When we become humble to God, putting self second, our life is transformed. I have only begun to understand the meaning of a verse which is so often heard: Romans 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Although giving up control is so hard, it is through our vulnerability to God that we become strong. A loss of our own strength for the gain of God’s.