Be Careful Who You Listen To

This good advice comes directly from my experience on this blog. When I was in my heyday of blogging here, I did make some communication mistakes, with people, with writing, with rankling some readers, but I was honestly me and just wanted to speak opinions on the issues and topics I wrote about. Those topics could be just about anything. I had been on lists previously to blogging so had a fairly thick skin when it came to opposition and the psychological games that are sometimes played online (if you wonder what I’m talking about just look through advice on dealing with the many guises of trolls)

jekyl and hyde

You might be interested in reading “Things I learned in Forums” and “I n The Spirit Of Harmony

There are many types of disjointed negative people who troll the internet, but it seems they are not as visible to me now. I suppose it is because I have simply stopped giving much of my opinion and become somewhat apathetic about some of the former topics I once blogged passionately about. It also made my writing a bit more boring on those topics, so I stick to just sharing some the introspection for now… like this post. I also don’t “engage” nearly as much as I used to…

Anyway, back to the story…there was a story? yes. A blogger making a name for himself rating other blogs and bloggers decided he didn’t like me too well, and at some point said I was third rate or second rate or something like that. I don’t remember the actual verbal weapon he used, only now I can see the long-term damage. Sometimes these words are wielded with psychological knowledge and intent, but it is always difficult to say when it is all happening behind the screen.

Perhaps it was the timing or who knows, really, but the problem was that somewhere inside myself I listened to him. I shouldn’t have, and there was no real authority for him to have that sort of power over my own opinion of myself, but as those things sometimes go, it did.

I think its power came from somewhere deep inside myself where I was convinced that yes, I was no more than second or third rate as a person , and might as well give up blogging my opinions. Of course, I didn’t altogether, but you might say that is when the wind went out of my sails on this type of blog. The first of many climate changes to my life. I had had about enough of the interminable religious arguing that some Christians enjoy, politics became toxic and polemic. I am sure that contributed to the loss of interest in internet crusading. I went back home, you might say, to deal with the fires of my crumbling hearth and home. I wrote mostly about gardening.

How many times have I seen a talented blogger fold because they were harried or harassed by comments and unkindness? Many a time, in fact it was almost the norm for “blog-life”. I still hear complaints about rude, troublemaking feedback from people who I wonder are simply new to the way the wild world of the web interacts (which is simply an exposure of how real people often act and react – they are just more invested in hiding it in real life). It isn’t easy to see either intent or effect of words on the internet medium. Jekyll and Hyde

This is not an obscure thing that happens on the internet or elsewhere in life. Everywhere there are people who thrive on saying negative and discouraging things. Not just criticism, which is sometimes necessary, or voicing different opinions and perspectives, but those who belittle and wish to cripple others in their endeavors. I suppose there is more than a little envy at work.

The trouble is that many of us have been exposed to influences that assess, ascribe to us, or even assassinate our character and value as a person. And we become marred in our own image of ourselves, while vulnerable to those who can damage us and discourage us from following our dreams or building something worthwhile.

Those people speak into our lives and we let them.

That is why I think we should be careful who we listen to… even if we think we are armored against them, even if we think we are confident, strong people. We should be careful who we allow access to the place inside where our identity is formed. Of course, a person heals over time, and with efforts, but it is a lass of time and of momentum in life to step into the snare of harmful,negative people.

As an antidote I truly believe we should find those, including what God says of us, who will help us find our true core, the identity of ourselves as we are meant to be, as we best are. It isn’t a matter of surrounding ourselves with “yes-men”, but of being discerning, careful who give heed to in our lives.

Your Beliefs Make and Break You

It is surprising how certain core matters pop up in the most unexpected places. I was reading a marketing article, because I am sales challenged to a certain degree. Like what is probably true for the vast majority of people in my culture, I don’t like to sell. I feel forced to learn how, especially now that I am trying out different business avenues online (Zazzle, for instance). Plus I like reading marketing and social media articles. Throw in some pop psychology and you’ve got my attention.

This thought grabbed my eye:

Beliefs form a fundamental part of our psychological make up and are the building blocks of our personality. Our beliefs dictate how we see the world and therefore, every single decision we make while interacting with our world.

Beliefs start and end wars. Beliefs make and break relationships.

Sales Psychology

This has been my conviction for years, although I phrased it in a slightly different manner.

This is why I think ideology is so important. Francis Schaeffer articulated a lot of this for me when he explained that one of the reasons it matters to understand the art and innovative thinkers of your generation is because it is the seedbed of what your culture will reflect in the next generation (that is to say, ‘what they will believe”). With enough push in thought forming mediums, a culture will change… even in what once seemed to be an “unthinkable” way.

It explains to me why visionaries are so important, whether they are initially accepted or not.

We might be seeing this more clearly than ever when the accelerant of the internet made consensus change work in ways that are now described as “viral”.

What we believe not only influences everything around us, it creates a future.

I’m just going to let this sink in without further comment, until this very broad idea finds the specific application I want to think about. It applies on so many levels… like what we think of ourselves, what we choose for our families, how politically manipulated we become, all sorts of thing from business to what we think of our future.

Related to this is whether we believe something reality based, or we believe a lie… about any and all of these things, because not all beliefs are equal- or morally neutral!

Christian Self Esteem

More about the core self, because that post, ‘The Best of Me‘ needs clarification and more thinking. The idea that we get wrong ideas, and then perpetuate them, about who we really are has been one of those swirling, vague, and just out of reach concepts for me. The light just dawning as I enter my sunset season.

I don’t mourn my late entry into this concept since enlightenment has its own time and sequence. We try to find it early in our lives, but our culture, or our own wills, -a number of things, really- , intervene. In terms of eternity, perhaps the important thing is to get it at sometime while we can still do something about adding to the cultural consciousness of it.

We sometimes see Christian doctrine as a static thing. And we are so tainted by modern ideas of what evolution is, that we resist the idea that Christian revelation is at all organic. Simply because our view is that evolution means transposing, when in Christian revelation it is a widening of the vision. “Here a little, there a little, line upon line” until a clearer vision of truth is evident.

“Who am I?” takes a different track… to “Does anyone know me?”, even myself? It is the “Message in a Bottle” transit from feeling alone, and that no one knows me, to understanding that we are all in the same basic situation.
A human condition. But to end there, with that “Message” is to be somewhat despairing, if one really understands the message to begin with.

The more we discover who we are… and what is true of humanity… the more despair grabs hold of us. It gets to the point that the platitudes no longer provide the emollient that they once have. “We are only human”…
Perhaps that is why God takes time to send His message that He does know us, in ways that we find hard to imagine.
Take these for example:
Jeremiah 1:5
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you”
Psalm 139:13
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”
Isaiah 49:5
“And now the LORD says— he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD …”

The bottle gets found, the response is there… but we never leave our island, we never even look to see if we are truly on an island. That famous little maxim comes to mind: “No man is an island”*, yet we all have a tendency to feel so, especially in this disjointed post modern world. Until, through interjection of revelation, through driven to despair, or by happy chance.. or grace… we find a reality far from the lies we were told, or that we chose to believe.

This is the beginning of Christian Self esteem. To see what God’s image was meant to look like, what we were meant to look like… to be. It is a beautiful picture of worth and value, of fruit and music, of kindness, goodness, self-control, faithfulness, joyfulness… a realization of paradise within.

How do we catch that view?
Certainly it can’t be until we throw off the old one.

Matthew 10:39
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

John Donne, Meditation XVII

The Best of Me

Do you ever think of what “the best of you” looks like? What really looks like you, and not some layering over or reflecting of another’s view of you? I was listening to a morning show interview of Brooke Shields, model and actress, and she was asked about her sense of fashion. She answered that she was dressed by others from such an early age (in a child career) that she didn’t have a sense of personal style until much later in her life and that now it revolved around what was “the best of her”. Reflecting her core self.

Of course when we talk style and fashion, precious little is “the best of me”, and we are always checking in with experts, mavens, and reactions of those around us. Kind of the opposite of “core self”, but the idea remains that at some point we recognize that there is a self that is unique from roles and reactions. What we do with that self is important.

stuff you are
stuff you are
There is a strange paradox in knowing what the best, core self consists of- while it isn’t defined by what others think it is, it is most revealed by the impact it makes on others. We often get that turned around. That is why we so often accept a view of ourselves as defined by others. Our true self, the person that we were made to be, will affect others because people best respond to what they discern as “real” and “honest”; it is that contact that will make the greatest impression. We, and everyone around us, will only end up confused if operating as if the words and views of others are to be taken as the true picture of who we are and what we may best accomplish. Just the psychological dynamic of “projecting”, alone, is an indication of how this is true.

“Projecting” is when we ascribe our own feelings, traits, and thoughts to someone other than ourselves. This happens so much that if we get the message that we are a certain type of person, we may well attract more of those same messages from others. Just because we have accepted that view of ourselves.

The one great lesson I am learning right now, at the end of life as I near my sixtieth decade, is that only the God who made and saved me can truthfully define me. He can describe my traits, outline my purpose, correct my faults… even to wiping them away with what actually is and was always meant to be “the best of me”.

Something that I meditate on as I try to grasp this way of thinking is “as He is , so are we in this world”

Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. – 1 John 4:17

We have Christ’s nature in us, but how will that be recognizable if we don’t understand this about ourselves, and reflect it in our actions?

So much of what we do derives from the way in which we see ourselves. Whether we think we are smart or stupid, failures or successes, kind or cruel, strong or weak, emotional or intellectual, much of how we behave is acting out this inner picture.

That may well be a good part of why “positive thinking” or “visualization” works so well for many people. It is not a parlor trick, instead it is more of a self actualization or self-prophecy which we fulfill. Understanding your self, in your own unique expression of how you work, think, and relate best in this world allows God to show you both His and your own importance. Like the right tool for the job, or a fitting word in a situation, or anything where the nature is in harmony with the effort. We are not “things” but we do have substance, a disposition, and pre-dispositions. We come into this world with a specific set of DNA, inside a specific set of conditions, with which to work. That is why we make such efforts all our lives to understand how we fit (or try to understand how we don’t)…. we want to express the best, true self.

I think that is what God wants for us, and that our greatest advocate will always be Christ, Who understands us and what we go through. The best gift is to finally become comfortable in our own skin- not just plain comfortable. I believe that will lead me to the day when I can say, without delusion, that I have no regret. Finding my core self, at last.

Back in the Closet With You!

Oh I know what you are thinking, but I’m talking about that person that came out of their closet for a brief trip to the confessional. Everyone has a closet. Some are nice and neatly organized, everything labeled and sorted, and others…. their closets threaten to bury them when opened. So whether you take care of the stuff in your closet on a regular basis or let it get shut away until it becomes a threat to your health… get in there and make some choices about what kind of stuff you are keeping.

I’ve been a collector and clutter queen. I prefer to refer to those traits as “preservationist”, but no matter what I call it, there are some broken things that will never get fixed, and that I don’t have the skills to restore. I hate to throw those things out, but there is only so much space in my closet. Some people get buried by their indecision and their desire to “save” everything. I am sadly deciding that I am coming to the brink of that brook… perhaps not all have Caesar’s future changing mark, but perhaps that is what I fear the most… throwing out something that I will deeply regret in the future, that cannot be undone. And my closet becomes my Rubicon.

Eventually, everything must be faced, if not by us… then by our descendants. Now that is a thought that ought to create a pause, a “Selah”.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~no, this was not a post about literal closets~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~