Thursday, January 16, 2014

Music Is My Therapy

Music is becoming the best therapy for me--again. I am 're-reading a book titled "Amazing Grace-366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions" ©1990 by Kenneth W. Osbeck. It's been several years since I last read it, and I'm finding that the old hymns really lift my spirit. Like yesterday's, by an obscure lay preacher named George A. Young--"Some through the waters, some through the flood, some through the fire, but all through the blood. Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song, in the night seasons and all the day long."

Hymn for today, by William Cowper (1731-1800), a gifted English poet and writer, who suffered from bouts of mental illness all his life. But between his times of depression and attempted suicide, he gave the World some great hymns about God's care of us. Here's one you may recognize:
"God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform...
Blind unbelief is sure to err and scan his work in vain;
God is his own interpreter, and he will make it plain."
Isn't it interesting that someone who has been in the greatest depths of despair can remind us so well of how much God loves his children.

More music to come later.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Starting With a Clean Slate

I usually make some kind of New Year's resolutions, and I don't ever seem to keep them for a whole year.  One year I made almost six months, tho!

But this year is different.  I am purposefully closing the door on all the turmoil and trauma of my past year, and setting my mind to look ahead with optimism at the year ahead, as a clean slate.  The following saying has been around a long time-- (I first encountered it painted on someone's canoe paddle in the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota in 1970.)-- but it is still true nevertheless:

"Today is the first day of the rest of your life."

More than usual, I am seeing the new year as an opportunity to confess the failures of my past and leave them behind me.  Now I'm going to take up some of the things I have read and been told in 2013 and begin to apply them to my life--looking forward, instead of back.  I've come up with a list of ten guidelines for my life (not resolutions):

1.  Always remember that despair is a lie.
The only ones allowed to despair are those who know without a doubt what the future holds.  If we don't know the future, then there is always hope.  (Gandalf, the Wizard, in "The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien)
"God will make a way when there seems to be no way..."  (song by Don Moen)

2.  Look for the good, instead of dwelling on the bad:  the glass is half-full, not half-empty.

3.  Bad things in my life are only temporary, not permanent.  Things will not always stay as bad as they seem.  "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning."  Psalm 30:5b

4.  Your feelings are real--don't deny them, or you will become emotionally numb.  Tears are good--they cleanse the soul.  I know this because I went through a time when I couldn't cry, even when I wanted to.
Let your emotions pass through you, and when they have gone by, you will remain:
"Fear is the mind-killer.  Fear is the little death that brings obliteration.  I will face my fear.  I will permit it to pass over me and through me.  And when it has gone past me, I will turn to see fear's path.  Where the fear (anger, depression, etc.) has gone there will be nothing.  Only I will remain."
Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear, from "Dune" by Frank Herbert.  (Italics mine.)

5.  Because of Christ and his redemption, I am completely forgiven and fully pleasing to God.  I am totally accepted by God.  From "The Search for Significance" by Robert S. McGee.
Romans 5:1 - "Through the Lord Jesus Christ, by faith, we are judged righteous and at peace with God."

The next four are adapted from "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz:
6.  Be honest in your speech:  speak the truth in love, say only what you really mean.
7.  Don't take everything personally!  (I really need to work on this one!)
8.  Don't make assumptions:  you don't see the whole picture, only God does.  It's alright to ask questions.
9.  Always do your best:  or as I say it, 'Do the best you can, and leave the rest to God.'

The last one is definitely not the least.  I can't remember where it's from, but I think I first heard it sometime in college:

10.  If you see me in despair, remind me that I have a risen Savior.

As I said before, these are guidelines, not resolutions.  I won't always keep to them, but when I stumble I have a Savior who knows my weakness.  He laid aside his godliness and walked this earth fully human.  He not only knows my human weakness, he experienced it for himself--but he didn't fall into sin, like I do.

And so I don't have to walk this path alone--he walks with me.  My destiny is not to lose myself in the 'oneness' or nothingness of some Nirvana, but rather to find the true 'self' that God created me to be--and this is done by walking alongside him, and letting him take my hand and lead me, one day at a time.

(This walk of faith is what I'm trying to depict in my own life, and in a fictional setting in my books, The Peaks Series.  I feel it is the most important story there is to tell, for God has put it in my heart.)