Archive for the ‘joy’ Tag

Facing Fear

 

photo courtesy of centertechnews.com

photo courtesy of centertechnews.com

“Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.” ~ Pema Chodron

When I first heard the above quote by author and Buddhist nun Pema Chodron, it didn’t make sense to me.  As I thought more about her words, I realized I was putting them in the context of, “There’s a grizzly bear in front of me!” or some other situation where fear is a useful, maybe even a life-saving, emotion to have.  But that’s not what Chodron was speaking about.  Let me put it in the context of my recent venture back into the academic world, not as an instructor, but as a 52-year-old student.

I started my master’s degree in English and creative writing through an online program this past August.  It has always been something I wanted to do, but up to this point, I had managed to make enough excuses to keep it on the back burner.  Each time I thought about it, my heart would rise up in excitement, like an eternal “YES,” until my mind would fill with thoughts about time and money, or how I would juggle other competing responsibilities, and most of all, whether I could handle the work and do it well.  Essentially, FEAR.

I wish I could say I had a formula worked out for overcoming this fear, but I think that what spurred me to act when I hadn’t in the past was that I told people (specifically, I told my boss) that I was going to do it.  So when fear began to creep in, filling my mind with doubts, I had to follow through.

I can’t say that once I was accepted into the online program I wasn’t afraid.  I was; in fact, I still am every time I sit down at my computer to type another assignment.  At times, I don’t have a clue what I’m going to write, or any outline I have seems stupid and sketchy.  Once again, FEAR.

Each time I feel this fear, this unworthiness, this feeling of “not good enough,” I press on, not because the fear goes away, but because I know I’m moving toward my truth, the person God created me to be. Fear is just an emotion, an ego-reaction that is seeking to undermine the Holy Spirit’s prompting to move toward joy.

What is your truth?  What has the Father, Son, and Spirit given you to do that brings you joy and makes your heart leap? This fear we feel is not from God, but from ourselves.  It is easier to play small and low-key than to rise up and be completely authentic from the inside out. By facing our fears and living in the truth of who we are created to be by God, we open ourselves to fully participating in whatever God is doing in the lives of those around us, and we become an encouragement to others to live authentically, too. The joy I have experienced as I’ve moved closer to my truth, the truth of who God created me to be, has far outweighed the uncomfortable feelings of fear that try to hold me back.

 ~by Nan Kuhlman

You’ll Be In My Heart

empty tombThis weekend we celebrate the life and resurrection of our risen Lord, traditionally called Easter Sunday.

Too often this is depicted as a time of sadness and regret, and for Jesus’ disciples that ran with him there certainly was sadness, but Jesus addressed it to remind them that He had to go so that He could send His comforter, the Holy Spirit, who would be with us always, forevermore.

Last night I caught the last half of Adam Sandler’s movie, Click. I have to admit, it still brought tears to my eyes. The movie depicts the life of an individual on fast forward, missing out on many special moments of his children growing up and not being there for them and his wife. Many tears were shed by his family in the last moments of his life. But then the screen returned to him waking up in a bed and realizing it had all been a dreamlike vision of what his life might be if he kept on that path. He was joyful that he had another chance to live life right as a much younger man. The sadness immediately left his character, and no doubt the movie viewer when he “came back to life.” A resurrection, if you will.

In the same way, Jesus’s disciples’ sadness turned to joy when they took Jesus’s words for them to heart, in the last chapter of Matthew. He had this to say to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

I was recently reminded of this when I heard Phil Collins track “You’ll Be In My Heart” to the Disney movie, Tarzan. Imagine Jesus singing these words to his disciples and by inference, to us today. Not a time of sadness, but joy, knowing he will be with us forevermore.

Come stop your crying
It will be all right
Just take my hand
Hold it tight

I will protect you
From all around you
I will be here
Don’t you cry

For one so small,
You seem so strong
My arms will hold you
Keep you safe and warm
This bond between us
Can’t be broken
I will be here
Don’t you cry

Jesus promises us that because of His death, and resurrection, the bond that he forged with humanity can’t be broken. Not a time of sadness, but of great joy.

[Chorus]

‘Cause you’ll be in my heart
Yes, you’ll be in my heart
From this day on
Now and forever more

Easter Sunday depicts the time when Jesus bound humanity to Himself, forever. Unfortunately not all at this time believe who they are in Him.

You’ll be in my heart
No matter what they say
You’ll be here in my heart, always
Why can’t they understand
The way we feel?
They just don’t trust
What they can’t explain
I know we’re different but,
Deep inside us
We’re not that different at all

Although Jesus was God, He chose to become man and will forever retain His dual nature of God and man. We’re different, but because Jesus rose and took humanity with Him, we’re not that different at all.

Don’t listen to them
‘Cause what do they know?
We need each other
To have, to hold
They’ll see in time I know

Although many don’t know today who they are in Christ, they will see in time, He knows. He knows because that was the Triune God’s plan from the foundation of the world, and today He is reconciling all things to Himself.

When destiny calls you
You must be strong
I may not be with you
But you’ve got to hold on
They’ll see in time I know
We’ll show them together

Although Jesus is not with us today, physically, through faith we hold on, and as firstfruits we will show the way together to All, in time.

I’ll be with you
I’ll be there for you always
Always and always
Just look over your shoulder
Just look over your shoulder
Just look over your shoulder
I’ll be there always

This Sunday reminds us through the words of our Savior, and through Collins’s lyrics, “I’ll be there for you always.”  This Sunday is not a day of sadness. Make it a day of hope and great rejoicing for who we are in Him.

~by Craig Kuhlman

Photo courtesy of Apologetics UK

The Happiness Recipe

Jesus once sat down on a mountain side in Galilee and taught a multitude of his students about being blessed. The event is recorded in Matthew 5 and we have come to call it The Sermon on the Mount. Imagine how incredible it must have been to sit and listen to Jesus talk about being happy. You see so often religion makes us wary of being happy. Religion almost creates an atmosphere of guilt over pleasure and happiness. Jesus wants us to be happy in fact I can prove it…The heading over the first dozen verses in Matthew 5 in my Bible reads, “The Beatitudes”. Well, I have a confession to make. For many years as a teen and young adult I never knew what the word beatitude meant. It comes from the Latin beatitudinem and just means happiness. It is not in the original text but is simply a heading to help the reader better understand the context and meaning of what follows. I’d give the translators a C- for this one. Why didn’t they just put “Happiness” so we’d understand?

Two sources of my happiness!

Two sources of my happiness!

In Matthew 5:1-12 Jesus gives a list of behaviors wherein he says, “Blessed are …” The word for blessed that we have, from the most reliable manuscripts, is a Greek word that just means the same- happy!

So think about these verses in the light of happiness. Happy are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of God. Being poor in spirit simply means fully relying on God and this is how we see and experience the Kingdom of God.

Happy are those who mourn for they will be comforted. Well of course when we mourn the Holy Spirit comforts and works in and around us to restore our joy.

So you see The Beatitudes are not a formula to get in with God or make you right with him. The Beatitudes are simply a recipe for being happy.

How cool is that and why in the wide world of sports don’t the translators come up with something better than “The Beatitudes”? Why not put a new more easily understood heading over this part of the Sermon on the Mount like… The Happiness Recipe.

Making a Way in the Desert

The media has been featuring the best (and worst) of 2011, and like many of you, I am sucked into watching these list-making programs just to see a summary of what really made headlines in 2011.  One of the year’s most-covered stories was about the shooting of Representative Gabby Giffords in Arizona and her subsequent work of recovery from a traumatic brain injury.

Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly’s memoir, called Gabby:  A Story of Courage and Hope, was recently released in November.  As the story goes, the couple was looking forward to consulting a fertility specialist in early 2011 and hopefully having their first child by the end of the year.  This past Christmas ended up being very different from what they pictured a year ago, yet they still press forward.  Kelly shared his thoughts on the events of the year with author Jeff Zaslow:

You don’t get the life you planned.  That’s what Gabby and I have learned.  When things look bad, the only answer is to find a path through it.  What other choice do you have?

Gabby and Mark have learned that it’s possible to still find joy and hope, even in the most trying of circumstances.  Maybe you find yourself in their camp this year, stretched to your limit and trying to find a path through it, wondering if it’s even possible to have joy after suffering such disappointment and trouble.  Maybe you’re even wondering if God hears or cares about your misfortune and pain.

The nation of Judah had similar doubts about God’s care and concern for them, and the prophet Isaiah encouraged them (and us) by reminding  them they were  God’s special treasure:

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze…Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland…(Isaiah 43:2, 18-19, NIV).

The promise of “making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland” is still true for us today.  Even as we encounter trouble and misfortune, we are never alone.  The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are with us, keeping our heads above water, our feet from being burned.  The Triune God helps us find a new path through whatever circumstances we face.  And as Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly have learned, the new path, though different from our original plans, can have its own hope and joy.

~by Nan Kuhlman

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