Hasn’t everything that could possibly be written about been written about…I mean, what’s the point?? I’ve asked this question many times…and each time, a still, small voice in my soul has whispered, “Write.” As a wise, handsome man (who happens to be my husband) once told me, “It’s not what you write about; it’s how you tell the story.” Truth is, this blog may not be different, but it’s me – I Love Lucy impressions and all!
Like life itself, this blog will have many themes: being real and not being afraid to tell it like it is (humbly, gently, and patiently)…laughing and enjoying life while facing its many challenges…maximizing health and wellness…keeping good thoughts and attitudes…loving and encouraging others (we’re talking everyone here, not just the folks who are really nice and easy to like, but the occasionally annoying and hilarious ones like Agnes and myself) as well as ourselves (sometimes one of the first people you need to look to for love and encouragement is you)…living a life with purpose…and much more.
I’m hopeful also that anyone who needs encouragement will write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and allow me to post (anonymously) portions of their email and my response. Others in similar situations can then offer their encouraging comments and suggestions as well. Ecclesiastes 4:12: “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
By sharing perspectives and experiences, we can grow stronger and persevere through the most difficult of circumstances. For the more than 2-year battle when my OCD was at its worst, my husband and best friend was there for me in every way I needed – whether it was to complete tasks that proved too much for me at the time, anticipate and help me prepare for future attacks, or just talk about the OCD thoughts and compare those to the reality of the situation. OCD thoughts are lies and I needed to replace them with truth and refocus to decrease the anxiety. The same goes for life in general and for everyone. We cannot live as hermits, spiraling downward in isolation as we listen to and feed the lies in our thoughts and feelings. We need others to give us the reality and truth checks that keep us in the light and on course. Created to love and be loved, we all long for the support, compassion, kindness, and encouragement of others.
Though if it had to be stated in as few words as possible, this blog’s purpose is…to demolish negative strongholds. The Google dictionary defines a “stronghold” as “a place where a particular cause or belief is strongly defended or upheld.” A stronghold is good when the cause or belief defended is inherently good and rooted in objective truth. But we are talking about the bad strongholds here…the ones that appear good, but only lead to mayhem and death. Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death,” and that is repeated in Proverbs 16. Only with divine wisdom can we learn to distinguish the truth from the lies on our own (take a moment to read Proverbs 2), face our own demons, and free ourselves from living in slavery to the lies.
You want to achieve your dreams, improve your relationships, or in some other way change your life? Demolish those evil, worthless strongholds…in your mind, in your body, in your soul, in your home, in your relationships, in your town, in your country. You want world peace? You want true love and tolerance? Demolish those strongholds. They’re everywhere. They are what make this such a dark world. They are the death grips on us all…the subtle lies we believe or tell ourselves…the blatant evil we justify…the “bad habit” or “indulgence” that is killing us in small, unnoticeable increments…the suffering we ignore or the good we leave undone for “tomorrow” or “later.” Make no mistake about it. Misery loves company. You are someone’s enemy and that someone appears in many forms and wants to destroy you, your family, and everything good…without you even realizing it.
One of my favorite plays is The Tragedie of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe, a contemporary of Shakespeare and self-proclaimed atheist who ironically wrote what some might call one of the greatest tributes to Christianity. In this very dark play, only a couple rays of light (the Good Angel and the Old Man) shine; God is “absent” or “silent.” Act I, Scene III, has this notable dialogue between Faustus and the devil Mephostophilis:
Faust. Was not that Lucifer an angel once?
Meph. Yes, Faustus, and most dearly loved of God.
Faust. How comes it then that he is Prince of Devils?
Meph. O, by aspiring pride and insolence, For which God threw him from the face of heaven.
Faust. And what are you that live with Lucifer?
Meph. Unhappy spirits that live with Lucifer, Conspired against our God with Lucifer, And are for ever damned with Lucifer.
Faust. Where are you damned?
Meph. In hell.
Faust. How comes it then that thou art out of hell?
Meph. Why this is hell, nor am I out of it. Think’st thou that I that saw the face of God And tasted the eternal joys of heaven Am not tormented with ten thousand hells, In being deprived of everlasting bliss? O, Faustus, leave these frivolous demands, Which strike a terror to my fainting soul.
The world screams with the frivolous evil and pain that fills it. And yet, many of our thoughts and actions, our justifications and choices, keep the devil’s chest swelling with pride and hate as we arrogantly follow our flesh and foolishness, contributing to the needless suffering, insanity, and bloodshed. In 1892, Edvard Munch wrote about what inspired him to create the painting popularly called The Scream: “One evening I was walking along a path, the city was on one side and the fjord below. I felt tired and ill. I stopped and looked out over the fjord—the sun was setting, and the clouds turning blood red. I sensed a scream passing through nature; it seemed to me that I heard the scream. I painted this picture, painted the clouds as actual blood. The color shrieked. This became The Scream.”
The devil knows how the story of the world ends and that God has won the war; so, he will not rest until each and every battle that takes place is bloodier and claims more souls than the last. Not sure about you, but I want a better world for our children. I don’t like many of the places where this one has been or is headed. I want to make a difference and bless others as they’ve blessed me. The only way to fight the temporarily inescapable darkness that surrounds us is to allow the light in…follow it, radiate it, and go plaid.
To me, going plaid is the essence of being “in the world, but not of the world” as many Christians summarize and refer to the several Bible passages that discuss this concept. We are only visitors on a journey here, ambassadors in a foreign land. The Government, pharmaceutical companies (aka “Big Pharma”), traditional medical model promoting drugs and surgeries, food industry, mass media (news, film, music, television, Internet, etc), and name brand marketing/advertising departments all bombard, and sometimes even brainwash, us with negative influences and lies. These are not inherently evil organizations and many within them have good motives. However, they are – by and large – corrupt with human vices and error, serving and trusting in money, pleasure, and themselves instead of truth and God. Tragically, like Faustus, some have sold their souls while the rest of them and us may suffer or even die from their decisions and actions. At best, we are often overwhelmed, distracted, and desensitized with the amounts of sex, alcohol/drugs, violence, profanity, blasphemy, materialism, entertainment, and gossip (just to name a few) hurled around and at us each day. Still, we’re just “passing through” and can be in the middle of all this without participating in all the tempting negativity and buying into all the lies. Instead, all this darkness gives us that much more of an opportunity to shine the light.
I pray that this blog might become a source of truth and hope…a community of people from all backgrounds who choose to focus on and encourage each other in the good while understanding we are in the middle of and cannot ignore the bad. The worst thing you can possibly do is ignore the bad. Know your enemy so you know how to wage war. Mitigate your enemy’s strengths. Exploit your enemy’s weaknesses. Don’t worry about everyone else. Win your battle.
‘…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ – Romans 8:37-39