Category Archives: Healing through love

There is one remedy that is universal and timeless. Real love, both given and received, has the power to heal our deepest wounds.

What do you really need to heal?

The last few days have been screamers – you know, when on the outside I am pretty tired and it is hard to keep moving, but on the inside there is a constant scream. I can literally feel the lava boiling up and wanting to explode out. I just want out of my skin. I just want some quiet on the inside.

flames

Thank heavens for OCD that makes me think 5, 6, and 7 times before putting my head through the wall – that hole would be so ugly and I’m not sure that I could repair it to be as good as new. The battle inside may rage, but the exterior stays obedient and behaved.

I have several things I work through to help me keep the explosion from erupting on anyone else or causing any damage.

I go to my daily list and attack the next item, or

I grab my IPod and let the music flow through me, or

I escape into the sunshine and walk and walk and walk, or

I allow myself to go into the bedroom, pull back the bedspread, and tell myself that “I’ll just lie down for a minute”, knowing that it will probably be several hours.

I’m not sure that these make a long-term difference, but in the short term they keep me from doing something that would cause others pain.

Probably like putting on a Band-Aid to keep the blood from flowing and causing a mess.

This morning while I was quickly switching back and forth between laughing maniacally and then shouting out and hitting my head and then shaking my head and telling myself to get under control, and back again, I had the thought: “Healing Greg. What do you need to heal?”

I wrote it down so I wouldn’t forget while working through my steps of control.

Now that things are a little calmer I can come back to my note and my question.

What does it really take to heal?

I need some more substantive activities that can go beyond the Band-Aid and be more like the Neosporin that makes the skin close up and stop bleeding.

Of course I know what they are for me.

Dropping to my knees and beginning to count, one by one, my incredible blessings.

Not just turning on the IPod, but finding specific music that lifts my spirit, my body, my soul.

Pouring out my emotions on the piano.

Opening up the scriptures, both ancient and contemporary, and reading a paragraph and then just stopping, letting it wash over me, through me.

Watching my wife bake some new experimental treat with complete calmness in her actions and peace in all her features.

Listening to Alex hum and whistle while she creates and figures out a new project in her den in the basement.
Reading what Nick does and doesn’t write from Peru, and knowing how deeply he is changing and growing.

Writing. Experiencing the clarity of thought and mind that used to be so much a part of my life, feeling the words and outlines come, and knowing that it is not originating from within me.

Looking outside myself and doing something that will make a difference in someone else’s day. You know, email and social media really are a huge blessing for someone like me who needs to stay away from people at times. I can still try to reach out from my zone of safety.

These things do more than just get me through the moment, they help me to calm the lava and slow the spinning frenzy. They may still cause a tear to be in the corner of my eye, but it is accompanied by a slight smile – if only one sided.

So, what do you need to heal?

You really deserve to know.

Each of you out there is fighting your own dragon and laying a weary head down on your pillow at night, not sure how you will get up tomorrow and do it again.

Yet you do.

Are you doing it via Band-Aid or Neosporin?

Something to think about.

May you honestly find real healing in your life. Healing that makes you stronger. Healing that makes you love a little deeper. Healing that brings you quiet peace amidst all the busyness.

 

What does it mean to be a Christian?

Anyone who knows me can state that I am a bit naïve, my wife being number one on the list. I didn’t even know we were dating for months. You can imagine the dumbfounded look on her face when someone commented and I turned to her and asked “Oh, are we dating?”

It’s kind of amazing that we are now such a happy family.

Over the years, I still have my moments where it is obvious that I have been flying under the radar and not clearly grasping reality around me. It’s part of the magic of being me.

At least, that is what I tell Ann.

But I feel like I am going through a bit of a learning curve lately.

I watched a presentation by a man with a PhD on “what Mormons believe.” I listened carefully and, even though it was pretty obvious he thought the beliefs were outrageous, he had probably more than 90% of it right.

In my naiveté I found myself asking the screen, “Why doesn’t that make sense to you? It makes perfect sense to me.”

Then I did some reading on what others feel that it means to worship the Savior Jesus Christ, to take His name upon us, and to be a Christian.

I will admit my jaw kept hitting the desktop.

Really?

Really??

I guess the situation had now completely reversed and I was like the man with the PhD. Even with an understanding of the technical aspects of his beliefs, it felt so foreign to me.

We should have been the same; yet we really couldn’t have been more different.

Here’s another thought.

While talking about this same thing Sunday morning, our daughter made an incredibly insightful comment. She said that there are many people of the Muslim faith who are good, kind people who are simply trying to help their fellow neighbor. There are people of the Jewish faith who are filled with love and make the world a better place each day. We can go around the world and find people everywhere who live lives worthy of emulation.

They exhibit behavior that is very, well, Christ-like. Very Christian.

Kind of a topsy-turvy world.

Christians telling other Christians that they aren’t in fact Christian. Non-Christians behaving Christian.

My little naïve mind could probably burst at the confusion of it all.

What does it mean to be a Christian?

Obviously there is not just one perception out there; there are many.

It made me wonder, what is my perception? What is my understanding of what it means to be a Christian?

Am I offended or angry when someone who doesn’t know me, has never met me, tells me that I am not a Christian?

I took the time to let this go through my head and bounce around a while.

All I could come up with is, no, I’m really not offended at all.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time worrying about it.

But maybe I’m not asking the right question.

Am I offended or angry when someone who knows me, has worked with me, has watched me through the years, tells me that I am not a Christian?

This is a harder question.

No. I am not offended or angry.

I am ashamed.

And I think I have a little better understanding of what it may actually mean to be a Christian.

The Savior Jesus Christ is real. He lived. He lives.

To behave, as closely as we can, as he behaved, as he behaves, takes a lifetime.

There will be days that you watch me and witness things that I am not very proud of. On those days, I wouldn’t deserve to be counted among those who profess to follow His example.

We all have those days.

Perhaps part of being a Christian is not focusing on each other when we stumble, but rather holding out a hand and helping each other to stand back up.

 

To all the Christian-behaving Muslims, and Christian-behaving Jews, and Christian-behaving Buddhists, thank you for the example you show in helping us to be better Christian-behaving Christians.

There is a lot of good out there. Maybe through looking at each other with compassion and gratitude, it will help us to see ourselves as we hope to be.

And people won’t be so worried about what each other is or isn’t, but will just want to be more like Him.

That’s a win for everyone.

There are causes to fight for, but what is the best ammunition?

Each year life seems to go a little faster, and faster, and faster. It’s a workout just to try to keep up with all that is going on around us.

 

Amid all the busyness and rush that we call life, things are also changing. Some things are changing gradually and almost imperceptibly; other changes come fast, quickly becoming permanent before we really have realized what hit us.

Of course, some of the changes are great and make life better for many. But there are also some changes that either creep in or zoom in that cause us concern about the direction things are going.

We really should do something about that, shouldn’t we?

But our day tomorrow is jam packed and even right now we are late and have to get going. We’ll come back to it later.

I wonder if we aren’t at the point that we don’t really have many “laters” to put things off to.

Each of us has things that we believe strongly in, things that we really want to either continue being a part of our lives or things that we want to become part of our lives.

Do we want them enough to fight for them?

I think if we don’t begin to fight for them, we will open our eyes one day and they will be gone.

But isn’t realizing that we need to fight only part of the problem? We need to figure out “how” to fight.

We’ve witnessed people across the country who, in the name of goodness and religion, have done some pretty hurtful things as they “fight” for what they feel is right.

Protesting funerals.

Bombing abortion clinics.

Attacking and tearing down the opposite side through interviews and publications.

When we fight this way, does anyone really win anything?

Would the better question be: What did I lose of myself through these actions?

We’ve been moved deeply by the scenes in Les Miserables of the barricade. The nobility of standing and fighting together. The righteous goals of making things better. The certainty that the other side is completely wrong.

But I think battles have changed over the years. Instead of one side being right and the other side wrong, we find that there are mistakes made on both sides and often each side has valid points to their argument.

There is truth and right. There is deceit and wrong. Unfortunately, people tend to mix the two in their actions and aims.

Maybe a place to start would be to define the fight:

Why am I willing to fight for this?

Who am I fighting?

Why are they in opposition to my view?

What would be an acceptable solution?

One thing about the barricade, it blocked our view of the other side. We couldn’t see faces or people or individuals. It was just “them”, and “they” are wrong.

But the barricades of the battles in our lifetime are mostly self-made and quickly fortified with only part of the truth. In most cases we don’t have all the necessary information. We make assumptions on the gaps and fill it in with what makes us look stronger.

So maybe in our arsenal we need truth. That places the responsibility squarely on our shoulders of what our sources of truth are. What and who are we choosing to trust?

I’ve thought about fights and wars and battles through time. The vast majority end with one victor and one clear loser. The “bad” guys have been squashed and trampled on and run out. They deserve it for being the “bad” guys.

How did the “bad” guys feel about this? Did it change their behavior? Did they somehow see the light and quickly change their mindset to now match that of their conquerors?

Very, very rarely.

Usually fighting this way only firms up the beliefs of the conquered and the fire smolders within them until another opportunity arises to attack.

And the fight goes on.

The truth is that for someone to make a change in his/her viewpoint, they are given the chance to see things for themselves and make their own decision about it. When it is their choice and decision, then true change will follow.

How does that happen?

It starts when I tear down the barricade and actually look my opponent in the face. I take the time to learn about their troubles and things that are important to them. Suddenly they are people like me, just with a different vision.

How do we treat them to help them stop and listen to our position?

I think you get the drift of where this is headed. Kind of an oxymoron that the best ammunition in a battle where you want the other side to see the truth as you see it, is kindness, respect, and even love.

The only ammunition that has lasting impact is truth delivered through love.

 

Truth delivered through love.

Sounds like a win-win to me.

What makes someone hard to love? What do we do about it?

What makes someone easy to love? What makes someone hard to love?

Which am I?

I’ve prayed for my Ann and our kids for many years now. I ache at the life we don’t live because of me. I keep telling Ann that she should ask for a refund. She just smiles and says “It is what it is.”

What does that say about Ann?

A lot.

So often we spend time worrying about the way we think things should be. I know that I do. By this point I was going to be a big wig with a fantastic salary and we would have the freedom to go and do whatever we wanted.

That was the plan.

That is not at all the way things have worked out.

So, what is Ann saying when she smiles at me and tells me “It is what it is”?

Is she being complacent? Has she given up and resigned herself to a difficult life?

No.

She is saying “Let’s take what we have and build from there.”

This little equation works really well when all parties involved have thrown their entire hand in and are giving it everything they have.

But what if not everyone is willing to abandon the safety of self and will only give a portion?

I’m afraid that this is more of the norm; the entire team going for broke the exception.

What do you do when it is simply hard to love someone who doesn’t seem to reciprocate?

Being the question asker that I am, I think there are some important thoughts to understand before moving on:

Why have I chosen to love this person?

What is the cause of their reticence?

How hard are they working to overcome that which prevents them from loving me completely?

Do I love them enough to keep going anyway?

I would imagine that each person reading this would have different answers to these questions. That is as it should be. Love is individual and unique and deeply personal.

There are many things that could make it more difficult to love someone.

I know that it is hard to love a person with mental illness. Our reality is so different from what the rest of the world deems “normal.” I find myself telling Ann that I’m sure my way is the right way and what everyone else is doing is not “normal.” She just smiles in that way that tells me that I’m wrong but she loves me anyway.

Don’t you wonder why she loves me anyway?

I behave in ways that would make it hard to love me. Lots of drama and not enough support.

Yet, the power that heals me the most is her love. The love that I don’t deserve, but I really, really need.

Knowing that, it changes how I see her. I’m now really interested in a few questions of my own:

Why have I chosen to love her?

How does she need to receive my expressions of love?

What do I need to change about my behavior that will make her life better?

Do I love her enough to keep going anyway?

And a miracle starts to take shape.

Part of my healing is putting my mental illness into perspective and learning to focus on what others around me need.

Maybe I only had half of the equation before. I knew that I needed her love to help me heal.

Now I know that I need to truly love her to help me heal the rest of the way.

So instead of each of us asking a different set of questions, now we can join hands and ask ourselves the same questions:

Why have we chosen to love each other?

Are we willing to fight with all we have to help this love continue to grow?

Is there anything that would make us stop?

Instead of there being one who is easy to love and one who is hard to love, now we have stepped over to the same side of the fence. We look outwardly in the same direction. It may be a little easier for her to love me, the difficult one. And my capacity to love her, the easy one, has become a real power that changes how I behave and what I focus on.

Kind of simple, really.

We are being changed through love.

And now “It is what it is” is something that we can both say with a smile.

No regrets.

We know how to build from here, together.

Can saints and sinners live together in peace? Wait, which one am I?

America. The land of opportunity and freedom. Unlike any other country in the world.

I consider it a true blessing to have been born here, to have grown up here, and to live here now. Even with reading all the reports and seeing all the news stories of life outside the United States, I don’t think I can really comprehend completely just how good it is to be here.

Sure, there are problems. There are some things that are breaking down. There are some things that are broken. And we must fix them.

Why?

Because this is a country unlike any other in the world.

We experience freedom; freedom that is fought for and defended in many ways. Soldiers have died, and others have probably wished they had died after going through what they have gone through.

The draft was in force when I turned 18. I remember my father saying that he prayed fervently that we would not go to war while I was of age. I didn’t really understand it until I had children of my own, but as a father, I understand that same fear.

Being involved in combat can only be described as incredibly hard – hard to leave home and fight, hard to survive, hard to try to come back, hard to continue on in life as a “regular” person.

I can’t imagine it. I simply can’t imagine how hard it would be.

While thinking about this, I have been struck lately with the formation of battlefields here within our own borders. These are battles not fought with bullets or missiles or drones. They are fought with words and ideas and beliefs.

I think that the damage from these wars on the home front can be, will be, greater than the horrific and bloody battles in foreign lands.

We aren’t just trying to kill each other’s bodies with bullets. We are trying to kill each other’s freedom with laws.

The pen really is mightier than the sword.

Here is the reality: This is a country filled with people who are very different from each other. Different thoughts and ideas, different words and beliefs, different visions of just how America should be.

But, (and I think we find this hard to believe), it is just as much their country as it is mine; it is just as much mine as it is theirs.

So how do we figure out the way that everyone is afforded the right to worship or not worship according to their own deeply held beliefs? How do we encourage people to grow in all these different directions while keeping a set of laws that we all must follow that doesn’t stunt that growth?

Let the battle begin.

Choose your side. Dig in. Find out everything bad you can about the enemy, because that is exactly what they are: The Enemy. All hands on deck as we do our best to get rid of this nasty little element that thinks so differently.

What is interesting is that there can be people found on both sides who are thinking and behaving this way. Nobody is really an innocent bystander here.

Can saints and sinners live together? Well, maybe we need to clarify who are the saints and who are the sinners.

Again, I would think that each side would claim that of being right and the other side is clearly in the wrong. Righteous indignation at these close minded, bigoted, heathens who are destroying us.

Everybody step back and take a breath.

Let’s define the sides:

What is a saint?

I’ve always been taught that a saint isn’t someone who is perfect and, well, dead. A saint is someone who is really trying hard to do their very best. Someone who lives in love rather than anger. Someone who is really focused on others rather than themselves.

I know many, many people who would qualify as a saint under that definition. They make my life better in countless ways.

What is a sinner?

Isn’t a sinner someone who isn’t perfect? Someone who has something that they still struggle with and haven’t overcome? Someone who is still working on changing and growing and becoming?

Put me down in this category, for sure. If we are honest with ourselves, we probably all fit really well here.
Wait a minute though. Can we only fit in one of the two categories? Do we somehow have to be either saint or sinner?

I know I am a sinner. But I am also working pretty hard at doing my best and being a loving person.

Can I be both?

Can there be many, many, many people out there who are both?

Kind of takes it from an “us and them” situation to more of a “we” situation, doesn’t it?

The things that I struggle with that put me in the sinner category are probably different than the things you struggle with. The things that I may be making some good headway in doing good, may be different than the things that you are sailing fast and strong in.

But there are things that “we” are working on and things “we” are doing pretty good in.

What if, and this is a pretty radical idea, I know, but what if I tried to learn from you the things that you are making progress on, and in turn, I shared what I could with you about things that make my life better?

What would happen to the battle lines and the rhetoric and the name calling and the mudslinging?

We might just find that we actually have time to sit down and, again, wait for it, talk to each other, and, yes, even listen to each other.

I’m sure I am naïve and don’t know all that is going on. I don’t think that I am the only one. Rather than let myself get whipped up in the mob mentality and grab my pitchfork as we get ready to storm the opposition, maybe I could see what I could actually find out.

Learn.

Understand.

I believe in religious freedom. I believe it is why this country came into being. It saddens me that so many are choosing to abandon religion and faith when I know that it brings me so much happiness.

But I’m pretty sure that you’re not going to be interested in learning about that happiness if all you can hear are the war cries from my side.

And it will be hard for me to stop and try to see things from your perspective if I’m ridiculed as a religious fanatic who needs to get into the 21st century.

But I’m willing to try if you are.

Because, it is OUR country, a country unlike any other in the world.

So, maybe it is worth taking a closer look at just what we are doing with this precious freedom each of us want so dearly.

In the name of freedom, are we actually putting ourselves in bondage?

Bondage to anger.

Bondage to fear.

Bondage to selfishness.

If all of us are fighting for the right to live our religion and our faith, or, to just be kind and loving people but without a faith, don’t we have the responsibility to actually do it?