Good and Evil Are Roommates At War Here

One word: paradise.

Blue skies stretch across a vast horizon. The soothing sounds and colors of a landscape come alive along paths of trees bearing fresh fruit for the picking. The scenery is a tropical postcard—gentle river streams babble along with waterfalls that outline a garden of extraordinary design and resource.

Everything needed for happiness is present. Here is a paradise of abundance. Here, there’s no want. There’s no hunger, thirst, or need of a doctor. There’s no white collar or blue collar, first class or coach, millionaire or minimum wage. No sorrow, worry, or problems.

It’s a place of good and right and truth. It’s where you don’t live, nor do I.  We don’t live in the Garden of Eden.

You and I live in a place of disease, struggles, and mistakes. We live in a land of inconsideration, crime, and loss. We’re surrounded by tragedies, unspeakable acts, and fears. We dwell among those who seek to define winners by possessions, status, and bank balances. We’re exposed to the greedy, the unkind, the bias.

This is a place of bad and wrong and lies. This is our place—our world—the outcome of Adam and Eve’s choice. Good and bad, right and wrong, truth and lies are roommates at war here. This is where you and I live. This is our reality.

Adam and Eve had it all—no wishful thinking, no bills, no body aches, no wants, no worries.

They possessed a park-like mansion and owned a river that divided into four more rivers (two are still identified today in Iraq each over 600 miles long where Eden existed). They had land bigger than the size of Texas. They were given forests, beaches, oasis, mountains, prairies, and golf course landscaping. They had security for themselves and inheritance for their children to come.

Still, there was one tiny, very small part of the whole earth they did not have—a tree. Just one tree. The Lord asked Adam and Eve, who stood as the sole receivers of the Earth, to recognize one, just one, itsy bitsy tiny request. You are free to eat from any tree, but you must not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Assurance of life to them, immortal life, was theirs if they would honour this one request asked of God.

It required a decision.

They had the freedom to choose whether to focus on their paradise or to focus on the one forbidden tree.

At first, Adam and Eve must have passed the forbidden tree many times without a thought. After some time, perhaps they would look at the one tree as they walked to the river to swim. They didn’t talk to each other about the forbidden tree, but they each knew it was permanently off limits or as God told them, the consequence would be they will surely die.

One day Eve walked up to the tree, stopped and stared at it—focusing on the one thing she and Adam didn’t possess.

She dismissed the truth, denied the existence of repercussions, and justified listening to the words of a snake over the Word of God.

The rest is history.

Many people choose to focus on what they lack, what’s unfair, what they should have, and they are soon blinded from the blessings already bestowed upon them.

Like Adam and Eve, the given abundance is lost in the more they seek to have. These individuals focus on the one tree—the one thing they don’t have, don’t possess, don’t experience, or don’t feel.

What they do have is taken for granted. We can’t appreciate what we take for granted.

When a problem gangs up on us, all the struggling aspects of living seem to take the stage and the positive advantages of our lives—the blessings—seem to be missing from the role of credits.

Enter the nature of God—abundance.

Look around you. There isn’t just one leaf, one river, one snowflake, one flower, one feeling. There isn’t just a single dollar, a single gemstone, or a single piece of gold. These things are in abundance!

Jesus said that He came to give life—not just ordinary existence, but life in fullness, abundance and prosperity.

The choice of what to believe and what to focus on requires your decision—the same decision required of Adam and Eve—are you going to focus on what you don’t have or are you going to focus on a life of gratitude for what you do possess?

Are you going to believe what God says or are you going to doubt God exists?

On one side is God with goodness, eternal life, and “plenty” of all that is necessary for life and on the other side is the enemy of your soul who comes to rob you of God’s blessings, to oppress your mind with lies, and destroy an attitude of gratitude.

You choose every day what you’re going to believe and who you’re going to believe.

Choose wisely, my friend.

Think about it.

drsandynelson@gmail.com, © Life101Blog.com, Sandy Nelson Ph.D., All Rights Reserved

What Do You Deserve In Life?

What do you deserve in life? – by Dr. Sandy Nelson
Did you find yourself hesitating to answer the question?

 

I did.

What do I deserve? Nothing.

But that’s old school thinking. That’s my unhealthy and incorrect thinking from decades ago.

You see, I was raised as a Missouri Synod Lutheran with a doctrine that preached, in my opinion, self-abnegation in church and you-don’t-deserve-crap in its parochial school.

My takeaway experience with religion by junior high graduation was: Jesus died for my pathetic existence and worthless life. I should live in continual disrepute, guilt and shame that He was killed in my stead.

I came to learn that many religions have a knack of guilt-tripping and adversely branding people who believe in something different than what the churches are preaching and demand within their denomination.

I believe in the full and true Grace of God.

In my opinion, there is no religious guilt, judgment, self-denial or shame under the Grace of God. We are free and we are to love one another as Jesus said.

It’s pretty simple when you take out all the bylaws and rules and rituals associated with many sects.

We have no right to judge or condemn others or ourselves.

Each of us has been given talents, skills, gifts, strengths, and abilities for use to better our lives and to help the lives of other people.

So, what do I really deserve? I deserve happiness, love, and success. And you deserve joy, affection, and achievement from your endeavors, too.

We deserve shelter and sunlight and shade and warmth. We deserve the free will to determine our destinies. We deserve the moon! And we have it. We deserve a universe! It’s all ours.

But, be alert to any invalidating thoughts you hold about yourself. They can cause you to sabotage relationships, success, and happiness.

If you do not treat yourself with love and respect, you can not experience the love and respect that other people want to give you.

So, seriously jump on any negative thoughts in your head about yourself. Refuse to criticize your mistakes or degrade your limitations or weaknesses—we all have them.

Self-love is necessary to succeed, to be happy, and to love other people.

Listen to the words you choose to use every day. Are they complaining and critical words? Are they judgmental phrases? Or do you hear encouraging expressions? Phrases of kindness? Words of gratitude out of your mouth?

The words you speak reflect your character. Your words reflect what you believe about yourself.

Stay aware of the words you choose to verbalize. Do they match the character you want to role model to your children, family, co-workers or other people? Are they in agreement with the integrity in which you want to be associated?

Where you are today can be attributed to the words you tell yourself.

What do you deserve? Are you ready to answer the question?

Think about it.

drsandy@life101blog.com  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, Life101Blog.com  ♦  Any photos courtesy of Pixabay unless otherwise noted

How To Stop Hate

Only a person with self-contempt can contemplate murder. Self-esteem and self-respect can’t co-exist with hatred. But organized hatred helps give new meaning to the lives of those who feel marginalized. That’s how one learns to hate.

In 1915, D.W. Griffith used the technology of motion pictures to make Birth of a Nation. This film prejudiceportrayed African-Americans as being stupid, lazy and inferior, and glorified the Ku Klux Klan for standing up for the rights of the white supremacy majority. It was so effective in fostering hate against African-Americans that even Griffith himself was said to have been shocked.

One hundred years later, in Charleston, South Carolina, Dylann Roof, a Caucasian male, walked into a Bible study on Wednesday evening, June 17th with a mindset of hate. His reason for attending was to shoot and kill everyone there—all African-American’s. For an hour, Roof sat with the group and participated in their discussions about Scripture. Later, Roof told police he almost aborted his plan to kill the group because they were so welcoming and kind to him.

Michael Daly of The Daily Beast wrote:

But that would have meant giving up the hate that filled the hollowness of being born of a fleeting reunion between his parents three years after their divorce and of getting no further in high school than the ninth grade, but wearing a jacket with an “Academic All Stars” patch rightfully worn only by seniors in the top 10 percent. 

He had compensated for that false claim by sewing two other patches on the jacket, flags of apartheid-era Rhodesia and South Africa, symbols for those seeking another kind of supposed supremacy. 

And his older sister, Amber, was to be married on Sunday. To have just left the Emanuel A.M.E. Church on Wednesday night would have meant going to the wedding at the end of the week as a rank loser from a fractured family who could rightly declare himself supreme in nothing at all.

Even so, Roof seems to have understood in his moments of indecision that these warmly devout people of the Bible study group were putting the lie to his racism. He may have sensed that the faith filling their lives might also fill his own.

After an hour, just as he was apparently losing his resolve and his hate was slipping away, Roof seized it anew. He allegedly produced the Glock .45 automatic that he is reported to have purchased with birthday money from his father.

That was when Tywanza Sanders is said to have told him, “You don’t have to do this.”

Roof is said to have replied as if he were also trying to convince himself. He was not some loser. He was a champion of the white race about to start a race war.

“I have to do it,” he reportedly cried out.

His next words were the language of white supremacists. “You rape our women, and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”

Hate is a painful state of being because the mind is not ordained to hate. Everybody is born to love—to love our Creator, to love ourselves and to love others.

IMG_2247It is not only our hatred of others that is dangerous but also, and above all, our hatred of ourselves: particularly that hatred of ourselves which is too deep and too powerful to be consciously faced. For it is this which makes us see our own evil in others and unable to see it in ourselves, wrote Catholic Monk Thomas Merton in New Seeds of Contemplation.

A zero self-love is a developed misery. It’s miserable because it’s painful and unnatural to hate one’s self—it goes against our very nature. Our core disposition is to love, not despise; to include, not shut out; to embrace, not isolate.

When we, as a society reverse the hate, overturn the prejudice and embrace all human beings with dignity and respect they’re entitled to, then maybe the violence will rescind. When we encourage and support one another, then the inner flames of self-esteem and self-respect are not extinguished.

FullSizeRender (6)Think about it.

drsandy@life101blog.com  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, Life101Blog.com

Is Self-Pity Wrong?

Who is to blame for the dire circumstances of your life?

American author John W. Gardner was Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare under President Johnson. During World War II he served in the United States Marine Corps as a Captain. He wrote, Self-pity is easily the most destructive of the non-pharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.

But wait, I think self-pity is a necessary condition to experience before recovery can occur from any unfortunate event. Grieving losses, depression from painful memories, and mourning unfortunate events are part of the healing found in the condition of self-solace. God knows I have visited self-solace many times in my life.

Self-solace is where acceptance of reality creeps into us in amounts we can handle. If we didn’t have these periods of self-solace that enable us to come to terms with the unfairness of life, I dread the thought of damage it could do to our mental health.

However, when we get wrapped up in our misfortunes and hang onto blaming someone or something for the circumstances of our lives, then we are no longer healing—we are feeling sorry for ourselves, and that adds to the problem.

11255216_10153260316333908_4245992246248920802_nSoon a sense of entitlement arrives—we may feel a right to certain privileges and a right to leave behind certain responsibilities because of what we endured. Unhappy comments can often be said to others to enlist sympathy and call attention to what happened unfairly to us. In no time we could set up camp in Victimville recruiting empathy and excusing unhealthy behaviors. Self-pity reeks from us and our healing is kept away.

Whatever has occurred unjustly to you may not have been your fault, but to heal you need to recognize that even though you were blind-sided, the injustice is your responsibility to overcome. It landed in your lap.

Today, ask yourself if there is someone or something you are holding responsible for why your life is the way it is. 

FullSizeRender (5)Think about it.

drsandy@life101blog.com ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, Life101Blog.com  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay unless otherwise noted

 

 

Why Do Our Choices Matter?

Hindsight always reveals the right choice. The one I should have made. The option I should have chosen. Why can’t I have a peek at hindsight in the here and now so I can make the best choice and best decision, today? That’s possible if I learned anything from my past.

Francois de La Rochefoucauld was a noted French author of maxims and memoirs. He held a clear-eyed and worldly view about human conduct in the 16th century. Perhaps he was scolding his fellow peers for spending half their day in bed with women when he wrote:

Everybody complains about their memory, and nobody complains about their judgment.

Five centuries later, I think his snide comment still has merit. Why do our choices matter? Many people speak about their lapse of recall saying, “Gee, I can’t remember anything these days; my memory is awful.” But we don’t make comments about our choices. We don’t say, “Gee, I can’t make correct decisions anymore, my judgment is awful.”

I wish I realized my decision-making ability had needed an overhaul before half my life was over. My earlier years might have been more pleasant and less turbulent.

But, unlike chatter about better golf grips, better gas prices, or better political races, the topic of better decision-making or why our judgment matters, is hardly the choice of conversation at a dinner party. If it were, perhaps there would be less regret and less hurt in our lives. Maybe we would have learned something beneficial for a lifetime from one another.

I like the idea of taking a moment with my family each night to reflect on the decisions and choices made throughout the day. It’s a good mental exercise to look at which decisions showed the use of better judgment and the opportunities that didn’t?

J.K. Rowling says: It is our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.

I think she’s on to something! It’s at least worth a try. So I’m going to take a look at my decision-making process with honesty.

Want to join me?

FullSizeRender (5)Think about it.

drsandy@life101blog.com