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

The Problem With Religion

It was shocking. And for most Americans, it was unexpected. And then the problem with religion was on center stage.

On June 26, 2015, the SCOTUS, in a landmark decision ruled that same-sex marriages were legal. The hashtag #Love Wins flooded the internet, as did #Equality For All.

People were shown hugging one another with tears of joy. Now, for the first time ever, same-sex couples are protected under the Constitution from any bans that would deny them the same rights as heterosexual couples.

That’s how love won.

A paragraph of the majority opinion in the ruling authored by Justice Kennedy prompted comments from people on what they believed to be a beautiful, compassionate and romantic definition of marriage. An hour later, the paragraph had gone viral:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. —Justice Anthony Kennedy

Then the love that was won hit the wall.

The problem with religion was ablaze. Conservative Christians, some GOP leaders, and Presidential candidates disagreed, intensely, with the ruling.

Probably the most wigged-out reaction came from Bryan Fischer of American Family Radio. In just one paragraph, Fischer compared the ruling to slavery, 9/11, the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Sodom and Gomorrah. A frenzied Fischer announced:

From a moral standpoint, 6/26 is the new 9/11, because it was on this day that five justices of the United States Supreme Court became moral jihadists, They became rainbow jihadists and they blasted the twin pillars of truth and righteousness into rubble. And they did this by imposing sodomy-based marriage on the United States through an act of judicial tyranny. Today, June 26, 2015, is a date which will live in infamy. On this day, the United States became Sodom and Gomorrah.

Yikes! That’s an offensive thing to say. That’s the problem with religion.

But Fisher was not the only conservative Christian who reacted with agony and sorrow at the prospect of gay marriage across the land. Indeed, there was a great deal of weeping and gnashing of teeth.

All of the nay-sayers seem to believe the institution of marriage is at stake. Their priority is to uphold this sacred union. This is God’s will. The Bible states marriage is between a man and a woman.

Now here is where this Bible-quoting loses credibility.

Divorce is against God’s will and against the teachings in the Bible. Having sex outside of marriage is also a big no-no according to Bible teachings. And living together in sin? A huge taboo in Scripture.

What’s the difference between these sins and the implied sin of same-sex marriage?

Can someone explain that to me?

I asked that question in a Facebook group that was declaring how America was on the verge of collapse and every American was going to hell because the ruling is against the inerrant word of the Bible. The group could not answer my question, but they did send me a short video of why they thought Obama is bad for America.

I moved on and had a three hour back and forth conversation on a Facebook group belonging to Fr. James Martin. Even with over 11,000 comments, no one could answer my question. That’s the problem with religion.

My point is there is no difference. Every sin is against the inerrant word of the Bible.

Divorce is against God’s will, and Christians get divorced all the time. There’s no revolt about that sin. Christians have premarital sex and cohabitate outside of marriage. That’s a sin in the Bible. Where’s the protest about that to the Supreme Court? Why is that seemingly tolerated with little objection, but same-sex marriage qualifies for continued flogging and imprisonment?

That’s such hypocrisy and that’s the problem with religion!

God is love. As followers, we are to love one another. Why is that so difficult? We are all created equal in the eyes of God, but that equality is blurred by many so-called Christians who believe themselves superior.

It reminds me of the dogmatic practices and beliefs of the Pharisees. They were so blinded by greed and power, that they missed the possibility that the Messiah could be the humility and grace in a man called Jesus.

FullSizeRender (5)Think about it.

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

Listen Up!

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey tells of a father who came to him saying, “I can’t understand my kid. He just won’t listen to me.” Covey patiently tried to get the dad to see the inconsistency of his statement. You don’t understand people by getting them to listen to you. You understand them when you listen to what they’re saying.

charlie brown listen

Is anyone listening?

It’s true that our high-tech, fast-paced society seems to provide less time to listen to one another. Everyone is in a hurry, no one has time, but the need for communication and connection is more important than ever. Relationships at work and at home cannot thrive or survive without mutual communication. It’s imperative that we stop and listen up!

Have you ever jumped to understand a person’s disagreeing view? That’s not the first move of most people in conversation. People usually jump to judge, to argue, to reject, or to debate, but to understand? That’s a minority of people.

But we can change that.

When we listen to another person, we can refuse to be distracted by our own opinions and biases that prompt us to interrupt and disagree. We can accept that listening to a differing view is not going to cause the veins in our foreheads to explode. It’s only fair that if we want our point to be understood, we need to practice understanding the point of others. If a person speaks about a different view about something, we can ask why he or she believes that different view. We can ask, “Why do you believe that?” We can say, “Tell me how you came to that conclusion (or opinion, or position).”

listen

We could listen to what people say, and not to what we want to hear. We could listen to their choice of words, not what we want them to say. We Could listen to their values, their complaints, their priorities, their outlook, and how they speak about other people because that will reveal to us who that person is. So pay attention, put down any distractions, look at the person speaking, and listen.

To avoid the impulse to finish the sentences of a person who speaks slower is often a tussle. This is a test of patience. And another impulse to avoid is planning what to say next when we should be listening. Also don’t interrupt the person talking, or take calls, or look at your phone (or TV), or wave to someone you know, or stare at the floor or out the window, all of which convey that the person talking is a bother to you, and not important.

Look at the person talking, without distraction. Practice listening with the intent to understand. This earns the respect of others. And this will provide information about the person speaking.

A good listener is a respected trait.

IMG_0198Think about it.

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