Tag Archives: Jesus

The Gates

Back in high school there was a party one weekend that some friends and I had been invited to and we were planning to attend.  My best friend’s mom dropped us off and as we were walking towards the front door we caught a glimpse of one of the cool and intimidating girls in our class.  In an instant the four of us made a decision not to attend the party, we turned around and ran back to the car.  That night we instead had a slumber party together and laughed at ourselves and had a really good time.  I haven’t thought about this night since then, but for some reason listening to a song tonight made me think of it.  I wondered about the feelings my friend’s mom must have experienced that night.  I think she was probably sad to see us exclude ourselves from a party out of fear and intimidation.  I would have been very sad to see this happen to my girls.  As a parent it is one thing to see your children excluded by others, but to see them exclude themselves leaves you completely helpless.

In the gospel of St. Matthew 7:7

Jesus said ” Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

Thinking about this tonight made me wonder

  • Am I humble enough to realize that the gates of heaven will not be standing wide open for me when I arrive?
  • Am I fearless enough to have the courage to knock on those enormous, beautiful and radiant gates?

In the gospel of St. Matthew 15:22 – 28

Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.  A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.”  Jesus did not answer a word.  So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”  He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”  The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.  He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”  “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”  Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith!  Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

Finally thinking about this next passage in conjunction made me wonder

  • Am I humbly persistent enough to keep knocking until the gates are opened?

I want to teach my children to be humble, fearless and persistent.  I want to teach them to include others and themselves.

Include yourself!  God is our Father and if it pains me to see my children exclude themselves then imagine how painful it is for Him to see billions of His children exclude themselves everyday.

Jesus wants ALL of us, He is preparing the rooms and He told us to knock when we arrive just as any friend inviting us to His parents home would ask us to knock when we arrived!

It is Our Best Life!  Let’s believe it together and it will be for all of us!

The Little Way

I watched a movie about Saint Thérèse of Lisieux last night, Thérèse.  I loved it and loved learning about “The Little Way”.

Below is a definition I found online for “The Little Way” of Saint Thérèse.

It is an image that tries to capture her understanding of being a disciple of Jesus Christ, of seeking holiness of life in the ordinary and the everyday.

I have been thinking about this a lot today and I think when you empathize with someone it can naturally guide you towards “The Little Way”.  In the movie Saint Thérèse was very considerate and aware of her family and then later of her fellow sisters.  She attempted to help others in ordinary and everyday moments without ever expecting anything (a thank you or even acknowledgement) in return.

I think when you empathize with someone, really attempt to see things from their perspective, it can help you to move beyond the expectation for a thank you or acknowledgement of what you then do for that person since you now can more fully appreciate the difficulties that brought about their current needs in this moment.  I think once you are released from this expectation you can then truly find joy in meeting their needs (serving them) in that moment without the weight of what you will receive (your expectations) on your mind.

I know I still have a lot to learn about “The Little Way” of Saint Thérèse, but these are are my initial thoughts.  I hope to learn more when I get a chance to read the autobiography of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: The Story of a Soul.

Wouldn’t it be AWESOME if we could all truly let go of “me” and focus on “you”?  I think what we would find would be Our Best Life because even if I really let go of me, Jesus won’t let go of me… He wants us All!

Perspective shift

We went to the park the other day to take a short hike with the girls. As we were all getting out of the car and unfolding the stroller a woman was walking by with two small dogs. I was just about to look up and say hello when she dropped her wallet and said in a very angry and exasperated voice to herself, “This has been the worst f*****g day, can anything else go wrong?” She picked up her wallet and stomped past us through the parking lot. It was only 10:30 am, and I thought to myself, unfortunately she still has most of the day left for things to continue spiraling out of control. Obviously I only saw one moment of her story and it appeared to be a very bad moment, but it made me think about perspective and if a perspective shift could have helped her through the rest of the day.

Perspective is defined as a mental view of or outlook on a situation.  I think a perspective shift can change almost anything.  When I don’t know someone else’s full story it is difficult to suggest a perspective shift, but hopefully a personal story will help make my point.

A few weeks ago I was out on a Sunday evening on my way to return a movie. I turned onto the highway feeder road a little too quickly and hit the curb with my rear tire. The tire immediately blew and luckily I was just about 200 yards from an open gas station. As I was pulling in to see if they could help me change my tire I was thinking, It serves me right because I made the turn too quickly, as if this was punishment for my poor driving. A really nice young man changed my tire and I was on my way.  The next day I went to buy a new tire and the man at the store strongly suggested replacing the other three as well.   I took a look at the tires and if you know about the penny test to check the treads then you will understand how necessary it was for me to get new tires when I tell you that there was nowhere to even put the penny.  As I was pulling away with four new tires I could have been complaining about the hour I had just spent waiting for new tires or the money I had just spent that I had planned to use for something else, but instead I thought to myself, Thank you God for making me get new tires since I wasn’t going to find the time to do it without your help.

Despite some of the terrible things I see in the news, I try to keep my perspective shifted  and continue to believe it is Our Best Life and I hope you do too?  If we all believe it is our best life would the news change?

Jesus said, “Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

A finite number of lashes…

I watched The Passion of Christ (2004 American Drama directed by Mel Gibson) on the evening of Easter Sunday.  It was the first time I had seen it and now two months later I still think quite often about the lashing of Christ scene.  While I was watching the movie the lashing scene seemed to go on forever and at one point I actually winced as Jesus received a lash and I thought to myself, that one was mine.  The thought actually surprised me and made me cringe, but the more I have reflected on it the more I think it is true.  I think we are all responsible for at least one lash that He received that day.

The comfort I have found as I continue to think about this scene and the innumerable lashes Jesus received is that the lashing did eventually stop.  Even though the final number of lashes could not be counted by the end of His lashing, we know the final number of lashes was a finite number.  I find comfort in this because to me it means that although there is evil and sin in this world, there is a finite amount.  It does not go on forever and there will come a day when all that is left will be GOOD.  Thank you Jesus for loving us so much.

I believe it and I pray with all of my heart that you do too!  It is Our Best Life!

The joy of suffering!

I saw a movie on Saint John of the Cross the other night and at the end he said, “Love the suffering.” I have been thinking about this a lot since watching the movie.

Saint John of the Cross spent about 8 months held captive by his superiors, imprisoned in a tiny closet. This was his suffering, but he saw it as his joy to be given unlimited time to contemplate Jesus.

The disciples of Jesus left their families, their lives, to follow Jesus and many observers at that time thought they were crazy and that they would suffer or were suffering, but Jesus was their Joy!

Once you truly follow Jesus is it even possible to suffer? From someone else’s perspective it might appear that you are suffering, but from your own perspective are you really suffering?

I think the song, You Can Have Me by Sidewalk Prophets says it beautifully

If You’re all You claim to be
Then I’m not losing anything
So I will crawl upon my knees
Just to know the joy of suffering

Therefore if Jesus is our joy then I think it is already Our Best Life.

If He is not then can we say It is Our Best Life with the hope that this daily prayer will help us find the right path to our joy in Jesus?

I think the answer is YES, start saying it and see where it takes you.  I think it will circle back around, but go ahead and try it for yourself.

 

A few more thoughts on empathy…

I was watching a documentary about different types of love and relationships a few months ago, and they brought up empathy as a key building block in relationships.  I agree with this, but what really got me thinking was the wording used when defining empathy.  In the documentary empathy was defined as the ability to put your self aside in order to identify with or experience the feelings, thoughts or attitudes of another.

When I heard it defined with the additional wording of PUT YOUR SELF ASIDE, I immediately thought of when Jesus said to deny your self.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”

Did Jesus mean for us to empathize with others when he said to deny ourselves?  I am starting to think this is what he meant.

In the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, ” You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person.  If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

How can one truly turn the other cheek?  Is the answer to this also empathy?

If you resist your anger towards the person who has struck you (Are you denying yourself?), and instead attempt to empathize with that person, understand that the obstacles and difficulties of their life, their story have brought them to this moment and that although their physical anger was finally triggered by the current moment shared with you, their emotional anger has probably been building for quite some time and has very little to do with you.

Once you can empathize with this person, does it become a little easier to deny your self/deny your anger and turn the other cheek?

Jesus said, “Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”  It is “Our Best Life”, let’s say it, believe it, live it and wish for it everyday for EVERYONE!

 

Life will never be the same…

I spoke with a friend today whose family was recently rocked by some very difficult news.  She told me that when the Doctor delivered the news she said, “Life as you know it will never be the same.”

I have been thinking a lot about this tonight.  A short 24 hours earlier, Jesus and His best friends were sharing a meal, then everything changed in a moment and life was never the same.  Just one day after the death of their Friend, their God, Jesus; shock, fear, grief and anxiety still ruled and the disciples could not yet accept that, Life as they knew it would never be the same.  They did not yet know the secret that even from a change in their lives this terrible, this earth shattering, something GOOD would come and Life as they knew it would never be the same!

Life will never be the same… still grieving but now slowly understanding and accepting the change and the magnitude of Your gift.  Thank You and I love You so much Jesus!

 

Empathy

I have been thinking a lot about empathy.  Empathy is the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts or attitudes of another.

I think empathy is one of our greatest gifts because it gives us the ability to share not only the lows, but also the highs with each other.  If I am truly empathizing with others to the fullest, then every sorrow on earth becomes mine to share, but so does every joy!

Therefore if we consider a world with little or no sorrow, then the joy we could experience is INFINITE!

I am going to intentionally practice empathy at home, with my friends, with strangers, with anyone who I come in contact with… let’s see what happens!

Say it, live it, believe it and IT WILL BE!  It is Our Best Life!

 

Our Best Life

Since I was young, I have understood the power of believing in something and repeating it to make it happen.  I even remember when I first discovered this.  I was 10 years old, and I thought a friend of mine at school had pretty legs.  For a week I thought to myself everyday how nice it would be to have legs that looked like J’s, and a week later I woke up, looked in the mirror and was shocked to see that my legs looked like J’s legs.  I was also shocked to see how terrible they looked on me!  I quickly started wishing for my own legs back and within 4 days they were back.

Luckily with my realization that I could positively control my life with my thoughts I also had a lesson built in that I should be careful what I wish for since I might not like the end result.   This very naturally became a part of my life that I never really thought about, but just always did and assumed that everyone else did the same thing.

Whenever I felt ugly or overweight I would just start reminding myself every morning and night how beautiful, confident and perfect I was just the way I was and a few days later, I would be feeling beautiful, confident and perfect just the way I was.

By high school I had quit wishing for specific things like great legs, and had started wishing for “Things to work out for the best” which eventually transformed into wishing for “My Best Life”.    Any time I was nervous, scared, or had bad thoughts cross my mind, I would immediately chastise myself for these concerns and repeat, “This is my best life”.   Anytime I was surrounded by love, beauty, kindness I would confirm to myself by again repeating, “This is my best life”.   It always worked and I have always felt very blessed in my life.   I even had a friend who would always jokingly comment on my sunny and 85 degree life.

I finally ran into a problem about 5 years ago.

My cousin was killed in a car accident at the young age of 20.  On top of mourning the loss of my young cousin I was plagued with the question of how “My Best Life” could possibly include the premature death of my cousin.  I thought about this for quite some time following her death and considered many different explanations none of which seemed to really answer my question.   It might seem obvious to you, but it took quite a few books, documentaries and discussions before it finally hit me.  I realized that wishing only for “My Best Life” was actually very selfish.   By wishing for “My Best Life” I did not take into consideration the lives of my loved ones or anyone else.  I never considered that in order to achieve “My Best Life” I might be blocking the paths of others as they strive for their best lives.

This really concerned me and I came up with two possible solutions

  1. I could continue repeating and believing in “My Best Life” and always include an additional thought that I do not want to block another path in order to achieve “My Best Life”.
  2. I could extend my original approach and pray for “Our Best Life”.  By changing one small word in my prayer, I could stop worrying about blocking other paths because this now opened the door for everyone to join together on the one path of  “Our Best Life”.

I now fully believe that if we all pray for “Our Best Life” then it will be.  It requires a leap of faith to move the focus from my own life or from your own life to the lives of everyone else, but if we could all take this leap just imagine how much more amazing all of our lives and our entire world would be!

If I pray for me

Then it is 1 small prayer

If I instead pray for the other 6.8 billion people on earth and they in turn each pray for the other 6.8 billion people on earth

Then it BEGINS

AMAZING, WONDERFUL, AWESOME DREAMS that we cannot even imagine for ALL OF US!

When I think of my new prayer for “Our Best Life” it always reminds me of this parable, and helps me realize that I have been sitting at the wrong table for a long time.  I want to change that and I think changing one word is the first step.

A holy man was having a conversation with the Lord one day and said, “Lord, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like.” The Lord led the holy man to two doors. He opened one of the doors and the holy man looked in. In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew which smelled delicious and made the holy man’s mouth water. The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles that were strapped to their arms and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful, but because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths.  The holy man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering. The Lord said, “You have seen Hell”.

They went to the next room and opened the door. It was exactly the same as the first one. There was the large round table with the large pot of stew which made the holy man’s mouth water. The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons, but here the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking. The holy man said, “I don’t understand.” “It is simple,” said the Lord, “it requires but one skill. You see, they have learned to feed each other, while the greedy think only of themselves.”

Now that you have the background I am asking you to join in and begin saying out loud “It is OUR BEST LIFE” when you first wake up in the morning and again before going to bed at night.

Jesus said, “Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

It is “Our Best Life”, let’s say it, believe it, live it and wish for it everyday for EVERYONE!