Free will…

I have had three discussions about our free will over the last three months that have stuck with me.  Then last night I was watching the documentary The Human Experience and I saw the following quote.

“The last of the human freedom’s is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.”
– Viktor E. Frankl

As soon as I saw this quote I immediately thought that this seems not only to be the last of our freedoms, but also the first and original freedom we were given when God gave us our free will.

Until recently I have limited my thoughts of our free will to only our physical actions. When I think of free will only in relation to my physical actions such as taking the stairs vs. the elevator or going to work vs. staying home or doing something wrong vs. doing something right, then I become quite confused because if God gave me free will, but knows what I will choose to do and can bring about events that will cause me to make a different choice then my free will seems limited.  Please don’t misunderstand me though. I am not saying that this limitation means our physical actions have no bearing or carry no weight.  I believe God still wants us to do the right thing.  I believe He still wants us to be generous rather than selfish, He wants us to not steal, He wants us to not kill, He wants us to love others, but we can’t forgot that God is bigger than we can imagine.  God can take any bad physical action we make and combine it with other actions to make it good in the end.

Isn’t this what he did through Jesus’ death and resurrection?  God took the worst imaginable physical action (us killing His son Jesus) and turned it into good (resurrecting His son Jesus).  By combining these, Jesus’ death becomes good because without it He could not have been resurrected.

Now, if I change my perspective of free will and look at it as my freedom to choose how I perceive things or to choose my attitude as Viktor Frankl put it in his quote above, then the limitations I spoke of disappear.

God can give me a sunny day, but it is up to me to enjoy the sun or complain about the heat.  God can give me a rainy day, but again it is my choice to complain about the rain or to instead look for a rainbow.

He completely relinquished control of our consciousness through free will giving us complete freedom to perceive the world as we wish.  This doesn’t mean that God will ever stop trying to convince us to perceive good in all things, but he literally cannot make us see the good in all things.  He is limited to trying to convince us that all things are good through combining bad actions with others to make them good in the end and through showering us with grace and inspiration which we have the choice to accept or decline.

It is completely up to us to see the good, but what happens when and if we do perceive the good in everything?

I think we will have found our own unique perspective of the good in everything which will mean that we have also surrendered to God’s will because God’s will is Good!!!

Therefore I think we will have found God’s peace!!!

God thank you for loving us so much that you gave us free will.  Please help me to use my free will to find the good in everything and therefore surrender to Your will!

I want to stand for good… it is everywhere even if we don’t think we can see it, it is hidden from view, but it is there!

I want to stand for Jesus… he is Good, Oh so Good!!!

Peace

I am reading The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis.  Today I read chapter 3, The Man Who Loves Peace, and I want to share a bit of it with you and a few thoughts I had while reading.

Thomas a Kempis wrote
The good and peace-loving man turns everything into good.  The man who dwells in perfect peace suspects evil of no one.

The man of blind passion even turns good into evil and is quick to believe evil of others. The man who is discontented and disgruntled has a heart filled with suspicion.

I want peace!  How do we teach/learn peace?  Is it being taught?  I am honestly asking and would love your thoughts.

Does finding peace lead one to believe that everything is good?

Or

Are peace and believing everything is good equivalent, meaning that once you believe everything is good then you have also found peace and vice versa once you have found peace then you believe everything is good?

If the latter is correct, then seeing/finding the good in everything should lead us to peace. This seems like a great place to start if you are looking for peace!

I know I am not the first to say this, but I think

  • Believing the glass is half full could help lead us to PEACE
  • Finding the sliver lining in the clouds could help lead us to PEACE
  • Looking for the rainbow through the rain could help lead us to PEACE
  • Finally whoever came up with the slang expression, S’all good, hit the nail on the head and wanted to help lead us to PEACE

Jesus said in John 14:27

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Let us reclaim the PEACE Jesus has left with us, the PEACE He has given to us.  Let us live with untroubled hearts and let us live fearlessly!

My friends, I wish you peace from the bottom of my heart!  Let us live Our Best Life in Peace!

Maybe I knew a carpenter?

I love the smell of freshly cut wood, sawdust and cedar.  When I was little I loved to smell these things and whenever I did I always thought that it meant I must have been a termite in a previous life.

My sweet husband just started a project to build a bench for our breakfast nook this evening.  I stepped into the garage and was enveloped by my favorite smell, but this time the first thought that came to my mind was that Jesus was a carpenter and He probably smelled this smell for the first 30 years of His life on a daily basis.

I am not sure why I love this smell so much, but it makes me smile to think that our sweet Jesus was surrounded by this smell daily and that I share a love for this smell with Him.

I probably wasn’t a termite in a previous life, but maybe I was close to a carpenter in a previous life… I hope so!

It’s Our Best Life!

What would you do?

Imagine that someone close to you (Jay) took the blame for something that a friend of his did (Evan).  Imagine that Jay got into big trouble at school and Evan took none of the blame.

If you were Jay’s parent or guardian would Evan be welcome in your house after this?

  • Would your answer change if you could see that Jay truly loved Evan regardless of how Evan felt?
  • Would your answer change if you could see that Jay truly loved Evan and you could see that Evan truly loved Jay?
  • Would your answer change if Evan apologized to both you and Jay for what he had done?
  • Would your answer change if Evan confessed his guilt at school and was give the same punishment that Jay already received?

How far must Evan go in order to be welcomed back into your house?

Thinking about this scenario really helps me put into perspective why I think we are only welcome in God the Father’s house through Jesus.  Jesus loves us, but God loves Jesus so much that he is willing to open His door only to those who truly love His Son.

Maybe our own personal answers to the above questions will help us see what God’s answer would be for us to enter His house?

Thank you Jesus for taking all of the blame and loving us so much!

Sending my love to all of you!

I watched the PBS documentary, The Mystery of Love, this evening.

At one point the documentary was discussing loving the whole world and it was mentioned that the Buddhists all say that during their wedding ceremonies the bride and the groom should marry the whole world, through this one person, and that rabbis have a similar expression that the whole world is a huppa or the whole world is a wedding canopy.

On the morning of his wedding, Ketsu Norman Fisher, a Zen master wrote this poem.

Of all the women in all the world
Delicate in their various encasings of body, of mind;
This one, bent asleep before me, in the bed,
Is the one through whom all must be loved,
As I have promised.

I thought this was beautiful and I had this moment of truly feeling loved and honored  by this man who I have never met, but knows that I am delicate.  What a blessing!!!

In Our Best Life I know that I truly love all of you and since I want to live Our Best Life now, I am going to begin intentionally trying to love the whole world!  I pray to be able to truly love everyone who is put in my path and I pray to send YOU my love by loving everyone who is put in my path.

Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself.   It is Our Best Life, let’s LIVE it!

Betrayer and Beloved?

I just finished reading all four gospels for the first time.  Even though I grew up attending mass weekly, this is the first time (at least in my flawed memory) that I have heard of the disciple whom Jesus loved or the beloved disciple.

Who is this disciple?  I didn’t realize until I did a few internet searches last night that the question of the identity of this disciple has been under discussion for quite some time, but I always love a good mystery so I have decided to join the scholars in their discussion despite my lack of in depth knowledge.  Below are my initial thoughts.

Jesus gives the most love where the most love is needed.  Jesus will leave 99 sheep grazing in order to search for 1 lost sheep.

Jesus chose his disciples and he knew all of their fates.  He knew they would be hated, despised, persecuted for following Him.  He knew most of them would be killed for spreading His message.  Jesus loved them all, but of the twelve who needed the most love?

Matthew 26:24 – “The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man!  It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

I think Judas Iscariot needed the most love from Jesus in order to survive the self hatred that he would inflict on himself following the betrayal and to survive the centuries of hatred and persecution aimed at him from people all over the world.

Jesus thank you for loving Judas Iscariot so much.  I have a feeling that he may be Your beloved disciple.  Please help us to remember that we do not know the whole story and that we do not need to know the whole story, but we must love as You love.

Please help me to love Judas Iscariot as you love him.

The only thing good in me is Jesus!

I heard the song, The Only Thing, by Ronnie Freeman for the first time tonight while listening to Pandora.

I loved hearing this song, and it was yet another reminder for the importance of humility. I know my heart and I know that I have proudly accepted many undeserved compliments (from others and from myself) throughout my life.  No matter what my life looks like to myself or others, I have to remember that I am still the least of thieves and yet Jesus still loves me and is in me. The more I superficially build myself up from these good deeds and compliments, the further I push Jesus away, but once I remember or realize that everything thing good in me is because of Jesus I pull closer to Him.

Ephesians (2:8-9) “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.”

Jesus please keep reminding me to be humble so that I can pass Your glory on to You!

It is Our Best Life… let’s pass it on!

The eyes of love…

My husband went for a run the other day and when he came back he was literally dripping with sweat and he asked me if he smelled bad.  I leaned in, took a big whiff and honestly I thought he smelled nice and I said “You smell good to me”.  He smiled and said it didn’t count because I see him with the eyes of love.

I was thinking of this today and thinking that seeing someone through the eyes of love is more true and real than any other way to see someone.  I think it should always count and be the only opinion that counts!  Maybe I was the only person on earth at that moment that didn’t think my husband smelled, but maybe I was also the only person in the world who could really smell him.

Doesn’t God look at us with the eyes of love?  Isn’t this how he is able to constantly forgive and forget everything we do to ourselves and each other?  Does this make it okay to live life with our rose colored glasses on all of the time?  Does this make it okay to try to see the good in everything?

Maybe there are no rose colored glasses.  Maybe instead there are dark and dingy glasses that block us from seeing with the eyes of love if we refuse to take them off.

I feel like at times constant optimism can hurt the ones we love if they are suffering or going through a very difficult time, but maybe it isn’t constant optimism.  Maybe the dark and dingy glasses are off and saying “It is going to be okay” or “You are going to be okay” is not a lie or a hollow consolation, but more real and true than our loved one can yet see.

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

If we really are wearing dark and dingy glasses maybe a good way to start trying to remove them is by literally saying out loud “It is Our Best Life” everyday.

Let’s take off our glasses and start seeing everyone with the eyes of love!

I could sing of Your love forever!

A few months ago I posted “The one path, our path!”.  While I was imagining this path, I was imagining walking down it with billions of friends one of which was my husband walking beside me.  While I thought of us walking together in my mind I knew he was anxious to run ahead and climb the mountain to see his mom.  I urged him to run ahead, but I chose to stay behind.  Not because I didn’t want to be with him, but because I wanted to see him at the top of the mountain singing with his mom.  In my daydream I could see him embrace his mom, hold her hand and then begin singing, but I had a really hard time imagining him singing (my husband does not sing very much) and imagining what song he would sing.

A few weeks later I heard I Could Sing of Your Love Forever by Sonicflood and decided that this was the song I would imagine him singing.  Since picking the song, I have thought about this walk and watching him sing on the mountaintop a few times and this daydream always brings a smile to my face.

Last weekend we were sitting on the couch together.  I was reading my book and he was working on his computer.  My Pandora station was on in the background and I Could Sing of Your Love Forever by Sonicflood came on.  Around the middle of the song my husband began singing the song to himself and carried it through to the end!

I smiled to myself and thought someday he will sing this song on the mountaintop with his mom.  It truly is Our Best Life, thank you Jesus for loving us so much that the song really will go on forever!

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!