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!

 

The connection is confirmed!

I have been very lightly reading about dark matter for the last three years since watching a movie about it.  I didn’t know what it was or have any simple theories, but I found it interesting to read about and would always check-out an article when I came across one.

Last weekend I had a dream that led me to watch a few episodes on www.netflix.com regarding the universe.  In the last five min of the 3rd episode they briefly mentioned dark matter which led me to do a quick google search since I hadn’t read anything about it in at least four months.  The article I found was posted the day before…

It is truly AWESOME!!!

Please read the article, but a quick summary is that since dark matter does not react with light it has been completely invisible to us until a group of Japanese Physicists came up with a way to produce an image by tracking how light was bending as it approached earth from 24 million galaxies.  This image produced gives a visual of where dark matter is in space for the FIRST TIME!!!

Guess what they found…

Dark Matter forms a web CONNECTING everything in our universe!!!  Before reading this, there was no question in my mind that we are all connected, but this CONFIRMS IT FOR ME!

Connect with, include, befriend and love anyone and everyone so that the web of dark matter will continue to grow and eventually we will all be encircled in an invisible web (but a truly physical material as proven by science) or net (as my sister would say) of LOVE!

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46387769/ns/technology_and_science-space/

I am a friend!

I have been wondering how to include EVERYONE.

When I pray for Our Best Life, my intention is to include EVERYONE (NO EXCEPTIONS), but how can I then best apply this intention to my physical life (LIVE IT)?

I think attempting to get as close to “I am” as possible is the best way to apply this prayer into physical reality. As soon as I say, “I am a graduate from Purdue” or “I am a wife” I have put myself into an exclusive club that does not and cannot include EVERYONE.  Obviously these statements are true, but the less I use them to define me, the closer I am to reaching the true and complete “I am”.  The problem arises in the fact that “I am” is a very abstract way of defining one’s self physically so I then started wondering what is the least exclusive, but a less abstract way of attempting to get closer to “I am”.

The one I came up with is “I am a friend”.  If you can be a friend and accept friendship from EVERYONE (NO EXCEPTIONS), then I think you are getting closer to “I am”.

Therefore after this long and complicated thought process I have looped back around to exactly what our pre-school teachers taught us, be friends with EVERYONE!

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

 

The one path, our path!

I have been thinking about Our Best Life a lot over the last two weeks.  I am finally starting to see!  For those of you who are already there, thank you for humoring me as you read this with a joyful smile and excitement in your heart.

I am imagining our world covered in billions of little paths crisscrossing all over the place, and now I can finally see the one large path that has been created by the convergence of many small paths.  This one path is not paved in gold, but is a beautiful dirt path surround by fields of wild flowers and green grass covered in dew and glistening in the morning sun.  We are in awe of the mountains we see ahead, but our joy as we walk down the path is in the relationships we build and the soul mates we meet.

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

 

Infinity is Awesome!

I was speaking with a friend this morning and I asked him if he truly believed it was possible for there to be a point in time where everyone in the world believed, “It is Our Best Life”.  His initial response was no.

My response to him and to all of you is to please not lose faith or hope.  If you consider infinity for a moment, the answer becomes a resounding YES.  With infinity anything is possible, and I believe with all of my heart that Our Best Life is possible and does exist!

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

Help is everywhere!

Today is my second day of waking up and saying “It is Our Best Life” and already I woke up this morning saying, “It is Our Best Life”, but not feeling it from the bottom of my heart.  Last night after dinner, I lost my temper with the girls.  It seemed like all at once everyone was screaming and crying and I sent all three of them to time out before I allowed them to explain what had happened.  After timeout I gave them a chance to explain.  I then apologized and let them know that I made a mistake.

I was still feeling bad about this when I woke up this morning and no matter how many times I said, “It is Our Best Life”, I just didn’t feel it.

After taking the girls to school, I stopped to pick up G’s pants from the dry cleaner.  I had my $5 out to pay the $4.35 bill and he asked if I had $0.35.  I started rifling through my wallet and found lots of Euros and Canadian coins and finally two dimes.  As I continued searching through all of the crazy stuff in my wallet he said, “This is enough.  I want you to be happy.” and then smiled at me.  I stopped searching and looked at him and said, “I want you to be happy too.”  He then gave me a silent Namaste and motioned for me to take the $1.

When I got back to the car I started crying and thought, what a blessing that a complete stranger wishes happiness for me.  I then said from the very bottom of my heart, “It is Our Best Life”!

I believe it and pray that I can wish for it everyday for everyone!

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!