Tag Archives: Seeing the Good

Gratitude for Trials

As hard as it is to talk about ourselves or give personal details, sometimes we need to tell the stories of our lives to show “how great things the Lord has done” for us.

This past year, I went through some difficult trials. It was hard to have hope during these times because things were not improving. Every time life started to get a little easier and manageable, another trial would come. But I held on to faith and hope and love. I clung to them because they seemed to be all I had left. Although the trials have not ended completely, and I am still navigating the aftermath of some trials and struggling with other trials that will likely never end in this life, I have been able to see some reasons for what I went through.

I began 2016 with the scheduling of an endoscopy and CT scan because I had been in severe pain for months. I was not finding relief, even though I had tried to eat healthy and limit my intake of acidic and fatty foods. There were no answers from either procedure, and I had little direction about what I should or should not eat. After a few months, I was finally referred to an allergist. She told me that I had no allergies but probably just had trouble processing certain foods, and gave me dietary guidelines to follow.

Meanwhile, my doctor had put me on medication for anxiety because he said that anxiety contributed to acid production and it might help with my stomach issues. The medicine did help with anxiety, but it also made me more depressed. In fact, it made me so depressed that all I saw was darkness for months. I couldn’t seem to smile, and getting out of bed every day was exhausting to the point of being painful. I did not realize that it was the medicine that caused these feelings, and calling to schedule an appointment with my doctor was more difficult than I could handle. So, this went on for about 6 months. When I finally was able to call the doctor and get off the medicine, I felt that a great weight had been lifted off of me. I started taking another medicine soon after that helped relieve my anxious thoughts, and I felt like all was right with the world again.

A week later, I was going to pick up my friend from the airport when a car made a left turn in front of me. The crash totaled my car and deployed the airbag, which broke my thumb. I got a rental car and within a week, I had a flat tire. At this point, I just laughed. It seemed only appropriate that after all I had been through, I would have the luck to get a flat tire on my rental car.

The point of all of this is that about two years ago, I said a very important prayer. In that prayer, I told God that I was incredibly happy and that I was so grateful for the happiness and joy I had found, but that I was willing to give it up to become better. I was willing to give up my happiness and the easiness of my life to draw closer to God and to become a better person. I did not expect all of the trials that followed, but when they came, I knew in my mind that as bad as things were, my prayer was being answered.

Last week, my brother backed into my car while pulling out of the driveway. A year or two ago, I would have been upset. I might have even yelled or cried or said something inconsiderate. But I had become a new person. I looked at the car, made sure that the doors could still open, and told my brother not to worry about it. I didn’t even feel upset because it was just a car, after all. The car wasn’t important. The way my brother felt was important. I was more worried about how upset he was with himself than I was about the dent in my car.

That’s how things have been lately. I don’t get upset like I used to. I don’t yell at people. I just understand. I understand what it is like to have a bad day or a bad week or month or year. So I can forgive people for their bad days and for their mistakes. I have been able to help and serve others with dietary restrictions because I understand their needs. I still struggle with depression at times, and I still have pain from my car crash, but I have hope. I could write an entire other post about all the ways that God has blessed me and helped me through these trials. This post though is just about seeing the good that comes from our trials.

I am looking for a new job closer to home that will allow me more time to go to school and spend time with family and friends and take care of myself. I am not sure if I would have made the decision to move on from my current job if I had not gotten in that car crash. I know that I have not seen all of the blessings from the trials I faced in the last two years, but I am grateful for the ones I have seen so far. As bad as things were, they will probably end up being the greatest blessings of my life and influence the type of person, and wife, and mother that I will one day become.

Do not despair. Do not give up. It is okay to cry. It is okay to feel broken. It is okay to not be okay. But cling to hope, cling to faith, cling to love. One day you will see that all the brokenness led you to greater joy than you could ever have imagined.

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A Change of Heart

It seems strange when you find yourself comforting, sympathizing with and just plain loving someone that at one point you felt you hated.

I am not naturally a very forgiving person. I believe in justice far more than I should, and I am a skeptic of the benefits of mercy.

But I am trying to change. I am trying to be better and forgive more and let go of past pain. I am trying to see things from another’s perspective and assume that everyone is doing their best.

Sometimes I feel like I am getting better and sometimes I don’t. But this weekend I was able to see a great change in me that I never thought would happen.

I hugged and comforted someone who basically tortured me when I was a child. They weren’t always mean to me, but I still have memories that haunt me of times I spent with them. And yet, as I held them and spoke kind words, I felt none of the anger I used to feel towards them. I just felt love.

If that’s not a change of heart, I don’t know what is.

Christ is real. The atonement is real. And it can really change us completely. I’m not who I used to be, but I am on my way to becoming who I want to be. I know it wouldn’t be possible alone, but with God all things are possible.

Christ Loved the Broken

I’ve mentioned in a few previous posts that my best friend is currently homeless. Well, I used to think that I was pretty understanding of people who struggled with addictions or homelessness or other issues. But honestly, I had no idea.

I’m a pretty nonjudgmental person. I mean, I know how many things I struggle with so I’m pretty forgiving of other people’s struggles. I know no one is perfect, and I don’t expect them to be. However, I would still think things like, I hope that guy stays away from me or that’s sad but there’s nothing I can do. But now, I’ve realized that there is something I can do. I can care.

My best friend is homeless and she doesn’t always have food to eat. My best friend is homeless and is struggling to hold a job because of her mental struggles. My best friend is homeless and is consistently mistreated by the people around her, even people who should be helping her.

And I… I will never look at another human being the same way again.

No wonder Christ spent his time with the weak and hurt and broken. No wonder he lifted the heads of the downtrodden and helped those that no one else would. Christ understood that that broken person was someone’s best friend. He understood that someone loved that person and needed that person and would do anything for that person. And he understood that they weren’t just someone’s best friend, but His best friend. He knew their valiant spirits and He loved them because He saw what was there to love.

If you have never felt love towards a homeless person or a drug addict or a convict or someone else that society looks down on, just think that they could have been your best friend. Maybe they could even be your best friend.

Are you seeing them as a person? Are you really seeing them? Or are you seeing a glimpse of how life has broken them down?

My best friend is amazing. She is beautiful and selfless and wonderful. She makes me laugh when I feel like crying and smile when I see through tears. She is the most giving, loving, helpful person I know. She is my hero. And even though she is struggling right now, I couldn’t love her more. She is and will always be my best friend and I miss her and I love her to pieces.

Seeing my Weaknesses

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

God has been really good at showing me my weaknesses throughout my life. And I guess it’s a good thing because I’d probably be really arrogant if He didn’t. But sometimes it’s really hard to see your weaknesses. Well, more accurately, it’s hard to realize how much your weaknesses affect you and others around you and to see how weak you really are.

Luckily for me, that second part of the scripture has also been a strong force in my life. I wouldn’t say that all my weaknesses are strengths, but God has definitely taken my weaknesses and used them as strengths.The most obvious example is with autism. Autism is a huge weakness for me. I feel like most of my mistakes, and most of my insecurities, stem from autism. But I have also been able to use autism as a strength to help hundreds of people.

Anyway, this week my weaknesses have become very obvious. Well, to be entirely honest, the past month or two have shown me my weaknesses over and over. It almost makes me question if I need to be more humble. But I’ve also seen my weaknesses being used as strengths at the same time.

So even though it’s hard to acknowledge that I have weaknesses and that they affect most of my life, I’m glad that I have the chance to use them as strengths. I know I am a better person because of my weaknesses. I know that I wouldn’t have learned many things I know now without my weaknesses. And I know that I wouldn’t be as compassionate or understanding without my weaknesses. So I am forever grateful for my weaknesses and I pray that as I continue to come unto Christ, He will make my weak things become strong.

Being nothing

When I was young, I used to think I was awesome. And it was a long, hard road learning that the world didn’t think the same thing. But now I know that I am nothing and it is amazing. I couldn’t be happier to know that I am extremely insignificant because I know that at the same time I couldn’t be more significant.

You see, growing up, it was just me. I thought I was awesome because I only really knew myself and I thought I was pretty cool. Then as I got older and got to know other people, I had a means of comparison and so I saw my worthlessness. But finally I got to the point where I got to know God and His means of comparison. I knew of God before but I didn’t really know God until recently. And knowing God made me realize that it’s not just me.

I am amazing because I am not on my own. I am not by myself in judgment. I know that I am nothing. But I am bound to Christ. I am not judged on my merit alone, but on His merit. And He is everything. He makes up for my nothingness and so it doesn’t matter that I’m weak and flawed and broken and unworthy. He is my worthiness for me and so in my nothingness, I have found that I am of more worth than I ever dreamed.

We are not alone in our worth if we choose to be bound to the one of greatest worth. And so even though the world taught me that I am nothing, Christ has taught me that it is okay to be nothing because through Him I can be everything.

Bible Bad Guys- Caiaphas

I think Caiaphas is probably the hardest guy for people to see the good in. I mean, Judas started out as an apostle, and Pilate was a governor that didn’t have any religious connections to Jesus. Caiaphas though was the high priest of the Jews. You would think that a religious person in a position like that wouldn’t allow the Son of God to be crucified.

What most people overlook though is that Caiaphas prophesied the death of Christ. He told the chief priests and Pharisees that Jesus would have to die in order for their nation not to perish and to gather all the children of Israel together (John 11:49-52).

Caiaphas probably knew the prophecies about Christ. He may have even believed that Jesus was the Christ. So if Jesus was Christ then he had to die in order to fulfill all the prophecies about him. In John 12:42 it says that many of the chief rulers believed on Jesus. Maybe Caiaphas was one of these rulers that believed on Jesus, but he felt it was necessary to hide his belief in order to preserve his position.

As I’m writing this, I realize that this is probably a bit of a stretch. Caiaphas may have just been deceived by his own pride or his fellow priests or he just may not have had enough knowledge of Jesus to believe in him. His prophecy of Jesus’s death makes me think there’s a little more to the story though. Maybe Caiaphas was high priest for a reason. Maybe he had a great understanding of the scriptures and even if he didn’t understand that Jesus was the Savior, he understood that Jesus would have to die in order to preserve their nation.

We don’t have any information from the Bible about Caiaphas meeting with Jesus. The Bible states that Jesus was taken to Caiaphas and that he was then taken to Pilate, but it doesn’t mention the actual interaction that took place between them. Maybe if we had this interaction we could understand Caiaphas a little better, but for now I guess we can just keep speculating.

Bible Bad Guys- Pontius Pilate

Pontius Pilate is probably my favorite of the three guys I’m discussing. I think it’s pretty easy to see the internal dilemma that Pilate faced. He knew he was sending an innocent man to his death, but that was his job. Pilate was essentially required to keep the peace, to appease the masses and maintain order, and to honor the traditions that were being followed. So he had to decide between possibly causing the fall of his city/ civilization or sending an innocent man to his death. It probably wasn’t the first innocent man he allowed to be condemned, but it was also probably the hardest choice he had to make.

Even his wife told him to have nothing to do with Jesus. But what choice did he have? He could have sent Jesus somewhere else to be judged, but that would make him seem weak and would have only prolonged the problem. He could have released Jesus despite the crowd, but that could have caused an uprising and Jesus probably would have been killed by the crowd anyway. He could have tried to force the Jewish leaders to find a way to kill Jesus on their own, but that would imply that the Jews had more power than he did.

So Pilate did what he felt was best for his city, his people, and their way of life. And then he “washed his hands” of the whole deal.

Maybe Pilate could have been “stronger.” Maybe he could have forced the people to bend to his will and let Jesus go. But what would that have solved? What would anyone have gained from that? If anything, it would have caused more blood to be shed, more lives to be lost, more hatred and contempt and misunderstanding.

So yes, Pilate allowed Jesus to be crucified. But does that really make him a bad person or a weak person? Or does that just make him a human?

Bible Bad Guys- Judas Iscariot

I think Judas is probably most infamous for the kiss where he betrayed Jesus. In movies this is often portrayed as a sly, malicious, deceitful kiss. I wonder though, was this kiss really just a secret code to let people know who to capture?

What if Judas’s kiss was one of love and affection and a way of trying to let Christ know that he wasn’t really trying to betray him?

Maybe Judas chose a kiss as the sign because he wanted a way to let Christ know that he cared for him and that he was trying to do the right thing. Maybe his words “Master, master” was a plea rather than a mocking.

Maybe Judas betrayed Jesus because he thought that if he turned Jesus in that Jesus would show everyone who He really was. Maybe Judas wanted a sign that he hadn’t abandoned his life for no reason. Maybe he wanted some reassurance that he really was following the Son of God. And maybe he thought that if he just turned Jesus over to the people that didn’t believe that Jesus was the Christ, that Jesus would show them all how divine he really was.

Maybe Judas didn’t even think that he was betraying Christ at all. Maybe that’s why Judas took the money back and wouldn’t keep it. Maybe that’s why he hung himself. Maybe he thought that surely the chief priests and the governors would see that Jesus was innocent and let him go free. Maybe he had a grand vision of the missionary work that Jesus could do while in the midst of all these leaders of men.

But then… when it all went wrong, what could Judas do? Maybe then he wanted to take it all back. Maybe then he wanted to save Jesus and he thought he could undo what he had done.

When he realized that he couldn’t change his deeds though, he must have felt worthy of death. Judas knew that Jesus would die even though Jesus was not worthy of death and it was Judas’s fault. So as Christ’s betrayer, Judas might have remembered Jesus’s words that it would have been better if he had not been born (Mathew 26:24). So what was left to do when his betrayal was so painfully obvious now that Jesus had been condemned?

Source: https://www.lds.org/media-library/images/jesus-christ-betrayal-999242?lang=eng&category=

I don’t know whether Judas really was malicious at heart or if his faith just faltered or if pride was his downfall, but I can’t help but think that maybe, just maybe, we judge Judas a little too harshly for what he did.

Bible Bad Guys- Part 1

There are three people in the New Testament that get a pretty bad rap. Judas Iscariot, Pontius Pilate, and Caiaphas the high priest.

These are the people who were essentially responsible for the crucifixion of Christ. So it is not hard to see why people aren’t prone to see the best in these three men. However, as I have been reading the New Testament recently, I have been feeling more and more that maybe these guys weren’t as bad as they seem.

I have always been slow to judge, maybe even a little too slow sometimes. I like to see the best in people and so I guess it’s sort of inevitable that I’d see the best in these men. I can’t help but wonder if they all thought they were doing the right thing until it was too late to change things.

 

Check back in tomorrow for the more in depth details of why I see some good in these “Bible bad guys.” I’ll be doing a separate post for each of these three men of the Bible.