Oaks Of Splendor

Sharing My Life's Story And Things That Inspire Me


Leave a comment

Escaping the Ways of Perception Using A Tool for Stillness

Isaiah 12:6  Let all the people of Jerusalem shout his praise with joy! For great is the Holy One of Israel who lives among us. 

God is with you and me in this moment. He sits beside us ready to hold a hand if you reach for him. We all struggle with the ways of perception this world puts in front of us. I believe that just as I have been inspired to write these words, you have come to them because God has lead you here. I know struggle.It may not be the exact same struggle you are facing in this moment, but I assure you that I too have struggled. I could tell you the story of growing up with a drug addicted father who hit my mother. I can share how I have dealt with the fear of abandonment. I could go into details of how the father I barely knew passed away from cancer at the age of forty-seven. I can tell you about the whole I felt in my heart for years because of his death. Yes, I could share pages and chapters about my struggles. Today I am not here for that. I am writing to take you along as I journey. I am on a shift of who I know I am, to who is my higher self. I step forward in order to know the God of Israel who lives among us. I started briefly before this moment, not only by everything I learned through each struggle, but also through discovering the tool of meditation. Yes, I used to be so scatter-brained with the this and that of daily life. I discovered however that when you focus on the ability to be still, you can find clarity. Every time I meditate, I think of being still to know God. I know too often meditation is viewed as an eastern philosophy. However, I find truth in knowing meditation is not a philosophy at all. Rather it is a tool. It has been mostly practiced among buddhists, and these days by new age practitioners. Yet, I have come to view the practice of meditation as a way to hear God more clearly. The best metaphor I ever heard about hearing God is this…. God’s voice is like that of a radio wave. It is out there even though we can not see it. We are the clock radio, the receive, and like a radio we have an antenna. Sometimes our antenna may be bent, so we do not hear the radio frequency so clearly. Have you ever experience picking up two radio stations at the same time? Our receiving end of the radio can do this too. If we only straighten our antenna, or point it in a new direction…..then we can start picking up the signal God is sending to us. It sometimes takes a tool to straighten the antenna. For me that tool has been meditation. Unlike the eastern practice of meditation I don’t look within myself, instead I look for God in the stillness. We can both find him there among us.

I challenge you to take fifteen minutes a day to “Be still and Know God”. I promise you whatever struggle you are facing now, God will guide you through. He’s GOOD like that. God will fill you with peace if you are still enough, and open enough to feel his love. I encourage you to also ask yourself “Do I believe stillness can bring me peace?”  Then give thanks for the tool of meditation. And read the rest of Isaiah 12.

Meditation Tip: I usually will play praise and worship music (or it can be a calming noise or piece of classical music), whatever you find the most relaxing. The point is to stand in stillness. I will concentrate on my breathe at first like most eastern practices suggest. This is only to quiet my mind, get out the noise of the world. The difference then is when I concentrate on God’s love and allow it to fill me with each breath. I find the peace, and listen. 

 


Isaiah 61:3 – A hopeful prayer to pivot into the Lord’s favor.

Today is a turning point for the nation. The election will determine the shape of the country for the next four years. As I think about this, I then ask myself…What do I want the shape of my life to be for the next four years. I too am standing at a pivoting point where my next decision will shape the course of my future. I never thought that I would leave Boston and move back to West Virginia. Never did I want to be living at my mother’s house again. I was in this place six years ago before I moved to Boston. It was right after I got injured at work and got placed on workers comp. That was a waiting time too. The big difference though is this time around, my heart is different.

In 2008 when I was forced to rely on living with my mother, I was not only injured physically but I was still hurt from the failure I felt from the decision I made to move to California where I was injured on the job. I believed that it was my fault that such a thing would happen to me. I believed that somehow I had asked for that latter to fall on my head, causing trauma to my neck. I had asked to be injured. I felt like going to California was the worst decision I had ever made. I was so angry at myself. I did not know how to deal with it. So, I let myself sink into a deep depression. This was only compounded by the headache I had non-stop for over a year, and the pain and soreness I had in my neck and shoulders. I was wasting my days away sleeping all the time, living each day in my dreams and fantasies I would create in my head about all the things I would have when…. when I was _____ fill in blank with whatever I desired that day. I was living for the grass being greener on the other side. I was wallowing in my misery.  I allowed the fantasies that I created to hold me, not caring how crazy they were. It did not matter, it was my only source of happiness. Those few hours before bed when I got to imagine my life anyway that I wanted. Then I would wake up and reality would set in. I would imagine that I could live an extraordinary life, but never take time to create it in my reality.

Since I have been back living in West Virginia, things have gotten to the point where I started dreaming again like before. But its different somehow. I have often fantasized when my life is not how I want it to be. It is easy to imagine a story of extraordinary measures, but it is difficult to live one. So often people settle instead of take action towards a reality of extraordinary.

My heart wants more than anything to live an extraordinary life. There are so many things that I would love to do in my life. I want to travel, and I want to help others. I would love to have a book published. I want to be the best version of myself I can be. The person Gog has made me to be. I have often found myself only living for the imaginative. I want to start living for the reality that I know I can create with the love of Jesus.

I am a person who spent so many years focused on one goal. And six years ago I realized that it’s OK to let goals be fluid like the changing river! The river shapes the landscape, it cuts through rocks and opens up valleys to create beauty and wonder. I wast to start re-shaping my own landscape. Not because circumstances have forced me to make a decision, and then wallow into the effect of that decision. A decision that feels forced upon me. I want to live tomorrow for the grace that opens the blind eyes to see.

The biggest difference now versus last time I found myself in this pivot point, well that difference is I have found healing water. This past summer I was re-baptized in an actual river. Yes, I had been baptized as an infant but it was not my decision. I stood before God and asked for him to transform me. He has been changing me ever since, forcing me to dive deep into the inner depths of myself. Asking me to evaluate and examine the things that NO longer serve me. Those old habits that have not worked in making my light shine.

Living my life through some imaginary world I create in my mind before bed because my reality is nothing that I want or ask for; this does not serve the new me that I want to be. All it does is make me stuck in false lies and disillusions. So because I want to shape my landscape, I know that I can change this old habit. This old comfort which helped me escape moments in my life that were too challenging to handle.

One of the other challenges that I often avoid relates to my own health. I know that I want to change this, but part of me feels unready. Maybe I should focus on a few things at a time. Yet, a yearning boils inside to be radical and stop thinking about it. I know a time will come when this still small voice will become to loud to ignore. I want to excercise everyday, and I know that it is what you are supposed to do to be health. I find it challenging, and I am a person who has often taken the easy way out because that’s what I am used to. It was how I learned to survive my own life of self misery. I didn’t know any better though, that is how my mother learned to deal with the things in her life that she found to difficult. Now that I know better, I can do better. I so want to do better. I want to break this chain that holds me. Oh, Lord take this burden and transform it. I know that you took my yoke when I said yes. I rise to find the gratitude that I no longer have to live in my self-created imaginary world, which I used to use to escape. I used to use it to escape the problems and challenges that I had no control over. The things that were simply because. The things I did not want but was too afraid to ask for you Lord to change the landscape.

Prayer:

Lord, change my landscape, and give me the wisdom to follow your river. The light shines upon the shores of your beauty, and the joy that floods to create rich soil for my growth. Growth towards who not only I want to be, but who you made me to be. You have me in this place where I learned the things that do not serve me, so that you can change the landscape. You brought me to this place that has so many memories of the darkness, so that I no longer fear letting my light shine. Let it shine for the splendor of your righteousness.