During my morning walk. I was thinking about all the many ways I have failed in life. So, of course, that led to thinking about my accomplishments in order not to feel bad about myself. I’ve had some horrible failures and some amazing accomplishments. The magnitude of each may not have been recognized without the contrast of the other.
Have you ever pondered the theory that we aren’t taking any of our accomplishments or failures with us to the next life, all we are taking is our character?
It isn’t an amusing thought for me. Character, the same one that has propelled me to success and to the depths of failure, that’s what I have with me as I meet God, Jesus, the Saints, and angels? Seriously, thank heaven for mercy and grace!
Oh sure there are some things I might say are good about myself. My work ethic is phenomenal, my boldness is legendary, my intelligence is sufficient, my common sense is sound, my love is passionate. Like most people I’ve been educated in proper processes, maximizing resources, the latest how-to’s to handle todo’s, efficient organization, team building, self-motivation, effective communication. And like most people I was encouraged from a young age to be a good person, a productive law-abiding citizen, a hard worker, a loyal friend, a responsible adult.
It’s not the outward obvious things that bother me about myself, it’s the innermost workings of my mind and heart that give me cause for pause. Perhaps it’s the rapidly changing times we are living through that make me wonder, will I stand firm on my beliefs regardless of who is shaking their finger in my face? Or will I be like Peter and betray my closest friend?
Character, the inward part of ourselves that only we know, is the most important and the most difficult part of ourselves to face, to control, to change, to accept, to live with, to carry with us into the next life. Our personality and outward appearance seem to get most of our attention and although those things can be challenging, they aren’t as difficult, or scary, as looking inward.
Lord, teach us how to focus on building the character traits You want to see in us. Show each of us what our spiritual gifts and talents are, the ones You embedded in our core being before we were born to this life. Instruct us on how to integrate them with our personality to successfully maneuver through the physical world while winning battles for You in the spiritual world.
I am blessed to have a diverse group of friends. We don’t always see eye-to-eye, but that doesn’t change the fact that we love and care for each other. We are able to enjoy each other’s company, express differing opinions, discuss ideas and enjoy spending time together.
It’s difficult to understand why some people think they can’t be friends with anyone who thinks differently than they do.
I respect each person’s freedom to choose political party, religious affiliation, sexual preference, etc. and do not require conformity to my way of thinking in order to consider you my friend.
By the same token I will not embrace your beliefs, if they are not my own, regardless of how close we are as friends.
📣 Even though I may not follow you in your thinking, I will respect your right to choose, and I will be over here cheering for you to do the best flip ever as you jump off of the really high cliff you have chosen. I have no doubt you will execute that flip superbly. 🙌🏼
The gift of free will allows us to choose what path we will take. Choose our beliefs, what standards we hold ourselves and others to, what things we regard as important, honorable, admirable. Our choices may not align with each other. That’s the beauty of free will, you choose for you, I choose for me, we do not have to agree. The most significant part of this gift from our Creator is that we don’t even have to agree with Him. He will not force us to follow His way. He leaves it up to us to choose the consequences we face through the choices that we make.
How do we decide what we believe? Many beliefs get programmed into us through family, culture, school, religion, philosophy, education, propaganda. Strong influencers in our lives can make it difficult for us to think for ourselves when we are younger. As we mature other factors enter in like making a living, lack of time, distractions of life, rebelliousness, or just plain laziness all can get in the way of self-analysis. Regardless of why we believe what we believe, in the end when we leave this life to face the next, the only person held accountable for what we believe is ourselves. There won’t be a free pass because someone taught us the wrong thing to believe.
I am always questioning my beliefs to make sure they are my own. Life offers many opportunities to question what the heck is going on and what my belief is. Questioning can lead to deeper understanding, new realization or leave me scratching my head still wondering what the heck? My beliefs are deep rooted and solid in some areas and very pliable in others. Some beliefs I have held tightly to because they have proven themselves true. Others entwine around me and try to bind me up even though I have tried to shake them in numerous ways, they are societies programming that I am constantly trying to cleanse myself of. Certain beliefs pressed on me by well-meaning religious teachers have required significant re-programming of my mind.
It would be easier not to self-analyze. Just go with the flow, be politically correct, follow the latest trends, listen to the preacher, do whatever the government told me to. I’ve tried those approaches a few times in my life when I’ve been exhausted or disheartened. In the end going with the flow somehow always rubs me the wrong way and I eventually wake up and return to my own way. Bold, direct, not politically correct, reading and studying the Bible for myself.
The war to influence our free will is ancient. Competition, jealousy, fear and hate mongering have always been tools the enemy used to control our emotions and work against us. The speed of the internet increases the velocity at which information penetrates our mind and diminishes our ability to decipher one attack before the next one is hitting us. The warfare takes on many forms: political affiliation, color of skin, religion, national origin, sexual orientation. Those shrouds of keeping us stirred up were used covertly up until a few years ago when the enemy became bolder. The camouflage has faded on the shroud of traditional palatable areas of propaganda. Now the war is visible outright as it blatantly rages against our free will and the freedom to exercise it.
Tactics of overwhelm are used as we are bombarded with information and no time to determine fact from fiction before the next barrage is poured out upon us. So much information, so much distraction. Wars and rumors of wars, viruses, wild weather, wild fires, racial injustice, sexual slavery, corruption under every stone. Tying us up in emotions of fear, anger, hate, rage, discouragement, helplessness. They poke and gouge and push our buttons getting us to put love on the back burner and battle with each other on our own soil, in our own homes, with our own friends and family. Their goal is that we don’t use the most powerful gift we were given. They want us to stop thinking for ourselves, stop being accountable for our own actions, stop using our mind, stop critical thinking, stop common sense reasoning, stop exercising our free will.
There is a fanatical radical in each of us, whether we yell at the top of our lungs on public domains or quietly plug along screaming silently, internally. We are creatures vibrating with energy from the electric current coursing through our being that is hard wired to emotion and feelings created in the very image of God Himself by His own hand. With our first breath we are designed to be ever seeking homeostasis and survival at all costs. Fight or flight is a continual unconscious question that our body/mind/spirit is asking itself. Each of us deals with the answer differently. Some people run to the fight, some run for safety, some sit still a little longer than others trying to figure out what the truth is.
The powers that be in this world are seeking to crush and control us. They understand and utilize the weapons of biology, psychology and spirituality. Fatiguing our systems, creating brain fog, depressive moods, trying to deplete our energy so that we are unable to process information, trying to create a sense of hopelessness so that we will grab onto any little pleasure they throw in front of us to numb the pain. Traditionally the pain killers were sports, shopping, cooking, eating, alcohol, drugs, pornography. Now they have added things like celebrity gossip, silly tiktok videos, and ignorant milk crate challenges. Anything they can use to influence and direct the masses is being used. They bombard us with bad news, upon bad news, upon bad news and offer us easily accessible pleasurable entertaining distractions from the bad news. Each is a tactic to control our thinking, to crush our free will. Filling our conscious and subconscious minds with propaganda promoting the direction they want us to move. They move us in masses, as if we were cattle, in whatever direction they choose.
Ponder this: The battle for our soul is the enemy’s ultimate goal. Have you ever thought about how precious our soul must be that such a divisive battle has been waged for it?
Death is eminent from our first breath. We are required to be prepared to meet our Creator. Today if the Taliban, or the little guy in Korea, or the intelligent guy in Russia, or the ancient Chinese, or our own elected president marches into our home and kills us we will be standing before our maker explaining why we believe what we believe.
What do I believe? I believe I’ll continue to take a moment each day to think about what I believe and make sure it is my own belief, then I will conduct myself accordingly regardless of what anyone else believes.