What Do You Do?

What do you do when your brain just won’t compute anymore?  How do you cope when your coping mechanisms take a holiday?  What if they were never there in the first place?

When I was at my lowest, I took an all-night joy ride and considered driving into a bridge abutment.  Fortunately, I was too cowardly to do it.  Some people’s pain transcends their fear, and escape is all that’s on their mind.

A friend’s youngest son was in that state decades ago.  He parked on the turnpike shoulder, hid behind the car, and jumped into the grill of an oncoming semi.  That was preferable to him against the mental pain he had.

I heard of a man who accepted Jesus after surviving his attempt to check out by jumping from a very high bridge.  One of the Coast Guard responders told him he was very lucky.  Most people they pull out of the water are dead.  One interesting note; he says that the moment he let go of the railing and started dropping he realized he didn’t really want to die.  That’s when he called on Jesus and began speaking about his experience.

A lot of people don’t go that far.  They self-medicate.  Some people choose alcohol, others take drugs, and still more use both.  They haven’t been driven to death’s door to stop the pain.  They’re just looking for anything to numb it.

All Simone Biles did was withdraw from at least some of her Olympic events.  That’s all.  She has received a lot of good wishes and prayers, but she also has her critics.  To the critics I say, “Shut up!  You have no idea what you’re talking about.  You’ve never experienced her situation.”

I’ve been in situations that take a lot of mental focus.  After some time, the brain starts begging for a break.  The white-hot glare of the Olympics plus competing in a sport that can kill or main you with one mental lapse certainly takes a toll.  Is it any wonder she withdrew?

I heard Michael Phelps talking about this in an interview about Biles decision.  If anyone could understand, it’s him.  He said that he never felt like a human being, just something on display.  He wasn’t treated as human so much as a zoo animal or museum piece to be critiqued.

Mental health is something that is hard for others to deal with.  You can’t see the injury.  You can’t even get an X-ray of it.  There is no limp, no cast, no deformities…nothing but behavior that we might find hard to understand.  Even the victim has a hard time trying to explain it.  They can’t even point to a joint or muscle and say that’s where it hurts.  They just know they hurt.

Have you ever heard of Austin-Riggs?  It’s a world-famous mental health facility in Massachusetts.  It specializes in treatment-resistant mental problems.  It means that the body adapts to drugs that normally help someone and become ineffective.  Austin -Riggs teaches people how to deal with their problems when drugs don’t do it for them.  Judy Garland, James Taylor, and a crowd of others have gone through there.

Mental health problems are more devastating than even my heart surgery!  I got past my double bypass.  My body eventually regained its strength and I could go back to an almost normal life.  You can’t say that about mental health problems.  They can’t be surgically removed.  All one can do is find ways to cope with them, destructive or not!

Simone Biles.  She had the courage to remove herself from danger despite what others might say.  She even found it in herself to stand tall and support her teammates on the sidelines.  She didn’t jump in front of a truck or off a bridge.  She didn’t resort to drugs or alcohol.  She had the presence of mind to remove herself from the cause of her pain.

I’m encouraged that there have been more supporters than critics.  Still, the critics are too many.  Thanks to Jerry Springer, Judge Judy, and more of their kind, our society has become ever more judgmental and snarkier.  Society has made self-righteous criticism a sport when sympathy and mercy are needed.

Where do you fall in that range between concern and condemnation?  For Simone?  For anyone?  Wherever you rate yourself, do you suppose that you have room to move farther to sympathy?

From William Shakespeare:

The quality of mercy is not strained.  It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath.  It is twice blest: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.  ‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes the thronèd monarch better than his crown.

And from St. Paul in Philippians:

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

Quote for 05/24/2021

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.    Hebrews 11:6

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What if you had a child who was good, clean, ate her vegetables, but didn’t trust you? You might stand in the big swimming pool and she never jumped into your arms. You’d take him to a fun house, but he wouldn’t go in because he didn’t trust you that it would be safe.

You would have a nice child who everyone would think is just wonderful, but you would have no relationship with him. That child plainly shows you he has no trust, no faith in you. There would be no real bond. Can you imagine your heartache? Can you imagine God’s?

“Diligently seek Him.” This reminds me of Tom Doyle’s “Killing Christians.” The book tells how Christianity is spreading in the Middle East where there are no Bibles to be had openly. He writes first-hand accounts of people who knew that their Muslim religion wasn’t working. They fervently desired something else but didn’t know what. Jesus would visit them in their dreams to tell them He is Who they seek and directs them to other Christians.

These people diligently sought Jesus even though they didn’t even know Who they were seeking. The irony is that they didn’t find Jesus. He found them!

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7

A promise straight from Jesus to you and me!

Quote for 04/12/2021

Righteousness guards him whose way is blameless, but wickedness overthrows the sinner.    Proverbs 13:6

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What you do, how you live will go a long way toward a good life.

People who are blameless, who have a good reputation, will tend to find themselves protected.  Such people often have no need to defend themselves; others will come to their rescue when seeing their righteous friend abused.  It is true that it is better to have another make your case for you than to try and defend yourself.

However, if you lead a life of lying and cheating, you cannot expect to see others come running to your rescue when bad things start to happen.  They will likely run, but away from you!  Wickedness will be your downfall, even if you are truly blameless in a specific instance, because wickedness colors your entire life.

The Last Blockbuster

The last Blockbuster in Bend, OR

I saw this documentary on Netflix, and it brought a lot of memories back.  If you’re too young to have known, Blockbuster Video was where you could go to rent movies on VHS tapes and later DVDs.  At its peak it boasted 9000 locations.  It was sold once for $8 billion dollars!

Today there is one location left in Bend, OR.  Everything has gone digital and people just don’t deal with physical things anymore.  That store owner is scrapping to hang on.  She’s spent her whole career there and employed all her kids, friend’s kids…everyone to work there at one time or another.

People spoke longingly of the days when a Blockbuster store was a community experience for them and the excitement of getting their hands on a new release!  Thinking back to the old videotape days, they spoke of missing the weight of the video cassette in their hands and the satisfying click when you closed the case.  Many even reminisced about how Blockbusters had a distinct smell to them.  I personally don’t recall that, but OK.

It was a time when you were in actual contact with people and products.

Today, thanks to the digital revolution, we can shop online and have things “mysteriously” appear on or doorstep mere days later.  We can facetime, zoom, and who knows what else.  Anything except actually being there with someone.

People just don’t deal with physical things anymore…including real, physical people.  We only deal with the images of said people.  We “attend” church by way of webcasts without saying hello to anyone and chatting about the latest news, global or personal.

Pictures don’t convey body language.  We don’t look into real eyes anymore.  We don’t smell the cologne or perfume.  We don’t feel the warmth of someone close by, the personal nature of communication with someone within arm’s reach.

It’s all but gone.

Therefore, do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.    Ephesians 5:17-21

So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying.    Acts 12:12

Now when they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.    Acts 14:27

This is a theme in Paul’s letters to the churches; gather together.  Community.  Mutual support.

Yes, COVID.  I know.  Right.  How about common sense?  Just like any other cold or flu, stay home when you’re sick.  It really is that simple.  We should be at least as concerned about what we’re losing as opposed to not catching.

I feel like the last Blockbuster lately.  The doors are open, but no one is coming around.  We’re living too much in fear and not enough in hope and love.

Meet the Dating Professor

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…   Galatians 5:22

Dating ProfKerry Cronin is a professor of philosophy at Boston College, but she is better known as The Dating Professor. Twelve years ago she offered students a chance for extra credit by asking someone out on a date. There were a couple contingencies: no sex and no alcohol. She found to her surprise that her students hardly followed through.

‘I realized at that point that the social script of dating was really long gone,’ she told the Washington Post, adding that dating has turned into ‘a weirdly counter-cultural thing to do.’  Those words shocked me! Dating has become a counter-cultural thing? She goes on to explain that dating is much more intimate than simply getting drunk and having sex. That’s why dating has “become so taboo.”

Then I had to remind myself of the article I just wrote a few days ago: Off The Rails! That was about how colleges and universities don’t really educate students anymore so much as let them “punch their tickets.” True education is gone, and so is morality as campuses have become a collection of modern Sodoms and Gomorrahs.

Dating is dealing with people on a personal level without alcohol as a protective barrier. Even impersonal sex has gotten to be easier than a meaningful conversation! I think that this is further evidence in a breakdown of social skills altogether that began with cell phones, texting, and email as opposed to actually getting in touch with people.

Dating CouplesToday, she explained, people exist in ‘hypersexualized’ cultures that focus more on getting laid than ‘the foibles and the hard work and the joys and the despair of just casual dating.’  Social media and dating apps have simply made people disposable. Bad date? Ghost them, as the current vernacular goes. Never mind common courtesy or consideration of someone’s feelings, just run away like the cowards we have apparently become.

Come to think of it, I guess that’s why no one so much as gets an acknowledgment or a thank you for applying to a job. Last year I was ghosted by a hiring manager who flew me across the country for a job interview. When I finally got hold of him he told me he thought I might have heard through the grapevine that they’d hired someone else from my company! And to this day, the guy who recruited me in the first place, a former colleague, has not returned one email or phone message.

Part of the dating assignment consist of asking for a date face-to-face. She tells them to stop texting; it is the devil! Furthermore…

‘This is mostly not about meeting your soul mate; it’s mostly about social courage and challenging yourself to be a little countercultural, to do something you know you want to do.”

I would add that it’s also about social skills!

Forget about your electronic cocoon, hiding under the covers of apps and texts. Starting treating people, start treating yourself like a person!

The Problem of Pain

But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!    Matthew 6:23

Beauty Beyond Bones posted a podcast on May 4, 2017 entitled, “Permission to Let Go.” She also has it in writing at her WordPress blog site.  Click Beauty Beyond Bones to see her work at WordPress.

If you are not familiar with her, Caralyn has just celebrated her 10th anniversary of recovery from anorexia.  She has blogged about her recovery since 2015 and is inspirational.  25,000+ followers think so.  I wrote an article about her IN January 2016, Beauty and the (ED) Beast, in case you’d like a fuller description.  If you really want the full impact of her ministry, start at the beginning.

But let’s get to the point and start with her podcast itself:

PODCAST – Permission to Let Go

As I listened to this, I didn’t have an immediate response. I don’t know that I’ve ever been in a situation like what she describes, having a problem letting go of pain.  Or maybe I’m not self-aware enough!

After some time, an analogous situation came to mind. It was the opening scene from Star Trek: The Final Frontier.  Briefly, An alien man is digging holes in a windswept desert. He hears, then sees another man approaching on horseback. He runs for a gun of some sort, and faces the intruder, who we learn is a Vulcan named Sybok. Sybok dismounts and strides up to him and says he can’t believe the man would kill him over a field of empty holes. The pitiful answer comes: “It’s all I have!”

For Caralyn, and so many more, the pain is all they have. The pain is nothing more than a desert field, pockmarked with empty holes we keep drilling into it.  You might even say we are drilling those holes into our very selves.

We tend to be pretty tolerant folks, as was mentioned in America’s Declaration of independence:

“…experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

In other words, we’ll put up with pain so long as we perceive the cost of removing it is greater than the pain itself.

But what if the pain becomes our comfort?  What if, like a dog who lives most of his life in a kennel, we fear the open spaces and suffer voluntarily inside our cage?

Here is where the last part of that opening scene tells us so much, and yet so tragically misdirects us:

“Your pain runs deep. Let us explore it together.  Each man hides a secret pain.  It must be exposed and reckoned with.  It must be dragged from the darkness and forced into the light.  Share your pain.  Share your pain with me, and gain strength from the sharing.”

“Where did you get this power?”

“The power was within you.”

“The power was within you. You can save yourself.  You can do it.  You always could; I just showed you how.”

This happens so often in our modern culture. We are seduced by the pleasant-sounding reasoning which contains truth and yet uses it to support a lie.  The power to save us does not lie within us.  Eons of human history are ample proof of that.  We’ve found multiple ways to fly like birds, cross ground faster than a cheetah, harnessed the atom, and gone to the moon.  Several times.

You’d think that, somewhere in the last 6000 years, SOMEONE would have discovered the most elemental, simple answer to human misery: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.  And while you’re at it, love your neighbor as yourself.  Period.  That’s it.  No muss, no fuss, don’t even add water.

But we don’t love ourselves. No, indeed.  We find ourselves comfy in our muck of pain.  Or maybe we’re so blinded by it that we can’t see any way out if it and are resigned to our “fate.”

Jesus is the only One who has the power to remove pain…and the sin that ensnares us. Jesus is the only One who could live a perfect life, never sin, and offer Himself up to one of the most gruesome  deaths ever concocted by man; His back flogged down to the bone, and then hung naked on a cross to suffocate under his own weight.  He took our punishment for us, even complete separation from God, the ultimate punishment.

Sybok was spot on right up till the end: “Each man hides a secret pain. It must be exposed and reckoned with.  It must be dragged from the darkness and forced into the light.  Share your pain.  Share your pain with me…”  says Jesus.  “…and gain strength from Me in the sharing.  Confess your sins, and bring your darkness to be exposed and defeated by My light.”

The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.    Matthew 4:16

Caralyn really is the Beauty Beyond those Bones. But her Beauty is not her own.  It is a Light that shines from within.  Even on the written page.  Her witness, her ministry point relentlessly to Jesus as the One who took away her pain after she held into it for so terribly long.  Literally with a death grip.  She was 78 pounds when admitted to recovery and was within hours of death, so close that the nurses kept her in their nurses’ station her first night instead of her room.

How many bloggers garner 25,000+ followers at all, let alone in such a short time? And the growth is not slowing down.  It’s happening because Jesus shines through everything she does.

I won’t tell you that accepting Jesus will get you a successful blog! I will tell you that accepting His forgiveness and light into your life will make you a light yourself.  The pain/sin that you cling to – or that clings to you – can be vanquished.  The power is within…Jesus!

JUST SKIN AND DRONES

And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.   Genesis 2:18

Robots could soon be covered in real human flesh, Oxford boffins claim. Grab your pitchforks, scientists want to coat robots in muscle fibers and tissue so they look just like us.

Just Skin and Drones

This has GOT to stop! I mean right now, not tomorrow. With all of the research and development going into robotics – and not a little of it toward perfecting sex-bots – things have already past the getting-out-of-hand stage.

Try the article SILICONCUBINES about sex-bots used for “therapy.”  I also recently saw an article on a company – I’m serious – that is developing child sex-bots.

Now they’re working on ways to make a robot almost indistinguishable from a live person. The article highlights how growing real skin and tendons on robot frames (think Terminator) will advance the search for replacement parts far beyond where we are now.  Those pieces of flesh will be more mechanically accurate in terms of how they move compared to what we get from God.

I am not necessarily against medical advances, unless it hurts someone else in the process, like harvesting stem cells from human embryos. While the intentions may be good, someone will highjack this for…other purposes.

Why else is there a picture in the article of inventor/researcher Ricky Ma with his Mark 1 life size robot? It takes a second glance to realize he is not really standing next to Scarlett Johansson.

This will be an advance past bio-bots “…made of living cells that can wriggle and walk.” See Franken-Robots.  So far, these bio-bots are under a centimeter in size, but “Last year the researchers were able to make bots powered by rat’s heart move.”

Here’s the thing; when God wanted Adam to have some company, he produced a living, flesh and blood woman. The deal was that it would be just those two together, making and raising a family.  No musical chairs with spouses, no swinger parties with those first people throwing their leaves on a coffee table.

If you really want to tick Him off, commit a sin involving sex. Someone else’s wife?  Very bad for you!  Homosexual playing around?  Worse for you!  Going animalistic?  You don’t want to know.  The most drastic punishments happen in the sex part of the laws.

Mating with a robot? That didn’t get covered, but I’m thinking He can’t be happy about it.

Find your life-long mate. Love him or her mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  Make each other happy.  Make each other feel good and wanted.  That’s why God didn’t make robots.  He made us, beings that can choose!  He likes when we choose Him.  He likes when we treat each other as we were created to, choosing each other.

Robots don’t have a choice; they aren’t even alive. Yet.  We’ll save AI for maybe another time!

Enough

13 For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;[b] Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.                         Psalm 139:13-14

The Ivanka Trump effect: Women flock to plastic surgeons to copy blonde bombshell’s looks

ivanka-trump-at-new-york-ballet-2014-fall-gala-at-lincoln-center_1Love them or hate them, the Trumps are the First Family for Melania-Trumpat least the next four years. Regardless of what you might think of them politically or personally, Melania and Ivanka are gorgeous.

Yes, they have access to the most expensive styles. Yes, they had surgical help.  Blah, blah, blah…  That doesn’t change the fact that they could sell at least as many posters to teenage boys as Farrah Fawcett once did.

Maybe even to more than a few older men. I almost wrote “mature,” but I could see the ladies’ eyes rolling in my mind!

Would I like to be ripped like Arnold once was? Would I like to have been another Channing Tatum in my teens and twenties?  Oh, you betcha!  So I worked out, lifted weights, etc.  I never quite got there, but I made an honest effort.  And I was content with my results.

Channing-Tatum

“Missed it by THAT much…”

 

Women around the world want to look like Ivanks and Melania. So much so that a whole industry is gearing up to cash in on that desire.  In China –

Li Yunxing, from Foshan Yiwanka Medical Management, said young women are lusting over Ivanka’s features. She said: “Young women here want Ivanka’s big eyes, her pretty nose and lips and her flawless figure.

“Yiwanka” is the Chinese version of Ivanka, which they trade-marked before the election. They knew this would be big business; breasts, eyes, liposuctions, and noses galore to insert, round, and otherwise sculpt into the current beauty standard.

And don’t forget all of the retail products, including underwear, sanitary towels, and who knows what else?

I know; Chinese and Japanese folks can get really into this sort of thing. We’re not immune here either.

Women in America admitted to spending as much as $90,000 for cosmetic surgery to get the so-called Ivanka look.

But here’s the sad part. I’m betting most of the women who go under the knife to find happiness and love already are very attractive.  There is no, single “look” that defines beauty.  I know there are optimum proportions in structure, but even within that framework there is great variety.

Beauty is more than skin deep. Anyone, man or woman, is like a beautiful Tiffany lamp.  There’s all of the potential to be truly beautiful; it just needs a light inside to bring out the colors God gave us.  True beauty comes from inside, it comes from God making you complete with His Spirit.  Just ask BeautyBeyondBones.

Some people have deformities, and I don’t blame them for seeking emotional and/or physical relief. That’s not what’s on the plate tonight.

Let all things be done decently and in order.      1 Corinthians 14:40

People who are healthy and normal should not chase a current fad by surgical means. It’s like tattoos; it might seem like a good idea tonight, but what about later?  What if you put on a leisure suit in the ‘80’s and COULD NEVER TAKE IT OFF?disco-leisure-suit-costume

11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ[a] who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:11-13

God made each and every one of us. Sin has caused some of us problems that medicine and surgery can help.  But still, God made you.  You are enough for Him.  Shouldn’t that be enough for you too?

God loves you

Live Fearlessly!

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.    1 John 4:18 [Full Chapter]

But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.    Luke 12:7

I recently found it necessary to verbally slap a friend upside her pretty, little head. You see, she’s living in fear.  Mind you, she’s done some very brave things, battled some very real demons, but she’s gone timid as of late, and, well, it has to do with relationships and age.  That’s where we all fall down, right?

We all get scared when it comes to putting ourselves out there, whether it’s looking for love or a job. Job interviews give us the cold sweats.  Finding ourselves in the vicinity of a cute guy or girls give us a case of the heminah-heminahs.

That’s not how God intends us to live! Paul’s letter to Philemon is about doing the right things in life, both as regards God and people:

Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.    Philemon 1:21

Confidence! That’s how we need to live; confidently, fearlessly!

Job interviews: do you realize you are in the driver’s seat? The person interviewing you gets paid to make a tough, very expensive decision in hiring someone.  But your perfect love can cast out fear!  You are there to help that person!  Be nice, be sympathetic, be helpful.  Don’t be fearful!  And remember you are interviewing them too!  You BOTH need to make a good decision.  If the interviewer isn’t your cup of tea, you might not want to work for him or her.  Taking the job, even if offered, might be a bad idea!

Perfect love casts out fear. Love the other person, recognize their situation, and be the job candidate God would want you to be – your very best self!

Relationships. Hoo boy!  Here we go.  Do you understand that most everyone is just as afraid and nervous as you?  Are you checking someone out?  Maybe they are checking you out too.  But both scared, little mice scurry along, too afraid to take a chance.

OK, you might make a fool of yourself. It can happen.  But you’ll never see that person again anyway, so who really cares?

They might be nice and still say no, and that’s OK.

They might say yes. From there, maybe things will work out, maybe not.

Example: MANY years ago I had a gym membership and swam a one mile workout in the lap pool. Adjacent to that was a hot tub.  So I’d do my mile and then relax in the tub.  Once evening a nice young lady was in there too.  We chatted.  No ring.  I asked her out.  Well, she was married.  The ring was off so she wouldn’t lose it.  I could’ve felt foolish, but why?  I apologized.  She said no need.  Before she left, she thanked me!  It was nice to know she was attractive!

Love casts out fear. I was nice.  She was nice.  We both won that evening.  She got a great compliment.  I got a no that would’ve been a yes if she was single.  We both went home feeling good.

Believe it or not, I did that one or two other times too. Did I feel foolish?  Aw, heck no!  It was kinda funny every time, and she always left feeling desirable.

Love doesn’t have to be romantic and sexy. Love can be as simple as being nice to people.  It can be as simple as, “Hey, I’m looking for someone, and you seem nice.  How about we spend some time?”  For all you know, they wish they had the courage to do that.

Live fearlessly, my friends! Above are merely two examples to get you to a bigger idea – have confidence.  If you don’t’ have it, act like it.  The mind tends to follow the body.  Feeling down?  Smile.  Keep smiling.  Your mood will improve.

In other words – Fake It Till You Make It! Go forward with God’s peace in you.  Act like He’s got your back, because He does.  If you stumble, He’ll  help you back up.  You will find more success than failure!