Mar 222015
 

Recently I began experimenting by eating more vegetarian or vegan meals than meals that include meat. While there are a variety of reasons why, I realized the journey I took to get to this place mentally. What is funny is that I can remember, even as a teenager, my family joking around that I would probably be a vegetarian as an adult. Yet it wasn’t until just recently that I began experimenting with eating this way. As I began to wonder why I had continued cooking and eating meat, even though there are aspects that I dislike, I realized it was just habit and what had always been. My family was one that most of the time dinner was centered around a meat, and so I had begun to continue this way of thinking even though I could choose differently. First it had to get to the point where I hated preparing meat each evening for dinner, then I began to just leave the meat out, and finally realized that I needed to experiment with vegetarianism and veganism so that I was still getting enough protein.

All of this made me think about how much the way we are raised, what we are taught, and how we are trained to think impacts us. We are conditioned, not necessarily purposely, to think and act a certain way. Our upbringing, our families, our culture, and our experiences all play a part. How often do we just take it on as our own and not even question if it is right for us, or in some cases even truth?

I have heard so many stories recently from people who have come from very tough family situations and very hard places. I don’t even want to begin to compare my upbringing to the stories I have heard. While my family was and is far from perfect, I was blessed. But to know these people, and some of their story that led them to where they are today, it is amazing to see how resilient God created us to be.  It is awe-inspiring to think that out of trauma and struggles Christ can show us truth, heal us, and pick us up and place us on a different path.

Much like my continuing to eat in the same ways my family did, I can see other areas of life where I just took on what influential people in my life thought and how they acted. I can step back and see negative things that were said to me that I took on as truth. I can see opinions that were formed on issues that I had never actually taken the time to research the facts surrounding them. There were issues that I was influenced to believe were black and white, and other issues that were grey with no right or wrong. We absorb the thoughts, actions, opinions, and influences of those in our lives as we grow up and are formulating our way of thinking.

One example is my identity in Christ, which has been a struggle for me since placing my faith in Christ. I had taken what everyone had said about me my entire life, good and bad, and internalized it and formed my own “truth”. Christ has shown me His truth and who He says I am, but I still default to the old way of thinking at times. Christ has brought others into my life that have been in the midst of an issue, that I was taught was black and white, and has shown me how it is not about the issue but is about the humanity of each person and what are their individual needs. He has shown me His truth and the black and white of issues that previously were grey. He has taught me that even when the majority of voices in my life say something is right or expected, it is wrong if it goes against what He says. As well as times that He has placed me on a path that had the majority of people around me telling me how wrong it is and reminding me of all the reasons why I should not or cannot do it.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;  he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:5-8

“To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight,
to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;
to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth—
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance,
to understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:2-7

I want to be someone who lives with passion and conviction, not complacency. I want to take things I have accepted as truth and size them up to the Word of God, and hide His truth in my heart forgetting that which is false. I do not want to carelessly accept that which society or others preach as truth any longer. I want to recognize truth and see the world through His eyes and with His heart.

Waves of complacency

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Jul 272012
 

I recently visited the beach that my family frequented when I was a child. I saw a house that I remember admiring as a little girl, which is now for sale. Part of me thinks how amazing it would be to live at the beach, in this beautiful home. Serene, tranquil sanctuary. But then the Spirit reminds me how detrimental that thought process is.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light,  but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Matthew 6:19-24

Comfort does not lead to happiness, it leads to complacency. If I am comfortable here on earth, then my focus becomes about me, and my comfort. As comfort becomes my idol, as I continuously seek it, then I slowly become increasingly complacent until I cannot see past my own life. Suddenly those in need around me can cause me to turn my head and avoid acknowledgement.

Except, we don’t have to own a million dollar home on the beach to become complacent. Living in a first world nation makes it all too easy to live our rich lifestyles (Approximately 56% of the world’s population lives on $730/year or $2 a day so we are, in fact, rich in comparison), focusing on topics such as style trends, celebrities and latest electronic devices, turning our proverbial cheek to those in our own neighborhoods, our own country and around the world struggling to get through the day. In 2010, approximately 49 million Americans were living in food insecure households. In 2011, there were approximately 635,000 homeless people in America. Approximately 885 million people worldwide do not have access to clean and safe drinking water. According to the Christian Orphan Alliance, there is currently 153 million orphans worldwide.

We are called to find our comfort in Christ. The comfort we find in a delusional reality of riches is sedating and deadening. The comfort we find in Christ, and serving Him out of love to reach those in need, is enlivening and uplifting, not because it is easy but because it is worthwhile.