Jesonian: Reasonable (Part 4) Good Cheer … December 27th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jesonian hands

In all of my numerous dealings with people inflicted by poverty, I have never met a single one who ever told me that they weren’t a “morning person.”

Matter of fact, most of them push through the terror of lack and manage a grin or two, perhaps for no other reason than to avoid a grimace.

No, I will truthfully tell you, complaining or selecting to be less than hospitable is an attribute which plagues those having enough, who pretend they are afflicted.

It causes the world to be a nasty place.

So I will tell you–it is the reasonable expectation of every human being to at least attempt to appreciate what is available and make the best of it.

I believe that with all my heart.

Therefore, to be reasonable is to have good cheer.

So I have a simple three-step process to remind me how things work, and how I might want to adjust my behavior if I want to work with things:

1. The Earth is full of situations.

Most of them are neutral. We love to tag “good” and “bad” on them based upon our mood swings.

2. I am full of ability.

This is not a conceited statement. There’s an awful lot you can do with over 200 bones–and that doesn’t even count your muscles, miles of intestine and countless clumps of blood vessels. Shall we even simply discuss the capacity of the brain? Then on top of all of these natural fortifications, we add experience. How about some inspiration? My dear God, dare I even say intuition?

It is rather doubtful that any of us are ever without means.

3. The Spirit is full of ideas.

And, by the way, if we think we’ve run out of ability and we don’t favor Earth situations, there is always the ingenious internal thought process of the Creator, available to us through the wisdom of time, history, and as some of us believe, even prayer.

Therefore, to select worry, which quickly turns most “pusses” into “sours,” is to totally ignore the provisions that have been granted to all mortal children.

Good cheer is not a choice we make because we want to come across as positive in our thinking.

Good cheer is the only choice to make to have a chance for any thinking to produce positive.

 

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Three Ways to Conquer Despair… December 11, 2014

  Jonathots Daily Blog

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big sad little boy

Despair comes into our lives when the pile of what we need seems to be bigger than the pile of what we have.

It’s an issue of perception.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a small child in India or the Son of God, struggling in the Garden of Gethsemane, suddenly overwhelmed by the task ahead. You still want to screech, “Take this away from me!”

Despair is hard to escape. The classic remedies of prayer, counseling, positive thinking or even medication are all limited in their scope, based on faithfulness to the process.

Let’s be honest. It is very difficult to be faithful when you’re scared.

If you’ll allow me, here are three ways to set in motion a process to conquer despair by not allowing it to wash over you in the first place:

1. Don’t ignore your moods.

You are an emotional person and merely quoting scripture, uttering your mantra, finding your yoga position or trying to ignore the problem is not going to make it go away. Our moods are powerful to us because they project the symptoms of a condition existing in our soul, which requires our attention.

Stop perceiving yourself as “moody,” and realize that you are actually symptomatic. There is a tendency in our society to try to douse the emotions and limit their value. This is the worst thing we can do.

Deal with your emotions–they are telling you something important coming from deep within your soul.

2. Find a human mirror.

You will consider yourself irreparable until you realize there are other people in your same situation, and you can see your problem or apprehension in the face of another human being. This is why rehab surrounds you with addicts instead of people who have never taken drugs sharing their insights on self-control.

We all need a mirror.

I can’t change my life if I’m looking at people who have never had a life-changing experience. Look in the eyes of someone who suffers from the same despair that you do and draw strength from his or her struggle.

If you surround yourself with people who appear not only to be stronger than you, but also let you know how much stronger they are, you will only deepen your anguish.

3. Find a friend to note your progress.

Yes, you will need to be honest with someone. For a moment you will have to stop trying to be Superman or Superwoman, and admit you’re Clark Kent or Diana.

You will make progress. You’ll have a tendency not to ignore it because your expectations are too high. Get someone who understands your pursuit and can tell you how many steps you’ve made from where you started.

There are those who want to make depression and despair an illness, and perhaps in a handful of souls, it is.

But most of us become trapped in a cave of misunderstanding and worry, and soon find ourselves nearly immobilized–unable to function.

At that point, if you will simply give place to your moods, find other human beings who reflect your need, and get a friend to encourage you in your steps of progress, you can actually win the day and bring despair under your control instead of allowing it to make you an inmate to its prison.

 

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Three Ways to Use Your Doubt… October 23, 2014

 

Jonathots Daily Blog

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cliff

 

In the traditional story of Easter, three interesting characters are brought to the stage.

  • Judas, who betrays
  • Peter, who denies
  • And Thomas, who doubts

Unfortunately, the audience viewing the drama is encouraged to believe that all three of these individuals are equally culpable.

Please understand–there is a huge chasm between betrayal and denial, and likewise one existing between denial and doubt.

Betrayal is doubt which has already given up on the idea and is looking for a reason to rationalize its treachery.

Denial is doubt that has never been voiced, but when put under the pressure of persecution, exposes its weakness.

But on the other hand, doubt is what human beings do to flush out the trash and make room for new stuff.

It is a good thing.

There is not a day that goes by when I do not doubt the existence of God. No hour goes by when I do not question my own ability. And no minute ticks away when uncertainty does not stall me for a second or two concerning my resolution.

Trying to dispel these uncertainties through a chatty spirit of positive thinking is not only hypocritical, but futile.

Doubt is the powerful tool that transforms us from nostalgia to action. Use your doubt to:

1. Dispel fake faith.

What is fake faith? Any belief you hold which has not been personally tested. It is the accumulation of knowledge with no experience. It is the fear that if your faith was brought into the heat of the day, it would shrivel up and die.

Probably fifty percent of what we all believe is not only impractical and implausible, but actually inhibits us from living with lighter hearts.

2. Use your doubt to understand others.

Too often we become frustrated with human beings because they dare to speak the confusion that we try to hide behind our fake faith. I have much more compassion for people when I’m willing to admit my own doubts.

3. And finally, use your doubt to learn to be more honest.

  • Doubt is your spirit crying for a moment of truthfulness.
  • Doubt is when your heart desires to remove the clog of unanswered questions.

Thomas was not a denier nor a betrayer. He was a man who was dealing with some pain and rather than drinking it away …  he posed the question.

 

 

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Crossroads … May 28, 2012

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I was looking for a space

Within this earthly place

To wisely put my face

And gently make my case

To the surrounding human race.

Who isn’t?

But where does one begin?

Well, for me, it was school—more out of legality than desire. I showed up, did my mediocre best, and found after time that they did offer answers—but rarely to MY burning questions.

Graduating from that experience, I decided to take my little dab of talent and portfolio of songs and go to the bar to perform. Seemed right. They always needed music. They always wanted some troubadour to perform while the patrons enjoyed the fellowship of the dimly lit room. But every time I tried to sing one of my songs—or worse, speak between selections with a thought or two—I  was told by the management that the patrons wanted to hear Proud Mary and Mustang Sally—not one of my made-up ditties.  I was also informed that this was a drinking establishment, and people came here to escape their daily concerns, not rehash them. It became obvious that the bar was not for me. It was a venue to drink, not think.

It may sound unlikely, but for a brief season I thought maybe politics and public service was an opportunity for me to share my ideals and talents. But I soon discovered that supporting the party and making sure it was provided with adequate favors was the goal rather than the pursuit of truth. I was not discouraged.

There were still many possibilities dancing in the distance—such as the corporate world. I scoured the countryside for an organization that would have a product beneficial for the common good, and then I joined up with great enthusiasm, to change the world around me, one product at a time. But alas, I discovered that the business world was not about constantly improving the quality and increasing the value of the products, but rather, getting rid of the present inventory, even if it wasn’t as good as what we could do. Yes, the business world was tell and sell—and I was quickly unable to maintain the top of my game for its bottom line.

Then I thought maybe I could find a market for my music if I scheduled events in concert halls, where the audience would gather for the sole purpose of hearing my material. A brilliant thought. But always remember, there are two things that stand in the way of great ideas—weariness and apathy. They resemble each other in body language, but weariness usually comes after someone who is overly zealous encounters the indifference of the world around him. Concerts were scheduled, but no one came because no one knew my name. And those who did come always preferred that I play, not say.

First fruits of discouragement were beginning to etch across my features. I did have the wisdom to know that the greatest enemy of creativity was cynicism, so refusing to be jaded, I went to my local Chamber of Commerce and decided to get behind its efforts, to instill pride in its citizens. At first it was great fun. I felt a part of something. And then, as life does, the obvious need for change within our little burg became evident, and as people often do, the fear of such a maneuver is avoided at all costs. The Chamber of Commerce is a wonderful place to visit as long as you’re willing to repeat the mantra: “Our city is pretty.” But if you see where energy could be used to produce greater results, you could quickly become an annoyance to anyone who is determined to chant.

I will not lie to you. By this time I was so disappointed that I was flirting with giving up. I escaped into my own home and family. There was nobility to it—a sense that I was establishing my own personal Garden of Eden, with my own off-spring, giving something of quality to the world around me as I boldly proclaimed, in the spirit of Joshua: “As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord.” Although I experienced many beautiful moments and was able to nurture fine souls, the world around me continued to age and wrinkle in its own boredom and I realized that our little personal utopia, built on top of a hill, was more or less just a “fuss about us.”

But infused from the success and the jubilance of being with my family, and having launched little ships onto the sea of possibility, I packed up my belongings and I headed off to find the last great possibility. I arrived there yesterday, in Grand Junction, Colorado—at Crossroads.

It’s a church. People there don’t drink, so there’s nothing to inebriate them, to keep them from thinking. They have a school that they hold on Sunday, but you’re still allowed to ask questions if the right answers have not been provided. Politics are discouraged, although, because they do have a board, there is an ongoing danger of too many votes. It’s not a concert hall, so you are allowed to play your music and still explain why it’s important to you. It’s not a business, even though they do collect money. It’s not exactly a Chamber of Commerce, where they insist that their particular conclave of believers is always the prettiest in town. And it is certainly not a home, because everybody who attends already has one of those.

It’s not perfect. Honestly, it’s not even close. But what it is, is a place that is so ill-defined by human terms that God still has a chance to offer an opinion. It is a building where people sit as far to the rear as possible but still have arrived with an opening in their hearts that proclaims, “We want more.”

What an apt name for that church I visited yesterday—Crossroads. Because that’s exactly what the church should be—a place where people gather without fear, without too much agenda, without a drink in their hands, without needing to vote, without requiring a certain level of beauty, without believing they have all the answers, and without making too much of a fuss about themselves—just allowing an hour to refresh the brain cells which have been bombarded by repetition.

I have tried all the doors into the household of humanity. Many are locked.  Some are doggedly guarded. Others, quite frankly, are rusted shut. Yet I found a stained-glass window in the back of the house that was left open and I’ve wiggled through it.

It’s called the church. It is a crossroads. And what is a crossroads, you might ask? It is a place to sit in the middle of an overly positive and terribly negative world and start believing, thinking and working … for something better.

 

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Happi-Less… May 6, 2012

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  1. Always present your best side. Be positive.
  2. Be strong and don’t let your emotions betray you.
  3. Don’t let people walk on you.
  4. Be satisfied with what you have.
  5. Don’t let people take advantage of you. Stay alert.
  6. Be careful what you share about yourself.
  7. Work for peace; prepare for war.
  8. Be gentle but always be ready to fight for yourself.
  9. Return in kind.
  10. Keep your cool–even out your emotions.

Almost any good author could take the precepts above and write a self-help book, publish it and sell thousands of copies to the American public. Those ten ideas are deeply ingrained into the fabric of our nation’s daily interactions and stitched into our philosophy. They are nearly immutable. You hear them in the movies, they are espoused on television shows–they are basically the gospel of the reality show format. They comprise the credo of the American public perception of self-esteem.

The problem? Every one of them is the opposite of what Jesus taught.

When he presented his top ten notions for life and getting along with others from The Beatitudes in Sermon on the Mount–a list which he contended would produce happiness–the American philosophy ends up being contrary to his thinking. Perhaps it’s no surprise that we are a Christian nation by belief, and a jungle jumble by philosophy. For we all know–there is a difference between believing and following.

As to #1, Jesus told us to be poor in spirit instead of constantly positive, blowing our own horns. He doesn’t share this because it’s noble. It’s just that if two bulls are going to be in a pen, one had better show up willing to stop locking horns–or nothing will be accomplished.

As to #2–about being strong, hiding emotions–Jesus said that it’s blessed to mourn. If we would just realize that if there isn’t a physical manifestation of grief, concern or empathy, no one around us can be sure that we even care.

His response to #3 is that people will walk on you whether you want them to or not. Your only recourse is to be meek–buy time–to give them a more metered and intelligent response instead of saying, “And you, too …” The meek inherit the earth because the earth honors temperance and repels violence.

How about #4–being satisfied? Jesus says we should be hungering and thirsting for righteousness. We’re just not very good people when we become complacent and assume that what we already are and possess is sufficient.

Number 5–the fear of being taken advantage of–prevents us from committing acts of kindness, or at least, delays it. Jesus said that the merciful will receive mercy from God as a gift.

Should we be careful about what we share with others? You can be if you want. But Jesus says the pure in heart–those who are candid about their weakness before others find out and gossip–well, those folks get to see God. It’s just hard to see God if you can’t peer into your own heart.

And even though we might believe in a strong national defense, we have to understand that every time we build a bomb, we’re stealing valuable time that could be utilized for developing better forms of diplomacy. It’s too bad that in our world, the pursuit of peace, or as Jesus called it–peace making–is perceived as weakness rather than a masterful step of “bombing people” with greater intuition.

Jesus makes it clear that all of us will be persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Good ideas get punished until they’re accepted. It’s just a fact of life. You can feel free to “fight for yourself” and make a case, but until people’s ears are tuned to reasonableness, they will react negatively against anything different, even if it’s for their own good.

Of course, there is the inevitable flow of lies and falsehoods that happen in our society when those who have become our adversaries decide to stop the debate and begin the attacks. You can return in kind. It would make you a wonderful Muslim, an acceptable Jew and maybe even an honorable Chinese. But it just makes you a lousy Christian. Insanity doesn’t stop until someone insists on restoring upright thinking.

And finally, when it’s all said and done, Jesus says the end result should be happiness. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad. In our first list of ten, the resolution is to “keep your cool.” But Jesus suggests that we revel in the success of our own endeavors and our own desire to get along. Yet, in our top ten American precepts, we tout that it’s not good to let people see you being too joyful, too sad or too involved.

There’s happiness. Boiling it down to a single sentence: happiness is a decision to be vulnerable before someone comes along and wounds you anyway.

And there is the American culture top ten, which says, “Be defensive and keep from being wounded by staying aggressive.” The end result is that you lose your peace of mind, are constantly paranoid and end up Happi-Less–less happy.

The teachings of Jesus are not an attempt to turn the world population into pacifists, at the mercy of the lions, tigers and bears (oh, my). It is a philosophy that asks each individual to take personal responsibility for their actions, desires, foibles and talents instead of blaming others. The conclusion? If enough people would do this, there wouldn’t be any need to attack another.

So what will it be? Happiness? (Which really is focusing on my own dreams without judging others.) Or Happi-Less? (Building a fort around my life to protect myself from the savages.)

Remember–it is possible to believe without actually following. And it’s possible to defend yourself and end up alone and confused … because you don’t really know the person that remains.

  

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