Darkness is defined as the “absence of light.” Goodness must have good as it’s source. The ancient Hebrews described this as ‘light’. Evil is the absence of good and described as ‘darkness’.
Evil (darkness) is not something. It is the lack of good (light).
The rightness of the moral law reflects the righteous source of the moral law.
“Righteous are you, O Lord, and right are your rules.” (Ps. 119:137)
An intrinsically good source produces goodness. It is reflective of it’s essence. Where there is no good, evil exists. Where there is no light, darkness exists.
“The unfolding of your words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple.” (Ps 119:130)
When Kathryn and I were dating, her grandmother (lovingly called ‘Mom-mom’) began experience catastrophic health problems. She had a series of strokes and ended up in a full-time nursing facility. Kathryn’s parents visited her daily and cared for her needs. Kat and I would go visit her on occasion. It was tough for me because I did not have a close relationship with Mom-mom at the time.
It was while she was in assisted living center and later, nursing home that God created a beautiful doorway to enter into a relationship with Mom-mom. We got to know each other more and more as we visited. She spent many months in the home as her condition would deteriorate then improve, and deteriorate again.
On one occasion, Kat and her parents were all out of town at the same time. They asked me to check on Mom-mom while they were away. I remember that she was in bad shape, confined to a bed and surrounded by machines. So, I sat with her and talked to her as I held her frail hand in mine. We talked about Kathryn. I told Mom-mom how much I loved Kat. I made Mom-mom a promise that day. I promised her that I would take care of Kathryn no matter what happened. A few weeks later, sweet Mom-mom passed away.
Our daughter carries Mom-mom’s name, Lillian (Lilly). I still carry Mom-mom’s kindness and words of encouragement in my heart to this day.
What if God in his perfect wisdom creates doorways through suffering to bring people into authentic relationship?
Would this change your view of suffering?
It may be easier to recognize severe physical suffering. Perhaps you’ve had a family member who’s had a stroke and lost function of a section of their body? Or maybe you’ve seen the suffering that terminal cancer causes in a good friend?
“Be kind, everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” (Unknown)
Walk through an entire day and you will come into contact with many types of suffering. In many cases suffering goes unnoticed unless you are connected in intimate relationship with a person. Also, suffering can have many layers and faces.
Loneliness, loss and depression are forms of suffering.
Losing hope is the worst kind of suffering.
Maybe it’s worth exploring suffering with spiritual eyes to see that when all the stuff we strive for in life is at the bottom of a trash heap, the only thing of lasting value is relationship. Suffering is everywhere! So, there are doorways everywhere to step through into relationship. I encourage you to consider what your life would be like if you stepped through a doorway. People have stepped into my suffering when I needed to be loved and supported.
Share your thoughts below!
Has someone stepped into your life when you were suffering?
Maybe you have stepped though the doorway into someone’s life?
I realize that in order to read this post, you must be on a computer or smartphone. I hope that when you have finished reading it, you will put away the device and look up. Is there anyone in the room with you? What are they doing right now?
Maybe you are by yourself right now. What is your best friend doing right now? How about your mom or dad?
Watch this video (it’s 5 minutes long and won’t be a waste of you time):
I don’t usually spend long hours per day on Facebook but, I do find myself mindlessly scrolling the News Feed several times a day. Particularly at night before going to bed. How do I so easily drift into this state of feeding on the news feed? Then, the question hit me;
Is ‘feeding on Facebook’ beneficial? (more…)
I wish I could have been in Boston on Monday. 36,000 people participated in the Boston Marathon. I got a sense that this was going to be a special race like no other. I would have loved to be there. But, like many of you, I caught glimpses on Social Media. There are so many touching and amazing stories emerging from event. Whether its the stories of amputees returning to race in Boston or folks running in memory of their fallen loved ones or participants carrying exhausted strangers toward the finish; we learn something about who we are. It is an encouragement to see others finishing the race.
Having personally participated in several very mentally and physically grueling endurance races, I can only imagine what it felt like to cross that line. It must have been so bitter-sweet and joy-filled words can’t describe it.
We have a choice:
When an event or loss devastates our lives, we are left with a choice. Whether it is the loss of a spouse or job, health issues, or broken dreams… We have a choice. We can linger in the bondage of that dark time or we can press on and finish the race.
Redeeming the experience
The tough and dark times are rich with value that can be redeemed. Maybe not immediately, but at some point in the future. When the participants crossed the finish line on Monday in Boston, they redeemed something of transcendent value that cannot be measured. The word ‘priceless’ seems like a cheap description of it. As onlookers, we sense it and feel it as we see and hear the stories pouring out from the race.
Pressing on: Finishing the Race
We all experience trials in life. Most we cannot escape. We must endure it. Personally, I believe that pain and suffering have a purpose and have a much higher value than pleasure. If I can encourage you to do one thing. I encourage you to press on and finish the race. There will come a time when you will be able to redeem it and bring forth more good than you ever expected. Plant those roots good and deep. When the heat and trials come, you will endure. And when the quenching rains come you will burst forth with the good fruit of life that has transcendent value. There will be folks cheering you on as you finish your race. It is yours to run. Who knows, maybe you’ll have the privilege of carrying someone else toward the finish line with you.
Encouragement from the Bible:
“Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isa 40:28-31)
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Gal 6:9)
Warren Buffett’s Car
“Your prejudices can easily distort your perceptions. If you have a prejudice against an individual, it will distort how you perceive who he is and what he does.” –Ravi Zacharias
(This is a free-flow exploration born from the above statement)
Prejudice is a preconceived opinion or prejudgment that is NOT based on reason or actual experience. It is an unfavorable opinion formed without knowledge, thought or reason (wikipedia & dictionary.com)
Most of us think of prejudice in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, etc. It has become an emotionally charged word in our culture. Therefore, I’ll use the word ‘prejudgement’ for the sake of this discussion because this is the case for ALL people we interact with.
We must constantly be on our guard against prejudging people. If we’re honest, we understand that we prejudge people before we actually know them all the time. It is almost impossible to keep from doing this. With every introduction or handshake, I am making prejudgements. You are too.
The problem as I see it, is we’re making internal statements about the individual instead of asking internal questions. In my mind, I am making presumptions about this person which amount to snap character judgements. Instead, I should be asking asking myself character questions.
In the early 1980s, in 2nd grade, I was diagnosed with a learning disability called Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Now its called Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). School work was a problem for me. I loved learning but struggled academically, except in art and music. Throughout my years in school, the refrain from my instructors, tutors, coaches and professors was always the same, “Lance would make a great student (or athlete), if he just applied himself.” The not-so-nice adults labeled me lazy, uncaring, or indifferent.
Weird Little Kids
In elementary school, I remember having to leave lunch with my friends to go to the nurse’s office to take my medication. I’d wait in line with a handful of other ‘weird’ little kids for a little yellow pill. By the time I would get back to the classroom, lunch was over. To make things worse, while my class was at recess, I was sent a tutor. From inside her tiny shoebox office with no windows, I could hear my classmates on the playground just outside the door. (This is just wrong in so many ways). After school, I was usually shuttled to more tutors.
I remember someone mentioning I may have a mild case of dyslexia as well. Knowing my struggles with reading and writing, I have a sneaking suspicion that I still struggle with it. I am a very slow reader and I write even slower.
Ms. Wizard’s plan to fix me
Here’s one that will bake your noodle. I have always been left-handed. My 2nd grade teacher (I’ll call her Ms. Wizard) had a plan to ‘fix’ me. So, Ms. Wizard forced me to write with my right hand. She would say things like, “Lance is really struggling to keep up with writing assignments.” I’m sorry Ms. Wizard, you are an idiot. What did you expect? You are making me write with the wrong hand! Luckily, I survived 2nd grade with my left hand intact. (I have forgiven her ignorance-based ‘help’). Thank you for letting me vent… I feel better.
The Power of ADHD
What were we talking about? Oh, yeah. The power of ADHD can be harnessed. Over the years, I knew I loved to learn but rarely accomplished tasks on time or reached my goals. My biggest struggle has not been starting a task. I love starting new things, I have ADHD, duh. I struggle with completing tasks, particularly projects that require long periods of focused attention and detail.
This is what I’ve learned and if you have ADHD you must know. We have a special ability or super-power (for helping children understand). The intense focus within our limited attention span is extremely powerful. The key is learning to harness these bursts of super-human focus.
BTW, If you have ADHD and are still reading this, congrats because I’ve already taken two breaks.
How can you harness the power of ADHD?
- Recognize and admit that you are different (that is a good thing)
- Understand that outliers like you and me learn differently
- You have a gift. I have come to absolutely believe that ADD/ADHD and Dyslexia are gifts NOT disabilities
- Your approach to problem solving will be unique and effective
- Don’t listen to fools (experts) tell you that you need ‘fixing’
- Set bite-sized goals (measurable, time limit, specific, personalized and in writing)
- Keep a to-do list with the most important task on top (knock it out first)
- Buy a stop-watch with a timer
15 minute intervals can save you 15 hours per week
I work in 15 minute recurring intervals. When I begin a task, I set my watch timer for 15 minutes and get going. My watch beeps at the end of 15 minutes. If I’m not working on the same task I began 15 minutes ago, I get back on track. This keeps me from drifting into something else like debating people on Facebook, chasing squirrels, etc.
After two intervals (30 minutes), I try to get up and do something completely unrelated to the task. I may stretch, read, get some water, go outside to get some air or play with my children. My little break may take 5 to 10 minutes. But, never more than 15 minutes because my timer goes off telling my that it’s time to get back to the task.
I’ve learned that my attention span is about 15 minutes but my focus is extremely intense during that time. I just need some walls to bounce off of to keep things moving forward.
Experiment and have fun
All I can say is that this works for me. It may not work for you. But, its worth trying, right? Anything is better than that sinking feeling that you wasted time, failed at accomplishing something important or let someone down. Either way, trying this for a few days will teach you something about yourself and the value of time.
One size doesn’t fill all
If your child had been diagnosed with a ‘learning disability’ it simply means they do not learn the same as others in our massive institutionalized, one-size-fits-all education system. Outliers are the world-changers. Average people striving to be average in a below-average system never change anything. The greatest artists, scientists and entrepreneurs in history probably had ADD/ADHD or something else. When you learn differently, you see the world differently! Your solutions to problems will be different. Please see it as a gift. Harness it and encourage others to do the same.
God blessed me with ADHD. He allowed me to wrestle with it until I accepted it and learned to harness it.
Wait, there goes a squirrel…….!