Happy People and Pain

January 14th, 2017

Happy people have just as much pain as anyone else, in some cases more. It could even be argued that the happy feel pain more acutely than the unhappy, whose feelings are relatively numb. The real difference in happy people is that they’re not trapped by their pain. Rather than settling inside a happy soul, pain moves through it as through a channel, and that channel is joy. Joy keeps pain moving.

Happiness, rather than indicating an absence of pain, denotes a certain efficiency of processing life’s problems. Happy people don’t stay stuck for long; their lives are too rich for that. Greater happiness empowers them to take on more challenges, and moving through challenges makes them happier still.

Joy knows it’s on the winning side. That’s why it can rejoice even in the midst of suffering. If any of life’s horrors were permanent or unconquerable, joy would be impossible. Yet how easily we’re cowed into a defeatist attitude. It doesn’t take a major calamity to get us down; a petty annoyance will do nicely. A day, an entire week, indeed a lifetime, can be spoiled by a series of light and momentary troubles. While one believer praises God in the midst of terminal illness, another grumbles because of a runny nose. What’s the difference between these two lives? Attitude.

— Mike Mason, Champagne for the Soul, p. 41-42.

Making a Pearl

January 7th, 2017

Most of us have had traumatic things happen to us. At the time of a trauma, we have a choice as to what the experience will become for us. Either we choose for this experience to become the thing that wounds us so mortally that it eventually kills us because we never get over it or we choose for it to become the grain of sand around which we produce a great pearl.

— Chuck Spezzano, If It Hurts, It Isn’t Love, p. 221

Feedback Loop

December 31st, 2016

The human brain must do three operations when confronted with a bad situation. The first is in the Toddler brain. When something bad happens — or seems like it might happen — the alarm sounds in the Toddler brain: fear, anger, shame, anguish. The alarm is usually triggered by external change (cues in the environment) or internal change — something felt, thought, recalled, or imagined. (Remember, the Toddler brain has only primitive reality-testing; toddlers confuse reality with what they feel, think, remember, and imagine.) The second operation is in the adult brain, where the alarm/signal is interpreted and the perceived bad thing assessed for threat and damage. The third and most important operation, improve (without making things worse), is in the more profound part of the Adult brain. Alas, those who have developed habits of retreating to the Toddler brain under stress tend to get stuck in a feedback loop of the first two operations. Instead of testing the alarm against reality, the interpretations and assessments by habit enhance it by justifying it. They never get to the Adult brain’s ability to improve.

— Steven Stosny, Soar Above, p. 123-124

God Will Overcome.

December 30th, 2016

Evil is a hard thing, even for God to overcome. Yet thoroughly and altogether and triumphantly will he overcome it.

But not by crushing it underfoot — any god of man’s idea could do that — but by conquest of heart over heart, of life over life, of life over death, of love over all. Nothing shall be too hard for the God who fears not pain, but will deliver and make true and blessed at his own severest cost.

— George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons, Third Series, “Justice,” quoted in Discovering the Character of God, edited by Michael Phillips, p. 247.

Living in the Present, Without Fear

December 29th, 2016

Fear can only be experienced by living in the future. Trying to live in the future now, which is impossible, only creates strain and fear. Even if we move only five minutes ahead in a difficult situation, we create a lot of fear for ourselves. By living in the future rather than the present, we can only expect our future to be like the past, because the past is all we have to give our future. However, if we fully live in the present moment, we give this to our future, and fear disappears. When living fully in this moment, no matter how difficult it looks, we are not concerned about our future; therefore there can be no fear.

— Chuck Spezzano, If It Hurts, It Isn’t Love, p. 213

Signs of God’s Love

December 26th, 2016

If only we could all wear a heart right across the center of us so there was always this knowing: God has not forgotten you. God has not abandoned you. God’s love is around you everywhere. When you feel in your marrow how you’re His Beloved, you do more than look for signs of His love in the world, more than have a sign of His love; you actually become a sign of His love.

— Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way, p. 23

Call to Courage

December 17th, 2016

If there is one thing failure has taught me, it is the value of regret. Regret is one of the most powerful emotional reminders that change and growth are necessary. In fact, I’ve come to believe that regret is a kind of package deal: A function of empathy, it’s a call to courage and a path toward wisdom. Like all emotions, regret can be used constructively or destructively, but the wholesale dismissal of regret is wrongheaded and dangerous. “No regrets” doesn’t mean living with courage, it means living without reflection. To live without regret is to believe you have nothing to learn, no amends to make, and no opportunity to be braver with your life.

— BrenĂ© Brown, Rising Strong, p. 210-211.

God’s Joy

December 15th, 2016

God is always presented as full of joy, especially when he pardons.

— Pope Francis, The Name of God Is Mercy, p. 117

All’s Grace

December 15th, 2016

What if the busted and broken hearts could feel there’s a grace that holds us and calls us Beloved and says we belong and no brokenness ever has the power to break us away from being safe? What if we experienced the miracle of grace that can touch all our wounds?

I wanted to write it on walls and on the arms scarred with wounds, make it the refrain we sing in the face of the dark and broken places: No shame. No fear. No hiding. All’s grace. It’s always safe for the suffering here. You can struggle and you can wrestle and you can hurt and we will be here. Grace will meet you here; grace, perfect comfort, will always be served here.

— Anne Voskamp, The Broken Way, p. 20-21

A Masterpiece in the Making

December 11th, 2016

You are made for perfection, but you are not yet perfect. You are a masterpiece in the making.

— Archbishop Desmond Tutu, quoted by Douglas Abrams in The Book of Joy, p. 92