Blog Archives

Three Surpises

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Three Surprises

In a recent conversation that included a range of topics including heaven, I told a friend what had been said to me many years ago. “There will be three surprises when we get to heaven. People will be surprised who made it. People will be surprised who didn’t make it. Lastly, people will be surprised we made it!” It’s a humorous yet true statement about the afterlife and Heaven’s membership. There will be surprises aplenty so don’t be so convinced in your beliefs, ability, and acceptability that you lose the mystery of a God who knows more than you, sees more than you, and is bigger than you can imagine. Heaven mirrors God’s nature and love not ours.

Wisdom teaches us that our ways are not God’s ways, our thoughts are not God’s thoughts. In the Benedictine tradition, we are to keep our; “eyes tilted toward the ground.” We are to keep our sin and shortcomings always in front of us. Not as a burden to bear but a constant reminder of God’s goodness and a reason to rejoice.

Several years ago I was leading a Bible study and we were talking about God’s grace. I made the statement; “Without God, no matter what we said or did, we had no true goodness or love.” A man in our group spoke up and asked; “If we don’t have anything worth redeeming why does God love us?” “That,’ I answered, ‘is why they call it grace.

For more posts, reflections, poems, and other writings, please visit:
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

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Little Things

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Little Things

While I was outside mowing today a big shadow went across me and when I looked up it was a Turkey Vulture. It hovered and landed on a high branch of the Oak Tree outside our front door. It wasn’t long before it was joined by another who was surveying the area for anything dead and rotten. My focus went back to mowing until shadows appeared overhead again. It was the Turkey Vultures being chased away by a Mockingbird who has a nest in an adjoining tree. The Mockingbird was relentless, swooping up and then dive bombing both Turkey Vultures that had to be five times its size. I watched until the Turkey Vultures were out of sight and the Mockingbird perched high on a tree scanning the horizon for their return.

I found it comical and awesome that this small bird could put the two large ones to flight. Then I thought about the Turkey Vultures and their appetite for spoiled, rancid, deceased things. I also reflected on how in our lives there are times the Vultures are circling. We’re tired, weak, worn out, done for and the scavengers surround us. Then, when it seems the end, someone says or does an act of warmth, love, empathy, and chases the Vultures away. It may be a small act but it has a great impact on us. We are renewed and able to keep going.

No act of kindness no matter how “small” is ever wasted.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
For more reflections, poems, and other writings; please visit: www.thewannabesaint.com

Malevolent or Benevolent

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Malevolent or Benevolent

Last night I listened to a podcast about the psychology of a stalker. A young woman, through no fault of her own, had encountered a patron at her work and treated him nicely, the way she did every customer. The man who received her professional courtesy and kindness took it as a gesture of a personal declaration of her love for him. From then on he would show up at her work, her home, parties and other places. At first, he would watch her for hours, then he began writing poetry, calling her at home, declare his love for her and her for him at different and unexpected places. She reported his behavior to the police, depended on friends to keep him away, moved twice to locations almost five-hundred miles apart. Still, he found her.

He wrote a blog about being a stalker in which he wrote about a love that was benevolent; kind, kindly, kindhearted, big-hearted, good-natured, good, benign, compassionate, caring. He insisted she misunderstood him and accused him of being malevolent; malicious, hostile, evil-minded, baleful, evil-intentioned, venomous, evil, malign, malignant, rancorous, vicious, vindictive, vengeful. He had plans of “fake” kidnapping her and after she went away with him, falling in love with him. His behavior was spiraling and finally, after attacking another woman, he was put in jail for thirteen months for assault, stalking and predatory behavior. Before, during and after being incarcerated, he wrote a book about a man who fell in love with a beautiful woman who eventually learned to love him. People can find the book for sale online today and the blog he still writes.

Love gone wrong, gone bad, corrupted, coercive and corrosive is not love but selfishness painted in illusion. As I listened to the podcast last night I couldn’t help but think a lot of what’s wrong with our world today is people not knowing the difference between malevolent and benevolent.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Bliss?

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Bliss

I was asked earlier this week by my talk therapist; “What is your perfect life?” I didn’t hesitate in describing to her my idea of bliss. After listening, she paused a few moments and asked; “Why do you not have this life?” I reflected on her question and responded; “Because it would screw up other people’s life.” I know my perfect life doesn’t equal the image, illusion, of what those who are connected to me have of their “perfect life.” My idea of a perfect life isn’t grandiose or over the top. It’s simple but would complicate my relationships with those who love and care for me the most. These complications would make my life imperfect. So, the choice to let go of what I think I want, need and accept what I have is key to stillness of mind and spirit.

Life isn’t complicated. We choose to make it that way. One of the ways we make it this way is comparing our “perfect lives,” or the idea of what we think perfection would be, with what our lives are currently. These types of comparisons only cause us to suffer, to strive for an illusion that is improbable. Letting go of comparisons about our lives, each other, and accept this moment, exactly as it is, is a big step forward on the road to a wise and content existence.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

The Sound of Silence

The Sound of Silence

A faint cry led a sheriff’s deputy to a pile of sticks and debris in the woods of western Montana. There, the deputy, part of a search-and-rescue team, discovered a 5-month-old infant buried face down, but still alive. “It was just a whimper,” Deputy Ross Jessop said, describing the sound he heard. (Full Story> https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/10/us/baby-buried-alive-montana.html)

An incredibly scary story with an almost unthinkable happy ending. A man committing a crime most of us could not conceive; leaving a baby for dead, face down under a pile of debris in the middle of the woods. A frantic search, pits in the stomachs of the rescuers unsure of what they’d find but certain it wouldn’t be good. The ears of a deputy surrounded by the noise of crickets, trees blowing in the wind, other searchers, his own pounding heartbeat, his inhale and exhale as he worked his area, hoping, praying for a sign or sound. Then, in spite of all the obstacles, overcoming the improbable, ears pick up the faintest of cry. It couldn’t be, the odds of stumbling upon the innocent, helpless victim, almost too high to count. He stopped, held his breath, waited, and heard it again. Stumbling to the focal point of the noise, under limbs and leaves was the tiny baby, clinging to life. However, now it was not alone. There was love, kindness, protection and a hero who would not leave the baby to die but give it everything it needed to live.

I read this story and couldn’t believe the fortune of the deputy and the baby. I reflected on how much noise our world forces in our ears each day. There are miracles and needs all around us but we don’t hear them calling out because everything distracts us and drowns them out. To be still enough to listen, to hear what’s important, to tune out all the rest is the beginning of wisdom and discovery.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Into the Fire

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Into the Fire

I heard a story yesterday about a Roman soldier who fell in love with a young, Christian, woman at the height of Rome’s imperial glory. He wanted to marry her but she would not allow him to court her because he wasn’t a follower of Christ. Desperate, the young man began to follow her and eventually discovered where she met other Christians in a secret place outside of Rome. He stayed in the shadows, watched and listened as they sat around a small fire and shared their stories of being followers of Jesus. As he stood there his heart was awakened and a voice echoed inside of him; “You will never know the truth until you step into the light of the fire and have all that is not burned to ash.” This was a great challenge indeed for most Romans believed in many gods, not just one, and followers of Christ were persecuted, and executed for their beliefs. He would have to give up everything for the chance at eternal and temporal love.

As I’ve reflected on this story the last two days I’ve wondered about the power and sacrifice of love. Love is a double-edged sword. It is wonderful and terrifying. Many horrible acts have been done in the name of love. It gives the bearer great courage but can also make one a coward. Those who have loved deeply speak of the joy and sorrow, wholeness and heartbreak, feeling of ecstasy and indescribable pain. True love requires all of us. We can’t give only a portion. We must be all in or never experience the life-changing, mind-bending, chaos that is love. It gives and takes, makes and destroys, assures us and shakes us to our core. There is nothing else that can compare.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Scent

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Scent

Beth went to a reunion today and when she came back she smelled. It wasn’t a bad smell but it was a scent of perfume that makes my nose itch, a lot. “Whew, I can tell where you’ve been and who you’ve been around!” I jokingly told her. She laughed and agreed. The smell was so pervasive she changed clothes so I wouldn’t scratch my nose off my face.

Scientists tell us the sense of smell is one of our most powerful. It can conjure memories, warn us of danger, alert us to life and death, repel us, attract us, make us hungry, turn our stomachs, welcome us or tell us to stay away.

The Book of Numbers, in the Hebrew Bible, chapter 15, verse 14 reads; “If an alien sojourns with you, or one who may be among you throughout your generations, and he wishes to make an offering by fire, as a soothing aroma to the LORD, just as you do so he shall do.”

A lot of talk, arguing, and choosing sides about the families and individuals coming to our national borders looking for a new home lately. They smell of desperation and hope. When they arrive I wonder what they sense about us? Do they catch the scent of kindness, love, welcoming or a scent unpleasing to them and to God? What we do, allow done, to the foreigner, the alien, the stranger, the helpless, the hopeless, among us reveals who we are and the God we serve.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Sight

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Sight

Yesterday, while weed-whacking around the house, underneath a large tree, I felt a sudden tingling sensation on my face and then a spider crawled down from my forehead and on my glasses! It was the only thing I could see. All other things faded from view while this eight-legged insect crawled on my dome. My hands, full of the weed eater put it down as quickly as possible and I swiped my face, brow, and head hoping to knock off the arachnid that seemed to drop from the sky. I never saw or felt it again after my; “Get off me!” dance and hoped it was gone for good. After shaking off the heebie-jeebies I thought about how silly I looked to any passerby who might have seen me. I was okay with that because they weren’t seeing the same thing.

Wisdom tells us that what we focus on is who we become. Our focus should be; love, kindness, mercy, forgiveness. However, too often we focus on what is right in front of us, whatever life brings our way. The next scheduled event, calendar item, emergency, chaotic event, becomes who we are, what our life is about and we never move beyond surface emotions or an insubstantial spirituality.

Focus on one thing long enough and it becomes your destiny.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Bait and Hook

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Bait and Hook

This morning I was zipping through emails before heading to the office for a training. I had three from our IT department and opened each of them giving a cursory read. One was an update to a system, another was reminding me of a piece of equipment I needed to pick up and the third was dealing with switching to a new email system. Each one looked legit and I told myself to get set up on the new email system next time I was near my computer. I finished, went to work and as I sat in my chair waiting for the training to start I received a new email another one from IT. The email stated firmly “do not click on the link to the new email system! This is a phishing and spam scam!” “Whew!’ I thought to myself, ‘that was close!'” I was going to click on the link, would have clicked on it if I had the time this morning. I’m usually good at spotting bad emails but because this one was in a collection of legitimate emails I assumed it was fine.

In life, as in IT, we have to be careful not to let everything come together as one big pile of things we need to do. If we do we run the risk of missing something important, doing something harmful, and allowing life to be the sum of its parts instead of each moment being an eternity in itself. Life is hard and there’s so many things we think we need to do. Wisdom teaches us to let go a lot of the minutiae, the things which aren’t really important, and to focus on what counts. When we are able to take life a breath at a time we find love, kindness, presence more easily and things which are harmful to us and those we love more visible and avoidable.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Putting Up with Each Other

Putting Up with Each Other

Today is my wife Beth and my anniversary. 28 years to be exact. There are days it seems like only yesterday we said; “I do’s” and others where I wonder; “what happened to those 19-year-old kids? What were they thinking? Were they thinking? Did they understand the journey they were about to embark on?

I told Beth today; “I don’t know how you put up with me.” Some husbands and wives jest in this way but Beth knows how serious I am. Reflecting on that day 28 years ago, a hot June day in 1990 when we met at the church to say our vows to each other there is a realization I am not the person she married. Somehow Beth has grown into an even more beautiful woman inside and out. People love to be around her. Her personality is infectious. Her smile draws people to her and her spirit makes them feel welcome and loved. She is, by far, the better half.

This other half has walked a long, hard part of the journey these last several years. The struggle with, diagnosing of and living with severe chronic depression and severe anxiety have taken their toll in certain areas of my life. However, I have been blessed with a partner who meant it when she said; “for better, for worse, in sickness and in health.” I could not ask for nor deserve her love, patience, perseverance. I tell her this regularly and she reminds me she’s far from perfect.

We’ll stay on this road together’ she says, ‘putting up with each other.” Sounds good to me.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Seriously

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Seriously –

I saw her when we came into the church this morning. She was standing far enough away from us that I found my seat before she zeroed in. This woman, this hugger, does not take “No thanks!” for an answer. A couple of weeks ago she was standing at the front door of the church greeting folks as they came in. She hugged my wife, who is a great hugger! and then extended her arms to me. I tried to fend off her advances by grabbing a hand and shaking it but she was too quick. I even told her; “I’m not a hugger.” Didn’t matter. She replied as she thwarted my defenses; “Well I am and you’re a man and can handle it.” I didn’t have time to answer and had no desire to debate so once she was finished I found my seat but never the rhythm of the service. I was thankful this morning she was far enough from me I could slip in under her radar.

You’re a man and can handle it.” Actually, no, I can’t. I have a well established large personal space. It comes from being introverted, claustrophobic and someone who deals with social anxiety. When someone insists on hugging me it’s not about me it’s about them. She would respond; “I’m friendly.” Imagine me saying that to a woman who didn’t want a hug and then forcing one upon her. I don’t think “friendly” is what she’d feel about me.

It’s a reminder that we are all wired differently. Some people are talkers, others observers. One person may love being a social butterfly while another can think of nothing more joyful than a night at home. Extroverts, introverts, center of attention and wallflower. Knowing people, respecting them and helping them feel comfortable and at ease requires a relationship. When someone tells you, asks you to do or not to do something don’t dismiss it. Listen to it, take it seriously, and proceed with kindness and caution.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Surfing or Drowning

Surfing or Drowning

I just finished reading an article from seven years ago today about a father and son who were killed by a drunk driver. The mom shared it on social media and the heartache is still present and the wound raw. I can’t imagine the pain. I knew the father a little. He was in our church’s youth group. He was a few years older than me but always seemed cool. He was an athlete. He ran, biked, swam, and surfed. The morning dad and son were killed they were training for a triathlon. The father was named after his father and the son carried on the tradition. He was the III.

How do you have hope in the midst of such loss? How do you not drown in sorrow? How do you not get lost in such darkness? I don’t think there’s an easy answer. Quips and quotes don’t begin to address the brokenness and reveal our lack of intimacy with death. We do everything we can to avoid it. Most of us try to prolong our lives by any means necessary. When death finally does come we are quick to make the arrangements, organize a memorial or funeral service and push past it as fast as possible. But even then, death finds a way to corner us, trap us, confront us. After the hustle and bustle of meals, flowers, sympathy cards, and services we find ourselves alone when death, misery, mourning, comes calling.

Experts tell us that when we are caught in a riptide to not fight the current or it will surely drown its victim. Let it grab you and then slowly, moving parallel to the shore, slip from its grip. I think this is how we deal with the loss of those we love. There’s no escaping and fighting and refusing to acknowledge its power end in certain defeat. To allow it take hold, scare us, shake our faith, sweep our “normal” life away, but not giving up is the key. Slowly our strength returns, we regain our bearings, we slip from its grip, rise above the waters and live.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

How do You Feel?

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How Do You Feel?

Yesterday was my three-month check-up with the doctor in charge of the medicinal portion of my mental health plan. As someone with Chronic Severe Depression and a Severe Anxiety Disorder, the psychology group I go to has doctors who specialize in medical therapy and others who specialize in talk therapy. Together with the patient a plan is developed and intended to help them as much as possible.

Yesterday’s appointment was; “Meh, okay.” The therapist asked standard questions; “Are you taking your meds? How do you feel? Have you noticed any changes in mood or behavior? Any major life changes?”  I answered all of them and told her I was following my plan except for one suggestion she’s made many times. We don’t agree and I don’t think it’s a big deal. She, the professional, thinks otherwise. I told her; “Yes, I am still…” she simply replied; “You know how I feel about that!” and we kept going with the conversation. I found it humorous that’s all she has to say and it’s enough. I either have to trust her and do it or not. She’s told me the benefits and even though I don’t see them I choose to fully follow the mental health plan or not. Sigh.

We’ve all been there with people we love and care for. We give them advice about life and after a point, we decide not to tell them again and again. We let them choose and deal with the results. I’ve done this with many of the people I work with but it’s interesting, and a little uncomfortable, to be on the other side.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Invasion

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Invasion

The past few weeks there’s been an invasion of Middle Tennessee! The multi-legged, orange-colored, flying insects called Ladybugs. They’re everywhere and this morning they kept stealing my attention away from the pastor as he spoke from the Book of Saint John, chapter 12. They were collecting near every light fixture which was about 10 feet from the pews the people were sitting in. Every now and then one or ten would fly across the room landing on someone. One tried to use my neck as a resting place but he didn’t stay there long. I watched hundreds on one light fixture as they crawled around it seemingly looking for a way in. I am not sure if they were attracted to the heat or the light. Of course, once in it was nearly impossible for them to get out. They very thing they were after was actually a trap. They would die there getting what they wanted but not able to get out.

I reflected on the Ladybug’s fate and how it also mirrored our own fascination with those things in life which promise safety, warmth, and light. We become fixated on things which we believe will make life better, bring satisfaction and enlightenment only to find out once we’ve achieved or possessed them it was an illusion. Wisdom teaches that what is worth having comes to us. It is our humility, our acceptance that we are not able to control or manipulate love, peace, kindness and a grace-filled life that makes it possible for these to permeate our minds, emotions, and spirits and bring a unique warmth and light to our cold and dark world.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Blue

Blue

Everyone has a bad day once in a while. Mine was today. It started this morning and lasted all day. It was a bad day for decisions, conversations, yard working and everything else I tried. Finally, this evening, sitting in the yard of a friend, reflecting on this terrible, bad, no good day, a Bluebird landed on a branch not far from where I was sitting. I watched it. I would love to write it turned my whole day around but it didn’t. It did, however, impress me with its shade of blue. Beautiful. It was especially gorgeous against the brown yard and my dark mood. It was a reminder of spring, newness, and rebirth. I stared at it and the simple, obvious thought; “tomorrow is a new day,” echoed in my mind and spirit. I couldn’t argue with the Bluebird and as it flew off I was thankful this day was also quickly fleeting and the next one will be arriving shortly.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Protection

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Protection

We have a family of rabbits living underneath our shed. Every now and then, when we go outside, we spot one of them. They aren’t too afraid of us because we do our best not disturb the big or little ones. Trooper, our Siberian Husky, on the other hand, is on the lookout for a new play buddy. The problem is his “toys” are deceased after he plays with them. So, we have become the rabbit’s protectors. We do our best to make sure they aren’t in the area Trooper likes to frequent outside, know there is danger nearby making noise and giving them reasons to run and hide for a while. Though we try we know that Trooper or another predator could make quick work of the rabbit family. Snakes, cats, coyotes, raccoons, other varmints are dangers which could strike any day at any time.

There are many things we desire to protect in life. Some are possessions but for most of us, we long to protect the ones we love. However, as grow older, and hopefully wiser, the more we realize we cannot protect them from everything. Truthfully we cannot protect them from much that life throws their way. We can be there for them we can help them through the difficulties they are going through. This is a form of protection, one which reminds them they are never alone.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Wasted Minds

Wasted Minds

This has been a tumultuous week following the shooting at Parkland High School in Florida. People have chosen sides on the gun debate and have used this tragedy as an example as to why they are on the side of the angels. I’ve seen countless posts about gun rights and gun restrictions. I have posted my opinion on the gun debate on my blog in the last couple of weeks if you care to know where I stand on this cultural, moral and spiritual issue. Everyone has their argument at the ready. They grab screenshots, tweet, put a photo on Instagram, use memes, videos and Facebook are so full of posts on the issue it’s hard to find anything else.

I think it’s an issue which needs many conversations. There’s not an easy solution and anyone who thinks there is hasn’t thought about it enough. What doesn’t need to happen is more arguing over the subject. We are a divided people in our country and it seems every “Breaking News” headline on whatever channel we watch, or website we read, erodes our relationships with those with differing views more.

Whatever side we’re on, opinion we possess, idea we espouse, we should also respect and love our neighbor.  If we can’t then our voice is wasted, nothing changes and the world continues to go to hell.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Surprise!

Surprise!

Earlier today, on the way home from a meeting, I dropped by a store and picked up flowers, a card and a small gift for Valentine’s day. I was going to hide them and then, before Beth got up in the morning, put them on the kitchen counter. She was going to be surprised and happy and this brings me great joy. I arrived home and put everything on the counter. I fixed my lunch and sat down. Not long after there was a knock on the front door. I went to see who and it was Beth. She had gotten off work early today and as she came inside I remembered the flowers, card, and gift on the counter. “Don’t look on the counter!” I yelled, knowing it was too late. Her surprise of coming home early ruined my planned surprise for tomorrow.

Life is full of well…surprises. For a while, I was irritated things didn’t work out the way I anticipated but it occurred to me that its hard to give a gift of love with frustration in your heart. I shook it off and told her; “Happy Valentines Day!”

She did say she wouldn’t open the card until tomorrow.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

What Do You Smell?

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What Do You Smell? –

Yesterday morning I ironed a shirt for Beth to wear to work. This particular shirt was given to my wife by a friend who passed away several years ago. However, even after all this time, the shirt still smelled like our friend. The fragrance immediately brought back nice memories of her kindness, joy, love and grace-filled life. It’s amazing what smells can trigger. I have another friend who had a rough childhood and the smell of certain foods triggers terrible memories. Scientists say smell is one of the major components of remembering the past.

I’ve thought about the shirt Beth wore yesterday and I ask myself; “What would someone think of if a smell triggered a memory?  What smells would remind others of me?” One of the central lessons of wisdom is that everything we do leaves an imprint upon another. Good or bad, negative or positive, our lives leave a fragrance to those around us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Nothing is Lacking

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Nothing is Lacking

I was a part of a conversation this week where a group of people was giving a person advice. The advice was based on what the person had shared; a story of love and betrayal. On the wrong side of a bad choice is a terrible place to be and the person was fixated on how to either get over on the person who hurt him or get over it period. Two choices were staring him the face and he was going to choose either one or the other.

Decisions based on pain are almost always bad ones. We make these in times of stress, confusion, doubt, and loneliness. We feel as though we have lost something, had it taken away from us, and we want it back or rather life back the way it was or the way it should be.

Wisdom teaches us that suffering is the gap between how life is, reality, and how we think life ought to be. The greater the gap the more suffering. It is why learning to let go and acceptance are two of the greatest life lessons we can learn and practice. Life is rarely if ever, the way we want. Even if for a while it seems to be sooner or later it changes and we have no control over this truth. To live with open hand, to not try to grasp, force life to stay the same and allow for the inevitable change is to know and live in peace.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

 

Teaching Peace

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Teaching Peace

Earlier this week I was talking with a man who has a confessed anger problem. He’s also been hurt by some people he trusted. The pain and rage of this betrayal occupy his thoughts and revenge is his stated goal. As we spoke with each other I explained to him that violence is not going to fix things. It will only make it worse for the man and his family. “Good mental health, the ability to process our emotions in a healthy, positive way will have a lasting impact on your family. Not choosing wisely will hurt you and those you love. I know the feelings are there and they’re eating you up inside but taking a path which doesn’t lead to peace punishes everyone.

Peace is a hard concept and discipline to put into practice. We live in a world which claims the right to revenge and paying people back for the harm they’ve caused us. However, if we stubbornly stay on the path to; “right the wrongs” done to us we will not find contentment but an endless cycle of violence and retribution.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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