expanding my mind
I’ve been on a learning kick recently. It’s a combination of things; less responsibility now that the semester is over, my job at the library and access to millions of books on any subject, and the fact that I’ll be spending this fall studying in Europe and traveling all over creation.
I am the kind of person who finds joy in the details; I look for the importance in the everyday and try to enjoy every little thing I can find. And, oh, what you can find! Open your mind to great art and literature, history all around you, nature and life - and the return is great and life-changing. See, most people think you need access to money or the greatest thinkers of our age, but really it’s all about attitude. How much do you want it? How much time are you willing to invest? How much thought?
As a sort of follow up to my mini-story last week, people underestimate books. And while it used to mildly annoy me, I’m pretty sure it downright bothers me now. Because the literature around you - now that’s what can open your mind to a new world, regardless of where you live, how much money you have, or who you know. It’s all about taking the time to be interested in something - anything at all, really. But to stop learning, stop exploring, stop being truly thrilled by the world around you - that is the truest tragedy, isn’t it?
It’s funny how people hate the area they live in when it’s a small town. And yet, most of them never take a look in their backyard and they never get to know what it has to offer them. There are two kinds of people in this world: small-minded, who never look beyond themselves; and open-minded, who examine the expanse of life itself, always searching, always looking. Open-minded has gotten to be a negative term in the last few years, but I’d like to be the reminder that ”open-minded” is not the same as “doormat.” It doesn’t mean being devoid of concrete truth. It doesn’t mean allowing for each and every possibility. But it does mean that you are one who is keenly aware of the world around you, in touch with those things that are beyond yourself - God, truth, beauty.
If I could say one thing - to our generation, especially - it would be this: Never stop learning. Never stop exploring. Never stop caring. Once you do that, you’re basically dead inside - a mass of cells kept together by electric pulses, missing out on a great opportunity. But allow yourself to see the beauty in everything, to open your mind to knowledge and learning and excitement - and you will never, ever go back. ♥
The number one thing we take for granted today: books.
As we venture further into the technological age, each year I feel we’ve lost a part of us. Technology is great, but books - books are beauty. Books are where it all comes together, history, knowledge, and art. There’s the incredible feeling of turning pages that a million other people could have turned. There’s the worn binding that shows this book has been inspiring for years. Books are living proof of the connections between us.
Go to your local library. Sprint to the closest library and just wander through the aisles. There’s something for everyone - from book nerds to book haters, you can find things in your library that you will enjoy. And more so, you will open your mind up to new things - there is a wealth of information at your fingertips if you will only take the chance. And if you do take that chance, you will run and never look back. ♥
If there’s anything that I’m focusing on this Resurrection Sunday, it’s this: Jesus was fully God and fully human. Though I may be stating the obvious, what I’ve been thinking about lately is the impact of the fact.
I mean, we’re down to the day that we remember how Jesus was brutally murdered at the hands of those who called themselves “holy.” How He took the sins of the world upon himself - became so dirty even God could not look upon Him - and died. He died knowing that He was despised by the majority of those that He loved. Knowing that His sacrifice would one day be ignored by a wayward generation. And yet He still offered Himself on the cross. After three days in a cold, lonely tomb, He resurrected Himself, conquering Hell so our sins would no longer condemn us if we follow Him. He gave us a means to a peaceful joyful eternity, removing the separation between us and God.
So, now we ask ourselves: why did Jesus need to be fully human, when He was already fully God. I mean, surely He could have pardoned us in a much less painful way, right?
Examining this question helps us to realize a truth about ourselves as well as a truth about God. Jesus chose to be human to give us an example of how to live. Many people point out that His being tempted shows us we can withstand temptation ourselves, and though that is very true, it is so much more than that. He showed us how to live for other people when He He showed us how to be missionaries everyday and to all people, ministering to the spiritually lost even when scorned by the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Mark 2:13-17) He showed us the importance of serving God above all else by His prayers in the garden before His arrest. (Matthew 26:39) Christ showed us compassion when he reinstated Peter after He denied knowing Jesus. (John 21:15-19) As much as Jesus’ life was to give us strength, it was even more about teaching us how to love God and people more fully.
When we consider Christ’s betrayal, crucifixion, and resurrection, we should consider the great depth of love that came from a man, both divine and human - just as human as you and me. We should ask ourselves: if Jesus was this dedicated to serving our Father, then why aren’t we dedicating ourselves to serve God in the same way.
As with the physical of the Resurrection, this time of year should also be a time of spiritual renewal for us. Take the time to center yourself on God and refocus your life on glorifying Him. God bless each and everyone of you, and have a blessed Easter! ♥
I’m listening to the song “Doorway” by Civil Twilight for the fifty-seventh time today. For some reason, I can’t stop listening. The words really hit me hard: “There’s so many dreams that fade away; there’s so many lives you just can’t save. If you want this so bad, then why do you stand like you do in the doorway?”
I love the above sign; kudos to whomever originally designed it. It points out the problem with many of the things we chase after: we sit around waiting for the perfect moment and hope that it will come to us.
Why do we? I keep asking myself that question. Every day, I hear someone or another talking about their dreams and why they’ll never be able to achieve them. I’m one of the most guilty in the respect. My fears and failures start to color my thinking, whispering, “Give up.” It seems impossible, the journey too long and the effort too much. “Give up.” The thought of failing again, being rejected, making mistakes, or getting hurt… it can be so scary.
But that’s just it - there is a better question than “Am I capable? Will I succeed?” The question you really need to be asking yourself is “How much do I want this?” Everything in life requires taking a risk, putting yourself and your heart on the line. When you do, you know you’re doing it right.
You say, though, “That’s just it. I don’t want to get my heart smushed. I don’t want to go through the pain.” Well, I’ve got two things to say about that: First and foremost, God is with you in all things. In Exodus 14:14 it says, “You only need to remain calm, the Lord will fight for you.” (NCV) He gives us strength to accomplish the greatest of feats, and through Him we can do all things.* Secondly, mistakes are a far better teacher than inaction. You’ll never learn if you never do. It is through our pain that we discover who we are and what we are about. To quote my friend Jonny, it builds character.
So what is is that you’re stopping yourself from doing? Follow up on that job you’ve seen advertised. Pursue that special person in your life. Whatever it is, don’t let your fears hold you back. You can learn from taking a chance, but you’ll never get anything out of letting opportunities pass you by. Soren Kierkegaard may have put it best when he said, “To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.” Let your dreams whisper, “Come in.” ♥
*Philippians 4:13! I managed to sneak in a second reference!
Normally, I write happy and uplifting notes to all of you. I typically refer to them as “day brighteners.”
However, in light of all the recent chaos readily seen in the news media recently, I want to offer a cold hard truth: There is no such thing as an innocent bystander.
This is a phrase with which I - and maybe many of you - am well acquainted. My dad has always offered it up to me as a reminder that our inactions are just as important as our actions. He has always tried to remind me that doing what is right isn’t always so much about what you are doing; in many cases, it’s about what you aren’t doing.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
- Romans 12:1,2 (NKJV)
visit http://bible.us/105/rom.12.1-2.ncv for a modern English translation from the New Century Version
I’ve been thinking about this for some time. We see all the horrible acts committed in this world. They’re growing in number and in size. I don’t think I’m wrong in saying that all have been changed in one way or another by the shootings at the Aurora movie theater and Sandy Hook Elementary school. I’m sure we’ve all been hearing the tragedy of the gang-rape in India or the increasing media storm surrounding Steubenville. Human trafficking, slavery, oppression… they all still exist.
Are these just going to be news stories that go in one ear and out the other? How long will we allow ourselves to be de-sensitized to the truth? If we do not stand for what is right, we will fall into what is wrong. Each and every one of us has the opportunity to make a difference. God has called us to be a light to the world. Why do we allow it to remain so dark?
As important as it is to be missionaries in other countries, don’t forget how to be a missionary in your everyday life. Get involved! Get serious! Reach out to those around you in need. Find something you believe in and stand up for it!
It is just as William Wilberforce said: “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.” ♥