Womenshealth.gov says, “Women who can get pregnant but are unable to stay pregnant may also be infertile. About 10 percent of women (6.1 million) in the United States ages 15-44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).” The average is heavily weighted toward women over 30, and even more so for women 40 and over which have infertility rates in excess of 30%. Women are getting married and conceiving later (after 30) and so many young families are facing fertility problems. As a result a lot of couples have opted not to have children because options for fertility treatments have improved but remain expensive and intrusive.
Married women face a different multitude of issues having children than their mothers and grandmothers, and medical technology gives them both options for birth control and infertility solutions. Women often plan their careers and lifestyles by having children later in life by choice, but often find increased problems later when trying to get pregnant. A few women are opting to freeze their eggs before 30, even before committing to anyone in marriage. Children born with certain special needs are on the rise.
There are women who want to get pregnant who cannot, and there are 1-1/2 percent of women who opt for abortion because of unplanned pregnancies - that is over half a million unwanted babies killed per year. Birth rates in modern countries are down for numerous reasons: (1) infertility rates, (2) abortion rates, (3) less couples (married/unmarried) choosing to have children, (4) advent of birth control, (5) the generation gap is increasing between parents and children, (6) couples (married/unmarried) choosing to have less children, and (7) less marriage. Population growth and existing population levels have been a concern within certain circles for a very long time. For certain, the elites have been vying for quite some time to adopt measures that have driven the numbers down. Many of the measures or lifestyle changes in modern countries have affected core good-values surrounding families. The sheer quantity of abortions performed, regardless of political affiliation with the pro-choice or pro-life movement, is devastating. In the past and even to-date people have had to deal with mass starvation, killing through war, and sterilization because of poor leadership and a de-emphasis on life. Population growth is now leveling off and geared to head in a slow downward direction. More countries are becoming modern, and being modern has benefits for citizens and leadership, along with being a better choice for curbing population size. There is not likely to be another “baby boom” generation, even with medical technology, not so long as women have the menu of options with family planning. In modern countries many women raise children as a single parent, some have none, others face infertility, others start their nuclear families early or later on, and some still have really large families.
I fit well into the category of women struggling to have children. I married in my late twenties on birth control, already well into a career. My husband and I pursued our careers with two incomes and sought to become financially independent and debt-free, and also develop a solid foundation in our marriage before committing to children. We pursued children when I was in my mid-thirties. I witnessed many of my friends who did the same start families. Now, being 40, I am enlisting help from a fertility clinic and my options are limited, because my eggs are not as viable anymore. Emotionally, the biggest difficulty is that I have not been dealt a hard blow on a given day that I have to deal with. Instead, it’s an ongoing grief with a nagging feeling. As long as one option still exists there are hopes and mixed feelings. I can’t move on and so I grieve quietly on-and-off on-going. I’ve fasted and prayed for a child, and I’ve considered the benefits of not having kids with optimism. Adoption seems an easy solution to a difficult situation, but it doesn’t appeal to my husband, and my mental health issues from the past stand in the way. Right now, a child is still a possibility. For those without the rich financial resources, they have to stand down. As a woman alive today life is full of possibilities and richness regardless. Blessings abound! Still, society stands or falls by its next generation and I desire to pass something on that will live further (maybe several generations). I’m missing the age of raising children which leaves an emptiness in my heart and anxieties about the future. It seems most women identify or want to identify as mothers - as one who carries in her womb and creates life and as one who sees a part of her reflected in her children. This is all part and parcel for my generation of women, the turbulence of life. It was also an issue in the Bible which was sometimes alleviated with patience to the God-fearing. Being an optimistic person and a lover of life this issue does not define me, nor should it.
To the woman (or man) who also struggles with infertility I say the following 5 things: (1) Stay optimistic in life and love life. (2) Pursue the world with the wonder of a child, regardless if you raise one or not. (3) You have a lot to offer reality, so offer it. (4) Everyone in life faces difficult issues, some as consequences of past actions, and others we are simply dealt. With every issue stands the possibility for spiritual or mental growth. Grow! (5) Be a great aunt, uncle or mentor of another youth to influence the next generation.
To the Child I May or May Not Ever Know, a poem by Michelle Murphy
To the child I may or may not ever have -
There are things I want for your life.
And here they are:
I want you to learn mathematics and art,
And your dad wants you to learn history and economics.
This is why we will look after you in the summers to keep you learning when school is out.
I want you to sit in the church pew and behave,
Until you learn the songs of Jesus (Psalms)
And come to a deep understanding of God.
I want you to look at the world with wonder,
Until you first look upon the world with dismay,
And come back to that wonder for healing and inspiration whenever you can.
It is hard not to get stuck in dismay as an adult.
I want you to be independent -
In thought, and from your parents, and from your peers,
And as much as possible from the system (matrix).
I want you to sneak your first booze,
With your cousins Olive and Oscar
And have a good time.
I want you to be beautiful - inside and out,
And realize that even when teenage girls or boys
Might pass you up for some other person
That you are beautiful.
I want you to know that there are aliens in the universe
And that they have probably been here
And that they probably care about man, but some of them don’t.
I want you to understand that war is an ugly thing,
But that there is just war,
But that history often looks back on war and sees that it could have been avoided,
And that people died for no good reason.
I want you to understand the kings of this world do things that are difficult to understand.
That I have sought to understand this world, but it is complex.
And maybe it is not for us to know everything.
I want you to seek knowledge and truth and learning
And not be satisfied with an easy answer.
I want you to think about how long mankind has been here - on earth,
And think about your ancestors and those that have passed,
And about the ancients who influenced our ways.
And the Greeks, and the Romans, and the Hebrews.
I want you to know we live in a material world, with instant access to everything,
And the importance of patience, and love, and simple things.
I want you to be free of any kind of mental illness, because I have it,
While it is a gift, it has also been a curse,
And I would choose to rid myself of it.
I want you to be a person of prayer, because prayer works,
And it is the right thing to do if you respect God.
I want you to smile and make people laugh,
Because I already know you have a beautiful smile and laugh.
It is one of the things I love best about your father, and about other people.
Smiles and laughs are addictive.
It is the kind of addiction you should have above others that you should not have.
I want you to know that some good people are tortured, or their head is lopped off,
But that God is there and not remote from those locations.
And that is something for you to search out, understand, and come to terms with
As part of your journey in life.
I want you to get and seek a challenging life,
So you will grow and develop work ethic and solve problems for others.
If you encounter pain and struggle, that you will overcome and grow,
That there will be mentors in your life that have done the same.
I want you to avoid drinking the Kool-aid, and we will make sure you do,
And steer clear of left-right methodologies or other simple mantras.
I want you to develop within yourself and through hard work your life purpose,
And not seek something frilly to keep you fulfilled.
We are not sprinkled with fairy dust.
I want you to stay off your phone or implement at the dinner or luncheon table
No matter what others are doing around you,
And spur on conversation or sit in silence and watch others.
I want you to understand where material items come from,
And that we are surrounded by technology,
And to support common-sense sustainability.
I want you to understand energy and how it drives the world,
And how it converts from one form to another in nature,
And how mankind has harnessed it.
I want you to know that mathematics and science are everywhere,
From the leaf on every tree, to the vacuum space in the universe,
From microscopic organisms, to macroscopic systems,
That once you dive through the boundary of our skin - there is another universe altogether.
That this is awesome.
I want you to know we love you, dad and I, even though we don’t show it sometimes.
That we love each other (your parents) and that things are good right now as I’m writing this.
That love is a verb, because it requires action,
And it is something not to take for granted, but something you can learn to rely on in a good family.
Work to have a good family when you grow up.
To the child I may or may not ever have.
These are the things I want for your life.
You were just walking by and that good looking man was watching you. You’re not gorgeous either, but he was curious and noticed those good traits you did have that make you beautiful. Maybe the way you dressed that day was attractive. Or maybe he was thinking something altogether different and was just generally curious about the life you lead based on where you were heading. Or maybe it was your smile. Or he noticed your general over-coming confidence about things. “Hmmm… that person looks beautiful.” For sure, you noticed his good looks and charm and wondered about him after he noticed you…
With maturity people move in a direction of not-caring so much about what other people think. Yet, we should not care for ourselves or our appearance as such. There are lessons we can learn from watching others, and having others watch us. Just getting a glance now and then from one interesting person to another is intriguing. And as diverse as the human race is, people vary in what interests them. Sexuality is not the only thing that interests men and women. Beauty is more than sexual appeal.
Women represent outward beauty, men do not. While anyone may have a beautiful soul, it is the females among mankind that have always been characterized as beautiful in looks (in some species males have the beauty marks and traits). Embracing that role requires special attention. Good taste in appearance ranges from person to person and culture to culture. Personification of our souls can be through choice in attire and adornments, and women generally personify beauty that way. So dress and adorn beautifully!
External beauty is not just a matter of good taste in dress. We can strengthen traits that make us beautiful outside of our dress. A smile, a gentle nature, a carefree attitude, and a warm facial expression are all noticed by others with just a glance. These things can be altered because we are not bound to negativity or bad dispositions. An attraction to others’ expressions and moods is part of a good bond between good friends, and a nicety among strangers. We reveal a bit of our souls to each other outwardly not only by our basic appearance but through expression and good or bad nature. And to have a beautiful soul is worth more than gold.
Sometimes a bad disposition or depression can skew reality and we can fail to see the natural beauty around us. We can fail to see the beauty in our lives, and the beautiful part of ourselves and in others. Recognizing and appreciating beauty in our daily lives is a natural anti-depressant. Creating beautiful and interesting art is also therapeutic.
The most interesting people often lead the most beautiful lives. When we think of a beautiful piece of art we are also commenting on the interesting nature of that art. Beauty IS interesting! Often people say we are born with specific passions and interests, however, mostly this is not true. We develop interests and passions overtime by pursuing them. And we should pursue interests and passions! Being beautiful is about having developed interests and passions. Again, mankind is diverse so what is interesting to one person is different to another.
We can have confidence in many things - that our car will drive down the road safely, that our career is a success and always will be, that our marriage is solid and reliable, or that our faith in certain things will take us in a good direction. In many ways the opposite of confidence is fear. We may be fearful of driving after a car accident, or a bad review at work will send us spiraling down into anxiety, or we develop fear about other relationships after losing a spouse, or we lose faith in the idea of God after a spiritual setback and fear a host of new things. Confidence is attractive but not fear. And since beauty is not skin deep, someone will be beautiful if they can overcome fears as they arise and boast confidence. Innocence has beauty, but also people who have overcome difficult experiences with success and confidence are beautiful. Withered by life a person will be dragged into the mud and sometimes never get up. If they get their wings and stand up and fly after-death to a better place we see the beauty in that. If they get their wings while they are still here on Earth they are a representative of beauty to all that know them.
There is much to overcome in life other than fearful things. People, like butterflies that were once caterpillars, are truly initiated into life from overcoming difficulty. Any mother has overcome the difficulty of labor and the challenge of raising children. As a group people of various stripes have overcome adversity, knowing their dark ages in history and rising today with more opportunity than before. Modern life includes difficulty in relationships and family, but also problems with work and temptation. We have so much at our fingertips but also must weave to and fro to stay on course. Today, we have increasing problems with addiction, sexual intimacy or behavior, economic factors, and anxiety or depression. There is a lot for people to overcome. The butterfly seems to go back into its cocoon over and over again waiting to finally blossom in its entirety.
Sin is not beautiful. God looks at sin with disgust even when He meets us with a graceful and forgiving attitude. Often, righteous people do as well. You can consider some sins and easily get an ugly feeling about them.
Beauty is seen, and beauty is emotion, but beauty is also sound. There are so many sounds described as beautiful such as the sound of the ocean, a symphony of music, the silence on a still night, or a baby crying for its mother. What makes a sound beautiful is deep meaning and emotional peace, or the stirring up of love, appreciation, and romantic notions. Where we find deep meaning vs. insignificance we find beauty. Where we find peace vs. war we find beauty. Where we find romance vs. dislike we find beauty. Where we find love and appreciation vs. disgust we find beauty. Beauty looks, sounds, and is experienced as goodness and depth.
Beauty resides in the hearts of men and women, it resides in our mind intelligence, and it resides in our soul. We carry that soul beauty with us when we pass from this life, unlike the accumulation of material items. Beauty itself has a heart, mind, and soul that reaches the four corners of the Earth, evidenced in nature through the Creation. Beauty is not just cultural or personal, but relevant to every human being in similar ways. Beauty is deep and penetrating, and we should never be so spoiled to just glance at it and look away. Beauty is inspiring. Beauty is worth striving for.
"Recently I turned 40 and I began to think about those alone years that one person or the other person has in marriage, during old age without their mate. I was thinking how we often forget certain things about a person who has passed, and that I want to remember what I love about my husband if he were to go first. I would remember going to bed together, or afternoon coffees in town and how I loved those times together, and I would remember his laughter and our deep conversations; I would remember his touch and caress, and a hug from him on a hard day. I would prefer to remember and miss my husband in grief rather than not think of him at all - missing him through memories would be worth the pain. The demonstration of love towards one another in marriage is hard to beat, and the fact that people die while others are alive and left to grieve and miss the other person deeply is one of the sorrowful examples of human love. Yet, it is an expression of deep love nonetheless. Love is complex. Love is also one of the best things about being human, and mankind should be more serious in pursuing it. The Bible says love covers a multitude of sins, and that it is greater than faith or hope. I agree." - Michelle Murphy
Relationships with others can be troublesome. This list of troubles is extensive, but includes: being put off or numb to the other person and their actions, holding grudges, hatred or anger against the other person, cheating sexually, being strangers after knowing each other a long time, taking the other person’s commitment or friendship for granted, having vengeful or mean attitudes directed against each another, and negative gossiping about the other person.
There are so many types of friendship, from being acquainted through church, work, or social organizations, to lifelong commitments such as with family and marriage. Romantic relationships and family ties endure more hardship than the average friendship; with endurance also comes the potential for deep love.
The relationship I have with my mother and sister is based on this endurance. The commitment and level of understanding we direct towards one another, along with a general awareness that family is worth the effort of a good relationship, brings about what we desire and yearn for — love. There is nothing to me like the support of a sister, who has kids I am becoming crazy about. There is also nothing to me like the support of a mother. The only thing that trumps either of these two in my life is my marriage. People are meant to thrive with the loving support of one another. Not every marriage or family has that kind of support, and it is shameful, for families and marriages are the building blocks of society and the way that people are designed to thrive. Love is worth enduring hardship to experience. As the band U2 says, “Love is bigger than anything in its way.”
The two greatest commandments are: (1) to love God with all your heart and mind, and (2) to love one another. To have a heart after God is to endeavor to do what is right, respecting His ways; it has an immediate and eternal payoff. To love other people, even as much as we love ourselves, means to look past the shell of strangers and hope they have a good life; it means to say thank you when someone does something for you, and to be a giver to those in need; it means to brainstorm what you can do to help others if you are not already in a position to do so; it means extending forgiveness when someone is oppositional. It means kindness and compassion. Love does not dictate that others respond in likeness; it is a difficult feat to love on those terms.
What about loving life? Some people have a natural disposition to love life, while others are naturally negative or depressed. All who find themselves in depression or negativity will pull out of it, or have the potential to pull out of it with effort. People with severe mental illness have succeeded in setting a goal to get out of bed and accomplish a goal on the harshest of days. And circumstances change. No one should resign their fate to a bad set of circumstances or a bad disposition. Humans are designed to succeed and grow by overcoming challenges. Someone with a natural disposition towards joy has other struggles from time to time. A person who is very smart will struggle with depression and worries, while someone with Down Syndrome will nearly always be smiling. We should learn from those with Down Syndrome that being dealt not all aces does not mean one should not love life. For those with a good disposition, bad times may stick out like a sore thumb, or maybe they are easily forgotten; for those with a depressed disposition, good times can stand out in memories upon intentional recall. Humans will always have to deal with suffering, in one form or another, but loving life is a standard we should seek. After all, there are the mountains and beaches, which do not live as humans and animals do, and we look at them with wonder. Life - breathing, talking, moving, emotional, creative, and experienced through 5 senses, is worth our amazement and deep appreciation. Shakespeare’s “to be or not to be” should be “to love what is or not to love what is” for we have no choice in “being” except to resign to a dead state, but we do have the choice to love life, or deny it for what it is.
Self-love and self-respect are a sign of good health. For how can we love others as we love ourselves, if we cannot even love ourselves? Healthy self-love is the key to life. On the other hand, attention-seeking behaviors in excess, and vain or egocentric views of one’s own value, prohibit one from moving forward. Behaviors to avoid include, but are not limited to: shamelessness, arrogance, envy, entitlement, exploitation and bad boundaries. Many have dark pasts, but no one is limited to their past. With just a mustard-seed of faith you can get started — for even the Phoenix rises from the ashes.
Some people refer to hate as an opposite of love, others war as an opposite to love. War and hate should never be synonymous; we should never go to war for reasons of hatred. We should only be involved in war if it is to preserve life, or virtue, or justice. These are positive affirmations, not negative affirmations. War is not to kill and pillage or rape an enemy, but to sacrifice, save and carve out what is good. War has a history of inciting hatred and unGodliness; we should always be cautious about endorsing war as a nation, and we should remember that hatred should never be a motivator for any action we pursue or endorse in our lives. Hatred is the opposite of love.
1 Corinthians 13, Verse 1-3, says, "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing." Just as knowledge is useless without wisdom, the greatest gifts or actions are useless without love. It may be the universe was created by God by the big bang or some other collusion of great import (most likely), but at our beginnings there was love and God was there seeing the future of us, mankind, and infusing into our core the capacity to love in His mirror image along with the choice or option not to.
Love is not just a fluffy thing for good people. It has met me in the darkness in the depths of despair. By darkness I mean places where Godliness is not present and temptation and fear-mongering thrives. I have met evil face to face with an attitude of consideration and it has either fled or been changed for the better; that is, when I have not caved in. I have experienced love from the least of people where it was not expected. And I have turned my back on others who did not give up on loving me.
I myself have been resigned to depression and deep trouble at times. During one of these troublesome times, I wrote a poem to my husband on love. I was having difficulty figuring out love at the time. In the last stanza of the poem I say, “I hear God is love, But I don’t understand it myself.” It is true - I have heard that all my life about God. And while I do understand "God is loving", the complexity of "God IS Love" is both bold and complicated.
Lonely in My Own Mind, a poem by Michelle Murphy
I came to be on a cross before my closest friends
More than once.
In general sanity has been my only friend
But I am lonely in my own Mind.
There have been a few things driving me to ruin.
But I am not afraid of the Dark. I know It.
It has not ruined me.
I have become friends with evil without becoming evil.
But I still fear evil will devour me, and man.
Or make others pay a high price for my head.
Or that I will be hung on the cross again and again.
Or that my head will finally be given up.
I was sitting on this mountain the other day, I could
Feel the breeze in the darkness, and rumors
Of war ending.
It pleased me but not enough.
I am still lonely in my own Mind.
I meet You before the dawn, You
That swirls through places and time.
Who hides in the shadows of my life.
And gives me the peace beyond understanding
When in my presence.
It’s sensual, its erotic, but the music is altogether
Different. I feel understood in a way that passes
Time. At least Time in the way I’ve come to know It.
And that is complex, as I feel we knew each other
Before the Time we caught up with each other.
I cannot fathom a simple Prayer or wish, that your genuine
Seeming generosity (which makes me tremble) and love
Be real. Because reality is not my thing.
I don’t trust it. So I don’t trust.
I meet You in my darkest of hours.
I am still lonely in my own Mind.
Except when You are near.
And now I am fearful You will come and go.
Or vanish for eternity.
I cannot dedicate to being either with You or alone.
As You might have. Or being fearful for days on end.
Because even with my best friends on the cross I feel
Some sense that I am not alone, even if
I am still Lonely in my own Mind.
Either leave me on this cross with my Friends.
Or lay ahold of me so the darkness
Can turn to Day for me and by Night
You are still there.
With you, I am no longer wanton for something.
And I am no longer lonely in my own Mind.
Show me plainly what is real, because
Reality is not my thing.
I hear God is love,
But I don’t understand it myself.
I accomplished something yesterday, and my husband remarked that I should write an article on overcoming. I said, "Why overcoming?". He said, "You have accomplished something unexpected and unlike your condition." My condition is schizo-affective, and last spring I ventured back into full-time engineering work not knowing if it would stick. I was able to obtain flexible working hours and work-from-home conditions; I am still expected to respond to deadlines and even travel out-of-state from time-to-time.
This summer I took on a 7-week project in which I was the sole engineer working the project, and the technical acumen to get the job done right was high; expectations were high also and the schedule squeezed. I ventured into an assignment I had only mid-level experience with, worked more than 50 hours per week some weeks, and traveled twice from Tennessee to New Mexico to meet with the client of the project. I just yesterday turned in a finished product on-time that everyone was extremely happy with, that also promises more business to the company I work for. I straddled a few sleepless nights, additional medication and the associated side-affects, stress-stimulated voices and paranoia, and a constant fluctuating stress level. I gave up all my weekends this summer and dove right into a complex, interesting, and confidence-boosting endeavor. I also carried a nagging in the back of my mind that something extreme might happen with my mental health, and took great care of myself so I would finish and finish well.
The accomplishment of finishing and finishing well is a mark of overcoming - I worked beyond the normal abilities for someone with a condition like mine. It's unexpected. The doctors who try to call all the shots have long told me not to expect much, and they tell my husband that too - in terms of working, in terms of becoming a mother, in terms of being an adequate spouse. But I think my husband and I have both favored high-standards; it's a constant battle for us. That other nagging feeling - the one that says we should succeed and hush the naysayers - I think that is the one everyone should more often listen to in making daily decisions.
You don't have to have a condition like mine to have naysayers in your life about issues you are facing, and it doesn't take much to give in with an excuse of your own either. You don't have to give in, you don't have to settle, you don't have to live an underwhelming life, you don't have to lay down and live out your weaknesses instead of your strengths. That last point, to live out your weaknesses is important. It's easy to choose to be lazy instead of accomplishing a goal - to sit back and watch others work hard for a promotion instead of taking on the challenge yourself. Life is full of missed opportunities. Excuses can be a worst enemy. So cheers to those who succeed in work and relationships, and in spiritual matters or overcoming addiction or health issues. I've truly made a statement about myself each time I've recovered from mental health bouts, and this recent accomplishment goes a long way with others and myself in the demonstration of recovery. I still have a long way to go in terms of any road to goodness or perfection, but hey, I've come a long way baby. You should too, and congrats to all your accomplishments past, present and future!
p.s. The rad thing I enjoyed doing was developing the operational and protective philosophies and settings for computers that operate a high-voltage new substation (transmission utility power system equipment). This is my mountaintop. Climb your mountaintop.
Do the Unexpected, a poem by Michelle Murphy
Live out your weaknesses, or your strengths.
Which is tempting you?
There’s the naysayers who never expect the unexpected.
The calculators. The pill-givers.
But the gamblers bet on me.
They love me.
And I aim to show them love back.
I’m better off for it.
To do the unexpected.
Whether hallucinations come from darkness or from the light, or from within our own psyche, or from another star system, they beg us to be real and engaged. One can relish in hallucinations and then end up in madness, or one can tune out the play inside one’s head. Instead of giving in to delusion, immerse yourself in the small things from the shared/home reality. Here at home matter and time dominate reliably. I am an advocate of sanity and matter and time. I also struggle with madness, but I should always plan to give my hallucinations a backseat to the greater reality of life on this Great Earth. - Michelle Murphy
It is as if artificial intelligence (AI) was planted in our brain, and it responded in like conversation to everything one says or thinks. It is as if this intelligence were able to know our thoughts before we even think or speak to advance special thoughts into our brains. This AI can lead one to do very risky things in an environment of perceived terror or bliss. It is as if the environment itself is alive, short-circuited with energy, moving one to other parallel dimensions with nefarious clones replacing loved ones, and government spies replacing doctors, and the music in our cars with downloadable messages. We find ourselves in an other-world thinking about other-worldly things. It is as if religious undertones become pronounced and hyper-religious activity mainstream, while aliens taunt us telepathically, and governments tap our phones or even our heads directly. All of this is radiating from the mind of an insane person, who believes either the people around them are in on it, or that those people are the ones who are really insane. During such a period in one’s life the web of a spider may leave an intense footprint on one’s life and inspire jumbled thoughts or creativity, or it may also trap one within it until the episode of insanity is finally over — we become like the fly trapped in this web of other worldly possibilities. We recognize one major thing — that the dark side is real and that we must fight like the Jedi or be overcome.
I have risked my life in terrifying situations when my mind became the heartbeat for a major hallucination in my life. I am lucky, very lucky, God speed, to be alive today. My life now involves strict sleep patterns and medication taking, along with counseling, and journaling of ups and downs. I have to avoid giving in to voices tempting me to go over the edge, and I keep a crisis plan in place as an agreement between my spouse, doctors, and close family. All of this stems from trial and error, and experimentation. Others are not so lucky to have lived through the trauma and to bounce back so quickly. Maintaining employment with flexible supervision has been the key to succeeding by normal standards. My diagnosis is schizo-affective disorder, or bipolar I with psychotic features. My goal is to avoid insanity.
So what is so alluring about insanity over sanity? Number one I would say drama and excitement. There’s nothing like insanity except to be an actor in a major motion science fiction film. There’s nothing like having perspectives that are other-worldly or off-kilter and having felt like one truly reached the gods. Insanity is the opposite of drinking the Kool-aide. It is directly the same as drinking the mushrooms or the DMT. In fact, psychosis is directly related to shamanism in other cultures, and may be one way of experiencing the gods or downloading archetypes from the stars far above or from deep within the Earth in all its glorious history. The very make-up of our culture relies on philosophy that stemmed from out-of-the-box thinking and non-routine livelihoods and wild experiences. Psychosis is a seemingly real experience that is both out-of-the-box and other worldly.
But sanity, being normal, has its own out-of-the-box elements to it. Challenges in life lead us to the edge, but we might peer over rather than jumping off. Glancing for a moment can give one an epiphany, and epiphanies follow us all of our lives; they are the turning points and realizations that make life interesting and call us to greater purpose. Sanity is my best friend these days, as I have come to love normal. Normal is safe; normal has value; love is present in every day life, and every other good trait about life is here in the shared/home reality; even mysticism as expressed through spiritually can be accessed in a normal state. The home/shared reality truly is the home for mankind, and it is a home where no conspiracy lives in the heart (although we might acknowledge some conspiracies in our mind). It is a space where you can have dinner with your family and get a good nights sleep and feel rested, so in the morning you can eat a healthy breakfast and accomplish the day’s goals unimpeded. This is much better in contrast to being paranoid and maybe getting arrested or getting dragged into a mental health facility for risky behaviors and confused thinking, maybe all day hearing voices and living along-side a conspiracy at every corner; even a meal with family can be queer or incite fear with paranoia.
In my own life, I would prefer not to have ever been psychotic, but having been psychotic I feel lucky to have lived through it and to have had the extra-perspectives to apply to all genres of life. Such is any bad thing to turn around into an experience to be applied in a good manner. I have also felt that fate brought my psychotic episodes to me, and usually my thinking is that something special and other-worldly did get realized. I am more creative as a result. Some of the creativity and genius that has been branded within circles of famous madmen or madwomen is a true characterization. Value can be ascribed to such difficult circumstances, and it does take a creative imagination to both create and live in other worlds. For to create, without being God in all his perfection, is to reach out beyond man’s typical capabilities and maintain sanity or fall just off the cliff into the other dimensions of reality that we don’t usually get to experience or see without a third-eye. We may fail to maintain sanity, but even still with that experience comes useful stimulation, new perspectives, and new ideas. Passion, the fuel of creativity, can often be mustered from an electrifying energy that surrounds us when we are insane. It literally makes my skin tingle sometimes.
I prefer to stay in the home/shared reality these days. The shared reality is stimulating enough, and even the small things encourage my creativity and spark my interest. I appreciate the normal world maybe a bit more than most average people, as I’ve deeply missed it when I’m gone in my own mind, and that is the blessing I have today. When those voices spark up or I miss a day or two of sleep and become restless, I can focus on those small things and reject the hallucinations instead of giving in to relish on unhealthy thoughts and off-the-cliff, maybe even pit-of-hell adventures. I can deny those other worlds a place in my life and say goodbye, parting ways hopefully for good. Love is one of the great motivators of mankind and it trumps any other kind of experience one may have; when I am in other worlds and insane, love seems to dry up, and I would always give back anything to have things return back to normal. So, I celebrate normal today and wish it upon myself for the rest of my days.
Here are two definitions for psychosis to consider: (1) American Heritage Dictionary: “A severe mental disorder, with or without organic damage, characterized by derangement of personality and loss of contact with reality and causing deterioration of normal social functioning.” (2) My definition: “An inspired state or state of the psyche under extreme energy that is common in those who identify or call themselves bipolar or schizophrenic and is typically accommodated to varying degrees with madness and reckless behavior.
The following 2 poems are on the subject of mental health. The first poem, The Language of Psychosis, describes the lingo and perspective about being psychotic, and the second poem, Something Outside of Herself, describes how something outside of a woman with mental health issues can inspire that woman, and follow her like a shadow follows a person, or like the past leaves an imprint the present.
The Language of Psychosis, a poem by Michelle Murphy
My God? A fragrant or pungent Smell of incense?
Helen of Troy & Aphrodite? Cassandra? Ecstasy?
Aliens - not from Mexico? And prophets, shamans?
Madmen? Signals & microwaves, OR the red planet on it's way?
The Jinn of fire & smoke, us of clay & earth
Or an electrical frequency giving way to inter-dimensional
Beings usually In hiding? I see clones and wannabes,
Protectors. I'm terrified. Relay the situation - Quick!
Also fallen angels, devils and prehistoric contemplators,
Tempters & liberators, wishful thinkers riding my back,
Sitting on my shoulders, offering everything, tormenting,
Screaming, inciting police, digging needles into my arm.
Where is my tinfoil hat? The signals have forsaken my
Privacy and I am under attack. I follow the footprints back
To my nest egg of hot coffee and smoking sticks where I can
Share information with elite agents about the Trail I'm onto.
I tell them my eggs are not for sale, my blood is not for sale, my
Soul is not for sale. My cats are not hypnotized. The snakes upon
Her head have turned My heart to stone. I cannot fear more than I can fear.
I cannot tremble more than I can tremble. My mission is too extreme.
Where is my God? In the embers of the fire, in the atoms
Of the clay, in the DNA of the prehistoric contemplators,
In my head, OR All of the above if He is omnipresent. But
I said where? I'm on auto-pilot but who's driving?
Tell me the words I shall speak by which I may make
Others understand. Does my language have to be of one spirit?
No, it can be that of a young wizard striving towards manhood, or a
Poet seeking beauty in her inner world. Pure magic nevertheless.
The sacred is Defined as the waring sides of light and
Darkness, the yin and yang, interconnected but very ???
Scientific - yes. Factual - yes. Spiritual, Alien - Yes too.
All the contexts serve the language of psychosis right.
My conspiracy is that somewhere in the cosmos something
Is conspiring - not against, but also with me. Is God in charge
For real or am I an unbeliever in Deliverance? Striving to understand
The true Nature of reality. For all I have seen since birth is wire strings.
Deliverance. Deliverance. Yes. Here I am again. Delivered.
The tin foil hat did its job, Cassandra is my middle name,
And the red planet sent my lunar cycle into a tail spin, but
It's time to travel into the future, I'll ride the 3D and 4D train.
The cycles of the lunar moon got my PMS going - Psychosis
Minded Symptoms. Meet me, myself and I in the future with or without
My PMS. But for Pete's sake - Speak the lingo! Magic discourse.
Read words of deliverance to keep me out of the gutter too.
Something Outside of Herself, a poem by Michelle Murphy
I get my typewriter out
And it says to me, “Push my buttons.”
This is what I type:
Psychosis wipes away the tears
Of frozen words.
You say, “She’s possessed!”
But that does not capture the meaning.
Words are spectrums -
Not concrete shapes.
I say, “She’s also on the spectrum
Of inspired -
Something outside of herself causes
Her to dance, to tick.
"If it’s not black or white,
Then it’s gray?”
No! What we’re talking about
Isn't even colors.
It’s shades - or shadows really
And how they appear
Mental illness is a bad choice of terms.
I got issues - you got issues.
And hell no! - I don’t want
Your issues instead of mine.
I have abstract thoughts
That have broken me from the
Wrist ties that keep us locked away,
And from reasoning and speaking.
I’ve slipped away enough times
To know I don’t do any kind of
Cocktail that will make me slip again.
It’s a question I’ve faced -
Whether to have a daughter that
Might be a duplicate of me.
I would protect her.
Oh glorious! I’ve climbed a mountain
Before and given a speech to no one.
Oh dreadful! I’ve nailed a semi-truck
And only by God’s grace stand here now.
Oh police! Oh naked in terror
Running down the street.
Sheer terror makes my rides
Not worth any set of dollar bills.
I am older than I look.
I’ve been possessed and inspired!
At war and brought about peace!
I am known in the spirit world
And I have been anointed.
Oil has glazed down my head - my crown.
I put the typewriter down and speak.
I said psychosis wipes away the tears of frozen words.
That cocktails can free us from our prisons.
If you zero in on thousands of years what are ladies still talking about?
The glorious, the dreadful, and the police.
Inspiration, war and peace.
Cocktails, the spirit world, my issues - her issues.
Protecting their daughters.
The woman’s shadow has always been there, it never disappears.
But almost all shadows are worth chasing after.
Something outside of herself causes
Her to dance, to tick.
"If it’s not black or white,
Then it’s gray?”
No! What we’re talking about
Isn't even colors.
It’s shades - or shadows really
And how they appear
"The lifeblood of a nation is not freedom, although freedom is a virtuous thing for a nation to achieve. The lifeblood of a nation is always composed of its leaders, and their followers and detractors. And it is made up of the people whose business does not include the politics of the state, but contribute and live daily within a nation's borders. So then, people breathe life into a nation, regardless of the level of freedom or slavery of that nation. The great fabric of society is not society itself and its type, but a man or woman's life performed in front of the Father, God, regardless of or in spite of society. The Law of Liberty prevails whether a nation enslaves its citizenry or not." - Michelle Murphy
The term “freedom” as defined by an internet dictionary below:
the definition, in part, below
- the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.
- absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government
- the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.
I do not believe freedom among people should mean "to be able to act without restraint”, for man is far from perfect. Without morality as a guiding light regarding the rule of law, we are lawless and anarchy is amuck; that same morality is required when dealing with neighboring nations and securing national defense. Yet, a careful balance between the state who governs and enforces laws, and the people is necessary; skill in governance is required to maintain this healthy balance, along with moral virtue among a nation's people. And yes, we know that there is a God that oversees mankind and its rulers.
Moral virtue is also required for the balance of energy between mankind and the earth. We cannot live in wickedness, arrogance, or greed without consequences. As a species, we cannot legalize and subsidize bad behavior as it affects others or the environment. Freedom comes with responsibility.
So, given that, what does freedom mean to me?
Freedom sometimes requires a heavy cost to maintain; investing in the character of a nation’s people requires dedication, just as war costs lives. American freedom is a virtue, and to maintain it should not require war. In our country, America, what it means to be free is to be able to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; people cross seas and borders to live here. Yet, certainly the idea of liberty has been stretched thin in this country.
Liberty encompasses the freedom of the press, and the freedom to voice one's own opinion. From where we are today, freedom of the press or freedom of information may be only a goal for the future, but it is a worthy goal that should be tended to. A good education and start in life, rather than a dumbed down version, enhances one's ability to live free within a nation's borders. A good education isn’t about exposing all conspiracies, but building character, intelligence, and skill for living in the workplace and being an active citizen. A nation endorsing freedom should encourage family developments, good health, support life of the unborn, and acknowledge safety as a virtue. Supporting engineering and technological infrastructure allows the populace to pursue and maintain the comforts of electricity and roads, among other things. I think these things are important.
Open conversation between the leaders and populace of a free country is a must on important issues including war, space, intelligent life elsewhere, and population issues; issues where the populace is affected should be realized by the populace. If they are hidden, is it because people would be in outrage? Is such an issue, pursued by the state in secret, of an immoral nature? Complex thinking by the populace is possible if politics and media are much less dumbed down, and better education realized. The populace needs to be willing to participate in solutions, and the calling would be good for bringing real meaning to people that are otherwise searching. It would also shoulder responsibility on the people at a time when more responsibility is needed. Freedom and responsibility go hand and hand and that is natural law.
Freedom means freedom to congregate as a church. It means what you believe is your own business, and a human’s thoughts are not owned by anyone else. This is why we have a relationship with God, so He can judge our thinking and influence our ways and judge our beliefs and faith.
Territorial and power wars between nations should be based on things that are more important than just the arbitrary; even wars about territory, money, and resources should be met with caution. Every nation has a right to seek safety and freedom for its people as a matter of defense and national security, and at times manufactured utopian thinking may have to take a back seat to sacrificing for something real and tangible. I believe in mercy, grace, forgiveness, and even second chances, especially as a matter of diplomacy with other nations. We should remember that the righteous live among even the most rogue or dissenting nations, and we should offer an olive branch on their behalf. These are my strong beliefs.
Overall, for governance, I am a bit of an authoritarian, because I believe in strong national leadership. I also think democracy can instill madness by governments, and lead to poorly skilled leadership, and an out-of-control citizenry; we see plenty of examples throughout history of overthrow of governments and eventual loss of freedom for everyone. Yet, a republic is better than a democracy, and it aims to instill a rule of law that even the leaders must ascribe to. Outside influence and help is part of every nation's repertoire. I am in favor of the rule of law to protect freedom as I outlined, and order and ingenuity among the disorder and rebellion; some rebellion and disorder is healthy.
The second question is, should a nation be able to decide its own fate?
Here, in the United States, we have often meddled in the affairs of other nations, and in some people’s opinion, that means we are not following our own notion of liberty, especially if the outcome is not the development of a free nation. Liberty, in the fullest sense, has never been realized by political means, neither historically or throughout any one nation's entire history. It is more often imagined or an illusion of liberty that people experience. It is often the propaganda fueling non-liberty agendas. So, if one were to fight for it tooth and nail, they must understand that God appoints the times and seasons in life, and that we have true liberty through Jesus Christ and not through government. Fighting is real and not imagined, and more often then not, men are found fighting one another with the roar of liberty and freedom behind them, all the while dictating, killing and endorsing the suffering of others. We must be careful about pursuing war, although sometimes necessity requires it.
True freedom lies outside of sin, outside of suffering, and in talking, communicating, and lending a hand unto others. We should first demand of our leaders, and other nations, solutions we can take part in for the future that promote a better welfare for all, as if we were in this same life together, roughing it out and needing support. If someone were to be dictating our life, we should be an example to them for the short period we experience life here. "For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people" (1 Peter 2, Verse 15). Again, war should always be a last resort. And when a nation fights for a neighboring nation’s freedom, and it is true in its intent and marksmanship, we should respond with caution and hope; caution in that we do not like war and its consequences, and hope that we shall all be set free. For some nations do not know freedom or how to obtain it; its leaders are wicked. We must always remember that God, the All Powerful, will judge us all, leaders and the populace.
The Bible says we should pray that our leaders extend to us a peaceful life and a world where the gospel can flourish. Those two blessings are part of the freedom we've traditionally held in the United States (1 Timothy 2, Verse 2 and 2 Thessalonians 3, Verse 1). We should pray earnestly for these two things here and overseas, and appreciate that we already have a peaceful life and freedom of religion in the United States.
Awesome God (worship song)
Our God is an awesome God he reigns
From heaven above with wisdom, power and love
Our God is an awesome God
How Great Thou Art (worship song)
O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed,
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee;
How great thou art, how great thou art!
Acts 17, Verses 22 - 34, Sermon on Mars Hill - 22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ 29 Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. 30 Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” 32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, “We shall hear you again concerning this.” 33 So Paul went out of their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.
Today I was sitting in a bible study at church when I really took something in that was being taught, and I thought, "Our God is an awesome God". My focus shifted to this and I realized I was in a room with others who had declared that "God is Good!"; I was in a place of righteous worship, reflection and fellowship. I felt God shined a light on us in that moment. We were studying God's covenant with Israel and the many times they fell away. Often they fell into observing what neighboring nations were involved in, including orgies, human sacrifice, improper sexual relations, and deity worship outside of God. Looking back now, God's laws and commandments determined a path and pattern of righteousness for all people to inherit one day through the new covenant brought by Jesus Christ and the future judgement. All this which existed in part because of this prior relationship with God and Israel. Paul in Acts 17 is right - God will come to judge the entire world in righteousness through Jesus Christ at the appointed time. He is no longer the "unknown God" and He is a righteous God.
In a book by Jack Cottrell, "The Faith Once and For All", the characteristics of God are listed as follows: God is Spirit, Self-existent, One, Three (Father, Son, Spirit), Infinite, Eternal, Righteous, Immutable, Transcendent, Sovereign, Omnipotent, Wise, Good, Omniscient, Omnipresent, Immanent, Glorious, Holy, Loving, Jealous, Wrathful, Merciful, Patient, and Gracious. In the introduction it says, “Because God is holy, he is jealous and wrathful in the presence of sin; because he is love, he is merciful, patient and gracious toward sinners.” I am studying the biblical definitions and text associated with these traits so I can get a fuller understanding of God as part of my faith and prayer life. I want to make sure as part of my faith-journey I fully understand just how glorious God really is.
It is amazing to think of the world on God's terms rather than the alternative. In American culture there is an inherited belief system from Christianity that promotes justice, kindness, humility, family values, compassion on the poor, respect for all, work ethic and other forms of righteousness. Yes, darkness lives here; darkness has its place everywhere; it cannot be denied as humans are fallen. At the same time, we send missionaries into much darker places. In some places the worship of other gods, or another god, leads people into sexual slavery, or beatings, or because of a certain belief about karma for droves of people to turn a blind eye to the poor. When Mother Theresa first set foot in India her faith was tested for what she saw was terrifying. Christian missionaries are often overwhelmed with the situations they are confronted, but they most often are very passionate about their work because they seek what is good. Corruption is at a larger scale in most other countries than here at home. Often people blame corporatism, socialism or communism, but intermixed in these systems is a lack of respect for biblical values and freedom of religion, either through state-force or propaganda. Yet, God still reaches the hearts of the righteous and continues his kingship over the authorities.
The new law of the New Testament means one should have faith in Christ and pursue righteousness as evidence for that belief. Our God has a true form of justice that has worked itself over man throughout history molding and shaping him for appointed times and a bright future. God will also finally judge each and every man, woman and child. God is perfect in every way, so it is with great relief and great fear that he is both our Maker and Judge. In the end, the debased may be given over to evil and hell, while the remaining in a heavenly resting place. The complexity of it all is for God and Jesus to understand; we tend to oversimplify it in our minds. But our God is not simple - he is great. "O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder, Consider all the worlds, Thy hands have made, I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed, Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee; How great thou art, how great thou art!"
Dear God, I am unsure when you are guiding my thoughts and actions, or in my presence before me, as I have a creative imagination and it is hard to pinpoint. Yet, today at church when my focus became pinpoint clear and the background surroundings faded out, I imagined You were there to be seen shining a light on us. I see answers to my prayers looking back, and callings to do what is more righteous when I am otherwise not up to it. I agree You work in mysterious ways, and it is not for me to know. Your ways, however, are great! As the Maker of all things I find You glorious and wise. When people dare to say, "God is Love!", I am assured of Your mercy, patience and graciousness. As the Author of the final judgement, I fear and respect the outcome, knowing that what is holy is perfect and righteous. I pray for those that are suffering in immeasurable ways, especially the vulnerable. May people not turn a blind eye to what suffering they see, and strive to make a difference for those in need. May the authorities not be given over to debased minds, and instead declare justice and freedom of religion in their lands; may they set an example of humility and skill in governing; may they resist war and violence on their own people and other nations. May Christianity flourish wherever it is planted. In the name of Jesus, the Christ, Amen.
"In Loving Memory", poem by Michelle Murphy
Ode to those that have passed,
Who wither a bit in our hearts and minds,
But gather steam in a world not too far away.
We long to be by their side and rejoice we may one day
At the sight of their face
And the sound of their laugh.
May they have uprooted the grave the day they were laid down.
May we hear their voice again.
Truly, ode to those that have passed.
In loving memory of our ancestors and loved ones
We say, "Live on!
Do not wither away."
Wikipedia - "This too shall pass" - (Persian: این نیز بگذرد, translit. īn nīz bogzarad) is originally a Persian adage reflecting on the temporary nature, or ephemerality, of the human condition. The general sentiment is often expressed in wisdom literature throughout history and across cultures, although the specific phrase seems to have originated in the writings of the medieval Persian Sufi poets. It is known in the Western world primarily due to a 19th century retelling of Persian fable by the English poet Edward FitzGerald. It was also notably employed in a speech by Abraham Lincoln before he became the sixteenth President of the United States.
Psalm 23, A Psalm of David
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
My father took his life in my early 20's. I've always remembered that about him, although I remember too what I loved about him. His sense of humor carried him through life and cheered others. HIs smarts and good work ethic made him a success at work. His spiritual convictions led him to do what was right nearly always. And yet, humor, smarts, ethics and a love for God were not enough on the particular day of February 4th, 2000. His humor, smarts, ethics and love for God are what I miss most about him 18 years later.
I've inherited something from my family. It's different from depression, but includes depression being bipolar I with psychosis. I can relate to complete loss of hope; I can relate to living in a personal hell-hole; I can relate to days where I would just wish life would end and that no spirit would leave my earthly body and continue in any form. I wanted suicide of not only my life, but my spirit.
I've had 3 Kate Spade purses. Many of her purses are best in design and functionality. Anthony Bourdain's show was best in class for bringing us the best about cultures all over the world through amazing food and conversation over the kitchen or serving table. These two were the best of the best at what they do. What that tells us is that no one evades human suffering.
The will to live is a strong human trait but the challenges of life can drive one down into a deep depression, whether one is usually a normal human being or one that lives with a chronic mental health condition. There are 3 tiers to life... mental, physical and spiritual, and deterioration in any of those categories from time to time is part of being a person. Facing challenges and overcoming them is an intriguing part of the human condition, but from time to time one will not overcome. And we grieve hard when that happens. Each person on this planet dies one way or another, but death by suicide has a unique effect on those around them because "Why?" is so difficult to grasp and accept.
Some of us face bad circumstances - life altering, devastating circumstances. Ending a life under such circumstances can seem like a way to relieve the situation. The decision to face what seems unbearable, even facing humiliation or pain, is difficult. Again, human suffering is a part of life and it manifests itself in complex ways. May we all find the will to live another day.
If you are challenged right now, rise to the occasion. There are 3 keys to this: (1) have hope in something, (2) have appreciation for something and (3) set some healthy boundaries (such as I will not kill myself ever, or I will avoid risky behavior, or I will get out of bed every day and do something). Develop reasons for having hope, appreciation and healthy boundaries and remember you can always have hope and appreciate that things change. Because what follows suffering is growth spurts and sometimes unexpected blessings. "This too shall pass". Don't give up or give in.
Dear God, I miss my dad. This poem was written by me because of him. I long to see him again. I long to avoid situations where I am challenged by spiritual or mental depression. Always remind me in my darkest hour that there is reason to carry on. Bring us into a world with more healing, hope and appreciation, so that more people may be at peace in their hearts and minds - especially for those I love and care about. Amen.
Luke 22, Verses 39-44 - Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
"On Responding to Stress", You Tube Video by Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski
The Road Not Taken, poem by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
1 Corinthians 9, Verse 24 - Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.
Romans 5, Verses 3-4 - And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope.
James 1, Verse 3-4 - Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
James 5, Verse 11 - Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
Our desires often involve moving away from a place of discomfort to a place of comfort. However, it's important to nail the process of living uncomfortably at times. Why? We can grow in a way that prevents us from living a status quo life. We can build stamina that will pay off in the future. We can learn something about ourselves, others, or God.
So avoiding the status quo - what does that mean? I have an example. In my own life I've lived status quo and I've risen above it - I've had it both ways and always had pride when I've chosen the more difficult path. My current struggle is holding down a new full-time career with schizo-affective after years working part-time at home. It is certain that I am well enough to maintain a career right now. But some days I'm tempted to succumb to ending the anxiety I feel mid-week by quitting early on in the game, and go back to mid-afternoon naps so I can reduce my medication and live easy. My prayer is that I don't give in and that I rise above the discomfort so I can grow in new ways by dealing with a tough scenario. I have everything in place to do that - supportive family, friends, and church, an award-winning psychiatrist, and a counselor I work well with. Can I make it through? Will I give in to an impulsive end? Am I really that desperate to avoid pain, after all it has raged through my life in the past and I'm still OK. And have I though to pray about it? Am I being mindful to promote positive optimistic self-talk on those tough days? Am I lazy or wanting to give in to sin? The answers to these questions lie in a gray area - because I have succeeded in the past and I have built some stamina in my life from pressing on before. It's kind of a thing most women have experience in doing - that pressing on thing. But lying in the mix are worries from time to time that hold me back; worry is another thing most women have experienced and often been held back by. And sin is still tempting.
What can we learn about ourselves, others, or God from difficult circumstances or outright pain? Patience, right speech or right thinking under pressure, further development of our relationship with God, how to give or receive help from others, understanding what it means to be human, or a wife, mother or friend, and/or increased wisdom and perspective that finds a useful place in our minds. We learn that God sees over us even when we are tempted or tested, and that He not only allows for us to be tested but sometime authors the situations we endure for a greater purpose.
It sounds all nice on paper, but enduring and growing your relationship to God and others and with yourself is not pink roses at all; it's a thorny process. What Jesus endured, for instance, crown of thorns and all, He endured for us and His fruit is lasting. While it is beyond our capacity to run the race He ran, His example is a lesson in endurance and payoff - the two are related however unusual it seems to be. Good things lead to more good things, but bad things can lead to good things, and discomfort is not always a bad thing anyway (in most cases it's good). God had a plan for Jesus; God has a plan for us.
Dear God, When I feel weak and vulnerable give me wisdom and strength. When I feel like giving in to sin or anxiety give me wisdom and strength as well. I have given up on myself or Your plan or my responsibilities in the past, and there is always regret and tribulation. For I cannot run from tribulation but must face it in order to grow past it or above it. I seek Your wisdom and counsel and appreciate the wisdom and counsel of others. May all women seeking a better life from the discomfort they are facing, see another day and obtain both an earthly prize and the ultimate prize after this life has passed. We are so very lucky to have the freedoms we do in this country - may we not squander it or any other blessing we may receive. Glory be to God. Amen.
Michelle is a woman of depth whose faith has pulled her through some difficult times. She finds beauty and inspiration from life experience and literature, sourced from all ages and walks of life. Michelle seeks to inspire other women in their personal journeys, especially those who struggle. Michelle is also a mental health advocate, writer & engineer. Her other website is www.freemindbooks.com.