Category Archives: religion

upswinging

It’s funny, people asking me if I’m okay now that I finally feel okay.

One of my very best friends has found the love of his life. Or so he thinks. He also found Jesus. A few months ago, he found Jesus. After wanting to be a Youth Pastor when he was in college, to going to seminary, to realizing God is fucked up and church is fucked up and people in church are fucked up. Then a staunch atheist for a long long time. Then a quiet atheist. Then, Jesus.

But I haven’t seen Jesus in awhile, only his new girlfriend. Almost fiance. After a few weeks, he has bought the ring.

You’re an addict, dude. You’re addicted to something, always. To drugs, or alcohol, or me, or work, or Jesus, or her. I guess it’s not okay to say that, at least not before I’ve met her and not before he asks and not over text message.

I spend too much time thinking about loss. So many friends gone this year, but the choosing kind of gone. I know I’ve said it before. It’s just always there, the holes, and more added every day it seems like. It’s okay. I have new friends, or old friends who have stuck around, and I try to focus on them. I try to remember the holes I’ve left in other people’s lives. Try to convince myself I mattered to someone as much as these people matter to me.

I don’t even know her last name. Did she keep hers? Add his? Take his only?

She said Happy Birthday and some other kind and thoughtful things. I didn’t respond. What would I even say? What could I even want from her? And do I risk responding only to find that her message was just…a thing, and not an attempt to get me back.

I feel okay. It’s pretty cool. Of course I anticipate the upswing to keep going straight on to mania, but for now it’s awesome, and welcome.

Thanks, beach time last week! You put me on the right track.

 

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God will never.

I remember when this blog was halfway professional, but now it seems to just be a place I can scream without judgment. Which is a good thing, but it also makes me feel like a failure.

“God will never send you another woman’s husband.”

I saw that quote a few weeks ago and it really struck me. I’m glad it’s stuck in my head. I said it out loud to a couple of people and they just looked at me like I was crazy. Like, duh. And of course it sounds logical and Captain Obvious and all that – it always does, until you’re in the situation. Then we try to backtrack and justify and say, “We’re meant to be, we’re perfect, he/she married the wrong person the first time, it was always supposed to be us.”

But that’s just not true. Even with all of the people I know who are still married to the men/women with whom they had the affair. I can’t believe that it’s right.

I do believe that if you knew yourself and trusted yourself that maybe you would have been single when you met your “true” love, but I also know that if you’d been single you probably wouldn’t have felt that euphoric sense of belonging/appreciation/relief that you felt with the new person. Kudos to you for making it last, though.

To the married man that went too far on Saturday:

I’m so, so sorry. I’m sorry for not trying harder to stop you. You will regret it forever, and I knew that. I told you that. I’m so sorry. I am broken, and now you are, too. You are good. You are STILL good. Do not let this corrode you from the inside; you are still a loving husband and father and teacher and person. Please, please, please be okay.

You didn’t have to walk me home.

I am fine on my own.

Always.

I am not stunning. You would have decided I’m not worth it, just like everyone does. So shiny, until I’m not.

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gross.

My coworker just taught me a Buddhist practice to combat what they call “attachment.” I’ve mentioned the concept of attachment before – that we mistake it often for love but it is really a poison in disguise. Attachment to anything – a person, belonging, idea, etc – overtakes our minds and often we obsess over the object of our attachment. For someone like me with clinically obsessive thoughts and a probably-clinical hatred of bodily functions….well, we’ll see how this goes.

ATTACHMENT
Definition: Exaggerated not wanting to be separated from someone or something. (Exact opposite of Aversion) Because the label of “pleasant” is very relative and based upon limited information, Attachment includes an aspect of exaggeration or “projection”.

Near “enemy” (or not to be confused with): Real appreciation, love and compassion.
Opposite: Wanting to be separated from someone or something: aversion.
Main quality: exaggeration of positive qualities, which can only lead to disappointment. Falling in love will usually fit very well in this category. (from View on Buddhism)

The practice my coworker was telling me about, in regards to attachment toward a person, consists of contemplation: sit and mediate on that thing that has such hold over your thoughts. Now think of all of the disgusting, feral aspects of that person. Imagine them without skin. See all of the sinews and blood and guts that make up their body. Think of mucus, of odor, of bowel movements and eye sockets.

I’m not kidding. This is a real practice (it came up because a patient down the hall has a disgusting hacking cough right now) and honestly, I guess I can see how it works. I’d like to know how permanent the images these meditation conjure would be….I don’t want to think of bodily fluids every time his name pops up on my phone. But then again, maybe I do, right?

Break the cycle. New associations. Turn my brain off of that thought and start the process of replacing it….I guess I can replace it with something else altogether once the initial obsession has broken. Maybe…emptiness? I don’t really have this Buddhism thing down…

HANDLING ATTACHMENT

One man can conquer a thousand times thousand men in battle,
but one who conquers himself is the greatest of conquerors.

The Dhammapada

The following antidotes can be applied throughout daily life, but are profound meditation exercises as well.

ANTIDOTE 1 – Observe Yourself: Do I exaggerate positive qualities of things I am attached to, are they really worth all my troubles? Is it really worth to work hard for days, weeks or months to have an hour of fun?

ANTIDOTE 2 – Use Your Inner Wisdom: Discover how exaggerated attachment is and how desire works against oneself. Try to be wiser than the monkey and let go of the candy to be free.

ANTIDOTE 3 – Reflect on the Unsatisfactory Nature of Existence. This is also called the First Noble Truth. How much fun is fun really, and how much is it forgetting the pain? Do desires ever stop or is it an endless job to fulfil them?

ANTIDOTE 4 – Reflect on Impermanence. How important is the person or object: everything will end someday, people die, things break.

ANTIDOTE 5 – Reflect on the Problems of Attachment. Lying in the sun is great, but it quickly leads to sunburn. Eating nice food is great, but it leads to indigestion and obesity. Driving around in big cars is great, but how long do I have to work to enjoy this?

ANTIDOTE 6 – Reflect on bodily attraction (lust for sex). Loving someone is great, but what happens when the “honeymoon-days” are over? But what is the body really? What more is it than a skin bag filled with bones, flesh, disgusting organs and fluids?

ANTIDOTE 7 – Reflect on the Results of Attachment. Greed and craving lead to stealing and all kinds of crime, including war. Addiction to alcohol and drugs are simply forms of strong craving; they destroy the addict and the surroundings. Uncontrolled lust leads to sexual abuse. The feeling of greed, craving and lust in themselves can be easily seen as forms of suffering.

ANTIDOTE 8 – Reflect on Death. What are all objects of attachment worth at “the moment of truth” or death?

ANTIDOTE 9 – Emptiness. The ultimate antidote to attachment and all other negative emotions is the realisation of emptiness.

Hmm.

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please stand up (or, why christians shouldn’t stand up for their beliefs)

Someone just said to me, “I find it challenging to stand up for my [Christian] beliefs and still love others who don’t believe the same things.”

I ask you:

What do you mean by “standing up” for your beliefs?  And is your definition a Biblical one? Because as far as I can tell, Jesus didn’t tell you to legislate your beliefs. He didn’t tell you to call other people out on their unbelief, unless it is a person close to you and is a member of the Church. He didn’t ask you to judge someone’s sin or even get involved in his or her life. He told you to spread His words, His message. He told you to turn the other cheek, and give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and take care of the ‘least of these,’ and show kindness/humility/compassion to those who do not follow the God you follow. He asked you to intercede for them – in fact, he gave you the Holy Spirit so that you can intercede for them.

So spread His message in the way he asked. Share your experiences. Preach the Gospel in your church and in the streets, if you like. Tell everyone what He has done for you.

But don’t preach it from the seats of government. Jesus never told you to do that.

Don’t berate others for their own beliefs, no matter how far from yours they might stray. Jesus never told you to do that.

Don’t argue with strangers on the internet, or share memes designed to put down those who are different than you, or make statuses about those same people, even as a “joke.” And most certainly don’t turn those people away when they come to you for help, or mercy, or love.

“Share if you believe” doesn’t help anyone. The Bible says to offer your time and your money, and it doesn’t specify that the receivers have to believe what you believe.

Jesus hung out with the people no one liked and he offered them a better way without ever putting them down for the life they had been living.

Try it sometime.

Stand up and do something with your time, your money, your love. Your beliefs should be just fine standing on their own.

 

(Helpful Bible verses for reference categorized in the book “What Did Jesus Say?” by Diane Bay.)

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