I am trying to sort out my experiences and thoughts to better understand how to move forward and not stay stuck in the past.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Untwisting Twisted Thinking

I talked with a friend, yesterday, about God.  She said that she was reading a book by C.S. Lewis. She explained that he had been an atheist at one time but after his wife died, through some experiences and research, he regained his faith  (I had not known that he had been an atheist, though I did know that he had a belief in God).  Anyway, she said that in the book she was reading (I can't remember the title) he put forth one of the arguments that atheists  have against there being a god.  It goes something like this, "If God is all powerful, then He would be able to create a boulder that was too heavy for Him to lift.  But if God was all powerful and couldn't lift the boulder then He really wouldn't be all powerful, so therefore, He doesn't exist."

Huh?   That was my first reaction.  She repeated it and the first thing I thought of was, "Is that all they've got as an explanation?"  The second thing was, "There's more than the concrete-physical version of power."  And my final thought was, "That sounds a lot like the sick thinking of an addict."

Another friend I have, had talked with me several years ago and told me that for every idea, law, or promise that God offers, evil has a counterfeit.  So, if God advises you to take time and be still to know He's God.  Evil suggests that you need to  multi-task so that your brain is so overwhelmed and over worked that you can't even know yourself let along God.  If God says to love your neighbor, evil provides a mental magnifying glass so that you can pick apart every annoying detail about your neighbor which makes understanding them pretty much an undesirable and impossible task.  If you read what God requires, you can always find the counterfeit of evil that we have all been tempted by or given into.  It starts with the twisted ideas that get planted and grow into these huge convoluted vines that intertwine their way through your rational thinking.  That's how evil works. The mind really is the battle field. 

That's what I thought about with that atheists' argument.  Convoluted thinking.  An idea that sets the listener up for failure even before you try to rationalize the statement.  Addictive thinking has the same effect.  A twisted idea:  Drinking/drugs will make relax me and I'll be more sociable.  I won't need a lot, just enough."  Convoluted thinking then demands more of the product and the vine takes over, and the person with an addiction is held captive in that vine, with thoughts that aren't rational or true.  Sick thinking instead of healthy thinking.

God is logical.  That argument sounds logical, but it isn't. It's illogical (the counterfeit of God). For example,  a part of the nature of God is to be infinite.  A part of God's nature is to love good.  God can't love evil, because that would go against His nature.  If God created a boulder so large that He couldn't lift it, it too, would become infinite, and that would go against the nature of God, too.  So, God not making a boulder too large for Him to lift doesn't prove His non-exhistance, it confirms that the nature of God can't be changed.  My friend's explaination was that the statement about the boulder is like the questions: When did you stop beating your wife?  It's a question that can't be answered with anything but an assumption that at some point you beat your wife, even if that never happened.  It's twisted ideas, that appear to be logical, but are not.  Much like the thinking of a person with addiction.

The power of God is that He is true to His nature.  That His laws, comands and teachings are universally applicable. This is important because, unlike evil, God provides a firm foundation. The counterfeit to that is a foundation that is shaky and uncertain--always changing to manipulate the moment. I think that the idea of God's consistancy is comforting because being reliable anchors people. It comforts, sooths, and gives inner strength. The counterfeit, is that anxiety, worry, and unreliable sense that something bad is going to happen.  Faith vs. fear.  I choose Faith. But, if the argument still isn't convincing, I'll defer to the story, The Song of Bernadette,  where the author writes (and I'm paraphrasing) "To those who believe, no explaination is necessary. To those who don't, no explaination is possible."

Sunday, January 27, 2013


I was sitting at my desk last week, watching the class as they sat doing various little projects at the end of the day.  The day had been good. The assignments had been completed. There had been no great upheavals, and so the reward was to allow them to draw, play chess, build with  Legos, whatever they wanted to do at the end of the day before getting ready to go home.  I love watching children learn.  I think I love more, watching them create on their own.  The interactions between them, the comments they make to each other, their smiles, thoughtful faces, looking over at me every so often to hold up a picture, or a Lego creation.  It is such a peaceful, gentle time.

It can also be a very chaotic, rambunctious time, because it is at the end of the day that the medication that most of the students are on, begins to wear off.  First let me say that, I do agree that medication is the answer sometimes.  But not until all options are researched and tried.  I do believe that some people's brains have chemical malfunctions.  I don't believe that the amount of children that are medicated all have brain chemical problems. 

What happened in that Connecticut school is still on the minds of all of us.  Our school has taken some new precautions.  We are all still on a feeling of  'alert.'  The mental health of the murderer was mentioned for a short time after the tragedy, but then seemed to fade away in favor of gun control.  Mean while, the state of a person's mind IS the gun control. 

There are a many parts to good mental health.  I'm not going to address them all, but there is one that has always been a source of concern for me.  Feelings.  We have become a society who is afraid of feeling, and allowing feelings.  I had kind of an 'ah-ha moment' that happened last week.  A woman who works at the school had a brother who was killed two weeks ago.  Someone asked her how her mother was taking it and her response was, "Well, she's on some good drugs, so it's good so far."   What?  First, how flippant we've become when talking about drugs and their usage.  Second, why can't we allow someone to experience grief? 

I thought of the students.  I am teaching in an elementary school.  There are some children in my class who are on four different medications.  Pretty powerful ones, too.  What is the long term effect on their young brains?  In the morning, those students seem kind of robotic.  They listen, do their work, but there is no real 'light' in their eyes.  As the day progresses, their personalities start to 'clear up' and yes, behaviors can get challenging, but, I think that's only because they are experiencing  behaviors, that are kept muted, that they don't have experience controlling because they haven't been taught or because they haven't been allowed to experience them. 

In all other moments in history, people have been experiencing emotions.  Sadness, joy, grief, anger.  They ran through the feelings, and moved on. Emotions are good.  They help to gauge the moment. They are reinforcers. Emotions help us to remember, well, everything. They're good for the brain.

Technology and the speed that it can be transmitted (texting, social media) allow feelings to be shot out without a time to be processed and understood.  It is so mixed up.  We aren't encouraged to express emotions but, emotions are becoming the control rather than the alarm.  So, we keep them quiet. I don't think it is good individually or for a society to ignore the ability to feel and appropriately express and manage those emotions.  How ironic is it to ask,  'How does that make you feel?'  to someone who is on medication to prevent feeling?  They can't understand something they aren't familiar with.  I'll paraphrase a quote from the movie "Iron Lady" where Margaret Thatcher comments that, "everyone is so interested in how I feel, well what about what am I thinking?"  Feeling and thinking go hand in hand.  It's being in mental balance, something a lot of our younger generation are not equipped to appreciate.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Lesson Learned

I learned a lesson last Saturday. 

A friend of mine, well a relatively new friend of mine, wrote a book.  I met her during the summer of 2011 when my daughter was lifeguarding at the pool in her neighborhood.  At the time, my daughter was in graduate school, and it was an easy job, where she could read her books and still be outside. Anyway, every morning this woman came and would swim for an hour, then leave. She and my daughter were usually the only ones there at the time, so they would talk and eventually, struck up an acquaintance.  She told my daughter she was writing a book.  My daughter referred to her as, 'The Writer.'  She asked my daughter and me to read her manuscript as she would finish the chapters and find any mistakes, or make any suggestions.  So, we did.  Two weeks ago, the writer sent me an email inviting us to her book signing and the first of several workshops she is having that deal with the subject matter of the book.  It was two Saturdays, ago.  I wasn't going to go, though I sent her an email congratulating her and telling her I would try to come. Really, at the time, I had no intention of going.  My daughter hadn't been drinking, but there was still a sadness or cloud that permeated our house.  It had nothing to do with my daughter or me.  I think it was the lingering presence of the fear of what the addiction would do next and the memory of what it has done.

That email from The Writer, caused some internal shifting within me.  I don't really know why, but I started dialoguing with myself on why I should go and why I shouldn't go. 

During that week, my daughter started drinking, again.  I don't know why, and since then, she has told me that she didn't intend to drink, but did anyway.  All I said to her at the time was, "Aren't you sick of this, yet?", as I walked out of her room and closed the door (She has since, stopped, again.  I am hopeful she finds the inner strength to continue).

I have said this before, here, but I want to restate it.  I look at everything as a spiritual battle.  During the week before the book signing, when my daughter was drinking and the atmosphere here became so heavy and thick with hopelessness, I had a thought.  I'm not sure if it was that inner voice (that is never wrong, in my opinion), Divine Intervention, or just a  struggling idea finally breaking through the fog in my mind, but the thought was this:  "I have given addiction more power than God."  I repeated it, "I have given addiction more power than God."  I kept repeating it, like you would when talking to someone who has fainted to try and wake them up, I kept repeating that thought to myself, and slowly felt my own mind starting to wake up.  A mild revelation on my way to an epiphany.

I remembered what I had heard, here, reading other blogs, as well as at the Al-Anon meetings, that you have to detach.  I was resistant to that idea because I always thought it meant detaching from my daughter.  For me, I realized it meant detaching from the addiction.  Not giving it power, anymore.  And especially, not giving it more power than God.  Understanding that was like the morning sunlight starting to break up a hovering fog.  That Saturday, I freely, went to the book signing.  I did not drag along the addiction and all of it's cohorts with me.  The workshop was lead by a woman who's profession was as a  Christian counselor.  She talked about a lot of bits and pieces from the book.  One was the idea of fear. My ears perked up.  I live in fear.  Fear is what is clogging my brain half of the time. Fear walks with me and taunts me.  Reminds me of all of my mistakes and memories I'd like to leave behind.  Fear is the conductor of this orchestra of dreadful music that never seems to stop playing in my mind.  I drank in her words. She mentioned the bible verse:  2 Timothy 1:7 where it talks about God not giving you the spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-discipline.  WOW, how powerful is that!  The spirit of power, love and self-discipline.  God does not give you the spirit of fear.  So, obviously, I've been allowing something other than God to be in charge of my life. 

I left that workshop with a new attitude.  As I listened to everything that was being discussed, I finally admitted to myself that I can no longer whine (internally and with God) about my circumstances.  I can't play victim.  I can't be weak in my conviction and understanding about my spiritual life.  I believe in God and that requires work on my part.  There is another bible verse that I heard at church one time.  During one of my frustrating, 'why me' conversations with God, I demanded a 'formula' because obviously, since life wasn't going in the direction I had planned, I was missing something.  The verse in church that Sunday had been Philippians 4:6 where it talks about not being anxious for anything but come to God in prayer, supplication and thanksgiving.  An equation that I have been adhering to when I decide to pray. 

How did I apply that to what I heard here and at Al-Anon?  I learned what it means to live your life.  YOUR life.  It's important not to lose yourself in someone else's life because there are different perspectives and needs with each person.  You can live with someone and beside someone, but you can't live for someone.  Our lives are too unique and individual to be able to live another's life for them.  Or visa verse.  I get it now.

So, that is my new conviction. Live my life, remember that God does not give the spirit of fear, and apply the equation of prayer when I pray.  For me, they are three pieces to my puzzle that I discovered two weeks ago. Though I don't have a clear picture of where my life is now, I can look at different sections of this puzzle it has become, and make out familiar shapes and figures.  Ever since, I have been actively applying that to each day, and only the day.  During that same week, I heard someone say that regretting the past and worrying about the future robs you of your present.  So true.

One last thing.   My friend's book is entitled, "I Want a New Life."   What a great title.