Blessings Smoke Signal


While rummaging on Facebook, I came across an inspirational post. The gist of it was what may seem like a disappointing tragedy could turn out to be God’s smoke signal that attracts his blessings. I honestly have to say that I tend to ignore most of those religious inspirational babblings. Maybe I am not at that place in which they do anything for me or I just do not subscribe to random sappiness. However, on those rare occasions when I am looking for some clarity, a sappy religious inspirational post hits the spot. Tonight was such a moment.

Being stressed to the point you are drained of your usual resiliency, can lead to a path down a long dark road.  It can lead to a point of losing one’s self in which you do not recognize yourself, your own thoughts or actions. The max stress point pushes you out of your comfort zone but not in a good direction. It pushes to the point in which you are trying to find relief or resolution in the most sinister or inappropriate of behaviors, places and people. There is a consistent loss of direction, identity and clear end goal. In other words, it can drive you to a slow destruction of mind, body, soul, morals etc.

There is the Proverb that says idle hands are the devil’s workshop but so is feeling desperate – desperate for the blessing you have been praying for or the miracle you want to happen yesterday or the pain you want to be replaced by joy, or the peace you are hoping would eliminate your turmoil etc.

‘Wait on the Lord.’ I really do not believe that most believers are impatient. I believe they are long-suffering. In the grand scheme of our lives, most of us may live for no greater than 70 years so waiting for a blessing that may take 10+ years of our adult lives is definitely a long time. While our lives on the earth is supposed to be temporary, it is still our lives and the only one we have to live in the here and now. Therefore, waiting for a blessing that we are not sure will come can drive anyone batty.

It becomes very difficult to have hope in the midst of your life turning upside down. It is very difficult to not just throw your hands in the air and say I am done. It is very difficult to not venture to the dark side because it is so much easier to be bad than good. It is very difficult to continue to believe when the negative unexpected happens and you have no control. There is that helpless feeling that starts to creep into your mind occasionally then over time, without a blessing, it permeates every aspect of your being. It spreads very quickly like an aggressive cancer. It ruins you in ways you could never have imagined. The journey down the dark road has begun.

I really do not know what to expect from God; however, at every religious corner, the Christian will tell you to ‘wait’ because He will answer your prayers or send a blessing in disguise when you least expect it. Actually, almost everyone has a cheery positive religious answer to any distress in your life. I resist this always sunny Christian disposition because reality has never fully reflected that sentiment. Life is filled with good and bad things. If the blessing we are asking for never comes, it forces us to accept that shitty things do happen but we can compensate in other ‘blessed’ areas of our lives. ‘Sure your legs and arms were blown off while you were serving your country but look on the bright side  you are alive and have a roof over your head and food to eat.’

We take our blessings where we can get it even if it is not in the area for which we were praying. Christian are told to ask God for anything but not expect everything because sometimes we are asking for too much and we need to learn to be satisfied with what we have because it may seem like greed or being ungrateful which is the devil; however, if you are long-suffering then it shows religious dedication and a strong belief in God but then God might be telling you no but you are not listening; but then God might give you what he thinks you need which does not manifest in the way you expect so you should continue to pray without ceasing… phew!!! did you catch all that?

The longer you wait for the blessing the easier it is to become blinded.  The longer you wait for your blessing the more you have to fight to believe and have hope. The more issues that need resolution the more you struggle to stay afloat with all that emotional and psychological weight.  Despite the struggle, every now and then something comes along and jolts you back to your senses with some clarity. It is a minor reprieve from the burden that allows you a moment to breathe in order to refocus, refresh and regroup.

Inner Demons


In the religious world, there is good and evil and both are always fighting against each other. The Christians are caught in the middle and we constantly struggle to do and focus on the things that are good. It is sometimes a daily struggle hence the reason the bible says pray without ceasing. If you have been in the religious world for a while, then you know there are some universally accepted rights and wrongs.

Christians always have a moralistic struggle at one or more times in their lives. It’s a fact and we run to comfort scriptures like Romans 12:12 “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulations, continuing instant in prayer.” I am usually deviant in my thoughts and behaviors so during my struggles, I run to scriptures like Romans 8:14-15 “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.  I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” For me, this is just a reminder of my human frailty.

This morning I scrolled through Facebook and someone liked a Christian inspiration testimony. Paraphrase: The lady noted her success in her life: married at a young age, kids and both her and spouse are completing higher ed degrees and she attributed it all to her faith, God’s timing and protection. Maybe it’s due to my line of work, but I read such inspirational posts with some cynicism and my thought is “good for them, you are the lucky ones.”

Lots of people do not have their blessings laid out so nicely and some have greater struggles than others (think Aleppo). While reading that post, I was thinking about two things: My current inner demons and that of a new behavioral health patient.  Patient X’s inner demons are a doozy which were created from childhood to experiencing a number of very traumatic events throughout X’s life. Patient X had held it together successfully for many years but the final trauma pushed X to the edge and X is starting to slowly fall apart at the seams. X engaged in self punishment of personal life and career. I do not compare my demons to X’s but if I did, then mine would pale significantly; actually most people’s worst would not measure up. The point is no matter the nature of the demons, each of us still have to face them and sometimes they seem greater than God’s promise of protection and strength “he will not give us more than we can manage.”

The mental battle is epic. I tell patients that doing the right thing always seem to be the hardest. “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Ahhh… yes.. that peace that passes all understanding can be darn near elusive. However, when you do find it, life is wonderful but it does not always seem to stay too long. Life or the mind gets into a fight to hold onto the peace that is suppose to be so good for you. The constant battle of the inner demons gets tiresome. People fall away from God and decency because we want the battle to be over and we surrender to whatever we were fighting. The loss of hope and not finding even a glimmer of light from anywhere can be psychologically, emotionally and physically devastating. The battle takes a toll. It leaves behind distrust, despair, feeling defeated, emotionally broken and worst case turning to things that are not the best for us such as people, food, alcohol, drugs, sex and suicide.

Patient X is at the beginning of the battle. I would love to tell X that Jesus can make it better but that’s equivalent to telling someone with a gaping wound ‘let me kiss it and it will all go away.’ Unless God plans to do a divine intervention, Patient X has a major fight on hand. God does not take away our struggles or banish our demons- that would be way too easy. We have to make choices about how we will handle our demons. We have to use all the spiritual, cognitive and earthly supports in which we can get. We will make shitty choices ‘do the thing you should not do’ and we will make good choices. We will exhibit our human frailty in all it’s glory, we will get tired of the fight and we will want to roll over and play dead. I have heard enough patients say that they wish they just did not wake up. It’s not about suicide; it’s about wanting a little bit of peace and calmness of the mind. (Matrix fan) It’s sort of like that scene in the last Matrix when Trinity and Neo were fighting the machines and their ship went up above the darkness and clouds and she saw and felt the radiance of the sun and exclaimed “beautiful.”

You know your inner demons and you know the path you have to take or will be in search of the path you need to take. We can’t ignore them. There is no rule that says you have to get it right the first or even third time. The challenge will be to keep fighting until those demons do not have any power anymore.

I am alone path


These past few weeks I have had more patients on my schedule for short term ‘lite therapy.’ It has been a few years since my schedule have back to back patients for behavioral health since I left full time therapy. God gave me what I asked for ‘to be a little more busy at work’ LOL maybe I should have been a little more specific in what I meant. So, the recurring theme with the patients is about them going their paths alone ie. withdrawal from others due to a desire to feel emotionally safe and lack of trust in others. I do understand and recognize how easy it is to push one’s self into the ‘I am alone’ path.

Here is why I understand that behavior:
1. When I was younger, I always asked my mother to go places with me because I was afraid of getting lost. A few times my mother would jokingly respond with “you were born alone” but she would still accompany me. When I was older and out on my own, I came to realize what that meant. I quickly learn that I had to do things by myself and not rely on others for everything.

2. The life of a single person is primarily alone no matter how many friends or family are in your life. As much as people say they will always be there for you, their lives/family always comes first and you are not their primary priority. This is especially true when those friends and family have intimate relationship/spouses/children.

3. When you truly need someone by your side for an extended time, your support system are only obligated to help you for a finite period of time. After that threshold has been breached, then you can be seen as a burden.

4. As a single, you can feel used. People rely on you to give them support whenever they need it. They assume that you can shoulder their stressors or be their entertainment guide. However, you have to take a number when you need their support, your issues are not as dire as theirs (because single people don’t have issues) and you are not on their speed dial for their entertainment plans (unless they happen to be alone and want your company).

Even though being single is not considered a good thing, I have come to realize that functioning and mostly contented singles need to be strong, resilient and self-sufficient or we can easily sink into perpetual feelings of loneliness, despair, desperation, depression, isolation etc. We can sink into and believe in the ‘I am alone path.’ It is so easy to be suckered into that false sense of emotional safety because you experience people come in and out of your lives, you experience your relationship with family and friends change, you experience the feeling and behavior of no longer being important to the people who were your greatest cheerleaders and confidant, and you are not sure where you stand with others anymore.

As I became a very guarded introvert over the years, I am a prime example of the erroneous belief of the I am alone path. I use every minor negative experiences with people to push myself back on that path. This further solidify why that belief and withdrawal behaviors are sound and just. However, it is a destructive lie in the long run.  I have added that to the short list of things I need to work on about myself.

I had a brief grief moment at work two weeks ago and instead of seeking support I went into rock mode. Interestingly a coworker, who has shown support to me in small ways did a quick check. As usual, in rock mode, I said I was fine and all was well (which I was not because grief has no timetable).  However, with amazing intuitiveness, I was given a surprise hug (I initially refused it due to being in rock mode) and was asked the question “you take care of everyone else but who takes care of you?” My rock mode response “I take care of me.” While that response is true, I make it true because I do not trust enough to allow others to take me off my I am alone path.

I would be lying if I said I do not have support and people who care about me. However, it is so easy to ignore that when something minor goes wrong. My patients who have had negative things in their lives retreated to the false safety of the I am lone path. We hide, we avoid, we pretend.

Of course there will be people who will walk away from you, hurt you, change in a close relationship, betray you or there will be a natural separation due to life. We change, they change, life change. The one truth that I can attest to in my life is when one support door closes I find a way to open another. People have come in and out of my life and I have done the same to others too. I make friends easily and for whatever reason, even with my straight forward personality, I have people who care about me. I really do have people I can call on for help if I choose to make the call. How do I find supports? I have come to realize it is all about how I treat them. I have been a rock and support for them at one moment or another.

Yes as a single I will have to walk the road alone for the most part but my road is not without supports along the sides. I can get so caught up in looking at the journey ahead or even what is directly in from of me and not see the people by my side who are there if I need them. I like being in rock mode, that’s my comfort zone; however, I just need to realize that I do not need to be there all the time and my path is not always alone. It is harder said than done but it is worth the try.

 

 

Refresh Button


Life can be an inexplicable bitch! Whether you are a Christian, heathen, or on the fence etc. The unpredictable nature and the unforeseen obstacles can create a hazardous condition to navigate and figure out your path. This craziness can push you to the edge, break you, destroy you  and or become a challenge to fight through and learn to manage.

When you were born no one gave  your parents a child rearing manual. When we became of age, no one gave us a life as an adult manual. I have to admit that at times I could use one that is written in clear language with bright coloured pictures showing me the way. I know that the Christians will say ‘God is my guide; and the Bible will show us the way.’ Well, if you are to be honest with yourself, then that statement is not always true. God’s picture is like the Ikea instructions which are minimal and it takes a few wrong steps before it becomes clearer.

This year has both been rewarding and challenging. The rewards  are from impromptu personal goals: One was to enjoy my weekends whenever the weather was good and the sun was shinning and another was to get my body into shape. I can tell  you that almost every beautiful weekend I was out, about and loving it. I am also into my 2nd month of my fitness challenge with obvious progress. The challenges on the other hand seem to threaten to defeat the joy of my rewards.

The negative aspects of life weight so much more and last much longer than the peace of life. Between death, family health, family stressors, financial obligations and personal life/choice snafus, I feel like I am desperately longing for the moment I can empty my cache and press the refresh button (computer metaphor for those non savvy techies like myself). I would love to clear out the sludge and refresh the future to something either obstacle free or more manageable. I want a do over with ample warning, an avoidance route and navigation to a better road ahead.

Yeah, I know, I want a lot :-). The problem is (and this is something I always say) “what I want and what is are never the same.” Oh and please spare me the religious rhetoric, I have heard them all-the biblical ones and the stuff people made up. I prefer honesty and reality-an armour, a sword and a shield (The bible readers should understand that reference). I know that I cannot change my past, the rewards or the challenges, and I know experiences are there to helps us learn and become stronger. I get all that quite well. It is just that at times it would be nice if the glitches in the system were so much less and have limited impact in the navigation of one’s life.

The challenges take away the innocence. David started out as a shepherd and after becoming a soldier, his hands were too bloody to build God’s temple. Challenges create scars and it is so hard to go back pre injury. Your life is forever affected and it takes so much energy to figure out which is a good path and how to get  on it. God truly blessed those who have been able to avoid major challenges or who have overcome and life is easier. Whether you are single, married, Christian, on sabbatical or whatever, we all have our challenges. I sit and I listen to people’s issues everyday and recognize that most people carry their challenges in silence. There is no easy road.  However, what we do have is finding a way to survive, live and enjoy life with the tools we have and pray (and pray some more) that our choices are the right ones or our choices will get better the next time we refresh.

No More Tears – Processing Loss


On Sunday, 19 June, Father’s Day, I was going about my life with a friend as we were enjoying a wine and music festival. I received a missed call and eventually listened to the message a bit later. The message (yes, I do have my cell phone message set up and I do listen to messages) was short and blunt that one of my nieces had died. She was a pregnant 23-year-old.

Please note that this blog entry is not about soliciting sympathy but processing loss from my view.

The first emotion was distress due to shock and the first thought was disbelief. I, as the auntie, who took care of her from a few days old to her earlier years expected that she would out-live me. I was expecting that she would have fond memories of me when I died not the other way around. I speak so casually of my death because I have had occasional thoughts about dying and death. It is an inevitable part of life and to ignore it is naïve. In this crazy world, here today and gone tomorrow is such a frequent recurring concept.

My place to be was with my family in order to share and support each other in this unfair and miserable situation. My distress was not comparable to that of my sister who loss her first-born and first grandchild. I felt helpless for her – my grief was pushed aside for her. Sadly, my sister and I had a tiff a few days before but in that moment, it was not about my loss but hers. It was an automatic response. As another sister said, we are family no matter the disagreement we had in the past.

My darling niece had a Facebook account so her younger sister and I used that medium to pass on the news. I made a subtle tribute to her and ever so slowly people started catching on that my family had a loss. My parents and her parents were fielding a stream of phone calls while her younger sister managed the Facebook inquiries. There is not much to explain when a seemingly healthy young woman suddenly dies.

I appreciate people’s condolences. I have always been a solitary person so, I am not comfortable with letting other’s know I had a death in the family. I prefer to grieve in isolation and letting a select few aware of what’s happening. However, what I prefer is in conflict  with what is the socially right thing to do so, in such instances, I defer to the latter.

I find myself being egocentric in this process. For me and my family, the loss and everything following is the most important thing now. For some ridiculous reason, I expect others to see their lives from our point of view. For example, I went on Facebook and was slightly bothered that some of the people who made condolences had already moved on to their regular lives. People were posting happy pictures (this was Father’s day weekend), funny jokes, political stuff etc. My tragedy was but a blip for them. The last time I was on Facebook before this tragedy, I would read and ‘like’ people’s pictures and posts. However, after the tragedy, I find most of those posts frivolous. I was not capable of extending myself to see their point of view about what was important in their Facebook sharing lives.

I am aware that life does not stop even for our family. I became more aware listening to the news about the people who died in freak accidents etc. I wondered what their families were experiencing at this ‘here today gone in a second’ event in their lives. I imagined the shock and disbelief, the notification to family and friends, the condolences phone calls, the explanation of what happened, the dealing with never seeing that person again, and the funeral arrangements. Interestingly, I somehow could not fully grasp what those families are experiencing even though I and my family are going through a similar situation.

The passing made mortality the forefront of my thoughts. Despite my tenuous relationship with God and Christianity, I never once thought of blaming God. I never thought of why us, why God allowed this to happen or any such things. “Shit happens” whether I like it or not and God already knows I don’t like this shit happening to us. People said they would pray for my family. Funny thing is I have not said a prayer in regards to this situation. It’s like an avoidance of this issue with God. Maybe I am expecting the prayer of the faithful to have more weight than mine. I really am not sure why I have not addressed this issue with God.

What does play in my mind are the what ifs. What if the hospital staff had done a better job when she was there a few days earlier. What would have happened if…? Did she pass peacefully? Did she know she was dying? What were her last thoughts in her last moments? Was there anything that could have been done differently? When I see the face  my  darling niece, the disbelieve comes rushing back. My sister wailed “she is never coming back” repeatedly and that was the kicker. The next time the family sees my darling she will be in a coffin-the breath of life gone. A shell of the person she used to be. I remembered that coffin view with my grandmother and it was a very difficult moment. The thought of her lifeless body is exceedingly distressing. I can’t imagine…

I am still in the early stages. My whole family is in the early stages. My sister, her husband, the remaining children, and not to forget my darling’s significant other will have a much more difficult time than I in the days, months, and years to come. I know there are more tears to shed and more disbelief and feelings of emptiness in the future. I will eventually come to an emotional peace that life continues for everyone. However, for myself and family who had a loss, life will go on outwardly as we learn to deal with the absence of one member of our family. The positive from all this is that I hugged tighter and said more “I love you” than I ever uttered in my 40 years and meant every word. Loss can either destroy or bring others together.

 

Misplaced Identity


I do believe that events in our lives have a significant effect on our personalities (a set of traits we display throughout our lives) and subsequently, the choices we make which forms our identity. There are those who spend their lives living for others – pleasers/givers – who never took the time to find out about themselves. There are those who believe the world revolves around them – narcissist/takers – whose sole purpose is about them. There are the rest of us who fall on the spectrum between the both.

For the last few months, I saw a recurring theme in my life and few others. I recognized that no matter how much we think we know ourselves, at times, we misplace our identities when we become desperate and in need of something we want. What I mean by this is I saw a woman who professed to have strong Christian beliefs become disparaging and demeaning of anyone very easily because she is experiencing work  burnout. I heard a conservative single person accept suggestive behaviors from someone who is considered newly married with a young family and professed love for spouse. I see compromise of long held values bent to fit a desire. I see loss of self-respect due to fear of the unknown. I see a willingness to compromise on things that will not be healthy in the long term. I see putting one’s better judgment aside to cater to someone else’s selfishness. I see the wearing down of time which makes people go soft on things that would not have been tolerated.

In life we want the perfect everything. We want a perfect God, perfect families, perfect spouses, perfect children, perfect friends, perfect jobs etc. Please don’t lie to yourself if you say you don’t want perfection. However, we know there is nothing on this earth that is perfect. So, when we are saddled with less than sublime contentment, our views and behaviors deteriorate over time. We go after or accept people and situations that require us to put aside or modify our values and beliefs. This pushes us to make less than ideal choices with a short-sighted view of a moment in the rest of our lives. We misplace our identities.

How many times have we read/watched a news story and someone always says “[he/she] was a good person. [he/she] would never have done….” For Christians, David was a good boy who turned into God’s champion; however, this was the same man who arranged a murder and engaged in infidelity. Judas was one of Jesus’ 12 and he was chosen because he had a consistently good character like the others but allowed himself to be bribed by money. Samson’s strength came from his beliefs which manifested in not cutting his hair; however, he compromised for love and companionship. The Bible and real life are filled with people misplacing their identities in a short-sighted compromising view in order to find a piece/peace that was missing at that moment in time.

We all want to feel whole -emotionally, physically, psychologically and spiritually. We all want to wake up every morning and truly thank God without asking for anything. However, for the majority of this broken world, we wake up and say a prayer of thanks along with a request or two. Some requests have been years in the asking and others are from recent overwhelming stressors. Whatever the situation, a feeling of desperation, urgency or last resort, can reek havoc on the identities we have carefully crafted to give us strength which are grounded by certain values and beliefs.

Do not be fooled. We all know or have that gut discomfort when we stray from ourselves. We know something is wrong but we are not always ready to face it or fix it until we find our confidence in our identities again. Life is not fair buttercups and sometimes it hands us and we accept a bag of sh*t (that may or may not explode). In reaction, we compromise or stray from what we hold dear because we truly believe this is the best way to feel in control. It’s that accumulated moment of weakness, desperation, frustration, longing, tiredness, impatience, out of ideas, dissatisfaction, disappointment, disillusionment etc that can be powerful. So powerful, we forget who we are, what we belief,  and what we are about. We forget our identities; we forget ourselves.

The bottom line is people make mistakes and err in behaviors. Sometimes we identify it quickly and sometimes we make it drag on for years. However, there is something liberating when you find your identity again and put yourself back on track. There is something freeing – our stomachs aren’t in knots, our minds aren’t constantly preoccupied, we aren’t always uneasy – that happens when we make those changes. This is not always easy because it means we have to undo a situation or take responsibility for uncharacteristic behaviors. When we remove the *cognitive dissonance, then our minds, bodies, beliefs and behaviors are in sync again. Life is a series of ups and downs and we all have our weak moments. We all have lost a bit of our identities in the past, currently and will in the future. However, its only tragic when we allow ourselves to be defeated and stay defeated. To err is human and you know what else is human? To change,  to recognize and acknowledge that we make less than great choices in a state of defeat but we can still find and reinstate our misplaced identities.

*cognitive dissonance (partial definition): mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual performs an action that is contradictory to one or more beliefs, ideas or values.

 

Is God Silent?


The answer to that question depends on each person’s definition of God’s communication. For some, God is speaking through the occasional ‘miracles’ we experience or read about in the news. For others, God is speaking through the craziness of this world and for another group, things are set in motion and God is on an extended vacation from humanity and no one is minding the crazy house.

My personal answer to that question is yes actually a resounding yes. I do believe that God is silent and everything good, bad or indifferent in our lives is up for interpretation as to whether it’s God’s hands or other. Take for instance, the death of a child can be a blessing or a curse. For the family who loss a child, it’s hardly a blessing but for the family whose child received a vital organ from someone else’s loss, then that’s God’s answers to their prayers. As fallible human beings, we classify certain events as ‘blessings’ to desperately make sense of the chaos-whether these things are blessings or not remain to be seen. If the child rejects the organ and dies sooner than expected, then was that a blessing with a curse or all blessing or all curse? Should each parent be grateful to have had a short period with their child? Was that God’s will  or the devil’s will or both? or should I just leave God out of it all together because shit happens?

Looking at the world’s dysfunctional stage, there is no denying that human beings have progressively loss their compassion and kindness for fellow men. While there is still ‘good,’ it seems our humanity has been allowed to denigrate to something less than animalistic. A systematic repeat of history. Around every corner of world events, the Christians become alarmist to the antichrist or the end of the world. If you believe in your Bible, then accepting that piece of prophecy is inevitable. As a child growing up in one church or another, there have been varying degrees of the signs of the end times and various figures identified as the ushering in of the age of the antichrist. As we denigrate and destroy ourselves through the misinterpretation of what we think God meant by this scripture or that belief, we start to lose the basic teneth of “Do unto others as you would have them do to you” or if we want it broken down clearer, then reread the love chapter 1 Corinthians 13.

As I have said in previous posts, I find this good vs evil dynamics to be a very twisted and sadistic game-a game of pain and destruction in which the believers are instructed that suffering is good and they are expecting some kind of happy perfect paradise ending. The hunger games on steroids. We all want that prize which is specific to our beliefs-heaven, virgins, good karma, higher caste or peace on earth.

There are very few things in this world that I would attribute to divine intervention and they have nothing to do with miracles but human beings making conscious decisions to “do unto others.” While the Bible tells us to not look to man but look up, I disagree wholeheartedly with that simplistic line and concept. We should do both because our lives are not lived in a God in heaven vacuum. If we took the idea of God and heavenly rewards out of the picture, our lives should still look the same which is the desire to do the best we can with what we have – somewhat like this man: CNN Heroes Tribute Narayanan Krishnan. (If you type in his name in YouTube, you will see how his choices makes us put ours into perspective). While one group interpret words on some pages and behead others in the name of their God, someone else sees suffering and renders assistance in the name of choice which gives glory to his God.

God is watchfully silent and we play the game. We interpret his words and make choices based off those beliefs. We have the choice to hold out our hand to someone else or point a gun. We decide to perpetuate hate due to differences (you name a difference and there is prejudice) and at times we delude ourselves into thinking God sanctioned our actions or choices. Life can be both a blessing and a curse; however, for some, more curses than blessings and others more blessings than curses. So which is it God’s intervention or your choices that results in consequences?

Despite my ongoing conflict with the concept and role of God plus the thought of attending church as an unproductive use of my time, I still say a prayer when I wake up and when I go out of the house. I still say grace over my food. Ironically, I still pray for things and ask God for guidance and answers. Maybe it’s a force of habit or I still have a mustard seed worth of faith. I guess I am still not ready to toss the idea of religion and God into the trash.

What is the Purpose of Marriage?


Let me start off by saying Happy New Year to you all and many blessings for 2016. As always, I did not make resolutions but continue to live life as thrown my way and make adjustments accordingly.  I was motivated to attend a church service in the new year and will try to make more attempts to get back into church life – we will see how it goes.

So, I am privy to the workings of strangers’ private lives. As they seek behavioral health services, it is my job to ask various personal questions. While this is not new, in the last few months, I am more aware of how many couples underutilize the main reason for getting into a long term relationship-companionship.

Marriage is now easily disposable. People get married for various reasons but the underlying need is a desire to have a suitable companion. The problem I have been noticing for various couples, who are having minor to major marital difficulties, is they have either forgotten or did not establish solid reasons for getting married in the first place.

Here are some things I understand are the basic purposes for marriage: Companionship-to share your life with someone. Support-having someone there when needed and vice versa. Communication: Verbally sharing various aspects of one’s thoughts and experiences. Pleasure: Sex, intimacy and fun. Monogamy: The only. Cooperation: Working together to make each other’s lives easier and better. Understanding: You may differ on issues but are still able to show empathy. Trust: Closing ones eyes and fall backwards knowing your partner is there to catch you. Responsibility: 100/100. Communication: Learning and knowing how to talk to each other. Adapting and Growing: Learning to navigate the changes in life together. Commitment: It’s you and me baby.

As a lifelong bachelorette who is nearing 40, I am getting hit from all sides from married couples about my single status. However, as I look at their relationship lives, I amass even more reservations on joining their ranks. As a single, I make an effort to enjoy my life and as I look at theirs here are the recurring themes I see: Boring: They rarely make time to do fun things together.  Sex and intimacy have started to dwindle significantly. Lack of cooperation between each other creates frustration, pent up anger and isolation. Inability to communicate their stressors or needs with each other. One spouse takes on more responsibilities than the other which creates stress and resentment. Flirtatious behaviors with someone not their spouse. Inability to listen and understand the other person’s needs. Third Party Interference: Everything is more important than your spouse-kids, the game, the other’s selfishness. Complaining about everything. Physical Neglect: Spouses stop taking the time to look good for each other. Loss of affection because of ongoing separation. Blaming: Its the other person’s fault. Infidelity: The misconception that starting with someone new will solve your problems.

Marriage gives couples a built in purpose to enjoy life and share that with someone who is sleeping right beside you. However, most couples have loss the insight about their purpose of marriage and ignore their ill-behaviors towards each other. I have sat through conversations in which a spouse will use sex as a weapon, one partner spends money recklessly, child care is only expected of one partner while the other occasionally ‘babysits, couples’ idea of spending time together is completing chores around the house every weekend. Date night is something they have on Valentine’s and Birthdays. Feeling sexy and being sexy is only for single people in new relationships. Communication is “I just can’t talk to him/her.”

Most singles are looking for a date to try out a new restaurant but many married couples, who have a built in date partner, have not gone out together unless it’s to Chucky Cheese or stay at home to enjoy take-out. Singles are sexually frustrated from an absence of a partner while married people have someone sleeping beside them every night and most can’t readily think of the last time they had sex much less enjoyable sex (you know…the one that does not feel like an obligation). A romantic night for a single involves fun; a romantic night for a couple involves the television. A single will feel lonely but s/he is a single, however, a spouse can feel isolated and lonely while staring across a table at their partner.

I am not naïve to expect married life to be daily fun and excitement. However, the repeated dullness and the habit of taking each other for granted tend to build over time until the marriage is “like living with a room mate” or “we are only together for the kids.” You would be surprise how many times I have heard similar statements. Relationships die over time from neglect. As I listen to the patients and to some of my friends, I start to see the early warning signs of the reasons why relationships fall apart.

As a single, I have started to ‘keep out of their business’ because I recognize that most couples do not appreciate the observations from those who are not married. What they fail to realize is that being married does not put you in a special behavioral category that only certain married people can understand. Behaviors are behaviors and it does not take a genius to see certain red flags.

I will always be baffled as to why people are so eager to be married but once they are in that situation they easily lose sight of the reason why they wanted to be married. The laziness, complacency, taking their partners for granted and neglect in putting effort into the relationship usually ends in disaster. It’s like having a million dollars in the bank but if you never use that money to buy groceries, then you will always be starving.

If anyone has ever done relationship counseling, then you will know that one question from the therapist will always be “What made you fall in love/want to be with that person?” The reason for such a question is to remind the couple about the purpose of their relationship, then to re-establish those feelings and ideas, and help them to proceed forward with those foundations at the forefront of the marriage.

Is Jesus Enough?


A poster asked the question? Is Jesus enough? If Jesus is enough, then why are Christians so eager to get married? My response is that Jesus is never enough. You may be aware of the saying that all you need is Jesus. However, if we are to be truly honest, then that statement gets thrown out with the bathwater.

So, let me start my ‘blasphemous’ observations. If you are on social media, it can become littered with good intentioned Christians who frequently post ‘all you need is Jesus’ or ‘leave it all up to Jesus’ inspirations. While I enjoy reading them and they serve as a great pick-me-up, they are lacking in the harsh reality of being a Christian. For example, someone posted an inspiration gone wrong stating “Somebody is in the hospital right now begging God for the opportunity you have. Don’t you dare go to bed depressed. Shake it off!” The response was overwhelmingly negative because there were a number of people who are suffering from clinically diagnosed depression who could not just “shake it off” in Jesus’ name. Interestingly, the poster did not clarify or addressed the backlash.

If Jesus or God was enough, then our lives would mirror those of monks, priests and the John the Baptists types. We would be like the ravens that do not worry for food, shelter, companionship or producing off-springs. We would be truly free from all the cares of the world and spending all our time in full and complete devotion to God and spreading his word. However, if you look at our lives we are so far from the “Jesus is enough” concept.

The truth is we like the idea of sprouting that phrase but in true reality we neither desire nor can live to that standard. Christians get married because they want to feel loved and share in companionship. Christians have children because they want to pass on their love, have a human to own and care for, to pass on their legacy and expand their family. Christians maintain close contact with family and friends to build support. Christians touch, hug and make physical contact with others to feel human interactions. Christian couples show intimacy just because it feels good. Christians work for and buy nice things to have a sense of accomplishment and enjoy various comforts from their labour. In other words, we have wants and needs that the love or belief in Jesus is not always able to fill and there is nothing wrong with accepting that fact. There is little that we do in our day to day lives that has anything to do with spreading Christianity and  belief in God.

Believing in God relates to a guideline on how we are to worship the creator and use of the Christian best practice guide in our daily lives. The Bible teachings of God was not meant to be a replacement of living in this world. It is to help us survive emotionally and spiritually in this world. Jesus will never be enough for majority of the people who believe in Christianity. Our human nature requires more than reading daily scriptures, having faith in the unseen, praying to a God we can’t see, feel, hear (his own voice) or touch, or going to church. Besides John the Baptist, none of the Bible characters went through their lives in complete religious isolation. They had families, friends, disciples, lives and a belief in God.

God should be a part of our lives not some improbable idea that he should be exclusive in our lives. If, as a Christian, that exclusivity is your calling, then God bless you. On the other hand, most of those ‘Jesus is all you need’ inspiration quotes are just empty gestures to make you feel good for a moment but not a realistic endeavor. We become so pious that we forget to make Christianity realistic to our every day stressors. Instead of some generic quote, how about a true testimony of one’s struggles and how the belief in God applies. Being a Christian is not a straightforward or smooth journey, some days you feel close to God as if he was there in person and other days you struggle to understand why you believe.

No, for me, Jesus is not enough while living on this earth. In the past, as preachers would emphasize this, I struggled greatly to live to that concept. There was a certain amount of guilt with not being able to fit neatly into this idea. I finally gave it up and accepted the fact that in my reality it does not work. As Christians, we sketch our own journey in life while holding on to a belief that there is a God who cares.

Wanting What God Did Not Intend


I have to admit that following the Biblical rules can be very challenging. The bible has very set ideas about right and wrong. It leaves no room for in-between and grey areas. This could be the reason why so many of us struggle with feeling like or have committed sins on a daily basis. When God created us with free-will then proclaimed there was a four wall boundary in which to not cross, it inevitably caused confusion, confliction and stress. Maybe that’s the reason most people spend their Christian journey on their knees either asking for forgiveness or discernment in making the right Godly choices.

My single journey has been filled mostly with my own wants and bucket list. I specifically wanted a single, free, do-what-I-want lifestyle and I got it. All of which have been enjoyable and a source of character growth, identity and self-confidence building. I can say that I am very secure within myself that it would take a 9.5 Richter scale earthquake to cause damage to my foundation.  As I am blessed with 39 years of life, the desire for companionship has crept in albeit very slowly. I have come to a slow conclusion over the last 5 years that there is nothing wrong for me in wanting to share the joys and stress of my life with someone else and in tern be supportive to that person on an intimate level.

I am a self professed commitment phobe. Life can be so much easier when you have only yourself to think about. As I had watched my parents marriage over the years, it had taught me the importance of and hard work required to have a committed relationship. Ironically, it was that realization at a young age that pushed me down the single path. I was not ready to give that much of myself to anyone but me.  In the last few weeks, I have been having some very frank discussions with a male former single playboy now married with family coworker. I had to verbally acknowledge a few things I already knew about myself. It has been disconcerting to hear someone point them out and me verbally admitting to certain things to someone beyond myself. It was not eye opening but more real awareness. I learn so much about myself from people who have the balls to give me such honest feeback.

So, what is it that I want that God did not intent? I want the best of both the single and married world. I absolutely love being single and free to go and do what I wish. I love making last minute decisions about what I want to do for any given weekend. I love planning my life according to my schedule. I love the idea that I can pack and move to another state just because I can. I love the fact that I can choose to eat out or dine in and not worry about another mouth to feed. I love not having to give an accountability as to whether I am going to be late or why I am late. I have my own bed to myself  and my things are just the way I like them. I love the autonomy of being single.

On the other hand, the things I love about the marital benefits include having an available social activity partner to try out a new restaurant or event. I love having company when I don’t feel like being alone. I love the idea of being able to release sexual tension and enjoy sex when desired. I love the idea of having someone concerned if I am late to get home. I love the joys of intimacy, having an available helper, and someone close with whom to share good and bad moments. I love the pleasure of companionship.

See my dilemma? Obviously, those two things are on the opposite end of the biblical spectrum. In order to get the best of both worlds, my lifestyle would have to exist outside what God intended. What would that look like? Sort of like Oprah and Steadman – two single people who have their individual lives but come together as wanted or needed. No marriage, no living together, no sharing personal property but an unconventional nontraditional relationship.

In the Christian world, it is either one or  the other not both. So obviously I have a decision to ponder. Do I stick with the joys of singleness and sacrifice the natural desire for companionship? Do I get over my commitment phobia and learn to share my life fully with a compatible partner? Neither of which are the easier road because they require giving up certain things. Can I be certain that if I find a compatible partner I won’t still yearn for the days when it’s just about me? The issue is I only know about the pleasure of singleness because I have yet to meet anyone who had enough pull to entice me to the marital side. Could it be that I need to find the right guy who can change my view of marriage being a stagnant, limiting, excessively compromising institution? I do not have any answers to these questions so until then the most attractive aspect of single vs married is having the best of both worlds.