Darkness Cannot Drive Out Darkness

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Maybe life has jaded me. Maybe it made my skin too thick. Though, it didn’t make my heart hard. I still love with all that is in me, and I’ll jump to help anyone I can. But I just don’t see the sense in raising hell over something I can’t change. All I can change is me and what I do.

Perhaps that’s the problem… Perhaps too many look outside themselves and take it upon themselves to try to change others. I can’t change you. I can only change me. If I want to see more love and tolerance in the world it needs to start with me. I need to be the change I want to see in the world.

Maybe I’m weird. Maybe I don’t get it. I don’t know. But when my Lord and Savior said, “Love your enemy” I took that to heart. I can’t change people’s opinions by arguing with them. But I can model sane, loving, kind behavior in my own actions.

Maybe the old saying, “You can get a lot more bees with honey than with vinegar” has been forgotten.

All I know is the events of the last several months have exposed a fundamental defect in our modern society. In our society, we seem to have an entitlement complex where we believe other people have to bend to our wills. I’m sorry, but that’s just not the case. As long as you don’t break the laws, you can think what you want to think and that’s your right.

Do I think we should have intelligent discussion about certain topics? Absolutely. But I don’t have to believe what you believe, and you don’t have to believe what I believe. As long as you don’t try to infringe upon my rights, I won’t give you any problems. Live and let live!

And if you think, “Easy for you to say… Your a white, heterosexual male.” You obviously don’t know me and my life. I have homosexual family members and my child is biracial. The issues facing our country today are issues I’m facing every day. But inciting riots and attacking others with differing viewpoints is NOT the solution.

Please, let us never forget the message of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.

Love one another. Be kind and gentle with one another. Seek to hear and understand one another. Then, and only then, can we hope to bring our society together.

To Love Is Never A Mistake

To Love Is Never A Mistake

In my short 39 years of life here on terra firma I can honestly say I’ve made my fair share of mistakes.

  • I dropped out of high school at 17yrs old.
  • I dropped out of college just before earning a double bachelors.
  • I did entirely too much drinking for far too many years.
  • I got in plenty of trouble, some of which landed me in jail a few times.
  • I screwed up business opportunities that could have made me wealthy.
  • I hurt those closest to me, even when they proved their loyalty beyond doubt.

On paper, I’m a complete screw up. But, I took those poor choices I made in my youth and I turned them around and let them shape me into being a better man.

Of all my poor choices, all my mistakes, one choice I’ve made I will never regret is loving. I refuse to regret loving anyone I’ve ever loved. Whether the relationship was family, friendship or significant other, I will not regret loving them.

I have loved family members who abused me, stole from me, and tried to kill me (literally). I have loved friends that stole my girlfriend, talked behind my back, and picked a fight with me. I have loved partners that have cheated on me, mentally abused me, and used me for what I could offer. But I don’t regret loving them. My love is a reflection of what is in my heart, not their behavior. Everyone deserves love.

I learned this because, even though I made so many mistakes and hurt so many people, there were people who continued to love me, no matter what. There was my family, of course, but there were friends, and even my ex-wife. They loved me through it all. They loved me until I could love myself. And when I learned of God’s great love an mercy, I fully understood that love is never a mistake.

Love is something that cannot be earned. Love is a choice. Love is a gift. My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, taught me to love the unlovable. To love without expectation of return. To love even those who do you harm. To love, even if it costs you your life.

So, today, I choose to love. I choose to love even if someone harms me. Some people may no longer have a place in my life, but they will forever have a place in my heart. I will love them from afar. I will love them through my prayers.

No matter what happens; no matter what someone does to you; no matter the pain you have suffered; choose love.

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Consider the Rose

orange-roses-1371380-1280x960Often, we look at roses and admire their beauty. How could something be so gorgeous? But do we consider all that has happened to the rose plant for it to become so beautiful?

First, it had to be buried in shit. Yes, it had to be planted in the rich, fertile ground where it could do it’s growing best. Poor soil will slow the growth. So, there must be a healthy amount of fertilizer in order to stimulate growth.

Second, the rose goes through a gangly stage where it’s life is effectively nothing but thorns. There’s a few leaves to gather moisture from the air. But, the bulk of it’s life at this time is just awkward and thorny. Much pruning takes place during this time to trim off that which serves no real purpose or would otherwise stunt growth.

Third, the rose begins to bud in the appropriate season. Some of this transformation happens early, but doesn’t last. But the budding that is in due season remains and continues to grow.

Finally, the rose unfolds its buds to reveal it’s true beauty. Beauty that has taken time, nurturing, pruning and a sufficient amount of fertilizer. As the rose begins to blossom, we see that it doesn’t always blossom all at once, and we see not all the blossoms are the same. Some are more noticeable than others. Some are hidden behind the more prominent blossoms, but they are still there and are still beautiful.

The rose is an analogy for life. In order to experience true beauty in our lives, we must go through a fair amount of shit. We must be pruned to get rid of the things that are stunting our growth. We need to allow ourselves to bud, but not too soon. And then, when we finally blossom and become the beautiful person we are meant to be, we must not forget that the beauty we hold inside is even more important than what we present to the world.

You’re as smart as you want to be!

Train the mind to thinkSeveral people have commented to me that they think I’m smart. While I appreciate that compliment, I assure you, I wasn’t born smart. Frankly, I was an idiot most of my youth. To be entirely honest, I was a High School dropout!

Here’s my opinion on smarts, for what it’s worth:

Unless you have some mental disability that dramatically reduces your capacity to learn, YOU are in control of how smart you become. Nobody is born smart! Our level of intelligence is directly proportional to our level of effort expended to obtain knowledge. I’ve even known scores of people, who were born with mental disabilities that limit their capacity to learn, who were very intelligent people because they put in work!

As I said, I was a High School dropout. I also failed 8th and 9th grades. It wasn’t because I didn’t have the capacity to learn – it was because I didn’t have the desire. In 1997, I went back and got my G.E.D., 2 years after I dropped out. In 2002 I started at WVU-P. I had no idea what I wanted to study, but I made a start. I put in the work. I eventually got a degree in Computer and Information Technology and I graduated with honors and a membership in PHI THETA KAPPA. Because I worked at it!

A lot of people also give the excuse that they don’t have the time or money for higher education. BS! I worked 2 jobs, went to college full-time and helped raise a child. If you want it bad enough, you will work for it! No money? Most colleges offer financial aid. There’s also online colleges, too. Those are an amazing resource for busy people. I wish I would have had that option when I went to college!

I’m writing this quick post because I see so many people down on themselves because they feel they are dumb or can’t get an education. YES YOU CAN! I’m not going to say it is easy. It’s not! However, pretty much everything I’ve found to be worth having in life requires effort!

Stop making excuses! Stop putting yourself down! If you want to become a well educated person, do something about it! If you don’t know where to start, contact your local community college and setup an appointment with a counselor. YOU are the only person who controls how smart you can be.

Now, as a caveat to this, I’d also like to say you don’t have to go to college to be smart, but it does help! You can learn something new every day. We have this amazing thing now called the Internet – maybe you’ve heard of it. 😉 If people would spend as much time looking up topics they are interested in and learning about them as they do posting funny status updates on Social Media, we’d be in a world where a lot more people were educated.

These are just my opinions. Take them or leave them. I share them to help encourage those who think they can’t, because you can. If my dumb, unmotivated, dropout self can learn, so can you! It just takes time and work. 😉

Tell Them You Love Them

Look around you. Is there a person beside you that you love? Are there family members nearby that you love? What about your close friends, do you value and love them as well?

Tell Them You Love Them

In this uncertain world that we live in, there is a lesson I’ve learned the hard way that I wish to share. You can never take for granted that a person will be there later for you to express your appreciation and love to. Life is very short and those we love are often gone long before we expect it. What do you want your last words to be to any person in your life that you feel genuine value and love for?

Yes, I know this is a bit corny coming from me, but I learned this lesson very early in life and I believe it to be so very true. Show you’re appreciation for those you love, regardless of the situation, so that your last words are filled with appreciation, respect and love.

Regardless of whether you are angry, resentful, hurt, under-appreciated, heart broken or just plain mad, when you look in your heart, what do you feel for the person you are facing? Do you feel love? If so, say it! That person may step out into the street and get hit by a bus. They may eat a meal that is rife with Salmonella. They may owe a bookie and have a contract out on them. You never know! At any given moment, it could be their time, or your time to go.

So, I ask again, what do you want your last words to be?

Personally, I never, ever take for granted that a person I love will be there later. As my last words to anyone I sincerely love, I make it a point to tell them, “I love you.”

None of us knows the exact minute we will move on. Nor do we know this for anyone else. We should take every opportunity we can to express our love for those around us. You never know when the last time will be.

To those of you who truly know my heart, I love you!