One full year isolated from friends and loved ones.
One full year out of work, out of school.
One full year of faces hidden behind a collection of masks.
One full year of life as we know it, thrown into complete disarray.
Exactly a year ago when the world went into a standstill, locked down and boarded up as we were thrown into a wave of uncertainty, unprepared and caught off guard, spiraling into a state of disequilibrium, a life characterized by fear and anxiety.
One full year since the day everything changed and away from a reality we will never get back.
Can we ever grasp the new normalcy we struggle to live with?
Will we ever become comfortable in the daily uncertain?
Will we ever see through the shadows of a dream draped with looming obscurity?
Will freedom be less defined?
Endless questions with answers held by a future that remains dimly vague,
With tiny slivers of hope only few seem to recognize, rejected by most as distrust blind their discernment.
Out of this chaos, may we realize that everything can end in an instant so focus on what is important and always be grateful for somehow, we are still surviving.
2020 was life-changing, it was exceptionally challenging that I can’t even put in a good word.
It was unremarkably heavy, a burdened weight unnecessarily shouldered for the past 10 months.
Suddenly, everyone had to forego with comfortable, we did not have a choice and that was frustrating. Life had to hide behind the mask.
Loss was a daily constant. The existential need to be seen, to be heard, to be held, was abruptly stolen by uncertainty and time was not on our side.
Anxiety continue to grow and you find yourself writing down turbulent thoughts on a fleeting lucid moment at 2 am.
I had to deal with so much the last year, I couldn’t cope. Gone was the strong facade I so easily wear, replaced by a throng of vulnerability and unrest. I feel like the chemistry in my brain fucked up.
2020 did not turn out how we hoped it would be, it was a cruel surprise. But somewhere in between the pandemonium was a window of realization that human as we are, we will instinctively survive.
If there was anything that I learned from the longest year of my life, it was gratitude, gratitude from the smallest of things: from keeping a job despite the economic collapse, home-cooked meals, discovering a hobby, appreciating my small circle of family and friends, new-age technology filling in the gap from being socially distant, waking up alive, healthy and somewhat sane.
May we leave the dust of the year that was in the past and may we learn that we could choose to drop these heavy loads and walk towards hope, no matter how small a speck, with empty arms making room to carry much better things.
Smile. It’s a New Year.
Following a daily devotional to appease a lot of chaotic thoughts.
This one is for me and I’m just going to leave it here as a reminder that there is so much more to life than living with all this nonsense.
Andy Stanley: Enemies of the Heart
Devotional Day 3
“Letting Go of Hurt and Anger”
Scripture: Ephesians 4:25-32
The second enemy of the heart is anger. We get angry when we don’t get what we want.
Show me an angry person and I’ll show you a hurt person. And I guarantee you that person is hurt because something has been taken. Somebody owes them something.
We all know people whose anger could be verbalized in one of the following ways: “You took my reputation.” “You stole my family.” “You took the best years of my life.” “You stole my first marriage.” “You robbed me of my teenage years.” “You robbed me of my purity.” “You owe me a raise.” “You owe me an opportunity to try.” “You owe me a second chance.” “You owe me affection.”
The root of anger is the perception that something has been taken. Something is owed you. And now a debt-to-debtor relationship has been established.
How about you? What debt is causing the anger you feel?
How long are you going to allow the people who have hurt you to control your life? Another month? Another year? Another season of your life? How long?
I’d like to propose that today should be the day when you quit holding on to the hurt!
While it’s true that you can’t undo what’s been done, it’s equally true that you don’t have to let the past control your future. In Ephesians 4, we’re commanded to “get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger.” We do that by “forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
The remedy for anger is forgiveness. If we hold out waiting to be paid back for the wrongs done to us, we will be the ones who pay. If, on the other hand, we cancel the debts owed to us, we will be set free.
Of the four monstrous forces we’re discussing in these devotionals, I believe this one—unresolved anger from intentional and unintentional hurt—is the most devastating. Yet in some ways it’s the easiest to overcome. You simply make up your mind to cancel the debt. You decide and declare, “You don’t owe me anymore.”
Follow this four-step process today:
(1) Identify who you’re angry with.
(2) Determine what they owe you.
(3) Cancel the debt by forgiving them.
(4) Don’t let the anger build up again.
“So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
Ephesians 4:25-32 NLT
Subscribed to this devotional recently and I’m just gonna leave Day 2 here. Just in case you stumble across this, read up.
Andy Stanley: Enemies of the Heart
Devotional Day 2
Scripture: 1 John 1:5-10
The first enemy of the heart is guilt. Guilt is the result of having done something we perceive as wrong. The message from a heart laden with guilt is, “I owe!”
Consider the man who runs off with another woman and abandons his family. Without realizing it at the time, he has stolen something from every member of his family. He has robbed his wife of her future, her financial security, and her reputation as a wife. From his children’s perspective, this man has stolen their Christmas, traditions, emotional and financial security, dinners with the family, and so on.
Now, the man who did all this doesn’t think in terms of what he has taken. Initially, he thinks in terms of what he has gained. But the first time his little girl asks him why he doesn’t love Mommy anymore, his heart is stirred. He now feels guilty. Dad owes.
Nothing less than paying that debt will relieve a guilty heart of its burden of guilt. People try to work it off, serve it off, give it off, and even pray it off. But no amount of good deeds, community service, charitable giving, or Sundays in a pew can relieve the guilt. It’s a debt. And it must be paid or canceled for a guilty heart to experience relief.
How do you get your guilt canceled? The answer comes in one of the first Bible verses I memorized as a child: 1 John 1:9. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (kjv).
Confession has the power to break the cycle of sin. And like most medicinal remedies, it works when applied properly. Proper application happens when we confess our sins, not just to God, but also to the people we’ve sinned against.
Guilty people are usually repeat offenders. And as long as you’re carrying a secret, as long as you’re trying to ease your conscience by telling God how sorry you are, you’re setting yourself up to repeat the past. However, if you start confessing your sins to the people you’ve sinned against, odds are that you’re not going to go back and commit those sins again.
Confess both to God and others, and you will slay this enemy of your heart.
What are you feeling guilty for? Confess your sin to God and to whomever you have hurt. Do it today.
“This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.”
1 John 1:5-10 NLT
At the most random moment, you meet someone who totally changes how you look at life. They are flawed, imperfect, atypical and different. Ink sprawls colorful stories on their skin and at some point they bare to you their wounded soul and have you a glimpse at their shattered hearts. They have dealt with pain and heartache like nothing you have ever had to endure yet they still manage to genuinely laugh and be kind. They have scarred beautifully and I am so grateful to have known a person who’s raw and real.
It is awe-inspiring and overwhelming to have seen life through your ambiguous eyes even if it were just a thread of conversations. Thank you for the inspiration. I needed that, I needed you. Thank you.
Every day is an opportunity to start over. How fortunate of us, we should be grateful.
Sharing Day 339 of the reading plan I am currently on from http://www.joycemeyer.org/ Joyce Meyer: Promises for Your Everyday Life – a Daily Devotional
His Mercies Are Always New
Each day is a new opportunity to close the door on the past and experience a brand-new start. Even the fact that God divided the days into twenty-four-hour segments is evidence that we need to start over on a regular basis. There is always a new day, a new month and a new year. But in order for us to make use of these new beginnings, we must make a decision to do so.
Are you battling guilt and condemnation? Do you feel bad about something you did years ago or something that happened yesterday? No matter how much time has gone by, the past is still the past. What is done is done, and only God can take care of it now. Your part is to admit your mistake, repent, receive God’s forgiveness, and go on.
In Lamentations, the prophet Jeremiah encourages us with the news that God’s mercy is new every morning. Every day He gives you a fresh start. I’m so glad that God sends a new batch of mercy daily – we can decide to have a new beginning every day!
Prayer Starter: God, I’m so glad that You’re mercies are new every morning! I can start fresh every day because of Your love, mercy, compassion and faithfulness to me!
The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT)
And just so suddenly
The sea of memories you are blinded to,
From the dust of simple things,
That trigger what was so delicately hidden to resurface.
And just so suddenly
A hope starts to flicker,
And fear threatens a war on the flood of emotions starting to burn,
A surge of what ifs play on.
And just so suddenly
You hit reality,
Reminded of the storm of chaos this little hope would eventually bring,
And fear finally wins.
That brief moment of eyes crinkling and lips smiling may not be worth it.
And just so suddenly,
Sharing Day 56 of the reading plan I am currently on from http://www.joycemeyer.org/ Joyce Meyer: Promises for Your Everyday Life – a Daily Devotional
Setting Your Enemies Free
When dealing with past hurts, we all know that it’s right to forgive, even when it’s difficult. However, few of us rarely take the next step that God wants us to take.
A common misconception is that all we have to do is make the decision to forgive and our job is finished, but Jesus also said, “Invoke blessings upon and pray for the happiness of those who curse you, implore God’s blessing (favor) upon those who abuse you [who revile, reproach, disparage, and high-handedly misuse you]” (Luke 6:28 AMP). In addition, Romans 12:14 says that we are to bless the people who persecute us and treat us cruelly.
We are to actively bless our enemies. God calls us to extend mercy to people who do not deserve it. Why?
When you forgive, it opens a door for God to heal you, but honestly, it doesn’t do much for the person who offended you. But when you bless them, you ask God to bring truth to them so they can repent and experience the real freedom He provides. Forgiveness sets you free…blessing your enemies sets them free.
Prayer Starter: God, I thank You for helping me walk in forgiveness, but I don’t want to stop there. I ask You to bless those who have hurt me. In the same way that You have brought healing to my life, bring healing to them so they can experience Your goodness and walk in Your love.
Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. (Romans 12:14 KJV)
Life is full of doors wherein we get to choose which ones to go through. What is behind each door? One does not know unless one opens and sees for himself. Each door leads to different events that compose our lives. It solely depends on us which doors to open and enter and which doors to close and lock.
Some thoughts about doors by Paulo Coelho (one of my favorite authors).
God gave us the ultimate power: to choose the life we live. We make our choices and our choices make our life. Whatever the outcome, no one is accountable but us. So choose wisely.
Choose to be happy.
Photo courtesy: Google images