A new day begins…
As I reflect on the last couple years or so I realize, direction is difficult to find when everything is a shade of gray… This reminds me of one of the final paragraphs of my last post (over a year ago from this one)
“A man born blind knows nothing of color, of light, or how it can be bright. He knows nothing of the sun but the warmth on his face, a shadow of something greater. We are all thus born blind, but knowledge by itself does not teach us to see, we see simply by opening our eyes and believing what they show us…”
It makes me see a part of my own struggles with mental health as not just an internal struggle but one made harder by my actions.
We are emotional creatures, but I’m not a very good person at managing those. Oh I can be fairly agreeable whenever I want to be, but to actually understand what I feel or (to even more difficulty), explain it to others. Those are not easy things for me to wrestle with. I’m sure I am not alone in that struggle either, but sometimes you have to walk a path and fight for something before you know why or what you are fighting for…
Ok, that’s a little hard to follow maybe, but if you have struggled like I have maybe you get it… I hope. In short, when you feel a lot of things at once it takes time to unravel them. I have fear, grief, pain, worry, anxiety, and sorrow, fill me for the last couple of years. It’s been a journey to say the least, but I think I’m better for it. I wasn’t in the same depression I found myself in back a couple years before that, but it was in part the journey to get out of there.
Speaking of journeys, I’d like to share a little bit of my spiritual journey as well. It’s not something I’m going to push too much at this moment but maybe it might help someone as it played no small part in getting me out of the pit I was in. So, I’ll be somewhat brief but we are condensing over 20years into a few paragraphs so not too brief.
I came to believe and put my trust in Jesus when I was 8. I understood that made him Lord in my life and that meant obeying his rules, and living to serve him. I knew I would fail, but all the people I had seen go through this process had changes in their actions and behavior that I never could have believed if I didn’t see it for myself (a few years eariler my Dad was Saved and the change I saw in him had no small part in my grounding that there was a genuine God and this was how to find him).
What I didn’t know (partly because all I knew were older people who came to Jesus as adults) was it didn’t always work like a thermostat. I had thought sanctification was like getting one degree more like Christ at a time. I had Salvation and assurance that God was in control, but sanctification wasn’t the straight path I thought it to be, at least not for me. All the stories I heard were “I was an x y z kind of person and Jesus helped me not be such a terrible person and became more like him” kind of testimony. Which is great, but I was young when I came to Jesus… And all my “worst” Sins (rebellion against God) were in front of me, not behind.
I was better than I would have been for sure, but that wasn’t real for me until about two or three years ago. That is when I saw how wicked my heart truly could be. Partly in action, and mostly in thought, I began to see who and what I would be as I struggled to get out of depression. The sins I committed were but a small taste of what I wanted, and what I wanted was wicked by all but the worst of human standards. How was I being sanctified? Why was I getting worse in thought and deed? Because to get out of the darkness of my own depression I had to face everything I ignored about my heart, about my soul, and about my mind from about 8 years old until now…
I understand now what Jesus meant about the Log in your own eye needing taken out before you should be helping others, so much is hard to see when you are blind to your own issues in your heart, mind, and soul. That dark part of your thoughts, that thing you are not comfortable talking about, that capacity and temptation of sin you hope will go away if you ignore it… It doesn’t go away, it festers, infects, and makes life worse than you realize it can even though you think you aren’t feeding it… So face the darkness in yourself, accept that you are not a “good” person. The only good person to have walked on this earth is Jesus himself. The rest of us… We need a lot of work, even then we are not “Good” but at least we aren’t what we could have been… Again I’m not talking about salvation in all that, salvation I believe is a debt paid by Jesus on the cross for us, we can’t earn that in the slightest. Sanctification is our walk with God after we accept that gift.
Aaaannndd… Wall of text done, if you made it this far I’m sorry… Maybe it helps, it wouldn’t have helped me much but I can be hard headed and have to learn the hard way. Anyway, I’d like to announce that I am slowly getting back into writing again. I’ll try and start making posts here a little more often again, I had a draft from last year I should finish too… If it’s even worth it at this point haha. I’ve figured out what I was lacking in the new series to help broaden the scope, story, and setting. That’d make a good subject for another blog post though.
So until next time, may God bless you and keep you!
Why is medicine bitter, and poison sweet
It’s a question I ask myself and others often. You see all around nature we see it. Plant a seed, it has to die before life springs out. Wildfires make new homes for life. Through pain is new life brought out of a mother’s womb. In death we gain life, not always the same yet still life all the same.
You might notice the lack of a question mark, even though I said it was a question. Well that is because I’m not asking today, but answering.
Humor me for a second and entertain the notion that we are created. Which means we’d have a creator. One who made everything. Call this creator what you will, but let’s say it is intelligent since it made intelligent beings (laws of knowledge preserved after-all).
If say we were a painting, there would be a style. If we were a musical symphony, we’d have a melody. If we were a sculpture, we would have an aesthetic. Why? Because we created beings can create, and what we create have these things. So can we see these types of patterns in the “chaos” around us? Of course we can.
Sugar is what our bodies live off of, but in it’s pure form it does us more harm than good. Yet what is good (ie vegetables) tend to be bitter. Sure we season them, call them “savory” but in the end we just grow accustomed to some bitter in our diet.
So why is poison sweet, and medicine bitter? Well simply to show us that what is best for us, is not always pleasent. Like a parent disciplining a child, it is painful for both. Yet if you don’t the child’s behavior gets worse not better. So too is it with us adults, we make poor keepers of ourselves don’t we?
To start with there is a lie as old as time. We tell ourselves and others it all the time. In fact, I believe it might have roots in the first lie. “That we are all good people.” Or that “if you were to take the sum of everyone alive and you would have someone who was good”. Or perhaps you like the spin “the good I do out weights the bad”.
Lies every one of them! Let me soak my white shirt in mud, then rinse it in the gutter, is it really anything other than a soaking clot of dirty laundry? What weight does any deed have? And who assigns the weights or who sets a standard in which to measure them against? If we set them ourselves, is it not like congress setting their own raises and salary? Who are we to know how our performance really is in the end with our fading memories of anything a few hours old, let alone a lifetime ago?
If you were to take the sum of everyone you know what you get? The destroyer of creation, the beast, the antichrist, whatever you want to call it. Our ultimate and final failure. Adams first sin wasn’t eating the fruit, it was choosing the “go with the flow” instead of what he was charged with.
In order to get help you have to admit you’re sick first. Then that you need help. Then to seek out that help.
Oh but we know more than our ancestors, we have more knowledge. Why then does this centuries old book say that the fruit that made us broken was one of knowledge? Because it isn’t knowledge that saves us! Knowledge of how a virus works doesn’t help your system fight it. Fluids, rest and maintaining a healthy diet give your system what it needs, not knowing how a microscopic organism hijacks cells. You’ll find this to be true almost everywhere. Knowledge of what something is, is of little help to the remedy for it.
Yet aloe vera grows in the desert, Jewelweed next to poison ivy, even aspirin in the bark of a tree. A remedy next to the affliction, call it what you want but I call it mercy.
Medicine is bitter because, to get better than you are; it is not going to be a very pleasant experience. Poison is sweet not because it’s good, but because it is the lie. Such a sweet lie too, how it keeps you from seeing a doctor. How it helps you to refuse treatment. Surely you’re not sick at all are you? You’re not a bad person, certainly not as bad as some people… But there we go again setting our own standard, our own salary.
Sin is rebellion against our creator. But you see our creator is the source of all life, certainly all life we know. To rebel, to cut ties is to sever ourselves from the source of life. How can that lead to anything but death?
Of course, this won’t convince you if you don’t believe you are created. A man born blind knows nothing of color, of light, or how it can be bright. He knows nothing of the sun but the warmth on his face, a shadow of something greater. We are all thus born blind, but knowledge by itself does not teach us to see, we see simply by opening our eyes and believing what they show us…
And yet we are a blind people still… Lord open our eyes, let us see. We cannot lead ourselves out of this darkness, for you are our source of light, life, truth, knowledge, forgiveness, and most of all Love.
Made with love (aka the chocolate covered peanut argument)
Made with love, is something you might find written next to a meal, sweet, or snack. Most often made by someone’s loved one to enjoy and share with others.
It’s a strange expression though isn’t it? Love is not an ingredient you can buy at the store. It is also not something you blend into a batter. You cannot sprinkle it on top of anything. Yet somehow, we can faintly detect that it’s there in our food.
The culinary field is one of both art and science. A cook is as much a chemist as they are a sculptor. Science is the pursuit of knowledge and truth, both can only be discovered not invented. Art by contrast is the field of creating things from other things, to express emotions in a relatable way. Any cook is both the chemist and the artist, a wonderful blend.
So let’s take a closer look at “made with love” and see if we can prove it.
What is flavor? Why do we taste? A simple check of if something is poison to us or not does not need to be so varied. So for arguments sake lets say bitter is for bad, and sweet is for good. Why do we then have sour, savory, salty, creamy, and nutty? An argument can be made for a more diverse sense of smell (and our sense of smell is more diverse) but why do we have such variation in flavor? It serves no evolutionary benefit to our species.
On top of this mystery, why do combinations of flavors often taste better than one alone? Sweet and salty, savory and creamy, sweet and sour, bitter and sweet, nutty and savory, the list goes on. There is something irrational about it. Combinations should overwhelm yet they harmonize. It’s almost like flavor is connected to the creative side of us, yet is repeatable and measurable like the science side.
Yet all flavors and combinations were there from the beginning, we don’t invent them we discover them. On top of this, combinations of flavors are also found naturally. Let’s take one example, the peanut.
Peanuts (when roasted) are savory, creamy, nutty, and salty all on their own. Yes we add salt, but if you cut out sodium from your diet even unsalted peanuts would have a bit of a salty flavor. People have been eating this food for hundreds if not thousands of years, yet alone it doesn’t compare to it’s combination potential in modern times.
A second example, chocolate. Yes chocolate is a modern confection, but people have consumed cocoa for hundreds if not thousands of years. We have been making bread for thousands of years too, so it’s not a far stretch that we could have been making a more modern form of chocolate for as long, the chemical process is similar (dry, crush, blend, bake). Cocoa is bitter, but has a mild sweet undertone. With modern chocolate we flip that and make it sweet with the bitter undertone.
Now we can trace back consumption of both these foods to eras past, yet together they make a near flawless combination in the modern day. Chocolate covered peanuts are sweet, salty, creamy, savory, bitter, and nutty all at once. You can taste them all, not one aspect drowned out by the collective flavors. A simple but extraordinary combination, that existed undiscovered for thousands of years.
Our senses are how we experience and process information about the world we live in. So flavor is too information, but what does it inform us about? Well, good, bad, chemical properties, and dare I say a hint of Love? Flavors like chocolate covered peanuts have existed from the start of it all, as such do they not point to something or someone who cares about us?
The experience of taste is without a doubt the closest we can come to a repeatable, measurable, and scientific way to show inteligent design to our five senses. If not a loving creator, why then would we have so many flavors? How do you rationalize the wonder of chocolate covered peanuts without a God? We eat because we hunger, we eat what doesn’t taste bad to us, so why then do some things taste so good that we can’t help but want more?
Expectations are dangerous
Here we go again. I think this one might be easy to agree with. Expectations and their more dangerous nature is a well covered topic. It is easy to find any number of publications covering the subject. However, why are expectations so dangerous?
Most will argue that high expectations set you up for disappointment. So many people find the fear of disappointment so suffocating that they set the bar very low to avoid it. In truth the danger is setting your expectations too low not too high.
Disappointment is a good thing, which I covered in a blog a couple of weeks ago so if you missed that you can checkout the link here: https://christopherjhillger.com/2019/06/06/disappointment-is-always-a-good-thing/
When your expectations are low, they are easily met, and on top of that you build the wrong mindset. I had this issue not long ago when I launched my third book. Due to a number of perceived problems with my previous advertising, the delays the book received, and difficulty in getting noticed in the crowded market I set my expectations rock bottom. This hurt my book’s launch since I put less effort since my expectations were low. Low expectations hurt my audience since word didn’t reach them as quickly that the book was launched. Finally it hurt myself, putting my self esteem low (which most people convince themselves is why to set the expectations low in the first place).
Had I kept shooting as high as I could imagine perhaps growth would occur when I kept leaping for it. You see, if the bar is low you won’t get far. If the goal is set high, you will probably not get there, but you’re likely to get farther than where you get when the goal is easy to achieve. If you set the expectations low, you don’t grow.
Growing is painful. It’s a fact of life. Do you remember growing pains when you were young? My oldest son complains about them nearly every day. When you face disappointment it hurts, but you learn from failure, and learning is how you grow to improve it for next time.
So set your sights high, and you might be surprised by where you land.
Until next time, may God bless you and keep you.