Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I Believe In Miracles...Or Do I?

Uptown Waterloo

I've gone back and forth over the years on what I've thought concerning the "miracle stories" in the New Testament - y0u know, the ones where Jesus makes a blind man see or tells his disciples to go back out onto the lake fishing, at which point they haul in a record haul of fish.

What to do with these stories? For a long time I took the whole Bible to be true and without fault, and I took these miracle stories to be literal. Jesus actually did heal the sick and did walk on water. Then I moved away from much of the faith of my youth and I considered these stories to be allegories or symbols of some truth Jesus or the gospel writers were trying to get at.

Now, while I'm not sure, I think many of these stories are true. Jesus did break the loaves and fishes and fed 5, 000. But...are they miracles?

Author Eric Butterworth argues that these are not miracles at all but are the natural way of things as pointed out by an enlightened person, Jesus. The universe, I think he would say, bends towards health (Jesus healing blind men and lepers, etc) and abundance (multiplying the loaves and fishes and telling his disciples to cast out their fishing nets, etc).

Some of it has to do with perspective. Do you think that Life is set out to get you, or that Life is always a hard struggle and will be til the day you die? Or do you believe that Life is abundant and that there are infinite possibilities of good open to you? I firmly believe the latter. It's not just about a positive attitude, though that has a lot to do with it. I believe that there is a Spiritual Force at work, creating the Universe and unfolding it. And that Force - call it God, Spirit, Life, Love, Father, etc - desires health in every way - mentally, physically, emotionally. She desires abundance and peace - peace of mind and peace of heart.

Life, then, is not about struggling against a Universe that "has it out to get you." No matter how dim our lives have looked like up until right now, no matter what we have faced, we have a powerful choice. And that is to raise the consciousness of our minds to connect with God who lives inside of us. To connect with this power and learn how to trust fully. God will not let us go. Or, if you wish, God will not let you sink. There is of course the powerful "miracle" story of Jesus telling a disciple in a boat to step out and walk on the water with him. The disciple is fine as long as he keeps his eyes on Jesus, but he starts to swim when he starts doubting.

So if the Universe/God is all about health and abundance, how do we connect with that? How do we tap into it? Well, let's look at what Jesus had to say about this. On more than one occasion when he supposedly healed someone, what did he say? "I have made you well?" No, he didn't say that. "Your faith has made you well." That's more like it. Jesus, and I believe God is always willing to heal and always willing to pour out abundance. It's not too good to be true. As Divine Beings ourselves, we inherit these things from God. It is our job to have the faith, to raise our minds and believe, even in the midst of doom and almost overwhelming gloom.

We don't need a miracle, we just need to raise our consciousness and tap into the rich inheritance that is ours. No matter if we've been wandering like the prodigal son in the Bible, our Father (our Divine self) is always waiting to take up back and to throw us a party.

Blessings on you this moment,

Mark Andrew

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I've Got "U" Babe

Leading up to this morning I had 3 choices in mind when it came to attending a Sunday service.

I could attend the Unity Centre where I have been regularly attending for months now. (But I could skip a week since I'll be there on Wednesday night for a candlelight service.)

I could attend First Unitarian, where I attended for quite awhile - and I still have an affinity for the congregation. This particular Sunday a retired Anglican priest was speaking. Very tempting.

But at the last moment I decided on First United Church, at the corner of William and King in Uptown Waterloo. Why did I choose United this morning? My friend Felicia, the former minister at First Unitarian, is now the minister at First United. We once led a book group at First Unitarian; the book was The Heart of Christianity by Marcus Borg.

My first impression when I walked into the sanctuary was "My goodness this is big!" The service was full of music, with the choir in the balcony, a children's choir, a youth ensemble, and a handbell choir; all did a good job, though I have to admit I kept thinking Saturday Night Live could do a great spoof on the handbell choir - call me a dingdong but it just looks funny!

There was very little in the service that didn't sit well with me, except for the prayer of confession, that, although not as offensive as I've heard in many Christian services, still asked God to forgive us for our disbelief.

The sermon, or homily, was the best part of the service. It was wonderful to see my friend in her usual ministerial stoll (like a religious scarf) complete with the Unitarian chalice symbol on it!

The gist of the sermon was that God is not some celestial being who is distant from us. Rather, in the birth of Jesus we see God connecting with humanity. Rev. Felicia took it further (much to my inner applause) by saying that each of us - not just Jesus - is born without sin and has divinity "stamped" upon our very DNA. Bravo! I loved it! It went along well with the book I am reading by the late Unity minister Eric Butterworth, "Discover The Power Within You."

3 choices. Unity, Unitarian, or United. I'm glad that this Sunday I chose the latter.

...And oh, tonight I'm going Anglican for a traditional carols and lessons service. :)

Blessings from Cafe 1842 in Uptown Waterloo,

Mark Andrew

Sent from my Tricorder.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

When The Soul Felt Its Worth

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

One of my favourite Christmas carols is O Holy Night. I think it is beautiful and the way the song rises to a majestic crescendo raises one's spirits this time of the year. That is, if your spirit needs raising.

For me, there are so many things this time of the year that raise my spirit. The tree, the wreaths, the ice skaters in front of city hall, the egg nog, the music, the movies, time spent with family and friends.

I found myself singing O Holy Night in the shower this morning, and heard a line in an entirely new and different way.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.

As I've mentioned in a previous post, in the last several years I have struggled to find a new meaning of Christmas that aligns with my ever-evolving beliefs. This year I can once again appreciate the birthday of Jesus as way-shower, as well as the Christ presence within me and all of humanity. Christ was not Jesus' last name, it is that divine spark that dwells in the hearts of every man and woman, if only we would recognize it.

Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.

The image comes to mind that since the beginning of humanity the soul in everyone has wanted to rise up and exert its power, but perhaps there hadn't been all that many stellar examples of what this kind of life would look like. And then Jesus comes along. Jesus came along to show the way to live. What's more, while many Christian theologians assert that Jesus was sent "down" to earth from a literal Heaven, and became less (a man) for our sakes, I am coming to believe that Jesus did not come down to tell us how sinful we are and therefore in need of salvation from Hell, but that his message was this: "The divine, the spark of God lives within all of humanity, each and every one of you. I have not come to tell you how bad you are, but instead to help you realize that you are one with the Divine." Through his life, Jesus went on to show how powerful a difference it could make in the life of a human if she realized that God was not "up there" or "out there" somewhere, but that each of us has that power within us. The soul finally felt its worth, stood up and shouted "Finally! I've been waiting for this my whole life!" Jesus emphasized what kind of power was already within us when he said things like: "The Kingdom of Heaven is within you," and "You will do greater things (than even me)."

The late Unity minister Eric Butterworth writes in his classic Discover The Power Within You, that Jesus came to be a window by which humanity could look through and see an example of divinity at work in humanity. But what did humanity do? Humanity instead worshiped the window, put it on a pedestal, and for the large part, missed his point entirely. They admired the frame, the smoothness of the glass, the windowsill. And missed the point entirely. We love to worship people and things. We worship singers, actors, models, athletes, anyone who possesses a quality that we find admirable or extraordinary. But this, in my opinion, was not what Jesus wanted whatsoever. Jesus did not live so that a religion would be named after him, so that churches and denominations would exist in his name. In fact, he deflected praise when someone dared call him "Good Teacher." 'Why do you call me good? Only God is good." That doesn't sound like someone who desired to be worshiped.

Jesus wanted to show humanity the way. He wanted us to look through the window. He wanted to show us what it looked like to live a divinely inspired life, a life at one with God.

I pray that this Christmastime your soul will feel its worth as someone who is a beloved Daughter or Son of God.


Mark Andrew

Monday, December 13, 2010


Unity's Daily Word for Sunday, December 12th, 2010


I open my heart to the all-powerful love of God.

The love of God is a powerful force for good. Divine love mends differences, creates joy and opens hearts and lives to unlimited blessings.

Love is the foundation of all unity. Where love is, there can be no differences, separation or inharmony. Divine love allows us to hold to the truth that only good is at work and that only good prevails.

Love is "the fulfilling of the law," the assurance that there is something greater to experience, something more to enjoy. Love is magnetic. It draws to itself every good thing.

I am developing a love consciousness. I feel divine love at work within me now, causing me to see myself and others in the right light, the light of love.

Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.--Romans 13:10

Sunday, December 12, 2010

An Old Hindu Legend

...hewn from the Prologue to Eric Butterworth's "Discover The Power Within You."

According to an old Hindu legend there was a time when all men were gods, but they so abused their divinity that Brahma, the chief god, decided to take it away from men and hide it where they would never again find it. Where to hide it became the big question.

When the lesser gods were called in council to consider this question, they said, "We will bury man's divinity deep in the earth." But Brahma said, "No, that will not do, for man will dig deep down in the earth and find it." Then they said, "Well, we will sink his divinity into the deepest ocean." but again Brahma replied, "No, not there, for man will learn to dive into the deepest waters, will search out the ocean bed, and will find it."

Then the lesser gods said, "We will take it to the top of the highest mountain and there hide it." But again Brahma replied, "No, for man will eventually climb every high mountain on earth. he will be sure some day to find it and take it up again for himself." Then the lesser gods gave up and concluded, "We do not know where to hide it, for it seems there is no place on earth or in the sea that man will not eventually reach."

Then Brahma said, "Here is what we will do with man's divinity. We will hide it deep down in man himself, for he will never think to look for it there." Ever since then, the legend concludes, man has been going up and down the earth, climbing, digging, diving, exploring, searching for something that is already in himself.

Two thousand years ago a man named Jesus found it and shared its secret; but in the movement that sprang up in His name, the Divinity of Man has been the best kept secret of the ages.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas 2010: Awakening To The Christ Presence Within

The lights, the trees, the music - Bing, Frank, Boney M, the movies - It's A Wonderful Life, White Christmas, Rudolph. The tinsel, the wreaths, the church services. I love everything about Christmas.

But what does it all mean? My first thought is that I admit I try to dig into the deeper meanings of almost everything; I admit that I use my brain too much. If Christmas were just about what I mentioned above, I think I'd be happy with that. There would be plenty to be joyful about.

However, Christmas used to be so shrouded in religious meaning for me for twenty-some-odd years that now I still grapple with what deeper, more spiritual meaning it could have.

My beliefs about Christmas have evolved as I have evolved. For those twenty or so years Christmas was about the Son of God, Jesus, being sent down to earth and being born of a virgin, sent to be the Saviour of all humankind. However, those beliefs began to shift - it was more like an earthquake, as my beliefs changed. I no longer believed that humanity's nature is sinful, thus we didn't need someone to sacrifice himself for our sins in order for us to be acceptable to God.

Two years ago I wrote an article for this blog called Before, When I Had A Saviour. The title itself was perhaps slightly antagonistic to Facebook friends who were evangelicals, but in re-reading it just now for the first time in months, I really enjoy the article. The crux of the article is that when we reach outward for a saviour, we dull our own ability and our own powers within us.

Which brings me to this year. The last couple of years I have softly tried to find my reason for Christmas. There wasn't the Saviour notion anymore, so I mainly concentrated on those movies, and music, goodwill, peace, eggnog (mmm...eggnog.)

This year there is a new idea coming to mind. And that is that perhaps at Christmastime we can concentrate on the Christ-consciousness within each and every one of us. There is the popular phrase that many Christians like to use that "God's last name is not Dammit." Well, I would also say that Jesus' last name was not Christ. The Christ consciousness, to my understanding, is that spark of divinity and connection with the Divine that each of us has. So at Christmastime we can celebrate the birth of this man who obviously realized humanity's divine nature and taught us many invaluable lessons, but we can also celebrate our own divinity, our own Christ consciousness. I was part of a group on the subject of prayer at my spiritual centre recently, and the leader went around the circle calling each of us "the Christ." Mary The Christ, Robert The Christ, Mark Andrew The Christ. I believe that this is not scandalous at all, but it is our birthright. The meaning of Jesus was not that one man would come down and do miraculous, powerful things, but that this man, who realized his Christ nature, would show us ours as well. He believed that we could do powerful, powerful things. "Ask and it will be given to you," "“Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, “Be taken up and thrown into the sea”, and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you," "Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these."

So what is our job at Christmastime spiritually speaking? I believe it may be to let every heart prepare the Christ consciousness room. To rid ourselves not only of malice, unforgiveness, anger, bitterness, but also of small-minded thinking that we are merely powerless human beings. Charlotte Shelton, President and CEO of Unity World Headquarters, writes: "Will you let the Christ consciousness be fully born anew in you this Christmas? As we do so, we will create a world of peace and plenty, but first we must awaken to our potential. Are you ready? Do you feel the labor pains? Let's start preparing the manger of our hearts because a new day is about to be born … first inside of us … then in the material world."

This Christmas, may we celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ, and realize anew our own Christ presence.

Merry Christmas!


Mark Andrew

Getting Back In Touch With Our Hidden Innocence

There's something about this time of year that can sometimes make me feel like I'm 5 years old again. Tonight, an Enya Christmas song called The Spirit of Christmas Past is doing the trick. But sometimes it is the Christmas trees, the wreaths, the strands of lights weaving around the trees Uptown here. And it's the music and the movies, like It's A Wonderful Life and Rudolph.

Somewhere underneath everything we've become in order to be grown-ups is that inner 5-year old, giddy on Christmas Eve with anticipation of Santa's arrival. We'll put out cookies and milk for Kris Kringle, and carrots for his reindeer. We'll have written him a couple weeks prior to tell him what gifts we want, and we'll line up to sit on his knee in the shopping mall. Even if our childhood was less than ideal, there is still that magical dreamer in us that loves this time of the year. And this time of the year it is allowed to come out. As we shop in bustling malls, as we actually smile and say "Hello" at the passerby on the street, as we belt out Hark The Herald Angels Sing at church.

It is that part of us that has been untouched by cynicism, anger or bitterness. It is the dreamer in us, and when we get in touch with it, it is as if we could sprout wings and fly as high as the Bethlehem angels.

Maybe this year we'll learn that we don't have to shove that 5-year old dreamer back inside our hearts once this festive season passes. Dreams, having a wonder-ing, awestruck heart are good things. Playfulness and broad smiles are things we never have to grow out of.

I hope that during this busy Christmastime, when that feeling of innocence and joy hits you, you will revel in it and give it plenty of breathing room. And that when this time of the year has passed, you will keep part of that with you all throughout the new year.


Mark Andrew

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Do You, Or Should You Love Yourself?

It's a simple question really. Do you, or for that matter, should you love yourself? My answer to this question is a loud and enthusiastic "Yes!"

What is the first thing that you think or say when you look at yourself in the mirror in the morning? There are many options:

"Man, my hair sucks today." "Look at the bags under my eyes; I look 10 years older than I actually am." "I'm a fat pig." "Who could love and accept me the way that I am right now?"

I offer that more people than you think say or think such things to themselves each morning. And what are the consequences? The day begins on a negative note, with self-rejection and even self-loathing. It's no wonder then that the rest of the day only brings more reasons and opportunities to dislike or be disgusted by oneself.

What I would like to say to you is that you are worthy to be loved. You are loved and lovable. Try looking at yourself in the mirror each morning and saying that, regardless of any of the other negative voices that may be trying to fill your mind. Stand there, look into your own eyes and say "I am so loved, and I am so lovable."

I think that many people come to loathe or dislike themselves from a fairly early age. Perhaps this is because of pressure from their peers at school, or maybe they don't hear positive messages of reinforcement from their family of origin. But I think there's almost nothing more powerful in the world than self-love. When you come from this place, you are able to give and receive love throughout your day. Often we are far kinder to people around us than we are to ourselves. It's time to stop this nagging bad habit.

Perhaps some would say that this view I'm taking is arrogant or over-the-top. To that I would simply say no. When we love others or ourselves, powerful vibrations in us occur, vibrations that are sent out into the world and attract even more love toward us. Love spreads throughout our world.

For some reason we often believe that it's perfectly natural to love the people around us, but it's not so clear when it comes to ourselves. But I would encourage you today, the next time you walk past a mirror, to state: "I love myself the way I am, and I am lovable."


Mark Andrew

Monday, December 6, 2010

Coming Out Of The Depression Closet

The 50 or 60-something character Saul from the ABC drama Brothers & Sisters is sitting in his nephews car, dejected and still a little inebriated. A few minutes before he had called Kevin to come bail him out of jail after driving under the influence and ramming his car into a tree. And then he said something to his nephew that he had admitted to almost no one, including himself. "I'm a gay man Kevin, and I don't know what to do, I've wasted my life," (presumably hiding his sexuality.) Fast forward awhile into the episode and he comes out to the whole Walker family. It is like a wave of fresh air has spilled through the room and even into my living room as I watch. At the end of the episode, Kevin - who has been out for many years - is tying the knot with the love of his life Scotty.

And now it is my turn to come out of a closet, in the hopes of helping someone or a number of people. I am not gay, but instead have suffered often in silence for many years with the silent tormenter - depression.

There are benefits and runs being held all over the continent each year for various causes. There's a run for breast cancer, there are telethons for multiple sclerosis. Most recently, the "Movember" movement spread like wildfire which offered that it was in existence to raise awareness of prostate cancer. These are all worthwhile causes and I applaud their efforts.

But there is another epidemic sweeping through our world that often goes unspoken. It is just as debilitating as a cancer diagnosis or a degenerative disease. It is mental illness, specifically depression. I write this article in the hopes that someone suffering from this disease will realize they are not alone. Another popular movement in the last several months there has been another popular movement, most noticeably on YouTube, called The Trevor Project. Scores of celebrities as well as other members of society have recorded short videos in support of young gay, lesbian, transgendered and bisexual youth who have been bullied by their peers for their sexuality. The message sent to these youth: "It Gets Better." It is this same message I believe scores of people suffering from depression need to hear as well.

I liken depression to a cancer of the mind, only there is no clear-cut course of treatment such as radiation, chemotherapy or surgery. I will discuss some of the treatment options in a couple of minutes. But first, a little of my story.

I have knowingly suffered from depression since I was about 15 or 16 years old (that is for 15 years or so.) Anxiety is often a kissing cousin of depression and I remember going into a panic while sitting through a Christmas Eve church service when I was 15 or 16, and I thought I was losing my mind - literally. That is when I was first prescribed medication.

I realize now that there are various causes of depression. Some are physiological, chemical, or genetic, and others are environmental and social causes, such as trauma. For myself I believe it a combination of a few of these.

Let me share just a few of the ways that this disease called depression has adversely affected my life:

- lack of energy to pursue the things one is passionate about

- lack of energy to get out of bed until late in the day, therefore missing out on most of the day

- a racing mind

- anxiety about almost everything

- lack of concentration

- lack of memory

- it has affected very important relationships to me, to the point where they've fallen apart

- isolation ("I have this big secret that no one knows about and if they did they wouldn't accept me anymore")

Now let me discuss some of the frustration of dealing with the mental health system here in Ontario. I have seen scores of therapists and psychiatrists (though getting an appointment with the latter often takes months, not weeks, then when you finally do they talk with you for 15 minutes and simply send you off with a new concoction of medications.) I have been on many many anti-depressants/anti-anxiety drugs, many with side-effects. And with these particular medications, there is no telling whether they will be effective or not, so it's a crapshoot, you just have to keep going back to your shrink and adjusting doses or completely changing them up. And then you're back to square one. I have been part of group therapy that has been a positive experience. I have in the past tried to self-medicate with alcohol, which on the other hand has not been a positive experience.

Christmas is often a very hard time for people who battle depression, perhaps because of the gloomy weather, but also because everyone expects you to be happy around this time of year, so you stand out like a sore thumb when you're not. (Thankfully for me, I don't find this to be a problem, as I love Christmas and find joy in it.)

I am writing this article now for a couple of reasons: The more people I share my illness with, the more responses I get such as "I've struggled with it to," or "I have a loved one who battles depression." Secondly I want to encourage those suffering from depression or other mental illness that there is help and there is hope.

I can not stress enough how debilitating this disease can be. Again I compare it to a cancer that will not let you go. Perhaps the worst part of it is the isolation that you feel from those around you or society in general.

You don't have to go through it alone. I implore you to reach out to professionals in your community. Doctors, psychiatrists, therapists (for instance in Kitchener-Waterloo there are agencies that provide counselling services on a sliding fee scale). Medication may very well be a necessity for the time being or perhaps long term. Group therapy can be reassuring, just knowing that there are so so many others who have this disease.

Let me speak about what is helping me the most right now. Firstly, being around friends and family who love me and accept me exactly as I am, people I can share my struggles with who will not judge or would never reject me.

Secondly, developing my spirituality has been huge. God, or the Divine,  has always been part of my life, but as my beliefs have evolved, I have went from an evangelical Christianity to a more liberal,  inclusive spirituality. I am happy to be part of a spiritual community that is inspiring and loving. I think getting in touch with the Divine, which is pretty much getting in touch with yourself, can be very helpful.

I would encourage you who are reading this right now to think if you have a family member or friend who might be wrestling with this awful disease in silence or on their own. Read again the point-form list of how depression has affected my life. Kindly and softly reach out to them, letting them know that while you may not have any easy answers, you will never leave them and are there for them.

If it would help, I'd encourage you to either share this article on your Facebook page, or e-mail the link to anyone it might help.

You don't have to go through it alone anymore. Even though you can't see it now, you can have a bright and fulfilling future. There are professionals, there are friends who will not shun you. Also, it is important to continue to pursue things you are passionate about as you battle this, as hard as it is. This can be a light in the darkness. For me, it's singing, writing, and hanging out with friends.

Bless you wherever you are on your journey,

Mark Andrew

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Is There A Place For Faith In Our Lives?

6:18 pm

As I ask this question, I hear a collective "Yes, but..." And to be fair I also hear a few "No's." I am one who believes there is a place for faith in our lives in today's world, but I would be one of those to add the word "but" in there too. Because faith can mean so many different things to different people. Other questions come into play too. "What is the basis for our faith?" "Who or what do we have faith in?"

For me, faith used to mean placing belief in an outward God, someone who cared for us yet was still separate from ourselves. What I believed in primarily was that if I had faith in the person Jesus - who I considered to still be alive - that I would go to heaven.

But to me now, faith has to be more than that. It's not just fire insurance, or making sure we don't end up in hell. What's more, I don't believe that Jesus is still alive or that there is even a Hell, so what then do I mean by faith?

Firstly, I believe that we must have faith in ourselves, faith that we are not a part from God but are a part of God. Faith in ourselves means that we are not sinful, depraved people at our very core, but that we are wondrous expressions of the Divine him/herself. If we believe in this, then faith can become a much more personal matter and not merely something we place on someone or something outside of ourselves. If we are one with God and divine in nature just as Jesus Christ was, then we can have faith in a power that is inside ourselves. When we pray our prayers can go inward rather than outward. So I believe faith in ourselves is crucial.

But what happens when we can't find the answers to our questions or concerns inside of ourselves? That is where faith in God, who is both transcendent and imminently close, comes in. We may call this God Father, Mother, Spirit, Love, or the Universe among many other things. If things are up in the air in one or more areas of our lives - jobs, relationships, family to name a few - I believe that we can utilize that faith-power that is inside ourselves. This is where faith in the transcendent God comes in. I believe that God knows what we need before we even ask. The line from O Holy Night comes to mind right now: "He knows our needs, to our weakness He's no stranger." Faith in this respect, at least to me means letting go and letting God. This requires a trust that God, or the Universe is working everything together for the good of those who love Him/Her.

Each time we are faced with a seemingly insurmountable problem or crisis, we have the choice: to be wracked by worry and anxiety, or to "Step Out of The Boat." I am referring of course to the story in the gospels when Jesus' disciples are out on a boat during a storm, and Jesus appears before them walking on the water. He calls on Peter to step out of the boat, keep his eyes on Jesus, and walk on the water himself. Peter steps out of the boat, keeps his eyes on Jesus and starts walking on water, then he gets scared and looks down at the water and begins to sink. I believe this can be a powerful lesson for us today. If we have faith, step out of the boat and keep our minds on God (whoever that may be for us) we can make it through. How are we to walk on water or step over all the difficulties or crises in our lives? That's not our job to figure it out. We simply need to keep our eyes, our faith on God and She will figure out the rest.

It is easy to have faith when things are going all peachy keen in our lives. It is another thing entirely to actually have faith when things are tough and our pathway isn't clear at all. But this is where real faith kicks in.

In closing, I encourage both you, and myself because I need it so badly, to step out of the boat and walk by faith, not by sight.


Mark Andrew

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

From Worry To Thankfulness


Are you like me in that you are one who falls into worrying very easily? How much of your day do you spend worrying about, well, you name it. Money, health, relationships, your job, your family. As soon as we wake up in the morning our minds almost automatically go to worry and anxiety. "What will I do if?" "How will I cope when?" And the list goes on and on. Before we even get out of our comfy beds our minds are already caught in the drama of worry, and if we don't stop it worry will hold our mind hostage for the rest of the day. Worry can make us depressed and overly tired even if we are young and should be full of strength. Worry dims our outlook and fills up so much mental space that there is little room left for our dreams, aspirations and goals. There is little room for the Spirit of God to speak her words of truth an encouragement to us.

One way to counter worry and anxiety is by gratitude. When we stop and consciously think about the things we are thankful for, there is less room for worry and negativity to take hold. For example, I've had a pretty shitty day today, December 1st. I often let worry and anxiety get the best of me, to the point where I don't want to get out of bed. By the time that I do, anxiety has such a hold on me that I can barely hear the Spirit of God whispering words of encouragement and life to me. Thankfully, now that I'm up and around I am calming down and hearing that voice again, spurring me on to "step out of the boat" and walk on water like the disciple Peter.

Back to gratitude, though. It's hard to stay negative if you live a life of gratitude. It's easy to cultivate this, and only takes a minute or two. It can be done any time of the day. For example, here at the coffee shop I am thankful for many things. I am thankful for my sweater which is comfortable and is keeping me warm on a cold December night. I am thankful for my glasses by which I can see clearly. I am thankful for this coffee which is warming me up and pleasing my tastebuds. I am thankful for this comfy red chair that I am sitting on. I am thankful for the yellow Christmas lights on the tree outside the shop here, its limbs swaying in the wind. As I look around me at the other people in the café here, I marvel that no two people are exactly alike; in a world with billions of people, this is wondrous. You see how easy that was? And I was only listing things immediately present here at the coffee shop. During that whole time of listening off what I am thankful for, not a thought of worry or anxiety crept into my mind, it was too occupied with being grateful.

Let's try to raise our minds to a level of continuous gratitude and we'll see more peace and calm in our lives.