Posts Tagged ‘ life ’

Life after Death

It is absolutely bizarre to be in a place where someone used to be, knowing they’re no longer here. How bizarre. I am back home for the weekend before I jet off to the Dominican Republic and staying in my room has been just a bit strange. I haven’t slept in here since the summer before sophomore year. My dad has been in here since then and now that he has passed, I suppose it is my room again.

I keep replaying scenes in my head, scenes of him in here. And I keep reflecting on how I met Death in that hospital room, on March 4th. I feel a sense of strength from that. I saw his work and am not crumbling from what I witnessed. I suppose I am being strong, like everyone has been saying. But, naturally, I also can’t help wondering when I will meet him face-to-face. I still don’t know when that time will be, but unlike before, I truly understand that it is coming – unless I am caught up in the rapture while I still inhabit this flesh. But it is extremely humbling. I know life and what I do with it is important, so knowing this appointed time is coming really inspires me to filter out the crap and focus on what is significant. I am still trying to figure out what exactly those “significant” things are, but I feel I am on the precipice of getting it. Lord, bring me there. Amen.

Mental Anesthesia

Where is the existential unrest? I miss it. I have become too numbed by circumstance. I am too fatigued by the day-to-day to dream and question and remember the injustices that lie parallel to my reality and how much I once longed to intersect with them for hope of somehow raising them to my plane or higher. Maybe my trip to the Dominican Republic will revitalize the me that felt angered by corruption and was filled with a fire to uplift the survivors of marginalization and the victims on their way to survivorship. Where has she gone? Why is her voice so faint? No… absent? Or rather, whose ears am I now activating and how did the messages they carry come to dominate my worldview? I feel nothing. I resist nothing. Everything is “cool.” Why question anymore? Why not just appease? Just accept?

I am numb.

How unbelievably tragic.

The recent death of my father has made me think a lot about life. I suppose that is the natural response when someone dies – think about life, realize we truly are not invincible, that our days are numbered and therefore, we need to cherish and live them to the fullest. All the clichés that, in reality, should not lose their meaning. I suppose I have joined the ranks of mourners struck by such realizations. But for me, they have had a more positive effect, and, it is conflicting to say and likely sounds incongruous, but in a way I am thankful for his passing for this lesson that it is teaching me. I have largely wasted the past 4 years of my life due to fear and doubt. But I am slowly realizing that everything that matters so much to me – my intellect, my work, what other people think about me – are nothing but trifles in the major scope of my life. What I need to return to and inhabit is my conviction that my life contains the potential and power to impact others for good and that therefore, my focus needs to be on placing myself in a position of access to the resources that will better their lives. It truly is as simple as that. I am so sad that this conviction has only returned after his passing, but feel a burning commitment to carry it out as his legacy.

Hmm… wow. Lightbulb moment. In light of my dad’s death, I have been thinking that the timing of my pre-scheduled trip to the Dominican Republic is quite odd. However, I realize now that this may very well be perfect timing and may supply the tangible encouragement to fully occupy the person God intends me to be and the good qualities that both my dad and I have sought, but been unable to attain. He certainly has them now, in the presence of God’s glory. I pray it doesn’t take death in order for me to attain them.

May he continue to live in peace.

A Simple Prayer

Lord, please keep me strong and steadfast on the path You have predestined for me. I don’t know where You’re taking me, but God, I place my trust in You. Let me not yield to former childish ways, nor the limiting thoughts that once constricted my perception. Holy Spirit, minister to me, edify me, remind me of my path. And remove my focus from any thing, person, etc. that may threaten to take me off it. Father, I pray, please remove my confusion and replace it with a resounding clarity and peace in You. Amen.

An Old Dog Abandons Her Old Tricks

For all the growth I have made this semester, I have still been held up by old vices, which is extremely disappointing. I feel the Lord changing me, changing the person within me, and oh… God, I am so eager for it! To be new, fresh, unhampered by the past. And I know I can be. I have tasted newness this semester. But, man, can I be my own worst enemy. But I am determined to win this battle against my old self, and to do that, I need to purge.

My real weakness is that I feel too much. I identify with people, imagine their situation, imagine myself in their situation, try to come up with ways to help and guide them, feel utterly helpless if I can’t succeed in helping them, need to let them know that I am there for them, and then must follow through in being there for them fully. An extreme empathizer. So much that, as a school psychologist pointed out earlier this semester, I allow my own happiness to depend on others, which is so detrimental to myself.

I think this disposition is why I so easily identified with my mother, who in her adversity (being married to my dad), had so much need for empathy. I imagined myself in her place and tried to emotionally fill the void that my dad had created within her. Because I identified so strongly with her, I paid more attention to how my dad treated her than I did his treatment of me. And also, because I identified so strongly with her, she became an example of the kind of person I should be, while my dad became the example of the person I didn’t want to be. I put her on a pedestal.

When I was a little older (~late teens?), my mom told me that she is not the person that she used to be, the person she was before and in the early years of her marriage. But the only person I saw and could remember was this new person she had become. A woman who strived to be wholly self-sufficient, independent, emotionally guarded, masking and denying her true emotions… A necessarily strong woman. A private woman. A dependable woman, who denied herself her own desires and happiness, ranking them after those of everyone around her. Growing up, she was the image of what I thought I should be, of what I wanted to be.

But I realize now that I have truly identified too much with my mother. I have become her in many ways. The qualities that I once viewed as strengths have become faults because I have adopted them too intensely.

INDEPENDENCE –  I always feel like I need to be self-sufficient. I don’t like to ask for help for anything, if I can help it. And I don’t allow others to do niceties for me. For example, I remember when I was moving out of my room at the end of my freshman year at college, a friend scolded me for this. “Let us help you!” he said. “You don’t have to do everything by yourself!” I had tried to move my heavy boxes by myself instead of taking up their offer to help.

Don’t get me wrong, independence is an admirable quality and I am glad that I am equipped to and comfortable with doing things for myself. But sticking too firmly to it has been detrimental (i.e. because of my independence, I have purposely created distance between myself and my friends). This is something of which I am coming to the full realization. I shouldn’t allow my independence to divide me from the people I care about.

When I think more about this trait in relation to my mom, I also realize that she was so independent because my dad didn’t fulfill his husbandly role as God describes it. So she had to step up and lead my brother and I. This example, a woman leading her family, only added to my view of female independence and encouraged me to believe that I shouldn’t depend on any man to do anything for me. And because I didn’t know what that looked like… to have a man lead his wife and for her to be able to depend upon him… I now even find myself resisting guys’ attempts to do something for me. I probably appear less “feminine” to them when I hold doors open for them, rather than allow them to open a door for me. But after years of seeing my dad not do such niceties for my mom, I don’t expect it from any man (except my brother, who my mom brought up to be so courteous) and just automatically do such things for myself. But I don’t like that I am this way. Again, I should be willing to allow people to display their courtesy.

WALLS – My mom set up emotional walls after she realized that her emotions were not appreciated by my dad. He couldn’t be trusted with them. So she entered into  subsequent friendships with a walled heart. Encouraged others to do more talking, so that she wouldn’t have to give too much of herself away. Basically Proverbs 4:23 to the extreme.

I am the spitting image of her example. Growing up, it was emphasized that our private business was our business and not to be shared with others (we had extremely gossip-y neighbors). But I have carried this mandate with me into my young adulthood. I let others do the talking, which is fine because, being an extreme empathizer, I like to hear about their experiences and like bringing them pleasure by showing my interest in their life. And I think I don’t share my emotions partly because I don’t want to run the risk of discovering that they won’t be appreciated by my listeners.

But I have realized that this stunts my growth. Part of being in a relationship with someone is giving of yourself. And part of growing as a person is learning how to trust others with parts of yourself. I think a lot of my past friendships ended because I was unwilling to do this – unwilling to open up and show the other person that I trust them enough to let them see me. Trust. Now that is something that requires true strength. This is definitely something I have been working on building.

This reminds me… I recently read a quote that said something to the effect of… “the problem with [emotional] walls is not only that they keep people out, but they keep you in.” This could not be more true. It definitely has been pretty lonely being the only person who knows me.

DENIAL+MASKING – this falls in line with building walls. My mom was a master actress. Being strong for my brother and I, she denied many of her emotions and masked them. She always appeared strong. Always appeared happy. And she was both of those things. But there was a storm inside. Since I am older now and our friendship has matured, I see this more. She will sometimes say things that hint her desire for affection, but then quickly denies it and masks it. But I know her well and can identify when she’s doing this. And I think she does this because deep down she doesn’t feel that she is worthy of having her desires… or, perhaps more correctly, that it isn’t possible for her to ever have them.

I think out of all the qualities I have picked up, this is the one I need to change the most because, I realize now, it leads most directly to self-sabotage. I deny myself of my desires and convince myself that I can’t have them or am not worthy of them, and then mask that I have a desire at all. For someone who so strongly values communication, this tactic makes me a complete hypocrite because it keeps me from communicating with myself and with others, who very well may be able to deliver what I want. It is a breeding ground for mixed signals.

The truth is, it is not that I cannot have what I desire… but that I do not allow myself to have what I desire, and what is perhaps even available to me. So I create my own unhappiness, not my situation or any other person, etc. In living this way,  I  also offend God by not accepting and trusting His ability to deliver my wants, if they are right for me. So I tie not only the hands of those around me, but His hands as well. I deny myself happiness and love, so that in the end, all I have is my independent self, sitting within all those walls I have built. Alone.

—————————————————————————————————————-

I realize that I have been living as though I am a woman in a wrecked marriage, perhaps thinking deep down inside that behaving this way will prevent me from acquiring her unhappiness. But, my God. It’s all SO wrong… couldn’t be more wrong than this. And I just praise the Lord that He is bringing me to the full realization of these things NOW, while I am still young. I need to live up to a higher standard – to God’s standard. I am resolved to not look to any other person as a model for how to live, because we are each fallible in our own ways. God is the only one worthy of a pedestal!

We can’t help what situation we’re born into, but we can help how we allow ourselves to be affected by it. And I choose to love myself… fully love myself and believe that I am worthy of happiness and all my desires and that I can and will indeed have them, if not today than someday! All according to God’s perfect time.

Wow, when I re-read this, I wonder who on earth would want to have such a complicated person in one’s life. Yes, I suppose I am quite a complicated mess right now, but I know that God is a good janitor. The best, actually. And now that I have finally given Him the master key to my building, I know it will clean up better than “just fine” 🙂

Future Post:  Traits I’ve picked up from Dad.

Revival

Wow, so I haven’t been on here in a while! Well, I plan to change that. God has really brought me to a point in my life where I am just relishing in Him. I’ve made some new friendships with brothers and sisters and am so grateful that I have surrendered to this change in my life.

I’ve been yearning something, and I think I know what it is now. I’m longing to just talk about Him. To talk in depth and at length about my King. To challenge others with and be challenged by His word. And I guess I am a little discouraged because I don’t have any one person that I can talk with like this. My mom is SO unbelievably busy, working to support my whole family now that my dad has lost his job. She’s very tired, and though of course we talk about Him, we don’t have the time to talk at length and in depth as we used to be able to do. And then my Christian friends here at school are so busy preparing for graduate school admissions exams, among the other million things they’re involved in. So I can’t talk with them because they don’t have the time. Friends at other schools have their own Christian friends and have formed their own deep bonds with them. So, they don’t have the time to go in depth with me, when I’m sure they’re doing that with others at their university. SO, I am left alone in this. But not so alone 🙂 God will have to be my Bible study buddy, and, well, who better to have, right?!

I imagine this must have been how my mom felt when my brother and I were younger and she started to seek God more deeply. My dad wasn’t in the picture spiritually, and since they had just moved to a new area, she didn’t know anyone who she could talk with about the Lord. From what she has shared with me, it didn’t seem like her old friends were at a point of seeking the Lord just yet. So she was alone… as I am now. But of course, not alone, because He was there, as He is here for me now.

I think I’m just a little saddened and frustrated because I am so used to going to people and talking with people about God. So to not have anyone to talk to feels so different, and a little off. But I think this isolation is only good for me. Because people are not going to always be in the picture. They’re not always going to be available to converse with me… so in such situations, what will I do? I need to be less dependent on others and solely dependent on God.

Wow, Lord… I think I get it now. I think this is why I am here this semester. See, I was supposed to be abroad in England right now, but I couldn’t because of financial problems at home. The disappointment of not being able to go abroad is a pain that I’ve kind of filed away in the back of my mind because facing it is too sad for me. I’ve never been out of the country nor had an experience so independent of family and friends, so my heart was really broken when I couldn’t go. I think this disappointment is manifesting itself this semester by my lack of drive. I am literally pushing myself through all of my work. I am really not excited about pretty much anything I am learning… except perhaps the new language I’m picking up. But, I even have to push myself on that. I guess you could say I’m experiencing a little depression. And although I have not turned these sentiments into anger toward God, I have been questioning Him on why this couldn’t work out for me. All throughout college, I have felt like I was at least a step behind the other students in terms of experience/academic background. So I was really looking forward to 1) getting away from university and 2) having an experience that would be mine, all mine… something worthwhile that I could finally talk about with my more experienced peers. But now that I type that out, it really seems like my motivations were fueled indirectly by others. I’ll have to think about that. But yea, so I’ve been deeply disappointed and wondering why God has me here. I think it’s for this isolation. I think it’s because He wants me to dig deeper into Him, to find myself in Him and Him alone. I think it’s because He wants me to face the pain in my life. Rather than running across the ocean to get away from thoughts of my parents’ bad marriage and my feelings of being caught in the middle, I think He wants me to stand here and face it and make room for His healing.

So, although I am still disappointed, I won’t turn away from Him. I’ve been there done that and only know that that leaves me empty and dark. No, this time, I will look to Him and trust that He will turn this disappointment into the purest joy and contentment in Him. After all, I did set the new year’s resolution that I would become the best version of myself yet… I think God’s got me on the right track for that.

–> Mind-Thoughts <–

I feel so… self-disparaging right now. What am I doing with my life? Nothing. Or so it feels. But I really think I am wasting some of my potential… why am I so un-centered? Aren’t Libras supposed to be balanced? How is it that I am in perpetual oscillation… maybe the symbol should have been the pendulum… or maybe I am an anomaly… am I making too big of things again? … probably… I just… I’m looking outside of myself again and looking at what everyone else is doing and comparing it to me, to the person I am, the person I seem to be because in every environment, I seem to lack the motivation to craft the person I desire to be… the thing is… i know what puts me in imbalance… this world, I get so caught up in it and I start to feel like I’m being tossed by waves … you see, the thing is, I am not of this world, so I need to stop trying to reconcile myself with it… I need a consistent link with God … i know this will keep me straight, centered, and focused on the important parts of life … why am I always dragging my feet toward mental and spiritual stability? … so distracted in the things of this world (school mostly, instant and selfish gratification) … I need discipline. God help me to help myself … i cannot allow myself to experience a full regression ever again… i should probably read my old posts, the messages from a confident, balanced me.

Down with a Case of Ordinary Conservatism

Maybe all of my experiences now are working to make me into a more interesting person later,  just as the past experiences had by my very culturally interesting peers has made them the interesting persons they are today. Late bloomer in cultural savvy? Perhaps… yes, I am quite underdeveloped in that department… so very ordinary. But I can’t help but wonder if in a world where everyone is striving to be different, to find their cultural niche, maybe being ordinary isn’t so ordinary anymore. By their avant-garde, I am made different, abnormal.

Now, in truth, I am not all so ordinary. In fact, my views and disposition are quite atypical to what society has constructed as normative or popular. But I think right now, in my present life moment, I am feeling oh-so-very ordinary. I need something new, something original, something risky to spice me up. I fear I may have been too conservative.

08/08/08 … a new beginning

Today is 08/08/08. Thrice new beginnings! My Christian brethren will understand that, but for those who do not, 8 is the number of new beginnings. So imagine my delight when I wrote the date for today and realized what it was.

Today made me reflect on all of the goodness that has happened during this summer… all of the progress that I have personally made. I have a new beginning. I am so excited about going back to school with a new and improved attitude, with a stronger character, a clearer outlook, more self-awareness, greater confidence, and most importantly, an increased faith in God. I may not have accomplished everything that I wanted to during my time away from home, but I have accomplished this most important aspiration of mine: retrieving and rebuilding my zest for life and God’s promises. What more could I have asked to accomplish in two months?

So, I would like to take this time just to praise God for working in me. For shaping me according to His liking. I am a work in progress and do not wish for His work in me to ever be complete. May I ever be upon the Potter’s wheel.

~ Amen.

Reliving your Parents’ Marriage: Fate or Choice?

My participation in the Singles & Dating section of Yahoo! Answers has encouraged me to come to terms with the role my parents’ marriage has played in my life. I am very good at “self-diagnosing” myself, as I jokingly like to call it. But, seriously, I have a good head on my shoulders and am not afraid of being honest with myself. The last person I want to lie to is myself. What an ultimate betrayal that would be!

That said, I have always been aware that my parents’ marriage could impact me later in my life when I started to date, but it is only now that I am realizing that I have some choice in the matter. I am not merely the debris of their relationship. No, rather, I have the power to decide how I choose to be affected by their decision to remain married. I don’t think many people realize they possess this right to choose. I think many people believe that they have an inevitable and uncontrollable fate to be damaged by their parents’ bad marriage, when, in reality, they can CHOOSE! Someone make a billboard, please!

The major flaw in my parents’ marriage was a lack of respect on my dad’s part. They dated for the latter half of college and for a short time thereafter and eventually married when they were 26. Within their first year of marriage, he and my mom became pregnant with me and I was born a few days before their 1st year anniversary. I think my dad did not fully understand what he was committing to when he married… what his role would be as a husband. My mom shared with my that he would often leave her home and just go out with his friends, without notice of where he was going or when he would be back. His communication was just terrible; very inconsiderate.

My brother was born 2 years after I was. I am glad that I can say that I mine was indeed a very happy childhood. During our youth, their marriage was rocky, but it was better concealed… or, we just couldn’t comprehend its defects. My mom was not happy in her marriage during our youth, but for the sake of myself and my brother, she decided to remain married. She didn’t want her children to grow up fatherless.

As I matured, I became fully aware of the disconnect between my parents. Lack of communication remained a severe fault in my dad. He’s the kind of person who will keep a problem to himself and then in quite literally the 11th hour, seek help from my mom. This, of course, causes her great stress because, had she known about it from the onset, the problem would have been alleviated under much calmer circumstances.

As a youth, I also witnessed their disunity in other ways. I remember appreciating whole-family outings because they were so rare, and their rareness only proved to be proportionate to my age. Indeed, it was a special treat to have my dad accompany my mom, brother, and myself to different events. It was the norm for him not to be there. However, looking back, I must force myself to understand this to a certain extent. He worked the third shift when I was younger, six days a week, which can be taxing on a person. So I must forgive his absence. He was working hard to support our family. And yet, I look at my mom, who worked full-time once my brother was about 4 in age. When she came home, she still had the involuntary responsibility of cleaning the house, cooking for my brother and I, helping us with our homework, and getting us ready for bed. And she did all of this with such love, and such patience. It makes me cry to remember her sweetness. Not to mention that the nature of her job required her to complete a lot of paperwork at home. After putting us to bed, she would stay awake for hours finishing paperwork. And she would wake up the next day, get us ready for school, send us off and go through her day. Such it was, everyday. Now how was it that she was able to do all that, and all my dad was able/willing to focus on was working is third shift? Women cannot be so superior in capability to men. No, I will not make this on the sexes, but rather a battle of will. Why was he unwilling to try harder? I know the truth, or at least what I perceive to be the truth…. and yet, why is still so hard to say? … He was being selfish.

A few years later he developed a heart problem and my mom left work to care for him, while still not dropping the ball one iota for my brother and I. Yes, we felt some fear, but as we truly did not grasp the severity of his condition, we were able to maintain a large degree of normalcy. All by her emotional and physical sacrifice. And yet, I wonder how since and even today, my dad does not show her the respect she so duly earned. How she has shown him love throughout the years, which he has not returned in neither words nor action. He continues to play the passive aggressive card, holding information from her, lying, manipulating circumstances and thus setting her up for hardship. He shows her no affection in his action nor manners. He seemingly makes an effort to embarrass her in the company of her friends and yet somehow cannot see his wrongs. Or if he does, he does not admit them. He is the indelible victim.

It was not my intention to paint my dad the antagonist of this marriage, although it would seem he is largely if I allowed myself to believe it. Many would say that living in the midst of such disconnect and strive would prove irreparably damaging for a child. I have often thought the environment toxic and I even recall a time when I implored my parents to just divorce already! As a teen, I used to fear that I would harbor irreversible damages from their tarnished relationship, including fear of intimacy, lack of communication, fear of marriage, the development of an independent character that would deflect any chances for a relationship, early divorce if I do marry.

However, (and I cannot speak for my brother) upon closer consideration through matured eyes, I can speak for myself when I say that I have learned much from my parents’ marriage and I am a better person because of their flaws. I now know that I will not rush into marriage, as I feel my parents did. And I will not settle for a man who gives early hints of a selfish and disrespectful nature, as my dad revealed during their dating years. I will not allow myself to be taken advantage of a man, as my mother did early in their marriage. I will not allow myself to love a man who does not love me as passionately and with an equal measure of commitment.

I want a partner in life, and will not settle for anything less than that. And I know that I deserve it. I will allow myself to know myself and protect the virtues of my character against any attempted tarnishing by a disrespecting man. No, I feel wholly confident that I will be happy in a relationship because I will not make the mistakes I saw them make.

I thank God that my parents did not put on a show for me. They didn’t raise me to believe that love and life are perfect. They showed me the real, and it is because of that I am certain I will know how to love in a real way, with dedication and effort. I am certain that I will be able to face life’s challenges confidently with a partner who is devoted to me and committed to my happiness. I will know how to connect with my partner because I saw where they failed. I have already lived with the mistakes of a poor marriage, so I know that I will not make them.

Being in college, I have talked with so many of my friends and it is really a shame what charades their parents put on for them. I have one girlfriend whose mother refuses to talk to her about her previous boyfriends before her dad. Because of this, my friend doesn’t have the privilege of knowing where her mom went wrong in prior relationships before her dad. Her parents’ marriage is not a happy one either, but unfortunately, my friend has yet to process it in a way that I have. If anything, she only fears that she will marry someone just like her dad, but I don’t really see her becoming proactive about ensuring that she does not. I have other friends whose parents would argue in separate rooms and do their best to pretend like everything was wonderful, when in reality, it was deteriorating. Why hide your struggles from your children? I think it is healthy for children to gain a grasp on reality, *as long as* you help them to process what they’re witnessing, as my mom did.

Do parents want to set their children up for miserable, failing marriages? Do they want to cycle repeated? Does “misery love company,” even when the happiness of one’s children is at risk?

The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream

Everyone on the face of the Earth has a treasure that lies waiting for them.”

“In order to arrive you must follow the signs.
God inscribed on the world the path that each man must follow.
It is just a matter of reading the inscription He wrote for you.”

“The glory of the world is transitory, and we should not measure our lives by it,
but by the choice we make to follow our Personal Legend,
to believe in our utopias and to fight for our dreams.
We are all protagonists of our own lives,

and it is often the anonymous heroes who leave the deepest mark.”
(from Paulo Coelho’s acceptance speech to Brazilian Academy of Letters)

“The closer you get to your dream,
the more your Personal Legend becomes your real reason for living.”

The Alchemist

For the past two years, I have been searching for some person or word inspired by God to restore meaning in my life … I have found what I was looking for in Paulo Coelho and his novel, The Alchemist. After reading this book, I felt like I came alive again. I had feared that I would not find a way to dig out from underneath the negativity I had piled upon myself, and oftentimes felt tempted to surrender to an ever imminent feeling of defeat. And then, I learned of this book from a friend… it couldn’t have been suggested at a better time because, as I mention in my first post, I am trying to pull my life together.

I had heard of The Alchemist earlier in my life in passing… you know, like one of those books you know the title of and recognized it as a classic work of literature, but don’t know what it is about and don’t really have any inclination to read it. The Alchemist was that to me, until a dear friend of mine just recently suggested that I read it. She had just finished it and suggested that I read it, saying it was a story about a boy’s journey to realize his dreams. Normally, I don’t think that would have really caught my interest, but for some reason, I was intrigued by this description, likely because I am in a state now where I am trying to flush out my dreams and determine in which direction God will have me travel. I would like to thank my dear friend, for she has given me a gift that I could never have anticipated… the gift of hope and anticipation for greatness in my life!

I thank God for the gift of new perspective. My eyes have been renewed by seeing life through the eyes of a simple shepherd boy who had hope and faith in a dream larger than his present circumstances could ever foretell. Despite the immense difficulties that threatened to thwart the realization of his destiny, he persevered and chose to continue his journey instead of accepting defeat. To quote the book, “…he realized that he had to choose between thinking of himself as the poor victim of a thief and as an adventurer in quest of his treasure. ‘I am an adventurer, looking for treasure,’ he said to himself.” For him, quitting would take the fun out of his journey. As stated in the book, “It is precisely the possibility of realizing a dream that makes life interesting.”

That scenario speaks to me directly. In these past years, I have burrowed myself into a state of such deep regret that it has immobilized me. I have fixated on the mistakes I have made that I have allowed them to hinder me from moving forward. But looking at the shepherd boy fills me with such inspiration. I need to actively learn how to see my mistakes as moments of life experience, moments that carry lessons to be used as examples of how not to handle things next time… the key point being that I should not shelter myself from situations that will test what I learned from my mistakes, but face them head on with a new and greater awareness!

What I also love about how Paulo Coelho depicted this situation is that he was very real about it. Before coming to this state of hope and determined persistence, the shepherd boy was tempted to yield to the resistance created by his mistake. After being robbed, he thought regretfully to himself:

“When I had my sheep, I was happy, and I made those around me happy. People saw me coming and welcomed me, he thought. But now I’m sad and alone. I’m going to become bitter and distrustful of people because one person betrayed me. I’m going to hate those who have found their treasure because I never found mine. And I’m going to hold on to what little I have, because I’m too insignificant to conquer the world.”

I absolutely LOVE that Paulo wrote him realistically. I know that everyone of his readers must have been able to relate to this feeling of despair and utter regret, knowing that we had things better a time before our present misfortune and disparaging ourselves for allowing us to get to this state. It’s human nature, and like us, the shepherd spoke ill of his future and for a short time there, was tempted to believe it. He even thought to blame God for his misfortune, saying that “this was the way God repaid those who believed in their dreams.” But instead of succumbing to the temptation of quitting, he realized that his destiny still remained and that a treasure was waiting to be found, by him. So instead of stopping his life story there, he had faith in his destiny, proclaiming to himself, “I am an adventurer, looking for treasure.” This unfortunate event was only a mild pothole along the road.

His outlook of transcendence is an example to me, to us all. He acknowledged his part in his misfortune and decided to learn from his mistake of so easily trusting a stranger. Yet, he did not fixate on his mistake. Rather, he looked for beauty in the seemingly lowest of moments. He focused on the positives of his experience, centering himself on his accomplishment of reaching Africa and coming that much closer to realizing his destiny.

I hope that in life, I can face each day with such optimistic vigor. In every day, every moment, every breath, there lies beauty. There is always something to be praised. The challenge is to train your eye to see it. Once you can accomplish that, beauty is all you’ll come to see, in every circumstance. God is EVERYWHERE. He is not hiding. Rather, it is our human eye that fails to recognize his presence in every living moment. Here is an analogy to better explain my point. Don’t credit this to me; I may have heard this from somewhere a few years back. I am realizing this now: When you are driving, your hands naturally guide the vehicle to whichever point upon which your eyes are fixed. So if you are fixated upon the car approaching you in the opposite lane, your hands will naturally reposition the car toward this oncoming car. But if you are focused on the lane you are in, you will continue to safely drive the course. I have been focusing on my past mistakes, and have thus been living in the past. My life has been unable to move forward because my gaze is pointed on what is behind me. I feel closer to God after reading this book.

I may have finished reading this book Friday, June 20, 2008, but its words and the images it evoked still replay in my mind. I am certain that this book and its author have become bright threads in the tapestry of my life journey. The story was especially affecting to me as a Christian. I felt closer to God after reading this book, and that feeling still remains. Reading it, I just knew that Paulo Coelho must be a Christian because he speaks in the language of Christ. I cannot even express how much this blessed me. As my faith diminished during the last two years, my relationship with God grew gradually more distant. It was not until last January that I felt an undeniable separation from God, which truly scared my. I committed myself to seeking the Lord and have been praying for redirection in my life. I was feeling like my life was headed back in the wrong direction when I learned about The Alchemist. Reading it, it was as though my soul was being cleaned throughout and uplifted in encouragement. As I said earlier, I felt closer to God, which I so desperately needed. I heard Him through the words of his creation, Paulo Coelho.

I know that I am destined for something amazing! I was under so much spiritual fire in these last two years and at the point of almost succumbing fully to its will, when God sent me this light to guide me back to the path on which He has destined me to be! Wow… my destiny MUST be something amazing and important that the Universe conspired at this exact time to remind me that my dreams are realizable… the time when I most needed such encouragement! I just have to trust undoubtedly in the strength God has put within me and trust that He has portioned me more than the right amount to surpass ALL of resistance’s efforts to prevail against me. Thank you, Lord for this new view on life! It is the same life, but ahh… it looks SO different to me now. I never thought that I would reach this point of sublime certainty in my clarity and clarity in my certainty of Your truths in my life. But Lord, am I ever paying attention to Your signs now.

I highly recommend this book as a read for EVERYONE. I especially think it should be a necessary read for school-aged children, whose dreams are so vibrant and fragile, full of fervor but slipping so easily to the wayside as they grow. The lessons it teaches are invaluable. Also, I particularly recommend the book to those walking with Christ. You will be greatly blessed to see how God’s words flow through His faith-filled creation, Paulo Coelho.

I feel it only fitting to end this post with the words of the man who inspired both this post and this blog. Be blessed and may God bless you and Paulo Coelho, right where you are now.

Life

What is this force that drives us far from the comfort of the familiar
and makes us take up challenges instead,
even though we know that the glory of this world is only transitory?
I believe this impulse is called the search for the meaning of life.
Over many years of seeking a definitive answer to this question in books, art and science,
and in both the dangerous and easy paths I have followed,
I have found many answers.
I am convinced now that a definitive answer will never be given to us in this life,
but that, at the last, at the moment when we stand once more before the Creator,
we will understand each opportunity that was offered to us.

– Paulo Coelho