Lust: The Darkest Lie About Love

One of my most embarrassing soft spots during adolescence was my desire for a romantic relationship.

After my parents divorced when I was 11, my outlook of life changed to adapt to the painful brokenness of the trauma. My parents’ divorce altered the way relationships appeared to me and what they represented, since my parents’ relationship represented all of relationships to me. The ensuing disaster of my romantic life starting with the pernicious seed of a lie: Relationships don’t last. 

Mom and dad weren’t fulfilled by each other during their marriage, but I didn’t understand that until later. At that time, I was too young to understand what a healthy marriage looked like. I witnessed my parents and their marriage, and I translated what that I saw and heard as a “healthy marriage,” despite their arguments and (now discernible, in hindsight) emotional distance from each other. When my parents sat with me to explain the tragedy about to unfold, the shock hit me like a tornado throwing me through the opening of an Earthquake. Mom’s words didn’t just catch me off guard, they floored me and sunk me through the abyss of the worst thoughts my mind could conceive.

During the following year, through all the domestic changes that took place, what kept repeating itself in agonizing consistency was when my dad would take me to the Catholic church we had gone to as an entire family unit—though post-divorce, we would go as a partial family unit—and the message was much clearer and more penalizing: “You’re a sinner. Christ died because of you. Repent and go home.” That was the message I gleaned from church, leading me to choose the spacial emptiness of atheism the following year. My church life leading up to that point had been as impersonal as it could get: No life groups, no Bible studies, no prayer life between me and God or Jesus; no Jesus-talk at home, and no sermons about the hope of Christ saving us from our sins as we confess with our heart and mouth that He is Lord. I didn’t find any of that until I was 22—after I’d moved away from my home (and all my memories) to attend college in Florida (where I met a Christian the first week of class, who invited me to church for the first time in years). Needless to say, my atheism, in hindsight, was not nearly a newfound anti-faith as it was an embracing of what had been planted in my heart all along: Nothing.

Witnessing their divorce and all that followed drastically shifted my concept of relationships, and that was before my three siblings began dating and displaying yet other versions of relationships, the majority of them ultimately short-lived. 

The message that kept driving through my mind was, “Relationships don’t last long, but those that happen should be romantic or sexual before they end.”

What a twisted lie of the Devil, looking back. In my teenage mind, sexual discovery was a huge temptation, also influenced in part by the relationships happening in my family. What I saw were boyfriends or girlfriends coming over, but their relationships didn’t foreshadow unconditional love; only excitement, romance, lust, and infatuation. What I wouldn’t learn for many years is that any healthy relationship meant to last would be founded on openness, vulnerability, selflessness, unconditional love found and inspired in Christ, trust, and constant (effective) communication. None of the relationships I witnessed displayed these qualities except my dad’s second marriage, which is still going strong even today.

Through a few romantic relationships of my own, I discovered by my mid-twenties, about three years after Jesus had been more intimately revealed to me in a personal way—how lust had encompassed the part of me that was meant to be devoted to Him.

Where lust activates in our body (lust is merely planted in the mind, but it invades, permeates, and survives in the body, aching for what isn’t needed and driving us to search for what we don’t realize (until hopefully later, rather than never) will only harm us and others), spirituality activates in our soul. For men and women who are introduced to lust before Jesus, sex appeals to the body in the same way love appeals to the soul. Lust, of course, does not provide any space for the love that relationships require to thrive on, and infatuation is inept of the selflessness of unconditional love; the narcissism of infatuation is merely the first clue that our bodies are taking part in more of the relationship than our soul is. 

What follows, without much confusion, is that the marriage relationship is the Earthly foreshadowing of our Heavenly relationship with Jesus—where sex no longer has any purpose; the unconditional, impenetrable, unfathomably deep love of Christ completely saturates through all that sex could ever encompass, enabling an ecstasy that hardly be described with any words. Lust concedes to taking and giving back when the giving from our partner will continue; the love of Christ, on the contrary, when invited and welcomed into the marriage relationship, creates the space needed for the promise of selflessness, honesty, trust, and openness. The promise of tomorrow—hope itself given to us as a gift from Jesus—is the hope of the marriage relationship every night when marriage partners go to sleep, and every morning they wake up together. 

Where one-night stands and promiscuity could never promise one minute in advance, marriage promises “till death due us part.” That is a promise that commences with the soul of unconditional love, birthed from the sacrifice of Jesus for the people of this world who believe in His sacrifice; the very promise of our future hope in Heaven. 

The lesson of lust is that it does not foreshadow anything godly. Where sex and infatuation are fun, the excitement of lust is ephemeral, catered by appearances and racing hormones rather than anything empirical, spiritual, emotional, or well-developed. In order for anything relational to last beyond the bedroom, two hearts must be in one place together, choosing to push through the relational adversities thrown at the relationship by means of the promise of Jesus’s love for each person, as well as His love for the relationship itself (particularly marriage). Without Jesus, all hope dissolves quicker than we can reach for our partner’s hand to mitigate the sheer blindness of our emptiness. 

Why am I writing you this? Because I experienced trauma growing up—trauma that completely devastated me and left me questioning every single aspect about me for over 10 years, especially the aspect of love versus lust, and I don’t want this to have to be you, too. For those of you who haven’t entered into marriage yet, I hope you will read this with careful eyes, taking in the reality of entering a relationship with anything but Jesus in your heart. For those who are already married, I hope you will turn your gaze to Him who saves—if you haven’t already—and that this article will be an eye-opener for you who haven’t even considered how Jesus’s love is the promise for every marriage to last till death.

I wasn’t a believer until I was 22, and I didn’t take my faith very seriously until I was about 25. The contrast of my life experiences before and after receiving Christ is drastic and obvious (to me, and anyone who has known me both before and after conversion); my hope is that by writing this article, you will understand and believe that someone who didn’t grow up with Jesus in His heart was able to be found by Jesus, was able to accept and receive Jesus, and most relevant of all—that after years of depending on the fallacious love song of lust, I finally learned and understood the lesson that sex and lust could never be fulfilling without Jesus in my heart and the heart of the woman I’m with. If an atheist-converted-Christian can have these revelations, could this not shine some hope on you, too?

People have asked me, “Why is someone like you still single?” My only response can be that I haven’t found the right woman for me yet. And after a history like mine, I’ve truly learned what it means to be careful, take my time, and let Jesus breathe into the relationship so that any romance that comes to fruition will have something strong to stand on and last for more than a few days, weeks, or months. Jesus is at the core of who I am now, and I’m not going to allow lust to speak lies into my heart the way I once did. I pray you would find these words insightful, encouraging, and a sign that you can do the same thing for yourself right now. You don’t need to wait for years and years to understand how important faith is; I was an atheist for most of my life—you don’t have to live in denial, thinking faith is for the naive. I truly believe you would have to be closed-minded and naive yourself to not consider faith. I believe you would be truly unwise and headed in a nightmarish direction if you let your hormones and body speak more to you than your soul. And if you’re not letting your soul speak, I think that problem speaks for itself. 

The love of Jesus was meant to be our reason for everything, especially marriage. Over 50% of marriages failing now speaks for the large number of marriages not founded on a strong relationship with Christ. If you don’t believe me, look up the failing marriage statistics in society today and look for the problem of spirituality; are couples praying together, going to church together, spending time with friends who believe in Christ together, or putting Christ ahead of every decision they make together? If not, you might consider what that means about marriage success.

Take my story, take the history of marriage facts for yourself, and see what conclusion you come to. I’d like for this to be a nudge in the right direction for you.

Jesus is all that matters, and if I never get married, then I will translate that in faith that it was never in God’s plans for me, or that perhaps the person He had planned was just never ready. Either way, to live is Christ, to die is gain. Marriage doesn’t define my life. I have much to do—this blog is certainly on that list. I want to inspire, encourage, challenge, motivate, and uplift others with the hope of Christ! So, if nothing else, be lifted in His name, readers! Be inspired because He loves you, and He died and ROSE AGAIN so you could be free from a life where lust was more important than His Lordship. Don’t listen to the lies of this world telling you that you need sex in order to be happy and satisfied. Those are lies meant to keep you searching forever. Sure, sex may give you temporary happiness, but not lasting happiness; not joy. See, chocolate makes me happy, but Jesus’s love gives me joy. Basically, joy is a state of mind and soul, whereas happiness is only a transient experience until Heaven, where happiness will be experienced the same way joy is here, on Earth. You will never find joy through sex. Look for Jesus, accept His love and His hope, and then find your purpose in your faith. That’s where I am today, and I want others to believe in this truth for themselves, too. Let this be you! 

May God bless you, may He keep you, and may He turn His face to shine upon you. He loves you more than you could ever imagine, and there’s nothing you could ever do to make Him want to love you; His love is unconditional, free, and it’s overwhelmingly satisfying. Fall into the love of God and let go of this world. It was never looking for you the way He always has. My past was hard, but Christ brought me through the darkest of painful memories so that I could tell you it’s possible to receive His love in faith and hope. Let this be your story too; let go of the things in this life that keep you clinging to the world; this world will pass, right after trying to rob you of your soul with transparent duplicity like the lie of finding joy and ultimate fulfillment in sex—but Jesus and His words will never deceive you. He will pick you up out of the muck and mire of life, sticking you right where you belong: His loving, perfect presence. He will save you and keep you going. Cling to that Truth. Cling to His love.

It’s all you’ll ever need.

Renewal

The Light That Shines In the Darkness: Part 2

One of the responsibilities of being an effective writer is learning to reach your audience, and a part of that responsibility is recognizing who your audience is in order to reach them efficiently and purposefully. My audience, as you may have come to know, must be open-minded, vulnerable, and willing to think outside the box. You don’t have to be a believer of Jesus, nor do you have to be an unbeliever. You don’t have to be a certain age, although I think it helps to be mature enough to consider these subjects. 

The reason for this thought is that I have had to consider the needs of the readers who would benefit from reading from a blog such as mine, and what I have come to realize is this: Being how my blog is an amalgam of self-help and Christianity, one must desire to be helped, and one must be open-minded enough to enter the discussion of faith, Christ-follower or otherwise, if they are to glean something useful from my writing.

On that note, I would say that I’ve come to understand something else as well. What strikes me is that my writing would be beneficial to someone open-minded, vulnerable, and willing to think spiritually complex, but only those who are looking to be helped in those regards. What that means is there are a plethora of people in this world who do need help thinking more “outside the box,” who would benefit from considering faith, but most importantly–are looking for that help. Those who aren’t looking—and here’s the key point—aren’t reading about it. My words aren’t reaching people who need these articles to give them an encouraging nudge, a push in the right direction, a mental/physical challenge to get them out of the place they’re feeling too comfortable in—because they’re not on the search for something they don’t feel they need help with.

That means, those who read this are hoping to find something. You’re curious, you’re open enough to search for an article related to your quest for answers, and you’re wondering if what I have to say will fit your inquiry. What that means, is… you will now have knowledge that people who aren’t searching for answers directly will not have, and that means you are the bridge between them and that life-changing information. The difference is that, while they aren’t going online looking through blogs to find knowledge or wisdom, they know you, and when they talk to you, you have a light about you that they don’t have yet. That “light” is your desire to find hope (or it is the hope itself), to find answers; to not stay stuck in your hopelessness. 

My hope—why I even have this blog—is to shine the light of Christ into the world of people who do not yet have Him, but who are searching for the answer to life that He is. When people talk to you, specifically those who aren’t searching for what you are searching for—they can see the bridge between what they don’t know and what they don’t think they need. That bridge, that hope, opens their (spiritual) eyes to see that they don’t have something they need, and the revealing nature of that eye-opening experience allows them to yearn for hope. 

Now, that leaves you to either share the information directly (orally or through writing) when the right time comes to share it, or to share this blog (or another’s blog/book/resource which inspires you and encourages you). When the time comes, you will play a role in their quest, whether or not they realize they need to be on one. We all need this answer, but we’re not all going to find it the same way. Many, many people will not read this. But you are reading this right now. Already, you are one step towards a part of your life where you can move forward with something useful, something significantly better than before, and now that means you have acquired what others need to have shared; otherwise, they will remain in the dark.

See, you are curious enough to read this, which makes you open enough to receive it, and possibly bold and brave enough to actually apply it, whereas others haven’t even taken the first step. Their stubbornness precludes them from taking any step in the right direction; they will continue on in stagnancy if you or someone else like you doesn’t help them. This isn’t an obligation, this is a privilege. The same part of you which is curious, the part which yearns to grow, develop, and outlive the part of you that is damaged, broken, and unhealed—this same part of you can show others that there is something to yearn for and hope in. The fact that you yourself haven’t stayed stagnant is reason for others (unbelievers) to believe there are people out there who do the same, and that is inspiration to find passion in life through purpose in Christ.

Certainly, countless people have discovered the slow, torturous banality of monotony. The others around you who are not yet healed don’t even realize their own brokenness, but you can see it because you have eyes to see. You can hear it in their voices and discern the pain in their words because you have ears to hear (Mark 4:9). That makes you a vessel to help them see and hear. Truly, if you are only reading this, but are not sharing what you learn, you are rescinding so many others’ experience to grow out of their tedious state of desultoriness. You already know how that is; you have been there before. That’s empathy. You can relate to their pain because you’ve experienced their pain before in your own circumstances. But now you can step back and realize with a shift from your old perspective just how different things can be if we can change the way we view ourselves and the lives we’re in. This is not about enlightenment. This is about what it means to have a soul, and that our soul purpose on this Earth is letting others know about Jesus, His love, and His eternal purpose for our souls in Heaven—that, without Him, we have no hope in anything. That is why I write this blog, and that could be the answer you’re looking for. If it’s not, then perhaps you’re asking the wrong question.

Have you ever looked to anything else in your entire life and received a purpose outside of your own desires? Outside of your own selfishness? This is but one of the many ways I know Jesus is the answer: He loved us before we even existed on Earth. He created everything about us, from how much hair we have on our heads to what we’ll desire when we’re adults. To live for anyone or anything other than Him, it’s mere narcissism. There’s simply no eternal point to any of it. In a previous post, I mentioned our preference for chocolate or beer aren’t bad to have, and I hold true to that statement. What I’ll add here is that our desire for anything outside of Jesus is less important. That means, we’ll have many, many things we’ll enjoy in this lifetime, but ultimately, the only thing that we could ever enjoy, that will matter during and beyond this lifetime on Earth, is Jesus.

How do I know? Let me be frank. I used to be an atheist—I was an atheist for most of my life, and when I discovered Jesus and truly learned who He is and was, my heart was changed by Him. He enraptured me with His story and the purpose of His ministry; to be the salvation to the souls of the world by being the Mediator between our sin and God’s love and forgiveness. When I learned this, I fell to my knees in adoration for this man, this God Incarnate.

Once I realized faith had nothing to do with “going through the motions”, saying the same words over and over, repeating prayers out of a book instead of genuinely saying them from my heart—once I learned, in fact, that relationship is more important to Jesus than rituals and religious obligations, such as praying the rosary to absolve ourselves of our own sins**—I came to not only understand and respect faith in Christ, but to embrace the faith as my own; to walk in the light of Christ, meaning, to walk in His footsteps along His path, not making my own footsteps on my own disastrous path. My path, as I discovered along the way of pain and mistakes, leads to spiritual death. But when we “die” to Christ, or when we surrender everything about ourselves to His will and desire His love above all else we become even more alive in Him, inspired and drawn to His liking through faith in His truth: He died and rose again so that we could be with Him forever. This inspires hope: Christian hope. This is the reason people have riveting joy in Christ, joy that makes another person think, “What do they have that I don’t?”

**(I believe praying the rosary is helpful if, by praying it, you close to God, but I believe it’s utterly redundant if you pray believing the rosary itself will save you. Nothing saves us but Jesus. And it’s not praying that saves us—but Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross. And He did that over two thousand years ago. The only thing that can save us is our choice to have faith in Jesus as Lord, accepting His love for us and letting Him rebuild our spirits through surrender and choosing to obey His command to love others the way He loves us. Only then are we saved; long, long before we ever begin the rosary, we have already been saved, if we believe in Him. The rosary is only a prayer, and it venerates Jesus, no doubt, but veneration does not save us anymore than talking about Jesus without believing in His Lordship does.)

Nothing, not even death itself, provokes any kind of fear:

(Philippians 1:21) “To live is Christ and to die is gain.”

There is no way to lose when living in faith of Jesus. And if there’s nothing to lose, what is there to fear? When we catch ourselves feeling afraid of fear, we are not trusting in Christ, so really, believing in Christ requires us to trust Him, which in turn eradicates all remnants of fear. Truly believing in the hope of the promise of His love destroys all hopelessness, and shines light into all darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5)

You’re reading this, you’re searching for something. My writing can give you clues, thoughts, pieces of knowledge and wisdom for your soul to digest. But you must apply what you learn, and you must share what you gain from the experience. You must inspire others towards that light and tell them the reason for your hope. Hope is not food, nor a holiday, nor a day off, and not even in sex. Our hope is in Christ, and Christ alone. Through Him, we gain, and we truly live. Through Him, we walk through the valley of the shadow of death… fearlessly (Psalms 23:4). Through Him, we are renewed and rebuilt. We must be this light for others to help them find the path of Jesus to walk on as well. We must tell them that this life wasn’t mean to be lived without Him. We must tell them He loves them no matter what, and He always will. In every word we speak and every action we take, we point to Jesus, because He is our answer, and our hope. We must be this for others, so that they will not continue to wander asunder. Jesus commands us to feed his sheep; the “sheep” are the lost. They need Jesus, whether they know this or not. All we can do is shine, love, and direct them to the One who saves. That’s what we’re called to do, that is our purpose, and that is what will matter when we die: Did we believe in Jesus; did we make our faith known to the world, and in so doing, inspire them to the same love that inspired us to surrender and trust in His path, His way, His Truth? 

This is our reason to breath, to move, to live. This is the passion in our souls, and the fire burning to keep us going. Jesus is our everything, or we are only making up reasons as we go. Our reasons or merely excuses for narcissism, because at the end of it all, all the reasons we could ever conjure would only lead to self-satisfaction and pride. Through Jesus, there’s actually something left behind rippling throughout eternity; nothing and no one on this Earth could ever do this so flawlessly but the name that rings through our hearts, whether through admiration or controversy. Only such a powerful name would spawn argument for those afraid to be wrong about their own spiritual choices. Any vocation not inspired by Jesus is an agenda, and it will not glorify Him; it will not matter when they pass. They merely pass as another name in history, soon to be forgotten. But they could pass as someone who drove many to the one name above all names; not to their credit or glory, but for the prospect of making their life something meaningful, purposeful, and worthwhile. 

We only have a vapor’s worth of a life; a mist (James 4:14). For many, that means splurging on sex, drugs, and alcohol, flooding chemical after chemical into their bodies which we aren’t designed to intake, and they sit in that place of malady and discontent, telling themselves repeatedly so as to somehow convince themselves (since the pragmatic and empirical evidence isn’t adequate enough) that their habits are a means to an escape from the reality they are obstinately unwilling to embrace. But that morbid, self-sabotaging choice leads to a disappointing, worthless life of regret, mistakes, and deprecation. There is no success story of someone who tried drugs, sex, alcohol, and “escape,” having lived a life full of bliss and acceptance. These escapes are deviations from the purpose of Jesus in our lives, and without His love, we are already dead and empty. Chemicals won’t feed our hungry souls; perhaps the wise who choose to read this know that the only substance we would ever want to be addicted to is the Word of God. We can’t intake too much Jesus anymore than we can’t be too joyful. 

If you’ve read this, you want something you may not have. Honestly, I don’t have what you need (other than my faith), but I intend to try to point you in the right direction, and that means directing you to Jesus; His love, His sacrifice, and His promise—they are for you. They are for us all. Receive His Truth, apply the message, and be transformed. Be what everyone in this world needs us to be, because no one else has the boldness and bravery of a fearless Christ-follower who walks in the confidence of their faith, and not in the confidence of society, or culture, or religion, status, gender, race, or age; only bold confidence in the miraculous, transformative powers of Jesus, His redeeming love, and His proclaiming Truth. We are vessels, shining back to the God who saves. We are lights shining in the darkness, pointing towards the brightest Light of them all. 

To read more, please follow this blog. You may also find me my Facebook page at Lance Price Blog 2017, Twitter at LPBlog2017, Instagram at LPBlog2017, Pinterest at Lance Price Blog 2017, or on Tumblr at lancepriceblog2017. Please share this with anyone you think would benefit, and feel free to write in the comments below—a prayer request, a thought—I would love to hear from you! God bless you!!

Discover

Departing From Stoicism: Allowing Ourselves To Feel

What would be the purpose of healing if we didn’t first experience pain?

Like the shift in perspective between seeing the glass as half-full or half-empty, faithfulness is a drastic shift in perspective from faithlessness.

NUMBNESS OF HEART

Pain is arguably the most universal source of faithlessness. We blame God for our pain and then deny His existence because we refuse to accept the concept of a God who allows suffering. Many people attempt to obscure their response to pain with the facade of apathetic immunity. Some are convinced they have overcome pain with a numbness of heart, but they live in disillusionment; their attitude towards pain weakens their ability to handle the rest of their life adequately, and consequently, they have not overcome pain, but have been submersed in its misery while trying not to blink an eye or shed a tear.

When I notice the stoic personality of someone near me, I feel for them. I understand their expression of pain, as well as their apathetic countenance—the numbness of heart may seem like the appropriate response when it appears to give us strength, but in actuality, numbness is only the mirage of strength. What really lies beyond its scintillation is the schism between bitterness and acceptance.

INDEPENDENT STOICISM

Similar to the pain-covered stoicism is the numbness associated with faithlessness. There are an innumerable amount of people who live life giving off the impression that they are capable of taking on anything alone. The catch, however, is that they’re not one-hundred percent involved in the role they’re portraying. They are tenacious in that they choose to endure, but they leave their truest feelings, and their humanity, at the front door: They enter inside, walking on pins and needles with clenched fists and gritted teeth, just to walk back out and scream into a pillow. This is the immunity of stoicism of the faithless—those who say they don’t believe in anything, but are so disappointed that there seems to be nothing noteworthy to believe in that they feel defeated. This is how I was when I was an atheist, and this is the same malady I see so many others suffering through as they deny faith in Christ, all because they automatically and inaccurately associate the message of Jesus with the piousness of so many strict and misguided churchgoers who preach that rules and rituals (which inhere to religion) are essential to faith, while minimizing—or leaving out entirely—the importance of receiving and accepting the love of God in our heart (as in the walk of faith with Jesus).

WHY NUMBNESS IS NOT A STRENGTH

Like me, there are many others who have survived, although barely, by believing the numbness of heart is a strength. Personally, I have come a long way since living in that mindset. I would heavily argue its weakness in the way numbness completely contradicts our humanity. Basically, humans are designed to feel. Like the way we are designed to have desires (i.e. food, relationship, purpose, etc.), we are also designed to feel, and when we choose to pretend that we don’t have feelings, that doesn’t turn them off—we just live in denial—which contradicts the reality that our feelings are being compartmentalized in a place where they aren’t managed properly, where we don’t learn from them or with them, and where their negligence undermines our innate desire to live passionately; the very opposite of a numbness of heart.

I write this so that you can know, if you’ve ever been in a situation in your life where you’ve believed the compartmentalization of emotions on the back-burner of your mind is a helpful choice, it isn’t. Not only that, but the numbness we drown our emotions with also turns us against faith because the home of our emotions is our heart, where faith and hope also reside. When we lock the door of our heart from the inside, hope and faith are trapped on the outside, and we have then locked ourselves away from embracing the full human experience—comprised of feelings, experiences, and the passion to serve the God who gave us both.

If you aren’t a follower of Jesus, you will receive no judgment from me. I would only like to send you a message of hope that feeling numb about life won’t help you find any joy. Feeling apathetic towards life will certainly damage your attitude towards pursuing the purpose of your life, and even the process and journey of discovering what your purpose is. I lived this way for many years, and it made me beg for death. Please don’t let it do the same for you! Learn from my experiences; turn away from the numbness in your heart and embrace life’s experiences in full, and, if you’re ready and willing, take a step forward to surrendering your stoicism to Jesus, asking Him to meet you where you are, and to show His face to you. Ask Him to speak to you in a way you will listen for Him. If you’re uneasy about the idea of praying, just say a simple, “Jesus, show me who you truly are,” He will not leave you without a response.

LETTING JESUS INTERVENE

Feeling numb is not uncommon for people who have experienced heavy trauma, as their traumatic experience seems to leave them without an explanation for all the “why?” questions. When we live long enough without an explanation for our pain, our hearts become harder and more difficult to soften because the constant jabs of life causes bruising; sometimes we feel we’ve been battered to the point of no return. But I would argue that Jesus will never give us anything we cannot handle without His divine intervention. Ask Him to intervene, command it in Jesus name, and watch His power come into fruition with your reality. Believe in Him, and let Him show you His unlimited, accessible power through faith.

My hope for you is that you will come to understand the reason why stoicism isn’t a healthy way to live, and that you will choose to walk away from that path, entering the path where Jesus is standing and waiting, instead. His love for you is unending, and I imagine you would rather feel your heart overflowing with the unconditional love of God, rather than a numbness of heart, which often times feels like we’re laying on our deathbed, watching out the window of life into a still image of nothingness—weary of the rhythm of our heart stopping, promising us our life is over. Numbness of heart is a waste of existence, and we all have so much to offer. You are conscious (you are reading this post, after all), and most importantly, you are loved. Loved by Jesus.

A NEW PERSPECTIVE ON PAIN

We all experience pain, but the reason for pain is not to dwell in it, but to learn from it. Sometimes what seems like such a complex concept is really the most rudimentary life lesson: How can there be any healing if there is nothing broken? We are all broken, in one way or another. We all need healing, whether we admit to it or not. The solid truth behind pain—and the excruciating conversation about the purpose of suffering in our world—is that there would be no such need for healing, or for God—if there was no pain, and if there was no sin to cause so much pain. This life is a test to see if we will rely on the love, joy, hope, and strength of God above our own, if we will be willing enough to admit one actually exists in the first place. In Him, and only in Him, can we find healing for our pain. Would we not rather find healing in a loving God, than to live life feeling numbed by the world’s inability to fix what only God can?

TIME TO COME ALIVE

May these words reach you and inspire you to feel again! Don’t spend another waking moment feeling dead inside, but instead, wake up and remember you are loved beyond words. Don’t just take it from me, though—talk to Jesus, Himself! It would be beneficial if you did not pray to Him as if believing He’s trillions of miles away on a throne. No—He’s right there beside you, listening ever so intently to every word you say. He cares so much to know how He can help you to feel closer to Him. Stoicism builds chains to trap your heart in numbness, but feeling His love fills in the space between numbness and self-doubt, exposing the mirage of strength for what it truly is; a mirage—and fulfilling our deepest desire to feel accounted for; to feel like we matter and are seen.

Jesus never takes His eyes off of us, we are precious in His sight. Remember that, and move forward with your day. You are loved, and your are precious. May you feel these truths in your heart! In Jesus name.

Sacred

Hedonism In A World Transformed By Christ

Christianity is a walk of faith, and a life-long lesson in delayed gratification. In this life, we are given the choice to either indulge in hedonism and selfish pursuits or to surrender our desires and embrace the life God provides us. In order to fully receive God’s blessings, of course, we must surrender our selfish desires and reallocate our energy on our faith. The very thought of surrender can be daunting because it is much easier to pursue a life where we get what we want—but that is the foundation of hedonism, is it not? 

OUR FEAR OF SURRENDER

What seems threatening about surrender is that we are afraid we will never feel satisfied if our personal desires aren’t fulfilled, but that is a lie of the Devil. The truth is that the life God has planned for us is far richer and more fulfilling than all of our desires. How do I know? From my personal experience, I lived most of my life burrowed in selfish pursuits as an unbeliever, and when I finally began understanding the basics of surrendering to God, my life radically changed in ways directly related to the choice to surrender. For example, surrendering my desire to be well-received by everyone in order to receive the love and acceptance of God means understanding the world’s point of view is based on ego and identity, whereas God’s point of view is based on love. The difference of this example alone has helped me see and to embrace that my identity was forged long before I was born, and when I realize what it was intended to be, the way I express myself is much more influential and authentic than the way I express myself when who I am trying to be is a conglomeration of facades I’ve gathered from what the world likes to see.

THE IPOD STORY

For many years, I had an iPod Nano, I would listen to music in the car and during my walks, gathering thoughts for future blog posts, song lyrics, or just zoning out. My iPod was very important to me, and I used it just about every day; obviously, my desire was for my iPod. Sure, the songs I listened to included some Christian songs, but for the most part, rock and soundtrack music flooded my iPod. What’s important about telling this story is how heavily swayed to continue listening to the music without realizing the impact it was having on me: Unnoticeable to me was the truth that I was feeling frustrated, negative, and upset more frequently.

Well, recently, that iPod broke, and ironically, I did not get very upset, and I’ll tell you why: I was being humbled by Christ Himself, lovingly reminding me that I had not been using music to glorify Him or to build my confidence in my faith, and, furthermore—I had been going through a period in my life when I needed God more deeply (there is never a time when I don’t need God, but to be honest, this period of my life made me feel more desperate for His love). Since I was using my iPod abusively, I believe God allowed the iPod to break so that I would be forced to spend time in the car (and out walking) praying, listening, and practicing presence. Ever since the incident with the iPod occurred and I haven’t had music to give me company, I must admit that the difference has been humbling, sobering, and it certainly has had a positive impact on my faith life.

MUSIC IS A TOOL FOR WORSHIP

Sure, in some version of a perfect world, my iPod would be working, and I’d be listening to my music constantly while on the go. But, is that really a perfect world? If I’m being honest, viewing music so highly is tantamount to worshipping music, rather than using music to worship Christ. Music comes from God, and when I abuse His gift of music, I abuse my ability to sense God inside the songs I listen to. When I listen to music without remembering Christ, I abuse its purpose. Worse yet, when I glorify music instead of God, I misplace the importance of God with the importance of one of His gifts—and I believe that is why the incident happened with my iPod.  

While music is truly a beautiful invention, it is not God; but merely only an extension of Him. Is there something in your life that acts in the way my iPod did for me? Are you holding a gift of God above God? Are you able to worship God while using His gifts? If not, do you think that’s helping you to see Him as a loving God? When we’re unable to witness God in the blessings of life, it is not because He’s not blessing us, but because we are not perceiving His blessings for what they are. It takes one to extend their hand with a gift, but it takes another to take the gift and be thankful for the giver’s generosity. God gives us so much; food, shelter, water, relationship, cars, jobs, money, music—and so many times we receive these without any thanks, using our gifts while ignoring the Giver.

This isn’t intended to be a statement about thanksgiving, albeit that is a point which could be made—rather, this is a point more about the nature of worshipping God, and not the gifts of God. Where do we extend our worship? Do we worship sex, drugs, power, identity, relationships, alcohol, music, the internet? These are all things which can be worshipped, and none of them are God. 

A REMINDER OF HOPE

In this world, the pace and speed of life is ever increasing, and the challenge for the Christ-follower is needing to be constantly reminded to keep their faith in the hope of Jesus. When we surrender to the name of Jesus, we let go of all the things in our lives we could be worshipping instead of Jesus by releasing our grip from the desires in our heart. Since desire begins in the heart, it is from there that it must be surrendered. Surrender is a physical, mental, and spiritual release. When we release one thing, we grab another; in releasing our selfish desires, we must cling to the hope of Jesus by having faith in His promise that He has delivered us from Hell, providing a way into Heaven; an eternity without pain, death, suffering, loneliness, malady, or disease. When we place our faith in this hope, the hope itself nourishes our soul with humility, replacing the impulse for our selfish desires to be met, and in their place, we are replenished with the desire to be filled with joy, peace, hope, love, grace, and forgiveness—gifts of the love of Jesus. This is why I say Christianity is a life-long lesson in delayed gratification: We believe so strongly in the Word of God—Jesus, Himself, and His promise of redemption—that we live our whole lives in the hope and faith of seeing Him when we die, surrendering our selfish desires for our lifetime here on Earth, knowing He will fill them with something far greater.

For many, the notion of surrender sounds like a threat because they disbelieve in the promising hope of Christ. In our hope for Christ, we find reason to love unconditionally, to give generously, and to believe whole-heartedly. Without Christ, our hope is founded in the transient pleasures of a corrupted world. The world has a set of rules by which loving others adheres to, and to extend beyond these rules is to beg for judgment and condemnation (i.e. unconditional love versus expectation and disappointment). When Jesus came into the world, He set a new example for how the world can love: By dying on the cross while we were still sinners, He rescinded all our excuses to be phlegmatic about love. We can no longer explain away narcissism without first identifying its purpose by comparing it to Christ-like love; whereas the selfishness of narcissism lives for itself in harmony with hedonism, Christ dying and rising again opened the possibility for humanity to live in the embrace of the unconditional love of the Heavenly Father, through the most selfless, altruistic act given as a gift to the world; for all generations past, and all generations to come. Jesus became the epitome of altruism and the prime example of love, and when we try to excuse our selfishness, we must speak to the cross itself, for no example raises higher than Jesus’ choice to suffer for us. 

When we surrender, we surrender our desires in the faith of attaining Jesus’ promise of eternal life with Him. Not hope as in, “We’re not sure, but maybe,”—no. Hope as in, “We see the light at the end of the tunnel, and we know that what’s coming will be glorious.” Our hope in Christ isn’t some figment of “perhaps one day,” but rather, “only a matter of time.” The hope Christ offers is absolute, promising, and real. 

WHERE TO GO FROM HERE

Is there anything left in your life you haven’t surrendered that is keeping you from embracing God’s promise for you? Are you ready to take one step closer to Jesus and make a bold choice in surrendering any idols you’re worshiping which do not exult Jesus’ name–but instead, exult the propensities of a broken world? These are tough questions because they require more than just a “yes” or “no”—they require action. Don’t just think about these questions—apply them to your life. Where could you strip away parts of the world from who you are to leave room for Jesus to fill you up with peace, joy, and humility; hope in the eternal, painless, deathless future with God Himself? 

My prayer for you is that Godly humility will overcome you, and that His strength of spirit would remind you that you are not alone; you are never alone. God is with you always, and He desires to embrace you with His unconditional love. If you’d like to receive His gift of love through Jesus Christ, you can take that step by surrendering what’s holding you back from worshipping Him. I was worshipping music too much, and barely even Christian music! What kind of surrender will help you feel God’s love today? Ask yourself, and follow through by trusting in the process of surrender. Transformation starts inside. You can say “yes” and think “no” all day and never move. Instead, say yes, then get up and do something about it. Take action, surrender the world and receive God’s promise of love through Jesus. Truly, this will be the single greatest lesson in humility you will ever learn, for it will be a daily reminder of Jesus in your life.  

May God bless you as you go forward today! To read more, please follow this blog. You may also find me my Facebook page at Lance Price Blog, Twitter at LancePrice2017, or on Tumblr at lancepriceblog2017. Please share this with anyone you think would benefit, and feel free to write in the comments below—I would love to hear from you! God bless you!! May He meet you where you are and encourage you with His love, in Jesus name. 

Tough Questions

Letting God be God: The Eternal Soul Vs. Awareness

If we reach deep down into empathy, we understand pain.

When we understand pain, we seek healing at its root cause. When pain is physical, we know to locate the damage and address the wound with bandages or stitches, aiding the body’s recovery process; when the pain is intangible, such as spiritual, mental, or emotional, however—the nature of bandaging the wound changes. Once we understand the difference between physical and mental/spiritual/emotional damage, we can better understand the different nuances of healing. Taking a step further, once we understand the different nuances of healing, we can explicate the depths of human life which expose us to the veracity of the soul. And, finally, if we can understand the significance of the soul, we can shift our perspective about the concepts of pain, loss, and healing.

One of my fondest memories is that of pain. We’ve all gotten to know pain all too well. It’s a friend of ours that we didn’t ask to be introduced to, but inevitably were brought face-to-face with, regardless. 

I’ve experienced all kinds of pain: Depression, anxiety, heartache, weakness of body, soreness of muscles, and energy loss. I’m sure you have a list as well. When we look at our lists, we tend to look at them through the lens that we have suffered, and we desire restoration in place of detriment, inconvenience, hardship, and stress. We view loss of life as extremely painful because we desire to make fond memories with those we love for as long as they’re alive; when they pass, our memory-making ends, and a void is left which we fills our hearts with sorrow and pain. After so much loss, we just about crave any perfected formula to find healing from the pain.

Scientists have been studying the human design for a long time, and one of the most recent studies cover the science of human consciousness. What I find to be marveled through these findings is the way scientific technology has allowed the ability to understand consciousness so well as to be able to construct consciousness from ingredients; the liking of concocting a gourmet meal from multifarious ingredients—but with science, we’re referring to enzymes and the substances which give life the process it needs to develop. What not all scientists study, on the other hand, is the difference between the consciousness and the soul. Let’s say they create consciousness, since we’ve advanced so heavily in our technological generation—but then we come to realize our consciousness is limited. How so? Well, what is consciousness? If you break it down a little, consciousness is basically awareness of the self and its surroundings. What is the soul then, you ask?

In the most basic terms, the soul is the spiritual and immaterial being inside of each of us. If consciousness is awareness, then our soul is our lifeline. Putting it into a picture, even if our heart stops beating, our soul moves on into another dimension of existence. If you are a pantheist, you believe the soul becomes one with everything, since you believe the entire universe is equivalent to God. If you’re a Christ-follower, then you believe our souls go to Heaven or Hell, depending on the state of faith of the person’s soul. If you are an atheist or agnostic, you’re either unsure of where we go or what happens, because you can’t make up your mind with a definitive answer; or, you believe when we die, we just die, and that’s it. End of story. Personally, as a Christian, I believe there is a Heaven and Hell to go to when we die, and the only factor that makes any difference in where we go is whether or not we’ve accepted Jesus Christ into our heart. So, what does this have to do with consciousness?

Turning back to the point about scientists’ most recent studies of consciousness, or awareness, we can remark with pride that the steps we’ve taken on the scale of evolution have certainly gone to great heights. That said, evolution—as may be where we think the credit is earned—completely sidesteps a significant point that no evolutionary advantage could ever evince: the soul. Scientists may have found the way to create human consciousness, but consciousness is not spiritual material, and therefore it does not have what provides human life its fullest measure of existence. Put simply, we cannot claim to have reached a monumental achievement in science’s ability to create life when the life it creates is soulless.  

Only God creates the soul; we have not the skill nor the creativity to innovate such a complex, intricate, and eternal entity. No operating machine could create that which is intangible and without formula; science needs a method, an equation for experimentation—but the human soul is a gift from God: He creates souls, and He makes the ingredients. He may have been generous enough to allow scientists the discovery of what it takes to generate organic consciousness, but perhaps there’s a reason He keeps the blueprint of soul creation out of human reach. History tells us what happens when humans try to play God. All we see is the aftershock of human pride, greed, and duplicity; man wants to create a being as intelligent and sentient as a human while reluctantly categorizing it as artificial: artificial intelligence—or AI—isn’t anywhere near humanity without a soul.

The soul is the home of morality; consciousness does not know morality—consciousness only knows awareness, remember? When we intermix consciousness with morality, we don’t set up the equation properly, and the end result is inhuman. If we somehow pursue the notion that consciousness knows between right and wrong, we’ve misplaced awareness and intuition for the spiritual discernment between good and bad—right and wrong. When we confuse these two, we think ourselves genius in celebrating the creation of artificial life, when the life form created isn’t alive at all—but only conscious; aware.

As deeply tangible as we want to dig, we will not discover the depths of the origins of the soul while here on Earth. And when we try to recreate parts of humanity, believing we can achieve clones, for instance—the closest we’ll ever get is replicas of limbs; hands, feet, ears, noses, etc.—but never a living, sentient, moral, whole-hearted human being. We may get a brain and a body, but absent the personality— the glow of the soul within. Any personality concocted within a soulless brain would be created from formulas induced by the same science behind AI; they would be predictable, short-sighted, incomplete, and limited to a number of processes within a computer template. God’s creation of the soul, on the other hand, is without bounds or limits; that is why we are eternal after we die. To try to give a body life would only be to give it awareness of its existence, but not fear of lack of purpose, for it would desire none. 

If we are created by God, the source of all spiritual matter, then only from God can a soul with a life come. Humans, try as we may, might have uncovered some of the complex mysteries to a certain extent of what may be referred to as scientific evolution, but we are not meant to achieve more than that. My hope in writing this post is that we will heavily consider how every pain we experience in this life can, will, and should encourage us back to the receiving the love of Jesus—the healer of all pain and the God of restoration, through personal relationship and constant communication with our best friend and Savior. 

I’d like you to ponder the idea that though we may find some healing in this life for our bodies, and only by the grace of God—the only healing we should ever seek for our souls is from God; not from science, evolution, or any other such study or concept. Let our curiosities land on the love, admiration, and awe of the wonders of Christ, and not the fallacy that humans should play God in some way. This will drive us to live off of pride, closing our hearts from living in the hope of a painless eternal future with our Creator. Jesus came to rescue our souls, and when we focus more on our bodies than our spirits, we lose sight of the significance of our purpose which derives from Him, and that forfeits the reason for us to need His love; our one and only reason to exist at all. 

With this said, I will close this article by praying for you that these thoughts and ideas will give you food for thought, and complex ideas for reconsideration about life, healing, pain, and God’s promise to renew our hearts and souls. Science will never emulate God, but we can use it to improve our lives in the ways God divulges—one miracle at a time. If you have any thoughts, questions, concerns, or other remarks you would like to share, I would appreciate hearing them. Please leave a comment below, or fill out a contact form above, and I’ll gladly respond to you. God bless you, and may He meet you in your place of need today. I pray you would feel His love for you, that you would come to know Him more through His love and ubiquitous presence in your life. Lift your face in hope that He is coming for those who have faith in Him! You are not alone today, He is right beside you. May you feel and receive this truth, in Jesus name.

Construct

The Echo Of Jesus’ Love Through History

Who we are echoes throughout eternity. Our next breath is just the beginning of the next moment; the beginning of another chance to be who we choose to be. Do we consider how who we are affects the people around us? How often do we contemplate how much of an influence we for others? 

Often, I forget the expression of living as if today is my last day. I forget that at any moment, my heart could stop beating. We’re spoiled. See, our hearts beat involuntarily—we don’t have to worry about the process, or set an alarm to keep the rhythm going. Many times, we choose to live as if we know tomorrow will come, despite our lack of omniscience. We know not what the next minute will hold, and many of us already have our lives planned up to the second for the next week. Do we leave margins open for life to happen during the “in-betweens” of our plans? 

Surely, we cannot plan our next breath, but we can hope for it. We can hope we won’t have to fight for our lives if oxygen doesn’t make its way up through our lungs. In this same way, we can hope our best friend will still be alive tomorrow. We can hope our job is still on the market in the morning. We can hope for so many things… but how much hope do we place in things we’re sure we know, compared to the hope we place in our faith?

As Jesus is my Savior, I believe He controls the oxygen in my lungs. I have hope that He will give me another, and another, and another… because He loves me. And when He decides not to give me another, I have faith that His love for me has taken me away from this place to be with Him where He is. And for every pain in-between those two breaths, I have faith Jesus has a reason for those. Jesus allows pain to give us opportunities to draw near to Him. Some pain feels traumatic and severe; the worse pain we experience, the closer to Christ we can become.

If you get to know me, you’ll notice my smile, my genuine curiosity, and the way it’s hard to make me angry. I don’t get angry over silly things, but it upsets me when you’re driving skills give me the impression that my life is in danger. I’m the kind of man who would rather be reading in quiet or walking on the shore than at a bar or club. The reason I am the way I am is because I treasure simplicity; I admire patience, understanding, and empathy from others. These qualities are qualities I’ve tried my best to adapt to the best of my ability because I think their roles in human life are eternal, and worth echoing throughout history. Truly, I believe these qualities have echoed through history, otherwise they would be faded in definition and mythic in reference. But they aren’t. These characteristics are cherished, refined, and established as precious and rare—because the quality of such characteristics as these are to the human design as gold is to currency. If we want to understand what is worth echoing, we can look at history to see what has prevailed and what has phased out. Certainly, the reason behind the prevalence of evil is that with regards to the sin nature of humankind, evil trumps peace when ego trumps humility.  

How often do we try to make a difference in the world? How often is the difference we’re making worth an eternal echo through history? What guidelines must be adhered to in order that the qualities we emanate are of the highest degree? If we look carefully, there is but one category which must be placed above the rest, and that is love. But not just any love—the love of Jesus.

If what we’re doing, saying, and displaying to others isn’t out of love, then what is it worth? What does love look like? Picture a person crying and another embracing them. Picture young men opening the doors for the elderly without having to be asked to. Imagine church members giving of their time to improve their community in ways that won’t put their name on any billboard or check. Think of the people who spend hours at hospice or geriatric care centers where older people who have lost everyone are desperate for connection and company. Think of little children supporting their friend who didn’t make the sports team they tried out for. Support, connection, trust, empathy: LOVE. Love in the name of Jesus. 

See, we can love and say it’s because we just have good intentions, but then we must define the source of “good”. And if we cannot, then how can we claim to know what kind of intentions we have? Truly, if we aren’t loving in the name Christ, we are loving conditionally, because there is no foundation for altruism that derives from the self. 

If we want to send echoes into history, we must send eternal ripples of love, or the ripples we send will not reach farther than our minds or our egos. Ask how that stranger who looks sad is doing, and offer to pray for them. Open the door for someone even if it takes a few seconds longer than usual for them to get to the door–just to send them the message that they were noticed and validated. Some people are so used to the prideful side of others that these kinds of loving actions will be an absolute shock and a pleasant surprise. For others, with the very pride which the former expect, they will take your act of love for granted, thinking you’re a fool for waiting, rolling their eyes as they take the door from you without so much as a scoff or a muffled “thanks” under the scoff of their exhale. It doesn’t matter, love them anyways. The point is to show others not that you’re a doormat or that you have no confidence, but that you’re humble beyond words. Humility expresses love in ways pride never will.

We can afford to show more humility and to speak from deeper authenticity. We can afford to call our friend who we know had an interview and ask how they’re dealing with it. We can afford to pray for our friends when they’re down, or to celebrate with them during a victory. All of this is Christ-like love. Christ-like love echoes a million times into eternity, and the ripples do not slow or stop because Jesus blesses them as they flow. He blesses us for our faith in Him, and He blesses those whom we extend ourselves to in His name. We only extend a fraction of who we are; yet His power expands the ripple a million times over, because He is love. 

Think about these words, and consider the way you put love on display for others. Is it obvious, subtle, unconditional, unexpected, thoughtful, spontaneous, care-free, empathetic—is it authentic? If you’re unsure of your motives, ask yourself what you’ll gain from the experience, and if the answer is joy from another person receiving happiness, even in a small way–I would say go for it. And if anyone approaches you or responds to your love by asking why you do what you do, give Jesus all the credit–but explain it in a way that makes sense to you. The more genuine you are in what you do and say, the more others will be ever so curious about “this Jesus, guy.” 

If you don’t have Jesus, then perhaps someone will do this for you. If you disbelieve in Jesus as Lord, but you experience the love of others in His name–does that not make you curious about the way faith in Christ inspires them towards authentic altruism? I hope you will be inspired by others’ choices to love you without reason beyond Jesus. Jesus’ love is eternal, and it echoes still today. If there’s anything worth echoing, it’s the ripples of love, joy, and hope that comes with knowing Jesus in our hearts, and sharing what that means to us. May you be blessed as you are overcome with His love for you. In Jesus name!

Echo

The Blessing Of Perspective After the Horror Of Trauma

“How might it have been?” 

Oh boy. This question could haunt us until the day we die. Or… it could just be static background ambience to a life we accept as is. How do you approach this question?

My parents divorced, many, many years ago—but I don’t often give the memory itself the time of day anymore. I’m aware of its reality in my life, but I hardly think about it. Their divorce is a reference in passing of a reality that I’m used to. The ramifications of divorce are my “normal”, you could say. The question, “how might it have been?” just ends up pressing on old wounds that are scars now. 

The only one who knows how life could go in all directions is God, since He is omniscient, or all-knowing. This could either be relief, or it could be nerve-wrecking, because some of the wounds in our lives are so traumatic, we just want to know what “might have been” in an alternative of this reality. “What might life be like if my best friend hadn’t died when I was so little?” or “What might have happened to me if I had applied for that job as soon as it was posted, instead of waiting all this time?” These questions haunt us because we see how life turned out, and we feel convinced our life could have been improved upon in some way if that event just hadn’t taken place. But how do we know? When we try to play God, we end up ruining the present by wishing it away. The present is all we have; there is no other life we could have lived, and no other memory we’ll ever make—other than the one we’re in now. 

I think for me, the biggest “might have been” would be my parents divorce, because the ripples extended far and wide throughout the years. There are many telling factors about my life, some which are too personal for me to share here, which make it very obvious to me that the divorce shook the entire universe of my life. To help you understand where I’m coming from, I’ll will say this: all that has happened to me after the divorce–every job I’ve applied for, every relationship I’ve tried and failed at, every state I’ve lived in, every person I’ve met, on and on the list goes– everything was impacted by my response to life after the trauma of experiencing my parents’ divorce.

The way I thought about myself after their divorce changed. The way I viewed relationships, and the promise of their future, changed. My perspective of theology and religion changed. My trust in people, and my expectation of friendships, changed. Everything I looked at and received into my soul changed because I lost something inside. There was a breach that occurred during the divorce that never left me; if anything, it left me damaged permanently. When my parents divorced, my heart became something I didn’t understand, couldn’t quite accept, and no longer recognized. The pain was very deep, extremely convoluted, and excruciating in more ways than I could explain. Not a hand touched me, but my heart was crushed. And what happened following all of that was my response to life became something like that of a guess: I was guessing my way through life, using the identity of someone I didn’t quite know how to be. Does this sound familiar to you? 

How might it have been? could be a holiday for me because of the alternatives that I could fantasize about. Do you know how many alternatives I have fantasized about–how many ways I’ve imagined how things could have been better? But ultimately, what good are they? They’re not real. Those fantasies aren’t my actual memories, those conversations and those experiences never occurred—they aren’t my history today. How much more remorse do we put in ourselves when we conflate the moment we’re in with better-case-scenarios? That only confuses us with a fallacious prescription of hope and permeates life with disappointment because, eventually, you see–we will blink, and the heart-shattering reality we live in comes flooding back. What, then, is best way to live on?

What I would suggest, as I’ve come to experience through my own life, is we embrace the blessing of perspective. What I mean by that is, we accept the the truth of our trauma, its impact on our hearts and lives, we admit that the pain we feel is real, and that we have been impacted by something severe. After that, we choose to see alternative realities as something we can write on paper, like journalism; seeing those stories as just that—stories—because to try to embrace alternative realities is to choose not to live in the only one we have. The one thing more painful than experiencing trauma is to make believe they don’t really exist, forcing into our minds that something else happened instead. The convoluted lies of such a sorrow-based reality plays only one role, and that is to plant the seed of depression. 

To overcome trauma, we must embrace the ripples of our trauma and come to see the life following the horrors of the event as a world that can heal. Coming to see the world in this way took over 10 years of my life to find, so, readers, this is something I’m writing to you because I hope whatever trauma you’re going through right now, that you might come out of your pain sooner–if possible, without rushing your healing time–than I came out of mine. After 10 years (but 22 years where God was just a word and not a relationship), my eyes were opened to Jesus, and, years more after that, my heart opened to Him as well.

Trauma is no stranger to Jesus, who was nailed to a cross to die. When I talk to Jesus now, I don’t feel the way I used to feel, which seemed more like a conversation with myself and a wall than a dialogue. But those prayers were prayed like reading words off of a page; it’s not that God wasn’t listening or responding, it’s that I didn’t have the faith to communicate with Him, and I didn’t quite have it in my heart to fully believe what I was praying for was possible through Him. I do now, and that’s what’s changed the way I pray, and, furthermore–the way I can hear Him responding.

Bringing up the pain and trauma of my parents’ divorce is to help you see that I am just like you: I’ve experienced something excruciating enough to want to make believe it never happened. But it did. There’s no going around it, and what’s unfortunate is how adamant I was about resisting that truth. But let me make it clear–I’m not justifying or suggesting we cling to our traumas or live in pain. NO. I’m suggesting we embrace the truth that the pain hurts, and then choose to allow what we’re experiencing to be our reality; pain as only the first step, healing and restoration as the last. 

Like I said, I found Jesus 10 years after my parents’ divorce, and my faith is what has reshaped the perspective of my life for the better. I believe my purpose on Earth is to help others see Jesus by being a light to them through my faith in action. In writing this blog, for example, I hope to bring others who have experienced real horror in their life to the loving embrace of Jesus. That’s where the most promising safety is. Nothing on Earth, below it or above it could ever stop the love of Jesus. That is why I want others to come running for this—because the promise is real, it is eternal, and it is free. Whatever pain you’re going through, whatever Hell you’ve experienced, Jesus understands. You don’t have to live in that place by yourself. Your darkness can find the light just like any other; mine certainly did, even if it took ten years and counting. Some people find hope after decades of running through life trying to escape the pain of their memories–never realizing that their entire world is one microcosm of pain fabricated as the reality of their present moment; like some fictitious middle-ground world where they can’t really live, but where they aren’t really dead, either. But thankfully, that world isn’t real, it just feels real because our minds are trying to cope with our hearts’ experience of deep and horrible pain. When we are ready, we can take a step back and see a bigger picture: the Truth that Jesus loves us no matter what pain we’re experiencing, and that His light is stronger than our darkness.

If you are experiencing trauma, my hope is that you won’t live in the “might have been” thoughts, which squander all of the best moments you could be having instead. Embrace the pain by seeing it through the perspective that it is only the first step in a process, and that the last steps are of healing and restoration. Pain is the repercussion of sin; restoration is the gift of faith in Jesus as Lord. Seeing the world through the perspective of Jesus as Lord and Savior is to see grace, mercy, peace, forgiveness, and acceptance as made possible through His sacrifice for us on the cross. After we receive His gift of love through that act, our lives change, knowing this isn’t the end.

We don’t have to live in misery; we can live in the hope of tomorrow, knowing Jesus will come back for us, and we will live forever in peace, joy, and happiness. Pain on Earth is temporary, but emotional pain feels like a lifetime. Our minds experience time differently here, and so the trauma we feel can seem like a nightmare we never wake from. But invite Jesus into your nightmare, and watch Him light up your world with the hope of what’s to come. You are loved, perfectly and unconditionally, so please do not let your past be your present. Live for Christ, receiving His love for you. Embrace the traumas of your life as only temporary, and find the peace in receiving the hope of Christ. You don’t have to live in this bubble of misery. You can have joy, right now. Do you know Jesus Christ? It’s time you are introduced. He was a carpenter, He was God Incarnate, and He loved others, directing all the mystery and loving nature about Himself back to our God in Heaven, teaching that through Him, we can be made anew. That means that in receiving Christ, our hearts will be remade with the hope of having relationship with Jesus; our best friend, Messiah, and Lord. 

Trauma can fade away, and joy can be put in its place. Ask God to meet you where you are, and be transformed with His perfect love for you. Nothing and no one could ever take you away from this gift of love, and no other love is more powerful and fulfilling than the love of Christ. 

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Be lifted high, in Jesus name!

Faded