Finding Miracles At Our Breaking Point

We all need someone to look up to; a role model, an inspiration, someone to emulate and challenge us to be better versions of ourselves. While I was very little, my role models were characters from movies from TV shows. At around 5-7 years old, I was drawn to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; their vigilance in fighting crime and standing up for the innocent, especially in their turtle-form, was appealing and entertaining. Later, my role model became none other than Superman himself. He continued to be my hero for many years because he represented the desire of humanity for peace, justice, and the American way; fighting injustice without killing. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with admiring characters like this—characters with larger-than-life stories. As humans, we want to connect with something beyond ourselves because we need that inspiration to do what we believe transcends human nature; to live into a higher calling. Why else do we consider these characters “larger than life”?

After I discovered the person of Jesus in my life (in the form of the Holy Spirit in my heart), He became my role model. I had a perspective shift in what it means to live “larger than life”. To me, the best way to summarize what larger than life looks like to me now is through the lens of humility, healing, and surrender. Let me draw you a picture.

Before I accepted Christ, life for me was all about lusting after women, idolizing music and movies, and writing poems in the middle of the night when my dad and step-siblings were asleep. I didn’t feel any sort of purpose in life, and the things inspiring me to live were the songs of bands like Korn, Linkin Park, and Marilyn Manson. They validated my anger towards the pain of my parents’ divorce, and towards the confusion and hurt behind experiencing my parents’ response to their divorce—and not understanding either of their responses at that time. I was exposed to depression from multiple family members suffering from it, without even knowing that’s what I was being exposed to; the malady of which took me into the bathroom tub full of water and the temptation to stop breathing underneath. My purpose in life was defined by music telling me that my anger was legitimate and empowering, that my hurt was deep, and that both were real. Those were the messages I didn’t feel coming from people around me during those times when everything I’d come to know and feel safe with dissipated overnight. God allowed trauma to grab me from behind, but He allowed it knowing what the aftermath would become.

See, I witnessed my parents experiencing their own divorce. My dad grew quiet and uninvolved with me, I didn’t know what to make of it then; I was hurting too, and perplexed. Looking back, I can only imagine the pain he was going through after so many years of marriage. I witnessed my dad experience a pain I’d never seen him feel before, not to mention the death of his parents only weeks before Christmas the same year of the divorce. Mom was experiencing her own depression, and everything happening around us took a toll on our relationship. Our family seemed to be crawling through Hell, and I couldn’t make sense of a loving God inside of that devastating mess. Atheism wasn’t a vague, foreign idea to me after all of that. These thoughts covered me with water in that tub, more than once, when I tried to convince myself not to be afraid to stop breathing when the water pressure was too high. I was afraid because I was alone. Not only in the bathroom, but in my life. I didn’t feel like I had anyone who saw me, and I was desperate for an answer to save me from my self-deprecation and hate.

Years later, after exhaustive amounts of time spent in this deteriorating mentality, I was not only desperate for a reason to be alive, but for the reason why I was desperate. I found it intriguing in such a morbid way that I wouldn’t kill myself and yet I kept asking myself what life was really for.

What was all the darkness trying to tell me? Why were Korn’s songs so important to me—so validating? Why did trying to drown make me feel like something was being balanced in the world—as if trading my presumed worthless existence for the more worthy existence of everyone else—and why did I, even to the slightest of a degree, want a reason to believe that that might not be true…. as the air in my lungs was collapsing, and I had to choose to come up for air or choke on gallons of water imploding on me.

Was Jesus speaking through to me even though I wasn’t listening yet? Did the silence in my heart have anything to do with the hope that kept me alive, even though I rejected His goodness as a fallacy for so many years? Did the fact that I stayed alive despite multiple attempts to die have anything to do with the miraculous power that He had over my surroundings; encouraging me, even at bare minimum, that there was something worth living for? How can I, looking back, not acknowledge Jesus at work in a life not believing, surrendering, loving, or reaching out for the Lord who was trying to show me He was really there all along? How can I not say that wasn’t the intervention of a LOVING Supreme Being who knows me better than I know myself? See, Jesus knows I enjoy water, and He knows I enjoy the quiet because I find it peaceful. When I found myself trying to drown myself in both, He met me, even though I couldn’t feel Him or hear Him at the time—and He took me from death by feeding me even the slightest reason to keep going, even if it was just the music and vindication I received from listening to rock songs and writing poems.

I understand everyone has their own story of adversity, struggle, trauma, crisis, and pain. We all do. I have mine, and I’ve shared a chunk of my story so that you can understand that I don’t speak of anything I haven’t experienced myself. I experienced the desire to die as the main focus of my life for several agonizing years. I’ve also experienced choosing narcissism over Christ, trying to get what I want just for me—and hedonism was a disappointment through that as well. Self-satisfaction is no reason to live at all. All that living for pleasure ever did was tire me out and make me want to die. You may think that perhaps I didn’t find the right kind of pleasure. I disagree. For instance, the argument for sex is invalid. For about 15 years of my life, I’ve heard from countless people about meaningless, promiscuous sex, about how much fun it is, but how unsatisfying, and therefore unfulfilling it is. They admit how having sex with someone you love is much more satisfying, but wisdom will tell you that it’s nothing to live for.

For another instance, those who would concede to the argument of the pleasure of drugs as a good reason to live—the high from drugs has the same effect; if anything, people lose brain cells from drugs, as well as concentration, time, and the ability to prioritize. Drug addicts continuing their lifestyle without any desire to change ignore the truth that their addiction only obscures their reason for doing drugs: To hide from pain. Sure, some do it for fun because they feel they have nothing better to do. That’s my point: There IS something better to do! There is so much… and I was drowning myself in a tub because I couldn’t see it, either. 

To give you a more recent picture of my life, today I see women as treasures of the living God, and relationships as complements of what God allows into our lives when we treat them as gifts from Him, and not invitations of the devil to throw our souls away. Though my history distorts relationships because of my traumas, I seek the Lord and pursue the way He views women, fighting my past with faith in Jesus as my guide to healthy boundaries. I still deeply appreciate music, but I intentionally incorporate worship music to balance out my propensity for rock music, and the rock music I enjoy does not glorify the devil, nor degrade or convolute the concept of God. My writing continues on and off this blog; I write songs once in a while, but I enjoy writing these articles in hopes of inspiring others like you to look beyond disbelief and darkness, seeking answers to your life’s purpose, ranging deeper than you could imagine.

Truly, I understand atheism and disbelief like the back of my hand. But I’d rather adhere to knowing Jesus as the center of my heart. Now that I know why He came, what He was, is, and will always be about—He worthy of all of my time, all of my thoughts, desires, and hopes. If you haven’t gotten to that point of your life, I empathize with your dissension; there is no judgment here. I spent the majority of my life being spoiled and not giving any glory or credit to Jesus: I’m one of the people who don’t want to spend another day without surrender and humbleness. I want you to know I didn’t find Jesus in the tub that day, but it was because I hadn’t chosen to see Him yet; not because He wasn’t there. I don’t believe that. What I believe, because of what I experienced—is that the second Jesus knew I was ready with a softened heart, He flooded Himself into my life; and I’ve been different ever since. There was a lot of learning and growth to do, and there still is, but compared to the days of my crisis and family trauma, I’m light-years away. I write this to you so you’ll know you’re not alone in your pain. You’re not alone in your situation. God sees you and wants to help you, but He won’t come into a closed heart. He won’t because that’s your choice to let Him in or keep Him out. 

My prayer is that you would find peace, even in your pain. That you would find forgiveness for those who have hurt you, and peace even inside of all the trouble you’re facing. When I say Jesus really is the light of the world, I don’t mean for that to sound cliché. He is the “light in the darkness” because He is the hope in a world crumbling at the feet of sin and corruption. He is the reason I keep going, and I pray He will be yours. When you can’t feel His closeness, I pray you would seek Him by name; the name above all other names. There is no one like Him, the One who saves us from ourselves each and every day. I believe in His love, even when I’m too rigid in my shame to receive it from Him. May you find it in yourself to seek Him at all costs, above all the rest of your priorities in life; may you find Him in your heart, and once you do, may you never look away—may you never move back. I pray you would let Him transform you from the broken soul you have now to one of restoration, peace, completion, humility, and strength from above.

As an atheist for most of my life, I never found any satisfaction in anything of this world. Often I reminisce just to look over the differences in my life since I accepted Christ, and every time I do, I realize how blind I was when I was closed off from Jesus. I understand it all happened in its own timing according to God’s will. He knew how long I’d need to accept Him, but He didn’t push harder than He knew He should. I chose Him when I was done trying to find pleasure in narcissism. After I exhausted myself of trying to find meaning in this world, I realized there was nothing to find, and what I did find was never, ever enough.

Jesus’s love, and the hope which comes from His resurrection, brings me more satisfaction than anything this world has to offer. When people talk about parties, alcohol, sex jokes, vacations, or time to just “to do nothing”, I pity for them; despite understanding their desire for a break (Jesus Himself commands us to heed the Sabbath for rest), I always find myself quiet so as not to offend people who brag about worldly pleasures. If people ask me my opinion, I honestly tell them I’d rather read or watch a movie than to go partying. I already know there is nothing meaningful in this world besides faith in Christ. 

My rigidity to faith in Christ was not at all different from unbelievers’ rigidity to Jesus today, but some people hang onto theirs for longer. One of the differences between me and other unbelievers is that I got tired more quickly. I hope you won’t wait long before you let Him in to give you a more satisfying purpose. He is always waiting, always ready to give us all we need. We only need turn ourselves to Him with humility and surrender, and He is ready to embrace us. He was never gone, we just weren’t looking. 

Let us “look” today, let us try to strive in a world more and more confused by its own contradictions with the hope of Christ expressed through our words and actions. May God bless you as you choose to search for Him and may you recognize His goodness, even in your pain. He loves you, and He desperately wants you to choose Him, as He is a jealous God. But He won’t make you. You have a choice. 

If you resonate with what you’ve read here and you’d like to read more, please follow this blog. You may also find me my Facebook page at Lance Price Blog, Twitter at LPBlog2017, or on Tumblr at lancepriceblog2017. Please feel free to share this with anyone you think would benefit, and if you’d like, please write in the comments below and share a thought, a prayer request–I would love to hear from you! God bless you!!

Gone

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!!

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