What Defines You?

How we answer this question, is very vital. For it it makes up a vast majority of how we function in daily life.

First, what are we NOT?

We are not our disability, if you have one.

We are not our mental illness, if you have one.

we are not our grade point average.

We are not our sexual orientations.

We are not our political party.

We are not our past failures.

We are not our success.

We are not our body image.

We are not our relationship status.

On and on we could go.

Our core identity, is founded upon being made in the image of God (Genesis 1). Now I know that some might take issue with that. But for me, it wasn’t until I discovered how much God loved me, that I ever truly knew peace. It was then that I stopped the endless hunt for something to fill me up or satisfy me. Money is a blessing, but that can never bring us lasting satisfaction.

All of us, are on a hunt to find what gives us a sense of worth and purpose. For some of us, that’s children, status, money, sex, power. The reality is though, that may satisfy us for a while, but those things will all leave us empty when they are taken from us. And they will be!

Knowing that our worth, value, purpose and self-esteem is founded upon the Lords image in us. Thus allows us to be able to not only realize our true selves, but to see ourselves in  healthy and balanced way. It also allows us to endure the hardest of circumstances, knowing that God is in control and our truest satisfaction and joy.

And until we come to that understanding, we will be, as  saint Augustine says: Restless until it (our hearts) rests in you.

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The Thorn In My Side (Dealing With Anger)

I’m going to come out and say it, what haunts me the most is anger. It doesn’t take long for me to lose my mind, all the discipline and self-control go out the window. I hate it about myself, it makes me feel so ungodly and not mirroring Jesus Christ.

I hate the way anger makes me feel, it makes feel all the more frustrated that I’m angry in the first place. It makes me body feel like I’m going about my day, as though I am carrying around heavy amounts of weight on my body.

I try and close my eyes and take slow, deep breathes in an attempt to calm the storm inside me. I try and remember the peace and joy that is found in Christ. I try and remember that he has authority over the storms that surround us (Mark 4:35-41).

Jesus calm the storm inside me I pray under the breath, help me to act and love like you do. Even when people and circumstances annoy me, help me to know that you are Lord over everything in my life. Anger can very much be a two-edged sword, on one hand, it can be directed to fighting back against evil, with a holy anger.

The Lord, says that he is slow to anger, and abounding in faithful love and truth (Psalm 86:15). Note the word slow, the Lords anger is controlled and builds up over time. And to be sure, yes, the Lords anger will one day be poured out. But still, his anger is calculated and controlled. He simply doesn’t fly off the handle at a moments notice.

But I think there’s something to the reality, in which the Lord says  Vengeance is mine (Romans 12:9).  Why does he command this?  Because he doesn’t want anger to be the controlling factor of our lives. Again, the Bible doesn’t say to ever not be angry. For I just showed you that even God himself is slow to anger.

Moreover, scripture be angry and do not sin (Eph 4:26) how is that even possible? Again, this is where self-control and dependency on the Holy Spirit is crucial. Holy anger is being angry for a just cause, not the ill tempered person that lashes out and brings harm to others.

It is possible to be in control of oneself, when being overcome and frustration. For example, I might be annoyed with a person or person’s in a particular situation, but that doesn’t mean that I”m going to take out my anger on everyone involved. It takes extreme amount of discipline and the willingness to apply yourself to the process.

Some might argue that,  it’s just apart of some peoples genetic make up. But I’m not even willing to let them be used as an excuse. People can change. I certainly can change. It’s a matter of A) Admitting you have a problem B) making the steps needed to change C) Seeking forgiveness from God and others and D) laying aside every excuse that you have, as to why you can’t change. And actually believe that change is possible, because it is.

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Arguing Toward Peace (Why Jordan Peterson is Right).

Some days ago, I watched a video of Dr. Jordan Peterson on the Dr. Oz show, Dr. Peterson was talking to a married couple who were on the brink of divorce. The wife had the papers all ready to go, but she had not signed them yet.

Link here: Dr. Jodan Peterson saves a marriage 

The wife had said that she didn’t go through wife signing the papers yet, for the soul purpose of there being hope still. Which I applaud and even find admirable. Dr. Peterson said a lot of good things in the three minute clip, but the one thing I found to be absolute gold was when he uttered the words:

Argue Toward Peace

Argue toward peace… Which is something we don’t do as Americans, why? Because we all want to be right, we all want to hold onto grudges and resent and not forgive and move for the better. Now most certainly, there’re times when it is right to walk away from a relationship and even family, if it is completely toxic and no parties want to meet in the middle.

Arguing toward peace, requires a few things

One: Letting go of your ego, meaning that one stops thinking about only about what they want. And why their right, actually hearing the other side. This can even be said in light of our political climate as well!  Who would have thunk? Once again I know it can be difficult to control our emotions when we are bitter, frustrated and angry. Lord knows, that I suck at this myself.

Its easy for me to blow and raise my voice, and even harder for me to step away and breath for a moment. Yet, that is what we must learn to do more and better. Scripture informs us that fruit of the spirit is:

Love

Joy

Peace

Forbearance

Kindness

Goodness

Faithfulness

Gentleness

And-self control.

Furthermore, scripture says Blessed are the peacemakers  (Matthew 5:9). The reality is, we could all do a lot better at being peace makers, that doesn’t mean holding firm to our own convictions, or stepping into battle when the time is right. But it does mean, that we learn to make peace with those we love. For example, my girlfriend and I have made an agreement not to go to bed angry, This is partly a biblical approach and partly logical.

I hate going to bad with any sort of anger or frustration it literally robs me of all joy, makes me toss and turn and takes me away from my true self. That usually leads me to call my girlfriend to apologies, which of course leads us both to feel at peace. Arguing toward peace, means sitting down, and calming talking through things, not screaming and holding onto how they hurt you or vise versa.

It’s about knowing that things are with fighting for, even when the world tells us to give up and start afresh. Not doing the relational hard work to reconcile our differences with one another. Arguing toward peace, in my opinion must become the new norm for us as a society.

And only when we have exhausted every option, is it worth giving up. In closing, I’d like to say also, that arguing toward peace Does NOT Mean allowing someone to walk all over you, cheat on you and even be physically abusive with you.  Arguing toward peace is a methodology,  that is to be used to facilitate healing in the lives of two people or even a group of people. But never under violent relational circumstances.

Blessings

-Brandon

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My Thoughts On “Toxic Masculinity”

Okay,

so with all the craze over toxic masculinity, I just wanted to share my thoughts, however brief this may be. I agree with the thoughts that Jocko Willink submits on the topic: Article here

As a whole, he submits that there must be a dichotomy or balance, and that either side cannot be taken to the utmost extreme. Seems simple and clear enough, right? Not exactly, many even were up in arms about his article published by Fox news.

Here is a running definition, that I quickly searched for:

Toxic masculinity is one of the ways in which Patriarchy is harmful to men. It refers to the socially-constructed attitudes that describe the masculine gender role as violent, unemotional, sexually aggressive, and so forth. I don’t like this definition because it only shows one side, and simply says that men who are toxic/hyper masculine men, are not sensitive, or in touch with their emotions and or are emotionally constipated .

Okay, fair enough. Do I think that men who use violence and are emotionally abusive, for the wrong reasons are men? Not so much, because they are using those traits for the wrong reasons. There’re men in the world, who use violence in the dominating sense, with someone who is not on the same level as them, as a means to feel powerful. There’re men in the world, who are in fact, mentally and emotional abusive to others, so they can maintain a sense of control over others.

I don’t applaud this, as a man, and as a martial artist. There is indeed a time to use violence, as a means for good. For example, if I am with my girlfriend, and an evil man or group of evil men were trying to harm her in some form. You can bet your dying breath, that I would invoke as much violence needed to protect her, or any other loved one for that matter.

Now, do I go around puffing my chest out looking for a fight? No, that’s a stupid and horrible way to live. People that do that, are simply empty  and lonely on the inside and using violence as a means of fulfillment. Which is horribly wrong and there is no excuse for that.  Martial arts has taught me, to live at peace with others and myself. And only use my skills as last resort.

We as society are missing out on this lesson so much. To a degree, this needs to be reformed not only in our children and even full grown men. My nephew, who is very tender, is something that I want him to keep all his life. At the same time though, I want him to be brave and warrior. I want him to be a defender of the weak. On the other hand, I want him to be able to express emotion and other various emotions at the right times.

As Jocko says in his article, if you are too emotional at times, in the wrong context. People can use that as means to their advantage. Especially, if we are dealing with one who has an anti-social pattern of living. The Bible says to guard your heart, for it is the well spring of life. If we don’t protect our hearts, with shields and barriers, then we will constantly let the wrong people in. And that will only do us more harm.

We must learn to find a way of balancing both, when we do this we will find a more fulfilled life and purpose.  As I once heard a pastor say ” A real man is tough and tender.” And we need not look to anyone other then Jesus Christ. Who was the very definition of that. He was tough, in that he stood up against injustice, he fought for the oppressed and outcasts of society. He was tough (and masculine) by trade, being a carpenter, the dude probably had a lot of muscle. He also knew when to make good use of his anger, which took a great deal of time for it to present itself.

He was also tender in the sense (and as I have already said) with the outcasts of society, he wasn’t afraid to touch the people who were “unclean” by the standards of that time. He wasn’t afraid to cry either, but again, it was in the proper context. He is the man, that all men should strive to be like.

 

 

 

 

Agree or disagree, these are my thoughts!

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The Gift of Your Child

The following entry is a topic that has long weighed upon my heart, I do not wish for anyone to feel condemned or even shamed in the process of reading this. If anything, it is my hope and prayer that your heart and mind might see things in a fresh perspective and that you may sense a jolt in your spirit, and even a fresh perspective on the life your leading.

I can’t imagine what is was like, for my parents to hear from the doctor that I would be born with cerebral palsy (CP). The doctor gave my parents a lot of double speak, in that, one hand I would probably grow out of the condition, which never ever happens. If I didn’t grow out of it, then, according to the doctor, I would be dependent on others to help me live my life and I wouldn’t be able to do much of anything on my own.

You don’t have to be a pattern in the present moment, to get an idea of how that made my parents feel. My mom always tells me this story, that she grabbed this doctor by his lab coat and gave this doctor a piece of her mind. Apparently, in doing this, that caused this very small hospital on lock down. Furthermore, my mom would tell me about how, she would walk in the snow, to the hospital to make sure I was fed and gained the weight that was needed to be discharged from the hospital.

There is only one word to describe this: Love. Was it stressful and nerve racking? Yes, without question. I can only imagine that there were times where my parents felt frustrated and just needed a moment to breath and gather themselves back up. God knows, that we are only human and have our breaking points. Yet is was love, for my dad to take me to each physical therapy session and doctors appointment. It’s love, for my dad to teach me martial arts and how to be strong as a man.

Now, I have always tried to be as sufficient as possible,  but there’re a few things in life which have always got in the way. 1) driving and 2) cooking, I have attempted to learn to drive before, and will try again. The problem becomes, in having a bad startle reflex and taking a bit of time for my body to wake up and regulate its self in the morning. As of now, wisdom tells me that it’s easier to air on the side of caution. I would hate to be behind the wheel, and get startled by a loud noise, gun through the intersection and either being badly hurt myself or injuring someone else.

Cooking, it’s something I can do for myself, however the kitchen in my home is not the best set up for me. But I know that this arrangement is only temporary. The point being, is I know that things get stressful for my parents. Because, as I said earlier, their human too.  Yet, knowing that I am dependent in some ways and as a person with CP (or any other disability one wants to fill in the blank with).

The idea of being a gift or blessing, gets replaced with the word burden or thinking that we are dead weight. Now, let me lay before you that, parents that vocalize any sort of frustration. They don’t actually mean it, does it feel good? No, it doesn’t, in fact it hurts and cuts down to the bone if we don’t learn how detach ourselves from the moment, and cling to truth.

The truth is, our parents just might be having a bad day, should parents vocalize such frustration in front of their sons or daughters? Probably not. The reality is, it’s not good for anyone. I think that there should be times for parents with special needs children to vent, but in a healthier context. Not directly in front of your son or daughter.

Once again, to those of us who have CP or any other disability. Remember the truth, you’re not a burden, but a joy. Who has unique gifts and talents to offer the world. It’s important that we have a forgiving and grace filled spirit. Because the people around us, who love of the most will have bad days. And it’s important to know who we really are, to smile and forgive.

Parents, again, God knows you will have bad days. God knows that you will say things that you don’t mean. I think is key to remember, that if your son or daughter could actually drive, cook or do X, Y or Z for themselves they actually would. I m deeply thankful, for all my parents and family has done to help me get to where I am in life.

And if I could drive and do a few other things for myself, I would gladly do so. But in this current moment, things are as they are. Yet that does not mean, that I stop trying to improve myself to be as sufficient as possible. Lastly, and I don’t mean to pull at your heart strings, but always remember what it was like to see and hold your child for the fist time. The love and joy you felt for them in that moment, is still there even when you have a bad day.

Sons and daughters, the same goes for us, the love our parents does not change, simply because of one day. Always be kind, loving and gracious.

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Two Realities of CP: Adapting and Stillness

Having lived with Cerebral Palsy for 34 years now, I have come to a few conclusions, however painfully obvious they may be. Allow me to elaborate more in the following paragraphs:

One: I am not “normal” I get it, no one is. But I use crutches to walk around, sometimes a wheel-chair, I scoot down steps (at times) and sometimes I still crawl around. Furthermore, crawling around for me, is sometimes easier, yes others can and do help me and I’m grateful for it. But the reality is, if I can’t carry something in my mouth while walking, well, crawling on the ground while moving something works just great. Again, I know it’s not ideal, or however else one would describe it. But it works for me. I’m not ashamed of it, and it honestly saves my legs some strength and even prevents me for slipping and bonking my face on things.. Which has happened before.  I have come to terms that, some things in life need various levels of adaptation.

When it comes to be a father some day, I might not be able to carry my child in my arms in the middle of the night. Walking them around as most good fathers (and mothers) do, but I can find ways to hold them and other ways of doing things for them. I’m not normal, and I parent or raise my children normal either.  I’m actually very open to this reality and am very excited about discovering what works and what doesn’t in all aspects of my life.   The world most become more open to the realm of possibility, rather than being stuck in the world of impossibility.

My faith in God also plays a huge role in this, because I know that he is faithful and good. Providing all that I need and working everything out for my good (Romans 8:28). It’s learning to trust him, even when I cannot see how things are going to happen, or even understand what God is doing.

Two: I’ve come to terms with the amount of pain that my body is in everyday. Much of the pain, I believe anyway, has much to do with A) getting older and B) the amount of stress I put my body through while in the gym . Both in strength training and Jiujutsu. Again, I’m ok with this, I do the very best I can to combat the daily aches, pains and stiffness . Yet no matter, what anyone does it’s going to be there in some degree. In many respects, I’ve come to a place where I am at peace with the pain. Meaning, I know it’s there, but it will not be the defining factor of my life.  I will not allow it to stop me from being the person that God has destined me to be. This is not to say, that I don’t have days where the darkness sets in, in much thicker shades. They do, yet I have the greatest light in times of darkness, and the deepest anchor in times of trouble.

In conclusion: Not one of us is “normal” whatever that means anyway. Each of us, how are only problems, worries and battles we fight on a daily basis. Life is hard, but that is no reason to quit, we keep an open mind to how we can greater adapt with the circumstances that life throws at us. Lastly, we learn to make peace with the contexts that we find ourselves in, but that doesn’t mean that we become complacent in the fight. No, we keep fighting and moving forward. We teach ourselves to become more resilient and adaptable in the fight. We find joy, hope, wonder in the bleakest of circumstances. If not, we will die a quicker death emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Which is reality that is all too often easily accepted.

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