Dealing with Hatred

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12)

My mom taught me a good trick that I learned early that helped me deal with people that don’t like me. As soon as I brought up mention that someone didn’t like me, she would say, “they’re just jealous.” I would then think to myself, “well, that’s not my fault,” then I would pity the person. So, I bandaged my wound while changing the way I felt about the people who had hurt me.

The bible talks about what to do when people don’t like you. When prophets were commissioned for their ministry and they were afraid of their enemies reviling them God told them not to look at their faces. Also, Jesus says that we should rejoice when people criticize and say negative things about us because we know our names are written in heaven and that’s how people treated the prophets while they were on earth (Matthew 5:10-12). Even amongst Christian company we can sometimes experience a bit of sibling rivalry and negative attitudes against us. Sometimes wounds from friends are better than kisses from an enemy (Proverbs 27:6). But even the devil masquerades as an angel of light so don’t be surprised when people who call themselves Christians talk behind your back or put you down (2 Corinthians 11:14).

Some Christians believe that their forgiveness only should extend to certain people. They believe the ones who don’t deserve forgiveness are not really Christians or what they’ve done is so vile that they shouldn’t be forgiven. If they can’t forgive someone and don’t want to admit it to their “Christian” conscience they will often say things like “I don’t like so-and-so.” They think they are reducing the problem to a preference instead of what it truly is, an unforgivable sin. Why do I go so far as to call it unforgivable? Jesus says that if you don’t forgive others, He will not forgive you (Matthew 6:14-15). The Lord says, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” (Romans 12:19). That means it’s not ok to use your Christian identity to condemn other people. Even with spirits, we are supposed to rebuke them by saying things like “may the Lord rebuke you,” instead of condemning them (Luke 9:42, Jude 1:9).

A preference against someone is not even likely. It’s more likely that you felt slighted around that person and your ego won’t get around to letting it go. Your ego likes enemies. It will rile you up and tell you all kinds of negative thoughts that make you feel superior to them. It will try and get you to open your mouth and gossip about them. Why? Because all negativity makes the ego bigger. The worst thing you could do is take their criticism to heart. “Preferences” against people are sometimes coverups for anger and hostility toward a stereotype that likely is just made up of pure ego and not the person’s true self. You have to remember that when you get upset it’s a reflection of yourself that you’re attacking in the other person. It’s not even you attacking, it’s your ego. Why would you attack yourself? You wouldn’t. But your ego would because it’s not you. The fact that it is attacking you makes that evident. That is why people criticize so much about the things they first see in themselves. “It takes one to know one,” right? The people that hate themselves the most are those who are to make the first criticism. And that is why I feel sorry for people that don’t like me.

I would like to define what the ego is for people that don’t know. The Google dictionary defines it as: a “person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance,”(Google). I like how Eckhart Tolle describes it when he describes the pain body. The pain body is the remnants of emotional abuse that create a shadow or dark presence in our lives. The pain body often makes up the ego. The definition of pain body is:

“It is an accumulation of painful life experience that was not fully faced and accepted in the moment it arose. It leaves behind an energy form of emotional pain. It comes together with other energy forms from other instances, and so after some years you have a ‘painbody,’ an energy entity consisting of old emotion.” (Google)

Think about infants. How often do infants dislike someone? They don’t because infants don’t have egos yet. So when you encounter dislike, you have likely just had a run in with an ego not a person. Don’t be afraid or upset. Just acknowledge it and move on. If that same person had a mad crush on you would it be any more tolerable? No, because mad crushes are also generated by the ego. When a person is under the grips of the ego, it’s best to maintain your distance because they are looking for ego enhancements which come in the form of “heated discussions,” arguments, compliments to their ego, superiority over you, violence, in short – trouble. Them saying they don’t like you was only meant to inflame your ego so you would in turn get angry and inflame theirs. Thank God they made it obvious they let their ego get the best of them around you (they’re jealous) so that you now know to avoid them. It’s really only a blessing in the end. The best thing you can do is be nice to them so their conscious mind sees the discrepancy and realizes that they are acting in ways that are not godly. Also, you can maintain your integrity and good conscience.

Paul in Romans 12:20 says,

“On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” (NIV)

I think about Eckhart Tolle and how he’s a very meek and modest man in demeanor. He doesn’t have much for an ego. The benefit to that is that people rarely challenge him or bother him because he does nothing to ignite their ego. Other people’s egos don’t see anything in him that they can provoke so they don’t and he avoids much suffering. I would like to think Jesus had much in common with Eckhart Tolle.

Matthew 5:43-45 says:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

The End of Suffering

When I originally was going to write about suffering I had composed a five page document about all the major trials in my life. It was long, tedious and embarrassing. Then I realized that my story about my suffering actually causes more suffering than it alleviates. This was for two reasons: it was boring to read and it focused on negative things. So, I decided to take a different route on this post and put a much-needed positive spin on things. While it’s true that I have suffered a lot in my life, great things came out of it. Also focusing on the sad things in my life is not productive or healthy. It felt good to summarize and enumerate my suffering but I will not subject anyone to it by publishing it online.

In “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle, he describes suffering as coming about when we choose to think negatively about our circumstances. It also happens when you focus too much on the past, worry about the future, and don’t allow yourself to enjoy the present. I reviewed his book in another article.

I feel like one of the major benefits of having suffering in my life is that it gave me a very active pain body which I couldn’t stand carrying anymore so I sought to change the way I looked at things. Another huge benefit of suffering is that it gave me experiences that I can write about, learn from, and teach from. Without all the bad things that have happened to me my testimony would be pretty bland and not very compelling. Life on Earth is short and if you don’t enjoy it, what is the point? So for the past year I’ve decided my biggest goal and my running intention is to be happy. It’s that simple.

When I let my life flow and myself be myself, I am happy. Some might accuse me of being a hedonist but I don’t see it that way. I think of myself as what John Piper calls a “Christian hedonist.” It makes me happy when God is happy so naturally, I obey Him. It causes me suffering to struggle and fight with God in order to satisfy my fleshly cravings so I don’t. I do what makes me happy. This website is an example of that. I could choose to see it as a burden but I think of it as a privilege. I love to write. It allows me to get many confusing thoughts out of my mind and reframe and organize them with my proverbial pen (I realize there is no writing utensils used online but it sounds better than keyboard).

When your goal is to be happy you don’t let yourself suffer. You don’t engage in negative thinking because it causes suffering. You don’t beat yourself up when you fail because your goal is not to be some perfect being but to be happy. Criticizing yourself makes you sad. It’s also good to think positive about yourself and other people because then you find yourself treating people better and acting how God would have you act.

I seriously dislike it when people say things like “I want to” or “I’m trying to” please God. Why? Because it doesn’t take effort and it’s not even a struggle to be a Christian. Just do the right thing and make God and yourself happy at the same time. The reason people say “Lord, I want to be more Christlike,” is because in the wanting to be something you’ve already lost the battle. If you really wanted to be Christlike you would be – end of story. It puts off being a Christian in the now and is actually counterproductive. Christ is not hard to emulate. He even says “His yoke is easy and His burden is light” (Matthew 11:30). When he was hungry he ate, he came eating and drinking and people called Him a winebibber (wino) and friend of sinners (Matthew 11:19). People won’t like you, they will judge you, criticize you and hurt you no matter what you do. So make it your aim not to be pleasing to people but to be pleasing to God. Christ wasn’t a prude but he was definitely righteous. He didn’t judge people based on their past or future but rather opened His heart and saw them with presence. He gave people room to be themselves and to be happy.

Now I’m not saying that life is always easy or happy – you have no control over some circumstances in life. What you do have control over is how you think about those circumstances. All the suffering and all the joy lie in your mind. You don’t have to seek outside pleasure or fixes because the kingdom of heaven is within you. Christ gives us peace immutable. If you have peace you can’t easily be unhappy. Why set your thoughts on things that encourage suffering? Why relive your story of being abused or whatever is your pain source again and again when it’s clearly only affecting you in the present because it’s all you let yourself think about? It’s true that many people have very sad backstories but it can only affect your behavior because you focus on it. You are capable of being happy if you just stop reliving your past in your thoughts and eventually actions. It’s pretty short-sighted to only see and relive the misery in your life. Why not remember the good people did to you? If you honestly can’t thank a single person for your miserable experiences you can at least thank God for what you learned from them.

Jesus says to rejoice in our suffering because it only makes us stronger and it’s indicative that we are God’s children because God’s people aren’t of the world and the world doesn’t understand and often persecutes us. He’s basically saying to be positive about your negative experiences. You only suffer needlessly when you rehearse them. Complaining about things whether in your mind or aloud only ages you. Let it go.

A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

Over the past month I’ve read the book “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle. This book is outstanding. I’ve actually read it before about ten years ago but I wanted to revisit it recently because someone told me I should read “The Power of Now” also by him but the library didn’t have it. I’ve watched some youtube videos by Eckhart Tolle and I’m always enthralled by his calm and soothing demeanor. It is evident that he takes his own advice seriously and practices a state of peaceful presence as an ongoing lifestyle. My main reason for wanting to read his works was because he emphasizes something that we all do but rarely put conscious cognitive energy or focus on: thinking or more specifically, the effects of chronic and compulsive thinking.

Having Asperger’s, a form of autism, I have many thoughts when I am not necessarily doing anything to invoke them, that is, they are resting thoughts. I don’t know at what age it started but I’ve always had someone to talk to inside my head. In fact, I have several people to talk to. To me, it’s a blessing because it makes up for an absence of real life friends. I’m not sad or ashamed about not having many friends because I realize that many women with Asperger’s also identify with the characteristic of social isolation. My youngest sister also has autism and we are very close. Having many thoughts can sometimes be distracting. If my thoughts are unwanted they become a problem which is why I chose to read “A New Earth.”

The book talks about thoughts and the ego and how thoughts are related to the ego. While I don’t know if this book is considered Christian themed, Eckhart uses many examples of Jesus’ words during His ministry on Earth. In fact he uses examples from almost all of the major religions in the world today including Zen Buddhism. I’m not one to condemn something because it’s not necessarily Christian because I believe that naturally, all truths point to Jesus. I don’t think Eckhart intends for his readers to shut down all thoughts in the brain but mostly to let them pass and choose not to react to them or create a story to explain them which would necessarily choose to enhance the ego.

What helped me most about this book was the description of the pain body. The pain body is like the ego but some Christians might consider it one’s own shadow self, demon, or even the devil himself. The pain body is the result of how we allow darkness to influence us on a personal level. I relate most to his description of how negative thoughts make the pain body bigger and stronger. He says in his book that many of the violent and negative programming in the media is the end product of pain bodies entertaining and growing other pain bodies. God’s Spirit does not enjoy violence but pain bodies sure do.

In my life I have met a lot of people but the people that are perhaps the most intriguing practice presence. I had a therapist once who’s main defining feature made her so likable. That feature was that she listened and responded according to what she heard me say. It’s very difficult to find people that actually are listening to what you are saying and allowing the moment to unfold spontaneously. She would neither categorize things as good or bad but only as they were, which is what they were meant to be. It brings to mind the saying “It is what it is.” I hate the ambiguity of this saying but the truth is one that Tolle points out, “There is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so.” I think that if you can control your thoughts you are about 98 percent closer to controlling your emotions and ultimately the direction of your life. If you can stay positive or ambivalent in your thoughts you will be a lot closer to God than most people.

In summary, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone that struggles with excessive thinking. I would recommend it to anyone, honestly. It’s well written and contains enough examples for it to be very easy to understand and relate to. It’s not heady or highly philosophic but rather practical and an essential read for the thinking mind. Thank you for blessing me with this to read, Eckhart.

Overcoming Addiction

While I currently do not have any addictions I have struggled in the past with prescription anti-anxiety drugs. I used to take Clonapin once a day. It was only .5 to 1 mg daily but it was enough to get me addicted. When I tried to go off it I wanted to give up. I suffered from extreme and intense depression, anxiety and even suicidal thoughts. Under normal circumstances, I would never entertain the idea of suicide. I remember riding the bus home from work and having a crying breakdown in front of a whole bunch of people. It was very unusual and when I got home I looked up withdrawal symptoms for that drug and apparently what I went through was not uncommon. The first day when I went off Clonapin I didn’t notice any difference but the second day, whew, there was a huge withdrawal. Needless to say, since I couldn’t handle the withdrawal symptoms, I quickly went back to using the drug on the third day.

About a year ago, I realized that Clonapin was causing some pretty major side effects. I knew I couldn’t get off it on my own. I prayed that God would take away the addiction and help me get off the drug. He did. I made it past the third day of going without it and after that I never took it again. It was amazing because I had no withdrawal symptoms at all. I asked and God delivered because I couldn’t have done it on my own.

Addiction is a form of bondage that the ego uses in order to control a person. It is a form of idolatry because it takes the place of God in our lives. Anything that controls your behavior ultimately can become an idol to you. Addictions range from drugs, to alcohol, to pornography, gambling, smoking, TV watching, Internet usage, shopping, excessive eating, gossiping, etc. In fact there are about as many addictions as there are vices. The bible says in Hosea 4:11 that, “harlotry, wine and new wine enslave the heart.” New wine is juice. The bible is talking about sugar addiction.

Jesus came to set us free from bondage. In Isaiah 42:6-8 it says:

“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captive from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols.”

God doesn’t want us to be enslaved by anything. Addiction can control a person’s resources – their time, money, mind and physical body. What you give your time to is what you choose to concentrate your energies on. Even work can become an addiction. Under normal circumstances and in their right mind, no one would allow themselves to be enslaved by anything. The ego is a liar but Jesus has not given us a spirit of fear, but one that cries out for our Father and one that is of a sound mind. The ego is very fearful. It says,”if I don’t get my fix, I will go crazy.” The ego, our shadow side, or the evil one, is controlling, manipulative and tricky.

Jesus overcame the world and so can we. As a matter of fact, Christians are all destined to overcome the world and all of its’ ugly incarnations. The only thing we should be slaves to is righteousness. Romans 6:6 says, “for we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin,” (NIV). “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline,” (2 Timothy 1:7 NIV). Avoid anything that has the power to control you. God wants to be first in our lives, thoughts and hearts. Only by having the Holy Spirit can we engage in behaviors that please God. Proverbs 16:3 says to “commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans,” (NIV). To me this means that once we are committed to serving God He will help us get rid of our addictions and in the end conquer our own ego and the powers of darkness. Jesus says that all we have to do is ask and it will be given to us (Matthew 7:7).

The Ego’s Struggle

Yesterday I got a good glimpse of the workings of the devil. I don’t want this post to be negative so I’ll keep his mention to a minimum and I might intertwine the words ego and devil. They can be one in the same. So sometimes I like to look up song lyrics when I hear a new song and find out what they’re all about. I love music but I tend to err on the side of paranoia because if I find a song I can relate to I get trippy about it and see connections where there may not be one. Anyway I looked this certain song up and it had my name in it like eight times. I thought, OK, maybe I’m supposed to pay attention to this one. As I read, the song was threatening, offensive and dispiriting. At first, I thought, OK this is from someone who knows me. Then as I read I realized that, no, this was from the devil.

In the entertainment industry the devil is very active. I don’t know why he chooses this route but it probably has to do with the fact that he can hide under many different personas without mainstream society ever suspecting anything. When I say “he” and I refer to the evil one, I don’t for sure know if “he” is male or female but I say he because it’s a little better than “it.” You see, because of the way the ego works, the devil can use pretty much anyone as a mouthpiece. Remember when Jesus rebuked his disciple Peter and called him “Satan?” (Matthew 16:23) It’s very common for the evil one to cause people to act badly when they are in the grips of the ego.

God looks for worshippers to “worship Him in Spirit and truth,” because only when you have the Spirit of God can you please God (John 4:23 NIV). If you let your ego take over you can’t please God. If you argue, quarrel, put down, and backbite other people you can’t please God either. As soon as you start to feel yourself slipping into negative behaviors you have to catch yourself and go back to the Spirit of God, which is forgiving, loving, positive, optimistic, and healthy. Pray and ask God to fill you with the Spirit as soon as you feel yourself start to get negative. Why is this so crucial? Sometimes when you act badly you can’t take back what you say. You end up looking like a fake to anyone that has eyes and critical thinking skills. When this happens you are ripe pickings for condemnation, fear, guilt, and fault-finding.

God hates what He calls the “pointing finger,” which is the problem of fault-finding and blaming in order to vindicate oneself. The pharisees of Jesus’ day were very good at this. They brought a woman before Jesus who was “caught in the [very] act of adultery” (John 8). They didn’t bother to accuse the man who was the other active participant and by their behavior, it was clear that they were shifting blame to the woman because she was an easy target.

People still do this today. It is easy to blame black people for crime, poverty, and unwanted pregnancy because our society marginalizes black people. It’s the same for women in Jesus day. Women were considered unclean for a good quarter of their adult life because they were under the “curse” of the natural biological function of menstruation. Society blamed women for much of the evils of society and it still does. During the inquisition millions of innocent women were killed and persecuted for witchcraft. The devil is a blame shifter. If he can distract people from the real enemy he can get away with much more.

I’m reading a book currently called “A New Earth,” by Eckhart Tolle. He talks about how during the inquisition the balance of power which contains male and female energy on earth was tipped in favor of male energy. Because men are more cerebral “thinkers” and women are more intuitive “feelers” and because the ego comes about from the use of the thinking mind, the ego or devil is able to have more influence in our society. This is largely the reason for the violent, destructive nature of the order of things in today’s society.

At this point in time, it is essential to remember the verse in the bible that says “no weapon formed against you shall prosper” (Isaiah 54:17). As God’s people, Christians have protection in that they have the eyes and ears of God through the workings of the Holy Spirit. God created the blacksmith to destroy and although He created a worthy adversary (because He’s God) He did not create someone greater than Himself (Isaiah 54:16). The very nature of God defies any logic that says He can be outwitted. Again, when I refer to spiritual entities like God, I use the pronoun “He” simply for the underpinnings of tradition. I don’t really believe God has a sex and I don’t really believe that he favors a sex as many traditionalists would have you believe. Like I said, the planetary equilibrium has been tipped in favor of male energy and it’s implications go to deep to the root of even our religious and spiritual understanding. This is even clear with Paul’s writings. Although Paul was a good writer and definitely had the Spirit of God he still had some sexist beliefs that keep women from fulfilling their calling today if interpreted unwisely. I look at spiritual giants like Joyce Meyer and think, wow, we’ve come a long way.

You can very clearly see the devil in today’s popular media. All of it is unspiritual nonsense meant to confuse and brainwash society. When you watch TV you allow the devil or ego to think for you. It requires no effort to be brainwashed. It can even feel good if you like to indulge in perversity. Personally, I do not watch TV because I know how big of an influence it can have over the mind. It’s even hard to look away. Just remember to examine carefully at your behaviors so that you leave no room for the devil to use you as a mouthpiece.