Social Issues, Spirituality, Uncategorized

Faith in Action

All my life, I have been interested in Social Issues throughout the World. And nothing makes me happier than to read or hear about how “Good Triumphs over Evil.” An ordinary person gets motivated mostly out of desperation.

The Power of God, the power of a righteous and motivated individual regardless of age, race, circumstance, and religion, will manifest itself in astonishing ways.

A few years ago, I went to a church gathering, and one of the speakers mentioned the book “Left to Tell” by Immaculee Ilibagiza — which was according to this speaker about forgiveness.

I am not a forgiving person, and it is hard for me to forgive myself, to ask for forgiveness, and to forgive others. So I decided to get this book. After I purchased the book, I put on the shelf and forgot about it.

Then one day, just before I left on a flight for Costa Rica, I quickly scanned the shelf to see if there was anything I could take along for the trip. My eyes caught this book, “Left to Tell.” I grabbed it and stuck it in my purse. I decided to finally look through it to see if it would interest me. But once I started reading a few sentences, the words got a hold of me. I could not stop reading the whole trip. Even after we arrived at the hotel, I went straight to our room to continue reading — I could not put it down until I finished it.

This experience took me by surprise. The story was about the Holocaust in Rwanda, and I remembered when it happened, how I reacted to the news. It was so far away, physically and mentally. At that time, it was easy for me to dismiss and forget what was happening in Rwanda. It did not concern me. I also remember some of the news reports — how the U.S. and the U.N. reacted, and I had no issue with that. My attitude was the same as most people in the west. “Let these warring tribes deal with their situation.”

But now, as I was reading this book — I felt as if I was right there with Imacculee and experienced in some part the pain she experienced. But what kept me reading was her account of how God worked in her life through this horror. Reading this gave me tremendous hope. That even in the most horrendous circumstances where there was no hope —yet  God could still work in such an amazing way.

A few years later, I came across Imacculee’s “Led by Faith,” where she describes the years after the Holocaust. Another amazing book. Reading these books has changed me — my attitude towards people in Africa. My Faith in God and people has become stronger!

I had some experiences myself when I found myself in challenging and hopeless situations — I was diagnosed with cancer, and later my then three-year-old daughter was suspected of having Leukemia. — when God intervened and showed me the way. He lifted my pain, and even so, circumstances did not change immediately, but I felt His love, comfort, and strength like I have never felt before. Indeed suffering can become a great blessing!

I am an ordinary person who goes through life, raising a family, holding a job to support the family, and deals with daily challenges as best as possible. I want people to know how a person in any situation can access the Power of God; That the source of strength, love, and peace is within EACH OF US. We are all his children.

I have a question I have yet to be able to find an answer for. Why can we reach this state of Grace when we find ourselves in extremely difficult situations. But we are not able to keep this state of mind in our everyday life. Our daily life is often filled with anxiety, worry, impatience, strife, etc. Is there any way to change that?

If we could live a life of inner peace, how would that look like? I am thinking back on my own life — my hurry, worry habits — being critical and judgemental — the hurt I have caused for my family and co-workers. I deeply regret that I have not been able to recognize and realize that these are mental Habits that can be changed.

On several occasions, I had the distinct experience of the “Presence of God” — how can such a state of mind be described? — A sense of joy welling up from within me. — Peace and well being, a sense of being completely at home. (I don’t usually have this sense of “being completely at home” — in my living quarters although it might look comfortable and beautiful externally.

What was it exactly that caused such an incredible experience to occur? When I reflect on these instances — the verse from the Bible comes to mind. “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” When we find ourselves in stressful situations, we become quickly focused on what is truly important — no distractions, and we turn to God with sincerity.

How can we reach and maintain such a pure state of mind in our daily lives?

There are many religious concepts and beliefs which are not accurate and not helpful. I had to unlearn quite a few myself.

Besides studying religious texts consistently — even one paragraph — with sincerity will cleanse our soul and make room for the love, peace, and KNOWING that everything will be alright, that is present in our innermost core. We need to unclog our mental “pathways” consistently.

Another very effective way is to meditate — I used to sit in a comfortable chair, and in my mind, I let all the frustrations, upsets which had accumulated and let them sink in the ocean. I visualized the beach and the ocean. And indeed, after some time, I felt renewed and refreshed — energetic, inspired, clear, and joyful about the things I needed to do. Unfortunately, at some point, I decided I was now too busy to take this time out. I never know why I made this decision, which had some very unpleasant consequences. 

At first, everything was fine, but at some point, all the frustrations piled up, and I became very reactive until I had to make a major change in my life and even move to another city! I had built with others on my team tremendous success in recruiting members for our organization and train them well. It was a great experience I remember with fondness until today. But this came to an end — all because I did not continue to manage myself effectively. — mainly my emotional well being. Others tried to help, but only I could help myself in this situation. And it was such a simple, easy solution! It just shows that life not designed to be difficult and complicated. It is we that make it so.

Imacculee Ilibagazia says in her book:

“Praying was no longer a request for Divine intervention; it became my gateway to God, and when I passed through, I felt nothing but the warmth and power of His love. In deep prayer there was no fear, there was no pain, and there were no doubts . . . there was only the light of the Lord and the certainty that He loved and cared for me. I felt the Holy Spirit moving within me, and I could hear God’s voice assuring me that He was with me and always would be. When I wasn’t praying, the light dimmed, and the hopelessness and horror of my situation returned. But as the genocide passed from days into weeks, I spent more and more time opening my heart in prayer. Entire days and nights would pass where I sat motionless, with one of the pastor’s Bibles in my lap and my father’s red and white rosary clasped in my hand, and I wouldn’t emerge from my meditation. Even when the killers were rummaging through the house. During those three months, I formed a relationship with the Lord that sustains me to this day. Whenever I’m in trouble, experiencing doubt, or feeling removed from His presence, prayer is what brings me back to that place of inner spiritual peace I discovered in the bathroom.”

— *Immaculee Ilibagiza*, _Led by Faith_,

Below are some of the best books I read, which helped me to become more peaceful, patient, loving in my everyday life regardless of the pressures I faced in my life. It takes time and concentration to change our mental habits! I have to say I am very happy with the results. My happiness is no one else’s hands — not my partner, my children, grandchildren. And I will always be in a position of providing comfort, wisdom — I will be someone people want to be around!

  1. “Stillness is the Key” — by Ryan Holiday
  2. “Happiness” by Metheus Ricard; This is a story of a French scientist who became disillusioned with his life in Paris in the 1950 “s (the life I always admired and envied). But alas, he found himself to be unhappy and unfulfilled. He then became a Buddhist on his quest for finding true happiness.
  3. “High-Performance Habits” by Brendan Burchard — The first book I came across that emphasized the importance of Balance. Internal and External. –HOW to find clarity. –HOW to find out what is essential for M.E. and HOW to bring this dream into reality. Many books talk about WHAT should be done very little about the HOW.
  4. “The Battlefield of the Mind” by Joyce Meyer For people who have studied the Bible and other religious texts, but somehow find themselves struggling with life and not being the person they want to be. In this book, Joyce talks about her tormented childhood. How she struggled with her negative emotions even though she was “saved” and attended church regularly and studied the Bible. Finally, she realized what was missing and what she needed to do differently. I have read this book more than once. — — — The main point in this book is “HOW TO STUDY THE WORD” and internalize the text by thinking about it, applying what we read, asking God for wisdom and understanding. One time in my life, I experienced that — I read only one verse in the morning and thought about that during my daily work. I thought about nothing else. After some time passed, I realized to my amazement how I changed — No more aggravation, anxiety — my heart was full of joy and hope. Later that changed again. But I will write about this whole process in another blog.

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