Religion And Spiritualism: Learning To Surrender

Religion And Spiritualism: Learning To Surrender

I don't believe the world and its circumstances make much sense, even when they seem to. Some things are unexplainable, and my conversion to Christianity was in part a means of being at peace with those unexplainable things.
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As a new member of the Christian faith, there are certain values related to its spirituality that I loved and would have preached to myself even if I was atheist. I value logical explanations to worldly phenomena much less than I used to, because I do not believe everything can be explained logically. Many things in life don't make sense; that's just the way it is. I still believe in evolution. I still have questions over many of the events in Genesis and whether they happened.

However, those questions are not that important to me, and have taken a backburner to the values that have become especially important to me. Vulnerability, grace, hope, love, peace, and justice are among those values, which I have written extensively about in many articles.

But one part of the Christian faith, and many religious faiths that has been on my mind lately is surrendering. A fundamental part of religion and spirituality is that you are not in control of your life; a higher power is in control. You don't have all the answers, and maybe you never will. In spiritualism and faith, you find love, freedom, and happiness not through trying to control everything. You find those things by surrendering.

I initially intended to write this article about the role of spiritualism and religion in recovery. Whether it is from a trauma, addiction, or tragedy, spiritual faith seems to play a role when circumstances make absolutely no sense, in times when the world seems so evil that a loving God does not to exist.

In writing this article, I think no further than Alissa Parker, the mother of Emilie Parker, a 6-year-old victim in the Sandy Hook Massacre. She wrote a book title An Unseen Angel, a story of her faith-filled, spiritual path to coping and healing from the death of Emilie. The book is not about the event and massacre in itself. "I prefer not to look at it that way. Although it contains tragedy, my story is ultimately not tragic...It is a story of how God's love and protection surrounded me during my darkest hour." Alissa Parker goes on to note that her daughter's life was not one of joy, and her hope in sharing her story of faith and spiritualism following her daughter's death is so "others who find themselves in dark places can discover the unseen angels in their lives helping them turn to the light."

I'm reminded of Dr. Viktor Frankl, an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor who wrote Man's Search For Meaning. In one part of his famous book, Frankl explores the question of transcendent experiences amidst extreme suffering, and uses an anecdote from his own time in a concentration camp, wondering whether his wife was still alive. In this moment, he saw what he describes as a truth known to many poets, and a "final wisdom." That truth was that "love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire." In the moment, Frankl has a conversation with an image of his beloved wife: "I asked her questions, and she answered; she questioned me in return, and I answered."

Although he still had a conversation with the image of his wife, he still didn't know whether she was alive. What he did know, in that moment, was that "love goes very far beyond the physical person of the beloved." It isn't important whether the physical person is actually present; the spiritual being of the person, their inner self, is much more important. "I did not know whether my wife was alive, and I had no means of finding out...but at that moment it ceased to matter."

Later, Frankl argues that despite circumstance, people can be free in spirit, that we are not wholly defined by our environments and circumstances. "Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress." He references men in the concentration camps who comforted others and gave away the last of their bread, even when they were about to die. Even though circumstances such as extreme sleep deprivation and extreme hunger and thirst afflicted many prisoners, in the final analysis "the prisoner was the result of an inner decision, and not the result of camp influences alone." Spiritually and mentally, we are free. We always have choices, and in the words of Frankl, reminded by the martyrs in the camps, "the last inner freedom cannot be lost... the way they bore their suffering was a genuine inner achievement. It is this spiritual freedom - which cannot be taken away - that makes life meaningful and purposeful."

By surrendering to spiritual higher powers, it's clear, to Frankl, that the way we handle our sufferings, the way in which we "take up our cross," are the ways we add deep meaning to our lives. And these situations and martyrs of very high moral character are not found in only concentration camps; "everywhere man is confronted with fate, with the chance of achieving something through his own suffering." Frankl once knew a boy in a hospital who had an incurable illness. He would not live very long. He wrote to Frankl of a film he'd seen in which a man waited for death in a courageous and dignified way, and this was the boy's chance, too, to confront death in a similar matter. "Now...fate was offering him a similar chance."

What strikes out to me in the stories of Alissa Parker, Victor Frankl, and the boy in the hospital is this indescribably deep joy, much more so than I have achieved. Paradoxically, they seem to have so much control over their freedom, despite having surrendered to their spiritual lives. There are many ways to find joy after and even amidst tragedy, and religion and spiritualism are not the only ones. Many people find joy through political action and making sure actions so horrific can never happen again.

But I don't believe the world and its circumstances make much sense, even when they seem to. Some things are unexplainable, and my conversion to Christianity was in part a means of being at peace with those unexplainable things. So many parts in the Bible don't make much logical sense, and yet I, too, want to surrender to God. There's a lot going on in my life, a whole lot of pain, that I, one day, want to be worthy of having suffered.

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To the guy that shot my brother...

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To the guy that shot my brother,

On January 9, 2019 my families entire life changed with one phone call. The phone call that my little brother had been shot in the face, no other details. We didn't need any other details. The woman on the phone who called us in full panic told us where he was so we went, as soon as possible. I don't think it helped that not even 10 min prior I talked to Zach on the phone.. kind of irritated with him, and the ONE TIME I didn't say 'I love you' as we hung up. Could've been the last time we ever spoke.. I remember pulling up to the hospital thinking 'this can't be real' 'it's not our Zach' 'this is just a dream Sarah, WAKE UP' I'd close my eyes really tight just to open them, I was still in the hospital emergency parking lot. I could still hear the ambulance sirens coming. It was all real.

The day our life's changed was definitely a test of faith. A test of how strong we were, as a family. I sat in that waiting room ready to see the damage that has been done to my sweet baby brother. Because at that point we had no idea how lucky he got. That glimpse of seeing Zach will haunt me forever. How helpless I felt in that exact moment frequently wakes me up from these horrific dreams I've been having ever since that day. That is a moment burned into my me and families brain forever.

You always hear about these things in the movies or on the news, a house being shot up, someone shooting another innocent person, not to care if they died on your watch. But we found ourselves on the news.. We have been confined to the hospital since that day. Running on barely any sleep, taking shifts of sleep so we don't make ourselves sick taking care of Zach. Watching him suffer. Undergoing surgeries, to repair the damage you did.

Before I proceed let me tell you a little something about the man you shot.

Zachary Keith Wright. A blonde hair blue eyed boy. Who could potentially be the most annoying human on the planet (possibly coming from his sister). A man who loves his God first, loves his family second. Perfect by no means, but almost perfect to me. A 19 year old who was to graduate high school this month. After graduation he was prepping to leave for Marine boot camp in the summer.. being in the military has been Zach's dream since he could talk. Literally. Running around, playing war with underwear on our heads, and finger guns. Some would say we looked like natural born assassins.. growing up he has been a country boy. Let me tell ya country to the core. He loves this country like he loves his family. He believes in helping people, taking charge in what's right, and never leaving a brother behind. He's lived by that his whole life. Until now....

The day you shot him. The day not only did you change my brothers life, you changed his families life too. The day you almost ripped my brother out of this world... for what? A misunderstanding? Because you've let something take ahold of your life that you can't let go you're willing to kill someone innocent over? Luckily for him, his guardian angels were protecting him in your time of cowardice. There were 3 times that day he should've died, the time you shot him, the time you tried to shoot him again as he stared you directly in the face, (even tho he couldn't talk I know you could read his eyes, and he still intimidated you. That's why you tried to pull the trigger again) and the time he was running out of the house. But he lived. A man who was shot in the face, didn't lay there helpless, didn't scream in agony. That MAN walked to the neighbors to get help. Why? Because he's a MAN, and because he's on this earth for a reason.

It's gonna sound a little strange not only to you, but the audience who is reading this. I must say thank you. Even in this situation, this was the best outcome we could get. He gets to live. He will make a full recovery. He will graduate. And he will go off into the Marines. You united my family together. Closer than ever. Thank you. You tested our faith and brought us closer to our God. Thank you. Because of your moment of weakness, you showed us what prayer could do. Heal anything. Thank you. This was a bump in the road, and a helluva way to kick off our year of 2019. But here we are.. all laying in the hospital. I'm looking around as mom is sleeping in her recliner chair exhasted but still here, Zach his awake playing his xbox all hooked up to machines, fighting to heal and get better. And of course I'm writing this letter to you.

See you in trial,

From the girl whose brother you shot.

'Fight the good fight' - 1 Tim 6:12 🤟🏼💙

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23 Things That ~Barely~ Run Through A Girl's Mind During Her First Workout In, Like, Forever

Why did I do this to myself?

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It's the beginning of the semester and that means half of the students on campus have decided that we are going to go back to the gym after their workout routine fell through last semester. It's been months since we've stepped foot in the gym, but we are ready to attack it and get fit. That is until we get there and start going.

1. How did I get to the gym? Didn't I walk here? That should count as exercise

2. Why am I here?

3. Are these clothes tighter than they were last time?

4. Why is every single machine full? What am I supposed to do?

5. Is everyone looking at me?

6. I can't remember where anything is here

7. Okay, I am going to set this at the easiest level

8. Can I go home yet?

9. Is 3 minutes long enough? No, darn it.

10. How many calories have I burned? Only 10 are you kidding me!

11. Why is everyone else here going so hard? I look like a slacker

12. I am so sweaty right now

13. Maybe I should get a smoothie as a reward for working out

14. I am literally dying right now. I am about to drop dead

15. Only 5 more minutes to go. I've got this!

16. I don't got this

17. Why do people come here every day?

18. Last minute I'm going to go so hard right now

19. Just kidding that two seconds was good enough. I'm going to cool down for the last 58

20. Hallelujah, praise Jesus, I am done!

21. I am so tired

22. My body is so sore

23. I can't believe I have to walk home now. I've already done my exercising for the day

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