The Way of Grief

Why, God? Why are you allowing this to happen? Why do you leave all this open to uncertainty and probable destruction? Are you truly in control or is there only so much you can do to protect and uplift those caught in the tangled webs of trouble they have spun for themselves? Do you care as deeply as we do for our loved ones? Is it possible that you perhaps care even more, and that your heart shatters along with the pieces of ours that break as we watch those we love self-destruct and lose themselves to the misery of troubled lifestyles that can boast no hope of success? Do you, like us, try everything within your power to redeem and restore those who seem so certainly lost?                                                                                  

These are the questions that stare me in the face as I try to seek God and His goodness in this strange and unlovely point in my life and my walk with Him: the life I have been living the past few years is one that seems to be marked by perpetual grief that sometimes, for one bright moment, appears to enter into remission and then seems to rebirth itself uglier and stronger than ever, threatening to destroy any sliver of hope that dares to spring up unassumingly in the way of its path. The pain of watching someone close to me caught in a lethal and self-destructive lifestyle seems unending and is unlike any I have yet to come across in my lifetime. Grief has long lingered in the shadows, but until quite recently I was somehow able to minimize its presence in my life: yet I now find that it begins to encompass not only my relationship with the person I grieve for, but all other relationships I encounter in my world. It seeks to perpetuate my moods and color my experiences. It finds me at my highest and lowest points, seeks me sober or not, and even invades my sleep and my dreams. It makes its presence and power known in the common places, as well as the unlikely areas, of my life.                                                                                  

Grief is a fascinating thing. It can motivate us to acknowledge and overcome, or to instead succumb to its paralytic powers. Like death, it is an equalizer that extends its open arms to each person on earth in one way or another. Grief is remarkable not only in intensity of its desire for a relational closeness to each person it affects, but in the effect it has in the life and actions of each individual that it chances to find struggling beneath the weight of its grasp. It brings out the ugliest and most broken parts of each of us, often causing us to analyze and fight against each human relationship present in our lives. For some of us, it causes us to question our very faith in God and our hope in life.                                                     

The way of grief is not easy, nor is it predictable. Each day, my emotions and outlook on life seem vastly different than they were just the day before. At times, these things can even change from moment to moment, which one could probably deduct would make for numerous difficulties in relationships, goals, and obligations. These days, stability in these areas seems scarce for me, and it feels as though my entire life is under unending construction, and I am left to my own devices, operating an old, unreliable car as I maneuver the various roadblocks and potholes that seem to appear out of nowhere.                                                                                                                                                                                    

Yet I know I am not alone. Even in that old, beat-up car on that unmaintained highway, I am acutely aware of another presence that offers His help and guidance as I try to make my way to better roads. Cynics may laugh and skeptics may scoff—as even I find myself doing at my lowest points—but I have found this presence to be one that never leaves and refuses to forsake. Even as I struggle and push away, seeking to find solace in drink or self-pity, I find that my Father’s arms are constantly and widely spread out in the grace of welcome and desire. In the times I seek to trust my own finite knowledge and understanding, looking for alternate explanations and attempting to dismiss His presence in my life, He shows me time and again, through admonition, through humor, through discipline, love, and grace, that He is indeed my Fortress and ever-present help in times of trouble. I find Him working in impossible situations, speaking to me through the words and help of others, causing speedy and visible change in circumstances when I go to Him with my Christian brothers and sisters in prayer. As much as I would sometimes like to deny that presence in my life and instead go my own selfish and very limited way, my God lovingly proves me wrong—even in the darkest of grief-laden days.                                                                    

In the midst of grief, I will choose to hold to the truths and the proof He has made so evident in my life. On a night like tonight, when anger, sadness, pain, and confusion seem unrelenting as they fight for control of every part of my life, and my flesh desires nothing more than to dull its senses in drink and sleep, and depression begs me to once again open the door and welcome her back in, I, even amidst my weak humanity and wilful nature, by the Grace that lives within me, seek instead to find and hold to my Fortress.  I choose to relinquish the reins of control, and the despair and the doubt and offer them up to Him who has already proven to me over and over His love and trustworthiness. Like Job, I can fight and doubt, beseech and demand, but I will not curse the Lord. Even as my gaze and my grief seem constantly focused on my loved one who flirts so skillfully and unabashedly with death, I am reminded that I can instead fix my gaze on the One who has gone before and has overcome even the power of the grave, and who can take the heart of stone and transform it into one of flesh, a new creation that seeks not sin nor self, but Him to glorify.                                          

Oh, God, come quickly.                                                                                                                                

 

To Be with God, Not to be Alone

This particular subject has been brought and placed on my heart for a while now. Do you ever feel alone? Do you feel that you are not part of the “in crowd”? How about when you are hanging out with friends but you are the only one that is by yourself with your friends? I can definitely say I have felt like that and it seems to be happening a lot to me. I love my Intervarsity family, but I just seem to be wanting to be with the “cool kids”. I find myself being very envious of what others have and wanting to be a part of it. I just am looking on the outside in while they all seem to enjoy themselves.
I personally do not want this to be a bashing on our IV. I am merely saying what I have been feeling. I have noticed that their are relationships with everyone being tested. Right now, I am struggling with that. You may ask who or why but I am not saying. The point I want to make is that we and I do too, need to remind ourselves that we are not alone. We have a God who is bigger than anything and everything. He is our King and He loves us. Sometimes we forget that and we do not realize that. He is good. We may have doubts about it but honestly we sometimes can’t see past that, God can. He can see past it and draw us closer to Him and bring us out of this rut we are in. If you feel like you are me, where you want to “fit in” then I ask that you pray to God to remove these feelings and thoughts from you. I also ask that you let someone know. I sometimes have felt like I am a floater. You are just there. You are not really a part of a group or part of a solid community but rather more of yourself. You want to be a part of something but feel like you can’t because it seems like they may not need you. Well, again I say to stop those thoughts. YOU ARE NOT A FLOATER!!! God loves you and made you special. You are His creation and He loves you for you. He will always be there for you no matter what. All it takes is for you to go to Him and talk to Him. My prayer is that you may all grow together and that you have those doubts, worries, and fears removed. May God bless you in all that you do. Forever and ever Amen.

Finding the Light in the Dark

This past weekend was an amazing weekend. I went on a camping trip with some friends from IV to help celebrate the summer and time we have to help build up our community.  It was me, Austin and Allyson, Shun, Haz, Jordan, Ashley, Amanda, Michael, Jessica and Michael. We all had a fun time. I felt I was under and over prepared. To be honest, it felt really good to be able to escape the world of today and just be encompassed by the beauty of God’s creation. Being one with Him and His masterpiece there and also hearing his symphony. So, normally with these kind of things I normally end up learning something. Well, I did not know what I was going to learn to be honest. I was just going along with the ride so to speak. We had a fire going thanks to Austin and Allyson and we ended up cooking dinner and roasted marshmallows too. We ended up asking questions about our majors and what our goals were for this summer. Hearing what everyone said was really interesting. I got to learn more about my friends more than ever. I told everyone about athletic training and to just become a leader and see where God takes me during this summer. Before going to bed we celebrated Jordan’s birthday. Turning 23 and surprising him with a new stereo for his car was awesome. His face was so happy and I could see his eyes just lit up. Afterwards we all went to bed. The guys and girls slept in different tents although a couple of them stayed outside. The next day was just a fun morning making breakfast and just sitting by the fire. Fire is the most interesting creation I think. It is destructive and yet so invoking. You feel warmth, but get to close or sit for too long be burned. That was me. I was getting to close to the fire so to speak with my life and still am, but I will get into this later. We said our goodbyes for the time and left while Austin and Allyson stayed behind at the camp. Shun, Haz, and I went to the intern house to help clean it up a bit. I ended up teaming with Andia on windows and mirrors helping to clean them up a bit. Talking with her was really awesome and so eye opening. We talked about how I drank and she used to. It was very convicting to say the least. She knows that drinking is something leaders who are under age should not do. It is something that I had not done in over a month and a half. She challenged me to talk to Mac and so I did later Monday night. After helping clean up the house a little bit our group returned to the campsite and we hung out with Austin and Allyson as well as Amanda and Michael. We all were just talking around the campfire trying to keep warm since it was becoming colder than the night before. We heard a little story from Amanda that was very touching and powerful. She felt uncomfortable at first but then she finally was comfortable with it. Confessing to each other is something that I am working on and is something we all need to work on. James 5:16 and 1 John 1:9 talk about confessing sins to others. Well, I need to confess I fell into temptation Monday night. I haven’t talked to anyone yet but I need to and at the same time I can’t. I feel guilty about falling into my temptation, but I can confess to the Great Listener and I have. Anyway, back to camp. After Amanda shared we all gave her a hug and we thanked her for it. Austin then asked me to ask him a question. I felt like I couldn’t and I said that. He asked why and I was just like “I don’t feel like there is anything I can ask.”, but he insisted and I asked him what he hoped to accomplish when he graduates. He shared about leaving a legacy and building up the next “generation” of leaders. Later, we were joined by Michael and Jessica. Everyone got settled by the fire to keep warm and to be near the light. Jessica and Michael asked us “What is something that you dislike about yourself?” and then “What is something you like about yourself?”. I was at a loss for words and kept on thinking. People shared and I really didn’t want to. Jordan looked at me and was like “I think Jamieson is next”, and to be honest I did not want to share. But I shared anyway. I dislike how I always “beat” myself up over things. Like filling my head with negativity and just bashing on myself. What I like about myself is that I can accept love from others. After everyone had shared I had a headache come over me. It was there when I got to the campsite but after sharing it was just worse. I asked if anyone had anything for a headache and Jessica was kind enough to help with that. She offered to give me some ibuprofen which I accepted. It still didn’t help. Amanda later offered to help massage my head and neck to help relieve tension. I said if she could that would be amazing and she said she could. She started to do that and I felt this pain I never felt. I have never been in pain from a massage ever. But this was so different. At certain spots she applied pressure over I began to see my life in flashbacks. The things I had done that were sinful , the negative, the ugly . I heard music too and also me talking to myself. LIES. LIES. All of it were lies I had believed in growing up. I felt so distant and cold at that point despite being by the fire. I saw potential visions of my friends talking lies about me. Tears were streaming down my face and my tongue in shock. Amanda felt the tears and was concerned and asked if she needed to stop and I ended up struggling the word no a little bit. She continued on and I kept hearing and seeing them again and again. LIES. LIES. LIES. But it stopped, I felt warmth again. As Amanda continued to massage my head and neck, her touch was not her own. I felt love and saw it and heard it. No more lies were fed to me, only truth. God came in and intervened with Amanda. The Holy Spirit was moving that night. I was still crying though. Everyone started to notice, but shame came in. I said it was just my headache. The amount of concern I heard in their voices showed me the care they had for me. The love they had for me that I had been lied to about. Finally Amanda finished and my headache was still there. Jessica finally said what I needed to hear “Jamieson, we love you, but you need to go to bed.” I did not want to hear that but at the same time I needed to hear that. I bid everyone good night and I went to bed as soon as I was in my sleeping bag my headache disappeared. God is good and the great Healer. The next morning we had a worship/jam session. Austin led a devotional talking about thanking our fathers and Father. I shared about how my dad sacrificed a lot for me and my sister as well as my mom. He truly cares about our family and we were blessed by him and God. My grandma was also a father figure to me as well. I thanked Amanda, and Jessica and told them what was really going on. I finally felt and understood love. Love was in the air. A brotherly love and caring love. I also told Jordan about falling last week on Wed. or Friday and how I did not want to share. Jordan said that it was good of me to tell him. I could see he cared for me and wanted me to no longer be burdened by my temptations. The fire was God’s presence almost. Like in the desert with the Israelites in Exodus being led by a pillar of fire in the night God’s presence filled the air and was with me. I want to talk about that question Michael and Jessica asked. I finally know the answers I should have said. I dislike how I always allow lies to fill my head of feeling worthless, unworthy to be friends with them, you don’t deserve their love and friendship, and more. What I like about myself is that I never give up on something I believe in. I keep going at it head strong and head first. I allow my strength to be with God and He gives me my strength. If you felt moved by this then awesome! I want to be able to have this be something that is a teaching moment but even something to shed light on. God loves us. That is why Jesus, His son, died for us. I know that now and also know that those at IV love me. I am blinded by the lies and ego I have but God always shines through and helps warm me up. His fire will always be burning. The Holy Spirit burning inside us setting that fire a lite in us or rekindling that flame that still has a little heat left. I pray that the Holy Spirit be kept a lite within you and that you will always know you are loved. Much blessings from me to you. Numbers 6:24-26

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Climbing the Mountain in Me

The time is 12:38 am. For those of you that don’t know what that means, it means that it is 38 minutes past midnight. This day has just been a whole mess of things. To be honest, I feel as if I am not ready at all. Ready to lead a book study, participate in a research project (which I thought I was doing to get a foot in the door in athletic training… completely wrong), summer school, work, and also help lead SummerVarsity. I feel like I am Moses, with a stutter feeling completely useless and scared. Needing to have someone else speak for me instead of being “the king I know he is, the king I see inside…” well had to do lion king, it was needed. I have news. I am not going to differentiate whether it is good and/or bad. It is just news. I am now feeling lonely in a sense to the point where I really like to hang out with people. Well, this is selfish of me. Completely and totally selfish. I saw snaps and instagram photos and videos of my friends hanging out and felt deeply depressed. I wanted to be in it. So I went on a hike today with my roommate. We took the Bonneville Shoreline trail which is above Weber State campus. I was so amazed at the amount of life that I saw. I was taken back by the mountain I saw. I took photos and posted them to Instagram and facebook. Then I went to a coffee shop to read The New Parish and read up on my articles for the research project I am participating in. Well, I was only there for an hour before I left. I just felt this tugging and guilty feeling in the pit of my stomach, as if the Holy Spirit were dragging me out the door for something. I had no idea what for but I thought it was because I fell into temptation which I was sad about. That was something that I let ruin me until that point. Well, I am writing this now to tell you I know now, well, at least I think I do. I went on the walk out of vain. I was selfish about it. You might be wondering why it was selfish. Let me tell you. It was selfish because I wanted to do it because my friends did. I was jealous and wanted to go when no one else could. I began thinking of things to do with just a limited people. Well, I definitely was not thinking as a follower of Christ rather a follower of the Pharisees. Jesus was open to people and he took his closest disciples with him to the Transifiguration and on the Mt. of Olives. He went almost everywhere with his disciples then a few places with only a few of them. I should not have to worry about hanging out with my friends all the time. Sometimes, I need to have a break from them. I am truly thankful for my friends and I feel as if having them in my life is an amazing blessing. I have a home away from home. The saying “Home is where the heart is” can apply to me because right now my heart is with Intervarsity at Weber State.  I was blessed tonight actually to find out that stressing over my life right now is not needed. God is in control, just like for Moses with the Israelites. God will always be there and will never let go. I found out that I do not need to meet with my research companions tomorrow. I literally was about to cry. I was so happy that it was amazing. Well, I think that if you like it I am glad. I want this to be encouraging so that you may continue on your day feeling a bit happier. I do not know what God has planned for you. I do not know where you are in your life nor in your walk with Christ. What I do know, is that I was led to write this hoping that I may help someone like you who may be reading this. Life is a storm. Jesus and his disciples crossed the sea and a storm appeared and He was able to calm it and allowed them to make it to the other side. We all go through storms in our lives in which we will survive and make it to the other side. With God with us we will make it across. I know that now and need to be continually reminded of it.Image

I’m stuck…

God places people in our lives for very specific reasons. Some of them are clearly seen in the current, others are seen after they leave their mark. We all help mold and shape other’s lives. We are the hands and feet of Christ moving in this world, impacting others, being light for other people’s paths. Go forth and be a tow truck.

Survivor

InstagramCapture_4224b78d-f7a7-469b-a1d9-462e1fb4c0cd_jpg This was my doing earlier today at work…I got a good size tractor stuck in very soft sand. A mistake I will never make again (I mean go in the location of this sand), but as soon as it happened, I said somethings I will not write out in this blog, but I was kinda at a loss of what I would do. I was by myself…no coworkers nearby…no one. I ended up calling some coworkers of mine, whom I gotten to know during my five summers of working for BearLakeFun.com. With the extra help, we  pulled out this tractor with two additional tractors and almost 100 feet of chain. Without these two people, I would not have gotten out.

Driving home I was mulling over what had taken place in the last two hours and many things stuck out to me, but especially community and friendship. These two things…

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Never Give Up

Of course…I finally started a Tumblr blog…you know because I have all this time for social media. Looking at other blogs, I came across this blog called “spiritualinspiration”. Check it out if you have some time. If you know me, you also know I love motivational speeches and visuals. I found one. This needs to be shared; one because it is a great message, and, two, because it references Batman.

Does God control the weather?

With more and more crazy weather occurring, one has to wonder if God really does control the weather? Steve Cornell has great insight to answer this question.

Wisdomforlife

Loss suffered from powerful tornados is frighteningly unimaginable. It’s staggering and heartbreaking to observe the war-torn appearance of landscape after just a few moments of natural disaster. 

Many prayers are lifted to heaven before, during and after these storms. I pray for those recently affected by the devastation and for those on the front lines of rescue and restoration.

Sooner or later, someone will ask how God relates to things we call natural disaster? And how should God’s protection be understood?

Is God in control when tornadoes cause mass destruction? Is the Creator in charge of the good and bad weather? Do we ask God for nice weather for our special events as if he is handing our good days and bad days? Or, is this just “Mother Nature” randomly unleashing her powers? Who causes the sun to shine or sends the winds and rain?

Jesus spoke matter-of-factly when…

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