My Personal Ideology: My Way of Living (1)

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“The thing is to understand myself: the thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die. That is what I now recognize as the most important thing.” – Søren Kierkegaard.

To know who you are is important as who you are shapes your life. Existence precedes essence, and that it’s up to us to make do with what we have and form our essence based on that. We exist, and then we create, but what we create is different because no two people are the same.

Everyone has their own unique perspective – we witness the same events but we remember and recall through our perspective which may differ from the perspective of others who were also witnesses. In writing, there are multiple points of view. On the basic level, there is: first, second, and third point of view. There’s also omniscient and limited point of views which you’ll use depending on which person point of view that you’re using. All of this goes back to that there’s a lot that everyone can offer because we view things differently from one another. There’s a truth that’s true for you, and that can be used to find the ideology that you feel strongly about.

My constantly shaping ideology that I live by is: taking personal responsibility for myself, continue towards self-improvement, there’s always something to be learned, and doing my best to not consciously harm another person for whatever reason besides to defend myself. Treat thy neighbor as thou would treat thyself. My religious values play a large part in my philosophy – I believe in a benevolent God who through Jesus Christ forgave us for our sins and through belief in our lord savior, we will be saved. Treating others well, or at least being cordial to them even if I don’t feel warmly towards them, is a goal of mine that I try to implement as best as possible. I seek to live a life that’s dedicated to keeping my promises and being a good servant to my Lord Father which includes spreading love and kindness to others. People have been using God to spread their evil and hatred when Jesus tells us to love all. “He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’” (Matthew 22:37-40, NRSV w/A). These two commandments were emphasized by Jesus and both speak of love.

In addition, Jean-Paul Sartre has it right when he states: “Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. It is up to you to give [life] a meaning.” We must take personal responsibility for ourselves because we are free. We are free to choose who we get to be. Even with my mental illnesses, I chose to seek help and be medicated when I desperately needed to be who I wanted to be and not what my mental illnesses wanted me to be. It’s up to me to give my life meaning, and through my hobbies, passions, and surrounding myself with people who help me think critically about my ideas, I find myself developing my philosophy that’s ever changing but solid in its foundation of: personal choice and freedom. In a sense, I do identify with being a Christian Existentialist.

I still have a problem with not letting my illnesses shape everything in my life, but it’s hard when my life is significantly impacted with how limiting my physical capabilities are now. However, I am moving on with getting my tests done including MRIs of my brain and cervical spine to see if there’s any lesions in my brain as my neurologist also thinks multiple sclerosis is a possibility, so we’re going to be thorough to be sure. It’s relieving how fast things are moving now to figure out what’s going on with me. I’m tired of feeling ill all day while being in a good amount of pain without knowing what’s causing all of it. Hopefully once we figure out the diagnosis, it’ll be something that’s curable. I need to keep the faith otherwise I’ll be lost in this pain, and I refuse to let pain be everything about me. I still have my hobbies. I still have a great relationship. I have a lot to be grateful for, and gratitude is an important way of looking at life as it’s just that wonderful to be grateful for things.

Coping with My Chronic Illnesses: A Pain-Filled World (02)

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“Of pain you could wish only one thing: that it should stop. Nothing in the world was so bad as physical pain. In the face of pain there are no heroes.” ― George Orwell, 1984.

I don’t recall ever being in this much pain before without respite. The pain started at the end of June and hasn’t gone away and it’s already nearing the end of July. Normally, there would be a day or two of pain respite, but that hasn’t happened since it started, which is driving me insane. This pain-filled world is what I think hell is like. I watched House M.D. about half a year ago when it was still on Netflix, and I identified a part of myself with Gregory House. Pain changes a person, especially when it’s always there and severely limits their ability to do something. It definitely can make them meaner. I don’t have enough energy to pretend that things are okay anymore. I can forget for a little while when I indulge in my hobbies or hang out with my SO or my friends, but the pain is always there at the back of my mind.

I can’t sleep well without medication anymore; otherwise, I’m waking up in the middle of the night due to pain. At least now I can sleep for several hours undisturbed by pain. I’m close to giving up and going to the emergency room due to the sheer amount of pain I’m in, but luckily, I managed to snag a doctor’s appointment at the neurologist on Monday, so hopefully that goes well! I just want the pain to stop. It’s consuming a lot of my thoughts lately even when I try to push them away.

On a happier note, for coping partly comes from finding good in tough situations, I’m blessed that my SO tries his best to make my life as comfortable as possible right now. I’d be lost without his support. The daily massages are a blessing and knowing that he has my back and is willing to see my illnesses through with me is a great comfort. I am cherished, and though my mind likes to play tricks and make me think otherwise, it always comes back to: “I am cherished.”

It’s a bitter pill to swallow that because of some of the things I was born with, I’m not healthy and am in pain sometimes because of it. Without these breakthrough gratitude moments, my life would be the hell my body wants it to be. However, fortunately enough for me, I am able to remember my blessings. I am able to remember God’s greatness and how despite the illnesses, I still have blessings in my life. I said my prayers today and remembered my place as a child of God and felt a little more hopeful that I may bear with all this pain as we figure out what exactly is going on. I have to keep the faith that we will be able to figure out what’s going on and figure out a way to help me with the pain.

On Learning: Some Thoughts on Language, Planning, and Resources

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“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” – Confucius

I’m blessed to have the time to dedicate a large amount of time to my intellectual and religious pursuits. Studying and learning about things is something that makes me happy.

Yesterday, I was talking to my SO about language. My SO likes to be concise with his words – if anything, this being one of his favored styles is reflective of how Ernest Hemmingway writes. My SO likes how you can pack a lot of meaning into a few words. I, myself, favor allusive-heavy styles of writing. Whenever I read a literary work that incorporates references that I can recognize (like a Biblical reference where I’ve actually read the Bible chapter the reference came from), I always get giddy. I find myself enjoying the work more. It’s one of the reasons why I enjoyed T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, which I had to read with Norton footnotes, but recognizing Tiresias because I’ve read both Oedipus and Antigone by Sophocles was hype. Is there a style that you enjoy? Do you prefer novels or poetry or nonfiction?

You can add me on Goodreads and check out what I’ve read so far. However, the only book reviews I have besides star ratings are the reviews found on my blog at the moment. I’m planning on putting my reviews both on Goodreads and here for book reviews starting from the next review.

My German is slowly moving along. I found a few grammar sources that I can hopefully pair with all the vocabulary I’ve been learning through Memrise. I’ve always wanted to learn a foreign language besides my native Hawaiian Pidgin English/American Standard English and making progress (even if slow) in German purely by self-study feels great.

In addition, I’ve been scouring my library’s Overdrive collection these past few days and have been adding a lot of books to my wish list. There’s so much to read that I don’t even know where to begin! I’m going for nonfiction as I’m currently reading a fiction (Virgil’s The Aeneid). Go and take a trip out to your local library or if you already have a library card, you can google your library’s website and see if they offer anything online that’s available to those with a library card. You’ll be surprised at the amount resources that suddenly becomes available to you; I know I was. It makes it a little easier to feel like I have more scholarly resources available to me despite not being affiliated with a university anymore as I graduated last year. I didn’t think I’d be looking through EBSCO again since I left university.

I’ve also been diving into Itunes’s podcasts and their university courses – all of which are free. I encourage you all to check it out if you do use Itunes and are wanting to get into listening to podcasts. I’m currently going through Brown University’s From Israelite to Jew by Michael Satlow. I’ve been interested in Ancient Near East lately and listening to Satlow’s course introduces me to the subject pretty well, I’d like to think. Itunes offers a variety of podcasts and university courses and is overall a great resource for learning.

All in all, I’m using the rest of this month to plan for next month. I’m also sampling some of the things I want to do such as skimming over the German grammar book I just got. I want to be a bit more organized with my studying next month including having goals for what I want to achieve for the month, schedule times to study, etc. I think that will definitely take a couple of days. I’d like to compare how I feel after a month of diligent studying that I haven’t done since my university days. I’m excited! Do you plan out your studying schedule for subjects?

On Relaxation: Some Ways to Help Calm Unwanted Thoughts

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After the stress of my last post, I’ve been experimenting with things to help me out when unwanted thoughts are invading my mind. By unwanted thoughts, I mean thoughts that have no benefits to me at all such as me thinking that I’m worthless and that I don’t deserve anything because I have mental and physical illnesses that aren’t easy to deal with. I’ve found that breathing meditation doesn’t help me unless it’s to help with my panic attacks. In fact, for some reason, if I do it with other things besides my panic attacks, I’d go into rage inducing moments the moment I would stop the breathing exercises. I had to give up on that one. However, there were a few that have worked out for me so far. It’s a combination of the three in the end that have helped me the most:

  1. Count numbers. I came across this idea on reddit. The idea, as far as I understand it, behind it is that you can’t pay attention to unwanted thoughts and something else that you can focus on. I’m not a big fan of math, and I’ve found that it helps to immediately stop the thoughts. Eventually the thoughts return, but in the heat of the moment when I’m starting to get lost in flashbacks or anxiety, counting numbers helped break me out of it once I realized what was going on a few times long enough for me to do something else to calm down.
  2. Listening to music and singing along. This goes along with the idea behind counting numbers. It gives me something to focus on. Sometimes the lyrics match my mood as I seek it out; other times, I look for music that would help to lift me out of the mood I’ve found myself falling into. I’ve been listening to Michael Bolton’s Go the Distance. It’s old, it’s great, and it’s Hercules. Listening to music and singing along gets me in a mood to just jam out sometimes, which can get really fun for a while after being lost because of my thoughts.
  3. Praying silently or aloud. My rosary helps ground me as I meditate and give prayer to God. It helps me not get too lost in my own mind even when I’m praying. Having the rosary and praying as both to help in connecting with God creates a focus.

I came across this prayer (the mystery of sorrowful Tuesday) while wanting to learn more on praying using a rosary: “My children, never seek your comfort in anyone but God. In your times of loneliness, in your times of depression, in your times of doubt, have recourse to prayer. When you go to the Father, offer this mystery for those who are in doubt: those who do not know where to turn to: those who are depressed: the mentally ill: the emotionally ill. Pray that as the Father sent an angel to comfort my Son, the Lord in His mercy will comfort them and enlighten them.” Meditating on it, I found some comfort. For someone I feel as unworthy as me, I pray that the Father’s mercy will comfort and enlighten me so that I may heal in mind and spirit, as I lay my allegiance to my Lord God.

Overall, it’s been hard. My teeth have been grinding again too. It’s easy to be exhausted when mentally and physically you’re not feeling well. In a way, I think I’ve quieted down these past few days. I’m so tired. I’ve honestly lost count on how many times I’ve said: “I’m tired” this past month. I’ve hardly been able to relax this past month. A short-term goal for the rest of the month is to relax and work on not letting the anxiety, depression, and stress take over. It’s a tough road, but I hope as I continue to fight off these mental illnesses that I’ll eventually overcome them.

Keeping the faith can be hard, but it’s something alongside hope that helps to keep me going at times.


Sources:

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/mystery.php?id=2#1

 

Praying Aloud + Bible Study

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Praying aloud helps to calm me. It helps to give focus back into my life rather than a chaotic whirl of frustration and stress. It’s important to remember that God is good. Every time I pray aloud, I feel a slow calm wash over me as if God is slowly embracing me as I pray to him for whatever it is that I’m praying for/about. I’m always so grateful to Our Father in Heaven. In Him I gain strength even when I don’t think I can go on. Hope and faith in Him who loves us helps carry me on when times are hard.

I’m trying my best to go about trying to figure out my way of studying the Bible. I recently finished Jen Wilkin’s Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds. I’m also going to be starting William W. Klein’s Introduction to Biblical Interpretation (Revised and Updated).

In addition, one of the things that I’m having trouble deciding on is if I should read the Bible in chronological order as I start to get to know the text or if it would be fine to hop around and read the books of the Bible in random order. Also, who should I look into for scholastic work on the Bible? Who would you recommend to read about the history of Christianity or even further back to including the history of Judaism? I’d like to gain knowledge on a broad overview of the history of the Hebrews.

While I decide how I’ll go about with my personal Bible Study and more academic Bible Study by figuring out secondary sources to go along with those reading, I’ll been listening to audio version of the NRSV of the Bible in the meantime. YouTube is great for this. Sometimes I like to follow along with the texts, other times, I like to listen to the Bible while doing chores that take minimal amount of thought so I can focus more on the Bible. There’s no rush to learning God’s Word. In fact, I’d rather take my time so that I may immerse myself in His Word. I look forward to my Bible Study.

Bible Study: Romans 9 (NRSV)

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I spent time last night listening to a recording of the book of Romans in the New Testament and completed it. I followed the audio by silently reading the text at the same time. It’s been a long time since I’ve done anything remotely like that, but it felt kind of nice. This was the first time that I read entirety of the Book of Romans (I’ve read parts of it before), so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Taking the time to soak it in what I read and reflect is something that I want to do more. At the end, I found myself mulling over Chapter Nine especially.

God, as creator of all, is the one to choose what to do with you as he wishes. Verses 14-18 go:

What then are we to say? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who shows mercy. For the scripture says to Pharaoh, “I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth. So then he has mercy on whomever he chooses, and he hardens the heart of whomever he chooses.”

God will have mercy for whoever He wishes to have mercy for, and same with compassion. There is no injustice because it is His will, and He is acting upon a divine level that’s not depending on human will or exertion. Moreover, Paul recalls God’s hardening of the Pharaoh’s heart as Moses goes to the Pharaoh to gain the release of his people to show the greatness of God. God has a plan for His people and beloved, and if He has the will to make it so, it will happen.

Later, Paul follows this up in verses 20, 22, and 23:

But who indeed are you, a human being, to argue with God…? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects of wrath that are made for destruction; and what if he has done so in order to make known the riches of his glory for the objects of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory.

Echoing through my mind after I read this was: Who are we to thoughtlessly judge our creator?

Ultimately, these verses made me think of suffering and why God would allow it to happen. To know one extreme is to reveal the other. On a personal level, being constantly ill, and having been that way since I was young, I wondered why I was so sick, why I was in so much pain while I was so young, why I couldn’t be as healthy as my friends or even as healthy as my siblings. Even on a grander scale like how could God ever allow something like the World Wars and other terrorist attacks to happen. But Paul reminds me to look underneath the underneath. God has endured the flaws of humanity with occasional shows of enforcing His wrath to prepare us for His ultimate goal:” To make known the riches of his glory for the objects of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory.” With the life that I have now, I must make the best of it even with the obstacles placed before me.

The ending of the chapter speaks out to me the most of relying on faith. I am a Gentile. The inclusion of God accepting us as His people and of being His beloved speaks to me. Through my faith, I pray that God continues to guide my loved ones and I through life. The belief that God has a plan for us that surpasses the suffering is one I believe in.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Praying During Emotionally Trying Times

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This past week has been awful emotionally. There’s been moments when I just want to give up on everything, but I know that’s not me. With that in mind,  I searched out ways to muster strength to continue on as I slowly lost hope little by little. Eventually, I took out the rosary my grandmother gave me a while back, and I prayed. I prayed with all the desperation that I felt. I prayed to God for strength. I prayed to God for stability. I prayed my Hail Mary’s and Our Fathers through my tears, and slowly as I concentrated by praying aloud and focusing on the prayers themselves, I felt a calm wash over me, slowly, each time, and found the will to get back up and face my mistakes with the notion to take responsibility and to become better. The power of prayer and the belief in Our Father’s love helped push me on. It’s a terrible battle of fighting off the dark thoughts that swirl in my mind due to depression and anxiety, but through Christianity, I am finding my solace for God is good.

Every day is a new day, and I would like to treat it as a new start. I would like to take my past in consideration but not have it consume me that it stops me from making today and the rest of my days a better life for my loved ones and I. It’s a battle every day, but I must carry on.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, As it was in the beginning, and now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen!