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My heart longs for God’s call in the morning,
When my groans become too much,
I turn to my Beloved father’s care,
My requests born from my pain,
Are compassionately answered by my Father.
Arrogance pretended to be my friend,
Making continuous false promises,
Lying through his teeth day after day,
The pretence of care was thinly veiled pride,
All of which will be arrogance’s destruction.
Lies on top of lies became his own snare,
Pride’s guilty heart became his daily lament,
Justice brings Eternity’s truth to the lies,
Lies exposed for their destructive heart,
Pride’s pitiful outbursts exposed for all to see,
Their own reward is received in due time,
Loneliness is arrogance’s eternal fate.
I found safety from the onslaught of lies,
Giving everything to God,
Meant the lies could take nothing from me,
I learned to begin with daily praise,
Surrounding my life with love’s words,
Hope emerged with fresh life today.
My daily list of pain mounts up,
They become the deepest pit of hurts,
My life is lived in agony,
While my dear enemy gloats,
He only seeks my downfall,
That is his main intention,
For his selfish seeking to feel better,
Disloyalty is my daily reminder,
Of how fickle friendship can be.
I won’t depend on anyone now,
Except my God’s love,
Too many disappointments have come,
These seek to overwhelm me,
The powerful destruction of divided attention,
Is what slowly destroys love’s desire.
My heart longs for a shared intentions,
The love of God above all things,
Lost in the maze of endless distraction,
But, I am brought home by trust in God,
Despairing of any loyalty,
My cry for help is heard,
Instead of pain I seek out the goodness,
That my God has given me.
My name is Chris and I am an email addict. I confess that I may relapse at any moment. But, for now I have my email habit under control.
Slowly I have been reducing my dependence until just recently I took control and decided to check my email once each day at 3.00 pm in the afternoon. At that time I deal with everything that needs to be dealt with from what I have received in the past twenty four hours.
The good news is my world hasn’t fallen apart. Even better news is that I am finding some tangible benefits in limiting my access to this important part of our modern communication.
Below is a list of five benefits that I have noticed since getting my email habit under control:
1. I spend more time on focussed activities.
One of the key issues about feeding my addiction was that it needed gratification several times an hour. My life was consumed by clicking from whatever I was doing to seeing what had arrived in my inbox. At one point I was receiving at least 60 emails an hour. The constant alert of a new arrival left me in a state of permanent distraction.
Focus is all about maintaining a sustained effort. This was not possible in my constant state of distraction. The result was that my productivity was at an all time low. Even though I was engaged in activity the whole time rarely was it actually getting the jobs done that needed to get done.
Nowadays I can sit down and write a 2000 word post in one sitting. I don’t find my attention wandering back to the inbox because I know that can wait till 3.00 pm this afternoon. This type of focus is required for some of the larger tasks that I need to attend to.
2. I no longer need instant gratification of opening the next email.
My system went into withdrawal for a period of time. I remember the empty feeling after I first shut off notifications on my mobile phone. This was the complete turning off not just putting things on silent. I think that quite mode’s vibration even more torture because you know something has arrived but you have to wait till you can check without being noticed. The instant gratification is delayed.
I am discovering that I am able to wait and appreciate the reward that comes from consistently applying myself in extended bursts. What is emerging is far more gratifying than the quick injection of dopamine that my body had become used to. According to Psychology.org the desire for instant gratification comes from a desire for dopamine. Researcher Kent Berridge writes,
“These two systems, the “wanting” (dopamine) and the “liking” (opioid) are complementary. The wanting system propels you to action and the liking system makes you feel satisfied and therefore pause your seeking. If your seeking isn’t turned off at least for a little while, then you start to run in an endless loop. The dopamine system is stronger than the opioid system. You tend to seek more than you are satisfied. Evolution again — seeking is more likely to keep you alive than sitting around in a satisfied stupor.”
I was a victim to an endless search for those chemicals that I find most gratifying. I have learned to replace these short term bursts of pleasure with the satisfaction of committing to a task and seeing it to completion.
3. I can take time out without being anxious
Weekends are mine again. I can take time out to refresh and relax. Usually when the time comes to return to work I am able to do this enthusiastically. I think that this is because my creative store is replenished and waiting to do something.
A settled restlessness
A tightening surge rises from within,
Uncertainty, fearfully, remembering,
Breaks the imagined calm,
Too much, too fast, too soon,
Restlessness breaks in on every task.
Serenity is imagined from my soul’s mind,
Hopefully, trusting, relearning,
Reality is almost in sight,
Rest, slow down, wait,
A settling transforms whatever comes today.
I wrote this poem as I was considering my anxious state that drove me to an incessant email checking. Rest is such a welcome friend but it required a more settled approach to my life. I needed to accept whatever came that day and learn again how to prioritise. In my anxiousness everything felt urgent and important. This became overwhelming to the point of damaging my health.
Each day I know how my day will start. I am a morning person so I don’t want to waste my creative energy answering email. Nowadays I dedicate that most productive time to doing my most creative work. Rather than being anxious I tend to look forward to the tasks that lay ahead for me on any day.
4. I sleep better at night
One of the things that I used to dread was going to bed because of the anticipation of a mass of emails to wade through the next morning. Often I would be checking emails till late at night to try to cut down on the number of emails that would await me in the morning.
Going to sleep is now a welcome part of my daily rhythm. I am thankful that I will wake rested to a new day that has new possibilities ahead. The half settled sleep of worry that I used to have when I went to sleep concerned about what message may arrive during the night is becoming a distant memory. If I do wake I no longer check what’s come in on my mobile phone hoping that my wife doesn’t catch me in the act.
5. I am not constantly distracted.
I was constantly distracted by my inflow of emails. A side effect was that I found it very difficult to delete anything in case it may be important sometime in the future. What happened was that with too much information coming to me I had no time to develop a filter to know what was important and what could be discarded. This overload of information left me constantly distracted.
Our obsession with what may be contained in the latest email that we receive is an indulgence that we can’t afford. Our minds are becoming bloated with information. The fear that something important may be missed is rarely realised.
Alain de Botton says that we need to have periods of fasting from all of this is we are ever going to be able to concentrate. My email checking routine allows space from the self imposed expectation of needing to respond instantly to something that more often than not can wait.
Three key strategies that helped me:
- I turned off notifications on the mobile phone – That constant ping that tells you something has arrived is not a part of my life. My advice is to not even play with the idea that you can get away with silent so no one knows about your addiction. This is only fooling yourself.
- I started by unplugging for a weekend – It’s always good to start with small victories. The weekend is a good starting point to begin disciplining a chronic email habit.
- I ruthlessly unsubscribe – Companies are constantly trying to get email addresses so that they can get their email message to you. Sometimes you need to supply your email address but the law is they need to have an unsubscribe function. Use it ruthlessly. They rarely will have information you need in a mass email. If you do need information you can always go back to that company’s website. I used to get close to 100 emails a day. Now I can get less than 20 emails for the whole day. Unsubscribe!
Keep walking, though there’s no place to get to.
Don’t try to see through the distances.
That’s not for human beings.
Move within, but don’t move the way fear makes you move.
Today, like every other day, we wake up empty & frightened.
Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading.
Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
I recently spend a few weeks in Asia with my wife looking after an orphanage for children with HIV. We were accompanied by one other person, a close friend that we have known for many years. Our days were quite long. Starting at around 5am and often not finishing till 10pm or later. As time went on we all became increasingly tired.
At about the 10th day the tiredness had developed into irritations at things we all normally would overlook. Finally the irritation expressed itself in words and tone – specifically my words and my tone. Neither of which were helpful to anyone. Immediately as the words escaped my mouth I could see that I had inflicted pain on my dear friend.
My wife was quick to let me know that I was out of line. I said to her that I would apologise to try to rectify things.
As we were walking along together with the kids I went up to my friend and said these words, “ I am sorry. But, you have been doing this (I named my irritation) the whole time”.
As an apology it fell far short of providing healing words. On reflection and judging by the further tears invoked by my apology I could see that they had done more damage than good.
After giving us a bit more space I attempted again to talk to my friend this time with some more carefully chosen words. This time they were more helpful in healing the damage that I had inflicted earlier. What was even better was that we created a new level of openness in our relationship.
Forgiveness is a part of daily life. Every day we have to make choices about what we do with the inconsistencies, in considerations, failures and shortcomings of those around us. We also need to work out what we do with those things we find within ourselves.
One thing that is evident in most people is there is a level of restlessness in our souls. This expresses itself in the unsettledness that many people have in their circumstances but I believe is pointing to a deeper yearning that we all have.
Hugh Prather says that the root meaning of the verb, “to forgive” is to “let go”. He says that when we consider forgiveness in this way it becomes a “restful activity”. I think that this is the balm that we are looking to heal the wounds that life inflicts upon all of us.
Parker Palmer in a recent article in On Being reiterates the actions that come from not being able to work out our pain. He writes, “Violence is what happens when we don’t know what to do with our suffering”. The only way that we know how to deal with our own unforgiveness is to pass our own suffering onto others.
Ellen Bass expresses the healing path beautifully in her poem, Mules of Love,
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.
To conclude I would like to offer my own reflection on my actions on that day when I allowed my irritation to surface. I have immersed myself in the Psalms over the past year and sought to make them my prayers. The day after my outburst I came to Psalm 116 and this was the prayer that emerged from my reading of that Psalm.
Forgiveness is my constant request Lord,
In a brief moment I chose death words,
That sought to see the worst,
In an instant anger took over,
Leaving deep hurt in its wake.
In the midst of this I cried for forgiveness,
I look to God for healing,
Seeking kindness to replace the anger,
Turning sadness into tears of laughter,
Lies are the hurtful twisting of truth,
That are spat out by venom’s tongue,
Seeking to separate my Spirit from God’s,
Looking for an opportunity for Death’s victory.
Today I will look for life’s words,
Seeking to restore the hope that begun,
Not allowing death to wreak destruction,
Looking to belong again after destroyed trust,
I will seek the goodness that belongs to me,
The rest that comes from loving deeply,
Giving daily thanksgiving to God,
For his abundant life giving words,
That are my hope for restoration.
I found in the last stanza the rest that comes from forgiveness that Prather talks about. The wounds inflicted required me to bring a different voice to our conversation that sought to discover the beauty in my dear friend. The conversation that ensued was one that brought a new level of honesty and a renewed capacity to care for each other.
Watch as Lady Gaga reveals the sad truth about the modern day entertainment industry.
Posted by Collective Evolution on Friday, 6 November 2015
I love to think about God’s goodness to me,
All day every day he is shouting his love,
My heart hears his daily declaration,
Of the words of a proud father,
I know that I am loved.
Today I heard it in the sunrise,
I saw it in the gift of laughter,
Shared meals with lots of talk,
Listening to the sounds of love.
This is the life that has been given to me,
My God created me to enjoy it all,
My thoughts are full of the all that I have,
Understanding every day is an abundance
Each day is stretched by possibility.
Columbus was a failure. He failed when he joined in the attempt to conqure the Kingdom of Naples. He was captured by Portuguese ships as he escorted an armed convoy. He was wounded. And he never did get to India. The fact that he didn’t give up and become a shopkeeper after this rough start was critical to his success.
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