How do I know I’m not a psychopath?

Yes, I have actually asked myself this question. Very occasionally, when I remember the following two things, I have a mini freak out.

  1. We are all likely capable of unspeakable evilindex
  2. It only takes one screw up of epic proportions in the space of a few minutes to completely change your life.

What is it that is restraining me from a momentary epic screw up, and how strong is that thing that’s restraining me?

I was reflecting on this with a very down to earth friend who surprised me with her answer. She said first that we obviously create personal boundaries and make daily choices to adhere to a moral code to reduce the chances of an epic ‘brain fart,’ but that if we accidently screw up, jail isn’t actually the end of the world.

What? I actually thought it was! But she’s right. When you know God and you know grace, screwing up is never the end of the world.

But still, it’s not ideal.

This morning she sent me this quote: “Grace is not simply leniency when we have sinned. Grace is the enabling gift of God not to sin. Grace is power, not just pardon.”

Immediately after, I saw this by Challies: “God’s providence is the single greatest hindrance to the tsunamis of sin that would otherwise gush out of our sinful hearts.”

So, I think I’m safe. But it is a good reminder that when I see people who have epically screwed up, I need to remember that “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

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Your Body Can Handle More Than You Think

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I recently watched a TED talk about stress by Kelly McGonigal. (you can watch it here.)

Being a self confessed ‘stresser,’ I was fascinated by McGonigal’s premise that stress in itself is nowhere near as damaging to our health and wellbeing as we have been inclined to think. Rather, she claims, it is the mere belief that stress is harmful to our health, which causes such drastic ill effects.

As I watched the talk, I found myself reflecting on something that has always astounded me. The human body has a phenomenal capacity to endure suffering. We can handle far more than we can even imagine, it’s just that, most of the time, our body doesn’t let on to this fact. Our panic and fear-of-impending-doom responses often kick in early, as they are well designed to do, but sometimes that leaves us with the feeling that something that will cause us no harm at all, is an imminent threat.

I could immediately see connections to my faith. God has not promised us an easy ride, in fact, Christians have almost been guaranteed hardship, and yet we have also been promised that we will be able to endure. How often do we fall into harm’s way, not because we have been given more than we can bear, but because we have given into the temptation of worry and anxiety?

Perhaps taking our anxieties first to the Throne of Grace will give us greater protection from harm, than avoiding challenging situations.

The Best Thing I Ever Learnt About Motivation

stairway-to-the-sky_18-6364Just before I started year 12, my parents convinced me to go to a three day intensive course on study habits. I didn’t really want to go, but I was sure it would be good for me, so I went.

To be honest, the whole course probably wasn’t worth the money they spent, but I did learn one thing; something simple that has stuck with me ever since. It was about how to get motivated.

I can’t speak for previous generations, but for my own, and very clearly for the generations following mine, the issue of motivation is a huge one. Students couldn’t get the assignment done because they couldn’t get motivated; people can’t exercise and lose weight, because they can’t find the motivation.

Motivation is like an elusive prize, holding us captive as it evades us.

There’s only one thing I’ve found in the ten years since I left year 12 that has worked to help me solve the motivation issue, and I learnt it at the course.

Stop thinking about being motivated, and start acting.

Or in the words of Nike, ‘Just do it.’

Somewhere along the line we have become so focused on feelings, that we can hardly do something unless we feel like it. Our lack of motivation cripples us from achieving what we really want. But we do not have to be slaves to our feelings.

Push those thoughts of motivation aside, and get started.