Mountains or Hills

In my life I have learned so much about dealing with people. Sometimes this is a daunting task, other times it’s one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have. Our interaction with one another can reveal so much about our character, and our moral compass.

I remember when I came back to school from Summer Camp after I accepted Christ. I was so on fire for the Lord, I wanted everyone to know about Him. Now that sounds like a great thing right? Yes it was great I was on fire, yes it was great I wanted people to know about Jesus and what He had done in my life, but I missed out on something. I missed showing the love to others by a mile. Instead of talking about Jesus in a kind way, I began to judge others on the things they were doing. Pointing out flaws in their lifestyle, when they would curse, or get drunk on the weekends, or have premarital sex. I was the one coming to them and “preaching to them” about how they should act. It gave me the nickname Preacher, and at one time I thought this was a good thing. The point of this story is that sometimes as Christians we can miss the boat. We are human, and we do make mistakes. This doesn’t make us terrible people. It just makes us a person who made a mistake.

(If you are reading this, and I at one time judged you in this way, I am so very sorry, and I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.)

Mountains

Now I love to hike, I’ve never been to a legit mountain before, but it’s something I’ve wanted to do. I recently watched the movie Everest, and I can say that is not a mountain I would ever want to climb. As much as I love nature, that is one mountain I will steer clear of. No spoilers everyone, but that is an intense movie. We all have mountains in our lives, but we also have mountains in our faith.

There was a time when I would debate people for hours on doctrinal and theological subjects like eschatology, old earth vs new earth creationism, the list goes on and on. But in all that time I really didn’t accomplish anything for the Kingdom. In life sometimes we make our own mountains harder to climb, and sometimes we create a mountain out of thin air.

Trust me I see no issue in being educated on what you believe, but I believe there are proper times to use that knowledge, and other times that you should shelve it, and just love on people. In all the time I spent in school, I made more of an impact when I left the walls and went into the streets to love on others, and usually never speaking a word about my doctrine, only letting them know I went to Seminary and was a worship leader. I would ask what I could pray for them about, and on certain occasions buy them a meal. This was the most life giving experience ever for me, and is also why I am such a big believer in inner city missions.

Hills

We can also create mountains out of subjects that should be a hill. Yes we have differing opinions on subjects like same sex marriage, the legalization of marijuana, using words deemed as foul language, whether we are Calvinistic or not, or our view on the Creation story, but those should not separate us Christians if we align on Jesus. We shouldn’t disrespect and despise one other over a hill, and we certainly shouldn’t make a mountain out of it.

I understand some of you reading this may check out because of what I have said, and I respect your decision to do so. I am merely a man, and I can be incorrect. But I feel so strongly that if we as the Church continue to fight and bicker over trivial subjects we will quickly find our church buildings empty, and our local mission field much more scarce.

May we climb these faith mountains together, may we let the hills be hills. May we grow to understand that our pride of being correct should take a major backseat to showing someone our Savior’s love. Don’t push each other away. Love one another.

“So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways.”

John 13:34

 

SCARS

We all hurt, and that’s one thing that can connect us as humans. Pain. It’s a harsh reality sometimes, but it also can bring us together. Pain can help us realize how precious life is, and how fleeting it can be. How little time we have, and how much our time matters. Pain is necessary, and sometimes unnecessary  at the same time. We have all heard the song Love Hurts, but that’s not really that accurate of a statement. Life hurts, love is actually a healer. Love is a caregiver, love can sew us up, and love can mend the brokenness that we have become. Love can be in memories of those we lost, and love can also be in scars.

I have several scars, scars on my hands from working, a scar on my face from my first time having chicken pox, scars from surgeries, but those are just on my outside. On the inside I have scars from failed friendships, failed relationships, my own failures, and when people have just plain hurt me. These are not the scars I’m talking about. The scars I’m talking about are the scars that are evidence of healing. I choose not to focus on the how or the why I got the scars. I choose to focus on the One who did the healing. It’s not about how hurt I have been, or how broken I once was. It’s about Who came to heal my brokenness, Who came to hold me while I cried from the pain. He is the one this is about. My scars remind me that a healing took place. My scars remind me that He is still here, and He is beside me all the way.

I have a great Father, who takes care of His sons and daughters, and never leaves them to face anything alone. He is there through every heartache, every cut and bruise. He is right there, all the time. I don’t know where you are as you are reading these words, I have no clue what you are going through. What I do know is there is a Healer, what I do know is that He desperately wants you to ask Him for healing. He hears the cries of His creation, He knows His children’s voice. You are not alone, you are never alone.

May you seek Him today, may you realize that He isn’t ashamed of where you have fallen, and He knows where the cuts and bruises have come from. He wants to heal you, and give you a scar to remember the time He came, and made a way in your life. Scars are beautiful. You are beautiful.

“If you depend on Him, your body and mind will be free from the strain of a sinful life, will experience healing and health, and will be strengthened at their core.”

Proverbs 3:8

 

 

CREATURE FEAR PART 3

Creature Fear part 3

 

The Final Chapter

This particular post is not an easy one. It reveals a lot about how my life has shaped my views about marriage, love, and family. I hope nothing that is said here will offend. These are thoughts I’ve had for most of my life, and ones I don’t typically share openly.

So in the words of the Joker… Here…we… go…

 

Marriage

When I think of the word marriage I can’t help but think of the scene from The Princess bride where the Impressive Clergyman makes this statement. “Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam.” This scene has always stuck with me, not just because it’s hilarious, but because Rob Reiner really helped make a very heavy scene seem so light with the Impressive Clergyman’s speech impediment. What I take away from this scene is also that sometimes we shouldn’t let ceremony take over the joy in a moment. Sometimes we need a little laughter, sometimes seriousness needs to take a back seat so we can enjoy life more.

 

FEAR of Marriage

My greatest fear is falling in love with the idea of a person, only to find out that’s not at all who they are. A big attraction to me is authenticity, I understand we all have issues and baggage, and I’m ok with that, I’m just not ok with that being hidden. We hear about this all the time, I mean there are movies, stories, and newspaper articles written about this all the time. I’m a big fan of Dexter, I watched every season recently and wow could his character hide his true self well, I mean this guy killed murderers as his hobby, and no one close to him knew it. They never saw his true face, never knew what he did, or what he felt his purpose was. So my fear is that I will fall in love with, and marry someone, only to find out that I fell in love with fiction.

 

So what do we do with this Fear of Marriage?

Not everyone has the same fear of marriage as I do. Your fear might be the commitment of marriage, or the fear of not being adequate for your spouse. I don’t know what your fear is, so my response here will be more generalized. All you can do, is be the real you. I believe honesty produces honesty. The more honest you are with relationships (people in general) from the start, the more habitual it becomes, and the more likely that person you are interested in will be honest back. Now I can’t say I’ve always been upfront with my struggles, or events in my past that I’m ashamed of within relationships, but if asked I will answer truthfully, and if I feel it is necessary that the lady in my life needs to know this, or that it might cause issues later on in life I will absolutely share it with her. So be real, be honest, and think about those things in your life that you want them to know before things get serious. It’s much easier to swallow before your hearts get involved, and your partner will appreciate the honesty and you will have established a trust and a bond with them by doing so.

 

So what does this all mean?

Be real, be true, know who you are, and let the people you care for know who you are as well. In the end you’ll sleep better, and people will understand where you come from, and will lend a hand if they see you struggling. I’m learning to not be afraid, to not fear the unknown, even in marriage. May you have real-ationships (see what I did there). May you open up your heart, unlock the door to the walls you have built, bring light into the darkest parts of you, and find love, and hope in the arms of someone who can be real, and true to you.

Fingers crossed everyone…

CREATURE FEAR PART 2

Creature Fear Part 2

 

 

FEAR

noun

 an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

Sometimes things we wouldn’t normally think would be scary can bring great fear. I recently went backpacking in Arkansas. We hiked in about 4 miles in the rain, and crossed the river 3 times to arrive at this wonderful cave. This “cave of wonders” allowed us to setup a fire amidst the rain that was coming down. We setup camp while we still had daylight, started a fire, and began to rest our legs and hang out. While we are talking we heard a rustling sound, directly behind the rock that 3 of us are sitting on. We turn slowly to see that a raccoon has gotten into one of our packs and has strewn out food. Now this may sound comedic to be scared of a raccoon, but we spent the next few hours into the night fighting off two raccoons

Raccoons are by no means a sweet creature, they can cause serious injury, and can be a large carrier of rabies. A fellow friend and I armed ourselves with our headlamps, and two machetes and began to fend our camp, and our food supply. I could sense the fear these creatures had caused. Sometimes fear is increased by the situation, and our situation was that we were scared these raccoons might could scratch us, give us rabies, or eat our only food supply. These small creatures brought real fear.

 

 
Fear of Relationships/Friendships
 
 Relationships can be a very scary experience. We literally put ourselves out there, make ourselves vulnerable to anyone we share a close relationship with. We share stories, secrets, intimate details about who we are with the people we are close to. In a friendship we don’t engage in a physical sense of vulnerability like we do with a dating relationship, but we do share some intimate details about who we are. It can be scary to place that kind of trust in someone. Will they tell someone this secret of mine? Will they keep this between us? Will my investment of myself and my time yield something? And the honest answer here is maybe…

Maybe the time you invest will pay off, and maybe your relationship with this person will fail. Maybe…

 

Fear in Dating Relationships 

Now this is where I fear the most, I’m the kind of guy that wears my heart on my sleeve, and when I love, I love big. I’m also very connected by physical interaction, because touch is a way I express love. So with those two things in mind, a dating relationship can be scary for me. We’ve already established what fears can be associated with just a friendship, but a dating relationship takes this all a step further. It’s a friendship, with even more commitment, and with physical interaction attached to it.

A great example also comes out of my backpacking adventure. So I didn’t bring a camping chair with me, I’m backpacking in 4 miles, I wanted to pack light, because the run of the mill camping chair, isn’t very light or packable. So I didn’t carry a chair with me on this trip. Needless to say I spent a large portion of my trip sitting on rocks, which is not a comfy seat. There was however a camping chair that was left in the cave we settled under. But me being the nice guy I am, I let everyone else enjoy the comfort of the chair all weekend long. On Saturday morning though, I woke up and most of our crew was still asleep, the chair was open, and I seized the opportunity to sit in this chair. Wow, I never knew a camping chair could feel so amazing, but it was sooo comfortable! This is by no means a special chair, it’s probably one of the cheapest chairs you can get at any sports and outdoors department store, but in this moment, compared to a rock, it was glorious.

I tell this story to make this point. Sometimes we take a seat into a relationship we shouldn’t be in and it’s very uncomfortable. Sometimes we try to make a seat out of a rock, or a dating relationship out of something that should have never even been a friendship. This hurts, plain and simple, it’s not comfortable in the least bit. It’s a rock, not a comfy camp chair, but we sat down and here is the result of our action. 

 

So what do we do with this Fear of Relationships?

My encouragement to you is to take the risk. But only if you feel that there is something there. Now I’m in no way saying to be involved in a dangerous dating relationship. Be friends with this person, find out who they are, be vulnerable to each other, and if your heart desires to know this person deeper, then do it, take the risk. It is your life, but know that this could be a rock, and it can cause pain. But there is also the chance you could have just sat in the chair that just feels right. It’s all up to you. Relationships are scary, but they are also beautiful.

 

So what does this all mean?

Being afraid is normal, and it’s ok to be afraid. What isn’t ok is to be so afraid that you never sit down, you never take the risk, you never learn. I do not wish agony or heartbreak upon anyone, but sometimes we learn better with a painful experience. The comfy chair experience is worth the risk involved, even if you have to sit on a few rocks to enjoy it fully. 

Next week we’ll be talking about the Fear of Marriage. Something that is very personal to me. I hope you join me in this adventure and enjoy what you read here. Feel free to email me with any suggestions, comments or topics of discussion for future blogs at ericmichaelhammond@gmail.com.

Until then… sit down.

 

CREATURE FEAR PART 1

Creature Fear Part 1

 

FEAR

What are the things we fear the most?

What is the so called monster in our closet?

Fear can drive us to do many things, act many ways, but fear is an emotion we all know… and Fear. I have had fears my whole life, fears that I would fail at becoming something. Fears that I would wind up in a bad marriage one day. Fears that my life choices could deter me from reaching my goals.

I never had the proverbial “Monster in the closet” childhood experience, maybe thats why I find those Monsters Inc movies so much more amusing. But I have my own fears, and just for humors sake I think the word Monster fits Fear well. Fear can definitely be scary, dark, and misunderstood. Maybe like Mike and Sulley, fear is just doing it’s job. Maybe we need Fear. Well in the next few weeks, we’re gonna flesh this out, deal with these fears, all right here on the internet. So let’s get started.

 

Fear of Failing

We as humans fear failure, it hurts our ego, our pride, and sometimes our failures mean hurting the ones we love. But is failure really a bad thing? Initially I think there are some negatives to failing, but in retrospect we learn a lot from falling down. No I’m not about to bring up Edison, even though it is a great story of succeeding despite failures. Sometimes when we fall we learn what went wrong, and how to adjust.

I never was the perfect student, and school is not something I get jovial over, but at the same time I do love to learn about new things. But failing a test… man that really bothers some people, and honestly it bothered me to fail a test. But I find that feeling multiplied when I attach it to life. Failing at a life goal, a friendship, a relationship, and even with a temptation weighs exponentially more on my mind than failing a test.

 

So what do we do with this Fear of Failure?

Embrace it. It’s going to be there, failures happen in life, more often than we care to admit. Recovery is no easy task, and don’t think because I’m sitting here typing this blog that I have it all figured out and have conquered all my fears, because that would be completely incorrect. The important thing for us to remember is how we deal with the failure when it happens. Of course your initial reaction isn’t always going to be positive, sometimes failure hurts us so much that we react negatively. Whether that is angrily towards others around us, or towards ourselves, sometimes we take failing the wrong way. 

But we do have the choice, and the mind to take failure positively. Assessing the failure can bloom some huge convictions, and can redirect your mindset on how you view your world. Now assessing the failure is only half the battle, making the adjustment after the failure is sometimes more difficult than one would think. I remember my first failed relationship, things just didn’t go as planned, and I honestly wasn’t the cause of the failure (of course a guy would say that). Things just fell apart, and I was laying under the rubble (figuratively speaking). But even now as I type this, I look at where I could have ended up if that relationship would have been successful and man, I’m so glad it failed. As gut wrenching and heart breaking as that failed relationship was, it needed to fail.

 

So what does this all mean?

Fears are a reality. Failures happen, and sometimes (not always) for the better. But it’s how we take these failures and fears, and adjust our lives after the dust has settled. For me I still have fears when it comes to relationships, and that’s normal. But what I try to prevent, is letting those fears steal away the moment that I could spend getting to know someone, or even trying a relationship with someone at all. Because in my experience with dating relationships, and even relationships with people in general I have proof that people will let you down. But I, we, shouldn’t let those fears of failure take control over our lives, they can effect how we approach a situation to a certain degree though.

We’ll be talking more about fear in the next coming weeks, and I hope you join me on this adventure of walking through how we are all Creatures of Fear.

Until then… Keep failing and learning.