Jesus tells us to love our neighbors, as ourselves. Great! But how do we do that, when we do not first love ourselves? And for that matter… how do we love ourselves? Is it about a pampered day at a spa?
No – unless of course you plan to love those around you that way, and you believe that is what Jesus had in mind.
I believe we love ourselves by taking care of our minds, bodies and souls. Beginning with the soul – we give our hearts, our faith, to Jesus. We feed that soul with His word. We feed our soul with good music that moves us to a closer relationship with Him. We are involved in church – His body. We talk with Him – daily. We cherish the gifts from God – our spouse, children… all of it.
Loving our bodies is easy to define, but hard to do. We eat better and exercise – this is love. We go to the doctor for check ups – this is love. There is more here but that’s the basics.
Loving our minds can be a bit tricky. The main ways we love our minds is through positive mental health and controlling the things we allow into our heads. Mental health includes the depression and anxiety we deal with. The grief that we often ignore due to busyness. The need to speak to a professional because it is overwhelming. Unpacking the past – the tragedies and neglect, the hurts and the hang ups. All of it. The truth is that unless we deal with it, one day it will deal with us. And how can we love someone else, who is going through the valley of the shadow of death, when we refuse to deal with our own?
Finally, we love our minds by controlling the inputs. The world has a message for you that may not be healthy for your mind to hear. They could be selling you things that are a lie. Social media can be good and can be bad. Too much of it has been shown to be bad for our mental health. They portray images of perfect families, on perfect vacations and leave out the pain and challenges – they leave out “the rest of the story.” I recommend taking a social media fast. Make it a week, minimum. See how you feel about it at the end of the week.
When we do these things- and for the record, this is not a comprehensive list – we will be loving ourselves. Now- go love your neighbor as you have loved yourself.
Today is a day that is significant. Lives will be forever changed today. Economies will shift … fortunes will be made and lost. Tragedies will occur… blessings will rain down. New people will come into the world and into your life. Some people will leave this world and others will leave your life.
There will be opportunities – some will be missed, while others will be realized. New doors will open and others will close… some remaining closed. Jobs will be gained and lost… People will graduate, while others will drop out. Some will have mental breakdowns , while others have emotional breakthroughs.
Some will find a quiet place and read or write, others will scream at the top of their lungs until they are out of air.
Some will experience great joy…
Some will experience profound sadness…
2 things are absolutely true though…
We will all experience something today.
And all of us will matter today.
It will not matter what you are going through, or how bad you are hurting… you matter and your life is significant. Know that we all have bad days and we all have good days. And even though we cannot control which one we are having, it doesn’t diminish the central truth that you will make it through and that the world is a richer and brighter place because you are in it.
You need some help… someone to talk with… some financial help… medical… spiritual…emotional
Get the help you need… it is available. If you don’t have the money, there are 1000’s of non-profits that would love to help. Many that have money that is going unspent because they are unable to find the people that need help.
God created you with a plan and He has a mission for your life. You may be saying that there is no way… and I will tell you – yes, there is a way. It may not be easy but you can get through it.
Just think about this… if God created you and He has a plan for your life, doesn’t that mean you are pretty special? Do you think that the One who created the world has the capacity to see you through and help you succeed?
Today marks the end of what has been a pretty tough year for many. I know many people have struggled greatly – some still are and for some the struggle is over, forever. While their struggle is over, many of us miss them so much it hurts and may not stop hurting… ever.
I will tell you, as one who has lost loved ones, the pain does lessen over time but it is important to not try and bury the pain in the multitude of means that are available to escape – drugs, alcohol, overeating, workaholism, are just a few. While they may dull the pain today, they dull you and take even more from you than you should be willing to give. Some can’t seem to make it at all and want to end everything. That is a permanent solution to what is truly a temporary problem. Plus, your loved one or friend would never want that for you. They would want you to miss them, of course but mainly, to live.
I think we need to approach this new year with a positive expectation that it is going to be the best year – EVER!
Let me make a suggestion –
Get out a piece of paper and write down all the good things that happened to you this year. Include all things – personal/family, work, health, education and more. Take your time and be specific.
Then I want you to think about what you want in your life for this new year. What do you want in your personal life/family/relationships? How can you work to improve things? What about work or business? Maybe you started a new business in 2021 or you want to start a new business in 2022 – make a plan, get specific – write out your goals, and then break it down into things you need to do each day, week and month. What about health – do you want to lose weight, run a 5k, 10K or longer? Do you want to be healthier, stronger…? What do you need to do in order to make that happen. Be specific.
As for me – I am working on my next book, while the last one I wrote is being edited. I am committed to writing everyday… Family – We are working on our house together and building a stronger relationship daily, by being even more intentional about how we laugh and live and love one another. Health wise – I am committed to losing more weight – I want to get to 190. I want to run a 5K by this coming summer. I want get stronger. I am also going to be continuing my education – more details on that are coming. Some people think I am crazy about education – I have lots of degrees. But I just think that growing as a person is important. I ask the question – how can I be better? The answer to that question drives the work that I do.
While our year is ending, our lives are not – tomorrow is not only the first day of the year, but the first day of the rest of our lives. Let’s embrace it with all that we have. Let’s love, fully! Let’s give all we have and make it the best life – ever. After all,
Two Questions I always ask those who are assembled –
Is there anyone that can see any reason why these two should not be married, if so speak now or forever hold your peace?
Who here will be willing to support this marital union with the love and support they will need on this life long journey?
Marriage is an institution created by God – We find this in Genesis 2:24 where God says –
“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh.”
(Talk about the meaning of leave & cleave)
Instructions for Husbands continue –
1 Peter 3:7 – Likewise Husbands, dwell them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel
(Talk about knowledge – come back to weaker vessel in the Unity Heart)
Then finally – Ephesians 5:25
Instructions for Wife – Ephesians talks a lot about marriage – one of the main things I want to mention is the idea of respect – Which is the greatest need of men – to be respected and Eph 5:33 tells us this clearly. Earlier it also talks about submitting to your husband, as to the Lord, as the head of the house. While I realize that some of these concepts are not popular in todays society, I can tell you that if you have a marriage filled with the love of God for one another, it is as natural as breathing, especially when we look at a previous passage that tells you guys to submit one to another in the fear of God.
After hearing all of that – let’s proceed with the vows.
“Will you (Gary Ken Briden, Jr./Amanda Lee Cosby) have this woman/man to be your wife/husband, to live together in holy marriage? Will you love her/him, comfort her/him, honor, and keep her/him in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to her/him as long as you both shall live?”
Then Repeat after me
“In the name of God, I, ______, take you, ______, to be my wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow.”
Exchange of rings
Rings are a symbol of love and the nature of love that has no beginning or end. You see I believe that this kind of love is a gift from God, that was ordained from long before and was therefore just waiting to be discovered and it just continues through eternity.
Ken – repeat after me – “With this ring, I thee wed.”
Amanda – repeat after me – “With this ring I thee wed.”
Prior to this wedding we had two hearts here – and they are represented by these two sculptures. The grooms is the outer and the brides is the inner. The grooms is representative of a sturdy sense of strength, protection and security but by itself is empty. The brides heart is represented here as an intricately carved piece of artwork, beautiful but by itself is left unprotected – I want to talk a moment about the Biblical Idea of the “Weaker Vessel” and what this means…
When we put these together, by themselves they are beautiful but still there is a third element that ties it all together and makes them one – the power that created the Universe, who invited love and marriage – God Almighty.
I now pronounce you husband and wife – you may kiss the bride.
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I be the first to present to you – Mr. & Mrs. Briden!
This weekend, I was asked to perform a wedding, as an ordained minister, it isn’t my first time but it was really special – this was my first time back in this role in almost two years and it was for a good friend who works for me. I have seen this friend of mine go from homeless to hopeful to hopelessly in love and it has been a beautiful transformation to watch. The pain of a past relationship/marriage breakup, whose wounds were still fresh, seemed to be soothed and healed by the refreshing balm of love. This is beautiful – transformative.
I included my notes from this wedding just as a backdrop to a larger truth – if we set out with our hearts open to what God has for us, we too can experience the beautiful and transformative love of our Creator. It may not be in the form of a wedding, a new relationship but it will always be miraculous.
In this life, we see so much… but the two constants are the unchanging love of God and the fact that everything else around us is changing. So with everything around us changing at the speed of technology, social media and the general craziness this world brings to us everyday, I believe that having a firm foundation in love of God, whom is unchanging, is essential.
With so many hurting people in this world that are in dire need of love and positive change in their lives, along with a positive self-image, that is not drive by social media or the trends of the day, I am modifying the name of this blog to – #YOUR LIFE MATTERS – The Transformation Project. My goal is to change the world, one story, one life, one heart at a time.
But I will let you in on a little secret – I can’t do it by myself. Will you help? Will you share the stories, commit to helping one person have a better life this year and encourage others to do the same? If so, together, we can create a movement that truly does change the world.
So often, we look down on ourselves and devalue our worth. Many times that comes from outside sources. I will tell you that when an outside input makes us feel like we are less, then we need to be looking elsewhere for our input. Here are some thoughts that I just dumped on a page. I am writing a book about this topic and would love any ideas or stories. There is also a podcast attached this blog – https://www.buzzsprout.com/1624801/episodes/7360324 What does advertising say about us?
If we buy this or that we will be cool, attract the right people and get the girl or the guy or the job or the house or everything we want
It tells us that we are not enough without the product
It creates impossible standards of beauty
It’s a lot like pornography and the images it creates about sex What does bullying say about us?
IF you are the bully it says that you are not enough on your own and you need to tear others down in order to feel like you are important
It probably means that you were bullied as a child – most likely at home
The one being bullied it makes them feel like they are less and often humiliated What does atheism say about the person?
You are here today and …. Pushing up daisies tomorrow What does creation say about you?
That you are unique and special just the way you are
That you were created for a purpose that only you can fulfill
That there is no one else on the planet like you – you are a one of a kind and we are blessed and honored to know and love you. What does how your body was designed say about you and your value?
Some are born with diseases that adversely impact their capacity to do certain things. But does this diminish their value? No – I believe that God tells us that we all have a purpose and that purpose is seen in His strength at work through us – not our strength alone. I believe that this means that means that we need to look beyond our greatest challenges and see the gifts What do we say about ourselves?
That we are not enough
That we are stupid
That we are poor
That we are ugly/fat
Not enough education
Not enough money
Wrong job/no opportunities to improve – stuck
No one likes me
I’m a bad person
No one will ever love me
Everyone thinks I am a loser Why are these questions important? It tells a story about who we think we are. Until we deal with those thoughts that are negative, it makes it impossible to think any different. We create cognitive distortions in our mind that replay like a DVD from hell. It is telling us what the media is saying, what our past is saying, what we think others are saying and what our thoughts about ourselves tell us. We must learn a new way of processing those thoughts and systematically destroying them. The narrative we create in our head or that maybe our parents/peers/media create for us can destroy us or at the very least hold us back from experiencing a life that is beyond compare to anything we can begin to imagine. If we are going to make the bold statement – Your Life Matters, then we have to ask the question –
What matters about me?
What impact do I make?
In my own life? § I do things that make me happy § I experience joy by things I do § I provide safety and security § I grow intellectually, emotionally, physically and spiritually § I create a career – a path that I excel in – and this makes me feel good about me – In your home? § Your presence matters – listening § your intelligence and wisdom matters § your capacity to serve your home, even if it is just with ideas and creative input § your caring § your contribution lightens the load of others
In school? § You create a job for others by being there § Your interaction in class and with others makes a difference
At work? § The product you deliver matters § The income you create impacts others/yourself
What about when I am not ok? o To others
I am depressed and no one cares? o This is tough because a lot of times people will suffer with depression in silence and they believe that no one cares. The lie we tell ourselves is that no one cares but if we were to reach out and talk with someone about it we would find that there are people who care. There are people who have experienced exactly what we are going through and may be able to help us through it. We may find others who are going through it right now and the fact that you and them are not alone in this struggle any more can be each of your saving grace
I am anxious about my future and whether my life really matters and no one cares o Your future is full of a lot of unknowns. But what you can do is your best today. You can make a plan and walk it out a day at a time. Make a reasonable timeline based on how long things normally take, like degrees and certifications, and walk it out. Being anxious about the future is common but when we have a plan and a timeline we can reduce it. When we see progress, we feel good about ourselves, that is why a timeline is important. One note – an overly aggressive timeline can be more hurtful than helpful because you will inevitably get behind and this can be anxiety inducing. o Progress adds meaning to your life.
Why do my choices matter to anyone? o Every choice – good or bad – impacts others
Why do I matter at all? o Every life, no matter how long or short is a complete life and it serves a purpose – it matters
Does it matter if I help someone? o Think about this for just a moment – You help Joe with a project. It allows him to return home sooner, to spend time with his kids and wife. The happiness that you created by a simple act of assistance cannot be measured. What if it ends up being one of those moments that his wife or kids never forgets because it was something that memorable… What if the fact you helped him and he shares that story with his kids, so they in turn do the same for someone else and the impact becomes exponential. What if Joe in turns helps someone else and it saves their marriage?… The line of impact is beyond comprehension.
Does it really matter if I hurt someone? o Yes! The same is true but in the opposite direction if you hurt someone instead of helping.
What if I hurt myself? o Intentional self-harm is an epidemic in this country. When one person hurts themselves by ending their life, it is often followed by several others. When others see us survive a difficult time, it encourages others to persevere.
What if I cure cancer? o YAY! You are a hero but you don’t have to do something so heroic to matter – small things matter as well What if I do nothing? No one fails to make an impact. If we were to channel our own inner George Baily, from It’s a Wonderful Life, we would see the truth behind the difference we make. If you are on planet earth, you are doing something and it matters. Even the baby in NICU, who is struggling to be alive is impacting his or her world in ways that we cannot sit here and calculate. So if a struggling infant is making a difference, what does that say for an adult or young person who had a far greater capacity? It means that your life matters in ways that we are going to discover. Hang in there with me and let’s explore it. In this podcast/blog, we are going to be hearing stories – some personal and others from people you have heard of and some you haven’t. You are going to hear some statistics and some science, alongside some psychology. Some you agree with, others you won’t and that is ok too. But at the end of the day, I want you to know that your life is significant – YOU MATTER! God Bless You, Dr. Cliff Robertson, Jr.