Thursday, February 24, 2011

I know but I think...

1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

-Romans 12: 1–2

From an early age, we are taught how to act in certain situations. For example, in school we know that when the teacher is teaching we are supposed to be quiet and listen. This knowledge does not restrict students from ever talking when a teacher is talking; any teacher will tell you that at some point in the day there will be a student who will talk while they are teaching. There is no way around it. Did the student forget what they knew? No they didn’t but for some reason they chose not to do what they knew they were suppose to do. For most students it will just take a gentle reminder to get them back on track. How do you close the gap between knowing and doing? It takes a desire to do the right thing. Then if we get off track it takes a reminder to get us back on track.

What about knowing and thinking? Are there gaps in our knowing and thinking? As a Christian, I know I should think differently than when I was a non-Christian. It is evident in the Sermon on the Mount that God desires Christians to surrender our thought life as much as our action life.

"You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.' 22But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire.

-Matthew 5:21-22

Being liable for hell because I’m angry at someone? I’m liable! I have been angry at my brothers and sisters (and cousins and parents and every other relative) and many of those times my anger has been unwarranted. Being angry is a normal human response to countless actions we encounter. There is such a thing as a Holy anger but that is different than our normal perception of anger. I know I shouldn’t be angry at someone; are there other areas where I need to watch my thoughts?

I know I shouldn’t judge but I do.

1 "Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.

-Matthew 7:1-2

This one gets me all the time. I will actually write a whole post about this later so I won’t elaborate as much as I could. I am constantly judging people in important areas and in shallow areas.

I know I shouldn’t worry but I do.

25 "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

-Matthew 6:25-26

This is another promise from God that I know but I do not apply it to my life. Every time I read this passage a huge weight is lifted from my shoulder because I tend to read once I have started to worry. I know this verse but I don’t fully believe it because, when I get busy, I forget it. I trust God as far as I can see and when I don’t see him do anything, I trust my human eyes and mind to tell me what is important.

I know I shouldn’t care what others think about me, but I do.

This goes right along with the people pleasing post. I shouldn’t care about what others think about me because their opinion does not ultimately determine my worth; it is God’s opinion of me that does determine my worth.

How do I rectify what I know with what I think? I believe it is the same we are taught to rectify what we know and what we do; it first takes a desire to have a God-driven thought life. And when we go astray from that thought life, we must be reminded how to think. All of the issues from our thinking (anger, judgment, worry, self-consciousness) stem from human concerns that we as Christians do not have to worry about.

2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

-Romans 12:2

That renewal should serve as our reminder that God is who he says he is. Reminding ourselves of this fact daily will help us think His way. It cannot just be a onetime renewal because we will always have the tendency to go back to how we originally thought. We are still fallen beings and we return to what our “original programming.” How do you renew your mind? Remind yourself of God’s promises and remind yourself of points in your life when God’s faithfulness was most evident in your life. Find Bible verses that remind you of God’s promises! The transformation can be amazing.

This post is a product of that renewal; I struggled to start this post and I sat down and allowed God to remind me of all He has done for me. All of the verse I quoted in this post came to me in my renewal time. I felt a huge burden lifted from my shoulders and my mind was freed to think as God intended it to think. My human desire (and thought process) was getting in the way of what God wanted me to write.

This all needs to start with a desire to have a God-driven thought life. The renewal process does not work if there is nothing to renew.

I wish I was there. I wish I was at the point where I could think as I know I should. I wish I had that desire to think as I know I should. I am not there yet but God is faithful and just. For me, it has been a long process and it will continue. Humanly speaking it is impossible, but with God, ALL things are possible!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

It's ALL about the Benjamin!

“Yeah it’s all about the Benjamins baby!”

-Puff Daddy

When you were born, it was all about you! And you let everyone know when you aren’t happy. I’m hungry! “WOUAAA” I’m tired! “WUOAAA” There’s something warm in my diaper! “WOUAAAAAAA” As you grow older you eventually realize that it is not all about you and that other people’s desires are just as important (if not more important) than your own. We see this in our relationships with everyone. In a conversation, one person will talk about something they are interested in and then the next person, and the next person, and so on. Not too many people want to be around someone who just focuses on themselves the whole time. It is very interesting to step back and take a look at who talks the most and who the least. It is a study of personality and beliefs and self-worth. We do learn it is not all about us in practice but do we ever learn this lesson in our thought life?

This concept is one that is easy to know in your head but hard to practice. What do we think about all day as people? We think about what am I going to do next? What am I going to eat? When am I going to eat? What should I wear? How should I talk? How should I walk? Obviously your minds think all about you all the time. Of course it would be weird if we asked those questions about other people (What is she going to eat?)

I recently realized that my mind never got over thinking about me. Of course I think it is only logical since Puff Daddy wrote a song about me! It wasn’t enough for my mind to think about me but I thought that everyone else was thinking about me too. I mean, why not? I’m Beeeeeennnnnn Diener! I’m a BIG deal! :)

Recently I had a friend (no not any of you) who wasn’t returning my phone calls, or e-mails, or text for MONTHS and I began to feel anger towards this person. “This person must be intentionally ignoring me,” I thought. Then one day it finally clicked that it is not all about the Benjamin… It is a sad realization I know… I had thought that that since I was thinking about me all the time, this person must be as well! I realized that this person had been so busy and so stressed that he/she was not able to return my calls; all I could think about was me and how I wasn’t getting to hang out with this person. My anger was caused by a good desire (wanting to hang out) not being met. And that anger was directed at someone who didn’t have time to think about Benjamin because he/she had so many issues to deal with. Instead of being angry I should have been praying for this person and offered my time when this person wanted my company.

Am I crazy for thinking this way? Once I realized that it was not all about me, the anger subsided. Generally I prefer to be not angry over being angry if I have the choice. Even if this person was just ignoring me I shouldn’t let the action of another control my happiness. Therefore I chose to believe that I am not the reason I was not getting a call back. Honestly, I’m sure that I have unintentionally made other people angry by putting my desires over their desires. It is just a game of give and take.

Friday, February 11, 2011

People Pleaser

“I’ve been dying to tell you anything you want to hear, cause that’s just who I am this week”

-“Sugar We’re Going Down” Fall Out Boy

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ”

- Galatians 1:10

There is a little people pleaser in all of us. We all desire to be accepted by people and pleasing those people is one way we that we gain acceptance (or so we believe). Thus we seek to make people happy through our conversations and actions. The area that I see it affect the most is decisiveness

What are we doing this weekend? Where are we going to eat?

These question work very well to quite a crowd (I should actually think about using them to quiet my students). Why does no one have any idea where we should eat? We eat all the time and we know what we want but we are still tentative to suggest a place to eat. The wariness to put our restaurant out there stems from our fear that someone will reject where we want to go (aka not accept us for something as trivial as a restaurant). We believe that when someone rejects our choice, they are indeed rejecting us. Why else are we so tentative to suggest a restaurant? The same type of issue arises when there is the possibility of our idea/plan to get rejected. I used to almost apologize when I offered a plan/idea just in case I did incredibly offend someone by my choice. Then I realized that if someone is incredibly offended by my plan/idea, they should come up with a better one. That takes the pressure off of me because I actually have a plan/idea while they are just complaining about the plan/idea. This is just one of the characteristics of a people pleaser.

I AM a people pleaser! There is no way around it; you can only go through it. For the longest time I’ve been told that it is bad to be a people pleaser. A quick Google search of “people pleaser” yields countless journals on “how to stop being a people pleaser” or how “people pleasers ruin the family.” I have been a people pleaser my whole life because I come from a family that cannot say “no.” Since I grew up in that environment I struggle with recognizing what makes me happy because the focus has always been on making others happy. I do regret that I don’t have strong feelings toward a certain kind of music or a certain kind of food. I would love to be able to answer the question, "What is your favorite band?" without feeling fear that I will somehow offend that person. At the same time it allows me to interact with anyone in any environment. Using the restaurant analogy again, I never care where we eat because I will eat anything if the other people are happy. I have seen how people pleasing can lead to a life of anxiety, when all you can think about is pleasing EVERYONE around you. Is it bad? It sure sounds bad. This is why many Christians fall into depression and anxiety; they cannot please everyone and they blame themselves.

Even though I have always been a people pleaser, God has kept me from falling into anxiety and/or depression. I claim the grace of God for that! Whenever I feel depressed or anxiety is creeping up, I rest in the fact that no matter what I do, I have a Heavenly Father who LOVES me more then I can comprehend! And even if I can never please anyone again, I know “The Lord is my helper, I will not fear; what can man do to me?” –Hebrews 13:6.

Am I crazy for thinking this way? I’m still an unashamed people pleaser and I prefer to think of myself as the apostle Paul said, “To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some” -1 Corinthians 9:22. I become what people want but at the same time I hold to my convictions that make me unique. I don’t change who I am but I be the person that God needs me to be for them. No smoke and mirrors but rather clear and clean mirrors to reflect God’s LOVE for everyone. (But trust me; I’m not that good at it yet. This sounds great on paper but in practice I still seek my glory over God’s glory.)

Thursday, February 3, 2011


“I only think in the form of crunching numbers”

- “Thnks fr th mmrs” Fall Out Boy

The purpose of writing this blog is two-fold: I want to share my thoughts and refine my thoughts. I want to share my thoughts because I think about anything and everything all the time. When I don’t share my thoughts I lose my thoughts. It is public journaling as all blogging tends towards. At the same time, I desire to refine my thoughts because I know I am confused on many subjects and there are people out there who have thought about these subjects much more than I have. I want to continually ask myself as I type these words and I ask the reader, am I crazy for thinking this way? I know that I think from a perspective that is completely unique to me and it is almost impossible for me to think from a different point of view until someone tells me there is another view to point…

The writings will spawn from my thoughts and events that happen in my life. I am a Christ follower and most of my thoughts have a Christian aspect to them. Many of my thoughts also revolve around relationships (not just dating but all relationships). Relationships tend to dominate my thinking because it is something I don’t have a ton of experience in and they are the foundation which all society is built.