Growing Pains – A Poem

10255201834_2513cfd87b

Growing Pains – A Poem

Why are these dreams that stretch out across my heart’s field of desire,
That glisten Like droplets of drew sparkling on the morning grass,
So hard to obtain, so hard to take to take hold of,
And so hard to lasso and pull close to reality?
The burden is bearing the tragedy of it all,
Knowing what you want, what you need,
Lies just beyond the forest and through the trees,
But you seem unable to put those desires into action.
So often I’m fixated on distractions that pull me off-course,
And get me lost on side paths instead of trekking onward
Towards goals, aspirations, and destinations.
It drives a person mad, carrying around bags of frustrations,
Grueling through labor day after day,
Counting the minutes, knowing there has to be another way.
But the Way is left without footprints, often prepared for
But never ventured and what’s left of hope slowly fades away.
There’s a demon inside of me that seems unable to be controlled,
Scoffing at dreams, content to let life pass me by,
Trampling on schedules, and consistently cursing meaningful causes.
Claws strike out at my fingers each time
I reach out to grasp my true potential.
I now know the paved road to success doesn’t exist.
You must venture through the dense forest,
Fight through the clinging vines, and thrash through the sticks.
No, to journey with intention is no vacation,
And the mess inside me, always attempting to misguide me, is no easy fix.
But the trail to nowhere is covered by countless footprints
And paved with the trampled dreams others have left behind.
The alarm clock beckons.
Wisdom speaks.
My souls shrieks.
But for some reason I have yet to understand,
I hear, but refuse to listen.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley


photo credit: After the rainfall via photopin (license)

Advertisements

Eclipse – A Poem

2282074048_5659595082

Eclipse – A Poem

Two sides of a conflicting coin
Flip like faces in a dramatic act.
Two intricate and separate forces entangle
In a bitter struggle, leaving Earth cloaked in black.

How can such a powerful light
Be smothered by such a small, sinister hand?
A visceral visual of what evil can accomplish
When given the freedom to take root in the heart of man.

In a matter of seconds the cosmos is silenced
By the veil of darkness and death.
The yang captured beneath the yin’s net;
Hope and light suffocating and gasping for breath.

What once was so beautiful,
Shining in the sky’s endless sea,
Has now turned into a lifeless puppet,
Bound and animated by dark, dominating strings.

You were once a blazing beacon –
A fire of hope that lit up my nights.
But now, my once glorious sun,
You’ve laid down, surrendered, and given up the fight.

I only hope this is but an eclipse
And shortly you’ll come forth from hiding behind the moon.
For life is but a quick, short breath
And will not wait while you wallow woefully in your room.

Two opposite forces fight
In the face of the atmosphere;
The moon is not a worthy opponent
But kills all light when the sun hides in fear.

The moon hangs with no power,
But becomes master when the sun submits.
Defy the rebellion, do not yield to your captor.
Emerge as the victor in your heart’s eclipse.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

photo credit: Lunar Eclipse via photopin (license)

Beauty’s Battle – A Poem About Endurance and Fighting Fear

celtic_warrioress_by_sebastien_grenier-d36rxag

Beauty’s Battle – A Poem About Endurance and Fighting Fear

She sits engaged in a battle
Beneath the shadow of her own face,
Slowly conceding to her own demons
Brought back by their blows, crushed beneath their weight.

She wonders what’s the use in trying
When defeat has already been secured?
For what’s left of the light is dying
And her heels dangle on the verge

Of Darkness’s valley where fear stands ready
With open jaws, salivating for an easy feast.
But quick, girl, stand firm, armed, and steady.
Don’t give them the satisfaction of seeing you kneel at their feet.

Remember where your heart lies.
Remember your true desires not corrupted by fear.
Remember the beauty that resides beneath your blue eyes.
Remember why it is I’m still here.

There’s a flame that still flickers.
Feed it with love, faith, courage, and hope.
Know that of all the muses that have flowed from my fingers,
You’re the finest that’s ever wrote.

She pauses for reflection
And slows her breath to a stable inhale.
Suddenly, it comes to her attention
That this shadow of darkness is nothing but a paper-thin veil.

She rises boldly like an Amazon warrioress to her feet
And quickly takes aim with her bow.
Defiantly refusing to retreat,
Deciding she’s had enough of fear’s pain and woe.

The battle is not over.
She remains engaged beneath her beautiful skin.
But she’s set on never allowing herself to roll over,
And allowing the shadow of fear to win.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

Reflections – A Poem About Character Flaws

3309724005_19ee95e78e

Reflections – A Poem About Character Flaws

The extent of my weaknesses are revealed
Beneath the weight of uncertainty.
I am often a self-absorbed child,
Believing that time and even the world itself should stop for me.
My futile fury of feeble insecurity
Is shocking and pries open my eyes
To inner flaws I was blind to.
Every ounce of energy, every vision conceived,
Is spent looking at me.
My expectations of others come as extensions of myself –
Unrealistic and dotted with traces of perfectionism.
Resentful if they do not meet the mark I have set
And if their opinions do not match my own
Because obviously if they are not mine,
They are clearly wrong.
Selfishness seeps from the wounds
That loving another opens and inflicts.
Selfishness insists that I must control
Instead of allowing things to let live.
These defects of mine are amplified
Under the pressures of patience,
Consciously trying to tame the darkness inside,
But at the same time fed up with waiting.
Perhaps we are given circumstances
In which at first sight appear cruel and unnecessary
To stretch the muscles of our soul,
To open up the doors of the closets
We’ve been allowing our demons to hide within,
And to act as a catalyst for change.
Each day I’m learning more about this man
And the wrongs of his ways.
But patience and love has become a mirror
In which I’m able to see an accurate reflection of myself.
I can say with certainty that much of what I see
I do not like.
But every day is an opportunity.
Each moment is a new medium
In which I determine the image I am reflecting to the world.

– Poem Written by Justin Farley

photo credit: yo yo yo via photopin (license)

Rapunzel – A Poem About Fighting For Love

6a00e54fb8709388330120a6405fcf970c

Rapunzel – A Poem About Fighting For Love

“Rapunzel, Rapunzel,
Let down thy hair.”
Neither sleet nor rain,
Darkness nor pain,
Cold nor ice
Will suffice to keep me away
From your tower of solitude.
You can ascend spiral stairs of stone
Into the sky’s recesses,
But I will follow your tresses,
Clinging and holding on despite your wrongs.
The song you sing is without equal,
And nowhere but by your side do I belong.
This love I have for you
Does not just cling to the beauty of the blossom,
But dwells in the depths of darkness, down to the root.
You can hack off at the stem, but it will quickly grow a new shoot.
Your veil of secrecy is coming unraveled, my dear.
Your fear and all that you believe can remain hidden is exposed;
You can hide beneath it no longer.
Because like thorns on a rose
It is apart of you,
Nestled within you,
And I’m here to tell you
The rose I gaze upon has never looked so lovely.
I long more than ever to bathe in your beauty,
Be swept away by the fragrance of your scent,
Rest my fingers upon your petals,
And block the wind and rain from bruising your stem.
This tower of solitude you seek to conceal your darkness in
Does not block, nor can it stop my love.
I will scale your walls if I have to,
And each time I fall will begin again.
For trapped within a chamber courting madness
Lies the woman I love and my dearest friend.
Without her I am not the same.
You are the sweet, spring rain
That falls on me and restores me after a harsh, cold winter
And alleviates my pain.
Hide no longer.
I am not scared of what you keep locked up inside.
Unleash it upon me and see that I am not moved,
That my love stands firm, and in me you can confide.
Your struggles, weaknesses, insecurities –
Set them free.
Look into my eyes and know
You can trust in me.
I am not here to rescue you.
I can’t battle your demons for you,
But I will walk with you on this journey
If you’ll only reach out and take my hand.
Know that no matter how hard this climb gets,
I’ll never let go.
I will wait patiently outside your tower
Until you’re ready to let me in,
Until you see that I’m not just your lover,
But also your soul mate and best friend.
I love all of you, including what lies locked in your tower.
You don’t have to be afraid that you feel scared and without power.
You can be exposed to me – naked, vulnerable, and bare.
“Rapunzel, Rapunzel,
Let down thy hair.”

– Poem Written by Justin Farley, quoted segment taken from the story “Rapunzel” by the Brothers Grimm

Accepting and Being Comfortable With Our Weaknesses

“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

92858032_7da56f6e9d

Survival of the Fittest

The world’s conception of weakness is based off of Darwinian concepts of “survival of the fittest”. Weakness is just that…weak. It is not something to share with others. It is not something to boast about. It is a secret that should remain locked up in the deepest recesses of our heart, guarded with the utmost security in protection of being found out by others and becoming a target for the strong like a wounded animal among the herd that limps and drifts behind, easy to pick off and devour.

It is the strong that survive, that thrive in society, or at least that’s what the world wishes us to believe. Sure, the world may pretend to have sympathy when a co-worker finds out that their spouse has been cheating on them, finds out that they have a crippling disease, or their children have gotten into trouble at school. But the world is quick to throw judgments on people. They may have a glimpse of sympathy, but that sympathy often comes from determining that they are stronger than the sufferer, that weakness is caused on some level by their own actions.

The co-worker whose spouse cheated on them was obviously not taking care of their spouse sexually, obviously deficient in some way, or else their spouse would never have felt the need to look elsewhere for satisfaction. There is some implicit judgement that says, “yes, I’m sorry that happened to you, but it hasn’t happened to me because I am stronger, better than you. My spouse would have been satisfied with me if I was in your place.” The co-worker who is diagnosed with a crippling disease is seen as partly to blame. “Well, it’s no wonder. Have you seen the way she eats? Maybe this will teach her to take care of herself.” And the co-worker that has a problem child is obviously doing something wrong. “My children would never think about doing anything like that. I don’t know where they learned it. I pity her for having to deal with such a rotten child.” If we’re truly honest, the world’s sympathy most of the time does not come because it actually relates to weakness, but because it pities the weakness; the world likes the drama because other peoples’ weaknesses makes them feel stronger.

The Great Secret

And in some unspoken way, we all know this. We know that others are judging us for our weaknesses. So we paint a smile on our faces and pretend that all is well because it’s better to play the part of someone who’s strong than play ourselves, who we know to be weak. We are ashamed of that person, embarrassed, and go through our days praying that we never get found out. But the reality is that we are all weak at the core. We all have strengths and weaknesses. There is no such thing as the strong and the weak, but the broken and more broken.

The Day Darwin Died

The Darwinian concept of strength is shattered in the light of the cross, radiating and piercing nature’s laws. For Christ did not conquer with strength. He did not conquer with sword and shield, but with truth and love. On the cross we see the greatest warrior the world has ever known. On the cross we find the greatest activist of change the world will ever know. But in the world’s eyes, he is weak, for he humbled himself and allowed himself to become nothing, he surrendered without guns blazing and offered the “strong” a free sacrifice without fighting.

And if the story ended there, it would appear that Darwin’s theory rings true. But three days later a stone was rolled back and the Son of man reemerged stronger and more powerful than ever before. His submission is our hope and the spark that changed the world.

Healing Through Weakness

This is why Paul claims he can “boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses”. He knows that what Christ achieved on the cross is sufficient and no weakness of his flesh will keep him from the love of God. Not only that, but by being open with our weaknesses it invites others to be open with theirs. A healing and acceptance begins to take place that would never be achieved in “strength”.

It is also important to note Paul’s use of the word “thorn”. One of the hardest things to accept about weaknesses, especially when they are painful, is why a loving God allows them to happen. If God loves me, why does he allow me to suffer? This is a question that I have pondered over many hours, and I believe the answer is in the text.

A Pain That Keeps Us Humble

“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.”

Here Paul touches on the idea that God uses weakness to keep us humbled. We don’t like to admit it, but humans rarely ever come to God with simply an honest desire to serve and love him. It is almost always, at least initially, because we are hurting or need something. If everything in our lives were 100% perfect and there was nothing that we needed outside ourselves, would we honestly seek out God? I don’t think so. I know I at least wouldn’t. Weakness is a “thorn” that ensures that we rely on God like a infant relies on a mother. It is the foundation on which we know we do not have all the answers and must submit to one who is stronger than us.

Grace Abounds in Our Weaknesses

The most beautiful thing about how God deals with our weaknesses is through grace. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”. When we submit our weaknesses to the Lord, they no longer become weaknesses, but strengths. God’s love abounds in the weakest areas of our lives. When we open our hearts to God and admit that we are in need of a savior, his love takes our weaknesses and transcends them. It does not mean that he will remove them, but no longer are they a weakness in the same sense of the word. These weaknesses allow us to relate and understand the human condition all the more and boast in God’s mercy and love. We become resurrected with Christ. We may still show the imprints of the nails on our hands and the wound in our side, but they are no longer injuries, but scars that have healed. We no longer have to hide in shame, but can shout from the mountaintops, “Our God saves”.

What secrets in the deep recesses of your heart are you holding back in shame from the world? Are you going through your days worried of being “found out”? Bring your weaknesses to the cross. Crucify them and allow God to resurrect you with his grace and allow your story to become a example of God’s love and mercy.

If you enjoyed this post, I would greatly appreciate it if you like, share, or comment on it. Follow my blog to receive notifications when new posts are published. You can find my other Christian poems, Lent poems, or inspirational poems at https://alongthebarrenroad.com/category/poetry/
photo credit: oh the shame, the shame via photopin (license)

The Neglected Lover – A Love Poem About Self Love and Loving Yourself

medium_15412771372

Sometimes it is easy to love your neighbor, but much more difficult to have self love. Self loathing and self-hatred are real problems for some people. You would never treat others or hold them to the same standards as you do yourself, so why do you keep doing it? You’re just as deserving of love as they are! Here’s a love poem that you can read to yourself. I hope you enjoy it.

 

The Neglected Lover – A Poem About Self Love and Loving Yourself

When will you ever let yourself be enough?
When will you stop second guessing yourself,
Examining your entire life under a microscope
And highlighting every flaw?

When will you accept that you’re worthy
This very moment – not after the future accomplishment,
Not after this mess is cleaned up,
But right now?

When will you stop scrubbing your skin until it bleeds,
Trying to remove a stain that’s been there
Since you were born?
When will you stop loathing your weaknesses
And start accepting them as opportunities
For God to work directly through you?

When will you stop dragging your head along the floor
And be confident enough to look the world in the face?
When will you stop wishing you were someone else,
Living someone else’s story, and write your own?

When will you let your past failures rest
And no longer haunt you?
When will you finally take off the chains
Your mind has bound you in
And walk as a free child of God?

Don’t do it for wives and husbands,
Sons and daughters.
Don’t do it for bosses and co-workers,
Fathers and mothers.
Don’t do it for friends or foes,
Even for success or for the sake of happiness.
Do it for the person that walks around
With you everyday, goes to bed with you every night,
And stares back at you in the mirror every morning.
Do it for you.
The time for feeling useless and unlovable is over.
It’s time for you to love yourself.


 

photo credit: Rafael 1984 via photopin cc

Whom Shall I Send?

“And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here I am! Send me.'” (Isaiah 6:8)

medium_6365213993

Many times my selfishness wishes my ears were mute to the Lord’s whisper of “whom shall I send”. I have been searching for God my entire life and yet have never completely found him. I feel his presence, but he is not intimate. For many years I’ve wondered why he’s kept me in a middle ground with him. It almost feels better to be without God, than to have him near, but not intimate. It is like trying to be just “friends” with someone you are in love with. It causes more pain than anything.

When you live without God you can get away with turning your eyes from him and doing your own will. When you live in the middle ground, you get no comfort from sin and you’re convicted of it; at the same time, you have no one to run to in times of need. I’ve prayed for him to draw near, but found no relief. Why would God hide himself from me when I was reaching out to him? But over the past year I’ve realized that he wasn’t hiding from me, I was hiding from him. I wanted to go to God and have an intimate relationship with him without losing myself. I wanted all the benefits of his love, but I didn’t want to give him my love.

So I changed. I desperately sought out God and was willing to turn my life over to him. In the past year, I have seen drastic spiritual growth, but there is still something that is missing. I feel like I am now inside the city gates, maybe even inside his palace, but not yet intimate with him. I couldn’t understand it. I do the right things, have turned over the areas of my life I know needed changing, and spend time in the Word and prayer everyday.

But the other day I was thinking a lot about service and all the people in the world who are in desperate need. Out of the blue those dreaded words from Isaiah hit me like a ton of bricks: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Except my answer wasn’t nearly as noble as Isaiah’s. It was more like trying to hide, pretend that I didn’t hear them, or even answer “anyone but me”. I realized in that moment that I hadn’t turned everything over. There was still one area of my heart that I was guarding, and it was the reason I was still left wandering around the city and not in the throne room.

I’ve always wanted God, but I admittedly have a narcissistic personality. Not necessarily selfish, just an obsession with self. If someone asks for help I have no problem sacrificing to do so. But sometimes dwelling on myself blinds me from areas where I could be helping people who are not directly asking for it. From an early age, I knew my connection/desire to seek God was not normal. I remember really enjoying seeking God as a child and wanting to please him until I started reading stories about the lives of saints. God was always doing drastic things in their lives and having them do things they didn’t necessarily want to do. And that scared me to death.

I didn’t want someone to have complete control over me. I didn’t mind serving as long as it was on my terms, but what if God came to me and asked me to do the things that he had of the saints I’d read about? Well, from there on out I was determined to keep my distance from God. I didn’t want to turn completely away from him, but I didn’t want to be close enough to hear him either. If I stayed just outside his radar, maybe then I could get away with pleading ignorance. My greatest fear was that I was going to have a conviction to enter into Christian ministry (missionary, pastor, priest, monk, etc.) because that would mean my whole life would be centered around God. For selfish reasons, I never wanted my job to be focused on talking about God, primarily because I’m deathly afraid of public speaking.

But the other night when I heard the call, it dawned on me that I was still keeping that secret from God. It wasn’t as if I was now unwilling, but I had a grip so strong on that piece of me, that only by God appearing before me and demanding that I answer him would I say, “Here I am! Send me.” And it definitely would not have included the exclamation mark.

For all I know, God has no plans to use me in ministry. But then again, maybe he does. It doesn’t matter his plan, the point is my fear was trying to dictate the direction of my life. I thought that turning over 99% of my life over to God was good enough, but it isn’t. It takes surrendering 100% of your life to have an intimate relationship with Jesus. Jesus does not tell us to pretty much die to self, but to die all the way. Anything that you keep hidden or off-limits to God puts a wall in your relationship. No secret is too dirty or wicked for God to deal with, but you have to present it to him. I think we have the tendency to pretend things will just go away if we don’t deal with them. In order to experience the intimacy of God, he has to experience your intimacy; it is not a one way street.

What question are you dreading God asking you or are covering your ears in response to? What desires and wants are you clutching onto while still seeking an intimate relationship with God? May we all have the courage to stop running around with our fingers stuck in our ears and boldly answer, “Here I am! Send me.”


 

photo credit: Waiting For The Word via photopin cc

Remain Humble

“Do not say in your heart, after the LORD your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of my righteousness that the LORD has brought me in to possess this land,’ whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is driving them out before you. Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the LORD your God is driving them out from before you, and that he may confirm the word that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Issac, and to Jacob.

“Know, therefore, that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people.” (Deuteronomy 9:4-6)

The more we follow Christ and work on our sanctification, the greater the temptation there is to look down on those around us or be prideful. When we are blessed, it can be easy to accept the gifts God gives us without gratitude, but feeling as if we deserve it for our work. How many times do I look down on other people, judging them, and thinking that they are getting the life they deserve?

As the above passage shows, we do not inherit the kingdom by our own works, but because of the works of Jesus. The warning to the Israelites is a warning we still need today. I’m sure many of them felt above the rest of the nations and took pride in thinking that they were better than everyone else. They were God’s chosen people and many probably felt that they earned that right. But the narrator of Deuteronomy quickly reminds them of their grumbling and stubbornness during the exodus – how they didn’t trust God, and he led them anyways.  It was God’s mercy, love, and covenant promises that saved them, not their own works.

When God leads me out of slavery in my own life, out of the trials and problems I face, am I praising him for the work he did or pridefully accepting a trophy for my great work in rescuing myself? I have to be willing to let God do the work, but it is still HIS work, not mine.

As we grow in Christ, many of the old sins fade away, but new temptations arise. And worse, pride and arrogance are usually much harder for us to recognize. Just because something was easy for us to overcome doesn’t mean it is easy for our neighbor. God challenges each of us in different areas of our life, and we shouldn’t judge or put others down because they are struggling. The greatest temptation in overcoming a challenge is thinking that you did it by your work. Sure, we act and even believe that we are blessed for what God has done for us, but if we’re putting down others what does that say about who we really believe is responsible?

I think this is one of the justifiable arguments that the world has against Christianity. Many have followed Christ, only to tarnish his name by putting down others and being judgmental. This doesn’t mean that we accept sin and accommodate it, but we loving help others overcome sin and to follow Christ as equals, not as superiors.

As we walk into the Promised Land, may we not pat ourselves on the back, but look to the One who led us here. Let us recognize that even if we are a changed person, we are still sinners and have not earned the right of salvation any more than the prostitute or drug dealer, but by the blood of Jesus Christ. Let us walk with gratitude and humility.

Fortified

14839214146_ab19914af2

These castle walls have been built
by the tears and pain of my own heart.
Each stone carefully constructed
and sealed in layers of mortar
to make sure there are no breaches,
that no enemy reaches my inner domain,
no intruder is able to sneak and slip between the cracks.
I’ve built these walls strong enough
to withstand any firepower that’s thrown at it,
thick enough to keep out sun, rain, sleet, or snow,
thick enough to protect me from cold or heat.
Yes, nestled behind my walls,
I’m as safe as any man can be.
But what began as a savior years ago,
has become my sentence,
shackled like a prisoner in my own cell.
I may have successfully cut the world
off from me, but in doing so
I also cut me off from the world.
I’ve fortified these walls every day for years,
making them stronger and stronger.
And each year I find myself unmoved
by the world’s attack on me.
But there’s a loneliness growing inside,
knowing that the things I built this castle
to keep out are the things I most desperately need.
You can protect yourself from heartache.
You can close yourself to the possibility of pain.
But as long you’re still breathing, you can never
build walls high enough to keep yourself from being human.
There isn’t a cave dark enough or an ocean deep enough
to hide yourself from the thing that follows you
wherever you go – your heart.


 

Photo Credit: jacilluch via Compfight cc