Growing Pains – A Poem

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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


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Eclipse – A Poem

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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)

When Trouble Comes – A Poem About Faith and Enduring Life’s Pain

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When Trouble Comes
A Poem About Faith and Enduring Life’s Pain

Evening’s crippling darkness passes away.
It’s distant vigor muted by the beauty of the morn.
Hope shines forth from the sun’s mighty rays,
A new spirit within us is born.

I am not overburdened by life’s troubles.
Though painful, they will not shackle nor strangle me.
For it is within each of my daily struggles
That provides growth’s greatest opportunity.

When the seas of my demise arise
And the wake of fear crests beyond the levee’s peak,
Faith persists and finds a way to uphold and drive
Me just beyond the tide of trouble’s reach.

We are neither all dark nor light –
In this lifetime we’re destined to reside somewhere in-between,
Constantly conscious of the ongoing fight,
Casting our character in each and every one of life’s scenes.

We can’t prevent the sun from sleeping,
Nor hide from life’s inevitable dark and lonesome night,
But we can cling to a hope never fleeting,
When joy seems unattainable and out of sight.

We are all flawed petals –
Rough and unperfected beings blowing, swayed by life’s breeze.
Yet, it is in consistently choosing not to settle
That we become beautiful flowers and not merely dormant seeds.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley


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“When Fate Knocks At Your Door” – A Poem

2218949283_5b822ed649Most of us have a vision of the way we think our life should go. We have a certain career path that is right. We have a certain type of spouse that is our fit. We have a certain idea of a family, a house, a life. But life rarely follows our course. And thank God for that. Sometimes the person that knows what we need least is ourselves. That doesn’t mean we should live lives without discernment, but we should open ourselves to possibility and not run from situations that don’t seem to be a part of our original plan. We choose what we want. God chooses what we need.

“When Fate Knocks At Your Door” – A Poem

When you hear fate knocking at your door
Do you answer it?
Or leave it to wait upon the stoop
Like some door to door salesman,
Pretending you’re not home,
Waiting for them try their luck next door?

Or do you welcome it into your home,
Inviting it to track the mud of its hard travels
Across your polished floors and spot-free carpets
And accept the gifts that it brings?

Do you put demands on fate,
Shackle it up in chains like a jailed prisoner
And try to reap the rewards
While staying in control,
And steering clear of the risk of damage?

Fate is not a caged animal –
It roams where it pleases.
It only thrives when it’s left open to possibilities.
Sometimes the biggest surprises,
The things we’d never choose,
Are the things we most deeply need.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

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/


 

 

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Waiting For Wisdom – Keeping Faith During Hard Times

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:5-11)

crossI believe the single greatest threat to trusting in God and having faith is suffering. We can try to spin suffering as a way to “refine” our character and in some cases I do believe that’s true. But what about lifelong suffering and tragic losses that seem to have no meaning whatsoever? This is an area where atheists really gain a lot of traction and rightfully so. These cases stir up questions like “if there really is a God, why does he allow suffering and evil?” And I don’t think any believer can give you a great answer. We’re told it’s sin and that God doesn’t like it either, but that doesn’t really do much for the person starving to death or that loses their young child. I am not arguing that this is not the case, but it doesn’t really provide much hope for the human spirit.

One of the main reasons that I’m a Christian is because it is the only religion that I know of that gives hope to that difficult question. While the gods of other religions tend to be distant and not care too much about human affairs, the Christian God through Jesus Christ not only cares, but willingly suffered for us. We may not know why, but we can’t say that God doesn’t care. If Jesus was obedient to the Father in the midst of  intense suffering, what right do I have to be excused from it? By God’s example, we are lifted up and find faith knowing that no matter how tragic our circumstances are, we have a God who cares and shares in our pain, regardless if we don’t understand why he allows it.

Doubt is strong and faith is hard to hold onto in today’s world. But doubt is no match for the power of the cross and the resurrection. For Jesus’ death and resurrection give us hope that there will come a day when suffering and evil are destroyed once and for all. He is on our side, and we have a High Priest who understands our pain.

 

Waiting For Wisdom

You have bound me in chains and cords
to your altar.
I am sacrificed every day and night
as a burnt offering to your name.
“Your servant hears”*
but your servant lies in pain.
I do not understand your trials,
nor the firmness of your grip,
squeezing the life out of me in your loving arms.
But I remain in the midst of confusion
and wait for wisdom.
My “whys” and “hows” may never be answered –
there will always remain a depth of mystery
to your being that man is never able to understand.
But in our times of suffering
we can be assured you share in our agony,
even if we don’t understand your plans.
For you willingly stretched out
your arms and legs like wooden boards
and allowed nails to be driven into your feet and hands.

*Quotation from 1 Samuel 3:10

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

 

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 or inspirational poems at https://alongthebarrenroad.com/category/poetry/


 

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The River

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Driven by the forces of the river.
Drifting through the bends.
Destined to be deposited into
the vast, open sea where uncertainty begins.

A longing makes its lodging deep inside,
afraid of where I’m going,
longing for what I’m leaving behind.

I call out,
“River, stop this instant.
Throw me upon your banks.
March me back upstream
where I hadn’t the slightest clue
I was drifting away.”

But the river refuses to yield.
Gone are the comforts of forest and field,
with treetop blankets and grassy meadows
to hide me beneath their shield.

The river continues to lead me
down the winding bends,
where it’s led countless before me
and where it’ll lead countless others
time and time again.

But that is not my concern.
I want off this flume boat ride,
Everyday my heart yearns
to be free from the forces of the tide
And able to call my own shots,
free from the ever-approaching
ticking of the clock.

Instead of enjoying my time,
grateful for the opportunity
to lounge upon the river
and gaze upon the beauty it winds me through,
I fight, cuss, and use up all my might,
hoping to be delivered,
straining with every ounce of energy
to make it back upstream.

But my tries are futile.
I notice how much farther I’ve floated
down the river, but experienced nothing.
Beauty has passed me by –
my eyes so fixated on the past,
that I’ve been oblivious to the present.

I resent you, despise why you
have to move so fast,
why you leave me bound like a ship-wrecked sailor,
clutching to a weak, weathered raft.

As much as I try,
you never seem to dry up,
but keep pushing me on by
the people, places, and memories
I want to sit with and visit awhile.

And sing with together to the beauty of a song.
But before we even get to the first chorus,
I look up and notice they’re all gone.

River, if only I could become oblivious
to where you’re leading me.
If only I didn’t feel the vastness
of the mysterious sea
surging in your every move.

Maybe then I could appreciate the ride.
Maybe then I could notice the beauty around me,
instead of clinging to the realization
that I’m going to die.

But I do know your destination
and that changes everything.
I can’t divert my eyes
or distract my mind from the truth –
my heart beats every moment,
silently searching for the fountain of youth.


 

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I Am Not A Victim – The Courage to Change

4081041321_f8d89785beThe hardest thing about fighting back against any mental illness, addiction, mental limitations, or physical limitations is that there is not a direct enemy that you can see, that you rebel and fight against. I read “Unbroken” by Lauren Hillenbrand a few weeks ago and was inspired by the story. But it wasn’t the time Louis Zamperini spent as a POW that moved me. Yes, it took a lot of courage and strength to endure the horrifying experiences that he went through, but it is much more inspiring to hear of his real triumph and that didn’t happen until the war was over. His real triumph was when he overcame himself.

Human beings are naturally pretty good at withstanding lots of pain and hardship as long as it is coming from “out there”. There is someone to hate, someone to curse and your motivation revolves around pride, knowing that you’re going to do whatever it takes so that the enemy doesn’t beat you. But what do you do when the enemy is inside you? What do you do when the person to hate, to curse, and to triumph over is yourself? It is this internal struggle that requires more strength and courage than fighting any enemy on the outside. Why? Because in order to win, you’ve got to defeat yourself and that’s a whole different ballgame.

You can fight an external enemy and stay relatively the same person on the inside. Sure, it takes hard work and strength, but you’re pulling motivation from the “self” that is inside you. You have to endure, but you don’t have to change. With internal struggles, the sense of “self” is in direct conflict. Your mind is against your body, your spirit is against your mind, etc. You have to destroy the part of you that is causing the conflict and that requires more than just a little change. It requires a deep, painful metamorphosis like a caterpillar changing into a butterfly.

My biggest enemy is self-pity. Throughout my struggles with addiction and mental illness, I have always been my greatest enemy. If I’m honest, I don’t want to change. I want to stay the same as I’ve always been and stay in the comfort of the familiar. And I think everyone does, but the majority of people are never forced to change. I am. I can either take that as a blessing or a curse. Instead of accepting that, many times I fight against it, fighting against something “out there” whether it’s fate, God, circumstances, etc,  asking “why me?”, “haven’t I been through enough?”, “can’t I just live normally for once?”, distracting myself from the real issue and the real enemy – me.

I want to pretend that I’m helpless, that everything isn’t my fault. And in many ways, it isn’t. I can’t change the fact that I can’t stop drinking once I start, I can’t control the fact that I have panic attacks and my mind doesn’t function the way it should, and I can’t change the days when I’m filled with apathy or plagued by depression. But I still have a choice. I chose to stay in my comfort zone, blaming external circumstances, unwilling to change, willing to blame and curse the hand I’ve been dealt. I fear emerging as a new butterfly, unrecognizable and unfamiliar. Fear keeps me in my cocoon. I want to go back to living as a caterpillar, where everything was easy and where the majority of society dwells. But I am not called to be a caterpillar. I am called to be a butterfly and until I stop fighting against the external and start killing the internal, I’m going to be one miserable human being. It is not my job to decide how or why things have happened to me the way they have. My job is to pick up the pieces and put them back together. I AM NOT A VICTIM. It sure as hell isn’t easy, but I still have the choice to endure, to change, or to wallow in self-pity. The choice is up to me.


 

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One Determined Day At A Time

fruit in the garden of eden

I plucked the pieces of forbidden fruit
and bit into them, ravished by their taste –
devouring the memories my mind
had shielded me from for far too long.

They tasted sweet on the tongue,
left me reminiscing for the days when I was young,
but lingered too long and became bitter –
the winter of my years and life,
so far from who I once was,
days before I was taken under the knife,
the knife that cut me wide open and laid me
vulnerable on the operating table,
making me less human that I already was
like a grotesque monster created among
the darkened shadows of moonlight
thrown across Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory.

I find myself so far disconnected from the man and child
who exists only in my memories,
that I have to squint and rub my glasses clean
just to recognize my face.

It’s been too long since I’ve walked
among Eden’s garden, strolled careless without burden
and absorbed the crisp, warm rays of the sun.
For now I stand outside Eden’s gates,
dueling with the flaming sword,
destined to lose and damned to forever
gaze into the garden and remember its beauty.

I’ve been a captive for too long…
I forget what it’s like to feel free –
to steer my ship into whichever harbor I choose,
to run playfully in the summer breeze
without being tripped or weighed down
by the shackles gripped tight around my feet –
the chains that bind and secure defeat,
defeat who grooms her hair
and presses out the wrinkles in her dress
preparing me before my date with despair.

But I remember the old days,
even if I need to wipe away
the dust to read their dates.
The beauty of life is that it’s never too late
to resist the winds of mighty gales
and the undertow of surging currents
and shake your fists at fate,
one determined day at a time.


 

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To Be Human

I once believed I was a wallflower,
A seed sown in an empty field,
Thinking thoughts and speaking in tongues
No one could understand,
A circus clown performing to a crowd of empty seats,
Alienated. Ostracized. Alone.
But the more I observe the human condition,
The more I see that no one is spared from its constraints.
The fact that among so many people we can feel so isolated,
So misunderstood, and believe we’re the only person
In the history of the world who feels this way,
Is the great paradox of our time.
But that’s what it means to be human.
You enter into this world alone
And you will leave it alone.
You spend the time in the middle trying to convince yourself
That we’re in this together – and we are
It just never feels that way.
We each deal with the human longing differently,
But we all know what it is.
The human experience – pain, suffering, being misunderstood, feeling lost.
And that’s the real mystery isn’t it?
Just how do we deal with the inevitable hardships of life?
You can find volumes full of answers,
But you’d struggle to find one that makes life any easier.
The important thing to realize is that there are others
Who have gone through the same trials you’re going through,
Feeling the exact same pain, and there are others
Who can look you in the eye and tell you, “I understand”
And mean it.
They may not be standing next to you,
But they’re out there struggling and searching just as hard as you.
When I used to look out into a crowd,
I’d see strangers, animals I neither related to nor understood.
But now I see brothers and sisters, all connected
Whether white, black, brown, red, yellow, man, woman, young, old, rich, poor.
We are all apart of the human race,
And that’s enough to reach out a helping hand.
Because everyone, whether publicly or privately, are engaged
In a battle within their hearts and minds
And need compassion and care.


 

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A Change of Perspective

2858456847_27f8c83b58Recently, I’ve been reading a book called “He Walks Among Us – Encounters With Christ In A Broken World” by Richard and his wife Renee Stearns, who is the president of World Vision – a Christian humanitarian organization. In it, the couple shares stories of children and families they have encountered in their work, applying the stories to help teach principles the reader can use in their own life. It is tragic, and at the same time inspiring, to hear of the way less fortunate people live. Tragic because of the pain and suffering of people starving to death -children left to raise their siblings because their parents have died from sickness, and oppression from their rulers. But the humility and faith that many of these people have is astounding and inspiring.

When I’m caught up in my day to day affairs, I forget all the blessings I have – things like running water, food to eat, a car to drive, freedom, a warm place to stay.  These are all things that the majority of us in the west take for granted, but that a large percentage of people in rest of the world doesn’t have. In the book, Richard Stern claims that “two billion people in the world live in desperate poverty, and nearly twenty thousand children under the age of five needlessly die everyday.” It’s sickening to think that I complain over material desires – why I can’t have this, why I can’t have a bigger house, car, TV, etc., why other people have it so much easier than I do – when there’s small children across the world right now hoping to just get a drink of water and something to eat so they don’t die.

3646355921_cbb7ea41cbHow many times do I receive something and am actually grateful for it, instead of thinking that I deserve it? The gratitude and humility that the less fortunate have is something that we could all use. I do my best to always show appreciation and say “thank you”, but am I truly grateful? I may be showing outward gratitude, but am I humble at heart? If they decided to not give me what I wanted/needed, would my “gratitude” turn into demands and thinking I deserve it? The sick and suffering receive gifts with tears of joy and gratitude. When is the last time I’ve received a gift that way?

The smiles and unmovable faith in the face of so much suffering is something that is almost hard for us in the west to grasp. Here these people are struggling to survive day to day, and they are filled with an unshakable faith. They are finding ways to still find joy where most couldn’t find it. We have a tendency to doubt God if we don’t get the job we think we need, the partner that we know will complete us, or when things just simply don’t go the way we think they should. By observing our own lives, we believe we truly are worse off than anyone else and fall into self-pity. But when we change our perspective and see the real issues that the human race is facing, we are ashamed at the petty things we’re complaining about and our lack of gratitude for living with more blessings than the majority of the world.

The strangest thing is observing the character of these people and thinking they have something that’s missing in my life. The people that have less than anyone else in the world somehow have something that we envy, something that doesn’t quite make rational sense. Our brains can’t understand how people living in such poverty and sickness could be content. But that’s because we allow our own understanding to transcend the understanding of God. Jesus lives among the sick and suffering, the poor and the lame. Homeless himself, he had and left this world with nothing. He spent only three years in ministry, yet is the most powerful person to ever walk the planet. I don’t care if you’re a Christian or not, that’s got to raise some eyebrows and make yourself question “just who is this man”. A man that was homeless, penniless and only taught for three years became the face of the largest religion the world has ever known. That’s not rational either. And it’s not supposed to be. When we are humble and open our hearts to his love, miracles happen.

 


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