Life is in the Eye of the Beholder Poem

Life is in the Eye of the Beholder

Life is in the eye of the beholder.
It remains constant through the ages,
But changes with each person’s view.
The pixels of your life’s image
Are formed and determined by you.

The lens we choose to look through
Is the filter that determines our fate.
Blessings abound for those with humble hearts;
Misfortune for the proud awaits.

Curses and gifts are wrapped in the same packages;
Their contents are named when opened.
Curses will find those who feel entitled;
Gifts will present themselves when chosen.

Be patient in judgments.
Let the season pass before crying out your dismay.
What often begins as terrible weather
Ends as part of a beautiful day.

Trust that there’s meaning in the madness
Or mad you will become.
A glass is either half-full or half-empty,
And your happiness to bound to either one.

Life is in the eye of the beholder.
Its blessings are as numerous as the stars,
And its scars outnumber the droplets of the sea.
The choice is given in the pair of glasses
From which you decide to see.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

About the Poem

There are events in life that are clearly tragedies and others that are clearly blessings, but most of what happens to us is determined by our expectations and our viewpoint. In my life, I’ve dealt and deal with many things that could be considered misfortunes – addiction,anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder. At the beginning of this week, my anxiety was very high, and I found myself in pity mode, asking, “Why me? Why does it have to be so hard? Why has my life been robbed by mental illness?”

The only person I could seem to find blame with was God. If God is in control, he is the one to blame. Sometimes when you’re brought so low by something outside of your control, it’s hard to trust and believe in a God of goodness and mercy. But one of the blessings of Christianity is that He knows that. There is no shame for us at times to feel abandoned and confused, for Christ himself shouted, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

But the danger is staying in that place too long and not looking at the big picture of life. The danger is turning away and not seeking council through prayer and patience. I received an answer when a thought popped into my head asking who I would be without the struggles I have had in life.

There’s no doubt that I would have more worldly success without mental illness and addiction. But when I thought about the type of person I would have become, I had to admit that I would likely be extremely arrogant, prideful, hateful, feel no need for God, and have none of the good qualities and values that I’m grateful for. I am quick to blame God for pain; yet know, as stubborn as I am, often times it’s the only way to get me to listen.

The pain in life is not enjoyable and often feels hard to bear. For me, the error lies in my assumption that I’m entitled to feel no pain. I’m entitled to have complete control over my life with no consequences. I’m entitled to have a smooth life with no struggles or battles.  The reality is that our character is formed by those hardships. The hardships are what force us to do the things we don’t want to do, but know we need to do. What we label as “misfortune” is often a blessing that stirs within us the question of “why”, calling us back towards God and off the dangerous path we’re on.

There are times too when there is no answer and our circumstance is too terrible to see anything good in it. The only thing we are called to do is to wait, be patient, and trust that God will work goodness out of darkness. Often, what seems like unbearable tragedy is looked upon as saving grace years down the road.

Goodness and blessings occur everyday, but it is up to us to find them. It’s so much easier to notice all things that are wrong with our lives instead of cherishing the abundance of blessings and goodness. Our outlook on life isn’t going to prevent us from ever going through pain, but does keep things in perspective and allows us to have joy even when we’re not happy temporarily, knowing that our joy is not bound by the ups and downs of this world.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like my poem, “Everyday Miracles”, about finding the presence of God everyday in ordinary things.

What is Success? What Does A Successful Person Do?

“Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.” – David Frost

stairs walking up a mountain,  symbolizing success or hard workWhat is success? We all want to know, so we can define ourselves as successful when we get there. But I would argue that success is not a destination, not a certain level on a plane that we reach and can claim that we’ve “made it”; but a mindset and select core of principles that we put into place right from the start. In my opinion, success has nothing to do with monetary value or wealth. It is the opposition to the natural tendencies and forces that exist in life that attempt to push us to do what culture says is right, will bring you happiness, money, or fame. You can be “wealthy”, but quite unsuccessful; you can be “poor”, but quite successful. Did I lose you? Let me explain.

A successful individual is someone who is overall satisfied with his or her life. They pursue the passions of their heart and do not let fear or other’s opinions of them determine their actions. Successful people are constantly challenging themselves, constantly examining their life to see what areas need improvement. Generally, these types of people are wealthy, but it is not wealth that motivates them. Many people that society may label as “successful” are nothing more than greedy whores to a system that tells them to do whatever is necessary to get ahead, even if that means going against their values or hurting others in the process.

Happiness and success always go hand-in-hand. Human beings are naturally only truly happy when they are filled with purpose and are pursuing what they were born to do. When we stray from the path we know we’re meant to go down, there is a natural energy that arises within us that is disgusted with our decision and voices its opinion through our heart. Call that your soul, call that God, call it whatever you want, but know it exists to keep us away from the traps that the world sets out for us. We are most at peace when our outside actions perfectly match our inner feelings and motivations. Granted, it will likely be impossible to ever be perfectly aligned, but you can get pretty close.

When you wake up each morning and look in the mirror, you should be proud of that woman or man that is starring back at you. You may have the comfort of wealth, but if you are disgusted by what you see, can you really consider yourself successful? If you know that you have cheated the system, pushed down others to get ahead, took the easy path and cut corners, if you look at yourself and know you’re a phony, a fraud, and a liar, constantly in fear that the world is going to see the see through your outer shell, can you ever be truly happy? Absolutely not. That is not success; that is tragedy.

But success is a cultivator of wealth. Not because you’re seeking it, but because it follows success. Someone who is aligned with their inner self is going to love what they do, have drive, have passion and wake up everyday excited to make the world a better place. Their heart is in their work and with hard work, wealth typically follows. Wealth, however, can NEVER be your goal or motivator. If it is, you’re unsuccessful before you ever begin. Why? Because when wealth is your driving force, you will be willing to do whatever is necessary to obtain it, which immediately puts you against your inner self and makes you an opponent of happiness.

A successful person is a visionary, a light for the world, a lover, a fighter, a rebel, a leader, a builder, a guider, one who unites, one who divides, one who sympathizes, one who restores. They can be all these things at once because their main focus is using their gifts to make the world a better place. Sometimes that requires division, sometimes that requires discipline, and sometimes that requires praise or building another person up. A truly successful person is always at odds against people and culture, yet always works with people and culture in mind. The world hates successful people even if we try to pretend that we don’t because they are a light, and a light reveals our own darkness. A light challenges us to follow, when we’d prefer to stay in the comfort and ease of the dark.

I want to challenge the way we think of success. Success immediately equals wealth by culture’s standards; however, is goes far deeper than that. Success is using our gifts to the utmost of our ability and using those gifts to ensure that the world is a better place because we lived, because we loved, and because we had the courage to walk down the hard road rather than drift along the lazy river. Many successful people are wealthy, and there is nothing wrong with that. But wealth is not a qualifier of success, it is simply a typical byproduct of it. Take people like Jesus Christ, the Buddha, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., etc. Are these people “successful” by the world’s definition? No. They are absolute failures – losers even. Yet somehow they have changed the world in ways that few people ever can or will. Hate him or love him, Jesus is the most influential person to ever walk the earth, and I believe always will be. But he was a homeless, penniless man with practically no possessions to his name. Can you really call him or any of the people on the list a failure or unsuccessful? I hope not. They lived their life with beauty, with purpose, and with love at the forefront of their mind.

Rich or poor, success is when we live the life we know we were born to live and can wake up each day and love the face that smiles back at us in the mirror. Success is staying true to ourselves and the core set of principles that we hold dear, always fighting, yet always persisting in the face of opposition. Some days we are more successful than others, but success is not an overnight venture; it is a lifetime pursuit of love, truth, passion, and hard work.


photo credit: Todo area @ Mount Hiei in the fog @ Kyoto via photopin (license)

An Ode To Joy – A Poem About Hope

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An Ode To Joy – A Poem About Hope

It is joy that spreads its wings
and meets me in the midst of my melancholic musings
and carries me through despair.
Pain does not disappear,
but is transcended by a power mightier
than the trappings of the mind
and the preaching Pity pouts from depression’s pulpit.

Joy is not the elixir of pain,
but the medication for madness,
the harvester of meaning in the grips of sadness,
that hoists the spirit high in the heavens
handing over a hope undaunted by trials,
compiled over seasons of faith
where each surrender was followed by deliverance.

Joy is the bright, morning star
that shines in the darkness –
the light that leads you through the land of the lost
and pierces the longest midnight.
Happiness is but a foolish endeavor,
inclined to be swept away,
stolen like a thief in the night,
gone without a trace from which it came.
But joy is a resistant flame
that burns both night and day.
It does not recede, but leads come what may.

Joy is the force infused through the victor
knocked down by the world face down on failure’s doorstep,
who refuses to lose, gets up again
and wins despite the odds.
We blindly search for happiness
down every drunkard’s alley,
down every dead-end street,
and in the end only meet further pain.

This world can never trap happiness,
but only manage to grab him by his tail
for a brief moment before he scurries away.
Hang onto the rare opportunities
to catch a glimpse of him,
but don’t try to make a fleeting feeling
A constant companion.

Joy smiles when the world frowns,
laughs when the world knocks you down,
dances in the depths of depression,
and sings in the silence of solitude.
It is not built on transient times,
but an external hope that transcends the present reality.

– 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/


 

photo credit: Pôr do sol no Rio Paraná via photopin (license)

Becoming Happier By Changing Our Perspective

8923976629_9f487a40efMost of the time, it isn’t our circumstances that define us, but our perspective on those circumstances. Every day we each go through numerous experiences that are opportunities to embrace the positive or dwell on the negative. The way we react to these experiences determines how happy or sad we will be through life. Now there are mental conditions and extreme circumstances that are beyond our control, but that still doesn’t mean we’re helpless. We often attribute our unhappiness to a lack of something. If only I had this or that…if only I wasn’t this way…if only…then I would be happy. But life doesn’t work that way. New circumstances will never change our feelings until we first change our perspective. Become aware of how you perceive your daily experience. Most of us go through the day without ever noticing how we are reacting, but those reactions are directly shaping the way you view the world and how you feel. Your mind can be your best asset or your worst enemy. How will you use it today?

Perspective – A Poem

If time finds you
Wandering through the depressions
Of dark valleys
Where the sun casts shadows
Across your vision
And smothers you like a plastic bag,
Gasping for air and relief,
Take a moment to gaze around you.

Let your vision shift
From the small, deserted island
Your mind is stranded on
In a vast, open sea,
shift your focus outside the prison
You’ve locked yourself in,
And soak up the rest of the world.

Take a look.
It’s moving just fine without you in it,
Has been since the dawn of time,
and the beautiful laws of nature
Will continue to operate just fine
Long after you’re gone.

Is it the world that’s lost and confused
Or is it me?
Are my eyes shattered like cracked
Marbles of glass,
Envisioning and judging a world that doesn’t exist
Except through my perspective?

The problems and sorrows of this life
Escalate and reach their climax
When I place myself at the center
Of the universe.
Maybe it’s time to get
These broken eyes fixed.

– 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/


 

photo credit: upload via photopin (license)

Searching For Happiness in the Wrong Places

4796771840_f1321d4004Why is it that we have such a hard time letting go of physical wants and desires? Humans have been searching for happiness in all the wrong places for thousands of years and probably will for thousands to come, while history has shown time and time again that success and riches do not make people happy. They may provide temporary relieve, but quickly fade out. And once happiness is gone, it actually makes us even more depressed because we put all our hope in our money and success, and it failed us. I believe this is the reason that so many celebrities struggle with substance abuse, mental illness, or even commit suicide. They, just like most of us, had a “if only I was…” or “when I…” goal in their heart and a way to fix the pain they were feeling. Well, they got what they thought would bring them happiness and are still unhappy. They were once unhappy, but hopeful; now they’re just unhappy and hopeless.

God is the only thing that doesn’t change, always stays the same, and who we can find joy in regardless if times are good or bad. Most of us don’t have a problem with adding God into our quest for happiness, but we still want to be the one calling the shots. And that’s where our problem lies. We want to use God as a backup plan for happiness. We want his grace, but we don’t want to let go of our idols.

I don’t believe there is a desire shortage for God in our world; it is that we have an apostasy problem. We want God, but we don’t quite trust him, so we add in worldly beliefs and deviate from doctrine as insurance in case God doesn’t come through. And then we wonder why our lives are not “radically transformed” and “radically changing”. It’s not because he failed us, but because we failed him. Just as we don’t want any part of a relationship with multiple lovers on the side, God doesn’t want our smorgasbord of religion, desires, personal success, self-help where I’m in charge, and worldly goals. He promises to drive us to the destination and that he knows where he’s going (even though in the moment it may seem like he’s lost) but first we have to awake from our self-serving sleep and hand over the keys.

Waking From Sleep

Awake!
Arise from your restless sleep
And put aside the dreams of old.
Offer up your precious copper idols
And receive an inheritance tenfold.

Do not lull yourself back into emptiness
Listening to lullabies that speak of false promises,
Designed to deceive feeble, infant babes.
For when has there ever been a day
When greatness visited a man
And rested on his lap while sleeping?

Temporary riches? Maybe.
But not the richness of character
With the ardor and strength to not rust
Or weather when the storms come.
And don’t attempt to fool yourselves –
They will come.
But will you be ready?

In your napping,
Desires have warped and deceived your mind,
Believing that the temporary and fleeting
Have a fighting chance of alleviating
An eternal need, A starving seed
That resides in your breast,
Yearning to be watered with meaning
In fields of nothingness.

In your drunken stupor,
You’ve let the weeds
overtake your garden with their deception
And run amuck.
Now their dirty hands are clutched upon
Your crops’ throats –
Who are choking and grasping for air.

Do not search the physical for your yearning –
You won’t find joy there.
For it quickly dries up and disappears
Under the sands of time.
But the spiritual is never-ending
And unable to be understood by the minds of mankind.

Awake!
Arise from your restless sleep
And put aside the dreams of old.
Offer up your precious copper idols
And receive an inheritance tenfold.

 

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

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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

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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Photo Credit: archer10 (Dennis) via Compfight cc

Living Happy Now

3383537943_64d0a11b15It’s no secret that more people are unhappy than ever before.  Unhappy with their lives, unhappy with their careers, unhappy with their spouse, and most of all unhappy with themselves.  Happiness has become some intangible emotion that we are always reaching for, yet never able to firmly grasp.  As soon as you think you have it, it seems to slip from your hands.  As Americans, we live in the richest and most privileged country on earth, yet we have some of the least happy people.  Why?

The False Persona 

Too many of us judge our interior lives through the lens of other people’s outward appearances.  She’s got so much nicer things than me.  God, it must be nice to have a husband that makes that kind of money.  Why did I get stuck with him?  He’s so much more successful than I am.  If I had that position or worked for that company, I could be happy too.  If only I was thin…If only I was younger…more attractive.  We put the blame of happiness on something we’re missing that’s “out there”.  Those people have what we think will make us happy, so they must be right?  But the reality is that they are just as empty inside as you are.  They may be able to hide it better beneath their fortune and fame, but it’s still there.

The Great Lie

The great lie is that we’re unhappy now because we’re missing something.  We believe that once we get what we’re missing, things will all make sense, and we’ll live happily ever after, but we won’t.  In fact, we may be unhappier than ever because we’ve run out of hope. I always find it mind-blowing to see videos or images of people living in third world countries where they seem so happy.  They have nothing, yet they wear more smiles than the rest of us.  I believe the reason for this is gratitude.  Few Americans are ever satisfied with what they have.  The constant stream of images on the internet and t.v. remind us that there’s something bigger and better than what we’ve got, hints the reason we’re never satisfied.  People in third-world countries have nothing, so anything they get they feel blessed to have.  Embrace life with gratitude instead of demands, and you’ll probably find yourself much more content.

Live Your Story

Above all, too many of us try to live other people’s lives.  Each and every one of us has our own story to tell, yet we insist that our story is no good, and we need someone else’s.  No one’s story is perfect.  Everyone has problems, and we tend to forget that.  You are the main character of your own story.  No one in the world can play that role better than you.  Happiness begins by accepting your story and thriving in it rather than continually looking for a new role to play.


 
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Thinking About and Helping Others

My moods are like anyone else’s.  They come and go, sometimes without any real reason.  The past few days I’ve had a hard time accepting all that addiction and mental illness has taken from me.  Essentially all of my 20s have been spent battling addiction or anxiety.   I have a tenancy to catastrophize my situation by thinking I’m so much worse off than anyone else or that everyone else is so much happier than I am.  I tell myself, “If only I had this…if only I could change that.” But the reality is that happiness begins inside of you and is not dependent on outside circumstances.

The recent, tragic loss of Robin Williams only goes to show us that even many celebrities who “have it all” are still lonely and unhappy.  No matter how many times I tried telling myself to snap out of it and stop thinking negatively, nothing ever worked until today.  I was reading through Alcoholics Anonymous  and read a passage that I’ve probably read a hundred times, but for some reason it struck me today.  “Our very lives, as ex-problem drinkers, depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs.”   That was the secret I needed.  I get the most anxious, the most agitated, and the most unhappy about my life when I stop thinking of others and only focus on me.  When I get obsessed with how I’m feeling, what my wants are, and what I deserve out of life, I can only go downhill from there.  It is nearly impossible to be grateful when you are only thinking about yourself.  As long as I depend on my myself for my satisfaction and happiness, I will constantly be left unfulfilled.  If I depend on material things or even people for my happiness, at any time my happiness can be taken away.  It is only when I depend on the consistent source of love from God that I can feel comfortable in my own skin and can reach out to others and help improve their lives.  This, the Big Book says, is our ultimate purpose and the only way that we will remain sober.

How much of my energy is focused on myself? 

How often am I thinking of others and helping them to meet their needs?