I love stories. In a world that values bulleted lists of quick tips, 5 steps to whatever goal you want, and easily digestible summaries of clearly stated “truth,” I find my eyes glazing over, and I go searching for stories. Stories, for me, are where the richness lies.
Truth doesn’t live (for me) in easily absorbed sound bites. It’s always found hidden in the complexities, the messiness, the paradoxes, the mysteries inherent in people’s stories. And that’s why those places draw me again and again like a magnet.
One rich source I’ve found for stories, particularly those that explore faith in the context of real life that filled with doubts and struggles and questions, is a site called A Deeper Story. It’s now divided into three sections of stories: A Deeper Story, A Deeper Family, and A Deeper Church. I chosen four posts from this site that have really captured my attention in recent months to share them with you. If you are also a lover of faith stories, you just might find this site to be a treasure trove!
I’ve read a lot about the importance of having good self-esteem over the years, but it’s something I’ve just never quite been able to manage. No matter how well I do at something, I’m always aware that I could have done better or that there are other areas that I am not doing so well with. As a scientist, I am always looking for “proof” of whether any sense of self-esteem is justified.
My study of yoga has taught me more about the importance of compassion, including self-compassion. I find self-compassion to still be challenging to put into action sometimes, but it feels better than all my work at self-esteem ever has. New research indicates that self-compassion is actually healthier and leads to more success than self-esteem does. This week’s set of links shares more about that research and about how to put self-compassion into practice.
It seems like just being myself should be something that comes naturally, but it’s so easy to bend a little here and flex a little there in order to be liked and to compromise in relationships. If I’m not careful, I have stopped being “me” and become someone else that I don’t recognize. I’ve learned over the years that this is something I need to pay attention to in order to make sure I don’t wander off track.
The links I’ve collected for this week’s link love are all ones that speak to different aspects of my struggles to consistently show up in an authentic way in my life without hiding parts of myself to make others comfortable, trying to be something I’m not to be liked, or setting goals based on what I think is expected.
On the last day of my Introduction to Hebrew Bible/Old Testament class before the final exam, we had a class discussion about what it means to us to say that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. Given the wide range of denominational and theological backgrounds that students bring to class, it was not surprising that our opinions differed on this topic.
It’s probably also not surprising that I was the outlier in urging caution about placing too much reverence in the Bible. It’s not that I don’t value the Bible—in fact, I do very much, and this course I just finished helped me to value it even more—it’s that I believe that it is a text that provides its greatest benefit to us when we are able to wrestle with it and question it. Much like the Zen Buddhist saying that cautions not mistaking the finger pointing at the moon for the moon, I believe that the Bible should point us toward a relationship with God and not become the object of our worship itself.
I’ve seen too many cases where the Bible (or one’s interpretation of it) has become such an object of worship in itself that it leads to the text being used a weapon against others or can lead to driving others away from Christianity altogether because of the misuse of the text. Today, I’ve collected a few links from people who express similar concerns with how we treat the Bible.
Shopping for Christmas presents has become ever more challenging as I have gotten older and an increasing number of people on my gift list already have everything that they really want and need. This tends to make the season more stressful than delightful as I struggle to find gifts that are more than just clutter.
This past week, I found several posts that take a look at ways to simplify and declutter Christmas, and there were a number of great ideas within these posts for gifts that will not add to clutter, as well as suggestions for reducing the clutter of Christmas decorations and for what to do with gifts that we receive that just add to our own clutter.
Most weeks, I collect links around a specific topic to share in my link love roster, but this week I just want to call out a few of the many blogs that I draw inspiration from on a regular basis. The list of blogs in my RSS feed is long, so I can’t possibly give a shout out to all of the ones that I love, but this list covers a few of the highlights among those that I’ve been following for a while and that are consistently an inspiration to me. There are a dozen more that I could add that are equally deserving, but I doubt you would all read a post that was that long!
In each case, I’ve tried to pick a fairly recent post that I particularly enjoyed as a starting place, but I’d encourage you to look around at other postings too, if what you see is of interest to you.
As a recovering perfectionist and someone with considerably more interests than I have time, I frequently find myself trying to do too much. This condition generally leads to high levels of stress and frustration, inadequate self-care, and emotional (and sometimes physical) meltdowns when allowed to continue for too long.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to catch this pattern sooner in the process so that I can avoid the more extreme effects that can come from doing too much for too long, but I find that frequent reminders of the importance of monitoring my energy levels and the size of my to-do list help to keep me on track with this. This week’s links are a set of posts about doing too much and have served as great reminders to me of how I do (and don’t) want to live my life.
In honor of the celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday yesterday in the U.S., gratitude seems like an appropriate topic to explore for this week’s link love.
I’ve shared a lot about how powerful the practice of gratitude is in my own life. The truth is that it’s still easy to be grateful when things are going well. It’s harder to maintain a practice of gratitude when things are not going so well. Of course, the true power of gratitude shows up when we use it in the hard times, even when we’re not finding it an easy practice to continue.
This week’s set of links are focused on practicing gratitude in those difficult times in our lives when it doesn’t come quite as naturally to most of us. (Or at least it doesn’t to me.)
I’ve been thinking a lot this week about simplifying and reducing and letting go of “stuff” of all kinds. Some of this pondering has been prompted by encountering various posts about minimalism, and some of this pondering has led me to searching for more information about minimalism.
I am definitely not a minimalist now, and I’m not sure that’s really where I want to wind up. But I am inspired by these people who have really dedicated themselves to simplifying their lives down to the minimum in order to make space for the things that matter more to them: travel, freedom, choices, or other rewards. Today’s list of links are a few of the recent (and not so recent) posts that I have found helpful as I consider my own next steps.
I love to write. I love the way it stretches me. I am a better person when I write regularly. And yet, writing is also hard. It takes time and energy and focus, and there are days that all of those things feel like they are in short supply.
When I encounter those days, I start to question why I spend my time writing when it does not bring me any of the standard measures of success (money or fame). It is helpful in those moments to be able to remind myself why I write. This week’s set of links are ones that explore this question in various ways, and each of them helps to remind me of the reasons that I write.