I Did It!

I’ve done it!

My040 I Did It
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Several days ago, I finished reading the Bible; yes, I read it cover to cover and it took me about 14 months to do it. I have a “Life Application Study Bible” that my sister sent in (thank you Sis!) and so I also read every study note written at the bottom of the pages. If you’ve ever seen or owned one of these Bibles, then you know there is more written in the study notes than actual verse in the Bible.  So, I don’t think 14 months is too bad given I read the equivalent of 2+ Bibles.

Many scholars of the Bible will tell you that it’s not necessary to read cover to cover but that instead you should seek out, through a concordance, verse that specifically applies to whatever issue, need, desire or event you’re dealing with.

But my own experience is that reading it word by word from beginning to end often brought to mind things from my past that I had never dealt with spiritually. It seemed that every book within the Bible spoke to some part of my life – past, present, and future. It also helped me to see when I’ve not lived the Christian life God intended. Reading it cover to cover also helped me to see where I struggle day to day – such as my being far too judgmental of others. As said in the Bible: remove the plank from your own eye before pointing out a sliver in another’s eye (Luke 6:42) , and, you will be judged by the same measure that you used to judge others (Matthew 7:2).

The Bible begins with two books that, when read back to back, make for a great action movie – as does the last book of the Bible; so, it begins as it ends – with creation at its heart. And between these books is a whole lot of life and wisdom. One thing I learned is that there truly is nothing new under the sun. If you’re experiencing it in your life today I guarantee you there is verse and wisdom to help you to integrate your challenges into your life AND a lifeline to cling to.

When I shared my accomplishment of finishing the Bible with a friend here in prison he asked me what the greatest lesson was that I learned. On the surface it’s easy to quote the two greatest commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength,” and,”…love your neighbor as yourself,” [Mat 22:37-39] and so I did. My friend wasn’t satisfied and he rephrased his question to, “what was your biggest personal learning about your life?” I said I didn’t know and that I not looked at that relationship in that way as it never occurred to me to do so.

I lied.

I knew the answer and it’s been painful to accept the truth of it all. So, what is my truth?

I wasn’t the husband and father that God wanted me to be while conversely, my wife was, or tried to be, the woman God asked her to be.

Maybe I’m my own worst critic but the truth is when I’m called to account for my life I’ll have a lot to answer for. It’s not that I didn’t do anything right because I did but when the successes are balanced against the failures I’ll be found wanting. And when accounting for my failures I’ll have no rational explanations for my actions.

My friend also asked me if reading the Bible and applying it to my life changed my prayers. Again, I said I’d have to think on it but that my first reaction was that I now prayed more for others and less for me.

A partial lie.

The truth is that I pray fervently that my family will give me the chance to be the husband and father – the man – that God asks. I’m human. I’m a sinner. I’ll stumble, fall and fail but I will get up and try again if my family can forgive the sinner that I am I promise them I’ll make them the greatest part of my life. It’s a lot to ask but I have no choice as my family does mean everything to me here on earth so I ask them and I ask God for this chance.

Thinking through my friend’s questions caused me to become quite introspective. And, of course, I had to admit to myself that I cannot attain heaven without making significant changes within myself and ultimately without giving my life over to Jesus, my Lord and Savior. It is a universal truth.

I’m a sinner and I fail daily. I ask for forgiveness each night as I lay down and pray. I promise God to do a little better every day. And then I start this cycle, the next day, all over again.

My advice is to read the Bible cover to cover at least once and to find your truths; then pray for wisdom and guidance and forgiveness.

It’s all there in God’s Word. He gave His Son that we might have eternal life. Turn the pages and turn to Him.

~jdoe

Forgiveness

During my wife’s last visit, we talked about forgiveness. We didn’t get into all the differences between my view of forgiveness and her view but I was left with a new perspective; one that I hadn’t ever considered before. The outcome for me is not being sure if I can forgive myself for what I’ve done to the family, both near and far. I do know that I’ll have lots of relationships to heal but I can’t help thinking that in order for them to heal I must both forgive myself and have the other person find it in their heart to forgive me too. Without forgiveness life would be a constant test of my will and commitment to living life anew in only healthy ways. While I have confidence in myself and faith that God will see me through, I’m not so sure I can count on others’ confidence and faith in me. I hope that for those of you withholding forgiveness for a wrong done to you that the song below will help you to see that forgiveness, while often hard and perhaps seemingly impossible, is what we owe each other, and perhaps ourselves, as followers of Christ Jesus.

~jdoe

Forgiveness by Matthew West

It’s the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those who don’t deserve
It’s the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just too real
Takes everything you have to say the w

ord

Forgiveness, forgiveness
It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It’s always anger’s own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you’ve got a right to hold a grudge
It’s the whisper in your ear saying set it free
Forgiveness, forgiveness
Forgiveness, forgiveness
Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness, forgiveness
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness
It’ll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what its power can do
So let it go and be amazed by what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you
Forgiveness, forgiveness
Forgiveness, forgiveness
Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness
I want finally set it free
Show me how to see what your mercy sees
Help me now to give what You gave to me
Forgiveness, forgiveness
Forgiveness, forgiveness
Songwriters: Matthew West / Matthew Joseph West

To My Love

My040 To My Love

Valentine’s Day.

A day to celebrate the one we love. I’ve sent out my cards. Yes, I said cardS. Why more than one? I have four significant women in my life – mother, sister, daughter and wife. Each is important to me in unique ways but it’s my wife I want to write about now.

My wife and I met in high school while out ice skating with mutual friends. I thought she was stunning. She had, and still has, the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen. When she smiles I go weak in the knees.

About three months after meeting her we went on our first date and we’ve been together since. That’s not to say we haven’t had difficult times but through them all we always returned to each other.

So how long ago was that first date? That was 37 years ago. I’m now 55 so well over half my life has been spent with this amazing lady. It seems like only yesterday I was asking for her at her front door while being scrutinized by her father.

Words. What words can do my wife justice?

She’s loyal, dedicated ,earnest, reliable, true, wise, inspiring, faithful, honest, helpful, kind, sincere, a terrific mother, a good friend, daughter, sister, aunt. She’s intuitive, smart, dependable, funny, serious, creative, complicated and simple. She’s fun, competent, talented, achieving, tireless, brave, independent, admirable and the list goes on. Words are simply inadequate to convey what is in my heart and on my mind when it comes to this lady.

I can’t imagine life without her. I wonder who I’d be had she not entered my life. My successes are, in large part, due to her unwavering love and support.

She is my rock and my light.

I love this woman with all that I am or ever will be. She completes me and fills the voids in my heart and soul.

If I could say just one thing to her I would say, “thank you.” Thank you for choosing me to give yourself to.

I love you babe.

~jdoe

Thank you Dierks Bentley, Josh Kear, and Ross Copperman for writing such a fitting song, lyrics follow

Woman, Amen

Performed by Dirks Bentley https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXOTJ-tluUU

I’d lose my way and I’d lose my mind
If I faced one day on my own
I know I was saved
The night that she gave this drifter’s heart a home

Every night I should be on my knees
Lord knows how lucky I am
I’ll never say near enough
Thank God for this woman, Amen

This world has a way of shaking your faith
I’ve been broken again and again
But I need all the cracks in my shattered heart
‘Cause that’s where her love gets in

Every night I should be on my knees
Lord knows how lucky I am
I’ll never say near enough
Thank God for this woman, Amen

She gives me faith
She gives me grace
She gives me hope
She gives me strength
She gives me love
Love without end
Thank God for this woman, Amen

Thanks for the moon and the stars up above
Forgiveness’ a sin in your undying love
Every twist every turn for the way you made sure
All my roads led to her

So tonight I will fall down on my knees
‘Cause Lord knows how lucky I am
I’m gonna shout at the top of my lungs
Thank God for this woman, Amen
And thank God for this woman, Amen

She gives me faith
She gives me grace
She gives me hope
She gives me strength
She gives me love
Love without end
Thank God for this woman, Amen

 

A New Perspective

I like to read daily devotionals.  Here, in prison, they are readily available.  I see a great number of people reading them.  One I read is Daily Bread and a second is Living Faith which is Catholic based. 

In Living Faith I recently read a devotional that suggested reading, and contemplating, Christ’s miracles though His eyes; doing so would bring a new perspective claimed the write of that day’s devotional.  Coincidentally, I was reading about Jesus’ miracle of the loaves and fishes (Mat 15:32-38) and I decided to give looking at that miracle though Jesus’ eyes a try.

My040 A New Perspective

I asked myself ‘How could I ever claim to know them mind of God?’  I couldn’t but I could attempt to know the human part of Jesus’ mind, right?  After all, Jesus was God and man in one person so He must have had human thoughts and relations to the situation.  Perhaps, I could tap into these thoughts and reactions and create in me a new perspective and/or a new understanding.

In (Mat 15:32-38) we read that Jesus had compassion for the thousands who had come to Him because they had been with Him there days and had nothing to eat.  So Jesus called His disciples to Him and instructed them to feed the people.  At this point the disciples explained there was little food left to eat, “seven loaves and a few little fish.” 

How did Jesus look at this problem and how did He look at the disciples?  Were it me, I’d feel some level of frustration with the disciples because they should have relied upon their faith to provide all the food necessary but instead they turned to Jesus with some expectation that either He would solve the problem or send the people away hungry.  Jesus didn’t hesitate to call upon His faith in His Father and He gave thanks for the bread and fish and told the disciples to distribute the food.  And all went away filled leaving seven baskets full of leftover fragments.

I think the man part of Jesus would have reacted with disappointment that so little food was available.  I also think He would have had some level of frustration with the disciples because He had shown multiple times that all was possible through faith.  Jesus must have thought, “Why haven’t they learned to exercise their faith?”  Matthew doesn’t record any of Jesus’ reactions, only His action which was to do what He wanted man to do.  He behaved in a human way; He took the loaves and fish, gave thanks and broke the food.  This was what He expected man to do.  He acted as a man.  In so doing He gave the disciples another lesson.

So what new perspectives did I gain?  That in every miracle Jesus behaved as He wanted man to behave even to the point of physical demonstration.  I also learned that life’s obstacles were meant to test our faith and through faith we can overcome.  Another perspective was to be patient with those who aren’t as far, as mature, in their walk into becoming true Christians.  And something else…

When I really thought about the lessons Jesus tried to teach the disciples in this miracle I saw an extension beyond faith in the moment;  I saw faith over time.  In this single miracle Jesus foretold of how the disciples would work to spread the Word of God.  How?

If we look at the miracle of the loaves and fishes as an allegory for spreading the good news of the living Messiah then the disciples are the messengers, the food becomes the Word, and the multitude becomes mankind hungry for eternal life.  Just as Jesus sent the disciples to fee the multitude hungry for food He would later send them to care for the spiritual hunger of tens of thousands.  The miracle of the loaves and fishes was a small lesson foretelling the true mission of the disciples.

And so it is with us.  We are asked to take our little bit of faith and feed those around us that don’t know Jesus as our Lord and Savior and to spread God’s Word.  And in so doing our ‘baskets’ will never go empty and in fact we will end up with more than when we started.

After trying to look at this miracle as if I were Jesus I can honestly say I do indeed have a new appreciation for His way of preparing the disciples for their future role and I will now attempt to look at other miracles in the same way.

Won’t you join me?

~jdoe

Make Room

My040 Make Room

As I cast about looking for the words to this Christmas post I found myself at a loss for what to say.  I  mean, everything I wrote down had been said before, and often by more insightful and wiser persons than I.  Instead I decided to write about how I wanted Christmas to be different for me this year.

Think about it … I can’t buy and send home a bunch of presents.  I can’t help my wife decorate the tree.  I can’t visit the local assisted living centers to sing carols.  In fact, the only things I can do are send out cards and call people with best wishes.  And while these things mean a great deal to me I still felt that they’re not quite what my heart was looking for.

Christmas for me has always been about family, and I feel good about that.  God blessed me with a wonderful family and I am truly thankful; yet I didn’t make Christmas about Christ really.  Christmas was something that, more or less, happened to me, for me, and around me and when I realized that I decided I wanted Christmas to happen with me as a full participant. 

How to do that?

I wasn’t sure how to even go about answering that question so I decided to sit down and start writing in the hope that the Holy Spirit would guide me to the words and thus my answer.  And I go exactly…

Nothing!

I walked the track thinking about it and again was rewarded with nothing.

So I turned to my last resort – meditation.  When I mediate I often hear the Holy Spirit and this time I was rewarded with …

“Listen to the radio.”

That’s it.

What was i to do with that?!

I took it literally and tuned into a local station that plays Christmas music 24/7 from Thanksgiving through Christmas day.  I listened for days and didn’t hear anything that felt like the answer.  I was expecting to hear some wisdom from a DJ or talk show host, but I got nothing;  until one night while falling asleep with the Christmas music playing in my head. 

Then I got it!

You see, more than a decade ago I heard a Christmas song that moved me deeply.  Thanks to the internet I was able to track down the artist and lyrics and I committed those lyrics to memory.  As I lay there going through the message of the song it dawned on me how Christmas could happen with me as a full participant.

Below are the lyrics to the song, “My Heart is Bethlehem.”  I hope you’ll find in it the same thing I do … that within you is the secret of how to bring Christ into your life not only on Christmas day but every day of every year.

May the joy of Christmas fill you every day and deliver to you all that is important in your life.  Please remember our Savior on Christmas day and commit some time in thanks to God the Father for His gift to all mankind.

Peace ~jdoe

Click and Listen to John Barry sing as you read the lyrics.

My Heart Is Bethlehem

Eternity stepped into time,
And drew a mortal breath.
Mystery so clearly seen
The world could not forget
That in the town of Bethlehem,
In the most unlikely place,
God, the father wore
A child’s face.

There’s something in the heart of God,
So purely meek and mild
That finds its best expression in
The longings of a child.

For every child’s heart is hungry,
To be found and loved and known
A someone who would make their heart a home.

My heart is Bethlehem
I will make room for him.
This humble dwelling place
Made worthy by his grace.

This child is still adored,
Because he still is born
Deep in the hearts of men,
(To love and not condemn)
My heart is Bethlehem

I wish for you this Christmas Eve,
That you would find true peace.
But silent nights are holy nights
And wonders never cease.

There’s no remembering,
The ghost of Christmas past
For God’s forgiveness finds your heart at last.

Time for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time when we recognize the blessings and graces in our lives.

I’d like to thank God for His love and His graces in my life of which there are many. I’d like to thank my wife, without her love and support I’d have a very dark and lonely existence. I’d like to thank my family for their continued support and understanding. Without them I’d be lost for direction. I’d like to thank my sister for all of her work with this blog. She really makes it happen. I’d like to thank those friends that have stayed with me. They are truly God’s perfect representation of caring for the prisoners in the world. I’d like to thank my readers, both current and new. Without you this blog would have no purpose.

I’m sure there are a hundred more things and people to be thankful for and I am.

I hope that, for all of you, these days are filled with God’s graces and blessings, family and friends and remembrances of what really matters in life.  ~jdoe

Thank You For Healing Me

by Matt Redman

Yes, You stepped in with Your power to save
Let forgiveness reign
Worked a miracle within

Thank You for healing me
I was dying beneath my shame
But You brought me to life again, I will sing
Thank You for freeing me
I was dead to the truth of You
But my healing was in Your wounds, and now I sing
Thank You for healing me

Though outwardly I may waste away
On the inside I’ll be more alive every day
As I walk through times of pain and grief
There’s a deeper truth inside of me…
You have placed Your life inside of me
So I sing

Thank You for healing me
I was dying beneath my shame
But You brought me to life again, and I will sing
Thank You for freeing me
I was dead to the truth of You
But my healing was in Your wounds, and I will sing
Thank You for healing me

Locked

My040 Keys

Keys

We all have them.  Keys to: our car; our house; our desk; suitcases; diaries; the shed in the backyard; and the list goes on.  They are simple tools that we use to facilitate our lives.  They come in many sizes and shapes and even colors.

But have you ever really thought about what they also represent?

Authority.

Power.

Control.

Those in authority have the power and exert control.

If not, then everyone would have access to everything. 

Imagine total strangers walking into your home or office or other place you hold important and private.  All those places where you keep things that others are not to touch or use or read or or or…

And keys are things we can become sensitive to and develop envy of those who have them.  In prison, exile, the guards all have keys and exert their authority and power over we inmates by controlling our movements and access to things like showers, laundry, socialization rooms, exercise and even food.  And of course freedom.

With all this authority, power, and control comes all responsibility.  We don’t really think about keys giving us responsibility because we’re lulled into a sense of security, but what if you left your cleaning chemicals available to small children and an ‘accident’ were to occur – who would be responsible?  You.  So in reality you accepted the responsibility of keeping the child safe when you accepted the key to that cabinet of chemicals.  And so it is with every key we’re given – we assume, and accept, all the responsibility that ownership, possession, of any key we hold brings.  But there’s even more to owning keys…

Trust.

How do we come by most keys?  Someone of higher authority provides them; that someone places their trust in us to be responsible and cautious and careful and caring and and and…

When we are given a key we are entrusted to use our authority to exert our power and control justly and fairly and responsibly; because if we don’t, there are consequences.

So, what of Jesus’s words in Peter’s Confession of Christ?  [Matthew 16: 13-19]  Jesus says, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven; whatever you bind on Earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on Earth will be loosed in Heaven.”  Matthew 16:19

My040 Locked

Jesus is giving us the keys to His Kingdom; the keys to salvation and eternal life.  Jesus is giving us authority, power, and control.  Jesus is trusting us to be responsible, just, and fair.  Yet He’s also telling us there are consequences associated with possession of these keys.  This then, requires us to be cautious, careful, caring, and and and…  It’s a Big Deal to accept these keys because it’s a Big Deal that Jesus would entrust them to us – we humans who are so imperfect.   He knows we are likely to stumble and drop, or even lose, the keys He’s given.  That’s why He warns us of the consequences – what we bind on Earth will be bound in Heaven, and what we loose on Earth will be loosed in Heaven.  Matthew 16:19b

Accepting the keys is accepting, and assuming, a great deal of responsibility.  It can be scary though.

Why?

There are unspoken stipulations in Jesus’s offering of the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven:  that you give your life over to Him by accepting, and confessing, Him as the Christ, your Lord and Savior; the ultimate authority.

Giving our life over to Jesus isn’t something to be done lightly because it’s a huge step in one’s spiritual journey.  And it’s worrisome to give control of your life to Him because our path isn’t shown to us in its entirety but is instead revealed to us step by step.  This then, reveals that there’s yet one more stipulation to our accepting the keys Jesus offers us.

Faith.

Faith does not always come easily because it is believing with conviction and without evidence or proof.  (Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary).  Therefore, accepting the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven requires an act of faith on our part.

Give your life over to Jesus and have faith that He will lead you into the Kingdom of Heaven – these are the unspoken conditions, in Matthew 16:13-19, that are placed on us in order to receive the keys He offers – the keys to eternal life.

Where am I on this journey?  I’ve given myself over to Jesus and working on the outwardly confessing of Him as my Lord and Savior.  I stumble every day, dropping the keys and fumbling around looking for them and picking them up.  It’s comforting to know though that He is there offering me a new set of keys should I lose the ones I’ve already been given; of course they come with His warnings and stipulations – and it’s a daily, hourly, moment by moment challenge because I am but a man.

Yet He trusts me.

Which means I have to have faith in Him – and in myself.

I hope you’ll pick up your set of keys and join me on this journey; together is better than alone.  ~jdoe

This Way

Sometimes I walk the track with a friend who does not believe there is a God.  This often leads to deep discussions concerning our individual faiths; he follows Buddhism while I follow and practice Christianity.

During a recent walk my friend made some remarks concerning God allowing suffering and discomfort in the world.  For him it’s proof that God does not exist; for what God would allow such suffering in the world?

I laughed.

I asked him if it were true that, “Buddhism teaches that suffering is inherent in life and that one can only be liberated from it through mental and moral self-purification?”

He said yes and asked me what my point was.  I said, “You follow a religion that acknowledges suffering exists in the word and through efforts on your part to purify yourself morally and mentally you are delivered from that same suffering.  Can’t you see the parallels to Christianity?  God asks us to lead sinless lives (mental and moral purification) so that in Heaven we will be liberated from suffering.”

He responded, “Yes, but we don’t follow a God who could, if He wanted to, prevent the suffering; A God who takes credit for all the good and washes His hands of all the bad.”

I laughed again.

I told my friend that I didn’t see God that way.

But then I had to stop and think.  I had to admit to myself that  my prayers often, almost always, asked for relief of some form of suffering while thanking and praising God for something good in my life.  So wasn’t I behaving as though my friend’s statement were my belief; that I followed a God who took credit for the good and ignored the bad?

I told my friend that I didn’t follow God to be relieved of all my suffering but that I did believe God had relieved me of suffering many times in my life.

My friend then asked me a much more serious question, “If you don’t follow God for comfort and convenience, then why do you?”

I told my friend that I needed time to figure out how to best answer his question.  I was disappointed with myself for not having an immediate answer for him.  Plus, I had to admit that my interactions with God were primarily times of asking for help and times of worship.

My friend’s question didn’t ask why I believe in God, he asked why I follow God.  One can believe but not follow, right?

Over the next few days I spent my mediation time on answering the question “Why?”  Lots of answers came to mind – shallow answers.  I started thinking that maybe the Bible held the answer.

When I thought about the Jews of the Old Testament it hit me – they followed God for relief of oppression and deliverance from Egypt.  In essence, they were following God for comfort and convenience.  God asked for more though.

God asked for love, devotion, and obedience.

And therein lay my answer; I follow God because I love Him, am devoted to Him and cherish my efforts in obedience to Him.

Yes, I still ask for relief of suffering but I’m now expressing my love for Him and re-examining my efforts at obedience.  It’s an act of purification and growth.

Why do you follow God?  ~jdoe

My040 This Way

Disclaimer: I have very little knowledge about Buddhism.  What I do know has been communicated by my friend.  If there are inaccuracies in my writing concerning Buddhism I apologize.  jdoe

Rain

My040 Rain
Photo by reza shayestehpour on Unsplash

The song that follows touches me because it says, in words I wish I had written, that even in our darkest hours we can glorify God. That no matter what our situation is, we can praise Him. That He cares for us and opens the doors for us.

Recently, I have been struggling with issues stemming from the choir I am part of. I’ve wanted to leave the choir due to the way the choir director treats the members of the choir. Recall I spoke about it in my previous post Raise Your Voice.  Yet when I hear this song, and I play it often for myself, I hear the reason for sticking it out: to offer up the tribulation of being a member of the choir in praise of God and that I’m singing for Him, not for me. This song clears my head and heart when I hear it. I hope that you too will find it helpful when you’re faced with fears and challenges that fall like rain.  ~jdoe

“Bring The Rain”
By Mercy Me

I can count a million times
People asking me how I
Can praise You with all that I’ve gone through
The question just amazes me
Can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You
Maybe since my life was changed
Long before these rainy days
It’s never really ever crossed my mind
To turn my back on you, oh Lord
My only shelter from the storm
But instead I draw closer through these times
So I pray

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there’ll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that’s what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain

I am Yours regardless of
The dark clouds that may loom above
Because You are much greater than my pain
You who made a way for me
By suffering Your destiny
So tell me what’s a little rain
So I pray

Holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord God Almighty

Roots of Faith?

I know in my mind and have faith in my heart that Jesus was born, died, and rose in triumph over sin that I may have eternal salvation.  I also know in my mind and have faith in my heart that God is active in my life every moment of every day.

Yet, my active involvement in my faith has changed.  I can attach this change to my starting medication to address the hallucinations I have and the depression I battle.

This brings into mind a question: 

What, if any, link exists between psychometric drugs and faith?

My040 Roots of Faith.jpg
Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

My first reaction was there is no connection between psychometric drugs and faith, after all my belief in Christ as Lord and Savior remains solidly planted in my heart and mind.  But that’s not what changed.  So I needed to look more closely at what I felt had changed, that is, my active involvement in my faith; those things that bring faith into practice as praise and worship.

I feel I still live as a Christian – loving God with all my heart, soul and mind and loving my neighbor as myself.  (Mark 12:30-31)

I’m still attending church and singing in the choir.  But… other things I used to do like praying the rosary, reading the bible, and privately praying three times daily have turned into occasional activities.  Also, participation in the choir has turned into work and no longer fulfills me. (I must add here that there are also other issues with choir that feed my ambivalence.)

To answer the question of linkage between my medication and active participation in my faith I had to look at the roots of that which drives participation beyond attending church.

I feel I can eliminate the antidepressant as the cause of change.  I was once on antidepressants while on the street (outside this prison) and experienced a positive impact on practicing my faith by becoming more involved, not less.

Yet, what of the anti-hallucinogen?

I’ve learned, through work with psychologists, that hallucinations can spring from the part of the brain associated with creativity.  Once I learned that, it became easier to deal with those hallucinations the medication had not driven away.  But the implication is clear:  If the anti-hallucinogen quiets the creative center of the brain then how I see and feel and participate in my faith is indeed connected to the creative center in my brain.

This brings a new question:

Do I see negative impacts on other creative activates undertaken?

Absolutely YES!

My writing for this blog has become challenging and for my short stories has ceased altogether.  Also, the journaling I did on a regular basis has stopped.  Next, my passion around music has waned to the point that I don’t care to sing anymore.  Finally, and most importantly, I’ve found that I can no longer envision a future for myself once released from prison; from exile.

In summary then, all the creative activities that were alive in me have withered or died just as my active participation in my faith has also all but ended.

So a third question now arises: 

What role does the creative center of the brain play in one’s faith?

I once took the MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory) survey and scored 100% for both schizophrenia and delusional disorder.  I recall a fair number of questions around belief in an omnipotent entity (God).

Apparently, I’m not the first person to see a direct link between one’s faith and the workings of the mind – the creative mind.  The implication of that survey is that your faith is something manufactured by your mind as opposed to a belief, a knowing really, in an all-encompassing deity.  And aren’t hallucinations and delusional beliefs manufactured by the mind?

This suggests then that the part of the brain that creates hallucinations and delusional beliefs also creates faith, or at least some portion thereof.

It’s a scary thought really – that my faith is no more real than a short story written for pleasure.

Where does this leave me? 

With more questions than answers.

What to do?  I’ve decided to adopt an attitude of “just do it’ and renew, even if by habit, my participation in praying the rosary, thrice daily prayer times, and reading the bible daily.  My hope is that by doing these things as tasks I will rekindle the part of me that carried these actions as an integral part of my faith practice.

I’m curious.  I’d like to know if any of you that are on psychometric medication have seen a change in how your creative self manifests.  Am I alone in seeing a direct link between the creative center of the mind and faith?

I look forward to hearing from you.  ~jdoe