Daily Reflection

“Thankfully, we have a God who does not quit being God when the situation is bad.” (Daniel Brown)

I have two small ornamental ponds in my front gardens. Two or so feet wide by maybe four feet long, they merely are for decoration with a bubbling fountain in each’s center. For as little as they are and for having nothing in them but the fountain, they require a lot of maintenance, which includes skimming them daily from the day they’re opened, usually around Memorial Day, to the day they’re closed, usually the day after Halloween.

So, as I stood there the other day skimming the leaves and debris out of them for what felt like the umpteenth time this year, I watched a cricket swim around, totally unable to get out. Quite typically I find a half dozen of them dead in it on any given day late in the summer and through the early fall. Lately, this has me wondering why they continue to jump into the water over and over again when they see their fellow crickets already in there dead or desperately trying to get out but unable to do so.

The more I pondered this as I skimmed my ponds, the more I realized this is a lot life my life. How many times have I jumped into some pond I couldn’t get out of on my own? Countless. All those “beautiful bubbling waters” I’ve often dived into throughout my life where each have led to numerous mishaps, missteps, and some almost to the brink of my death.

Jobs, relationships, addictions, and more where each began with me staring transfixed into some bubbly fountain of perfection I believed they had, that the answer to all my life’s problems was somewhere within their depths. Only to discover me struggling to get out of their grasp eventually, clinging to some wet side of their murky walls that had now become my prison, until I was forced to cry out for help to escape.

While these crickets have me on most mornings saving most of them from sure death by skimming them out of there, many still never make it. Thankfully, I can’t say that of myself when it comes to all my pleas for help. Because God most assuredly has saved me time and time and time again, day after day after day after day, from one alluring pond after another that I’ve quickly jumped into, thinking that happiness was somewhere within its depths, when it never was probably from the start.

I’m just glad I can say that God has been there for me repeatedly to skim me out of places I never should have been swimming around in the first place.

Dear God, I know I’ve repeatedly jumped into one pond after another that I was never meant to jump into in the first place and have often been unable to get out of on my own. Thank you for always being there for me to skim me out of each of them and thank you for knowing you’ll be there again for me when I most assuredly will probably fall into yet another at some point in my flawed humanness of life. 

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Daily Reflection

“Hell is just a state of mind, a radical separation from God.” (Marq de Villers, author of ”Hell and Damnation”)

Does Hell exist? This is a question I’ve often pondered in my life, ever since my United Methodist upbringing that introduced to me this fire and brimstone type of place that all terrible sinners end up going to. Many Christians have argued its existence throughout the centuries based upon how they interpret scripture, while many Theologians have profusely debated the very same scriptures and believed it’s something that human beings themselves created the existence of.

Take Theologian Micah J. Stephens, author of “Hell Is Not For Real: Re-Examining What the Scriptures Actually Say About Eternal Torment”. In his book, he writes, “The word hell in the Bible is a very poor translation of the original Hebrew and Greek words that speak of the resting place of the dead (Sheol and Hades) and a literal valley on the south side of Jerusalem (Gehenna) that became symbolic for the judgment via an invading army. We see Jesus in the Gospels speaking of Gehenna while in or around Jerusalem, not long before Rome sacked and destroyed the city in AD 70. Eternal torment of the soul in the afterlife is not a concept that is found in scripture.” On the other hand, take Brian Jones, Christian author of “Hell Is Real (But I Hate To Admit It)”.  In his book, he interprets scripture totally different and adamantly states, “The fact of the matter is: Hell is real. Deciding or not hell exists isn’t an intellectual exercise, it’s a matter of eternal life or death.”

The majority of Christians I’ve met over the years have said they’d rather not risk the chance of hell existing, even if it possibly doesn’t exist. They worry about the damnnation of their soul and because of it, they tend to live out their lives in total fear of committing some cardinal sin that may send their soul to that fire and brimstone type of place once they die.  And boy, do I know what it feels like to live in that type of fear, oh, so, very, well.

Because of modern day interpretations of the Bible stating homosexuality is a sin (even though the word homosexuality didn’t even exist back in Biblical times), I’ve frequently been told in my life by Christians that I’m either absolutely going to Hell or am risking the possibility of going there once I die because I’m in a gay relationship. Telling me this has never done anything more than leave me in this terrible fear-based cycle of a punishing God who cruelly created me with only an attraction to the same-sex that I’m not even allowed to be with, instead to spend my life in total celibacy, loneliness, or fake heterosexuality.

None of that logic has ever worked for me and I truly mean none of it. It’s never felt right within my own soul. The idea that God made me in his own image, but somehow screwed up in my sexuality, and then is going to send me to some fire and brimstone type of place if I continue to engage in the sexuality he created me with, with a same-sex person I absolutely love just makes no sense.

That’s why I have more of an inclination to believe in what Marq de Villers states in his book, “Hell and Damnation”. In it, he says, “Hell is a state of mind, a radical separation from God.” That computes a lot more with me because living with chronic pain, or formerly in far too many addictions, or all the times I’ve suffered from severe anxiety or depression, feels exactly like being radically separated from God. When you live with a condition that makes your muscles feel like they are burning and on fire for days on end, for years and years, you too might feel that Hell is nothing more than the state of your own pain-based mind.

So, do I believe hell exists? While I may be stoned metaphorically for saying this, what if Hell is right here on Earth, based upon our mindsets? And what if all of us are actually accepted home with God after we die, NO MATTER WHAT TYPE OF SINS WE LIVED IN?

This concept of living out a fear-based existence due to the conception that all chronic sinners go to a fire and brimstone type of place once they die, especially when my sexuality will probably always be thought of as a sin to many Christians, is not indicative of the unconditionally loving God I’ve come to love and worship. Choosing to believe that God picks and chooses who comes home is creation of Hell itself, which is why I choose to believe otherwise, that God loves me just as I am, gay and all.

Dear God, help me to always look to You as an unconditionally loving and accepting Father, who created me just as I am, who will welcome me home in your arms when I die, no matter what.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Daily Reflection

“Someday, everything will make perfect sense. So, for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, be strong and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.” (John Mayer)

I often find myself wishing I could go back in time to “do things” all over again in a different way. I’m definitely one who has played those head games quite a bit with myself asking “What if I had done ‘that’ in ‘this’ way instead?” Yes, I’m absolutely guilty of regularly wishing I could go back to my childhood knowing what I know now, so that maybe I could do things better. But, what if everything truly did happen as it was meant to? What if even I could go back in time and choose different paths, that I still ended up here at the very same point I am now, with the very same lessons learned? Maybe all the lessons I was meant to learn in this life were unavoidable no matter what I did?

I’ve watched plenty of time travel movies that have shown various points of views of people who pursued different paths than the ones they originally chose once they went back in time. What’s ironic about all of them is that life still got out of control at some point and sometimes even worse than before, until the same lessons got learned. The message was always the same in all those movies, that things were meant to happen as they did, that everything happens for a reason.

I know! That is such a hard concept to swallow!!!

I think about my life of addiction, my parent’s tragic deaths, my countless failed relationships, my failed business that led to so much financial loss, my many health issues, and well basically one poor choice after another, where each led to nothing but one more bout of pain and suffering after another.

Could I have lived a life without addiction? Could my father’s suicide and my mother’s tragic drunken fall down the stairs been prevented? Could I have avoided all those miserable partnerships and pursued the healthier ones I kept avoiding? Could I have skirted financial disaster by never buying the bed and breakfast I did? And the biggest question I face almost constantly these days…Could my present health issues that I’ve battled for 10 years now been totally prevented?

When I meditate on this, my Spirit says no. Because maybe if I didn’t pick up alcohol and drugs, I would have still succumbed to some other addiction. Maybe if I had been there more for my father or mother in their final weeks, it only would have bought them a few more? Maybe if I had avoided those painful relationships, I only would have fallen into other painful ones instead? Maybe if I had told my ex-partner that I didn’t want to do his Bed and Breakfast dream, I only would have invested in some other financial disaster instead? And maybe, just maybe, all this dam pain I continue to face in my body, would still have happened, no matter what I did, because it like everything else had to happen for me to learn what I have and to become that what I’ve become thus far.

I’m a better person because today because of all of these things from my past. I’m more capable and desiring to help others from a place of selflessness now, more unconditionally loving to the masses, and more compassionate and kinder to all, all because of the difficult past I’ve experienced. While my ego has often tried to convince me that it could have handled things differently and made my life far easier to become those things, the irony is that it was my ego that led me down all those crazy paths in the first place.

So, maybe, just maybe, everything really does happen as it’s meant to, that no matter what paths we take in life, that we are always going to be led to learn the same lessons we were always meant to learn? And maybe, if we all could just get out of our egos for a mere minute or two, we might just be able to see how amazing we all are right here, right now, all because of having gone through all that we did.

Dear God, help me to lovingly reflect upon my past, but never fall prey to the illusion that I could have done things better. Help me accept that everything truly happens as it’s meant to for me to become that which You always planned for me to become…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson