Day 41: 4 January – With My Own Two Hands

This blog might come across as controversial or maybe offensive to some. I personally do not believe that it has to, but I know that what I am about to type may question certain people’s beliefs a bit, and in so rub them the wrong way. My intentions are not to offend or irritate people, so if you find that this entry does in fact rub you the wrong way, I ask that you finish reading it, think about it a bit, and give the subject matter a little more thought; before you just cast it aside. And though this blog has a “spiritual” slant to it, I feel that it is relevant to people of all walks of life and faiths.

I guess it is important to start off by saying that I am a Christian. I have a strong faith in God that is a very important part of my life. Lately it seems I have been confronted with a certain “theme” over and over again; through conversations, observations, movies, music, and so on. Summing up or defining this “theme” in few words is difficult, but I guess the easiest way to describe it is I have noticed how people seem to put too much blame, and responsibility, on God when it comes to the negativity that they see in their life and in the world around them. Not only do they blame God for the bad that they see or experience, but they also put too much responsibility on Him to fix it.

Ok, now I guess that is the controversial part that I was talking about but hear me out. I think prayer is important. I think it is equally important to ask God for strength, hope, help, comfort, and whatever else you may need in life. But I also think that we are sometimes way to quick to look up and blame God for bad things happening, or good things not happening, when we have the power to change those things ourselves. An example would be a man that passed by a hungry, half-naked, shivering street child on a cold winter night. As the man passed the child he truly felt moved with emotion, outraged that a child would have to live in such a situation, and broken hearted thinking about the child.

The man immediately began to pray, “Dear God please help this child! He looks so hungry and cold. I pray that you would send someone across his path that could give him shelter, food and clothes! It is not fair for this child to live in this situation for another day…”. The man did not even question or consider that he most probably was that very person! That he himself possessed the ability and power to immediately change that child’s reality. But it is easier to ask God to do it. A few days later the man may pass the child again, and see that he is in the exact same predicament, and nothing has changed for the good. The man might then take out his anger, and even guilt, on God, “Oh God why do you not answer my prayers?! How can you let this child live under these circumstances?! Why?”. God is probably asking the man the same thing!

I know that example is kind of extreme, but I hope my point is clear. I was watching Bruce Almighty the other day when it came on television. For those of you that haven’t seen it, Bruce (played by Jim Carrey) basically questions God (played by Morgan Freeman) on how he “runs” things and God gives him the chance to do a better job if he thinks he can. At first Bruce is drunk with power, and he misuses it for his own selfish will. Then he begins granting every single prayer that every single person prays! Things begin to utterly spin out of control and total chaos ensues. When things are totally devastatingly terrible Bruce speaks with God. God then tells him, “That’s your problem, Bruce. That’s everybody’s problem. You keep looking up… People want me to do everything for them. What they don’t realize is that they have the power. You want to see a miracle? Be the miracle.” From that point on Bruce starts to make “right” the “wrongs” he had made.

He doesn’t use his divine supernatural powers to do so either! He merely uses his free will, power to choose, and, most importantly, power to ACT. So he gives the job back to the guy he stole it from by misusing his powers, he realizes he cannot put a spell on his girlfriend to make her not be mad at him and he has to work to earn her love back (after he really messed things up with her), and he does things as simple as getting out in traffic to help a guy whose car is broken down. This does not take the role of God completely out of the picture, but Bruce realized an important lesson: So many of the things that he complained about in life were merely “that way” because good people decided not to act, but by simply choosing to “act”, no matter how small the deed may be, true change can come and slowly solutions are found for the problems that cause grief. He realized not only that we are part of the problem, but that we can also be a part of the solution; we can BE the solution.

Now as I said, this does not take God out of the equation; at least not for me. I still look to Him for wisdom, strength, hope, guidance and the other things I need to assist me along the way. But I just realize that, for whatever reason, we live in a world where God chooses to work through people; people that have the gift of free will. And so when we see something we see something that we feel is not right, or someone that we feel needs help, or a situation where change should come, instead of asking God, “How can you let that happen?”, we should look to ourselves and as the same question, and see what is in our power and capacity to see needed change come. Like Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see!”.

“I can change the world
With my own two hands
Make a better place
With my own two hands
Make a kinder place

I can make peace on earth
With my own two hands
And I can clean up the earth
With my own two hands
And I can reach out to you
With my own two hands”


(Ben Harper, With My Own Two Hands)

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8 Responses to Day 41: 4 January – With My Own Two Hands

  1. Beth says:

    Amen! 🙂

  2. Anonymous says:

    I completely agree Ryan! That is the way I tried to change how I thought a couple years ago! God is patience and kindness and that is in everyone!

  3. Katy says:

    I messed up and it says anonyomous on my comment!

  4. Raffaella says:

    while i completely respect your personal belief system, i think that given the fact that we live in a country which is culturally and religously diverse, you run the risk of alienating many people from your cause.

  5. Brown says:

    Raffa, thanks for your concern! the purpose of this blog is to be inclusive and not exclusive. i think different posts will appeal to different people. i hope people are able to read my heart in that, it doesn’t matter who you are, or what you believe, we all possess the power to make a difference in the world, and we all have that responsibility. i wrote it from a christian angle because that is my belief system, but i hope that anyone who reads it is able to read it and apply it to their own life.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Well said my son!
    DAD

  7. Raffaella says:

    ryan, i know that it was not your intention to alienate or exclude anyone. i think you are doing great work and i just wanted to voice my personal response at reading an explicitly christian posting. admittedly, my response is completely subjective because christianity is a belief system which, for the most part, i find problematic…. i live in a country where the african christian democratic party want to bring back the death penalty. i live in a country where the majority of christians believe that homosexuality is a sin. i live in a country made up of christians who believe they have a monopoly on the truth.

  8. iusedtowishiwasbuddhist says:

    taking a stand on any topic will inevitably alienate some people from your topic. and if it alienates people from your cause, a cause that is completely inclusive in it’s nature (even if the person leading the cause has a specific belief) i think you accept that as part of the way life is. i think people try to be open-minded, but it stems from a very close-minded place. for example. when i was in college i hated christianity, christians, talk of jesus, etc. i was in china and i was so drawn to buddhism. i was on this path to be an open-minded, culturally sensitive person. but i was being motivated by my dislike of christianity and what i had seen it do. i had to ask myself, “am i being open-minded if i’m still excluding this system of faith that i dislike? doesn’t being open-minded also require me to draw into my perspective those things i might not totally agree with, but do have some value to them…maybe not always and in ever situation, but in some?” nothing we do or say in this world is100% immune to resistance. but i think we don’t notice how we become hypocritical when we exclude something in an attempt to be an inclusive, open-minded person.
    just my experience in life, and my observations of people in this world. i think christianity has a super-bad rap (and quite well-deserved i might add), but that’ because thigns are imperfect. on the same page, not all muslims are extreme fundamentalist joining the taliban and bombing places. educating yourself on the variety of another culture shows you the extremes of that culture…but also the beauty and good and piece of truth nestled within it.

    i hope we can come to a place of unbiased open-mindedness. i have to be careful to look at my own heart in this discussion, becuase oh how quickly i can miss the blind spots too! thanks for creating discussion around this point. i’m very passionate about it!

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