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I am going to give you some hard earned advice in this post. Four biblical, and therefore universal, truths that I struggled long and hard to comprehend. I hope that in writing about this and sharing it with you I can in some way maybe save you a bit of pain and struggle. However, no matter how sage the advice given is, it is powerless to change your thinking if you aren’t open to receiving it. That is where change starts, with your thinking. All of the following wisdom comes from what I have learned through the life of James “the hard way” Kelly.
Number 1: “There is no such thing as the easy way.” [Matthew 7:13,14]
I used to joke about how I could never just take the easy way because I always ended up doing things the hard way. Even when I thought I was taking the easy way, it ended up being more costly and difficult than I had expected. For almost forty years I believed that there was something wrong with me and while in some ways that may have been true, what I learned was, what was most off about me was my perception, i.e. my thinking. The hard truth is there is no easy way. It’s an illusion. On the “easy path” you may not have to pay for it up front so it at first appears promising but inevitably down the road you always have to pay and unlike the path of hard work and taking responsibility, it will be exacted with soul-crushing interest attached. The so-called “easy way” is ALWAYS more costly and more destructive than facing life head-on and dealing with whatever comes your way.
Number 2: “You can only achieve what you are willing to believe.” [Heb. 11:1; John 11:40]
I am still learning this lesson. For me, in many ways, it is even more difficult to grasp than the first bit of advice because it is seemingly counter intuitive. My faith in God has really helped me understand this a lot better even though it is a principal that is universally applicable. What we believe sets the boundaries of our limitations, not what we see. We allow what we see to set the boundaries of what we believe is possible and THAT sets the boundaries of our ability. When we instead allow what we believe to define what we can accomplish, it’s then that we begin to realize what we see is really only the limits of our vision and not of our ability.
Number 3: “You reap what you sow.” [Matthew 13:1-23]
Yes, another biblical principal that is universally applicable. Funny how that works, huh? We can only get out of life what we put into it. If we are picky and wise about what we sow and where we sow it we can even multiply what we get back thirty, sixty, and even a hundred-fold. When we choose to hate we will always find hate and more reasons to continue hating. When we choose to be angry and offended we always find more things to be angry and offended about. The opposite is also true. When we choose to love we will attract others who love and find more reasons to love. When we choose to forgive we will find more who are willing to forgive us and more reasons to forgive others. This leads me to my next bit of advice.
Number 4: “Healing begins with mercy.” [Luke 6:36; Matthew 5:7]
In my life it has always been hardest to forgive myself. I have done so many horrible things and spread destruction into so many lives and wasted so many valuable opportunities that I found it practically impossible to forgive myself. Although, strangely enough, it has also made it super easy for me to forgive others. A mixed blessing as it were. Here again, God is who made me see that being unwilling to accept mercy and forgiveness was a matter of pride, not justice. If I condemn myself then who can pardon me? How would those things that I hated about myself ever change if I clung to them like some weird corrosive security blanket? The very minute I began to look at myself with a bit of mercy and allow myself to begin to forgive me, I started to heal. I realized then that up to that point what I had really been doing is picking the scabs off my wounds and keeping them open and festering and by doing so I was never actually doing any healing. So, I beg you, have a bit mercy and forgive yourself and others and you will see positive healthy things begin to bloom in your life.
This advice, really, is simply a testimony of how my life has changed and the four main principles behind why it has. All of these lessons though were taught me through my journey of seeking God and it is to His glory and honor that I am able to share them with you. My simple hope is that something hard earned from my life will help to change and improve yours. May God bless you and keep you!
James “Santiago” Kelly