Overcoming Your Slough of Despair

In my last post, Christian is left trapped in the Slough of Despair. He is continually struggling, but it seems as if escape is becoming a more and more distant possibility. Despite keeping faith in God, Christian feels like he might be stuck forever. When all hope seems lost, a man named Help comes along and helps him out of the slough. He talks to Christian, gives him advice, and sends him on his way.

As a Christian, getting out of one’s own slough of despair is not usually as easy. When doubt, fear, and despair begin to set in, it seems like there is no hope. It’s like getting stuck in quicksand – trying to get out with your own power doesn’t work. You need to rely first on God, and second on your fellow believers. Relying on God may seem like the hardest thing to do in that scenario, but it’s the best option.

When Christian struggled to get out on his own, he couldn’t escape, but by allowing Help to help him out, he allowed God to help him and work in his life. The same applies to Christians. We are always so reluctant to accept the help of our fellow believers, but when we do, we allow for the blessings of God to be in our lives. The Bible says that God will never give us anything that we could not overcome. The best thing to do is have faith in that promise.

Pilgrim’s Progress

Pilgrim’s Progress is a story written about a man named Christian. The book itself, while fictional in nature, actually contains a lot of parallels and analogies to becoming a Christian and living as one. For example, in the story, Christian knows that he is a sinner and that he needs to be saved and escape the destruction that will come of the world. A man called Evangelist directs him on a path that will lead to Heaven. Just like in real life, however, the path is full of distractions and trials and temptations. The first place Christian reaches is the Slough of Despair. It is depicted as a terrible swamp that brings to light all of people’s doubts and fears, and only those that can overcome their doubts and fears can move forward. Similarly, when we have doubts or fears come to mind, the only way to move forward is to overcome them.

I’m back!

Once again, I am back for another school year, bearing promises of creativity and interesting content that was woefully lacking at the conclusion of last year’s blogs. The plan for this year is, in this order, Pilgrim’s Progress (John Bunyan), Democracy in America (Tocqueville), Communist Manifesto (Marx), Walden (Thoreau), On the Origin of Species (Darwin), Thus Spake Zarathustra (Nietzsche), Huckeleberry Finn (Twain), The Interpretation of Dreams (Freud), Mein Kampf (Hitler), Animal Farm (Orwell), and Mere Christianity (Lewis). While some of these books will be easier to garner meaningful content from than others, my goal is to provide anyone who hasn’t completely given up on this site thought-provoking and interesting content from all these books. Thanks, and I look forward to an exciting year!

Critical Reading

Being a critical reader is an incredibly important skill for anything, whether it be school or work. To be a critical reader, one must learn ways to stay engaged with the material that is being read, and read the material in such a way that the information learned is retained. For example, ways to actively engage in reading are highlighting and taking notes. Doing these two things will help you not only to stay focused on what you’re reading, but to be able to remember it later. While ways to stay engaged in reading are different from person to person, it is important to use whatever techniques work for you if you want to get the most out of any reading you have to do.

The fall of the house of usher

The poem “The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allan Poe is a poem about both the fall of an actual house and of the fall of a bloodline. In the story, the narrator visits a friend of his who, for all intents and purposes, lives in a haunted house. The narrator documents the declining sanity of the house’s owner, and the impending sense of doom that surrounds the whole situation. The senses of suspense, building fear, and anxiety that Poe creates throughout the poem were incredibly real, and simply reading the short story was quite an experience. I personally do not like getting scared, whether by books or movies (I just don’t see the point), but this story by Poe was a different experience altogether. I highly recommend spending some time to at least read a few of Poe’s poems.

The minutia of doctrine

As a Christian, it is easy to get caught up debating the small details of the Bible or one’s Biblical beliefs with both believers and non-believers. With believers, debating minutia (minutia being anything that is not related to the Gospel) is nice, because it helps them sharpen one another. However, if it goes on and on, it can become a point of division within the church. If that outcome is inevitable, that has to be recognized and prevented as soon as possible. Christians may not all believe in the same thing, in regards to the afterlife and the Genesis account and so on and so forth. What is important, however, is that we believe that Christ died and was resurrected to pay for everybody’s sins. In witnessing to non-believers, it is easy to get caught up in arguing about a Biblical point for hours on end, even if the point has little relevancy to the good news of Jesus Christ. The focus needs to be directed back toward the main issue of Christ and his sacrifice. If a discussion with a non-believer is occupied by lengthy Biblical discussions, but never actually covers the Gospel, is there much of a point?

Relying on the approval of others

In today’s society, the acceptance and approval of other people is a driving force behind why people do things. Especially in the youth, peer pressure is a large contributing factor to many behaviors, both good and bad. The problem with this is that there is no individuality, and those who fall behind the fads are laughed at and abused. If people would just be themselves and not worry about the approval, or lack thereof, of other people, I feel like there would be a lot more creativity, a lot less judgement, and a lot less depression in our society.

Self-Confidence

Believing in yourself is the only way that you can truly overcome the trials of this life. If you don’t believe in yourself, it doesn’t matter how much support your friends or loved ones support you. It won’t matter how many inspirational quotes or blog posts you read if you can’t have self-confidence. The reason that self-confidence is so important is that ultimately, only you can control your actions. Your pastor can preach to you, your mother can encourage you, and your employer can provide you incentives, but if you don’t have the drive to get up in the morning and believe that you can do it, then everything is pointless. You will end up stuck and discouraged. In the end, people can only help so much. You have to make the decision to believe, achieve, and overcome.

How to work with people (a continuation of how people work)

In my previous post, How people work, I gave a brief outline of the most general, predictable emotions and personality types of people. “How does knowing how people will react help me?” you might ask. Knowing how to work with people is probably one of the most important skills in the world today. It will effect your relationships, your careers, your education, so on and so forth. For example, if you are capable of working well with people, it will be very easy to advance into management positions and move higher in the ranks in your place of employment. You may still be thinking”That’s all fine and dandy, but you still haven’t told me how to interact with people.” Well, based on my previous post, interacting with people on a general level is quite simple. Straightforward people appreciate straightforwardness. It will increase your relationships with those people and increase their productivity. However, don’t try to beat around the bush. For roundabout people, you need to be more subtle. You must keep their feelings constantly in mind, and you need to be more creative about criticism. However, given the right incentives, they will shine.