I’ll Never Give Up On You- A poem

I know I usually do essays, but this time I want to do a poem about what God has been teaching me about how to love others, particularly the unnamed subject in this poem.

I’ll Never Give Up On You

You may treat me bad.
You may make me sad.
You may treat me like gold
Precious in your sight

You may have tough days
And you may get yelled at
Or for all your hard work
You may get a raise

But no matter what you go through
Or whatever you may do
I will never give up on you
I will never be done with you

Not just because I have to
Not to earn some coveted prize
But because I care
And I want you to know… God loves you

What I Learned From My Pastor’s Sermon

For a videotaped transcript of the sermon I’m referring to (May 21st sermon) see this page: https://www.facebook.com/ibcbolingbrook/.

I had a bad day yesterday. It was really busy at work, and both the managers and associates were in really bad moods.  I was so angry at several people, and just…it wasn’t a good day.

Today, this morning at church, I came in a really sour mood and just wanted to be left by myself, yet at the same time wanted someone to confide in about yesterday, so I wouldn’t feel so alone.  Then, I heard my pastor’s sermon.

He talked about Genesis 6, where humankind had become so evil that God grieved in His heart that He had even conceived creating them! Noah and his family were the only ones that even had an inkling of gratitude and worship towards God.  My pastor talked about how hard it must have been for Noah to keep a righteous attitude towards people who were continually mocking and demeaning him, his family, and his God. My pastor also talked about God’s grace. From this sermon, here are some things I learned that I think could be applied to everyone, even if you are not a Christian, to your daily life:

1.) Don’t test anyone’s patience by continually disrespecting or mocking them, especially God.

I learned that even God’s patience has a limit. This can also be applied to people as well. A person can take only so much abuse and disrespect before they break and/or totally go ballistic against their abuser, unless a.) They find a way to stay away from their abuser or abusers. b.) They find a different way to interact with them, so the emotional pain and investment is not as great.  In the case of Genesis 6, God was very patient (waited literally years) towards the people he created. He waited for longer than most people even live now, for His creation to stop mocking and disregarding Him, and instead give Him the respect and worship He deserved. They never did, and so God got so angry at them, He sent a flood to wipe them all out. I have heard a story about how a wife who was regularly abused and degraded by her husband finally seeks revenge by shooting him to death. I have heard stories about abused children finally having enough and killing their parents for the horrific abuse they (the children) suffered at their (parents’) hands.  I’m not saying what the wife or the children did was right or OK, but that it is understandable given the circumstances.

2.) Give grace to people even though they may not deserve it.

This one really got me. My pastor told us that Noah was a righteous man who preached (read: warned) the people of his day about the impending flood, so that they would hopefully turn back from their wickedness and make things right with God and each other. However, they did not, and instead not only did not take him seriously, but (I believe) mocked and degraded him, his family, and God as well. Since it says in the Bible that Noah was a righteous man, it can be implied that he probably treated these wicked people with at least some of the grace God gave him as well.  God treated the evil people with grace too, in that He allowed them to live for a long time and enjoy some of the fruits of the land to sustain themselves.

This can be applied to our lives as well. Do you have a person in your life–maybe it is someone in your family, maybe it is someone at school or at work, maybe it is a friend who has betrayed you–with whom you have a difficult relationship? I know it may be counter -societal, but show them grace.  Show them you are not like before, or like everyone else. Everyone else may give them a difficult time (in reaction to them acting like a jerk) too, but when you show them grace it shows that you are different, that maybe they do have motivation to change and become a better person to you and everyone else around them. It may take a long time for them to realize this, but you must strive to do the right thing and not give up on them completely. (Disclaimer: If you are in a dangerous or abusive situation, you probably should give up on them –and this does NOT apply, at least until they start to change, but you still can treat them with grace if a situation comes up and you somehow encounter them.)

3. )*this is for primarily Christians*: God will always be there with you and will give you grace, even through the tough times.

My pastor broke his arms many years ago, but he says God still provided him with grace because it is through that experience, that he experienced the kindness, caring, and patience of many people that helped him.  Yes, he suffered, but a lot of good things came out of his experience, even according to my pastor himself.

Yesterday was a bad experience for me. I was upset at several people, and didn’t even really want to talk to anyone there anymore.  I thought if I talked to them more, I would have said something that I would have regretted for the rest of my life, and I would be, at the very least, disciplined. I didn’t even feel safe. However, God taught me several things: a.) He will be there with me when I go back to work tomorrow. b.) He taught me to treat the people who hurt me yesterday with more grace, even though they don’t deserve it. By the way, the very definition of grace is “unmerited favor.” c.) He taught me to forgive those who had hurt me, and just let it go. d.) He taught me to think about things, before I react.

So,  if anyone is hurting or if someone has hurt you, it is important to keep these things in mind, so that anger and hatred don’t consume you. We should also be careful not to hurt others, so that we don’t destroy our relationships with them, and if we do, that we apologize contritely, so that the relationship can possibly be salvaged.

Power of Words

What we say can mean a whole lot to people–either positively or negatively, depending on what words we use. This is because each word has a meaning behind it.–something that can either make or break a life. This is why we should always, always, strive to use our words to encourage someone, rather than to tear someone down.  When we tear someone down with our words, we risk not only creating distrust in a relationship, but tearing it down altogether.  Here are some common ways people use their words to hurt others…and also some ways that people can use their words to instead encourage one another. For more information on the power of words, see also this post:

Ways people tear down others using words:

  1. Using words to blame others for their own mistakes or problems- This often happens in families or among close friends.  Sometimes when a person doesn’t feel heard and is constantly being invalidated by another, he or she will start to blame the invalidating person for anything or everything going on in their lives. They would say to them, “If you hadn’t done x,  then I would have not been passed over for that job I really wanted.” or something to that effect. They will use the other person as a scapegoat and refuse to accept responsibility for their own mistakes and failures.
  2.  Invalidating—This often happens when a person is too caught up in their own life and problems to listen to the other (often, hurting) person. It also happens when a person doesn’t care about the hurting person’s problems.  For instance, if I told you that I had a bad day, and you said something like “Suck it up, buttercup.” or “Ok, that’s nice,” in a dismissive, sarcastic way, that would be invalidating my feelings and that I had a bad day. Instead,  using this example, you should listen to what I have to say or at the very least express sympathy for my pain and suffering.
  3. Being sarcastic.—This often happens when a person is upset with someone, but doesn’t just want to yell at them. For instance, if a child doesn’t want to listen to his or her parents’ directions to clean his or her room, he or she may say, ” It doesn’t have to be perfectly clean you know!” knowing it isn’t even clean at all!
  4. Using curse words.–This means a person uses foul language to tear down and insult someone. For instance, if a person feels another has hurt or insult them by the other person’s words and/or actions, he or she may call them a[n] [insert swear word here] to their face or behind their back.
  5. Insulting someone—This can happen in many ways. One of the ways a person uses words in this mean and derogatory way is to mock them.  For instance,  President Trump was accused by some people of mocking the disabled and women by making fun of their mannerisms using his words.  Another way some people unfortunately insult people is to degrade them. For instance, a parent may verbally abuse their children by saying that “They never do anything right.” or saying, “You’re worthless. I wish you were never born to me!”

Ways we can encourage people with our words:

  1. We can validate them.–When we see or hear someone in pain, we can first of all, listen and hear what they have to say. Then, we can sympathize with them by saying, “I’m sorry you are going through this. What can I do to help you through this?” We can ensure them (if that’s the case) that what they are going through is not their fault. If it is their fault, we can validate them by saying that we will help them to make amends and forgive them for their errors.
  2. We can refuse to slander or gossip about others.– One of the most damaging things one can do to another person is to slander or gossip about them, so that their reputation is ruined or, at the very least, marred. If you refuse to say unkind things about others, it will be much easier to encourage and uplift them.  Even if those things are true, I have learned (often, unfortunately, the hard way) we can instead talk to the person directly about any issues we have with them.  If you are scared or for some reason can’t talk to them directly, at least talk to someone who can actually do something to rectify the issue or issues you’re having with said person. Once someone said that if you are not part of the problem or solution to an issue between people,  then you have no right to blab about another person in an unkind way. If you do, then it is gossip.
  3. We can use our words to uplift someone in need of our love and encouragement.–What I started to do at work is to make little notes of encouragement to people who I feel need it. When we use our words, either orally or in print, to compliment and/or encourage someone, it can give them the joy they so desperately need in their lives. For instance, one of my managers was having a stressful day and it was his birthday. So, I had some of my co-workers and managers write him good wishes for his day, and when I gave it to him and told him what a great manager he was (and he is), he teared up a little, obviously touched by the encouragement that those co-workers, managers, and I gave him.  I have seen when I take the time to encourage someone, instead of gossiping or slandering someone, people usually take notice, and their faces light up.
  4. We can speak the truth in love.–When you must correct someone or admonish him or her for something they are doing that is hurting themselves or others, it is often an unpleasant experience. However, we don’t have to avoid talking to them about the issue or sweep it under a rug, so to speak, in order to build someone up. We don’t have to be nasty or insulting to them either. We can speak the truth in love instead.  For instance, if a child’s parents catches their child lying , they doesn’t have to call the child a “liar” or let the child lie to them. They can instead focus on the bad behavior, instead of the child’s worth as a person.  For instance, they can say, “Tommy, when you lied about having already taken the trash out, it made me feel angry and hurt.  I know you can do better than lying to us.  Can you trust us to tell the truth next time, so we can trust you?”  Use the phrase, when you did x, it made me feel X (name the emotion—angry, hurt, frustrated, sad, disappointed, etc…). Also, affirm the person after you let the person know you’re upset at him/her. This doesn’t mean you condone the behavior, just the person.  Also, let the person know how you would like them to change their behavior. For instance, Tommy’s parents asked him to be more honest with them next time so he could regain their trust.
  5. We can demonstrate humility by apologizing and by honestly committing to make real amends when we wrong someone or otherwise make a mistake.—For instance, if you upset a boss at work by doing something incorrectly or inadequately,  instead of making excuses or blaming others for the wrong that occurred, you can apologize. For instance, when a manager points out a mistake that I did in straightening, instead of making excuses for why I did it wrongly or inadequately, I could say, “I’m sorry for X mistake I made in straightening. How can I commit to doing this work better?” This response would not only be genuinely humble, but also shows you are open to learning from your mistakes.

These are just some of the ways people (unfortunately) tear down others, and some of the ways that people can build up people.  I am not perfect in building up people in any of these ways. There are still many things about encouraging others and not tearing them down that I need to learn, and we all do. However, the more we proactively encourage others, and the less we tear them down with our words, the better this world will be for them.

Benefits of Diversity

I will admit straight out…I don’t understand racists and other people who are prejudiced against people’s differences, especially that which the target people cannot control, such as the color of their skin. And wouldn’t the world be so boring if everyone were exactly the same? I think so, and that’s one of the reasons I love interacting with others so much (though I do need some alone time sometimes), because I enjoy learning about diverse opinions, beliefs, cultures and lifestyles.

There are many benefits to diversity in the human race. Here are just some of them:

  1. Diversity makes the world a more interesting place to live.–Face it. If everyone were the same as you (or me), it would not only be scary, but incredibly boring and pointless as well. For instance, many of my friends love olives. I hate olives! If everyone liked olives, then there would be no olives left! Conversely, if like me, everyone hated olives, all the olives would eventually rot and be useless to everyone! Also, if everyone were like you and thought like you, how would anyone learn anything new? You wouldn’t really be able to learn much.  Diversity allows for a more interesting and growing world.
  2. With that, diversity allows us to increase our knowledge. —I think God made different kinds of people and nations, with different tastes and opinions, so we could learn more about the world He created and give Him the glory. He also wanted us to have deep, meaningful relationships and learn from one another. Think about how much we have learned from all of the people we have ever met! It would be more than the bandwidth that this blog website could ever hold! Even if I shared with readers how much I have learned from diverse people in my life with differing opinions would probably not be able to be all encompassing!
  3. Diversity helps us to appreciate what we have been given ourselves.-–If we were all the same, we would not be able to really see how much has been given to us because we would not really have another frame of reference, for which to compare ourselves. Talking with and learning about people from differing backgrounds and who went through difficult (often more difficult) life experiences helps us to treasure our lives more. We not only appreciate what we’ve been given but we are also able to understand and appreciate other people and their experiences more.
  4. Diversity helps us serve others better.--When we are able to empathize and/or understand other people who are different than us, we will be more able to be equipped to help others who need it. For instance, if you understand a certain culture or sector of society better, you will know where they are coming from, why they do things a certain way, and are able to basically relate to them more effectively and on a deeper level, than if you don’t know or understand them at all. For another example, if you understand the challenges of being poor or disabled, you are more likely to be met with openness and grace, than if you just judged against them or couldn’t relate to them at all.

As one can see, there are many benefits to diversity. This is why when people are prejudiced against or don’t value diversity at all, we need to call them out on it. Prejudice is harmful not only because it hampers our relationship with others, but it also closes the door to true knowledge and wisdom, and makes the world seem pointless and boring. Yes, you can and should embrace similarities in the midst of these differences, but we should also value and appreciate differences by loving people and the diversity they bring with them.

Two People: A poem in honor of my parents

This is a poem I made about 6 years ago. This poem is still as true as ever today as it was then. Enjoy, and hope you too can find something of value in it!

 

Two People-dedicated to my parents, with love

Two people swept in a torrent of blessings and trials

Bring a five pound six ounce baby into this world

Many  nights are bound with anguish and tears,

Trials and fears,

Watching their baby grow up in a sinful and troubled world

But then with their child also come days of enjoying and relaxing

Of rewarding and rejoicing!

 

Two people swept in a torrent of blessings and trials,

Sacrifice everything they have in this troubled and difficult world

For their then five pound six ounce baby,

Who is now grown up as a lady

Whom to they still make sacrifices for and love

As  she learns  more and more

To love them and the One up above

Qualities We Should Emulate of My Favorite Manager

This post is made in honor and appreciation of my favorite manager at my current job. This list is in no particular order, and for anonymity purposes we will call this manager, Tom* (*=Not his real name). Hopefully, we can all cultivate these characteristics in our own lives, and not only if we want to become a manager or some type of boss over people:

  1. Tom gets along with almost everyone.—Sure, like everyone else, Tom sometimes has conflicts with people, but he never really lets them eat away at his soul or personality. He even tries to get along with people that anger or annoy him. He doesn’t seem to hold grudges against anyone, at least in my job. I’ve only heard one person ever really complain about him, and that person is no longer with the company. Almost everyone at work I know has at least some respect for him.
  2. Tom is honest.–He doesn’t tell associates only what they want to hear, but has the decency to shoot straight with them when necessary.  When someone asks how he is doing, and he is feeling badly, he doesn’t just tell people fine, as 90% of us would do. He would tell you honestly that he is feeling badly. I appreciate that kind of frankness in him, because it shows that he can be trusted.
  3. Tom has a good sense of humor about may things.–I believe that Tom’s humor shows up even when things are terrible or stressful for him. For instance, his job is often long, tiring and stressful. However, he still takes time to joke (well, in this case, only half a joke) with me, and I with him, about him needing a nap. I would say, ” Do you need a nap?,” and he would reply, ” Yes, I really need a nap.” in a half-jokingly way. Also, when I was straightening a particular area of the store, knowing and believing I did well, he tells me in a mock-stern voice, something like, ” I need to talk to you.” Not knowing him well at the time, I got scared that I was in some type of trouble. Knowing I was scared, he says, “I’m just kidding. You did great on [name of particular area here]!” Then, we both laughed.
  4. Tom is organized.–We used to (sometimes still do) have nightly store meetings, so the associates know what section to straighten for the night and any new news that we need to know about the store’s operating procedures.  Tom doesn’t have long-winded discussions or take a long time rounding up people to come to the meeting. He does things fast and efficiently, so we can be more productive at work.
  5. Tom has reasonable expectations for everyone.—He knows that some associates need to complete their computer training in a timely manner, so he allows them some time to do them so they can get caught up if they are behind.  He is understanding if someone has an illness that prevents them from doing certain things in the store, or if they have a family emergency that prevents them from being at work for awhile. However, he also knows if people are trying to trick him into giving them more leeway than they deserve or if they are just being lazy, and he doesn’t tolerate that.
  6. Tom is able to keep his cool in front of people.—I’ve never seen him yell at a customer, and I have only rarely heard him yell at an associate.  When he is upset, he knows to not say or do something he would regret as a manager or a person later. He is very level-headed and doesn’t let his emotions eat at him. This is something we, me included, could really learn from him.
  7. Tom is fair to everyone.—He doesn’t only help certain people all the time, and not others. He helps everyone who needs his help the best way he can.  He also doesn’t show he favors one person over another.
  8. Along with having reasonable expectations, which I already discussed in #5, Tom has clear expectations of what he wants of associates. — He gives clear directions on how and what he wants done.   I don’t often leave confused as to what he expects out of me.  He has expectations, and sticks to them.  For instance, if he wants us to greet a customer who is within ten feet of us, he expects just that. He won’t waiver on that.
  9. Tom knows his limits.–When he is too tired or stressed, he knows to go home to his family.  Also, he knows to make time to spend with his wife and children whenever possible. He doesn’t stay at the store all day, if he has other obligations, unless upper management requires that of him.

From these characteristics, we can see that Tom is a good boss to have. He is not just a good boss, but a good person as well. May we all see something of value in Tom and apply one or all of these characteristics to our own lives.

If I Could Do It Over

I’ve been thinking a lot about my life, and the triumphs and regrets. I think it’s very important for everyone to take time to examine their own lives, and make the appropriate and necessary changes so that they can live their lives to the fullest and make a positive impact in their world. Here are some of my regrets in life and what I’ve learned from them to make my life better now:

  1. If I could do it over, I would forgive and let go more— I wouldn’t waste precious time fighting with another or holding grudges against someone. So many times, people have hurt me and I’ve, unfortunately, over and over again, held a grudge against them for too long, often not even attempting to understand their motivation or reasoning behind it, however faulty that may be. This resentment and bitterness I held in my heart started to build up more and more, and started to poison my other relationships as well. I became less caring and less committed to these other relationships, and often the people in them had nothing to do with the offending party! In the future, I would let go and let God dispense the appropriate justice. I would be more merciful and more understanding to those people who had hurt me, and try to be kind to them even if I didn’t feel like it.
  2. If I could do it over, I would not sweat the small stuff-– I wouldn’t waste precious time worrying about things, especially that which I couldn’t control or change. I would just go with the flow more, and cope with things as they came instead of trying to “prepare” ahead of time by worrying about how I will cope. I would also let go of being upset or worried about the small inconveniences of life such as bad traffic or being assigned at work to straighten five aisles instead of my usual four (Most people who work with me have about three aisles to straighten.), which, in eternity, probably wouldn’t even be remembered by me!
  3. If I could do it over, I would have let God into my life earlier-– I would have gained interest in the Christian life and all it contains earlier. I would not have spent so much time living only for myself. I would have helped more people willingly, and not begrudgingly or because I “had to”. I am so glad that I became a Christian and discovered much joy living in God’s will. I am also so thankful for the Christian community that I am part of now, and for God giving me (I believe) salvation through His Son Jesus Christ.
  4. If I could do it over, I would be more thankful for what God had given me already, instead of thinking about or obsessing over what I didn’t have.– Even two years ago, part of my focus was on hopefully finding a significant other and hopefully having children of my own. I became despondent and discouraged because God hadn’t (and still hasn’t) given me either of those so far. Thinking about all this made me lose sight of all God has already blessed me with so far, to my disadvantage.  Now, that isn’t even an issue anymore, and I would accept it if God’s will is that I never have a husband or children. I would not wallow in self-pity or despair. I would continue giving myself to God and others.
  5. If I could do it over, I would be more bold in sharing my beliefs and opinions with others.— I would not be so afraid of what others would think, say, or do to me for expressing those opinions and/or beliefs. Instead, I would trust that God has my back, and just make sure I communicated my beliefs and opinions in love, respecting the others’ beliefs, while still staying true to my own.
  6. If I could do it over, I would spend more time developing relationships with others. –I would put more effort into the people in my life right now, beginning with my family. I would talk to them more, about life and their interests, not only my interests and concerns. I would talk to more people about deep, spiritual things, and also more secular, laid-back things. I would spend more time with people that meant the most to me, and also developing relationships that, in my opinion, needed more work.

Sure I have had regrets in my life, but the good thing is that I am learning from them, and trying to change them into advantages for my life. I hope that everyone can find something of value from this writing today, and apply it to their lives as well.  We only get one shot at this life; make it count for positive!