What I Learned About the Most Painful Experiences of My Life

DISCLAIMER: Please keep comments civil and respectful of everyone, as this was not that easy for me to write, or they will be deleted.

*religious references*

In all the most painful experiences of my life, there is one quality that made these events especially painful: the feeling of being rejected. However, I will share these things with you, not as a vie for some attention, but so that you can learn from them too, and triumph in your own bouts with trials and suffering.

Bullying at school: One of my most painful experiences to date was the teasing and bullying I endured at school up until about high school. There is an adage that says, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Nothing could be further from the truth! Some people I encountered at school said or did things that made me feel less than and not even worthy to be called their friend or confidant, no matter how much I tried to be one to them.

What I learned: From this pain, God has taught me to never reject a hurting person or anyone just on the basis of superficial things like how they look or dress, whether or not they are rich or poor, what sexual orientation they identify with, or on the basis of how intelligent or intellectual they are. God has also taught me how to better use my words and actions to bless instead of curse or condemn. He has taught me how bullying and teasing can destroy a person’s soul and even livelihood! God has taught me how to appreciate people who do love and accept me for who I really am more, and make sure I show them in tangible ways, that they are, in fact, appreciated by me.

Being unemployed or underemployed: Another painful experience in my life was not being able to find, for awhile, employers that wanted to give me a chance to work for them. It’s not that I wasn’t willing to work hard or that I didn’t get along with people. It is just that I didn’t find a good fit for me, and that made me feel depressed and worthless, and that I wouldn’t really amount to anything in this world, which is basically what a teacher in high school said in so many words to me. And I internalized this lie for a long time, extending to even my “work years.”

What I learned: From this pain, God has taught me to value what He has given me now, especially my current job. God has taught me to always work hard in all areas of my life to please Him, but not so I could get saved.  God has also taught me to have more compassion and love for others who are still looking for work, or who, for whatever reason, really can’t work, because I learned that it is not easy to look for a job. He has taught me that my ultimate worth comes from Him, not my job or anyone in it. Finally, God has taught me from that experience, to never ever give up, because good things will come to those who are able to persevere, even in the midst of the most difficult pains and trials. For story on how God graciously provided me with my current job, please see this post.

Having family and friends move away: Another painful experience in my life was seeing family and/or friends move away from me. The most painful was having a sibling of mine move to another state. However, these changes have actually helped me grow for the better.

What I learned: From this pain, God has helped me to treasure each moment with the people I love, and also strive to enjoy the people who I am with more, because I now know that seeing them tomorrow or next time is never guaranteed by God. He has also helped me to be more open to meeting and to bond with new people, and made the relationships I have with the people that haven’t left me stronger, in many cases. Most of all, through this trial, God has helped me keep people with an open hand. That is, l learned to let God do what He wants with the people around me, including sometimes taking them away from me,  but only if it is His will, and not feeling devastated or hopeless about that prospect, but instead depending on Him for my ultimate companionship.

All these things have helped me be a stronger and more caring person than I was before. I’m not perfect, and I still don’t like pain, but I know that God is there with me through it all. He will be there for you in your pain and suffering too, if you let Him.

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Top 5 Characteristics of People I Admire (and how to cultivate them)

Everyone has someone they admire, whether it be a famous celebrity, athlete, a loved one, or even an ordinary person touching them in an extraordinary way. For me, most of the people I most admire have most or all of these five characteristics in common. Here they are, and how to cultivate them for yourself:

  1. Humility– The people I admire most must possess at least some humility. Humility can be defined as, ” freedom from pride or arrogance,” at least according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. (source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/humility). Ways we can (unfortunately) display pride or arrogance, and, by the way, are HUGE turnoffs for me, are a.) thinking you are better than everyone else  b.) Not admitting fault and/or blaming others when you make a mistake. This can be a moral mistake (i.e…sin) or any other type of mistake, and to a lesser extent c.) not being able to admit that you need help with something.  People I admire are free from that. They are free to make mistakes and not blame other people for them.  They possess a genuine humility rare in this day and age.  For example, one of the people I admire once accidentally offended some people, and immediately and formally apologized to them. This person never once blamed the offended party for “being too sensitive” or any other such nonsense.  This person owned their fault completely and totally, without a “poor-me” mentality.  C.S. Lewis aptly described humility as, “not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” We can learn much from that quote on how to be more humble.  Truly humble people never brag about being humble, or nice, for that matter, or they would cease being humble! They just are, and demonstrate humility and/or kindness through their words and actions. So, to sum it up, truly humble people a.) Just are. b.) Don’t think they are better than anyone else. c.)Admit fault readily when they make a mistake. and d.) Can ask for help when they need it.
  2. Integrity-Another characteristic that people I admire possess is integrity, which can be defined as, ” adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of  moral character; honesty.” (source: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/integrity).  These people never lie to enhance their character or save their own skin, so to speak. When they say or promise to you that they will do something, they will do it without fail, and when they can’t they won’t promise you anything.  They are generally pillars of their communities, not because they are rich or important, but because they are morally and ethically sound people. If they are married, they are faithful to their spouses.  They are honest even if being so would cost them something.
  3. Caring/kindness-I put these two together, since they are so interrelated to each other, but another characteristic or characteristics that people I admire have is caring and kindness. Caring can be described as: displaying kindness and concern for others.(source: google.com) Because many of the people I admire most are humble and have great integrity, their caring and kindness for others extend more naturally.  One of the people I admire cared enough for me to tell me personally that they had to move, instead of just emailing me or letting me find out with their other friends.  Another person I admire cares enough about his subordinates to often thank them for their hard work and mean it too, and they hardly (if ever) yell at them, but are able to talk to them nicely even when under stress. Ways we can cultivate this quality in ourselves are a.) Pay attention to “the little things.” Watch your tone of voice and attitude towards people you encounter. Do you often act dismissively and invalidate people, or do you take the time to have a good attitude and minister to their needs too?  b.) Be intentional.  Is someone you know going through a rough time right now? Encourage them. Pray for them (if you believe in prayer).  Thank them for their good qualities. Let them know in some other way that you care about them and that they are not forgotten.  Do you know someone who no one else seems to notice or care about? Talk to them. Get to know them.  Buy them a meal, not for charity’s sake, but so they feel loved and important.
  4. Diligence-Most of the people I admire are not only humble, show integrity, and are caring and kind, but also show diligence. Diligence can be defined as: steady, earnest, and energetic effort : persevering application (source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/diligence). These people I admire are often successful in my eyes, not only because they are nice people, but also because I know they worked hard to get there.  They live life to the fullest. They don’t wait for someone else to do something for them if they can do it themselves. While these people are diligent, they don’t overdo it either. They know their limits, and so can be effective and diligent in more areas of their lives. They are not ones to give up when the going gets tough, but try again and again until they accomplish what they need to do. Practical ways we can show diligence is: 1) If you work, do it with all your energy or might. Do you work efficiently and the best you can.  Unless you are doing something else work-related, never let other people do the work you’re supposed to be doing yourself. This applies to students going to school too, and does not only have to include “paid” work, but unpaid work as well (i.e…household or other chores) .   2.) Have a purpose and a passion to work hard. Reward yourself when you work hard. That way you will always be motivated to do everything in life (not just a job) well.
  5. Affirming-Last, but certainly not least, the people I admire are affirming.  They are master validators of people.  They value not only people they admire most, but everyone else as well. According to Google, one of the ways affirming can be defined is, ” [to] offer (someone) emotional support or encouragement. ” (source:https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=affirming+definition). They always “shine” before people, because they always know how to bring out the very best in others.  Ways we can be more affirming is a.) To value others. See posts :https://placeinthisworld224.wordpress.com/2017/01/15/giving-value-to-others/ and https://placeinthisworld224.wordpress.com/2016/12/29/on-validation-and-invalidation/ for more information.  b.) Be supportive to others in their time of need. When someone is upset or sad, we can offer a listening ear. We can remind them that we do, in fact, care for them. We can make sure we have a soothing and/or encouraging tone of voice when we speak to others.   c.) We can look for good qualities in others, and speak about those, rather than gossip and/or complain about others. The people I admire most, while they sometimes do complain, mostly are very grateful and honoring to others, and when they see something good about someone they make sure to let the person who has that good quality know about it so that the person and others can cultivate that quality even more!

So, if you would like to be a person most admired, not only by me, but other people, I believe you should cultivate at least four of these five qualities.  No fallible human being I know, has these qualities down perfectly. (I know  myself don’t. ) However, we can all constantly learn from each other and these people, and strive to become better people and never give up learning to be better on this side of eternity.

My life anthem song (for today)

If you read my “about” page, you will know in general what my passions and dreams are.  Today, I would like to share what my life anthem song is and why this song is my anthem. This may or may not change as time goes on, but the song, “Live Like That” by Sidewalk Prophets is currently my “life anthem” song.

Source of lyrics: (https://play.google.com/music/preview/Tgqljpuwkwghhy5g75pb2bior24?lyrics=1&utm_source=google&utm_medium=search&utm_campaign=lyrics&pcampaignid=kp-lyrics)

Lyrics written by: Ben Glover, Ben Mcdonald, David Frey, David Douglas Frey

Was I love when no one else would show up? Was I Jesus to the least of us? 

 

This song is written in the perspective of a person reminiscing over how they lived their life, wanting to live life to the fullest, and how they want to be remembered after they die.  Similarly, I want to be remembered as someone who loved Jesus and loved others. Because I hate, absolutely hate when people take advantage of or purposefully hurt the broken and /or forgotten, I never ever  want to be that type of person myself! Instead, I want to be the type of person, at the very least, who is there for the “least of us,” just as Jesus was there for me in my times of need.

 

Was my worship more than just a song?

 

I don’t only want to worship God in my singing, but in everything I say and do. Sure, there are times when I will inevitably fail at doing so, but in general I want to worship, really worship Him!  I want to worship Him when I wake up in the morning, when I eat, brush my teeth, do my personal devotions (i.e..spend time with Him), go to church, go to work, talk to others, etc. I also strive to not be fake in my worship. Sometimes, I fall into this trap, but I really want to strive to be genuine and all-consuming in my worship of God.  Worship can be defined as “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.” (source: google) So, I want my worship to be true and honoring to God.

 

I want to live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You

 

With particular emphasis in the second line in that stanza, I want to be able to “give it all I  have.” My parents, especially my dad, have always taught me to “do my very best” in everything.  This advice I want to be able to heartily apply to all aspects of my life, but especially spiritually.  I have seen great rewards when I have given it my all, and great judgments against me when I start to back-slide or become lazy in the work or works I’m supposed to be doing.  I not only want to do my best in everything, but also make sure that what I’m doing is not pointing to myself, but to my Heavenly Father. It’s really difficult to do that oftentimes, but being vigilant about my motives and attitudes is the only way I personally have found to accomplish “pointing everything to Him and not myself.”

If love is who I am
Then this is where I’ll stand
Recklessly abandoned
Never holding back

Am I proof
That You are who you say You are
That grace can really change a heart
Do I live like Your love is true

never want to hold back or abandon my relationship or my love for Jesus! He’s the one that saved me from the pit of despair, and for that I owe all my devotion to Him.  I want everyone to know who I am and what I stand for. With no shame what so ever!  I want people to have a clear idea of who my Savior really is, not anything distorted by my sins and misgivings.

People pass
And even if they don’t know my name
Is there evidence that I’ve been changed
When they see me, do they see You
This stanza is especially pertinent to me, as I work in sales, and people pass by me all the time, and if they don’t look at my name tag, they often don’t have any idea who I am! However, I want to be able to evoke the sense of when people pass by me even if they  have no other previous contact with me, that they see that I have been changed, as per 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV), “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” I also don’t want them to see my selfish, sinful self, but God working in and through me. Admittedly, I am not quite there yet, but my prayer and hope is that I will get better and better at this as time passes.
I want to show the world the love You gave for me
I’m longing for the world to know the glory of the King
This is my ultimate goal in life. God has given me so much love, even in the midst of pain and suffering, for me. How can I not share this love with others? I know that I can never “pay” God back for all He has done for me, not even the half of what He has done! However, I can show my love and appreciation for Him (and you can too), by loving others.  I want people to know God’s love because I have found that that is the only enduring thing that really satisfies our deepest longings in life.  Many, but not all, people (even myself sometimes) have so many distorted and negative ideas of who God is because of either their earthly father or another prominent male figure in their lives, that has hurt them in some way. I want to show people that these ideas are flawed and that God is ultimately and totally good. However, I won’t be able to do that if I reflect a distorted image of God myself, through my thoughts, words, and actions.  So, may I reflect a clear and accurate image of God to others, to you, so that many people I encounter will be able to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Psalm 34:8-ESV)

How to get out of the dump: Triumphing in and after suffering

*triggers: Mentions suicide*

A cursory look at the Facebook posts in my news feed today shows me that there are at least two phases that my Facebook friends find themselves in today: 1.) Going through a trial or trials and 2) Going through times of joy and jubilation. People don’t normally post the ordinary things that they are doing. For example, I would not post that I’m going to work later on today. It just won’t get people’s interest, but that’s commentary for another time.

However, I would like to focus today on how people can triumph over suffering and not lose hope in trials. I admit, for the author of this blog, this is still something I am working on, but these things I have found to be true not only for me, but also for others who I have seen and heard overcome their trials.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and talk things through.-Often in trials, we want to be alone and be able to get out of the dump ourselves. Though a few times I have been able to get out of the dump myself, I have found that asking for help and talking things through with another person, whether it be virtual or real-life, helps me gain perspective on my trial and be encouraged by another person either a.)going through the same thing I have or b.) already went through the same thing I have and has gotten out alive and well.  Also, when we ask for help, we can often find new solutions to our trials we ourselves never thought of before or at least remind us that we are not alone in our trials.  DISCLAIMER: If you feel that when you have asked for help, that no one was there or made things worse, I do apologize. In an ideal world, someone helping you would always make things better, but because of sin (moral wrongdoing) this happens. But I would recommend not giving up on all people, because I believe at least one of them will be able to give you the right kind of help.
  2. Try to persevere through the trial, even if you don’t want to-Often in trials we want to give up on working through it. This is because often we as people want comfort. God has been telling me time and time again that if I idolize anything other than Him, it’s comfort, and that I need to repent of that. Comfort, according to the Oxford Dictionary,  can be defined as,”A state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint.” (source:https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/comfort). We don’t want pain, but if we tell ourselves in no uncertain terms that this pain will not last forever, we will be able to better endure it. Give up trying to be comfortable.
  3. Try to learn from the trial. -This is often more difficult when you are in the midst of it. However, there is often something to learn, something to be gained, even and often after going through a trial. For instance, since I work in sales, sales are slower during this time of year (i.e.. after Christmas), and hours get cut. Because I thought my hours had been cut more drastically than they were, I thought for sure no one really appreciated me. I began to spiral down a depressive cycle. I was a sobbing mess…until God made me realize that I counted the total hours wrong. I was actually given more hours than the previous week! And then the next day, because I needed a correction on my schedule, I was incidentally given even more hours! So, what I learned in the trial, was to focus on the positives and that God can make even the bad scenarios into blessings for me.  Sometimes, when you go through a trial and you don’t understand why you are going through it, it can be tough to persevere through it and find any hope of ever getting out of the perpetual cycle of pain and suffering that goes with going through a trial. However, know that there is always something to be learned from the trial even when you don’t know what it is yet. This is beneficial to us, because it will help us not only learn from our mistakes or help us to know God or ourselves better, it will often help us be stronger and more compassionate and caring people. For instance, I shared in another post that I was often bullied by classmates and even a few teachers in school. Though I sometimes wished that I weren’t alive in those moments, I am glad that I survived this because I am better equipped to be able to relate to and help those who are being bullied and/or abused by others or have experienced similar or worse things than I have.

 

If you are going through a trial right now, I encourage you to not be afraid to ask for help, to not give up on life in the midst of the trials, and learn from the trial. If you are going through extended suffering and feel like giving up in life completely and are having thoughts of suicide, please call 1-800-SUICIDE or some other crisis line. Know that whatever season of life you are going through, you are never alone and that there are people who care for you.

Why We Should Pray for Others

DISCLAIMER: This post is primarily directed towards people believing in the power of prayer. Please keep comments respectful, whether or not you believe or not, or they will be deleted. Thank you.

In another post, I discussed why prayer is so vital to our spiritual lives. Here I am going to discuss specifically why we should make sure our prayers are not only for our own needs and wishes, but others’ as well.

So, the question begs asking: Why should we pray for others, especially if we have a lot of things  we need? Here’s why:

  1. Praying for others deepens our interpersonal relationships.-When you pray for others, it requires emotional energy and investment in the person who you are praying. Even the very act of asking someone if they need prayer, may invite them to share an emotionally deep area in their lives that they may or may not have yet shared with others, but when you are willing to make an emotional investment in them, it opens the way not only for a deeper relationship with said person you’re investing, but it also shows that you care about them.
  2. It teaches us to be other-centered, rather than self-centered. -Praying for others effectively requires you to take your eyes off yourself  and onto them! It requires depending on Someone (i.e. God) other than yourself to help the other person you’re praying for. It makes you realize that there are more needs than just yours in the world.
  3. Praying for others changes our attitude (to a more positive one) towards people we pray for that may be different from us or difficult to deal with sometimes.-(My story): This is certainly true in my life. I held anger, bitterness, irritability and resentment inside for this person. One day though, someone in my church suggested that I pray for this person, asking God to bless them, etc…So, I did. It wasn’t easy, but, lo and behold, I found myself being able to forgive this person for the pain and hurt they had caused me within a few days of praying. Recently, I was angry at this person again, but God answered my prayers. I had asked God to soften their heart towards Him (God) and others, and this person seemed nicer and more patient with me these past few days. Not only did God answer that prayer, God changed me to have a better attitude towards this person.
  4. Prayer changes lives.-Praying for others, especially for them to know God’s love and hope, can be exhausting and seem unfrutiful, but if we are persistent, that prayer can change their life! I have heard people’s eternities and day-to-day lives changed, just because someone prayed for them! Also, any time God answers a prayer that you made on behalf of another person, the person will see God working in their lives, and by praying for them, you will have helped them know God better!

How to encourage people who have been bullied or otherwise oppressed

(*trigger warning*: references/link about suicide, abuse, bullying )

I have had a lot of interactions with people and sometimes even their families, who have experienced or are experiencing bullying and other forms of abuse and oppression. Many children are being bullied at their schools currently. When I was in school, I was often the target of bullying myself.  Recently, I read an article about a boy who was bullied to death, not only by people at his school, but also by the manager who he worked under. (source: http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/02/us/suicide-dairy-queen-charge-trnd/). And, in my opinion, some of the comments made from another website featuring the same story, were very disheartening, and revealed a lack of compassion and empathy for what the boy was going through, and his family that is experiencing the pain of his loss and suffering right now.  So, how do we encourage those being bullied or otherwise oppressed, instead of leading them to think life is no longer worth living or that no one cares about them?

I’m not a mental health professional or any other type of doctor, but I have had experiences on both sides of the coin–being bullied and being able to encourage those who have been bullied or otherwise abused. So, here’s what I learned.

1.) Be there for the victim/survivor.-This does not mean be there for them one time, but it means being willing to invest in their lives in some way.  It also does not mean being physically present with them, but your mind be somewhere else.  But it does mean being fully invested-physically and emotionally to what and how they are feeling and if possible, why they are feeling that way.  It means at the very least listening to their needs and concerns without judgement or condemnation.

2.) Validate how they are feeling, and never invalidate them! -Validating them means affirming what they are feeling (You don’t necessarily have to agree with what they are feeling though!) and affirming their worth as a person.  Never, ever say to them in any type of wording, that what they are going through is “not a big deal” or “just get over it!” First of all, that they trust you to tell you something painful is big, and you don’t want to ruin their trust in you. Secondly, if they could “get over it,” they probably would without telling you in so many words that they need help.  An example of validating someone would be if your daughter is being bullied at school and she confides in you about it, you could say, ” I’m sorry that [name of bully] is hurting you. I will be here for you and help you through this so that you don’t have to suffer at his/her hands anymore. You are an infinitely valuable person and child. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.” (And then actually following through on your promise to help the child through the situation by a.) talking to the teachers/administrators b.) talking to the bully’s parent(s).

3.) Ask if there is anything you personally can do to help (and other open-ended questions). Ask, but don’t interrogate. Asking if there is anything *you* personally can do to help them will help them to know that you are there for them, but it doesn’t burden them to be obligated to accept any offer of help. However, it also lets them know you care and have their best interests at heart. It also allows you to know what type of help they may need.

4.) Make sure you are not getting drained yourself. -Contrary to some religious circles, I do believe that you need to make time for self-care, otherwise you will find yourself idolizing caring for that person and will not allow yourself to be recharged. Let’s face it, helping someone else through a difficult time, can be draining  not only for the person going through said experience, but for you as well.  It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help them though. This just means you will need some time for rest as well. Even God rested from His creation on the Seventh Day!

This could mean anything from taking a literal nap, to doing something you enjoy just for you, for a time.

Remember, helping the oppressed and bullied, though it can be difficult, can also be rewarding. More importantly, it can save another person’s life! So, who can you encourage and support today?

 

 

The Pain of Rejection (and How to Deal)

Unloved. Unwanted. Never good enough. Have you ever felt this way? If you are human, you most certainly have for at least one time in your life. Many of you have experienced rejection many, many times, even by the ones who are or were supposed to love us the most. Personally (for I can only really 100% speak for myself), I have experienced on and off rejection since the tender age of two, by people at a daycare center.  That is why, unless I feel that a person has rejected me in some way, I will most likely never reject them because I know personally the pain of not being or feeling loved by another.

I am reading the book, Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst, which deals with this very issue, and I will be referencing (and putting references to her credit where it is due) some of her ideas on how to deal with rejection, as well as some of my own. (Shameless plug: For more info on how you can get her book, please visit amazon or iTunes. They should have it there. )

Tips on how to deal with rejection (from a biblical perspective):

1.) Be genuine.—Don’t pretend to be someone you are not. The old adage, “It’s better to be hated for who you are than to be loved for someone you are not.” rings true here. People will and DO eventually find out “who you really are” no matter how hard we try to hide our true selves. It’s because God consistently cracks our masks we wear in public, so to expose the Truth of who we really are. If you are genuine, and are rejected you will be only rejected once (even though I know and acknowledge this may be really painful for most). But if you are fake and are acknowledged, your true self would be rejected twice. Once when others embrace the false self and the other time when they find out your deception and find out who you really are.

2.) See that in the rejection God may be protecting you from something even worse happening to you or may be preparing you for something better (ref to : TerKeurst, Uninvited, 133-34)

This actually happened to me while I was searching for my current job. I had an interview at a place where I really wanted to work, but unfortunately I found out quickly that I really wasn’t a good fit for the company or the place. I was a bit disappointed and thought I wouldn’t find a good job, even though I did well at my previous job.  However, one day I called my current job’s place to see if there was an update on the status of my resume and they called me in for an interview that very day.  God, through several people, graciously provided that job for me. And at this job, God has provided many opportunities not only to advance my career, but also to minister to many people there, both customers and employees. Had I been accepted at the other place, I may have been laid off now (the place was not that big), or fired, and had less opportunities to minister to other people.

Hard as it is, we need to see that in the rejection, God may be preparing you for something or someone better or protecting us from a bad fate, or both! We need to look to the future and not in our past failures or rejections

3. Don’t put your whole identity in the person or persons that rejected you

If the situation is a person or persons that rejected you, especially if it is someone you admire, love, or respect, this may be very difficult.  However, in order to heal from the rejection, we need to separate what the person thinks of us from who we really are. In TerKeurst’s words, we need to “stop the spiral by replacing the labels” (TerKeurst, Uninvited, 131). For instance, if your mother or father rejected you in some way, it does not mean that you are “unlovable” or a “reject” to everyone else in the world. It may feel that way sometimes, but feelings don’t always necessitate truth! Instead, for instance, you may seek the help of God or a therapist to help you believe positive qualities about yourself so that you don’t have to live in shame or fear of further rejection by other people. Also, what I have learned from my experiences with rejection, is that not everyone will like or love you, and that sometimes you cannot get others to like or love you. While it’s frustrating, it doesn’t mean that you will be rejected by everyone. Even if you somehow were, as long as you don’t reject Him, God will never reject you! You don’t have to “try” harder to get someone to like or love you. Just be yourself and continually try to improve who you already are to glorify God and become a better person, not to become popular. But haven’t we all worked harder to get liked or loved sometimes? I know, it’s difficult, because we all want to be loved and that’s a natural human desire, but don’t let rejection define you.

4.) If possible, don’t reject other people.

Audrey Hepburn, the actress, wisely stated, ” People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.”  It’s understandable and may even be necessary to reject people who are abusive or a danger to your physical or mental health, so I don’t mean that. However, be careful not to reject someone just because they have a disability, are a certain race or class, religion, look a certain way, identify with a certain gender or sexuality, or don’t think the way you do. Also, never reject someone just because they’re hurting. If you don’ t know how to comfort or console them, a.) try your best  or  b.) Make sure you find someone else (i.e…a qualified professional or another person) that can.  When we reject the vulnerable, weak, or marginalized members of our society, what we are saying with our actions is that we won’t help Jesus, and when we become weak, vulnerable, or marginalized, it may be that others will remember our rejections of other like people, and in turn think we deserve to be rejected, and reject our cries for help. Not only that, but if we don’t repent (i.e…continue to reject the marginalized), we will face ultimate rejection from God Himself. This is illustrated in Matt 25:45-46, when Jesus says, ” Then he [God] will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (ESV-emphasis mine).

The Value of Hard Work (and a caution about ableism)

DISCLAIMER: In this post, I will write about the rewards of diligence in every aspect of our lives, what I learned, and caution about ableism, which means discrimination in favor of able-bodied people.

Yes, there is a place and time for a “break” or to get “lazy,” but I have found that there are great rewards for being diligent in life. Being diligent to me, does not have to constitute working a full time job, having a family to feed and support, and volunteering at the soup kitchen, all in the course of a week!  But it does constitute of giving our best of what God has given us each day, whether with our time, talents, or treasure.

During the time when I didn’t have a job, I found that I was often depressed and thinking about things that I shouldn’t have. Yes, I had more time with family and friends, and that was good. The problem was not that I didn’t have a job, but that I felt like I was making little difference in other people’s lives, even my family and friends , with who I spent time. However, when we don’t have an aim or purpose in life (even if we do have a full time or part time job), it is very easy to get depressed and hopeless about life. I’m not saying that having a job has cured “everything,” or that having a job is the cure to depression. It’s absolutely not, as I will discuss later. However, I am saying that when we have a reason to  live, any reason at all, things are easier to deal with.

For me,  having a job at the current place I’m working now, has brought me rewards that I could have never anticipated from God. God has not only graciously provided me with income, but also a purpose everyday in which I could make a positive difference in the lives of not just customers, but also co-workers, managers, and other staff there. That, to me, is the greatest reward one could have of working diligently. But you don’t have to have a job to be diligent in your life. I know several people who are too disabled to work, but have through their words of encouragement and validation, made others’ and also my life a brighter place in which to live! It may not seem like much to society, but to those who are suffering or who are otherwise in need of encouragement, it could mean saving their  lives! Also, these people have often used every ounce of their emotional energy (read: spoons-for more on that see this site:spoon theory)they have! And that, to me, not only is displaying diligence in their lives, but also sacrifice.

So we must be careful not to judge an entire person’s worth on what they can do, but we must also make sure we are seizing opportunities in life the best we can with what we are given. This can mean anything from encouraging others, working hard at our jobs (if we work), and giving our time and treasure, and displaying our talents, to those around us, not only so we get the rewards, but to make a positive contribution to the world around us.

The Importance of Prayer

DISCLAIMER: This post is primarily aimed at professing Christians and/or those who believe in the power of prayer. If you don’t, please save your emails/comments (unless they are positive) for another forum and another place, or they will be deleted. Also, even if you are a Christian, please remember to keep the comments on this post positive and NOT disparaging to me or others, or they will be deleted. Thank you for understanding.

 

A couple weeks ago, one of my current pastors convicted me of the importance of praying for my elected officials, as I was sadly lacking in that. To add to that, I didn’t even know who half of them were! No, I don’t consider myself “political” in any way, shape, or form and I am not really into the political debates of the day. However, the fact is that I still need to pray for my elected officials more, because prayer has the ability to change hearts and lives.

Not only that, this same pastor also convicted me about the importance of praying for everyone, especially those who have authority or influence over me, including my bosses at work.  Maybe if we (me included) spent less time complaining about those in authority over us such as (depending on your situation) bosses, managers, police, government officials, parents, and/or teachers, and MORE time praying to God,  then I believe at least half our problems would be solved!

Here are some benefits to prayer that I have found, and also ones that scripture alludes to:

  1. When praying with a good attitude and a righteous spirit, God hears us! –

In Psalm 5:2-4 (ESV), it says, ” Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;
in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.”

“But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer.”-Psalm 66:19 (KJV)

2. Prayer, especially when we or a loved one are going through difficult trials, comforts us and keeps our eyes on God. I found that when I pray through a trial in my own experience, the trials become at least a little bit easier to confront and handle. This is because I no longer obsess and focus so much on my problem or problems, but on Him who helps us through them. Prayer also helps us feel less alone.

He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.-Psalm 102:17 (KJV)

3. Prayer helps us cultivate a right attitude towards God and others.

In Romans 1:8-10, the passage says: First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayersMaking request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. (KJV-emphasis mine). Because Paul took time to pray for his parishioners, he was able to think about them on a constant and continual basis  and was able to direct his thoughts to the One Whom he was praying. If Paul failed to pray on a regular basis, not only would his relationship with God have suffered, but probably also his relationship with other believers and those around him.

Also, in Philippians 4:5-7,  Paul says, “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (ESV-emphasis mine). Paul tells us to pray about everything, and that, as a result of that, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” 

Prayer helps us cultivate a right attitude towards God and others because it helps us focus on God, helps us (if done correctly) think about more than just ourselves, and through the Holy Spirit, helps us have a better attitude towards God and others in general. For instance, in my experience, when I was upset at someone at work and when I was able to actually pray for them, it helped me have a better attitude towards them, and I was no longer upset at them.

4.) To add to #3, prayer helps keep us from sin.

The old adage that “Prayer keeps us from sin, or sin keeps us from prayer.” is true, at least in my experience. Also, Jesus speaks to that in Luke 22:44-46, “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow, And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.” (KJV-emphasis mine). Jesus was saying to His disciples that they should pray to keep themselves from being tempted to sin. Also in 1 Corinthians 10:13, when it says, ” No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it,” the way of escape may very well be prayer!  Of course, it may be other things which God wills too, but no one can really stop you from praying not to succumb to temptation!

5.) Prayer can change lives.

I’ve heard about countless stories about people praying for others and how their prayers were answered and how God working in and through their prayers was able to change positively both their own and others’ lives for the better. So if you or a loved one is going through a trial right now or has a particular need, rather than be as a last resort, come to God about it first ! If you are working or living with a particularly difficult person, rather than just get angry and upset (though there is a time and place for that too) and complaining about them, why don’t you pray for them? If you cannot pray blessings upon them, at least pray for God to change their (or your?) hearts. Pray without ceasing, for God through our prayers, can change lives and hearts for the better.