community, eternal matters, family, friends, joy, life, life lessons, love, truth, work

How To Combat Jealousy

Have you ever encountered that little green monster? I don’t mean the creatures that are supposedly lurking underneath children’s beds.—I am talking about the very real experience of jealousy. Jealousy, as defined by me, is wanting something that someone else has so badly you want the person who has said thing to lose what they have. It could be a job or promotion that you wanted, or a fancy car that someone you know has (but that you can’t afford), and anything and everything else that you could want, but don’t have.

I admit, I sometimes get jealous of certain people who got the job or promotion I wanted. A few of them, I feel, aren’t even qualified for the position! In the past, I have even gotten jealous of my brother because I had felt he had it “easier” in life than I did (Nothing could be further from the truth, by the way.), while I struggled through school and through life. However, God has shown me (and is continuing to show me) these things to help me combat jealousy and conquer the green-eyed monster once and for all!:

  1. God showed me what I call The-Grass-Is-Always-Greener-on-the-Other-Side principle: One of the things that I learned this past year is that everyone has a story! In the above examples (the job story and the story about my brother), I have learned that a.) the people getting the job that I wanted do not have a very easy task! If they do something major wrong or make too many mistakes, they may even get demoted! And I never knew the more personal issues that they may hide from the world. My brother has had to work hard too, to get where he is right now. He has had different struggles than me, but struggles all the same. What I am saying is, the people who you envy so much, may not even have the ideal lives that you had imagined! In fact, they probably have similar or even more difficult challenges to face than we ourselves do!
  2. You are placed where you need to be, with the abilities and gifts you were given: Another principle I learned is that maybe I didn’t get what the other person had because it wasn’t the right timing or right according to what “fit” me to get said thing at the time. For instance, I really wanted to work mornings as a department manager for about a year now.  However, I believe God revealed to me that He had better plans for me.  First of all, if I worked mornings even to train for said position now, I would probably be getting significantly less hours than I do now, even as a full time associate, because many of the hours are now being allotted mid-shift, when I work now.  Moreover, I wouldn’t be able to minister and help as many people as I do now.  Also, as a theoretical example, if you couldn’t afford to buy the nice car your neighbor had, and had to walk to school and/or work, it may seem like a hassle. You may really want to have your neighbor’s car and even have resentment against your neighbor because she won’t even let you near her car.  However, what if by walking to work and/or school with others in your neighborhood you are more able to develop friendships and a sense of community with your other neighbors? Nothing happens by accident. You are placed where and when you are for a reason. Strive not to waste it!
  3. Everyone is valuable, regardless of rank or position.: I believe that, in general, society is being plagued by what I call the rank-value principle. The rank-value principle, in my definition, is the belief that certain people who rank higher or who have more worldly power are more valuable than lower-ranking, or less-powerful people. However, without the “regular” or “lower-ranking” workers, the CEO at a company wouldn’t be able to run the company very effectively or , at the very least, wouldn’t be able to expand his or her business very much. Sure, CEOs of companies or even your boss or manager, may have more power than you, but that doesn’t make you of less intrinsic value than him or her. This is why, I believe, James of the Bible says in James 2, “Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?,” in regards to this favoritism. What he is saying, is, in essence, that when you think that one person is more valuable than another based on a worldly-ranking system such as race, class, ranking in the company, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, or other distinguishers, you are becoming judgmental and devaluing others. If we let each person know that they had infinite value because of how wonderfully they were created, he or she would not so passionately yearn or even desire what belongs to another.

These are some of the ways that God has shown me to combat jealousy. Sometimes I do struggle with jealousy, as much as anyone else. However, when I focus on these above things, any jealousy that I had, fades away. What are the things that you have learned that helped you combat jealousy personally? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.

caring, community, friends, inspiration, joy, life, love, poem, positivity, thankfulness, truth

My Shining Star

My Shining Stardedicated to all my friends; you know who you are…

1/24/2018

 

For all the times, good and bad

We have gone through

For all of everything you gave me

My friend you will always be

 

I never ever want to hurt you

Or make you sad

And I always strive to give you

My very best

 

When your radiating presence

Touched my soul

It awakened the light inside of me

And made me more whole

 

I will never, ever forget you

Or the impact you made on me

Only promise me

That you will shine as the star

You already are

caring, community, credos, errors, eternal matters, family, forgiveness, friends, goals, inspiration, joy, life, life lessons, love, positivity, purpose, thankfulness, truth

On Improving Myself This Year

This is almost the end of January 2018, as I write this, and I realize that I still have a long way to go to becoming the person I want to be.  However, by God’s grace, I am not where I was in the past, or even a year ago. I have improved. However, I don’t want to be stalled in my spiritual or emotional growth as a person.  In order to keep myself accountable, and in order to inspire you to make your own changes as you see fit, these are just some of the things that I plan to do to become a better person emotionally and spiritually:

  1. I will eliminate distractions from my life.—Starting last Sunday (January 21, as of this writing), I began to eliminate distractions from my life that have stifled or stalled my emotional and spiritual growth. This has meant deleting songs that reminded me of painful past events and how people have hurt me, both intentionally and unintentionally, that had no hope of reconciliation and forgiveness in its lyrics. It has meant ripping out diatribes and vents that I had against people that hurt me in the past, that now I have forgiven. This means not following people who say bad things about others on Facebook and other social media, or who tempt me to do so, in any way.
  2. I will be more intentional about being thankful for what God has given me.—Beginning today, I will think of at least three things that I am thankful for the day. I will try to look at the positive things about a situation, not just the negatives.  I will strive to use bad situations as an opportunity to glorify God and to serve others, instead of just griping and complaining about it.  I will strive to remember all the good that God has done both in the past, and the good he is continuing to do in the present.
  3. I will not hold on to bitterness and resentment for someone for more than one day.—Yesterday, was a very stressful day at work. I felt that certain people were taking advantage of my friend and me, and we weren’t even getting any appreciation for the work we had done. I even slightly frustrated one of my managers, even though she wasn’t really involved in my frustration.  However, because I respect and care about her,  God put it in my heart to make sure there wasn’t any resentment and animosity building up between us , and so I apologized for frustrating her and affirmed the true value I saw in her as person and as a manager. This is what I strive to do more often when stress gets the best of me, and I either upset someone, or I am upset with someone.
  4. I will slow down and enjoy life more.—This is what I learned in a blog I follow, yesterday. To see this wonderful post, see this link!  I will intentionally strive to enjoy each moment God gives me because I don’t know when there may not be any more to enjoy! I will hold each person I encounter as gifts from God. I will strive not to succumb to the daily grind and hum-drum of always working without having joy and peace  in what I’m doing.
  5. I will intentionally strive to learn other people’s stories before judging them.—When someone frustrates me or is frustrated with me, instead of getting upset or raging at them, I will strive to ask them, “What’s wrong?” or “How can I help you?” I will strive to get to know the people around me better instead of making snap judgments about them.  I will live to serve others before myself.

These are the things that I strive to do to better myself. Yes, I anticipate, there will be times that I will fail at these goals. However, when that happens, I will strive to pick myself up, and try again.  What are  some of the things you will do to improve yourself? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.

caring, community, credos, eternal matters, forgiveness, inspiration, life, life lessons, love, positivity, purpose, truth

My Top Seven Rules of Life

Question idea from Todd Brison, in Quora, all other ideas are mine.

Almost everyone has a set of rules they follow for how they live their lives. Some of these may be unspoken or not even really thought about much. Others are more purposeful about making sure they follow their own rules for their lives.  Here are the rules that I strive to follow for my life and why I believe that they are important for success in life.

Rule # 1) Work as diligently as you can.

One of my pet peeves is seeing people who are not doing their very best in their day job or career, or in life.  They are just doing x activity just because they “have” to, or a loved one, forcing them to do that thing.  They overburden others and are just in it for themselves and their own selfish desires.  Another one of my pet peeves is feeling bored.  These are just two of the reasons why I strive to always work as diligently as I can. Even though my day job isn’t glamorous, I still strive to do it to glorify God and with all my heart, soul, and strength. When I see another person work diligently at something, I admire their drive and passion. I also have more of a desire to imitate them!  So, when you work as diligently as possible, as a general rule, in life at whatever life throws at you, you not only will live a more successful life, but you will also inspire others to do the same.

Rule #2) Don’t waste your life.

You were given a life–Don’t waste it on things that are not important or that you will later regret.  For instance, when I was younger, I was preoccupied with a.) myself and b.) was in “survival” mode. I did not think much about the connection to what I did then, and what would be in the future.  Now, I aim to be less preoccupied with myself and things that I feel don’t matter to me as much, and focus more on what does matter, such as God and eternity, and the quality of my relationships that I cultivate in this life.  Make your life count! You can do this by a.) Thinking about and writing down a life purpose (which I recommend to be about a sentence or two), and think about how you’re living now fits in with it.  b) If there are parts of how you’re living life that don’t fit into your life’s purpose, make the necessary changes so it does fit!

Rule #3) Care about others.

When I was a child, I did not know how to care about others as much as I do now, and yes, I am still learning even more about how to best care for others.  I was a very selfish person. As a consequence, I feel that I wasted most of my life then. I failed to speak up for others suffering from injustice in my school because I was too absorbed in my own problems to notice or care.  I regret this to this day.  However, I slowly learned about the blessing of caring for others, especially in the past five years.  I learned that we should not care for others only so we can get something, but also for the benefit of the person we are caring about.  We should aim to make a positive difference in others’ lives not only to feel good about ourselves (though it is certainly not wrong to feel good when we do something nice for someone else!), but also to put a smile on someone else’s face and to improve the quality of their lives. Everyone has gone or is going through something tough.  If we can lift off some of their burdens, the people we are helping will be better equipped to cope with life.

Rule #4) Hate evil.

Hate all forms of evil. This may be as minor as hating strife and slander, or as major as hating murder and rape.  This does not necessarily mean hating the people who do it, though that is most people’s natural response, but more so the sin or sins that they committed.  I strive to hate evil because it is against God and everything I believe.  When we accept or acquiesce to evil, we not only compromise our morals, we slowly become monsters inside. I would hate to succumb to any of the evils that I was rescued out from. Never go back to the bad, from which you were saved.

Rule # 5) Learn as much as possible about other people and about the world around us.

In order to truly love and understand others, we need to know about them.  Even three years ago, I admit that I did not really follow this rule by heart! When I joined a blogging community online and had to read other people’s blogs, I learned much more about the world around me and about other people’s life stories.  When you have a thirst for learning, you not only benefit others because you are trying to understand them and their world, but you also benefit yourself by growing in knowledge and wisdom.  Learning not only takes place in scholastic institutions, it takes place at work (if you are employed), at home, and even at a grocery store, to name just a few.

Rule #6) Love others, even if it sometimes breaks your heart to do so.

This is a tough one to follow, even for me.  There are several people, with who I have worked and in other parts of my life, that I had a difficult time loving as God would.  However, I learned that loving others, even when it is tough to do so, often helps strengthen the relationship.  Every time I had wanted to give up on loving someone, I believe God worked things out so that I would persevere instead.  This lead to me eventually forgiving these people and letting go of the bad times we had together, and cultivating some good times instead.  When I intentionally love someone, even if I don’t initially “feel” like loving them, I realized that, oftentimes, that person that is tough to love: a. ) begins to open up to me emotionally and b) gives hope to the possibility of forgiveness and reconciliation in the relationship. When we persevere in loving someone who breaks your heart, we show the durability and authenticity of our love.  Love, even when it is difficult to do so.

Rule #7) Forgive others for their mistakes and sins.

Along with Rule #6, which says to “Love others, even when it sometimes breaks your heart to do so,” forgive others for their mistakes and sins.  This is especially true when someone hurts us unintentionally. For instance, if someone we know at work does not acknowledge or greet us because they are busy, do not hold it against them. This is probably not because they didn’t “care” about you, but because they were too absorbed into what they were doing to notice what is around them.  Also, even if someone is upset at you, and, thus, does not want to talk to or acknowledge us, also try not to take it as an affront. When I am upset at someone, I don’t want to talk to them either, not because I want to “punish” them with my silence, but because if I did talk to them, I would most likely say something I would live to regret. This may be true for others as well.  Also, instead of seething in anger at their apparent indifference, you should ask them with compassion, “What is wrong?” or apologize if you know you have upset them.  Even forgiving others for more serious sins, such as if your significant other was cheating on you, or if someone who abused you,  has a freeing effect for you, not just  for the offender.  When I truly forgive another, I feel like a burden has been lifted off me. Reconciliation may not be possible or even wise if a person sinned seriously enough against you, but you still can let go of the anger and bitterness towards them.

 

These are the seven rules that I try to abide by in my life.  If we strive to abide by these rules, I believe we will have true success in life because we will not only be able to cope with whatever life throws at us better, but we will also have a more enriching and purposeful life. What are the seven rules for your life which you strive to live by? Are these rules difficult to apply to your life sometimes? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.

autism, caring, community, disabilities, diversity, emodiversity, integrity, life, life lessons, love, pain, positivity, suffering

How to Support People With Invisible Disabilities

DISCLAIMER: No disparaging comments about anyone allowed, or your comment will be deleted!

When most people hear of the word “disability” they think of someone in a wheelchair, or at least someone with some type of physical impairment.  But did you know that up to 10% of all people with disabilities suffer from what is called an “invisible disability?”  An invisible disability is a condition that one has that impairs, or makes it more difficult for someone to function successfully in everyday life, but that is not readily visible to the human eye.  They may have problems getting up from bed, may be tired a lot of the time, may have trouble interacting with others, or may have trouble taking care of themselves without help, to name a few symptoms.  These symptoms are, of course, not all inclusive or even applicable to some of the invisible disabilities that there are, but they do apply to some of them.

What to say and do and what not to say or do to people with invisible disabilities:

What to say/do:

  1. Do offer to help and support them if they ask and are in need of that.—If they ask for help or are in obvious need of support, do whatever you can to help them. Validate them and be a caring friend to them. Help them also get the accommodations they need, or at least help them find some.
  2. Do acknowledge their disability and take them seriously.—There is nothing more frustrating than people who don’t take our disability seriously just because they don’t “see” anything wrong with us! If someone tells you they have a disability or some medical issue, believe them!  Just because you can’t readily “see” it, does not mean that they aren’t suffering from anything! Everyone has issues in their lives, but some can’t be “seen.” This doesn’t mean they don’t exist or that the person is “faking” it.  For instance, as a hypothetical example, what if you told a friend of yours when you confided in them that you just had cancer, but they just said something like, “It’s all in your mind,” or “Don’t worry. Everyone else has issues, too.” You would be furious, right?  This is why it is important to acknowledge the struggles and disability as valid and try to help them through it.
  3. Do emphasize their value as a person, not just their disability.—Another frustrating thing that people tell those suffering from an invisible disability, is something like, “Oh, I didn’t know you could drive? Most people with [insert disability] here can’t do that. You are amazing!” Even though this seems like a compliment, it really is patronizing and insulting because it assumes that just because someone has x disability, they can’t do or be anything of value to this society. This is also why upon learning their child will have developmental problems, the doctors sometimes will recommend abortion to the parents, although a lot of the time, parents that have children with these disabilities are blessed by their child(ren)’s joy and what the child(ren) can teach them about what really counts in life.
  4. Speak out against discrimination and educate people about the nature of invisible disabilities.—If you really want to help your family, friends, and other loved ones who you know suffer from invisible disabilities, speak out against the blatant discrimination that exists against them and advocate on their behalf.

    Ways to do this include:

a.)Educating yourself about invisible disabilities and what people who struggle with them go through on a daily basis.

b.)Speak out when you hear a misconception or discriminatory comment against those with any type of invisible disability.

c)Listen carefully and thoughtfully to the people in your life with an invisible disability and offer to help and understand them better (and, of course, follow through on that promise).

d) Be an advocate for getting us that suffer from an invisible disability more resources and research to help others understand us better and help us navigate through life more successfully.

 

What not to say/do:

  1. Tell someone with an invisible disability that they don’t really have one or that they are just “faking” it or “being lazy.”—This is very invalidating and borders on being verbally abusive! Just because you don’t “see” anything wrong with the person, doesn’t mean the person is fine inside! If the invisible disability involves mental or neurological conditions, do not tell them it’s all in their head or that they are “being lazy” or somehow not trying hard enough to overcome their disability. First of all, unless you are also suffering from that disability or know what’s going on in the person’s mind (i.e are God), don’t assume to know how they are feeling or coping! More often than not, they are already trying the best they can and your invalidation can bring about feelings of self-hatred for themselves, causing resentment and anger against you.
  2. Value the person only in terms of their disability—(See number #3, in what to say/do.)
  3. Exclude or treat the person differently because you found out about their disability. Never, ever exclude or treat the person with the disability differently or exclude them from certain activities just because they have a disability (unless the person asks you to). We should treat everyone, especially those with invisible disabilities, with kindness, respect, and dignity! This means not treating them as if they were aliens or someone to be avoided or excluded. Treat them with the dignity you would your non-disabled family and friends.
  4. Make fun of /or ridicule them for their disability.—Along with the above, you should never ridicule someone for their disability, invisible or not! If you ever encounter another person mocking or ridiculing a person with a disability (invisible or visible), speak up and stand up for the person struggling with the disability. Silence basically signifies agreement with the action. Do not stay silent!

These are the ways you can support people with invisible disabilities, and the things you should never do.  If more people knew about what we go through on a daily basis, there would be more understanding and less prejudice against those who struggle  I struggle with an invisible disability, and on behalf of all my family and friends who likewise struggle, know that we appreciate you taking time to learn about our condition and understand us better.

caring, community, eternal matters, friends, love, poem

I will

I will    written on 1/13/2018

(to all my family and  friends, near and far…)

I will be there for you when you call

I will be there for you when you fall

I will treasure you as a sacred soul

A fellow image-bearer of the Lord

 

I will sacrifice myself for you

I will strive to be always true to you

I will aim to always show you God’s love

The kind from up above

 

I will forgive you for your faults

I will help you through your doubts

I will protect you from your enemies

I will stand with you until life’s  end

 

caring, community, credos, eternal matters, family, forgiveness, friends, God, integrity, joy, life, life lessons, love, pain, positivity, stories, truth

Open Letters On Forgiveness

Written on    1/12-13/2018

Dear Anyone Who Has Hurt or Offended Me,

For some of you, I have held on to my anger and bitterness towards you for a long time. God convicted me today and told me to let it go. And I intend to do just that. If you had offended me, what you did was probably not right and I am absolutely not excusing your behavior. However, my response to you was not right either, and for that I am sorry. I am sorry that lashing out in kind and wishing evil on some of you. I am sorry that I hadn’t reached out to you in reconciliation and mercy earlier mainly because of my stupidity and pride that got in the way. I understand if you never are able to forgive me for this or don’t want to reconcile. However, if you would like to, I want both of us to strive not to hurt one another deeply again, and I want you to know that I have your back now and wish only the best for you.

Sincerely,

Patricia

 

Dear Anyone Who Has Been Hurt By Me or Others,

 

Hurt by others: If you have been hurt by another person (other than me), I am sorry. If you were ever abused by someone who was supposed to love and/or protect you (such as a family member), I am deeply sorry, and please take as much time as you need to process everything and heal.

 

However, for those hurt by someone who has not severely scarred you (though at times it may feel like it, I know.)I have these three words for you: Let. It. Go. Don’t try to let it go for their sake, but for yours!

 

What criteria I personally use now to determine if another’s hurt is worth holding on to or addressing in any major way:

1)            Are they hurting God—meaning are they blasphemous or against directives that He laid out in the Bible?

2)            Are they hurting my family or other loved ones?

3)            Are the issues/offenses at hand morally and/or eternally significant for their sake (i.e Are they committing a serious sin)?

 

If two to three questions’ answers are “Yes,” then it is worth getting concerned about, but if not, I just try to let it go. Even if the answers to these three questions are “Yeses,” I still try to speak the truth to them in a loving, but firm manner.

For instance, though, some people hold a grudge against another simply because someone did not say “Hello” in return to them. Yes, it can be upsetting if we are not acknowledged and it is rude for them not to acknowledge you, but is this worth remembering or getting so upset about? Also, someone not saying “Hello” to you or ignoring you, assuming it’s not family, will not hurt your loved ones! Also, no one will go to jail or get kicked out of anything simply for not acknowledging you, or at least it would be absurd if they did!

Let it go.

I understand why someone would hold a grudge against someone else though. I confess that I once was a grudge-holder, and then wondered why it was so difficult for me to grow spiritually and emotionally! I realized I held grudges for so long because I thought that by holding on to the hurt and anger and giving the offender or offenders the harsh, silent treatment, I was, in essence, “punishing” them for the hurt they caused me.  However, what often occurred was that the offender either didn’t care about the incident or the hurt they had caused me, or they didn’t even know how much they had hurt me! In essence, God gave me this epiphany one day that by holding on to these grudges, I was only hurting myself and the loved ones that hadn’t hurt me at all!

When I finally let go of my hurt and anger that some others had caused me, it was like a burden was lifted off me.  I no longer had to exert angry and hate-filled energy for that people and anyone associated with them and the incident anymore.  Most of all, I felt peace. I was open to reconciliation, and I was free of the bind of emotional pain that the offender or offenders had over me.

Let it go.

For your sake and for those that love you.

For those I hurt:

I do apologize and am so sorry that I hurt you. I don’t ask for forgiveness only for my sake, but also for yours. I want you to be free of the anger and hurt that I caused and that comes from bitterness and resentment. I will do anything in my power to repair the damage that I caused, and I will strive never to repeat the offense again.  Know you are valued and loved by God and by me. I only want the best for you. And I know that is what God wants for you as well.

Sincerely,

Patricia

caring, community, eternal matters, inspiration, joy, life, life lessons, love, positivity, purpose, work

The Benefits of Serving Others

Have you ever wanted your life to have more purpose and meaning? Do you struggle with depression, like I do?  Have you ever wondered how you can make a positive difference in a world which often emphasizes self and demanding greed?  I have learned that one of the best ways to fill your life with more purpose and meaning, alleviate depression, and make a positive difference in the world to someone other than yourself, you have to learn to be able to serve others. In fact, a study from University of Wisconsin Madison(La Follette School of Public Affairs) determined that being generous and serving others leads us to view people more compassionately and creates a sense of community with others. (source: http://shp.rutgers.edu/current_students/documents/October2013.pdf) Here are some other benefits of serving others:

  1. It eliminates self-pity and feelings of worthlessness.—When one feels that they can’t do anything good for this world, a sense of self-pity and even hopelessness for oneself and the world ensues. It is easier to want to give up and give in to depression and boredom. However, when we strive to serve others, we don’t have time to think of self-pity and our so-called worthlessness because a.) We know that we are making a difference in at least one (if not, more) person besides us because we are helping them. b) I believe God gives us an intrinsic conscience in our souls to let us know that when we unselfishly serve others, we are doing something good.  When we help people in need, we also eliminate self-pity because seeing others in need helps cultivate gratitude for what we do have in our lives.
  2. Serving others brings meaning and purpose to our lives.—When we are wandering aimlessly in life or when we are doing something robotically (i.e.. going through the motions), often we find we are living life without much meaning. However, serving others has a great purpose—to better the world around us.  When we not just volunteer at one or two places, but when our whole mindset is about serving others, we will live life more intentionally and not worry about self-serving minutia anymore.  We live rich life, spiritually and emotionally, and life becomes more joyful and meaningful for our commitment to serving others.
  3. Having a servant-mindset (which I define it as: an unselfish motivation to serve others and do what is best for them) rather than a self-serving mindset helps us make a greater impact on the world around us.—When we strive to cultivate a servant’s mindset, we make a greater positive difference in the world around us because this mindset is so counter-cultural and so rare that it will speak volumes to those around us. The norm, sadly, is to be only focused on ourselves and our own needs and desires. Selfishness is only focused on the self and what makes me happy, without caring for another person.  Having a servant-mindset, on the other hand, is focused on others’ needs and wants, and the self takes a back seat to those around the self.
  4. Serving others helps us live longer and happier lives.—There have been numerous studies that have concluded that serving others helps us to live longer and healthier. This is because there is not only more meaning and activity in one’s life, but the satisfaction that one gets from serving others is greater than even the satisfaction of receiving love and care from another person.  Serving others also alleviates depression probably because one is forced to look outside oneself and one’s circumstance and actively instead engage in the life of another. This often not only reduces the stressfulness of one’s own situation because they are not focused on that, but one is able to help another through one of their life’s situations.

These are the benefits that many people (including me) have found when we serve others.  We can serve others in many ways. Even praying for someone else can be considered service to others. Many people volunteer to help others in need. Still others help to make a positive impact in their communities or even the bigger world around them.  What can you do to serve others? What benefits have you found in helping others? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.

community, credos, eternal matters, family, forgiveness, friends, goals, God, inspiration, joy, life, life lessons, love, pain, positivity, purpose, stories, thankfulness, work

My Journey To Joy

My journey to joy started when I was 16 years old, the year that God became a part of my life and being. This life journey has been on-going, with a lot of stumbles and falls in between. However, with the help of God and others in my life, I am able to get back up again and then continue to live joyfully each day.

Getting Out of the Pit of Darkness and Depression

Shortly before God rescued me from my sins and from my hopelessness that I felt in life, I was on my last rope.  I had a teacher that I believed was verbally abusive. He told me in no uncertain terms that I would amount to very little in life. This was a message that I internalized for many years and it almost became a self-fulfilling prophecy, but God is merciful.  In addition to that, I felt much pressure from everyone around me, but most of all, myself, to do well academically in school and go to the college of my dreams.  Because this aforementioned teacher failed me and I felt trapped in this class, I felt hopeless and even suicidal at times.  Also, I didn’t have the emotional support of many of my peers or even most of my teachers.

Then, one day (see: testimony link for more details), one of the few friends that I had, invited me to her bible study at school. Even though I was not religious at the time, I was searching and wanted to please my friend, so I went. I didn’t become a follower of Christ right away, but after several months, one day in my bedroom, I gave my life to Christ.  This was the beginning of slowly (emphasis on the word “slowly”) getting out of the pit of darkness and depression.

College and my first taste of joy

A couple of years later, I went to college, albeit not the one of my dreams. I remember dorm life being very difficult and trying for me. However, there I met my first friends that encouraged me when I was depressed and helped me gain footing for my faith.

After college/The first signs of my growing in faith

The first two churches I attended after college gave me a foundation to my newfound faith in Christ.  They taught me who God was and how His influence could be applied to my life.  I also found more joy in the second of the two churches I attended because I felt like it was there that I felt the most loved.  When I was upset because of the stress of life, several people at this church supported me emotionally and reminded me of what I had in Christ.  They encouraged me to persevere in life. It was also during this time that I first developed a community of friends online, who also encouraged me in my trials and who I could encourage in theirs. I developed a sense of hope and a glimpse of joy in my life. However, my joy was not yet mature and there were still way too many times when I became depressed again.

Joy Grows By Leaps and Bounds

In June of 2013, I got my first job where I felt that I could do fairly well in it. Indeed many of the managers and associates valued my work there. I still talk to a few of the people I worked with there. There, I learned how to treat customers and clients, and more in-depth about the sales/retail industry and how things worked.  I also continued to build relationships with the people at the church I attended at the time.  This is the first time I remember that I could say that I had some semblance of joy in my life.  However, God had greater opportunities in store for me. In March of 2016, God was calling me to a different job, and in October of 2016, God was calling me to bless a new congregation as well.

My Current Life and How My Joy Has Grown Even More

How I got my current job was truly a miracle and a God-thing in itself. For more details on how I got my current job, see this link.  God has blessed me more in the past three years, than in the first thirty-or-so years of my life!  Besides getting a new job, I also went to a new church.  This church has been a godsend to me for many reasons. First of all, the pastor not only preaches great sermons applicable to my daily life, but he also lives what he preaches, something rare in these days, even among professing Christians.  Sure, he is not perfect, but he is humble enough to admit this.  Also, so many people in my current church have supported me and encouraged me in my faith or when I had problems at work or elsewhere.  Also, I love how this church prays for one another and aims to provide for those congregants in need.  Also, my mentor J has helped me a lot in this season of life to debunk the negative thoughts about myself that some people in the past had communicated to me through their attitudes, words, and actions.  She, as well as others in my life, have encouraged me to become more confident in my God-given abilities and see myself as God sees me, not as someone who is better than everyone else, but also not as someone who is worthless and bad either.  My current job has also been a tremendous blessing. Yes, there have been many difficult days and situations there too, but they –and also the blessings of my job—have both served to help me know God’s love for me better and have helped me become a better person.  Finally, it seems I have been able to let go of some of my past hurts and anger towards the ones that have hurt me. God has even helped me to either reconcile with these people or not let them affect my self-worth and attitude anymore (or at least less).

The Future of Joy

In the future, I would like to solidify my joy by dying to self. Yes, the concept of denying myself seems counterintuitive to my joy, but I don’t think it will.  This is because when one is living only for oneself, they often create strife and unhappiness for others, and because of that, end up miserable instead of truly joyous.  However, for me, dying to self will actually allow me more joy because I no longer have to worry about what others think of me and my desires will no longer be of urgent importance , and so I will no longer be so upset if I don’t get what I want in life.  For instance, if I do something nice for someone that some of my friends don’t get along with because I feel God prompting me to, I will no longer worry about my friends thinking I will “betray” them by doing something good for their “enemy”. I will be able to do it willingly and with joy because what my friends think will take a back seat to serving God and others.  Also, if my manager tells me to do something necessary (i.e.. something that their boss tells them must be done also) for the smooth running of the store but that feels stressful and uncomfortable, I will no longer feel the urge to complain and/or refuse to do it because I don’t like it. I will be more willing to do said thing with a better attitude and even joy than if my aim were to do things that I want to do just because I want to do them.

This is my journey to joy. It is on-going and there will be many stops and starts along the way, but I know with God’s help, my joy will become more and more mature.

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Some People Who Have Strengthened Me (and what I learned from them)

By myself, I don’t think I would be a very strong person. However, with these and more people and the power of my God, I am strong.  There really is strength in numbers! These people have strengthened me either/both spiritually and emotionally. I am very glad that these people were brought into my life!

Without further ado, here are some people who have strengthened me in my life and what I have learned from them during those times:

  1. My parents—My parents have been there for me through thick and thin. They have strengthened me by instilling good principles in me for living a successful life, such as the value of hard work and sacrifice. For instance, my dad has worked long hours at his job, not necessarily because he enjoys it, but in order to provide for his family. Not only does he work long hours, but he works very hard when he is at his job. He does not dawdle, but is industrious. My mom has also sacrificed a lot for my family and me. She not only often picked me up, but also helped me with my homework when I needed to be aided.
  2. My brother—My brother has strengthened me emotionally by always helping me see the reality of things when depression or anxiety has clouded my mind. For instance, I was telling him about the stress at my job and how anxious I was that I was not going to get everything done on time, even though I tried my best. I was afraid that I would be penalized by not getting what I needed to done by the end of my shift.  He told me, in so many words, that I was worrying for nothing because a.) Even when I got assigned to a lot of things and didn’t get it done, the managers were understanding. b) I often got things done anyway.  He also told me that I could start prioritizing my tasks so that I wouldn’t have to “eat” the whole assignment at once, but I could just do it bit by bit, eventually getting everything done!
  3. J—My mentor J has also strengthened me by believing in me and that I could accomplish great things before she even saw evidence of anything I did! She helped me find a job and be able to overcome some of my major fears. Some of the things I learned from her are to never give up and to not doubt the abilities that God has given me.  For instance, before I got my current and previous jobs, I did not envision myself being able to work with so many people and be successful at it, but J told me to try anyway. I did, and although there are some difficult times for me, I believe that God has given me success in what I thought I could never do before.  When I wanted to give up on myself, she pushed me to move past my fears and insecurities, and persevere.
  4. My manager I—My manager I has strengthened me in a similar way to J. In the time that I have known her, she has believed in my abilities and has helped me succeed further at work by helping me to both persevere and to learn new skills need to move up in the company. Even though she has a lot on her plate, she tries to find time to help me and to motivate me to continue learning new things.  Even when I didn’t do well one time, she said, “This isn’t you.” because she knew that I could do better and believed in my ability to do better next time.
  5. My (former?) manager Chris*–Chris has helped me learn the value of patience and perseverance. He not only interviewed me for my current job about two years ago and influenced the store manager to hire me, but also helped me personally as well. For instance, when I was stressed out about something, he took the time to call my house and explain the situation to me, something I’m sure not a lot of managers these days are willing to do.  I have learned so much from him and my manager I.
  6. My friend Veronica* –During some particularly trying times in my life, my friend Veronica encouraged me and validated me.  I remember at least one time (probably much more though) where when I wanted to give up on life and on love, she gave me words of hope to persevere in God’s call for me.  She has always affirmed me, especially when I felt like I couldn’t affirm myself.
  7. My friend Erica*–She has always believed in me and my God-given goals in life. Like my brother, she helps me think logically through situations so that I don’t get an unrealistically pessimistic view on things. She has always been willing to spend time with me when she visits, and is willing to invest in me and others around her.  Her perseverance and her care have always been an inspiration to me.

 

 

These are some of the people that have strengthened me. These people are some of the most amazing people I know because they believed in me even when I was at my worst, and gave me hope when I was in despair and didn’t believe it would be better.  I will be forever grateful for them and what they have done to strengthen me.  Who are the people in your life that have strengthened you (especially during difficult times)? What have you learned from them? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.

 

*=pseudonyms to protect privacy