caring, eternal matters, God, inspiration, joy, life, love, poem, positivity, thankfulness, truth, Uncategorized

How You Changed Me (a poem)

Before I met You

I was on my last rope

I almost gave up all hope

Of ever becoming anything at all

 

But You transformed me

You made me see

Your light shining inside me

And gave me worth and hope

 

You breathed life into what was dead

With Your word I was fed

Precious nutrients to my hungry soul

Till again I was made whole

 

You have made me bloom

Into a precious rose

As you continue to grow me

Into what You made me to be

caring, community, goals, God, joy, life, positivity

My Word of the Year

According to Christian author John Piper, joy is “a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as He causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world.” (source: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/how-do-you-define-joy ). I will use a similar, but more general definition. Joy, to me, is a good feeling in the soul that causes us to see God’s beauty in the world around us and towards Him and others.  Even three or four years ago, my struggle with depression was so great, some people failed to see much joy in me. However, these past two years I have had more joy than at any other time in my life!  Inspired by other bloggers who also have their own word, I choose joy as my Word of the Year because this word—joy—reminds me that God will give me strength and courage to choose joy in 2018 and because I feel it says to Depression’s face, “ I will beat you and overcome you! I will triumph over you and crush you!” Here are the ways that I hope to be able to continue to be joyous in my life:

Joy with God

Everyday, I will continue to list at least three things during the course of my day that I am thankful for God doing in my life today. Even such simple things like having a job remind me that there are things in which to find joy.  I will also strive to be more focused on my reading/devotion time with God by looking for all the good God has done according to what it says in the Bible. I will memorize Romans 8:28, which says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose,” and Jeremiah 29:11, which says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” I will memorize this to remind myself that God always does things for my good and His glory, and not just to be a cosmic killjoy.

Joy with family and friends

I will be more intentional about carving out times to spend with people I love. I will strive to enjoy myself with them without worrying about what I’m going to do next or my other issues in life.  I will be more intentional about finding things to appreciate about the people whom I am closest, and to be of support to them whenever they need me.

Joy at work

I love my job, but there have been times when I was so stressed that I was tempted to quit.  In 2018, I want to be able to find joy even in the more difficult times there. I want to be able to work with a more cheerful heart. I want to not only have joy for myself when I am working well, but I also want to spread joy to others. I want to be more intentional about thanking people at my job who I think do a good job. For instance, one of my co-workers recently was able to help a customer find an item, that even one of the managers couldn’t find. He even walked the customer to the item in question.

Joy during difficult times

When I am enduring trials, I often find it very difficult to have joy in them because of my aversion to suffering. However, I would love to have joy even in these times. I will strive to focus on God and how this trial won’t last forever. I will also strive to see it as an opportunity to grow as a person and to learn from myself and others during these times.

 

So, joy will be my word of the year.  As I have more joy with God and with those I love and care about, I believe that I will have more joy at my workplace, no matter the situations I find myself in. If I have joy in all these aspects of my life, I will be more able to find joy even in the tough times. May each of you find joy in 2018 also!

caring, community, diversity, emodiversity, eternal matters, family, friends, inspiration, integrity, life, life lessons, love, stories

The Importance of Life Stories

I have three main occupations (and many “sub-descriptive” occupations as well): First and foremost, I am a follower of Christ. God saved me from the pit of despair when I was just sixteen years old.  I am a sales associate. This is my day job that helps pay the bills and where I serve God the most.  Finally, I am a blogger and writer.  In writing, I have been made very aware of the power of stories—both fictional and real—in order to cultivate learning and more effective interactions with others.  Letting people share their stories and telling our own are both vital in cultivating more effective and fulfilling human interactions.  Here are some reasons why learning other people’s life stories are so important to effect better communication and interactions with others:

  1. It eliminates prejudicial attitudes.—A lot of people call racists and other prejudiced people “ignorant,” which I believe is a fitting term for them because they are often judging without knowing their targets’ stories. Although there are elements in some circles of feminism that I disagree with, one thing I like about almost all feminism, especially intersectional feminism, is that they take the time to learn about others’ stories, especially those that are often marginalized and shunned by society. If all of us (me included) would take more time to just get to know others better without prejudging them as “bad” in some way, we would probably discover that they are more like us than we realize. For instance, there were some people at work that at first irritated and angered me.  However, as time passed and I got to know them a little bit better, I realized not only did they have a lot of similarities to me, but there was a lot of pain and hurt in their life stories.  I know it is difficult (even for me), but as Rachel Scott said in one of her essays, “Code of Ethics” about not judging others and showing compassion, “ [D]id you ever ask them what their goal in life is, what kind of past they came from? Did they experience love; did they experience hurt; did you look into their soul and not just their appearance? Until you know them and not just their “type”, you have no right to shun them. You have not looked for their beauty, their good.”  (source: http://rachelschallenge.org/media/media_press_kit/Code_of_ethics.pdf)
  2. Knowing other people’s life stories cultivates a sense of understanding. –When we learn about other people’s goals, likes and dislikes, what kind of past they came from, and their experiences with love and hurt, we understand them better and are able to interact with them more effectively. For instance, before I knew one of my former pastors well, I did not trust him. In fact, because of his gregarious and upbeat personality, I assumed he “had it all together” and would not be able to relate to my problems and issues, or anyone else’s. However, when he told me part of his life story, I realized I had it all wrong.  I realized that he didn’t always have it all together.  I realized that because of what he had told me that he would indeed have great compassion of all that I had been through in life. I have realized that when I know a person’s life story better, I begin to understand what motivates their actions and why certain things bother them, or why certain things make them very happy.  If we took the time to get to know others better, it would not only eliminate wrong judgments, but we would be more understanding and compassionate of them because we know what they have been through.
  3. Getting to know other people’s stories adds value to them as a person.—When we listen as people tell us their stories or when we have a genuine interest in another’s life story, we show that we value them. We are, in essence, saying to them, “ I want to know more about you because you are that important to me. I want to understand you better because the stories you will tell are valuable to that purpose. Your story has value, and I can learn much from you.” We are also saying we respect them and what they have to offer when we have a genuine interest in learning about them.  For instance, if a good friend of yours confided in you about being abused in his or her past, when you listen to them without offering advice, but instead offer encouragement and just a listening ear, we are telling them, “I care about what happened to you, and you are not alone in this.”

This is why learning about others’ life stories is so important. It would eliminate much of the prejudice we see in this society; we would truly understand others’ motivations better and not just assume they are doing things just to be “mean” or “nasty” or out of selfish desires.  It also tells others that they are valuable and what they have to say is important. What are some important life stories you have learned that helped you understand someone or several people better? Please feel free to share in the comments, but please do NOT use people’s real names or specific details of a situation.