anthem, community, credos, death, eternal matters, God, inspiration, life, life lessons, purpose, truth

Creating a Legacy: Living with Purpose

Over the past few weeks, I have heard and/or witnessed one of my dear friends almost dying, going to a funeral of a friend that I hadn’t been able to see for a long time, my pastor getting sick, various people holding grudges against one another (thankfully, not me), and the stress of my workplace getting tested by our company.   In all these things, I believe God has been teaching me to a.) make my life count, and  b.) create a lasting legacy for my life.

I hate to be morbid, but we will all die someday. This is why I believe it is imperative to live with purpose, and create a legacy, not only for ourselves, but also for future generations that may not even know our names.

Even when I was at the lowest depths of my depression, I thought about my purpose in life. I knew that where I was then was not where I wanted to end up, in the final moments of my life.  Yes, I have always had happy moments in my life, despite the looming depression, but I had never really realized lasting joy until recently.  Little by little, God has shown me how to live powerfully, with lasting and great purpose. I believe that anyone here can live their life with purpose and can make a positive and powerful difference in the world around them.

Here is what I learned about living life with purpose:

  1. If you want to live your life with purpose, you cannot be a half-hearted individual.—I see a lot of people around me going through life, not only struggling just to survive, but also without aim or purpose. I was that way when I was growing up. If I was aware that I would forget some of what I learned in school or that I would never see 90% of my peers that I grew up with up until now, I am afraid I would have done more things to get them over with, without any heart, or passion, in what I was doing.  However, during the past five or so years, God has taught me how to live my life with passion and purpose. For more information about finding a purpose in your life, read this post.  At work, for example, when I go into get-things-done mode (a.k.a—doing things to get them over with), I find that I am much less effective in getting said things done right, than if I did them with concentration and put my heart into what I am doing.  This is true for other areas of one’s life as well. For example, if you are married (I personally am not, just my observations of relationships I see) and you do things for your spouse just for duty’s sake or get him or her off your back, you are less likely to please him or her, than if you did said things with thoughtfulness and heart.
  2. If you want to live your life with purpose, you must be willing to forsake certain things.—We all get distracted in life. However, when living your life with purpose, you want to limit these distractions as much as possible.  For instance, if you are living with the purpose of being there and providing for your family, you want to work enough that everyone is adequately fed and provided for, but not so much that you won’t have any meaningful time to spend with them.  So, in that example, the person who wants to be there and provide for his or her family must get a job that would adequately provide for everyone in their family and that they won’t have to work too many hours, at the wrong times, so they can be there for their family.   For me, my purpose in life is to glorify God and love others. This means I must actively strive to forsake things that would prevent me from carrying out this purpose, such as listening to or watching media that promotes the hatred of or devalues my God or others.
  3. If you want to live your life with purpose, you must persevere. –If you want to create a lasting legacy, you must not give up on life, or your purpose, even when it gets tough. For instance, if part of your purpose involves making a positive difference in certain relationships in your life, you must not give up on these relationships when tension or difficulties threaten them. In my life, to my shame, l almost gave up on several people, who hurt me in the past. However, I believe God didn’t allow me to, and something (or Someone) in me kept me from giving up on these people completely. Thankfully, these relationships are restored, and I am able to be, not only a friend to them, but, hopefully, make a positive and lasting impact on them, as well. For another example, if you want to be successful, career-wise, you must not let obstacles get in the way of your goals.  You must not let a couple of failures or bad days at work, make you quit your job completely, if you aim to be successful career or work wise.

 

These are the principles that I have learned in helping me to live my life with purpose.  If you want people to remember you after your time on earth is up, you must live your life with passion, be willing to forsake certain things, and persevere through it all.  If you want to be remembered well, I believe investing in other people’s lives, instead of only your own, is a good place to start. Yes, it takes work to live with purpose, but I believe it will be well worth it in the end.

caring, community, credos, eternal matters, genuineness, God, life, life lessons, love, positivity, purpose, truth

Three Things God Has Been Teaching Me

As I have grown more in my faith in Christ, I believe that God has been teaching me more difficult life lessons.  However, even these lessons can be applied by most anyone, regardless of religious belief, to their daily lives.  Some of them, He has been teaching me just through these past couple of weeks, and some He has been teaching me for a longer period of time. Since I am human, I do struggle in these areas still sometimes, but the important thing for me (and you) to remember is that when we fail, we make amends, and then we get back up and try again. So, the three main things that I believe God has been teaching me are:

  1. Surrender
  2. Sacrifice
  3. Gratitude

One of the things that God has been teaching me is to surrender. This does not only include surrendering to Him for His will in my life, but also to authority figures in my life, as well as making the necessary compromises with other people. When I got upset at one of my co-workers on my birthday, I believe I was struggling with this issue of surrender. I won’t go into details, but instead of giving up my right to something, I held on to it until we both got upset at each other. In retrospect, I should have just given up my rights, especially since it involved something very minor.  For a long time, until today, I never really understood why Jesus wanted us not to take vengeance against others when we were clearly wronged, and why, in my mind, we should just let people walk all over us.  Then, while reading, The Cost of Discipleship, which was written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I found the answer. Bonhoeffer says, “Resistance merely creates further evil and adds fuel to the flames.” (Bonhoeffer, 141—bold emphasis mine).  Suddenly, it was like a light bulb in my brain turned on! That is why people should not take vengeance against another, or return violence for violence!  How true that is!  For instance, in my own life, when I wanted to get back at certain people for the wrong they did to me, be it, by purposely avoiding them and giving them an evil stare, or talking smack about them because of how they made me look bad before, I found that the situation with that person actually gets much worse, not better in any way.  However, when I instead counter their evil, by letting them be and by instead countering their evil by trying to still be kind to them, their attacks and evil usually diffuse much faster. Even with people in authority that are hard for you to get along with, this principle of surrender can be used.  For instance, when I did not want to do something, my natural instincts would be a.) to refuse to do said thing, until I wanted to, or b.) get upset about having to do said thing. However, that would be disobedience, because I wasn’t doing said task, immediately, as expected, or with a good attitude.  However, when I surrender my desires to the authority figure and strive to do said task with a good attitude, I find the task to be more bearable than if I tried to put up a fight against doing said task. Also, when I surrender to God’s will, I find that I don’t have to worry about things because I know God will take care of me, and will lead me through.

 

Another thing that God has been teaching me that goes along with surrender is sacrifice. Sacrifice can be defined as, according to Merriam-Webster, “destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else.” (source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sacrifice). As I said in a previous post, I worked eleven hours on my birthday, sacrificing rest and possible hoopla over that day, because I did not want us to do badly on our store test, as some Very Important people have been coming in this week to rate the various areas of our store.  I learned, both from God and my pastor that sacrificing something for a greater cause is always worth it in the end.  My parents have sacrificed a tastier meal in order to finish another one that they may like less, so I would be able to eat the tastier meal.  I want to be able to do the same in all facets of my life, not only for God or my parents, but for everyone around me.  I have also learned that one cannot truly love without being willing to sacrifice for another. If you are not willing to make the necessary sacrifices for someone, you should really question how much you truly love them.  For instance, you may have a crush on someone, but it cannot go deeper than that if you are not willing to do what is necessary to ensure that person feels loved and cared about, even above your own desires.  Love is more than just a gooey, good feeling. It involves sacrifice.

 

Lastly, God has been teaching me gratitude. Gratitude, as I define it, is being thankful for everything you have gotten in life, and not having an entitlement attitude about anything.  Gratitude acknowledges that everything good you get is a gift, and nothing is completely “earned”.  I struggle with this sometimes, but have tried to overcome ingratitude by reminding myself of at least three things that I have to be thankful for that day. Once in a while, I suggest that if you want to cultivate an attitude of gratitude in your life, compile a list of all the things you can think of, that you have to be thankful.  I started a list like this in 2011, which can also be found at this link.  Then, when you feel especially discouraged, you can look back at your gratitude list, and remind yourself of all the good that has been given in your life.  We often can become ungrateful because we compare ourselves to those we perceive have it “better” than us. Why not do the opposite? Instead of comparing ourselves to the “better” Joneses, we should compare ourselves to those who have it tougher than us. Then, we can feel better about the situation we are in, and also hopefully focus on how we can help those who are struggling, instead of being so self-focused.

If we all (me included) were more willing to surrender our rights sometimes, be willing to sacrifice for others for a greater good, and if we were more appreciative for what we already have been given, then I believe there would be less strife in this world, and we would be more on our way to make a positive difference in this world.

 

Source:

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. The Cost of Discipleship. SCM Press, 1959.

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What I Want More Than Anything

When I came across this question, I knew I had to write about this! After all, these desires motivate me to live life well, and underlie almost everything I do.

 What do you want more than anything in your life? Write about the burning hot core of your desire, and how that desire has changed over your life.

(source: https://thejohnfox.com/2016/06/creative-nonfiction-prompts/)

 

When I was growing up, these are the three things that I wanted more than anything.

  1. For my peers to love and accept me for who I am, and genuinely like me.
  2. To be successful in school, so I could get a high-paying job later in life.
  3. To be happy.

Now, these are the top three things that I want more than anything in the world.

  1. For people to know God’s love and mercy for them.
  2. For God to say to me when I meet him at Heaven’s gate: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
  3. To be able to fulfill God’s purposes in my life.

Growing up, as I have said in previous posts, I was a very self-centered and rigid child.  I did not know how to really love or care for people, though I did the best I could at the time with what I knew. I still remember one classmate in elementary school telling me that I was difficult to get along with!  From third grade until my freshman year of high school, I was also often the target of bullying from my peers.  I had few friends, and I really didn’t feel particularly close to anyone.  I yearned for the day that people would just invest in me and really be there as a confidante for me.  I remember being, often, lonely and/or bored with life, though I did have happy times as well. However, that was mainly with family, not my peers.

 

Looking back, I realized that I tried to stifle this desire by working very diligently in school. It worked. I remember rarely ever getting anything lower than a B (above average) on my report card. I wished to be someone successful and loved in the world’s eyes someday, a far cry from what my peers thought of me then.  Teachers did appreciate my efforts though, and encouraged me to “believe in myself” more, since I was also often anxious and worried about things.  I would probably have even been labeled a “teacher’s pet,” because I often looked to teachers to encourage and strengthen me in school.

 

All in all, I wanted to be happy with my life. However, it would be only after my teenage years were over, did I start to find real joy and happiness in my life.

 

One of the toughest times of my life came when I was sixteen years old. I had maybe only one or two real friends, and one of my teachers was so verbally abusive, that he left an emotional scar that is there to this day.  I was at the end of my rope. All my dreams of being happy, loved by my peers, and successful in the world’s eyes seemed to be coming to a shattering end. All I wanted at that point was to end this pain and suffering that I was going through.

 

That’s when God came into my life.

 

As God has come into my life, I believe, little by little, He has showed me a great purpose for my life. Because of His love and care for me, and because of all the love and support I have received from so many others after my sixteenth year passed, my desires have changed.  No longer do I strive as much just to be accepted and loved by my peers, though because of God’s commandment to “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with [everyone].” (Romans 12:18), I still try to get along with everyone.

 

I would not really be considered a success in the world’s eyes, at least, monetarily.  However, I no longer care about that, because I know that it is no longer a priority to my life.  However, I do strive to be a success in God’s eyes, and to be able to hear the words “Well done, good and faithful servant,” rather than “Depart from me, you worker of iniquity [sin]!”

 

Most of all, I want the world to know and experience God’s love. I have lived through the Columbine massacre, that claimed more than a dozen lives, one of them being my faith hero, Rachel Joy Scott. I have lived through 9/11 that claimed more than 3,000 American lives.  I now live during a time when the world is in turmoil, and people are hungering for love and care everywhere. I don’t completely understand why some people turn to violence and hurting people that didn’t do anything to them, to get attention.  I don’t know why many people just have stopped caring for others , and are giving up on making a positive difference in their world.  However, I know that everyone, including these people, need love and care.  Because of the positive impact that God’s love, as well as the love I received from those around me, has had on me, I can’t help but share it with others.  As it says in 2 Corinthians 5:14, “The love of Christ constraineth us,” meaning the love of Jesus Christ compels me to love others.

 

I apologize for all the times I did not show God’s love to others, because I am not perfect. However, I strive every day to love others with the same measure (and maybe even above) that has been given to me.