Ingredients to Lasting Relationships

Many people are looking for lasting relationships with others—and I certainly don’t mean just the romantic type.  People usually look for companionship, loyalty, love and intimacy with those they value the most.  However, there are also many people who can’t seem to make a certain relationship or relationships last very long, and they wonder why.  Chances are they are missing one or more of these “ingredients” to having a lasting relationship. The following characteristics are personal qualities that both parties must possess or strive to have for the other in order to make the relationship work:

  1. Perseverance—I believe one of most important qualities to have that will make any type of relationship last is perseverance. Perseverance means being willing to “tough-it-out” in the difficult times of the relationship and to not give up on the other person.  I have seen too many times that when one person offends another, there is such disgust for the other that one or both parties are not willing to continue with the relationship. They then either avoid each other, or the offending party tries to retaliate by slandering or physically attacking the person that hurt them.  I have made similar mistakes with people, from the people I have worked with to my classmates when I was still in school. However, several years ago, I had so many difficulties with a few people at work that I essentially had asked God to remove them from my life. While I may not have used those exact words, what I meant was essentially that.  However, God wanted to teach me the principle of perseverance in order so I could learn from these people, so God refused to remove them from my presence. So, at least weekly, if not daily, I had some type of interaction with them—both good and bad.  However, when I was forced to interact with these people, eventually I was forced to deal with the issues that were creating a hedge between the other people and me. So, after some time, we did, and the relationship was even stronger than it was before we started having problems! I tell this story, not to rehash old wounds, but to teach others to deal with their relational issues and not give up so easily on other people.
  2. Love—Another essential quality to have that will make any type of relationship have is love. In order to truly have this kind of quality in a relationship, we must first be willing to be intentionally kind to the other person. One way to do this is to see what the other person’s needs are, and find ways we can help them. We must put aside our selfish desires, and do what is best for the other person.  For instance, if someone at work is overwhelmed by the amount of returns in their department that they are assigned to, and I am done early with my area, in order to really love them, I must be willing to help them out when they need it.  Finally, we must be willing to be faithful and loyal to the other person. This means we will refuse to gossip about the other person, or betray him or her in any other way.  They don’t have to be number one in our lives, but they do have to feel loved and valued by you.
  3. Sacrifice—Another quality that is essential to make a relationship last is sacrifice. When one or both parties are not willing to sometimes give up what they want for the other, the relationship will never last. This involves putting the other person’s needs ahead of their own. A good example of someone laying down their life in order to save the other person’s. Sacrifice is basically the willingness to lose something for the betterment of another. For instance, many mothers are willing to sacrifice time for refreshment and relaxation so that their children can spend time with them or so that she can drive them to extracurricular activities, which they can enjoy with their friends.  Sometimes when my managers are feeling overwhelmed, I am willing to sacrifice my time so that they have less on their plate, so to speak.
  4. Humility—I believe selfishness and its cousin, pride, are the top reasons why some relationships don’t last very long. However, when we are willing to, for example, admit and confess our faults to others, I believe our relationships will last longer because then they will know that we are not trying to pretend we are any better than they are and that we are willing to fix what is wrong or broken within us.  I read somewhere that Mark Hall (source: unknown) from Casting Crowns once said, “It does not bother the world that we sin, but it bothers them when we act like we don’t.” Everyone sins. Everyone makes mistakes.  The first step to remedy it is to admit that we were wrong.  Some people may think that admitting wrongdoing is “weak.” Nothing could be further from the truth. It often takes great strength and acting against every grain of prideful being to admit where we were wrong.  Another part of humility is valuing another person above ourselves. This often includes sacrifice, but it also comprises of love, persevering, and caring about the other person and their needs.

When we never give up on someone, they will see that we are there for them through the long haul. When we love someone with all of our being, the people who were are in relationships with will feel valued.  When we are willing to die to self in order to see another’s needs met, we tell these people that we really care about and for them.  When we are humble and willing to admit our faults, they will see that it is safe to open up about their faults without feeling judged and condemned by you because they will know that you don’t think lowly of them. I strongly believe that if we follow these characteristics, we will have more lasting relationships and change the world around us for the better.

 

 

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Some Blessings in My Life

We all have some blessings in our life. I know sometimes we have bad days which cloud our view of what we have already been given in life. I know this is certainly true for me. However, today I would like to take the time to name some of the people, places, and things that have blessed my life the most and why they are a blessing. I hope they will inspire you to make a Blessing List of your own!

The Blessings:

  1. God and His love for me—God has given me everything I need. He has never given up on me even when others, including myself, have.  He has never rejected me, even when I sinned against Him. He saved my life, both physically and spiritually.  He is so amazing that I could not put into adequate words how awesome He is!
  2. Salvation—I am so grateful that God chose me as His own and plucked me from the doom of never being able have a relationship with Him. I also am grateful for how He has saved my physical life several times. One time I remember having an operation just in time, before my gallbladder would have burst. When taken out, it was inflamed and twice the size it should have been!  Another time, I remember, just several months ago, that God had awakened my reflexes to stop just in time when I was almost on the verge of getting into a serious car crash. The car and I were miraculously spared from any damage or injury.
  3. My parents—They have stuck by me through thick and thin. They have supported and provided me so much. I appreciate how hard they work and how much they were and are willing to sacrifice for me.
  4. My brother—He has taught me so much about life and love. He has worked hard to accomplish what he wants, and, at the same time, give of himself to his family and his community. His cleverness and intelligence are amazing, but that pales in comparison to his care and love for me.
  5. My mentor J—I met her during a time in my life where I was going through so much pain and heartache of not feeling like I could ever be enough or adequate to this world. She gently encouraged me to persevere through the naysayers, including the voices in my head that said I would never be able to. Thus, I was able to prove the naysayers wrong, again and again. She believed in me when no one else (except God) would or could.
  6. My friends
    • At church—My friends at church have encouraged me when I was discouraged and have shown me what true love looks like. They have taught me so much about perseverance in prayer and in life.
    • At work—My friends at my job have also encouraged me, especially when work was stressful. They have helped me by offering to help with the work I could not complete on my own in the time of my shift and by giving me encouragement and admonishment when I needed it.
    • Other places—My good friends *Erica, *Veronica, *Kelly, and others have been so supportive and loving of me for many years. They have encouraged me and cared for me when I was stressed, and we have gone through so many things together. I couldn’t have made it without their support and love. Their behavior models Christ in a way that challenges me to do the same.
  7. My online community—YOU, the readers and followers of this blog have blessed my life as well. You have not only encouraged me, but when I read some of your blogs, I learn a lot about life and about you too. I love learning about other people and about the things in life.  This has diversified my interests, and thus I am able to enjoy life more. My other online friends have supported and encouraged me as well. So, I thank you for you very much also!
  8. Writing—The ability God gave me to write has blessed me so much. It has helped me cope with my emotions better, and has slowly helped heal me of my depression. Writing has also helped me to communicate what I learned about life to others, so they, too, will be able to benefit from this learned knowledge.
  9. My pastors and deacons—I am immensely grateful to my pastors for guiding me, shepherding me, and showing me how to love better by following and teaching me about what it says in the Bible. I have learned so much from you guys, and I am so grateful that God brought me to you and your church.
  10. A running car—I am so grateful to have transportation that I can get to work and other places on time, without having to rely on public transportation or others to drive me.
  11. Books—I am so grateful for the ability to read many great books that have helped me learn more about the world around me, so that I can relate to others better and for my own knowledge. I love learning about new things, and sometimes review things that I have learned but have forgotten some things about.
  12. Uplifting music—Shortly before I became a Christian, I discovered music that I could relate to on a spiritual and emotional basis. The encouraging lyrics in the songs I l heard influenced me to learn more about God and eventually become a believer in Christ. Slowly, but surely, this music also helped me give up certain attitudes and thoughts that were not profitable or uplifting.

These are just some of the blessings that I believe God has generously given to me in my life. I am sure that there are so many more, but it would probably take an eternity to list them all. However, these blessings have served to not only show me how much I am loved, but also taught me the value of love and learning. What are some blessings in your life? How have they given you hope and purpose in life? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.

 

Letting Go of Past Hurts

I know many people who hold onto grudges and the darkness of the past for dear life.  For a long time, I was one of those people.  Sometimes, I still glance at the past darkness, but it no longer affects me as much as it used to, and I am finally healing from the people that have hurt me in the past. Because of so many great people that I am blessed to have in my life, I have learned to let go of many of my past hurts. Here is what I learned in the process, and I am still learning, day by day:

A) Dealing with Past (and Present) Rejection

I have heard of many instances where Person A is rejected by Person B in, let’s say, a long-term friendship, and Person A has a very tough time letting go of Person B.  In some cases, the person being rejected even takes vengeance against the person rejecting them, with deadly consequences.

Being rejected, starting at the tender age of two, at a daycare center, I know how it feels like to not be wanted. I was also often the last to be picked on a sports team, or any group, growing up in school. If I had the attitude of some people in society about being rejected so many times, I would probably be a miserable, cruel person, similar to people who abuse or hurt others regularly.

Thankfully, I learned to let go.  I learned that though rejection is painful, I don’t need a particular person (other than Christ) to make me happy or fulfilled in life.  I learned that people always come and go out of our lives, and that my goal in life is just to make a positive difference in as many people’s lives as possible. If I am only with the same group of people my entire life, yes, we would be very close, but I wouldn’t be able to make as great an impact to the world, as if some of them chose to or had to leave me. Tell yourself, “I can live without them.”

Also remind yourself of your own value and worth, even in the face of rejection. Repeat after me: I am not a less valuable person because someone else fails to see my worth to them.  Truth! Your value does not change based on how popular you are, or how many people love or don’t love you.  You are infinitely valuable, no matter what people say about you. Remember that.

Finally, ask yourself what you can learn in the face of the rejection. If someone rejected you because you did not treat them well, resolve to learn how to treat others better, so you won’t be rejected in that way again. If someone rejected you for superficial or other flimsy reasons,

don’t take that personally. Use that experience as a lesson in how not to treat others.

B)Dealing with Past Hurts

When someone hurts you.—I’m sure almost everyone has experienced someone hurting them in the past. Some of you have even experienced some horrific abuse by the people who were supposed to love and protect you.  For those people, I am sorry, and I hope you will be able to heal from that, at your own pace and timing.  For others of us, however, we may have been hurt emotionally by someone who isn’t even that close to us, but for whatever reason, have not been able to fully let go or forgive them.  This following advice is more for you.

First of all, if I was dealing with someone that hurt me emotionally that didn’t live in my house and was not family (and even if they were family),  I would try to remind myself of all the times that I was shown mercy  when I hurt someone else.  Sometimes, when you are able to put your hurt into perspective, it alleviates the pain a little bit.

Second of all, intentionally strive to be kind to your offender. This is what I did for several people at work when they had hurt me emotionally.  Important to note: You cannot have a “martyr’s” attitude (i.e : the “I guess I’ll be nice so they know how much it costs me” attitude) towards them, otherwise this doesn’t work the way it should.  Being kind to them must be from the heart.  You must have some compassion and love for them, even in your hurt.  What I found when I intentionally tried to be kind to them from my heart, they eventually softened towards me, and in many cases, we were even able to be reconciled to each other!

Another thing that can be useful, especially if you believe in God, is to pray for your offender or offenders.  Praying for them is different from praying against them. Do not pray, for example, that they will get cancer or die. Pray instead for their success in life, their repentance, their joy, and positive things like that.

If you hurt them.—We also all have hurt someone else.  When someone tells you that you have hurt them, or if you know somehow that you have offended someone, seek forgiveness from them. Offer them a contrite and humble apology. Any so-called apology with “but” or “if” in it is not a real apology because it excuses or blames, and does not take full responsibility for one’s actions.  In an apology, never blame the victim. Also, always be willing to do anything you can to restore the situation and make amends for your wrongdoing and hurtful actions.  For instance, if you slandered someone else out of envy, you could try to amend the situation by admitting to all those you bad-mouthed the victim to that you lied about the victim, and asking for forgiveness.  However, if the forgiveness is refused by any of these parties, then you need to let go. Demanding forgiveness is evidence of a proud, unrepentant heart.  Forgiveness must be given freely in order to be genuine.  Don’t try to force it out of someone.

C) Dealing with Fallen Dreams

If I got a U.S dollar for all the dreams that I had for my life, beginning when I was five years old, that failed, I’d probably be pretty rich.  We all have had wishes and goals that never have come to fruition, or plans that have changed.

Several people I know have had their career dreams cut short or been changed by a certain event or events.  I know I have. For instance, when I was a little child, one of my career goals, was to be astronaut. However, that fell on its head when I had to get glasses a few years later. (They don’t allow people to be astronauts who don’t have 20/20 vision, at least, as far as I know.).  Also, when I was in college, I wanted to do something in biology, until I realized that chemistry and physics were required, and they were not my strong suits.

One thing that has helped me deal with these (and other) fallen dreams is to see the good in my current situation. For example, I believe I am able to make more of a difference at my current job as a sales associate, rather than I would as an astronaut with maybe ten other people (max) in the shuttle. Yes, astronauts do make a world of difference still, and I am not discounting that. Rather, I am saying that for me I am better suited in my current job than I would be as an astronaut.

Another thing that has helped me overcome fallen dreams is learning from my mistakes.  For instance, I failed a course in school, but later relearned the concepts again to the point that I would be able to probably pass the course if I had to take it now.

Also, if a lot of your dreams are shattered, sometimes you can get so discouraged that you quit trying. That is what happened to me with driving. Luckily, I found my mentor J that encouraged me to try again. Find someone who will encourage you to persevere, and don’t quit.  Try not to set too lofty goals, at first, but set small, reachable goals, and do whatever it takes to reach them. Be determined and believe that you can accomplish your dreams… because you can!

 

These are the ways that I have let go of my past hurts. Yes, I have been through a lot in my past, and yes I still carry battle (emotional) scars, but my past has only made me a stronger person.  Your past doesn’t have to get in the way of being who you were meant to be.  Letting go may not be easy, but it is worth it.

Further (a poem)

Further  written on 2/11/2018

You said I wouldn’t amount to much

You said things that invalidated me as such

You made me cry and cry

And you almost made me die

 

But you don’t know my Savior

You don’t know how far

He has taken me

And what He has created me to be

 

You don’t know the love

He has lavished upon me

And how far I’ve come

Because of the one from up above

 

And the loving friends He sent me

Because they believed in me

When you wouldn’t

And just couldn’t

 

Yes, you wouldn’t even believe

I would make it this far

But what you couldn’t perceive

Is that I made it further

How to Find Someone’s Spark

Written in honor of Rachel Joy Scott, the first Columbine martyr, and the one who lived an amazing life, full of love and faith

Many times in my life, whether it would be people at school (when I was attending), at work, and even in the churches I attended; people have broken off contact with someone because of a couple bad incidents.  So, maybe they were really bad! Still, I think the following that Rachel Scott wrote in her essay, “My Ethics, My Codes of Life, “deserve serious consideration and application to our relationships:

[I]magine you had just met someone, and you speak to them three times on brief, everyday conversations. They come off as a harsh, cruel, stubborn and ignorant person. You reach your judgment just on these three encounters. Let me ask you something…did 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 just at their appearance? Until you know them and not just their “type,” you have no right to shun them. You have not looked their beauty, their good. You have not seen the light in their eyes. Look hard enough and you will always find a light, and you can even help it grow, if you don’t walk away from those three impressions first.

So, how can we find the light, or the positive parts of another’s personality, particularly if they do come off as cruel, stubborn, harsh, ignorant, or negative in any way to us?  How can we not give up on our relationships when things get tough?  How can we prevent ourselves from writing off people who we disagree with, or who aggravate us sometimes? (Note: This does not apply to situations of abuse or people who are genuinely unsafe to be around).  How can we cultivate a passion for loving those who are initially undesirable in some way to us? Here is what I learned about finding someone’s spark, or light, in their soul and how I would help it grow:

  1. Strive not to make snap judgments of others.—Much of our society makes snap judgments based on things that won’t matter in eternity, such as physical appearance and social class. I believe this is very sad, not only because many people in our world write off people who could be very kind and gentle inside, just because of something trivial like their physical appearance or how much money they make, but also because these judgers will not be able to grow past their preconceived notions of others and cultivate growing relationships with others.  Unfortunately, even making snap judgments about someone’s character is not effective in gauging who would be a good friend.  For instance, I know of several people at work who I initially did not get along with well.  Most people, if they were in my place, would probably quit their job and/or avoid these people at all costs.  However, God prevented me from doing so.  In addition, I even had to interact with most of these people on at least a weekly, if not, daily basis!  One thing I learned from having to interact with these people was not to make snap judgments of them, and instead look for their light in their souls.
  2. Learn their life stories.—Another thing that can help us find the spark in someone, is to learn some of their life story. Find out what kind of past they came from—what they had to endure to get to where they are now. Find out how they were treated in the past, if they have ever experienced true, sacrificial (agape) love, and not just a flippant form of “love,” what hurts and triumphs they have experienced in their lives?  When I learned some of the life story about someone that I initially did not really like, I began to understand why they acted like they did and began to have compassion and even love for them. When we are able to appreciate what someone we may not initially get along with, has gone through, I find that we are more able to relate to and/or have compassion for them.
  3. Do intentional acts of kindness for them.—What I have had to learn to do with certain people with whom it was difficult to get along is to intentionally be kind to them. This won’t work if you do this only out of obligation or because you say “I’ll be the better person” but inside you are still full of anger and resentment towards them.  However, if you strive to be kind to even those who you dislike, in order to show them the love they probably so desperately need, then the light in their souls will most likely start to expose itself.  For instance, if you live next to a grumpy neighbor, but he keeps a neat yard, compliment him on his maintenance of the yard.  Tell him how much you appreciate his hard work and dedication to do his part to make the neighborhood look neat.  Be genuine in your compliment, of course, but also don’t be afraid to encourage others in need.  For another example, I have had coworkers who I have had trouble dealing with at first, but when I tried to encourage them in something good that they did and tried to help them with their work, I found that I got along much better with them! Not only that, but I found some positive qualities in them that I had not taken the time to find before!

When we strive not to judge against people whom we initially not see eye-to-eye, when we strive to learn more about others’ life stories, and when we intentionally strive to be kind to those we don’t  like, at first, then we will be able to find the light in these people’ s souls.  When we find the light in them, we can help their light grow by continuing to apply these principles to our relationship with them. May we do that, and make the world a better place.

 

Source: Scott, Rachel Joy. My Ethics, My Codes of Life. March 1999. Retrieved from: https://rachelschallenge.org/media/media_press_kit/Code_of_ethics.pdf.

The Shining Light

The Shining Light 4/3/2018

In a callous world

Full of hate

People everywhere

Searching for something

That will sate

 

People around us

Searching for that last hope

When they’re on this last rope

And all their dreams are gone

 

Then comes a savior

Digging down deep inside them

With all divine might

Revealing a bright light

 

The light blossoms and grows

Within the depths of their souls

And burst forth gems of love

The love from up above

How to Agape Love Someone

Edit: I wrote the following Easter Sunday.

Today is Easter, where Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who had died three days earlier on a cross of Calvary. So, in honor of Jesus, I will speak of how to love like Him—how to agape love, for I strongly believe that Jesus was the greatest example of agape love there ever was or will be.  I think everyone, regardless of religious belief, can learn how to love sacrificially and lavishly—which is what loving the agape way involves.  Here are some of the principles of agape love I have drawn from the Bible and from my life experiences, and how one can apply them to their own lives:

  1. Agape love involves being able to sacrifice one’s life for another.—Agape love is not only demonstrated by dying for another, so that their life can be saved, though it definitely involves that as well. Agape love involves loving someone else when it is not convenient or when it is difficult. For instance, I know of someone who is caring for a sick partner at home, and often sacrifices their own needs and desires so that their partner can get the care they need. This is an example of true agape love.  Many people our society today would just break up or divorce their partner if they were very sick or disabled. It is a rare gem to find someone who will stick with you through thick and thin, but that is exactly the kind of love we all need.  Do you know someone who is sick or hurting, either physically or emotionally? Will you be the person who cares about and is there for them when they need you? Agape love sacrifices our desires for the sake of others’ needs.
  2. Agape love expresses gratitude regularly (principle from: Colossians 3:16-17*) and does not get jealous.—When someone else gets a reward or recognition, even if it is for something the agape lover (one who loves sacrificially) wants, he or she will not get jealous, but will be happy for him or her who got the reward. This is because the agape lover knows that everything he or she gets is a gift, not something “owed” to them, or “deserved.” Agape love does not know or act entitled. He or she who expresses agape love is very thankful for what is received.  I sometimes see or hear of people getting jealous over material possessions, such as cars or nice houses that they can’t even take with them when they die! Also, the people having them will also have to leave these possessions on earth when they die. In contrast, the agape lover strives, like Jesus, to be generous, because they know that the relationships we have with other people will matter much more than our material possessions.
  3. When one loves someone in an agape manner, he or she doesn’t think evilly of that person. —When someone truly loves another they strive to not only to do what is best for that other person, but to think about them in the best way possible. We aim to protect our loved ones for this reason! When we truly strive to love someone, we will not harbor angry or bitter thoughts towards that person.  For instance, when a good friend of ours doesn’t call us for several days, after calling us pretty regularly before, we will typically not assume they hate us or are upset at us. We will just assume that they are busy, or they had to tend to a family emergency.  We will give them the benefit of the doubt always, unless they explicitly tell us otherwise.  Someone who agape loves always strives to forgive the other, if the other person should offend them.  They will always hope for reconciliation and peace for the other person, no matter how they react or what they do.
  4. When someone loves in an agape way, they are willing to be vulnerable and honest (principle from Colossians 3:9**).—Love is always honest and vulnerable. We truly only lie to people we don’t trust or don’t like. Since love and trust go hand in hand, we are willing to be vulnerable and honest with someone we love. When someone agape loves you, they are willing to be honest about their faults and their painful experiences, because love does not need pride or perfection in order to preserve itself.  I know that when someone is wanting to be close to me when they are willing to trust me with their pain. When I want to be close to someone, I will do the same. Yes, there is always a risk in loving someone, because vulnerability always carries with it the risk of rejection. However, there is also a possibility that this sharing will also bring you closer to that person with whom you are sharing.

First and foremost, agape love involves sacrifice. Without sacrifice, you don’t have the highest form of love—agape love—at all.  Love also involves much gratitude and joy. Love also “thinketh no evil” of another (1 Corinthians 13: 5-KJV), and is always willing to be vulnerable and honest.  The world needs more people who will give sacrificial, lasting, and genuine love. Who will you agape love today?

 

 

*= “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”-Colossians 3:16-17

**= “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds.”—Colossians 3:9 (KJV)