Imagine working your normal shift, and having a regularly scheduled meeting in the breakroom. Except there was nothing ordinary about it. One of your managers announces the start of the meeting. Then, your other manager comes up, seemingly out of nowhere, with a menacing blank stare on his face…and starts shooting at people—intending to murder them.
This is the trauma the overnight workers in Chesapeake endured Tuesday evening.
The saddest thing is that this tragedy could have been prevented, and the six lives that were cut short by the shooter could have been spared.
One thing that needs to happen in all workplaces, no matter what the company or how small or large the workforce, is zero tolerance for a toxic work environment. No, a toxic work environment is NO excuse for murder, but it can create lifelong trauma for those around it and is also bad for productivity and eventually the bottom line of a company. I have seen it firsthand. Symptoms of a toxic work environment that I have personally witnessed are pervasive gossiping, tension between colleagues, and an attitude of apathy about work performance and work related issues.
Upper management, including corporate officials, of a company need to create a culture where people are not terrified of or hesitant to bringing up concerns to them. For instance, my store director always tries to listen empathetically to our concerns and helps bring about a viable and helpful solution to them. I also think that there should be mandatory training for all workers on how to listen empathetically to others without interrupting, invalidating, or verbally assaulting them. Not only that, but time should be set aside regularly (i.e…at least every month) where people can voice their concerns about serious workplace issues to management without being interrupted or invalidated.
If these measures were put in place in Chesapeake, I believe the tensions there and the resulting tragedy could have been prevented. Again, I am not trying to place blame on anyone. I am just pointing out what could be done to promote a more positive work environment in all companies.
Another thing that I learned from this tragedy is that we should value everyone and not take loved ones for granted, because we never know when they may be taken away from us. We can do this by taking note of those co-workers and others around us who are hurting or broken, and give them extra grace instead of condemnation and judgment. Look for ways to minister to them and make them feel worthy. For instance, a coworker asked me if I was going to be OK when she found out I was spending this past Thanksgiving alone. If a coworker is fallen on hard financial times and cannot pay for their groceries, we should offer to help them out if we can. We should also find ways to compliment people on genuinely good work. If someone works hard to get things done efficiently and correctly, we should tell them we appreciate all they have done to do so.
Also, we should strive to forgive those who hurt us, so that a root of bitterness does not spring up and cause undue harm to us and others. If the shooter forgave those that he alleged hurt him emotionally, this tragedy would have never happened. Yes, maybe certain people do not “deserve” forgiveness, but how much do we deserve the forgiveness of God? That is why it cost God His Son, because we don’t deserve forgiveness at all.
Let us normalize quitting jobs that foster a toxic work environment, where stress levels are too high and tensions get the best of us to protect our mental and emotional health. And let us pray for the families of the victims of this shooting, and pray that tragedies like this will never happen again.
I have struggled with depression and some anxiety since I was a little kid. When I was in school, I remember I would often worry about getting my assignments done on time and my grades on tests I would have to take. Sometimes, it would be so bad that I would be waking up for a while thinking about these things as I lay in bed trying to sleep! Even now, I still struggle a bit with anxiety and depression, though much less than before. This post is as much as me talking to myself, as it is to my readers. Unfortunately, I almost always learn or know these things after an anxiety or stressful episode happens. However, here is what we all need to remember when we are getting stressed and anxious:
In the words of Paul in Romans 8:28 (KJV): “All things work together for good to them who love God who are the called according to His purpose.” In other words, God will work all the events of our lives, including the bad ones, for our ultimate good, usually to strengthen our character and/or grow us spiritually. At least for me, when I get anxious and stressed, I am very tempted to think about the worst possible outcome happening for me, and that I would never be able to survive after that. This leads sometimes to suicidal ideations. Thankfully, it rarely, if ever leads to suicidal attempts anymore, though it had several times in the past. However, when I remember what it says in Romans 8:28, I will not lose hope as easily, and thus I will become less stressed. I, then, will be able to recall some bad situations in my life that God has indeed already used for my good and for His glory! For instance, at work, there were a couple of people that I always had butted heads with and never thought anything would get better in our relationship with them. However, what ended up happening was that God used them in my life to grow my character and teach me to reconcile with and forgive them. God also made me realize some things that I did to hurt those people that I had not gotten along with in the past, and repent of those things.
Along with remembering that God will always use the events of my life for my good and His glory, I need to remember that God is sovereign over all things. When I am stressed or anxious, at least for me, I fear losing control of the event at hand. I fear that I will not be able to handle the situation well and that things will never be able to be redeemed in my life after that. I fear failing the people I love, and even more, failing as a witness and a disciple of Christ. However, when I remember that God is sovereign over all things, I don’t have to fear losing control, since I can acknowledge that I was never in control in the first place. He will put events into my life according to His will. For instance, when I have to deal with a difficult associate or customer at work, if I acknowledge that God sent them in my life and that something good can come out of the situation, I will be much calmer and less apt to get frustrated or anxious in that situation with that person.
Finally, I should remember when I am coming into a stressful situation, to trust that God will give me everything I need to deal with the situation at hand and to use what He gives me in order that I may be able to react positively and not get upset and anxious. The verse that comes to mind that speaks of God’s provision for us is Philippians 4:19 (KJV), which says, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” For instance, when finances are tight, and God still expects me to tithe at church, I don’t have to skimp on tithing or worry that I will not have enough for what my family and I need, because I can trust that God will provide someway somehow when I am faithful to Him. Another example of God giving me everything I needed is he time when I forgot to bring fruit for home to have for my snack, and God moved in one of my coworkers to give me a Taffy apple. Thus, I was able to eat that apple, and did not have to go out and buy one from work.
If we remembered that God will use all situations we encounter in our lives for our good and His glory, that God is in control of all things, and that He will always supply everything that we need to make it through life, we would never have to worry or be stressed. So, my prayer to each reader, including me, is that we would remember these things and have much joy and peace this month.
God has been opening my eyes to things of eternal value, and has been working on me to not dwell on things that have only temporal value. I have observed that most people go through life without thinking much of where they will spend eternity and cultivating in their lives that which will last forever. The devil has deceived many into thinking that now is the only time that matters. Often it takes a tragedy or a crisis in one’s life to bring to one’s mind the things of eternity and the impending subject of one’s death and how we should live our lives now for a better tomorrow.
One way God has been shedding light on the eternal for me is with how He has been helping me heal from my past experiences and wounds. God brought people into my life who believe in who God has created me to be and who are cheering on my successes, not being envious of them or telling me the devil’s lies that I am not good enough. God has been teaching me the value of a person’s soul—not just mine, but everyone else also. Even the people that hurt me in the past need to know that there is hope for their soul, not because they deserve it, but because God doesn’t want anyone to perish in hell for their sins. However, God doesn’t want me to dwell on the past, but, as is said in Philippians 3:13-14 (KJV)- “forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Another way God has been opening my eyes to things of eternal value is by getting me to let go of control of the temporal things that I have been holding on to too tightly. Before I became a Christian, I used to be very stingy and materialistic, but as time goes on, I realize that God wants me to use the material goods that He has blessed me with to further His kingdom and not hoard them for myself. I not only want people to feel provided for, but also to see people’s eyes opened to the value of sharing and letting go of materialistic and monetary obsessions that stifle our view of eternity. We can’t take anything of materialistic value with us when we pass from this earthly life to eternity anyway. God has also taught me that when people are willing to share with those who are in need of something, whether it be butter for cooking or a listening ear when someone needs affirmation or encouragement during a difficult time in their lives, people forget about themselves and their issues and find joy in sharing.
God has been also showing me the value of the eternal through the events that He has allowed to happen in our world that point to the Last Days and the Rapture, where Jesus will take up all believers into the air. In the past two years alone, I have experienced several days of water shortage in our area, record heat, the whole thing with the COVID-19 pandemic around the world, people looking for answers and hope in the midst of their personal tragedies, increasing tensions between politicians and between people who hold opposing views on a number of political and moral issues. In all this, I see God, who is in control of it all and who provides eternal hope to those who are seeking answers to the why in their trials and tribulations, or just the meaning and purpose of their lives.
Jesus said in Matthew 9:37 (KJV): The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few.
Jesus wants me to be a laborer for His kingdom to bring hope and love to an anguished and dying world.
–Reflections on life and the aftermath of the Uvalde tragedy
by: Patricia A. Go written: May 25, 2022
I can see the world around me sinking. Two years ago, COVID-19 was born, which crippled operations of the entire world. Many millions of people perished from the virus; many more got sick. There is the ongoing war in Ukraine, where many people are being slaughtered and are suffering because of the anger and hatred around them. Inflation here in the States has been at 40-year high, making everything from gasoline to our daily bread becoming more expensive than ever. Then, just yesterday, an 18-year old gunman opened fire in Uvalde, Texas, shooting 19 people, including his own grandmother and several elementary school students, for who knows what reason.
I was not made aware of the Uvalde tragedy until I came home from work last night. What I feel now is numbness, shock and disbelief. How can this tragedy keep on happening? How long will it be until something changes? Yes, I agree with people who say we need to change governmental policies, especially with certain people having access to guns that shouldn’t. However, even if we change policies and enact stricter laws, I am convinced that evil will continue to rear its ugly head in other, but equally tragic ways.
I sense God saying to us as a society: It’s time.
It’s time to stop chasing after the temporal in life like money, material possessions and notoriety or fame.
It’s time to hold our loved ones close, treasure the time that God has given us, and look to the things of eternity that will never fade, be stolen, or rot away.
It’s time to teach children how to love and be loved in the most biblical, selfless way possible.
It’s time to seek God’s will and ways.
It’s time to care for those who are on the brink of suicide or desperation. Engage with them. Encourage them and be there for all those who are suffering. Don’t add stigma by giving moral labels to people’s feelings and thoughts in self-righteous condemnation or judgment.
It’s time not just to enact change in governmental policy, but also bring hope and show Christlike love to those around us, which will enable the Spirit to change hearts, which will initiate a true, lasting change in behavior and temperament.
It’s time for us to forgive our enemies, and to make peace with all those around us.
It’s time to not live in fear but to live with a sense of urgency, joy and fulfillment.
Time continues to tick, and we do not know how much of it we have left. I believe God is urging us to wake up. WAKE UP! God is telling me—telling us— to not be complacent with life and to make as much positive difference as we can.
Wake up and live each day as if it were your last, because one day it will be. Either you will regret how you lived your life for eternity or it can be a day of rejoicing and fulfillment of your God-given purpose!
This is for those who have bore the scars of harsh words and been a target of one who believed the lie that sticks and stones would break their bones, but words would not hurt them…but they still do.
This is for those who have believed the lies of their abusers and bullies that they are not worth anything to this world, and so struggle to find their purpose and their self-worth in life.
This is for those who have tried time and again to accomplish their goals and dreams, but have gotten discouraged and are tempted to give up because of their naysayers and seemingly insurmountable obstacles in their way.
This is for those who want to help a loved one, a friend, an acquaintance or others who have endured verbal assault and abuse and don’t know how.
I can relate to all of you, as I bear the psychological and emotional scars of years of verbal assaults and bullying by some peers and authority figures. I don’t tell my story so that you will feel sorry for me. I tell this story because I am a survivor and hope that by sharing it that other survivors will also triumph over their abusers and be empowered to believe the beautiful truth that God has told them about themselves, and not the verbal assaults and lies of their abusers. I was told by an authority figure that I would never drive and basically not amount to anything. I was told in so many words that I would probably never hold a full time job, that part-time was already an accomplishment for me. I was mocked by several managers when I first learned to operate a register about 15 years ago, because I did so poorly. I was told by a “friend” that I shouldn’t learn to operate a register about a couple years ago because she didn’t think I could handle rude customers or the functions of a register. I was constantly bullied in elementary and middle school about my appearance, race and other things that I had little or no control over.
Today, I still bear some of the psychological and emotional scars of the verbal abuse that I had endured. However, God put several people in my life who helped me to heal and to finally achieve what my abusers and bullies thought I could not. Because of these and other encouragers, I am happy to say that I am on the road to recovery.
Two of the people that came in my life were my mentor Jane* and my former manager Elizabeth*. They both believed in me when others did not. They saw what I could be, and not what I used to be or was. When I asked Elizabeth if I could train to be on the registers, she allowed me to train at least once a week for about 20-30 minutes. Not only that, but she allowed me ample time to acquaint myself with the functions of the register until I could do it efficiently and accurately. She was patient with me and my anxieties, unlike my ex-friend and others who basically told me to just give up on my dreams. My mentor Jane helped me to silence the naysayers and verbal abusers that were in my life by instilling in me a dogged determination and motivation to chase after my dreams. She never gave up on me, or let me give up on myself. For instance, she called various employment agencies to help me get a job in the first place and pushed me to learn how to drive myself without being afraid of failure or getting into an accident. When I got my first job (albeit part-time), I was already immensely grateful to Jane of what she had helped me accomplish. Then, I got another part time job that about seven months later became full time, and that is where I have been ever since. I am extremely indebted to her that I have been able to stay with the company I am at for over five years, which is almost an eternity in retail.
I have learned so much from these two amazing and gracious women. One of the most important things I learned from them is to never give up on yourself even if everyone else gives up on you. To anyone who still has self-worth issues because of the verbal abuse you have endured: Do not give up on yourself! You are not worth what these abusers say you are. They have critical spirits. My pastor said (and I agree with him) that a critical spirit is one who say things to others in order to destroy them or tear them down. Often what is coming out of the mouths of those with a critical spirit towards you are lies from the pit of hell itself. In fact, in John 10:10 (KJV), Jesus referring to the devil as a thief, says Satan comes “but for to steal, and to kill and to destroy.” You could say that the people putting you down with a critical spirit are working with the devil! Don’t believe them. The devil is a defeated foe! And so will everyone who works with him to tear others down.
More importantly, these women have taught me that God can still use people who have failed or don’t meet the expectations of others. During the time when I was too afraid to drive and was struggling to find consistent work, I never thought God could use me the way He has. I thought I was going to have to rely on others for almost everything and that I was never going to make any real contribution to society. However, God has proven over and over again that He works miracles and that there is hope to overcome past trauma and failures and learn from them. It may be a long road to healing, but even starting on that path is very much worth it as I can attest today. Even telling your story of how you survived past trauma and lived to tell about it is a big accomplishment.
I hope by telling my story that those who have endured abuse and survived will share their stories of how they have endured and triumphed and give hope to others who are still struggling and are still being oppressed by their abusers. Because by telling our stories, we have the power to create awareness of what our abusers wanted to silence for so long.
*=names have been changed to protect the privacy of the people mentioned.
I can somewhat relate to Simone Biles, but on a smaller scale, of course. I can relate to the feelings of being overwhelmed and being pressured to be the Best by oneself and those around you. I can also relate to the feeling that you have let everyone down if and when you fail. I can relate to the burdens of having to conform to 1,080 (a hyperbolic estimate) or so expectations of you placed by those around you. However, God used my feelings of stress and overwhelm to teach me many things about being human and coming back stronger.
Last year, in late October, I became so overwhelmed with the pressures and stress of work that I had to take a leave of absence from work. I had just moved from the state where I lived in all my life, about six months prior, and suddenly I felt like everyone had just abandoned me because I didn’t meet their expectations. Additionally, since this was in the midst of the pandemic, I could not attend church or meet new people. I thought my life was over.
However, even though I had significant stress even in my leave, one of the good things God brought me from this situation is to make time for self-care. Often, Olympic athletes like Simon Biles and Kerri Strug are pressured to do so much for others’ viewing pleasure that they are forced to neglect rest and self-care. This needs to change. The Bible says self-love is wrong and is one of the negative qualities listed in 2 Timothy 4. However, I don’t think the Bible means that taking care of one’s physical and emotional health is wrong. What I think was meant by that passage in 2 Timothy is one that is self-indulgent to the point where they neglect others’ needs or that they love themselves in such a way that they become vain and self-serving. Also, not taking care of one’s own emotional and physical needs in order to meet someone else’s expectations could also be considered the self-love that is condemned in the Bible because we are withholding part of ourselves just so that people would see us a certain way or as stronger than we really are.
Another good thing that I learned during my time off work last year is to not worry so much about other people’s expectations of me. One of the things my friend Alex taught me is to be more comfortable in being who God has created me to be, and to weed out those who try to change me into the image that they think I should be. What if we valued these Olympic athletes, and more importantly, those we say we love and cherish the most, by demonstrating in word and deed that they are loved unconditionally? After all, the Lord also loves us unconditionally. It even says in Romans 5:8, “ But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (KJV).” Even when we were yet sinners, God loved us. Even when we were actively rejecting Him and His ways, He still loved us.
I still struggle with not worrying about others’ expectations of me, but I am seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. I am becoming more confident in how God made me, and this has in turn made me more able to minister to others who are struggling.
Through this trial, God also taught me to not be paralyzed by my fears. He has helped me through times even more recently where I felt like my performance at work wasn’t as good as it could be, and not delve into the belief that I am a complete failure. God has made me realize that being true to myself and glorifying Him are more important than meeting all the metrics that people may expect me to meet. Yes, I still want to do the best I can at work performance-wise, but I don’t want to stress if I cannot do as well as I (or others) may expect or want of me. I can also remember what one of my managers said to me, “ I assure you that all of the management team know your work ethic and how consistent you are so don’t stress out if you have a slower [performance] occasionally.”
I also wish all the Olympians and anyone else who feels pressured to perform at a certain rate would know that it is OK to fail sometimes or not be able to be the Best all the time. I wish those around them would remind them that they are still worthy as human beings even when they show vulnerabilities and shortcomings because we all do. No human is perfect, but every human has intrinsic value. That is what I ultimately learned during my time off work last year.
God has taught me so much over the last year or so since the pandemic started. One of the most significant lessons He has taught me is how to be more real both to Him and to those around me.
It’s always refreshing to be able to be around those who are honest in both their character and their demeanor. Being genuine, or real, to me involves possessing these characteristics. A lack of or deficiency in these traits may indicate a lack of authenticity in a person.
Being real involves a willingness to be honest about who you really are–The most genuine people don’t only talk about the best parts of their personality or their lives, but they show the tough stuff that they have gone through as well. A good example of this is my friend Alex, who has revealed himself real and raw whenever he shares something with me or the world. Several of my pastors have also strived to be genuine by revealing their struggles with sin and temptation, as well as how they have overcome some of them, and how they are constantly working to become more godly. They don’t lord over people or have a holier-than-thou persona.
Being real involves being able to be honest about how you are really feeling.–Nothing is more surface than answering the question of “How are you?” with a flat “fine,” especially if that is not the case. What’s even worse is when someone is trying to answer the “How are you?” question honestly, and the person asking the question blows them off and doesn’t really care for their true answer. When you create an environment that is free of judgment, ridicule and condemnation and really take the time to care about how a person really feels about something, the more likely the person will be willing to share their authentic feelings about a situation.
Being real involves losing the need to always impress people and instead just be our true selves.–I felt that my one ex-friend always wanted to impress me with her “holiness” and her supposed religiosity. I finally saw through that, and now that is one of the reasons why she is now my EX-friend. If a person consistently expects you to impress them with a certain type of persona instead of being who you really are, including your flaws and foibles, chances are they are toxic to be around. You should probably show them the door. Either way, we should strive to be our true selves around those we care about in order to free them to be who they really are. The people who truly love us will want to know our real selves, and not just the persona you are trying to create to impress them or the persona you feel you must show to the general public.
Being real is crucial to building trust and maintaining good and lasting relationships with others. If you cannot be who you really are, then people are really not getting to know the real you. If they like “you” they are not liking the Real You, only the image of who they think “you” are. When people are acting fake or hypocritical to me, it feels like they are lying to me because in a sense they are. When one lies, they erode whatever trust I had in them. When one is authentic, however, it is one of the most refreshing, elating and freeing experiences one can ever experience in life.
I have struggled on and off with depression for a long time. Thankfully, God put several people in my life that showed me how to have passion and purpose in my life. Having passion and purpose in my life has motivated me to work harder and with more joy than ever before. This has caused my depression to dissipate significantly.
However, lack of passion and purpose can exacerbate the symptoms of depression. I see many people in today’s society just going to work to pay the bills, and for not much else. Consequently, when they have to do something they don’t like or when a co-worker or client really pushes their buttons, they become angry and/or miserable. The same goes with students who are in school only because “their parents or guardians forced them.” They typically don’t have motivation to work hard and be the best they can be. Moreover, their attitude shows that they can’t wait to graduate or somehow get out of school.
When I was in elementary school, I had to complete an assignment that I loathed. At the time, I had the attitude of many of the students who feel forced to go to school and do homework. Basically, I refused to do the assigned work until my grade for the class would suffer if I didn’t. So, finally, I had to force myself to do the work. Miraculously, I was able to pass the class! After that, I learned a major life lesson that I have strived to carry throughout my life—Sometimes you have to do work you don’t like. Do not try to procrastinate or avoid doing it. Do it first and well enough so it’s out of the way.
When I was in a Bible Study group several months ago, I learned another lesson of passion and purpose that has helped me maintain joy at my job. The lesson can be summed up in this quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “Learn to love what must be done.” That is, find joy in the work you are doing now. Several days ago, I was initially perturbed and not very happy because they had assigned me to down stack totes, and I thought I was assigned that because I was not performing well at work. Also, that was my least favorite part of the job. However, after one of my managers assured me that I wasn’t in trouble, I decided to find joy in this task by doing the best I could do. This motivation to do well eventually made this task a bit more joyful and motivating to me!
Some people may think to themselves, “Why should I do my best if I don’t get a tangible reward for it?” First of all, even if you do get a tangible reward for good work, it will eventually disappear in some way, whether it would be consumed, stolen, broken or spent (as in the case with money). Nothing tangible or material will last forever. Second of all, when you know you have done your best, you can acknowledge that fact within yourself. Don’t listen to people who try to criticize your best efforts, especially if you know they are unwarranted. Finally, when you consistently do your best job, your work quality will eventually improve and you will be more respected, if even only for your work ethic. This happened to me at a job many years ago before I had to quit. Even though the manager wasn’t pleased at how slow I was going, he did acknowledge that I was still working hard. Many years later, I am motivated to work hard because I know it will eventually lead to my work quality getting better.
Another way to find passion and purpose in your life is to have a thirst for learning. Beware of jobs where you are not allowed to even learn new things within your own department. If you are having trouble at school in a certain class or at work with your performance in a certain area, learn as much as you can about that area or subject in order to improve your work. For instance, one of the areas I had struggled in retail is cashiering. A couple years ago, I decided to train as a backup cashier, as maybe I would improve in this area. After several months of training, I became confident enough to cashier on my own, and became one of the few registered trained associates, aside from the regular cashiers, in my store! This brought me so much joy and a sense of accomplishment, especially since not everyone believed I was able to handle that job!
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, find a purpose that drives your entire life. Make sure that purpose will bring you lasting joy and fulfillment. My purpose in life can be summed up in the Westminster’s Confession, which says,” Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” Glorifying and enjoying God has brought me much joy, not only in my job, but also in my interactions with other. Glorifying God has freed me up to love others as He has loved me, without having to work so hard to impress other people to get them to like me. Enjoying God has helped me trust in His love more and to appreciate all that He has done for me and all that He is to me. Most importantly, my purpose in life has helped motivate me every day to continue to persevere in life even when I am tempted to give up. Eventually, this perseverance reaps its rewards and brings me joy. When we have that kind of passion and purpose in life we will yield great joy.
Some rules have had a legalistic effect on me. Instead of reminding me of boundaries to keep me from sinning, many of the world’s rules have put unnecessary burdens and pressures on me, and have restricted my expression of who God made me to be. However, I am also not talking about all of the world’s rules necessarily, but those in particular that only serve to bog down (i.e…red tape, so to speak) or that really only serve those with privilege and power.
An example of those kind of rules are man-made morality rules such as not being allowed to cry at certain times or rules for autistics like me about what kind of stims are “acceptable” to society. These rules are found nowhere in Scripture or any other religious holy book that I know. To be honest, most of these rules only serve to ease the discomfort of people who are considered more “normal” or privileged, so they don’t have to confront or serve those who have some kind of marginalized identity. For instance, there is this unspoken rule that one is not allowed to cry at work. I understand the rule if it keeps us from serving the people we are paid to serve, but how about a worker crying in the breakroom or in a certain office space where there are no clientele around?! What if said worker’s family member or spouse just died? What if the boss was so overtly critical of them, that the worker was so filled with anguish and anger and did not want to spew words of anger at the boss, so he or she just cried? Yes, it may make some people around them a little uncomfortable, but what if a crying co-worker or subordinate would also teach us how to be more compassionate and caring of others in need? If we refused to abide by another unspoken, man-made social rule that we are supposed to either ignore or stare at those “crazy” people who have cried at work or in public, and instead compassionately try to help and comfort them? What if we killed the expectation that people are supposed to have everything all figured out and hold it all together for everyone, and hide all the pain they feel inside, just so we don’t feel uncomfortable? What if because they tried to follow this expectation to hold everything together and “be strong” they one day completely shut down or explode, tired of wearing a façade 24/7?
Another example of this kind of rule is the expectation that one must never talk to oneself out loud. First of all, we talk to ourselves all the time in our heads, anyway. Second of all, it can restrict creative artistic expression. Sometimes, when we talk to ourselves it can help us figure out things in our lives, like correcting erroneous ways of thinking or helping us figure out how we will do a difficult tasks as we talk through the instructions to ourselves. However, some people think it is “weird” or “inappropriate,” and I have heard some people even fear people who talk to themselves. Why? Talking to oneself does not equate to committing an act of murder or adultery. Yes, it may be outside of the “norm,” but who determines what is normal, and how does just talking to oneself hurt other people?! I am convinced some rules are just there to ease the privileged’ discomfort and of them having to confront a unique and/or hurting world.
However, God’s rules are never supposed to have this legalistic effect. God’s rules, in contrast, bring one into an awareness of one’s sinfulness and into a magnitude of His grace for you, even if you break one, some, or all of His rules at some point. Also, God’s rules do not restrict freedom of expression to who He has made you to be.
God’s rules, or commandments, still allow my Gonzo-ness to come out without restraints of anything other than His perfect and good moral guidelines. It is when people add to His rules things that were never mentioned by Him or things that just burden people under the red-tape of legalistic and nonsensical obligations that our uniqueness and beauty as people are stifled.
Jesus says in Matthew 11:29-30: Take my yoke upon me and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light (KJV). His yoke are the commandments we are expected to obey as we abide in Him by His power and grace. If you find that following certain commands have become burdensome and demanding, then maybe part or all of the rule that you are following does not come from Him, but are probably man-made in some way.