My Good Friends: Qualities We Should Emulate That They Have

I have met many people, and I believe that each person has at least one positive and one negative personality trait.  I also believe that this world needs to cultivate more of the positive traits in people and not focus so much on the negatives.  These are a list of my closest friends, both offline and online, and some of their positive qualities that I believe should be emulated by everyone.  For privacy reasons, I will be using pseudonyms for their names. However, rest assured, these ARE real people I know!

  1. Erica--If you ask her for her opinion, she will give you her honest assessment. She will not dance around the truth or lie to make you feel better. I like that about her. She also strives to be always considerate of others’ feelings and experiences. When I don’t like something, she will not pressure me into it. She will also compromise her wishes for others’ if that would encourage and make them feel better unless of course, it is an issue of morality or her faith in God.
  2. Kelly-– She is generous and kind. She will listen to you when you tell her something that is important to you.  She almost always has fun activities and/or meals made whenever I visit her. I always feel that I can relate to her struggles because of her openness and honesty about them. She is one of my favorite friends with whom to spend time.
  3. Veronica--One of the first things I saw about her that has left a lasting, good impression on me is her utter joy and love for people and for life. 90% of the time she has a big smile on her face. Due to privacy reasons, I will not show you her face, but I wish I could because whenever she comes into a room her joy, humor, and love just light up the room! When I first met her, unfortunately, I wasn’t as joyful as she was. In fact, I was still slightly depressed. However, as time goes on, I have wanted to emulate her (as well as encourage others to, too) in her positive attitude towards life and people.
  4. Jennifer–Jennifer is my friend from work. She has always been patient and kind to me, even when I have been stressed. Additionally, she has the right words to say to encourage me and help me through issues. She also allows me to vent without judgment or condemnation when I am having a bad day.  I enjoy hanging out with her because of her great love for others and me, and that she has been a loyal friend to me.
  5. Terri–Terri is a newer, but great, friend that I met when I first started attending my current church. She always prays for others and has compassion for those in need.  She is vibrant and passionate about her faith in Christ, yet she isn’t pushy or preachy.  She devotes her life to serving God and others in what she does, says, and thinks.  When I had an issue at work, she would always pray for and/or encourage me through it.
  6. Anna– Anna is one of my online friends. She knows how to encourage people and validate them.  She also strives to persevere through life despite illness and other difficulties that may come her way.  I also love how she is passionate (like me) to make sure people with mental health issues get treated better and more like humans, instead of like animals that have to be caged or controlled.
  7. Betty- Betty was my discipler at my former church.  What I appreciate most about her is that she is always honest about things and does not shy away from the truth. She is also caring for me, even being willing to visit me at work when she had only a few days with her family when she was in my town.
  8. K--Like Erica, K always tells you the truth when you ask her opinion on something. She is also very supportive of others and me and is always willing to be there for me when I need to chat. She doesn’t take nonsense or manipulation,  but if you have a legitimate need that she can provide, I believe she will do that for you. Like me, she loves animals and has two pets of her own. Unfortunately, for me, I cannot have pets right now, but I would love to someday.
  9. Ted— Ted is another one of my friends at work.  Like Jennnifer, he always allows me to open up about stressful issues without judging or condemning me. He also helps me with my work when he has time and because he believes that we should work as a team. He is also one of the hardest workers at my workplace, coming in even when he was in physical pain sometimes! I wish more people would have such determination and drive to persevere despite tough circumstances, including me!
  10. Holly- Holly has taught me so much about life! She is a master validator and supporter of others, even though she hasn’t been supported as much herself.  She always knows the right words to say to make people feel loved and encouraged. She is also very intelligent in her words and in her speech.  If you ever read her works, you would think she was a graduate student!  She has also taught me to be more compassionate and considerate of others.
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Value- a poem

 

Value – 9/29/2017

*based on the quote by Jefferson Bethke, which says, “People are neighbors to be loved, not commodities to be used.”

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.- Psalm 139:14 (KJV)

 

You are precious in His sight

You are certainly worth the fight

The fight called life

Including the joys and the strife

 

You are more valuable

Than just a toy to be used

Or something to be abused

Or tossed away like trash

 

You are more valuable

Than silver or gold

Or all the riches of this world

Or anything you can behold

 

Never let anyone tell you

That you don’t matter

Because you are so valued, my friend

And you will be loved until the end

Things I Learned in Childhood

I know I don’t talk much about my childhood. Although compared to many people, I had a pretty happy childhood, I did experience some trauma, mostly at the hands of peers my age. However, I did learn some valuable life lessons that I carry to this day when dealing with situations in my life.  These three things have shaped how I see the world, with some modifications, of course:

  1. Don’t avoid or neglect to do something just because you don’t like to do that thing. Do it efficiently and quickly the first time, so you don’t have to do more later. –I was talking to one of my managers last night, and he was amazed that I am consistently the first one to arrive at the straightening (even though I must admit, sometimes I hate it), and one of the first one to get things done. What I failed to tell him at the time, was why I do this.  This motivation actually stemmed from an incident in fourth or fifth grade when I consistently failed to do the assigned readings on the Gold Rush each day because I hated it. I mean, I hated the book! It was as boring as reading a how-to manual on assembling something one doesn’t care about.  However, the time came where I had to present something from that book.  I knew if I didn’t at least skim the book, that I would probably fail the whole class, and my parents would be absolutely furious at me for not even trying. I quickly gathered up as much information as I could from gleaning the book, and passed the project presentation by the skin of my teeth (i.e to my parents’ satisfaction).  From then on, I never tried to avoid doing something unpleasant if it was important just because I didn’t like doing said thing.  I might do it reluctantly or just to get it over with sometimes, but I will do it so I don’t have to stress out in the end.  During this past year as I have grown in my faith and love of Jesus Christ and others,  I have also tried to find something pleasurable in that unpleasant task and remind myself that I am to do said thing with excellence so that it pleases God and because it is the right thing to do.
  2. Kids can be cruel, but sometimes adults are too.  –I won’t name any names of course, but there were some teachers I observed that were mean to others and me. Maybe they weren’t always deliberately cruel, but sometimes would lash out in anger or because they were too stressed out to respond in a calm and validating way.  There were a few students that were particularly disruptive in their behavior. They did things like talk out of turn in class, spit on students, or fail to do their homework.  Some(not all) of the teachers that I observed didn’t even try to figure out why they behaved that way, and just started disciplining them and a few even mocked them a few times! None of the teachers, from what I observed, even took the time to actually care for and encourage these students very much when they behaved well. I was mocked by a few teachers from everything from my ethnicity to the way I dressed. I have seen this scenario repeated even in some of the places where I have worked, sadly enough.  These events from my childhood shaped my view in that now I get angry (even rageful sometimes) at people who mock others for things that can’t be controlled or that I think don’t matter in the face of eternity.  Sometimes, I must confess that I even thought (but not done) of taking vengeance on the perpetrators on behalf of the victims of the bullies.  These events have also motivated me to care more about people who are hurting, partly so that this scenario I witnessed in childhood does not repeat itself in any way again.
  3. Sometimes you must compromise to be able to successfully work with others, but never compromise your moral beliefs and values. –When I was maybe in fourth grade and below, I used to want everything done efficiently and my way, so much so that one of my peers told me in no uncertain terms that I was difficult to work with, and that comment cut to the heart and I remember it to this day.  Sometimes I hated working in groups, because a.) No one would choose to work with me, and I had to work with random people I didn’t know or care about. b.) Either the person ended up wanting to take over everything, leaving me with nothing to do, or I had to do everything because the person wasn’t willing to carry his or her weight.  However, these experiences of working in groups with different and random people from my classes prepared me to deal with people in the “real” world.  These experiences taught me that I had to compromise and allow for others’ ideas because it was not all about me and getting things done my way.  In the process, I may have even learned a thing or two and understood others’ perspectives better.  These experiences were valuable to help me cope with other associates and customers that I interact with today!

These are three things that I learned in childhood that I consistently apply to my life today.  These lessons have proved valuable in helping me be a more successful and well-adjusted person. What lessons have you learned in your childhood that you still carry today? How have they been applied to your life? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.

Why Care: Finding Meaning in Life


Being presumptuous, according to my pastor, Pastor David Shoaf (and I agree with him), is having a rebellious and/or an “I-don’t-care” attitude about life and morals.  Many people who have been presumptuous about life or about grievous sins (moral wrongdoing) in my experience, have gone to either jail or have died! For instance, people in ISIS who bomb innocent people just going about their daily lives because they don’t agree with the precepts of their religion have at least a degree of presumptuousness.  They don’t care if their targets have families or what pain in their lives they carry. They just kill because their god told them to (supposedly).  Even though few people are as callous and as uncaring as ISIS suicide bombers or the most vicious murderers out there, we all (me included) need to be cautious of having a presumptuous attitude about life and about morals.  Here is why we should care–particularly about others and what kind of life we are leading. :

  1. Caring about others and the legacy we want to leave brings purpose and meaning to our lives.–Personally, before I became a Christian, I was very selfish and was searching for purpose and meaning in my life. Now, I don’t mean that people who don’t share my Christian faith are selfish and uncaring. On the contrary, I know a lot of people of various beliefs other than my own, who are extremely caring and selfless too. It’s just for me, that was my experience.  However, what I am saying is that if we don’t care about others and what legacy we are leaving, life will feel empty and meaningless.  When I got to that point, I felt like life was no longer worth living.  You can only live for just yourself for so long until you start to think about, “What am I doing? Why am I here with everyone else, when they are not benefiting me?” However, when you start to live for the benefit of others and you start to build a lasting legacy that you want others to follow, life starts to become more exciting because you have an end goal or goals in mind that you want to strive for regularly!
  2. Caring for others and leaving a good legacy changes the world.–One of my faith heroes, Rachel Joy Scott, changed millions of lives because she lived a life of caring for others, especially those who were friendless or otherwise in need. Over 1,000 people attended her funeral, and it was televised on CNN.  Some sources even say it was more attended than the funeral of Princess Diana!  Her father, Darrell Scott, also founded an organization called “Rachel’s Challenge,” which helps promote the lifestyle that Rachel led and discourage bullying.  This organization coupled with Rachel’s influence from her writings and the life she led have helped millions of people.  (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rachel_Scott) When you care for others from your heart, you can change the world for the positive. If you don’t quit caring and living for good, you will leave a good legacy for others to follow after your time on earth is up. I am striving to live to that end. Yes, I may fail (sometimes lots of times). However, when we fail, we have to just get back up and try again and persevere to the end.
  3. Caring for others and leaving a good legacy is ultimately joyful and rewarding.–Even if caring for others sometimes gets exhausting or people don’t appreciate you right away, to care for others ultimately brings you joy and has its rewards.  Seeing others joyful because they know someone (perhaps you!) cares about them ultimately should bring you joy as well.  That is its own reward! Not only that, but a few people may follow your example as well!  This will start a chain reaction of more people caring enough to change the world for the positive and not being apathetic about others or about life. People will start to respect us more because they know we can be counted on to care.

To care about others and about the legacy we are leaving for others to follow are very important because this is one of the major ways we derive meaning to our lives, changes the world, and is ultimately joyful and rewarding not only to the ones we care about but also to us as well.  Who needs your care today? Who can you show love to today?  What legacy do you want to leave? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.

When We Have to Do Something: Caring for others in trouble

Earthquakes. Famines. Wars and rumors of wars.  Pestilences.  Heartache. Betrayal. Strife among people. Hatred and apathy. The problems in the world can seem very overwhelming at times. When we compound it with our own problems, they can seem unbearable! In fact, sometimes things can seem so insurmountable, we do and say nothing.  We are paralyzed with fear and anguish.  However, all these things can also propel us to right action, if we know how to help some of those in need.  Here are some situations either in the world around us or perhaps in our own lives that can seem “big” or “heavy,”  but we can redeem for the benefit of those involved in these problems. Here’s how YOU can personally make a difference:

The natural disasters in the world

  1. If you are spiritual, pray for those affected by the wildfires in California and surrounding areas, the hurricanes that have ravaged or are ravaging Texas, parts of Lousiana, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Carribean Islands.  Pray that they will be provided with all that they need and for replacement of all that was lost. Pray for peace, comfort, and strength for those affected by the storms and their families that are concerned about them.
  2. Donate to a reputable organization that will give (and are giving) to those in need in the affected areas.  Some of them are: a.) Red Cross b.) Convoy of Hope c.) others. <—this article of organizations focuses on relief for Hurricane Harvey, but many of these help people affected by the other disasters as well.
  3. If you can, go to these affected areas and volunteer in the rebuilding and the relief efforts there.
  4. Spread awareness for these people being ravaged by these catastrophic events.  Let people know that these people are hurting and in need of help. That way, everyone will be aware of what’s happening and can also help in any way they are able.

Those affected by abuse and bullying

  1. Never ever blame the abuse or bullying survivor for the abuse. — Remind them that the abuse was not their fault.  Abuse is totally and will always be the abuser’s fault.  They are able to control their actions. No one can make someone else abuse another.
  2. Encourage the survivor of their inherent value.-– Many times abuse survivors have been made to feel worthless and useless, even unworthy of love.  If we want to be allies to these people, we remind them of their inherent pricelessness again!  This not only means that if they do something right, praise them, but also reminding and demonstrating to them they are still priceless and loved even if they make a mistake or sin. We can do this by helping them through their failures and doubts, and by striving to be committed to being there for them whenever they need us.
  3. Make sure to model good boundaries to them.— This means striving not to control or manipulate them in any way. Bullied and abused people usually (if not always) have had their boundaries or safety violated in some way, and their trust shattered.  Do not attempt to make decisions for them, unless you are already in a position of authority over them. Never use them to your own ends, otherwise, they will feel abused all over again, by you!  For instance, if you want to show affection to them, but they are hesitant to, respect them and restrain your wants and desires.  This is not about you! If you wrong them or make a mistake, sincerely apologize to them and commit to never repeating the same mistake again. Show you can be trusted.

EDIT: Many, but NOT all, people who have been abused also struggle with mental health issues because of the trauma. It is important to note though, that NOT all people with mental health problems have been abused. But if someone you know has been abused AND is struggling with mental illness, this is a GREAT resource: https://ashipofmyownmaking.wordpress.com/2017/09/12/10-ways-you-can-help-a-mentally-ill-friend/

Those affected by poverty

  1. Donate to reputable organizations such as the Red Cross and Unicef. –These organizations help by giving much-needed food and water to those in need.
  2. When you give to them, expect nothing back.–When you give to the poor, whether your time or finances, make sure it is with pure motives. Do not give to them, just to get a tax break, or to get something in return from them later.  Give because it is the right thing to do. Give because it gives you joy to see them happy and fulfilled. Do it for them, not yourself.
  3. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, homeless shelter or other organization—Look for opportunities in your area to help those affected by poverty.  One organization, for those living in the Chicagoland area, is called Feed My Starving Children. They pack food for people in need around the world. You can help by volunteering to help pack these meals. Their website is: https://volunteer.fmsc.org/register/
  4. Spread awareness about the issue of poverty.–Write about the struggles of people living in poverty, not to embarrass or shame them, but so that people will know how serious an issue it is, and also to dispel myths about people living in poverty. I know a lot of people who think that if you live in poverty, you must be lazy and/or uneducated. However, I have found through my own research and listening to others’ experiences, that this is often not the case, and the causes of poverty are more complicated that one thinks.

These are just some ways to care about people in need. What are some ways you can think of to help those in need? Encourage and love someone today. You can perhaps help save a life!

People are Gifts: How to Value Others

This is a kind of part two to the post about how you are precious.  So,  not only we are precious, but others around us are as well. I have often observed in society a disturbing trend where some people are treating others as if they were disposable. Sometimes, I must admit, that I am tempted to do the same. I have heard disturbing stories about parents who have abused and/or killed their child or children in the name of convenience or revenge on their ex-partner or spouse.  In the workplace, I have heard of countless cases where the work being done is not ever appreciated or met with a “thank you,” but instead criticized or complained about because it isn’t met to perfect standards. Divorce and infidelity in marriage are very commonplace, especially here in the U.S, but other countries it is starting to become more common as well. How do we then take a stand against treating others as disposable and instead treating them like the gifts they are? Here are a few things I found effective in us leading the way in treating other people with value and dignity, instead of as commodities for our own selfish pleasures:

  1. View people as gifts to be treasured instead of commodities or annoyances.– What if we looked at each person we encountered today as a gift from God instead of as an inconvenience or as a commodity? I believe that every person we encounter is sent to teach us something about ourselves or about life. If we get to engage with a loved one or a friend, he or she is teaching us the value of joy, love, and friendship. If we have to engage with a difficult person, he or she is teaching us to be patient and challenging us how to love without expecting anything back.  Also, every person we encounter, I believe, is put in our paths for a reason. For instance, I believe I met my current manager *Chris (NOT his real name) not only so I could get a job but also teach me how to love better and so God could refine my character through him, and help me grow in my job there. The pastors at my church were put on my life’s path (I believe) to help me further grow in my faith and to help support me in my life’s journey. Also, the pastors have helped me think of others more and I was put on their path to help serve with them too.
  2. Be grateful for every person who does something good, either to you or for the benefit of others.— At my job, for instance, if a customer goes out of their way to help me pick up a display that I accidentally dropped, I would say something like, ” Thank you for going out of your way to help me pick the display items up. I really appreciate that.” The customer doesn’t have to do that for me, but if he or she does, it shows that he or she is a decent and caring person, and we should applaud people like that, not only because they deserve it but also to encourage them to continue their thoughtful actions.  If your child (if you are a parent) does something praiseworthy like cleaning up their room without being asked, or helping you cook a meal, you should teach them gratitude by expressing yours.  This will not only lift the child’s spirit but also model gratitude that they can and should imitate if they see someone else do good to them or to others they care about.
  3. Know that each person is unique and cannot be replaced by anyone.–In a society where people are often not valued, we often fall for the lie that someone can be replaced by someone else.  Yes, in a job situation, people are replaced all the time by others. Even so, we should be careful not to fall into this “replacement mentality” and let it influence how we treat other people.  For instance, I had often wanted people I didn’t like or didn’t get along with to be replaced by another “nicer” person. I did not care about learning from them (much to my disadvantage) or finding value in them. This is how most people I have encountered think.  However, if I had instead thought about how I could learn from them and how even they are unique and special, I would have been able to get out of that negative mindset sooner.  No one, not even identical twins, has exactly the same DNA as another.  Everyone is unique. Treat others as precious, because once someone is gone from this earth, you won’t see them on this side of the dirt again.

These are some ways we can value each person as precious. We all have value, even the people we don’t like or see eye to eye with all the time.  Everyone is a gift to be treasured. Enjoy and value your gifts today!

Why YOU are precious

With approximately 6 billion people on this planet, it is easy to feel overlooked and unimportant to everyone, or anyone, for that matter. Feeling overlooked and unappreciated can lead one to take desperate measures to feel more loved and important, such as conforming to one’s peer group even if they don’t agree with what is being said or done, or doing something, positive or negative, to gain someone else’s love and appreciation. Some have already given up the search, and have delved into addiction and numbing, to ease their pain of feeling unloved and overlooked.  However, we don’t have to–if we know how precious we are, both in (I believe) God’s sight and others’ sight.

Here are some reasons why every human you encounter (yes, including yourself) is very precious:

  1. Every human being has a complex, intricate body. (source:  http://www.dandydesigns.org/id57.html)– For instance, think of the complexity of the brain itself, having (count them!) three trillion nerve cells being coordinated by it!  We have 131 million nerve receptors in our eyes! We have 35 million gland cells in our digestive tract so that it will digest food and not itself.  Think of all the muscles it takes to walk or to smell, to sleep, or even to eat! Wow! We have a complex body.  Think about it for yourself…
  2. Every human being has something to teach us.–Whether the person has boundless energy or is bedbound, we can learn some great things when we interact with another person.  I have learned so much from those around me, including, but not limited to, my family and friends, my co-workers, my managers, and even customers I only meet once. We not only learn the basics like their name, their interests, and maybe about their families but sometimes also their personalities and how to better relate to them. This is true even with the people we don’t get along with well. For instance, I have had some peers who made fun of me and tormented me during my years in school, but what I learned from them is how NOT to be, and to instead value others as people and not commodities.
  3. Every human being has something to contribute to society.-–Whether the person is always up and about and works 80 hours a week, or is bedbound because he or she is very sick, he or she can contribute to society. How can the bed bound person contribute to society, one may ask? They can contribute by. a.) Helping the able bodied people appreciate what they have more.  b.) Through prayer, if the bed bound person is spiritual. c.) Helping the able-bodied person be able to be a blessing and serve the bed bound person.  The person who is always up and about, of course, contributes by working hard and by serving others.  Whether bedbound, disabled, or able-bodied, no human being is worthless! We all have infinite value.
  4. Every human being has a story to tell.–Everybody I have met has a story to tell us. In their stories, we can not only learn more about them and life but how their stories weave into our own.  For instance, when I met my friend V, she just moved from another state, and I had been in my now former church for a couple of years. I welcomed her, and as time went on, learned more about her life story (her family, how she got to where she was, her future plans and goals, etc…) and it interwove with mine (She got to know who my family was, my future plans and goals, and how I got to where I was..). This can be repeated for every human being I have ever encountered, not just my family and friends. It can be even a brief encounter, but once we meet someone and learn their story, our lives intersect, in a way, forever.

So whether you are White, Black, or another race or ethnicity, tall or short, fat or thin, rich or poor, or any other human identifier, you are indeed a very precious human being.  Because we are so precious, let us treat each other that way, and not as commodities to be used, but as the treasures we all are.  Who can you love today?

PS: This is the 100th post! 🙂 I wanted to commemorate all the readers of this blog with this post!

My Goals In Life

DISCLAIMER: This content is from a Christian perspective. However, people of all faiths and all walks of life can learn from this. Also, at the end,  I will talk about putting my goals into action, if you desire, for your own life. It will include resources for helping people who have been affected by Hurricane Harvey.  Though I am promoting these organizations in a way, I make NO money from them in any way shape or form. Just want to help YOU help others.

Who or what motivates you to live your life? Is your life marked by passion and drive? When the chips are down, so to speak, what is it that keeps you going? For many people, it is often their loved ones. Sometimes, it is their job and sense of accomplishment. Other times the motivation is wanting love and approval. What motivates me to keep going when life is as dark as a tornado whirling during a fierce and powerful storm is the love that God through His Son Jesus Christ gave and continues to give to me.

These following two goals are based off the love that God has given and continues to give to me. They are:

  1. To love God with all my mind, soul, and strength. (Matthew 22:36-38)
  2. To show others the love that God gave to me, so they too can experience love, joy, and peace in their lives that I have.

How will I go about accomplishing these goals? 

How I will meet goal #1

  1. Read and study His Word, the Bible, daily for at least 15-30 minutes a day.
  2. Pray daily to meet the challenges of the day, for at least 15 minutes a day. Also, I will try to be in constant communication with God, not just for 15 minutes!
  3. Attend a Bible-believing church. (I am attending a good church that lines up with my beliefs nicely).
  4. Focus my mind on God and His will for my life, and for the day, as much as possible, without getting distracted. (I am still working on this one. Sometimes it is a struggle. Correction: Every day it is a struggle not to get distracted by other things that don’t matter to this goal at all, but I will not quit trying.)
  5. Memorize His Word and apply it to my daily life.

How I will meet goal #2

  1. When I do something that offends another person, I will strive to quickly confess that to the other person and repent (i.e not do that offense action anymore) of my offense.
  2. When someone offends me, I will let the person know in private, in a gentle and humble manner, with all honesty and love.
  3. I will never give up on a relationship unless they give up on me.
  4. I will do my best to show kindness and care to other people.
  5. I will do my best not to let my anger at someone linger for more than a day.
  6. I will encourage others by sharing with them how God loves me, and by telling them how much I love and/or care for them.
  7. I will do my best to sacrifice my time and resources if someone is in need of them and doing so will help the other person.
  8. I will do my best not to show any pretense towards another but be my genuine self, even if it is sometimes flawed.

These are practical ways anyone can join me in not only keeping me accountable but also joining with me to show others true, unconditional love to the whole world, instead of hate. Ban the hate!:

  1. Forgive at least one person who has hurt you deeply. –There are several people who I have had a hard time forgiving, mostly because they did the same bad things over and over to me again, even though I had confronted them more than once about these issues.  However, I now realized that letting go of my bitterness and anger towards them has changed the way these people treat me, and in some ways, my relationships with these people have been restored!  Who is someone who deeply offended you? It could be someone from a church or temple. It could be a family member or a once-close friend. It could be a boss or a manager.  Yes, forgiveness is very difficult at times, and sometimes you can’t forgive everyone at once, but an unforgiving heart keeps you, not the offender, in an emotional hell-hole prison that traps you and robs you of the joy that life is meant to bring.  Also, the very act of forgiveness necessitates the offense. It does not dismiss it or excuse it. It acknowledges it but leaves the justice in capable hands, NOT yours.
  2. Be genuine.–Do not hide who you are. Yes, if someone has demonstrated that they are untrustworthy you may have to hide some things about you. However, as a general rule, do your best to be genuine. Be willing to be vulnerable and forthright about your struggles. You shouldn’t have to hide yourself to be truly loved.
  3. Be willing to care about and sacrifice for others.– One practical way one can do this, especially if you are spiritual, is to pray for those who are hurting and suffering. Pray about what you can do to help these people. These may be people at work, at your school, at your place of worship, at home, or in your community. Once you pray or think about what to do to help these people, do it! Recently, in a huge chunk of Texas and some of the Southeast part of the U.S, there has been a hurricane, Hurricane Harvey, that has swept through there and devastated many people’s lives, and destroyed many homes and businesses.  This storm is still ongoing as of this writing (written 8/27/2017). Here are some organizations that are helping these people through this:

These are my two major goals in life. This is what keeps me going, even in the hardest times. What are yours? What steps can YOU take to accomplish your life purposes? Please feel free to discuss here.

How To Defeat Prejudice

On Saturday, August 12, 2017, White Nationalists and alt-right groups and those against them clashed violently in Charlottesville, Virginia. Then, a 20-year-old man plowed into a crowd with his car, killing one young woman in the crowd.  Because of what happened that day, I felt a responsibility to not only condemn what happened but also to conquer all hate with love.  I admit that I have had some prejudicial thoughts myself about certain people and have sometimes judged people unfairly. We all have. This isn’t just about defeating racism (though that is, of course, very important too) but also about defeating all forms of prejudice and hatred in this world.  Here are some things I have found effective in defeating prejudice.

  1. Counter hate with love. Always.–To effectively defeat both prejudices in our own hearts, and melt others’ hard hearts, we must first aim to love.  There is a severe lack of love in this world, and not only because certain people are in power. I suspect this has been going on since near the beginning of time!  We don’t have to always agree with how people live or what they do, but we do have to love. I believe Jesus loved so much that even when He was being crucified and mocked by religious leaders, the Roman soldiers, and others, He said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34 b and c, KJV) .  This is why He is now one of the most respected religious leaders that ever lived!  Never hate someone just because they are different than you.  One way you can do this is to find the good in everyone you meet, even those who rub you the wrong way. 99.5% (if not all) people have at least one admirable quality about them; no person is all bad.
  2. Forgive, forgive, forgive.– One of the ways to defeat prejudice is to have a forgiving heart because, most, if not all prejudice, stems from a grudge-filled heart against a person or group of people. Create a policy in your heart that says that you will not hold a grudge against anyone after a certain period of time (HINT: It needs to be sooner than “after many years” or “never”).  This may be harder for some, but we must persevere in forgiveness.  Yes, we may have a right to hold a grudge, especially if what someone did to you was grievous or vile, but what good will it do you? You are not really “punishing” the offender because they probably don’t give a care about what you think of them or what they did wrong. You are only hurting yourself and preventing other people who did nothing to hurt you from helping you to heal from your wounds and forget about the person that hurt you. I have also heard many stories about people forgiving their offenders for particularly horrific crimes ranging from rape to murder, and everything in between, and how they related that they felt freer once they let the offender off their hook and let God take care of the justice in their case.
  3. Stand up against prejudice in all forms.–Another way to defeat prejudice is to stand up against it in all its forms. For instance, if you see someone post a mean tweet about someone or a group of people, gently but very firmly rebuke that person.  I would personally say something like, “That is not true. Saying [name mean thing that they are saying in general terms], will not change anything.  Please stop it! ” OR if you feel too upset to say anything civil, report that post to the proper authorities.  If you see or hear someone ridiculing, for example, someone who is disabled or otherwise different in some way, stand up to the offender and/or tell them to “Stop it.” very firmly in an authoritative kind of voice. If they don’t or they escalate or make excuses for their behavior, report them to the proper authorities.  If a person or persons voicing prejudicial or hate-filled views is coming to your workplace or school, protest against them, but do so peacefully, otherwise, your message won’t be taken seriously by anyone and you will be cast as similar to the hate-filled people.

These are just some things you can do to defeat prejudice in all its forms. We must conquer hate-filled hearts with a message of love and hope for all people, not just ones that are similar to us in some way.  We also must be vigilant to conquer against any hate lurking in our own hearts and lives and eradicate it immediately.  What other things do YOU think can be done to combat prejudice? Who can YOU love today?

source: http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/13/us/charlottesville-white-nationalist-rally-car-crash/index.html

How To Grow as a Person

As some of you may know, I am a fairly short person, and I want to grow taller like the forest trees in this picture.  I’m fairly sure that will never ever happen. Today, though I can’t make one grow taller (even myself), I can share with you what I have learned about growing personally, experientially, and intellectually as a person.  This kind of growth, I believe, is of utmost importance if one truly wants to succeed in life. Here’s what I learned are the characteristics necessary to facilitate personal growth:

  1. Humility/A willingness to learn–One of the most overlooked and important qualities to personal growth is the power in humility.  In a previous post, I discussed the pitfalls of being arrogant, including not being able to get the help one needed,  broken relationships, and not being able to learn new things.  In contrast, one of the benefits of humility is that you are able to change and grow into a better person.  Think about it:  When you readily admit you don’t know everything, you are able to better receive correction and rebuke and learn ways to improve yourself than if you don’t.
  2. Motivation.–If you truly want to grow as a person, you most likely will, because you will want to do everything in your power to make this happen. Without motivation, almost all is lost.  For instance, if you are not motivated by anything or anyone to be less selfish (not saying anyone is or isn’t–just an example), then you will most likely continue to act in selfish ways and even probably not think twice about it.
  3. Perseverance.–There will be obstacles whenever one tries to grow as a person. Some people will not like the change, even if it is positive. The key to lasting and sustained growth is perseverance.  We need to keep on going in life to make positive and lasting changes as people.  We cannot give up. If we give up, we stop growing. We need to work hard to overcome the obstacles that bind us down.  We can do this by not only focusing on the positive but also using the negative obstacles as teaching tools for us to push through and move ahead in life. For instance, if you know you struggle with being patient, you can use the times when you got impatient as reminders of what not to do or say next time a similar situation like that happens.
  4. Adequate moral support.–One of the key factors in my personal growth as a person has been the support that I have gotten both on and offline.  I have not always had a lot of support, but as people have seen that I wanted to grow as a person, they have graciously taken the time to support and guide me.  Not everyone is fortunate enough to have adequate moral support, but for those of us who are,  use your supports to be a better person to them and grow yourself. If you don’t have much support, I would suggest starting slowly to build your support network.  I would frequent places where people have the same interests and goals you do and go from there, or I would go online to find communities that can give you some kind of moral support.

These are some of the characteristics that need to be present in order for someone to become emotionally and personally growing as a person. Sometimes it takes a long time to have any significant growth, but take things one step at a time, and do not give up. What other characteristics do you think is needed for one to grow as a person? Please discuss here.