How To Think Deeply

Besides sin, there is a malady that affects most of us at one time or another, and that is something my pastor calls “lazy thinking.” Lazy thinking, in my definition, is superficial and not concerned with the “why” and the purpose of life, but just the “now”.  It is primarily concerned with self.  Deep thinking, on the other hand, is concerned with the “whys” of life and the “points” or purposes of life. It can be concerned with self, but usually extends to how we affect others around us and leaving a good legacy for future generations to follow. Many people never get to experience the joys and the fulfillment of thinking more deeply or philosophically about life. One can think deeply, no matter what one’s beliefs are.  Here is what I have learned about how to think more deeply and how to apply this type of thinking to all facets of your life. :

  1. Think about the legacy you’re leaving or how you want to be remembered: Although I was often depressed during the toughest years of my life (for more information, see this post), I was able to think a bit more about the legacy I was leaving and what I should change in order to have a good one. I think this is a good practice, even if you are not depressed.  You don’t have to think about your death or how you want to leave this world every single day, but periodically to make sure you’re on track to leave a good mark in this world.  If you don’t leave a good legacy, few, if any, will miss or remember you after you are dead, and that is never a good thing.  However, if you strive now to live purposely to have a good legacy, you will more likely to be remembered well after you die. For instance, Jesus left a lasting legacy because He constantly thought of how He was impacting others for God, and tailored His attitudes, words, and actions to that goal. Ghandi and Mother Teresa similarly did the same. We should follow their lead, and periodically evaluate ourselves to see if we are living the life we would like to live and positively impact others.
  2. Think about how you are affecting others, not just yourself: The problem with a lot of people, including myself sometimes, is that we do things without thinking about the impact we’re making on others and how we are affecting other people’s attitudes and actions. For instance, when we are upset with someone, words often spew out of our mouth (reflecting the state and content of our hearts, sadly enough) without pause or thought. For instance, in a previous post, I talked about how people said things out of anger to me without thinking, and how I have sometimes said some hurtful words back to them.  At the time, we are not probably thinking, “Oh, if I say ‘A’ I will hurt that person and our relationship will be strained for years. Furthermore, he or she won’t be able to forgive me and we will both have hate and bitterness in our hearts.” We may just want to get the anger off our chests and are only thinking about ourselves and our feelings, not the other person’s.  However, when we think more deeply, we are not only less likely to get upset and bitter at others, but we are also able to understand and love them better.  We will think about how what we want to do will affect the other person, and be more willing and open to learning and understanding about other people.
  3. Think about why you do what you do: For every action you do, there is most likely a reason why you do it. We may not always think about why we are doing what we’re doing, but there is always a reason. Thinking about why we do what we do has several benefits. One of them is that you will start to do things with purpose, and not just to do them. For instance, if I really thought about why I work, I would come up with these reasons. A.) I work to earn money, so I can live. B) I work to serve others so that I can impact the world positively and more importantly, glorify God.  C) I work to glorify God—I work because God says it’s good for me, and also to make Him happy.  Knowing and thinking about these “whys,” I then am able to tailor my attitude and actions towards this goal. When I am thinking about these goals or credos, I am more likely to work harder and to keep a positive attitude. If, however, I am stressed and/or not really thinking about my purpose in working, the quality of my work starts to suffer and my attitude often sours into an “I-don’t care” mentality or “Let’s just get this done and over with” frame of mind.  This thinking about the “whys” in your life can extend to all other areas of my life as well. For instance, if you are a breadwinner for your family, and are thinking about why you are providing for them you may come up with these reasons. A.) To glorify God—to make Him happy and give Him the worship He deserves.  B) To serve my family well.  C) To be a good example of service and care for my children.  Then, you can tailor your life to these goals by, for example, a.) Excelling at your job. b) Cook or help your spouse cook.  ) joyfully serve my family

These are just some of the benefits of thinking deeply. When we think about the legacy we’re leaving, think about how we are affecting others other than ourselves, and think about why we do what we do, our life will be much more fulfilling and purposeful.  We will also think about what we are doing when we are tempted to hurt someone with our words or actions. We will have a much better attitude towards others. Drink of the deep today, and think about what and why you do what you do.

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Top 10 People That Inspire Me

While there are many people that have impacted my life in a positive way, these following ten people have inspired me the most. Each of these ten people has overcome some great trials in their lives. (For privacy reasons, some of their trials may not be mentioned). They have persevered when they felt like giving up or when there was no way out of their dire situation.  Some of them have had great personal struggles which they have or are working very hard to overcome.  So, without further ado, the top ten people that inspire me are (and why they inspire me):

  1. My mom—The more I learn about her, the stronger of a person I realize she is. Even though many people have hurt her in the past, she still tries to keep a positive attitude about life and perseveres through life’s challenges. She doesn’t just give up on people or relationships if she thinks that there is even a slight chance of reconciliation. My mom inspires me because she is still willing to help people and persevere in life even through the trials in her life. I cannot say that of too many people in society today.
  2. My dad—My dad inspires me because even though his work is often stressful and difficult, he still has a pretty positive attitude about life. He never slacks off in his job, and he is willing to sacrifice for the good of others. For instance, if a co-worker is going on vacation, he is more than willing to cover for him or her.
  3. Holly*–My online friend Holly has gone through some of the most challenging and horrific things a human being could face, but she is one of the sweetest, most caring, and validating people I know. Also, her perseverance to go on despite all the challenges that she has to face is amazing. I don’t even think I could go on if I had to face all the things that she has had to face. I am amazed by not only her care for others, but also her wisdom with words.  She is a great writer and a creative spirit.
  4. K—My other online friend is also amazing. Battling some tough things that could make anyone bitter, she determines to see the positive in life and not be held down by her disability or obstacles that stand in her way. She inspires me to also work hard and not to let the tough stuff of life hold me down.  Also, she is very humorous and is a fun person to be around.
  5. Frank Taylor—He is my former pastor, but he has had a great impact on my life. Sent to a boarding school when he was a teen, God took a hold of his life near the end of his tenure there. His life is a testament to the miracles God has worked in his life! Though he has had to go through some very difficult things, he still has a humble and gentle spirit about him.  He has taught me to a.) never judge people by their public appearances and b.) to be humble even if it costs you something.
  6. Chrissy—My friend Chrissy has had to go through her share of trials too, and like my mom, a lot of people have hurt and betrayed her. Despite this, she still has a heart to serve and love others. She is not swayed by appearances or flattery. She loves singing for God and once led a food pantry for the needy in our area.
  7. Ted*–My friend Ted has gone through a lot in the two years or so I have known him. Not only has he had to deal with some loss, but he has also had to work through severe physical pain. The fact that he still is willing to work through the pain and doesn’t keep calling off, shows not only a work ethic stamped with integrity but also an unselfish heart. In fact, he often helps other co-workers, including me, with the work we had to do, even when no one asks or requires him to.
  8. Rachel Joy Scott—My faith hero inspires me because of her great, positive impact on a large number of people in society. Even when others didn’t see hope in her killers, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, she reached out to them in love, trying to convince them that there was a better way. She also reached out to the friendless and the outcast in her school and didn’t bully anyone.
  9. Donald*—I met my mom’s friend’s son when he was just three years old, and he was very mischievous. However, he inspires me because God took a hold of his life, and uses his job and time to bless others and to share the love of Christ with others. Though he has gone through a lot, he loves like he has never been hurt and his passion and love for God are not abated.
  10. Jim–Before my friend Jim gave his life to Christ, he lived a very self-centered lifestyle. Now, he lives for God with all the passion, vigor, and love that his heart can muster. His prayers are powerful and effective because he uses his life to bless others. For instance, when he saw a book that could be useful for me, he bought it for me and didn’t expect anything back.  He inspires me because I, too, strive to love God and others and bless them in any way I can.

These are the ten people that inspire me to live life with more joy and gratitude than I have had before. Though each of these people has been through their share of suffering and pain, they have either overcome them already or are working to push through them.  Who inspires you? Why? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.

*=not their real names, pseudonym.

**=If anyone on the list wants me to add or delete anything on this list, please email me privately and I will do it. Thanks. 🙂

Characteristics I Value Most in People and Why

Working in the sales realm full-time and writing this blog, I meet a lot of people, both offline and online.  Although I strive to value each person I meet, there are few people, if any, who meet all of these following characteristics that I value the most. I don’t even meet them all myself, but I strive to do better each day at meeting them.  However, most people I have met will meet at least some of these valued character traits. Here they are and why I value them so highly:

  1. Genuineness– This is one of the traits that I value most in people, if not the very top one. This is why I believe Jesus was so irritated with the Pharisees—because they did not exemplify genuineness at all. They had the appearance of being religious, yet inside they were full of evil and corruption.  I also hate when people have the appearance of being godly, but inside, are full of evil and something other than who they display themselves to the “real world.”  In fact, I would rather have someone who I expect to be not nice to tick me off, than to have someone who is all sweet to me all the time to my face, go behind my back and betray me for no good reason. I value people who are willing to be honest with me even at the cost of their reputation.  I will not reject 90% of the people that have the courage to tell me what’s on their heart and who they really are. However, I will be much less accepting of fake liars.
  2. Caring—I value people who care about others more than just themselves. They live and work with a definite purpose of serving and caring for others.  For instance, a lot of the members of the church that I am part have this characteristic. I can see it when they bring meals to the sick in our congregation and/or pray for them on a regular basis.  I see this with some of the people I work with at my job. One of my co-workers not only cares for his family at home but also helps out others at work.  I would like to strive to exemplify this better and more.  People who care about others make life worth living to everyone around them. They inspire me to keep going when I feel like I have nothing left to give.
  3. Diligence—I value people who are willing to put in the effort into things. One of my managers, *Chris, exemplifies this trait by doing the best he can as long as he can. His attitude does not allow for excuses to be lazy or quit in the middle of a task that needs to be accomplished.  I also do not like to quit in the middle of a task (though I have been tempted to at times), and will often get what I can done before someone else forces me to quit!  I hate being lazy and love keeping busy.  Striving to be diligent also gives me a sense of accomplishment and purpose.
  4. Faithful—I value people who are willing to put up with me through the long haul. I understand and accept people leaving because they are being led in another direction. However, I do not like when people quit on others or me just because they get “tired” of us or aren’t willing to put in the effort to sustain the relationship anymore. People who are faithful either to another person or at their job tell others by their actions that they can be relied on and trusted. When a spouse is faithful to the marriage, he or she is willing to hold on to the other person even when things get tough.  Being faithful shows that you will be committed to a cause or person for the long haul and have staying power.
  5. Humility—I value people who are humble because it shows that they respect others and are grateful for everything they have. People who are arrogant and have an “I-deserve” attitude, in contrast, show they don’t respect anyone but themselves because in their thinking, they say, “ I deserve everything I have. I am the best. Everyone else is dung. Give me what you owe or else.” However, people who are humble, say, through their thoughts and attitudes, “I don’t deserve anything. Everything I have is a gift from above.  I am no better than anyone else. Everyone has value and I am grateful that they are in my life because I can learn something from them.”
  6. Forgiving—I value people who are willing to forgive others because they know that everyone makes mistakes and sins. When someone is willing to forgive me for something I did against them, especially if it hurt that person very much, shows not only courage on the part of that person, but mercy and grace that I don’t deserve. By forgiving me, they are actually helping me want to never want to hurt them again.
  7. Affirming—I value people who are able to encourage, especially when one is going through a rough time. This does not necessarily mean agreeing with everything that is said or done. However, it does mean not acting in a condescending or a condemning manner to that person.  It also means not giving unsolicited advice and listening to another’s concerns more than hearing you talk to them.  It means upholding the value of the other person.  For instance, if a friend of yours tells you that he or she was abused or bullied, telling them that they are valued and that it was not their fault is affirming them.  However, telling him or her how to overcome the abuse and that they should forgive their abuser when the abuse is still fresh in their minds, is not, no matter how helpful you make this seem. Yes, there is a time and place for good advice, but what they need right now is affirmation. What they need to know is that their feelings and experiences are valid and important to you, and that you are willing to listen to them, not just yourself.

 

I value these characteristics because I believe these are essential to not only success in life and our relationships but also to be a godly and moral person. I strive to exemplify these characteristics every day to those that I encounter, though I admit that I am not perfect in exemplifying these qualities.  What characteristics do you value in people? Why?  Please feel free to discuss in the comments.

 

*not his real name

What I Learned From the “Be Kind” quote

The quote, “Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle,” is widely misattributed to Plato, but actually Ian MacLaren, or John Watson, is said to be the original source of this quote. (source: https://quoteinvestigator.com/2010/06/29/be-kind/). God has been putting this quote in my mind a lot recently, in the wake of stress and my wanting to be less upset and irritated by people and things around me.  Here is what I have learned from meditating on this quote that can be applied to anyone of any belief in every walk of life:

  1. Being kind is rooted in our gratitude.—When we are ungrateful, it is hard to think that others deserve anything good at all. We feel entitled to our “stuff,” that we lose sight of other people’s stories. However, when we see each day and each thing as a gift that is not necessarily deserved, we are freer to be able to give to others our kindness and our gifts. When we realize what some other people go through are harder than what we are currently dealing with, we appreciate our lives more. For instance, a lot of people I know don’t have a lot of supportive family and friends and have gone through some very rough times in their lives with little help. When I hear their stories, I appreciate that I have my family and my church community to help me through rough times in my life. I am kinder to those that have less support because I want them to be able to have the help that I already have.
  2. Being kind is rooted in how much we care for others.—When we care about other people, we are more likely to be sympathetic and empathetic to their hurt and pain in their life. We are more likely to do more than just to offer superficial platitudes, and instead, try to do something to help alleviate their pain and get through their tough situation in life. We don’t feel burdened down by our own problems, because we are not self-focused, but are willing and able to give our love and support to others as well.  If I am stressed and burdened by my own problems, I am much less effective in helping others through theirs because not only am I being self-focused but my capacity to care and think about others is also decreased.  Yes, there are times when our problems will seem insurmountable and burdensome, but when we try to also look outside ourselves and our pain, we are not only able to help others overcome their difficulties, but our own problems will also seem less intense and heavy.
  3. Being kind is rooted in our humility—Being arrogant, to me, is thinking that you are better than everyone else, that everyone else is inferior to you. When one is arrogant, it is very difficult, if not impossible, for them to be kind to others. When one realizes that their needs are not necessarily more important than another’s, they are more able to be kind and care for others effectively.  When your mindset is to be kind to everyone because everyone is going through something that may be harder than the burden you are carrying, you are valuing others and are not thinking with a “poor-me” attitude.  You are submitting yourself to another’s needs because you know that other people have value and need your support too.

Though being kind is sometimes difficult and takes a lot of thought and care, it is better than being unkind and rude to others.  Being kind is rooted in our thankfulness of what has been given to us, because our gratitude is expressively linked to how kind we are able to be to others. It is rooted in how much we care about other people and their lives.  Finally, being kind is rooted in being humble because it is necessary to be able to prefer another above yourself, in both their needs and desires.  Who can you be kind to today?

Why Lying Hurts You

Lying is so prevalent in today’s society that it is often difficult to know who to trust. From the “little white lie” to the lies of a more serious nature, not telling the truth hurts everyone, including the speaker of the lie. Here is how lying hurts you and why honesty really is the best policy. :

  1. Lying destroys relationships.—When you lie to someone with whom you are supposed to have a close relationship, such as a family or a close friend, lying creates a barrier between you and the other person. Not only that but if that person finds out that you had lied to them, they won’t trust you anymore or believe anything you say to them, even if that time you were telling the truth. Trust is essential to a good relationship. If you don’t trust someone, you won’t want to be with them. Lying destroys relational bonds.
  2. Lying corrupts your character.—When one consistently lies to others, their character becomes corrupted, and eventually, ruined! For instance, this effect is illustrated in Scripture when King David lies to himself and to Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, in order to cover up his adultery with Bathsheba. Then, because Uriah does not want to go back to his wife (and so David’s adultery would not be covered), David has Uriah killed in battle! After Nathan confronts David and David repents, he (David) still feels the effects of his lie, when one of his sons, borne by Bathsheba, turns against him to usurp his kingship, forcing David to hide from his son. In a modern example, Harvey Weinstein is accused of being sexually abusive to many women. If he had admitted his fault publically with the first woman he is alleged to have abused or had an affair with, he and his company would not be in the trouble they are in today. Instead, he intimidated them further by trying to silence them and lied to himself and others by telling them, in essence, that it was “acceptable” or “ok” behavior, when he knew it was not!
  3. Lying is presumptuous and arrogant.—Lying to others (or even yourself), shows contemptible pride because it refuses to face reality and be genuine. When we lie to ourselves and others, we don’t allow ourselves to be vulnerable, a necessary component of growth and positive change. We are trapped in our own delusions. When we lie, we refuse to confront reality in the eye and do the hard work of beginning to make necessary changes to our character and situation. This is because lying often casts you in a better light than we really are.

These are some ways that lying hurts you. So, if you don’t want your name or reputation to be tarnished if you want others to be able to trust you, and if you want to avoid becoming arrogant and presumptuous, be honest. Honesty really is the best policy of life. Who can you be completely genuine with today? Discuss in comments.

True Love: Why It Is Worth It

From the racially charged demonstrations about two months ago in Charlottesville, Virginia to the tragedy in Las Vegas just this month, there seems not only to be a lack of love, but people everywhere searching for hope, and more importantly, love.  They are searching for someone who will hold them and patiently listen to their pain and anguish in their lives, someone who will appreciate them for who they are, not just what they can do, someone who will be there for them when everyone else has deserted them, someone to give purpose and meaning to their lives. People need love more than ever in their lives!

Unfortunately, the word “love” has been tossed around like a worthless rag. Its meaning has been reduced to sensuality and good, mushy feelings, diminishing the true value of the word. However, true love is much more than that. Love, as I define it, can be found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, where “charity” equals love (KJV):

“Charity suffereth long and is kind. Charity envieth not, charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up. Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil. Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”

From this verse, here is why I personally believe loving others is worth it:

  1. Love builds trust in relationships.— True love is not dependent on feelings or doing something kind only if one “feels like it.” True love willingly serves even in the face of adversity. Love means being there for another in the long haul. For instance, it is the husband who doesn’t leave his wife just because he doesn’t have loving feelings towards her at the time. It is the friend who does not give up on the other because he or she has found out something difficult or unattractive about the other person. This builds trust because the recipient of the love knows that the giver will never ever give up on them or the relationship.
  2. Love gives freedom to both the giver and the receiver.–For the giver, when one loves they become much less focused on the self and their own problems and more concerned about others. Thus, their own problems will usually pale in comparison and love gives them freedom to give more of themselves to others. This happens to me when I listen to or read about what others have had to go through in life.  Focusing on them and encouraging others through their issues helps me to put my own problems into perspective and usually helps me appreciate my own life more, that I am not facing that issue or that I have but now I am at a place where I can help others through that similar issue. For the receiver, love gives them the freedom to open up and be vulnerable without the fear of being judged and condemned by the person wanting to give the love. Furthermore, love gives them the freedom to just be themselves, without having to hide their true selves or “morph” into a more “suitable” version of themselves. Finally, when you someone truly loves you, they only want the best for you and they don’t continually think evil thoughts about you, so you don’t have to worry about their motives in trying to do good things for you,  or whether you have to “pay them back,” or “suffer in the end” for their good.
  3. Love gives purpose and meaning to our lives.–If you really love someone, you will invest in them emotionally, spiritually, and oftentimes financially and in other ways as well. This investment gives us someone to live for to ensure their welfare and their joy in their life. If you are spiritual, loving others will also bring you closer to God and His purposes for your life. In contrast, when we stop caring about and loving others, life becomes meaningless and empty. Your heart becomes hard and unmalleable to help solve any of the malaises of this world and make any positive difference in others’ lives.
  4. True love lasts forever.–If you really love someone, your love will never die. When someone loves you, their love for you will never die either.  Yes, even people we love will have to leave us (or the earth) sometime, but I believe if that person truly cares for and loves you, they will almost never forget you. A good indicator of if you really love someone is if they move to a different place, do you still remember them and how they look like? Do both of you make an effort to connect?  Do you still pray for or think about them? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” they probably have a special place in your heart. Also, true love never “disowns” people because it never gives up on someone. If someone gives up on you, they probably never loved you.  If they are there for you through thick and thin, then they probably do love you. True love lasts.

These are just some of the reasons that love is worth it. How can you love someone today? I don’t mean just the romantic or the mushy, gooey love either, but the true, agape love that Jesus gave everyone.  Trust me; because of the long-lasting effects of true love such as the building of trust in relationships, the giving of purpose and meaning to our lives, the sheer freedom it gives, and the fact that it lasts, love is definitely worth it.

 

Things One Should Say To an Abuse Survivor

DISCLAIMER: Triggers for talk of rape and abuse. Absolutely NO disparaging comments allowed or your comment will be deleted! 

In the era where there are more people coming forward about being abused despite their perpetrators trying to silence them, there is still much work that needs to be done to help these survivors heal. One way this can be done is by saying things that will help the survivor heal and move forward despite all the horrible things that have happened to them. In my experience in dealing with people that have been abused and/or bullied, here are things that I think they need to hear from you:

  1. “I believe you.”–Many survivors suffer not only from the post-traumatic effects of having been abused but also from the stigma of not being believed, especially by family and/or friends of the perpetrator and sometimes even people in their own circle of influence. Saying to them that you believe what they went through was and is valid and real will help them heal because saying this validates their experience and feelings surrounding the traumatic event. It says you will be there for them and that you acknowledge their value and their worth.
  2. “This was not your fault.”–Many survivors also believe, at least to some extent, that the abuse was somehow their fault. This is what the perpetrators want them to believe because they (the aggressors) often do not want to a.) take responsibility for their actions and b.) believe that they are that bad of a person that they need to change their behaviors. However, this is NEVER true.  For instance, even if a rape survivor wore revealing clothing, it does not mean it is the survivor’s fault that they were raped! It is totally and completely the perpetrator’s fault for not controlling himself or herself and treating someone in a vulnerable position like an object of their twisted and selfish pleasures!
  3. “You are valued and loved.” —Many survivors I know struggle with low self-esteem or self-worth. Even people who are not survivors can struggle with this, but survivors even more so because the perpetrators have brainwashed these survivors into thinking that they are much less than they really are. Often perpetrators want their victims to think lowly of themselves, so it is easier for them to control their victims.  Survivors of abuse often struggle with this long after their perpetrators are out of their lives.  Telling the survivor that he or she is valued and loved, with a sincere heart, of course, will help them to regain their confidence and rebuild their lives.  Going a step further, and actually showing them that they are valued and loved, of course, can drastically improve survivors’ lives and/or outlook of their future.
  4. “I am here for you.”–A lot of survivors I know feel alone and/or struggle with depression.  This is often because the perpetrator often wants to silence them. If the perpetrator is successful in doing that, a survivor can feel that they have no one to turn to and that no one can really be trusted. Thus, they feel alone in their pain and suffering, and many can only tell their accounts of the abuse years after it happened.  Some, sadly, even take these accounts to their graves, or the perpetrator is believed instead of the survivor and thus is never punished or disciplined for their crimes. Saying “I am here for you,” will make the survivor feel less alone in their pain. It shows solidarity with them and will eventually open the gates of trust in their heart because saying this with a sincere heart will assure the survivor that they are not alone in their pain and that they don’t have to suffer alone.
  5. “You are beautiful.”–Abuse survivors, especially if they were abused sexually, often struggle with how they view the person staring back at the mirror in some way. Saying this in a platonic and sincere way can help survivors regain their self-confidence. However, one should also be careful to say this in such a way that it emphasizes their infinite worth as unique and awesome creation.  One should never say this half-heartedly or in a seductive manner!
  6. “You are not alone.”–As I said before, a lot of abuse survivors think they are somehow alone in their trial and anguish because they are often silenced or sworn to secrecy by their perpetrators especially if the survivors were abused as children.  Saying “You are not alone” to an abuse survivor can mean the world to them. Even though some may know logically that they are not alone, it is often refreshing for them to know that they a.) don’t suffer alone. b.) their anguish is not so unique that no one can ever understand or relate to them in some way.
  7. “I care about you” OR “I will support you.” –Some abuse survivors may feel that no one really cares about or supports them, especially if they have been told by some people in some way that their experience is not believable (even if what they experienced is 100% true).  Saying and demonstrating in some way that you care about them and are willing to support them can be a boon to them. This will mean to the survivor that they have a friend (you) who will help them through the up and downs of the recovery from their abuse and will show to them the perseverance of true love.
  8. Any other validating words.–What this world, and especially abuse survivors, need is love and validation.  Be careful when offering advice or criticism, because these things can hurt the survivor even more even if it is not intentional.  Often abusers control their victims by demeaning them not only physically, but also with hurtful and unnecessarily devaluing and mean words.  If you must offer advice or criticism, do so gently. Never verbally attack a survivor! Always think of them before yourself. Validate them by reminding them of their worth to you and to society, and do so sincerely. Most people can see through fake gestures of “kindness.”  Be sincere and kind in your words to others, especially survivors, always.

These are some things an abuse survivor needs to hear from you. If we validated everyone, especially people who have been through so much, I believe this whole world would heal from their pain and anguish, and it would be a much better place to live. Who can you love and validate today? Please discuss in comments.

Biggest Lie Society Taught Me To Believe (and how to counter it)

Disclaimer: This post is inspired by a question asked of writer Todd Brison on Quora. You can find his website here.

The lie that society has taught me to believe since I was about two years old when I was rejected by people at a daycare center, is that one’s worth is dependent on how much you accomplish and/or are to other people. Maybe there are some of you who have or are still believing this very lie. It’s easy to believe, especially if you live in a developed country like I do. The phrase “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps,” comes from this mentality. It says that, basically, we should be self-made and need minimal, if any, help from others. This mentality also does not take into account or value those who are disabled or otherwise cannot do certain things all by themselves. It may see people who need help of any kind as  “weaker,” more “useless,” or somehow “less valuable,” than their able-bodied counterparts.  The only benefit to believing this lie is that it forces you to be diligent and not lazy. However, the drawbacks, in my mind, are not worth this benefit.  First of all, it devalues people. It not only devalues the disabled or sick but also everyone else because it reduces our worth to be only what we do and if we are “useful” to society or not. Racism and other forms of prejudice derive from this mentality that other people are worth less because of what they do or don’t do in society.  Also, this lie is a form of pride.  Believing this lie does not allow one to get the help and support they need, because of the stigma of shame and embarrassment of feeling “worthless”  if they admit they need help. If one accomplishes success in society’s eyes, this person may become arrogant and look down upon others. Finally, this lie sometimes influences people to spend their life on things that are not as essential, such as becoming a workaholic to the expense of his or her health and loved ones.  Because this society is accomplishment driven, some people may chase after money, power, sex, or work to the point of being obsessed with them and delve into becoming an addict, which is never good.  If this society based someone’s worth more on how they beautiful and unique they are, for instance, instead of just what they can contribute to society, this wouldn’t be such an issue.

Here are some ways we can counter this lie and its effects:

  1. Value people.–I have written several times on how we should value people. For these posts see this and this.  However, it is worth repeating.  One way we can value people more is to thank people for the good that they do to us and others. For instance, if you see a colleague or a boss take the initiative to help you with some of your work because they see it may overwhelm you, say ” Thank you. I appreciate your help.”  They are not obligated to help you, but the fact that they did anyway needs to be acknowledged not only for their sake but also for yours as well.  Another way we can value people is to encourage people when they feel upset or depressed. Tell and show people that they are still worthy of love even if they don’t accomplish everything they desire or hope.
  2. Demonstrate and encourage humility.–One way to demonstrate humility is to genuinely apologize when you make a mistake or offend someone. Never say, “I’m sorry, but…,” because you are just excusing what you did, which is not a real apology.  The correct way to apologize and make amends with someone you offended is to a.) I am sorry I did x and that I hurt you by doing x. I will promise to try to never do that again. Will you forgive me?” b.) Work to not only offer restitution for the loss the offended party incurred by your mistake or sin but also to never offend them again. Another way to show humility is to be willing to be vulnerable. Never be afraid to ask for someone else’s help or admit that you are not perfect.  Yes, it is a risk sometimes. Many people aren’t willing to be vulnerable because they are afraid of what others will think of them and that they will be rejected. That used to be me too in the past. Now, I am not so afraid anymore, because I now know that their opinion really doesn’t matter. It is what God thinks of me that really counts. Also, the people that reject us for being vulnerable and honest with them are probably insecure themselves, and striving to please them is really a waste of time because they will never be satisfied with anything we can give them anyway.
  3. Be successful in things that will matter for eternity, or for your eternal memory, not just on things that will only last in your earthly life.–Yes, it is good to be successful at one’s job or career, or get good grades. I don’t object to this at all. In fact, I encourage it!  However, what I’m saying is don’t focus so much on worldly success that you miss what really counts or what memory you will leave on this earth after your life ends.  In order to be truly successful, I believe one of the things people should focus on besides God is the relationships you have on this earth with other people. How are you treating those you profess to love or care about? This is something I think (me included) can do better. Do not be so focused on worldly goals that you miss the eternal and the spiritual, and your relational goals.

If we do these three things, this lie can be seen for the farce it is. People are inherently valuable, not because they can do a lot of good for us, or even the world, but because each person is unique and special in how they were created to be. Value and cherish others today, and never think that we are only as good as what we do.

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.

On Love and Vulnerability

C.S Lewis once said the following: (source: Goodreads.com)

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.

I’m sure all of us have been hurt by another person or animal at some point in our lives.  Some of you may have been hurt many times, you may have thought to yourself (maybe consciously, but maybe unconsciously): ” I will never give my heart to anyone again!  I will keep everyone at arm’s length so that I won’t get hurt ever again. ”  Seems logical, doesn’t it? If you don’t let anyone in your heart, you won’t get hurt by anyone either.  Unfortunately, as C.S Lewis says in this quote (my paraphrase), you will not only be immune to getting hurt, you will also be eventually immune to getting the love and care you need.

Here’s why it’s important not to completely close yourself off to others:

  1. When you open yourself to others and are vulnerable, people will more likely accept and respect the true you.–Especially nowadays, when there are many fakes and wannabes, being authentic is a breath of fresh air to most people.  Being open to not only your triumphs and accomplishments but also your failure makes you more believable–and dare I say, more human. Also, if you are open and honest with yourself, people are more likely to respect your boldness and genuineness.
  2. Connected to the first point, when you are willing to be vulnerable with others, it gives others a chance to open up too.–I used to be so afraid of being “found out” and rejected, that I hid parts of myself. When I began to open up to others (Yes, I understand we shouldn’t tell your life story to strangers or to people you don’t trust or know well, but we should be able to trust at least one other person!), sometimes other people will also open up to you and you will find the comforting feeling that you are not alone in your struggles or experiences.  It is a feeling of solidarity to be able to say to another, “Me too!”
  3. When you open yourself up to others, it allows you and the other person or persons to learn from one another.–When we open up about our experiences and struggles, we are able to better understand others.  For instance, if you relate to a good friend that you struggle with X problem, you may learn that your friend struggles with the same problem, or struggled before and has already overcome it, in which case, you can learn how to overcome your problem better from your friend.  If you don’t share anything at all, you also don’t learn anything from anyone. When we stop learning, I found that life loses meaning and purpose. Don’t fall into that trap.
  4. When you open up yourself to others, you are allowing yourself to receive love and help from others.–Yes, opening yourself up does require some humility, but it is worth it.  For instance, there are people at my job that I initially had some problems with, but when I humbled myself and tried to open up to them and  learn more about them in genuine love and care for them, I found that these people actually were more willing to help me understand them better and developed a good measure of care for me in return. This does not always happen with everyone, of course, but we all can learn at least one thing from another person, even if we don’t like or get along with them.  Also, when you open up yourself to someone, he or she can understand and relate to you better than if you keep everything bottled up inside and secret.
  5. When you close yourself to others, your heart will become callous and uncaring.–I have seen and heard about people who have put up so many barriers to others, that they became hateful towards others and despondent and callous.  Some of them no longer care about the needs of others because they have become so focused on hiding everything, that they forget about everything else. People who harbor deep prejudices often are near or at this point. They have so much anger and hatred inside and have barriers so high, that they no longer care about anything or anyone other than themselves.  This is a very sad state to be in, indeed.

Objections to being vulnerable–answered:

  1. If I become vulnerable, someone will hurt or take advantage of me.–Yes, this can and does happen, but we must not let our fears dictate our lives. The alternative to not being vulnerable and not getting hurt is often worse than the hurt one can try so hard to avoid in the first place. Instead of taking the risk of having someone hurt us, we become hard and calloused and so hurt ourselves worse than the hurts we are fearing. Also, suffering and hurt is a fact of life on this side of the dirt.  I know. I hate it too, but the suffering you experience from another person is often (or at least can be) temporary. The price of being “irredeemable” and “dark,”  as C.S Lewis mentions, is not worth the price of avoiding hurt and pain from another person.
  2. Being vulnerable is only for the weak--So. not. true.  Being vulnerable and being willing to risk one’s reputation for the sake of authenticity and openness takes quite the emotional energy to do.  It takes a lot of strength. For instance, when someone is willing to risk their friendships by admitting a struggle or a personality defect, he or she is not only being strong but courageous in the face of possible fire, so to speak, as well. Being prideful and appearing perfect when you’re not is actually more of a sign of weakness than being vulnerable.
  3. If I am willing to be vulnerable, especially with my problems, my reputation will be ruined.–Well, it could be, but let me ask you this? Would you rather go through life being “liked” for a fake version of you, and thus no one knows or likes the real you, or would you rather be hated but feel free to be who you really are?  I would prefer the latter myself because I don’t do fake.  Also, most likely your reputation may only be slightly ruined–by those people who now see you in a negative light, but who were never really confidants in the first place–, but enhanced by those who will be your true blue friends and who will really love and care for you unconditionally. I think the latter group is the best kind of friends anyway.

So, to be loved is to be vulnerable. It may be very scary for some (or many) people, but love is always worth it.  I have been so much with so many people and thus have learned a lot from them about love. What I have learned from most everyone is that truly loving them requires some measure of vulnerability. May we all be fearless and free to be who we were meant to be, with no barriers to love.