How to Deal With Difficult People-More Detailed Version

There are often people that can rub us the wrong way. Whether it is a family member, an acquaintance, a boss at work, a teacher at school, or even a stranger that was rude to you once, we all have at least one person we don’t get along with as well as others in our life. We can either choose one of two things: a.) Continue in conflict and/or have resentment, anger, and bitterness towards that person or persons. OR b.) Resolve to be at peace with that person or persons to the best of our ability. We all can do a.) naturally, but b.) takes more work and time. However, though I am still learning, here’s what I found are the keys to deal with difficult people successfully.:

Three Basic Principles (and explanations) of Dealing With Difficult People Successfully:

  1. Be humble.– If you are too proud to admit your part of the conflict or part in causing the conflict, then you will most likely never be at peace with that person or persons. You will develop a “victim mentality,” meaning when you think that person is only out to hurt or use you when it could be a false assumption. Admitting your part in the rift, no matter how small, can open doors to reconciliation and change on both sides. Being humble tells the person you are having problems with that you are not out to hurt them but that you are the bigger person.
  2. Be unselfish.–If you are only out for number #1 (i.e. what you call, me, myself, and I)  then you will never be able to resolve conflict with that difficult person. However, if you try to put yourself in their shoes, and try to show them, sacrificial love, they will start to “melt.” This principle, found in Romans 12 of the Bible, is called “heaping burning coals on one’s head.” You “heap burning coals” by overwhelming the difficult person with love and care. Basically, you teach them how to love. Warning: You must love sincerely without expecting anything back, otherwise they will see through you and you won’t be able to have the effect you want in them changing their behavior towards you.
  3. Be patient.–Difficult people don’t change overnight. Even implementing these principles takes concerted time and effort. But be patient with them. Don’t give up on trying to work things out with them just because you don’t see immediate results. Sometimes, this may take years. Continue loving them, and if you are religious, pray for them.  Don’t let them affect how you see other people, but also don’t give up hope that one day they can either change or else suffer the consequences of their actions.

Difficult People in Authority: Principles to Follow

In addition to the above general principles, here are others that can be applied when specifically dealing with a difficult person in authority, such as a boss or a teacher:

  1. Never argue.–If your boss or teacher tells you to do something you don’t want to do unless it is immoral or illegal, don’t try to argue yourself out of it. In fact, try not to argue about anything they say to you! First of all, if you argue against them, you will never “win.” More than that, you may also not only get them irritated or upset with you, but you might get disciplined as well.
  2. Never defame their character.–People often gossip or even slander about authority figures they hate or dislike. Don’t fall into this trap! If you do, and it gets back to them (as it most likely will), at the very least you will get a verbal tongue-lashing from them because of the anger and hurt they feel towards you for having said those bad things about them, and you can even get severely disciplined or even shunned by everyone around you because of the effects of your gossip and/or slandering. Instead, build them up. Only speak to their positive qualities to others. In this, you will retain your integrity.
  3. Always phrase any questions you may have in a non-threatening manner. –For example, if something they said shocks you or you don’t quite understand what they just said, you can ask in a neutral tone of voice, “I didn’t understand quite what you meant by that. May you please explain it to me again?”

If they snipe at or criticize you, and at least some part of the criticism is true, ask what they think you can do to fix it or do better next time. Always maintain a humble attitude. For instance, if my boss tells me that I did labeling of items wrong and that I am too slow, I could say, “How would you like me to do the labeling instead? Is there any way that is effective that you use to do your work more efficiently that I should imitate so I can improve my work speed?”

Difficult People in the Family:

The most difficult people may be in one’s own family.  If there are major issues with abuse, you may only be able to do #1 most effectively, but for other situations, #2 and #3  do work wonders.  However, one should strive to be kind and unselfish to everyone, even though it may be a long and difficult road. Also, dealing with one’s family is the cornerstone for growing and coping with other relationships you have.

  1. Have limited contact, if possible.–If the difficult person does not live with you or is a distant relative, you don’t have to have constant contact with them. Love them from a distance.  Don’t be drawn into interactions with them that can create conflict and chaos. If you live with them or have to see them on a regular basis, see principles 2 and 3.
  2. Show them kindness.–You don’t have to like someone to show them kindness. Yes, it is easier if you do get along with them, but you can show people you don’t like kindness as well.  Intentionally show them love and grace. For instance, if the person you don’t get along with in your family has constant physical pain, you can help them with tasks that if they did them by themselves would exacerbate the pain. This way you show care for their pain and suffering and are telling them that they don’t have to suffer alone. This can open the door to reconciliation if you do these tasks with a sincere heart and a good attitude.
  3. Prefer them over yourself.–I have often said, and this is true, that the most difficult people in our lives are often the ones in most need of love. Preferring the difficult person over yourself says that you are willing to work to be at peace with them not only for your benefit but for theirs as well.  It will also show this difficult person that you have their best interests at heart and are not out to hurt them.

Strangers/people you don’t meet every day:

There are people that you don’t meet every day, but they still are difficult to handle, such as the person who cuts you off in traffic, the person who writes disparaging comments about you on YouTube or Twitter, or the person who cuts you in the grocery store line and has a thousand items when you only had several.  Here are three principles specific to them on how to deal:

  1. Don’t take what they say or do personally.–Some people (wrongly) take their bad days or difficult situations out on other people. I’m sure most of us have done this too at some point in our lives. These people are probably not trying to purposely hurt you though, so try not to take them personally. For instance, if someone says something nasty to you on Twitter or YouTube, try to chalk it up to their stupidity and ignorance, and not someone out to personally hurt you.  Usually, anonymous people who hurt others (often called, “trolls”) do so for attention or to get a rise out of people. Don’t give them the attention they don’t deserve.
  2. Ask sincerely, “What can I do to help you?”–This applies to only certain situations. For instance, it can apply to the person who cuts you in the grocery store line, or when a customer or client complains about something.  Asking “What can I do to help you?” in those situations shows the person that you are willing to attend to their needs, and are not bent on just hurting them or getting what you want. It shows both unselfishness and kindness, things that can go a long way to make peace with someone.
  3. Let them vent; Don’ t tell them to “calm down” or criticize them.–Often when a stranger or a person you don’t meet regularly is upset, they are not upset at you. Even if they are, never tell someone to “calm down” or, worse yet, condemn or criticize their response.  First of all, telling someone to calm down invalidates how they are feeling. Also, telling them something like, “Don’t be so rude!” or “You’re so selfish!” will only make things worse for them and for you.  Let them vent. Try to validate how they are feeling. Even telling them, “I”m sorry that you are feeling that way. It must be tough, ” is better than criticizing them or telling them to calm down.

A Godsend–My current job

I personally believe that God led me to where I am today and with everything I am.  This is no less true concerning how I got my current job.  I am a sales associate at a large store. Sometimes there is a lot of stress, and yes I do have to work very hard, but I love it.

The journey to my current job:

I worked at a thrift store for almost three years and had a lot of good experiences there too. In fact, I have applied some of what I learned about customer service in this store to my current job! However, later on, as I grew and changed, I knew God was starting to lead me somewhere else.

I had applied to different places for about six months, with little luck. Still, I persisted.  I had applied to my current job too, but I also applied to a bookstore in my area.  To my pleasure, the bookstore had called me in for an interview.  It hadn’t opened yet, so I was led into a dark building and basically was interviewed in a warehouse-like environment. I didn’t care though; I was happy just to get interviewed. However, I was very nervous (read: too nervous), and the interview didn’t go as well as I had hoped. I didn’t know how to answer some of the questions and quickly found out that this job wasn’t a good fit for me.  Needless to say, the people at the bookstore never called me back. Since I had considered this my “dream job,” I was a bit devastated, but still held out hope that I would find a good job soon.

A few weeks later, I went into the store (i.e where I work now) because my mom and I needed to buy items from there. So, I decided to ask whatever manager was out there the status of my resume that I had sent online there.  So, I asked one of the personnel coordinators there, and she was very nice and scheduled an interview for me at 1 pm.  I didn’t have time to change into more formal clothes, so I had to go there with the clothes that I had on at the time.

1 pm came, and I was so nervous. There was also a woman there who would also become an associate and later one of my dear friends at work. I decided to make small talk with that woman who I will name “A”.  A was also looking for work, but unlike me, she already quit her previous job.  A was also kind of nervous. We both got interviewed by one of my current managers who I will call *Chris (NOT his real name).  He only asked one question about customer service. I was so surprised by how short the interview was. I did not know if I was going to get the job because I was so nervous during the interview. A and I waited for one hour to get our results and if we were going to get the job or not.  Chris kept walking back and forth and updating us on progress and getting our papers, etc.

One hour passed, A and I were each called in separately, and I was offered the job! I felt so happy but was a little disappointed when it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. However, I felt this job may be for me too, because of the opportunity to later advance and eventually I would be making more than I did at the thrift store!  So, I told the store manager that I would discuss the job offer with family and tell him tomorrow whether I would accept the offer or not.

My family and I decided that this job would be worth it.  So, I went in again, and I explained to the higher-up manager there (but not the store manager, since he wasn’t there at the time) that I would accept the offer, but I would have to respectfully give the thrift store my two-week notice before starting the job.

After giving the two-week notice,  I went to orientation.  It was several hours, but I learned a lot about the company and got my schedule. I was happy that they were able to give me much better hours than at my previous job.

What I Learned

I am so glad that I accepted the offer when I did because I felt that God had led me to my current job for several reasons.

1.) God wanted me to show His love to many people, whether it would be customers, my fellow co-workers, or even my managers.—One of the reasons why I have stayed where I am at my current job is God’s prodding me to show people there that they are loved and that they don’t have to feel alone or unappreciated. Sometimes, I fail at this, but I pick myself back up and try again.

2) God wanted me to learn from the people around me.–God wanted me to learn how not only to serve others through these three groups (customers, co-workers, and managers) of people but how to excel at my job. He wanted to humble me, by letting me know in no uncertain terms on some days, that I still have a lot to learn and to apply to my life.

3.) God felt that I could apply my skills more effectively in this job, rather than the job at the bookstore.- While I am constantly learning new and wonderful things at my current job, I am also applying skills that I learned at my previous job to this one.  For instance, at my old job, we had to always walk the customer to the item they are looking for, and I strive to always do that whenever possible and if the customer doesn’t refuse or decline to be walked at my current job. Also, at my previous job, I learned from the store manager at the time that if a customer has several items that they are trying to carry, that they should be asked if they need a cart as a way to give good customer service to them.  I always try to do that at this store as well. Sometimes, the customers say, “No, but thank you for asking,” or something to that effect, but if they say something like, “Yes, I need a cart!,” I immediately get them a cart, no questions asked. At the bookstore, there are no carts and since it is smaller, the customers don’t need to be walked as much.

Conclusion: I thank everyone at my current and previous jobs that helped me to get to where I am at today.  One more thing I learned is that when God (or your intuition) leads you somewhere,  listen to that prodding.  It may change your life for the better so you will be where you are supposed to be.  Has God (or your intuition) ever led you to somewhere where you felt “right”?  Please discuss in the comments.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (But Notice What’s Important)

DISCLAIMER: Please no negative or disparaging comments about the guest author or me here. Thank you. Also, this post is guest written by my friend and co-worker Ron Weimer, and also by myself.  This post was made through interviewing and collaborating our thoughts and ideas together.

We’ve all probably heard the phrase, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff,” right?  It may be difficult for many people to do, but we believe it is necessary to live a successful and joyful life.  Don’t sweat the small stuff basically means not to worry about the little things of life or things that are beyond our control. If we don’t sweat the small stuff of life, we will be better off for it. However, this is how to not sweat the small annoyances of life and what to do when big stuff does overwhelm you:

How not to sweat the small stuff:

  1. Don’t think about the little worries, but keep focused on the task at hand.—If someone calls you “stupid,” cuts you off in traffic, or bumps you in line, we can choose whether we will be so upset with them that it will ruin our entire day, or to shrug it off and just chalk it up to their rudeness. For instance, if someone cuts you off in traffic, instead of cursing them and honking your horn, just shake your head at them and continue driving.  It’s no use to get angry at every little rude thing that people do to you.  If someone calls you a name like “stupid,” you don’t have to retaliate or get upset, though I admit it’s difficult not to, just try to walk away from that kind of verbal abuse, and continue on the task at hand.
  2. Try to always do better and stay optimistic. —When you make a mistake, just try to find ways to improve yourself. As I (main blog author)  said in the last post, making a mistake, even a moral one, does not necessarily mean you are a “bad” or “horrible” person.  Everyone makes mistakes. We are humans, not machines.  It takes time to learn something new or form a new habit (most sources say about 90 days).  Also, stay optimistic. Try to see hope even in the pain. I know it can be difficult, but one way to stay optimistic is to ask yourself, “What can I learn about this?” or if you are religious, “What is God teaching me through this?”  There is always a lesson to be learned from everything, sometimes even multiple lessons!
  3. Don’t give up.–I (main author of this blog) always tell people that as long as you are alive, there is always hope. In many ways, that is true!  Don’t give up on life, even when you feel like giving up.  When you give up, you stop learning, and you stop being able to be better as a person. I know I have struggled to keep afloat in life many times, but thankfully I have people around me who encourage me not to give up on myself or others.

Four principles that can help you and others not sweat the small stuff, and should be done regularly, if not every day: 

  1. Laugh–Find humor even in the most annoying situations.  For instance, when a client or customer calls you “stupid,” and you have graduated from high school and/or college, you can laugh at the ridiculousness of that statement rather than get offended at that person. You can chalk it up to their ignorance and lack of knowledge of reality, just as if someone said to you, “You’re purple! ” when you are obviously not at all purple!
  2. Cry– Ron and I don’t mean crying at everything that offends or hurts you, or in anger at someone, although that sometimes is OK too.  However, we mean to cry at something that moves you emotionally–like a thoughtful card, a heartfelt compliment, or seeing someone else do something nice for another person. I recently cried when I watched a movie that moved me.
  3. Never give up.–Ron and I agree that everyone should keep on keeping on and not give in to failure.  If you fail at something, at least you know a way not to do it again. Mistakes can be good for you because you can learn from them. Making mistakes or sinning does not mean you are a failure or irredeemable, but human.
  4. Make a lot of friends--One way to do this is by simply following the Golden Rule–that is, treating people the way you want to be treated yourself.  For instance, if you would like people to validate you, look in the mirror. Do you validate others? Another way to make more friends is by not only talking about yourself and your interests but taking an interest in others’ lives.  Ask them about their hobbies, their passions, their past,  their goals in life. Also, genuinely take an interest in them as a person. Never use people solely for your own benefit or needs, though one benefit of having a lot of friends is you can network more easily.  The more people in your group, or network, the more support you are going to have and can be available to help when you have a problem or an issue.  However, also be sure to be willing to be available for your network of people if they need support.

What to do when big stuff overwhelms you (DISCLAIMER: This is not an all exhaustive list of “Big Stuff” but these are the ones that Ron and I discussed and are most common to everyday people.):

Death of a loved one

  1. Spend time with loved ones.–When you lose a loved one–whether a family member or a dear friend,  spend time with the ones that knew them best. Exchange stories about the good and/or the funny memories you had with the lost loved one. Exchange the best and most memorable photographs you had of that loved one who passed away. Imagine with your other loved ones how great life would be when you all get to see him or her on the “other side” if you are religious or spiritual.
  2. Make time to grieve your loss.–Don’t hold in all your sadness and grief.  Spend a couple days to a week at least to grieve.
  3. Take time out.–Take time for self-care. Do something nice for yourself. Rest physically and emotionally from anything that tends to drain you. This may be a job that you have or a person who is more challenging to you. Rest from those people and things that drain you the most. I don’t mean to completely cut that out of your life but just take a break.

Losing a friendship/ relationship

  1. Take time out.–Take time for self-care. Also, allow yourself time to think. Ask yourself: What happened to cause the loss of the relationship or friendship? Is this anything I can change? If so, how can I change this? Did I do something to offend the other person, or did we just become distant naturally?
  2. Talk to another friend, if you have one. If you don’t, take the time to evaluate yourself and your principles. Ask yourself: What is it that drives people away from me? Why am I a friend/relationship magnet for toxic people?
  3. Seek professional help if necessary.– Sometimes things get too overwhelming for you to deal with on your own, and even for people around you who are untrained to deal with emotional or psychological issues well. It’s OK to ask for professional help. In fact, Ron and I agree that everyone probably should at least once in their lifetime.  We can’t do this alone.  Seek out recommendations from friends or reputable websites to see if they have a good trained counselor or therapist in your area. Someone once said, ” A person who doesn’t seek help when they have a problem, will create the same problem with another person.”

Losing a job:

  1. Take time out, especially if you got fired.–Take time out to regroup and reflect on the situation at hand.  Ask yourself: Did I do something wrong? And if so, what can I do to improve? What was the reason for the loss of the job? Being depressed or disappointed is a natural feeling of losing a job. Embarrassment is too. Nothing is wrong with you if you feel these emotions. They are valid.
  2. Tell your family.–If you got fired, or even if you got laid off, tell your family or loved ones the truth. They may be disappointed in you, but they may be even more disappointed and upset if you hide the truth from them, and then they find out the truth from some other source. Moreover, they probably won’t trust you as much anymore.
  3. After a few days or weeks- Start looking for a new job. Tell the supervisor (s) at your old job if you got fired that if you use them as a reference that they won’t mention your firing and the circumstances surrounding it. Most of them will be supportive and want you to find a better fit for you.  Also, never lie on an application. The truth will find you out eventually. Always tell the truth!

This is how to not sweat the small stuff, and how to overcome some big obstacles in your life.  Never give up on life, because your life can be used to be a benefit not only to yourself but to others. Also, life is too short for sweating the small stuff.

What I Learned From the Movie, Miracles From Heaven

DISCLAIMER: Contains movie spoilers!, sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracles_from_Heaven_(film)

Last Sunday night, my mom offered to watch a movie with me that she thought I’d like. It was called “Miracles From Heaven.” Wanting to spend a little quality time with her, I agreed. It turned out to be one of the best movie decisions I’ve ever made in my life! I learned so much from this movie about how to live life, and here are some of the main lessons I learned from that movie:

  1. Sometimes you have to go through the storms (i.e: pain) in order to see the sunshine (i.e the miracle or blessing). –10 year old Annabel (Anna) Beam started experiencing vomiting, intense stomach pains, and almost died, before being miraculously cured of her illness after falling into a hollow tree hole.  In the movie, Anna is depicted at one point as wanting to die because her pain is so intense. She no longer cared about life and became very depressed. However, after she was saved, life had a new purpose. However, if Anna had never gotten sick, she wouldn’t have seen God’s grace intervening in her desperate situation.
  2. Live life as if everything is a miracle.–Near the end of the movie, Christy Beam (played by Jennifer Garner), Anna’s mother, begins before telling about Anna’s miraculous recovery by saying, “Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, ‘You have two choices as to how to live your life. Live as if nothing is a miracle, OR live as if everything is a miracle.’ ” Because Christy’s daughter’s life was saved, Christy began to see everything as a miracle and as precious, because she almost lost her beloved daughter and almost lost her faith in the process!  I can relate to this too, as I almost lost my life three years ago when the doctors found out that I had an enlarged gallbladder (She said it was twice the normal size! ) and that I had gallstones. If that gallbladder had burst, and I had waited longer to go to the ER, I would have most likely not be here writing in this blog today! More on this story, go here.  God suddenly reminded me of this event after I watched this movie and remembered the quote about living as if everything were a miracle.  Today, I remembered that quote as I was going about my work at my job and felt really joyful because I had remembered and realized just how blessed I am to be here and to be able to meet all the wonderful people at my job. Truly, everyone I have met, especially those that I have known for less than three years or had helped me through my illness is a testament to my miraculous life!
  3. Be grateful for all those people in your life that helped you succeed or get you through life .—In the movie, Christy pays tribute to all those who helped her and her daughter Anna through her (Anna’s) illness. She thanks Angela, the waitress who befriends Christy and Anna and walks them through the ordeal so they would not have to suffer alone. She thanks Dr. Nurko who treats Anna, and the receptionist who barters for a last-minute opening for her (Anna) despite her mother not having an appointment for her.  She thanks a guy friend at Anna’s school who temporarily abandons his other friends to befriend Anna so she does not feel alone in her illness.  She thanks the guy at the ticket counter who lets Anna’s father and her siblings go on the plane free, so they can see her at the hospital.  Christy does this not to gain attention, and not because she is some holy-roller, but because she realizes that she and Anna couldn’t have made it alone.  I can certainly relate too. For instance, if it had not been for the many doctors, nurses, and the surgeon who operated on me in 2014, I would not be here today. Also, I want to give a shout out to my parents, sibling, and my friend K who came to see me a few days after surgery so I wouldn’t feel alone.  Without all these people and more in my life, I wouldn’t be where or who I am today. So, thank you everyone. And I especially want to thank God, who I firmly believe made this all possible!

This is just some of what I learned in the movie, “Miracles From Heaven.” It’s a great movie; I highly recommend it.  (If you would like to purchase this movie, please go to the links in my “recommendations” section. ) It may be slow in parts, and it may not be for everyone, but if you want to live your life with more passion or purpose, this movie is a great supplement to get you thinking about life more deeply.

I’ll Never Give Up On You- A poem

I know I usually do essays, but this time I want to do a poem about what God has been teaching me about how to love others, particularly the unnamed subject in this poem.

I’ll Never Give Up On You

You may treat me bad.
You may make me sad.
You may treat me like gold
Precious in your sight

You may have tough days
And you may get yelled at
Or for all your hard work
You may get a raise

But no matter what you go through
Or whatever you may do
I will never give up on you
I will never be done with you

Not just because I have to
Not to earn some coveted prize
But because I care
And I want you to know… God loves you

Two People: A poem in honor of my parents

This is a poem I made about 6 years ago. This poem is still as true as ever today as it was then. Enjoy, and hope you too can find something of value in it!

 

Two People-dedicated to my parents, with love

Two people swept in a torrent of blessings and trials

Bring a five pound six ounce baby into this world

Many  nights are bound with anguish and tears,

Trials and fears,

Watching their baby grow up in a sinful and troubled world

But then with their child also come days of enjoying and relaxing

Of rewarding and rejoicing!

 

Two people swept in a torrent of blessings and trials,

Sacrifice everything they have in this troubled and difficult world

For their then five pound six ounce baby,

Who is now grown up as a lady

Whom to they still make sacrifices for and love

As  she learns  more and more

To love them and the One up above

Things I Want to Do Before I Die (and why)

It can be a sad fact of life—we have a limited amount of time here on earth. However, I believe that we should make the most of it. To me, this is by setting goals and by working as diligently as possible to accomplish them. Here are just some of my lifetime goals:

  1. Lead at least one person to Christ.—I want to be able to do this, not just for the sake of “converting” people, which I can’t do anyway.–Why?-That is for a discussion in another post at another time. However, I just want to be able to see someone experience the fullness of God’s love and forgiveness in their lives, like I have experienced.
  2. Glorify God with everything I have.–I want to do this so that God will be pleased with me when I die, and also to share God’s love with others. Instead of hearing, ” Depart from me, you evildoer.” from God after I die, I want to hear, ” Well done, good and faithful one.” I don’t want to just be average, but I want to excel. I expect a lot out of myself to accomplish for God.
  3. Move up in the job where I am right now— Right now I am just a sales associate, but would like to move up someday not only so that I get a bigger paycheck, but also so I can minister to more people and have more of an impact. I would also like to be able to find a job more easily should the company I’m in right now lay me off or go bankrupt, which I hope won’t happen any time soon!
  4. Be a better person– I would like to strive to be a more relatable, less angry person so that I could maximize my impact in this world for the positive. I also strive to be a better person through glorifying God and growing in my faith as a Christian believer.
  5. Become a published author– Whether it will be through this blog or through my poetry or other writings I may create, I hope to be able to publish something that people will actually read and enjoy someday. One of my favorite authors is Dave Burchett whose blog can be found here.
  6. Learn more about different topics-Whether it be social justice issues, feminism, my faith in Christ, or creation, I would like to learn as much as possible about the world around me, so that I can understand and serve it better. I also believe the phrase, “Knowledge is power,” and would like to be able to use that Knowledge power for good to those around me.
  7. Become a better writer– I want to constantly perfect my craft (i.e. writing) and write things that will not only interest other people, but will also get people to think about their  lives and why and how they are living it. I also want to tidy up my grammatical and spelling errors, so that I don’t make them the next time.  I would like to be able to say things in such a way that it is not only concise, but says exactly what I want to say and what I want readers to hear.
  8. Impact as much people as possible. This is what one of my faith heroes, Rachel Joy Scott, would call a “chain reaction.” I would like to not only impact one person ,but as many souls as possible, for the good. I would like people to feel loved and appreciated by me, and if they are not and I have a bad day, then I would like to be humble enough to sincerely apologize and repent.
  9. Tell people about my beliefs, and listen to others’ beliefs- This means not only my religious beliefs, but all beliefs. Yes, there are some people who probably would not want to hear them, and that’s OK. I will not share them with those people, and I respect them. However, for those who want to hear, I will share them, but at the same time try to understand their beliefs and how they are similar and different with mine and come to an understanding.
  10.  Cultivate more joy in my life– I would like to cultivate not just happiness, which is fleeting, but true, lasting joy! I would like to enjoy things as much as possible. I will strive to do this by being passionate about my interests and goals, and by trying to enjoy each moment God has given me to live on this earth. I will try to at least list three things (either in a personal journal or in my head) of things I’m grateful for each day .

My Purpose in Life-and how to find yours

I see many people just doing things “because they have to” or without really thinking about why they are doing certain things.  I believe that is partly why there is a lack of joy and purpose in many people’s lives.  For many years, especially before Christ took a hold of my heart and life, this is where I was at too. I just did things just to do them. I learned after an incident in fourth or fifth grade in elementary school that I had to do certain things that I disliked, so I learned to do certain things “just to get them over with.” Sadly it wasn’t after I became a Christian and maybe even very recently that I learned to do things with intent and purpose. Here’s what I learned on my journey to discover what my purpose and meaning in my life, and more importantly what my purpose in life is personally.

My purpose in life:   My purpose in life can be summed up in the Westminster’s confession, which says:  The chief end of man [or purpose of humans] is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever    (Source: http://www.puritansermons.com/watson/watson5.htm).

Three questions to ask yourself (using my life as an example) to determine what your purpose in life is:     

1.) Why are you doing what you’re doing? I would recommend writing down all your daily activities (even waking up!) for a week and asking yourself after each one, “Why am I doing this?” We do things for different reasons, but after you  have compiled all this after a week, look to see if there is an underlying theme to why you do things. That is your purpose in life. If you think you have a good purpose in life, cultivate this and make sure that you are doing everything to achieve that end goal or purpose.  For instance, in the course of just a day, here would be some of my main activities and why I do them:

Activity                                           Why I do them?

daily devotions                             glorify God, to get to know Him better

driving to work                             so I get to work on time

working                                         glorify God, to make a difference in other people’s lives

eating /drinking                           to gain energy for working; hungry

talking to people online              to form relationships with them, to make a difference in their lives, show I care

2.) Search for truth– To have a good purpose in life, you need to be completely honest with yourself and others. Don’t make excuses for why you do things or explain things away. Also, always search for truth. For me, the truth is contained in the Bible, God’s Word to mankind. For others, truth may be in what they see or observe, or in their experiences. Truth is very important to be able to find. It helps you have solid footing on your purpose in life. Find it; cultivate it.

3.) After you figure out why you do the things you do, tailor everything you do to that end. For me, my purpose is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. I try to permeate that purpose into every activity of my life. I do not want to compartmentalize my life into different sections, each not affecting the other. When you find out the purpose of your life, beware of  the compartmentalization of your life. For instance, if you want to make a difference in others’ lives, make sure you not only do well in this at your job, but your home life as well, and everything in between.  If you are a Christian (or any other faith system), make sure if that plays a role in your purpose in life that it permeates everything in your life.

When you apply these techniques to your life, at least for me, I have found that my life is more joyous and purpose-filled than just wandering aimlessly throughout life. Like my faith hero Rachel Joy Scott, I don’t want to be labeled as “average;” I want to be and do something great with my life, not because I am someone great, but because my God is, and He deserves nothing less!

How to be a Friend to Sinners

DISCLAIMER: This post is based on the ideas contained in the song, “Jesus, Friend of Sinners” by Casting Crowns. Please no religious/Christian debates or demeaning others or me, or your comment(s) will be deleted.  Otherwise, ALL positive comments always allowed and happy reading. Also, this post is directed primarily for those who identify as Christians, but I think anyone can identify with at least some part of this post.  Here is the LYRIC video to the song, “Jesus, Friend of Sinners” by Casting Crowns:

 

We are all sinners (i.e..morally corrupt or imperfect). To say otherwise, is to not face reality and the fact that no one (except Jesus) is perfect.  However, when we judge the wounded and even the sinful by relishing in their condemnation and judgment by God, we are doing a disservice not only to them, but to our testimony of the gospel message as well. Many people who don’t go to church have told me in so many words that they feel that they need to “clean up their act,” so to speak, not to be right with God, but to even feel loved and accepted as a fellow image-of-God bearer at a church! How sad!  The church should be a hospital for the broken, not a prison where we point fingers and try to hide our imperfections because of fear of judgment or reprisal!

From what I have learned in my life, here is how I’ve found are the most effective ways to relate to people (i.e..sinners) both Christian and non-Christian, particularly those who are struggling…..

1.) Make every effort to make people feel loved and accepted by you.—This does not mean never judge someone’s actions, especially if they are living in a sinful way and profess to be a Christian. However, this does mean being a light in a dark world. It does mean to help a person see that despite any of their sinful habits or choices, that God can and will always forgive a repentant heart, and that you will always love them. No matter what.  It also does mean to never judge a person’s heart or intent, especially if you aren’t 100% sure what it is. Leave that judging to God.  This also means seeking out the best in them, and helping cultivate those qualities. It means investing in their lives.

2.) Live a Christ-centered life– Make sure that if you are a Christian, your life reflects Christ. Repent of anything that is not Christlike in your life, and offer to make amends for your sins.  Have integrity—-This means not only being honest in all of your dealings, but also being forthcoming about your shortcomings and failures as a person.  This means striving to be honest even if it costs you something.  If you are married or dating, be faithful to your partner or spouse.  Make sure you are making a commitment to be regularly spending time with God in His Word and prayer. Make sure you are committed to a community of believers that can help you through your journey of faith.

3.) Realize how merciful God has been to you, and impart the same to others.–When we realize how much grace and blessings we get from God that we don’t deserve, we find it easier to impart the same to others. Out of an overflowing and grateful heart, we want to give the same mercy He gave us to others. This means not only forgiving someone who has hurt you, but extending some measure of grace to someone who has fallen into sin or shame.  This does not mean we tolerate the sin or continue allowing the sin to take control of their lives. However, this does mean gently pointing them back to Christ and helping them to repent of their sin.  One way someone can help another not repeat a sin and/or be repentant of it is to help them come to a realization that they don’t need the sinful habit/attitude/ behavior to make them fulfilled or happy. For instance, if someone is an alcoholic because they are still mourning a breakup of a marriage or a dating relationship, you can help the person by showing them how much Jesus Christ loves them and wants the best for them.  You can do this by first encouraging them to give up drinking and go to AA meetings and/or get treatment for this problem, but you can also additionally help them by showing bible verses on how much God loves everyone and how He (God) would make them feel joyful and fulfilled in ways the partner or spouse couldn’t and can’t.

4.) Realize you are no better than anyone else, even if you are a Christian.—This is because it is only in Christ that we have ANY righteousness at all! Be humble. This means not only being honest with your shortcomings, but also aiming always to reflect more and more of Christ. Remember that you yourself were once also lost and an outcast, and know how that felt like to you. If a Christian forgets where he or she came from before he or she met Christ, he or she will tend to be more self-righteous and less discerning of his or her OWN sins.

5) Find common ground- Instead of just telling someone how they are different or are “diverting”  from Christianity, see if you can find something you can both agree on. See if you can even find some common interests in common. That will not only create a bond between you and the other person, but it will also help you to see things from a different perspective (though you don’t have to necessarily agree with it) and help you to be less judgmental of them.

I hope this will help you in helping others feel loved and cared about by you, and to anyone who has been hurt by the church, another Christian, and/or me, I am deeply sorry and I hope you will give us another chance.

From Ignorance To Faith: My testimony

Disclaimer: This is my personal testimony of how I became a Christian. Please no judgmental or disparaging comments about me or anyone else I write about here, or your comment will be deleted. Thank you. Also, I have written and re-written my testimony over many years, to make it more current and add things God has been teaching in my life. The most recent revisions I made was yesterday (April 5, 2017), with a few tweaks here and there today. Enjoy!

Before Christ : Life had no meaning. I was bored, and because of that and other reasons I wanted to end it all. Schoolwork was piling up, and I felt like no one really cared about me, except maybe my family. In one of my diary entries that I wrote when I was still in high school, I had written: “ I wish I could be more […] effervescent (lively). I feel dead without being physically killed. I hope I don’t die emotionally, but I am dying. If I could only find that zest, that greatness life is supposed to hold. But where is it, at least in me?”
God didn’t really have a place in my life. My schoolwork and my grades were my idols with what I was trying to fill up that God shaped hole.. I never went to CCD or any other religious class, so I also held the commonly-believed notion that I was a good person and that because of this, I would automatically go to heaven if I died. My family and I rarely went to church, although I wanted to go more, but generally I felt I was okay spiritually. But in Jr. high school till my sophomore year at high school, I felt more and more depressed. After that, I felt a little happier and found solace in music, but after awhile I just knew that wasn’t going to really satisfy me for long.
Bible Study: When a friend invited me to a bible study, I decided to attend just to see what would happen and to make her happy. When I went into the Bible Study at school, I felt stupid for not knowing what the others had already known. I knew then I had to know more about Christianity and if I wanted to really know Jesus Christ.
“Legalism” Problems: While I started to listen to Christian music, I began to have a legalistic attitude towards things. I began to judge those who listened to explicit music and ‘nsync as “bad” and “against God and all things good.” I became very hypocritical online and started cursing and swearing to those online (especially the ‘’NSYNC fans and those that made fun of Christianity and Christian music. NOTE: I don’t do that anymore, nor do I care one way or another about other people’s music tastes). Worse yet, one of the bad messages I wrote at the site became a featured message on that site. I don’t really think I was a Christian at the time, or I was still very young and uninformed in my faith.
The Happening-This, by far, had the biggest influence on me when I was still young in the faith. I learned how to really love and show compassion to others. I learned that the type of music a person listens to is not reasonable grounds for judgment or condemnation. I learned it’s the personality and the godliness of a person that really matters. God led me to be actively involved in Happening activities, and later, at school, with aiding for a teacher and disabled students. It was during these times that I felt I really accepted God’s gift, Jesus Christ into my life, accepted His forgiveness for my wrongdoings, and grew in my faith.
The fall: My first semester at my college was almost a disaster. I felt like I had no friends and that I should maybe drop out of school.. People who were friends with me before (I felt) were slowly distancing themselves from me. They got tired of me because I was always depressed and sick. I threw up the cafeteria food, but I wasn’t bulimic. I felt sick and utterly hopeless except that God was with me. I thought I had not really accepted Christ. I felt alone.
The rise: When I went to Praise and Worship the next semester, I felt a renewal in my faith and in Christ. Again, I started to realize I needed God and to take him more seriously, instead of going to self-pity or self-centeredness. I gained interest in knowing about Catholicism. I enjoyed talking about my faith with others.
Dave Burchett: I accidentally went across his book “When Bad Christians Happen To Good People” one day when I was looking in the SWAN catalog (An online search catalog that enables one to borrow things from other libraries in a certain area), but, as it turned out, it was the best book I had ever read, aside from the Bible. God has taught me a lot through this book. His book taught me what genuine Christianity really was, and why forcing faith on or ridiculing non-Christians never works.
While I was growing in my faith outside of a formal church service, I felt I wasn’t really growing in the church I went to. Also, I felt I really didn’t know as much as the others at church. I felt bored and cynical towards the church because of this. I felt most people (including me) were only going to go through the motions there. Despite my friends’ urges that I stay in the Catholic Church (and I respect their beliefs), I didn’t feel like it really fit me.
Evangelical Church– I went to an e-free church for about three years. At first, I really liked it. But as time went on, it was apparent to me that this church wasn’t a good fit for me. Also, I didn’t feel the sermons challenged me enough anymore.
New Song Church-Then I went to NewSong. I think they emphasize the need for salvation from our sins, and the cross which in my previous two churches was not emphasized as much. Pastor Marty and his wife Stephnie left New Song to pursue church planting and other ministries in 2008. We had THE BEST interim pastor the church could have had at the time- Pastor Marty Voltz. He and his wife Shari really helped New Song through a particularly trying time and imparted his wisdom to the pastor at the church at the time, Pastor Frank Taylor. At first I didn’t trust Pastor Frank, but as time grew, he and his wife Stephanie proved to be not only very trustworthy, but also one of the most humble and genuine Christians I had ever met in my whole life! However, he left after being called to be a pastor in Maryland…and New Song became absorbed by my previous church I attended, and many people (and I) felt it was time to leave. I left after about 10 years being there. It was very painful and trying for me, as I had to leave a lot of people, but I felt that God had other plans for me.

Epiphany of grace -Though I have been a Christian for awhile, it has only been recently that I finally understood some part of what grace was. I knew intellectually that it was unmerited favor given by God to save us from Hell via His sacrificing Jesus on the cross. However, I didn’t know how it was supposed to impact one’s life very well, that is until I watched the movie “The other man” which showed me the consequences of idolatry, and especially when I read the book “Jesus +Nothing=Everything” by Tullian Tchvidijian. I realized I needed to forgive people that I felt hurt me in the past. More than that, I realized I was free. Free of the worry about what other people thought of me because His is the only opinion that matters above all else. Free of the worry about my future because I know God will take care of me. Free of bitterness and unforgiveness because I know God will make things right in His perfect timing and that He will heal all my hurts.
Tullian Tchividjian says in his book Jesus +Nothing=Everything- “Because of the gospel we have nothing to prove or protect. We can stop pretending. The gospel frees us from trying to impress people, to prove ourselves to people, to make people think we are something that we are not.” This is because I have security in that God still loves me even when I miss the mark (ie.. sin) and even though I know I don’t deserve to enter heaven or even His presence. God doesn’t love me more or less depending on how “good” I am to Him because He doesn’t see my imperfections, but Jesus’ perfection! I am free to be me without reservation! I don’t need to worry about earthly things so obssesively anymore because I have an even greater better life waiting for me on the other side with Him and because even here He is still with me. That is the gospel!

Independent Baptist Church– Now, I go to Independent Baptist Church. It’s very different from New Song was, but still good. I have met some very good people here, and Pastor David Shoaf’s (as well as the other pastors and speakers) sermons and bible studies are very good and biblical. His son (also a pastor at the church) helped me to have a more fulfilling devotional time with my God. God is also using people at my current church and my time with Him (God) to help serve people at my job as a sales associate.

However, I’m still not perfect, of course-just forgiven. I still battle pride and occasional thoughts of revenge-particularly against those I hear on the news that abuse children. However, I also learned that the world is not my real home and how to be more caring and compassionate to those who feel lost, alone, rejected, ridiculed, and abused as well as to everyone else.