My life Epiphanies

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, an epiphany is either “an appearance or manifestation especially of a divine being,” or “a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something.”  In this blog post, the latter meaning will be discussed.  Though I have never had God appear to me physically, I believe God and others have been instrumental in me having several epiphanies (the latter meaning) in my life.  These epiphanies have been instrumental in shaping me and helping me become a better person than I was before.

Epiphany #1- Have compassion and understanding on those with differing beliefs, both religiously and in other areas.  

I had this epiphany about fifteen years ago thanks to one of my favorite authors, Dave Burchett, who wrote the book, When Bad Christians Happen to Good People. Before I read his book, I had rigid views on almost everything. One of the weirder beliefs I had had was that people who really liked a certain singing group, but hated my favorite group, were immoral and intolerant people.  I also thought that people who didn’t believe in a God were likewise rude and immoral.  However, when I read that book, I began to have compassion and understanding for those two groups of people.  I realized that I couldn’t, in good faith, force people to have the same beliefs about anything that I had.  I also learned that music is more a matter of taste, and not always about morality.  I no longer cared about the group that I liked, or about whether people liked the other group or not.  I also learned from that book that some people who profess my faith in God don’t really do what they believe, and that, understandably, a lot of people have been turned away from any type of religion.  Moreover, I discovered some atheists who are some of the kindest and most non-judgmental people I have ever met.

Epiphany #2—Don’t hold grudges. Forgive others as you have been forgiven, and be free at last.

This epiphany occurred to me after discussing a personal issue with one of my pastors at my current church.  I had had trouble forgiving someone and it had gotten to the point where I was coming to church with a bad attitude towards everybody and everything.  Sometime after the discussion, I discovered my excuse for holding grudges for this person and others didn’t really hold water.  I had mainly held grudges as a form of vengeance against the party that hurt me, so that they would “feel” my pain and regret their choices. However, I realized what had really happened was I was hurting myself and my relationships with others not even involved in the incident or incidents, and that the guilty party either didn’t care or didn’t know the pain and bitterness I held inside against them!  So, when I forgave this person, the burden of vengeance, anger, and hatred melted away from me.  I was free at last, and today I am much happier, both with this person and those around me, than I ever was before!

Epiphany #3-Don’t worry so much. You cannot control everything, and that’s OK.

This epiphany occurred to me just several days ago, after I had just experienced a stressful week before. I got this epiphany after reading the book, Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety by Elyse Fitzpatrick. People had told me numerous times in my life (even before I became a Christian) not to worry and stress so much, and this is something that I am still learning, despite this epiphany. However, this time I think it is really starting to sink in more.  My type of worry, I must confess, is a defense mechanism for the helplessness I feel because I can’t control my circumstances. I hate uncertainty and not being able to  plan for my future because I am afraid that if I am unprepared I will totally lose control of my emotions and/or well-being. In other words, I won’t cope well with the situation.  However, I realized that no fallible human being can really control their circumstances—that some things are just out of our hands. For instance, there is no way to anticipate when exactly you or a loved one will get sick and/or die, or if there will be traffic accident that will make you late to work.  However, when suffering and trials come, I learned that God will always use that situation to teach me something about myself or others and that He will be with me through it all.  Whether you believe in God or not, you can always learn something from the sufferings of your life, which lessons can be used to make you a better and stronger person.  I realized that even in the unexpected or horrible circumstances of life, that there is always hope and resources that will be given to me that I can use to cope better with the resulting pain and trauma.  For instance, when I have worried about not getting some part of my area straightened on time, I have found that one of these three things usually happen:  a.) I can ask for help from the managers or other associates.  b) Most likely, other people will also not be able to finish their areas, either   c) I will really be able to finish, and that I worried for nothing!

 

All these epiphanies have shaped my life and character in some way.  Having compassion on those with differing beliefs has helped me widen my circle of friends and helped me understand and love the people around me better.  Forgiving others has helped me become less guarded and carry less long-term anger at others.  Learning not to worry so much and letting go of my need to control has freed me from the crippling effects of anxiety and depression and has helped me become more confident in myself and in those around me.  What epiphanies have you had in your life?  What lessons have you learned recently? Please feel free to share in the comments.

 

Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epiphany

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The Heart of the Matter

POST #200! (Yay! )

If there is no heartbeat in someone, they die.  The heart is one of the most vital organs in our body. Similarly, our spiritual hearts reflect who we are as people, and also the motivation behind our actions. Without a spiritual heart, or passion, for anything, we also die.  There have been some people who, in their minds, have reached such a pinnacle of success that they have nothing to live for anymore.  Finding your own heart—including the motivations behind your actions, purpose in life, and what you are passionate about—can help sustain you in times of trial and pain, helps motivate you to keep on going in life, and helps give you direction in life.  Finding someone else’s heart—including their passions in life, motivation behind their actions, and their life stories—can help us to cultivate a deeper understanding and appreciation of that person, and often leads to us loving and respecting that person better.  These are the lessons I have learned by both personal experience and through what others have taught me, about both finding your own heart and finding others’ hearts:

  1. How to find your own heart:

During the years when I was growing up and felt aimless in life, I only saw glimpses of what my heart was. However, after God revealed Himself to me and during the past ten years, more and more of my own heart has been exposed to me.  One of the things that had helped me find my own heart was to ask myself, “Why do I do what I do?”  I found that when people don’t ask themselves that vital question, either consciously or subconsciously, that they tend to drift aimlessly in life and become depressed and sometimes even feel hopeless and adrift. I believe that if people asked themselves “Why am I doing “ X” ?” (substitute X for an activity) more often,  they would not waste as much time doing things that don’t benefit them or others.  They would also see their heart and motivation, and be more apt to make any needed adjustments.  For instance, many people who are working do so solely for the paycheck and nothing more. However, many people don’t also think consciously about why they are doing what they do. If work becomes unbearable for them, they may ask these questions, but it is often too late for them to salvage their jobs and make a greater impact for themselves and others.

I would also ask myself the question, “What gives me the most joy?” Do not only think of your hobbies and what you do for fun, but also what stirs your soul.  For instance, seeing and hearing about children being abused deeply upsets and angers me, but being able to speak encouragement into the lives of adults who were abused as children has given me much joy.  Another thing that gives me joy is to be able to share God’s love with others and seeing people’s faces just light up. Seeing people happy and content does not give me joy solely for my sake, but for theirs as well.  It gives me great joy and pleasure to see that others can experience God’s love too, especially for those who had previously not really experienced or known about that depth of love before. Think about what gives you the most joy, and cultivate that into your heart and passions.

Another way to find your own heart is to write out a life purpose statement and some life goals.  For instance, my purpose in life can be summed up in this way: “To glorify God and to share His love to others.”  Your life purpose statement should be no longer than a couple of sentences.  Then, write out some goals that will cater to your life’s purpose.  In my case, some of my life goals would be: a.) To share the love of God with loved ones and my colleagues at work in tangible ways. b) Meditate and learn something new about God every day, and apply these lessons to my life c.) Not to give up if I fail to live my purpose, but be willing to humble myself and try again.  d) Garner the support of people that love God the way I do, so we can support each other and encourage each other, especially when times get tough. Writing out your life purpose and goals will help make them real and tangible to you. It will also help give you direction and tangible actions you can take in order to live up to your purpose. Furthermore, writing your life purpose and goals will help you stay motivated and can remind you of your importance and value in this society.

  1. How to find others’ hearts:

 

Before you can find what drives a person and what their heart is, you need to develop a genuine relationship with them.  If you purposely intrude on someone solely for finding what their heart is or to manipulate them, you will never find it because they will see through your pretenses before you even find them out.  You need to show a genuine care and concern for their well-being, more so than your own.  You need to be willing to spend time and invest in that person.  You need to be sure you never betray them, because if you do, they will most likely not reveal anything deep and personal about themselves to you ever again!  For instance, if someone betrays me, I will tend to hide certain personal things about myself because I don’t want them to use what they know about my heart against me and deliver a near-devastating blow to my soul. I would not even mention this blog to them!

 

However, if someone proves themselves trustworthy, their friends will most likely be able to slowly reveal their heart to them, and this trustworthy person will most likely (because he or she is a person of integrity) help their heart grow and flourish. This trustworthy person will start by asking pertinent questions about what drives their friend or friends, and they will show genuine love and care for their friends. The trustworthy person will respect their friends ‘(and loved ones’) boundaries at all times, and will let the friend or loved one share their heart as they are ready.  For instance, if a loved one is addicted to something, the trustworthy friend will not only help the loved one out of the addiction, but will also give them words of support and encouragement.  For instance, if the trustworthy person finds out that the loved one has the addiction because they (loved one) are lonely and needs something to fill them, the trustworthy person can keep them company and also encourage the loved one to seek out new friends that will also support the loved one.

 

This is what I learned about both finding your own heart and finding others’ hearts.  When you have a window into your own soul, you will be able to help it flourish and grow. You will be more content and joyful as a person, and you will feel that you have value in this world. Similarly, when you know someone else’s heart, you can make a world of difference in their lives by helping them find joy and purpose in their lives. While your physical heart keeps your body alive, your spiritual heart keeps your soul alive. May your heart flourish and find much joy!

Soul Healer

written : 5/11/2018

dedicated to  J, Erica*, Veronica*,  Kelly*, Alice*, Holly*, Anna*, and my managers Chris* and Hope*  (*= all are pseudonyms) 

I was alone and in pain

I was also going insane

I felt so much shame

And I was in despair

 

I felt so unworthy of love and care

I dared never to lay my soul bare

Because I knew they’d condemn me

And all I came to be

 

But then, as water

That refreshes the soul,

On a hot, dry day

You came to me

 

You affirmed me with your love

The one from up above

You gave me a reason to hope

When I was on my last rope

 

Now I want to always love you

And bare my soul to you

Because you saved my life

And showed me God’s love

My Dreams

(written on : April 29, 2018)

Dedicated to all my co-workers and managers at my current job

I dreamed of the day

When I would be here

And leave a mark

Lasting until my dying day

 

I dreamed of the day

When I would be loved and valued

For not just the person I could be

But for the person they already see

 

And now my dreams have come true

God has worked in and through me

Now I can see

A bright future coming up ahead of me

 

So, I dream of the day

When the Love and Joy I found

Will become real to you

And fill you too

Some Blessings in My Life

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

The Blessings:

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

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

 

Light at the End of the Tunnel

 –dedicated to a friend that is going through some tough times right now

Tormented in your soul

The pain threatening

To swallow you whole

As your dreams shatter in pieces

 

They treated you

Like a piece of trash

To be used and then thrown away

And not allowing you to have any say

 

I grieve in my heart for you

Because they never gave you

The love that was pure and true

A love that never falters or ends

 

But I have a great hope

That even though you

Reached the end of your rope

You will at last

Find love that is pure and true

Finding Joy in a Stressful Work Environment

I have been working as a sales associate for my current company for just over two years now, and I love it. However, sometimes the work and pressure can be very stressful, even for me.  I know I am not alone, and that working in any company does have its share of stressors, even if the environment has a reputation of being somewhat casual. Yes, there are times when one must quit, especially if the job is not the right fit for them or if the pressures of work start to negatively impact your physical and emotional health.  However, sometimes quitting is either not an option, or is not worth it.  So, how can one not only survive the stress at work, but also find joy and satisfaction in daily work? Here are some things I have learned over the past few years about how to have some measure of joy, even when some things are stressful:

  1. Go to work not only for the paycheck, but also for a higher purpose.—So many people in our society, go to work solely for the paycheck. While that can be a good motivator to do a good job, that is not always an effective way to maintain joy in stressful situations, especially if layoffs or the cutting of hours is happening in your company. For instance, while I admit that I do go to work for a paycheck; that is not my only motivator.  I also go to work so that I can make a positive difference in other people’s lives and serve God.  I enjoy helping other people—whether it is helping a customer find an item they need, or speaking words of encouragement to a co-worker or manager who is stressed-out or hurting inside.  For instance, if you work in a doctor’s office, you can work to help patients be more comfortable in the waiting room by giving them quick, efficient service, or just by being a positive, encouraging presence to them. If you flourish as an author and/or a blogger, find ways to help others be passionate about what you write about.
  2. Along with going to work for a higher purpose overall, find at least one person each day with whom you will intentionally be kind and encouraging.– This could be someone who you know is going through a rough time, someone who is a little bit difficult to get along with, or it could be anyone else. For instance, one day when I had some extra free time, I decided to write encouraging notes to people at work who I thought needed it the most. However, you could even do something as simple as getting to know someone who is lonely or that you don’t normally talk to, or saying encouraging words of appreciation to a co-worker that is doing a good job. A few of you may think this is just cheesy and won’t make a bit of a difference, but as Rachel Scott, once said, “You never know how far a little kindness can go.” Being intentionally kind to those who are feeling depressed and anguished inside, even though they may appear to have a smile pasted on their faces, may even save their lives!
  3. Be willing to help out when needed.—If time and energy allow, be willing to work earlier or stay later to get what you (or others) need to done. That way, the pressure and stress of having to do all that work in a shorter amount of time does not leave you, or anyone else, frazzled and stressed out.If you work in an office, and your coworker needs copies made of a certain document, offer to help out, especially if you also have some copies to make. If you work in a team, be willing to help out a struggling team member. Don’t allow them to take advantage of you, but also be willing to teach them how to work more effectively and learn the concepts needed to do the job well.  If you are that struggling team member, do not be afraid to ask for help and clarification, but also don’t give up on trying to do the best you can.
  4. Look for the positives of working at your company, and don’t focus too much on the negatives.—Every company has both positive and negative traits to it. We usually hear WAY more about the negatives. While there can be benefits to talking about the “What-needs-to-improve” part of the companies we work for, if we are also actively seeking solutions to the negative parts, our morale can drastically improve if we focus more on the positives! For instance, the positives for me in working at my company are good hours, a common camaraderie among most of the people I work with, and that most of the managers are understanding and kind. When I focus on the good parts of my company rather than the bad, it makes the stressful parts a lot easier to handle.  I have hope that even in the stress and tough times, things will get better because of the positives that I have experienced.  This principle also works when you have to work with or under a person or persons that you don’t particularly like.  Find the positives in that person that you have a tough time getting along. If you can’t find any just yet, look deeper into that person’s soul and being until you find something positive. 95% of the time, you will find at least one positive quality about them.

These are the ways that I seek to find joy at my job, and it has worked most of the time for me.  If I don’t focus on these things, and delve into negativity, I find that I am more stressed and that even my work quality suffers.  So, I know that by applying these principles to my work life, I will not only be more joyful at my job, but also more effective. What are some ways YOU maintain a measure of joy at work, even when things are stressful? Please feel free to comment.