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

Things I Learned From My Mom

Today, I would like to honor moms, and, in particular, my own, on this Mother’s Day by relaying the major things my mom has taught me about life to help me become a better person.  These lessons can be applied by anyone, regardless of your relationship with your mom, and can be applied in most situations we may find ourselves. When I think about my mom, the three major things in life she has taught me are: 1) How to sacrifice for the good of someone else 2) How to work at your very best.  3) How to be frugal and appreciate what I have more.

The longer I live, the more I realize how much my mother has sacrificed for me, and for my whole family.  First of all, she moved to the U.S before my brother and I were born because she knew that we would have better opportunities and successes here.  However, this move meant leaving almost all her family behind and moving into a new area, with different customs and beliefs.  When I was growing up, she often went above and beyond to make sure we would be successful and moral people.  For instance, my mom was always the type to be willing to help me with my homework when I needed it. I also remember her giving me math problems when I was younger to help develop my skills in that area.  She was also not afraid to discipline us when our selfishness and stubbornness got in the way, and sometimes those vices led to my brother and I getting into fights or arguments.  However, my mom made sure we made up and made our relationship stronger again.  Today, since there is a sale at a local store, my mom is willing to accompany me because she knows I value her presence.  These, and countless other sacrifices made by my mom, have helped me to be more willing to sacrifice for her and others.  For instance, at my job, I volunteered to work extra hours on my birthday, several months ago, because I wanted the store to do well on its audit the next week. Yes, I would have rather done something more fun, but I wanted to sacrifice for the good of my colleagues and managers because I care about them, not just so I could get extra money.  I also have been more willing to sacrifice for my mom to do whatever she needs me to do, because I realize how much she has already done for me.

Unfortunately, many people don’t give their moms adequate credit for the hard work they do around the house and for their family.  I don’t want to be one of those people.  I have seen my mom work so hard that her entire body aches afterwards!  Like my dad, she pushes herself to get what she needs to done for the day and for the joy of her family.  For instance, several years ago, my mom used to work for hours trimming the bushes that we have around our front yard, only stopping to eat and drink coffee, until she was done.  I tried to help her get all the leaves and debris cleaned up, so she wouldn’t have to do as much work.  Because of her hard work and perseverance in working around the house and making sure her family’s needs are met, I strive to do what I can, for my family, friends, and co-workers.  For instance, at work, when I am done with straightening my area, I am eager to help out another person, so they don’t feel so overwhelmed in their area (especially if the area is difficult to straighten or if there is high shopping traffic there).  When my mom is feeling overwhelmed or tired, I ask what I can do to help and then do whatever she tells me.

Finally, my mom has taught me the value of saving money and things, and not wasting the income provided by God through my job.  She is the one who taught me that it is best to buy something that is on sale and with a coupon, if possible. She has also taught me how to not spend more than I have.  She has taught me the value of recycling, and thus, not being wasteful with the resources God has given me. In her teachings, I have learned to value the possessions that God has given me, and not take the blessings He provided for granted.  I have observed that in my country, unfortunately, we waste a lot of things and are not as grateful for the things we have.  For instance, we don’t eat all the food that we buy sometimes because we have too much of it. My mom taught me to savor every bite and morsel of food on my plate.  This has helped me be OK, and even eager, to eat leftovers, and see that as a blessing to me, instead of a burden.

These are the three major things my mom has taught me. She has taught me the value of treasuring and savoring what we have, the value of hard work and perseverance, and the importance and benefits of living sacrificially for others. What are some things your mother has taught you?  How has she helped you be a better person? If your mother is still alive and well, make sure you take the time to thank and cherish your mother today.

To Those On Their Last Rope

Disclaimer: May trigger—mentions issues surrounding depression, self-harm, bullying, and suicide.

Intro:  Many people I know around me are struggling, not only physically, but emotionally as well.  As you may know, I have struggled with depression with many years, and I just wanted to share the hope I found with them—and with anyone here, reading this that may be struggling as well, that there is hope.  If you are feeling strongly suicidal or need someone right away to talk to, please call this number: 1-800-273-8255. It’s free and there are trained professionals that can help you through this tough time, so you never have to be alone.

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Dear Friend,

I see that you have been struggling so much lately.  You may wonder through your daily routine, “ Is this life really worth it? “ You wonder if your suffering, your pain, will ever end.  You wonder if anyone really cares about you—or each other– for that matter.  You may not wonder these questions out loud, but subconsciously, you do.

I sometimes wonder these same things.

When I was in my sophomore year of high school, the pain was sometimes so great, I wondered if I had the strength to go on in life. I considered (more than once) a way to end my own life.  . In one of my diary entries from that time, 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?”

I also see that you are emotionally dying.  The spark, that smile, that I once saw, is now faded.  You seem really stressed and broken inside—like I was when I was in my sophomore year of high school.  I know you now see joy in my spirit, and a bounce in my walk. You also may think that “everyone likes me.” However, know that this was not always the case.

When I was in school, I struggled with being bullied, almost on a constant basis.  People would mock my way of dress, my hairstyle, and even how I looked.  This almost drove me to suicide, several times in my life.

Because of my history of being bullied, and being regularly excluded by my peers, I never really like I “fit in.”  I felt that in order to be part of any group, I had to beg. Then, maybe someone would feel sorry for me, and hang out with me for a while. That would, of course, never last for too long.

Then, in high school, I had an instructor that basically made me feel like I was worthless and would never amount to much in my life. I had almost no friends that could uplift and encourage me during that tough time, and this was before I knew about God’s love and presence in my life. I didn’t feel like I could talk to my family because I had assumed that they would not be able to really relate to my problems. Also, I had felt hopeless that I would find anyone around me who would truly accept who I was, inside and out. I didn’t think anyone would be able to really love me, especially if they really knew who I was inside.

Sometimes, I hear that you are being mocked and bullied by those around you too, and for that I am sorry.  I wish I could do more than just offer an encouraging word to you. I wish your bullies would know how much damage they are inflicting against your soul and your Creator as well, and repent of (i.e..stop) their bullying behaviors.

Know though that you are a valuable creation.  No one in the world is exactly like you (even if you have an identical twin!), and no one can touch the world in exactly the way you do!  Sometimes, I know you feel that you can’t do much positive, or live a legacy worth living.  However, that is the depression speaking, and it is lying!  Even if you are bed bound, you still can make an impact by greeting people who visit you with a cheerful and positive attitude, despite your pain and suffering. This will then make people look inside themselves, and say, “ Even with all the stuff that I’ve been through, I am grateful that even if I become bedbound, that I could make someone else smile!”

Also, reach out and get the help you need. You are NOT weak for asking for or needing help. On the contrary, depression is often a sign that you have tried to be strong too long. Know that you are not alone in your struggles. I sometimes still struggle too, but I know that there is hope for me.

I find that hope in a relationship with God and knowing that I am still able to make an impact on this world. It’s never too late to do something positive with your life—as long as you are still here!

So, what happened to me since high school?

I continued to struggle, off and on, with depression and suicidal thoughts, through my early twenties, though it was less than before I knew God’s love.

Then, about twelve years ago, I found a church that embraced me, and some friends who were willing to support and love me through the long haul. I am still in contact with some of them today.  I am eternally grateful that God brought me to that church.  I explored my passions for helping others and also began to write more often.

About two years ago, one of my managers, Chris* (NOT his real name), interviewed me for a position at my current job.  This position I still hold to this day.  Then, about a year ago, God brought me to another church, which has shown me how to love others, at a deeper level than I have ever known before.  Both, through my current job and my church, I have found a joy and love that I had only dreamed of before.

It may take a long time to realize your dreams, but it is never too late to start somewhere. Don’t give up. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

Sincerely,

Patricia

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

Why There’s Hope When You are Alive

Disclaimer: No disparaging comments allowed, or they will be deleted. Thank you, and may hope fill your life.

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As some of you may know, I have been struggling with depression since I was ten years old.  On Monday, I had such a stressful day at work (after working about twelve hours) and after a bad incident, I felt an overwhelming sense of shame for who I was as a person. I felt hopeless and ready to give up, or at least call off the next day. However, I kept going back to the fact that there were people in my life that needed me, and if I let them down, I would instinctively feel even more shame and self-hatred.  When I woke up the next day, despite getting only two hours of sleep, I felt a renewed sense of hope and peace.  I always tell people who are struggling with life the way I sometimes do that even if they feel that they can do nothing, that they still have hope just for being alive. Here is why I believe that is true:

The first reason why there is always hope for you on this earth as long as you are still alive is each day gives us the chance to change ourselves for the better. Yes, the process of change is often very difficult and often does not happen overnight. However, as long as you are still here, there is time to make at least a small change. For instance, if you are looking for a new job, you probably won’t get one the next day. However, the next day will give you the chance to start looking and to update your resume, so there will be a day when you will eventually get interviewed, and then be one step closer to getting a job.  For another example,  after the bad day at work on Monday, Tuesday was a day I said to myself that I would strive to be more positive and let go of the things that I wanted to control, but had to let go and let God.  As a consequence, Tuesday was an absolute contrast to Monday!

There is also still hope for you as long as you are alive because every day is a chance to learn something new.  Because I did not give up hope on Tuesday, after being tempted to on Monday, I was able to learn some of the following things, that may not seem significant, but nevertheless, gave me hope and brightened my day: a.) The last name of one of my managers.  b) How to straighten aisles better. c) That sometimes people are not as bad as I had previously thought. d) that I can be less stressed at work, even for a long day. (I had worked almost 12 hours again on Tuesday).  e) that setting up updated price tags is a very relaxing job for me.

Another major reason why there is still hope for you, as long as you are alive, is each day you are given a new opportunity to impact others’ lives for good.  Often when we are feeling hopeless and/or discouraged, we think that we can never do something good that will impact others again.  That is what I thought Monday night after work, and that is how depression speaks.  However, it is also a lie.  Even if you don’t think that your sincere apologies and attempts to change for the better won’t have an impact, you never know how profound your true humility will have on others.  This is what I found out on Tuesday.  If you feel discouraged because you have a certain disability or are so sick that it is difficult or impossible for you to even get out of bed, know that you still can persevere through your difficulties and, through a positive attitude, can cause others around you to think about what they have and can give others hope.

Finally, there is still hope for you as long as you are alive because of the beauty all around us.  I love that today (at least in my area), it is sunny and the weather is getting warmer. So, I hear the birds chirping, especially earlier in the day.  This is why, if you can, I would encourage others to go outside and enjoy the beauty of nature around you.  Even in the city, there is often a park or an area where there are birds and or flowers or trees you can look at to enjoy their beauty. Apart from nature, there is also beauty in the way certain things are made. Have you ever wondered how a computer or a phone is made? Sometimes, I have, and we can either learn about that, or just enjoy all the functions of a phone or computer.

Sometimes, when people, places, or things bring us down, it can be difficult for us to look at all the positives of life, and we just want to give up and give in to our pain and hurt. However, I hope that even when we can barely see why we should be here, that we will remember that there is always opportunity to change ourselves for the better, that we can learn new things every day, that we can impact people around us for the better, and that we can appreciate the beauty around us….but we need to be alive to experience any of these blessings.   May hope and joy fill our lives, as we persevere through it all.

 

Note: If anyone reading this is feeling depressed or suicidal, please call 1-800-273-8255—There will be trained counselors at the other end of the line to support and care for you, or also you can read this: https://metanoia.org/suicide/, which is where I also got the number for the hotline. Remember, there is always hope when you are alive!