I wrote on April 9, 1999, when I was still in high school: “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 had no hope. I was fine physically, but I was slowly dying inside.
I’m thankful that I didn’t die or take my own life. Though I didn’t know it on April 9, about one year later, I would find Hope. Hope that helped me through the storms, and come out on the other side being greeted with a beaming joy and confidence that I had only dreamed of years before. Hope has also given me drive to persevere, even when I thought I could never make it. Hope has redeemed relationships that I thought were forever shattered. Hope has taken the junk in my life, and made it a treasure.
Hope was, and always is, Jesus.
Hope has given me purpose to live. Before I became a follower of Christ, I was living aimlessly, for myself. I had adequate material things, but I never really thought about blessing others with it. I wanted to excel academically, but that was getting more and more difficult, and my limitations were becoming more apparent.
With Jesus, I have realized that the world is so much bigger than me. With Jesus, I am able to partner with Him to share His great love and hope for a world that is looking for something bigger than the pain and the drudgery that life often brings.
Hope has given me a light at the end of the tunnel. I still struggle with depression occasionally, but now even in it, I have hope that God will bring good out of even that. I have hope, because God’s strength and light will help me overcome a depressive episode. I have hope because God has surrounded me with a group of people who love and care for me.
Hope has given me renewed confidence and joy that I had never known before. Since I found Hope, He has provided me with several communities of believers who have had my back and who care for one another. This support network I have had has helped me through some of the toughest times of my life, and even helped deliver me from some really bad situations.
Hope has provided me with my current job and some great managers, including several that believed in me enough to help me learn new things. I want to give a shout out to my now-former manager Elizabeth* who believed in me enough to allow me to train to be a back-up cashier and learn some managerial tasks as well. I want to give a shout out to my now former manager Chris* who took the chance and first hired me.
Hope has provided me a great mentor, in J, who always believed in my abilities and was God’s message to me that He would use me to accomplish His great will in my life.
Hope has provided me countless wonderful friends who have put up with my depressive episodes and have helped cheer me on.
Hope has given me much hope for the future. Hope has given me freedom from the shackles that held me back in my past.
After many stops and starts with blogging, having written about twenty posts and then promptly deleting my blog, God led me to start “God’s Whisperings” on December 23, 2015. Since then, God has graciously provided for me so much in my life! I never thought anyone would be interested in reading my blog or that I would be able to write over 200 posts in just over three years! Thank you so much to all my readers and supporters of this blog. Without you, I wouldn’t have ever made it this far! God continues to “whisper” important wisdom and inspiration into my life through the people, places, and circumstances I encounter in my life every day.
I am excited to announce that I am in the process of writing a memoir about how God brought me out of the darkest period of my life and helped me grow into who I am today. It will be called, Becoming a Butterfly: Finding Hope in the Midst of Brokenness. My goals in writing this are: a.) To give those who are going through similar struggles I went through hope that they, too, can conquer their demons and find joy in their lives. b.) to give God glory and appreciation for all He has done for me thus far in my life c.) to express gratitude to those in my life who have helped me become who I am today. d.) to inspire others to find joy and purpose in their lives through interacting with my story.
Yes, I will still be writing in this blog, and yes, I still plan to work full-time at my day job. However, I will focus more of my time to write this memoir, and will share it with you when it is complete. If any one of you would like to guest post on my blog, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you so much for being part of my writing journey, and I hope you will continue to find something of value in what I share with you.
On April 9, 1999, I wrote in my journal that I was dying inside. Nine days later, on April 20, one of my now-beloved faith heroes, Rachel Joy Scott, was shot and killed by one of her classmates. Her legacy and impact, however, will live on for many, many years. One of the lives that she has touched is mine. I have been so inspired by what I learned about how she lived her life! The three major things I learned about life from how she lived is 1) how to appreciate people and things in one’s life more. 2.) how to be amazing— and strive for more than “average” or the status quo. 3.) how to be authentic.
First of all, Rachel was known by others as being appreciative of what she had. In fact, according to the book, Rachel’s Tears by Beth Nimmo and Darrell Scott, she always stopped on her walks to look at the flowers and to engage with babies and small children when she went to the mall in her area ( Nimmo and Scott, 69). She also had the reputation of really engaging with the people she encountered on a regular basis and helping them when needed. Because of what I learned about how Rachel lived her life, I also aim to be an encouraging presence in others’ lives, instead of being a whiner or Debby downer. In order to do this, like Rachel, I must be willing to sacrifice my time in order to really be able to engage and invest in others. In fact, in his book, “Chain Reaction,” Darrell Scott reiterates this fact. He says, “Many people are too busy, but if we want to be helpful, we will need to take the time.(Scott, 115).
Secondly, Rachel once wrote, according to multiple sources, that she wouldn’t “ be labeled as average.” In all the books and articles I had ever read about her, I sensed that Rachel Scott wasn’t one of those people who just lived to “get by”. She wanted to try her best in order to impact as many people as she could, for positive. She constantly strived to improve herself after she sensed that she fell short, both in her relationships with others and things like her job and work at school. She didn’t care if the people she encountered were outcasts or in any way different from her or perceived societal norms. She interacted with the people that needed her encouragement and love the most, even if it cost her reputation. I also aim to be so much more than “average” or the “status quo”. Like Rachel, I aim to upset the apple cart when necessary. I also aim to impact as many people as possible with the love Jesus Christ and countless others have graciously shown me. How much more satisfying life is when we strive to do our best everyday and not just do something halfheartedly.
Finally, another lesson I learned from how Rachel lived her life is how to be authentic. From all that I have read and heard about Rachel, I gathered that she was honest about her feelings and struggles, and therefore was able to be more relatable to others. It bothers me, however, when people act like they are perfect and don’t have any struggles, because I know they are hiding something from me and probably aren’t trustworthy either. Rachel, in what I have gathered about her, was almost never, if ever, like this! I learned from her life to be open about my personal struggles, not so others will pity me, but to be more trustworthy and honest about who I really am, and to comfort and encourage those going through similar issues. I also learned that if one is honest about their struggles, it opens up the opportunity for others to open up as well, with less fear of being judged or condemned for their problems. This is where healing begins!
I have never personally met Rachel Scott, but am very excited to be able to meet her in paradise someday. To me, she is almost everything I would love to be–appreciative of others, amazing (or at least more than average), and most of all, authentic. This is why she remains one of my “faith heroes” today.
Nimmo, Beth and Darrell Scott. (2000). Rachel’s Tears. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Scott, Darrell, with Steve Rabey. (2001). Chain Reaction. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
It was a cold, wintry February day, right after my birthday when I got interviewed for my current job. I sensed in my spirit to ask about the status of my resume. I honestly did not think anything would happen, but when the HR coordinator told me to come back for an interview, a couple hours later, I knew there was hope.
Since I didn’t have time to go home, I couldn’t adequately plan for the interview. When I came back to my current workplace, another interviewee, Anastasia * was already there, and we made some small talk, as we waited to be interviewed. Anastasia was interviewed first, and after she came out, I was interviewed. The interviewer, I found out later, was also going to be my manager, Chris*! I was very nervous during the interview. All Chris asked me was, “How did you go above and beyond for a customer.” Nervously stuttering, I answered how I made sure the customer’s questions were answered, and how I would pray for them if they wanted me to.
I didn’t think I was going to get the job because I was so nervous, but to my surprise. Anastasia and I both got job offers! Anastasia accepted immediately, but I waited until the next day to accept after seeking counsel from my family.
During orientation, Chris kindly sat down with me to give me my schedule for the next couple weeks. It was many more hours than I got at my previous job. The only time I had ever worked that much, was during the Christmas season! I was very pleased. But then Chris went on vacation for two weeks, and everything changed….
Because I didn’t take the time to get to know Chris as a manager or a person initially, we had many conflicts. There was always a period where things were good again, but then there would be more conflict, that grew more intense, as time went on. This cycle repeated itself for one and a half years! During the worst of the conflicts, I flirted with the idea of switching departments or even quitting my job! However, God, in His sovereignty, didn’t allow me to follow through on these options
When the conflicts got really bad, I had also tried avoiding Chris completely, as I had dreaded seeing him every day, but that only lasted a few days. However, I knew I had a serious problem when, on my day off from work, I came to church still very upset about the situation with Chris. I was not only dreading possibly having to see him again the next day at work, but I also became consumed with thoughts of how much he had hurt me and so on. The bitterness and anger inside my heart, at the time, was like a whale about to consume its food whole!
I saw my pastor, John, and immediately sensed that I had to seek counsel about my situation with Chris, because I was afraid if I didn’t get help soon, I would eventually blow up at Chris, get myself disciplined and even lose my job!
I related these concerns to my pastor, John*. I also told him, “I tried to be nice to my manager, but I don’t think anything is happening.” In retrospect, I wasn’t even really working hard in being that nice to Chris. That is when Pastor John told me to turn to Romans 12:12-20, and Matthew 5:44-48. The particular verse, Romans 12:20, struck me. It said, “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.”
Then, Pastor John said, “How do you know God is not working in Chris? Patricia, you have to trust God’s timing. God may not bring about the changes now, but how do you know he won’t make the changes later, in His own perfect timing.” The verses in Matthew 5:44-48, about loving your enemy, and Romans 12:15-20, about serving someone who you view to be the enemy, as to soften him or her, and what Pastor John said about God’s timing, made all the difference. I had renewed hope that things could change for the better between Chris and me. And it did!
That night, I sensed God telling me that I should apologize to Chris for the anger and bitterness I had against him, so I typed up an apology note to Chris for the anger and bitterness I had held. The next day, I wanted to give it to Chris but the department manager ended up doing it for me since another manager wanted me to straighten some aisles in the store right that second! After my break, I caught Chris doing freight, and asked him if he had read the note. He said he had. There, we worked things out, and that day, things really started to become better.
After that next day, I felt so much better and so hopeful that things would get better for us. The barrier and slime of hatred and bitterness that I had for Chris melted away within days, if not hours, of me talking to Pastor John. I started to be able to look at Chris with eyes of love and compassion, and not the revulsion and disgust that I had earlier.
However, several months later, Chris was moved to a different area of the store altogether. I would no longer have the opportunity to show the love and respect to him in the same capacity I did when things were tough between us. I was sad, but now I know having Elizabeth* come on as my new manager was part of God’s good plan for me.
Several weeks after that, Chris switched areas again to cover for someone else, who worked nights. However, since Chris did such a good job covering for this other manager, the store manager kept him in that position for almost a year.
One wintry day in February of last year, I wanted to work overnight for Chris because many people had called in, due to a severe blizzard ensuing outside. I felt really bad for him that he had to do all of this work with only a few people to help him. However, when Chris realized that I lived more than a few minutes from work and I had already worked since two in the afternoon, he told me that working overnight that day for him wouldn’t be a good idea. He, in essence, said “I care about my associates. I would rather have you safely home, than to worry about getting all this work done.” That care he had for me contributed to me being physically safe that day. I listened to him and went on my way, at a decent time. The next day, the storm was so bad that I called in. Had he not cared about my safety and just let me work for him, I don’t think I would be alive today.
After that, Chris and I got along much better.
Then, a few months ago, Elizabeth told me she had accepted another opportunity at another company. I cried, as I never thought she would leave that soon, and besides that, I considered her one of the best managers I have ever had! I was also anxious because I didn’t know who would replace her or what would happen to our department.
Some people who know me well may think to themselves why I didn’t just quit when I felt Chris was hurting me, because when most people feel as hurt as I was, they will make sure that they never have to face that person again. They won’t take time to think about how they may have contributed to the conflict, or even think that things could ever be redeemed between them and the person who they have harbored anger and bitterness against. I confess that though I had prayed for one and a half years for things to be improved between Chris and me and for God to take away my anger and bitterness away from me, I never really thought anything would happen. God, however, in His grace,proved me wrong.
What people don’t understand is how the power of forgiveness and redemption changes you and allows you to see the light in someone you may have once hated. Upon seeing the light, you know you can never give up on that person again. You start to see beauty in that person, and the anger and revulsion will start melting away. That is how I saw Chris was worth the fight.
Epilogue: Chris is no longer with my company, but I will always remember him as someone who always worked hard and believed in me and my potential. I will never forget him. I wish him years of joy and success in wherever he ends up next in his life.
*= names changed for privacy reasons.
On December 20, 2018, I said goodbye to one of the best managers I have ever had the privilege of working under. When I first met her, I never thought I would learn so much from her, or that she would be a picture of the type of person I aspire to be. She taught me so much about not only the work I was doing, but also the type of person I should aspire to become.
Here is some of what my former manager taught me, both through her words and actions, and how I have applied her lessons to my life:
- She taught me to never give up.—When I was having a really bad day and was so stressed out that I considered quitting my job, my now-former manager, Elizabeth*, reminded me that I had done so much to encourage her and others, and not to give it all up just because I was so stressed that day. She told me that she thought I was amazing (though I think that she is more amazing than me!), and that I should not worry so much about my circumstances or what other people thought about me. “Just care about your family and God,” she had said. When I remember this instruction, it has actually led me to worry less about my circumstances and people’s judgments and thoughts about me, and be more able to persevere through the difficulties at my job and throughout the rest of my life.
- She taught me to always do my best.— When I was so overwhelmed by having to do so many things that I failed to do my best work, Elizabeth admonished me for that, but at the same time did not insult my character. By admonishing my specific action (not working my best because I was so stressed) and encouraging me to slow down so I could do better, she instilled the confidence she had for me in my heart, so that I would be more careful to do my best and not get too overworked and anxious in my spirit. So many other people in my past had tried to admonish me by attacking my character as well as the action, so I would change. However, this only made me feel despondent and defensive. By only admonishing my action and not my character, as Christ has done with me, I was more willing to change for the better and not get so defensive. By encouraging me to do my best by also not being overbearing and micromanaging, I was forced to look for solutions to my own problems without always going to a manager. This helped me gain confidence in my own abilities and grow as an associate and as a person.
- She taught me to not take the time, with those I love, for granted.—A week before her last day at my job, she told me that she was going to leave. I was really sad and devastated at first, but I quickly realized one of her unspoken lessons to me—not to take the time with those I love for granted. One of the reasons why she left us, was to spend more time with her family, and I really respect that because it shows me that she is not willing to take the time she has left with her loved ones for granted. I strive to also spend more time with my family and friends, because I know that people in my life will come and go, and that I don’t really know how much time I will have left with any of them. So, I will treasure them all the more, when I keep this lesson in mind.
These lessons that Elizabeth taught me has helped me not only cope with life better but continue persevering in the midst of life’s trials and challenges. I hope that Elizabeth’s new associates will also learn these and other important life lessons too, and that she will know why she is still a sparkling light in my life.
*=name has been changed, for privacy reasons
As you may recall in my previous posts, in 2016, I went through some of the toughest and most drastic changes in my life. 2016 was when I got my current job. It was also the year my brother moved away, and I started to attend my current church, after having been at my previous one for ten years! Here I am, three years later, and am about to undergo, and have undergone even more changes in my life! First of all, at church, we are in a period of transition, where we will soon be getting a new pastor, as my current senior pastor will be stepping down after 40 plus years of service to our church. Second of all, there have been so many changes that have been occurring at my job that I couldn’t keep track of them all unless I really thought about it! Finally, there are some other personal changes that I have been going through or will be going through that will have a great impact on my life. Even in these various changes going on in my life, God is still teaching me so much, that can be not only applied to me in the situations I find myself in, but also to everyone else, in their life situations.
The first thing I am learning is to not waste time because time is fleeting. In the past, when I thought I had a lot of time, I had more of a temptation to waste time, because I thought that I still had a lot left. I thought that if I saved certain tasks for later (i.e procrastinate on some things), that I would have something to occupy me later so that I wouldn’t get bored. For instance, if I wanted to enjoy watching a certain movie, I would save it for a time “when I really got bored” so I would have something to do later. While it is good to be able to delay gratification sometimes, I am learning more and more that I shouldn’t wait to enjoy life while there is still time, because there may not be a later. Also, something that I have been learning and that I really, really regret, is that I never really said everything that I needed to that was on my heart to those people I loved, and now some of them are leaving. For instance, my current pastor is leaving after 40 plus years of service in our church, and I have only been attending for less than three years. I regret that I did not really get to know how amazing my pastor is as a person and as a pastor, because I never really spent much time with him or his wife. From now on, I will strive to make time for the people that matter the most to me. Instead of spending hours stressing about work or surfing mindlessly online, I will strive to spend more time with those I love and like. I also strive to not be afraid to say the things that I need to say to those I love and/or admire the most. I had been afraid to say some of the “nice” things too, because I didn’t want to sound “fake” or too “mushy.” However, now I realize that since it is from my heart, I am not being fake or mushy. So, is there something on you hear that you would like to tell your loved ones or friends? Don’t wait until it is too late to tell them how much they mean to you. You may never get another opportunity to say what you need to say!
The second thing I am learning is to stop worrying about the future and trust God. When I first underwent some of these changes, I admit I had a worrisome “What-if” mentality in my head. Since I didn’t know exactly how these changes would impact my life, I assumed the worst, and that made me miserable and cranky. However, through the message that my next pastor was preaching yesterday, I learned that I need to let go of the worry and the possible “What-if” scenarios that may or may not play out, and just trust the process. For instance, one of the changes at my work is to my schedule. I was content with working mornings, but now they want most people to work second shift, including me. I was initially worried that this change would stress me out to breakdown point, and I even tried to fight it a little bit. However, God showed me, in the sovereignty He had over the events of my life, that this change was from Him. I learned from God through that message yesterday that when I entrusted the situation to Him, that He would give me the strength and the resources I needed to get through the change in my life, and indeed He has! When we worry about the future, we don’t allow God to work to change us so we can successfully adjust later on. We get stuck in the past and “What-if” scenarios, and we waste time worrying, instead of asking God to help us get through today.
Finally, I am learning that God’s presence and guidance will help me through the transitions in my life. This year, I am striving to let God have control of my life and not to “help” Him through the situations in my life. In fact, the more I try to control certain things in my life, the more chaotic and destructive my life often becomes! However, when I relax and not let my anxiety and my desire for control take over me, as I let go and allow God to work through me, I find that I am much more calm and able to do His will. Often when I try to fight the changes in my life, the more apparent the changes become! This also happens when I am trying to escape a situation or a person. For instance, if God wanted a person to be in my life, but I didn’t want the person in my life for whatever reason, God would make it so that I would see the person more often! However, when I just tried to deal with that person in a godly manner, the situation either became better or that person that was bothering me in my life would finally leave.
Even in the changes of my life, I am comforted by the fact that God never changes, and that He will continue to teach me valuable life lessons as I am being shaped into His image. I am learning to use my time more wisely and more intentionally for the people that I have been called by God to minister. I am learning to be less anxious about change, and to trust that God will bring me through all these transitions. God is still working in our lives, even through change. The question is, will we continue to let Him?