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How Passion and Purpose Bring Joy

I have struggled on and off with depression for a long time. Thankfully, God put several people in my life that showed me how to have passion and purpose in my life. Having passion and purpose in my life has motivated me to work harder and with more joy than ever before.  This has caused my depression to dissipate significantly.

However, lack of passion and purpose can exacerbate the symptoms of depression. I see many people in today’s society just going to work to pay the bills, and for not much else. Consequently, when they have to do something they don’t like or when a co-worker or client really pushes their buttons, they become angry and/or miserable.  The same goes with students who are in school only because “their parents or guardians forced them.” They typically don’t have motivation to work hard and be the best they can be.  Moreover, their attitude shows that they can’t wait to graduate or somehow get out of school.

When I was in elementary school, I had to complete an assignment that I loathed. At the time, I had the attitude of many of the students who feel forced to go to school and do homework.  Basically, I refused to do the assigned work until my grade for the class would suffer if I didn’t. So, finally, I had to force myself to do the work. Miraculously, I was able to pass the class! After that, I learned a major life lesson that I have strived to carry throughout my life—Sometimes you have to do work you don’t like. Do not try to procrastinate or avoid doing it. Do it first and well enough so it’s out of the way.

When I was in a Bible Study group several months ago, I learned another lesson of passion and purpose that has helped me maintain joy at my job. The lesson can be summed up in this quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “Learn to love what must be done.”  That is, find joy in the work you are doing now.  Several days ago, I was initially perturbed and not very happy because they had assigned me to down stack totes, and I thought I was assigned that because I was not performing well at work.  Also, that was my least favorite part of the job. However, after one of my managers assured me that I wasn’t in trouble, I decided to find joy in this task by doing the best I could do.  This motivation to do well eventually made this task a bit more joyful and motivating to me! 

Some people may think to themselves, “Why should I do my best if I don’t get a tangible reward for it?”  First of all, even if you do get a tangible reward for good work, it will eventually disappear in some way, whether it would be consumed, stolen, broken or spent (as in the case with money). Nothing tangible or material will last forever.  Second of all, when you know you have done your best, you can acknowledge that fact within yourself. Don’t listen to people who try to criticize your best efforts, especially if you know they are unwarranted.  Finally, when you consistently do your best job, your work quality will eventually improve and you will be more respected, if even only for your work ethic.  This happened to me at a job many years ago before I had to quit. Even though the manager wasn’t pleased at how slow I was going, he did acknowledge that I was still working hard.  Many years later, I am motivated to work hard because I know it will eventually  lead to my work quality getting better.

Another way to find passion and purpose in your life is to have a thirst for learning. Beware of jobs where you are not allowed to even learn new things within your own department.  If you are having trouble at school in a certain class or at work with your performance in a certain area, learn as much as you can about that area or subject in order to improve your work.  For instance, one of the areas I had struggled in retail is cashiering. A couple years ago, I decided to train as a backup cashier, as maybe I would improve in this area.  After several months of training, I became confident enough to cashier on my own, and became one of the few registered trained associates, aside from the regular cashiers, in my store!  This brought me so much joy and a sense of accomplishment, especially since not everyone believed I was able to handle that job!

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, find a purpose that drives your entire life. Make sure that purpose will bring you lasting joy and fulfillment.  My purpose in life can be summed up in the Westminster’s Confession, which says,” Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”  Glorifying and enjoying God has brought me much joy, not only in my job, but also in my interactions with other. Glorifying God has freed me up to love others as He has loved me, without having to work so hard to impress other people to get them to like me.  Enjoying God has helped me trust in His love more and to appreciate all that He has done for me and all that He is to me.  Most importantly, my purpose in life has helped motivate me every day to continue to persevere in life even when I am tempted to give up.  Eventually, this perseverance reaps its rewards and brings me joy.  When we have that kind of passion and purpose in life we will yield great joy.

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay
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On Rules

written 1/24/2021 by: Patricia G.

Photo by Luke Barky on Pexels.com

Some rules have had a legalistic effect on me. Instead of reminding me of boundaries to keep me from sinning, many of the world’s rules have put unnecessary burdens and pressures on me, and have restricted my expression of who God made me to be. However, I am also not talking about all of the world’s rules necessarily, but those in particular that only serve to bog down (i.e…red tape, so to speak) or that really only serve those with privilege and power.

An example of those kind of rules are man-made morality rules such as not being allowed to cry at certain times or rules for autistics like me about what kind of stims are “acceptable” to society. These rules are found nowhere in Scripture or any other religious holy book that I know. To be honest, most of these rules only serve to ease the discomfort of people who are considered more “normal” or privileged, so they don’t have to confront or serve those who have some kind of marginalized identity. For instance, there is this unspoken rule that one is not allowed to cry at work. I understand the rule if it keeps us from serving the people we are paid to serve, but how about a worker crying in the breakroom or in a certain office space where there are no clientele around?! What if said worker’s family member or spouse just died? What if the boss was so overtly critical of them, that the worker was so filled with anguish and anger and did not want to spew words of anger at the boss, so he or she just cried? Yes, it may make some people around them a little uncomfortable, but what if a crying co-worker or subordinate would also teach us how to be more compassionate and caring of others in need? If we refused to abide by another unspoken, man-made social rule that we are supposed to either ignore or stare at those “crazy” people who have cried at work or in public, and instead compassionately try to help and comfort them? What if we killed the expectation that people are supposed to have everything all figured out and hold it all together for everyone, and hide all the pain they feel inside, just so we don’t feel uncomfortable? What if because they tried to follow this expectation to hold everything together and “be strong” they one day completely shut down or explode, tired of wearing a façade 24/7?

Another example of this kind of rule is the expectation that one must never talk to oneself out loud. First of all, we talk to ourselves all the time in our heads, anyway. Second of all, it can restrict creative artistic expression. Sometimes, when we talk to ourselves it can help us figure out things in our lives, like correcting erroneous ways of thinking or helping us figure out how we will do a difficult tasks as we talk through the instructions to ourselves. However, some people think it is “weird” or “inappropriate,” and I have heard some people even fear people who talk to themselves. Why? Talking to oneself does not equate to committing an act of murder or adultery. Yes, it may be outside of the “norm,” but who determines what is normal, and how does just talking to oneself hurt other people?! I am convinced some rules are just there to ease the privileged’ discomfort and of them having to confront a unique and/or hurting world.

However, God’s rules are never supposed to have this legalistic effect. God’s rules, in contrast, bring one into an awareness of one’s sinfulness and into a magnitude of His grace for you, even if you break one, some, or all of His rules at some point. Also, God’s rules do not restrict freedom of expression to who He has made you to be.

God’s rules, or commandments, still allow my Gonzo-ness to come out without restraints of anything other than His perfect and good moral guidelines. It is when people add to His rules things that were never mentioned by Him or things that just burden people under the red-tape of legalistic and nonsensical obligations that our uniqueness and beauty as people are stifled.


Jesus says in Matthew 11:29-30: Take my yoke upon me and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light (KJV). His yoke are the commandments we are expected to obey as we abide in Him by His power and grace. If you find that following certain commands have become burdensome and demanding, then maybe part or all of the rule that you are following does not come from Him, but are probably man-made in some way.

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Running Towards the Light

Photo by Steve Johnson from Pexels

written 11/27/2020, Edited: 12/03/2020, by Patricia A. Go

About a month ago today, I was in a deep dungeon of darkness—that was full of scary pictures of what my future would look like, as well as pent up anger and despair of the person I had become under months of demands and major changes in my life.  I couldn’t keep any food down, and I had trouble falling asleep at night. Days later, I also began to have nightmares about work.  This evolved to anger at almost everyone around me, including God, who I blamed for allowing these circumstances.   I wanted to run away and hide. I wanted to give up on life, and everyone that had hurt me, as I held on to bitterness, anger and resentment tighter and tighter. I was too terrified to go back to the place that I felt began my journey into the dungeon.  I shook with fear even at anything that resembled that place.

Until a week ago…

Last week was Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time of gratitude and honoring God and one another. However, I was still too consumed by bitterness, fear and anger to think about being grateful for much of anything. 

The Holy Spirit, because He is relentless in His love and truth, continually prodded me to forgive and/or let go of bitterness that I had against several people He brought to my mind, especially this one person.  I did not want to let go and forgive.  I thought if I did, I would open up myself to more hurt.  The cycle of the Holy Spirit’s prodding and my resistance went on almost throughout the whole day.  By the end of the day, I had a small desire to forgive this person, but there was an invisible roadblock that prevented me from obeying the Spirit. I knew I was grieving the Spirit, but I still was not in the place to forgive. Still, I was desperate to know how I could get over the roadblock, so I could finally stop grieving God.

At around 6:30 that night, I texted a friend to see if he had answers, but he was busy. So, I turned to YouTube, and finally found a video of a Christian speaker, Mark Ballenger, giving me the answer to the question of how to forgive from a biblical perspective.  To make a long story short, he said that we should forgive the people that have hurt us because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for us. Ballenger said that God deserves our obedience of forgiving the person that hurt us. The offender may not deserve our forgiveness, but God deserves our faith in forgiving the offender. 

After watching this video and reading over something on forgiveness that one of my friends had given me, I decided it was time to forgive this person who I held bitterness and anger against for these past weeks.  So, I finally obeyed, and this huge weight was lifted off me.

Then, the next day, I called the person and apologized to them for holding bitterness and anger against them and several others.  I felt so free.  Not only was I able to reconcile with this person, but my whole outlook on life changed as well. I was no longer afraid of the place which had caused me so much trauma and pain a month ago. 

Like Job, God has blessed me much on the other side of the pain that I endured.  Through the hurt, pain, turmoil, and trial, God was always there and never gave up on me. 

 I am nearing what I hope to be the end of this dark, long tunnel of this past month.  I am finally running towards the Light.

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Why Rest is Necessary and Good

After weeks of built up stress and anxiety, my world collapsed. I felt abandoned, exhausted and full of despair and heartbreak. I won’t go into excruciating details, but suffice it to say if anything good has come out of my most recent trial it’s the realization that I need to take God’s directive to rest more seriously.

I thought if I approached my work and my life with a passionate demeanor that I would not ever approach mental exhaustion and burnout. I was wrong. I realized at work, especially, that I regularly took the work of 3 people and thus, most of the managers that I had, had high expectations of me. However, regularly working a high workload with no vacation time and high demands are a combination for disaster for anyone, but especially someone on the spectrum like me.

Rest will look different for every person, but it is imperative that everyone take a rest from the things that burden and weigh them down. Rest can be physical sleep, or it can be temporary or permanent emotional distance from someone or something that is stressing you out. For instance, when a work project is stressing you out, taking a 15 minute or so break from it can clear your mind and help you maintain your sanity. In another situation, I had to make a clean break from a “friend” who was continually stressing me out and giving me anxiety every time I saw her.

This is why I recommend everybody that is working right now to take all your breaks that you are legally entitled to under state and company law. If a manager or an associate acting as a manager refuses to allow you to take a break, you can take it to a higher level manager or if all other options are exhausted, to your state’s (or country’s) labor agency. I know in high stress environments it’s always a race to get things done by X time, but if you are not healthy or alert, things will get messed up and slow things down anyway. Also, never “save” all your vacation days. Yes, save some of it, and try not to waste them. However, a person also needs time to rest from labor. This is why there is a Labor Day in the U.S. This is not only to honor those who work, but also to remind ourselves that we need rest from our labors.

Finally, take a rest from expectations and demands, both self-imposed and those implied or percipitated by others. This does not mean to rebel against rules and regulations that must be followed, but it means to not worry too much about how other people perceive you when you are already doing the best you can. It also means not to set too high a bar for yourself that you set yourself up for failure. I regularly fell apart under the weight of both my own demands and how others would perceive me when I failed. In my job, I have to perform at least 100 PR to be considered “good,” but I ended up being so trapped by a PR number, that if I performed below 130 PR, I got upset at myself. I felt pressured both externally and internally to perform at higher and higher standards until the work became anxiety-provoking and aggravating. I believe if my coworkers and I did not know our PR for even a day, or it was not counted for let’s say a week, people would feel free to work more carefully and not just so fast, taking shortcuts, that they messed up a customer’s order or did not follow rules and regulations of the company.

So, rest is vital to not only our work environment, but also our well-being and our state of mind. Rest clears the mind of its needless clutter and it brings peace and comfort to the soul and body. Rest is also being obedient to the Fifth of Ten Commandments, which is to rest from our labors on Sabbath day, a day each week you designate in your heart to devote to God and rest in Him. Rest is necessary for a healthy and vibrant soul.

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Power of Belief: How Positive Influencers Helped Me Achieve the Impossible

Being on the autistic spectrum, I knew full well my limitations. For many years I had struggled to find a permanent job, a problem all too common for autistics like myself.  In fact, according to an article by MoneyWatch, a whopping 85% of college graduates affected by autism are unemployed!  (1)Many people who knew me well thought that it would already be good if I found a part-time job, though I had wanted to work full-time.   Some people thought I would also never be able to drive myself places, and achieve many of the goals that I wanted to accomplish. 

However, that all changed when I met my mentor Jill* and a couple years later, my then-manager Elizabeth.*

When I first met Jill, I really didn’t think anything would change in my life, but, at the same time, I unconsciously hoped that life would get better for me. I was also going through some changes in my life of which I was still trying to adjust, as change is especially difficult for those on the spectrum who need more routine. However, Jill kept insisting that I learn to drive myself and that I could eventually find a job that would suit me.  I did not believe her. Even my parents thought I needed a job that I had minimal interaction with people, and that even those kinds of jobs would be very difficult to find!  I eventually did learn to drive myself a few months after I met Jill, but I still did not think I would ever be able to find any job—part time or full time.  Jill then helped me to find an employment agency that would assist me in finding a job.  After climbing through many hurdles to find an agency willing to work with me, we finally found a friendly and determined person from the employment agency that would work with me to help find me a suitable job. About six months later, I finally got a call to get interviewed at a thrift store.  Because God was with me, He helped me to be confident enough to make a good impression on the interviewer and I got the job.  I worked very hard there, but I did not know if I would last long at the job.  Fortunately, I was able to be there for two and a half years before I sensed in my spirit that God wanted me somewhere else.  I was ready to take the next step in my employment journey—finding a full time job.  However, some of the people at the agency thought it was already good that I was even employed, since it is difficult for people on the spectrum to even find any type of jobs! However, Jill was confident in my ability to find a full time job.  So, we pushed through and the same person from the agency that worked with me last time was willing to work with me again to find me a full time job. It took several months before we found anything.  Then, one wintry February morning in 2016, God intervened and I got interviewed at a store in the company I am with now. Though at first I was part time, about six to seven months later, I was instated as full time. The day I got promoted to full time, I  was overjoyed.  (To see more details on how I got my first full time job, please see this link:  (https://placeinthisworld224.wordpress.com/2017/07/21/a-godsend-my-current-job/).  If it were not for Jill always believing in me and never giving up on me, I do not know where I would be today. 

About a year later, I met Elizabeth. When I first met Elizabeth, I did not know how much she would change my perspective on life and the trajectory of it.  Like Jill, she always believed in and never gave up on me, even when other people around me did.  For instance, when I approached her about wanting to learn the register, she immediately suggested that I could train for twenty minutes each week until I felt comfortable enough to be a certified backup, which was my goal, but I did face some backlash from others.  My now ex-friend told me not to continue training for cashier because she thought  I couldn’t handle it when there were difficult customers and that it would be too stressful for me. Another manager commented, “ A CSM [customer service manager] would never call you up to ring.” Thankfully, I listened to Elizabeth instead of the people around me, and a month before Elizabeth left our store, I was instated as a backup cashier.  Moreover, the customer service managers called me quite often, and as the number of register-trained associates dwindled, I became one of the few who were register-trained.  Most customers were satisfied with my speed and efficiency in my service to them at the register.  Elizabeth also believed in my abilities so much that she trained me on some of the things that a department manager, and not a regular associate like me, does.  With her, I not only continually learned new things in my work; I gained more and more confidence in my God-given abilities.

I learned from Jill and Elizabeth not to doubt my own God-given abilities and to not listen to the naysayers who doubt that I could achieve my goals.  Jill and Elizabeth instilled the power of their belief in me into my life, which motivated me to prove the naysayers wrong and to realize the dreams that I had held inside for so long.

Sources:

  1. Pesce, Nicole Lyn. “Most college grads with autism can’t find jobs. This group is fixing that.”  MarketWatch.  April 2017. Republished  2 April 2019. Retrieved 30 July 2020. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/most-college-grads-with-autism-cant-find-jobs-this-group-is-fixing-that-2017-04-10-5881421.

*=Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals mentioned.

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How To Get Along With Difficult People At Work

written June 21, 2020

According to a Forbes article on demotivation at work, two major causes of job dissatisfaction are unpleasant or incompetent bosses and unpleasant co-workers (1).  I have certainly found that to be the case for many people I have encountered that have worked for various companies.  It is true that we cannot change other people’s behaviors or hearts.  However, in my career in retail sales, I have learned these things about how to get along with a manager or co-worker that was difficult:

  1. Realize you cannot change a person’s heart towards you, work, or anyone or anything else.—I had a manager (see also:What I Learned From My Manager) who I had such a tough time dealing with that I used to pray to God every day for 1 1/2 years for our relationship to get better, not thinking God would actually really do anything to fix our work relationship.  Finally, things got so bad, that I was full of wrath and anxiety when, on my day off, I walked into church for bible study! I wasn’t even thinking about God or church. I was consumed with both fear and anger of my manager.  However, after my pastor at the time counseled me through the situation I had with my manager, I had an epiphany: I realized that I had spent so much time trying to change my manager, that I failed to look in the mirror and examine the things in my heart that I needed to change!  Once I realized that I couldn’t change my manager’s heart, I began to shift into a more positive attitude towards him and I became free of my bitterness and anger that I had held inside for so long!  When he left the company, I was on such good terms with him that we considered each other friends!  I had a co-worker that I had a really tough time dealing with also, but once I realized that I couldn’t change them (or get rid of them), I became more patient and friendlier towards them.   So I learned to not try to force someone to change their behavior by being vengeful or venting my anger towards 20 or so other people. You need to accept that you cannot change that person’s heart, and that only God can change them.
  2. Be intentionally kind to the person with whom you are having difficulties. –Yes, this is completely against our human nature, but it is what Jesus would do.  When I was having difficulties with my aforementioned manager, I realized that he was working very hard and not having enough time to eat adequately, so I shared some of my food with him. I am not mentioning this to pat myself on my back (after all, I was also the same person who treated him before with malice and contempt), but to illustrate how being intentionally kind can change one’s attitude towards another.  This is why pastors advise their congregants to pray a blessing on a person whom they view to be “difficult” or the “enemy”.  Other ways to be intentionally kind to someone who is difficult to get along with is to help them with their work when you see them struggling, compliment them in a genuine way about how they are working or if you see an improvement in some aspect of their attitude, and saying “thank you” if they do something nice for you that you do not expect of them.
  3. Avoid gossiping about the person with whom you are having difficulties. –Most people have gossiped about someone that they did not like and with whom they were having difficulties. I think most of the problems that I have had would have been avoided if I did not “vent” about these people with whom I thought were “difficult” to other coworkers and managers, and I instead talked gracefully towards the person directly. However, fear, coupled with my prideful attitude towards the situation prevented me from talking to that person directly.  If someone else gossips to you about a person that they are having difficulties with, a good question to ask them is, “Have you talked to that person [with whom you are having difficulties] about this?”  If they haven’t, tell them to either talk to them directly or a manager if they are having fears about confronting that person alone.  Remember, it is gossip if the person you are talking to about the situation is not part of the solution or problem.

My pastor talked about showing grace to others today, especially in this chaotic time we are in these days.  When we realize we can’t change anyone’s heart by ourselves, when we are intentionally kind to others, even our enemies, and if we avoiding gossiping about co-workers and bosses we don’t like, we will not only be able to show more grace at work, we will receive the same as well.

Sources:

  1. Hedges, Kristi. (2014). 8 Common Causes of Workplace Demotivation. Forbes.  Retrieved 21 June 2020, from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2014/01/20/8-common-causes-of-workplace-demotivation/#3f8ad46b42c6.
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What I Learned During My Past Illness-Revised Edition

 

2020 has brought much chaos and uncertainty in this country. Many people have gotten sick, and some have even died from COVID-19.  Prejudice and hate have become more widespread.   It’s easy to lose hope and fall into despair because of these events.  However, for me, today symbolizes great hope for my life, and I hope will inspire others to find joy and gratitude in their lives as well.   Exactly six years ago, had it not been for God ‘s intervention in the events of my life, I may have not been here to experience the blessings I cherish today.   Everyone that I have met after June 14, 2014, is a testament to this fact.

In the beginning of June 2014, when I was working at my previous job, I suddenly had intense sharp pains in my back and side. My family and I thought they were just muscle pains from lifting heavy things. My job involved some heavy lifting, and if any of you have met me in person, you know that I am quite small physically. However, I knew I had more serious health issues, when one Friday, I got home from work and started to have diarrhea, chills, and fever, accompanied with the side and back pain. I knew I was in trouble the next day when I started to vomit blood. At this point, I had already tried many over-the-counter medications and other relief agents, but none of them worked. I knew had to call off work that day and go to the emergency room (ER) as soon as I could!

 

Going to the ER

When I went to the ER, after many hours and many tests, and even an ultrasound, the doctors/nurses/surgeons/technicians discover two main things: 1) My gall bladder was inflamed and twice the size it should have been! 2.) I had several gall stones! Surgery to remove my gall bladder was scheduled the next day. I couldn’t sleep at all the previous night because of the stomach pains and diarrhea that occurred about every two hours. However, by the time I had the surgery, I was exhausted. The surgery couldn’t come soon enough!

 

Just before surgery, they gave me medications to induce sleep, and I was out in about two minutes. I woke up a couple of hours later, my body shaking a little. However, my body quickly calmed down with medication.  A couple hours after surgery, I ate some soft foods, and when it was determined that my food was starting to digest properly again, I was able to go home that very night.

Recovery

I had trouble walking at a normal pace for the first few days after surgery, and I had trouble keeping food down. However, after about a week or so, I was basically fine. At work, under doctors’ orders, I was not allowed to lift more than 5-10 pounds (about a gallon of milk) for a month after surgery.  However, I did get a point (point=punishment, closer to getting fired) for calling off to go the ER the day I went.

During this ordeal, I learned several things about life and how to deal with things:

If you experience unusual or sudden pain, take it seriously. Go get it checked out immediately! –I was relating this story to a friend of mine who met me only years after my surgery, and she said to me, ” You could have died, especially if your gall bladder had burst!” Luckily for me, it hadn’t, and I was able to get it treated just in time. So, if you experience any unusual or sudden symptoms of pain or other signs of illness, it’s best to get it fixed ASAP. Your life may depend on it!

Your pain won’t last forever– Whether you are faced with a minor illness or a life-threatening one, know the pain you are feeling now probably won’t last forever. It often feels that way, and your feelings should be acknowledged, both by yourself and others. However, try not to despair like I had after surgery. During my recovery, I was mostly confined to my house for a week, and couldn’t enjoy many things I wanted to do. So, I became very depressed and despondent. Even my daydreams were full of depressing content!  However, this did not last long. A week later, I was able to return to work and the pain eventually subsided.  Even if your pain or recovery lasts longer, don’t lose hope of things getting better. Keep on persevering even if you feel like giving up. This shows your strength and endurance not only to people around you, but also yourself. It does get better.

Your health is WAY more important than your job– I was working in pain for the two weeks before I called off to go the ER, and I had to call off that day, because if I hadn’t, I could very well have not made it out alive, and never been able to enjoy any of the blessings that I have today! It is true that I had to suffer the consequences of having called off that one day (They fortunately gave me authorized sick leave for the other week I was off). However, it was much less than if I had to physically die, never to enjoy or see life’s fruits again!

You’re stronger than you think– I always thought I was not only weak emotionally, but physically as well. However, when I was sick, I realized the opposite. I was surprised and humbled that I was able to work 2 weeks with an enlarged gallbladder and gall stones in my body! Also, I believe God gave me the strength to survive this ordeal and make it out alive, and this is a testament to His grace and love for me.  When you go through trials, I believe many of you will find out similarly as well. You are stronger than you may think you are!

The most important thing that I have learned about having been seriously ill was to appreciate what God has blessed you with in life.  Yes, I periodically forget this lesson, but when I contemplate what I went through six years ago, I realize how blessed I am to be with the people I am with now.  I realize that what God has provided me can be taken away from me at any moment, and that I should cherish them before I come to the day where I can no longer enjoy them anymore.

If you have the unfortunate experience of being sick or having a long-term illness, take it seriously. However, realize that this pain probably won’t last forever. Either you will go into eternity or you will get better.  Focus on the relationships you deem the most important. For me, it’s God, family, and friends, in that order, and remember if you are able to persevere, you will come out of this stronger.

 

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Advice I Would Give To My Middle School Self

As some of you may know, I am in the process of writing a memoir about things that I have had to overcome to be who I am now.  One of the toughest parts to write so far has been a period in my life where I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, and when I felt like I had little hope or future in my life. Those were my middle school years—when I was about 12-14 years old.  Sometimes, I wish I knew all that I know now, back then, so that I wouldn’t have been so miserable and hopeless.  However, if I didn’t go through what I did back then, I would have never become the person I am today either.  If I could go back and mentor my middle school self, this is what I would advise her:

  • God will always bring good out of suffering.–If I knew that all the pain, heartache, and hopelessness that I felt when I was in middle (J.R. high school) school was going to amount to something even half-good, I would have not felt as miserable as I did. The fact is because of the bullying and the pain I experienced in middle school, I am better equipped to help others who are struggling similarly.  Because God and others helped me overcome the pain I endured before, my story can give others hope that, they, too can reach the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak.  In fact, if you are struggling right now, or have struggled, and you don’t know if these challenges are going to add up to anything good, know that your story can one day give others who are struggling, hope,  if you don’t give up now.  Many times during that dark period in my life I wanted to commit suicide, but God, in His sovereign wisdom did not allow me. Thank God He didn’t, or else I wouldn’t be here sharing this!
  • If people don’t accept you for you, don’t try to please them or let them rent space in your life.—In middle school, I struggled to gain the acceptance and the close friendship of my peers.  All in all, though I may have appeared happy, I was really dying inside. I tried to learn from them sometimes in an attempt to mimic their behaviors, so I would be more “acceptable,” but it never seemed like it was enough.  The same people I wanted to impress probably saw through me, and, in the end, I was still in the same spot I was in the first place—lonely and unacceptable to my peers.  Now, I have learned that if people want me to change things that are part of how God made me, like how I look on the outside (like my ethnicity), or don’t want to accept that I am an INFJ on the spectrum, that I should not put stock in trying to please them.  In fact, I have had to let go of several people in the past ten years that haven’t really accepted me for who God made me to be.   It really is better to be hated for who you are, then “loved” for who you are not, as people will find out the Real You anyway. Be authentic to yourself and others.
Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay
  • Grades aren’t everything.—I was so fixated on grades, that when I did poorly, I was deathly afraid that I would make my dad livid and more so, that I would flunk out of school.  Even though I tried my best to do well in school, and had decent grades, they had absolutely ZERO impact on helping me find the job I have now!  Some teachers may say to a student who is struggling that if they don’t improve, they will end up working at “McDonalds.” What these teachers don’t understand is that one could make decent grades and graduate from a half-way decent college, and STILL work at McDonalds!  Also, someone could graduate with a “C” average in school, but end up making millions of dollars in acting or even starting their own business if they know what they are doing.  I would still advise my middle school self to work diligently in school, but not get too anxious if I failed one test!
Image by Igor Link from Pixabay
  • Having convictions and drive will make you more successful in life than if you are just “getting by.”—Although I worked hard in school, I only did so to make my parents happy and for fear of failure. However, I have discovered in the past few years that my attitude back then is similar to how many people view their jobs, as just a way to “get by”.  Yes, we should make sure we are making enough money in our jobs to make ends meet, but it shouldn’t be about just that.  Although I don’t make even close to a million dollars a year at my job, I still strive to go above and beyond and do the best I can every single day. Why? Because I want to glorify God and show people that working diligently can be a more satisfying and enriching learning experience if you approach your job as a calling, and not only to make money. Because I am convinced God has placed me in my job to impact a certain group of people for a reason, I am more motivated to do my best, even when I may not get a raise for years.  If I approached my school as a calling, rather than just trying to gain the acceptance of love of people who were already set in their opinion of me, I think I would have been a lot happier.

I am convinced that if I had learned these lessons in middle school, I would not have struggled as much back then. However, I am glad that I did eventually learn these lessons, though, sometimes, like other things I have learned, sometimes I need to go back and review them.  I am glad for these lessons, because without them, I would have never grown into the person I am today.  And I am glad for the God that helped me learn them!

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Why I’m Thankful For My Job

EDIT: Many people in my shoes would be unhappy about having to work tomorrow (Thanksgiving Day) in the U.S, but I’m thankful that I have a job and that they will serve a meal where I work. I am so blessed! According to a recent survey, by the Conference Board, only 46% of those surveyed in the U.S were “satisfied” with their jobs. I hear people complaining about their work every day at my job, and in other companies as well. However, for me, though there have been some days where the stress seemed overwhelming, I can say with confidence that I am grateful for my job.

 

 

 

One of the main reasons why I’m thankful for my job is because of how God allowed me to get this job. Before I got employed at my current job, I had an interview at a bookstore about twenty five minutes from my home. I really wanted this job, because I thought it would be my “dream job” and that I would thoroughly enjoy it. However, the interview didn’t go as well as I planned, and I quickly realized that I would not get the job and was not adequately qualified for the job. I was despondent and disappointed, but luckily I did not quit trying.

One wintry day in February, I just happened to stop by my current place of employment to get a few items, and God’s Spirit happened to impress on me that I should check the status of my resume since I hadn’t heard anything back for a couple of weeks. Long story short, I got an interviewed scheduled for a few hours later. Even though, I was super nervous during the interview and wasn’t sure I would be accepted for employment, I got a job offer not even an hour after the interview! The next day, I accepted, and the rest is history. 

Another reason why I’m thankful for my job is because of all the things I learned that I can apply to other places. The first day I worked there, I knew next to nothing about working at my current company and was unable to help customers as well as I can now.  I did not even know how to operate a cash register, which is essential in retail.  However, my now-former manager Elizabeth* allowed me to train on the register for at least 15 minutes every week, even though many people discouraged me from doing it because they thought it would be too stressful or anxiety-producing for me. Because Elizabeth continued believing in me and refused to listen to the negative voices about me that surrounded her, I was officially a trained back-up cashier about a year ago today.  Someone told me that the CSMs (the Customer service managers that are responsible over managing the cashiers) would probably never call me up to ring. However, just two days ago, I was called up to ring, and the day before that I was cashiering for one and a half hours, which is a long time for a back-up who also had to straighten up two departments and do returns afterwards!

I also learned how to relate to different types of people. Because of the diverse crowd that shop at our store, and the associates that are employed there, through different experiences that I have been through, I am constantly learning how to relate to different types of people. Even if I fail at an encounter, I do better next time, and thus God is using my relational experiences with all these people, both good and bad, to help strengthen my character and to help me see something about Himself. For instance, I had a difficult time with a fellow associate, but through a series of circumstances, I learned how to forgive them and realized that I was sent by God to be a light to them and to be an encouragement to them, and not have them blaspheme God’s name because of my un-Christ like actions.

Even though I am not considered wealthy, by societal standards here in the U.S, I am grateful for my job because it provides income and benefits.  I am also grateful for the meals that my store provides the employees each year on Thanksgiving because it shows that they appreciate us working that day.  I also am grateful that I am able to be full-time at my job, which means more hours and benefits.

Even though there may be many reasons why I could be unhappy at my job, I am happy because God has given me everything I need at my job and in life.  When I make God and doing His work my primary focus, I find that I am happier and that I am able to have purpose in my work that goes beyond just getting a paycheck. That is where I can find true joy and gratitude in my work.

Source: The Conference Board.  January 6, 2019. U.S. Job Satisfaction at Lowest Level in two Decades. Bank News.    Retrieved from: https://www.banknews.com/blog/u-s-job-satisfaction-at-lowest-level-in-two-decades/

*=names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals mentioned

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How To Be Truly Happy

All my life, I had wanted to be happy and be loved. According to Pastor Mark Jobe, it’s a desire of 95% of people you may meet randomly on the street. I even remember reading an article ( I don’t remember which one.) that quoted A.J McLean of the Backstreet Boys saying, “ What do people want? They wanna be happy!”

      However, the longer I have lived, the more I have realized that the pursuit of happiness isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I found that for many people that their pursuit of happiness often turns into self- indulgent hedonism that can quickly spiral out of control if one isn’t careful. But being happy isn’t a bad thing. Moreover, if these things are true in your life, you may be well on the way to true and lasting happiness.

Image by JacLou DL from Pixabay

In order to be truly happy, we must live with an other- centered focus. If we live with a self-centered focus, we will most likely sprout seeds of discontent in our lives because there will always be some people and situations that won’t comply with our wishes! We will also miss opportunities to truly make a positive difference in others’ lives because we would be too busy thinking about ourselves. A self-centered focus always demands more for itself, and thus is never satisfied with what one already has. However, if we live to see that others are happy as well, we will be too busy serving them to even think selfishly. Moreover, we may even see the fruits of our service to others, and there is great satisfaction and joy in that. For example, my former pastor served faithfully at my current church for over 40 years, and, as a result of the relational investments and services he made to others, many people he mentored are either now in leadership positions in my church or on the mission field. These people are likewise also actively serving in their communities. Thus, we are able to make a great impact on the world and the heavenly Kingdom as well.

Another thing we must practice in order to be truly happy is being grateful for all God has given us. I have observed and realized that people who constantly complain are one of the most miserable people on the planet because they only focus on what is wrong in their lives, completely ignoring the positives. Gratitude is why the Apostle Paul, in Philippians 4:11, is able to say, “[I] have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (KJV) One way to be more grateful is not to compare yourself with people having “ more” of what you desire than yourself, but to compare yourself with those having less than you. This thinking has not only helped me be more grateful for what I have, but also be more compassionate to others in need.

In order to be truly happy in life, along with being grateful and other-centered, we must strive to try your best in life. One area we could do this in is our jobs. Most people I encounter approach their work and/ or careers as simply a means of earning a paycheck. But what if we approached our work as a way to serve others and make a great impact on changing our world for the better? What if we served God in our jobs wholeheartedly, instead of only doing the minimum required to “get by”?

Why should we give our best, not only at our jobs, but in all aspects of life? Not only because we will feel better about ourselves and reap the rewards of doing right, but because we will greatly please God and glorify Him. We will also reap much greater rewards if we know we have done our best we could in serving God with our whole lives than if we just did the minimum or accomplished something with minimal effort because we will be able to have a much greater impact and influence when we are passionate about living life positively the best we can.

True happiness, otherwise known as “joy,” had eluded me for many years. I have struggled with depression on and off for more than half my life. However, thanks to God, and to all my past and present teachers of God’s pure and unadulterated Word, I have learned these secrets of joy– having an other-centered focus, being grateful for all I have, and giving God the best in my life, and serving Him with my whole heart. May you, likewise, live in true happiness today by applying these secrets of joy to your life!

Image by galadrim from Pixabay