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

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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

Dangers of Pride, Benefits of Humility, Part 2

The truth in Proverbs 13:10 (KJV) “Only by pride cometh contention,” manifests itself in different types of prideful attitudes.  Some people may think it is good to have “pride in oneself” because it exudes determination and a comfort in who one is. However, I  believe that they are talking more about healthy confidence, which is very different than pride. Pride should be more equated with arrogance, which is always bad, no matter how one puts it.

So how do we combat pride? The four main ways that are most effective in combating arrogant pride is through love, through understanding, through humility, and through sacrifice, or the giving of oneself.

Love

When we truly love someone, we don’t have to put up a façade in front of them, or make sure we look “good” so we don’t get rejected.  Love goes “all in” and risks even rejection and humiliation, as with Jesus and Mother Teresa, because they consider the rewards greater than the cost.  Love combats pride because it extinguishes its motivation, which often has its roots in hatred, bitterness, and/or envy.  When you love someone, one doesn’t care as much about one’s own status or reputation, as much as the other person’s.

Understanding

Another way we can combat pride is through understanding.  When we truly aim to learn about other people, through their stories, their cultural heritage, their motivations, their goals in life, their hurts and pains, and their triumphs, we often find  some way we can relate with what they are going through or went through and who they are.  This is how most people become good friends with each other!  In prejudicial pride, this is absent, because the prejudiced person often just makes general assumptions about a person or a particular group of people, without really educating themselves of the truth or really reflecting upon  how their assumptions came to be.  In “better-than-you” pride, the arrogant person, like the one who is prejudiced, often makes a lot of assumptions about a person or a group of people without going in-depth and learning about why someone is the way they are.  When we aim for understanding and really learn about another person or persons, the reason behind the prideful attitude gets “debunked,” so to speak, because we often find out that some or even all our assumptions were wrong! Thus, our pride melts away into a new acceptance and openness towards the people we previously looked down upon.

Humility

Another way we can defeat pride is through its counterpart—humility.  For instance, when someone points out an area of our lives or of our character that needs improvement or change, instead getting upset by this, we can humbly accept their admonishment and take steps to change. On a related issue, when someone is offended by something we did or said, instead of excusing or denying our fault, we should apologize and ask or find ways to improve ourselves.  Some people, especially those in authority, may think it is a sign of weakness to apologize to another, especially someone that they consider a subordinate, but nothing could be further from the truth. In our natural states, we would never apologize for anything, even though we know we make mistakes and sin! This is a scary thought.  I believe it often takes supernatural powers to sincerely apologize to someone because it chips at our natural propensity of pride.  However, when we do offer a sincere apology and a strong desire to change, our lives will make a powerful and redeeming statement.

Sacrifice

Another powerful way we can combat pride is through sacrifice.  When we are willing to sacrifice for others, it means we are willing to prefer others above ourselves, which is also a characteristic of humility.  This is a particularly powerful antidote to materialistic pride because when we sacrifice, we must be willing to part with anything that holds us back from giving or sharing with others.  For instance, if I struggle with love of money, by giving a portion of my earnings to charity, it helps me to see that a.) other people need what I have, so it’s selfish of me to hold on to something that someone else needs more.  b) that even if I am not as rich, that I still can be happy because I did the right thing. Sacrifice is also an antidote to the other forms of pride because it forces one to look away from self and unto others.  Pride and selfishness go hand in hand. Since living sacrificially for others combats selfish attitudes and behaviors, both pride and selfishness get extinguished. An example of how this occurred in my life, is when I was a child, I was very selfish. I did not even want to buy something for my brother’s birthday. However, my aunt convinced me that to sacrifice part of what I had for my brother was the right thing to do and would show that I truly loved him. That changed my whole outlook on giving and sacrifice. When we are willing to sacrifice for others, we show we truly love them.

 

When we practice love, understanding, humility, and sacrifice, most of our prideful attitudes will melt away. We will be more effective in loving and serving others, without ourselves getting in the way of that.  Pride is a dangerous hindrance to our true success in life, and causes contention. However, humility—its counterpart, often causes love and peace.

Dangers of Pride, Benefits of Humility, Part 1

NOTE: NO disparaging comments, or your comment will be deleted. Thank you.

“Only by pride cometh contention.” This sentence is found in Proverbs 13:10 (KJV), and I see the fact in this phrase playing out in my everyday life, not only by those around me, but even, sadly, by myself at times.  We see this in the verbal attacks coming from within governmental doors. We see demonstrated this in schools, in the workplace, in places of worship, and most sadly, in our own homes.  We see the poison of arrogant pride.  The four forms of pride I most often see are, what I call, prejudicial pride, “better-than-you” pride, false humility, and materialistic/monetary pride:

I define prejudicial pride as a natural inclination to disdain or look down upon another because of their race, religion, sexuality, gender identity, social class, or any other human identifier, and to believe that you are somehow better than them.  For instance, in my country, there has been a 300-plus year history of racism against African Americans by some White people.  This began by the importing of African slaves into the United States by wealthy landowners, and because of the imbalance of power between the slaves and the landowners, the landowners had absolute control over these slaves, often beating and degrading them to their own sinful desires.  This degradation of African Americans continued until the 1960s with the Civil Rights movement.  However, despite major positive changes in the way Whites and Blacks have generally treated each other, there still remains much contention between these two ethnic groups to this day. Virtually, every religious group has had some history of others persecuting them in some way.  Many Christians around the world have been imprisoned, beaten, lost their jobs, and been put to death in a most torturous way because of their faith. There have also been many moderate Muslims who have been persecuted, harassed, beaten, or even killed because of their faith and because people have wrongly associated them with the cowardly actions of a few who claim the name of Islam.  As you can see, prejudicial pride creates much contention, destruction, hatred, anger, and bitterness, and does absolutely nothing to cultivate understanding or even a sense of love and compassion for its targets.

The first thing one can do to combat prejudicial pride is to confess your own prejudices against others.  Confess with humility and a desire to change your ways, as with this man in this video.  The next thing to do is to resolve to learn more about the people or peoples you have harbored prejudice against. For instance, if you are rich and you realize you have prejudices against those who are in poverty, go to the library or order books or videos about how people in poverty live. This not will only probably awaken a sense of compassion in you, but also help you understand others better. Moreover, the more knowledge you gain about someone, and the more you understand them, the less likely you are to harbor judgment and hatred against them.  Finally, resolve to interact with the people who you had previously harbored prejudice against, and do so as someone who is truly willing to be a friend to them, rather than treating them as just a “sympathy” case or manipulating them to your own ends.

Another type of pride, that also includes prejudicial pride, is what I call “better-than-you” pride.  This kind of pride says that because I can do or be X, and you (in my mind) cannot be or do this, you are worthless, but I am entitled to unconditional respect and honor. This is the type of pride often displayed by narcissists, who often think of themselves as more special than others.  In many workplaces and in some other hierarchies, the people who display this type of pride are often at the top of the authority chain (bosses and CEOs) or somehow have connections to these people, and think they don’t have to listen to anyone, even if others have authority over them.  They think they are invincible, and are not accountable to their own actions. This type of pride can ruin morale and cause these prideful people to have a colossal moral and career fall, if they act in illegal and/or immoral ways, and are eventually found out by authority that they can no longer escape or denounce. Think about famous people like Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer.

The first thing one can do to combat this kind of pride is to realize that they do struggle.  This may involve confessing and repenting (changing one’s ways and attitudes) of one’s pride.  Another way to combat this type of pride in ourselves is to realize that everyone has flaws, and we are no exception.  Also, we need to think about the many times where we have received mercy, meaning not getting the punishment we deserved, and grace, meaning getting the blessings we did not earn or merit.  For instance, if you realize that you are tempted to think that you are somehow “better” than a co-worker because he or she struggles in areas that you don’t, think about the areas that you struggle with that they don’t.  In evaluating ourselves rightly, and not thinking ourselves more highly than we ought, we realize we are often no better, or worse, than anyone else.

The third type of pride manifests itself as humility, but is really pride all the same. This is what I call false humility. False humility is degrading oneself in a way that exhibits that you think you are hopeless to ever change or get better. I admit that I sometimes struggle with this because of my depression.  The reason why this is a form of pride is because false humility says that you are so special that mercy, grace, and love cannot change or touch you, so I don’t need or I can’t get proper help.  This is not only pride because of the apparent twisted, entitlement attitude towards not getting help, but because of how it manifests itself as humility.  When someone says to you, “Everyone likes you,” and in your insecurities, you say, “They are only pretending to like me. No one will would ever really love or like a lousy person like me.” you are demonstrating false humility.

The first thing one can do to combat this kind of pride is to realize the implications of what you are saying and to realize that you have a problem.  Then, you should also try to look at yourself outside of your own negative self-focus lenses, and through what others really are thinking about you.  If you don’t really know what people think of you, ask! However, do it in a subtle way, and not in a pushy, insecure way. Also, realize that whatever flaws you see within yourself, know that there is always hope of change as long as you don’t give up. It may be a difficult and long road to change, but with enough determination and hard work, you CAN change.

The fourth type of pride is pride in material things and in one’s wealth. This manifests itself in one bragging about the stuff and/or the money one has.  They take very good care of the stuff they own, but to the exclusion to taking care of or loving their family and/or those around them.  The reason why this type of pride is so harmful is because its focus is on things that won’t last very long, and it excludes the people that are often much more relevant.  Some ways you can combat this type of pride is by being able to let go of some of the things you own, and by being generous and willing to share what you have with others.  Another way you can combat this type of pride is to focus more on cultivating relationships with others, and less time on material things.  For instance, instead of playing games on your smartphone at dinnertime, take time to talk to those around you.

As you can see, prejudicial pride, better-than-you pride, false humility, and materialistic pride are all common, but harmful forms of pride that often creates destruction, contention, anger, bitterness, and despair when no longer fed the way it wants to be.  This way to get rid of these symptoms is addressing the root problem of pride.

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!

On Investing in People

Every day people around us are dying for just a little love, an ounce of compassion, a kind and encouraging word.  During my thirty something years that I have lived on this earth, God has opened my eyes to a world where I can see the pain and hurt around me, and a voice inside me begging me to do something to alleviate their pain so that they, too, can experience the love and joy that I now experience in my life. Today, my pastor talked about investing in people and in their lives. While you won’t be able to commit wholeheartedly to everyone around you, we can strive to invest in at least one.  Here are some basic principles in what I learned about investing in other people:

  1. Investing in others requires love.—To truly invest in others’ lives, you have to care about and love them. Loving someone means being willing to forgive and/or overlook their faults, being willing to do what is best for them, being kind and compassionate to them, and being willing to be there for them, at least, to some extent. Investing in others with true love for them, not only requires constructive criticism when they are headed down the wrong path, but also encouragement and validation of what they are doing well with in life.  Without true love, the investment will sour and you will no longer be able to really invest in them.
  2. Investing in others requires sacrifice, without expecting a return.—Investing in others will take a lot out of you. It sometimes takes many spoons (For more on the spoon theory, see this link) for me to invest in certain people, but it is usually well worth it to me. However, if you are investing in a person just so that he or she will reciprocate, then I would say, “Don’t invest in them.” If, however, you are investing in them for God’s glory and/or so that they, not necessarily you, will gain something, then you have the right attitude.  Investing in others will require some sacrifices on your part.  For instance, I’m trying to invest in a certain person right now, but if this person leaves for whatever reason, but it would be to their benefit, I would have to sacrifice my possible feelings of abandonment, loss, and sadness, to fully support them in this new endeavor.  I cannot invest in this person, expecting that the person will one day come back to a place where I can minister to them again because then it becomes about me and what I get out of the investment, more than about their joy and their fulfillment.  Some people may wonder (as I sometimes have myself), if we have to invest in others without expecting a return from them, why should we do it at all?  While we may not get a return from the people we are ministering to themselves, we do get at least one return—the feeling that you did the right thing and that you were able to share the love and compassion you have been graciously given to others.  I don’t know about anyone else, but seeing people experience and bask in the love of God and have joy in their lives gives me hope and passion to give even more of myself to others.
  3. Investing in others requires initiative.—Investing in others requires the commitment to start, even with something small, like a kind word or sharing a meal with someone that needs to talk to you. If you don’t know who to invest in, and really pour your heart into, think about investing in those closest to you (like your family and close friends). You could also invest in someone who is aching for love and compassion, or who has some physical needs.  You can also invest in more than one person. Jesus invested in at least twelve people (His disciples), but probably more.  However, even investing in one person can make a world of difference.

 

 

Many people invest in money, material items, or other things that may not matter in eternity. However, the investment of loving and caring about people is an investment that will last forever. Many people are dying for love and someone who will just be there for them. There are many lonely, sad, and hurting people in this world. Will you be the one that reaches out and gives them the love, hope, and purpose they need?  Let’s be the change we want to see in this world, and invest in someone today.

Greatest Life Lesson: Never Give Up

My dad said to my mom recently, “I’m not a quitter.” In fact, one of the greatest life lessons that I have learned is never to give up.  Yes, there have been many times that I have been tempted to give up, even giving up on life itself, but, thankfully, God has never let me. The power of perseverance and of God’s grace has brought me through very difficult times in my life.

One example of how I was able to persevere (even though I initially wanted to give up) was in my work  relationships with several people.  There was such a tension between those people and me that I wanted to switch departments or quit my job completely, just so I wouldn’t have to work with these people anymore. However, I believe that God, through a series of events, didn’t allow this to happen because He saw hope in these relationships, even through the hopelessness.  Thus, I was forced to find a way to cope with these people without losing my mind or my job! This helped me to persevere through the tough times in our relationships, and I’m happy to say that I was able to reconcile with them.  Our relationship, in some cases, has even gotten better than before I had problems with them!

Another example of how I was able to persevere is in my writing. I have been writing poetry since high school and college, but was only able to get a few things published.  Even before I started this particular blog, I have been writing things pretty consistently, only stopping for, at most, for a couple of months.  Now that I have a blog, I try to write articles at least twice a week.  As a result, I found that writing is something that I really enjoy and love.

However, there have been other times when I almost gave up completely, until someone encouraged me to persevere again.  For instance, because of several bad incidents with driving teachers, I became so discouraged that, after I got my license, I never drove again…until almost 15 years later. When I met my mentor J, she convinced me to persevere in driving again. With the support of my family and J, I was able to finally drive on my own with confidence.

Recently, I had a really tough day and considered quitting everything I believed in doing because I thought I would never be able to accomplish anything worthy again. (It was the depression talking.) However, when I came home from work, after a long, stressful day, I went online and saw a thoughtful forward a dear friend had sent me, encouraging me. The forward basically said I was beautiful in my heart, with my friend putting in the caption “This is you.” with a kiss emoticon beside it.  Thankfully, after I read this forward and with further encouragement from her, I was able to persevere again. I found renewed purpose and hope in my life, and I realized that I still could make a big difference in others’ lives, even though I may have failed many times before. I just had to not be a quitter!

I have also been inspired by others in my life that have persevered through their own trials.  For instance, even when many of my dad’s colleagues had quit working with one of my dad’s co-workers, my dad has continued working for him.  My dad has also demonstrated countless times to me that he will never give up on us, or on life.  That is something I aspire to follow every single day, in my own life.  Another example of other people in my life that have persevered is my friend Ted *(*Not his real name). There have been several people at my job who he feels did not appreciate him and wanted him to quit, but even through his personal trials in his life, he has always worked hard and persevered through all of this.

One of the things I have learned from these people’s perseverant attitudes is to be more patient in getting the desired results. Good results often take time to develop. For instance, one can’t be a good driver without at least some practice.  That is why we have driving schools.

Another thing I have learned from these people’s perseverant attitudes is that it is almost always worth it to persevere. Often, I have found that the greatest blessings and triumphs come after we have persevered through a trial and have refused to give up.

So, if you are going through a difficulty in your life right now, or if you are encountering obstacles to your God-given dreams, I encourage you to not give up. There is always hope, even when things seem bleak and hopeless! I know because I have lived through dark times, and have always found a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, and many people in my life have, too.