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Further (a poem)

Further  written on 2/11/2018

You said I wouldn’t amount to much

You said things that invalidated me as such

You made me cry and cry

And you almost made me die

 

But you don’t know my Savior

You don’t know how far

He has taken me

And what He has created me to be

 

You don’t know the love

He has lavished upon me

And how far I’ve come

Because of the one from up above

 

And the loving friends He sent me

Because they believed in me

When you wouldn’t

And just couldn’t

 

Yes, you wouldn’t even believe

I would make it this far

But what you couldn’t perceive

Is that I made it further

anthem, caring, community, credos, eternal matters, family, forgiveness, friends, genuineness, integrity, life, life lessons, love, peace, positivity, truth, work

How to Find Someone’s Spark

Written in honor of Rachel Joy Scott, the first Columbine martyr, and the one who lived an amazing life, full of love and faith

Many times in my life, whether it would be people at school (when I was attending), at work, and even in the churches I attended; people have broken off contact with someone because of a couple bad incidents.  So, maybe they were really bad! Still, I think the following that Rachel Scott wrote in her essay, “My Ethics, My Codes of Life, “deserve serious consideration and application to our relationships:

[I]magine you had just met someone, and you speak to them three times on brief, everyday conversations. They come off as a harsh, cruel, stubborn and ignorant person. You reach your judgment just on these three encounters. Let me ask you something…did you ever ask them what their goal in life is, what kind of past they came from, did they experience love, did they experience hurt, did you look into their soul and just at their appearance? Until you know them and not just their “type,” you have no right to shun them. You have not looked their beauty, their good. You have not seen the light in their eyes. Look hard enough and you will always find a light, and you can even help it grow, if you don’t walk away from those three impressions first.

So, how can we find the light, or the positive parts of another’s personality, particularly if they do come off as cruel, stubborn, harsh, ignorant, or negative in any way to us?  How can we not give up on our relationships when things get tough?  How can we prevent ourselves from writing off people who we disagree with, or who aggravate us sometimes? (Note: This does not apply to situations of abuse or people who are genuinely unsafe to be around).  How can we cultivate a passion for loving those who are initially undesirable in some way to us? Here is what I learned about finding someone’s spark, or light, in their soul and how I would help it grow:

  1. Strive not to make snap judgments of others.—Much of our society makes snap judgments based on things that won’t matter in eternity, such as physical appearance and social class. I believe this is very sad, not only because many people in our world write off people who could be very kind and gentle inside, just because of something trivial like their physical appearance or how much money they make, but also because these judgers will not be able to grow past their preconceived notions of others and cultivate growing relationships with others.  Unfortunately, even making snap judgments about someone’s character is not effective in gauging who would be a good friend.  For instance, I know of several people at work who I initially did not get along with well.  Most people, if they were in my place, would probably quit their job and/or avoid these people at all costs.  However, God prevented me from doing so.  In addition, I even had to interact with most of these people on at least a weekly, if not, daily basis!  One thing I learned from having to interact with these people was not to make snap judgments of them, and instead look for their light in their souls.
  2. Learn their life stories.—Another thing that can help us find the spark in someone, is to learn some of their life story. Find out what kind of past they came from—what they had to endure to get to where they are now. Find out how they were treated in the past, if they have ever experienced true, sacrificial (agape) love, and not just a flippant form of “love,” what hurts and triumphs they have experienced in their lives?  When I learned some of the life story about someone that I initially did not really like, I began to understand why they acted like they did and began to have compassion and even love for them. When we are able to appreciate what someone we may not initially get along with, has gone through, I find that we are more able to relate to and/or have compassion for them.
  3. Do intentional acts of kindness for them.—What I have had to learn to do with certain people with whom it was difficult to get along is to intentionally be kind to them. This won’t work if you do this only out of obligation or because you say “I’ll be the better person” but inside you are still full of anger and resentment towards them.  However, if you strive to be kind to even those who you dislike, in order to show them the love they probably so desperately need, then the light in their souls will most likely start to expose itself.  For instance, if you live next to a grumpy neighbor, but he keeps a neat yard, compliment him on his maintenance of the yard.  Tell him how much you appreciate his hard work and dedication to do his part to make the neighborhood look neat.  Be genuine in your compliment, of course, but also don’t be afraid to encourage others in need.  For another example, I have had coworkers who I have had trouble dealing with at first, but when I tried to encourage them in something good that they did and tried to help them with their work, I found that I got along much better with them! Not only that, but I found some positive qualities in them that I had not taken the time to find before!

When we strive not to judge against people whom we initially not see eye-to-eye, when we strive to learn more about others’ life stories, and when we intentionally strive to be kind to those we don’t  like, at first, then we will be able to find the light in these people’ s souls.  When we find the light in them, we can help their light grow by continuing to apply these principles to our relationship with them. May we do that, and make the world a better place.

 

Source: Scott, Rachel Joy. My Ethics, My Codes of Life. March 1999. Retrieved from: https://rachelschallenge.org/media/media_press_kit/Code_of_ethics.pdf.

caring, community, credos, joy, life, life lessons, love, positivity, truth, work

Finding Joy in a Stressful Work Environment

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

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

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

caring, community, credos, eternal matters, family, forgiveness, friends, genuineness, inspiration, joy, life, life lessons, love, positivity, thankfulness

Lessons Learned From My Birthday

At the time of this writing (will be several days later when this is posted), yesterday was my birthday.  I am a whole year older than I was the day before yesterday, and, hopefully, a bit wiser. I admit that I had this idealized picture of what my birthday should be like, but it did not really match that ideal at all. However, I still had a good birthday overall because I learned these three important life lessons that could really be applied by, not only me, but everyone in various facets of their lives:

  1. If you really want to love others, you must be willing to sacrifice for them.—My managers and I held a meeting for work, both to discuss work matters and for me to let everyone know that they were appreciated and cared about by us. As the meeting dispersed, I was able to give the managers and associates I work with a small creation of mine that let them know that they matter to me. I wanted to give the tokens to others on my birthday, instead of everyone just giving me things because I have learned that life is not all about me, even on my birthday. Life is about appreciating others in your life that have held your hand, and have been there with and/or for you in both the triumphs and tragedies of life.  Also, since our store will get a visit from some Very Important people soon, the managers were desperate to get as many people as possible, even some from other stores, to help them get ready for the Big Visit.  If I did not care about the managers and the store I work in, and only considered it a way to earn money, I would have never even considered staying as late as I did last night. Because I care about what managers have to go through, I wanted to let them know by working late that they didn’t have to go through this alone. At work, and in other areas of my life, generally, when I wasn’t willing to sacrifice for someone, not only did they get upset at me, but this showed that I really didn’t love them as much as I said I did.
  2. Humility and a repentant attitude are really attractive traits to have.—I was quite upset at an associate on my birthday, for something (in retrospect), that was very minor. When I came to my senses, I apologized to said associate for having an angry and general bad attitude towards her. After that we made up, and I will genuinely strive to be more patient and humble with her the next time. However, one of my friends doesn’t get along with someone in authority in our store because they feel that they are not being appreciated and feel that they are constantly being put down by this authority figure.  If one or both of them had a humble attitude towards the other, they could very well have a better relationship, too.  One of the reasons my pastor is very well-liked and respected by our congregation is, not only because he is generally a very godly individual, but also because of his humble attitude. He does not lord himself over others and is also very down-to-earth.  Humility and a repentant attitude are very attractive traits to have, not only because of the healing and redemptive power they have on relationships, but also because of the value it places on the other person or persons.
  3. Gratitude for what you have and what has been graciously provided for you produces joy, not only to you—the giver, but to the recepient of your gratitude as well.—A lot of things yesterday could have made me grumble and complain—the fact that I didn’t get a chance to give everyone my token of appreciation, the fact that there will people that were rude to me and/or in bad moods, the fact that I didn’t have a birthday party at work like I did last year, etc… However, when I see things as gifts from God, rather than something I’m entitled to, I find that I have more joy in the things I receive.  I actually felt bad for all the people that were in a bad mood yesterday, and felt good that I, for the most part, was in a pretty good mood.  Even though I didn’t have a birthday party at work this year, I still found great joy in being able to get a lot of things done at work for others and being able to serve God by helping others at my job.  Even though I wasn’t able to give everyone my token of appreciation, the people I was able to give them to appreciated it very much.  And for that I am grateful.  I am also grateful for the many people that cared that it was my birthday, and have loved me as I am.  Being grateful (and not grumbly, as when I am not thinking in a grateful way) makes me very happy! So, I recommend that if you want to be happier in life, make a list of as many things as possible, of what you are grateful for, such as the people in your life that have encouraged you, the abilities you have (i.e If you can walk or see, those count too!), and the provisions that have been given to you to make your life better.

These three things are the major lessons that I took away from my birthday yesterday.  I hope that these lessons will not only be applied by me in my life, but also by others in their lives.  If we loved and were more willing to sacrifice for others, if we were more humble and repentant after we made a mistake, and if we were more grateful for everyone and everything we have been given, then I believe that this world would be a better place.

caring, community, credos, errors, eternal matters, forgiveness, genuineness, life, life lessons, love, pain, peace, positivity, truth

The Greatest Revenge: Loving Your Enemy

What do you think about when you picture your enemy or enemies? It could be someone that hurt you deeply, or it could be someone that, for some reason, you just despise.  It could be someone that hurt your loved ones or friends.  What if I told you that you could get revenge on them legally, but it would not be the “revenge” you expect or want?  What if I told you to love them?

I’ve been reading the book, “Cost of Discipleship” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Christian missionary who was martyred during the World War II era.  He says in the aforementioned book, “The only way to overcome our enemy is by loving him.” (Bonhoeffer, 147).  Or her.  This is why I found that this is true, and why I consider loving our enemies the greatest ‘revenge’ ever:

  1. Because of the Burning Coal Principle. –What I call, the Burning Coal principle, is derived from the Bible in Romans 12:20-21, where it says, “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. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good (KJV-emphasis mine).” The Burning Coal Principle is where one consistently strives to love his or her enemy by serving or doing kind acts on their behalf.  It shows the greatest kind of love, agape love, which promotes their well-being. This is the greatest “revenge” because when one loves his or her enemies like this, it does one of two things to the enemies.
    • These people will change their attitude and/or behavior towards you and repent of their evil towards you. They will appreciate that you are trying to be merciful to them despite their mistreatment of you. They will know that you love them and are not trying to take worldly revenge on them, but will get a glimpse of divine love from you.
    • If these people (enemies) do not change their ways and continue abusing and inflicting heartache on the person loving them , it will place a greater judgment on them. I believe God will punish these people for eternity if they don’t repent. Even on earth, they will most likely still suffer repercussions for their evil acts because if they see they are returning your good by being evil instead of good, people will most likely lose respect for them until they repent and show kindness to you.  They may also be disciplined by authority accordingly, if their offense is serious enough to warrant that.

2 )Because loving your enemy changes you.—Loving your enemy changes you, I believe, for the better. It takes a very strong and courageous person to be able to even consider loving an enemy. But when you do, it changes your attitude not only towards them, but also towards the whole world. When you become strong enough to even consider loving your enemy, you will discover that you have a more positive image of your enemy. No longer will he or she be just this evil monster or witch-like persona you had in your mind, but a hurting, needy soul will emerge in its place. You will be more motivated to serve them because compassion and love takes over the dark image you have of your enemy. It may take some time for this more positive image to emerge, so don’t rush things, but take one step at a time, if you want to really love your enemy, as Jesus did, when he was dying on the cross.

At first, loving your enemy may feel like you are “faking nice” to them, but as time passes, you will be more able to serve them with a genuine heart of love and compassion. Furthermore, loving your enemy forces you to look outside just yourself and your own physical and emotional needs and gives you a servant’s heart.  In general, you will love more and judge others less.  You will be more tolerant of others’ shortcomings, including those you love, but also your enemies’, as you strive to understand all people better and get rid of the entitlement mentality—which holds on to your rights and doesn’t really consider others’.

3.) Finally, loving your enemy changes the world around you.

a.)Loving your enemy can restore broken relationships.—For instance, off and on, I  had several people at work whom I would consider “enemies”, or at least, I was not on friendly terms with them.  However, when my pastor (and, frankly, God) inspired me to put the Burning Coal Principle to practice, what I found was that the relationships were restored. In some cases, God restored it to the point where I had an even better relationship than with them before I they were my “enemies” !

b ) Loving your enemy can bridge divides—In  Rwanda, when the Hutus and the Tutsis hated each other. The Hutu majority were trained to hate and kill Tutsis. Entire Tutsi families were murdered in this genocide. Some Tutsis wanted revenge, but some of them actually forgave the Hutus and eventually helped end the genocide-war.

c) Loving your enemy shows genuine love.—Loving your enemy shows genuine love because it is love that is not controlled by emotion or favor. It actually goes the distance and is supernatural. We do not naturally want to even consider loving our enemies because it goes our mentality for justice and our notion of fairness. However, when we strive to love our enemies, I find that we don’t focus on that as much. Instead we focus on not just our enemy’s good, but also the good of the world around us.

 

Loving your enemy is something that is very difficult to do. We (me included) fail at this, time and time again. But if we view our enemies as hurting and broken people, instead of the devil incarnate or just an evil menace, maybe we can change not only them, but the whole world

anthem, caring, community, diversity, eternal matters, family, forgiveness, friends, integrity, life, life lessons, love, peace, positivity, purpose, truth

On Conquering Hate

All around me, I see and hear people arguing and fighting with each other. We even hear of it among our own government (if you live in the U.S, though it does happen in other countries too)! People’s souls, around us, are being wounded and degraded at an alarming rate.  It’s everywhere—the curse of hatred.

Some people have given up the fight against hatred. They aren’t used to anything different.  They have either succumbed to it themselves, or have given up trying to change the world for the better. I am telling you, though, that one day when everything is made right again with this world, hate will be defeated and conquered. Love will rise again!

In the meantime, we must not give up fighting against all forms of hatred, big and small. The change starts with us, in our own souls and our own lives. Here is what I learned about conquering hatred:

  1. Aim for kindness.—Someone once said, “Be kind. Everyone around you is fighting a harder battle.” How true that often is. We sometimes don’t even know what our own family members are thinking or feeling!  How much less do we know about the inner lives of our friends and acquaintances, and the people in our community that serve us?  This is why we should aim for kindness always.  Sometimes, a person may be in a bad mood and (wrongly) take it out on us because he or she may not know another, more appropriate way of expressing how they feel, but we still must not hurt them back, though, we often do. We can make a greater, more positive difference if we showed compassion to our fellow human beings even when they aren’t treating us as we think they should.

We can aim for kindness in these two ways:

  • We can be kind in our attitudes and words: In Proverbs 23: 7, of the Bible, it says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he,” which means that you are what you think.  So, when we strive to think kind thoughts about others, we will naturally want what is best for them and be encouraging to them by affirming their worth and their good qualities.  However, if we have negative, hateful thoughts about others, our words and actions will also indicate that.  We also can be kind in our attitudes when it is more difficult to do so.  For instance, if you have to do what you think is a “thankless” task at work, instead of grumbling and complaining to others about the job you have to do, you can strive to do it with heart and with joy, knowing that you are serving for a higher purpose.
  • We can be kind in our actions: In my job (retail), ways I aim for kindness are, for example, when a customer is carrying a lot of things in their hands, I always offer to get them a shopping cart. This way they don’t have to carry everything in their hands and have to put it somewhere, and have the hassle of then getting a cart for themselves. I also strive to go the extra mile to look for something for a customer, so they can find what they need for their lives.  Sometimes, I help the custodians clean a messy area in the break room, not so I get recognized, but so the custodians do not have to be overwhelmed and burdened by so much work. I also do it as a way to thank them for the job they do for us.  I also strive to smile and maintain a joyful attitude.  Outside work, one may be kind in our actions by visiting a sick friend or neighbor in the hospital, feeding the homeless, or even helping a family member with a tough task before they even ask us to do said thing.

2. Forgive others quickly.—When someone hurts you, I would recommend not harboring bitterness and/or anger towards that person for more than a week because after that this negative spirit starts poisoning your soul and those around you. When I didn’t follow this directive in the past, I found that a negative and jaded spirit did start to form inside me. Not only that, but this anger and bitterness stunted my spiritual growth and kept me from growing closer to God and becoming the person He (and I) wanted me to be.  See Cultivating Peace After Conflict post for more information on resolving conflicts quickly and peaceably.

 

Why do more people not resolve their bitterness more quickly? I think it has to do with our misconceptions about what forgiveness really means. Here is what I learned about what forgiveness is and isn’t:

  • Forgiveness is not excusing the offender’s actions.
  • Forgiveness does not require amnesia of what had happened to you.
  • Forgiveness does not require reunion.
  • Forgiveness is letting God deal with the justice, and trusting Him to deal with the offender, rather than you being the judge and jury.
  • Forgiveness is ridding yourself of your hate, bitterness, resentment and anger towards the offender for your sake, so you can be at peace.
  • Forgiveness should be done also for your sake, not just the offender’s.

3. Stay away from all forms of hate.—Another thing we can do to conquer hatred in our lives, is to make sure we are not influenced to hate from outside sources, whether it be media, other people, or in other ways.

 

First of all, I would recommend keeping positive company. This means limiting your time with people who are negative influences on you or who influence you to hate other people.  Also, limit contact with people who constantly cut you or others down.  Instead, spend time with people who love others and who are a joyful and positive influence on your life.

 

Second of all, I would not go to websites, or read literature, listen to music, or watch anything promoting the hatred or the devaluation of other people.  For instance, it is one thing to read hateful literature because you are required to for a research project, but do not willingly read hateful literature for your own entertainment or curiosity.  Even if you are required to read something controversial or hateful  for a school project, be careful you are not being influenced by any hateful ideas or beliefs that the author may have.

 

Lastly, when you see people hate each other or speak hateful or malicious words to another, lovingly, but firmly, call them out on it. Counter their hateful words, but do not get sucked into hating them yourself!

 

If we all (me included) followed these three main directives in conquering hate in our lives, I believe we would be much better as a society.  As Ghandi famously said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Let’s be that change today, and love others lavishly and wholeheartedly!

 

caring, community, eternal matters, family, friends, God, illness, inspiration, life, life lessons, love, pain, purpose, rejection, suffering, truth, Uncategorized

What I Learned From the Toughest Years of My Life

DISCLAIMER: Triggers for talk of eating disorders, abuse, and suicide.  Absolutely no disparaging comments about anyone, or your comment will be deleted! I will also put resources for anyone or a loved one you know that needs them. Remember, there is still hope as long as one is still alive!

 

On April 9, 1999, I wrote the following, a desperate cry from the depths of my soul: I feel dead without actually being killed. I hope I don’t die emotionally, but I am dying. I want to get better… […] If I could only find that zest, that greatness, life is supposed to hold. But where is it, at least in me?” This was a year before God took a hold of my heart, the year that my faith hero, Rachel Joy Scott and thirteen other lives were taken in the infamous mass shooting in Colorado.  This was also the year that I was verbally abused by a teacher, and he instilled a fear so great that it was fifteen years later before I was able to overcome it.  I don’t recall having any close friends at all at this time. I remember having a lot of tough classes too.

The years before that were not so much better. Three years earlier, I struggled with an eating disorder, which thankfully did not end up with me being in the hospital, though it almost got to that point.  I struggled with being bullied and verbally abused by a good number of my peers. I don’t recall being invited to any parties or gatherings with friends, unless I asked them first, and even then people didn’t really want to hang out with me.

During those years, from 1996-1999, were the toughest years of my life. Though I thought the pain would never end and I didn’t know if there was anything different for my life, I learned so much from these years of pain that I continue to strive to apply to my life today.  Here are some of them:

  1. Don’t reject someone just because they are different or needy.—I felt rejected by a lot of people during those years. Some people probably didn’t want to be with me, simply because I wasn’t “cool” to them. I didn’t have the right clothes, the right look. Some thought I was unkind because I was a bit depressed at times, without them taking the time to figure out what was wrong and invest in me.  Yes, there are times when it may not be safe to invest in someone at the time, but at least don’t assume they are “rude” or “arrogant” without learning their story. What if that “rude” (read: really depressed or angry) person’s parent or spouse recently died or is being abusive to them? What if they are going through things that they don’t tell you about because they assume you are too judgmental to caringly listen to them? You never know what another is going through. For instance, some people at my job may seem rude and abrasive at times, but then I find out that they are going through some things that are really traumatizing and/or difficult, and because of my experiences during those tough years that I mention, God helps me to listen with compassion, and I try to encourage and be a listening, supportive friend to them.
  2. Be careful of hurting someone with your words. It can ruin or hurt their very souls.–This is what happened to me when a teacher (I am not upset at him anymore….and if you are reading this today, I forgive you and I wish you the best) verbally abused me so badly that he instilled a fear that took me a long time to overcome. I think I internalized what he had said to me, and just gave up hope of ever becoming competent in the subject matter that he taught.  It wasn’t until my mentor, J, pushed me, that I was able to overcome this fear several years ago. I was also verbally teased and berated by my peers at school, who made me feel like an outcast and a pariah.  This is why when I say something out of anger that could really hurt someone, I apologize as quickly as possible.  This is also why I try to build up people, rather than tear them down. I want to improve other people’s lives and prevent them from ever having to suffer as I did with hurtful words.
  3. Pain and heartache may last awhile, but it doesn’t usually last forever—During those tough years, sometimes I thought so much that my emotional hurt and anguish I felt would never end, that I wanted to end it all. However, I am living proof that joy does come in the morning, as it says somewhere in the Bible. The next year, not only did the pain subside, but God also came into my life! Shortly after I graduated from college, I met one of my closest friends to this day. Almost two years ago, I started this blog, God’s Whisperings.  About a year ago, I became full-time at my current job. There is hope, as long as you are still alive. The pain may take some time to subside, but hang in there, so you don’t miss the hope, the love, and the joy you can have if you persevere in life and don’t give up.

These are major things that I learned during the toughest years of my life. I hope if you are going through a similarly tough time, whether it be dealing with a loss of a loved one (My grandmother died in 1996.),  dealing with abuse or bullying, struggling with an illness, whether it be physical or mental, or any other tough situation, that you will know that you are not alone.  I hope you will know that there is hope for your life, no matter how desperate or bleak it looks right now.  And I hope that you know that good will come out of this tough situation, even if you can’t see it right now. Don’t give up.

 

Resources for those dealing with some tough situations:

  • NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)- This is an organization that helps people and their families dealing with mental health issues.  https://www.nami.org/Find-Support
  • Suicide Hotline- https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
  • Grief counseling/support groups page—This is a webpage dedicated to helping those who have lost a loved one and are looking for support or ways to get through it. https://grief.com/group-resources/
  • RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network)—This is a website dedicated to those who have been sexually abused and/or assaulted. There is a hotline one can call in a life-threatening situation or just for support.  https://www.rainn.org/
  • Jodie Blanco—She is an advocate who speaks on behalf of the bullied, both people who are currently being bullied, and adult survivors of bullying. There are some great resources for survivors themselves, parents, and teachers. There are even some resources on how bullying in schools can be stopped. http://www.jodeeblanco.com/

 

 

bullying, caring, community, credos, friends, inspiration, joy, life, life lessons, love, positivity, suffering, work

What I Learned From My Book of the Year

DISCLAIMER: I get no compensation from this review of sorts. All opinions are my own. However, if you would like to buy this book, please go to the recommendation page of my blog.

“You are what you think.” This is what the Bible says, and also what has been true in my life.  I have been struggling to combat negative thoughts almost all my life, whether it be anxiety-laden thoughts or more angry thoughts about someone I was upset with the previous day.  Then, one day, my Sunday School teacher (a.k.a : the pastor’s wife) talked about a book that she said in so many words, would change lives.  She said that the book would teach one how to think more positive, godly thoughts and revolutionize our attitude towards life in a positive way.  Because of my struggles with the thoughts that I have had most of my life, this book, “Loving God With All Your Mind” by Elizabeth George, seemed interesting to me. In fact, I was so interested in the book, all I could think about during the whole time my teacher was promoting the book was, I’ve got to get this book!” So, that same night, I got the book. Actually, I accidentally bought two and sold one of them to a friend of mine.

 

These are some of the things that I have learned from my favorite book of the year (Loving God With All Your Mind) and how these lessons can be applied to almost anyone’s lives, regardless of religious affiliation or belief:

  1. When you truly love someone, you will strive never to think negatively about that person.—Because of my tendency to think negatively about others when they had upset me or about how I “must” have offended them when someone was upset with me, this was truly a revolutionary concept. I discovered that one of the reasons that I hadn’t been getting along with certain people in my life was that I was constantly thinking the worst about them, and it stemmed from both an unforgiving heart and that they had hurt me before, and I failed to let go of the past. I think it was a defensive mechanism to prevent myself from getting hurt by those people again. The thing about love, though, is that it takes risks! C.S Lewis is even quoted as saying that if you love, you will get hurt. However, I believe even with the pain, love is totally worth it!  So, when I started to follow the advice of this book and countered my negative thoughts about these people with the positive characteristics I saw in them, I had a more balanced, more positive view of those people. Another thing I learned from “Loving God With All Your Mind” related to this lesson of not thinking negatively (or evil thoughts) about others is when a person seems upset with you, and you confront them and they say that nothing is wrong, you shouldn’t second guess them. I asked my Sunday School teacher (because the “lawyer” in my head had popped up!), “What if the person really is lying to you, and they say nothing is wrong, but you really have offended them.” She said something like, “Go with the lie. If someone is offended by you, it is their responsibility to let you know so you can do better next time, not yours.” To add to this, I am thinking also that if a person wants to hide behind pretense and games and does not want to let you know that they were offended by you, what kind of relationship is that anyway? Also, do you really want to continue being in a relationship based on lies? I don’t either.
  2. Look for the good in the trials of life.—Everyone goes through a rough patch at least once in their lifetime, some multiple times, or much of their lives. A lot of people, me included, sometimes think that life would be better without these trials, or rough patches, in our lives. However, Elizabeth George says in her book to look for the “gold” in our trials. For instance, during my elementary and part of my high school years, I was a victim of bullying by some of my peers.  When I was going through all that, I felt depressed, hopeless, and mentally exhausted of that life. However, these trials have taught me some valuable lessons on how NOT to live your life. A.) I learned how painful it feels to be bullied and ridiculed, both physically and verbally, through taunts and mockery, and strive never to inflict the same on another human being.   b) I learned how to value each person as God values me, in contrast to how some people treated me as an appendage or a burden.  c) I learned how to respond and not respond to these people.  Also, these bad experiences also led me to search for God and love and later ignited my passion to serve and love others.  Even in the worst of circumstances, there is always good that can come out of it, whether it be redemption in the situation itself or strengthening of our character
  3. Don’t dwell on past regrets or even successes, but move forward.—One of the more interesting things I learned from the book, “Loving God With All Your Mind,” is to forget the past. This means not dwelling on past failures or even successes. When we dwell on past failures, we tend to get stuck there, and this attitude prevents us from having the motivation to try new things or to try again. I know because this has happened to me.  More than ten years ago (probably closer to fifteen), I tried to learn the cash register at another job, but it was a disaster. I was so nervous and flustered that I did nothing right. This was still my first time learning it ever. For a long time, in my other jobs, I tried to avoid learning the register. Finally, recently, because I want to work up to be a department manager someday, I thought I should try to learn the register again. The first time in my current job, I was just shadowing another manager. However, the second time I was training, the person training me had me deal with customers! I was really nervous, but she said I did well for my first time with customers at that store! So, what I learned from this experience that others can apply to their lives too, is not to dwell on past regrets, but to move forward and try again.  Also, don’t dwell on past successes. For instance, if a person is so obsessed about their doctorate degree that he or she won’t lay it aside if necessary to get a job that they need because it is “too beneath” them, that is a bad thing. They should forget about their doctorate and do what is necessary to build success now and in the future.

This is just some of the things that I learned from my book of the year, “Loving God With All Your Mind.” When I follow the advice of this book, especially the lessons I outlined above, I have found my anxiety decrease dramatically and my general attitude being more joyful and more positive than before.  What are some lessons that you can carry with you from your favorite book? What is one book that changed your life that you recommend? Please discuss in the comments.

 

 

boundaries, community, consent culture, life, Uncategorized

My Pet Peeves (and how to avoid them!)

Disclaimer: Please, no disparaging comments about me or any of the commenters, or your comment will be deleted and blocked.  

Most people have at least one thing that annoys them about life or about other people. These are the things that make us tick. However, as with most things, we can either let them ruin our day, or we can persevere despite them. I want to be able to constantly choose the latter.  These pet peeves of mine may not be all exhaustive, but they are some of my major ones.  A pet peeve is something someone finds annoying or unpleasant.  Here are some of my pet peeves, why they annoy me, and how to avoid or cope with them.

  1. One of my major pet peeves is when someone tells me that they will do something, but then they don’t deliver on their promise.–I hate this because I feel like I am being lied to when people promise something but fail to do it. I know this is often not intentional, but it still hurts nonetheless.  If you PROMISE me something, you had better do it if you don’t want to annoy or upset me.  The exceptions are if you are sick or have a family emergency. Otherwise, do not promise me anything, or say something like, ” I will do x, God willing!, meaning if God allows it to happen, then you will do it.
  2. When people pretend to be someone or something that they are not.–Again, I hate when people are fake to me or pretend to be my friend to “make me feel better.”  I would rather have someone tell me up front that they don’t like me than to be “fake-friends” with me. Note: You will not make me feel better unless your friendship and love is genuine and from the heart. If I find out that you are faking being nice to me, I will attempt to avoid interacting with you for a very long time! Just be real with me.
  3. When people don’t respect my (or other people’s ) property.–I hate when people rifle through my things or read personal stuff I wrote without my permission! That is just so disrespectful! If you want to read something that is personal, that is not on a public platform like this blog, ask first before even glancing at it!  There may be a reason why it’s personal. Also, please don’t mess up my stuff. It is in a certain order for a reason so I can find everything without wondering where you put it.  I also hate it when people do this to others! It just seems so invasive and unnecessary. Of course, I also hate it when people steal others’ (or my) stuff. If you really need something, ask first. Usually, I will either let you have it or let you borrow it. If the person doesn’t want to give x thing to you, respect that or ask someone else.  Make an honest living.  Never steal.
  4. The phrase, “Don’t do what I do, do what I say.”–This phrase irritates me to no end.  It is often used as a cop-out by people in authority who don’t want to be held accountable for their actions, and it is often used to excuse hypocrisy. As you know from some of my other pet peeves, I hate when people are being fake and/or two-faced.  I am a firm believer that your words and actions should match.  If you are in a position of authority, never ever use this phrase for any reason if you want people to actually listen to you. Even seeing these words in print irritates me. Hearing them would be even worse, and is a huge turnoff to want to do anything you say to me.  If one wants to be a good teacher, he or she must lead by example. Always and forever.
  5. When someone complains about a person, but they have never worked to resolve the issue or issues with him or her. —This annoys me because you are not only slandering and/or gossiping about him or her, but things will never get better. It is different if you have tried to resolve the issue, but the person won’t budge.  I don’t want to hear about how x person is mean or nasty, but you have never tried to resolve the issue or really tried to find the best in that person. I say: Try to resolve the issue first then complain to people if the resolution doesn’t work.
  6. When scammers/telemarketers call and you have already asked them once to not call.— Dear any telemarketers here, I understand you must meet a quota and sell your things. However, if I ask you nicely once that I am not interested, do NOT call me 20 times to “hopefully change my mind.” Also, don’t call me when I am eating or having family time. It ruins the whole event. Also, I’ve made up my mind already. I don’t want to buy/am not interested in whatever you offer.  Thank you and have a nice day.
  7. When technology doesn’t work.–I hate it especially when the computer freezes or access online is not possible. I know I may be *slightly* addicted, but I do need these things for a.) blogging b.) looking up my work schedule c.) ministering to others online or talking to friends that live 1,000 miles away from me.  The only things I would suggest so that technology does work again is a.) Try to fix it yourself b.) call your Internet provider, and see if it is a problem with them c.) call a computer technician and pay to have it fixed.
  8. Slow or reckless drivers.--I don’t like it when drivers are, for instance, going 30 in a 45 mph speed limit road. First of all, it is unsafe to drive too slow (just as it is when you drive too fast). Second of all, all of us need to get to point B in a reasonable amount of time.  Also, people who cut me off and almost hit my car and then speed off annoy me. I don’t mind it as much if you cut me off, but please be careful not to hit my car, ok?  If you do, please take responsibility for what you have done and don’t speed off like it’s no big deal. It is a big deal. I need my car to be able to get to and from work on time. Be considerate.

These are just some of my pet peeves. What are some of yours, and how can we avoid pet “peeving” you? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.

 

bullying, caring, community, credos, errors, eternal matters, goals, God, life, life lessons, pain, purpose, regrets, rejection, suffering

Things I Learned in Childhood

I know I don’t talk much about my childhood. Although compared to many people, I had a pretty happy childhood, I did experience some trauma, mostly at the hands of peers my age. However, I did learn some valuable life lessons that I carry to this day when dealing with situations in my life.  These three things have shaped how I see the world, with some modifications, of course:

  1. Don’t avoid or neglect to do something just because you don’t like to do that thing. Do it efficiently and quickly the first time, so you don’t have to do more later. –I was talking to one of my managers last night, and he was amazed that I am consistently the first one to arrive at the straightening (even though I must admit, sometimes I hate it), and one of the first one to get things done. What I failed to tell him at the time, was why I do this.  This motivation actually stemmed from an incident in fourth or fifth grade when I consistently failed to do the assigned readings on the Gold Rush each day because I hated it. I mean, I hated the book! It was as boring as reading a how-to manual on assembling something one doesn’t care about.  However, the time came where I had to present something from that book.  I knew if I didn’t at least skim the book, that I would probably fail the whole class, and my parents would be absolutely furious at me for not even trying. I quickly gathered up as much information as I could from gleaning the book, and passed the project presentation by the skin of my teeth (i.e to my parents’ satisfaction).  From then on, I never tried to avoid doing something unpleasant if it was important just because I didn’t like doing said thing.  I might do it reluctantly or just to get it over with sometimes, but I will do it so I don’t have to stress out in the end.  During this past year as I have grown in my faith and love of Jesus Christ and others,  I have also tried to find something pleasurable in that unpleasant task and remind myself that I am to do said thing with excellence so that it pleases God and because it is the right thing to do.
  2. Kids can be cruel, but sometimes adults are too.  –I won’t name any names of course, but there were some teachers I observed that were mean to others and me. Maybe they weren’t always deliberately cruel, but sometimes would lash out in anger or because they were too stressed out to respond in a calm and validating way.  There were a few students that were particularly disruptive in their behavior. They did things like talk out of turn in class, spit on students, or fail to do their homework.  Some(not all) of the teachers that I observed didn’t even try to figure out why they behaved that way, and just started disciplining them and a few even mocked them a few times! None of the teachers, from what I observed, even took the time to actually care for and encourage these students very much when they behaved well. I was mocked by a few teachers from everything from my ethnicity to the way I dressed. I have seen this scenario repeated even in some of the places where I have worked, sadly enough.  These events from my childhood shaped my view in that now I get angry (even rageful sometimes) at people who mock others for things that can’t be controlled or that I think don’t matter in the face of eternity.  Sometimes, I must confess that I even thought (but not done) of taking vengeance on the perpetrators on behalf of the victims of the bullies.  These events have also motivated me to care more about people who are hurting, partly so that this scenario I witnessed in childhood does not repeat itself in any way again.
  3. Sometimes you must compromise to be able to successfully work with others, but never compromise your moral beliefs and values. –When I was maybe in fourth grade and below, I used to want everything done efficiently and my way, so much so that one of my peers told me in no uncertain terms that I was difficult to work with, and that comment cut to the heart and I remember it to this day.  Sometimes I hated working in groups, because a.) No one would choose to work with me, and I had to work with random people I didn’t know or care about. b.) Either the person ended up wanting to take over everything, leaving me with nothing to do, or I had to do everything because the person wasn’t willing to carry his or her weight.  However, these experiences of working in groups with different and random people from my classes prepared me to deal with people in the “real” world.  These experiences taught me that I had to compromise and allow for others’ ideas because it was not all about me and getting things done my way.  In the process, I may have even learned a thing or two and understood others’ perspectives better.  These experiences were valuable to help me cope with other associates and customers that I interact with today!

These are three things that I learned in childhood that I consistently apply to my life today.  These lessons have proved valuable in helping me be a more successful and well-adjusted person. What lessons have you learned in your childhood that you still carry today? How have they been applied to your life? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.