Biggest Lie Society Taught Me To Believe (and how to counter it)

Disclaimer: This post is inspired by a question asked of writer Todd Brison on Quora. You can find his website here.

The lie that society has taught me to believe since I was about two years old when I was rejected by people at a daycare center, is that one’s worth is dependent on how much you accomplish and/or are to other people. Maybe there are some of you who have or are still believing this very lie. It’s easy to believe, especially if you live in a developed country like I do. The phrase “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps,” comes from this mentality. It says that, basically, we should be self-made and need minimal, if any, help from others. This mentality also does not take into account or value those who are disabled or otherwise cannot do certain things all by themselves. It may see people who need help of any kind as  “weaker,” more “useless,” or somehow “less valuable,” than their able-bodied counterparts.  The only benefit to believing this lie is that it forces you to be diligent and not lazy. However, the drawbacks, in my mind, are not worth this benefit.  First of all, it devalues people. It not only devalues the disabled or sick but also everyone else because it reduces our worth to be only what we do and if we are “useful” to society or not. Racism and other forms of prejudice derive from this mentality that other people are worth less because of what they do or don’t do in society.  Also, this lie is a form of pride.  Believing this lie does not allow one to get the help and support they need, because of the stigma of shame and embarrassment of feeling “worthless”  if they admit they need help. If one accomplishes success in society’s eyes, this person may become arrogant and look down upon others. Finally, this lie sometimes influences people to spend their life on things that are not as essential, such as becoming a workaholic to the expense of his or her health and loved ones.  Because this society is accomplishment driven, some people may chase after money, power, sex, or work to the point of being obsessed with them and delve into becoming an addict, which is never good.  If this society based someone’s worth more on how they beautiful and unique they are, for instance, instead of just what they can contribute to society, this wouldn’t be such an issue.

Here are some ways we can counter this lie and its effects:

  1. Value people.–I have written several times on how we should value people. For these posts see this and this.  However, it is worth repeating.  One way we can value people more is to thank people for the good that they do to us and others. For instance, if you see a colleague or a boss take the initiative to help you with some of your work because they see it may overwhelm you, say ” Thank you. I appreciate your help.”  They are not obligated to help you, but the fact that they did anyway needs to be acknowledged not only for their sake but also for yours as well.  Another way we can value people is to encourage people when they feel upset or depressed. Tell and show people that they are still worthy of love even if they don’t accomplish everything they desire or hope.
  2. Demonstrate and encourage humility.–One way to demonstrate humility is to genuinely apologize when you make a mistake or offend someone. Never say, “I’m sorry, but…,” because you are just excusing what you did, which is not a real apology.  The correct way to apologize and make amends with someone you offended is to a.) I am sorry I did x and that I hurt you by doing x. I will promise to try to never do that again. Will you forgive me?” b.) Work to not only offer restitution for the loss the offended party incurred by your mistake or sin but also to never offend them again. Another way to show humility is to be willing to be vulnerable. Never be afraid to ask for someone else’s help or admit that you are not perfect.  Yes, it is a risk sometimes. Many people aren’t willing to be vulnerable because they are afraid of what others will think of them and that they will be rejected. That used to be me too in the past. Now, I am not so afraid anymore, because I now know that their opinion really doesn’t matter. It is what God thinks of me that really counts. Also, the people that reject us for being vulnerable and honest with them are probably insecure themselves, and striving to please them is really a waste of time because they will never be satisfied with anything we can give them anyway.
  3. Be successful in things that will matter for eternity, or for your eternal memory, not just on things that will only last in your earthly life.–Yes, it is good to be successful at one’s job or career, or get good grades. I don’t object to this at all. In fact, I encourage it!  However, what I’m saying is don’t focus so much on worldly success that you miss what really counts or what memory you will leave on this earth after your life ends.  In order to be truly successful, I believe one of the things people should focus on besides God is the relationships you have on this earth with other people. How are you treating those you profess to love or care about? This is something I think (me included) can do better. Do not be so focused on worldly goals that you miss the eternal and the spiritual, and your relational goals.

If we do these three things, this lie can be seen for the farce it is. People are inherently valuable, not because they can do a lot of good for us, or even the world, but because each person is unique and special in how they were created to be. Value and cherish others today, and never think that we are only as good as what we do.

Advertisements

Why Hate- a poem

Why all the hate
In God’s good green earth?
Why have a date
With Satan and all his hate

Why all the cursing and backstabbing?
Why all the lying and stealing?
Why all the hurting and pain?
Why all the hatred to drive us insane?

Why ever waste energy
Devising ways to cause hurt and pain
And driving yourself insane in vain
Instead of seeking love and peace

Why ever hurt others
When it hurts you the most
Why not instead love
With the love from up above

What I Learned From the Movie, Miracles From Heaven

DISCLAIMER: Contains movie spoilers!, sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracles_from_Heaven_(film)

Last Sunday night, my mom offered to watch a movie with me that she thought I’d like. It was called “Miracles From Heaven.” Wanting to spend a little quality time with her, I agreed. It turned out to be one of the best movie decisions I’ve ever made in my life! I learned so much from this movie about how to live life, and here are some of the main lessons I learned from that movie:

  1. Sometimes you have to go through the storms (i.e: pain) in order to see the sunshine (i.e the miracle or blessing). –10 year old Annabel (Anna) Beam started experiencing vomiting, intense stomach pains, and almost died, before being miraculously cured of her illness after falling into a hollow tree hole.  In the movie, Anna is depicted at one point as wanting to die because her pain is so intense. She no longer cared about life and became very depressed. However, after she was saved, life had a new purpose. However, if Anna had never gotten sick, she wouldn’t have seen God’s grace intervening in her desperate situation.
  2. Live life as if everything is a miracle.–Near the end of the movie, Christy Beam (played by Jennifer Garner), Anna’s mother, begins before telling about Anna’s miraculous recovery by saying, “Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, ‘You have two choices as to how to live your life. Live as if nothing is a miracle, OR live as if everything is a miracle.’ ” Because Christy’s daughter’s life was saved, Christy began to see everything as a miracle and as precious, because she almost lost her beloved daughter and almost lost her faith in the process!  I can relate to this too, as I almost lost my life three years ago when the doctors found out that I had an enlarged gallbladder (She said it was twice the normal size! ) and that I had gallstones. If that gallbladder had burst, and I had waited longer to go to the ER, I would have most likely not be here writing in this blog today! More on this story, go here.  God suddenly reminded me of this event after I watched this movie and remembered the quote about living as if everything were a miracle.  Today, I remembered that quote as I was going about my work at my job and felt really joyful because I had remembered and realized just how blessed I am to be here and to be able to meet all the wonderful people at my job. Truly, everyone I have met, especially those that I have known for less than three years or had helped me through my illness is a testament to my miraculous life!
  3. Be grateful for all those people in your life that helped you succeed or get you through life .—In the movie, Christy pays tribute to all those who helped her and her daughter Anna through her (Anna’s) illness. She thanks Angela, the waitress who befriends Christy and Anna and walks them through the ordeal so they would not have to suffer alone. She thanks Dr. Nurko who treats Anna, and the receptionist who barters for a last-minute opening for her (Anna) despite her mother not having an appointment for her.  She thanks a guy friend at Anna’s school who temporarily abandons his other friends to befriend Anna so she does not feel alone in her illness.  She thanks the guy at the ticket counter who lets Anna’s father and her siblings go on the plane free, so they can see her at the hospital.  Christy does this not to gain attention, and not because she is some holy-roller, but because she realizes that she and Anna couldn’t have made it alone.  I can certainly relate too. For instance, if it had not been for the many doctors, nurses, and the surgeon who operated on me in 2014, I would not be here today. Also, I want to give a shout out to my parents, sibling, and my friend K who came to see me a few days after surgery so I wouldn’t feel alone.  Without all these people and more in my life, I wouldn’t be where or who I am today. So, thank you everyone. And I especially want to thank God, who I firmly believe made this all possible!

This is just some of what I learned in the movie, “Miracles From Heaven.” It’s a great movie; I highly recommend it.  (If you would like to purchase this movie, please go to the links in my “recommendations” section. ) It may be slow in parts, and it may not be for everyone, but if you want to live your life with more passion or purpose, this movie is a great supplement to get you thinking about life more deeply.

Why I am a Christian *Religious content*

“Be ready to always give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason for the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” -1 Peter 3:15 b (KJV)

DISCLAIMER: Please respect my beliefs, especially if you do not agree with them. Please keep comments and emails family friendly and respectful of all people. Do not bash other religions or mine, or your comment(s) will not only be deleted, but you will be banned from this site. Thank you, and happy reading. 🙂

So why do I personally worship Christ? Why do I think it is so important to know God’s love? Well, here are some of the reasons I profess Christ as Lord and Savior.

1)In worshiping Christ, there is a great hope.

When you worship Christ, you don’t have to wonder if a Christian loved one is in a better place when they die. Also, you yourself don’t have to fear dying or even what others think of you, because I believe He is eternal and the only One that will ultimately matter above all. Also, after you leave this earth, you have great joy and things to look forward to that will surpass anything you could ever dream or see! Just the promises that Jesus gives us of a blessed eternity gives me much hope and much in which to  look forward in the future. So, I know that this earthly life, with all its burdens and trials, will only be temporary and will not last forever, even when it seems like it does.

2.) In worshiping (and living for) Christ, there is great purpose given to our lives. 

One of my friends had aptly stated that when you live for God, ” everything you do matters.” Nothing you do for God is ever wasted. You may not get rewarded right away on earth when you do something for God, but you WILL get rewarded. You are living for a greater good other than yourself, and, that to me, is most satisfying. Even in the most mundane or banal tasks, a worshiper of Christ can find joy because he or she knows that there is always great satisfaction in knowing you are ultimately working for God.

3.) For a Christian, there is great mercy given by God.

Everyone is a sinner, whether they are a Christian, Muslim, or atheist, and whether they will admit it or not. If you say you are not, then you are probably lying because to say one is sinless is to say one is morally perfect, and no one is or has ever been, except Jesus.  However, when you are a Christian, unlike what some people may have you believe, you do not have to constantly beat yourself up over every sin you commit. Yes, you do have to confess and repent, but you don’t have to still feel guilty or like you lost your salvation after you have confess and repented.  Great mercy is given by God then. He also gives mercy to those who are not Christians, not only by letting them live their lives, but also by occasionally blessing them as well, as He does for us who are Christians.  For us Christians, we don’t worship a mean-hearted god who smites those who sin and/or who don’t believe, but we do worship a God that doesn’t wish ” for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9-NASB). You also don’t have to do certain things to appease God, or to “earn” your salvation. In fact, God’s mercy is revealed in that you can’t earn your salvation, it is freely given through faith in Jesus Christ.

4.) Worshiping Christ changes you for the better– No, we don’t necessarily “become” better than non-Christians, and we still do sin. However, one of the things that distinguishes Christians from those that are not, generally, is that we are able to see our flaws more readily and are more motivated to change them. As I have grown in the faith, I actually see more and more things about myself that God needs to help me to change, and the realization that I cannot do this life on my own becomes more apparent! No, we aren’t  necessarily “worse” people, either, just that we are more sensitive to our moral failings (sins) and are more willing (usually) to change because that is what God requires of us. You also “see” more things you can do where God has placed you, so you can make a difference for Christ, which inevitably gives you more joy.

What matters (and what doesn’t) in eternity

DISCLAIMER: The following post is based heavily upon my Christian values and beliefs. If you disagree with this, please do so respectfully and graciously, or your comment will be deleted! Also, just because I say something “doesn’t matter” in eternity, doesn’t mean I don’t care about it at all, or that it doesn’t have its place in our lives.

This is a kind of Part 2 on my last post about cultivating an eternal perspective on life. This post is to help people cultivate that eternal perspective and by doing so enjoy and treasure life more.  I will also be adding WHY something matters or doesn’t in eternity.

What matters in Eternity:

1) How you treated God: The number one thing that will matter in eternity is how you treated God. Was He just a genie in the bottle that had to grant your every wish for you, or was He the omnipotent, amazing, loving, worthy-of-worship God to you?  This is a question every human being must answer, not only with their words, but in how they live their lives.  Your relationship (or  lack thereof) will determine (I believe) where you will spend the rest of eternity. If you feel you need to make things right with God today, please do so! I would not only pray the “sinner’s prayer,” but resolve in your heart that you are really going to follow Him wholeheartedly and without abandon. Yes, there are times when we all are going to fail at that, but if you are sincere and repentant of that, God will forgive you and love you all the way through it.  You will find that God is worthy of everything you are and have that is good!

2) How you treated others: The other big thing that will matter in eternity is how you treated others.  Did you treat other people with sacrificial kindness and care, or did you ignore or abuse them? After you die, God and other people will not just remember how you treated your loved ones or ones that were your friends, but also your enemies, people that were difficult to get along with, and the hurting and downtrodden that couldn’t really pay you back for all the kindness (or lack thereof) you bestowed upon them. It says in Matthew 25:31-46 (ESV):

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

 

So, do good to others, even when they won’t  or can’t “pay” you back. You will reap great rewards in heaven if you do, because whatsoever you do to who Jesus calls, “the least of these,” you are doing to Him too. Don’t weary of doing good.

Things that won’t matter in eternity

  1. How you look like–No, your physical appearance will not matter at all in eternity. Have you ever been to a funeral where people have said to you, “Oh, your Aunt Etna (apologies to anyone who actually does have an aunt by that name; I don’t mean her) was so fat. How much did she eat? ” Of course not! Things people will more  likely say: “Oh, your Aunt Etna was such a kind, generous person! I wish I could be more like her.” OR “Poor Etna. She was so sad and didn’t have any friends. I wish I could have been there for her more.” It won’t matter the color of your skin, whether you were fat or thin, how beautiful or ugly you looked like to other people, or even if you had any deformities or scars (unless someone hurt you, and the police are investigating them).  So, in light of this, I fail to understand why some people spend so much money on their physical appearance! Yes, you should take care of your physical body God gave to you (It says in the Bible that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.), but you shouldn’t obsess  over it!
  2. How much money you have—I understand that we need money now to live and to enjoy things. I get that. However, if one is constantly worrying about money or how to obtain it, or is stealing money from others just in an attempt to get more, this is really a fruitless way to live because I believe there will be no need of money in the afterlife. Also, you can’t take your earthly money with you as an “investment” in the afterlife.  It’s impossible.  Better to be generous with the money God gave you than to steal or swindle it. Better to be at peace with what income God has given you, than to be constantly worried about it. It’s understandable though if you are worried about money because you don’t know where your next meal is coming from. However, try to trust God with that too, because He will provide somehow.
  3. How many things you have—-Connected to that, getting more things will not guarantee eternal life! It won’t matter how many or how few things you have, because you are going to lose it all after you die anyway because you will have to leave all of it behind.  No, you really don’t have to keep up with the Joneses! And just like everyone else, the Joneses also will have to leave their material things behind when they die, so will their children when they (the children) die. So, how can you make your “stuff” matter in eternity? Simple. Be willing to share and give away (I admit that I am working on that still, but it’s a process for me). What will be remembered is not the stuff you shared or gave away, but the impact that you had on people when you gave it away or shared the stuff.
  4. How smart you are—Unfortunately, intellect will not matter in eternity either. For instance, if  you have a lot of knowledge and still choose to sin and/or reject God’s love for you, you still would have to live with the consequences of that no matter how “smart” you were or claimed to be!  That is not to say we shouldn’t keep learning and gain knowledge, but gaining knowledge and intellect shouldn’t be an end to itself either! Gaining knowledge and intellect should be a way to glorify God and to minister to others’ needs.

So, equipped with the knowledge of what matters and what doesn’t in eternity, you (and I, too) will hopefully find this helpful to focus on eternity more and less on the temporal stuff and “cares of this world” that don’t matter as much in the light of eternity. Let’s make a difference for eternity today!

 

How to Make an Eternal Impact

DISCLAIMER: This post is primarily directed for Christians.

If you have been a reader of any of these humble ramblings for any length of time, you know that many of my posts have been written out of what God has been teaching me about myself and about life, and I’ve wanted to share them with you in order that you can (hopefully) apply them to your lives as well.

This is probably one of the most significant posts I will ever make about what God has been teaching me, and probably one of the most challenging for me. Though I struggle with not being able to make an eternal impact for God sometimes, God has been constantly chipping away at my sinful Self to make sure it stays Dead and He stays alive in me.

Here’s what I have learned from God about how to make an eternal impact:

  1.  In order to make an eternal impact, you must have an eternal perspective on life. Whether or not you have an eternal impact on people depends primarily on your attitude and perspective on life, and how you carry that out in your words and actions.  For instance, a guest speaker at our church relayed to us a story about a guy on his campus (The guest speaker is the president of a school.) that was so entrenched in his video game that when asked by this guest speaker how he (the guy) was doing, the guy said, “I’m on level five.” This guest speaker aptly questioned this guy’s motives, saying something like,  “Is the fact that the guy was on level five going to be remembered by people after he dies? Will the fact that the guy is on level five going to bring people to Christ? Is it going to encourage people?” The obvious answer to those questions is a firm “No.”  The guest speaker* also warned us not to be distracted by minutia like that-Minutia being the stuff, while it can be good, distract us from a more eternal perspective on life. The guest speaker (and I, too) am not saying that we can’t ever discuss the temporal minutia stuff or that it doesn’t sometimes have its place in life. However, don’t make the temporal an idol or so important that you become obsessed with it!   So, how do you focus on the eternal? God taught this to me in my most depressed, down-in-the-dumps moments of life. Think about how you  want to be remembered after you die more. This is not to say, think about suicide! This is to say, however, to think about your legacy more, how   you want to leave this world and how you want to impact this world. Also, think about God and heaven more, especially in times of distress  or suffering. Don’t only think of God and heaven as a reprieve for suffering, but also for refocusing yourself on God and His current (good) plan   for your life, even if you can’t see the good.
  2.  Be willing to die to self and sacrifice for others. This is what God has been working through me for literally years, and probably will continue to   do so until the day I die. I have found out that when you live completely for yourself that it is isolating and it starves your soul of connection and  love. This is because the completely selfish person does not care or take into consideration the needs of others, and so cannot give love to others freely and beautifully as the person who cares about others. This is not to say that there are never times when you have to take care of yourself,    but if you are completely enamored with caring for you alone, it will be isolating not only because you can’t (and won’t) give love to others, but  also  others are much less willing to give love to you. So, to combat that, be willing to die to self and practice being sacrificial even when it may    not be  “comfortable” for you. One way to do that is to dedicate your life to serving others without expecting others to repay you for what you   have done  for them. Another way is to love and serve your enemies. Do you have a difficult boss or co-worker (if you have a job), or do you have a   family  member that’s hard to get along with? Love and serve them. Write an encouraging note to them thanking them for any good qualities you   see in them. Help them put away groceries. Serve a meal to them. Work hard for your boss.  It’ s true that you may not get the recognition you   want  from  them immediately (or ever), but Jesus says in Luke 6:35 (ESV-bold type mine) that, ” But love your enemies, and do good, and lend,  expecting  nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and   the evil.”
  3.  Be willing to learn new things everyday, including from your mistakes and moral failures (i.e sins).  Have a teachable attitude (as I discussed in    the last post about being humble. Read books on diverse topics; be willing to listen and to learn from other people other than yourself.  Be willing  to look at another’s perspective and find out why they think that way, not to refute them, but to understand from where they are coming. Invest   in and learn about social justice issues like abortion, poverty, injustice (how to combat it of course), sex trafficking (and how to stop it of course),  and the environment.  If you have knowledge about diverse topics (I admit that I’m working on this still!), then you will be able to relate to more   people and can integrate better Christ’s love for you and for them. Learning more about others and what they are interested in also shows that you  care about what they like and about them as a person.

Hopefully, by some of these things will make your eternal impact more significant. Don’t be like Esau, who sold his birthright (eternal impact) for a single meal (temporal impact)! Make sure you are doing things that matter not only in this life, but also the next!

 

(*Guest speaker was Marty Marriott, president of Marantha Baptist University.*)