My Heart Will Always Be With You

My Heart Will Always Be With You

For Erica*, Veronica*, Kelly*, Ted,* Chris* and Elizabeth*  (*=names changed for privacy) 

 

For all that we have been through

Both for the good times and bad

For all the laughter and the tears

My heart will always be with you

 

For all that I have learned from you

For all the truth you showed me

For the joy that you are to me

My heart will always be with you

 

Even when you have to leave me

Even if I can’t be with you

Or your face I can’t again see

My heart will always be with you

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The Legacy I Want To Leave

Having gone through depression and being an Advocate personality (a, la Myers-Brigg personality type), I had rarely felt like I belonged anywhere, and thus the subject of death came up many times in my mind.  However, in the past few years, when I think about death and dying, I think more about the legacy I want to leave and what kind of life I want to have lived should the inevitable happen.  Recently, I visited one of my fellow congregants, who is now in hospice. Thinking about the pain and the triumphs that she has been through, I started also thinking about the legacy I want to leave when it is my time to go.  Here is the legacy I want to leave:

First and foremost, I want to lead a legacy of love. I don’t want to leave this earth with people thinking that they were not valued and loved by me.  Sure, I may have bad days, and inevitably this may happen to some degree, but as far as it is possible, I want people to know that they are valued.  I not only want to speak encouragement into others’ lives, but also want to show tangible demonstrations of God’s love to them whenever I can.

I also want to contribute to ending social injustices, such as abuse and slavery.  One way I aim to continue to do this is to spread awareness about these injustices and help some of those who are or have suffered through this.  I want to continue encouraging and coming alongside, as a support, to those I know who have been through abuse or any other type of social injustice.

I also want to buck the trend of apathy in this society, by going against this trend. For instance, I have seen a lot of people both in the places where I work or used to work, do their job solely for the paycheck, and have no passion or joy in what they are doing or for the people they are supposed to be serving. For me, I don’t want to be that person who has no joy or passion for others or for life.  I want to serve others, both at my job, and at other places, with all my heart. I want to work hard because I know it will all be worth it in the end.  When I see someone hurting or suffering, I want to at least stop and pray for them.  I don’t want to turn a blind eye to them, but see where I can help meet their need.

One of the reasons why I don’t ever want to be known as apathetic is because I know how it feels to be devalued by seemingly apathetic people, or people that just gave up on me.  When I have been visibly upset, I lost count of how many times people either just judgmentally stared at me, or avoided me altogether, not even trying to help or seeing if everything is OK. I was also rejected by caretakers at a daycare because I was too unruly for them to handle.  Also, because I had had a demanding personality when I was a child, most of my peers didn’t really want to be close friends with me. When I was going through hell and back in my early teenage years, I could probably count on my hands the number of people that actually cared enough to ask me what was going on with me.

I also want to be able to let go of the things that won’t matter after I die.  Right now, what I am working on letting go of  is a.) holding grudges and anger against individual people. b) the need to be always in control.  c) little things that bother me now, but won’t matter after death.

Sometimes (ok, often), when people offend me, I tend to replay what they did and how I would respond if it happened again.  This replay-tape in my mind tends to build up my anger and bitterness for those people.   I am working on (and getting a bit better at) not replaying the tape so many times. I want to be able to let go and forgive, because I don’t want to be holding grievances against any person when it’s my time to go.  I also want to let go of the need to have everything go my way. I always had thought that if everyone would just cooperate with me and everyone and everything would exactly be this certain way, I wouldn’t be stressed or upset at anything anymore.  However, I have learned that even if things don’t all go exactly my way, I still can find joy and peace in the fact that everything will turn out how it is supposed to and that God will give me the strength I need during each season of my life.  I also want to let go of all the other things that bother me in life, but that won’t matter when I go, such as not finding  something that I want to use or waiting in traffic.

Finally, I want to hold on to the things in my life that will ultimately matter. I aim to always value my God, my family, and my friends, in that order, and above all else, than anything else  this life has to offer. I want to value people over things. I want to hold on to continually developing and improving my character.  I want to be less angry and anxious. Ever since I was little, I have had the propensity to worry. However, I want to leave here not worried about anything anymore. I want to be at complete and total peace.  I also want to be more compassionate to others and less self-centered. I don’t want to let one more day go by without being thankful, in some way, for the people that are in my life. I want to glorify God every day of my life, and I want to love others the way that my God and the people that He brought into my life have shown love to me.  I want to cause a positive chain reaction and ultimately change my world for the better.

My Legacy–a poem

My Legacy  6/17/2018

 

When it’s my time to go

I want the world to know

The fullness of God’s great love

The love from up above

 

When it’s my time to go

I want people to know

That they are so much more

Than just another face

 

When it’s my time to go

I want to live in peace

With no more bitterness

And for anger to cease

 

Before my time is up

I want to serve others

And share the immense hope

I found in my Savior

How to Give Hope to the Hurting

DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, or a mental health professional. If you or someone you love is in a crisis, please feel free to call -1-800-273-8255 (the Lifeline). Someone there can give you the help that is needed. Also, triggers for mentions of suicide.

 

In the past few days, many of you have heard about the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. It has been confirmed by various sources that they died by suicide. However, they are not the only ones who have struggled with depression and feelings of hopelessness in their lives. In fact, suicide rates in the U.S have gone up 30% since 1999, and 45,000 people died by suicide in 2016. (1). In fact, many people I know, myself included, have struggled with depression and/or thoughts of suicide. However, I found hope in my life in God and in the fact that I am not alone in my struggles.  I have also found that there are many people around us that need hope, and some –even motivation to live!  The good news is that, we can help them find hope in their lives and maybe even save some lives!

Here is what I found from my own life experiences that have helped others (and me) find hope in our lives:

One of the most effective ways I found that is effective in helping those who are hurting find hope in their lives again is to speak encouragement into their lives.  One way to do this is to offer hope-filled words to those who are hurting or stressed. We can offer just the right words for the person’s situation. For instance, when my manager Chris* (*=not his real name) was stressed, I gave him a note that had a Bible verse about rest for the weary soul. I think it was Matthew 28:20 (KJV), which says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” He really seemed to appreciate the note.  Also, when I was upset and felt despairing of life, my friend Veronica* (*=not her real name) spoke encouraging words into my life as well.  Though I don’t remember exactly what she said, I do remember that after she talked to me, I felt much better and more determined than ever to better my life.  When we lack this encouragement, we will not have as much motivation to persevere in our lives, and can even become cynical and bitter of the people and the world around us. I remember when I felt discouraged and felt that no one was there to emotionally support me, that I became paranoid of the world around me and felt unmotivated and ready to give up on life.

Another way we can speak encouragement into others’ lives is to give praise to people when they do something good. Don’t do this just to flatter them or to manipulate them. This will only serve to make them bitter and cynical in the future, because your motivations will eventually be found out!  However, when you genuinely praise and appreciate someone for the good they do, you create a spark in their heart and their eyes often light up. When my co-worker *Ted got complimented by a customer, I knew he genuinely appreciated the gesture because of how excited and happy his voice was when he related the story of how the customer said that he should be rewarded for his good customer service to them.  When I told several of my managers several months ago how much the opportunity they gave me to be employed full-time there meant to me, they felt genuinely appreciated and loved in a way most of them never have been before.  When people lack this type of encouragement in their lives, they feel nothing they do is ever good enough, so they eventually stop giving their best efforts.  They feel like their hard work is done for naught.  If someone both lacks this encouragement and is constantly being belittled and criticized, he or she can spiral into a deep, dark depression. This lack of encouragement can even lead him or her to self-injure or, worse yet, commit suicide.

Another way we can offer hope to those who are hurting is to offer them practical helps.  If the person that is hurting emotionally is also sick or bed bound, just offering to spend quality time with them will mean a lot.  Also, if possible or necessary, help them with basic household chores to let them know that they are not alone and to help their home to be kept up. Of course, also speak encouraging words into their lives. Let them know that you value them and that they are loved. Let them know that they are not alone, even if it seems that way to them.

If the person is hurting because he or she is stressed and/or anxious, we can offer hope by removing them, if possible, away from the stressful situation. For instance, if a family member is making a person stressed, suggest they spend some time away from them, whether it is at another location or even just in separate rooms of the house, until they are ready to deal with the source of the stress again.  Also, we can offer to be there for them in the stress. Your presence should help them feel less alone in their fears and stresses.  You can also offer to pray for them, if they are religious. We can also be an outlet for them to be able to vent and talk about their stress and fears. When you want to be an outlet, there are some important things to keep in mind. 1) Don’t judge them. Judging someone will only make their stress and anxiety worse, and won’t help the situation at all. Moreover, they will, most likely, shut down immediately.  2) Also, listen attentively to their concerns. This will show that you care about them.  3) Don’t offer to “fix” things (i.e  give unsolicited advice). Sometimes, all people want is for you to listen and affirm them.  4) Affirm who they are as a person. This does not mean you have to affirm their behaviors, but you do need to let them know that there is hope for them and that you value them.

One final way we can offer hope to the hurting is through our own example, mainly having a joy-filled, eternal perspective on life. By focusing on our legacy and being motivated on something that will last a long time, you can inspire others to live hope-filled lives as well. Don’t focus on things that won’t last, such as money, material things, fame, or outer appearances. However, focus more on things that will last forever—such as God (if you are religious), the legacy you leave to the next generation, your relationships with others, and who you are inside.  By focusing on things that will impact your legacy to the next generations, rather than just things that will be gone when you die, it will give you a bigger perspective on life and will give you more motivation and hope for the future.  We can then teach this principle to others, giving them hope as well, especially when they are looking for it themselves.

When we help others find hope through our encouraging words, through coming alongside them and helping them in more practical ways, and by inspiring others through our hope-filled, larger perspective on life, we can help heal a broken world.  There is always hope when you are alive, and you can make a positive difference in others’ lives by how we live every day.

Source: 1) National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.  (June 7, 2018). Suicide Rates Rising Across the U.S. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/suicide/index.html.

Greatest Life Lessons I Learned

I heard from someone once that it is only when we learn all our life’s lessons that we are allowed to leave this earth.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I love to learn about many different things. For instance, today I am learning how to cook a new slow cooker recipe.  I’m hoping it tastes OK. However, I consider the following life lessons that I have learned (and sometimes had to review) some of the greatest ones that I have ever been taught by various people and through a variety of circumstances in my life.  I believe that these lessons can be applicable to almost anyone, in a variety of ways, and that they are vital to be truly successful in life:

#1- Treat everyone with value. It goes a long way.—As a society, we are routinely guilty of not following this.  Sometimes, at work, you may not even get a “Thank you” regularly for a job well done.  Children are sometimes ignored or worse yet, mistreated by loved ones.  People who are looked at as “unproductive” or “inferior” in some way are treated sometimes worse than animals! What if society, starting with us, treated everyone as the valuable, priceless people they are?  I found that when I treat people with value, that they not only open up to me, but they find some joy and love for themselves as well. If you consistently treat people as valuable, you will not only ascribe dignity to them, but also gain respect for yourself.

#2-  Everyone has a story. Learn them. –I believe that part of treating others with value is taking the time to learn their life stories.  Get to know people. I mean, really get to know people. As your relationships with others grow, find out about their past, their goals and dreams, what they see as their purpose in life, how they experience love, how they overcame their pain and obstacles.  In investing in others in this way, you will not only gain a greater appreciation and understanding of others, you also may be able to make a significant positive impact in their lives.

#3 – Don’t give up!—One of the saddest parts of life that I have witnessed is people having a fallout, and never trying to work things out with the other person or forgiving them their faults.  Another sad part of life that happens far too often is people giving up on life, either by ending it all, or by becoming apathetic and/or self-indulgent about life just to ensure they never get hurt again.  I have personally been tempted by both these sad things. However, I am not a quitter, and that has made all the difference in my life.  Don’t give up. For instance, I once held a grudge against someone for almost two years!  However, I believe God orchestrated the events in my life in such a way that I was forced to interact with this person regularly.  Eventually, through a series of events in my life, I finally learned to let go and forgive, and also never to give up on this person. As a result of our persistence, this person and I have never gotten along better!  Also, many times, when I wanted to end my own life, God and others urged me to reconsider, and I did. Because I persisted in living, I am able to share with you this and other life lessons today.

#4- Work hard and have passion in what you are doing. They have its own rewards.—For a long time, I struggled in finding a full-time job.  Also, I would start many blogs, and end them within a few months.  However, shortly after getting my current job (For more on that, see this.),  I also determined to blog more regularly. I was also determined to be the best worker I could be, and find joy in the work I was doing. As a result of being more motivated at both my day job and blogging, I have felt more joy than I have than at any other point in my life!  People may not always appreciate me or say “thank you” every day, but because I am able to make a difference in others’ lives and do some of the things I love and enjoy, I feel rewarded already.

#5- Be grateful and see the beauty in everything. When one has a complaining attitude, all they see is darkness.—When I am having a bad day and have a complaining attitude, I find my day gets progressively worse.  This happens sometimes when I am stressed at work and I am not focused on the positive. However, a couple days ago, work was very busy. There were many customers to serve. Some people can be overwhelmed just by the sheer amount of people—both customers and workers—at my workplace at the time.  However, I determined to focus on the positive, despite the stress that I knew I would encounter.  Because I was able to focus on the positive, I found that I was considerably less stressed than usual, despite the chaos around me.  I was able to serve customers with a good attitude, and I was able to get things done in a timely manner. In general, when I see what I have been so richly blessed with, I am able to see the beauty in what has been given to me. I am able to enjoy my life, and not be so depressed. I believe that there is a direct correlation between gratitude and joy, and there is also a connection between having a complaining attitude and becoming depressed.

#6 –Forgive continually. Holding grudges is so not worth it.—This lesson is also one of my life epiphanies. I have found that when I hold a grudge against someone for more than one week, not only do I waste precious time; I also waste my energy as well.  I used to be one of those people that thought that I would finally get revenge against the people that hurt me if they saw how much I hated them and held back forgiveness against them.  However, I found that just the opposite happened. Not only did the offenders oftentimes, either did not care or did not know how much they had hurt me, I was also hurting myself and others who had nothing to do with the offense committed!

#7- Sometimes you just have to let people go.—Sadly, there have been instances that I observed or read about where abusers in romantic relationships haven’t learned this lesson, and end up destroying their victims and also themselves in the process.  Even many people who are not abusive in any way sometimes have trouble with this lesson.  Because I am not a quitter, I admit sometimes that I had trouble with this lesson as well.  When you have done all you can to redeem a relationship, be it romantic or otherwise, and the other person does not want any part in the restoration process, it is time to let that person go.  Yes, you can absolutely mourn the loss, but give that person space.  If you really love that person (or even have a semblance of respect for them), you need to respect their wishes. Let them go. Don’t be afraid to be alone for a while. Use this mourning period, to do something kind for another hurting person or to do something you enjoy for yourself.

#8-Don’t be so afraid. It will all work out somehow in the end.—So many times in my life, I had been plagued by worry: What if “x” happened? How am I going to make it? What would happen if I did “A” instead of “B”? Will my life be ruined?  Not only did I find out that worry is a waste of time, but I also found that often, everything eventually worked itself out.  For instance, at work I sometimes worry about not getting the straightening of my assigned area or areas done in time. Then, I find that I do get the straightening done in time or a manager or another associate helps me when they see that I am struggling. Also, for a long time, I was so afraid to drive because I thought I was going to get into an accident.  However, when I actually learned to do it, I found that I was able to drive pretty safely and that during the times when I could have gotten into an accident, God has saved me from that fate.

 

These are some of the greatest life lessons that I learned.  Learning each of these lessons (and reviewing them when necessary) has helped me not only to be more successful in my relationships, but also made me more joyful in life. What are some lessons that you have learned in life that have helped you be more successful?  Please feel free to comment, and may all of us learn all our life lessons well.

So Much Time

So Much Time– A poem written on 5/26/2018

I spent, oh so much time

Being angry and holding grudges

Against those I now love

Or the people I now rise above

 

I spent, oh so many years

Stumbling in misery and regret

I cried, oh, so many tears

Because I hadn’t conquered my fears

 

I spent, oh so much time

On things that have profited me none

But now I’m totally done

Done with throwing away precious years

 

I will spend these fewer days

On who will matter most to me

I will love them fervently

And let everything else on earth ,be

Harms of Envy

I used to be envious of my brother because I felt he was the best in almost everything, while I always fell short of my goals.  After I got over my envy of my brother, I began to be envious of people who were happily married and had children, because I wanted a family for myself, but I have remained single for a very long time. I didn’t wish them any harm or anything, but I didn’t really like celebrating with them either.

However, over the past five years, I have discovered that all the time that I spent being jealous could have been used to better myself and to focus more on the mission that God had called me to accomplish. I strived to stop playing the comparison game.  I became more content with where God has placed me. I learned how to value and to use the gifts that God had already given to me, instead of looking to have what He didn’t give me.

Simply put; envy does more harm than good, not only in our relationships to each other, but also for our own personal growth as people.  Here is why I believe envy is harmful :

  1. Envy creates strife and separates people.—During my devotional time, in the Book of 1 Kings (the Bible), I have been reading about the relationship between King (at the time) Saul and David, who would eventually replace him as king of Israel. Saul initially becomes envious of David because of how much more successful and popular he was becoming compared to Saul.  Instead of reflecting on why he was jealous or what he could do to change, Saul becomes more and more enraged at David, even plotting to kill him on more than one occasion.  Because Saul’s son, Jonathan, becomes friends with David, Saul wants to kill him too! In my own life, I have witnessed envy creating strife more times than I dare to recall. For instance, I know people that are so envious of one of my friends that they a.) only talk to complain about work-related things  or b.) actually go out of their way to try to hurt my friend.  Also, when I was envious of my brother, I didn’t really take the time to get to know his struggles and hard work he had to put in to get to where he is today.  Envy creates strife and can separate even family.
  2. Envy stunts our growth as people.—When we are jealous of someone, our emotional and spiritual growth as people gets stunted. For instance, if someone were jealous of me for accomplishing more things than they did at my job, this person would not be open to learning how I did what I did, or learning about how much sacrifice and hard work it took for me to get there. All they would be interested in is dragging me down or to seethe in their anger and pain of not getting the results they wanted.  This is what happens when any one of us, including me, are jealous of someone else—whether it be envy of their possessions, abilities, or other blessings or gifts that they have, but we don’t.  When we are envious, not only does our learning stop, but envy also hurts our ability to change for the better.  For example, because Saul was so obsessed with bringing down David, he failed to look in the mirror and begin the hard work of not being so rash and impatient with God and others.
  3. Envy is a waste of time.—For the past five years, I have learned more and more how much of a waste of time being envious of someone really is. Speaking from my own experiences, I wish the time that I had spent being jealous of others would have been better used to bless others and improve myself.  Envy consumes you with bad thoughts of the other person. Sometimes, this consumption is so complete that there isn’t any room for anything else.  For instance, King Saul was so envious of David that his life was consumed with chasing David and wanting him dead. What a waste of time!

We would serve others and ourselves better if we could get rid of any trace of envy we have for another.  Envy is often the start of such vices as prejudice, murder, and other violent acts. Envy is harmful because it separates people, including family and close friends, stunts our growth as people, and is a colossal waste of time.  Who are you tempted to envy?  Let us instead try to learn from the people we envy and be content with what we are given, because everyone can contribute something valuable to this world.