Some Blessings in My Life

We all have some blessings in our life. I know sometimes we have bad days which cloud our view of what we have already been given in life. I know this is certainly true for me. However, today I would like to take the time to name some of the people, places, and things that have blessed my life the most and why they are a blessing. I hope they will inspire you to make a Blessing List of your own!

The Blessings:

  1. God and His love for me—God has given me everything I need. He has never given up on me even when others, including myself, have.  He has never rejected me, even when I sinned against Him. He saved my life, both physically and spiritually.  He is so amazing that I could not put into adequate words how awesome He is!
  2. Salvation—I am so grateful that God chose me as His own and plucked me from the doom of never being able have a relationship with Him. I also am grateful for how He has saved my physical life several times. One time I remember having an operation just in time, before my gallbladder would have burst. When taken out, it was inflamed and twice the size it should have been!  Another time, I remember, just several months ago, that God had awakened my reflexes to stop just in time when I was almost on the verge of getting into a serious car crash. The car and I were miraculously spared from any damage or injury.
  3. My parents—They have stuck by me through thick and thin. They have supported and provided me so much. I appreciate how hard they work and how much they were and are willing to sacrifice for me.
  4. My brother—He has taught me so much about life and love. He has worked hard to accomplish what he wants, and, at the same time, give of himself to his family and his community. His cleverness and intelligence are amazing, but that pales in comparison to his care and love for me.
  5. My mentor J—I met her during a time in my life where I was going through so much pain and heartache of not feeling like I could ever be enough or adequate to this world. She gently encouraged me to persevere through the naysayers, including the voices in my head that said I would never be able to. Thus, I was able to prove the naysayers wrong, again and again. She believed in me when no one else (except God) would or could.
  6. My friends
    • At church—My friends at church have encouraged me when I was discouraged and have shown me what true love looks like. They have taught me so much about perseverance in prayer and in life.
    • At work—My friends at my job have also encouraged me, especially when work was stressful. They have helped me by offering to help with the work I could not complete on my own in the time of my shift and by giving me encouragement and admonishment when I needed it.
    • Other places—My good friends *Erica, *Veronica, *Kelly, and others have been so supportive and loving of me for many years. They have encouraged me and cared for me when I was stressed, and we have gone through so many things together. I couldn’t have made it without their support and love. Their behavior models Christ in a way that challenges me to do the same.
  7. My online community—YOU, the readers and followers of this blog have blessed my life as well. You have not only encouraged me, but when I read some of your blogs, I learn a lot about life and about you too. I love learning about other people and about the things in life.  This has diversified my interests, and thus I am able to enjoy life more. My other online friends have supported and encouraged me as well. So, I thank you for you very much also!
  8. Writing—The ability God gave me to write has blessed me so much. It has helped me cope with my emotions better, and has slowly helped heal me of my depression. Writing has also helped me to communicate what I learned about life to others, so they, too, will be able to benefit from this learned knowledge.
  9. My pastors and deacons—I am immensely grateful to my pastors for guiding me, shepherding me, and showing me how to love better by following and teaching me about what it says in the Bible. I have learned so much from you guys, and I am so grateful that God brought me to you and your church.
  10. A running car—I am so grateful to have transportation that I can get to work and other places on time, without having to rely on public transportation or others to drive me.
  11. Books—I am so grateful for the ability to read many great books that have helped me learn more about the world around me, so that I can relate to others better and for my own knowledge. I love learning about new things, and sometimes review things that I have learned but have forgotten some things about.
  12. Uplifting music—Shortly before I became a Christian, I discovered music that I could relate to on a spiritual and emotional basis. The encouraging lyrics in the songs I l heard influenced me to learn more about God and eventually become a believer in Christ. Slowly, but surely, this music also helped me give up certain attitudes and thoughts that were not profitable or uplifting.

These are just some of the blessings that I believe God has generously given to me in my life. I am sure that there are so many more, but it would probably take an eternity to list them all. However, these blessings have served to not only show me how much I am loved, but also taught me the value of love and learning. What are some blessings in your life? How have they given you hope and purpose in life? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.

 

Advertisements

How to Agape Love Someone

Edit: I wrote the following Easter Sunday.

Today is Easter, where Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who had died three days earlier on a cross of Calvary. So, in honor of Jesus, I will speak of how to love like Him—how to agape love, for I strongly believe that Jesus was the greatest example of agape love there ever was or will be.  I think everyone, regardless of religious belief, can learn how to love sacrificially and lavishly—which is what loving the agape way involves.  Here are some of the principles of agape love I have drawn from the Bible and from my life experiences, and how one can apply them to their own lives:

  1. Agape love involves being able to sacrifice one’s life for another.—Agape love is not only demonstrated by dying for another, so that their life can be saved, though it definitely involves that as well. Agape love involves loving someone else when it is not convenient or when it is difficult. For instance, I know of someone who is caring for a sick partner at home, and often sacrifices their own needs and desires so that their partner can get the care they need. This is an example of true agape love.  Many people our society today would just break up or divorce their partner if they were very sick or disabled. It is a rare gem to find someone who will stick with you through thick and thin, but that is exactly the kind of love we all need.  Do you know someone who is sick or hurting, either physically or emotionally? Will you be the person who cares about and is there for them when they need you? Agape love sacrifices our desires for the sake of others’ needs.
  2. Agape love expresses gratitude regularly (principle from: Colossians 3:16-17*) and does not get jealous.—When someone else gets a reward or recognition, even if it is for something the agape lover (one who loves sacrificially) wants, he or she will not get jealous, but will be happy for him or her who got the reward. This is because the agape lover knows that everything he or she gets is a gift, not something “owed” to them, or “deserved.” Agape love does not know or act entitled. He or she who expresses agape love is very thankful for what is received.  I sometimes see or hear of people getting jealous over material possessions, such as cars or nice houses that they can’t even take with them when they die! Also, the people having them will also have to leave these possessions on earth when they die. In contrast, the agape lover strives, like Jesus, to be generous, because they know that the relationships we have with other people will matter much more than our material possessions.
  3. When one loves someone in an agape manner, he or she doesn’t think evilly of that person. —When someone truly loves another they strive to not only to do what is best for that other person, but to think about them in the best way possible. We aim to protect our loved ones for this reason! When we truly strive to love someone, we will not harbor angry or bitter thoughts towards that person.  For instance, when a good friend of ours doesn’t call us for several days, after calling us pretty regularly before, we will typically not assume they hate us or are upset at us. We will just assume that they are busy, or they had to tend to a family emergency.  We will give them the benefit of the doubt always, unless they explicitly tell us otherwise.  Someone who agape loves always strives to forgive the other, if the other person should offend them.  They will always hope for reconciliation and peace for the other person, no matter how they react or what they do.
  4. When someone loves in an agape way, they are willing to be vulnerable and honest (principle from Colossians 3:9**).—Love is always honest and vulnerable. We truly only lie to people we don’t trust or don’t like. Since love and trust go hand in hand, we are willing to be vulnerable and honest with someone we love. When someone agape loves you, they are willing to be honest about their faults and their painful experiences, because love does not need pride or perfection in order to preserve itself.  I know that when someone is wanting to be close to me when they are willing to trust me with their pain. When I want to be close to someone, I will do the same. Yes, there is always a risk in loving someone, because vulnerability always carries with it the risk of rejection. However, there is also a possibility that this sharing will also bring you closer to that person with whom you are sharing.

First and foremost, agape love involves sacrifice. Without sacrifice, you don’t have the highest form of love—agape love—at all.  Love also involves much gratitude and joy. Love also “thinketh no evil” of another (1 Corinthians 13: 5-KJV), and is always willing to be vulnerable and honest.  The world needs more people who will give sacrificial, lasting, and genuine love. Who will you agape love today?

 

 

*= “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”-Colossians 3:16-17

**= “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds.”—Colossians 3:9 (KJV)

God’s Gift

God’s Gift

For J, my mentor (written on : 3/7/2018)

 

All my life

I was searching for love

A love that would never fail

A love that wouldn’t bail

When things got tough

 

I tried to blend into the crowd,

Hoping someone, anyone

Would love me for me

And would someday see

A light in me

 

When I was at the end of my rope

Looking for any sign of the slightest hope

That’s when God showed up

And gave me the greatest love

I have ever known

 

Then God gave me the gift of you

And, through you, saved my life

You showed me what was true

And I was able to triumph

Over the lies that I held inside so long

 

Most of all,

You showed me grace and love,

From the One up above

And you gave me joy

That I had been searching for so long

 

Three Things God Has Been Teaching Me

As I have grown more in my faith in Christ, I believe that God has been teaching me more difficult life lessons.  However, even these lessons can be applied by most anyone, regardless of religious belief, to their daily lives.  Some of them, He has been teaching me just through these past couple of weeks, and some He has been teaching me for a longer period of time. Since I am human, I do struggle in these areas still sometimes, but the important thing for me (and you) to remember is that when we fail, we make amends, and then we get back up and try again. So, the three main things that I believe God has been teaching me are:

  1. Surrender
  2. Sacrifice
  3. Gratitude

One of the things that God has been teaching me is to surrender. This does not only include surrendering to Him for His will in my life, but also to authority figures in my life, as well as making the necessary compromises with other people. When I got upset at one of my co-workers on my birthday, I believe I was struggling with this issue of surrender. I won’t go into details, but instead of giving up my right to something, I held on to it until we both got upset at each other. In retrospect, I should have just given up my rights, especially since it involved something very minor.  For a long time, until today, I never really understood why Jesus wanted us not to take vengeance against others when we were clearly wronged, and why, in my mind, we should just let people walk all over us.  Then, while reading, The Cost of Discipleship, which was written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I found the answer. Bonhoeffer says, “Resistance merely creates further evil and adds fuel to the flames.” (Bonhoeffer, 141—bold emphasis mine).  Suddenly, it was like a light bulb in my brain turned on! That is why people should not take vengeance against another, or return violence for violence!  How true that is!  For instance, in my own life, when I wanted to get back at certain people for the wrong they did to me, be it, by purposely avoiding them and giving them an evil stare, or talking smack about them because of how they made me look bad before, I found that the situation with that person actually gets much worse, not better in any way.  However, when I instead counter their evil, by letting them be and by instead countering their evil by trying to still be kind to them, their attacks and evil usually diffuse much faster. Even with people in authority that are hard for you to get along with, this principle of surrender can be used.  For instance, when I did not want to do something, my natural instincts would be a.) to refuse to do said thing, until I wanted to, or b.) get upset about having to do said thing. However, that would be disobedience, because I wasn’t doing said task, immediately, as expected, or with a good attitude.  However, when I surrender my desires to the authority figure and strive to do said task with a good attitude, I find the task to be more bearable than if I tried to put up a fight against doing said task. Also, when I surrender to God’s will, I find that I don’t have to worry about things because I know God will take care of me, and will lead me through.

 

Another thing that God has been teaching me that goes along with surrender is sacrifice. Sacrifice can be defined as, according to Merriam-Webster, “destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else.” (source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sacrifice). As I said in a previous post, I worked eleven hours on my birthday, sacrificing rest and possible hoopla over that day, because I did not want us to do badly on our store test, as some Very Important people have been coming in this week to rate the various areas of our store.  I learned, both from God and my pastor that sacrificing something for a greater cause is always worth it in the end.  My parents have sacrificed a tastier meal in order to finish another one that they may like less, so I would be able to eat the tastier meal.  I want to be able to do the same in all facets of my life, not only for God or my parents, but for everyone around me.  I have also learned that one cannot truly love without being willing to sacrifice for another. If you are not willing to make the necessary sacrifices for someone, you should really question how much you truly love them.  For instance, you may have a crush on someone, but it cannot go deeper than that if you are not willing to do what is necessary to ensure that person feels loved and cared about, even above your own desires.  Love is more than just a gooey, good feeling. It involves sacrifice.

 

Lastly, God has been teaching me gratitude. Gratitude, as I define it, is being thankful for everything you have gotten in life, and not having an entitlement attitude about anything.  Gratitude acknowledges that everything good you get is a gift, and nothing is completely “earned”.  I struggle with this sometimes, but have tried to overcome ingratitude by reminding myself of at least three things that I have to be thankful for that day. Once in a while, I suggest that if you want to cultivate an attitude of gratitude in your life, compile a list of all the things you can think of, that you have to be thankful.  I started a list like this in 2011, which can also be found at this link.  Then, when you feel especially discouraged, you can look back at your gratitude list, and remind yourself of all the good that has been given in your life.  We often can become ungrateful because we compare ourselves to those we perceive have it “better” than us. Why not do the opposite? Instead of comparing ourselves to the “better” Joneses, we should compare ourselves to those who have it tougher than us. Then, we can feel better about the situation we are in, and also hopefully focus on how we can help those who are struggling, instead of being so self-focused.

If we all (me included) were more willing to surrender our rights sometimes, be willing to sacrifice for others for a greater good, and if we were more appreciative for what we already have been given, then I believe there would be less strife in this world, and we would be more on our way to make a positive difference in this world.

 

Source:

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. The Cost of Discipleship. SCM Press, 1959.

What I Want More Than Anything

When I came across this question, I knew I had to write about this! After all, these desires motivate me to live life well, and underlie almost everything I do.

 What do you want more than anything in your life? Write about the burning hot core of your desire, and how that desire has changed over your life.

(source: https://thejohnfox.com/2016/06/creative-nonfiction-prompts/)

 

When I was growing up, these are the three things that I wanted more than anything.

  1. For my peers to love and accept me for who I am, and genuinely like me.
  2. To be successful in school, so I could get a high-paying job later in life.
  3. To be happy.

Now, these are the top three things that I want more than anything in the world.

  1. For people to know God’s love and mercy for them.
  2. For God to say to me when I meet him at Heaven’s gate: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
  3. To be able to fulfill God’s purposes in my life.

Growing up, as I have said in previous posts, I was a very self-centered and rigid child.  I did not know how to really love or care for people, though I did the best I could at the time with what I knew. I still remember one classmate in elementary school telling me that I was difficult to get along with!  From third grade until my freshman year of high school, I was also often the target of bullying from my peers.  I had few friends, and I really didn’t feel particularly close to anyone.  I yearned for the day that people would just invest in me and really be there as a confidante for me.  I remember being, often, lonely and/or bored with life, though I did have happy times as well. However, that was mainly with family, not my peers.

 

Looking back, I realized that I tried to stifle this desire by working very diligently in school. It worked. I remember rarely ever getting anything lower than a B (above average) on my report card. I wished to be someone successful and loved in the world’s eyes someday, a far cry from what my peers thought of me then.  Teachers did appreciate my efforts though, and encouraged me to “believe in myself” more, since I was also often anxious and worried about things.  I would probably have even been labeled a “teacher’s pet,” because I often looked to teachers to encourage and strengthen me in school.

 

All in all, I wanted to be happy with my life. However, it would be only after my teenage years were over, did I start to find real joy and happiness in my life.

 

One of the toughest times of my life came when I was sixteen years old. I had maybe only one or two real friends, and one of my teachers was so verbally abusive, that he left an emotional scar that is there to this day.  I was at the end of my rope. All my dreams of being happy, loved by my peers, and successful in the world’s eyes seemed to be coming to a shattering end. All I wanted at that point was to end this pain and suffering that I was going through.

 

That’s when God came into my life.

 

As God has come into my life, I believe, little by little, He has showed me a great purpose for my life. Because of His love and care for me, and because of all the love and support I have received from so many others after my sixteenth year passed, my desires have changed.  No longer do I strive as much just to be accepted and loved by my peers, though because of God’s commandment to “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with [everyone].” (Romans 12:18), I still try to get along with everyone.

 

I would not really be considered a success in the world’s eyes, at least, monetarily.  However, I no longer care about that, because I know that it is no longer a priority to my life.  However, I do strive to be a success in God’s eyes, and to be able to hear the words “Well done, good and faithful servant,” rather than “Depart from me, you worker of iniquity [sin]!”

 

Most of all, I want the world to know and experience God’s love. I have lived through the Columbine massacre, that claimed more than a dozen lives, one of them being my faith hero, Rachel Joy Scott. I have lived through 9/11 that claimed more than 3,000 American lives.  I now live during a time when the world is in turmoil, and people are hungering for love and care everywhere. I don’t completely understand why some people turn to violence and hurting people that didn’t do anything to them, to get attention.  I don’t know why many people just have stopped caring for others , and are giving up on making a positive difference in their world.  However, I know that everyone, including these people, need love and care.  Because of the positive impact that God’s love, as well as the love I received from those around me, has had on me, I can’t help but share it with others.  As it says in 2 Corinthians 5:14, “The love of Christ constraineth us,” meaning the love of Jesus Christ compels me to love others.

 

I apologize for all the times I did not show God’s love to others, because I am not perfect. However, I strive every day to love others with the same measure (and maybe even above) that has been given to me.

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.

Sacrifice

Sacrifice  written on 2/19/2018

dedicated to a dear friend.

Once, the Savior,

His body shattered

On a blood-stained tree

Became the sacrifice for me

 

Then, one day He found me

At the end of my rope

Looking for any sign of hope

And gave me His love

 

One day I found you

Trying to get through life

Even though all around you

Was pain and strife

 

Since I met you

Everyone always took from you

Without giving you true love

But that’s not what I want to do

 

Because of my Savior

And everything He is,

All He embodies to me

His love is all I want you to see

 

His love that would

Take the bullet for you

His love that would

Always prove pure and true

 

His love that would

Infuse joy into your life

And would be with you

When you experience strife

 

His love that would

Give His all for you

Because His love is the most true

This love I want to show to you