By myself, I don’t think I would be a very strong person. However, with these and more people and the power of my God, I am strong. There really is strength in numbers! These people have strengthened me either/both spiritually and emotionally. I am very glad that these people were brought into my life!
Without further ado, here are some people who have strengthened me in my life and what I have learned from them during those times:
- My parents—My parents have been there for me through thick and thin. They have strengthened me by instilling good principles in me for living a successful life, such as the value of hard work and sacrifice. For instance, my dad has worked long hours at his job, not necessarily because he enjoys it, but in order to provide for his family. Not only does he work long hours, but he works very hard when he is at his job. He does not dawdle, but is industrious. My mom has also sacrificed a lot for my family and me. She not only often picked me up, but also helped me with my homework when I needed to be aided.
- My brother—My brother has strengthened me emotionally by always helping me see the reality of things when depression or anxiety has clouded my mind. For instance, I was telling him about the stress at my job and how anxious I was that I was not going to get everything done on time, even though I tried my best. I was afraid that I would be penalized by not getting what I needed to done by the end of my shift. He told me, in so many words, that I was worrying for nothing because a.) Even when I got assigned to a lot of things and didn’t get it done, the managers were understanding. b) I often got things done anyway. He also told me that I could start prioritizing my tasks so that I wouldn’t have to “eat” the whole assignment at once, but I could just do it bit by bit, eventually getting everything done!
- J—My mentor J has also strengthened me by believing in me and that I could accomplish great things before she even saw evidence of anything I did! She helped me find a job and be able to overcome some of my major fears. Some of the things I learned from her are to never give up and to not doubt the abilities that God has given me. For instance, before I got my current and previous jobs, I did not envision myself being able to work with so many people and be successful at it, but J told me to try anyway. I did, and although there are some difficult times for me, I believe that God has given me success in what I thought I could never do before. When I wanted to give up on myself, she pushed me to move past my fears and insecurities, and persevere.
- My manager I—My manager I has strengthened me in a similar way to J. In the time that I have known her, she has believed in my abilities and has helped me succeed further at work by helping me to both persevere and to learn new skills need to move up in the company. Even though she has a lot on her plate, she tries to find time to help me and to motivate me to continue learning new things. Even when I didn’t do well one time, she said, “This isn’t you.” because she knew that I could do better and believed in my ability to do better next time.
- My (former?) manager Chris*–Chris has helped me learn the value of patience and perseverance. He not only interviewed me for my current job about two years ago and influenced the store manager to hire me, but also helped me personally as well. For instance, when I was stressed out about something, he took the time to call my house and explain the situation to me, something I’m sure not a lot of managers these days are willing to do. I have learned so much from him and my manager I.
- My friend Veronica* –During some particularly trying times in my life, my friend Veronica encouraged me and validated me. I remember at least one time (probably much more though) where when I wanted to give up on life and on love, she gave me words of hope to persevere in God’s call for me. She has always affirmed me, especially when I felt like I couldn’t affirm myself.
- My friend Erica*–She has always believed in me and my God-given goals in life. Like my brother, she helps me think logically through situations so that I don’t get an unrealistically pessimistic view on things. She has always been willing to spend time with me when she visits, and is willing to invest in me and others around her. Her perseverance and her care have always been an inspiration to me.
These are some of the people that have strengthened me. These people are some of the most amazing people I know because they believed in me even when I was at my worst, and gave me hope when I was in despair and didn’t believe it would be better. I will be forever grateful for them and what they have done to strengthen me. Who are the people in your life that have strengthened you (especially during difficult times)? What have you learned from them? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.
*=pseudonyms to protect privacy
While there are many people that have impacted my life in a positive way, these following ten people have inspired me the most. Each of these ten people has overcome some great trials in their lives. (For privacy reasons, some of their trials may not be mentioned). They have persevered when they felt like giving up or when there was no way out of their dire situation. Some of them have had great personal struggles which they have or are working very hard to overcome. So, without further ado, the top ten people that inspire me are (and why they inspire me):
- My mom—The more I learn about her, the stronger of a person I realize she is. Even though many people have hurt her in the past, she still tries to keep a positive attitude about life and perseveres through life’s challenges. She doesn’t just give up on people or relationships if she thinks that there is even a slight chance of reconciliation. My mom inspires me because she is still willing to help people and persevere in life even through the trials in her life. I cannot say that of too many people in society today.
- My dad—My dad inspires me because even though his work is often stressful and difficult, he still has a pretty positive attitude about life. He never slacks off in his job, and he is willing to sacrifice for the good of others. For instance, if a co-worker is going on vacation, he is more than willing to cover for him or her.
- Holly*–My online friend Holly has gone through some of the most challenging and horrific things a human being could face, but she is one of the sweetest, most caring, and validating people I know. Also, her perseverance to go on despite all the challenges that she has to face is amazing. I don’t even think I could go on if I had to face all the things that she has had to face. I am amazed by not only her care for others, but also her wisdom with words. She is a great writer and a creative spirit.
- K—My other online friend is also amazing. Battling some tough things that could make anyone bitter, she determines to see the positive in life and not be held down by her disability or obstacles that stand in her way. She inspires me to also work hard and not to let the tough stuff of life hold me down. Also, she is very humorous and is a fun person to be around.
- Frank Taylor—He is my former pastor, but he has had a great impact on my life. Sent to a boarding school when he was a teen, God took a hold of his life near the end of his tenure there. His life is a testament to the miracles God has worked in his life! Though he has had to go through some very difficult things, he still has a humble and gentle spirit about him. He has taught me to a.) never judge people by their public appearances and b.) to be humble even if it costs you something.
- Chrissy—My friend Chrissy has had to go through her share of trials too, and like my mom, a lot of people have hurt and betrayed her. Despite this, she still has a heart to serve and love others. She is not swayed by appearances or flattery. She loves singing for God and once led a food pantry for the needy in our area.
- Ted*–My friend Ted has gone through a lot in the two years or so I have known him. Not only has he had to deal with some loss, but he has also had to work through severe physical pain. The fact that he still is willing to work through the pain and doesn’t keep calling off, shows not only a work ethic stamped with integrity but also an unselfish heart. In fact, he often helps other co-workers, including me, with the work we had to do, even when no one asks or requires him to.
- Rachel Joy Scott—My faith hero inspires me because of her great, positive impact on a large number of people in society. Even when others didn’t see hope in her killers, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, she reached out to them in love, trying to convince them that there was a better way. She also reached out to the friendless and the outcast in her school and didn’t bully anyone.
- Donald*—I met my mom’s friend’s son when he was just three years old, and he was very mischievous. However, he inspires me because God took a hold of his life, and uses his job and time to bless others and to share the love of Christ with others. Though he has gone through a lot, he loves like he has never been hurt and his passion and love for God are not abated.
- Jim–Before my friend Jim gave his life to Christ, he lived a very self-centered lifestyle. Now, he lives for God with all the passion, vigor, and love that his heart can muster. His prayers are powerful and effective because he uses his life to bless others. For instance, when he saw a book that could be useful for me, he bought it for me and didn’t expect anything back. He inspires me because I, too, strive to love God and others and bless them in any way I can.
These are the ten people that inspire me to live life with more joy and gratitude than I have had before. Though each of these people has been through their share of suffering and pain, they have either overcome them already or are working to push through them. Who inspires you? Why? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.
*=not their real names, pseudonym.
**=If anyone on the list wants me to add or delete anything on this list, please email me privately and I will do it. Thanks. 🙂
DISCLAIMER: For privacy reasons, I will be using pseudonyms for most of these people’s names. These top ten people are not necessarily in order either.
“Almost everyone has people that have shaped the way they think, speak, and behave in one way or another. Some have influenced us positively, and others have not been such a positive influence. However, here are the ten people that are in or have been in my life that I think have shaped my character to the way it is today, aside from my Lord and Savior Jesus, who I believe has shaped me the most dramatically, and why:
- My dad–My dad has had a profound influence on my character and the way I see life. First of all, he is very hard working. He usually works at least 10 hour days, at least five days a week. When he comes home, sometimes he even helps my mom around the house. I have strived to imitate him too. I try to work very hard at my job, not only to please God but also because I have been influenced by seeing how hard my dad works and how rewarding hard work can be. Also, he is a generous man. I believe that if a family member or friend needed it, he would give the shirt off his back! I want to be that way too. I want to care for others the way my dad cares for my family and others. However, I want the best for people, not just necessarily what they want.
- My mom-– My mom also has had a profound influence on my character. She also strives to be generous and providing what we need. She has worked tirelessly and selflessly to provide for our family. When my brother or I needed something, she would always be willing to provide it for us. She doesn’t worry about things too much but trusts that things will turn out good in the end. I want to be more like her in this and have not so much fear and anxiety about the future. It is something I am working on for myself.
- My brother–My brother has shaped my character in major ways as well. First of all, like my parents, he is willing to give up self for the good of his family and others. When I was visiting him at his home, he made sure I was taken care of and that I felt at home. He even offered his bed, so that I could sleep comfortably, but I told him that I was willing to sleep on his sofa so that he didn’t have to go through all the trouble. He is also very thoughtful and kind in his gifts to my parents and me on our birthdays and Christmas. He never gets something on the fly. He puts much thought in what we would like and what to purchase or make for us.
- J- J has taught me to be more independent in my thinking and more confident in who God created me to be. When I first met her, I was depressed and still looking for work. After several years, she helped me get a job and built my sense of confidence and self-worth so much that I now have greater energy and drive to do things like write in this blog! 🙂
- Betty– Betty was my discipler, and like J she has also encouraged me and validated me when I was down and out. She helped me to see things in a new light. She worked with me to know God better and to strengthen my faith in Christ. She was (and still is) a godsend!
- Veronica–Veronica taught me about joy and life. I did not know this until recently, but she is a prayer warrior too! Her positive attitude about others, always seeing the best in them, has helped her through the tough trials in her life. That she almost always seems joyful and bubbly are the traits that I want to emulate for myself in order to impact other people’s lives for the positive, because if you are always negative, who would want to be with you?
- Erica— Erica’s devotion to God and to His priorities are amazing! Like my parents, my friend Erica also has a strong work ethic and is diligent in accomplishing what God wants for her. She has also helped me to accept myself by her accepting me for who I am, and not trying to change me into what she thinks I should be. Like Erica, I also strive to accept people the way they are, without endorsing sinful behaviors, of course.
- Holly--Holly has taught me so much about life. Her dedication to social justice issues and the way she articulates her views inspire me to do the same. She has influenced me to be more compassionate and understanding about where different people from different walks of life are coming from in their views. She has helped me to understand people who are suffering better and how to best help them.
- Chris (one of my managers)–What a journey I’ve had with Chris! He has helped me not only to get my current job but has taught me much about life. He has helped me to be more patient and compassionate towards him and others. He has even helped me with the logistics of my job and of some of the functions of a lower-level manager.
- Frank Taylor–My former pastor (also one of my faith heroes; see here ), in my opinion, is one of the most humble people I have ever met. When a bunch of people at the church I attended at the time was offended by something he said in a sermon, he didn’t excuse himself but humbly sent a letter to everyone apologizing for the offense, even though he didn’t even mean to offend. I was (and still am) very impressed by this act of humility. He also didn’t force me to respect or trust him, but he allowed me to get to know him better and see for myself his character.
Since I have already done a post (See: Five Women ) on women that have impacted my life positively, now it’s the guys’ turn. In addition to the five women that have impacted my life, here are who I believe (as of this writing) are the top five men who have had the most impact on my current life thus far and why.
DISCLAIMER: Some of these names will be aliases (i.e.. not their real name) for anonymity and privacy reasons.
- my dad--He was there for me when I was born and through thick and thin. His work ethic and his willingness to serve and sacrifice for others have inspired me to do the same. As I said in an earlier post, he often works 10-hour shifts, at least five days a week. He sometimes works weekends as well. When he is at home, he doesn’t always lounge around and watch television all day but also helps my mom around the house. When I was discouraged about not achieving the desired result in school even though I had worked hard, he told me something like, “It’s OK, as long as you try your best. It’s better that you fail at something that you worked hard at than doing pretty well, but you don’t try your best.” This philosophy set the foundation for how I currently strive to approach my job. In fact, I have this philosophy to work hard at my job, “Whatever you do, do it with all your heart.” And my dad was a huge part of this mindset. (So if you read this, Dad, thank you.)
- my brother–Even though he is younger than me, he has had a huge impact on my life as well. He has pushed me to succeed because he always believed in me and that I could do better and better. When I was discouraged, he always took the time to talk to me and to encourage me. I was (and still am) always inspired by how innovative and creative he was and is. For instance, when something in our house broke, he was able to fix it just by ordering the right part. He also was able to figure out what exactly the problem was. Not only that, but he has a kind and generous heart. I can never outdo what he has given me, both materially and eternally.
- Frank Taylor–He was my former pastor, but he has taught me more about grace and humility than most anyone I know. For instance, when he said something that offended a few people, he didn’t try to justify what he said or make excuses for why they shouldn’t have been offended. He humbly and contritely made a written apology to the whole church. Also, even though at first I didn’t trust him because I didn’t know him well, he was patient in those times and didn’t try to force me to trust him. He still showed kindness and grace to me. Though he isn’t perfect, he still strives to be transparent and acknowledges his imperfections.
- My manager Chris* (*=NOT his real name)— Though I have only known him for the past year and a half, he has taught me so much. First of all, he has impacted my life because he interviewed me for my current job and was able to convince the Store Manager to grant me this job. Also, he has taught me so much about patience, the power of grace and forgiveness, and perseverance. He has offered to help me advance my career, while also respecting my life outside of work by giving me the days off that I need. I have discussed in this post what he has taught me.
- My favorite manager Tom* (*=not his real name)–He has taught me through his great example how to be a good manager. He has always been kind, generous in his estimation of me, and provides much-needed humor on stressful days. I have discussed in this post how Tom has qualities that we should all emulate. He also has helped me through some trials that I have had while working at my current job and has always encouraged me in my work.
These are the five amazing men who have most impacted my life so far. They all have had positive impacts on my life, without a doubt. Who are your top five men who have impacted your life? How? Why? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.
Upsetting the applecart, according to Dictionary.com, is to spoil carefully laid out plans. (Source: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/upset–the–applecart) However, how I define upsetting the applecart, is doing anything that will upset the status quo. For instance, if everyone is supposed to wear red, and you are wearing blue, you may be upsetting the applecart.
Sometimes it is important not to upset the applecart. Examples and explanations of situations where it would not be so wise to upset the applecart would be as follows:
- In order to rebel against authority–Ninety percent of the time, it is not a good idea to upset the applecart by rebelling against authority figures in your life, whether it be the police, teachers, or bosses. Not only will you get in trouble, but you will also not likely to induce the changes you want to be made either by the authority themselves, or the peers around you.
- By doing something that is illegal and/or immoral.–If you are upsetting the applecart by doing something that is grossly immoral or illegal because you don’t like something or because you want to do what you want to without any regard to the consequences of your actions, that is being reckless. It is not really changing anything or really “upsetting the applecart” in any positive or significant way.
There are other times, however, when it would be very wise to upset the applecart. Examples of these may be as follows:
- When the people around you are doing something wrong or unproductive (i.e..when things that “have always been done this way” will not accomplish the desired result or results in the long run). –For instance, if you work in an environment where people are regularly nasty to each other and are always fighting, you can upset the applecart, so to speak, by refusing to engage in that environment or instead be speaking encouraging things to those you meet there.
- When you want to accomplish sustained, positive change in the world around you.–For example, many countries in the past engaged in enslaving people that they thought were “inferior” to themselves. Now we know that that is wrong. In the past, many thought it was just the way things were, but abolitionists like William Wilberforce and Fredrick Douglas, worked together to eventually put an end to slavery here in the U.S. They upset the slave owners’ applecart, so to speak, to win the freedom of millions of mistreated African slaves in the U.S.
- When you want to be true to your values and convictions, even if everyone else around you is not in agreement.–For instance, my faith hero, Rachel Scott, made a dent in this world and upset the applecart, by being not only vocal about her Christian faith but also applying her faith to her daily life, even though it meant her losing all of her good friends at school. Another situation where upsetting the applecart may be wise is when you see someone being unfairly treated or bullied, and you stand up for the bully’s victim even when no one else will. This is not primarily about making you a hero, but more about doing the right thing and instigating a positive change in your world.
Whether or not you choose to upset the applecart, the most important thing to remember is how to do it correctly. Remember that upsetting the applecart may be difficult because you are going against the status quo, the grain, so to speak. Some people may not respect your convictions or what you’re doing, but if it is the right thing to do, do it anyway. You may even lose some support along the way, but if you know that this is the right thing to do, don’t give up.
Here’s how to upset the applecart most effectively:
- Think about how you will upset the applecart.–For instance, if your work or school environment is a place where there are a lot of cliques and infighting, determine a way you will change that by not subscribing to the same things your colleagues or classmates are. In this example, I would want to upset the applecart by not participating in the gossip and infighting myself, and by hanging out with many different types of people, not just ones with whom I feel comfortable.
- Determine you will be different in some way than the status quo.–Stand out in some way. –Don’t be afraid to be different, or be yourself, in situations where upsetting the applecart would benefit others. For instance, in multiple sources, Rachel Scott, my faith hero, is quoted as saying, “I won’t be labeled as average.” Rachel Scott was known for upsetting the applecart in a positive way. Her faith and compassion for others stood out. She hung out and encouraged those who no one considered or wanted to be around. She held firm to moral boundaries but rejected shallowness and fakeness.
- Hold firm to your convictions and beliefs always.–Never let what other people think of you and/or your beliefs hinder you in any way. Never surrender your beliefs and convictions if you know that you are right. Yes, be open to others’ wisdom and advice if you are wrong about something or to understand people better. However, never let someone change your beliefs and convictions based only on their benefit or just to please them. Change only because you (or God) want(s) you to.
Upsetting the applecart allows us not only to stand out and be different but also to initiate effective change to our world and those around us. Change, and upsetting the applecart can be upsetting to some people, but they are necessary ingredients to improve oneself and the world around you.
This is one of the most joyful posts I am probably ever going to publish. The following five people (see “heroes of the faith” tab on my blog) have embodied all of the five characteristics that I discuss in this post. They come from all walks of life, and some of them though already passed, have made a huge impact in this world and/or personally in my life. Some of them, though we never even met, through what others who have known them personally have written or spoke about them, have left an indelible mark on my life and how I live it.
- Jesus Christ-He is more than just a person to me; He is my God! He embodies perfectly how I want to live and I want to devote my all to Him. If I were to list absolutely everything He has done for me and my life, I would probably exhaust the megabits of this blog server! He has never given up on me, even if I have given up on myself. He is the most trustworthy, loyal, kind, generous, faithful and merciful being I have ever known! Though He didn’t have worldly education, was poor, was not in our terms, “handsome,” and almost everyone He knew rejected Him, He made an indelible mark on this world just for the fact that He lived–and died, for each one of us.
- Rachel Joy Scott-Rachel was a faithful warrior of Christ, who died on April 20, 1999 in the Columbine shooting massacre. She was martyred (read: shot) by two troubled young boys. However, it was her life that shined for Christ before others. According to the book her parents Beth Nimmo and Darrell Scott made in honor of her called “Rachel’s Tears,” though she had doubts and struggles with her faith, she was always committed to doing her best every day to make a positive impact in her world. Her love for people and her commitment to Christ are things I want to model my own life after. Like her, I want to not only love others, but be committed to help combat against injustice in this world and do my part to make a positive difference in others’ lives, in love and obedience to my God.
- Frank and Stephanie Taylor-These people embody well what it means to be a believer in Christ. Pastor Frank was my pastor at my (former) church. At first, I didn’t trust him or his wife Stephanie, but slowly they gained my trust and love through their devotion and love of God and others. They also don’t let the power and responsibility of being a pastor or in the case of Stephanie, pastor’s wife, go to their heads. I remember when Pastor Frank accidentally offended some people in our church, and instead of defending himself or being arrogant about it, he actually took the time to publicly apologize for his actions and asked for forgiveness. I will always remember his humility in that. Also, I will always remember Stephanie’s patience and grace with me when I was having a difficult time in life and she would always come alongside me and gently prod me to focus on God and not myself.
- Mother Teresa-I believe her service to the poor and vulnerable, as well as her honesty about the struggles of her faith, are what inspire me about her. She was always willing to lend a hand to anyone in need, and she inspired me to not ever forget about the downtrodden or oppressed. She was a champion in fighting injustice and poverty in India through what she did to try to help them.