On April 9, 1999, I
had penned these words, ““I wish I could be more […] effervescent (lively). I
feel dead without being physically killed. I hope I don’t die emotionally, but
I am dying. If I could only find that zest, that greatness life is supposed to
hold. But where is it, at least in me?”
Though I had been already battling depression for over five years at
that point, that month was one of the lowest for me. I had few, if any, friends, and I felt those
closest to me could not relate with the emotional anguish and sickness that I
was going through. School was very stressful
for me, as I endured a difficult class with an even more difficult teacher, who
was verbally abusive to me and others.
Thankfully, God, in His mercy and grace, met me where I was at, a little
over a year later, and did not allow me to give up on myself or on life.
I continued struggling through depression through my college
years, and even still struggle occasionally now. However, I can attest that
things have been much better now than they were that April day, twenty years
ago! In the deep darkness of my battle,
I have learned so much that has enabled me to help encourage others who may
feel that they are in the deep pit of despair and hopelessness and who are
close to the end of their ropes. Here
are some of the lessons that I learned along this journey from the darkness to
give up! There is always hope when you are alive. Always! —I have wanted
to give up more times than I could count, but God, in His sovereignty and love,
never let me get that far. I remember
having symptoms of depression since I was ten years old. When you are battling something that seems
chronic or suffering for a long time, it is very tempting to give up on life
and on God. However, perseverance is always worth it in the end. For instance, when I was the most depressed,
I thought no one would understand or even care about what I was going through.
I hid the pain and the fears of having been bullied and rejected by some peers
when I was growing up, and thought if I just tried to forget about it, the pain
would eventually go away. However, when it manifested in increasing discouragement
and an insatiable hunger for the desire to be accepted and love, and deep
despair when my desires were not met, I thought more and more about ending my
life. Thankfully, God eventually took a
hold of my life, and I began to see the purpose of my life. I also began to be
increasingly motivated to spread God’s love to others. Never would have thought then, that I would
be surrounded by so many loving and supportive family and friends that I have
today. I am truly blessed. Had I taken
my own life then, I would have never saw the light God had prepared for me
compassionate and caring to those who are in pain, either and both physical and emotional. —I wish the people in my
life now were there when I was struggling to see my value in this world and if
there was any hope left in my life. I
find that when I am able and willing to even speak a word of encouragement to
those who are stressed out at work, that their countenance begins to spark and
brings them hope. When you see someone visibly upset and in pain, never stare
judgmentally at them, but try to comfort them and offer them words of
encouragement. Nothing irritates me more
than those judgmental, cold stares and comments from people when I am upset! I’m
sure that upsets others in pain as well. When you take the time to care for and
encourage those in pain, you bring them the hope and love that they have needed
all along. Yes, sometimes caring for people is hard work, but you can possibly
save a life when you take the time and effort for them. It is also so worth it!
that there was a purpose to my pain. — I have to admit—I have an
intense phobia of suffering. Not only do I hate when I suffer, but I also
detest when my loved ones and friends have to suffer as well. However, when I am able to see the big
picture of why God allowed me to go through the struggles and battles of
depression and anxiety, I see that He was shaping my purpose to be able to help
others who needed hope as well. Had I
not struggled with depression, I would not be able to relate to, on more than a
superficial level, with the intense struggles that the people around me have
had to go through. This truth is also emphasized in 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (KJV),
where it says, “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able
to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves
are comforted of God.” So, when we go through trials, God will comfort us, both
so we can endure the trial successfully, and for us to be able to then comfort
So, as I continue to apply and review the
lessons that I learned in the dark and afterwards, I taste and see that the
Lord is good. Because God did not allow
me to give up, I am able to see the bountiful blessings that He has given me,
the opportunities He has given me to care for others who are in need of hope,
and I learned that I have a calling in life that required me to go through some
pain in order to be able to fulfill it.
Do you feel aimless or in despair?
There is purpose to your life, and God can use you to help others in
their pain if you don’t give up. There
is always hope when you are alive— and my journey to the Light is a testament
to that fact!
I have lived in some fear for most of my life. Even back to my elementary school days, I was chided by teachers and peers alike for “worrying too much.” I had severe OCD in my early teen years. Later, some of my anxiety sometimes turned into paranoia. Moreover, in my senior year of high school I was dubbed “most paranoid” by my graduating class.
But God has rescued me out of many of my fears. Yes, He is the same God that has said, “Do not fear” numerous times in the Bible.
I recovered from my severe OCD with medication and by slowly trying to reduce the time I spent on my nonsensical rituals. Now, many years later, I barely even remember what the rituals were! God used people and situations in my life to help me to combat the devil’s lies that not doing the rituals would bring me “bad luck”. (Yes, I actually believed that “bad luck” deal! ) God helped me realize that not doing the nonsensical rituals actually freed me to joy and to do what He wanted me to do with my life in the first place.
I also used to be so afraid what people would think of me if they found out that I was on the autistic spectrum and had other struggles. I tried to hide my struggles from the outside world even before I realized I was on the spectrum. I was taught by my parents, my culture, and the community around me to not tell anyone about my “dirty laundry.” I know they all meant well—as they did not want to further expose me to becoming prey to unscrupulous people who may have wanted to take advantage of my openness. However, I also felt alone and powerless to fight the battles that still raged on in my heart long after the visible symptoms of the struggles had passed. When the Spirit impressed upon my heart to write about my struggles, I expected people to judge and even reject me, but, at that point, I did not care. I knew God wanted to use me to bring hope to others struggling similarly. When I started writing about my struggles, something amazing happened! Not only did God use me in His amazing way, but I also found that most people found my newfound vulnerability refreshing. It opened up the way for them to share their own struggles, and find acceptance and camaraderie with those struggling similarly, including myself.
Sometimes, I would also be afraid of certain people themselves, as when an abuse survivor sees his or her abuser in close proximity to them after going “no contact” for a long time. This probably stems from an incident where a teacher growled at me and acted threateningly to me when I ran from him in fear. I still fear people when they yell at me because of this, but thankfully my fear abates within hours, if not only a couple days, of the yelling incident. God has infused the power of forgiveness and redemption to quell my fears of people yelling at or hurting me. He has taught me (and continues to teach me) the power of releasing bitterness and replacing it with mercy, compassion and grace.
When I was in school, I used to worry about what would happen the consecutive days, whether it was the fear that I would not pass a test or quiz, or if I was going to get in trouble for something that I may have said or done. Sometimes, I would lay awake for some time worrying about these and other such things. What I learned was that my worries and fears either never came to pass at all, or it wasn’t as bad as I had imagined. I still struggle with this sometimes, but one major way God has helped me with my fears is redirecting my focus from my circumstances and the “what-ifs” that I fear (like what if I don’t pass that test….or what if I get laid off or fired from my job? ) to His sovereignty and goodness. Now, I am learning how to say, “Even if I don’t pass the test, God will give me a second chance, for example….or even if I got laid off, God will provide me another job. Even if I get COVID-19, God will use my illness to glorify Himself and bring about good in my life) This has quelled my fears about COVID-19 significantly, and has helped me to trust God’s sovereignty and goodness in my life, no matter what will happen.
Almost everyone I know has at least one fear, even if they don’t readily acknowledge that fact. It’s normal, but when fear starts to paralyze your joy and freedom in life, then it needs to leave. With God’s help, you can conquer your fears and experience the joy and freedom He has for you.
EDIT: Many people in my shoes would be unhappy about having to work tomorrow (Thanksgiving Day) in the U.S, but I’m thankful that I have a job and that they will serve a meal where I work. I am so blessed! According to a recent survey, by the Conference Board, only 46% of those surveyed in the U.S were “satisfied” with their jobs. I hear people complaining about their work every day at my job, and in other companies as well. However, for me, though there have been some days where the stress seemed overwhelming, I can say with confidence that I am grateful for my job.
One of the main reasons why I’m thankful for my job is because of how God allowed me to get this job. Before I got employed at my current job, I had an interview at a bookstore about twenty five minutes from my home. I really wanted this job, because I thought it would be my “dream job” and that I would thoroughly enjoy it. However, the interview didn’t go as well as I planned, and I quickly realized that I would not get the job and was not adequately qualified for the job. I was despondent and disappointed, but luckily I did not quit trying.
One wintry day in February, I just happened to stop by my current place of employment to get a few items, and God’s Spirit happened to impress on me that I should check the status of my resume since I hadn’t heard anything back for a couple of weeks. Long story short, I got an interviewed scheduled for a few hours later. Even though, I was super nervous during the interview and wasn’t sure I would be accepted for employment, I got a job offer not even an hour after the interview! The next day, I accepted, and the rest is history.
Another reason why I’m thankful for my job is because of all the things I learned that I can apply to other places. The first day I worked there, I knew next to nothing about working at my current company and was unable to help customers as well as I can now. I did not even know how to operate a cash register, which is essential in retail. However, my now-former manager Elizabeth* allowed me to train on the register for at least 15 minutes every week, even though many people discouraged me from doing it because they thought it would be too stressful or anxiety-producing for me. Because Elizabeth continued believing in me and refused to listen to the negative voices about me that surrounded her, I was officially a trained back-up cashier about a year ago today. Someone told me that the CSMs (the Customer service managers that are responsible over managing the cashiers) would probably never call me up to ring. However, just two days ago, I was called up to ring, and the day before that I was cashiering for one and a half hours, which is a long time for a back-up who also had to straighten up two departments and do returns afterwards!
I also learned how to relate to different types of people. Because of the diverse crowd that shop at our store, and the associates that are employed there, through different experiences that I have been through, I am constantly learning how to relate to different types of people. Even if I fail at an encounter, I do better next time, and thus God is using my relational experiences with all these people, both good and bad, to help strengthen my character and to help me see something about Himself. For instance, I had a difficult time with a fellow associate, but through a series of circumstances, I learned how to forgive them and realized that I was sent by God to be a light to them and to be an encouragement to them, and not have them blaspheme God’s name because of my un-Christ like actions.
Even though I am not considered wealthy, by societal standards here in the U.S, I am grateful for my job because it provides income and benefits. I am also grateful for the meals that my store provides the employees each year on Thanksgiving because it shows that they appreciate us working that day. I also am grateful that I am able to be full-time at my job, which means more hours and benefits.
Even though there may be many reasons why I could be unhappy at my job, I am happy because God has given me everything I need at my job and in life. When I make God and doing His work my primary focus, I find that I am happier and that I am able to have purpose in my work that goes beyond just getting a paycheck. That is where I can find true joy and gratitude in my work.
All my life, I had wanted to be happy and be
loved. According to Pastor Mark Jobe, it’s a desire of 95% of people you may
meet randomly on the street. I even remember reading an article ( I don’t
remember which one.) that quoted A.J McLean of the Backstreet Boys saying, “
What do people want? They wanna be happy!”
However, the longer I have lived, the more I have realized that the
pursuit of happiness isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I found that for many
people that their pursuit of happiness often turns into self- indulgent
hedonism that can quickly spiral out of control if one isn’t careful. But being
happy isn’t a bad thing. Moreover, if these things are true in your life, you
may be well on the way to true and
In order to be truly happy, we must live with
an other- centered focus. If we live with a self-centered focus, we will most
likely sprout seeds of discontent in our lives because there will always be
some people and situations that won’t comply with our wishes! We will also miss
opportunities to truly make a positive difference in others’ lives because we
would be too busy thinking about ourselves. A self-centered focus always
demands more for itself, and thus is never satisfied with what one already has.
However, if we live to see that others are happy as well, we will be too busy
serving them to even think selfishly. Moreover, we may even see the fruits of
our service to others, and there is great satisfaction and joy in that. For
example, my former pastor served faithfully at my current church for over 40
years, and, as a result of the relational investments and services he made to
others, many people he mentored are either now in leadership positions in my
church or on the mission field. These people are likewise also actively serving
in their communities. Thus, we are able to make a great impact on the world and
the heavenly Kingdom as well.
Another thing we must practice in order to be truly happy is being grateful for all God has given us. I have observed and realized that people who constantly complain are one of the most miserable people on the planet because they only focus on what is wrong in their lives, completely ignoring the positives. Gratitude is why the Apostle Paul, in Philippians 4:11, is able to say, “[I] have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (KJV) One way to be more grateful is not to compare yourself with people having “ more” of what you desire than yourself, but to compare yourself with those having less than you. This thinking has not only helped me be more grateful for what I have, but also be more compassionate to others in need.
In order to be truly happy in life, along with being grateful and other-centered, we must strive to try your best in life. One area we could do this in is our jobs. Most people I encounter approach their work and/ or careers as simply a means of earning a paycheck. But what if we approached our work as a way to serve others and make a great impact on changing our world for the better? What if we served God in our jobs wholeheartedly, instead of only doing the minimum required to “get by”?
Why should we give our best, not only at our jobs, but in all aspects of life? Not only because we will feel better about ourselves and reap the rewards of doing right, but because we will greatly please God and glorify Him. We will also reap much greater rewards if we know we have done our best we could in serving God with our whole lives than if we just did the minimum or accomplished something with minimal effort because we will be able to have a much greater impact and influence when we are passionate about living life positively the best we can.
True happiness, otherwise known as “joy,” had
eluded me for many years. I have struggled with depression on and off for more
than half my life. However, thanks to God, and to all my past and present
teachers of God’s pure and unadulterated Word, I have learned these secrets of
joy– having an other-centered focus, being grateful for all I have, and giving
God the best in my life, and serving Him with my whole heart. May you,
likewise, live in true happiness today by applying these secrets of joy to your
I believe that most of our problems in relationships stem from an “I-deserve-better” attitude. This past Friday (at the time of this writing), a disgruntled former employee opened fire and killed five of his co-workers at a manufacturing facility, about a half hour from where I live. I attest one of the reasons why he got so angry was because he thought he truly deserved the job, and when his bosses fired him, everything in this former worker unraveled before him. Though most of us would not murder when we don’t get what we think we deserve, we can still get tempted to get similarly angry when our “rights are being violated” or we think we aren’t “getting the good we deserve in this life.” This causes us, me included, unfortunately, to become defensive and angry at those around us…and even at God. However, a good thing to keep in mind, especially if you are a follower of Christ, is, “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17a) and that we don’t really deserve anything! When we have a mindset that everything good in this life is undeserved and is a gift of grace from above, this entitlement attitude starts to disappear. However, in the society we live in, especially if you live in a Western country, this entitlement attitude is deeply ingrained in us, me included, that I think we need to learn how to embrace the “gift” mentality instead. Here are some things that I have learned about why we should strive to treat whoever and whatever comes our way as gifts, not as something “owed” to us.
When we think we are entitled to someone or something, we
are not acknowledging that God really owns it all. However, when we acknowledge that everything
we get is a gift from God, we are recognizing His control and His power over
our lives—an important aspect of true worship. My pastor said today that we
must be willing to be a living sacrifice in order to truly worship God, and
part of being a sacrifice is relinquishing our rights to His control. If you work, even the money we “earn” from
your job is a gift because it is God who gave you the abilities and skills to
do your job well enough to be able to sustain employment and thus a paycheck! I
wonder if the recent shooting on Friday could have been avoided if, when the
man who shot five people at his job got fired, instead of getting angry at this
perceived injustice, he just appreciated the money he had already gotten from
his job and just appreciated the gifts he still had in his life more.
When we see everything we have as a gift, and not something
that someone “owes” us, we become more able to be content with life, even with
its caveats and imperfections. Think
about how it feels when you get a gift that you totally do not expect or
deserve. Not only are you most likely to
feel intense joy, but also, more likely, an overwhelming sense of gratitude and
humility towards the person who gave you the gift. When we strive to approach our lives the same
way, each blessing we get will cause us to feel joy and gratitude. However, when we think we are owed something
or that we “earned” something, we are not as grateful because whatever we get
is our due, anyway, or so we believe. This is why most of us get upset when we
don’t feel we are getting what we perceive is owed us. We see it as an
injustice, a violation of our moral rights.
However, if we take away the “scoreboard” in our souls of things supposedly owed us,
this anger has no longer has any place to reside, and will melt away.
When we see everyone and everything that is given to us as a
gift, we tend to value them more. For
instance, if my friend gives me something that I perceive is from his or her
heart and that is not owed me, I tend to want to take better care of it, so
that I don’t lose the preciousness of the gift.
This not only applies to material gifts, it also applies to treating
each person as a gift from above. When
we treat each person as a gift from above, instead of someone or something
disposable or suited only to meet our needs, we tend to treat them better. I have witnessed and heard in many different
workplaces, unfortunately, of people being treated like disposable objects, or
at best, tools, if you will, instead of the precious, complex image-bearers of
God they are. This mentality seems to be
growing worse and more prevalent, not only in workplaces, but also in other
social constructs as well. However, when
we go against the grain and strive to treat each person we encounter as the precious
gifts they are, we can not only touch lives, we can change the world around us
for the better.
When we acknowledge everything we get is a gift, not
something we are owed, we are most ready to worship God rightly; we are more
likely to be content and grateful with our lives, and we will value those
around us more. This week God has been
teaching me over and over again that everything I get from Him is a gift, and
not something I could really deserve or earn.
When I realize all that has been given to me, I realize that I am
blessed beyond measure by a God who gives me more than I could ever deserve.
Have you been tired, stressed, and overworked lately? Has
the joy you once had at work been drained by the people and circumstances
around you? If so, you are not alone. In
fact, according to the NIOSH report, about 40% of all workers in the U.S
reported that their jobs are “very or extremely” stressful. (source: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/99-101/pdfs/99-101.pdf?id=10.26616/NIOSHPUB99101). If you are working in a tough or a stressful
work environment, there is hope. Personally, I can relate to being stressed at
work, but when I apply these principles to how I approach my job, I find that I
become less stressed.
a good work ethic. –Yes, there have been several times during the whole of
my work career in various places where I have been tempted to quit. However,
something inside of me, probably the Spirit of God, urges me on. This has helped me continue to persevere in spite
of everything else inside of me screaming to “QUIT” or “Slack off.” Always do your best, and never let anyone
else convince you to do otherwise. If
you feel aimless or that you are just “going through the motions” at work, try
to have a mindset of trying to learn everything you can to boost your
credentials at work. This will also help you in case of layoffs, to be more
indispensable and more likely to be secure in your job, or being more easily
able to find another good job if that should happen. For instance, at my job, I
have aimed to learn how to cashier, because I know that cashiering is an
essential part of retail, and without these skills, I would be less likely to
be able to move up or be versatile in the company I work for. Now, my managers are able to use me to
cashier in case the regular cashiers call in sick or we are shorthanded.
others.—I have found that many people in various workplaces and in places
where some of my friends work are in desperate need of encouragement and validation. If you see someone going above or beyond, or
are providing their clientele with excellent service, let a manager know that.
More importantly, let the person know that they are doing a good job and that
you value them. Be specific in your compliments. Don’t just say, “ You work
very hard,” which can be good, but would mean more if you said something like,
“ Joe, I appreciate how you took care of that customer today, making sure they
had everything they needed, and making them feel valued through your patience and making sure all
their questions were answered.” If you
must criticize, assure the person that you still value them in other ways. Never put down someone just to break their
spirit. It is mean, callous, unnecessary, and ineffective in motivating people
to do their best work.
servant’s heart.—Be willing to help others where needed, without stressing
yourself out. When someone feels
overwhelmed by their work, and you are able to help them, do so. If someone is going through a tough time and
confides in you about it, offer to pray or help them in any way you can. When
Jesus washed His disciples feet, He modeled for them—and us—a model we should
all follow. We should not only model
that in church or at home, but also in the workplace. Managers, never be “too
busy” to help and guide your associates.
Associates, be willing to do what your managers says, not only to be
respectful, but also to help them through their struggles and lift a burden off
If we modeled a good work ethic, by persevering and doing
our best, if we encouraged our co-workers, bosses, and clients/customers
instead of putting them down, and if we had a servants’ heart approach to the
tasks needed to be done at work, instead of only looking to our own interests,
we could boost morale at our workplace significantly. By following these
principles, not only will we boost morale, but we also will also build our
integrity, which is something worth living for, in all areas of our lives.
everyone who believed in the potential of a woman with ordinary dreams
One day, at work with two other of her
colleagues, chatting over their childhoods during break, a woman– the one with
ordinary dreams, said, “When I was growing up, I was naughty, and I didn’t have
many friends. One of my peers even said, ‘You are a very difficult person to
get along with’.”
Neither of her colleagues believed her.
But it was all too true.
About 25 years earlier, because of her
disability and other differences, the woman with ordinary dreams was never
taken seriously, regularly taken advantage of by peers, and was often chosen
last for team sports in gym class and class projects. No one really wanted to
look into her soul and get to know her. She was too selfish, rigid, and
difficult; they reasoned.
Ten years later, she became a bit easier to
deal with, but had a paranoia and bitter pain in her soul. She really felt she
couldn’t trust, much less open up to, anyone. Never had this girl thought she’d
ever really be valued in anyone’s eyes. Confirming this despair, one of her
teachers had said in so many condemning, angry words that she would probably
not amount to much in life, and she believed this for fifteen long years. The
week this teacher told her this, this girl with ordinary dreams– one of which
was to be accepted and loved for who she was– , saw that dream shatter before
her eyes. She reasoned if she would never really be loved for who she was, even
to her hurting soul, life was no longer worth it.
Thus, she contemplated suicide, but then God
rescued her from self- destruction and despair.
The woman with ordinary dreams meets her
mentor who would change her life forever because her mentor believed in her
potential and the value of her soul. The mentor keeps prodding and helping the
woman until she lands a job in which she can actually succeed. The mentor also
helps her gain confidence in herself and believe in her dreams again. Even to
her dream of one day becoming a writer
and getting a full- time job somewhere, the mentor never ridiculed or
dismissed, but actively helps the woman fulfill them.
The woman with ordinary dreams senses God
leading her to a new job, since a previous one no longer fit into her expansive
dreams. The woman, with dreams of being a writer and being loved, is stoked
about getting an interview at a bookstore, which she considers her “dream” job
that would lead her to be able to write someday . However, during the actual
interview, it was made clear to her that this was not the job God had for her.
Her dreams are shattered once again.
However, she does not give up. Going into a
store, which she applied for, to buy a few things, she suddenly hears a voice in her soul that told her to ask
about the application. She does and, subsequently gets an interview. The
interviewer, she finds out later, was going to be her manager!
That manager is the hardest worker she has
ever seen in her life! While preparing the logistics for the interview and
afterwards, she sees the manager also stocking items in the area he manages, or
The woman is shocked to find out that she has
been accepted for the job–and happy as well.
However, she doesn’t know then, that God would use that job to fulfill
her ordinary dreams of being loved and also becoming full-time.
That woman was me.
This month marks three years with my current job. It may not seem like much, but considering I’ve not had many jobs where I was in one company that long, it is only by God’s grace, my mentor J, Chris*, Elizabeth *, and countless others who believed I could be of value to them, that I was able to make it this far. My wonderful co- workers and managers in #1401 have taught me so much. I aspire to be like my mentor J, who never gave up on me and who valued me. I aspire to be like Chris, whose work ethic and dedication to his associates is a model for me to follow. I aspire to be like Elizabeth, who always believed in her associates’ potentials and encouraged them to reach for the stars. She encouraged me to learn to cashier when others seemed more reluctant to take me on, and satisfied my curiosity to learn new skills and to try my best always. I aspire to be like Hope*, who first offered me full- time and encouraged me to strive for excellence.
Thank you everyone at #1401 who helped me get
to where I am today. Today, I am able to realize my ordinary dreams, all
because you believed in me.
*= names changed for privacy of the
I’m not going to lie. Being content is still a struggle for
me, but I can say with a fair amount of certainty that I am more content now
than I was even five years ago. Over the past couple years or so, I have
learned many things about how to be content and why for many people,
contentment with life seems to elude them.
In this New Year, contentment can be a reality for you. It
can be an even greater reality for me. In general, from what I have read,
heard, and learned, these are some of the major factors in cultivating
contentment in one’s life:
Live with purpose.—I had always had this lingering question in my mind about work: Why do most people hate or dislike their jobs and have no passion in what they do for a living? When I observed people and the general trends from the world around me, I found the answer. Basically, for a lot of people, their attitude towards work and much of their other parts of their lives, too, is “I’ll do what I can to survive another day.” While that can motivate some to not give up, I believe we need to live with greater purpose than just survival if we are to be truly content. I recommend that to find your life purpose (if you haven’t already), you think about what your passions are in life, and what God-given abilities you have, and see how they can fit together. For instance, one of my passions in my life is to see people know and experience the joy and love of Christ in their lives. God has given me the ability to articulate myself well through writing (though I am much less gifted in speaking!). Therefore, I have chosen to write a blog about lessons I’m learning about God’s love and joy in my life, and how others can cultivate the same. Though my day job does not involve writing at all, I can still be content in my job, because my passion to see people experience the love and joy of Christ is still being realized through the opportunities I get to interact with people on a daily basis.
Live in forgiveness.—I used to hold grudges against certain people for years, and then wonder why I wasn’t content with my life. It was like there was something always holding me back from experiencing true joy. Once, I held anger and resentment against someone that was so bad that I started experiencing PTSD-like symptoms and a real dread of ever seeing them again. However, when I finally forgave them and let my anger go, I felt an enormous weight lifted off me. I was finally able to live in love and freedom from the bitterness that held me captive for so long! Some people think if they forgive someone, they are letting them off the hook, so to speak, or excusing the offender’s behavior. Nothing could be further from the truth! The very fact of having to forgive someone necessitates that they did something wrong or sinful to hurt you. Also, like so many others who have struggled to forgive someone, I used to think that the longer I held a grudge, the longer I would make the offender “suffer” for what they did to me and feel the isolation and pain of my hurt. Then, I realized that the offender often either does not know what they did to hurt you or to what degree, or if they do, they don’t care at all. I realized that holding a grudge only makes you and the people around you that have nothing to do with what the offender did suffer. Let. It. go. By holding a grudge, you are continuing to let the offender hurt you. Get out of your offender’s prison! Forgive them—for your sake, not theirs!
Live with gratitude.—I believe that one of the biggest barriers to contentment is a complaining spirit. Often the people who complain the most are also the most depressed. This has little to do with the person’s circumstances, and more to do with the person’s attitude towards them. For instance, I know several people from my church who have had to struggle through cancer. Even though a lot of them had some trying times just battling the disease and having to go through strenuous treatments to combat it, they remained in good spirits because they focused on God and the good that was still in their lives. When I looked back on the good in my life and the blessings that God has given me, I find that I am much more satisfied with my life than when I focus on the negatives. One thing that I find helpful is to start a list of some of the blessings in your life. I keep mine in a notebook that I update occasionally throughout the year. I started it about 10 years ago, and it has over 100 ways that God has blessed me throughout that time!
These are the three main lessons that I am learning about
contentment. Though practicing these things is not always easily, and we may
fail to live these at times, never give up.
The more purpose, forgiveness, and gratitude are implemented in our
lives, the more content we will be with our lives. Try living these, and you
won’t be disappointed with the results.