My Legacy–a poem

My Legacy  6/17/2018

 

When it’s my time to go

I want the world to know

The fullness of God’s great love

The love from up above

 

When it’s my time to go

I want people to know

That they are so much more

Than just another face

 

When it’s my time to go

I want to live in peace

With no more bitterness

And for anger to cease

 

Before my time is up

I want to serve others

And share the immense hope

I found in my Savior

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Gifts- a poem

Gifts       6/10/2018

 

I have grumbled about much strife

Though I do not deserve this life

Full of many gifts

From the one above

 

So I strive to count the many gifts

That have graciously been given me

For their value I can clearly see

From a Maker that dearly loves me

 

Gifts of all different shapes and sizes

Gifts that bring much joy to my full life

Gifts that show or teach me how to love

Gifts that are clearly from up above

 

So value the gifts of your one life

Before you miss the joy that is true

Before mercy reaches its limit

And before all is taken from you

 

How to Give Hope to the Hurting

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Greatest Life Lessons I Learned

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Why Have Passion

It is the fire burning within our souls. It is the drive that motivates us to get up each day.  When it dies, our whole being dies with it. This fire, or passion, is so important to our daily lives because it is our motivator to fulfill our life’s purpose, to be able to accomplish great things in our lives, and to be able to feel joy and love for ourselves and others.

Without passion, we become apathetic and depressed. I remember when I was still looking for a job after college; there were days when it was so hard to be engaged in anyone or anything because I felt that any goals I made were never going to be realized any way. So, I didn’t make any.  I realize now what a mistake that was! I see so many people who do work, but are likewise apathetic and/or depressed, not only because they hate their jobs, but because they don’t really have a set purpose or goals in their personal lives as well.

However, after I got my current job and really started to work on this blog, I had renewed passion for life. I suddenly saw opportunities to help people to feel loved and to serve them.  When I joined a blogging group online, I had even more passion to really get to know the people (and world) around me better. This brought me joy, and as a result, I have had fewer episodes of depression.  I have found, at least for me, that when I am passionate about something ,such as helping others feel loved and valued, that I am more motivated to learn about life and the world around me.  However, when we become apathetic or fall into depression, our motivation to learn something new significantly diminishes.  I have found that when I fall into that state, that I just want to get things that I have to do “over “ with, and I don’t enjoy anything those things have to offer me.

Moreover, when I do things half-heartedly, I have found that I accomplish much less than if I did them with passion.  Often when we do things half-heartedly, we do the tasks quickly, but we do them less efficiently than if we did a more thorough and wholehearted job.  For instance, if I straightened the aisles in my area half-heartedly, I find that not only do I do it less efficiently, but I actually miss straightening certain spots!  However, if I did them with passion, with the intent of doing a good job, I not only do a much better job, I feel better about what I have accomplished. Doing things half-heartedly not only is less efficient, but it also leads to a spirit of apathy and laziness.  Also, when one does things half-heartedly, there is no real joy in getting the task accomplished. Yes, one may feel relieved, but I have found that there is no real sense of accomplishment of getting said task completed that there is when you do something with a sense of passion and hard work.

Finally, having passion in our life can motivate us to fulfill our life’s purpose. For example, when I am passionate about helping others feel loved, I am more motivated to think of as many things I can do and say to be an encouragement and a love to others. Even when a couple of people make this task harder, when I am focused on my passion of making others feel loved,  I find that I am more able to persevere on my life’s purpose and focus on what I want to accomplish. However, when I allow circumstances or distractions to extinguish my passion, I find that I am much less motivated to fulfill my life’s purpose, or even to get out of bed the next morning!

Having passion in our lives is vital because it motivates us to get up each morning, helps us fulfill our life’s purpose, helps us to work more efficiently and with excellence, and helps us feel content and fulfilled.  This passion should encourage us to live more positively for ourselves and others, and help us accomplish our goals.  What are you passionate about? What does your heart beat for? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.

The Heart of the Matter

POST #200! (Yay! )

If there is no heartbeat in someone, they die.  The heart is one of the most vital organs in our body. Similarly, our spiritual hearts reflect who we are as people, and also the motivation behind our actions. Without a spiritual heart, or passion, for anything, we also die.  There have been some people who, in their minds, have reached such a pinnacle of success that they have nothing to live for anymore.  Finding your own heart—including the motivations behind your actions, purpose in life, and what you are passionate about—can help sustain you in times of trial and pain, helps motivate you to keep on going in life, and helps give you direction in life.  Finding someone else’s heart—including their passions in life, motivation behind their actions, and their life stories—can help us to cultivate a deeper understanding and appreciation of that person, and often leads to us loving and respecting that person better.  These are the lessons I have learned by both personal experience and through what others have taught me, about both finding your own heart and finding others’ hearts:

  1. How to find your own heart:

During the years when I was growing up and felt aimless in life, I only saw glimpses of what my heart was. However, after God revealed Himself to me and during the past ten years, more and more of my own heart has been exposed to me.  One of the things that had helped me find my own heart was to ask myself, “Why do I do what I do?”  I found that when people don’t ask themselves that vital question, either consciously or subconsciously, that they tend to drift aimlessly in life and become depressed and sometimes even feel hopeless and adrift. I believe that if people asked themselves “Why am I doing “ X” ?” (substitute X for an activity) more often,  they would not waste as much time doing things that don’t benefit them or others.  They would also see their heart and motivation, and be more apt to make any needed adjustments.  For instance, many people who are working do so solely for the paycheck and nothing more. However, many people don’t also think consciously about why they are doing what they do. If work becomes unbearable for them, they may ask these questions, but it is often too late for them to salvage their jobs and make a greater impact for themselves and others.

I would also ask myself the question, “What gives me the most joy?” Do not only think of your hobbies and what you do for fun, but also what stirs your soul.  For instance, seeing and hearing about children being abused deeply upsets and angers me, but being able to speak encouragement into the lives of adults who were abused as children has given me much joy.  Another thing that gives me joy is to be able to share God’s love with others and seeing people’s faces just light up. Seeing people happy and content does not give me joy solely for my sake, but for theirs as well.  It gives me great joy and pleasure to see that others can experience God’s love too, especially for those who had previously not really experienced or known about that depth of love before. Think about what gives you the most joy, and cultivate that into your heart and passions.

Another way to find your own heart is to write out a life purpose statement and some life goals.  For instance, my purpose in life can be summed up in this way: “To glorify God and to share His love to others.”  Your life purpose statement should be no longer than a couple of sentences.  Then, write out some goals that will cater to your life’s purpose.  In my case, some of my life goals would be: a.) To share the love of God with loved ones and my colleagues at work in tangible ways. b) Meditate and learn something new about God every day, and apply these lessons to my life c.) Not to give up if I fail to live my purpose, but be willing to humble myself and try again.  d) Garner the support of people that love God the way I do, so we can support each other and encourage each other, especially when times get tough. Writing out your life purpose and goals will help make them real and tangible to you. It will also help give you direction and tangible actions you can take in order to live up to your purpose. Furthermore, writing your life purpose and goals will help you stay motivated and can remind you of your importance and value in this society.

  1. How to find others’ hearts:

 

Before you can find what drives a person and what their heart is, you need to develop a genuine relationship with them.  If you purposely intrude on someone solely for finding what their heart is or to manipulate them, you will never find it because they will see through your pretenses before you even find them out.  You need to show a genuine care and concern for their well-being, more so than your own.  You need to be willing to spend time and invest in that person.  You need to be sure you never betray them, because if you do, they will most likely not reveal anything deep and personal about themselves to you ever again!  For instance, if someone betrays me, I will tend to hide certain personal things about myself because I don’t want them to use what they know about my heart against me and deliver a near-devastating blow to my soul. I would not even mention this blog to them!

 

However, if someone proves themselves trustworthy, their friends will most likely be able to slowly reveal their heart to them, and this trustworthy person will most likely (because he or she is a person of integrity) help their heart grow and flourish. This trustworthy person will start by asking pertinent questions about what drives their friend or friends, and they will show genuine love and care for their friends. The trustworthy person will respect their friends ‘(and loved ones’) boundaries at all times, and will let the friend or loved one share their heart as they are ready.  For instance, if a loved one is addicted to something, the trustworthy friend will not only help the loved one out of the addiction, but will also give them words of support and encouragement.  For instance, if the trustworthy person finds out that the loved one has the addiction because they (loved one) are lonely and needs something to fill them, the trustworthy person can keep them company and also encourage the loved one to seek out new friends that will also support the loved one.

 

This is what I learned about both finding your own heart and finding others’ hearts.  When you have a window into your own soul, you will be able to help it flourish and grow. You will be more content and joyful as a person, and you will feel that you have value in this world. Similarly, when you know someone else’s heart, you can make a world of difference in their lives by helping them find joy and purpose in their lives. While your physical heart keeps your body alive, your spiritual heart keeps your soul alive. May your heart flourish and find much joy!

Soul Healer

written : 5/11/2018

dedicated to  J, Erica*, Veronica*,  Kelly*, Alice*, Holly*, Anna*, and my managers Chris* and Hope*  (*= all are pseudonyms) 

I was alone and in pain

I was also going insane

I felt so much shame

And I was in despair

 

I felt so unworthy of love and care

I dared never to lay my soul bare

Because I knew they’d condemn me

And all I came to be

 

But then, as water

That refreshes the soul,

On a hot, dry day

You came to me

 

You affirmed me with your love

The one from up above

You gave me a reason to hope

When I was on my last rope

 

Now I want to always love you

And bare my soul to you

Because you saved my life

And showed me God’s love