Some Blessings in My Life

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

The Blessings:

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

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

 

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How to Find Someone’s Spark

Written in honor of Rachel Joy Scott, the first Columbine martyr, and the one who lived an amazing life, full of love and faith

Many times in my life, whether it would be people at school (when I was attending), at work, and even in the churches I attended; people have broken off contact with someone because of a couple bad incidents.  So, maybe they were really bad! Still, I think the following that Rachel Scott wrote in her essay, “My Ethics, My Codes of Life, “deserve serious consideration and application to our relationships:

[I]magine you had just met someone, and you speak to them three times on brief, everyday conversations. They come off as a harsh, cruel, stubborn and ignorant person. You reach your judgment just on these three encounters. Let me ask you something…did you ever ask them what their goal in life is, what kind of past they came from, did they experience love, did they experience hurt, did you look into their soul and just at their appearance? Until you know them and not just their “type,” you have no right to shun them. You have not looked their beauty, their good. You have not seen the light in their eyes. Look hard enough and you will always find a light, and you can even help it grow, if you don’t walk away from those three impressions first.

So, how can we find the light, or the positive parts of another’s personality, particularly if they do come off as cruel, stubborn, harsh, ignorant, or negative in any way to us?  How can we not give up on our relationships when things get tough?  How can we prevent ourselves from writing off people who we disagree with, or who aggravate us sometimes? (Note: This does not apply to situations of abuse or people who are genuinely unsafe to be around).  How can we cultivate a passion for loving those who are initially undesirable in some way to us? Here is what I learned about finding someone’s spark, or light, in their soul and how I would help it grow:

  1. Strive not to make snap judgments of others.—Much of our society makes snap judgments based on things that won’t matter in eternity, such as physical appearance and social class. I believe this is very sad, not only because many people in our world write off people who could be very kind and gentle inside, just because of something trivial like their physical appearance or how much money they make, but also because these judgers will not be able to grow past their preconceived notions of others and cultivate growing relationships with others.  Unfortunately, even making snap judgments about someone’s character is not effective in gauging who would be a good friend.  For instance, I know of several people at work who I initially did not get along with well.  Most people, if they were in my place, would probably quit their job and/or avoid these people at all costs.  However, God prevented me from doing so.  In addition, I even had to interact with most of these people on at least a weekly, if not, daily basis!  One thing I learned from having to interact with these people was not to make snap judgments of them, and instead look for their light in their souls.
  2. Learn their life stories.—Another thing that can help us find the spark in someone, is to learn some of their life story. Find out what kind of past they came from—what they had to endure to get to where they are now. Find out how they were treated in the past, if they have ever experienced true, sacrificial (agape) love, and not just a flippant form of “love,” what hurts and triumphs they have experienced in their lives?  When I learned some of the life story about someone that I initially did not really like, I began to understand why they acted like they did and began to have compassion and even love for them. When we are able to appreciate what someone we may not initially get along with, has gone through, I find that we are more able to relate to and/or have compassion for them.
  3. Do intentional acts of kindness for them.—What I have had to learn to do with certain people with whom it was difficult to get along is to intentionally be kind to them. This won’t work if you do this only out of obligation or because you say “I’ll be the better person” but inside you are still full of anger and resentment towards them.  However, if you strive to be kind to even those who you dislike, in order to show them the love they probably so desperately need, then the light in their souls will most likely start to expose itself.  For instance, if you live next to a grumpy neighbor, but he keeps a neat yard, compliment him on his maintenance of the yard.  Tell him how much you appreciate his hard work and dedication to do his part to make the neighborhood look neat.  Be genuine in your compliment, of course, but also don’t be afraid to encourage others in need.  For another example, I have had coworkers who I have had trouble dealing with at first, but when I tried to encourage them in something good that they did and tried to help them with their work, I found that I got along much better with them! Not only that, but I found some positive qualities in them that I had not taken the time to find before!

When we strive not to judge against people whom we initially not see eye-to-eye, when we strive to learn more about others’ life stories, and when we intentionally strive to be kind to those we don’t  like, at first, then we will be able to find the light in these people’ s souls.  When we find the light in them, we can help their light grow by continuing to apply these principles to our relationship with them. May we do that, and make the world a better place.

 

Source: Scott, Rachel Joy. My Ethics, My Codes of Life. March 1999. Retrieved from: https://rachelschallenge.org/media/media_press_kit/Code_of_ethics.pdf.

The Shining Light

The Shining Light 4/3/2018

In a callous world

Full of hate

People everywhere

Searching for something

That will sate

 

People around us

Searching for that last hope

When they’re on this last rope

And all their dreams are gone

 

Then comes a savior

Digging down deep inside them

With all divine might

Revealing a bright light

 

The light blossoms and grows

Within the depths of their souls

And burst forth gems of love

The love from up above

Finding Joy in a Stressful Work Environment

I have been working as a sales associate for my current company for just over two years now, and I love it. However, sometimes the work and pressure can be very stressful, even for me.  I know I am not alone, and that working in any company does have its share of stressors, even if the environment has a reputation of being somewhat casual. Yes, there are times when one must quit, especially if the job is not the right fit for them or if the pressures of work start to negatively impact your physical and emotional health.  However, sometimes quitting is either not an option, or is not worth it.  So, how can one not only survive the stress at work, but also find joy and satisfaction in daily work? Here are some things I have learned over the past few years about how to have some measure of joy, even when some things are stressful:

  1. Go to work not only for the paycheck, but also for a higher purpose.—So many people in our society, go to work solely for the paycheck. While that can be a good motivator to do a good job, that is not always an effective way to maintain joy in stressful situations, especially if layoffs or the cutting of hours is happening in your company. For instance, while I admit that I do go to work for a paycheck; that is not my only motivator.  I also go to work so that I can make a positive difference in other people’s lives and serve God.  I enjoy helping other people—whether it is helping a customer find an item they need, or speaking words of encouragement to a co-worker or manager who is stressed-out or hurting inside.  For instance, if you work in a doctor’s office, you can work to help patients be more comfortable in the waiting room by giving them quick, efficient service, or just by being a positive, encouraging presence to them. If you flourish as an author and/or a blogger, find ways to help others be passionate about what you write about.
  2. Along with going to work for a higher purpose overall, find at least one person each day with whom you will intentionally be kind and encouraging.– This could be someone who you know is going through a rough time, someone who is a little bit difficult to get along with, or it could be anyone else. For instance, one day when I had some extra free time, I decided to write encouraging notes to people at work who I thought needed it the most. However, you could even do something as simple as getting to know someone who is lonely or that you don’t normally talk to, or saying encouraging words of appreciation to a co-worker that is doing a good job. A few of you may think this is just cheesy and won’t make a bit of a difference, but as Rachel Scott, once said, “You never know how far a little kindness can go.” Being intentionally kind to those who are feeling depressed and anguished inside, even though they may appear to have a smile pasted on their faces, may even save their lives!
  3. Be willing to help out when needed.—If time and energy allow, be willing to work earlier or stay later to get what you (or others) need to done. That way, the pressure and stress of having to do all that work in a shorter amount of time does not leave you, or anyone else, frazzled and stressed out.If you work in an office, and your coworker needs copies made of a certain document, offer to help out, especially if you also have some copies to make. If you work in a team, be willing to help out a struggling team member. Don’t allow them to take advantage of you, but also be willing to teach them how to work more effectively and learn the concepts needed to do the job well.  If you are that struggling team member, do not be afraid to ask for help and clarification, but also don’t give up on trying to do the best you can.
  4. Look for the positives of working at your company, and don’t focus too much on the negatives.—Every company has both positive and negative traits to it. We usually hear WAY more about the negatives. While there can be benefits to talking about the “What-needs-to-improve” part of the companies we work for, if we are also actively seeking solutions to the negative parts, our morale can drastically improve if we focus more on the positives! For instance, the positives for me in working at my company are good hours, a common camaraderie among most of the people I work with, and that most of the managers are understanding and kind. When I focus on the good parts of my company rather than the bad, it makes the stressful parts a lot easier to handle.  I have hope that even in the stress and tough times, things will get better because of the positives that I have experienced.  This principle also works when you have to work with or under a person or persons that you don’t particularly like.  Find the positives in that person that you have a tough time getting along. If you can’t find any just yet, look deeper into that person’s soul and being until you find something positive. 95% of the time, you will find at least one positive quality about them.

These are the ways that I seek to find joy at my job, and it has worked most of the time for me.  If I don’t focus on these things, and delve into negativity, I find that I am more stressed and that even my work quality suffers.  So, I know that by applying these principles to my work life, I will not only be more joyful at my job, but also more effective. What are some ways YOU maintain a measure of joy at work, even when things are stressful? Please feel free to comment.

Finishing Well: Living and Dying Without Regrets

There has been so much going on, in and around my life, that have shown me the frailty of life and how much we need to make sure that our lives are counting for something positive.  People all around us are hurting, begging for love and attention—Someone to give them a hope and a future. According to an article in the Business Insider, Bronnie Ware, who was an Australian nurse, asked dying patients what their regrets in life were. Here is what they said:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

(Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/5-things-people-regret-on-their-deathbed-2013-12, article written by Susan Steiner of The Guardian)

 

And here are some things that people typically think of or are concerned about that, though may have lasting life effects, have absolutely no eternal effect on anyone.

  1. Outer appearance—Our bodies on earth will decay, and I believe, we are getting new bodies. Either way, regardless of how you believe religiously, how you look like now, will not be how you will look like after you die.
  2. Money—Money may be relevant to our lives now, but there is no way to take money, or any other material things with you when you die.
  3. Popularity—Many people aspire to be famous, but how long will it last? I don’t even know my great-grandparents personally! Even though one of my grandfathers was a prominent member of his community when he was still alive, he died when I was a small child. I, unfortunately, don’t remember him at all.  So, why are some of us chasing after popularity? It doesn’t last as long as we wish it could.

I don’t know about anyone else here, but when my race in life is over, I would not want to have any of the five regrets that Bronnie Ware’s patients are reported as having, before they died.  Here is what I have learned in my life so far that can help each of us keep our life regrets to the minimum:

  1. Tell your loved ones—family and friends—how much they mean to you.—How many times have we (including me, unfortunately) rush out of our homes we share with loved ones without telling them how much you love them, or how much they mean to you? I, think, we have done that far too many times.  What if it were the last day you saw them alive, or the last day they saw you alive, and they didn’t know how much you loved and cared about them? In Darrell Scott (father of my faith hero—Rachel Joy Scott), he relates to us how someone asked him what he wanted to say to Rachel if she came back. Scott said, “I said everything I had to say to Rachel. I told her exactly how I felt about her, and I told her how much I loved her. We left no stones unturned.” (Scott, 98). May we tell our loved ones exactly how we feel about them and that we love them. Let us leave no stones unturned. Let’s not be afraid to do that. You never know when and how your loved ones will be or could be taken from you. Let our love for them, triumph over our fear and busyness.
  2. Invest in people, not in projects—As I have often implied or reiterated, sometimes we are so busy with work and different projects, that we forget about people whom we are serving. Yes, we should always be diligent at our jobs in life. However, do not become so diligent that it becomes all-consuming, or an obsession.  We can invest more in people by being willing to learn their life stories, instead of being quick to judge them. If you are having lunch in school and/or at work, try to get to know the people around you, whether in your office or lunchroom.  When you spend time with even close friends and other loved ones, listen (really listen) to their concerns and stories in order to a.) learn more about them b.) Love them better and more.
  3. Don’t listen to naysayers.—Unfortunately, I listened to my share of naysayers for over 15 years, until, finally my mentor J believed in me and helped me to turn a deaf ear to them. For more on how I overcame the naysayers in my life and followed my dreams, see this post.  In order to live and die with minimal regrets, we should refuse to listen to negativity. Though we should listen to constructive criticism, so we can improve on our flaws and become better people, we shouldn’t listen to people who don’t believe in us or our God-given abilities. For instance, if I continued to listen to some of the people that said I could never drive, I would have never been motivated to learn how.  However, once I stopped listening to them, and my negative inner voices, I was able to drive myself.
  4. Don’t let petty stuff get in the way of our lives and legacies.—First of all, let us strive to forgive, forgive, forgive, and let the little things go. One of my friends sometimes says, “Don’t let [the little things] rent space in your head.” For instance, if a friend of mine doesn’t say “Hi” to me one day or if a customer gives me a dirty look because he or she thinks I’m beneath them, I can either be frustrated with them and let them ruin my entire day, or I can tell myself that they are having a bad day, and overlook their sour attitudes and go on with my day, not letting them affect me. When someone hurts us, either accidentally or on purpose, yes we can be angry with them. In fact, it is a natural and normal reaction to an injustice done to us!  However, don’t let the anger fester and have it turn into bitterness and resentment.  Being bitter and angry does not only affect you and the person who hurt you, but they also affect everyone around us, including people having nothing to do with our hurt and pain!  Also, do not value the superficial over the eternally important.  That is, don’t place a supreme importance on things that will not last. For instance, though we should value our finances, we shouldn’t be so obsessed with it that we are willing to rob others and/or fight against others in order to get more money for ourselves.

 

If we want to live life without the big five regrets that Bronnie Ware’s dying patients were reported as  having, we should always strive to tell our loved ones that we love them, and how much they mean to us; we should always be willing to invest more in our personal relationships, instead of projects at work or school. We should not listen to naysayers that hold us back from our God-given dreams. Finally, we should not let the small stuff of life get in the way of living a fulfilling life and a lasting, positive legacy.  What are some things you can do to leave a lasting legacy? May we live, and finish the race of live with much joy, love and minimal regrets!

 

Sources:

Scott, Darrell and Rabey, Steve. (2001). Chain Reaction. Tennessee: Thomas Nelson.

Steiner, Susan.  5 Dec. 2013. “The 5 Things People Most Regret on Their Deathbed.” The Guardian, via Business Insider.  Retrieved 3/25/2018, from the World Wide Web. < http://www.businessinsider.com/5-things-people-regret-on-their-deathbed-2013-12&gt;.

 

Three Things God Has Been Teaching Me

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

  1. Surrender
  2. Sacrifice
  3. Gratitude

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

Source:

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

What I Want More Than Anything

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

That’s when God came into my life.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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