The Importance of Life Stories

I have three main occupations (and many “sub-descriptive” occupations as well): First and foremost, I am a follower of Christ. God saved me from the pit of despair when I was just sixteen years old.  I am a sales associate. This is my day job that helps pay the bills and where I serve God the most.  Finally, I am a blogger and writer.  In writing, I have been made very aware of the power of stories—both fictional and real—in order to cultivate learning and more effective interactions with others.  Letting people share their stories and telling our own are both vital in cultivating more effective and fulfilling human interactions.  Here are some reasons why learning other people’s life stories are so important to effect better communication and interactions with others:

  1. It eliminates prejudicial attitudes.—A lot of people call racists and other prejudiced people “ignorant,” which I believe is a fitting term for them because they are often judging without knowing their targets’ stories. Although there are elements in some circles of feminism that I disagree with, one thing I like about almost all feminism, especially intersectional feminism, is that they take the time to learn about others’ stories, especially those that are often marginalized and shunned by society. If all of us (me included) would take more time to just get to know others better without prejudging them as “bad” in some way, we would probably discover that they are more like us than we realize. For instance, there were some people at work that at first irritated and angered me.  However, as time passed and I got to know them a little bit better, I realized not only did they have a lot of similarities to me, but there was a lot of pain and hurt in their life stories.  I know it is difficult (even for me), but as Rachel Scott said in one of her essays, “Code of Ethics” about not judging others and showing compassion, “ [D]id 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 not just their appearance? Until you know them and not just their “type”, you have no right to shun them. You have not looked for their beauty, their good.”  (source: http://rachelschallenge.org/media/media_press_kit/Code_of_ethics.pdf)
  2. Knowing other people’s life stories cultivates a sense of understanding. –When we learn about other people’s goals, likes and dislikes, what kind of past they came from, and their experiences with love and hurt, we understand them better and are able to interact with them more effectively. For instance, before I knew one of my former pastors well, I did not trust him. In fact, because of his gregarious and upbeat personality, I assumed he “had it all together” and would not be able to relate to my problems and issues, or anyone else’s. However, when he told me part of his life story, I realized I had it all wrong.  I realized that he didn’t always have it all together.  I realized that because of what he had told me that he would indeed have great compassion of all that I had been through in life. I have realized that when I know a person’s life story better, I begin to understand what motivates their actions and why certain things bother them, or why certain things make them very happy.  If we took the time to get to know others better, it would not only eliminate wrong judgments, but we would be more understanding and compassionate of them because we know what they have been through.
  3. Getting to know other people’s stories adds value to them as a person.—When we listen as people tell us their stories or when we have a genuine interest in another’s life story, we show that we value them. We are, in essence, saying to them, “ I want to know more about you because you are that important to me. I want to understand you better because the stories you will tell are valuable to that purpose. Your story has value, and I can learn much from you.” We are also saying we respect them and what they have to offer when we have a genuine interest in learning about them.  For instance, if a good friend of yours confided in you about being abused in his or her past, when you listen to them without offering advice, but instead offer encouragement and just a listening ear, we are telling them, “I care about what happened to you, and you are not alone in this.”

This is why learning about others’ life stories is so important. It would eliminate much of the prejudice we see in this society; we would truly understand others’ motivations better and not just assume they are doing things just to be “mean” or “nasty” or out of selfish desires.  It also tells others that they are valuable and what they have to say is important. What are some important life stories you have learned that helped you understand someone or several people better? Please feel free to share in the comments, but please do NOT use people’s real names or specific details of a situation.

 

 

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Top 10 Most Influential Life Teachers

According to Merriam-Webster, a life teacher, or what is more commonly known as a mentor, is “a trusted counselor or guide.” I have had the fortunate experience of having had many mentors throughout my life. I would love to be a mentor myself to others too.  Though I believe we can learn something from everyone, here are some life teachers that have profoundly shaped my life, besides God (Who has provided these teachers and therefore is the Ultimate Teacher, or Mentor) and some of what they taught me:

  1. My mom and dad—They have taught me so much about life, not only because they are my parents but also for the example that they give me. They have both taught me the value and rewards of hard work. They both emphasize and follow this ethic themselves. My mom has worked tirelessly serve her family, and my dad has worked many hours at his job to provide for his family. It was my dad who actually told me that it is better to try your very best and fail than to do moderately good, but the work you did was not your very best.  I try to apply that to my own life, especially at my job. Even when some of the people around me may not be up to doing their best work at my job all the time, I still strive to do my best because of my parents’ example and because I want to serve my God in the best way possible.
  2. J—Ever since I met her, she has been a great mentor to me. She taught me to stretch myself beyond what I ever thought was possible and believe in myself and the abilities that God has given to me. She also taught me how to overcome my fears and anxieties, and not be too comfortable with the norm, because “the norm” will never get one anywhere in life. When I wanted to give up on myself, J urged me on. For instance, when I didn’t think it was possible for me to get a good job, she helped and encouraged me to get the resources available to me in order to be able to find a job that suited my abilities and interests, which I never thought I’d be able to access.   Best of all, even when no one else had believed in me, she did!
  3. My friend Barbara*–I met Barbara at my previous church eleven years ago. Although we don’t get to see each other much anymore, she still has had a profound impact in my life. She helped me see things realistically, instead of just through my own emotional lenses, which often turns out to be wrong or distorted in ways. She taught me how to be a better Christian and how to trust God more. The lessons that she has taught me has helped me to resolve conflicts quicker and to get out of my own stubborn shell to be able to see things as they really are, instead of just through my distorted lens.
  4. My former pastor Frank Taylor—Pastor Frank became the pastor at my previous church seven years ago. Though he has since been called to a different church, the impact that he had on me while still at my previous church was profound. He was the pastor that first taught me the value of humility.  One example of him teaching this value to the congregation at the time was when people were complaining about him saying something that they felt was offensive. Many pastors I know would just profusely defend themselves and never apologize. Yes, Pastor Frank did also explain himself, but he almost immediately wrote a formal letter of apology to the congregation and asked for their forgiveness. Not a lot of people in his position of power I know would go to such lengths to apologize.  He also openly preaches about the struggles he has had in life, and how he learned from them, instead of trying to hide them from others.
  5. My current pastor David Shoaf—Pastor Shoaf, as he is often called, has also had a profound impact on my current life. He has also taught me important lessons on humility. Not only is he careful not to talk too much about himself, he also preaches in such a way that we can adequately reflect on what he is saying. He has said that he wants his messages to be such that people are forced to look in the mirror of their lives to make sure their lives are matching up with what they say they believe.  Not only are his messages always relevant to my life, but the way he lives also accentuates his messages!  He has faithfully served my current church for over 40 years!  In the way he lives, he has taught me gratitude (He profusely thanked us when we had a party in honor of him and his birthday this past summer.),  faithfulness (He has faithfully served this church for many years and has been married for about the same time as well.) ,  humility (He doesn’t like to draw too much attention to himself), and kindness (He always tries to get to know how people in the church are doing and tries to talk to each new guest that attends our church for the first time.).
  6. my manager Chris*–Although I have only known him for about a year and a half, he has taught me a lot about myself and life. In a previous post, I discuss some of the things he has taught me. See this link for more information. One of the other things that I didn’t emphasize in the previous post is that he has taught me patience and the value of service. He taught me through the good he has done for others that doing good is always worth it even if you don’t get rewarded right away. He has taught me to be less self-centered and more others-centered.  He has also taught me how to be patient.  Though I still struggle with patience, I have learned that I can wait for certain things and not be anxious about it. For instance, I needed to talk to one of my managers about something, but was told that I had to wait. Ordinarily, if it was even remotely important, I might be anywhere from slightly annoyed to throwing an anxious fit about it due to my anxiety issues! However, this time I was able to let it go and decided to talk to her about that thing the next time I see her.
  7. my friend Holly*–My friend Holly, though I haven’t met her in person, has taught me so much. One of the most important things she has taught me is the importance of validation. Validation is so lacking in this world, but she gives it like the food we need to eat. Her encouragement has gotten me through some pretty tough times in my life and has helped lifted me in times where I was depressed and despondent in life.  Through her, I have learned to judge less, and encourage and love more. I also learned from her that everyone has a story, and to have more compassion and love for those who may not have the same privileges that I do. She has further taught me not to take anything for granted.
  8. my current manager I—My current manager I has taught me, like my parents have, the value of hard work and dedication. She has also taught me the value of believing in others because she has believed in me. When other managers were simply too busy to teach me department manager stuff (no fault with them though), she took the time out of her busy schedule to teach me some things.  In that not only did I help her get some managerial things done, but she has helped me to know some of the things department managers have to do.
  9. My manager Tom*–My manager Tom has been a godsend to my company. For more information on him, see this. He has taught me the value of humor and of integrity. He doesn’t pretend to be someone who he’s not. For instance, when someone asks how he is doing, he won’t just mumble fine when he is feeling terrible, he will actually tell you that he feels terrible. This is not so you will feel sorry for him, but to show his genuine character. He also makes others laugh. For instance, he knew one time that I straighten the aisles very well, but joked to one of my other supervisors that I only do things “half-way.” I was there too, and when I heard him say it and pointed to him, he knew that I “got” his joke and he and I started laughing.
  10. My friend Laura*–My friend Laura has helped me through many things. She has taught me how to be generous and thoughtful to others. Every time it is my birthday and for Christmas, she sends me a card even when I forget to send one to her. She was also my teacher in school, and Laura has sacrificed eating her lunch at times to help students. She has a true servant’s heart, and through her example, has taught me to be more like her.

These are the life teachers that have shaped my life the most today. I have learned so much from all of these people, and I have learned some of the greatest life lessons from them. Who has taught you the most in your life? What have they taught you, and why is it so important to you? Please feel free to discuss in comments.

 

 

 

 

Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mentor

*=pseudonyms, not their real names to protect privacy

The Grinch of Christmas: Harms of Commercialization

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I want to know, what does Christmas mean to you? What do you think it is supposed to mean? For many, it means celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and all He represents.  For others, it may mean spending more time with family and other loved ones.  For still others, it means getting people the best gifts ever.

Though Christmas and the holiday season are supposed to be joyous times, many people become stressed and even disillusioned. One of the major reasons why people may be disillusioned is reflected in the results of a Pew Research poll*, where 33% of those surveyed dislike the commercialization of Christmas, and I agree with the 33%. Here is why I believe the commercialization of Christmas is harmful to the holiday and to us:

  1. It misses the point.—Christmas is primarily not about the gifts we receive from loved ones, but commercialization makes Christmas only about the material things we give and receive. Commercialization is very superficial in this aspect. Commercialization can make us so affixed to the gift aspects of Christmas, that we completely miss the real point of Christmas—celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and what He means to us.  The word Christmas even contains “Christ” in it!  We are supposed to remember the founder of Christmas—Jesus, not just see if we can get the best gifts or give the flashiest and most elegant gifts.
  2. It creates more stress than is necessary.—Besides missing the point of the true meaning of Christmas, it creates a lot more stress than is needed for this time of year. A lot of people, because we have created a society of entitlement and materialism, stress out about what gifts to give others.  They think if they don’t give just the right gift the receiver will not only be disappointed come Christmas, but also may think less of them (the giver).  Some people also stress out about how much they can afford (more on that later) and how much they should or shouldn’t give a particular person. Also, a lot of people buy and cook elaborate meals for this holiday. Now, I am in no way against people cooking good food and having elaborate meals to celebrate Christmas and other December holidays,  but sometimes they get so stressed during the preparation of the meal that they are unable to enjoy themselves or their loved ones, a lot like Martha in the Bible who was trying to prepare an elaborate meal for Jesus and the other guests there without taking the time to get to know him or anyone else there.
  3. People that are marginalized are left out of the celebration when the holidays become commercialized.—Because of all the emphasis this time of year on gift giving, people who are struggling financially or in other ways, are often left out of being able to participate in this aspect. Imagine seeing your friends being able to afford fancy jewelry for their loved ones, and you would like to give one of them to your mom who is sick or dying, but not having enough to buy it. However, if the true meaning and the more spiritual aspects of Christmas were emphasized more, the joy and the hope that Christmas has to offer would be able to be realized by even society’s marginalized!  The privileged in this society would give to those who are more marginalized because they would know and understand that everyone deserves joy and peace this Christmas, not just themselves.  More people would be less materialistic and put more time in to help the hurting and needy, and spend more time with those who matter most to them.

 

These are just some of the harmful aspects of commercialization. Of course, I am not against shopping, as I do a share bit of that myself. However, rather than stress out about food preparations and gifts to give loved ones and friends this holiday season, let’s think about the true meaning of Christmas, and cherish those we love. Finally, let’s bring joy and hope to those who find this time of year difficult.

 

 

*Source: http://www.pewforum.org/2013/12/18/celebrating-christmas-and-the-holidays-then-and-now/

 

#Me too- Myths about sexuality and solutions

DISCLAIMER: Triggers for mentions of sex and sexual violence and abuse. No disparaging comments, please! Thanks.

By now, you probably have heard of the #metoo movement, where women are taking aim at a societal culture that has devalued and often treated them as little more than sexual entities. It is a movement where some women–and probably men too– are sharing their stories about being sexually abused or harassed by people who devalued and/or wanted to use them as little more than sexual playthings.  I join and support these brave men and women who are coming forward with their painful and difficult stories in order to make sure this does not happen to anyone else ever again, and to change this culture to one that values all people as divine image-bearers and the preciousness that they are.

I think one of the main reasons why there are so many people doing sexually abusive and demeaning things to others, is because people have long bought into some or all of these following myths about sexuality:

  • Myth: You need to have a significant other to be truly happy and fulfilled in life. -Many single people believe or have believed (note to self: guilty as charged) the lie that if they just had a girlfriend or boyfriend, and eventually get married, life would be bliss and they would have no loneliness issues anymore. Married people or people in relationships may also buy into a form of this lie by trying to change their partner into their idealized image of who they think they should be.  Truth: You can just be as happy or happier single. I have been single for a VERY long time, and I have never been happier! Though a lot has changed, many parents still think if their children remain single, they will not be happy or fulfilled (what I dub, the “spinster theory”). I am living proof that this does not have to be the case!  I am not saying that people in relationships are never happy. However, it is not because of the relationship alone that makes someone happy or unhappy.
  • Myth: I need sex or a relationship to feel valued and/or powerful in life. Truth: Sex does not inherently make one feel “valued” or “powerful.” Think of how many women in the sex trafficking industry are treated–as less than animals! Maybe the people that hurt them feel more powerful, but not the day when they are held accountable for their evil actions they have perpetrated against these women! What really can help one feel more valued and powerful is what Jesus said in Matthew 20:27 (KJV)-“And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.” That is, whoever wants to feel more great and powerful, let him or her serve others. Doing good things for others not only makes you feel good,  but you also value people by helping others. However, it must be done with a sincere heart and a good attitude.
  • Myth: Children should hug their relatives to show respect for them. Another version of this myth is: “People should hug me/each other to show respect for me/them.” Truth: Children (and even adults) should not be required to hug or touch anyone!  Some children don’t hug because they feel squeamish about hugging, and some children even have had some unspoken trauma over the person they are “supposed to” hug. Their bodies should be respected and valued by not requiring this of them.  Also, there are other ways for people to show their appreciation and respect besides touch.  For instance, we can use our words to uplift and encourage someone, and there are only a few, if any, that would object that to that! Also,  we should teach children and others to thank people who do something good for them, and say “Please” if they want something, instead of just demanding that person give it to them.
  • Myth: “I need sex to get ahead in life or be successful. “Truth: No, you don’t. What one needs to get ahead in life is integrity, hard work, and compassion.  And even if you are not successful, remember your worth is not dependent on what you do!

Here are some ways we should support women and others who have been sexually harassed and/or abused

  1. Know it’s not just women who have been abused–A lot of men have been abused too. Think of the boys that have been abused by priests or their athletic coaches.
  2. Accept others’ “No” without complaining or arguing.–For instance, if someone doesn’t want to be touched, don’t try to argue with them about that in an attempt to force them to “want” to be touched.  Just accept that they don’t like touch. It’s probably not because you did something bad to them, but just a boundary they have for some people, or even everyone.
  3. If someone is attacking someone else sexually, stop the attacker if possible.– If your life is in danger or if the attacker has a weapon, this may not be such a good idea. In all other cases, however,  you can stop the attack by yelling very loudly, “STOP! STOP” and trying to get the perpetrator off the victim, or by saying nothing but running to get help for the victim as soon as possible. A life could be saved!
  4. Let the abuse survivor know it’s not their fault, and that whatever they feel is valid.–Do not try to get the survivor to forgive their perpetrator. Yes, there is a time and place for forgiveness, but true forgiveness cannot be forced!  What the survivor needs right now is validation and the feeling that they are not “damaged goods” and that they are a valued part of society. Affirm and validate them.
  5. Don’t listen to or watch things that glorify the devaluation of people.–Music or movies that glorify using women as sexual objects should not be part of your media diet if you really want to support the #metoo movement. Similarly, watching pornographic movies or tv shows doesn’t get you in the right frame of mind to be able to look at others with dignity and value.  Resolve today to only feed your mind with media that values others.
  6. Support or pray for (if religious) organizations like International Justice Mission or A21, who help sexual abuse survivors reclaim their lives.–These, and many other organizations, help men and women who have survived abuse or sex trafficking reclaim their lives. Other organizations like RAINN help survivors as well.
  7. Teach the next generation proper boundaries and consent.–If you are a parent, teach your child or children proper boundaries and consent. Telling your child, “Keep your hands to yourself” when they touch someone without their permission, for instance, is a good way to start to teach them appropriate boundaries and consent. Also, telling them that if someone touches them inappropriately, they have a right to say something and stand up for themselves, is another good way to teach boundaries and consent and show you value their body and soul.

With many men and women bravely coming forward about their times of pain and heartache at the hands of people that devalued and demeaned them, hopefully the abuse will stop and the perpetrators will be held accountable for their actions.  However, we as a society must stop perpetuating a culture where people–men and women alike– are being devalued, and instead we must all strive to create a society where each person is treated as the valued, priceless treasure they are.

What I Learned From the “Be Kind” quote

The quote, “Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle,” is widely misattributed to Plato, but actually Ian MacLaren, or John Watson, is said to be the original source of this quote. (source: https://quoteinvestigator.com/2010/06/29/be-kind/). God has been putting this quote in my mind a lot recently, in the wake of stress and my wanting to be less upset and irritated by people and things around me.  Here is what I have learned from meditating on this quote that can be applied to anyone of any belief in every walk of life:

  1. Being kind is rooted in our gratitude.—When we are ungrateful, it is hard to think that others deserve anything good at all. We feel entitled to our “stuff,” that we lose sight of other people’s stories. However, when we see each day and each thing as a gift that is not necessarily deserved, we are freer to be able to give to others our kindness and our gifts. When we realize what some other people go through are harder than what we are currently dealing with, we appreciate our lives more. For instance, a lot of people I know don’t have a lot of supportive family and friends and have gone through some very rough times in their lives with little help. When I hear their stories, I appreciate that I have my family and my church community to help me through rough times in my life. I am kinder to those that have less support because I want them to be able to have the help that I already have.
  2. Being kind is rooted in how much we care for others.—When we care about other people, we are more likely to be sympathetic and empathetic to their hurt and pain in their life. We are more likely to do more than just to offer superficial platitudes, and instead, try to do something to help alleviate their pain and get through their tough situation in life. We don’t feel burdened down by our own problems, because we are not self-focused, but are willing and able to give our love and support to others as well.  If I am stressed and burdened by my own problems, I am much less effective in helping others through theirs because not only am I being self-focused but my capacity to care and think about others is also decreased.  Yes, there are times when our problems will seem insurmountable and burdensome, but when we try to also look outside ourselves and our pain, we are not only able to help others overcome their difficulties, but our own problems will also seem less intense and heavy.
  3. Being kind is rooted in our humility—Being arrogant, to me, is thinking that you are better than everyone else, that everyone else is inferior to you. When one is arrogant, it is very difficult, if not impossible, for them to be kind to others. When one realizes that their needs are not necessarily more important than another’s, they are more able to be kind and care for others effectively.  When your mindset is to be kind to everyone because everyone is going through something that may be harder than the burden you are carrying, you are valuing others and are not thinking with a “poor-me” attitude.  You are submitting yourself to another’s needs because you know that other people have value and need your support too.

Though being kind is sometimes difficult and takes a lot of thought and care, it is better than being unkind and rude to others.  Being kind is rooted in our thankfulness of what has been given to us, because our gratitude is expressively linked to how kind we are able to be to others. It is rooted in how much we care about other people and their lives.  Finally, being kind is rooted in being humble because it is necessary to be able to prefer another above yourself, in both their needs and desires.  Who can you be kind to today?

Why I am Single

Disclaimer: I am in no way against marriage or good relationships. However, these are my reasons that I choose to be single for right now and for the near future.  Please no disparaging comments about anyone, or your comment will be deleted. Thank you.

For many years, I have wanted to be in a relationship; I wanted to find “The One.” When I would go to weddings, though I would be happy for the couple, I felt a little envious too and depressed at myself that that wasn’t my life. When I heard my friends were having children, I felt sad for myself that I wasn’t a mom.  It has been over 30 years, and I still haven’t found “The One.” However, I am happier today than I have ever been at any point in my life. Here is why I choose to remain single and why I am happy being this way:

  1. I love the relative freedom I have to serve God and others.—Sure there are constraints on my time since I work and do other things, but I would have even more if I were in a relationship. At this point in my life, I need to be free to serve God and others without being distracted 24/7 from that goal by another person. I know that sounds selfish, but for the season of life that I’m in, my singleness has worked effectively in building more relationships with others and being able to communicate and express myself more freely. I would love to one day talk to people about God’s love and that may involve a lot of travel, which would be taxing for another person, especially if they don’t share exactly the same passion as I do. I don’t want them to have to go through that.
  2. Along with #1, I am WAY too busy to invest in a serious, romantic relationship with another.—Between working a full-time job, church activities at least twice a week, blogging and preparing to create a business with that, and other things, I have little time even for myself, let alone loads of one-on-one time with a guy. If I were to date someone right now, I would probably end up breaking up with him soon, because I would not have the proper time to invest in him. For me, it would be better to stay single, than to give less than my best to a person I claim to love, or at least admire.
  3. Along with #2, I am so busy and already invest in a lot of people, I would have little left emotionally to give to my significant other.—By the end of each day, I am usually close to wanting to sleep. If I were to try to invest in a serious, romantic relationship with someone, I would either go crazy or not have any emotional support left to give them. I would be so spent that it would be impossible to provide what my significant other needed!  Either I would have to slowly scale back what I am doing now (which I feel God and myself don’t want right now) or my significant other would have to be exactly in sync with what I am doing and feeling (possibility of that happening all or most of the time: slim to none!).
  4. I don’ t want to be so distracted by a guy that I end up suffering spiritually.—When I “like, like” a guy, I tend to be very distracted by him and his desires, to the point where I don’t focus on God anymore or as much. I don’t want that to happen to me. My relationship with God and my spirituality are critical to me, and no guy is worth that much to me that I am willing to sacrifice God for him. If I am with a guy, he and I need to be at a point where we are both on the same page spiritually and I am focused on God first.
  5. I don’t need to be in a relationship to be happy.—Contrary to what I thought before, I don’t actually need to be in a relationship to be happy. God and others have shown me that I don’t need a boyfriend or significant other. Even if I remain single for the rest of my life, I won’t end up being an “Old Maid” or something. I would still be serving God and others. I would likely still have some friends, and I have the trust that I still would be provided for somehow.
  6. I am not ready for a relationship with that magnitude.—Another reason I am single is that I simply am not ready to make a lifetime or even an extended commitment to another person like that. I am still figuring out what God wants me to do with my life, specifically. I know He wants me to serve and love Him for others, but how that looks like is still somewhat unclear to me.  Also, I am not in the mood or ready to “settle down” yet.  I actually fear that I would be bored and depressed like I was before I had my previous job if I were to “settle down” with someone.
  7. I haven’t found “The One” yet.—I have had crushes on several people, but they all let me down in the end. I have wanted to be in relationships with someone who I thought was single until they got into a relationship.  I won’t lower my standards or accept anyone for a mate that is less than God’s best for me, because I would take dating and marital commitments very seriously.  I don’t ever want to go through the pain of getting a divorce or end up with someone who is less than faithful to me or ends up abusing me.

 

These are some of the reasons why I am single. Contrary to most of what society thinks, I don’t believe one needs to be in a romantic relationship to be happy and whole. I think that, in general, I have been the happiest and most content that I have been in a long time. And I am still single.

Things One Should Say To an Abuse Survivor

DISCLAIMER: Triggers for talk of rape and abuse. Absolutely NO disparaging comments allowed or your comment will be deleted! 

In the era where there are more people coming forward about being abused despite their perpetrators trying to silence them, there is still much work that needs to be done to help these survivors heal. One way this can be done is by saying things that will help the survivor heal and move forward despite all the horrible things that have happened to them. In my experience in dealing with people that have been abused and/or bullied, here are things that I think they need to hear from you:

  1. “I believe you.”–Many survivors suffer not only from the post-traumatic effects of having been abused but also from the stigma of not being believed, especially by family and/or friends of the perpetrator and sometimes even people in their own circle of influence. Saying to them that you believe what they went through was and is valid and real will help them heal because saying this validates their experience and feelings surrounding the traumatic event. It says you will be there for them and that you acknowledge their value and their worth.
  2. “This was not your fault.”–Many survivors also believe, at least to some extent, that the abuse was somehow their fault. This is what the perpetrators want them to believe because they (the aggressors) often do not want to a.) take responsibility for their actions and b.) believe that they are that bad of a person that they need to change their behaviors. However, this is NEVER true.  For instance, even if a rape survivor wore revealing clothing, it does not mean it is the survivor’s fault that they were raped! It is totally and completely the perpetrator’s fault for not controlling himself or herself and treating someone in a vulnerable position like an object of their twisted and selfish pleasures!
  3. “You are valued and loved.” —Many survivors I know struggle with low self-esteem or self-worth. Even people who are not survivors can struggle with this, but survivors even more so because the perpetrators have brainwashed these survivors into thinking that they are much less than they really are. Often perpetrators want their victims to think lowly of themselves, so it is easier for them to control their victims.  Survivors of abuse often struggle with this long after their perpetrators are out of their lives.  Telling the survivor that he or she is valued and loved, with a sincere heart, of course, will help them to regain their confidence and rebuild their lives.  Going a step further, and actually showing them that they are valued and loved, of course, can drastically improve survivors’ lives and/or outlook of their future.
  4. “I am here for you.”–A lot of survivors I know feel alone and/or struggle with depression.  This is often because the perpetrator often wants to silence them. If the perpetrator is successful in doing that, a survivor can feel that they have no one to turn to and that no one can really be trusted. Thus, they feel alone in their pain and suffering, and many can only tell their accounts of the abuse years after it happened.  Some, sadly, even take these accounts to their graves, or the perpetrator is believed instead of the survivor and thus is never punished or disciplined for their crimes. Saying “I am here for you,” will make the survivor feel less alone in their pain. It shows solidarity with them and will eventually open the gates of trust in their heart because saying this with a sincere heart will assure the survivor that they are not alone in their pain and that they don’t have to suffer alone.
  5. “You are beautiful.”–Abuse survivors, especially if they were abused sexually, often struggle with how they view the person staring back at the mirror in some way. Saying this in a platonic and sincere way can help survivors regain their self-confidence. However, one should also be careful to say this in such a way that it emphasizes their infinite worth as unique and awesome creation.  One should never say this half-heartedly or in a seductive manner!
  6. “You are not alone.”–As I said before, a lot of abuse survivors think they are somehow alone in their trial and anguish because they are often silenced or sworn to secrecy by their perpetrators especially if the survivors were abused as children.  Saying “You are not alone” to an abuse survivor can mean the world to them. Even though some may know logically that they are not alone, it is often refreshing for them to know that they a.) don’t suffer alone. b.) their anguish is not so unique that no one can ever understand or relate to them in some way.
  7. “I care about you” OR “I will support you.” –Some abuse survivors may feel that no one really cares about or supports them, especially if they have been told by some people in some way that their experience is not believable (even if what they experienced is 100% true).  Saying and demonstrating in some way that you care about them and are willing to support them can be a boon to them. This will mean to the survivor that they have a friend (you) who will help them through the up and downs of the recovery from their abuse and will show to them the perseverance of true love.
  8. Any other validating words.–What this world, and especially abuse survivors, need is love and validation.  Be careful when offering advice or criticism, because these things can hurt the survivor even more even if it is not intentional.  Often abusers control their victims by demeaning them not only physically, but also with hurtful and unnecessarily devaluing and mean words.  If you must offer advice or criticism, do so gently. Never verbally attack a survivor! Always think of them before yourself. Validate them by reminding them of their worth to you and to society, and do so sincerely. Most people can see through fake gestures of “kindness.”  Be sincere and kind in your words to others, especially survivors, always.

These are some things an abuse survivor needs to hear from you. If we validated everyone, especially people who have been through so much, I believe this whole world would heal from their pain and anguish, and it would be a much better place to live. Who can you love and validate today? Please discuss in comments.

What I learned from my vacation

You may wonder why I hadn’t been writing for the past week and a half or so. Well, I have been on a siesta and have taken a vacation. However, being on vacation has not stopped me from continuing to learn about the world around me and how to better it. I met many amazing and interesting people during my vacation, including two men having the same name as my favorite manager ( see also: Qualities of my favorite manager)! Here are some of the things that I learned about this particular vacation that can be applied by almost everyone in everyday life (not just on vacations!).

  1. How beautiful God made this world.—On this vacation, I was fortunate and blessed enough to witness some of God’s beautiful creatures. Some of the most interesting things I saw in nature were: waterfalls, birds, flowers, and many, many trees! All these things reminded me how blessed we all are to live on such a beautiful planet. This vacation also has helped motivate me to be more environmentally conscious to help preserve the earth. Even a sunrise and a sunset each day have beauty not only because of the bright colors but also because it is a reminder that we are indeed able to still be alive on this planet and make some positive difference in this world!
  2. Get to know people before you judge them. This will enable hearts to be opened to receive love and respect.—At first, when we met the people with us on our trip, most people seemed more reserved and kept to themselves more. However, as time went on and we did more together, people seemed to be increasingly open and friendly to each other. When people let down their guards and set aside their initial impressions, I learned that this allowed us to love and respect each other more because we better understood where the other was coming from and thus were more open and willing to learn from each other.  I believe that if we all strived to really get to know and understand people better before having any type of snap judgment against them, this world would be a much more unified and loving place.
  3. When we strive to understand each other, rather than be selfish or rude, love can thrive and grow!—I admit that when things don’t go my way, I am very tempted to become self-focused. However, when I try to understand others better, I found that my love for them grows as God’s love and compassion in me are able to better flow through me, rather than my selfish, sinful self. The same goes for everyone else. I have been blessed to see people from my trip reach out to one another in unexpected ways, such as a.) Someone on our trip took pictures for someone when they were unable to so that they would remember the good times had with the other members of our trip. B.) The tour leader offering to help people with their flights and accommodations, often going above and beyond to make this possible. He also checked the weather the day before so to make sure no flights were being canceled or delayed, and if they were, he let us know in a prompt manner. C) Someone offering their seat in the front, so that others could sit there too.  These little things and more helped me to gain love and respect for everyone on this trip. What good deed can you do for the people that you encounter today? What have others done for you to gain your love and respect for them?

Overall, this vacation I took has been one of the best and most rewarding thus far. I will strive never to forget these lessons that I believe God has taught me and all the people on my trip that have touched my life in a very special way. Have you ever had the chance to take a memorable vacation or have you met remarkable people in your life before? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.

My Pet Peeves (and how to avoid them!)

Disclaimer: Please, no disparaging comments about me or any of the commenters, or your comment will be deleted and blocked.  

Most people have at least one thing that annoys them about life or about other people. These are the things that make us tick. However, as with most things, we can either let them ruin our day, or we can persevere despite them. I want to be able to constantly choose the latter.  These pet peeves of mine may not be all exhaustive, but they are some of my major ones.  A pet peeve is something someone finds annoying or unpleasant.  Here are some of my pet peeves, why they annoy me, and how to avoid or cope with them.

  1. One of my major pet peeves is when someone tells me that they will do something, but then they don’t deliver on their promise.–I hate this because I feel like I am being lied to when people promise something but fail to do it. I know this is often not intentional, but it still hurts nonetheless.  If you PROMISE me something, you had better do it if you don’t want to annoy or upset me.  The exceptions are if you are sick or have a family emergency. Otherwise, do not promise me anything, or say something like, ” I will do x, God willing!, meaning if God allows it to happen, then you will do it.
  2. When people pretend to be someone or something that they are not.–Again, I hate when people are fake to me or pretend to be my friend to “make me feel better.”  I would rather have someone tell me up front that they don’t like me than to be “fake-friends” with me. Note: You will not make me feel better unless your friendship and love is genuine and from the heart. If I find out that you are faking being nice to me, I will attempt to avoid interacting with you for a very long time! Just be real with me.
  3. When people don’t respect my (or other people’s ) property.–I hate when people rifle through my things or read personal stuff I wrote without my permission! That is just so disrespectful! If you want to read something that is personal, that is not on a public platform like this blog, ask first before even glancing at it!  There may be a reason why it’s personal. Also, please don’t mess up my stuff. It is in a certain order for a reason so I can find everything without wondering where you put it.  I also hate it when people do this to others! It just seems so invasive and unnecessary. Of course, I also hate it when people steal others’ (or my) stuff. If you really need something, ask first. Usually, I will either let you have it or let you borrow it. If the person doesn’t want to give x thing to you, respect that or ask someone else.  Make an honest living.  Never steal.
  4. The phrase, “Don’t do what I do, do what I say.”–This phrase irritates me to no end.  It is often used as a cop-out by people in authority who don’t want to be held accountable for their actions, and it is often used to excuse hypocrisy. As you know from some of my other pet peeves, I hate when people are being fake and/or two-faced.  I am a firm believer that your words and actions should match.  If you are in a position of authority, never ever use this phrase for any reason if you want people to actually listen to you. Even seeing these words in print irritates me. Hearing them would be even worse, and is a huge turnoff to want to do anything you say to me.  If one wants to be a good teacher, he or she must lead by example. Always and forever.
  5. When someone complains about a person, but they have never worked to resolve the issue or issues with him or her. —This annoys me because you are not only slandering and/or gossiping about him or her, but things will never get better. It is different if you have tried to resolve the issue, but the person won’t budge.  I don’t want to hear about how x person is mean or nasty, but you have never tried to resolve the issue or really tried to find the best in that person. I say: Try to resolve the issue first then complain to people if the resolution doesn’t work.
  6. When scammers/telemarketers call and you have already asked them once to not call.— Dear any telemarketers here, I understand you must meet a quota and sell your things. However, if I ask you nicely once that I am not interested, do NOT call me 20 times to “hopefully change my mind.” Also, don’t call me when I am eating or having family time. It ruins the whole event. Also, I’ve made up my mind already. I don’t want to buy/am not interested in whatever you offer.  Thank you and have a nice day.
  7. When technology doesn’t work.–I hate it especially when the computer freezes or access online is not possible. I know I may be *slightly* addicted, but I do need these things for a.) blogging b.) looking up my work schedule c.) ministering to others online or talking to friends that live 1,000 miles away from me.  The only things I would suggest so that technology does work again is a.) Try to fix it yourself b.) call your Internet provider, and see if it is a problem with them c.) call a computer technician and pay to have it fixed.
  8. Slow or reckless drivers.--I don’t like it when drivers are, for instance, going 30 in a 45 mph speed limit road. First of all, it is unsafe to drive too slow (just as it is when you drive too fast). Second of all, all of us need to get to point B in a reasonable amount of time.  Also, people who cut me off and almost hit my car and then speed off annoy me. I don’t mind it as much if you cut me off, but please be careful not to hit my car, ok?  If you do, please take responsibility for what you have done and don’t speed off like it’s no big deal. It is a big deal. I need my car to be able to get to and from work on time. Be considerate.

These are just some of my pet peeves. What are some of yours, and how can we avoid pet “peeving” you? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.

 

Value- a poem

 

Value – 9/29/2017

*based on the quote by Jefferson Bethke, which says, “People are neighbors to be loved, not commodities to be used.”

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.- Psalm 139:14 (KJV)

 

You are precious in His sight

You are certainly worth the fight

The fight called life

Including the joys and the strife

 

You are more valuable

Than just a toy to be used

Or something to be abused

Or tossed away like trash

 

You are more valuable

Than silver or gold

Or all the riches of this world

Or anything you can behold

 

Never let anyone tell you

That you don’t matter

Because you are so valued, my friend

And you will be loved until the end