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

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Dangers of Pride, Benefits of Humility, Part 2

The truth in Proverbs 13:10 (KJV) “Only by pride cometh contention,” manifests itself in different types of prideful attitudes.  Some people may think it is good to have “pride in oneself” because it exudes determination and a comfort in who one is. However, I  believe that they are talking more about healthy confidence, which is very different than pride. Pride should be more equated with arrogance, which is always bad, no matter how one puts it.

So how do we combat pride? The four main ways that are most effective in combating arrogant pride is through love, through understanding, through humility, and through sacrifice, or the giving of oneself.

Love

When we truly love someone, we don’t have to put up a façade in front of them, or make sure we look “good” so we don’t get rejected.  Love goes “all in” and risks even rejection and humiliation, as with Jesus and Mother Teresa, because they consider the rewards greater than the cost.  Love combats pride because it extinguishes its motivation, which often has its roots in hatred, bitterness, and/or envy.  When you love someone, one doesn’t care as much about one’s own status or reputation, as much as the other person’s.

Understanding

Another way we can combat pride is through understanding.  When we truly aim to learn about other people, through their stories, their cultural heritage, their motivations, their goals in life, their hurts and pains, and their triumphs, we often find  some way we can relate with what they are going through or went through and who they are.  This is how most people become good friends with each other!  In prejudicial pride, this is absent, because the prejudiced person often just makes general assumptions about a person or a particular group of people, without really educating themselves of the truth or really reflecting upon  how their assumptions came to be.  In “better-than-you” pride, the arrogant person, like the one who is prejudiced, often makes a lot of assumptions about a person or a group of people without going in-depth and learning about why someone is the way they are.  When we aim for understanding and really learn about another person or persons, the reason behind the prideful attitude gets “debunked,” so to speak, because we often find out that some or even all our assumptions were wrong! Thus, our pride melts away into a new acceptance and openness towards the people we previously looked down upon.

Humility

Another way we can defeat pride is through its counterpart—humility.  For instance, when someone points out an area of our lives or of our character that needs improvement or change, instead getting upset by this, we can humbly accept their admonishment and take steps to change. On a related issue, when someone is offended by something we did or said, instead of excusing or denying our fault, we should apologize and ask or find ways to improve ourselves.  Some people, especially those in authority, may think it is a sign of weakness to apologize to another, especially someone that they consider a subordinate, but nothing could be further from the truth. In our natural states, we would never apologize for anything, even though we know we make mistakes and sin! This is a scary thought.  I believe it often takes supernatural powers to sincerely apologize to someone because it chips at our natural propensity of pride.  However, when we do offer a sincere apology and a strong desire to change, our lives will make a powerful and redeeming statement.

Sacrifice

Another powerful way we can combat pride is through sacrifice.  When we are willing to sacrifice for others, it means we are willing to prefer others above ourselves, which is also a characteristic of humility.  This is a particularly powerful antidote to materialistic pride because when we sacrifice, we must be willing to part with anything that holds us back from giving or sharing with others.  For instance, if I struggle with love of money, by giving a portion of my earnings to charity, it helps me to see that a.) other people need what I have, so it’s selfish of me to hold on to something that someone else needs more.  b) that even if I am not as rich, that I still can be happy because I did the right thing. Sacrifice is also an antidote to the other forms of pride because it forces one to look away from self and unto others.  Pride and selfishness go hand in hand. Since living sacrificially for others combats selfish attitudes and behaviors, both pride and selfishness get extinguished. An example of how this occurred in my life, is when I was a child, I was very selfish. I did not even want to buy something for my brother’s birthday. However, my aunt convinced me that to sacrifice part of what I had for my brother was the right thing to do and would show that I truly loved him. That changed my whole outlook on giving and sacrifice. When we are willing to sacrifice for others, we show we truly love them.

 

When we practice love, understanding, humility, and sacrifice, most of our prideful attitudes will melt away. We will be more effective in loving and serving others, without ourselves getting in the way of that.  Pride is a dangerous hindrance to our true success in life, and causes contention. However, humility—its counterpart, often causes love and peace.

Benefits of Humility

Some people scoff at the idea of lowering yourself or allowing others to get ahead of you, because, they think, it shows weakness.  However, I believe, since it is unnatural to want to humble oneself or to allow others the greater benefit, the opposite is true. –In fact, I would even add that it takes great emotional and spiritual strength to truly humble oneself.  All around us, society whispers to us, in different ways, “Take care of number one first and foremost, then you will have great success,” and even “Be successful at all costs, even if you have to step on others’ toes to get there.” However, I would attest that most people, who are truly successful and truly make the greatest difference in our world, turn these whisperings upside down—through their willingness to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of others.  In fact, not only does humility grant us a type of success that can’t be measured by the society around us, but a humble attitude also has lasting benefits to you as well. Here are just some of them that I have observed when people (including me) demonstrate a humble attitude:

  1. Humility allows you to be your genuine self.—When we are entangled in arrogant pride, I find that we are constantly on our toes to try to impress the Next Bigger and Better person, sometimes in an effort to cover up our flaws and deceive ourselves and others, subconsciously, about them. It’s like we don’t want to face our flaws in ourselves, and we end up living in an illusion. Many people I have observed, who present themselves arrogantly, have deep-seated pain and/or flaws that they are desperately trying to hide from the rest of the world. They may be afraid of feeling rejected and unloved by others, or otherwise, being inadequate to the world. However, when we are humble, we are more likely to have a realistic view of ourselves. Contrary to some people’s beliefs, humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. “Humility” that degrades oneself is not really humility, but reverse pride.  Degrading oneself says that “I am so broken and “special” that I can’t be fixed by anyone,” which is, of course, a lie, no matter how true it may seem at the time.  While having a humble attitude does acknowledge the self as a unique and beautiful creation, it acknowledges others’ beauty and worth even more! When you are humble, you are not afraid to be vulnerable with others and show your true self—the good mixed in with your flaws—because you are not afraid of rejection or lowering of status. Status and fear of rejection no longer matter to you. The welfare of others is more important.
  2. Humility diminishes jealousy and selfish attitudes.—I firmly believe that 99.9% of all jealous attitudes stem from pride. When we are jealous of others, it not only shows ingratitude for the gifts we already received in our lives, but also a kind of entitled pride that says, in effect, “ I deserve what that other person has, and he or she doesn’t! “ However, humility acknowledges and believes that everything, even life itself, is a gift.  Humility says, “Even though I don’t deserve much, I am grateful when I do get something.”  Humility has power and strength to think about the needs of others because it isn’t preoccupied with oneself.  Humility does not ever compete against another, whereas pride wants to beat everyone at their own game, so only it gets the benefit. Humility can be demonstrated when we put others’ needs and egos, ahead of our own.  For instance, if we have a humble attitude, we will readily admit when we do something wrong and sincerely apologize and repent of our actions.  In contrast, when we are prideful, we will often excuse our sinful (morally wrong) actions or diminish the true magnitude and seriousness of our sins.  Humility is happy when another co-worker gets the promotion we wanted, but pride is envious and resentful of the other coworker getting the promotion.
  3. Being humble will get you more respect in the end.—Although there are still some people who think being prideful will get you more respect, most people appreciate it more when one is humble. Being humble will get you more respect, because it allows you to consider their needs more.  Having a humble attitude develops our empathy because you think of yourself less, and on others’ feelings and experiences more.  Yes, there is a time for self-care, but all in all, being humble involves knowing that your needs will be met, in the process of caring for others. My faith hero, Rachel Scott, was a humble person. She didn’t tell everyone about all the kind things that she did to be noticed, but just did them out of her love and care for people. Her parents and others only found out about her kind acts from her recipients, and only after her death.  Jesus Christ, another one of my faith heroes, and my Lord and Savior, also demonstrated great humility by being willing to die an excruciatingly painful death in our place, so we didn’t have to.  Now, both Jesus and Rachel Scott, are greatly respected by many people because of their acts of kindness and humility.

As you can see, having a humble attitude has many benefits.  Humility allows you to be your genuine self, without reserve or regret. Humility eliminates, or at least, lessens jealousy and self-centered attitudes, and humility can get you more respect in the end.  Allowing others to be bigger than yourselves is a sign of great strength, not weakness. Humility does have a price of sacrifice to pay, but it is worth it in the end.

God’s Gift

God’s Gift

For J, my mentor (written on : 3/7/2018)

 

All my life

I was searching for love

A love that would never fail

A love that wouldn’t bail

When things got tough

 

I tried to blend into the crowd,

Hoping someone, anyone

Would love me for me

And would someday see

A light in me

 

When I was at the end of my rope

Looking for any sign of the slightest hope

That’s when God showed up

And gave me the greatest love

I have ever known

 

Then God gave me the gift of you

And, through you, saved my life

You showed me what was true

And I was able to triumph

Over the lies that I held inside so long

 

Most of all,

You showed me grace and love,

From the One up above

And you gave me joy

That I had been searching for so long

 

On Conquering Hate

All around me, I see and hear people arguing and fighting with each other. We even hear of it among our own government (if you live in the U.S, though it does happen in other countries too)! People’s souls, around us, are being wounded and degraded at an alarming rate.  It’s everywhere—the curse of hatred.

Some people have given up the fight against hatred. They aren’t used to anything different.  They have either succumbed to it themselves, or have given up trying to change the world for the better. I am telling you, though, that one day when everything is made right again with this world, hate will be defeated and conquered. Love will rise again!

In the meantime, we must not give up fighting against all forms of hatred, big and small. The change starts with us, in our own souls and our own lives. Here is what I learned about conquering hatred:

  1. Aim for kindness.—Someone once said, “Be kind. Everyone around you is fighting a harder battle.” How true that often is. We sometimes don’t even know what our own family members are thinking or feeling!  How much less do we know about the inner lives of our friends and acquaintances, and the people in our community that serve us?  This is why we should aim for kindness always.  Sometimes, a person may be in a bad mood and (wrongly) take it out on us because he or she may not know another, more appropriate way of expressing how they feel, but we still must not hurt them back, though, we often do. We can make a greater, more positive difference if we showed compassion to our fellow human beings even when they aren’t treating us as we think they should.

We can aim for kindness in these two ways:

  • We can be kind in our attitudes and words: In Proverbs 23: 7, of the Bible, it says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he,” which means that you are what you think.  So, when we strive to think kind thoughts about others, we will naturally want what is best for them and be encouraging to them by affirming their worth and their good qualities.  However, if we have negative, hateful thoughts about others, our words and actions will also indicate that.  We also can be kind in our attitudes when it is more difficult to do so.  For instance, if you have to do what you think is a “thankless” task at work, instead of grumbling and complaining to others about the job you have to do, you can strive to do it with heart and with joy, knowing that you are serving for a higher purpose.
  • We can be kind in our actions: In my job (retail), ways I aim for kindness are, for example, when a customer is carrying a lot of things in their hands, I always offer to get them a shopping cart. This way they don’t have to carry everything in their hands and have to put it somewhere, and have the hassle of then getting a cart for themselves. I also strive to go the extra mile to look for something for a customer, so they can find what they need for their lives.  Sometimes, I help the custodians clean a messy area in the break room, not so I get recognized, but so the custodians do not have to be overwhelmed and burdened by so much work. I also do it as a way to thank them for the job they do for us.  I also strive to smile and maintain a joyful attitude.  Outside work, one may be kind in our actions by visiting a sick friend or neighbor in the hospital, feeding the homeless, or even helping a family member with a tough task before they even ask us to do said thing.

2. Forgive others quickly.—When someone hurts you, I would recommend not harboring bitterness and/or anger towards that person for more than a week because after that this negative spirit starts poisoning your soul and those around you. When I didn’t follow this directive in the past, I found that a negative and jaded spirit did start to form inside me. Not only that, but this anger and bitterness stunted my spiritual growth and kept me from growing closer to God and becoming the person He (and I) wanted me to be.  See Cultivating Peace After Conflict post for more information on resolving conflicts quickly and peaceably.

 

Why do more people not resolve their bitterness more quickly? I think it has to do with our misconceptions about what forgiveness really means. Here is what I learned about what forgiveness is and isn’t:

  • Forgiveness is not excusing the offender’s actions.
  • Forgiveness does not require amnesia of what had happened to you.
  • Forgiveness does not require reunion.
  • Forgiveness is letting God deal with the justice, and trusting Him to deal with the offender, rather than you being the judge and jury.
  • Forgiveness is ridding yourself of your hate, bitterness, resentment and anger towards the offender for your sake, so you can be at peace.
  • Forgiveness should be done also for your sake, not just the offender’s.

3. Stay away from all forms of hate.—Another thing we can do to conquer hatred in our lives, is to make sure we are not influenced to hate from outside sources, whether it be media, other people, or in other ways.

 

First of all, I would recommend keeping positive company. This means limiting your time with people who are negative influences on you or who influence you to hate other people.  Also, limit contact with people who constantly cut you or others down.  Instead, spend time with people who love others and who are a joyful and positive influence on your life.

 

Second of all, I would not go to websites, or read literature, listen to music, or watch anything promoting the hatred or the devaluation of other people.  For instance, it is one thing to read hateful literature because you are required to for a research project, but do not willingly read hateful literature for your own entertainment or curiosity.  Even if you are required to read something controversial or hateful  for a school project, be careful you are not being influenced by any hateful ideas or beliefs that the author may have.

 

Lastly, when you see people hate each other or speak hateful or malicious words to another, lovingly, but firmly, call them out on it. Counter their hateful words, but do not get sucked into hating them yourself!

 

If we all (me included) followed these three main directives in conquering hate in our lives, I believe we would be much better as a society.  As Ghandi famously said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Let’s be that change today, and love others lavishly and wholeheartedly!

 

What’s In a Name?

About 99.9% of the people that I have met have this in common, that identifies them as a human being, full of soul and value.  It is more precious than gold, silver, or platinum, or any other inanimate object. Whereas most inanimate objects remain nameless and soulless, each human being that I have ever met, that has walked on the face of this earth, has . . . a name!

Behind each name, there is a meaning, whether good, bad, or even humorous.  Names were important in ancient cultures, because they reflected the society and the environment that person was born into at the time, or their unique personality trait or traits.

Now, I see that people are often named after family members or relatives, or they are named after something or someone that the parent or parents like or admire.  Some, wanting their new child’s name to be unique, opt for a name that is over-the –top or even silly.

Though I don’t have children, I do know how it feels to be both valued and devalued. If I were to have children, and wanted to pick the best name for him or her, I would follow these three criteria so he or she would know that they are loved and valued, at least in terms of naming them:

  1. Make sure the name has meaning to you.—Take the naming process seriously. For instance, do not name your new daughter “Apple” if you don’t like apples or are not interested in the fruit at all. Make sure the name has meaning to you, as a reminder to always value your child, so that he or she will know your deep love for him or her.
  2. Make sure the name is true to the values that you would like your child to espouse.—For instance, if you place a high value on honesty, it would not be advisable to name your new son “Jacob,” which means “supplanter” or “deceiver” in the Biblical Hebrew. If you would like your child to feel loved by you always, a good name for your son may be, for example, David, which means “beloved,” or if it is a daughter, Maria, which can mean “beloved” too.
  3. Make sure the name is something that you (and/or your significant other) will both like.—For instance, do not name your child “Broccoli” if you or your significant other hates broccoli.  (I personally would NEVER name my child Broccoli, under any circumstance, even though I do like broccoli,” but that was just a theoretical example.) I would also not name your child after your  (or your significant other’s) childhood bully, or a person in you(or your significant other’s) life that you don’t like or harbor angry or resentful feelings towards.

Your name

So many people in this world feel like they are just a number or a face in the crowd. One of my friends feels that he is being treated as if he were “expendable.”  Even though many people in society may treat you as if you were replaceable, please hear me out right now:  There is only one of you with your unique strands of DNA, with your unique first, middle, and last names, and with your set of experiences and life story.  No one can be exactly who you are, and contribute your specific blessing or blessings to this hurting world. No one!

Moreover, many of you have names with deep, spiritual meanings. Some of you may not even have thought to research the meaning of your name.  However, you may be surprised, or at least, blessed to know the meaning and the story of your name.

My name, Patricia, means “noble.”  Though I often fall short, I try to live up to my name every day!

A few other name meanings:

Boys:

David= “beloved”

Matthew=”gift of God”

Gregory=”watchman”

Girls:

Sarah=”princess”

Emily=”industrious”

Sophia=”holy wisdom” (Source: https://www.behindthename.com/name/sophia)

 

If your name is meaningful to you, I would try to live up to your name value. For instance, if you are an Emily, work hard in everything you do, and if you are a David, live like you are loved, because you most likely are. Know, also, that you have intrinsic infinite value, even if you don’t know the meaning of your name.

Everyone has a story and a name. Let’s treat everyone with dignity and value because everyone is unique, and everyone has a right to be named and counted as a full, loved human being.

How to Support People With Invisible Disabilities

DISCLAIMER: No disparaging comments about anyone allowed, or your comment will be deleted!

When most people hear of the word “disability” they think of someone in a wheelchair, or at least someone with some type of physical impairment.  But did you know that up to 10% of all people with disabilities suffer from what is called an “invisible disability?”  An invisible disability is a condition that one has that impairs, or makes it more difficult for someone to function successfully in everyday life, but that is not readily visible to the human eye.  They may have problems getting up from bed, may be tired a lot of the time, may have trouble interacting with others, or may have trouble taking care of themselves without help, to name a few symptoms.  These symptoms are, of course, not all inclusive or even applicable to some of the invisible disabilities that there are, but they do apply to some of them.

What to say and do and what not to say or do to people with invisible disabilities:

What to say/do:

  1. Do offer to help and support them if they ask and are in need of that.—If they ask for help or are in obvious need of support, do whatever you can to help them. Validate them and be a caring friend to them. Help them also get the accommodations they need, or at least help them find some.
  2. Do acknowledge their disability and take them seriously.—There is nothing more frustrating than people who don’t take our disability seriously just because they don’t “see” anything wrong with us! If someone tells you they have a disability or some medical issue, believe them!  Just because you can’t readily “see” it, does not mean that they aren’t suffering from anything! Everyone has issues in their lives, but some can’t be “seen.” This doesn’t mean they don’t exist or that the person is “faking” it.  For instance, as a hypothetical example, what if you told a friend of yours when you confided in them that you just had cancer, but they just said something like, “It’s all in your mind,” or “Don’t worry. Everyone else has issues, too.” You would be furious, right?  This is why it is important to acknowledge the struggles and disability as valid and try to help them through it.
  3. Do emphasize their value as a person, not just their disability.—Another frustrating thing that people tell those suffering from an invisible disability, is something like, “Oh, I didn’t know you could drive? Most people with [insert disability] here can’t do that. You are amazing!” Even though this seems like a compliment, it really is patronizing and insulting because it assumes that just because someone has x disability, they can’t do or be anything of value to this society. This is also why upon learning their child will have developmental problems, the doctors sometimes will recommend abortion to the parents, although a lot of the time, parents that have children with these disabilities are blessed by their child(ren)’s joy and what the child(ren) can teach them about what really counts in life.
  4. Speak out against discrimination and educate people about the nature of invisible disabilities.—If you really want to help your family, friends, and other loved ones who you know suffer from invisible disabilities, speak out against the blatant discrimination that exists against them and advocate on their behalf.

    Ways to do this include:

a.)Educating yourself about invisible disabilities and what people who struggle with them go through on a daily basis.

b.)Speak out when you hear a misconception or discriminatory comment against those with any type of invisible disability.

c)Listen carefully and thoughtfully to the people in your life with an invisible disability and offer to help and understand them better (and, of course, follow through on that promise).

d) Be an advocate for getting us that suffer from an invisible disability more resources and research to help others understand us better and help us navigate through life more successfully.

 

What not to say/do:

  1. Tell someone with an invisible disability that they don’t really have one or that they are just “faking” it or “being lazy.”—This is very invalidating and borders on being verbally abusive! Just because you don’t “see” anything wrong with the person, doesn’t mean the person is fine inside! If the invisible disability involves mental or neurological conditions, do not tell them it’s all in their head or that they are “being lazy” or somehow not trying hard enough to overcome their disability. First of all, unless you are also suffering from that disability or know what’s going on in the person’s mind (i.e are God), don’t assume to know how they are feeling or coping! More often than not, they are already trying the best they can and your invalidation can bring about feelings of self-hatred for themselves, causing resentment and anger against you.
  2. Value the person only in terms of their disability—(See number #3, in what to say/do.)
  3. Exclude or treat the person differently because you found out about their disability. Never, ever exclude or treat the person with the disability differently or exclude them from certain activities just because they have a disability (unless the person asks you to). We should treat everyone, especially those with invisible disabilities, with kindness, respect, and dignity! This means not treating them as if they were aliens or someone to be avoided or excluded. Treat them with the dignity you would your non-disabled family and friends.
  4. Make fun of /or ridicule them for their disability.—Along with the above, you should never ridicule someone for their disability, invisible or not! If you ever encounter another person mocking or ridiculing a person with a disability (invisible or visible), speak up and stand up for the person struggling with the disability. Silence basically signifies agreement with the action. Do not stay silent!

These are the ways you can support people with invisible disabilities, and the things you should never do.  If more people knew about what we go through on a daily basis, there would be more understanding and less prejudice against those who struggle  I struggle with an invisible disability, and on behalf of all my family and friends who likewise struggle, know that we appreciate you taking time to learn about our condition and understand us better.