True Love: Why It Is Worth It

From the racially charged demonstrations about two months ago in Charlottesville, Virginia to the tragedy in Las Vegas just this month, there seems not only to be a lack of love, but people everywhere searching for hope, and more importantly, love.  They are searching for someone who will hold them and patiently listen to their pain and anguish in their lives, someone who will appreciate them for who they are, not just what they can do, someone who will be there for them when everyone else has deserted them, someone to give purpose and meaning to their lives. People need love more than ever in their lives!

Unfortunately, the word “love” has been tossed around like a worthless rag. Its meaning has been reduced to sensuality and good, mushy feelings, diminishing the true value of the word. However, true love is much more than that. Love, as I define it, can be found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, where “charity” equals love (KJV):

“Charity suffereth long and is kind. Charity envieth not, charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up. Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil. Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”

From this verse, here is why I personally believe loving others is worth it:

  1. Love builds trust in relationships.— True love is not dependent on feelings or doing something kind only if one “feels like it.” True love willingly serves even in the face of adversity. Love means being there for another in the long haul. For instance, it is the husband who doesn’t leave his wife just because he doesn’t have loving feelings towards her at the time. It is the friend who does not give up on the other because he or she has found out something difficult or unattractive about the other person. This builds trust because the recipient of the love knows that the giver will never ever give up on them or the relationship.
  2. Love gives freedom to both the giver and the receiver.–For the giver, when one loves they become much less focused on the self and their own problems and more concerned about others. Thus, their own problems will usually pale in comparison and love gives them freedom to give more of themselves to others. This happens to me when I listen to or read about what others have had to go through in life.  Focusing on them and encouraging others through their issues helps me to put my own problems into perspective and usually helps me appreciate my own life more, that I am not facing that issue or that I have but now I am at a place where I can help others through that similar issue. For the receiver, love gives them the freedom to open up and be vulnerable without the fear of being judged and condemned by the person wanting to give the love. Furthermore, love gives them the freedom to just be themselves, without having to hide their true selves or “morph” into a more “suitable” version of themselves. Finally, when you someone truly loves you, they only want the best for you and they don’t continually think evil thoughts about you, so you don’t have to worry about their motives in trying to do good things for you,  or whether you have to “pay them back,” or “suffer in the end” for their good.
  3. Love gives purpose and meaning to our lives.–If you really love someone, you will invest in them emotionally, spiritually, and oftentimes financially and in other ways as well. This investment gives us someone to live for to ensure their welfare and their joy in their life. If you are spiritual, loving others will also bring you closer to God and His purposes for your life. In contrast, when we stop caring about and loving others, life becomes meaningless and empty. Your heart becomes hard and unmalleable to help solve any of the malaises of this world and make any positive difference in others’ lives.
  4. True love lasts forever.–If you really love someone, your love will never die. When someone loves you, their love for you will never die either.  Yes, even people we love will have to leave us (or the earth) sometime, but I believe if that person truly cares for and loves you, they will almost never forget you. A good indicator of if you really love someone is if they move to a different place, do you still remember them and how they look like? Do both of you make an effort to connect?  Do you still pray for or think about them? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” they probably have a special place in your heart. Also, true love never “disowns” people because it never gives up on someone. If someone gives up on you, they probably never loved you.  If they are there for you through thick and thin, then they probably do love you. True love lasts.

These are just some of the reasons that love is worth it. How can you love someone today? I don’t mean just the romantic or the mushy, gooey love either, but the true, agape love that Jesus gave everyone.  Trust me; because of the long-lasting effects of true love such as the building of trust in relationships, the giving of purpose and meaning to our lives, the sheer freedom it gives, and the fact that it lasts, love is definitely worth it.

 

Advertisements

Why God Allows Suffering

*triggers* : Mentions suicide

Suffering can be described as the gift no one wants, but it comes anyway. It teaches us lessons we never wanted to  learn (or not).  I (personally) have often wished that God didn’t allow suffering and that we could learn life’s lessons some other way. Sometimes, sadly, I have even doubted God’s goodness and justice when I was suffering. However, when I study passages in the Bible like John 9 (about a man born blind and Jesus heals him), I begin to understand WHY  God allows suffering and what we can learn from God’s character and how we should care for those who are suffering.

Reasons God allows suffering

  1. To refine our character- Some of you know that I experienced bullying in various forms when I was going to school, and I felt like no one really accepted me as I was or wanted my company.  Also, I have had experiences with being jobless and other various trials. I’ve had to deal with difficult people (as I’m sure all of you have), and felt like I was being abused and/or discounted as a person. I tell you this not so you will feel sorry for me, but to explain to you that God has used all these experiences to help refine my character. I believe that as a result of these experiences that God has worked through me to be a more compassionate and caring person, and less my selfish, sinful self.  Before I became a Christian, I was an extremely selfish person, but God has used these trials even before I was a Christian to help break down these walls of self-indulgence and self-absorption. Maybe there have been trials God has used in your life to help refine you and help others who are going through the same or similar things you are going through.
  2. To alert us to the fact that we need Him-If I didn’t go through some of the unpleasant things that I have, I probably would have never been a Christian or known how much I needed God.  I know people who have gone through very little trials in their lives that don’t even know they need God, or feel that God is not that important in their lives.  It is true that some people who go through stuff feel the same way about God, but it probably has to do with the fact that they don’t understand why God would allow them to suffer, rather than the suffering itself.  But when you suffer, it is often in these times when you grow closer to God and realize that you have needed Him all along.  In fact, in my testimony, I mention how I felt depressed before and felt that there wasn’t much meaning in my life. It is in the depths of my despair when I was in tenth grade, that God found and rescued me.
  3. To allow God’s glory to shine through you– When we suffer, especially as a Christian, we are able to use these experiences to glorify God. For instance, if someone is dealing with a difficult person but still tries to be kind to him or her, God can use this experience to bring him or her (i.e..the difficult person) into a relationship with Himself.  Or if a person is going through a physical illness, God can use that experience in his or her life to bring about miraculous healing or for that person to heal others. This is also why God allowed the blind man in John 9 to be born that way. God knew that allowing blindness into this man’s life, would bring about later, not only physical healing for that blind man, but spiritual healing as well.  Though he was kicked out of his religious community, the blind man thought it was worth it because he knew he could trust Jesus and thus followed Him.
  4. To alert us to what’s really important– Often when we are in trials, God uses these to alert us to what is really important, so we stop being distracted by minutia. For instance, if you are going through the trial of losing a loved one or a loved one is sick or in the hospital, a reaction that you may have is to spend more quality time with them or with the people who remain more. We become more intentional about doing the Most Important things with God and others, and leave the Less Important things to the side, which is how we should do things.

How We Should React to Another’s Suffering

  1. NEVER EVER discount what another person is going through! Everyone does not react the same way to suffering and it affects each person differently and to a different degree. For instance, when a person is being treated unfairly, one may react with anger or rage, while the other person may become despondent or feel hopeless.  Don’t call the despondent person “weak” for feeling the way they do. Always validate the person suffering.  It may help them see that you care about them and make them feel less alone.
  2. Be kind– Along with validating the other person’s suffering, ask how you can help them through it. Be there for them.  Tell them that they are NOT alone. Go out of your way to be kind and appreciative of them in a genuine way. Show you care for them. One thing I did was to send them a card to show them how much they are loved and cared for not only by God, but also by me.
  3. Don’t assign blame or rejoice in their suffering– Never assign blame for a person’s suffering, even if they are at fault. Now is not the time to revel  in their suffering or beat someone down either! Instead, be willing to be there for them and mourn with them in their pain.  If you are willing to mourn and be there for them, they will know that someone out there cares for them and for what they are going through.
  4. Listen to them– Listen to them attentively in their suffering. Offer words of validation and comfort. Don’t offer unsolicited advice. Only offer advice to them if they are willing (i.e.. ask for it) and are ready to receive it. Otherwise, it just leaves both parties frustrated.

If you are suffering right now, I want you to know that I care for you and that I am willing to listen to you.  If you are suffering so much that you are considering ending it all, please see this  before you do anything drastic and/or call 1-800-Suicide. There is always HOPE for you, but only when you are alive.   If you are not, and are happy with your life right now, please be willing to reach out to someone who is suffering so that they know that you care. It can save lives!

How to get out of the dump: Triumphing in and after suffering

*triggers: Mentions suicide*

A cursory look at the Facebook posts in my news feed today shows me that there are at least two phases that my Facebook friends find themselves in today: 1.) Going through a trial or trials and 2) Going through times of joy and jubilation. People don’t normally post the ordinary things that they are doing. For example, I would not post that I’m going to work later on today. It just won’t get people’s interest, but that’s commentary for another time.

However, I would like to focus today on how people can triumph over suffering and not lose hope in trials. I admit, for the author of this blog, this is still something I am working on, but these things I have found to be true not only for me, but also for others who I have seen and heard overcome their trials.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and talk things through.-Often in trials, we want to be alone and be able to get out of the dump ourselves. Though a few times I have been able to get out of the dump myself, I have found that asking for help and talking things through with another person, whether it be virtual or real-life, helps me gain perspective on my trial and be encouraged by another person either a.)going through the same thing I have or b.) already went through the same thing I have and has gotten out alive and well.  Also, when we ask for help, we can often find new solutions to our trials we ourselves never thought of before or at least remind us that we are not alone in our trials.  DISCLAIMER: If you feel that when you have asked for help, that no one was there or made things worse, I do apologize. In an ideal world, someone helping you would always make things better, but because of sin (moral wrongdoing) this happens. But I would recommend not giving up on all people, because I believe at least one of them will be able to give you the right kind of help.
  2. Try to persevere through the trial, even if you don’t want to-Often in trials we want to give up on working through it. This is because often we as people want comfort. God has been telling me time and time again that if I idolize anything other than Him, it’s comfort, and that I need to repent of that. Comfort, according to the Oxford Dictionary,  can be defined as,”A state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint.” (source:https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/comfort). We don’t want pain, but if we tell ourselves in no uncertain terms that this pain will not last forever, we will be able to better endure it. Give up trying to be comfortable.
  3. Try to learn from the trial. -This is often more difficult when you are in the midst of it. However, there is often something to learn, something to be gained, even and often after going through a trial. For instance, since I work in sales, sales are slower during this time of year (i.e.. after Christmas), and hours get cut. Because I thought my hours had been cut more drastically than they were, I thought for sure no one really appreciated me. I began to spiral down a depressive cycle. I was a sobbing mess…until God made me realize that I counted the total hours wrong. I was actually given more hours than the previous week! And then the next day, because I needed a correction on my schedule, I was incidentally given even more hours! So, what I learned in the trial, was to focus on the positives and that God can make even the bad scenarios into blessings for me.  Sometimes, when you go through a trial and you don’t understand why you are going through it, it can be tough to persevere through it and find any hope of ever getting out of the perpetual cycle of pain and suffering that goes with going through a trial. However, know that there is always something to be learned from the trial even when you don’t know what it is yet. This is beneficial to us, because it will help us not only learn from our mistakes or help us to know God or ourselves better, it will often help us be stronger and more compassionate and caring people. For instance, I shared in another post that I was often bullied by classmates and even a few teachers in school. Though I sometimes wished that I weren’t alive in those moments, I am glad that I survived this because I am better equipped to be able to relate to and help those who are being bullied and/or abused by others or have experienced similar or worse things than I have.

 

If you are going through a trial right now, I encourage you to not be afraid to ask for help, to not give up on life in the midst of the trials, and learn from the trial. If you are going through extended suffering and feel like giving up in life completely and are having thoughts of suicide, please call 1-800-SUICIDE or some other crisis line. Know that whatever season of life you are going through, you are never alone and that there are people who care for you.

How to encourage people who have been bullied or otherwise oppressed

(*trigger warning*: references/link about suicide, abuse, bullying )

I have had a lot of interactions with people and sometimes even their families, who have experienced or are experiencing bullying and other forms of abuse and oppression. Many children are being bullied at their schools currently. When I was in school, I was often the target of bullying myself.  Recently, I read an article about a boy who was bullied to death, not only by people at his school, but also by the manager who he worked under. (source: http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/02/us/suicide-dairy-queen-charge-trnd/). And, in my opinion, some of the comments made from another website featuring the same story, were very disheartening, and revealed a lack of compassion and empathy for what the boy was going through, and his family that is experiencing the pain of his loss and suffering right now.  So, how do we encourage those being bullied or otherwise oppressed, instead of leading them to think life is no longer worth living or that no one cares about them?

I’m not a mental health professional or any other type of doctor, but I have had experiences on both sides of the coin–being bullied and being able to encourage those who have been bullied or otherwise abused. So, here’s what I learned.

1.) Be there for the victim/survivor.-This does not mean be there for them one time, but it means being willing to invest in their lives in some way.  It also does not mean being physically present with them, but your mind be somewhere else.  But it does mean being fully invested-physically and emotionally to what and how they are feeling and if possible, why they are feeling that way.  It means at the very least listening to their needs and concerns without judgement or condemnation.

2.) Validate how they are feeling, and never invalidate them! -Validating them means affirming what they are feeling (You don’t necessarily have to agree with what they are feeling though!) and affirming their worth as a person.  Never, ever say to them in any type of wording, that what they are going through is “not a big deal” or “just get over it!” First of all, that they trust you to tell you something painful is big, and you don’t want to ruin their trust in you. Secondly, if they could “get over it,” they probably would without telling you in so many words that they need help.  An example of validating someone would be if your daughter is being bullied at school and she confides in you about it, you could say, ” I’m sorry that [name of bully] is hurting you. I will be here for you and help you through this so that you don’t have to suffer at his/her hands anymore. You are an infinitely valuable person and child. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.” (And then actually following through on your promise to help the child through the situation by a.) talking to the teachers/administrators b.) talking to the bully’s parent(s).

3.) Ask if there is anything you personally can do to help (and other open-ended questions). Ask, but don’t interrogate. Asking if there is anything *you* personally can do to help them will help them to know that you are there for them, but it doesn’t burden them to be obligated to accept any offer of help. However, it also lets them know you care and have their best interests at heart. It also allows you to know what type of help they may need.

4.) Make sure you are not getting drained yourself. -Contrary to some religious circles, I do believe that you need to make time for self-care, otherwise you will find yourself idolizing caring for that person and will not allow yourself to be recharged. Let’s face it, helping someone else through a difficult time, can be draining  not only for the person going through said experience, but for you as well.  It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help them though. This just means you will need some time for rest as well. Even God rested from His creation on the Seventh Day!

This could mean anything from taking a literal nap, to doing something you enjoy just for you, for a time.

Remember, helping the oppressed and bullied, though it can be difficult, can also be rewarding. More importantly, it can save another person’s life! So, who can you encourage and support today?

 

 

Giving Value to Others

*trigger warning: references to suicide and abuse/violence*

 


When 12 year old Katelyn Davis (source: Washington Post and yahoo.com) videotaped her suicide last December, when there are shootings at airports and theaters, we often wonder why and what is going on in the world.  I think part of the answer lies in a societal epidemic: the lack of value given to other human beings. I wonder what would happen if more people around Katelyn, actually valued her as a person  rather than as an object of their pleasure and gratification. I wonder if some people actually sought to help others instead of taking their lives, either by their words or actions. I wonder what would happen if the people that perpetuated the awful shootings and disasters were valued instead of slipping through the cracks  before  they felt like they had to do such carnage and harm. Now, I’m NOT saying that the actions of perpetrators or people that hurt others are justified in their actions, because they are absolutely NOT. However, maybe much hurt could be prevented if we valued others more!

How do we value others?

-by validating them in word and thought: (for more on validation, please see my post :https://placeinthisworld224.wordpress.com/2016/12/29/on-validation-and-invalidation/)

-by not treating others like an object to be pitied or an object to satisfy our own desires. This includes everything from not mocking others to respecting others’ boundaries, to investing in others’ lives other than our own.

-by helping other people through their trials and burdens. For instance, a friend of mine at work wanted to help encourage a manager who was going through a tough time by sending him a card of encouragement  and by having others sign it to show that we cared about him. Also, when I was going through a difficult time last year, a friend of mine  took the time to talk to me about the difficult situation and encouraged me to keep going and not give up. Both my friend of mine at work and other friend of mine (you know who you are) have helped others and/or me immensely just by showing they valued others other than just themselves.

-along with the previous point: showing others that they are not forgotten. This not only includes helping others through trials and burdens, but something as simple as a kind gesture or a “Hey, how are you?” to someone that everyone else may not talk to or ignore.  It is also encouraging others to see the good in others and themselves, especially when they are tempted to self-deprecate. It is also including them in our social and other interactions whenever it would be appropriate and possible.

-by standing up for another person when they are being devalued or depreciated. When you see or hear someone being unfairly put down or devalued, stand up for them. Don’t be a bystander! For instance, if a friend of yours is being insulted in front of another person, say something (to the offender) like,” I don’t appreciate you saying that about them. They are of value too. ” or “Please don’t say those things in front of me. It hurts them and me.”  A reasonable person would say something to the effect of, “I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.” but a rude person may try to justify it or devalue you. Don’ t fall for the rude person’s excuses. Walk away from them.