When Did This Become Therapy?

I love my job.

Yes, there are frustrations.  Yes, teenagers make me want to pull my hair out.  Yes, I do currently need another 7 cups of coffee.

When Monday begins by getting text messages while I’m in the shower at 5:30 a.m. that one of my lead teachers is out sick for the day…followed by getting another text message 20 minutes later that my other lead teacher is out for the day…I jump into overdrive.

My morning became a blur of getting sub plans, test keys, and copies printed.  Trying to figure out exactly everything that needed to be accomplished.

I can handle it all.

It just adds a little craziness to my day.

It’s ok, because I had coffee this morning.  And more importantly, I had some time with Jesus this morning.

And on top of the absolute insanity that today has brought, a wonderful, amazing gift was just dropped in my lap.  I got to work with one of the kiddos that I don’t get to work with very often.  And he was working on a study guide for Of Mice and Men.

I love John Steinbeck.

I love Of Mice and Men.

Helping students make the connections in the story just brings happiness to my day.

Because…I’m a nerd.

I’m a HUGE nerd.

I even went as a nerd for Halloween this year.

See…

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I’m also an adorable nerd.

I love my pocket protector.  And my slide rule, in it’s own leather case.

The suspenders I was ready to burn.  No woman should ever have to wear suspenders.

Anyway, we’re getting off track…

I totally went all uber nerd on one of my students this morning.  He was working on his study guide for Of Mice and Men and one of the questions asked how it would make you feel needing to kill a beloved pet.  My student asked when this class became a therapy session.

Always.

When reading great literature, the goal is always to make you think.  Make you feel.  Make you explore your feelings about the things that you think about.

Always.

My student and I then proceeded to have a conversation where I explained the difference between a whore and a tart, and how in society today, the word whore is often misused.

Conversations like this make me love my job.  I get all warm and fuzzy inside.

Some days, you have to look really hard to find the good in the day.  Especially on days where many things go wrong, or are crazy.  Those are the days that you purposefully must look for the good in the world.

And though it may seem odd that a conversation about the differences between a whore and a tart are the thing that brightens your day, some days…you just have to roll with it.

Life is crazy.  Enjoy the ride.

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The Bucket List

I have had huge, outrageous, ridiculous bucket list ideas for many years.  But because they were so huge, outrageous and ridiculous, I never wanted to tell anyone about them.  I didn’t even want to admit that they were on my bucket list.  They seemed so incredibly impossible that I was embarrassed to admit that I even thought these things.

That being said, I have recently been reading several things that have brought forth the importance of writing down my goals, even if they’re outrageous and ridiculous.

I know that there is absolutely know way that I am going to be able to accomplish any of these things.  But God, God is pretty awesome, and He can make any of these things happen.  I have some work to do in there as well, but most of all, the willingness that I have to be faithful to God’s plan is the only way I could even come close to some of these things.

As I was sitting down to write out my bucket list, there are only a couple of things that I can think of that I have already accomplished that might be bucket list items.  But, I’m pretty sure many more things should be added to this list.

So, here we go.  Here’s my huge, outrageous, ridiculous bucket list…

  • Go to a Packer’s Game and Lambeau Field
  • Deposit $1,000,000 in my parents checking account
  • Visit all 50 states (9 more to go!)
  • Hike part of the Appalachian Trail
  • Go on a mission trip to New Zealand
  • Go on a mission trip to Costa Rica
  • Support a mission partner for 1 year 
    • Multiple Times
  • Run a marathon
  • Buy all of the land that has been in my family since we settled in IL
  • Run the combine all on my own during harvest
  • Go ziplinig
  • Write and publish a book
  • Speak at a week long high school retreat
  • Be a camp counselor
  • Visit the Grand Canyon
  • Get married
  • Have children – that don’t have 4 legs and fur
  • Give Lysa Terkeurst a hug
  • Have coffee with Mark Batterson
  • Take my dad to a Nascar race
  • Have a vacation home on the beach
  • Have a vacation home in the mountains
  • Weigh 142 pounds (half of the weight I was at my heaviest)
  • Speak at a women’s retreat

The items that have been struck through are the ones I have accomplished already.  And I promise you, God was absolutely with me running all 4 marathons.  Because there is absolutely no way that 285 pound me ever would have thought it possible to run a marathon in real life.  But now I have ran 4 of them.  And He was absolutely with me when I went ziplining.

So, truly, this isn’t my bucket list.  It’s God’s.  It just so happens that I get to go along for the ride.

How awesome is that?

How Long Am I Supposed to Wait?

Persist: continue firmly or obstinately in an opinion or a course of action in spite of difficulty, opposition, or failure.

Persevere, continue, carry on, go on, keep at it, keep on, keep going, keep it up, not give up, be persistent, be determined, see/follow something through, show determination, press on/ahead, plod on, plow on, stay with something, not take no for an answer

The Israelite’s wandered in the desert for 40 years.

Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years for Isaac to be born.

Lazarus was dead for 4 days before Jesus healed him.  

David waited over 20 years before he became king.

Job waited months to be restored.

Jonah was in the belly of a whale for 3 days.

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Waiting is hard.

I will be the first one to admit that to you.  I am kind of a patient person.  But then again, I’m really not.  I can wait.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t get frustrated (to say the least) while I’m waiting.

I know that I should wait on God.  But that doesn’t mean I like waiting on God.

The Bible gives us many incredible examples of folks who waited, and waited, and waited for God to answer their prayers.  The above stories are just a few of the more popular or familiar stories.  There are many, many, MANY more examples.

In all of these stories, we know how the story ends.  We know the conclusion.  We know how God redeemed everyone in these stories.  How he fulfilled the prayers.  Yes, we know that they waited for what probably seemed like an eternity.  But we also know how they turned out.

What we do not always get a clear, full picture of is what it was like for everyone while they waited.  If there is an exception, I would say it was Job.  But nonetheless, I’m sticking by my statement that the waiting period, the anguish and heartache and fear that everyone experienced during the waiting really isn’t truly laid out.

We know that they struggled.  We know that in their impatience for God to answer their prayers that they did some stupid things.  Abraham and Sarah got impatient, and tried to answer their prayers in their own way, by Abraham having a child with Sarah’s servant.  And the Israelite folks worshiped other idols, and tried to make their own way in a lot of different areas.  Job remained faithful in his claim, despite his friends urging to do otherwise, that he hadn’t committed any great sin.

There are lessons to be learned here.

Huge, important lessons.

First of all, waiting is hard.  Yes, absolutely, part of the lessons that we learn from all of the stories about waiting in the Bible is that waiting is hard.  It is difficult.  It is challenging.  It is a struggle.  I often feel like we don’t accurately understand from the writing in the Bible just how difficult the waiting is for the folks in the Bible.  If everyone accurately described the day to day struggles during their waiting period, the Bible would easily be 17 times longer than it already is.

Because of that, the magnanimity of the time of waiting truly isn’t felt.

As a result, there will be times during our own waiting periods that we will struggle.  And we will feel like there is no end to whatever suffering or struggle or difficulty or challenge that we are facing.

And sometimes, just sometimes, knowing that eventually there will be a conclusion to our waiting period isn’t all that much of a comfort.  Because in our human-ness, we don’t want our suffering to end someday.  We want it to end RIGHT NOW!!!

Second of all, don’t do stupid things while you’re in your waiting period.  This one should be a pretty clear lesson from the Bible.  In our impatience, we want to solve our issues on our own, because we feel like God is just taking way too much time.  So we then compound the bad-ness of the situation by trying to do things our own way.

Yes, we make things worse.

Instead of being patient, and letting God’s plan play out how He intends it to be played out.  We screw things up, and try to force our own plans to happen, and we just make things worse.  So very, very much worse.

Friends, I know how difficult it is to wait on God’s timing.  But if one thing has been made clear to me lately is that we should never give up.

I truly believe that if God has put something on your heart, or put you in the middle of a challenging situation, He has planned a way out of it for you.  He already has all of the little details worked out.

We just need to trust in His plan, trust in the purpose for his plan.

We must persist.

Let’s unpack the passage from the notes in my Bible pictured above.

“To persist in prayer and not give up does not mean endless repetition or painfully long prayer sessions.”

There are times in the Bible where we are commanded to “pray without ceasing.”  I get that.  And there are certainly times where a prayer vigil is called for.  But I also believe that while we are called to pray without ceasing, that doesn’t mean that we stop doing everything else in life.  “Painfully long prayer sessions” doesn’t sound like something that glorifies God.  At all.

“Always praying means keeping our requests constantly before God as we live for him day by day, believing he will answer.”

Keeping our requests constantly before God can be a method of praising God.  We trust in His plan.  We honor His plan.  We have faith in his plan for our lives.

“When we live by faith, we are not to give up.”

Dory-white.jpg Years ago, we were introduced to Dory.  The awesome, and hysterical, yet forgetful character in Finding Nemo, who always reminds us to “just keep swimming.”  Over and over again, we are to persist, just keep going, because we trust in His plan.  We will not give up on His plan.  Because we have faith.

 

“God may delay in answering, but his delays always have good reasons.”

Unfortunately, for us, God doesn’t answer our prayers by following our timeline.  Yes, we wish he would sometimes.  But there is absolutely no instance where our time frame would supersede God’s timeline.  There may be times of coincidence, and it just so happens that God’s plan for our life, and His plan for our life are the same thing.  But I promise you, it was God’s plan for it to happen that caused whatever it is to happen.

“As we persist in prayer we grow in character, faith and hope.”

When we choose to live in faith, and trust in God’s plan, trust in God’s timing (even if we don’t always like it) we grow stronger.  We grow more faithful.  We life in hope.  And we can find joy in the waiting.  In fact, we should choose to live joyfully during the waiting time.  Even though it’s difficult to do sometimes.  When we choose to live in the joy of waiting, we find more joy along the way.

Dear friend, I feel the pain you may be feeling during the waiting times God gives to us.  I feel the struggle, the impatience.  The desperation in wanting this to end.  I get it.

It can suck.

But persist.  Don’t give up.  Keep moving forward.  Keep trusting God.  Because there is not one instant that God’s plan for our life won’t turn out to be the absolute best thing for us.

I could promise you that fact.

But even better, God promises us that fact.

Dream vs. Reality

I have hugely wild, huge and ambitious dreams of what I want to accomplish in my life.  And some days, I feel as though I’m failing miserably.

But, am I really failing miserably?

Many of these dreams are things that I truly feel God has put in my heart to do.  And I pray every single day for God’s guidance in my life on what I’m supposed to do.  And day after day after day after day, here I am, just trudging along.

I feel as though I’m not making any progress on those dreams.  And in the things I am doing to work towards some of those dreams, well some of those things I feel aren’t making any progress.

Currently, I have a job that I don’t honestly feel reaches my full potential.  I am a Teacher’s Aide.  I’m the low man on the totem pole.  Don’t get me wrong, I do feel that my job is important.  And I do feel like I am making a difference in the lives of the students I work with.  I know that I do different, more complex things than many other people with my job title.  And I honestly do feel like this is where God has called me to be right now.  Yet there are times that I want more.  For a couple of reasons.

I am looked down upon by some of my colleagues.  Not that any of them would every blatantly say that.  But it’s in the little things that I experience that tells me they value my worth less than other certified teachers.  For example, yesterday, one of the other teachers went all the way around me to ask for a key to my room, so she could use my room when she needed.  She didn’t ask if that was ok with me.  She went all the way around me.  And then, when she did have the opportunity to discuss it with me, well, she didn’t.

But, beyond that, I feel like God has put things on my heart to want more out of life.  More than what I’m currently doing.

I’m just not so sure of what that is.

But…

Perhaps all of these things are preparing me for something else.

If I turn to the Bible, what does it tell me to do?  Be humble.  Be a servant.  Love God.  Love people.

Humble.

This one is tough.  Because I have always struggled with my self-worth.  But if I have low self-esteem, am I really just being humble?  Well…no.

Low self-esteem basically means I feel I have absolutely no value in the world.  I am worthless.

Being humble means I recognize that I can do great things, but not because I am super awesome and amazing.  No, no.  I can do these great things because God has given me these gifts, talents, abilities, strengths, etc.  Knowing that someone far greater than I is in charge, and the one that really has those talents and abilities.  That is being humble.

Servant.

Jesus tells many parables about how the last shall be first and the first shall be last.  How we should strive to serve others.  To help others when we can.

Have you watched the show New Amsterdam?  If you haven’t, as soon as you’re finished reading this, go watch all of the episodes.  My DVR is full of TV shows and movies that I rarely have time to watch because I’m too busy doing other things in life.  But this show, this is one I love to watch.  The main character is the head of a public hospital in New York City, and his entire world is filled by one question.  “How can I help?”

Each show revolves around some new challenge that must be faced, and no matter what is going on in his own personal world, the offer to help others is always forefront in his life.

I know that the show is fiction (though based loosely in reality).  But even fiction can help us grow as humans.

How can I help?

This phrase changed my life.

When I go to school, my main role is to help others.  Other teachers.  Administration.  Students.  How can I help you?  What can I help you do to be successful?  Even on the farm, I take the same approach.

I get a little salty about some of the things I end up doing.  Because I do want to do more.  And sometimes I feel like I am not only being held back from doing greater things, I feel like I’m being pushed down.

One of my bucket list items is to help during harvest by running the combine all by myself.

I have barely been able to convince my dad to let me cut the last little strip of beans, while he watches over every single move I make.

But what my role typically ends up being is the gopher.  Meaning…I do all of the little jobs, that, though vitally important to the operation of the farm, really kind of stink in doing sometimes.  I take a wagon out to the field.  I make a trip looking for engine oil because there’s an oil leak.  I make parts runs.  I go put drops in my grandma’s ears because she has a Dr. appointment in a couple of days.

I get the minuscule tasks that really don’t seem all that important.  And it’s easier for my mom to be the one to run the combine because she’s been doing it for years and years and years.  Not that I can’t learn how to do it.  Not that I’m incapable of doing it.  I just don’t know how.

I do know that value is found in those small little tasks.  As I said, they are vitally important.  Because, if I hadn’t gone to retrieve the oil, we would have been shut down for hours.

So I get it.  Those tasks are important.

But I still want more.

But maybe putting in my time, learning the value in those smaller jobs, whether on the farm, or at school, maybe one of these days, they will all lead to bigger and better things.  Maybe these things are preparing me for something much bigger.

Or maybe I won’t get to experience all of those great things myself.  But my role in life as the servant doing these things is part of a much larger plan for something else.

Only God knows.

I know that no matter how salty I get about things, this is where I am supposed to be right now.

Love God.

This one shouldn’t be difficult.  And in the overall, big picture of my life, it isn’t.  But, like any relationship, we have our moments.

Some days, I really don’t understand why I am in the places that God has me in.

But I trust in God’s big plan for my life.

Love People.

Other people make this a challenge sometimes.  Sometimes, I may not be all that easy to love myself.  But the best marketing plan any Christian can do is to love other people.  No matter what.  No matter who they are.  No matter what they have done.  You love other people.

So…here I am.  Trudging along in another day.  I’m not where I want to be in so many areas of my life right now.  But I trust with my whole heart that I am where God needs me to be.

Just As Much As You Need Me

Teaching isn’t for the faint of heart.  This is absolutely a calling to be a teacher.  It certainly isn’t for the money, or the notoriety.  It isn’t something you do when you can’t be successful at something else.

Teaching is hard core.

Teaching will break your heart a million times.  And we’ll keep showing up.  Keep trying.  Keep pushing.  Trying new approaches.

All because we are absolutely called to do this.

There are days, the hard days, where I struggle to teach, because I just don’t see how I can possibly be a success.  And by a success, I mean…are my kids really getting it?  Are they going to walk out of my classroom and end up being a responsible human being?  Am I making a difference?

Because the world, TV, “parents”, video games, the news…it’s all telling our kids, teaching our kids the exact opposite of the values that we try to instill in our kids.

My heart is broken a million times.  Yet I keep pushing forward.

Because these kids need me.

And sometimes, often, the kids that break my heart at the ones that need me the most.

But sometimes, I need them too.

Because, amidst the heartbreak and the struggle…there’s that one kid…

One of the kids that I need the most, needs me the most.  The kid that struggles to learn, but wants to learn.

But that isn’t just why I need him.  Because this same kid that I sit with every single day, that kid is the one that goes out of his way to put a smile on my face.

Every.  Single.  Day.

Don’t get me wrong, a lot of my kids make me smile and laugh.

But this one kid…this kid is special.

 

I Went Wrong

I went wrong.

I fully admit that I went wrong.

But I definitely went wrong.

I grew up going to church.  Every Sunday. Every Wednesday.  I was in church. I was one of the (rare) non-Catholic, non-Lutheran “Church Kids” in town.  

Every summer I spent a week at church camp.

I was a good kid.

And I still went wrong.

I have known this for many years.  I have known that I willingly stepped away from God.  Claimed for many years that I didn’t even believe that God existed.  

But I never dared to ask myself why.

Why did I go wrong?

It’s a dangerous question.  And a painful question.  

Painful, because, I know without question, without any hesitation, that I was at fault.

I finally asked myself the question.  Sitting in church, listening to a sermon, the main topic of which currently escapes me.  But sitting there, I knew that I needed to answer that question. And I finally came up with two separate, yet connected, answers.

I was insecure of my identity in God.  And I was insecure in the identity of God.

First, my identity in God.  Who am I? Who does God want me to be?  Who does God need me to be? Growing up insecure in who I was made me feel unloved.  And it led me to look for love in places that I was absolutely never going to find it.  I know that now. But it led me down a path where I still hoped and dreamed I would find all of the things that I wanted in life.  But instead, that path took me further and further away from the things I wanted and needed.

Second, the identity of God.  Though I thought I knew who God was, in reality, I didn’t.  I thought that having a relationship with God would give me sunshine and puppy dogs and roses and life would be happy forever and ever more.  

Wow, how wrong could I be??? 

Yes, God is absolutely loving, caring, generous, gracious, merciful, and a whole lot of other adjectives.  He is absolutely all of those things. But that doesn’t mean that we will never struggle. That we will never experience hardship.  That we get a pass from all of the bad things that can and do happen in this world. It doesn’t work that way.

Of course, I thought it should work that way.  

But it doesn’t.

So when life got really hard, instead of turning to God, I turned away from God.  Because how could a God that claimed to love me let me go through all of this???  How dare God not give me everything that I wanted?  

It took a long time for me to get over myself.  It took many, MANY humbling experiences. Time, and time, and time again, I have been stubborn, and completely unworthy of God’s love.  

And guess what?  

God still loves me.  He does.  

I have given him a million reasons not to love me, yet he still does.  He still loves me.

How awesome is that?

And guess what?

Life still isn’t sunshine and puppy dogs and roses.  

I still struggle.

Bad things still happen.

But now, instead of turning away from God, I turn to God.  Because I know that I absolutely cannot get through this life without Him.  

Yes, I went wrong.  I went VERY wrong.  

And God didn’t take me back.  Because, that would mean that there was a time that God left me.  So no, God didn’t take me back.

He reminded me that He’s had me all along, whether I acknowledged that or not.

Is It Real?

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Is this real?

Over the past few weeks, I have asked this question a few times.  Once, even, to myself.  

In this social media era, it is often times difficult to tell what is actually real, compared to what people want you to believe is real.  

If you choose only to share the best part of yourself with the social media world, are you lying?  If you put a positive spin on things, are you really lying about what is going on? And if you DO choose to share some of the struggles you are going through, are you only looking for sympathy?  

Honestly, you can’t win.  No matter what, people will judge you.  

A couple of years ago, a major, life altering, huge, horrible thing happened to my best friend in the whole entire world.  Her husband type person died. We are far too young to need to deal with something like this. Yet, there we were. We dealt with it.  We did the days in the hospital, the tears, the fear of the unknown, the memorial service. We dealt with it all.  

A week ago, she and I had dinner.  And I asked her the question. “Is it real?”

Because the woman that deserves all of the wonderful things in life is in the midst of getting them.  6 months ago she started dating a new fella. And, being their 6 month anniversary, all of the mushy, lovey, vomit inducing posts started.  So, you wonder, is it all real? Are things really going this well?  

And with a gigantic smile on her face, she tells me “yes.”

That’s all I need to know.  Because let me clue you in on a little secret.  Her husband type person that died, things weren’t good with them when he died.  In fact, most of their relationship hadn’t been good. I knew it. Because there were times she came to visit me, that I didn’t want to let her leave.  

But, when someone dies, how do you publicize that?  

My pastor recently read an obituary, written by the man’s daughter.  The obituary was full of brutally honest details of how horrible the man had been.  That type of brutal honesty is rare. 

And for my friend, it wasn’t appropriate.  Yes, their relationship wasn’t good. But the grief that she felt, that she experienced, the grief was absolutely real.  

Months later, she honestly exposed her heart about that grief.  About the days she couldn’t get out of bed. The days she still struggled to move forward.  But that day, she had taken care of herself. Forced herself to shower, and to eat.  

And because I know her heart as well as anyone’s, I knew her intent was to be brutally honest with the world.  She wasn’t looking for sympathy, or condolences. She was simply being honest.

One of the conversations she and I had in the midst of her grief revolved around social media, and how difficult it is to look at when you aren’t in a good place.  Because everything is sugar coated. You see the best of everyone’s lives.  

Looking at everyone else’s seemingly perfect lives makes the ugly green headed monster of jealousy rear its’ head.  We want what all of those other people have.  

So once again, is it real?

In my completely un-scientific opinion, maybe 50% is accurate.  But, which 50%?  

Are people completely, all out lying?  Are they merely glossing over things? Are they sugar coating life for their own benefit?  

Yes, yes and yes.  

Maybe it’s just one of the three.  Maybe it’s all three.  

I honestly couldn’t tell you, because, I’m not them.  

Now, let me ask you the real question.

Is that wrong?

Ultimately, the answer to that question lies in the person’s intent.  If they’re intentionally lying about something to hurt others, yes that’s wrong.  If they’re sugar coating something because they’re trying to make themselves feel better about a situation that isn’t all that sweet, yet isn’t doing any harm, maybe that’s ok.  Maybe they’re trying to remind themselves about all of the good things that are in their life. Not to gloat. Not to rub it in your face. Maybe they’re just trying to remember and focus on the good things that they have.  

Honestly, I have no idea.  I could be wrong about it all.

Maybe I’m just trying to see the good in other people.  

If you recall, earlier, I told you that I asked myself the “is it real” question.

Right now.  Right this very second, I know that God is working on something.  I’m starting to see things happening.  

And in my own brain, I see how things could be working out.

But is that really God’s plan?  

So while I totally understand that things aren’t always as they seem, what we perceive to be reality, really isn’t reality at all, I’m taking a step back.  I’m praying. And I’m giving it all over to God.  

Because right now, I have no idea….

The Magic 8 Ball of Prayer

Does Brad like me?

Ask again later.

Will I be rich and famous?

As I see it, yes.

Will I pass my American Lit test today?

Outlook not so good.

Recently, I was reading in Leviticus, specifically the section where God was telling Moses exactly what the priests (Aaron and his sons) should wear when coming into the temple.  And if ever there were an elaborate outfit, this definitely fit the bill.  And then I got to the part about the Urim and Thummim.  And when I read the note in my Bible about it, I definitely wanted some Urim and Thummim.

These two objects were to be worn in the breastplate the priests wore.  And though the actual origination or purpose isn’t specifically known, but it is believed that these pieces were to receive answers from God.  That somehow either one piece was a yes, the other a no, or some combination of the pieces gave the specific answers.

Either way, these were used to receive direct, clear answers from God.

Kind of like the old Magic 8 Balls we played with as kids.  Where we could ask it the deepest, most secret questions of our hearts, and we would get some kind of answer, plain as day.

In life, in prayer life specifically, we rarely get such a clear answer to our prayers.  Especially not the answers that we are looking for, or the ones that we feel we so desperately need.

Not to say that God doesn’t give us a clear response, but it often looks much more different that we would hope or expect.  And sometimes, we have to look very hard to see and understand those answers.  And I will be the very first to admit that this can be frustrating sometimes.

But God does answer our prayers.

Sometimes, we just need to pray through to see, feel, and hear those answers.

Ok, God…I Get It

“What comes out of your mouth is an overflow of what is in your heart.”
-Jeff Michael

“It is because of the hurt we have experienced that we are capable of showing great love towards others.”
-Me

I have a name that has been mispronounced so many times, I’m not even sure I pronounce it correctly any more.  Honestly, it shouldn’t be that difficult to pronounce.  But clearly it is.

As a result, I intentionally make sure I try to pronounce other people’s names correctly.

I have a digestive system that is high maintenance.  Which often leads to feeling left out.

As a result, when I know someone else has issues, I make the appropriate accommodations, and make them something they can have.

I have a birthday that is difficult to celebrate.

As a result, I try to make sure I am joyous over other people’s birthday.

I have been having a long talk with God this morning, because I feel the hurt this week.  I feel the hurt today.  I feel the hurt right now.

But in life, hurt will happen.  We will be both the recipients and the deliverers of the hurts.  I’m not perfect.  I know that I have hurt people in the past.  Not that I’m a horrible person and purposefully hurt other people.  But I’m human.  And it happens.

And when that hurt happens, we have to choices.  Two polar opposite choices we can make.

1. We can let that hurt and hatred settle in our hearts, lash out at others, and try to make others hurt as badly as we do.

OR…

2. We can let that hurt and hatred settle in our hearts, and try to make sure no one else ever has to feel that way ever again.

Both choices define you.

I can’t say that I am grateful to have gone through the things that I have.  But I also know that experiencing and surviving some of the things that I have have defined my character.  It was a conscious choice to choose the God path in my life, and realize that the only way to combat hate is with great love towards others.  The only way to combat violence is with great love towards others.

When asked about what the greatest of the commandments were, Jesus answered quite simply “Love God, and love other people.”

He didn’t say to love them when they loved you.

He didn’t say to love them only when they were worthy.

He didn’t say to love them only when they agree with you.

He didn’t say to love them only when they were the same race as you, the same gender as you, the same belief system as you.

He just said to love them.

Love them all.

Love them fiercely.

Love them without condition.

Just love them all.

You may be struggling today.  You may feel like no one cares.  Like you’re no one special.  Like you’re the only one that feels this way.

You’re not.

Read that again.

You.  Are.  Not.

You ARE special.

You ARE loved.

Want to know what you are not?

You are NOT alone.

Take a deep breath.  Take a step forward.  Then take another step forward.  Use the hurt you feel.  Use it for good.

Because the benefits you receive from that will change your world.  Change it for the better.

Humble Confidence

I don’t want to brag, but…

I am smart.

I am beautiful.

I am thoughtful.

I am hard-working.

I am stubborn.

I am sarcastic.

I am funny.

I am tough.

I am strong.

I am…a million different things.

Just because I am all of these things, doesn’t mean that you aren’t, too.

The dangerous trend, that honestly has probably been around since nearly the dawn of time, is that to have self-confidence, one must also put others down, to highlight just how awesome we are.  You can’t be nearly as awesome as me, because you suck, and I smell like roses.

And, oh, how many times in my life have I fallen victim to this???

How many times do I still fall victim to this???

Insecurity.  Insecurity in ourselves, in how the world perceives us, in who we are.  Insecurity causes so many challenges.  Some people, like me, respond to this by shutting down.  I start to believe all of those negative comments that people make, because I believe in how they are talking to me, talking about me.  I believe them.  And I shut down.

The other response is to be one of those people who put others down.  There are varying degrees of this.  Sometimes this can come across as a very polite comment, but the truth of what is said is a criticism.  Other times it is very blatant, rude and meant to hurt.  And still other times, an insecure narcissist can be outright damaging, both physically and emotionally, to other people.

  • “You might as well just go to the nursing home and marry an 80 year old man, because no one else will ever want to marry you.”
  • “Why would you wear that?”
  • “That’s hysterical that you think you can write a book.”
  • “You just don’t know what you’re talking about.”
  • “You’re stupid.”
  • “You’re ugly.”
  • “You’re fat.”
  • “You smile too much.”
  • “What do you have to be so happy about?”

All of these things have been said to me, and then some!  And when I heard them, they hurt.  And I started to believe them…

 

One of my own personal struggles is that I don’t know how to walk the very fine line of between being humble and egotistical, confident and coward.  It is a very fine line.  And I tend to fall on the negative side of the line.

Even still today.

I know, and honestly do believe all of the qualities that I listed above.  I believe all of them with my whole heart.

But the tendency to believe that negative inner monologue still afflicts me.

And oh how many times have I stopped myself from doing something because someone else made me feel inferior.  Sometimes, it’s the actions of other people directly putting me down.  Sometimes, I see how amazing other people are, and think that there isn’t possibly a way I could do that, so why should I even try?

Even if I don’t always realize it, even if I don’t always see it, I know, deep down (sometimes way, way, way deep down) that my life has a purpose.  That even if other people can do awesome and amazing things, so can I!

So instead of tearing each other down, let’s just stop.  Stop it all.  Stop the negative talk.  Stop the criticism.  Stop the judgement.  Stop believing that we are horrible people.

Yes, it is easy to compare ourselves to everyone else.

But just because I’m awesome, doesn’t mean that you aren’t awesome, too!

Awesomeness isn’t mutually exclusive.  There isn’t just one awesome award that gets handed out in life.

Ope, I won the Awesome Award this week, sorry ’boutcha!

Life doesn’t work like that!

So join me in being a cheerleader for life.

Build each other up.

Compliment instead of criticize.

We just might change the world.