There are some phrases in widespread, common use that seem to be universal hot buttons to piss people off. Really, I don’t understand how it became commonplace for people to say things that erode the very respect that relationships are built on, and yet I hear people say it – and complain about having these things said to them – frequently.
Certainly, we should always be honest and authentic in our dealings with people, but discernment is an absolute necessity in our dealings with ALL people. Just because it flies through your brain doesn’t mean it needs to fly out of your mouth, and in fact there are many times when it’s best to keep that thought in your head and fake it till you make it with your words (or silence, depending on the situation). For example, here are some phrases you should eliminate (or at least, drastically reduce) in your vocabulary that will garner more respect, motivate people to cooperate and work well with you, and make you appear more intelligent and savvy:
1. “Whatever.” Nothing coveys the ignorant-inconsiderate-jerk trifecta like this one word phrase. You have the entire English language at your disposal and that’s all you’ve got? If it is, then it’s time to recognize the uncomfortable fact that sometimes, the best course of action is to gracefully back away and let silence be golden. And if you refuse to exercise the right to remain silent, then a simple “I hope that works out for you and wish you luck” is much more dignified than throwing out something that makes you look like a cross between an immature tween and a person that’s learning English as a second language - and isn’t quite getting it.
2. “Do what you’ve got to do.” I don’t hear this one as much as I used to, but it’s still out there, and it’s a sin for the same reasons as “whatever.” More accurately, that’s redneck for “I don’t like what you’re doing and would move Heaven and Earth to stop you, but that would reveal me as a selfish jerk to the rest of the world and I don’t want to do that, so go on and get this over with so you can get back to doing things that make me happy.” It isn’t your job to like or even understand everything that other people do, so let go and accept that people have a right to lead their lives, do things, and make decisions that work best for them regardless of what you say, think, or need. Instead, say “I understand this is important to you.” Even if you don’t and you hope it blows up in their face, just fake it and at least acknowledge their right to live as they see fit. Because I guarantee you’ve done things that made them go “Hmmm” in the past . Plus, if you want people to stay interested in your life, then you have to at least act like you give a crap about them and their life, even if you don’t care about them any more than you care about the extra 40 minutes in a Martian day.
3. “That’s not my problem.” I stand back when people say this because it’s an open invitation for the universe to hit you with its best shot, and that’s a challenge it ALWAYS accepts. Sure, you aren’t responsible for every single thing that happens in the world, and there are some things that aren’t your business, but have some dignity in declining to accept responsibility that you feel isn’t yours. “I’m sorry I can’t help you with that” is much more gracious and doesn’t invite fate, the universe, the world, or whatever you wish to call it to deliver an entirely new batch of problems into your life. Fake sympathy for the other persons’ plight even if you don’t really feel it because you WILL be at the receiving end of this one day, and the measure you get will be the measure you’ve given. It happens to us all.
4. “You don’t really want that,” or “Stop wasting your time on that and do this instead.” Excuse me, when did God appoint you to His position, because that’s what it looks like you’re playing at with either variation of this. You have no way of knowing what’s in other peoples’ hearts or what plans are in store for them, and they aren’t required to get your approval for it, either. People have a right to make their own decisions. You never know what might happen and statements like this may very well make a fool of you one day. Don’t take a chance.
5. “I told you so.” Even if you preface it with the I-hate-to-say-it-but clause, it’s still ridiculous because they already know. Demonstrate some maturity and don’t gloat over somebody’s failings, even if they asked for it and everybody knew it was foolishness from the start. As I said in the last statement, people have a right to make their own decisions and that means having the grace to let them make their own mistakes. Pray they’ve learned from the experience, and don’t gloat lest you wander into folly someday. Because none of us are as smart as we think we are.
6. “ I did that too, and let me tell you how I did it better.” Nobody likes a know-it-all or a show off, and a constant need to one-up people blinks “I’m insecure!” brighter than a digital billboard. You don’t have to be in the spotlight every minute of every day. Back down and let others have their day in the sun every now and then. Because we all know that nobody’s done everything under the sun, and there will always be people out there that have done it bigger, better and more recently than you have. Let go of the competition to always be #1 and learn to be happy with the life the Lord gave you.
7. “If I were you, I’d …” Turn off anybody that prefaces a statement with this immediately, because it’s a clear sign that they don’t know what they’re talking about. Wisdom gives options. Experience shares insight. Ignorance says that if they were you, they’d go out and kick the world in the you-know-where, and that’s most often foolishness that would make a bigger mess of things if anybody were dumb enough to take this advice. Plus, they wouldn’t have the guts to actually do it, because some people are good at telling people to do things they wouldn’t dare do themselves.
8. “You should make them do it.” Guess what? Scientists have found the center of the universe and it’s not you. That’s the fastest way to run a person out of your life. You don’t make anybody do anything they don’t want to do, and if you try to then trust me – you’re ego can’t handle what they really think about you. If you have to control someone every minute to “keep them in line,” then you’re trying to force them into a place or relationship where they don’t belong. Don’t beg people to be your friend or try to force them to your will. Pray for what Joyce Meyer refers to as “divine connections.” Those are friends and acquaintances that you get along with so well that you don’t want to change them because you appreciate how their uniqueness enriches your life.
9. “I would NEVER do that/accept that/put up with that.” Never say never or the Lord will make you do it to show you who the boss really is. One never in your life that’s absolute: you never know what life has in store for you. Someday you could well be dining on crow while dealing with something that you thought you were too smart/special/good for. Life has a way of humbling us, and the “I would never” statements are a GPS on how to get that done.
10. Anything other than “I’m sorry for your loss” and “I’m praying for you and your family” at a visitation or funeral. Anything else sounds stupid and believe me, there’s nothing clever or inspirational you can say that will get through people in the depths of grief. The dumbest things I’ve ever heard have all been said at visitations and/or funerals because people try to justify death and offer comfort in religious platitudes. Folks, I’m Christian too, but this isn’t seminary or time to play preacher. I remember what C.S. Lewis wrote about death not being natural because human beings weren’t created to die and it’s the most painful consequence that we pay for sin. He’s absolutely right. There’s nothing right about death and there’s no way to wrap it up in pretty phrases or platitudes that makes it suck less. So give it up. Don’t engage in conversations with the bereaved if they try to start one, either. This isn’t the time or place to engage in theological discussions, discuss anything beyond condolences for the loss (no gossip or “what’s up with me” statements), and it certainly isn’t appropriate to leverage your personality or make a big impression. It’s a subdued occasion so dial it down, make an appearance, and for goodness sake, shut up.
Maybe you relate to some of this and are nodding, saying thank you for revealing it! Or maybe you see it as a calling out. I certainly don’t mean it that way, and I admit that I’m guilty of uttering some of these phrases. In fact, I had to work at cutting the “whatever” and “I told you so” out of my vocabulary, and I get along with people so much better now that it’s gone. My point is not to say “shame on you.” It’s to shed light on small things that chip away at trust and give guidance that I’ve learned in building bridges to cooperative relationships that last. It takes time and effort, but if modifying my vocabulary slightly will help with that, then it’s an effort worth making. I believe if you’ve read this far then you believe it’s a worthy effort, too.
That’s all today. Take care. I hope you have a Happy Friday tomorrow and a great weekend.
As we head into a new year, I ponder my resolution to have better balance in my life on a number of levels. One of those (very important) levels is in the area of stress reduction and reducing worry in my life. I think these are things we all struggle with, and recently I've come to realize there's a great deal that we impose on ourselves, especially when it comes to our relationships.
This realization came after having several people tell me things that other people said and/or did over the past few weeks and asked what I thought of it. I remembered that when I was under a therapist while going through my life changes a few years ago, one of the things she told me was that the secret to finding balance was realizing what was and wasn't my business. "You concern yourself with your responsibilities and what you control and let go of the things in the hands of others," she said. That's certainly true, and in fact remembering this advice upon being asked my opinion on these various situations and issues made me realize that people, in general, bring on a lot of their own stress by worrying about or fretting over things that other people think, say or do - things they have absolutely no control over.
Why do we do this? My first reaction was that it's arrogance. Frankly, we all have a tendency to beleive that everything is all about us - and that's wrong. The truth is that everything people think, say and do is all about THEM. It's a reflection of how they see the world. Even if they say that "others made me do it," the truth is that they made the decision on how to perceive things and on how to proceed. Nobody "makes" anybody do anything. Plus, by nature, people are going to do what's best for them and the ones closest to them. Why should they do something that benefits you 100% and them none at all when you aren't the center of THEIR world?
So there's one reason, but I don't think that's all of it, nor the major portion. In fact, I think if that were the whole reason, then it would mean that people in general are extremely selfish and short sighted, and I don't believe that such a narrow view applies to most people most of the time. Some maybe, but absolutely not all. Maybe not most. And remember, I said there's some truth to this. Maybe it's a small part, but I don't think that's a "once size fits all" explanation for it. Most people learn, grow, and gain a wider perspective on the world and as such, they aren't so shallow.
I believe another reason is that we want everybody to like us. The problem is, I recently read that there was actually some scientific study that at least 10% of people aren't going to like you. Frankly, I was surprised the percentage was that low. I thought it would be closer to 30%, but the latest study I read said 10% so we'll run with that. Why is this? Plain and simple, personality differences. Some types just don't play well together. If you don't believe it, ask any extremely emotional person I've come in contact with and they'll tell you I'm mean and don't give a crap about their feelings. I am, by nature, a person that leans more toward logic and reason in making decisions than emotion. I usually don't get along well with extremely emotional types that "just want peace" and "want everybody happy right now" because I beleive happiness comes from investing the time and hard work to do things right no matter how you feel about it "right now." If you do what's right, then it will work out in the end, and that's a happiness that last; not a vapor of high emotion that wears off when the party is over and the consequences have to be paid. In fact, since I've been working in professional licensing, I'd say my tendency to make decisions based on logic and reason have become a stronger because by nature of my profession, I'm obligated to do what's right no matter how people feel about it. I don't think that's a bad thing (of course), but I've caught some flack about it because I'm female, and by stereotype I'm supposed to be all about feelings. While I'm ok to say "alright, forget the 10% and thank God for and enjoy the other 90%, well, some people get awfully fixated on that 10% and believe that if they work harder then they can get a 100% approval rating. It seems their effort would be better spent nurturing relationships with the other 90% but in fact, sometimes they turn on the ones on their side to gain approval they'll never have, counting on forgiveness from that 90% that might come, but not realizing that it will have a higher price than they bargained for because broken trust is a very hard thing to rebuild. But it happens, all the time. I've experienced it; I've seen it; I've written about it. Hey, I'm a writer. The ugly underside of humanity is a playground of inspiration. Expose it to me at your own risk.
Just kidding - maybe. And a sidenote on the emotion thing: I'm interested to see if the stereotype of "hysterical emotion" in women downplays as more generations of women have careers.Working women don't have time to fret over every little wayward comment, rolled eye, questionable social media post, tear or tirade that comes their way. Or at least, me and my colleagues don't. But we'll see as time tells this particular tale.
So there's that. But not all people are emotional and out for approval ratings that would make politicians jealous, so reason #2 can't apply to everybody. But it does apply to enough that I believe it should be considered.
There is one more reason, and I think it applies to most of us. I believe the reason people get tied up in what others think, say and do is because they don't want to be alone in how they think or feel. They want to know that others agree with them. They want others to have an opinion with them, or to get mad with them, or to be sad with them, or to take up the cause with them because they don't want to be the only freak swimming against the tide. They want to know they're like everybody else and what the other person is doing is wild/selfish/stupid/crazy/nonsense/whatever. They don't want to be alone in their opinion or feelings because they don't want to look in the mirror and ask "is it them, or is it me?" We all want to be right. We all want the world to understand that our opinion is just as important as everybody elses'. We all want respect. Nobody wants to be a nobody. They want people to know that they're here, that they have value, and that they are just as important as the other 7+ billion people in the world.
Here's the thing, though: Going about it by getting tangled up in other peoples' business is a sign of insecurity. If you truly walk in faith and you're confident in yourself as the authentic human being you were created to be, then you don't need to beg or scream for attention. You humbly go about your own business, believing that the life God set before and the purposes you serve speak for themselves.
That's the cure. That's how you break free from this stress. You get busy living your own life and tending to your own businss and have the grace to accept others and the decisions they make without intruding into their lives with your opinions.
Does this mean you ignore others and don't care what they do? Of course not. You should always do your best to help people in need and if there's something you can do to help others on their life path, you certainly should. The key is to use common sense and discernment. Yes, we all have opinions on things, but we don't need to share them all the time. Everything that flies through your head doesn't need to fly out of your mouth. If you aren't asked for your opinion or advice, assume it's not wanted or needed and keep it to yourself. I'd even go so far as to say that you should still use caution in giving advice even if you ARE asked for it. As one of the elves said in The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring, "elves don't give advice because all paths may run ill." Think before you speak. If in doubt, don't. And realize that advice is a take it or leave it thing - and in many cases, people leave it, so be prepared to have your advice or opinion rejected just in case and be prepared to not get offended. And please, for the love of God, if it won't make any difference and you have a thought - don't. Stop right there and go no further. If it's done and/or there's no way it's changing no matter what anybody says and you really need to get it out, set up a private blog or buy a journal to work it out, but don't go off on tirades and complain to everybody in the world about things you can't control involving people close to you. And don't ask or expect people to take sides with you unless you want to do the equivalent of renting a billboard that says I'M THE ONE WITH THE PROBLEM. It makes you look bad and it makes other people run like hell from you when they see you coming. If it's something so big that you can't live with it, find a way to either deal with it or distance yourself from the situation. Just because a war's going on doesn't mean you have to be a soldier in it. Other people might want you to have their problems, but they can't draft you. You don't have to accept them and if you choose not to accept their problems, well then, it's over.
The point of this mile long blog is that I'm coming to understand that balance is something that we have to strive for in every area of life, and personal relationships are certainly a big element there. We do live in the world, with people, so having good, balanced relationships is an extremely important thing. And one way we can achieve balance in our relationships is by not being a busybody, minding our own business, and having the grace to let it be.
Thanks for hanging in there with me on this one. I hope you had a Happy Friday and that you have a great weekend.
Sometimes it can be difficult to know just who the villian is. The fact is that we all have reasons for doing what we do. So what is it that determines who's the hero and who's the villian?
I believe it boils down to one thing: motive. Why does a person do what they do? Is it to benefit themselves, other people, the "greater good of all," or to harm others? These are the basic motivators for all behavior. And sometimes it can be difficult to discern exactly where that motivation lies.
It would be easy to say that pure motives always win the day, but it's not so simple. Sure, it's obivous that a person is a villian when they do something with the intention of hurting other people or sabatoging situations, but such cases are rare, even in fiction, because life isn't so black and white. Sometimes we can believe we're doing what's right, and be dead wrong because we have wrong information, thoughts or motivations. Sometimes what seems dead wrong can be the right thing. And sometimes people do the right thing and are punished for it because they're working with people or situations based on wrong beliefs and motives. The goal isn't the overall good or what's right, but protecting and supporting "the right people." I think anybody that's ever had a job can attest to this one, as office politics exist everywhere and can rear their ugly heads in a number of ways. Yes, there are laws against some things, but you'd be appalled at how people have found ways through loopholes and red tape to get what they want in ways that are morally questionable but still perfectly legal. Anywhere But Here hits on this very theme, and Blurry even hits on it in a way too but showing how thin that line between right and wrong is, and how easy it is to manipulate it.
Pure motive doesn't just mean doing what's morally right. It also means knowing the truth and acting on it, whether you like it or not. It means that sometimes making the decision to do the right thing is the hard decision, because it's not a quick or easy path, and it may not be to our benefit in the short term. I can speak from experience on this one - my job move 2 years ago was definitely done entirely for the benefit of others with no consideration given to what was best for me. It was 100% about what others wanted and what benefited them. I chose to go along because I believed it was right for a greater purpose and that it would work out to benefit me too in the end - but I had to put the desires and needs of others before my own because, well, the situation forced it. Sure, I could have fought it, but I believed that the disadvantage I suffered in the short term would lead to a greater good for everybody, myself included - and it did. It wasn't an easy road but I wouldn't do it differently and in fact, am glad it happened and that things have worked out to put everybody in a better place. So far, it has truly wound out to be one of those situations where everybody did win, and I appreciate how rare that is. But 2 years ago I had no assurances of it, and had to take it on faith that my temporary discomfort and suffering would lead to something better.
I think the bottom line is that the world is full of shades of grey, and the only way to get to what's right is a mix of accepting the truth of reality and using discernment. Unfortunately, such a balance is only struck with time, life experience and wisdom - but it can happen. You just have to be willing to open your eyes, ask the right questions, and accept the answers. If you're wrong, you have to be willing to learn from your mistakes and be able to move on with that valuable wisdom. And for goodness sake, please do NOT keep making the same mistakes over and over. Remember: the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. It's not gonna happen, folks. Miracles can happen, but not if you're an igit walking in ignorance and selfish motives.
I believe the biggest thing I'd like for you to take from this blog series is that there aren't predetermined limits or roles. We always want to beleive that we're right, but the truth is that in reality we will be both the hero and the villian. It depends on where we find ourselves in the situation and what our motives are - and on who's telling the story.
Thanks for joining me on this impromptu blog series on villians. It's been extremely helpful to me in brainstorming and forming a plan for my next novel, and I hope you've enjoyed being on this journey with me. I'll certainly keep you posted on my progress with this project, my published novels, and everything else in the rabbit hole of my life.
Take care and enjoy the remainder of your weekend.
I entered a counted cross stitch in the State Fair in October 2009. It was my largest stitching project and, I thought, a masterpiece of creativity. Unfortunately, the judges didn't agree. I didn't win a ribbon.
I was heartbroken. This piece took nearly three and a half years to complete, and I felt it was my best work. But under the scrutnizing eye of others, it didn't measure up.
Family and friends consoled me and urged me to keep at it. Don't give up, they said, because eventually you'll win. As I considered the situation, though, I started to realize some things. That project had been very time consuming and difficult for me to complete; to the point that it became frustrating in the end. In fact, part of the reason why it took me so long to finish the project was because I put it on hiatus for a period of 7 months while I wrote Blurry. I realized that looking over that period of time, the hobby that brought me the most contentment wasn't the cross stitch, but writing the novel. It made me ask myself what I really wanted to see bear fruit in my life, and the answer, without a hitch, was my writing. So the next time a friend encouraged me to start a new stitching project, I finally admitted a truth that I should have faced sooner. "You know," I said, "I realize now that stitching is an arena for others. Writing is mine, and I need to return to it."
That wasn't well received. A lot of people assumed I was quitting and saw it as a bad sign and completely out of character for me. What they didn't know was that an idea for another novel was developing. Soon after, I began work on Anywhere But Here, a novel about a young woman battling depression in the face of major life transitions. I made it my mission after that failed contest to grow and develop as a writer, and it paid off. Blurry was published by Wings ePress in August 2011; Anywhere But Here will be published by Whiskey Creek Press in April 2012, and I recently completed Splinter, a sci-fi apocolyptic novel that I successfully completed a rough draft of during 2010 National Novel Writing Month.
I could have given you a monologue about mining your talents and finding your passions, but I felt that relating this experience would be a better demonstration of the process of using your interests and experiences to find authenticity and purpose. All of us have a number of talents, skills and abilities with potential for development, but our time and energy are limited. There simply isn't enough time in a day, week, month, year, season or lifetime to do it all. You have to set priorities by making active decisions on what you want to see bear fruit in your life and investing in those purposes. Prayer, of course, is the best way to do this, because it helps us to look within and be absolutely honest with God and ourselves about what's best for life.
Another point I hope you take from this is that finding authenticity and purpose is a journey. I didn't wake up one day and say "I'm putting stitching on a back burner while I focus on writing more material and learning how to get published and promoted." It was trying and failing, assessing myself and learning from mistakes, making realizations and trying again. It's a process of trial and error, and you will certainly make mistakes. Don't look on it as wasted time, though. The missteps and mistakes can be mined for wisdom that leads to success in future endeavors. I knew that hard work was the key to progress, but this experience also taught me the importance of focus. I saw the true meaning of "a jack of all trades is a master at none" and realized that I needed to pick what meant the most and zoom in on that as my primary goal.
Above and beyond all else, I hope you see the importance of being true to yourself. Others can mean the best and still be wrong. You are the only one that has to live with yourself and your life 100% of the time. The path will only be revealed to you, and there are many steps in that path that won't make a bit of sense to others. That's ok. The ones that are meant to share the journey will learn to accept you for what you were created to be. The others will fall away. Simple as that.
As a final note, I'd like to mention that I haven't completely given up cross stitching, but I'm limiting my projects to very small scale items. That's more practical for my current lifestyle. Maybe one day I'll tackle another large project, but for now my focus is on becoming a better writer. And to me, that's what really matters.
Next time: Standing Alone - Staying Strong Under Attack.
Who are you? I think that’s one of the hardest questions we face, and the reason is that the answer is always in motion. Every experience we have, every role that we play, every life lesson that we face, all contribute to who we are. Identity is something that is always in motion because as life changes, we change with it. Our capacity to grow and learn is what makes us able to adapt to the world around us and to evolve, both as a society and as individuals. Unfortunately, this capacity also means that we must constantly reconcile ourselves to the world we live in – and frankly, that can be exhausting.
The good news is that there are some constants in this ever changing world. The situations we face and the roles we play do impact who we are, but the core of our being – our soul – doesn’t change. Each and every one of us was uniquely and wonderfully made to serve purpose in life. Notice that I keep this general for a reason. While we may have one overriding purpose that’s our “main mission” in life, I believe that each season of life has a purpose within that mission. You may be a child, spouse, parent, colleague, and friend. Each of these roles are separate with their own unique purpose, but all of those roles contribute to how you are as a whole human being. If any of you were to walk into my church or workplace, I would expect that you’d be able to say “yes, that’s Sherri the Writer” because you know the core of who I am through my writing and can see it in other roles I serve.
I know this is confusing, and we could ponder on that particular point for a long time. Suffice it to say that for the purposes of this entry, I am addressing that “core self,” which is who you are as a unique human being. It’s
your soul. Believe it or not, there are a lot of people that don’t dig deep enough within themselves to know who they are at this level. Maybe it’s because it’s too exhausting, or confusing, or maybe they found something that frightened them, but for whatever reason many people abandon that search for authenticity and simply conform to what the world wants them to be in each role in life. While this may work on the surface (and is certainly good enough for day to day life), in reality it means that you never really connect with the people around you or the world you live in. After all, how can other people know you if you don’t know yourself? And how are they supposed to trust what they don’t know? So they go through the motions of life as a shell of a person, never fully experiencing life or the joy that we’re supposed to have in being who we are and serving the scared missions set before us. In fact, the sacred is removed, turning it all into drudgery and labor.
Folks, this isn’t the way we’re meant to live. Yes, it can be frightening to delve within ourselves to search for our authenticity. You might find things you don’t expect; things in direct contradiction to what you want to believe about yourself. Or you might find something socially unacceptable or embarrassing. It’s ok. You have the power of the Holy Spirit working within you, and It can show you how these things fit into who you are as the unique creation you are meant to be. It can show you what you have for a reason and what you could stand to fix here or tweak there. None of us are perfect, but the perfection of the Spirit can show you how to use what you’ve got to be who you are and to contribute to your place in the world.
The key to happiness isn’t fame, or wealth, or status. It’s finding contentment with who you are as a unique individual. That’s the only way you can find your purpose. That’s the only way to form genuine relationships with a solid foundation. That’s the only way that happiness will come.
So, how do you find your authentic self? It’s best to start at the beginning – and that is the foundation of it all.
Next Time: Jesus – My Savior, My Friend.
I had an epiphany in the church cemetery in December 2010 that changed my view on life.
I wasn't sure why I went out there that day. I ran an errand before work, and was strongly prompted to see where my grandparents were buried. I haven't been out there since Granddaddy died in October 1989, but I felt like I needed to go out there then to deal with some emotional issues before I could really move on.
So there I was on a cold, windy day. I overshot the row, so I had to walk to their plot. As I got to that place, I realized something: Despite over 20 years of history, I had nothing to say. I stood there with the weight of two major life changes that had recently started a new season in my life and for all the months of wishing they were here to give me advice - nothing.
I felt like a moron, standing there in a ridiculous looking hat with my work ID flapping in the breeze until traffic noise from the nearby highway snapped me out of my blank mind. That's when it hit me: Of course there was nothing to say here. Everybody in this place had completed their journey! This was no longer their world. They had passed their trials, had served their purpose in the world, and now had their reward. I and I alone was responsible for leaving this place and resuming my place in that world, to serve my purpose and to complete the mission the Lord sent me to serve.
That alone was a profound insight. It's what happened next that really nailed it.
As I walked back to my car, I realized that I parked next to where my great-great grandparents were buried. I looked down as I hit the "unlock" button on my car to see my great-great-grandmother's epitapth, which read: A GOOD AND FAITHFUL HELPMEET.
Something inside me snapped. I realized that I would one day lie in this place - and I expect the world to know more about me than that when I'm gone! "Oh hell no," I said to the wind, "I better leave behind more than that. I'm not a sidekick!"
I couldn't believe that an entire lifetime was summed up in a sentence that was nothing more than a passing tribute to her supporting role to helping my great-great grandfather in his efforts as the first pastor of our church, and his other endeavors. Who was she? How did she do it? What were her passions? What kind of personality did she have? We'll never know. Heck, I didn't even know her name until that moment.
At that, I left. It was cold, and windy. I was wearing a really stupid hat. And I realized I had stuff to do.
Now, I fully realize that women in the 18th century were largely defined by fathers, husbands and the men in their life. My point is twofold: First, it isn't like that anymore, and I think it's a pity that their identities are lost. Sure I accept my role as my husband's "helpmeet," but I'm also a unique individual and I have my own way of doing all things, be they God-given missions of my own or supporting others in their God-give missions. Second, I hate to say it but most people do still define themselves by others. They get so wrapped up in roles and relationships that they loose sight of who they are at their very core - the place in the center of their soul where the Lord made them a unique and wonderful creation. And they do it willingly to fit in with societal norms.
My purpose in this blog series is not to buck any systems, or to lash out against conformity. My purpose is to share this epiphany with you and to tell you the powerful truth I learned in the Mt. Tabor Lutheran Church cemetery that day: That we are all uniquelly and wonderfully made, and our ultimate purpose is to be the person God made us to be so we can serve the purpose He sent us to serve in this world. We shouldn't fear or deny who we are because everything God makes is good. That includes us. We need to embrace our authenticity and take our place now. Others might be able to do what we do, but they can't do it the way we can. God sent you to do what you're purposed to do because you have a way that nobody else that has ever, does, or will live can do it. We need to learn to accept ourselves and embrace what makes us unique!
Why? Because this is our world. All those who have gone before have served their purpose. Those ahead of us have not come to their time yet. lt's our world, right now, because the Lord has ordained it for us. We need to find our purpose. We need to own it. We need to make sure that the world knows we're here and that our presence makes a difference. Because that is, after all, why God sent us.
When I die, I want my epitapth to read "It's your world now. Go do stuff." Maybe that epiphany will spread. Maybe it will inspire the future. But that's yet to come. It's my time now, and I have to own it.
Because I have stuff to do. And so do you. Now let's get out there and own this world!
Next time: Who Are You? Devine Purpose, Authentic Soul.
I had an interesting revelation today. It seems that as my life progresses, I'm continually asked to rise to new levels. This is normal, I suppose. We're supposed to grow and learn so we become better people. That is, after all, the purpose in life, isn't it? To continue to grow into a better person?
I think it is, if we take these steps forward in an effort to rise to new levels; in essence to come closer to the creation God wants us to be. However, I believe there are also times when we're asked to rise to a new level for mere convenience - that is, because where we are isn't convenient to somebody else and our "moving up" or "moving on" is nothing more than putting us in a place that's convenient for someone else.
I suppose I find myself pondering this question because there's been a lot of talk recently on "change" and "responsibility" and what needs to be done to make things better in this tough economy. I even heard something about it on BBN's newscast today. Politicians are still bickering on what's the right way to get America back on track. The problem is, all of them have political agendas and they're scared of making the people funding their campaigns mad - so they dance around the special interest that keep them where they want to be, oftentimes at the expense of lower and middle class Americans.
It's not just an issue at the national level, but at a personal level as well. I've known people that were subjected to job transfers not because of their skills or abilities, but because they ticked the wrong person off and they had to be shuffled because they were the lower person on the totem poll. And they didn't benefit from the change at all. In fact, it was usually a source of anger and frustration, with no personal development whatsoever.
I suppose the real issue here is that we need to explore our motives for why we do what we do. Is it right? Is it for the greater good? Is it for a purpose? And most importantly, is there an honest and pure motive for it? That last question is key, because if your motives are wrong then there's no way things can work out right.
Personally, I want to rise to the level of my best self - not the level where others find it convenient for me to be for their own selfish purposes.
See, this is what happens when I start paying attention to the news again - these entries get deep!
That's all tonight. I hope you're having a good week and that it wraps up well for you. Take care and stay well.