Choosing the Correct Doors to Walk Through in Your Life

ID-100271231If you have ever watched the game show, “Lets Make a Deal” you may be familiar with the part of the game that is called, “Big Deal”.  This is a portion of the show in which each contestant can participate in the selection of three doors which will reveal a prize, once the contestant has chosen a door to open.  In this game, behind every door a prize is given a certain value.  It is based on a sequence of the highest valued prize, to the least.  Once the contestant has chosen, then the announcer builds suspense by asking the question, “What is behind door #_?” The contestant then sees whether or not the door that they have chosen was worth it, or if it would have been beneficial to choose another.  This game essentially boils down to coming to a decision of what is believed to be a correct or incorrect choice.  Each contestant is encouraged to take a moment to carefully decide, so that they can maximize their opportunity.  Choosing unwisely, may result in obtaining a prize that is perhaps of lower a value instead of getting the prize that is valued as the highest.

In our lives, there are moments where we can be active participants in choosing a path or a doorway that may or may not lead to opportunity.  Just like each contestant has a set of options or doors available, we too will have similar opportunities set before us.  It may be a job opening, a potential relationship,  or a life altering decision that involves the course that your life will take.  We are all faced with periods of selection, but we must come to a conclusion as to which door or opportunity we will accept or deny.  There are a few things we must keep in mind when we have options that we are given:

1. Every door that opens is not necessarily the door we should walk through – Sometimes, we will receive an invitation to accept an offer which essentially means, the opportunity is available for our taking.  However, just because you are given the open door, does not mean that the door is rightfully yours to walk through.  Just as in the game show “Let’s Make a Deal”, every door that is shown does not yield a positive result.  There are many doors, but they are not all meant for us to walk through.  Some opportunities that arise, may be doors that could prove to be unsatisfactory or even to our detriment.  For example, you may be in a relationship that you think has the potential to reach marriage.  However, deep inside of your heart, you realize that the relationship you are in isn’t necessarily the right one for you.  So, it leaves you with a decision to make.  Many doors open, but we must be willing to recognize when a door or opportunity is beneficial and when it isn’t.

2. Choose carefully and wisely – With each major decision of life, it calls for a careful consideration of our options.  Of course with the example of “Let’s Make a Deal” each door that the contestant is shown, is quite ambiguous because the prize or item is not revealed until the choice is made.  However, sometimes we can see just what we would be getting if we choose before we decide to walk through each door or make a choice.  Life can provide moments of warning or even confirmation before we actually choose our path. It is important not to ignore warning signs, because doing so might cause you to make an incorrect choice.  Or, on the flip side there are signs of confirmation which may mean that you can see the positive outcome from choosing a specific opportunity.  However, in any case you must consider your options. Make a personal tally of the perceived positive or negative consequences that might come if you choose.  Once you have carefully considered the cost, then you must proceed.  It is the wise individual that leaves nothing to chance, but looks at each opportunity with purpose and clarity.

3. Take a leap of faith – Finally, once you have decided you must then take a step in the direction you have chosen.  Sometimes, we may not always know what will happen if we choose a certain path, but it takes a willingness to believe that you have made the correct decision.  Each contestant on “Let’s Make a Deal” that chooses a door, does so based on a belief that the door they open will result in a positive outcome.  To believe and to step into an opportunity, is to lay down all of your inhibitions.  It requires that you move out of your comfort zone, and into an area that may be unknown.  Sometimes, accepting or even denying an opportunity is a major risk.  However, it is better to make a calculated decision while having a belief that the decision you have made was for the best.

In your life, you will be challenged and given opportunities that may or may not be for you to accept.  Some doors that open unto you, will be for your benefit – while other doors are meant for you to walk away from.  The key is understanding that you can choose even before you walk into a situation.  It would be a mistake to get too involved or walk in a path that was not meant for you, only to find that you have lost time and energy.  Instead, it is better to constantly choose with the best possible ending in mind.  Even if you make a mistake by choosing the wrong opportunity, you can use your decision to assist you in avoiding future blunders.  However, if you can’t seem to come to a conclusion on your own, it is admonished that you seek wise counsel from those who have your best interest at heart.  At the end of the day however, the choice is yours and yours alone.  Choosing the correct door, isn’t easy but if you are open to going in the right direction you will choose carefully and wisely before your decision is made.

Posted in Encouragement, Life, Success, Values | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Willingness to Be Honest With Yourself

ID-100259628Sometimes in life, scenarios arise that provide opportunities for us to be honest with ourselves. Having the courage to face your own convictions and to ensure that you are honest with what you feel, it isn’t exactly easy. To be honest, is to hone in on what you are feeling, and why you are feeling a certain way.  True conviction goes against the external affairs that might be present, and it searches from within so that the truth can be found.

All of us, have experienced moments when we were faced with “the moment of truth”.  This can mean, that we are coming to a conclusion or a decision that may be life altering.  It may be coming to grips with a job change, making a change in a relationship, or even deciding the path that you want to chart out in life.  Every situation that is of consequence, usually involves facing who you are, and the truth about what it is you believe.

There are a few things that you must consider when it comes to being honest with yourself about any matter:

1. Listen to your heart – Using the example of a car, there are indicators located within each vehicle, which is designed to alert the driver of an impending issue.  It may be a necessary oil change, a flat tire, or a problematic engine.  Each indicator is unique to the problem that the car may be experiencing.  If the driver is aware of the indicators, then it is likely that the car will be taken to the nearest repair shop in order to have the problem addressed.  You can think of your heart as the same sort of barometer.  Some call it a gut feeling, others call it an intuition.  However, regardless of the name for it, our hearts can be an indicator as to whether or not we are facing the truth.  The feeling of discomfort or lack of peace that you could be feeling, is a result of an indicator that is suggesting that you be honest with yourself.  Find out why you are feeling the things that you feel, so that the issue can be addressed.

2. Don’t ignore how you feel – When it comes to honesty, it is important to realize that your feelings are valid.  Conviction means that you are standing firm in your beliefs.  All of us have certain convictions that bring a feeling of compulsion to go in one direction or another.  If you are constantly feeling a lack of peace, or you believe that you should come to a conclusion about a matter, then you shouldn’t ignore how you feel.  To ignore how you feel, is to live under a falsehood instead of in the truth.  The longer you live within a facade, the worse the consequence will be once the truth has finally emerged.

3. Know your identity and be true to who you are – There are many who are living a life that isn’t necessarily based on their identity.  Some live within a world that is cultivated around the desires and expectations of others.  Others, they believe that if they assume the identity of someone other than themselves, they will achieve happiness and self gratification.  In reality, maintaining a false identity is likely to cause a lack of peace, and you are no longer free to be who you truly are.  Being honest with yourself is to embrace all parts of who you are, and not changing what is unique about yourself for anyone else.  Losing your uniqueness is to lose what separates you from everyone else.

4. Face the truth with courage – It takes a courageous person to be honest with themselves regarding a matter that is of importance.  Taking the easy way out, is to deny how you feel and to force yourself into a situation that doesn’t line up with what you believe. Being honest isn’t always easy, because it is to risk a disruption in the normalcy that you may be engaged in.  However, if you want to be true to your identity and listen to your heart, you must stand up to your fears and be honest.

5. Be honest with others – Once you are honest with yourself, then you will be able to have the same honesty with others.  This isn’t always easy, because sometimes your honesty may cause emotional pain, whether it is intentional or unintentional.  However, just as you deserve to be truthful to yourself, others deserve to know the truth.  Denying someone of the same honesty and integrity that you hold to yourself, is to live within hypocrisy and under a cloak of secrecy.  Even if the consequences that come with honesty are undesirable, you and others can live in peace knowing that the truth was exposed.

The overall message for all of us, is to stand firm in what we believe, and to be completely honest with ourselves.  You cannot fully treat others with respect, until you have respected yourself.  This means, having integrity and owning the responsibility that comes with every decision you make.  The most dangerous thing anyone can do is to continue in a path that isn’t in alignment with honesty and self authenticity.  By maintaining a path that isn’t congruent with the willingness to be honest with yourself, then you may suffer consequences that could be long lasting.  However, by quickly realizing when something should be said and at what point the truth must be revealed, you may spare yourself and others from a lengthy period of misfortune.  Being honest with yourself, and with others is the best way to live.  In doing so, you will be released to be who you are meant to be, which then releases others to do the same.  Live in the courage of your convictions, and be honest with yourself.

Posted in Encouragement, Ethics, Life, Values | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Trains and Train Stations Can Teach Us About Life

ID-10077550The life that we are all given as a gift, encompasses the very essence of journeying through our daily experiences.  Each of our life experiences may be different compared to someone else, or perhaps it may be altogether the same or similar.  However, one common denominator is that all of us are moving through, in this vehicle called life.  Regardless of where you find yourself, life is continuously moving in one direction or another.  Whatever direction you and I are traveling, we can be sure that there is both a beginning and an expected end.

We can think of our lives in the context of two aspects concerning transportation. These two aspects are trains and train stations.  First, beginning with the train – it is a mode of transportation that dates back as far as 1804 when the first steam locomotive was invented.  Trains have long since been the means for not only transportation regarding passengers but also the shipment and delivery of products.  In today’s time, train travel is not necessarily the primary mode for transportation but it is still very common for the express purposes of movement.  However, how does the concept of a train or train travel apply to our lives?

Before understanding how this applies, it is important to focus on what trains do, and what the purpose of a train is. As mentioned, the primary purpose of a train is to transport, whether it be goods or people from one place to the next.  Another key element of a train, is that it travels to a specific destination with various stops in between.  As each train begins from its starting station, the conductor manages the train and its cargo as it navigates to each stop.  The ultimate ending, is where the train stops once the journey and mission is complete.  Even in the midst of travel, each train along with its train cars, require a certain amount of maintenance so that it can last throughout the duration of the charted course.

As it relates to our lives, here are a few principles we can extract that are synonymous with the purpose and activity that relates to train travel:

1. All of our lives are headed in some sort of direction – Each train that is utilized whether for the transportation of goods or transporting passengers, is headed in a specific direction.  Whether it be a short or long distance, trains travel to their destination to achieve a specific purpose.  Our lives are much the same in that, we are all traveling with the goal to reach our expected end.  Even if you think that your life lacks meaning or purpose, your life is still going in a direction.  It may be positive, or it may be negative, but the life you live is what culminates in where you end up.  There is a path or a course that we all take, and it is unlike that of anyone else.

2. We are all carrying precious cargo – Trains carry cargo or passengers which are designed to get to a specific destination.  The conductor of the train, understands the necessity that comes with steering the train in a responsible manner.  This is so the passengers aboard, or the cargo that is being pulled can get to the ending point successfully.  Any mishaps along the way would mean a loss of productivity or a loss of anything essential that the train was carrying.  Our lives also exemplify that of a train carrying cargo or passengers.  You have gifts, talents, meaningful relationships that all require your attention. Anything that is precious will call for your timely response, and your dedication to ensure that what you have is protected.  If you do not protect those things that are essential, then you may lose what you have which can cause a derailment in your life.

3. Routine maintenance is required – Just as trains require routine maintenance to endure the railways ahead, our lives deserve the same treatment.  Sometimes we can become so busy with our daily schedules that we neglect ourselves.  It may be that we are so stressed, because we did not take the time to relax and service our needs.  Even as it relates to moments where we can receive positive criticism for self improvement, it enables us to be ready and built to endure what life brings.  So, we must embrace moments of relaxation and or critique that enhances our lives which will give us the necessary tools to outlast our journey.

4. We must be responsible with our lives – Trains are required to travel at suitable speeds so that accidents or incidents are avoided.  A train that travels above the recommended speed, will likely face a calamity, which can result in injury, lost cargo, or death.  The life that we have as a gift, is so that we can not only live within our God given purpose, but to also be responsible with how we live.  Reckless behavior is certain to cause self injury, or injury to others.  Some believe that living life in the “fast lane” is not only beneficial, but that it does not at some point result in self destruction.  We must be careful as to how we live, and what we profess to others by the way that we live.

In addition to understanding how trains and their travel, apply to our lives there are principles that come with examining a simple structure as a train station.  Train stations are designed to serve as a beginning, a stop, or an end for each train that approaches.  The starting point is a terminal that all trains can exit from, and it is a place where passengers can board to begin their journey.  Then there are the stops that exist throughout the train ride.  Each stop may be a point where passengers can exit to get to their destination elsewhere, or it may serve as a place of refueling or maintenance for the train.  Finally, you have the ending point for each train.  The end terminal is where a train comes to finish its journey and to cease from movement.  It is a place for passengers to fully end their journey, and to rest from the time traveled.

Our lives can also show forth the principles that can be found after discovering the purpose of a train station:

1. We have a beginning, middle, and end – Our lives are finite in that, we have a time frame for living.  The day of our birth marks the beginning, while our adulthood into our middle age, marks the middle.  Then of course reaching an older age can and often does mark the end.  Even if our lives do not all begin and end at the same stage, there are still times which represent a beginning and an ending.  For some trains, their destination starts and finishes earlier than other trains that travel.  The length of time differs depending on the destination, but each train has a starting and ending point.

2. We all have stops that we take – Some stops are longer than others, but there are moments that serve as momentary places of learning and even achievement.  As a train station is a place where one can exit or rest until the next train departs, it is also a place where we can make certain connections to our destination or place of destiny.  Basically, once we see that our stop has come, we can exit the train in order to stay on course.  There are trains that do not travel in a straight line, but rather the destination may require that you change trains.  Each stop offers an opportunity to get to your destination but the key is knowing which stop is yours to take, and why. Even in our lives, the stops we take can either be the right or wrong stop, but we must assess what those stops involve, and what we can learn from them.

Trains and train stations can teach us a great deal about life.  The overall principle we can take from these two entities, is that they each serve a purpose.  Our lives are not meaningless, but we were meant to serve a purpose.  The gifts and talents that you have, your personality, it is all designed to culminate in a purpose that is greater than yourself.  There isn’t a such thing as a meaningless life or an empty individual.  We all come into this world with gifts and talents that were meant to be used.  Unfortunately, some never develop or even understand what they were created to do.  Just as a train goes with the intent to deliver its precious cargo, we must do the same.  So, as you live, keep in mind that you are on a journey that only ends when your destination has been reached.  As long as you have time, your train can reach its expected end, as you accomplish the purpose that you have been given.

Posted in Encouragement, Life, Success, Values | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Learning to Say No – The Art of Self Preservation

ID-100285616As you look at your watch, you see that it is 5:00 pm, which means that your day of work has ended.  Then you get a phone call from a friend, who decides to call you with the attempt to have dinner with you that same evening.  You are tired, you want to relax, but you decide to say yes.  Hours later, you are burdened by the feeling of over exertion, yet you convince yourself that you will recover and that spending time with your friend was worth it.  The next day, 5:00 pm approaches, and you are ready to call it a night.  Then a co-worker asks you if you would like to have dinner after work, but you are still feeling tired from the previous night.  However, because you have a great relationship with your co-worker, you don’t want to disappoint so you decide to say yes.  On that same night after dinner, you feel worse than you did the night before, because you didn’t have a chance relax.

Finally, the next day of work arrives and 5:00 pm is approaching yet again.  This time you are adamant about going home and relaxing.  You are in a loving relationship, and your significant other calls you and wants to spend time with you after work.  In this scenario, you would rather not decline, because you understand the delicate balance of work, social life, and a personal life.  Somehow you muster up the strength to say yes, and you spend time with your significant other.  The only problem is, after you return home from a night out, you feel aches within your body and you are catching a cold.  You feel awful, drained, and lethargic.  Yet, in all of the busyness of the last three nights, you believe that spending time with those who you deemed important was worth the sacrifice of time and your health.

There are many who can attest to the above scenario of constantly going without ever having a chance to relax.  The art of self preservation isn’t merely protecting yourself but it involves looking out for your best interest, when perhaps others are not.  This also includes learning to say no.  The word “no” simply means that you are giving a vote which is in the direction of declining a matter or deciding not to participate in an activity.  The word “no” is a powerful word, because it suggests that you have taken a stance that is the opposite of one that is in agreement.  However, because the word “no” is often a negative word, it can be a word that comes with an element of guilt or disappointment.

In the above scenario, the individual felt that it was more so worth it to expend their time and energy catering to the needs of others, rather than balancing their time for themselves.  That isn’t to say that the needs of others are not important, but what the scenario shows is that sometimes there may be a feeling of regret or guilt if you choose to say no, when someone invites you to an outing or an event.  Putting yourself in the shoes of the person in the scenario may help you to see just how many times you might have decided to say yes, when perhaps it was in your best interest to say no.  However, before you are faced with another moment of decision, here are a few tips to give you a sense of clarity as to how to say no and reasons why you should from time to time:

1. Realize that saying no isn’t a bad thing to do – The issue of guilt often surfaces when we tell someone close to us, that we have declined to spend time with them, or to commit our time for their sake.  Saying no can bring guilt because at its root, the word “no” is negative rather than positive.  You may feel that declining a request, will make the other person feel bad. However, you must understand that to say no doesn’t mean you value those in your life any less. It can often mean that you value yourself and your own self worth more at that time.  Think of it as a form of protection in that, you must ensure that you are taking care of your health, your life, and your own responsibilities.  There will be other days when you can accept the request to engage in one activity or another.  However, you owe it to yourself to be comfortable with your decision and to give yourself time to recover from your daily schedule.  Saying no simply means that you are making a conscious selection based on your immediate needs as opposed to the wants or demands of someone else.

2. Balance your time and your relationships properly – One of the biggest reasons why exhaustion takes place, is because of poor time management and not managing relationships effectively.  Everyone who is mature will understand that relationships along with daily responsibilities is a part of life.  The suggestion is not to be slothful or irresponsible, but it is to realize how to balance what you have in your life.  Sometimes, friends, family members, your spouse or significant other will take higher precedence over your moment of relaxation.  That is because all relationships and duties such as your job require time.  However, even most if not all places of employment provide opportunities to take days off, because any good employer recognizes that an employee that does not rest cannot be productive. So, even in your personal life, you must decide when to say no, and balance your time for yourself and for others.  Not doing so, will lead you to a life that is not productive, meaning a loss of health and a loss of engagement in all the good that life can bring.

3. Value yourself enough so that others do not take advantage of you – You may have seen examples (and perhaps in your own life) of what it looks like for others to show a lack of sensitivity for the person they are seeking to spend time with.  It can become burdensome when you are attempting to be at every place, at every moment that someone calls. However, the value that you have for yourself must exceed the value that others have of you. It doesn’t mean that you ignore the requests of others, but it means that you carefully consider whether or not it is wise to accept or deny what is asked.  Wisdom and maturity is recognizing the difference between a need and a want.  Someone might approach you regarding a special event that they want you to take part in, which they may express that they are in need of your attendance.  However, if you are truly valuing yourself you can decide if it is a need or if you can choose to go at another time.  Taking care of yourself will give you the security and the mental capacity to think and see clearly, rather than living in stress.

4. Stand firm in your decision – It is also important to keep in mind, that you must stand firm and not waver with your choice to say no.  Saying no, and then later saying yes can signify a mind that is easily swayed.  Of course a change of heart or mind is appropriate from time to time, but if you recognize that you are adamant about a matter, then you should remain solid with your decision.  In doing so, others will begin to respect you for maintaining a firm stance.  Those who are duplicitous and fluid in their thinking, are those who do not gain respect but they lose it.  Communicating effectively and holding to what you believe in during a specific time, is what increases your credibility.

Learning to say no is a process that all of us must endure at some point in time.  For some, it is easy to decline a request, but for others it is a challenge because of our nature to want to please everyone.  You must realize that attempting to please everyone will leave you dry and unfulfilled.  It isn’t your job to please others, but it is your responsibility to take care of yourself.  In doing so, you will be serviceable to others, which means it will be a pleasure to be in your company.The best thing to remember is that saying no isn’t a bad thing, but rather it is necessary if you want to apply a proper balance, and maintain a healthy way of living.

Posted in Encouragement, Life, Relationships, Values | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Looking Into a Mirror – Seeing a Reflection of Yourself

ID-10054974Most if not all of us have had an opportunity to look into a mirror or to peer into our own reflection.  The purpose of a mirror is to provide insight and a view that is reflective of ourselves.  Mirrors are usually designed so that the cosmetic aspect of our life is satisfied as it relates to our appearance.  There are many who look into a mirror with the intent to ensure that how they look is presentable before leaving their home.  It is the person that understands the value of appearance, that takes time to view themselves in the mirror so that they can leave their abode with confidence and the appropriate attire for the day.

However, there is so much that a mirror can teach us as we live in our daily lives.  Here are a few things that we can extract from the purpose of a mirror:

1. A mirror shows the individual their appearance which ties into their identity – As you look into a mirror, what do you see?  Each of us who look, we see a reflection of ourselves. This involves not just the clothing that we wear, but our identity or what identifies you based on your face and body type.  This includes skin color, height, weight, eye color, hair color, hair length, facial features, etc.  All of these things are wrapped up in your physical identity.  These are all features that tell the world who you are based on how you are perceived or seen.  Just as the mirror shows us our appearance or identity, we are able to take that same example and apply it to other areas of our lives.  Basically, what we reflect to others is what our identity is. This means, it is our personality, our upbringing, our self esteem, and our disposition.  How we portray ourselves outwardly is just as important as how we portray ourselves from the inward perspective.  So, when we examine ourselves, we can see just what goes on in the inward parts of us. Our identity is linked to how we see ourselves and what we see.  If you don’t know your identity, then the mirror you are looking into is likely to look broken or foggy.  This in turn means that what you see isn’t yet clear. As a result, it becomes ambiguous to others as to who you are, because you are not able to see clearly.

2. A mirror shows your flaws – Like it or not, we all have flaws and are fallible in our humanity.  When you look into a mirror, you may notice a pimple or something on your face or body that perhaps points to a blemish.  A mirror is also designed to show you a potential flaw that could be seen by others unless it is addressed.  The same thing applies within our own lives.  There are different mirrors that can come in the form of family members, friends, and even from a one on one relationship with a significant other. Anyone who has the express purpose of invoking improvement into your life, will begin to tell you about the flaws that could be a potential issue to yourself and to others.  Sometimes, pointing out flaws will cause discomfort, but if you have someone in your life that will do you well and not harm, then the moments of discomfort will be temporary.  A mirror provides the necessary time to assess each flaw that exists and it shows you the areas to focus as you examine yourself.

3. Looking into a mirror can show you the level of self esteem you have – Everyone has a certain level of self esteem, whether it be high or low.  The age old question of, “What do you see when you look in the mirror?” is designed to get the viewer to describe not only what they see but how they feel.  If you are reluctant to look into a mirror, it is likely that your self esteem may be lacking in key areas. Or, the opposite of that is someone who constantly looks in the mirror which usually means that the individual’s self esteem is quite positive.  However, as we conduct self examination, the reflection that we see will tell us just how we perceive ourselves. For some, it may be an image issue concerning weight gain.  For others, it may be an issue of being too thin or being unsatisfied with how they look.  Even outside of one’s appearance, self esteem can be applied to one’s own self worth. There are those who believe that they are a failure because they have not reached a certain status in life, or perhaps they were not affirmed throughout their childhood years.  In any case, a mirror can show you where you are as it relates to your self worth.

All of us have varying degrees of self perception, but the concept of a mirror is what illuminates the art of learning how to see yourself and how others see you.  You are a reflection of what goes on internally and externally.  It is important to know what the purpose of a mirror is, because it will help you to understand the art of truly looking at yourself both outwardly and inwardly.  As we all journey through this life, we should take time to examine ourselves so that the reflection we see is pointing towards a healthy individual that has the capacity to show others what a life that is well lived truly looks like.

Posted in Encouragement, Life, Values | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Learning What It Means to Love Someone Else

ID-10035008Relationships are a normal and critical part of the human experience.  Daily, we can see a myriad of examples that point to the right ways and the wrong ways to conduct a relationship.  For example, looking at the lives of celebrities and how many in Hollywood publicly display their relationships , you can see a mixture of both the good an the bad when it comes to how relationships are done.  Most of what the media portrays is not an accurate picture of love or even dedication.  Instead, viewers are given bad examples of what relationships look like.   It may be instances of physical and verbal abuse, infidelity, and even sexual promiscuity.

However, what you see in the media and even in real life does not translate into what it means to truly love someone.  Love can be best defined from the scripture taken from 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7:

” Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”  

What does it mean to love someone else?  What are the characteristics of love and how can we understand what it means to show love to another? To do so, we must understand what love is not.  Just looking at the scripture above, you can see what love is, based on traits and actions that are shown when love is present. For the purposes of this blog post, I would like to focus on the relational aspect of love and how it can be shown in the essence of romance.  Here are a few things to consider when it comes to understanding the age old concept of love:

1. Love isn’t just a feeling – It is often said that love is a feeling or it is a sensation that causes one to feel good in that moment.  It is true that love comes with a sense of positivity and good feelings.  However, love is not a sum total of such good feelings.  Often times love will require that a person go beyond how they feel just to serve the other person. Society and even the media has equated love with the sensual nature that occurs when sexual activity is a part of a relationship.  Love has also been reduced to only experiencing the excitement and emotional high that one feels when they are “in love”.  While love can encompass these things, it would be incorrect to leave love as the media and current societal norms have led us.  The key is to realize that true love exists when perhaps the one in your life has disappointed you, caused hurt and yet you can look beyond their faults.  If love were reduced to a feeling, then when moments of strife and disappointment would arise, you would not have the capacity to work through each crisis or issue.

2. Love does not dishonor – Going back to the many examples that can be found in Hollywood or in the media, it is easy to see what dishonorable behavior looks like.  Love does not involve blatant disrespect, lack of trust, or betrayal.  Rather, love seeks to esteem the other person for their benefit.  You might be aware of the current ad campaign that the NFL has promoted regarding domestic violence.  In the United States, domestic violence still occurs on a daily basis, which has recently become an issue that gained national exposure after the incident between former NFL player Ray Rice and his wife Janay.  However, it is important to note that true love does not dishonor.  To love is to honor another, rather than to do harm whether it be physical or verbal.  There are those who have physically abused, and later returned apologetic, just to utter the words, “I love you”. Love cannot co-exist with such bad behavior, because to love is to honor.

3. Love is not selfish – To love is to be selfless which means to give up what you desire for the sake of another.  Love requires that you lay down your own life and desires, just to see that someone else benefits.  To seek self gratification at another’s expense is not only selfish but it is insensitive.  As the Bible says, love is not self-seeking.  Rather, love seeks to serve, instead of seeking to be served.  For any relationship to thrive it will mean that both persons are selfless.  Self centered behavior cannot incur the type of growth that a healthy and loving relationship will need.  Instead, it is literally laying down ones life so that the other can live.  Without the element of sacrifice, it becomes a model of self centered thinking, which leads to neglect and ultimately a relationship that can no longer mature.

4. Love is not impatient – More so than ever, our world has become a fast paced arena of self gratification.  Much in part due to technology, we now have mechanisms in which we can receive data at high speeds rather than having to wait for it.  Unfortunately, the mentality of wanting everything now and getting it has translated to our relationships.  For love to be realized, there must be the element of patience – patience even with the one you love. It takes patience to grow through all of the changes that you and the other person may go through in life.  Impatience causes one to undercut the process of learning, in addition to skipping the necessary building blocks for any solid relationship.  Just as a plant needs time to grow, a loving relationship also needs that time to bloom.

5. Love does not retaliate – As the above scripture points out, love doesn’t keep a record of wrong doing.  Basically, if the one you love does something that you don’t necessarily like, it is not a characteristic of love to remember their fault and retaliate.  Rather, love is kind and chooses to forgive.  Forgiveness is a trait that true love exemplifies.  Even if your spouse or significant other has done something to cause you discomfort, it is love that forgives.  To love is to forgive and to forget the past history of that person and their actions towards you.

Finally, love is a choice.  Out of all of the above points which suggest what love is not, love is a choice.  You can choose to love a person by making a conscious decision to sacrifice your own life and well being for another.  Love is not forced, but rather it is a voluntary exercise that must be made daily, if you are going to have a successful relationship.  In order to learn how to love, you must look at love in the context of the traits found in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7.  Knowing what love is and what love is not, will provide a starting point to how love can be viewed, and how love can be shown to others.  Only when you are willing to forsake what the media and other false entities have portrayed, you will then see just what love is.  Love can be a grand experience, but it takes effort, patience, growth, and a willing heart to accept the flaws and positive traits of another person. It is a process, but if you are willing to try, you too can learn how to love and to do it effectively.

Posted in Encouragement, Relationships, Values | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A Wake Up Call – The Alarm Clock of Life

ID-1004004On a daily basis, we find ourselves waking up in the morning to start a brand new day. Often times, the symbol or use of an alarm clock, is what our daily routine requires. This is usually the morning ritual for those that have a predetermined time period to arrive at a certain destination.  It is the buzz, chime, or bell of an alarm clock that startles us from our slumber. After enjoying a restful night, it can become a fight and an arduous task for many to begin their morning.  However, the alarm clock is a useful tool because it provides stimulation and a break in the silence, with the attempt to awaken anyone that is asleep.

In fact, just to give you a brief historical fact, according to inventors.about.com, the first mechanical alarm clock was invented by Levi Hutchins of Concord New Hampshire, in 1787. The alarm clock as a concept has been used for decades, and continues to be a staple in our modern society.  However, there are such things in life that can cause an “awakening” in our own lives.  These moments can alert or alarm us to potential reasons as to why our lives are going in the wrong direction.

Every now and then, we experience wake up calls, which can bring us back into reality.  Thinking about the concept of sleep or rest, the human mind enters into a state of rest which is usually oblivious to the environment around us – until our rest is interrupted by an external force.  It is the lack of awareness that we have while we are sleeping, that causes us to miss those things that may be occurring around us.  It is only when our sleep is interrupted that we are then alert enough to see our surroundings.

In life, there will be moments that arise which serve as reminders that we must awaken from our daily routines.  One such example would be the tragic events that took place on 9/11.  On September 11th 2001, a day of immense proportions took place on American soil for the first time since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.  Over 3000 lives were lost, and the face of America was forever changed due to the events.  It was such a day in which if you were alive, you knew exactly what you were doing and where you were.  It was 9/11 that served as a wake up call for not only Americans, but for the rest of the world.

9/11 was a prime example of a tragic event that exemplified the nature of an alarm clock.  Before 9/11, it seemed that the world and America was standing in the mode of neutrality, as it related to life and what freedom truly meant.  Of course, there were past events that served as momentary wake up calls, but none quite like 9/11.  However, 9/11 is used as an example to say that there are various things that can happen in our lives, which can serve as a wake up call.

For some, it is the tragic loss of a loved one.  It may be losing a dear friend or family member which can put you in the mode of seeing your own finite existence on this Earth. Or, perhaps it may be a person’s spending habits which serve as a wake up call.  There are many who fit the category of undisciplined or lacking control when it comes to spending. As a result, they may find that their bank account and debt points to just how little discipline was used, meaning bad credit and or bankruptcy.

Life has a way of teaching us all that we must wake up, be aware and live life to the fullest. It is so easy to remain asleep in the realm of monotony, that you miss out on various lessons.  All of us have an opportunity to grow, and to see beyond where we are currently. However, sometimes it may take something to stir us out of our sleep, so that we can adequately embrace those lessons we should learn.  However, we should not always wait until a tragedy occurs to see just what we have in our lives.  There are many moments that require vigilance and keen awareness to avoid having to learn a hard lesson.

It is the life that God has given to all of us which contains many aspects that we can learn from.  Just like the alarm clock, where we are in life can be shaken to the core.  However, we must keep in mind that just as the purpose of an alarm clock is to awaken the sleeping, life lessons are designed to get us to a place where we can be refocused.  All of us can stand to experience a wake up call every now and then, but the goal should be to heed the call, and awaken from your sleep.  So, avoid hitting the snooze button, and wake up to see the true potential that your life has, and the environment that is around you.

Posted in Encouragement, Life, Success, Values | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment