Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Live, Laugh, & Love

Live Authentically

Your life is just that...YOURS! Own it! Many of us have not lived a fulfilled life because we have not truly embraced our true, authentic self. Who are you deep down on the inside? Who has God created you to be? You have to answer these questions for yourself before others can truly begin to embrace the true you. We have all heard the phrase, "You teach people how to treat you" but I will go a step further and say, "You teach people who you are." If you constantly feel misunderstood then it might be that people are confused about who you really are. We all go through the stage of self-exploration and self-identification but stages typically have a beginning and an ending. Embrace your uniqueness...embrace your flaws...embrace the true you!

Laugh Intentionally

Life can be overwhelming, stressful, and unfair but it can also be fulfilling, enjoyable, and peaceful. Life is what YOU make it. Proverbs 17:22 says, "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." In a nut shell, you have to learn how to laugh even when there's nothing to laugh about. We must celebrate the small victories in our lives. Learn to be grateful for what you have and focus less on what you don't have. Happiness is a state of mind rather than a euphoric feeling. You have enjoy your life on purpose! Take care of yourself, be selfish sometimes, and make your needs a priority. It's so easy to get caught up in helping others that you neglect yourself. Lighten up, take a load off, and enjoy your life!

Love Extravagantly

Love is what makes life worth living...the love of God, the love of family, and the love of self. We can't just receive love but we must give love as well. It is the love you give that matters most. We have to go beyond our love comfort zone and love extravagantly! To be extravagant is to be excessive. Don't just love people the way they love you but love excessively and without restraint. I'm not saying open your heart to everyone but love them (there's a difference). You can't love where there is unforgiveness and resentment. Don't try and punish people who have hurt you by withholding only imprisons you. Let it go!  Love can conquer what hate can not. Choose to love!

Be blessed :)

Friday, February 21, 2014

All Faith, No Fear!

While at work yesterday, I heard these words resounding in my spirit, "All Faith, No Fear". I originally heard these words from my mortgage broker, Melanie, during my home buying process last year. As you know, being a first time homebuyer can be an extremely stressful's like you cross one hurdle only to encounter another. Well, one day I was freaking out about something that we needed to get to close the loan and Melanie texted those exact words to me, "All Faith, No Fear". Those words calmed my anxiety and made me reflect on the faithfulness of God. So, when God brought them back to my remembrance it inspired me to write this post :-)

I guess what I want to encourage you to do is not allow your fear of failure or rejection to keep you from pursuing your dreams and goals. The most unfulfilled person is the one who knew their potential but never allowed it to be actualized because of fear. Fear is the enemy of faith. If you don't deal with fear at the onset, it will get stronger and eventually overtake your life. Fear can be makes you feel stagnant and unproductive. This is why God makes it clear to us in his word that he has not given us the spirit of fear (2 Tim 1:7) and that in order to please him we must have faith (Heb 11:6).

What have you allowed fear to talk you out of? Starting your own business? Going back to school? Switching careers? Being more active in your church? Well, the good news is that you still have time! Will it be easy? Absolutely not! But, it's not easy watching your potential waste away either. Dorothy Thompson said it best, "Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live." There is a huge difference between being alive and living. To truly live is to wake up every day with passion and purpose. To live is to be intentional. So, I say to you "live!" The key to overcoming fear is putting your trust fully and completely in God. Has he ever let you down before? Is anything too hard for him? You might fail but then again you might not. You will never know until you give faith a try!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Grieve and Move On! Your Life Depends On It!

All of us have experienced bad things in our lives...childhood trauma, loss of a loved one, sexual abuse, abandonment. For some, the word "bad" isn't bad enough to describe the horrors that life has thrown your way. Let me help some of you and say this, it was NOT your fault! I needed to say that so you can get the validation you need. How long have you been holding on to the hurt? 5 years? 20 years? 50 years? No matter how long it's been, it's time for you to grieve and move on!

I know someone is probably saying to yourself, "why should I one died" but the truth is apart of you did die!  In my years of working with hurting people, I have come to realize that recovering from a traumatic experience is very similiar to the grieving process. While in grad school, I learned about Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and the 5 Stages of Grief she developed from her years of research on grief and loss.

  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Denial
  • Bargaining
  • Acceptance

Do you find yourself in any of these stages? Dr. Kubler-Ross suggests that the grieving [or hurting] person goes through these stages with the ultimate goal of acceptance. However, she also suggests that there is no specific order for the stages, which means someone can go from denial to anger and back to denial. People grieve differently and for different lengths of time. I believe trauma is a type of loss and we must properly grieve in order to move forward. While counseling victims of sexual abuse & sexual assault, they would often tell me that they feel like a part of them died after the incident. My goal as their counselor was not to get them to be who they were but to accept the fact that they have been forever changed by their experience. Only then could they embrace the person, the survivor, they have become.

You will never be who you were before that car accident that left you paralyzed or the rape in college that you never told anyone about. Although the vehicle of change was painful, the change itself was a gift. Am I suggesting that it was good that you were hurt? No! But what I am saying is that the way you perceive the experience and how you grow from it makes all the difference. The difference between the lady who was sexually abused and ended up addicted to crack cocaine as a way to cope & Oprah Winfrey (also a sexual abuse survivor) is the way they processed their pain. You have to realize that you are no longer powerless. You have the God-given power to grieve and move on or stay in the rut of self-pity. It's your choice!

In John 5, Jesus encounters a man at the pool of Bethesda who had been hurting for a very long time (38 years to be exact). Jesus doesn't have a long coversation with the man about his condition rather he asks him one question, "Do you want to get well?" Jesus could've touched the man and healed him without saying a word but he wanted the man to play an active role in his own healing. So, I ask you the same question,"Do YOU want to be healed?" It's at the moment that make a conscious decision to stop being a victim to your pain that your healing process will start. The only thing that can stand in the way of your healing is YOU :)

Be blessed!