Showing posts with label You can do it. Show all posts
Showing posts with label You can do it. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Fear of the Worst

     I am amazed at how many times painful situations can change our lives for the best. I believe it is important to “rejoice always” as the Bible says (Philippians 4:4) and always be grateful to God no matter what. To rejoice means to celebrate, to be glad, to be very pleased.

As we go through life, we sometimes face difficult situations, sad moments and challenging times moments in which what we experience is not what we would have chosen or what we had planned. For example, we can receive bad news, have to say goodbye to a friend or loved one, go through a separation, a divorce or be fired from a job. When these things happen, we find it hard to rejoice, and we might feel it is hard to be grateful to God. At these times, we need to remind ourselves of the importance of being always grateful and ask God to give us the grace to rejoice. As it says in Philippians, we need to “rejoice always”! Not sometimes. Not only when things happen as we wish. Not only when we are happy and we think the situation is fair. Not only when things go our way. No, it says “always.”

It also says “Have no anxiety at all.” (Philippians 4:6) This leaves room for zero anxiety, zero distress, zero sorrow, zero worry and zero fear. But we are humans, biological as well as spiritual creatures. Sometimes our heart aches, our emotions get the best of us, our brain does not understand why things have to change or why things have to be so hard. It is sometimes hard to rejoice or feel grateful. It is human to feel sad. So what are we to do? How can we rejoice always?

            In the Bible, we are advised to do three things: Be grateful, pray and think about the good!

Be grateful. The Bible says we should be “giving thanks always and for everything.” (Ephesians 5:20) Let’s be grateful to God every day, all the time, no matter what, especially when we are not in the mood or when we are weighed down with burdens. Let’s never say, “I can’t be grateful for this or for that.” We can feel grateful because in a bad situation we had the opportunity to learn a lesson or because within a bad situation things could always have been worse. In every situation, we can find something to be grateful for. For example, when someone we love leaves us, we can be grateful that we had the blessing of meeting that person and having had that person in our lives.

To feel grateful, we need to remember two things. First, we need to remember as St.  Francis said that “nothing is ours! Great wisdom will come to us as we meditate upon this thought until we become firmly convinced of it we own nothing. Everything has been entrusted to us for a limited time only.” The chance to share our love with others is a gift from God. Sometimes we get possessive and forget that nothing is ours and everything is God’s. If we have anything even for a limited time, it is thanks to His greatness, kindness and loving heart. It is a gift.

            We are blessed to have all the things we treasure in our lives, all our friends, our family, our children, our opportunities, our experiences, our health, our youth, our intelligence and our skills. But when the time comes to say goodbye, when time is up, we need to let go. We need to keep the good memories, learn whatever lesson the experience left behind, grieve what needs to be grieved and then find the courage to keep on going.

            When God calls for a change in our life and/or in the life of a friend or loved one, we need to be ready to lovingly say: “Yes!” Sometimes we can be like spoiled children, whose parents have taken them to Disneyland and who have a tantrum when the vacation is over and it is time to go home. Instead of saying thank you for all they have enjoyed there and appreciating how good and loving their parents were, these children have a tantrum because they want to stay longer. They disregard the precious gift their parents have given them, and they focus instead on what they can no longer have. Let’s not be like spoiled children. Let’s be loving, obedient children of our heavenly Father.

            The second thing we need to remember in order to feel grateful in every situation is to be humble. Humble means: meek, docile, calm, submissive, obedient, soft and gentle. It is the opposite of being proud and having a big ego. It is the opposite of “I want it my way,” “I don’t want it this way” and “I don’t like it that way.” We can be excited and full of joy at what lies ahead, but we must also be detached from everything and be ready to give it up if necessary. Let’s be meek and humble of heart, like Jesus (Matthew 11:29), so that we can let go when God calls us to let go.

Pray. In order to rejoice always, the second thing the Bible advises us to do is to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). In Philippians 4:6, we are called to pray “with thanksgiving.” If we are upset and ungrateful and complaining, then we are not praying with thanksgiving! Once we have a life of prayer, then we can be sure that “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7) Even if we do not understand why, even if the situation is hard to accept, we must pray and try to rejoice, and then God’s peace will guard our hearts.

Think about good things. The Bible says: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8) We can manage our brain well and keep our emotions in check, but we need to want to do it, and we need to put effort into it. We must make a conscious choice to focus on all the good we have. We choose where we set your eyes, either on all that is good in our life or on all that is bad. If someone says, “There is nothing good I can think of right now,” we should remember that there is always God’s love to feel happy about. We should never say, “I cannot thank God for this” or “I have nothing to be grateful for.” Instead, as Mother Teresa advised, “we should make a commitment to see every experience, whether good or bad, happy or sad, as a magnificent opportunity to do something beautiful for God.” In the toughest moments we encounter, we give glory to God if we gather the strength to smile and trust and thank, even if that is all we can do.

Wisdom to contemplate:

“And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:14-15)

“No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Date, Dating, Breaking Up: Can you recognize yourself?

            We have all gone through some tough breakup or heartache. Actually, any time a relationship ends, it is very painful, no matter what type of relationship it might have been. A traumatic experience like this sometimes causes us to act differently, and maybe we will see a side of ourselves we did not even know we had. We might act in an irrational way or say mean things. We might cry or yell. We might break things or throw things. We might even think about taking our lives. When a situation of great stress arises, when we are faced with the fact that someone we greatly loved might not love us, it is a moment of great pain. We may be so distraught that we fall into a depression, lose our job or gain more weight than we ever thought could be possible.

Unfortunately, these situations do happen, at least once in our lives. When they do, what we need to do is to find a way to come out of them, instead of drowning in our own sadness and our own self-pity. We might feel the situation was unfair. Maybe someone lied to us or used us. Maybe we feel we wasted years of our lives or we were deceived into believing something that was not true. In any case, there is no safe way to avoid such things. All we can do is not let the horrible facts control us, not let ourselves be immobilized by a situation that has no solution, at least for the moment.

 We need to remind ourselves that sometimes it is necessary to let some time pass. We need time to collect our thoughts, analyze the facts and revise our feelings. We need time to heal and to get used to our new situation. We need to remind ourselves that we cannot let ourselves collapse. We need to love ourselves because if we don’t, we will be no good to anyone else. If we take our lives or if we fall into a deep depression, then who can we help? Who can we love? Who can we strengthen?

We need to stick around so that we can help others live through the same types of situations and so that we can encourage those who feel sad or weak. We can be a rock to others and let them lean on us in their tough days. Helping others is always a good way to help ourselves. We need to remember that most radical changes in our lives might not only have been necessary but might also have been for the best. Sometimes we get so attached to a person that we cannot let go. By not letting go, we close the doors to happiness, because we do not allow that person to grow and we do not allow new people to come into our lives.

So what do we do if our hearts have been broken? We seek help. We turn to God and ask for His love and mercy. We pour out our hearts to Him. We allow ourselves to be healed by His loving touch. He is always there to guide us and lift us up when we fall down. If we draw closer to God, He will draw closer to us! We need to focus on deepening our relationship with Him, and then everything will slowly start improving. Only then will we be able to turn to others. That is the second thing we need to do. We need to ask for the help of those who love us…maybe a family member or maybe a good friend. We need to open ourselves up to the help that comes from God through others.

At the same time, we need to remember that God gave us a brain to help ourselves, and we need to use it. We need to think of ways to cheer ourselves up. For example, we should turn off those sad love songs and instead listen to songs of praise and worship. When we praise God, we forget ourselves, and we open ourselves to His love. We need to get rid of everything that reminds us of the person who broke our heart, even if it’s just for a while. We need to box all that stuff up and put it into the closet or throw it away it makes no difference which, as long as we get it out of sight. When we feel we are starting to be overwhelmed by sad memories, we can turn on the TV, or we can call a friend to talk about anything other than the breakup, or, best of all, we can spend some time with Jesus.

If we feel as if all the couples in the world are being happy and loving just to make us miserable, we need to turn our heads there is always another direction to look at. Most importantly, we need to stay busy. We can motivate ourselves to look better than ever, pamper ourselves, maybe join a gym. We can focus on school or on work, be ambitious, think about getting a promotion or a new job, earn a Master’s degree or a PhD, or simply make it our goal to graduate with honours.

Do you see? It is up to us! We decide if we are going to collapse and let ourselves go, or if we are going to live through the disaster and succeed, no matter what. We are the ones who can consciously place ourselves in God’s hands and allow Him to redirect our lives and heal our hearts. For us, there should be no other option but that we will live through it, we will help ourselves and we will be happy again!

Wisdom to contemplate:

“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” (Mathew 5:13)

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.”(Mathew 5:14)

“So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6)

“Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.” (James 4:10)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Happiness is at hand !

I am convinced that half of our problems would go away if only we were able to surrender to the beauty of being alive and being loved by God. Yes, let’s pause for breath and think about all the reasons why we can be happy, instead of all the reasons why we think we are unhappy.  If we just took the time to smile and delight in a simple moment of joy, then we would be able to see that it is in the little things that happiness is hiding. It is in the ability to appreciate the everyday things that we start feeling tranquility and joy. 

  • Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we, could find happiness in the simple, sweet moments of our lives? 

  • Wouldn’t it be great if, like “little ones,” we were able to seek the sweet juice of life without allowing trivial things to get in the way?

  • Wouldn’t it be just perfect if we could stop and make an effort, even if for a minute, to detach ourselves from problems and from the monotony of the everyday and aim for the extraordinary? 

Some of us are just never satisfied, always desiring what we do not have, and this is truly sad. If we only could find happiness in the small things that make our lives unique, then happiness would be in our hearts most of the time. We must stop ourselves if we find ourselves complaining about our circumstances. We must try to wake up asking ourselves:

  •            Why is it that we are never satisfied with our situation?

  • Why is it that once we achieve one of our goals, we immediately ignore what has been achieved and set our eyes on the next thing? 

  • What am I grateful for?  

If we are willing to be like “little ones,” then, like them, we will find a million reasons to be happy and a million things worth enjoying. Big moments in our lives fly by, leaving us only memories. But simple, small reasons to be happy are waiting for us every day! If we can learn to find joy in these little things, and use our memories to boost our morale when we need it, to bring a smile to our lips when we feel we just can’t go on, then it will be possible to find ourselves happy most of the time. And isn’t that what everybody wants?

 To be happy is a choice. It is our choice. Nobody can make us happy but ourselves. Nobody can come and inject happiness into us. Happiness is found inside ourselves. It doesn’t matter where you are the type of house you own, the country you live in, the vehicle you drive, the job you have. It doesn’t matter what you have lots of jewelry, a good-looking spouse, great clothes, a pet or any other thing. You will always find yourself with you guessed it yourself![2] What does this mean? It means that unless you learn to find happiness inside yourself, happiness will always be a myth, a desire, but not your reality.

Wisdom to contemplate:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!”
(Philippians 4:4)

“Happy the people so blessed; happy the people whose God is the LORD.” (Psalm 144:15)

[1] For this thought, I am indebted to Anthony Robbins, Awaken the Giant Within (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992).
[2] Anthony Robbins, Awaken the Giant Within.