Should you honor the relationship by agreeing to disagree?

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I recently commented on a Facebook post that I didn’t agree with.  I have a lot of respect for the person that made the post, but I simply didn’t agree with her commentary.  She and I went back and forth briefly and I lovingly agreed to disagree.  She and I are both Christians.  We both serve the same God, but we were unable to come to consensus. And guess what.  That’s OK.

People are going to have different perspectives on issues now more than ever.  However, as Christians, it’s important to maintain healthy debates if at all possible.  If you think your perspective is right, pray that God will reveal truth. Just be aware that the truth that’s revealed might not be your perspective.

When we agree to disagree, we honor the relationship above trying to change the person.  ~ Wisdom Hunters

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Choose to Dwell on Good Things

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Today we are living a new normal due to COVID-19. Stay at home orders are in place. Social distancing is being enforced. Educational institutions have transitioned to online platforms. Graduations, anniversaries and birthdays, which were formally in-person celebrations, are now virtual. Weddings have been changed or cancelled.

Social and economic impacts deteriorate every day. Non-essential businesses are closed. Unemployment rates are at an all-time high. Domestic violence and child abuse are at risk for spiking. At times, our new normal seems anything but normal. The thought of it all can be overwhelming.

I like to stay informed by watching news channels, briefings and interviews with medical experts. However, the constant negativity was slowly shifting me towards a state of heightened anxiety. To make matters worse, while I am blessed to be employed with an essential company, I am disheartened by the millions of people who are furloughed or laid off from their jobs. As someone who has been laid off several times in the past, I am well aware of the uncertainties that unemployment brings. However, it was during those unsure times that I learned to diligently seek God for insight, guidance and provision.

If you find yourself engulfed with feelings of anxiety, anxiousness or depression, consider the following actions which are constructive ways to achieve and sustain a positive mindset:

  • Be informed, but limit negativity. Set a time limit, such as 15 minutes/day max, to stay abreast of new COVID-19 developments.
  • Connect with individuals or groups who are encouraging. You can do this easily via a virtual platform like Zoom or video calls on your mobile phone.
  • Find ways to spread joy. There are many people and organizations who are doing great things during the pandemic. Share an inspiring story. Thank an essential worker.
  • Use this time wisely. Seek to know and understand your purpose. Develop and use your gift and talents to help others. Discover new interests.
  • Reflect on good things. Focus on your blessings. Watch live church services or motivating messages. Read uplifting articles blogs, and books.

One of my favorite scriptures is Philippians 4:8 (NASB), which says “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

When constant negativity surrounds you, you can choose to dwell on things that are good.

Phil4.8

The #1 Way to Avoid Burnout

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Today, I was doing my early morning bible reading in Exodus 18 when I was enlightened by Jethro’s advice to Moses.  Moses had been spending so much time dealing with minor complaints from the people that he had little time to handle more important things.

Jethro asked him, “Why are you trying to do this alone?”

Moses responded, “People come to me to seek God’s guidance.”

Jethro’s advice was simple. “Then get help and delegate!”

Getting help and delegating sounds simple and easy, doesn’t it? But a lot of people don’t do it. Even biblical heroes like Moses had to be reminded to let go of trying to handle everything. He had the best intentions, of course.  But over time, he was going to burn himself out.  If this scenario feels all too familiar, then you’re also probably someone who seeks to do everything on your own.

I used to be that person.  I was used to having a lot of responsibility at an early age, so it was hard for me to ask for help. However, as my responsibilities grew, I learned the importance of identifying reliable and knowledgeable resources to assist me. If you want a balanced, healthy life where you don’t feel overwhelmed and worn out, then you will need to ask for help and delegate when necessary.

Don’t fall victim to the misconceptions below:

  • Depending on others is a sign of weakness. This is false.  We need others to help us to do what God called us to do effectively.
  • If I ask someone for help, they may say no. Yes, this is true. But it’s okay if someone says they cannot help you.  People have obligations or conflicting priorities that may prevent them from being able to help.  Don’t take it personally.  Just ask someone else.
  • They won’t do the job as I would do it. Yes, this is also true.  However, we all have unique gifts and preferred ways of completing tasks.  Give clear and concise direction to ensure the job is achieved in the manner in which you would like.  Check in periodically to see if further clarification is needed.
  • I don’t trust people. Get referrals from trustworthy resources and give people the benefit of the doubt until they prove otherwise.  They may disappoint you at times, but that happens to everyone. There are times when you disappointed others, even when you didn’t intend to.  Learn to practice grace and forgiveness.

Asking for help and delegating is essential for emotional, mental, and physical life balance.  God did not create us to do life alone!

Purposeful Connections

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A few months ago, I posted a blog titled “When You Can’t See the Palm Trees”.  At the time, I was in a space filled with loneliness, doubt and regret.  If I’m honest with myself, I was having some real faith issues.  I felt disconnected from God, family and friends.

Though I was at a low point in my life, I never lost sight of the purpose that God birthed in me.  I was called to motivate and encourage people to live to their greatest potential.  I knew that I needed to form purposeful connections in my new location in order to reignite my calling.  As a result, I identified key connection areas (see list below) and became intentional about making connections.

  • Find a Church Home – Being connected with a church body is a critical aspect of growing as a Christian. As a result, my husband and I aggressively visited churches.  After several visits, we found a church that we felt compelled to attend.  We are now regular attendees.
  • Join a Life Group – After being former Life Group members, my husband and I recognized the value of being in an intimate Christian community. After making several calls to find a Life Group, we were placed in small group.  We have been blessed by the love and support of our leaders and fellow members.
  • Seek Personal Connections – Nurturing relationships are vitally important for establishing friendships. As I met various women, I looked for beliefs, experiences, and goals upon which to connect.  As a result, I see budding friendships forming.
  • Seek Professional Connections – Professional connections play a critical role in identifying opportunities for professional growth and development. I sought out professional conferences and networking events which exposed me to various learning and career enhancement opportunities.
  • Identify Volunteer Opportunities – The best way to get yourself out of a pity party is to volunteer with an organization that focuses on meeting the needs of others. I became involved with a great organization called 4 Kids. Their vision is a home for every child.

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When You Can’t See The Palm Trees

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My husband and I recently moved from a city we loved to pursue new opportunities.  We left beloved friends, a great church, and a wonderful suburb with the best neighbors one could imagine.  Though it was a hard decision to make, we truly felt that God was leading us to another state.

Once we arrived, I experienced extreme feelings of loss.  Though I was surrounded by warm weather, gorgeous beaches, and beautiful palm trees, I just couldn’t get past feeling a deep regret.  I tried to meet new people through group functions.  I attended conferences and networking events.  My husband and I visited several churches.  Yet, even with all of these activities, I still felt empty and sad.  I tried to hide it, but I missed the life I left behind.

I prayed to God daily and asked him “God, why am I here?”  The quiet voice I heard said “there are greater things in store for you, but you must trust me”.  Well, even though I heard that voice, I still had a hard time with the transition.  And I thought, “how am I going to encourage and motivate others when I’m feeling so discouraged?”

It’s in times like these that you need loving phone calls from good friends and family members, inspiration from God’s words, and motivational insight from a respected Christian Leader.  As I was watching Joel Osteen one morning, he said that sometimes God takes us through a season of being alone.  This is time we can draw closer to God, time we would normally give to another person or activity.  God wants us to embrace our season of isolation.  During these moments, we experience a pruning process so that we can bear much fruit.

Hearing Joel recite God’s word was life-changing.  I had a new perspective on things.  Even though I felt sad and I missed my old life, I had confidence knowing these feelings were temporary and God was doing a new work in me.

Focusing on people and things we lost can make us lose sight of the beautiful palm trees in front of us.  Center your thoughts around the benefits of your new situation.  It may feel uncomfortable for a while, but trust God to bring insight, peace and comfort right where you are.