When any of us go through something unwarranted, it's common to be rattled by it. We seem to always reject new for common. As humans we thrive in the comfort of expectation. We feel at ease in what we are most familiar with. We prefer to fit in rather than stand out or dare to be different. I'm guessing that it's hard wired into our Adam nature to want to be accepted & loved by all. However, this is real life where individuals have the right to choose hate over love, deception over truth, sorrow over joy, & the list could go on & on.
What I really want to zero in on is the the flip side of a new challenge when we choose to be brave & face the reality that things aren't going as planned. We have to pick up the pieces of our crushed hearts & embrace our unique path for what God has designed. After all, He knows best, & if we follow where He leads, we will be better, not bitter, for it!
I wish I could remember where I read about making a list of lessons you learn from difficult circumstances in order to be better & not bitter. At first I was almost repulsed by the very idea. I don't feel bitter, but how on earth could I actually be better than before the issues? After a few days of letting that sink in, I began penning down a few. Before I realized it, I had written pages! I'll try to summarize my new life lessons that I'm learning in my mid 30's:
- Listen up! - I have learned to listen instead of talk. I will be glad to listen to anyone that needs an ear as long as the conversation revolves around themselves or a situation they are in. I have a new no tolerance policy for anything else as pure gossip. Truth about others is seldom ever told. I want honest relationships that are positive. People aren't searching for earth shattering advice. They need to hear themselves, reflect, & be nudged to listen to God speaking to their heart. He will not lead astray.
- Be courageous! - Bullying is not limited to age & can carry into any social group. Yes, bullies can be found in most every church. They do not even recognize their own miserable selves. They carry with them their forceful personalities & are famous for deflecting blame instead of manning up to their own shortcomings. They live to create chaos & wreak havoc with their manipulative behavior. They continue to destroy unless we arm ourselves with the courage to speak up for the weak & wounded. We must guard ourselves against their attack because they will go to great lengths to eliminate anything contrary to their own perceived ideas of what everyone else should line up to. I have learned that silence is not always the best option. There is a time to stand up, take action, & speak! "If God be for us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:31 In dealing with bullies, don't embrace defeat. Defend yourself without bullying back. Be strong, & love yourself enough to let them go. Stay calm in those desperate situations. Rely on wisdom of God instead of fleshly emotion. Let Him be your guide, defense, & strong tower (Proverbs 18:10). He will keep us safe from their attack, however well planned it may be! God always wins!
- Love ALL! -No one is "better" than anyone else. They may be different, older, richer, attractive, popular, or even powerful but NOT better. God's word plainly states that He is no respect of persons (Acts 10:34) & warns in his word against measuring ourselves up against one another. 2 Corinthians 10:12 states that such are unwise. We are all made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). He died for everyone, not a select group. Sometimes the ones that are in need of love the most, show it the least. The greatest commandment after loving God is to love your neighbor (Matthew 22:39).
- Be trustworthy! - I have learned the value of being trustworthy. It may be hard, but being open, honest, reputable, reliable, & vulnerable earns another's trust. Cherish trust, & treat it delicately. For when matters effecting serious trust has been broken, only God can restore. Both parties must be willing to invest in deep work. The reason behind the betrayal needs to be addressed. Don't kid yourself into thinking that it can be easily repaired with a quick statement of forgiveness & cold embrace as the underlying issues are left unidentified & continually resurface.
- Show compassion! - NEVER be devastatingly unkind or hurtful. Tearing others down is cowardly. Cruelty for ANY reason is toxic. Instead, dig deep to find compassion in your heart. Realize that we are all in this world together, to help & not hurt one another. Again, sometimes those in need of love the most, show it the least. True love goes a long way. 1 Corinthians 13 dedicates an entire chapter to charity.
- Resilience is not an option! - Successful people don't die in the fight of their lives. They understand the importance of living to face another day. Don't let any battle damage your victory & spirit. Draw strength from the Almighty! We can either be the victim or the victor, not both at the same time!
- Dare to choose JOY! - Don't let others limit your joy. No one's opinion should EVER hinder your happiness. Master your own emotion. Our self worth comes from our creator alone. His view is not swayed by anyone. No matter who you are or what you are going through, there is something to be thankful about~the sun shining, birds singing, children's laughter, music, etc! Writing down at least 3 things you are grateful for is proven to lift your spirits! Too many scriptures exist on this topic to begin to list them all. My favorite is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
- Take care of myself & what's best for our family. - No one has to approve or understand our vision for our lives & those God has entrusted us with. He blessed us with dreams worth seeking after. Our life & those we share it with is truly a gift of God. I must heed His guidance above another's opinion. Also, taking special care of our bodies is a must for His spirit to dwell therein (1 Corinthians 16-20). What I put inside my temple does effect it. If I take care of myself, I will have the strength to serve & give more abundantly.
- Let it go! - We are not called to be fixers. TBH, that is hard for me. Sometimes I just think if I could explain something perfectly, then all will be well. However, we cannot control anyone elses' thoughts or intentions. I am not called to be the Holy Ghost. God is fully capable of that job. We must learn to rely on Him, & let God do what we cannot. Trust His ways. He knows best!
- Focus on SOULutions! - Fixation on problems prolongs emotions & stress. When it comes to toxic people & situations, obsessing on how crazy & difficult things are gives them a power over you. Quit thinking about how troubling things can be, & focus on how to handle your own self. Equip yourself with the knowledge of what always pushes your buttons. This puts you in control & reduces stress when facing the same ol', same ol' set of circumstances. What is best for your soul?