Dump your ego and find peace…

August 3, 2022

Two quotes that I had in my collection of quotes seemed to work well together today –

Ego says, ‘Once everything falls into place, I’ll feel inner peace.’ Spirit says, ‘Find your inner peace and then everything will fall into place.’  (Marianne Williamson)

“Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.”  (Wayne Dyer, motivational author)

The first quote talks about letting go of the egotistical view that one can control things that are happening in life, while the second gives great advice on how to let go of that egotistical view of life.

I have advised many times about using the same little prayer to get yourself in the right frame of mind to deal with the issues of life – “Not my will, but thy will be done.”

To some that prayer sounds like you are giving up or surrendering to life’s events. The reality is that you were never in control of the events no matter how hard you tried to be. That was just your ego trying to assert itself. The only thing that you can really control is your response to those events. That prayer allows one to let themself off the hook for causing or controlling the events, but not for how one reacts to those events.

Williamson’s quote says nothing about being able to control or change the events in your life. Rather it refocuses you on accepting and dealing with those events and being at peace with yourself and the decisions that you make. Dyer’s quote provides a big clue on howe to achieve that peace. His advice is also to put ego aside (how you think life should be or maybe how you think you can make life turn out) and focus instead on calmly dealing with the events of life.

Note also that Williamson’s quote says nothing about changing the events that are occurring, only about changing the outcome of (or reaction to) those events as they apply to you. Rather than working yourself into a frantic lather worrying about things to come or beating yourself up over things that have already happened or trying futilely to control the events happening in your life, you can accept that they happen and focus instead on the best way to react to them. The best way, as Williamson opines is to be at peace and let the pieces fall into place. And, as Dyer recommends, the best way to achieve that peace is to retrain your mind to stop wasting time trying to be in control (your ego).

So, perhaps you should start your day with the little prayer, “not my will but thy will be done” and then follow up by asking God’s help to remain at peace and make good decisions on how to react to events as they unfold.

Dump your ego and find your inner peace that will help you get through the day.

Who are you becoming? Keep your hopes alive.

July 24, 2022

I saw this quote recently and just loved it, because it is such a great positive message of hope –

“I have hope in who I am becoming.”  (Charlotte Erikson)

Shortly after saving that quote, I got this graphic in a daily email that I get –

What a great message it carries, too.

I don’t think that you necessarily have to come to a cathartic event, such as entering the chrysalis state like the caterpillar does when it turns into a butterfly, in order to change and become the butterfly that you hope to be. The point is to consciously decide to make the commitment to the changes in your life that will alter the trajectory of it. Commit to turning into the new you.

Women may find the illusion to changing into a butterfly easier to accept than men, but the point is not one of changing one’s outer beauty so much as the inner you changing to become a better and more beautiful person inside – a person that others want to be around and an example for others to follow.

Maybe you can start each day with a little prayer such as,” God give me the strength and perseverance to become the person that I know that I can be.”  Just putting yourself in that frame of mind each morning will make each day better and get you one step closer to who you are becoming.

So, have hope in who you are becoming and welcome the change; not into a butterfly, but into the new and improved you. It’s a beautiful thing.

Do you have useful purpose in your life?

July 22, 2022

I saved these quotes over time, and they seem to go well together:

“The important thing is that men should have a purpose in life. It should be something useful, something good.”  (Dalai Lama)

“The purpose of life is to be useful to be honorable to be compassionate to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”  (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

I suppose that most people don’t view their lives as being useless. After all they work and support themselves, and perhaps others. That would seem to be useful, but I think the Dalai Lama and Emerson both had something else in mind when they said that we need to be useful.

The purpose that both had in mind was to be doing things for others or to make life better for others. But why?

In Philippians 2:2-8 we read – “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.” 

Another Bible interpretation of being useful is to bear the fruit of the vine.

In John 15 we read that Jesus said – “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

What is the fruit of the vine?

The fruit of the vine and the fruit of the Spirit are the same and we are told –

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” (Galatians 5:22-23)

So, in this sense, the purpose of our lives is to live in such a way that we share those attributes with our fellow man. By doing so we will make their lives better and fulfill the purpose that both the Dalai Lama and Emerson had in mind.

Don’t let the Bible quotes comparing what your actions to those of Christ intimidate you. The intent is that you learn from the life of Christ and try to emulate it as best you can by being conscious of the fruits of the Spirit and practicing them in your day-today life. Each day you can look at that list from Galatians and turn each item on that list into an action statement for your life that day, i.e. “I will show kindness to others” or “I will be patient with others” or maybe “I will exercise self-control when dealing with others.”

If you consciously do those things each day, you will be doing useful things by making the lives of others better. You will have purpose in your life and your life will be better, too.

Live well. Have purpose.

Leave your shadow behind…

July 21, 2022

In yesterday’s post to his Blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this old German proverb – “Come on, jump over your shadow.” Pastor Freed explained in his post how it was used originally to challenge someone to take risks.

Our shadows might be seen as a metaphor for our fears or maybe our reputation; so, leaving it behind allows us to try new things. The thing about shadows is that we seldom think of them, they are just there, following us around, much like the fears and prejudices that follow us around and limit our experiences. I can imagine how someone could see their shadow as being something that holds them back. We do not try new things because we are afraid of unintended consequences. We do not meet new people because they are different from us, and we allow our fears or prejudices to hold us back. Come on, jump over your shadow.

Our “shadow” might also be used to refer to our reputation, or at least what we think is our reputation – the shadow of our self-perception. This is the perception that others have or us or maybe that we have of ourselves. Perhaps we see ourselves as introverted and shy, so we avoid doing things that many others do because, “we just don’t do things like that” – we are afraid to even try. Yet something in us is shouting the old German proverb – Come on, jump over your shadow.

Maybe we are conscientious that we avoid certain people, not because of who they are but what they are – a different color, a different look, a different way of speaking, something “different” from us. That is the shadow of our unfounded fears and prejudices following us around. Every time that shadow yells “Don’t talk to them”, another voice in the back of your mind that longs to know more about them is saying, “Come on, jump over your shadow.”

At work we may not be happy with our job or position in the company, but we hesitate to talk to our managers about getting ahead or doing something different and potentially more rewarding. Maybe it is a fear of being fired or maybe just a lack of confidence in our on ability to perform a different job. Yet we hear that nagging little voice saying, “Come on, jump over your shadow.”

Whatever our reason for holding ourselves back in life and in relationships, we need to find the courage to heed the old German proverb. Perhaps we can find the courage that we need in ISAIAH 41:8-10 –

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Maybe you can refocus away from fear and upon the positives of your faith:

 “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 TIMOTHY 1:7)

Whatever your motivation, summon up your faith and assert your self-control. There are wonderful people and great opportunities just beyond the shadows of fear and prejudice that are holding you back. “Come on, jump over your shadow”

What will you make of your day?

July 11, 2022

In a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Pastor Freed used this quote – “Today is a great day to have a great day!”  (Tag seen on a tea bag)

I’m sure that someone said that before it ended up on a tea bag, but the author was lost in history.

The quote points out that every day can be a great day if you start out in the right frame of mind. One can get into that right frame of mind by first pausing in the morning to thank God for giving you another day.

“A grateful heart is a beginning of greatness. It is an expression of humility. It is a foundation for the development of such virtues as prayer, faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being.” (James E. Faust)

Have a great day.

Without spending too much time, one can look ahead at the day and get some organization in mind – what are the important things that you could focus some time on and maybe in what order; what things need to be set aside for later, so that they don’t waste your time today; what things just need to be discarded.

“The price of greatness is responsibility.” (Winston Churchill)

Have a great day.

Some of the things that you may wish to devote some time on today are long-term in nature, so you need to be happy just getting one more step in the process done today and not become frustrated with not getting to the finish line today. Yoi can get some things done today and, as you accomplish each one, take time to celebrate those small victories. Great things are often made up of many small, good things.

“Greatness comes by doing a few small and smart things each and every day. Comes from taking little steps, consistently. Comes from a making a few small chips against everything in your professional and personal life that is ordinary, so that a day eventually arrives when all that’s left is The Extraordinary.” (Robin S. Sharma)

Have a great day.

Maybe today is one that you have been thinking about (perhaps dreading) for some time; maybe a day when you have to do something that you would rather not have to do. Steel yourself before you start by visualizing the outcome that you desire to happen and then make that outcome happen. Things never go as badly as our imaginations conjure up and often go better than we had hoped.

“Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness, but it is greatness.” (George Bernard Shaw)

Have a great day.

Whatever your day has in store, never forget that you are in charge of you and how you act and react during the day. You do not have to let the event of the day control you.

“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.” (Mahatma Gandhi)

Today is a great day to have a great day!

Listen for Hope’s song…

July 8, 2022

Pastor Freed recently used this quote in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words – “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.”  (Emily Dickenson)

Sometimes it can be very hard to hear Hope’s little song amidst the calliope of news about hateful acts of deceit or violence that we are overwhelmed with each day; but it is still there. One must consciously pause and search the soul for its presence. Sometimes, we call that pause prayer.

Why take time for prayer each day?

“Our physical, emotional, and spiritual health requires rest. We need to take a break. We need to nurture ourselves. To take a time out to refuel, rejuvenate, and revive ourselves.”

― Dana Arcuri

“Prayer is perpetual rejuvenate force.”

― Lailah Gifty Akita

Prayer gives one the chance to hear Hope’s song. If you listen very carefully to Hope’s little song you may also realize that Hope is singing a duet with Faith, the other little feathered thing that resides in the soul. Hope and Faith always sing together in prayer.

There was a 1960’s song written by John Lennon and Yoko Ono titled, “Give Peace a Chance”. Perhaps in this day and age we need a new song titled, ”Give Hope a Chance”.

So, if your world gets too noisy and overwhelming, take time to rejuvenate by finding a quiet little place (literally or figuratively) to pray and listen for the little song of hope and faith that is there in the back of your mind.

Give Hope a chance.

Be the best “you” that you can be…

June 27, 2022

As you start a new week, take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom from Judy Garland – “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”

Young people often go through a phase of identity crisis in which they try to emulate someone else, usually someone famous, in the mistaken hope that they will somehow have the life that they see that person living. They may dress like that person or change their physical appearance to more closely resemble that person. The result is just a second-rate version of the person that they are trying to imitate, and the results are always disappointing.

It is certainly Ok to draw inspiration from one’s heroes and perhaps to try to “be like them” in displaying certain characteristics, like honesty or humility or empathy. The key is to internalize those characteristics and then make them your own by putting your spin on them and not trying to do exactly what that other person would do.

In the late 1990’w there was a world-wide phenomenon of WWJD bracelets which stood for What Would Jesus Do. A youth group leader at Calvary Reformed Church in Holland, Michigan, named Janie Tinklenberg, began a grassroots movement to help the teenagers in her group remember the phrase; it spread worldwide in the 1990s among Christian youth, who wore bracelets bearing the initials WWJD.

For some the challenge of thinking about what Jesus might do in any situation was overwhelming because they thought of it too literally and quickly became discouraged when they couldn’t live up to that standard. Others who understood the challenge better used the inspiration of WWJD to stop and consider what the “right thing to do” in any situation might be. They focused upon being a first-rate version of themselves, rather than lamenting that could never be more than a second-rate version of Jesus.

As you face the week ahead, do so with the resolve to be the best “you” that you can be. You don’t need to wear a WWJD bracelet to remind yourself to stop and think about what the right thing to do is in any situation. Put yourself in the right frame of mind by pausing before you head out the door and ask God with a little prayer, “Help me make good decisions today.” That way you will spend the day being the best “you” that you can be and not waste time being a second-rate version of someone else. You may find that there are other people trying to be more like you.

Imagine that.

Who are you?

June 24, 2022

A post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog this week posed the question that is today’s topic. Pastor Freed  posed this question in the quote that he used – “Imagine that you have lost your occupational role and your family relationships.  Who are you now?”  (Brian Thorne) 

I have posted here before that; men in particular seem to find their identities more in their jobs than even their homes. Certainly, their roles as husbands and fathers make up some part of how they identify themselves. I recently read part of an article on depression in older men that is supposedly caused by the changes that they encounter when they have retired. Perhaps the root cause of the depression in older, retired men is the loss of the “role” that they played in their work life. Their parental roles may have also become greatly reduced by that time.

The study that resulted in the article that I read looked at depression in homeless people who have no job, no family ties and even no home with which to identify. Those homeless who were diagnosed with depression struggled to answer the question, “Who am I?” Many retired men in particular struggle with the same feelings of depression, once their job identities are removed.

I have written here several times about loving yourself. Often that starts with forgiving yourself for past mistakes; however, it always comes down to accepting yourself as you are before moving on to the roles that you might be playing in your interactions with others. A big part of accepting yourself is acknowledging your relationship with God and His role in your life. The little prayer that I use a lot here – “Not my will, but thy will be done” – serve to free you from the time-wasting need to try to control everything in your life and lets you focus instead of using your time to be the best person that you can be in whatever roles you are playing.

Maybe you don’t have the identity of your old work role anymore, but there are plenty of volunteer opportunities begging for your help in every community across this nation. Shifting the use of your time to volunteer work allows you to use many of the skills that you might have developed in your old work life to the betterment of others in you r community. The rewards in terms of your feeling of self-worth can be much greater than those that you received at work.

You may also find that your can increase your spousal role now that you have more time to give to the person who has been by your side for a long time. It’s not so much that you were ignoring that person as it is that you just didn’t have the time or maybe didn’t give it the priority that it deserved. You may find that you fall in love all over again with the one person that has been there all along.

One trap that is all to easy to fall into is living in the past. Avoid the tendency to say, “I used to be…” and instead focus upon what you are doing now, the who you are now. Whether it involves volunteer work or maybe a part-time job, share that instead of past accomplishments. Be more conscious of the time that you are spending with your life-mate and celebrate the joy that you can bring to their life by doing so. Take the time that you have now to continue educating yourself, either formally through classes or just through reading and exploring the answers to questions that you have.

If you start each day with a little prayer thanking God for giving you another day and vowing to make the best use of the time that you have been given, you will find that you don’t have time to be depressed because you are busy all day long working at making the lives of others better.

So, who are you? You’re the person that others are thankful is around to lend a hand or get things done. You’re the person whose life-mate is thankful is there for them. You’re the person with whom God is happy at the end of the day. Another quote from today’s installment to Jack’s Winning Word seems to fit here – “If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.”  (Max Lucado)

Be that guy/gal and you’ll know who you are because you’ve got your picture on God’s refrigerator.

Awaken and live for today…

June 17, 2022

Father’s Day and Mother’s Day always seems to bring out the messages about regrets for not having said more to parents or spent more time with them while they where here. In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote from Gene Autry – “If God would but grant me the power to turn back the pages of time.” He wrote about his own father’s death at a relatively early age and how he missed having his dad there for many milestones in his life.

But, that’s not how life works. God doesn’t grant us either the power to turn back time or to look into the future. The past cannot be changed and worrying about the future seems to be a waste of time; and, time is all that we really have. So, perhaps, instead of asking God to intervene in either the past or the future we should instead ask for his help with the here and now. Maybe a simple prayer like, “God, help me make good decisions today” would make today better. At least you would be praying for something reasonable.

As a precursor to that request for God’s help you might put yourself in the right frame of mind by using the little prayer that I post here quite often – “not my will but thy will be done”. That simple line relieves you of feeling responsible for the past and the future and puts you back in charge of just being responsible for how you act and react in the here and now. Then you can ask for God’s help in making good decisions as the day unfolds. Maybe, as Pastor Freed related, one of those decisions will be to call your mom or dad and just tell them that you love them.

Recently the slang word “woke” has been used in politics and other settings to describe what Webster’s Dictionary says is a state of being “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues”. It has been especially attached to the Black Lives Matter movement to indicate an awareness of pervasive racism in our society; however, the term maybe applied to life in general.

Living for today isn’t about forgetting what has happened in the past or not thinking and planning for the future. It is about being more mindful and focused upon what is happening now – being woke. Once you become more focused upon the here and now you soon realize all that you have been missing going on all around you. You may even gain an understanding or that old phrase, “stop and smell the flowers”, once you realize that there are flowers, opportunities, and interesting people all around you. Wake up!

Try it. You might like it.

Live for today.

Do you have a wish or a goal?

June 13, 2022

This graphic showed up in my in-box this morning just as I was starting to give some serious thought to the week ahead. It is easy to confuse wishes and goals, since both focus on some unrealized future event or accomplishment. The key is the existence of a plan to achieve that thing. If you don’t have a plan it is sort of like buying a Lotto ticket to secure your future – total happenstance, with terrible odds of success. A journey without any commitment to a final destination (the goal) is called “wandering”, and wandering aimlessly through life is not very satisfying.

If you have a goal, you should be able to identify where you are on the journey to achieving that goal and have a good idea what your next steps need to be. The reason that you are able to identify those things is that you have spent time breaking down the journey into logical, achievable steps or tasks that you know need to be accomplished – you have a plan. That is the difference between saying, “I wish I could find a new job” and “I’m going to find a new job”.

As you sit at the Monday morning breakfast table, take stock of the wishes and goals that might be swimming around in your head. Separate them out and focus upon the goals. Spend a little time on each goal to assess where you are on the journey to reach that goal and think about what steps you might be able to take this week to further that journey along. You rarely will have the time to multi-task at several goals at once (and still do your job at work), so prioritize which to work on as you find the time.

Look at the next step in your plan and break it down to smaller, more achievable steps if necessary. Take the time to congratulate yourself for getting this far on the journey and rededicate yourself to achieving some progress this week, no matter how small it may seem. I like this quote by Ernie J Zelinski –

 “Imagination allows you to think of the journey worth making. Motivation gets you started. But, it’s patience and perseverance that get you there.”

A lack of patience and perseverance are the greatest separators between success and failure to achieve one’s goals.

Sometimes it helps to also pause and remember that you ae not alone on this journey to your goal. God is always there with you. So, as you plan for this week’s steps towards those goals, make sure that you touch base with God and ask for his help. Don’t ask him to make things happen for you; that’s not how it works. Instead, pray for God to give you the strength and resolve to persevere and the patience to see things through.

Armed with a renewed commitment to your goals and with strengthened patience and perseverance you are ready for the week ahead.

Go for it!