What pain will you turn into a strength?

December 7, 2019

A post to the blog, Jack’s Winning Words ,not too long ago used this quote – “Life is very interesting.  In the end some of your greatest pains become your greatest strengths.”  (Drew Barrymore) 

You could substitute other words like challenges or tribulations or roadblocks or setbacks for the word “pains” in the quote, and add the word “overcoming” right before the word “some”. If you did that, I think you would have what Barrymore was trying to say.

At the time that they are occurring, trials and tribulations don’t feel good and you usually don’t think about how you will look back on the events that are unfolding as a learning and growth experience. However, extraordinary events, especially bad events, force us grow by forcing us outside of our comfort zone and into problem solving mode.

My wife and I often use a little phrase between ourselves as a tension breaker, when we’ve hit a hiccup in life. We say, “someday we’ll look back on this an laugh”. We’ve had a lot of laughs in our 53 years of marriage, much of it over things that felt bad when they occurred. To a certain extent what we end up laughing at is not the event; but, rather, how we reacted to the event.

So, how does a pain, a failure, a setback in life become a strength? It has to do with building your store of wisdom and your character at the same time.  Wisdom and character don’t just happen or increase on their own; they happen and grow because you have been “through” something – some adversity or new experience. They can both grow from good things happening as they do from dealing with the bad things in life.

I’ve posted here many times about problem solving, so I won’t repeat that advice. What I want to add to that advice is that you make a conscious effort while going through the problem solving process to learn from it and to find a new strength in the solution. Maybe you can use a slight variation on the little saying that I use with my wife and say to yourself, “someday I’ll look back on this and appreciate what I’ve learned from it.” You will have learned things about both the event and about yourself and how you reacted to it. Both add to your wisdom base.

Life’s pains can seem to be overwhelming. Take some time each day to think about the “pains” in your life and how you are dealing with them. While you are in that introspective mode, take a moment to ask for God’s help with them. Trusting in God to help with your pains allows you to step back a little bit and gain some perspective on them. Oft times, that ability to “see” the pain in the broader perspective of life will allow you to regain enough control to be able to effectively apply the logic of problem solving. No matter what the pain, dealing with it can be broken down into a series of manageable, solvable steps. Step 1 is to get God involved.

It is interesting that some of the best motivational speakers on problems like drug addiction or human trafficking or other horrible pains in life are recovered addicts, or people who were sex trafficked themselves. They have found ways, not only to overcome the pains, but also to turn them into strengths in their lives.

What pains are you facing? How can you turn them into strengths? Have you asked for God’s help yet? Take step 1 and  turn your pains into strengths.


 [N1]


Decide to be happy today…

November 14, 2019

In today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack used a couple of quotes that seem to fit together and which lead to my thoughts about the topic.

“The world of the happy is quite different from that of the unhappy.”  (Ludwig Witherspoon)

“We are about as happy as we make up our mind to be.”  (Abraham Lincoln)

Do you know someone who seems always to be unhappy? How about someone who seems to be happy all the time? Which would you rather be around today? Why?

The first quote that Jack used gives you the best clue about why you might choose to be around the happy person – their world is a happy, pleasant place to be. There are smiles and laughter and good feelings that are contagious; whereas the dark world of the unhappy person is foreboding and full of frowns and tears and sorrow – not a pleasant place to be. The two worlds are different and those who choose to abode in it with them are impacted by that difference.

So, the choice is to be dragged down into an unhappy world or to be lifted up in joy by a happy environment.

It is now important to understand what Lincoln said. You have the choice to make each morning about which world you will live in that day and which world you will let the public see. Your world, and your day, will be quite different, depending upon which choice you make.

You may retort, “That’s easy for you to say, you aren’t facing the problems that I have today.” Before you start sharing that pity party routine, let us establish that you are correct that no one else has exactly the same challenges facing them as you do. However, there are also people facing much worse situations and problems than you have; so, you can start by being thankful that you are not in their situations. That may lead you to realize that you should be thankful to be alive, so that you can deal with your issues. You are already one-step better off than the alternative and a step closer to a happy place.

Perhaps those two realizations will have already led you to thanking God for another day and for not being in a worse place; but, if not, take time now for that. While you are thanking God, ask for His help in facing your issues and the day. You might be surprised how fast God can put a smile on your face after you have said the little prayer, “Not my will, but thy will be done.” Your world will be different. You may not think of yourself as being happy. Perhaps you feel that you are just less unhappy. That’s OK. It will show on your face and in how you interact with others. You might be surprised how much more people want to interact with you when they see you as happy, rather than seeing a sourpuss. People would much rather interact with a Cheerful Cherise  than with a Debbie Downer.

A side benefit of deciding to be happy, rather than down, is that more people will also be willing to help you with your problems. The reason is that many people tend to avoid an unhappy person, so they never get to know you well enough to offer help. Whereas, people who have encountered a happy person and gotten to know them want to help you stay happy, so they offer help.

So, take Lincoln’s advice and make up your mind to be happy today. Take the time to thank God for all that He has already done for your and ask Him for His help with the issues that you are currently facing. Then put on a smile and head out into a happy world. It’s a better and more helpful place to spend the day in.

Decide to be happy today!


Faith is the foundation that hope builds upon

October 28, 2019

In a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack used this little quote – “A life without faith in something is too narrow a space to live.”  (George Woodberry)

I have a feeling that I could have inverted the words in my headline for today by stating that hope is the foundation upon which faith builds, but I really believe that faith comes first. Out of faith grows the hope for a better life. Out of faith comes the courage to try. And, it is faith that give us the strength to try again in the face of failures.

Faith embraces the idea that there is something working in our lives that is bigger than us and stronger than us. Faith requires that we accept something that we cannot see or touch, yet it touches us in every aspect of our lives and “sees” everything that we do. Faith requires that we believe, rather than understand; that we accept what happens, rather than futilely fighting; that we trust, rather than demand; and, that we openly accept God in our lives, rather than stubbornly rejecting His help.

 Once the foundation of faith is laid down in your life, you can begin to hope with a sense of confidence that everything will turn out all right. You may get what you hoped for in ways that you never imagined. You may begin to see that underlying almost all hopes and dreams is the desire to be happy in life. Having a strong faith at your core may allow you to be happy with yourself and you may discover that little else matters. You might come to understand that you are living your dream already and that your hopes have been answered. Little in the material world matters much, once you have a firm faith as your foundation.

So don’t just hope for a better day, have faith that you will have a better day. .  In Hebrews 11:1 we are told, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Have conviction, have faith, have hope and have a great week ahead.


Find your way to peace in the present

September 21, 2019

In today’s post to his Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack used this little saying that he saw on a Burger King crown –  “No one’s happy all the time…and that’s OK.” 

Jack must have seen that crown in May of this year, when Mental Health Month was celebrated in the United States. We see mental health advice or tips in many places, mostly in cheery little messages that are trying to chase the blues away. It is more realistic to say, as Burger King did, that we all have ups and downs and that it is OK to be down a little, so long as you don’t allow yourself to spiral all the way down into depression. In fact, poking a little fun at being down can often help relieve some of the tension that comes with being down.

A down feeling can result from many causes – a failure or defeat at work, the loss of a loved one, the end of a relationship and many other causes. In most cases the thing that you are down about was always out of your ability to control, but was all have a tendency to think that we could have done something different to effect the outcome and change history – we get down on ourselves.

That feeling of guilt stems from the thoughts that we could have done something different noticed something sooner or made a different choice or decision. Those thoughts can keep us awake at night going over and over the scenarios in our minds that will forever remained as options that we did not choose.

Sometimes our down mood is not about the past, but about the future – we play out option after option in our mind, fearing that the worst that we can imagine is going to happen. We spend restless nights in mental anguish fearing things that will never happen.

Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu had this bit of philosophical advice –

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.

If you are anxious you are living in the future.

If you are at peace you are living in the present.

Lao-Tzu  was a Chinese philosopher believed to have lived in the 6th Century BC and is credited with founding the philosophical system of Taoism, which stresses being in harmony with nature.

The best way that one can be at peace in the present is be at peace with God. Accept that God’s will has been done in the past and trust that it will be done in the future. Rather than lament what is past or fear what is in the future, marvel at what God is unfolding for you in the present.

Focus your attention on the wonderful people that he is causing to cross your path, so that you might experience them. Become more aware of, and thankful for, the wonders of nature that God has put all around you. Be thankful for the challenges that God is presenting to you to keep your life interesting. Make use of your time to learn and to increase your knowledge. Put 100% of your mental and physical effort into the moment at hand, rather than wasting either on things that are past or which may be in the future. 

Many find the Bible to be the best guide book for life and in the Bible we find these words –

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” –  John 14:27

Find your way to peace in the present.


Are you in good hands?

September 9, 2019

Today’s headline is the tag line from the Allstate Insurance commercial. If nothing else, it begs the questions of who or what controls your fate. Some people profess a belief in Karma –

kar·ma

noun

(in Hinduism and Buddhism) the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.

Others see their future actions as being somehow predetermined by destiny or fate. Some have the hubris to believe that they, alone, will determine their own future.

A Christian knows that his/her future is in good hands, because they have entrusted it to God. Whether they use these exact words or not when they pause to pray before the start of the day, they are secure in the thought – “Not my will, but thy will be done.” They can focus not upon railing against the event of the day; but, rather, figuring out how to act or react to what God has put on their plate.  They are also comforted by the thought that God has promised not to give them things that they cannot handle and to always be there with them.

As you start a new week, how will you answer the question, “Are you in good hands?” IF you already know the answer, then you are in the best hands.


What do you see?

July 29, 2019

In today’s Jack’s Winning Words blog this quote is used – “I shut my eyes in order to see.”  (Paul Gauguin).

Jack went on to write about imagination and seeing “in the mind’s eye”. He even referenced John Lennon and his song Imagine, which he wrote as he imagined world peace for a world that seems to be constantly at war.

Athlete’s, especially those at the highest levels of their sport often use “visualization”, Tiger Woodswhich is a form of imagining to “see” the play or shot that they are about to try, in order to practice and perfect it in their minds. Note that imagination starts with the same root as image – the visualization of something.

man daydreamingMany of us likely spend some time imagining what we might do with the money as we buy our Lottery tickets. It is amazing how generous we can be in our minds with imaginary money. I wonder how many would carry through on that imagined generosity if they actually won. I wonder what I would do?

For many, a time of prayer is also a time when we close our eyes, so that we can “see”. What we are looking for is our imagined image of God. With the exception of those who saw Jesus when He was on earth, no one has actually seen God; so we all try to imaginepraying what He will look like.

There is a tendency for people to use the phrase “the face of God”, but that is limiting your imagination to your own human frame of reference. Why do we limit ourselves to imagining that God looks like us? How egotistical is that?

There is a cute commercial running right now about Chees-zits crackers in which one character tries to quiet a big wheel of cheese by putting his hand over what would be the location of a mouth on a human face. The wheel of cheese exclaims, “You think I have a mouth. I’m a wheel of cheese.” Perhaps God is saying to us, “You think I look like you? I’m God!” Let your imagination soar. Get outside the limits of your human existence and “see” God.

woman-prayingSo, close your eyes and look for God. Perhaps it is in closing our eyes and shutting off the key way that we see and perceive the real world around us that we allow our minds to imagine the God that is not of this world, but of the world to come. Let your imagination take you there. Perhaps along the way your imagination will encounter “the peace that passes all understanding” – Philippians 4:7.

Close your eyes and pray. What do you see? Can you see God?


Same old, same old…

July 22, 2019

Do you ever feel like you’re in a rut… that each day is just like the last – same old, same old? Are your routines and habits starting to feel like prisons that keep you from experiencing new things – same old, same old? Maybe it’s preconceived notions or even prejudices that keep you from meeting new and different people – same old, same old. Maybe you are locked into an unsatisfying job, or personal relationship and don’t see any way out – same old, same old.

worried1At the root of all of those scenarios may be the same cause – lack of self-confidence. Perhaps the reason that the walls of the rut that you feel you are in are so dauntingly tall is that you lack the confidence in yourself to overcome those obstacles and experience new things. Confidence can be a fleeting thing and it came be influenced by others. Vince Lombardi said – “Confidence is contagious.  So is lack of confidence.”

Perhaps you caught your lack of confidence by being around others who were not confident in themselves – siblings or friends.  Maybe you were told as a child that you would never amount to anything or that you looked funny and you believe it because itbully.png was coming from a parent or other adult. Maybe you were bullied and never overcame that fear. It could be that you were not encouraged to try again when you failed at something as a child. Whatever the reason, if you now find yourself stuck in a rut and you really want to find a way out and take a different path in life; maybe it’s time to find your confidence.

The foundation upon which confidence is built is self-love. I’ve posted here a few times about loving yourself before you can love others (see Look within first). The same thoughts that I posted about being able to love others by first loving yourself apply to this-is-mebuilding self-confidence. You can’t be confident in yourself if you don’t like yourself. When I was in Corporate life I took a transactional relationships  course called  “I’m OK, You’re OK” which was based upon the work of Anthony Thomas Harris in his book of the same name. The course taught one how to analyze any social interaction from the perspective on understand where you are coming from and where the other person is coming from. One precept of the course was identifying and accepting yourself and your starting point of view. I would add that you not only need to accept who you are, but also love who you are.

The key to accepting and loving yourself is first to accept the love of God. If you believegods-hands-2 that God loves your and accepts you as you are, nothing else matters. God’s love for you provides the foundation upon which you can base your love for yourself and your confidence in yourself. After all, we read in Romans 8:31 – “If God is with us, who can be against us?” How confidence building is that?

In 1945, Gen. Robert Lee Scott Jr. wrote a book that was later made into a movie titled – God Is My Co-Pilot.  Maybe that is a good way to build confidence in yourself, knowing that God right there with you. Make God your co-pilot and you’ll never lack for confidence. Does that means that we will win or succeed every time? No; but, it does mean that God will give us the self-confidence and strength to persevere and keep trying. It does mean that God still loves us, even if we fail.

woman-prayingTo close the circle on this post; you can get out of the same old, same old ruts that you may find yourself in; but first, you must find your self-confidence. A good place to look for that is in prayer. You may find that like the Lion and the Scarecrow and the Tin Man in the Wizard of OZ, you had it in you all the while; you just needed God’s love to let it out.

Have a self-confident day! Who can be against you?