16 Things That Will Stop You From Meeting Your Purpose In Life

Trial by error.  Each of these lessons below are stated from experience and hey, I’m an open book.  I hope you benefit from my mistakes and get a laugh out of it too.  Marc and I’s purpose in life is to impact the lives in Southeast Asia for good which led us to begin an international NGO in an underdeveloped country.  Everything I said in that last sentence, ate my lunch.  If you don’t get what I’m saying, it kicked my butt.  But, it taught us a lot as we are living out our purpose and overcoming MANY obstacles. Here are the 16 things you can do, to stop yourself from meeting your goals in life.  Trust me, they work.

Accept All Labels People Put On You

Labels can take away the potential for change.  Diagnosis for life, negative characteristics, flaws, labels are all lies because we are forever changing.

negativelabels

Why rejecting labels is important? I refused to accept a diagnosis about my mental health and choose to believe it was temporary.  I refuse to call my husband a pessimist and myself an optimist, knowing as circumstances change so does our perspective.  This was important in “getting back in the ring” when things got tough.

Compare Yourself To John, Dick, and Jane

“When I see ads on TV with smiling, happy housewives using a new cleaning product, the only thing I want to buy are the meds they must be on.”

Social media creates a picture perfect identity and I am constantly reminding my preteens of that.  In all seriousness, I can tell you that comparing yourself with others will create wasted emotional energy that will steal from your ability to move forward.  It will destroy potential friendships that could you attain more.  It can hurt those around you and create unnecessary bitterness and self hate. Don’t do it.

Broil in Bitterness

Why is forgiveness important for your success?  Bitterness in the heart only hurts us.  Hate and bitterness are contagious, harmful to those we love, and require great amount of emotional energy.  Hate in the heart must be dealt with before one can move on to their greatest potential.  Many believe that forgiveness is a feeling but actually it is a choice we make and sometimes that choice has to be made over and over again until the feeling comes along.

“Genuine forgiveness does not deny anger but faces it head-on.” Alice Miller

My battle with bitterness led to my betterment.  Facing anger is brave.  I became more confident in my abilities to love when I chose to forgive.

Fight Those Who Reject You

“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” Elbert Hubbard

Leaders will always be rejected by some.  This can be painful.  I recommend reading the book Leadership Pain: The Classroom For Growth.

The more we lead, the more we will experience rejection.  The more we speak out, the more we get criticized.  The more we do, the more we fail.  It’s just a number game.

The hard part is to learn to accept constructive criticism, reject negative criticism, and know the difference between the two.

Through prayer, meditation, and reading through the Bible, we have remained rooted in who we are, what we are called to do, and how we should be doing it.

Refuse To Work With Others

Team work is important; it helps to put the blame on someone else.

We all have an independent streak which can be used for good but independence to a fault will isolate you and lead to defeat.  “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12

Marc needs me and I need him.  Without each other, we could have never succeeded.  If you didn’t read my 40 reasons why, take a moment to read it here: 40 Reasons Why I Love Working With My Husband

Partner With Anybody And Everybody

You know that tingly little feeling you get when you like someone? That’s your common sense leaving your body.

I have seen bad partnerships and bad marriage choices that have ended in pain.  Two people without one heart, mind, and purpose.  We can love, forgive, and accept others but this does not mean that we need to bring all people into our inner circle.

“Forgiveness must be immediate, whether or not a person asks for it.  Trust must be rebuilt over time.  Trust requires a track record.” Rick Warren.

Don’t Make Any Firm Decisions

I used to think I was indecisive, but now I’m not too sure.

Why is decisiveness important?  Leadership requires it and those who follow you are in great distress without it.  I use to work with a friend who I loved very much but he had a flaw.  He could never make a decision. At one point, this friend left the business for a year and did not put anyone else in charge.  He said that he didn’t want to hurt feelings.  While he was gone, the work struggled amidst lack of leadership, empowerment, and battles.  Confidence in your decision-making is a necessity to lead well.

Criticize Others

A recent study has found that women who carry a little extra weight live longer than the men who mention it.

Who doesn’t hate working in a place with gossip, bullying, judgmental attitudes, rudeness, rolling of eyes, etc. But the worst part of it all is. . .

a. It’s highly contagious and self-destructive to all.  Boom. Done. Purpose not achieved, not with this group!

b. For all you holier than thou’s, this exists in all places that people exist. Churches and other ministries are not excluded.  Repent, change, be done with it! Enough said:)

c. It starts in the brain, that’s right, your thoughts boil until finally spewing over.  Do you think that you can keep that inside and pursue your goals?  I didn’t think so!

d. It’s just not any fun!

“We are psychologically, emotionally, cognitively, and spiritually hardwired for connection, love, and belonging.” Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

Reject Your Leadership

After spending 16 years focused on the same goal, I can predict one thing for certain.  Leadership always changes.  Be patient not spiteful.

When my boss asked me who is the stupid one, me or him? I told him everyone knows he doesn’t hire stupid people.

Be Pessimistic

“In Business and in life, the reasonable optimist will win every time.” The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

Change the phrase “I have to” into “I get to” and you will find it makes a world of difference in your day. Remember, how we experience the world is shaped by our mindset. 

  • I have get to go to work.
  • I have get to wash my families clothes.
  • I have get to drive a car in traffic.
  • I have get to cook for my family.
  • I have get to pick my kids up from school.
  • My to do get to do list.

Cut Into Your Sleep So You Can “Be More Productive”

If you haven’t yet, pick this book up!  Arianna Huffington will eloquently convince you to change your sleep habits now!  Personally, I hurt myself very bad from not getting enough sleep.  I believe adequate sleep could have helped prevent a period of depression and anxiety in my life.  I’ve shared some quotes below from this book.

“Many of the genes affected by lack of sleep are involved in processing stress and regulating our immune system.”

“Once I started getting 7-8 hours of sleep, it became easier to meditate, exercise, and make wiser decisions.”

“Sleep makes us better at our jobs while simultaneously reminding us that we are more than our jobs.”

Believe Your Morality Doesn’t Affect Your Success

Temptation to believe that our own trip-ups will not harm others or be discovered by others is an age-old lie.  We found that as we were on the path to attaining our goals, we would be tempted to compromise our moral code, who we wanted to be.  Looking back, if we had tripped in those moments, we would not be anywhere near to meeting the goals and purpose in our lives.

That being said, there have been tearful confessions in our family with apologies, forgiveness, and moving forward together that was necessary.  To sweep any temptation under the rug, is to arrogantly say, I will not fall.  Neither of us have ever regretted the open confession we have had in our 20 years of marriage.

Don’t Sacrifice Your Desires

Any goal achieved without sacrifice is worthless.  Any gift given without sacrifice has little value.  Our greatest achievements are due to our greatest sacrifices.  The more we give, the more we get back.  Do you believe this?  Live like it.  Give away more than you get.  I promise you that you can depend on God for everything.

The “I deserve it” mentality will only set you back.  If we give reluctantly, we become bitter and mad.  Often in our times of difficulty or when funding has been short, we have felt that anger saying “I’ve worked hard, and I deserve to get what I need.”

Choose to sacrifice and give freely without expectations but in hope.

We have sacrificed many things in our life but the blessed part is that God has provided all we need.  We are not financially rich but what we’ve given in money has come back with contentment, happiness, joy, fulfillment, love, and other things that you can’t put a price tag on.

Quit If You Don’t Succeed

“The next time you face a daunting challenge, think to yourself, “In order for me to resolve this issue, I will have to fail nine times, but on the tenth attempt, I will be successful.” This attitude frees you and allows you to think creatively without fear of failure, because you understand that learning from failure is a forward step toward success.”  The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking by Edward B. Burger

You will want to quit!  I wish somebody would have told me that!  I wish I believed it when someone probably told me that!  But, guess what secret I know now.  The greatest moment comes after you jump that hurdle.  When all you want to say is “I quit, I give up, I’m exhausted, I did my best, its all I can do,” is when you realize that your goals are not your own but they are divinely His!  He wants to achieve good things through me and he will overcome because my goals are His goals.

Don’t Forgive Yourself

I am a nobody, nobody is perfect, therefore I am perfect. You are perfect.  You are perfectly you with all of your mistakes you’ve learned from, all of your weaknesses you’ve smudged into your career, and all of your successes that came from realizing your weaknesses.

I hate guilt and shame.  I love conviction from God because He is slow to anger and speaks with love.  Guilt and shame are damaging and discouraging.  Fight it and don’t accept it.  Unreasonable guilt and shame can destroy a person inside out leading to depression:

“A study using data from 108 studies with 22,411 participants found that shame and unreasonable guilt (guilt in which one feels an inflated sense of responsibility for events that they could not control, and more general guilt which is not specifically linked to a certain situation) were similarly linked to depressive symptoms.” (1)

Decide It Is Not Worth It

Success comes when “The fear of loss is greater than the desire for gain.” Zig Ziglar

Every couple of years, this is what you will hear us say “Is it worth it?  All this work.  All the sacrifice.  Should we quit?  Are we really heading anywhere or making a difference?  Have the hurdles become too difficult?  Do we have enough energy to move forward?” Discouragement comes.

What trait is the greatest predictor of success according to research?  Grit, courage in difficulty, perseverance through pain.  To attain high goals in life and fulfill your purpose, it will hurt.  But, this is the life without regret.  Let’s do it together!

(Continue to follow my blog to read more about defining and developing your grit.)

brooke with gorilla
Why did I include this picture?  I just thought it was funny!

If you saw a good joke here, I may have made it up but most likely it came from http://www.onelinefun.com!

  1. Kim, S., Thibodeau, R., & Jorgensen, R. S. (2011). Shame, guilt, and depressive symptoms: A meta-analytic review. Psychological bulletin, 137, 68-96.
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Meditation And Spiritual Games We Play

I couldn’t wait for the big day.  I have 2 bucket list dreams for Christmas. One being Bethlehem and the second Notre-Dame Cathedral.  I have dreamed for years of visiting Notre Dame for Christmas.  Why Notre Dame? Ancient beauty, stain glass windows, and worshiping with many different nationalities and denominations. Not to mention its one of the most well-known church buildings in the world since 1163.  Why not?

Celebrating the birth of Christ at such a scenic and monumental location filled me with anticipation of awe. Instead, I was flooded with holy fear.  Although the beauty of the architecture was stunning, I was appalled to see the outside lined with homeless and needy, the inside filled with pushy tourists and annoyed noisy customers while a few worshippers sat quietly in their seats on center stage.  A bizarre sight indeed. I reflected on the numerous grand churches that are rising throughout my homeland with their amazing architecture and impressive relics while the outside world still filled with pain and anger not blinking as they pass by the extensive empty parking lots.  I began to contemplate my future, my kids future when it comes to our relationship with the Creator.  That’s when I made this list.  It’s an important list.  The world around us have become experts on meditation.  Therefore, I’ve made my list of not’s.

Meditation is not. . .

  • repeating mantras in uncomfortable positions.
  • relaxing.  It takes work to focus our thoughts on God and good but often results in a relaxed mind.
  • a practice for introverts and antisocial people only.
  • owned by one religion as if meditation originated from one man.  Not in the least, meditation like breathing began when man was created.  We were made for reflection and change as spiritual beings.
  • clearing your mind.  Good luck with that one!
  • dependent on location or environment.
  • going to church but church is 100% better for those who meditate.
  • studying the Bible but meditation will fill you with a fresh desire to study the Bible.
  • praying for your needs or others needs but mediation will turn into a flow of intercession that is like a stream naturally occurring from the source your soul, your spirit.
  • singing worship songs but your worship will intensify when you deepen your ability to walk in His presence through meditation.

kid worship Jesus
The kids and I sat still and observed the paintings of Christ in the Louve.  I loved hearing them reflect on these paintings and how each picture made them feel.  I hope these practices help them to learn to be still, to listen to God’s voice, to feel His presence and to focus on His nature.  
Why do I have to say this?  It’s the spiritual game we play.  We all have spiritual needs in ourselves and choose to fill it as we wish.  I tend to fill it with what comes easy.  For me, meditation IS NOT my nature.  I am an extrovert not a closet prayer warrior.  I figured I’d stay that way until I hit the nursing home at 90.  I did not realize the blessing that I could receive by meeting with God one on one.  Meditation makes me a better extrovert:)  I’m so glad I didn’t wait for the nursing home to learn that meditation and prayer is for all people!

Our spiritual walk is greatly impacted by our surroundings.  We live in a culture where quiet is often seen as lazy and unproductive.  There were times I believed that connecting with God could be done if I just go to church, listen to uplifting music, and read my Bible.  Check list done.  Therefore, the list of no’s is to say that I will not replace my time of meditation with anything else.  I need quiet times with Him everyday of my life no matter where I’m at.  I am at risk of treating religion like an empty cathedral; beautiful on the outside but irrelevant to a hurting world.  I must never forget this.  Spirituality must be changing me on the inside constantly if I have any hope of being and doing everything I am passionate about in this life.

In finality, take 10 minutes and begin your meditation with one who practiced it a lot.  Paul was alone in a jail cell for more days than I can count some 2,000 years ago and his inspired guide for meditation can be found in Philippians.

“. . . whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

What would life look like if we lived like that?!  I look forward to hearing from many of you as you contemplate what is written here.  What is your definition of meditation?  What does it look like for you?

Meditation As The Foundation Of My Spiritual Walk: Part 1

Meditation As The Foundation Of My Spirituality: Part 2

Meditation As The Foundation Of My Spirituality: Part 2

As I enjoy this Easter weekend with family and friends, I’m reminded of the many benefits of meditation in my life.  One benefit being in a constant state of being ready to be with others.  Often we may socialize, listen to our kids or spouse, but in our mind be miles away.  Meditation allows the mind to reflect on events as they pop in during worship, adoration of the Father, or times of peaceful prayer.  When one allows this time purposefully at the beginning of the day, a clear mind results and an increased desire from God to love others.  When I feel drained half way through the day, I know its time for quiet with my Savior again, at times ending in a peaceful nap. Here I would like to share with you what meditation does for me personally.

What Does Meditation Do?

Health and Social Benefits

Some of the benefits I find from times of meditation are joy, knowing I’m loved, washed from guilt, happiness, preventing depression and anxiety bouts, gushing love for others from my family, friends, and strangers, a desire to share my Faith, a greater desire to read the Bible, a desire to sing praise songs, overcoming temptation, forgiving others more easily, and I could go on and on.

There are numerous physical, social, and emotional healing and good than I have time to explain here but google it and you will see plenty of research including preventing heart disease, divorce, cursing at children, panic attacks, suicide, etc.

Hearing The Voice of God

The best benefit is actually hearing from God and receiving His guidance for everything small and big in life.  Cool, huh?

“I am writing these things to warn you about those who are trying to lead you astray.  But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true.  For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know and what he teaches is true it is not a lie.  So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowships with Christ.” (1 John 2:26-27).

This is the most important part of me as a spiritual being and may be a big reason why so many people feel so screwed up in spite of their faith in God.  We think we are balanced in life.  We are educated and know that we are spiritual, emotional, social, and physical beings.  But, we fill the spiritual spot with church, prayer, and Bible without the quiet hearing that is necessary to be guided in all of those religious activities.

Deeper Meaning To All Spiritual Activity

Without mediation my religious activities became habitual empty rituals because, as said in 1 John 2:27, our teaching should be dependent on fellowship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit.  Without this, I become an empty life, who has activity but no power, love, or connection to the source.  Could this be why so many are not satisfied with church these days?  Could it be that many are looking for spirituality in the wrong place?  I don’t know.

Effectively Manage My Time In Light Of The Word

This was me.  I use to think of Enoch as an Old Testament figure which could not exist today.  Moses not having a busy schedule of meetings so of course he had 40 days.  David was but must have had plenty of time extra time to mediate and write what he heard from God.  But, how many pages can I fill with what I heard from God personally?  Am I busier than these men?  Is it not possible to “pray without ceasing?” If it is, how many people do I know who do?  Once I contemplated these excuses, it changed me.

Daily Guidance

“Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” (Ps. 25:5)  I read this verse again and again and again.  I came to realize when I was living isolated without a church anywhere near me, “why do I think that all guidance is going to come from a preacher on Sunday? Should I depend on the outside world and church to feed me when God asked me to feed myself?  All day long?  How do I do that and work, raise kids, and attend to my social schedule?  After meeting many saints today, I came to realize that many people are living this verse each day.  Sacrificing their time to define spirituality how the Bible defines it and not the culture around them.  With this and many other verses in mind, I had to ask myself, am I balanced spiritually, physically, emotionally, and socially?  Was my church activity mainly social or spiritual enough to sustain me daily? Don’t get me wrong, church is awesome but became even better when I was hearing from God through meditation.

Confidence

Mostly I can know with confidence that I will have His presence in my life of transition.  Often I feel scared not knowing where we will live in a year, my kids education, whether I will suffer from depression or anxiety again.  But knowing that I will have meditation to sit with God and be guided by Him, calms these fears of the future and helps put in perspective His sovereignty and my submission to Him.

Mediation = freedom of stress for my future, clarity of mind, confidence that cannot be gained elsewhere.

It’s thoughts like these that changed me and helped me practice meditation on God as a key to spiritually walking in His power, seeing amazing miracles, and answered prayers. Hearing His voice is more beautiful than a waterfall flowing at its height.  His voice is almost musical and touches every sense.  It cannot easily be transitioned into words.

I would rather live 1 day in His presence than 1,000 days elsewhere and can say that without hesitation. Which brings me up to the last point in the discussion of benefits:

What spiritual aspect do I think is most important to pass on to my children?

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With the next generation dropping out of the church scene faster than they graduate from high school, parents need to decide what they will pass on to their children.  We all know that passing on church itself without change in the home is disaster but I think we need to take it even deeper.

Our kids need to know how to receive from God guidance, godly wisdom, protection through temptation, a hand to carry them through their hurts that will meet them wherever they are spiritually and physically.

This is why meditation will always be important to me and priority to teach to my family.  I would love to hear from you and your experiences!

If you missed Part 1 of this series the link is here: Meditation As The Foundation Of My Spiritual Walk: Part 1

Continue to follow for the final part of the series on meditation: How mediation can make all aspects of your spiritual walk more significant.

Meditation As The Foundation Of My Spiritual Walk: Part 1

There is no better time than Easter to learn and practice this ancient foundational art! I want to share this part of my life with you because it is key, life changing, and the basis of any and all good in me.  Silent meditation or hearing God speak to me, is how I accomplish all the activity in my life and do it well.  I have to speak up about this.  No other activity can take place of my blessed dependence on God alone in a silent room.  I speak because many of you have asked me to speak honestly about “how I do what I do.”  If I don’t share this with you, then I am taking the credit that God deserves.

When did meditation become real for me?  Sixteen years ago, I moved to Cambodia with high dreams of attaining much in helping others and starting a life of adventure.  I kinda figured that the spiritual walk would come easy for me (naive, I know!).  I assumed since I was doing a good work for God, that He would bless me with a dynamic filling of Him each day.  Little did I know that being far from my spiritual mentors, church of any sorts, Christians, and a Biblical culture would drain my spirituality to. . well. . ZERO.

It didn’t take long till I felt empty inside, far from God, facing temptation, unhappy, hot, culture shock, and going through the motions.  I spent the next 5 years learning to deal with this by participating in Bible studies and attending church in another language.  Still, I can tell you that hearing God’s voice was occasional at best.  I was doing good but not feeling filled.  This changed when I learned to pray.  Through reading about prayer, I was led to meditation, dwelling in God’s love and acceptance, and being filled by BEING with Him.  Here are the questions I began to ask. . .

“Why don’t Christians talk about meditation?”

 “Is meditation in the Bible?”

“Does meditation have an important part of my life?”

I have sought the answers for myself and want to share some conclusions with you.

I began contemplating the beginning.  At Creation, before any religion was conceived, there was meditation.  God walked in the garden with Adam and Eve. A beautiful scene walking hand in hand with the Maker who created relationships for Himself.  In this garden all provisions are met, not a tear until separation began.  Then there was Enoch who walked with God and then just disappeared. Wow. I have sat and thought about this example and the fact that the Bible kind of stops here a sec and allows us to see how this one man stands out.  He learned to listen to an unseen God.  I began to see that Meditation is us being restored to our original true place as God’s creation being blessedly dependent on the God of all.  Our quiet waiting on the Maker to be made one with Him and learn to dialogue and walk hand in hand again.

Secondly, I came to realize that meditation is explained throughout the Bible but the words are often overlooked.  Phrases such as presence of God, waiting on God, listening to God, being still, etc.  When I began to see these examples throughout the Bible, I realized that this is meditation.  I began thinking about the lives of the saints who came before us and how they meditated.  Moses was on that mountain for 40 days.  I contemplated what those days looked like.  I had to realize that he was not catching up on Facebook or watching Netflix:)

Third, Psalms is a book of meditation and I began looking at this book as my guide.  As I’ve read about God’s sovereignty in Psalms, I’ve come to realize that all creation waits on God (Ps. 104:27).  If we were like the animals with no free will, we too would be with him day and night like the rest of His creation. Darn it free will!  It’s always messing with me! I’ll share a few amazing life-changing examples from Psalms in part 2.

Lastly, there are many people who have practiced meditation, listening to God, waiting on God and have written about it.  “Practicing the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence Andrew Murray has many resources about meditation my favorite being “Waiting on God.”  After reading these and many other stories, I realized that it was foundational for me to hear from God in meditation.

meditation

What Is Meditation?

This is my personal definition of meditation:

Meditation is an act of faith in my absolute need and absolute guidance from God, in harmony with God.  Meditation is unity displayed by God, Jesus, and His Holy Spirit in me. Perfect harmony found from inside of me and not dependent on my outside world.  Found in quiet moments set aside for His purpose.”

Meditation is not depending on articles, books, sermons, as my MAIN source of hearing from God but getting quiet with Him and expecting Him to speak to little Ole me.

beautiful sunset

How Do I Meditate?

  1. I set aside my best time of the day for Him.  I began this journey by pleading with God for His help and the filling of the Holy Spirit to meditate.  I want Him to teach me.  I know He will give me however much of Him I desire so I am clear to begin by telling Him that I want all of Him.  I ask His help because I am incapable being that I am human and have the craziest wandering mind ever! I pray that He would take away anything in my life that comes between Him and me.  These are dangerous prayers and I don’t regret it a bit.  Although, I will tell you that prayers like this will change your life.
  2. After a time of worship and focusing on the trinity and each of their glorious roles, I open my Bible to Psalms.  This book is filled with meditation and reflections from meditation.  I’m not going to say where you should start but God will tell you as He did for me.  I began seeing the Psalms as meditation and prayer to guide my thoughts.
  3.  At times, I clear my schedule and mind for as many days as I can allow at a time (usually 1, this is still a journey for me too).  I spend time repenting. I remind myself that there are Godly saints around this world who fast and pray for days.  Many of them.  I live in an epidemic of noisy religion instead of a peaceful one that depends on God for all things.  Among the saints this is considered a disease, I repent and am free.  I’ve realized that my culture is a part of me and the sins of my culture are also in me. I recognize that I am often lukewarm in my pursuits towards God.  I ask for God’s help to find true religion: loving God and loving others. I am incapable of the second command until I figure out meditation first.  It is in my waiting on God that I find love and the ability to love.
  4. I expect to hear from God.  I agree to not move until I do. I know that God, being sovereign, is in control of my day and staying with Him is never a waste of time.  I remind myself that many people around the world are joining me.  They may live in Syria, China, or America but they are my brothers and sisters dependent on Him.
  5. I know that my mind is weak and keeping my thoughts fixed on Him for long periods of time is hard, takes practice, but is doable.  If you find your mind wandering off, just gently bring it back to focusing on Him.  I will take a break and sing a few songs, read a few passages, then continue again.

There is so much more to share and I feel words don’t explain half of it.  If this spoke to you, continue to follow the next 2 parts of this series as I work at putting to words something so mysterious to me.

Please feel free to share comments including your own experience.  If you would like to share these 3 posts, please let me know.  Thank you!

Next: How my life changed with meditation and how your life can change too.

 

 

 

Pain and Poverty Have The Same Smile

Women smile. People assume we’re happy. Living in Southeast Asia, the “Land of Smiles” has taught me an unforgettable lesson. A smile doesn’t show what is in the heart. How do I know?

I mastered the art of fake smiles.  I smiled at you when I was in my deepest pit of depression overwhelmed by the cloud of hopelessness that surrounded me.  I smiled at you at the same moment of suffering a panic attack while feeling a swelling pit of fear convincing me my life was over.

Why did I smile?  Why didn’t I tell you?  Because I was your cheerleader.  I was the one to brighten your day.  You looked to me as your leader, encourager, mentor.

I wanted you to think that I was strong.  If I hide my weaknesses, maybe I would be strong.

I’m a Christian, if you see me weak you will think I deserve it because of some sin. Maybe I shouldn’t be leading others. I didn’t want you to doubt me.

My thoughts feel out of control.  Am I out of control? I mustn’t let you see.

Can I be beautiful and weak at the same time?  I want you to think I’m pretty.  Do you see the swollen eyes, my emaciated body, my thinning hair or did I hide it well?

You think I’m strong, independent and I don’t want to change that image of me.

You have always depended on me calling me your role model, teacher, mother, wife.

If you saw the pain, you’d have questions. But I’m sorry friend, I don’t know why I’m depressed or anxious.

From this lack of vulnerability on my part I learned, she’s not sharing with me either.

Your looking at a 23-year-old women. She is illiterate, been abused her whole life, averages 2 meals a day on a good day, she desired to end her life.

We’re friends now.

This picture was the first day I met her. I’m glad I learned the “unforgettable lesson.” When I see this smile, I look for pain. After an hour of prodding, the tears fall. What’s inside seeps out. Healing begins.

Don’t mistake a smile for happiness. Practice looking deeper.

How can you tell if a friend is hurting inside and faking that smile or is honestly happy?

Vulnerability can seem unthinkable but without it we are just a lonely shell.

Are you being vulnerable with your weaknesses?

“Other people are going to find healing in your wounds. Your greatest life messages and your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurts.” Rick Warren


Dig deeper with your friends and family today.  I am so glad so many choose to do so with me.

 

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