Recently, I had the opportunity to work with a Muslim man. He is a very outgoing, but somewhat strict Muslim. We talk very often about Muslim culture versus Christian culture. He loves to tell me all about how things work in the Muslim world from how people become exiled to who the most famous Muslims are. During that time, he also discusses with me about the challenges of being a Muslim in today's world living in the United States. I absolutely love talking with him about his life!
Through our conversations, I enjoy letting him know how I, as a Christian, might address those problems. I also discuss solutions to his problems that the Bible already has answers to along with similarities between the Bible and the Koran. Lastly, I talk with him about how since the Koran already discusses Jesus, it is always a good idea to read about Him in the Bible because it gives so much more detail than the Koran. It actually points an arrow directly toward the Bible so someone can find out more information on this mysterious Jesus the Koran talks about! What an honor and a blessing to have these discussions, because it is only through love, tolerance, and acceptance of others that we can engage in meaningful, and even fun, conversation that is Christ centered. I don't want to bring Jesus to people, because it is my religion or its "just how things should be," but because Jesus saves my life day after day and I seek for others to discover the true Christ and to see what he can do for them.
One day I meditated on God and asked him, Lord, what should we do about all this hate in the world; these shootings, bombings, and fear mongering? He answered with the simplest, yet most profound, words I could have imagined. He said "Love. Just love. Pour into the streets and just bring My love to everyone you meet." See, we don't need to prove our religion to people. We just need Jesus to speak through our hearts and hands, letting the Holy Spirit guide them from there. In time, they will learn God's covenants, but today, our goal is to just show them what Christ's love is. We don't even need words, necessarily! Just love; but when they ask why it is we have such great love, answer, it is because of my master, and savior, Jesus Christ.
One thing we all struggle with is the relationships that exist in our lives and how to handle each one. All the relationships we have are different and they all require a specific level of finesse. Whether you could use some work in your own personal inventory or you are great at dealing with people, chances are there is someone you love who isn't exactly easy to love. Nothing you do or say seems to change the trajectory of that relationship and you are wondering if there is anything you can do. The fact is sometimes there isn't! It's important, however, when you are trying to find life transformation to settle these issues, whether it means you repair a relationship or simply move on guilt-free so you can be free to begin finding the joy and solace you deserve! Let's begin:
Is that person capable of providing what you need?
Whether it is love or acceptance, guidance, or a bro to have a beer with on a Friday night, every relationship has a purpose to each individual. It's what initially brings us together and this purpose can change, but for a relationship to function, there must be an overriding motivation to secure the relationship. If you generally just like the person, a motivation must be found or the relationship will diminish naturally. A mission is needed, so to speak. This eliminates the need to feel emotional when relationships start fading away when you acknowledge that a new purpose to the relationship only needs to be found. Wearing our heart on our sleeve and overreacting emotionally to the ever changing needs of that relationship is often what drives people apart. No matter how close that person is, if a motivation to spend time with each other cannot be found, a relationship cannot exist. If you want someone in your life, you must ask what it is that you are looking for and if that person is capable of providing it. If not, don't feel angry or guilty about it. Simply find fulfillment in other ways until you can find that motivation. If that person actually cares about you, they aren't going anywhere.
Secondly, are YOU capable of providing what the other person is looking for? Often, this is where the feelings of hurt come in. We so want to have a friendship with someone, that we forget that the other person has needs and wants as well. We feel like failures if we suddenly can't be what that person wants. If they are looking for a casual "go out" kind of friend and you are more of a stay-home-and-be-with-family type person, you could understand why this relationship could struggle. Change would be needed in this case. Either they would have to be comfortable coming over to your house and maybe watching movies and playing games or you would have to learn to be comfortable going out on the weekend OR you could find a new commonality altogether. Perhaps you both love football and enjoy watching the games together.
Make a list of all the people you would like to get into a comfortable place with and ask yourself what you would like that person to provide you with (companionship, daily interaction, occasional outings, travel, leadership, sense of belonging, etc). Then ask what that person is actually capable of providing you along with checking off the following questions in this article.
Are you ready to let the past go? Are they?
To move on in any relationship, past wrongs and errors by either party cannot have a place once addressed. By dwelling on these things, it acts like an energy vacuum. All joy and fulfillment you could be feeling will be polluted by not moving past exactly that...the past. Anger, rage, and holding grudges will end relationships as fast as they begin, no matter how close a relationship is, so you and the other person must be committed to letting the past go. Forgive and forget. For tips on forgiveness, please see my other article called "Forgiveness: Letting Go of Toxic Emotions."
Are you capable of setting boundaries and defending them tactfully?
For any relationship to flourish, boundaries must be set and lovingly defended. There is a reason why the relationship didn't work before so now that you know what you know, don't be afraid to tell that other person what you will and won't accept. After all, boundaries are part of who you are and your identity as a whole.
Recently, a friend discussed with me about the relationship between him and his mother. She often would drudge up his past mistakes, other family member's mistakes, her grudges, etc. He explained to her that discussing these topics is a boundary that couldn't be crossed and it strengthened their relationship when he agreed he would not accept it. They moved on and started having a very loving relationship. Over the course of several years, he let his guard down and because of his love for her, began allowing her to slowly creep in with her negative comments about the past as well as about the pasts of other family members as well. He began feeling alienated from her and once again, the relationship fell apart because of resent and anger from both sides.
Can you commit to action without letting emotion get in the way?
Restarting a relationship or addressing relationship issues is not easy. Are you ready to commit yourself to action? This involves making the decision that under no circumstances will you let emotion such as anger or sadness get in the way of progress. There will be times you may want to run and hide or even go down in a burning flame, but MINDFULNESS is key here. Since the relationship may already be fragile, you can bet that person's ways have not changed in the least bit. Expect that, but remember, in order to heal the relationship or make amends you must move past the past, set those boundaries, and commit to action.
Are you ready to listen to how they feel?
You may need to accept the fact that there may be something that has caused someone to take distance from you. It may not even be valid, but even if it isn't, you need to be ready to listen to what caused them to take that distance. You need to remember that the other person is doing nothing wrong by FEELING a certain way. Most people cannot help how they feel unless they are very practiced in mindful thinking. Many times, just by listening to how that person feels, situations may sometimes go from confusing to completely understandable.
Once while working as a manager at a retail store, I noticed a cashier that would always seem very shy and coy around me. She would always look incredibly nervous around me and it made me feel uneasy when being around her. I would see her change from appearing comfortable and candid to uptight. I could see her smile fading as I approached. Since she seemed inapproachable, I decided to ask about it to some of the other cashiers who knew her well. The answer I received was equal parts hurtful but also helpful. I was told that she felt as if I didn't like her. I couldn't imagine not liking her, in fact, I thought she had a great attitude and personality. What she didn't realize was that I kept myself very guarded around those I supervise so as to not give the wrong impression. If either one of us would have been willing to talk and listen sooner, instead of relying on insecurity and emotion, this problem could have been solved much earlier.
Are you ready to release your own guilt and shame?
Once you have apologized for your own actions in the past, all you can do is look forward to the future. You MUST release your guilt or shame. This continuous torment will constantly cause you to flee and ruin any chances you had with repairing that relationship. You don't have to overcompensate for your past actions or apologize endlessly. You cannot change what happened and you don't have to be a prisoner. The only thing you can do personally is acknowledge anything you did to harm the relationship, apologize, and change your actions. No matter what you've done, this is all the other person could ever want from you and if not, the real issue lies with them and they must overcome it in their own way, separate of anything you could do or say to change how they feel. You must release yourself at that point. Your joy depends on it.
In a nutshell, if you can find commonality with someone, let go of previous hurtful actions, set boundaries, commit to action, get past guilt, and start listening, there isn't any reason why you can't either flourish in a friendship, or at the very least, find common ground with someone. The choice is ultimately up to you, but whether you choose to just make peace or repair a friendship, it must always be for the sake of joy and hope. Good luck to you, my dear friends in all that you do and may you be blessed with abundant joy.
If you are interested in learning more about life transformation techniques, please be sure to check out my life transformation programs at www.searchlightorganization.com/transformation. For additional articles please see my other articles here.
Author: Jason Cook
Copyright-July 31, 2019
Have you ever had a moment where, because something you read or heard about on the news made you sad, upset, or even angry? Perhaps, a shock post on Facebook startled you. Various studies have shown that the images we look at on the news or on social media can affect our moods and even our mental health (https://www.nbcnews.com/health/mental-health/social-media-linked-rise-mental-health-disorders-teens-survey-finds-n982526). The shows we watch, the songs we listen to, and the movies we entertain ourselves with all serve to affect us in some way.
This morning I was listening to a local radio show called "Love 'em or List 'em." On the show, a lady called in to discuss her friend, who she labeled as "clingy." She was talking how the person was invading her personal space, inviting herself with the caller's family on vacation, and wanting to see the caller nearly every day. She was looking for justification and an answer from other callers about if she should remove the person from her life. Consequently, I started thinking about my own "falling out" situation I personally had with a best friend. He was a friend that I deeply cared for that I no longer see due to his influence on my life and how he made me feel when in his presence. Because of this radio show, I began rehashing many of the conversations we shared, disagreements that occurred, and reliving all those painful moments. Then kicked in the need to want to fix something, but I had to remember, I separated myself for a reason and it was a good one. I had already fixed this problem.
After giving myself a moment to feel, I had to remind myself that thinking on it is not productive. Just like when watching the news and I find myself reading the extra gory details of a local crime. Beyond hearing about the incident, do I really need to bother myself with reading about every move the killer made, what weapon he used, and how it affected the victim's family, just so I can begin obsessing about the safety of my own family? Absolutely not.
The problem is that the media and news carries with it "energy." When something causes you to start thinking negatively about your own life such as second guessing your friends, wondering if it is time to move, if you should begin preparing for a perceived disaster when it isn't really justified, or if you should start homeschooling your kids because a teacher in Texas assaulted a student along with other irrational thoughts, we should ask ourselves, is the energy or messages we are receiving from the media a good and positive influence on our lives? Is it bringing with it love, positive energy, and hope or is it bringing hate, divisiveness, and anger? Don't get me wrong, however. It is important to keep up on local issues, but it is when we begin internalizing that negative energy and making it one with our own that a problem is created.
This problem is the negative mindset we may slip into about our surrounding world and environment from the constant barrage of negativity coming from these external sources.
"Finally, brothers and sisters, 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." - Philippians 4:8
This is our shield and we must keep it on at all times. By reading scripture, meditating in prayer, reading books that bring us hope, pondering good things, staying away from the details of negative news, and working on a goal program, we can fend off the energies that seek to remind us of a darker world in which we have the ability to create ourselves, depending on what we focus on. We also have the ability to create a world of excitement, joy, and beauty also, if that is what we want, because it is our thoughts that shape our world.
If you are interested in improving your life through setting goals, learning ancient wisdom, and taking control over your life now, take a moment to check out my life-improvement programs at www.searchlightorganization.com/transformation
Author: Jason Cook
Putting the "Pro" in Productivity
According to research, the average person uses social media more than 2 hours per day (globalwebindex, 2018). This might include perusing Facebook, displaying photos on Snapchat, or shouting out on Twitter. Let's take a look at how this might fit in with our other daily responsibilities and see what kind of impact something as frivolous as social media may have on your productivity:
Facebook: 2 hrs
Commuting: 1 hr
Eating and Cooking: 2 hrs
Chores and Maintenance: 1 hr
Business Priorities: 1 hr
Favorite Television Show: 1 hr
Total hrs: 24
Time left to achieve goals? 0
After reviewing a typical working person's schedule, notice there is no time left over for any personal achievement? If this person wanted to begin filling out resumes, volunteering, or work on mental health, that could take up several hours per day, there would be no other option than to cut back on something.
Here are a few tricks you could use to become the "Pro" of productivity and get achieving more in your life:
With a little discipline, you would be surprised at how much more you'll accomplish and how great you'll feel! If you would like to start conquering your goals and begin living a life of achievement, feel free to check out my goal achievement programs at: www.searchlightorganization.com/transformation.
Author: Jason Cook
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Can Anybody be Forgiven from Sin?
10/3/2018: It is natural for a person to explore their own life and wonder if they are "good enough." In fact, some people become very disturbed by asking themselves this question and sometimes spend their whole lives running from religion because of it... Read More