Attitude Check… For The Ladies

Women are incredible, inspiring, beautiful, nurturing, considerate, compassionate creatures. We love deeply and have the capacity to forgive after endless wrongs, whether they’re from our friends, boyfriends, husbands, siblings, parents or children. Women have emotions that run deep to the core of our being and they motivate us to make decisions and chase our goals. Our emotions are a wonderful gift from God that can be used to change lives for the better.

I’m writing this because I realize how challenging it is to continuously use this gift for good.

I’ve never had an issue with attitude until my 20s. I was very naive and didn’t know much about the harsh reality of the world. I was pretty carefree, joyful, positive and fearless. Now I have days when I struggle to have the right attitude about the things that go on in my life. For example: I currently work as a receptionist; the typical 8-4 weekday shift. It’s not my passion or my dream career but it’s where I can gain a decent income. There are two attitudes I can have toward it:

1) I’m bitter that I studied five years and still can’t get a job in my field, I don’t make lots of money, I dread every day I have to wake up to go to work, I’m miserable and crabby about my life not being where I want it to be; or,
2) I’m thankful I have a decent paying job, I make use of my evenings and weekends to fill my life with activities, learning and fun, and I appreciate the easy, stress-free commute to and from work.

When it comes to attitudes we really only have two basic options: we can be blessed or bitter; positive or negative; grateful or complaining. We can look at it in a light of hopefulness and strength or defeat and weakness.

Emotions can be a cool stream that guides our actions through love, or it can be a raging fire that destroys and hurts everyone around us. I speak from experience when I say it is challenging for a woman to make a decision completely exclusive from how she feels about it. Therefore, we have to practice the right attitude so when we are faced with choices, we don’t let our emotions cloud our judgement.

It is so sad to see women using their emotions as an excuse for mean behaviour:

“He betrayed me so I’m gonna make him jealous.”
“If you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best.”
“If you can’t make me happy, I’m leaving.”
“I was hurt in the past so you’d better earn my trust, or else.”
“I’m only her friend because she makes me feel better about myself, lol.”
“You’re so pretty [I’m jealous and I talk behind your back].”

I even saw a woman at the mall, screaming at her husband while her baby in the stroller was sleeping. She must have been fed up about something and exhausted from taking care of the child, but does that honestly excuse her behaviour? What long-term effect does her attitude have on her husband and the way their child will understand husband-wife relationships? It only takes a tiny pebble to cause a ripple effect, so imagine what an asteroid could do.

If we really care about how we make others feel (and I think we should), it would be wise to take time alone to reflect and ask ourselves questions like:

  • How do I feel about myself and my life?
  • How does that affect the way I communicate with others?
  • Do I have secret resentment or bitterness about something that happened in my past?
  • Where can I get help to heal from that hurt? (I would suggest sharing it with someone you trust or getting counselling if the issue is severe, praying for healing and perspective from the One who knows us better than we do, and observing self-controlled, wise, loving women.)

I see great potential in women today thanks to our increased opportunity to lead and guide. Women do have a voice and we can impact the world for the better. I challenge every woman to reflect on her attitude as a daily practice, start her mornings with a view of awareness and gratitude (not self-criticism or complaint), and pat herself on the back for every time she triumphs with kindness despite a bad mood. When we do good, God blesses us, and when we come to an understanding of His love and mercy, we can claim the confidence that identity gives us. That means trusting who God says we are and what He says we’re worth: valuable and capable of greatness. I am inspired by women who have extremely unfortunate and difficult lives, yet persevere in a positive attitude. There is always someone in a worse situation with a better attitude.

Someday the children we raise and look after will carry on in the ways we have taught them. Let us be good examples for young women and let us impress the women before us. :)

With love,

Sarah

Playtime: A Serious Priority, People ;)

Today I wrote another handwritten love letter for my boyyyyfrieeendd. At the end of the note I drew two little chibi characters hugging, obviously representing the two of us (high five and peace sign dance if you know what chibi is). Drawing the pictures made me think of how much I miss my childhood.

I have treasured memories of when we lived in a semi and I shared a bunk bed with my sister. I’d come home after a fun and educational day at middle school, quickly finish  my dinner and homework so I could run across the street to play outside with my best neighbourhood friends. I loved those years between ages 11-16, oh, how I loved those years. I spent so much time climbing trees, playing amateur field soccer, riding my bike, rollerblading, skateboarding (more like failing at skateboarding), taking long walks to get slushies from Mac’s, playing basketball, going for adventures in the conservation area, rolling down the hill in my backyard and making dance routines to pop songs, watching Much Loud and solo-moshing in my living room, drawing anime while sitting on the big rock in front of my house, doing cartwheels and handstands, pretending to be a gymnast, and all the other wonderful, creative, fun things I used to do.

I don’t have as much time or ability to do all those things anymore but I realize how important having an active and creative lifestyle keeps your mind, body and soul healthy and happy. When we focus too much on work and our priorities (if they’re not our passion) we can end up overworked and stressed out. After a few years of workaholism we can get really down and feel like life is just passing us by. It’s important to have a balanced life that includes play whether we’re 16 or 61. Staying creative is not only good for our emotions but also for our mental health.

My goal is to keep making FUN a priority. Whether it’s playing pool with the guys, cruising with my best friend, going to the drive-in, getting my butt kicked at bowling with Boyfriend, playing cards and Chicken Foot with my family or spending the day at a park, fun needs to happen! It takes a little planning and effort but isn’t life more than just work?

Summer is just around the corner, peeps. Get off your computers and go outside! Enjoy the rich life waiting for you.

With love,

Sarah

Monster Mind to Care Bear Heart

I’m usually the positive one out of my friends and have been known as such as far back as I can remember. One of the hard parts about growing up is losing your naivety and experiencing hurt. It’s difficult when you want to be optimistic, yet life experience makes you think negatively. Tonight was one of those rare days I was thinking negatively about myself. Sometimes my confidence is low and the emotions behind it makes me feel like I’m turning into the Hulk (yes, lol). I try to focus on what calms me and brings me home but it’s extremely hard, like wrestling my own soul.

I got home and took a minute to consider how my negative headspace could affect the people around me and I realized I had to get back on track. I don’t want to inadvertently bring down the people I love. I want to be consistently joyful but I’m my own worst critic. I want to be THERE: that place where I’m fully confident and I’ve built my character to who I want to be, strong and unafraid so I can give more to others. I want to be perfect but no one is, and I know this in my logical mind, so why do I get moments when I feel like this?

I was looking for some reassurance and comfort and I came across Isaiah 55. One part really helped:

For the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes out from My mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

I imagined this was a letter to me: I am a work in progress that will come to completion when God is done His work in and through me. It’s okay if I’m not perfect because His love for me is and His plan for me will eventually follow through, no matter how strong I think I am at ruining it. I can’t ruin it. It’s His purpose for me and I will get there.

I read on and this passage is what I want to leave you with. It reminds us that we will have joy. We will experience a blissful happiness that comes from knowing our identity based on God’s view of what we’re worth, who we are and what we’re capable of. If God, even in our messes, can still look down on us with compassion and forgiveness, then maybe we should stop being so hard on ourselves.

For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”
– Isaiah 55:12

God loves us. He created each of us with purpose and a desire to find and accomplish that purpose. We get lost in the disappointment of our failures but if we try to see how God is blessing us each day, we will find the strength and hope to get through those hard days. Sometimes that means stepping back and looking at our lives. When I look at mine I see how God has delivered me out of hurt and disappointment and lead me to overwhelming love and comfort. He gave me double what I prayed for. When I forget that I remind myself that what’s most important isn’t what I think about myself or what others think of me, it’s what He thinks of me… what He thinks of all of us: that we’re worth it.

With love,

Sarah

Should I Stay or Should I Go: Making Good Decisions about Relationships

Sometimes we find ourselves stuck in situations like unhealthy relationships, and we cannot see the dangers of staying even though everyone around us can. When your parents have a bad gut feeling, or your friends dislike your partner, there’s often a good reason why.

I have experienced and heard several stories of situations like this. We choose to love someone for the good in them, even if the good is undermined by the volume of things wrong with the relationship. We choose to have this narrow view of the person we love because we want them to change. We hope for it and we believe they are capable. This is a good, not naive, thing. There’s nothing wrong in having hope in people, we just have to be smart about who we invest those hopes in.

The truth is, people are who they want to be and they will not drastically change unless they decide to. If they know they need to improve yet choose not to, that is their decision to make but you do not have to be a part of it. If you are willing to improve yourself and set aside bad habits for your partner, they should be willing to do the same. Of course you accept them despite their weaknesses and faults but acceptance is not an excuse for stagnancy. Change is absolutely necessary for any relationship to grow and develop. Another thing on that note: some people cannot change at all. They are either crippled by fear, guilt or shame or simply cannot motivate themselves. If they can’t change for themselves, their family or their friends, what, my dear reader, makes you believe they will change for you? How long have you waited for this change that never seems to come?

As I say this, it’s as if I’m speaking to the person I was before my world turned upside down. I was the person I’m writing to. When I dated boys I used to have no boundaries when it came to love and giving. I would bend over backwards for them. I would pay for things and loan money. I would travel to visit them 90% of the time. I would give elaborate, deeply thought out gifts for birthdays and anniversaries or for no reason at all. Even when they forgot my birthday or went out with their friends on our anniversary I would make them my top priority and let my own needs come secondary. I thought this was what you were supposed to do when you loved someone. I felt I was called to serve and love without expecting anything in return, but I only saw half the picture.

The issue with doing kind and generous things for someone who does NOT return it is you WILL become exhausted, worn out and emptied of your joy, patience and security. When you pour your energy into someone who is like a black hole, sucking in your efforts and letting it vanish away, you are wasting your precious, God-given time.

Let’s be realistic. Life is short. Ask someone a decade older than you and they will tell you themselves. We don’t have much time in this life, and that makes it extremely valuable. Cherish the time you have and don’t waste your years on people who do not understand what it means to love. Love is not just kind words and intentions; it is something active and something people outside your relationship can see. When your love is real, people will notice how you both shine. One of the biggest ways you can really tell if your relationship is good for you is when your family, friends and coworkers tell you it is. If they can see a future for you with that person, you can trust you’re making a good decision.

A tell-tale sign that you are not with the right person is if month after month, or year after year, the people who love you show concern for your relationship and your future. Every relationship has its valleys but if they are constant and ongoing, if there is no improvement or change, you must leave. I tell you this out of love and nothing more. Be careful who you give your heart to because after you have been broken down over and over, it can be a huge burden that takes a lot of effort and time to heal from.

This is why we have friends and family: they help us see things from a view that we cannot see due to our rose-coloured glasses. When you’re in love, you see someone for the good and it’s easy to dismiss the bad unless as a couple you choose to be honest and open with each other about your flaws and your goals to improve.

Here are some things that make up a healthy relationship:

  • Working together instead of against each other
  • Freedom (not fearfulness) to be yourself and have your partner be themselves too
  • Keeping honesty at the core, even if either of you don’t like it at times
  • Doing everything out of love, not your desire to be right or for some manipulative motive
  • Remembering why you’re together in the first place
  • Setting goals for the future instead of letting day by day pass by without intention
  • Taking quality time to learn about and understand each other
  • Being patient with each other, accepting each other but encouraging each other to reach their personal goals and overcome their weaknesses
  • Forgiving each other and making up immediately after every disagreement
  • Seeking resolutions, not feeding conflict
  • HAVING FUN

If the main reason you’re with your partner is because you don’t want to be alone or because you get something out of them, you’ve got a problem. You can test to see whether you love the person or just the idea of them by these simple questions:

  1. Do I love my partner because they add to my life?
  2. Do the unreciprocated efforts I make for my partner starve me of my joy?
  3. What do my family and friends think about this person?
  4. Do the pros outweigh the cons and are the cons something I can realistically live with?
  5. Have my partner and I made any plans about our future together? Do our goals align?
  6. What do I love about my partner? Are these reasons genuine or superficial?
  7. Why am I with my partner?

There are many more questions we should ask ourselves about our relationships, whether it’s the first month or the fourth year. Relationships are important and often take the most of our energy, and this is why we must make good decisions. To make good decisions we should consider this as we date or court. Being proactive about these things can help us avoid a lot of heartbreak and disappointment, and keep us fresh for the person we’re really meant to be with.

We might not be in control of who we fall for, but we can choose who we give our love to.

With love,
Sarah

 

Taking Love Back from the Media

The greatest lesson I’ve learned in my quarter century of life is love is the most important thing in the world. Love has the power to heal broken hearts, inspire people to change, give people the freedom to forgive and the strength to move forward.

I’m not talking about the superficial “love” the media wants us to believe is the real deal; the lustful, possessive, demanding, materialistic, selfish emotion people confuse with real, active love. I’m talking about the love in 1 Corinthians 13 that places love on the highest pedestal, setting it above wisdom, skills, abilities, faith and even generosity and kind deeds. It says all of those things are worthless without love connected to them. The second paragraph talks about what love is and contrasts it against what it isn’t. It seems like common sense but when you look at the kinds of relationships people stay in, it seems there are many people who have the wrong idea of what love actually is, or they don’t have the desire for it.

I think we need to step back from all of our relationships once in a while and revise what love really is, how we have loved and where we need to improve. Everyone enjoys a good song about how love is all you need (The Beatles) or one declaring it’s the one thing that will stop wars, repair broken homes, stop slavery and end world hunger, yet no one ever asks what love actually looks like. How do you get love that can move mountains?1 John 4:8 says “God is love.” All good things come from Him and knowing He loves me and watches my every step gives me the peace to know even when all my plans and hopes fall apart He is at my side, disappointed and hurting with me — I’m not alone. He knows the thoughts of my heart before I can find the words to speak them; no one knows me better. Despite all the darkness in those moments or months or years, there is a light that continues to shine, which reminds me God forgives everyone who has a repentant heart, and those without. He gives His love and forgiveness freely even though none of us ever deserve it. If He can see us as good and deserving of that peace of heart and mind then we should give that same kind of love to others. This kind of love as I have just described is the most selfless, moving, life-changing gift you can give to another person. It’s contagious and it turns heads. Jesus drew massive crowds of thousands of people by being such an example of love, so imagine the joy you could bring to the lives of even just a handful of people by following suit.

Love is something that should be lavished onto others, not held back and reserved for people who try to earn it, not given in small doses to keep someone on their game, not given and taken away like an object and not used to manipulate others into giving you what you want even if it’s to make you feel good about yourself. Love is a constantly-offered gift you give to give to people you like and people you don’t. It will give you peace to know you are good to everyone, you will be a light and an example to everyone who meets you and you will please God.

Love got me through the hardest times in my life and it will continue to do so throughout my life. This life is too short to waste believing in a false MTV version of “love.” It’s more than romance, dates, gifts, text messages and Facebook statuses. It also requires you to have an open heart to receive love and give people the benefit of the doubt. A bitter or prideful attitude will get you nowhere, believe me, I’ve seen it. You will attract love by loving others, appreciating them and treating them like they have value, and gradually things will begin to change in your life for the better. So love! (Zero to a hunnid, real quick.) ;)

With Love,

Sarah

P.S. Thanks to everyone who has been reading these blogs, I really appreciate it!

 

What You Make of It

This morning I was thinking back on a job opportunity I was offered a few months ago but had to pass up because it clashed with my current job. I was thinking about how it was a lost chance to gain experience in an area I am passionate about and how disappointed I am. But then a thought hit me like a tennis racket to the face! If one single thing went differently over the summer or the past year, the present might not be the way it is. Call it Fate or Divine Intervention but when you look back and think about situations that happened and consider them in regards to your current position in life, it’s clear that our present decisions, even the seemingly insignificant ones, directly impact our future. Sometimes even the bad things that happen end up turning into blessings. God can turn something tragic into an opportunity for something incredible!
 
Each decision we make today, every place we choose to go or don’t go, every person we meet, all have an impact on us in some way or another and they can teach us lessons, open our minds and give us opportunities to grow and gain wisdom. You can meet someone or lose someone solely for the purpose of coming to the realization of the kind of people you should not have in your life. Sometimes you will meet amazing people who will help you see the ones who were a detriment to your life and help you set your standards higher. Not everything happens for a reason, sometimes bad things happen. But in the end, it’s what we take away from it or what we make of it that builds our character and helps us discover new things about ourselves and about other people. 

Love,

Sarah

Sometimes all it takes is one simple change, just one simple thing done differently or added or removed can have a profound impact on our future.
Sometimes that “one simple thing” is blatantly staring you in the face but other times it is quite elusive.
Sometimes the ensuing effect is the one desired other times not so much.
If only we can know which “thing” to chose or do for the desired results we seek.
This one comes through much prayer and fasting, not leaving out the analytics
– L. D. S.

Striving to Achieve the Impossible Goal of Perfection, Starting with My Attitude

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

– Romans 8:18

I’m sitting at my work desk wondering how on earth to begin writing this post. I have had this on my heart for a long time but haven’t had the time or words to express myself, but it needs to be said and needs to be heard so here I go.

COMPASSION is absolutely essential to life. I can’t tell you the things I’ve been through this year but it has moved me to redefine my standards and find value within myself outside of anything else. It has also challenged me to love and forgive beyond what I thought I was capable of and have the courage to reach for what’s good for my life. But let me start somewhere else…

It’s much easier to do the wrong thing and seek to defend ourselves in battle, than it is to do good and show mercy to others, but it’s a worthy effort for the sake of showing real love to another broken, hurting person [Matthew 6:14]. Humans are naturally rebellious to good and flutter towards evil like moths to a flame. We don’t realize the danger as we draw towards the alluring, flickering light, until it singes us or flat out burns us alive. We almost can’t help ourselves and that’s one fact we have to realize about each other. The desire for evil is so much stronger than the desire to do good [Romans 7:15] even though we all think of ourselves as good, wholesome life-seekers. This is why compassion and mercy are imperative.

Since we all fall short of goodness [Romans 3:23], since we all fail over and over again and since we all screw up and cause harm to the people we love, we all need the compassion of others to help us change and move forward. One of the saddest, most heartbreaking things I’ve ever seen is when people get so consumed with their guilt and shame they get paralyzed in self-hate [Ezra 9:13]. When you’re so consumed in hating yourself for who you are, what you look like, or the mistakes you made in the past, you cannot move forward to embrace the compassion and mercy of others and you refuse to see any good in yourself because you feel you deserve the punishment. This view of oneself is a misleading, incomplete image. Everyone has evil AND good in them. Guilt forces you to only see the bad. Accepting the compassion and forgiveness from the person you’ve wronged is the only thing that can help you overcome guilt and heal from your pain. It is the only thing that works and it takes faith on YOUR part. No other person can do the healing for you and if you believe another person is the sole reason for your healing, you are a) mislead and b) going to unintentionally make them your crutch. I cannot emphasize this enough… healing takes action on your part.

Unfortunately the common thing that happens is people try to fill the void of hurt with objects and people. The problem is, coping is sometimes like a black hole. It sucks in everything in its path: the people you love, the things you enjoy, your hobbies, your goals, all the good things and the bad things, until you’ve used up everyone and everything and you’re onto another fix until you’re hollowed out and unfulfilled. You suck the life out of people because you’re trying to fill a void that cannot be filled. The only solution is to destroy the void completely — obliterate self-hate through the acceptance of how someone Greater values you.

Another obstacle to this recovery goal is people try to get forgiveness from each other… rebuild their earthly reputation, regain dignity and respect. All of that is super important and it does help, but it doesn’t get deep enough. There’s still a speck of dust in your heart you just can’t scrub away with the approval or compliments or encouragements from others. When you truly despise yourself, nothing anyone does or says will convince you of your value.

But then there is God who designed you in His image [Genesis 1:27] and made you who you are, loves you and deems you worthy of existence, wants good things for you, waits for you, accepts you where you’re at and wants to draw you to where you need to be for His purpose in you. He sees the GOOD in you and loves you DESPITE the bad. Knowing someone greater than you, who PUT you here on this earth, will help you surrender to REAL love and put your mistakes behind you. In God’s eyes we are all valuable and accepting that truth ultimately helps me get through every rough day when I feel like my own flaws and failures define me. As I said before, healing takes action on your part. Sometimes the first step is believing and having a constant faith that you are loved, forgiven, capable of improvement and worthy of this life. You can choose to take this present challenge as an opportunity to be transformed [Matthew 5:6, 2 Peter 3:18, Philippians 4:13].

For those of us who are recovering from hurt or dealing with people who have hurt us, we have a responsibility to show compassion to everyone, even the people who hurt us. We don’t know the level of guilt, shame and self-hate going on inside of them and by having a bitter, hateful, vengeful, hostile attitude towards them, we do far more harm than good to ourselves, to them and to loved ones new and old. Think about it. What if the last words you spoke to someone were “I hate you.” What if that was their last day and that’s what you left them with. Now you have to go on for the rest of your life in guilt because you didn’t tame your tongue and find peace in your heart to be compassionate. It is much easier said than done, especially when our focus is on our internal hurt or betrayal. Don’t get me wrong, there are people with an evil state of heart, who deliberately and consciously do horrible things and have zero remorse for it. Protect yourselves and flee from such people. But keep in mind that only God knows the heart of each man and woman [1 Corinthians 2:11] and learning to be compassionate at all times is not just for them, it’s also for you. What’s that saying? “Forgiveness isn’t for them, it’s for you.”

I honestly believe with God everything is possible and without Him, nothing truly is [Mark 10:27]. I often try to do things on my own because I’m impatient and I think I know best, but then I get a wakeup call and realize how off the path I am and how much re-direction I need. Our attitude towards others could be a life-changing factor for them and for us. Every challenge we face is an opportunity for us to learn and grow from it, building our character and strengthening our morals and standards. This shifting of attitude is something I have to work on in myself and man, do I suck at getting this right most of the time, but that’s life: A CONSTANT EFFORT TO ACHIEVE THE UNREACHABLE GOAL OF PERFECTION. Aim high, love big.

– SDS

“What has happened to us is a result of our evil deeds and our great guilt, and yet, our God, you have punished us less than our sins deserved and have given us a remnant like this.”

– Ezra 9:13