Category Archives: Choices

Eyes on Jesus

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We live in a complicated, broken world. There is so much hurt, so much anger, so much confusion, so much conflict. It’s a world that is suffering and struggling.

Each day I wake up and make intentional choices. I choose to be positive. I choose to treat people well. I choose to smile. I choose to love.

But life continually throws unexpected curves. This chaotic world will constantly try to make us fall.

We can choose to be kind, but some will still be unkind to us.

We can act in love, and may receive hate in return.

We can take risks, and sometimes we will fail miserably.

We can put ourselves out there, and may end up broken hearted.

We can trust people, and they could betray us.

We can do what is right, and others respond with what is wrong.

We can open ourselves up, and someone may shut us down.

This world is hard. It can be dark and cruel. It can make us want to run away and isolate ourselves. It can take away our ability to trust. It can make us give up on love.

In my life, one thing I have learned and practiced – through all of the noise, the stress, the chaos, the heartbreak, the missteps – as long as I keep my eyes on Jesus, everything is going to be ok.

With my focus on my Saviour, He shows me how the good triumphs over the bad. He blinds me to the negativity and shines a light on the positive. He deafens my ears to the noise, and blares the kindness. He guards my heart from the hate, and softens it to the love.

We can choose to be kind in the face of unkindness if our eyes are on Jesus.

We can act in genuine love and know that the love of Jesus conquers all hate.

We can take risks and have the opportunity to succeed beyond our wildness dreams, or experience something amazing that we never thought possible.

We can trust people and forgive any betrayal because we know Jesus died so we could be forgiven.

We can do what is right, no matter the response, for we know we honoured our Lord.

We can open ourselves up, and be ok with rejection because with Jesus, we are always accepted.

Yes, this world is hard. Yes, we face many struggles. But with our eyes on Jesus, the joy and love we experience is unfathomable.

With our eyes on Jesus, darkness will become light.

With our eyes on Jesus, hate can transform to love.

With our eyes on Jesus,  hurt is healed.

With our eyes on Jesus, mess can be made beautiful.

So goodbye negativity, I don’t have time for you. I choose to be positive.

I’m sorry hate, but you are not wanted. I serve a God of love.

Farewell betrayal – you can’t have me. I choose forgiveness.

My apologies rejection, but you cannot break me. I belong to Jesus.

And my eyes are on Him.

 

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Crossroads

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We have all been there at some point in our lives. We’ve reached a point in our path where there are two different ways to go and we have to decide how to proceed.

Sometimes these crossroads are brought on by a negative or traumatic situations such as being laid off or the end of a relationship. However, there are other times when you reach a crossroads and have to choose between two good opportunities.

The two paths offer different options, neither of which are negative, and both of which would make you happy. It’s this type of crossroads where a decision can be very difficult to make.

I am at this point right now. I am standing with two paths before me, both offering great and positive options, and I have just two days to make a decision. How do I possibly do this?

I knew the first thing I had to do was talk to the trusted person that I usually seek advice from, my dad. I knew he would not tell me what to do, but would offer words of wisdom, and ask me the right questions in order for me to make this tough decision.

My dad pointed out that there is no wrong choice here, but what I decided had to be based on what was best for me.

Of course I will never be able to fully take others out of the weighing of my decision because I will always care about how my actions affect someone else. However, as my dad said, I ultimately have to do what is best for me, my health and my future.

The question he asked that has made me think the most is where do I want to be in 5 years? I struggle with this question because I try not to plan anything too far in advance. I love the unknown and unexpected. I want to make sure I am always open to new adventures and new opportunity.

At the same time I need to be realistic and set goals for myself. Those goals can change over the years, but if I am not heading towards something, what’s the point?

As much as I’d love to avoid planning for the future and simply live moment by moment, I recognize that a lifestyle like that can be unhealthy. And having goals doesn’t mean I am chained to them. I can change my mind. I can go in another direction if the one I choose doesn’t work out.

I already know that I am never going to fully ‘settle down’. It’s not something that is in me. I want to travel the world serving others. I want the freedom of choosing to take each opportunity that presents itself. I don’t ever want to be tied down.

And that is the beauty of facing a crossroads like this one. I know that whatever decision I make does not have to be a permanent one. I don’t have the responsibility of a mortgage or a family to provide for. It’s just me. I am lucky enough that I don’t have to make this decision based on finances, but rather I can make it based on my personal goals and dreams.

Honestly, I am incredibly grateful to be presented with two wonderful opportunities, despite how hard this decision is.

The fact that it is a difficult decision shows that I care. I care about the people it will affect, and I care that the decision is made with great thought.

This crossroads is not a negative one. It’s two paths of great opportunity.

I have not made a decision yet. But I am grateful to be at a point in my life where I have this decision to make.

 

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Drop the Crutch

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I have spent two decades enduring the judgement of others because of my depression. I have witnessed looks of pity, looks of fear and even looks of disgust. I’ve lost friends. I’ve lost a job. I’ve heard people call me “crazy”, “unstable” and “insane”.

And I have proved them all wrong.

Now my battle is not only with my disease, but with the stigma that still surrounds mental illness. I’m not insane. What’s insane is that there is still such a lack of compassion and understanding for those who suffer.

I am not defined by my depression. My illness doesn’t dictate what I am capable of or what I can achieve. And I want everyone who struggles with mental illness to know that about themselves.

It breaks my heart when the world tells them they’re not good enough and they simply agree. They pick up their crutch and limp away in shame and sadness.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Mental illness does not have to control your life. There are ways to fight it and win. Don’t allow yourself to use your struggles as a reason to give up or give in. There is help. There is support. There is hope.

I know this because I’ve experienced it.

I’m not saying it’s an easy journey. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do and it’s a continuous battle. This disease is a vicious monster that can easily take down the strongest of the strong. It will rip you apart inside and poison your soul until you believe your life isn’t worth living.

I get it.

The pain I felt inside used to be so unbearable that I would purposely burn myself with boiling water just to escape that feeling for a few moments; I just wanted to feel something else, even if it was physical pain.

It’s brutal.

I get it.

But the fight is worth it. Don’t give up and let the attack overcome you. Don’t stop battling back. Don’t accept defeat and surrender.

It’s easy to give up on yourself and your life. Sometimes it does seem like the only option. And it can be easy to blame everything on your mental illness.

Didn’t show up for work? It’s because of my depression.

Missed your child’s first play? It’s because of my depression.

Stood up a friend? It’s because of my depression.

The world says we’re broken, so we act broken. Instead of fighting back, we use our illness as a crutch, as an excuse.

And yes, there will be times when your illness will honestly keep you from commitments. There will be days when you honestly physically can’t get out of bed. Believe me, I know. I once wet the bed because I was too depressed and out of it to get up to go to the bathroom down the hall. (How’s that for honesty?)

Depression is a horrendous disease that no one should have to experience. But if you do, if you are in that heart-wrenching battle, keep going. Keep fighting. Find support. Ask for help.

If you do, each day will get a little better. Each day will get a little easier. Each day you will get a little bit stronger.

Until you can finally stand on steady ground.

And you can finally drop the crutch.

 

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Deep Thoughts at 2am…

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As my title for this post indicates, it is 2am, and I am enduring a sleepless night. Being up in the middle of the night is nothing new for me, although it hasn’t happened in a while. It is usually something that goes hand in hand with my depression, but I’m not depressed tonight.

When I tried to go to bed a few hours ago, I knew sleep wasn’t going to come though I continued to try. I knew it wasn’t going to come because I was facing feelings of anger due to something that happened earlier in the evening. I felt I was taken advantage of.

For many years I was constantly taken advantage of. I was lonely, and desperate to fit in and be accepted, so I let people take advantage of me. I let them walk all over me, and then I turned around and asked them to do it again.

I’m not like that anymore. I know who I am and what I am worth, and I won’t let others treat me poorly. And if standing up for myself means not being accepted, I’m ok with that.

But tonight, when I felt taken advantage of, it unlocked some buried feelings and I got angry. Angrier than was necessary probably, but sometimes we can’t control our feelings. They race to the surface and force us to deal with them directly.

Those negative feelings brought up other negative feelings, and my anger became sadness and self pity as I began to question certain things. I was feeling sorry for myself.

In an attempt to calm myself down, I grabbed my adult colouring book (yes, I have one and don’t knock it until you try it 😊), and began to colour a page of flowers.

My heart and my mind both calmed.

And a little voice whispered, ‘It’s not about you.’

And everything snapped back into perspective.

That little voice, that reminder was all I needed to pull myself out of my self pity. To pull me out of the thoughts of what wasn’t right in my life, and what I may be missing in my life.

Because it’s not about me.

I am not here for me.

I have a purpose in this world, just like everyone else. But that purpose is not to make me as happy as possible or to give me everything I desire.

My purpose is to make life better for those around me. My purpose is to spread love and joy.

It’s so easy to focus on all that is going wrong. It’s easy to blame things on everyone else. It’s easy to sit alone and feel sorry for myself.

But that accomplishes nothing.

While it is still not right that someone took advantage of me and my helpful nature tonight, I can control how I respond to it. I will still stand up for myself. I will still not allow someone to treat me that way.

But I also will not let it lead to anger and triggers of past experience.

I can’t control the way someone else behaves. But I can control how I react.

And I have that voice in my head to remind me that this one incident is so small in the big picture.

That big picture is not about me.

So I have released the anger from earlier in the evening, and I have forgiven the person who triggered it.

I can sleep peacefully, and face tomorrow (well, today) with my usual positive attitude.

Goodnight.

 

One Shot

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In the last little while, a lot of things have reminded me that life is short. We think we have all the time in the world to do what we want to do, to achieve our goals, to take that next step, to finally be happy. Each day, we say we will do it tomorrow.

But we forget that life is short.

My friend in Toronto has a cousin who just lost her father and three young children when their car was hit by a drunk driver.

Someone I have known for many years is coming to terms with a cancer diagnosis.

Life is short.

You see, we go about our lives thinking there is always more time. But we are not promised tomorrow or next week or next month or next year.

All we have is right now. All we have is today.

And these reminders of how short life is have made me realize that I don’t want to waste today. I want to live every day like it is my last.

I spent years in jobs that made me miserable, where I’d go home in tears or completely frustrated. I’ve spent time with people who put me down or treated me poorly. I’ve been in relationships with people who weren’t right for me or who didn’t appreciate me. I’ve let people stomp all over me and take advantage of me.

From each of these situations, good has come. I have learned from them, grown from them and become stronger because of them. Most importantly I’ve decided that I don’t want to waste time by being in those situations anymore.

I’d rather make next to nothing in a job I love than make lots of money in a job that results in my misery. I’d rather be single and happy than with someone who makes me feel small and unworthy. I’d rather stand up for myself and deal with any backlash than let someone use me as their door mat.

My biggest fear is wasting time. Wasting time worrying, or obsessing over what others think of me. Wasting time wishing for something different instead of appreciating and loving what I have. Wasting time with people who make me feel bad instead of giving everything of myself to those who love me.

We only get one shot at this life. It’s up to us to make it as good as it can possibly be, for ourselves and for others.

There is a man I see often at the gym I work at, and he is always in a bad mood. He hardly ever smiles and is constantly complaining. Nothing is ever right, and he seems to hate everyone he comes in contact with.

And I don’t get it.

I don’t understand how someone can be so miserable. I don’t understand why they can’t find some good in life. It sounds like I am judging this person, but I truly am not. I truly just don’t understand.

I know life is hard. It’s complicated. It often doesn’t go the way we think it should. Trust me, I know that very well. I could easily look at some of the things I’ve been through, especially my battle with depression and simply decide that there is no reason to be happy.

But I only get one shot at this life. And I refuse to live it in constant negativity.

Instead I choose to take the hurts, the anger, the betrayals, and the struggles, and learn from them. I choose to allow them to make me stronger, and I allow them to motivate me to create positivity and love and goodness.

When the day comes for me to leave this world, I want to know that I gave it my best shot. I want to know that I took every opportunity that came my way, that I followed my dreams and pursued my goals, that I helped others and gave of myself, that I loved and allowed myself to be loved.

You only get one shot at this life.

On my death bed, I don’t want to look back at my life and regret the chances I didn’t take or the words I didn’t say. I don’t want to regret spending my life with people who weren’t right for me or didn’t make me happy. I don’t want to have had a career that I hated or goals that I let slip away.

You only get one shot at this life.

And although this life is hard, filled with pain and brokenness, we have a choice in how we live it. We can be overcome by sorrow and negativity and spend our time unhappy and living with regret, or we can take the best and leave the rest. We can choose to be happy and learn from the bad. We can choose to surround ourselves with people who bring us joy and build us up. We can choose to build others up and offer a hand to those in need. We can choose to chase our dreams and be the best that we can be.

Because we only get one shot at this life.

Don’t waste it.

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Revelation

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Have you ever had a revelation? A moment when suddenly things make sense? It can feel like someone smacked you on the head and your brain begins to work again. Puzzle pieces that confused and frustrated you before now slide into place as things become clear?

I had a revelation a few nights ago.

It happened while I was reading a book called Kisses from Katie, which is about an American girl who moved to Uganda after graduating high school. Her intention was to only stay for a year, but she fell in the love with the country and the people, particularly the children. She ended up buying a house, and starting an organization to send children to school, as well as feed them. On top of that, she took in and adopted 13 orphan girls and instantly became a mom.

It’s an amazing and inspiring story that I recommend reading. This book has helped me in my faith, as well as providing the revelation I experienced the other night.

Things have not been great with me the last few weeks. In one week, my grandfather passed away and my closest friend in Windsor moved 3 hours away. And I admit that I have had a difficult time recovering from both of these things.

As time went on, my mood continued downward. I was tired and unmotivated to do anything but get up and go to work. I was stressed and lonely, and dangerously close to falling into a depression. I tried hard to fight it by doing all the things I am supposed to do. I made plans to see people and spend time with family. I ate healthy and tried to work out more. But I could not lift my mood.

My mind raced at night with various frustrations and worries. I was restless, but at the same time constantly tired. However, sleep evaded me many nights.

I was doing everything I could to make myself feel better. I wanted to get back to my positive, ‘glass half full’ self. But it felt like it was just out of reach.

Then came the revelation last Wednesday night.

Suddenly I knew exactly why I was feeling down and couldn’t pull myself out of the slump.

I realized that for the last two months I had been living just for me. I was focused on myself and my worries and my stress and my hurts and my disappointments.

I wasn’t doing anything for anyone else.

Life was all about me.

And that’s why I couldn’t pull myself out of my down mood.

I am someone who loves to help and loves to serve. I love to take of others. That is when I feel fulfilled. That is when I am happiest. And I haven’t done that in months.

No wonder things don’t feel right in my world.

I need to get outside of myself and out of my own head. I need to focus on others.

Just to be clear, I am not saying there anything wrong with taking some time to focus on yourself. It is extremely important to take care of yourself and remain healthy. And we all need time when we can step away from the craziness of life to explore our own thoughts, emotions and ambitions.

However, getting completely wrapped up in yourself for too long takes a turn to unhealthy. Being trapped in your own head can cause anxiety and stress, and can lead to things being blown out of proportion.

And focusing on only “me” will result in a feeling of emptiness and loneliness. The more focused I was on myself, the less motivated I became to do anything to improve my situation. I got lost in my own head and couldn’t see beyond my own thoughts.

For example, one of things I have been struggling with is finding good, deep friendships in Windsor. That has left me feeling lonely and desperately wanting to meet people. But I haven’t been doing anything new or different to try to meet people.

What I need to do is pull myself out of my longing for meaningful relationships, and find a organization that I can volunteer for. Chances are, as I focus on helping others, I am naturally going to make new friends with people who are also volunteering.

Once I start co-leading a women’s Bible study at my new church (which is happening in a couple of weeks), I will meet new people and have opportunities to form friendships.

I know once I refocus my attention and pull away from myself, things will begin to fall into place.

I know God hears my prayers and is ready and willing to answer them. I just need to remember the part I have to play to receive my desired answers. He’s been throwing opportunities at me and I’ve been missing them since I was so focused on myself.

I am incredibly grateful for the revelation I received 5 nights ago. It was a wonderful reminder of who I am and why I am here.

I am not here for me.

When the Cheese Moves

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This afternoon I read a book that my dad lent to me. It’s called ‘Who Moved My Cheese?’ by Spencer Johnson, M.D. It is a story about two mice, Sniff and Scurry, and two Littlepeople, Hem and Haw, and how they each respond when someone moves their cheese. The point of the story is about change and how we respond to it. Do we rush into action on the next thing like Scurry? Do we cautiously venture into the next thing like Sniff? Do we spend time in fear and depression before we realize that we need to put aside our fears and move with the change like Haw? Or do we remain bitter toward the change, feeling we’ve been treated unfairly, and never move on like Hem?

I have always felt like I handle change quite well. I’ve learned to adapt to new situations and I am able to move with the change rather than fight against. It doesn’t mean I don’t grieve what I may have had before the change, but I generally haven’t let the fear of something different keep me from moving forward.

I owe my adaptability to my childhood. We moved around a lot so I had to be ok with change and new surroundings. It seems like every time I got comfortable somewhere, it was time to leave again. With the exception of when we left the Caribbean, I never wanted to move. But I had no choice, and I learned from my parents how to get settled into a new place, make new friends and start a new life. They were great examples of how to accept change and actively embrace it.

This provided me with both positive and negative qualities as I grew up. On the positive side, whenever someone ‘moved my cheese’, I was able to adjust to the change quickly and effectively and keep moving forward faster than most. On the negative side, if my life went too long without some change, I had a need to create it. I moved my own cheese before someone else had the chance to. That may have meant moving (which I did a lot when I lived in Toronto), making a new friend, ending a relationship, trying something different, or simply switching up my diet just so something was different.

It was almost as if I craved change. And that set me apart from most people. The majority of humans do not like change. They don’t like to be taken out of their comfort zone. Some don’t mind being challenged, but don’t make big changes because they won’t handle it well.

As I have gotten older, my cravings for a change or a ‘new cheese’ have lessened. I have become more like the rest of humanity where I like my comfort zone and want to remain in it.

And with my depression, I have developed a fear of change over the past few years. I never know what may trigger my depression since it has been the result of so many different situations over the years, so I now have a fear that any little change could trigger it.

But I am not interested in living in fear. Nor am I interested in needing to constantly change something and never being able to sit still. I want something in between.

I want to be able to move with it when my cheese moves and embrace the change. But I also want to be content with what I have when the cheese remains in one spot for a time.

Is this possible?

Can I let go of my fears in order to embrace new experiences, while at the same time be happy with where I am when there are no changes on the horizon?

I like to think I can.

I really like my life right now and I am very content in it. I am happy with my job, I have an amazing family, good friends, a great place to live, and I am healthy again.

But change is inevitable. For me. For you. Things are going to change, whether we want them to or not.

We can’t control what changes. We can’t control if we get laid off, or someone breaks up with us, or if a loved one gets sick. Changes in life are going to happen, and most of them will be out of our hands.

But we can choose how we respond to those changes. We can choose fear, which will leave us at a standstill as the rest of the world adapts. Or we can choose to move forward with the change.

What choice do we make?

Live in fear and misery wishing things were the way they used to be?

Or stepping into a new adventure and discovering the opportunity?

Despite my fears, I choose the new adventure. There are risks, yes, but I am moving toward the rewards, whatever they may be.

And while I am very content in my current life, that doesn’t mean there won’t be happiness when things change. Perhaps my joy will increase. The good may get better – I’ve experienced this happening before.

And even if it is not better, I fully believe change is a good thing. It helps us learn and grow. It stretches us beyond what we believe to be our capabilities and it allows us to surprise ourselves.

Change can bring both positive and negative results.

But it’s what we do with the change that matters.