By Coach Delisa Deavenport, MBA, CPC
When we came into this world, our hearts were pure. The world had yet to place the inevitable scars on top of our spirit; scars that, most definitely, would come to be. Then, with each passing day, we processed how the world treated us leaving its mark to form, both our virtues and, our character defects. Yes, many factors and variables make up our personality and not being a scientist of how human beings develop, I write from the vantage point of my beliefs, my perceptions, and my faith in God’s teachings.
Life, in general, seems to be more of a struggle than a purposeful, carefree life of intended purpose. You work toward having a life of significant value and joy. Then curve balls sneak up on you, knocking you off your game, leaving you stunned, forcing you to recapture your focus and passion. Sometimes the recovery takes only a few moments, sometimes the process takes so much longer. Sometimes you find yourself stuck, discouraged and slowly giving up. I mean, why keep trying, knowing you are going to constantly run into obstacles. I believe that our emotional scars are to blame when we get stuck, begin to give up or revert back to old unfulfilling habits.
What is it in your life or personality that keeps you from being the person you know you are? The person deep down inside. What virtues do you want to develop to make you become the person God created you to be? How can you work toward this fulfillment? Do you want to develop yourself or do you like where you are? I believe everyone benefits from constantly learning to be a better version of yourself, especially when you are pursuing this desire from a great love for God.
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For me, the challenge is my lack of kindness and humility. I have a big heart, no doubt about it, and it is just chock-full of love for others. I also have overwhelming gratitude. Now, reading these last two sentences seem to contradict each other. Now you see my problem. I have not identified the exact source of the contradiction, but I am diligently working with God to figure it all out. You see, I give a great deal of my time and much of my money toward projects that help others. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t, but it does not stop me from trying with every ounce of focus and ignoring most of the other important things in my life while on a project of love. All too often, my projects are those of my choosing not projects God has guided me to work on.
This past fall, I learned an incredibly tough lesson. Like a snowball coming down a hill, growing bigger and bigger, I worked on two projects of love. I got so wrapped up in these projects, I failed to intentionally include God in my endeavors. I have made this mistake before. You would think I would learn. I prayed, but not with sincerity to guide me and I definitely did not take the time to listen. I did not get quiet; I ignored divine direction. I was fulfilling a carefully written project plan that did not include input from God or those I was trying to help. When I get this focused, I lose my ability to be kind to others. I am blunt, direct and narrow-minded. That is definitely not kindness. Both projects blew up in my face and I lost possible friends-in- the making; friends who are Christians, by the way.
Gratitude is a part of my soul. I see blessings all around me, most are unbelievable miracles and I know I am undeserving. God must think I am special as He keeps making these miracles and lessons of life, a part of my every day. It is these wonders that keep me moving toward the purpose He continually creates. I am not sure what that is yet, but you bet I will intentionally use my skill of finding my direction in my quiet to discover it. My intuition tells me when I am on track and when I have wandered off into the wilderness when I mindfully listen.
A priest once told me that being a Christian means living a life of struggle. At the time, this did not seem fair to me. If I am to live a devoted life of obedience to God, (which is really, really hard) shouldn’t I have a pretty cozy life? I get it now; it means that devoted Christians are constantly tempted by evil. We are also regularly tested by God so that we are able to learn valuable life lessons that take our life to a higher level of purpose making us wiser and more fulfilled as human beings. I used to think that the more obstacles placed in my life, the more mistakes I must be making. While this is true for people who constantly make selfish decisions with disregard for others, I am talking about those life obstacles that still spring up when you are consciously living a life of faithful virtue and spiritual honor. I now embrace my struggles. I did this fall; it still sucked but I embraced it. Keeping a heart of love is the key, for ourselves and for others.
God instructs us to treat each other with unselfish love and He means it literally. When we see someone panhandling on the street corner, love will direct us to give them a donation. It is not up to us to think beyond the donation or worry about what they will do with it. The virtue was in your willingness to obey God by giving and trusting Him to take care of the rest. When someone falsely accuses you of something in anger or frustration, walk away. I once heard that the person losing the argument is the person still talking. God knows the truth and that is all that matters. When someone steals or uses something of yours without asking, leave it alone. That’s the kind of love God teaches. That’s the kind of love I struggle with. That’s my focus for improving myself to be more like God. What about you?
I leave you with this thought. What do you want to work on to be a better person? How can you put more love out in the world? What perceptions will you need to change to work toward this improvement? You know mine and I ask your prayers and support to help me through my change. I would like to know yours and I will, most assuredly, pray and support you through yours. The world is a scary place, full of selfish people clawing their way through life. True, unselfish love would change this trend. It starts with us. We are the only ones that can change because we certainly cannot change other people, and yet we seem to spend most of our focus and energy trying to do just that.
Love yourself first, then share that love. Find Your Direction in Your Quiet.