That One Special Person

I was going through my Facebook page this morning and a memory from a year ago popped up. The post was of Cycle Dude and Shirley, my younger dog. From the moment she met Cycle Dude, Shirley had him pegged as her hooman.

There is something about animals and how they can sense good people. Shirley has always loved Cycle Dude. She will snuggle up to him, lay on the floor next to his side of the bed and follow him around. He loves chips or anything salty and crunchy and so does Shirley.

One morning, Cycle Dude was sick (he had gotten food poisoning). I came home from work to find both of my dogs laying on the floor next to Cycle Dude’s side of the bed. They were “taking care of” Cycle Dude. They knew he was sick and the only medicine they had to make him better was their company.

Animals tend to latch on to that one special person – the person they sense is “theirs”. Jack is my dog. He tries to make me feel better when I am sad. He protects me. He wasn’t too sure about Cycle Dude for a while – not because Cycle Dude was mean to Jack, but because I was Jack’s hooman and he was jealous of Cycle Dude. I’m still Jack’s hooman, but he has warmed up to Cycle Dude.

I believe it says a great deal about someone if my dogs like them. Dogs seem to instinctively know when someone is of good character. I trust my dogs’ judgement. They judged Cycle Dude to be of good character and they were correct! If you want to know if the new person in your life is of good character (strong moral fiber, a person of integrity), introduce them to your dog. Stay tuned . . . .

 

Advertisements

A Better Person

I have recently shared that I will be leaving my current job for a job at my Alma Mater – just across the river from where I am now.  Earlier this week, I was emailing a colleague in the Accounts Payable Department. She was sad to hear I am leaving. She told me, “You have made me want to be a better person and I’m working on it.” I felt humbled.

Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man (or woman) sharpens the countenance of his (her) friend.” I told my colleague that one of the signs of a good relationship – personal or professional – is that those involved become better people. There should be people in our lives who “sharpen” us and make us better people.

How does this happen?

Professional: Coworkers, supervisors and business associates should motivate us to be and to do our best. Improper relationships, shady dealings, work gossip and ‘working/cheating the system’ is not our best. Taking advantage of other people in the workplace is not our best.

Personal: Whether the relationship is friendship or romantic, we should aspire to influence one another for the best. Gossip, stealing, mocking, selfishness, any kind of abuse – none of these things is our best. Compassion, integrity, generosity, faith – these things are our best and we should encourage them in those we love and are friends with. If you have personal relationships that are dragging you down, causing an overwhelming darkness in your life or are just plain unhealthy (co-dependence, addiction, abuse, etc.), it’s time to re-evaluate and end that relationship.

I have a couple of friends who have been with me through the good times and bad times in my life. I have been with them through the same. One friend I refer to as ‘My Best Buddy”. Over the past 13+ years, we have sharpened one another. We have also rounded down the edges that have gotten a little too sharp! We know we can depend on one another (like the time she called me at 3am because she had a water pipe burst). Cycle Dude has made me a better person – more at peace, more generous.

Take time to consider if your relationships have made you a better person. If not, seriously consider ending them. Life is too short to waste it on bad relationships. Stay tuned. . .

 

The Golden Rule

I will be leaving my current job in a week and going back to work at my Alma Mater. I am excited to be on a college campus again and to be a part of all the activity. I enjoy helping students and faculty. I enjoy learning. I enjoy serving my coworkers. I enjoy giving back to the community.

Almost five years ago, one of the faith groups on campus started a food pantry for students. I am looking forward to serving the campus community by volunteering my time and resources for that food pantry. It wasn’t so long ago that I often wondered where the next meal was going to come from as I chose between food and utilities or gas. But God was good – my dogs and I always had something to eat.

But, I digress. The real purpose of this post is to share that many people have come up to me at work and expressed their sorrow that I am leaving. As I was running an errand at the hospital this morning, I ran into one of my good friends who is a housekeeper and is also an Elvis impersonator (that’s a whole ‘nother story for a whole ‘nother time, but he has an unbelievable ministry through his impersonation). Tom and I talked and I started to cry. I told him I was leaving, but that I was sad and overwhelmed at the same time. Tom encouraged me with prayer and scripture and told me that I had made an impact at myjob.

Why have I made such an impact? For one, the love of God. As I have received, so I give (Matthew 10:8b). Another is that I strongly believe in treating others as I want to be treated, or The Golden Rule (Luke 6:31). There have been times when I have been lost and afraid and in dire straits and others have reached out to me. I have been treated with love and kindness and that’s how I try to treat others. Is it that way 100% of the time? Heavens, no! I am not perfect and I will be the first to tell you so.

I find joy in serving others and treating others well. I know that I am doing what God has called me to do – to make a difference in this life. I may not be rich or famous, but I want others to know they are loved and valued. If I have positively influenced one person in my time at the hospital, then it has been worth it. If I have shown one soul the love of God and brought joy to their heart, then it has been worth it. If I have given one sad heart a big smile that broke through that sadness, then it has been worth it. And so I move on to serve others who need to know the unconditional love of Christ. Stay tuned . . .

You Can’t Train Kindness

In less that 14 days, I will be leaving my current job and returning to my Alma Mater for a job in the Geography Department. Many people at my current job have told me they will miss me because I have always been so kind. My kindness comes not from a sense of duty (“I am a Christian – or an American, or a mom, or a grandmother, or a woman – so I should be kind”). No. My kindness comes from a thankful heart and a genuine desire to serve others.

Is that altruism? Some will argue that altruism comes from a motivation of self-centeredness (“Look at how kind I am”, “Look at how generous I am with my time, money, etc.”). Others will argue that altruism comes from guilt, or the need for penance, or another negative response. Still others will argue that altruism comes from man’s ‘basic goodness’. (As an aside, Jeremiah 17:9 says, ‘The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it?’) I argue that my kindness comes from none of the above, that it is not altruism for altruism’s sake.

My kindness comes from a thankful heart – thankful for my children, my grandbabies, Cycle Dude, my pups, my mom and my family and so many more blessings God has given me. My kindness comes from a genuine desire to serve others. I know how I want to be treated and so I treat others that way. The sum of my past equals the person I am now.

Will my replacement be kind? Will he or she be willing to do what’s not ‘in their job description’ in order to help others? Will my replacement take the time to answer people’s questions? Will my replacement answer the phone with a smile, ask, “How may I help you?” and be genuinely concerned for others’ welfare?

You can’t train kindness – it must come from a thankful heart and a grateful life. Kindness is a heart overflowing with joy, in spite of difficult circumstances. Kindness is seeking the best in others and expecting it in ourselves. Kindness is pouring out abundant grace to those who least deserve it. Kindness is seeing our weaknesses and admitting them and forgiving them in others. Kindness is going the extra mile, then going a mile more. Kindness comes from sitting quietly, hearing our heartbeat and thanking God for the gift of life. Kindness comes from selflessness.

I have learned a great deal in my 50 something years. I have learned that serving others in kindness and grace is the most joyful thing I can do. Stay tuned. . . .

Lawn Mower

I recently read about the new trend in parenting, the “Lawn Mower Parent”. These folks seem far worse than the “Helicopter Parent”. The Lawn Mower Parent mows down every obstacle in their child’s life so the child doesn’t have to overcome adversity, etc. Needless to say, this kind of parenting will produce very weak, pampered and entitled people – even more so that the Helicopter Parent.

A child is like a butterfly. If you help the butterfly out of its cocoon, it will die. the butterfly needs to struggle out of the cocoon to gain strength. It needs to let its wings unfold slowly so they will dry and also be strong. We do our children no favors when we mow down the obstacles for them. The obstacles are what causes strength and resiliency in a person’s life. Are they fun? Heck, no! But they are needed to allow us to grow into strong, healthy people.

One cannot live one’s life without some pain and adversity. I know of people who try to avoid pain at all costs – their lives are dull and they are dull. Getting out of bed in the morning is inviting pain and adversity. My divorce was one of the most painful things I had ever been through. I would much rather had gone through natural childbirth again! But I have come out of it a much stronger and more compassionate person.

We can spend so much time mowing down pain and adversity that we have little time for anything else. We may be mowing down flowers or insects – the little things that make life special. Weeds continue to pop up in different parts of the yard. As we go after one weed, another pops up and at the end of the day we are exhausted from mowing. Put the lawn mower away. A few weeds are good.

Yes, pain and adversity are not pleasant. That’s a ‘duhism’. But pain and adversity help us to become stronger. We grow and change in ways we never thought possible. And through that growth and change, we are able to be more empathetic toward others as they face pain and diversity in their lives. Isn’t that part of what life is about – helping one another along on this journey? Life is an adventure, live it! Stay tuned. . . .

Looking in the Rear View Mirror

When I was learning to drive (way back in the Dark Ages), my Driver’s Ed teacher told us we should constantly be scanning the rear view and side mirrors. I thought, “How can I do that and keep my mind on what’s in front of me?”

The aftermath of a divorce is sort of like driving – you have a destination and you need to keep your mind on what’s ahead of you, not constantly what’s behind you. Every now and then, my past raises its ugly head and I can easily get distracted and not be able to focus on the here and now and what is ahead. I have to remember that a) my past is under the grace of God and b) my past is past.

Sometimes it’s easy to go down that slippery slope and want to get caught up in the past. We have regrets, we feel angry, sad or bitter. Stop that!! Just like the rear view mirror on a car, the past is a tool: learn from your past, understand your mistakes, mature past your mistakes and move on. If you are constantly looking in the rear view mirror while you are driving, you’ll smash into something ahead of you! The same thing goes with your healing journey – look ahead, not behind.

In 1989, Christian Artist Bob Bennett released, “Lord of the Past”:

Every harsh word spoken
Every promise ever broken to me
Total recall of data in the memory
Every tear that has washed my face
Every moment of disgrace that I have known
Every time I’ve ever felt alone

Lord of the here and now
Lord of the come what may
I want to believe somehow
That you can heal these wounds of yesterday
(You can redeem these things so far away)
So now I’m asking you
To do what you want to do
Be the Lord of the Past
(Be the Lord of my Past)
Oh how I want you to
Be the Lord of the Past

All the chances I let slip by
All the dreams that I let die in vain
Afraid of failure and afraid of pain
Every tear that has washed my face
Every moment of disgrace that I have known
Every time I’ve ever felt alone

Today, resolve to spend more time looking ahead than looking behind. After all, you can’t change the past. Learn from it. Let God heal it. Stay tuned. . . .

 

 

 

It’s Your Decision

I had a job interview yesterday. I was excited about it and thought I was prepared. However, when I got to the interview, the three people in the room all seemed to be in a sour mood. No one smiled and it seemed like I was just a token interview that no one wanted to do. I almost got up and walked out. But I thought, “Well, I’m here – stick it out.”

I was quite upset when I left the interview and I was on the verge of tears. Luckily, I had planned dinner with my best buddy. She was disappointed that I did not feel good about the interview. I thought, “You know – this is my decision: am I going to feel bad about myself because the interview didn’t go like I thought it would? Am I going to feel bad because my friend is disappointed?” I talked with Cycle Dude about it a little bit, then I decided that I did what I could do and it’s in the past.

I have blogged before about giving other people the power to make you feel bad. Short story – DON’T! I decided not to let those three people or my friend cause me to feel bad about myself. I know my abilities, I know my skills and I know what I do on a daily basis that contributes to my job. Last week I received a phone call from someone at my job. She said she had been to three different departments before she was told to call me. I asked her, “You were told to call this department?” She said, “No, I was told to call YOU, that you would know how to help me.” That made me feel great! (And, of course, I did help her and followed up to make sure she had gotten what she needed.)

Each day we are faced with what a friend calls “life-giving” or “non-life-giving” decisions. Are we going to make the decision to let others speak negatively into our lives? Are we going to allow bad experiences to ruin our day? Each day is a gift and each decision should be life-giving. Sometimes we make bad decisions and things don’t go the way we anticipated. Stand up, brush yourself off and move on. It’s your decision. Stay tuned. . .