Epidemic

There’s a lot of commotion going on in the world right now. With opinions that differ in more ways than one and people butting heads over the desire to be right, I feel as if there’s been a dwindling of hope spreading across the nation – an epidemic of moral losses as everyone searches for a political gain. But the problem doesn’t lie outside of us – it’s not something we can put limitations on or negotiate – the problem lies within us.

I have a thing for encouraging shirts. No matter where I’m at, if I see a shirt with an encouraging or optimistic phrase on it, I have to buy it. It all started when I bought a shirt that says, “peace starts with empathy.” This shirt is my favorite, because it reminds me to be empathetic (understanding or compassionate towards experiences or people without having firsthand experience) no matter what the situation is. I think this world could use a lot of empathy right now. We seem to have collectively looked at the world, pinpointed a problem, and settled on the quickest and “easiest” solution possible, but the only reason this “solution” seems easy is because it doesn’t require any real change within us – it leaves all of us free of guilt while also leaving us free of change. But we can’t have both.

We need to change. Not laws or legislation, us. We need to be more responsible with our actions, more careful with our words, and more generous with our hearts. We need to make a point to reach our hand out every chance we get instead of stepping over all the people who have fallen and expect them to be okay. We need to get rid of this, “pick yourself up by the bootstraps” mindset and start helping others – the change may start within ourselves, but an individualistic mindset will lead to individualistic actions, and this world is in desperate need of collective actions.

Stop giving people reasons to feel alone. Stop giving people reasons to believe nobody cares. Stop giving this world reasons to lose hope. Let’s start a new epidemic – start filling yourself up with empathy and spreading light and love everywhere you go. The world is too dark of a place to keep it all inside.

Seasons

Were taught that there are seasons

Like winter

Summer

Fall

And spring

We’re told that we should love them

Because of the wonders that they bring

Winter brings cold

With snow that gleams and shines

While Summer brings the heat

From a sun that feels so fine

Fall brings cozy sweaters

And kids in costume on Halloween

Then spring brings a breath of life

And opens our eyes to the beauty that should be seen

There are seasons of our life

Like there are seasons of the earth

The seasons of our lives

Are unpredictable from birth

We can only guess

What season we’re in

Be it winter, summer, spring, or fall

But they each bring some clarity

To help us understand

The purpose behind our call

I do not know

What season I’m in

And I could probably never tell you

When it started or when it will end

But I have learned to laugh

And I have learned to dream

I have learned to appreciate

The little things

But after all I have learned

Be it good or bad

Learning to love

Is a skill that I lack

I know what Love is

And I know that it’s there

And I know my heart is full of it

Ready to be shared

But perhaps I am in winter

Or maybe even fall

A season where life is waiting

And beauty will soon cover all

I am not sad about this

Because I know the breath will come

And just like the warmer season

Life will flourish under the sun

I feel the heat already

And I can see the beauty coming near

But for now I will enjoy the season I’m in

Because I know God’s timing will be clear

How’s your heart?

A few years ago I made the decision to go back to church and find who I am with Christ. There are reasons why I did this, but they’re not important at the moment. What is important is one of the life changing things that I had learned. I remember going to a women’s conference about a year after, featuring Christa Black Gifford as the speaker. I learned so much at this conference and I grew personally and spiritually in so many ways, but one thing I will never forget is what I learned about the heart.

Christa had talked about having a broken heart – things in her life had caused wear and tear and left her heart weak. As she talked about this, I found tears filling my eyes. I realized that I had similar feelings. I’ll be the first to admit I have issues and I’ve been left with scars on my heart from things that have happened in my past. People have done me wrong and I’ve been left to fend for myself by building walls and pushing people away as soon as they get close. But the more I began to identify what was wrong and where the hurt came from, the more I was able to fix it. So when I ask people how their heart is, I don’t do so in hopes of making them sad, I do it because I’m genuinely curious and I don’t believe people think about their heart nearly as often as they should.

There is a form of art in the Chinese culture where pottery is broken and glued back together with a gold-glue mixture. What ends up being created is beautiful pottery with gold lines painted across it in place of the cracks. This art-form is known as “Kintsugi.” I wish we could take our broken hearts and fill them with gold. Rather than looking at what’s broken as something that’s ugly and irreparable, we can find a way to make it beautiful. We can take the cracks that leave us angry, and fill them with kindness; the cracks that make us cry, and fill them with love; the cracks that make us judgmental, and fill them with acceptance. Change is hard, especially when it stems from a place of such deep emotion. Changing your heart is like resetting a bone – it may hurt like hell, but in the end, it will allow the heart to heal back stronger than it was before.

Our hearts need to be reset and made strong.

Our hearts need to be filled with gold and made beautiful.

How’s your heart?

The Other Golden Rule

We all know the golden rule: “treat others the way you want to be treated.” And while this is a wonderful rule to follow, it rarely is. The problem is that in times of strong emotion such as sadness or anger, our mind goes towards ourselves and not others – we think of how we’re being treated and not how we should treat other people. All we can focus on is doing what we can to make ourselves feel better, then we can treat others the way we want to be treated (but only if they treat us that way first). I’m going to be honest… I think this rule is garbage. It’s a rule that brings out the selfish nature in humans and encourages us to act based on how we think we should act, which, can sometimes be very wrong. Yes, treating others the way we want to be treated is good, but it’s important to remember that we’re all different and what I can handle may be very different from what you can handle.

A while back I was scrolling through social media when I found the phrase, “always be kinder than you feel.” I thought to myself, “now THIS is a rule I can get on board with.” Have you ever known someone who had a habit of casting their emotions on other people? This is the kind of person who, when feeling low, needs everyone else to be low with them. They’re not thinking about treating others the way they want to be treated, they’re thinking about treating others the way the feel they’re being treated – again, the selfishness in our nature is brought out. But if this person instead thought about being kinder than they were feeling, maybe things could be different.

There are days where I feel anything but kind. I wake up with a heavy heart and negative energy seems to be a lot easier to deal with than positive energy. But it’s days like this that I try extra hard to be nice. I remind myself over and over to be kinder than I feel. Obviously this isn’t something that I accomplished in a day and there are times where I have failed miserably, but I like to think that as long as I keep trying, I’m accomplishing something. The other night I was so angry I could barely sleep. One of my friends was being treated with an incredible amount of disrespect by another friend, and I couldn’t handle it. I wanted to scream, to lash out, to tell the person everything they were doing wrong… but I didn’t. Instead, I sent the person a message letting them know I’m sorry for what they’re going through. I let them know that I had talked to God about them, and I hope the hurt they feel goes away. I didn’t react to anger with more anger, I reacted with kindness and compassion.

Always be kinder than you feel.