Choose Forgiveness

“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.” Colossians 3:12-13

Today, I want to broach the subject of forgiveness. Many of you are suffering or have suffered at one time or the other from an offense imposed by a spouse, significant other, family member, church member, friend, co-worker or maybe a stranger. I have found the closer the relationship–the greater the offense. In an article titled, “Forgiveness,” by Psychology Today, it defines forgiveness as the release of anger or resentment–it does not mean reconciliation. Forgiveness is vital for our emotional health as well as our physical health. Oftentimes, we harbor these ill feelings while waiting for an apology that may never happen. The article also states, “Carrying the hurt or anger of an offense leads the body to release stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. Eliminating the perpetual flow of these hormones may also explain why forgiveness provides physical health benefits, such as lowering the risk of high blood pressure and heart problems.”

I am quite sure you all have heard the idiom, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” This is so far from the truth. Words can hurt, scar, and sometimes destroy a person. Being transparent, I have my own personal struggle with forgiveness. A couple of years ago, I was confronted by someone who was once very close to me–he wanted to tell me exactly how he did not agree with how I handled a particular situation. Because I did not respond at all to the barrage of accusations, he unapologetically let out a flow of words that cut me to my core. I felt as though I had been kicked in my stomach with a size 13 steel-toed boot–yes, it hurt. To know someone’s vulnerability and to maliciously verbally attack them in that particular area was inexcusable. I was deeply wounded by the words that so brazenly flowed from his lips; however, I refused to respond to the offense. It was one year later before I was able to voice the offense and address the pain it caused–I had unhealthily suppressed it. I knew I had to talk about it and work towards forgiveness for my own wellbeing. Psychology Today states, “Forgiveness has been shown to elevate mood, enhance optimism, and guard against, anger, stress, anxiety, and depression.”

Forgiveness is never for the other person–it is for you. It prevents from something that once hurt you to continually hurt you. When you forgive, it does not excuse the person’s behavior; instead, it frees you from bitterness, hatred, and resentment. In his book, Let It Go, T.D. Jakes states, “These people who free themselves from long-term emotional debilitation find themselves more blessed, more productive, and much more grounded than those who become blocked by incidents, tragedies, and injustices.”

So, how do I pardon someone who offended me? How do I heal my heart from that offense to avoid becoming bitter? Psychology Today proposes four steps of forgiveness offered by psychologist Robert Enright:

  1. Uncover. Uncover your anger by exploring how you have avoided or addressed the emotion.
  2. Decide. Make the decision to forgive. Begin by acknowledging that ignoring or coping with the offense has not worked.
  3. Cultivate. Cultivate forgiveness by developing compassion for the offender. Reflect on whether the act was due to malicious intent or challenging circumstances in the offender’s life.
  4. Release. Release the harmful emotions and reflect on how you may have grown from the experience and the act of forgiveness itself.

Because I sometimes come across as blatantly direct, I am sure I have offended others; however, not in a hateful or spiteful way. I choose to forgive because I want to be forgiven. You may be wondering have I forgiven the person who offended me. Because forgiveness is a process, I believe I have; however, it does not mean I feel the need to reconcile with someone who intended me harm–it simply means I no longer harbor the bitterness or resentment I once had towards this person.

Please watch the YouTube video below as Sarah tells her story of forgiveness. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts and comments.

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Invisible Prison #3 – Insecurities

 

“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.” Psalms 139:14

As I continue with our final discussion on invisible prisons, I want to broach the subject of insecurity. Merriam Webster defines insecurity as not confident; uncertain; deficient in assurance; and beset by fear and anxiety. I would venture to say we all experience some type of insecurity; however, the problem arises when we deal with that insecurity for a prolonged period of time which may cause a significant impact on our lives–“the kind of childhood you had, past traumas, recent experiences of failure or rejection, loneliness, social anxiety, negative beliefs about yourself, perfectionism, or having a critical parent or partner can all contribute to your insecurities.”

After church on Sunday, a couple of friends came over for some “girl time.” We melted the chill of a cool, rainy day with comfort food–a hot bowl of vegetable soup, great conversation, and lots of laughter. Among many of the conversations that were discussed, insecurity was one of them. I posed the question, “What insecurities do you think we (as women) deal with? These ladies quickly embraced the current topic of conversation and offered the following insecurities they believed we experience: hair, weight, skin complexion, body shape, lack of education, lack of material things, and residue from past experiences (i.e., rejection or abandonment felt in childhood or relationships).

For those of you who know me personally, it may come as a surprise that I am very insecure when it comes to public speaking. I am very comfortable working behind the scenes or speaking in small group settings. I am sure that is why I love to write. The thought of speaking to a large group sends my anxiety level souring through the roof. I have traced this insecurity back to my childhood. As a child, I felt like I was always second, not seen or celebrated; therefore, my comfort zone is somewhere in the background. Recently, God has been placing me in situations where I will need to overcome this fear–this insecurity. As a result, I recently applied to join a Toastmasters Club–they are dedicated to helping members help themselves improve their public speaking skills. I am proud of myself for having recognized my insecurity; identifying the root, and finding a solution to overcome it.

In an article titled, “How to Deal with Insecurity and Overcome Its Effects,” Jack Nollan offers the following methods of improving self-perception and tempering insecurity:

  1. Affirmations – Write yourself a short pep talk, memorize it, and repeat it to yourself regularly, especially when you’re feeling low or unsure of yourself. (i.e., As Aibileen would say to Mae Mobley in the movie, “The Help,” You is Kind; You is smart; You is important.)
  2. Forgiveness – You’re human–you are going to make bad decisions, mistakes, and sometimes do stupid things. Forgive yourself and do better the next go around. After you make the decision to forgive yourself, let it go and move on.
  3. Mindfulness – Be awake and aware in the moment–not what transpired yesterday nor what you think is coming tomorrow.
  4. Celebrate Accomplishments – It’s acceptable to have some regrets or experience some pain for past mistakes or missteps, but we also need to acknowledge the positive things that are in our lives.
  5. Fail more – Failure is not a negative–it is simply a part of overall success. The people that succeed are the people that continuously try things. The more things you try, the more you experience failure–it’s just another part of the overall journey.

In 2014, Mexican and Kenyan actress, Lupita Nyong’o, was honored with the “Best Breakthrough Performance Award” at the 7th Annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon for her role as Patsey in the “critically acclaimed” film, “12 Years a Slave.” In her acceptance speech, Lupita shared with the audience of celebrity women her insecurities and negative self-image of having a darker skin color. The following is an excerpt from her speech:

I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful. I put on the TV and only saw pale skin. I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin. Any my one prayer to God, the miracle worker, was that I would wake up lighter-skinned. The morning would come and I would be so excited about seeing my new skin that I would refuse to look down at myself until I was in front of a mirror because I wanted to see my fair face first. And every day, I experienced the same disappointment of being just as dark as I had been the day before. I tried to negotiate with God; I told him I would stop stealing sugar cubes at night if he gave me what I wanted; I would listed to my mother’s every word and never lose my school sweater again if he just made me a little lighter. But I guess God was unimpressed with my bargaining chips because He never listened.” (I have attached the YouTube video of Lupita’s speech below.)

As a society, we place an enormous amount of emphasis and finances on our outer beauty (hair, mani-pedi’s, eyelashes, designer clothing and accessories, etc). Do not misunderstand–I believe we should be concerned with our outer appearance; however, I believe we should place the same amount of time and efforts on our inner healing. Lupita said it best in her closing remarks of her speech at the luncheon, “And so I hope that my presence on your screens and in the magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey That you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside. There is no shade in that beauty.”

As Lupita came to terms with her beautiful, dark complexion, may we all come to terms with our own individual insecurities. As always, I would love to hear your comments and please share with a friend.

References:

https://www.consciousrethink.com/7296/deal-with-insecurity/

https://www.essence.com/awards-events/red-carpet/black-women-hollywood/lupita-nyongo-delivers-moving-black-women-hollywood-acceptance-speech/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201512/the-3-most-common-causes-insecurity-and-how-beat-them

 

 

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The Invisible Prison #2 – Anxiety

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Continuing with the series of invisible prisons, this blog will address anxiety. If you did not read my last blog, I talked about a video I watched with Dr. Dharius Daniels, Senior Pastor of Change Church, Ewing Township, New Jersey, where he defined an invisible prison as an “unidentified, unaddressed, invisible, emotional issue that you erroneously assume would be straightened out by your spirituality.” I believe anxiety can also be unidentified, unaddressed and invisible. Anxiety is defined as a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. In his book, “Anxious for Nothing,” Max Lucado describes anxiety as “a meteor shower of what-ifs.”

So, what does anxiety look like? According to the Mayo Clinic, anxiety can manifest itself by way of feeling nervous, restless or tense; having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom; increased heart rate; rapid breathing (hyperventilation); sweating; trembling; feeling week or tired; trouble concentrating; trouble sleeping; and can also contribute to gastrointestinal problems.

For those who know me, they know that I have a “Type A” personality–I am organized and plan everything. In my personal and professional life, I tend to set lofty goals with self-imposed deadlines. Let me provide you with an illustration. Approximately 18 years ago, I decided to pursue my graduate degree. At that time, I was married with two children–a toddler and an 11-year old with a full schedule of school and sports activities. One thing I knew for sure was I did not want my family to be inconvenienced because of my recent pursuit. I wanted to be the good wife, supermom, and an awesome student all at the same time. After dinner and the kids were settled for the evening, I would go into my office and start writing papers (usually around  10:00 pm until 2:00 am the next morning). I thought I was juggling things quite well until I would lay down to go to sleep. When I laid down, as though I was running a marathon, my heart seemingly was beating a mile per minute. I could not turn my mind off–I remember lying in bed busy planning the next day–what would I wear for the next workday, what activities did my son have, had I packed the baby’s bag for daycare, what meetings did I have for work, what would we have for dinner, what was my next assignment for class, and about 100 other things were going through my mind. After many sleepless nights, heart and mind racing, and nervousness, I decided to seek professional help. I consulted a doctor who performed an electrocardiogram (EKG). The EKG results proved  negative for heart issues; however, the doctor informed me that I was more than likely experiencing anxiety. All of my family obligations, work responsibilities, school assignments, and self-imposed deadlines had taken a toll. I was prescribed medication, but was encouraged to relax more and exercise. Over the years, I have incorporated prayer and meditation–mindfulness, listening to music, exercising, reading, writing, coloring in my adult books, and my latest hobby of making birthday cards as a natural treatment for my anxiety.

In article titled, “10 Tips for Managing Anxiety,” Graham C. L. Davey, Ph.D provides the following basic tips for managing anxiety:

  1. Accept that anxiety is a normal emotion and can be helpful. Anxiety isn’t unnatural–it’s a normal emotion that has evolved to help you deal with anticipated threats and challenges.
  2. Understand that anxiety can’t harm you. Perspiring, increased heart rate, and trembling are not harmful, nor are they signs of impending illness.
  3. Avoid avoidance. Avoiding the things that make you anxious never allows you to find out the reality of the threat–it may not be a threat at all.
  4. Check that your anxiety is justified. Is what you are anxious about really a significant threat or challenge.
  5. Consider being adventurous rather than avoiding risk and uncertainty. Try seeking out new adventures.
  6. No one is perfect–take a break from the rigid rule that make you anxious. Replace the rigid rules that you place on yourself with more realistic expectations.
  7. Refuse to let anxiety hold you back. Undertake some challenges that initially make you feel anxious.
  8. Recruit help to change. Enlist the assistance of family or friends to try to achieve these changes.
  9. Be aware of the bigger picture. Encourage yourself to embrace healthy living–regular exercise and a healthy diet.
  10. Seek professional help if you feel you need it. If needed, seek more structured support such as a psychotherapist or counselor.

For years, I lived in the invisible prison of anxiety–never wanting to give my nervousness, my increased heart rate, or sleepless nights a name; however, I have been released from its confines and imprisonment. I use this blog to call out anxiety and to free myself and others from its incarceration. I hope my transparency will  help someone who may be experiencing the same to be set free. Nothing or no one can imprison you when you confront it.

For additional information on anxiety, view Mayo Clinic’s article on Anxiety Disorders at (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anxiety/symptoms-causes/syc-20350961).

As always, I would love to hear your comments and please share with a friend.

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The Invisible Prison #1 – Need for Approval

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

One of my favorite past times is watching YouTube videos. Recently, I stumbled across a minister I had never heard of–Dharius Daniels, Senior Pastor of Change Church, Ewing Township, New Jersey. The title of his message on this particular video was titled, “The Invisible Prison”–immediately I was intrigued. Pastor Daniels defined an invisible prison as an “unidentified, unaddressed, invisible, emotional issue that you erroneously assume would be straightened out by your spirituality.” He went on to say that an invisible prison is difficult to identify because it has no visible bars. Although thousands of people are incarcerated in penal institutions for various crimes annually, I would venture to say more of us are confined to our own invisible prisons. So let’s name a few–low-self-esteem, insecurity, anger, jealousy, bitterness, control, anxiety, and a need for approval or acceptance. Each of these emotional issues can imprison us without we realizing it. We can go to church every Sunday, sing in the choir, usher, and serve on as many boards as we want; however, Pastor Daniels warns if we do not address the root of these emotional issues, we will continue going to church on Sunday for praise and worship and walk right back into our invisible prison cell when we leave the church building.

In an attempt to minister to the inner self, God has moved me to write a series of blog posts addressing invisible prisons. The first emotional issue I would like to address is the need for approval or acceptance. In an article titled, “What Drives Our Need for Approval?,” Lauren Suval states, “When we aren’t met with approval, we no longer feel safe and protected. When we meet ridicule or rejection, it can undermine our view of ourselves. If we internalize this kind of negative feedback, we can begin to doubt our personal worth. This threatens our sense of security and disrupts our inner harmony.” Because I believe social media has escalated this emotional issue, I decided to interview my 19 year-old son, Kevin, to get his perspective on the subject:

MOM: Kevin, have you experienced the need for approval?

KEVIN: Yes, in high school, I was struggling to fit in with crowds. At the time, I didn’t know who I was so I was trying to figure out what crowds to be in; oftentimes, steering  down wrong roads. I would get lost in the crowd, but wasn’t really working on myself. I wasn’t spending time with myself to figure out who I really was. In high school, I always needed to be around someone to make me feel good about myself or to be cool

MOM: What do you think caused your need for approval?

KEVIN: I began to feel that way after quitting football and after my weight gain.

MOM: What were the repercussions of your need for approval?

KEVIN: I started losing myself. Everything was negative–I was a negative person and did negative things. I didn’t take care of myself (i.e., weight gain); I was just lost. I was partying in crowds that I shouldn’t have been in.

MOM: How do you believe young people are seeking approval?

KEVIN: As a young person, we want to be popular and for everyone to talk about us.

MOM: How do you believe social media has played a part in the need for approval?

KEVIN: I feel social media is a battleground. You are competing to have more followers, competing to be seen, and competing to be cool. If you have a lot of followers, everyone knows you. Everyone looks at how many followers you have.

MOM: How did you overcome the need for approval?

KEVIN: The turning point in my life was when I was by myself and closed off from everything. I could talk to myself and God. Also, meeting new people bringing new positive energy in my life was a big part. As soon as I started finding myself with the positive energy, I started eating right, losing weight, and became a positive person.

MOM: Do you feel that a need for approval is an invisible prison? Do you know what I mean by invisible prison?

KEVIN: Yes, an invisible prison is when you are locked or incarcerated inside. I believe the need for approval is an invisible prison because people can act like someone they are not, but their inside is trapped.

MOM: Thank you, Kevin, for allowing me to interview you.

My son and I have had our challenges, but I am extremely proud of him for acknowledging his emotional issue. I am grateful for his insight, maturity, and his newfound sense of self. He has lost approximately 70 pounds and is coming into his own. There is nothing more rewarding than finding the YOU that God has destined you to be.

Just because I interviewed my teenager, does not mean adults do not suffer from this same emotional issue. If this issue goes unchecked, you can be a 75 year-old still seeking the approval and acceptance of others. In an article titled, “Ten Steps for Overcoming the Need for Approval,” Jo Tavengwa offers a few simple changes you can use to address this emotional issue:

  1. Acknowledge the fact that you are hunting for approval. Once you are aware you are seeking approval from others, you can begin to attack the issue within.
  2. Practice the art of speaking your mind. Stop saying what others want to hear. Hold on to your ideas, values, and beliefs–they define who you are. Speak your mind and let the chips fall where they may.
  3. Find your crowd. Seek people who accept you for who you are. Choose people who choose you; the ones who you can be your true self with.
  4. Do things for you. When you set yourself to new tasks, evaluate whether it is for your own self-growth.
  5. Take control. Trust your intuition, your gut instinct, and do what feels best for you. Take advice from others; however, you must always make the final decision in anything that concerns you.
  6. Meditate. Meditation will feed your soul. It will help you to relax your mind and reduce all the anxiety you feel you need from external validation.
  7. Allow yourself to grow. When you always have room for improvement, you are more likely to free yourself from needing approval. Challenge yourself everyday and accept failure and feedback as a platform for growth.
  8. Change your focus. One of the best ways to eliminate the need for approval is pursuing activities or tasks you are interested in, without asking others for their permission. Prioritize yourself and do things for you.
  9. Establish who you are. Have a clear definition of who you are. Know what you believe in, and understand your morals. Be confident with those ideals, and let them keep you grounded. Stand up for what you believe in, and do not let people sway you from what you believe in. If you stay headstrong, nobody will dare push you around.
  10. Be yourself. Stop worrying about what others think of you, and focus on yourself. It is often very difficult to accept all the little things that make you YOU. If you learn to love yourself fiercely, you will find that nobody will dare to love you halfheartedly. Let go of all the insecurities that are holding you back, and in turn, learn to love yourself for your flaws and your quirks.

If you have a need for approval, determine where this emotional issue took root so you can work toward being released from this invisible prison. By doing so, you can be on your way to being the best YOU you can be. As always, I would love to hear your comments on the subject and please share with a friend. Also, please check out Pastor Dharius Daniels on YouTube–he has an amazing ministry on change and transformation.

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Too Blessed to be Stressed

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet our heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any of of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”Matthew 6:25-27 NIV

As I grappled with what to write about this month, I settled on the topic of stress because of my own experience with the subject. My intent is to bring awareness as to how it can silently impact your body. Many of us lead hectic lives in a world where multitasking has become the norm. Our lives have become engulfed with work, family obligations, children’s events and activities, church affiliations, organizations, and countless other things. In a world of “busyness,” how can we minimize stress and the effects it has on our bodies?

For the past nine months, my life has been very stressful dealing with grief, my job, church obligations, preparing for my son’s graduation and for his next phase in life. I am sure you have heard the cliche–“To blessed to be stressed.” Well, it is definitely easier said that done. I know I am blessed, but I was still stressed.

In January, I was sitting in my hair stylist’s chair expressing concern for my unexpected hair thinning–the back of my hair had become “paper thin.” I told my stylist that I thought the thinning was due to a change in the weather. She laughed at me hysterically–I really did not think it was funny. She was blatantly honest stating that I did not realize how much stress I had been under and I refused to admit that it was stress. I have to confess that when something is bothering me, I will suppress my feelings and work myself into a state of oblivion. I don’t consider it stress–I consider it busy. Masking emotional pain and replacing it with multiple tasks was my usual modus operandi (MO). I want to believe I am always in control of a situation; however, the loss of my hair was concerning and had definitely caught my attention. Although I did not feel or look stressed, it had manifested through my hair causing the thinning. Yes, stress was the culprit of my hair loss. Although, I practice mindfulness, the stress had taken a toll on my body. As a result, my stylist cut several inches off of my hair to make it healthy again and I decided to make some changes to better balance my life which included a lot of “me time.”

In an article in Women’sHealth titled “9 Ways Stress Messes with Your Body,” dated May 1, 2017, Ashly Oerman offers the following symptoms of stress and how to mitigate the effects:

  1. It makes you exhausted. Stressing out triggers your brain to release the hormone cortisol into your bloodstream which quickens your heartbeat, gives your brain more oxygen, and releases extra energy to help your body deal with the stress. Frequent stress can cause your brain to limit the amount of cortisol it sends into your bloodstream causing you to feel lethargic.
  2. It messes with your libido. Chronic stress can impact your body’s production of estrogen, which keeps your reproductive system in working order. In times of stress, concentrate on eating a healthy diet and cutting back on processed foods to help ease this symptom.
  3. It makes it hard for you to poop. Chronic stress can impact the hormones released by your thyroid glands, which regulate your metabolism among other things. If these hormones get derailed, it can lead to constipation.
  4. It makes you break out. When you are really stressing out, the level of sex hormones, called androgens, elevate causing acne to flare up.
  5. You can’t remember anything. Traumatic stress (stress that occurs when you feel a threat to your life or a loved one’s life and feels like intense fear or helplessness) seriously impacts your hippocampus–the area of your brain where your memories are stored. This kind of stress causes the hippocampus to actually shrink making it difficult to remember facts, lists, the entirety of an event, or long gaps of time (from minutes to days).
  6. It screws with your manicure. If you have a bad habit of picking or biting your cuticles, it might be how your anxiety is manifesting itself. Picking at your fingers can lead to an infection since you use your hands for most everything.
  7. It makes you gain weight. A University of Kentucky study found that dieters who learned stress-management tactics were more successful at losing weight than those who did not. The connection between reducing stress and losing weight could be that it helps to cut back on stress-related binge eating.
  8. You could lose some hair. A increase in androgens can also cause your hair to shed more than usual, usually three to six months after a super stressful situation. This unfortunate side effect should only be temporary, and a balanced diet can help the cells in your hair follicles heal back to normal.
  9. It makes your back ache. When you are stressing, your heart rate and blood pressure rise and your body pumps out hormones to assist with your fight-or-flight response. This combination can cause your muscles to constrict and intensify the aches you get from sitting at a desk all day. You can combat stress-related back pain by standing up every hour and stretching.

Have you experienced any of these symptoms? If you have, stress could possibly be the cause. As we continue to lead our busy lives, be sure to include proper diet, exercise, and down time–take the time to stop and enjoy the simple things in life. For me, I am planning for more reading, writing, relaxing and more trips to the beach this summer. Remember, we are most definitely too blessed to be stressed!

As always, I would love to hear your comments and please share with a friend.

 

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Know Your Why

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21 NIV)

Last weekend, I attended a financial services conference in Winston-Salem, NC. There were several inspiring and motivating speakers; however, I found one common theme for each them.–“Know Your Why.” Your “Why” is your purpose–what God created you to be.

Several years ago, I was in counseling and the counselor asked me a simple question, “Who are you?” My response was typical–I am a wife and mother. Not satisfied with my response, the counselor repeated the question–“Who are you?” Unknowingly,  I had been identifying myself with my roles in life and I absolutely had no idea who I was as an individual. That was definitely one of my “Aha” moments.  After that counseling appointment, I began a personal quest to find my true identity and discover the purpose for my life. I was in search of my “Why.”

It is crucial to differentiate your identity from your job or your roles life–it could be devastating. Reason being, my roles in life have changed several times, but since finding my true self, my identity has remained constant. My role of a wife ended with divorce; my youngest son will be graduating from high school next month; therefore, my role as a mother will be shifting–he won’t be needing me as much; and my role of daughter and caregiver ended last year with my mother’s passing; however, I now proudly serve in the role of grandmother or “Mimi” to my two adorable grandchildren; and hopefully in a few years, I will be retired; therefore, I will not be identified by my job title. In his book, “Know Your Why–Finding and Fulfilling Your Calling in Life,” Ken Costa states, “Our destinies are what He calls us to, but they are never a substitute for our identities–knowing who we are, knowing that we are uniquely and passionately loved by God. If we come to the end of a phase at work, then we are tempted to think of ourselves as having no further value. But if we are secure in our identities, we know that the end of an era is not the end of our destinies. There is always more to come.”

Forbes Contributor, Margie Warrell, offers the following questions in an article titled, Do You Know Your “Why?”–4 Questions to Find Your Purpose:

  1. What makes you come alive? It’s about connecting with what you’re passionate about, knowing that when you focus your attention on endeavors that put a fire in your belly, you grow your impact and influence in ways that nothing else can.
  2. What are your innate strengths? What are the things you’ve been good at (sometimes wondering why others find it so hard?) Are you able to see patterns and opportunities amidst complexity? Are you creative, naturally adept at coming up with ‘out of the box’ solutions?
  3. Where do you add the greatest value? Knowing your strengths and where you can add the most value–through the application of your education, skills, knowledge and experience–can help you focus on the opportunities, roles and career paths where you are most likely to succeed and therefore find the greatest sense of accomplishment and contribution.
  4. How will you measure your life? People who don’t stand for something, can easily fall for anything. Deciding how you want to measure your life means making a stand for something and then living your life in alignment with it.

Christian comedian, Michael Jr. states, “The key is not to know “What,” but to know “Why,” because when you know your “Why,” you have options on what your “What” can be.” (See attached video). Several years ago, I found my “Why.” Because of my own trials and difficulties in life, my mission became to empower individuals to attain balance, transformation, and achievement into all areas and aspects of their lives addressing the needs of the whole person (emotional, physical, spiritual, and financial). My “What” is my life coaching business, writing inspirational blog posts, and facilitating financial workshops.

What is your “Why?” It does not matter if you are a chief executive officer (CEO), investment banker, a custodial worker, or fast food worker, you should have a clear and distinctive view of your true identity. Ken Costa states, “No matter what others say about you–whether you are unemployed or employed, whether you have a history of failures behind you or a catalogue of success–you are infinitely worthy, chosen, valued.”

As always, I would love to hear your comments and please share with a friend.

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