Influencing your own society

Over the weekend I saw one of my favourite bands play a show here in Sydney. They’re called Anberlin. They’re Americans, from Tampa. Florida natives who’ve described Australia as like a home away from home. 13 trips I think it is now down under since around 2005 and i think I’ve seen all but maybe 1-2 of those shows. Even saw them in San Francisco one time! It’s safe to call me a glued on fan!

I feel like they are family. Perhaps not the close knit live under the same roof family but more the type who gets together every so often and it feels like you were never apart. The occasions when we get together are always cherished. They are down to earth guys who absolutely love what they do. It’s always a positive experience and when it ends you are sad that it once again is filed away as history.

Bands play a huge role in the cultural fibre of society. Whether they like it or not they are leaders, role models, social influencers and encouragers, Why? Because they are there on stage, spotlights blazing upon them, thousands of fans hanging on the words they sing and also speak between songs. Their presence on social media and in interviews online and in print makes them so accessible.

What they say, matters.

What they think, matters.

They actually have a responsibility for the greater good of this world. Truth be told a lot of them set a poor example. An even bigger portion of them mean well but could probably do a lot better than they are.

When you think about it all bands and artists have a duty. A duty as influencers to send messages that create wellness and harmony. They have a job to promote respect and responsibility. To show examples of love and kindness.

When you are in that concert hall and your favourite band is playing and everyone is on a high and loving it. That is the same place i wish we all were in outside in the real world.

By that i mean that in that moment we are all in unison. We are not different. We are like minded in that moment. We may be different people from different races with different stories and different beliefs; but in that place we are not so different. We are people in the same place enjoying life in the same way.

It’s a special place. Perhaps that’s part of the reason we leave concerts in this particular mood of positivity. Like we’ve spent the previous 2 hours feeding off a positive vibe created by the like mindedness of all in that room??

For me it helps when it’s a band like Anberlin. Because when I put all their musical input aside I see a group of guys who a have likemindedness similar to mine. The things that are important to them are things i value myself. That really helps when it comes to supporting bands or artists.

Why?

Because before anything else we are people first. We have hearts and minds that long for things or care deeply about the things around us. It’s like the band is simply the platform or tool to do a greater good.

Examples are set and followed. They do make a difference. The choices we make not only impact ourselves but also those around us. They can be a little like a set of traffic lights. Telling us what to do. When to go and when to stay. We read the examples set by others in much the same way. How we read them will determine how we react.

It’s so important to make sure the examples we set ourselves are good ones and responsible ones. There’s always a consequence to our actions.

A few times lately I’ve been told at work that people love working with me. That I have a calming influence on people and that I am always just so easy to work alongside. That’s a nice thing to be told. But crucially, and I don’t want to sound big headed by saying this, but perhaps it reveals just something of my character. If people can pick up on a vibe that is positive then the influence that I’m having is a right one, and one that I want to keep setting.

To me this is just a case of me being me. There’s no effort. There’s no mindfulness to adopt a certain approach. It just happens. It’s a natural thing. My influence has a way of intangibly affecting others around me and in that way I am influencing my own social setting.

Social influencers is certainly a modern day term. We see them promoting stuff on Facebook and Instagram….Twitter as well. Often they are promoting products looking to break in to markets. They are now a very effective tool for social media!

But i wonder about ourselves and our ability to be social influencers in our own market? Our circle of friends? Our workplace? Our family? How we carry ourselves within those circles does matter and it does influence those around us. When the spotlight is on you you become easily seen. You are in focus. What you do, how you react, will make an impact.

The choice is yours.

Vulnerability

Vulnerability.

It’s often a word that describes a problematic scenario. It’s s word that links people with insufficiency and a feeling of smallness about one’s self. Often it can be part of one’s story of struggle. It’s not really considered a place any of us want to be in or hope to find ourselves in.

We live in a vulnerable world. It is hard to argue that. It’s even harder to not see it. Oppression is perhaps the most obvious example of it. You only have to read or watch the news to find examples of injustices and the cruel treatment of people that leadership unfortunately bares these days. Vulnerability is most definitely exploited here.

I look at the children of this world, the ones in war torn, conflict charged countries. They are at the mercy of those around them each day. Many of them are forced to grow up even before they’ve had the chance to be a child first. Their innocence exploited by those who know better.

Their vulnerability is scary. It is unfair. It is completely against the way that things should be. A child must first learn and be shown the way of life. If he or she learns a way of life that has been corrupted then they too set off on the same path, corrupted by the only things they know – that they have been taught.

Vulnerability though is more than this, and this is what I’d prefer to focus on here. This other kind of vulnerability is more stoic. It’s kind of heroic. For it’s about being strong enough to allow yourself in to a position that goes in the face of what your mind tells you. It requires an inner strength to allow yourself to be vulnerable. This is vulnerability of a good kind.

Life will throw us situations which will require us to react with a vulnerability. That is, the opportunity to allow ourselves to trust something, to believe in something. Similar to having faith in something or trusting the process at hand.

In our minds we expect things to happen a certain way and in a certain time. We’re great at programming ourselves the way we believe things should be. There’s nothing really wrong in doing so, except it’s not always something we can control. It’s also something that may not necessarily be the right thing for us. We may think it is, but what we believe is the right thing for us isn’t always in fact the right thing for us

This is where allowing ourselves to give up control and trust the process and timing of things comes in. Vulnerability comes in here by admitting that there’s only so much we can do. We need an inner strength within us to let go of the doubts and fears. We need something inside us to tell us that it is okay to let go of those fears and concerns, to believe that everything will work out the way it’s meant to be.

An obvious example of this mindset is someone who is blind. They rely on instinct, they also rely on order or a process for a better word. They develop a routine that makes the day to day more simple. But above all of that they require the help of other aids. Whether that be people or walking aids. Essentially they disarm themselves of control and trust that something else will control it for them.

That there is releasing the control you have over to something else and this requires one to allow their vulnerability to be exposed. But their vulnerability is a stoic one. It’s one built on a strength that has been added to over time.

It’s in part a determination to live as normal as possibly can be. It’s a character that says “i will not be defeated by my circumstance!”. For those that see it it’s inspiring. Why? Because you see the strength that flows from that person. You realise in that moment that they are overcoming the obstacles placed in front of them with a determination so fierce and bold. It’s the same determination the warriors of this world carry.

So what about me?

The lessons I’ve learned in allowing my vulnerability to be exposed have never ended in a bad place. That’s the first thing I’d say. What I’ve found is that most of us respond in a manner to vulnerability that suggests we’ve all been through similar circumstances at one point or another.

I’ve found that if anything people find comfort in the testimonies of those that have submitted to themselves and allowed their hearts and mind to become vulnerable.

I’ve also found that allowing yourself to be vulnerable in fact allows yourself to find comfort within yourself. It builds a sense of freedom within you as you become less afraid of the things in your environment, things such as the way you become perceived by others. It’s like the boldness you showed in allowing yourself to be vulnerable weighs far greater than that perception you once held.

This is where vulnerability carries its strength. If vulnerability is a mountain, then the other side of the mountain looks far more assured. It’s looks safer, surer, confident and stronger.

That’s the thing about mountains. On your approach they can look daunting. They are big! You can’t see the other side and you sure can’t see what is within the mountain. The reality isn’t always the same as the perception from beforehand though and things always settle once you reach the other side.

That is the encouragement here. To remember that vulnerability is often a chance for us to build ourselves into stronger characters. Consider it a test of your own character.

Don’t be discouraged by circumstances but rather embrace the opportunity to build yourself up from this. You are stronger than you think. We were built that way. There’s a superhero gene within us all. It starts within our inner strength. I hope you can be bold enough to let it out; and remember? We all need to be living, breathing examples to other people so that they too can draw inspiration from what they see.

The Gifters

These past few weeks I’ve noticed a trend. A trend in the conversations I’ve had along with the thoughts I’ve stopped to think about. The two have obviously decided to link and get me thinking. The subject matter has been the gifts we carry.

Not gifting in the sense of birthdays or weddings but gifting in a spiritual sense. Things like feeling the need to show kindness or compassion towards others. Or maybe you love giving your time to others? Serving people through conversation or cooking meals, even doing odd jobs for them.

These are all gifts that come from within us. They come from the heart. We all have them there, the key is to work out what your gifts are, the challenging part is then to use them!

It was Pablo Picasso who said;

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away”.

For me it has taken a while to discover what my gifts were. Like most people really. I believe my heart wants to give my time to others. To make sure that they are okay. I want the best for all of those i consider closest to me.

Not only do I feel a need to give my time to others, to help them out when it is needed but I feel a duty to listen, to encourage and to be a positive example. To also support them by simply being there. Sometimes it’s not what you say, sometimes your presence is all that’s needed in supporting someone.

These are just a couple of things i believe that I’ve developed as I’ve searched for the gifts that I myself carry. My heart feels a purpose is filled every time I can step in to that place, doing things that don’t necessarily benefit me but instead benefit others.

Love is a big word. Perhaps over used but my hope is that all of us do not understate the word and what it carries. I had two very different examples of it come across my path in the past two weeks.

First, i got talking to a young lady after church a couple of Sunday’s ago. She’s from Finland. She has visited our church a couple of times as our church has a relationship with the Christian campsite that this lady is working on. I’ve visited the campsite many times now so we had a common ground to relate from.

As I got talking to her she revealed that she had a real heart to love others and to show love to those she came across. I could tell it was very important to her.

I get that. I completely agree.

It struck me that here was a young lady, far away from home, believing in something so strongly that she was committed enough to take the action of leaving a lifestyle she knew, and was comfortable in. Here she was on the other side of the world using her own gifting and no doubt making an impact. I appreciated this conversation.

That’s what Picasso was getting at when he encouraged people to give away their gifts once they find it. The key is to make something of what you hold. Especially if you believe it is valuable!

The second example of love which moved me occurred towards the end of last week. I attended a funeral service of a much loved and respected member of our church. She was 93 and had lived this incredible life of love and dedication towards her family.

Her daughters and grandson spoke of a women who selflessly did so much for those she loved most. It reminded me first that families should always be built on that foundation. That when family comes first you end up with a commitment hopefully built on love and love always wins in the end.

But it also made me think about the purpose we carry in our own lives. It reminded me that nothing much matters in this life if our hearts aren’t in the right place. When we leave this earth one day we all want to believe we made a difference or left behind a legacy that was admired to the point that others not only saw it but felt it was important to uphold the examples we left behind.

What those two moments i shared also showed was that the gifts we carry don’t have to be big or even headline grabbing. It’s more about the situation you use them in. This is where the impact is made. Sometimes it can be something simple which makes a big difference.

Having the ability to see a need like buying someone even a loaf of bread can be impacting. It makes an impact because love was present. You had a heart which was willing to gift someone else a part of you. That’s a special thing!

Whilst giving someone something because you simply wanted to do a nice thing for them may be easy, giving them something because you saw a need isn’t always an easy thing to do.

Why?

Because it requires you to step out in to a place where you’ve shown your heart. Good deeds are always a nice idea but being brave enough to show that side of yourself can be daunting. You can quite often fool yourself into believing it’s not necessary or that it’s insignificant anyways.

Don’t let it fool you! Do it because it feels like the right thing to do. Do it because it feels like a nice thing to do. Don’t do it for any sort of expectation or result. Do it because gifts are meant to be given.

That is the example I’m trying to set. I want people to see that the things I do are not really for me or about me. It’s about compassion and showing empathy towards anyone i come across.

Why?

Because I believe this is an important trait to show. Because I’d like to believe that someone would do the same for me, and they have and continue to do so. Perhaps it’s how the world is meant to interact with each other? By simply being there for each other.

No action or deed is too small.

No person is ever above or below another.

No situation should ever be deemed irrelevant or insignificant.

Fact. We’re all in this together. If the meaning of life is to find your gift. Then the purpose becomes the challenge. The purpose is to give it away to those around us. For that’s how it’s intended.

Patience

Patience.

We all wish we had it. Yet we hate having to show it. We all wish we showed it more effectively. Yet we rarely try to exercise it. Patience is to show restraint, to wait, yet we live in a world where we receive things quicker than ever before.

It’s a world that forgets to sleep, survives on strong coffee and gives us an internet service which is perfectly fine yet we can get an even faster service for an extra 40 dollars a month if we wish.

Ha! Even that service is now outdated. You get the point though. We live in a world where we can get just about anything we want….when we want! In actual fact we’ve developed a world where patience has become an old school virtue. It’s become something we don’t always need day to day.

I feel like I’m constantly reminded about patience. That things happen for a reason. That you can’t control time. It’s said that time has its own way of changing things, or circumstances. But time is so precious these days that we feel the window to make things happen is a small one, but who says that window is small? Perhaps the window is a lot bigger than we allow it to be?

For me my patience begins with the knowledge that God has a plan for us all. This is something I’ve heard for a long time but understanding it and believing It are things that took me time to realise. You begin to realise it the older and wiser you become and for me the more my faith grows.

I do trust it.

But it doesn’t mean my mind doesn’t wonder down other roads and focuses on the things that I hope for and wonders when i will find myself in that place.

The truth is it’s very easy to find yourself knocked off your feet all because things are not happening the way you expect them to happen. But I feel like rarely do we not arrive in the places we hope to arrive in. It just seems we arrive there in ways we didn’t initially plan or expect. It might have taken longer to achieve something? Your path may have diverted you briefly? But, you still got there anyways.

I feel that most of the time I am patient. I stay calm. I remind myself that I can only control certain things and that there’s no point in stressing over things that you simply cannot control. It’s wasted energy if you do.

Perseverance is a wonderful tool that goes hand in hand with patience. To persevere is to keep going even when you have not got there yet. It’s about sticking to the plan. To continue moving forward even if the road ahead becomes challenging.

It’s something I’ve learned from and leaned on in my life. From a young age I learned that the will to succeed comes from within and that you have to work for it. Your own determination is what counts. Forget what other people tell you, or the basket they want to label you under. It’s up to you and no one else. Persevere!

Perseverance is such a good tool to have beside patience because they preach similar messages. Essentially they ask us to not lose sight of something. They both ask us to stay at it. To remain focused.

Both qualities are enduring and they require a strength that not everyone will have. Can you learn it? Get better at it? Of course you can but it’s a challenging road. But it’s not a road that can’t be navigated.

Perspective is everything. Sometimes we move in ways which feel like we’re not moving at all. Patience is king, perseverance is key. Look back at where you were. Chances are you have moved from where you were to a new place. Trust the process. Believe in the plan.

Most importantly, remain patient.

We’re all in this together

It’s been another miserable week in the world. Not for me personally, but in general. The events last Friday in Christchurch, New Zealand were shocking. Appalling and more importantly were something that simply doesn’t belong in this world.

I can’t begin to understand the reasons people decide that terrorism is the right idea. I can’t begin to imagine the hate and fear that erupts in one’s mind that leads them to such actions.

But I know this. innocent people lost their lives. Families were destroyed. Hopes and dreams were lost. People doing good met a cruel end. It’s not fair!

A lot of the debate since Friday has focused on racial issues, immigration and gun control. A lot of this is predictable. It highlight’s a world which is not comfortable in its own skin.

The answers to those questions are complicated. Blaming immigration is an excuse, not an answer. The answers are as complicated as they are deep and time consuming.

What I also saw on the weekend was acts of love. Love wasn’t present on Friday when the Australian gunman terrorised a community. Since then though love has been very present.

I’ve seen it in the actions of those who tried to help stop the atrocity. I’ve seen it in those who braved their own lives to come to the aid of those hurt. I’ve seen it in the actions of the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden who has reached out and shown love, care, tenderness and unity.

It’s those actions that are the world that I want to be a part of. This is a world that needs us to be together. It needs us to break down the stigmas and classes and remind itself that we’re all in this together.

Deep down we are not different people. We are just people with different ideas and different experiences. If we broke everything down I guarantee we all seek the same things. Love, happiness, prosperity, good health and safety.

For me the actions of Jacinda Arden this weekend in showing such unity is something that will stay with me. And just maybe the word “Unity” is one this world needs to hold a little closer today.

To show unity is to unite. To come together. To stand alongside each other with a purpose that we can agree on. Those that fear other races and cultures are missing the point.

All races and cultures have an element of people who will strike fear and hate in to the world. They are a minority. I don’t doubt that these are challenging times in which we live. We do have to be careful. We must be more vigilant than ever before.

But for those who live in fear and/or with anxiety because of their race or beliefs my heart goes out to you. I want you to know that there is most definitely a place for you. I hope you find it. I hope it feels safe. I hope you feel love when you find a place. I hope it feels like home.

Why?

Because you’re entitled to it. You deserve it. It’s the way things are meant to be. Fear has no place here. The No Vacancy sign is up!

The past week has again reminded us that life is a gift. It is not something we are guaranteed. How we choose to interact with others does matter. It can make a difference. Sadly, it can make a huge difference as we saw last week.

So choose to be a positive difference today. Remind yourself that we are all not so different after all. Allow yourself to impact positively on those around you today. It doesn’t have to be much, actions speak so much louder than words.

Invest and you will grow

Yesterday was a significant day. It was a Sunday. A Sunday like many others but still it was significant.

For all the writing I have done over the past seven months I have not really spoken about it outside of one on one conversations or groups of three to four people at any one time.

Yesterday I had the chance to speak to a group of people, perhaps 40-50 in total! Wow! The last time I spoke in front of people I was a teenager, in high school and probably talking about a subject that really didn’t interest me….which is actually probably a harder thing to do when I think about it.

This though was a chance to talk about the things that God has been doing in my life recently. On this occasion I had a subject which did interest me, a subject which I knew pretty vividly. I had an audience which was going to be far more welcoming than a group of bored, tired and moody teenagers.

Yeah! This was a lot easier.

For most of the week leading up to this I knew what I was to speak about. I wanted to speak about the idea of investing myself in things that were important to me. I knew my topic pretty well. In fact i’d written everything before with traces of it found in many of the blogs I’d already written.

The key was to piece it together. To identify the things that were important to me and to search for how I had invested myself in those things. Some of those things were pretty small on the surface – like giving my time to something i believed was important to the greater good of world and not just myself.

Some of them were bigger, like nurturing a relationship with someone or committing financially to non profits like Save The Children and Love146. These were things that mattered so much to me. If I truly believed that this life was not about me then I needed to start living like this was the case.

I wanted to become more selfless.

The key to my “investment” though was that i challenged myself with the belief that;

You get back what you put in. You reap what you sow.

The challenge was that I needed to invest myself in the things that were important to me. My friends, my family, my faith, my Church and Myself! This meant working on myself, which is a process, sometimes easy and sometimes hard.

Why? Because we are our own harshest critic. We demand perfection even when we realise it doesn’t exist. Our standards are higher than they need to be. But I’ve learned that i am who I am and that who I am is who I’m meant to be. I’m comfortable in this place.

What’s more important is that I focus on the things that I can control and that’s where I stand today.

What I learned yesterday was that the voice within me is greater than the one inside my head. I hope that makes sense to you all.

For what I mean is that deep down we know who we are. We know what we stand for. What’s important to us and what we want for the future. What we need is to believe in that place a little more and block out the noises in our heads which question the legitimacy of those thoughts.

I also learned, or rather was reminded that essentially what I am carrying within in me is fragments of God’s love and I think that truly is a sign that I’m where I’m meant to be right now.

As for the talk I gave to my church?? My fears were unfounded. I said all I hoped to say despite being a rookie at speaking. I got through 5-10 mins and took comfort in the fact that i said all i wanted to say and perhaps it’s all I was needed to say.

Giving a speech like this felt like a natural progression for me. If you’re going to write about such things then you’re going to need to speak about them at some point.

Investments go through stages, periods, seasons. When done right the investment grows and becomes something greater than it was.

What I felt for yesterday was that in order to grow I needed to do this. I needed to do the very thing I felt I wasn’t comfortable doing.

Why?

Well, God doesn’t put you in to positions that you can’t handle. So immediately I knew this was something i could do, and if I’m honest, it’s something I needed to do. Not just for myself though. For people need other people.

We all need others around us who encourage, who inspire, who push us. We all need people who see something in us. People who believe in us. That is why we need to open up to others.

I said in my talk that it feels as though this past 12 months has seen me given a key that unlocks my own self. The idea of doing that is a little daunting. Allowing yourself in to such an exposed position isn’t easy.

But what I find is that it allows me to grow. It allows me to receive from others and to sow in to others.

That there is perhaps the real reason behind it all. That there is how it’s meant to be.

We’re all in this together and there’s no coincidence that the people in our lives are there. They are there for a reason and if you look for the reason you will find it. Sometimes we will become that reason.

The message couldn’t be clearer. We all need to invest in our own lives. Whether it’s our jobs, our friends, our communities, our church or even just ourselves.

Invest in the things and people you care about. Invest in the things that you’re passionate about. Take some time to put your heart in to it.

Invest and you will grow.

Fears

So a few months ago I was asked whether I would like to give a short speech on Sunday at my church. Just a short kind of thing that lasted perhaps 2 minutes.

It was basically an opportunity to speak on what God has been doing within me. The truth is that God has been doing a lot inside me this last 12 months. Not all of it is groundbreaking. Not all of it is even that important to anyone outside of me. But it’s been undeniable that he’s been working on me, ”Project Pete” in this time.

Unfortunately on this chosen Sunday, I was not to be around. I was out of town. I was disappointed to not have a chance to talk about it because I believe the opportunity was a good one to be honest and real with a group of people.

That last line there is a strange one because anyone who knows me would know that I’m far from comfortable with the idea of speaking in front of an audience. Most of us have felt this way. I used to dread, fear, loathe and even hide from the idea of doing so in high school.

My mind goes to places where it thinks about what I could possibly say and how insignificant it would be. How something big for me is simply for me. That my highs aren’t shared in the same light for others.

Even today the idea of sharing or speaking still gets me slightly uneasy but I feel at piece with the idea of doing so now. You learn over time that the reality of anything is never half as bad as the fear of the unknown that you feel beforehand.

Fear is one of, if not THE greatest foe of man of all time. It plays on us like a kid with a nasty streak who just can’t stop. If allowed to continue it will persist.

Fear is something we all feel at different times. Sometimes it comes and goes. Sadly it can often hang around and dictate life if you let it. But what is fear? And why does it have such a powerful effect on us??

The truth may well be that fear is simply nothing more than an illusion but then why is it so hard to sweep it aside? What is it that lets fear dictate the way we feel?

Sure, there is the reality that we do worry about how others perceive us. So that quite often can be a reason not to do something. But the fear of the unknown is probably an even greater reason. If we knew the outcome of doing something then we would do it right away, especially if we knew it could be a good thing.

The fear of the unknown is a funny one. It has the ability to paralyze us because we simply cannot see what will happen next. But why do we automatically assume the outcome will be negative? It’s human nature i guess.

But what would it look like to assume that the outcome will in fact be a positive one? The right one! It comes back to a couple of things for me. First it requires you to believe in yourself and the person you are. You need that quiet confidence in yourself to believe that this next step is one you’re ready to make.

The other step required is to show some faith. Faith not only in yourself but that the direction you’re heading in is the right one. You need to trust that you’re in this position for a reason, that it’s no mistake that you’re in this moment.

I know it’s easier said then done. It’s a hell of a lot easier said actually!

You’ll probably only fight with yourself for longer than you need before convincing yourself you should do it. Why? Because that’s how fear works. Things are always harder than they should be when fear is in the way.

Faith is actually a key component in overcoming fear. Faith is believing in something even when you don’t see it yet. Fear will try block your faith and keep you right where you are. Overcoming those fears is a big part in how we grow as people.

What I’ve learned is there’s no easy way to overcome it. You have to look it in the eye and just do it. You have to be strong enough to look past the things you fear. You have to realise that in order to keep growing you need to be able to believe that you are bigger and greater than what your fear tells you.

Fear will tell you many things. All of them negative. Obstacles though are meant to be overcome. Fear is exactly that. An obstacle.

I saw a great exercise in overcoming your fears a few years ago. The non profit community ”To Write Love On Her Arms” (TWLOHA) launched a campaign back then where people were photographed holding a card which listed their ”Fears vs Dreams”.

On that card they listed a fear and then below it a dream. The idea being that it highlights its okay to have things we fear, we are all human. But that place of fear doesn’t define us. Our dreams are in part what defines us. The things we hope for mean something greater & deeper than any fear could ever be.

Fear is an obstacle. Our dreams are….our dreams, our hopes, our desires. Deep down they are things which mean something to us. They are significant to us. Below is a video which captures the idea of the concept TWLOHA were aiming for.

Fears vs Dreams concept video

TWLOHA – Fears vs Dreamshttps://youtu.be/NAJQttIy_vQ

The idea of promoting people listing their fears and dreams is one that encourages people. It can also empower and show people that what they feel is something others feel too. That they are not alone in feeling this. We all need encouragement to press in to things from time to time because too often we feel as though we’re doing this on our own.

As for me?

Well, fear is always going to be there. But the key is to remember that I am greater and stronger than it. That I’ve already overcome it previously. It doesn’t define me, doesn’t control me and certainly it is not my companion. For the most part I do okay with this.

When I live in this mindset I not only believe that it’s true but I see the evidence of it too.

Friends,

If fear is nothing more than an obstacle created by illusion, the challenge then must be to overcome it like you’re meant for this moment.

Godspeed!

The think tank in me + you

So. I’m a thinker. I think about a lot of things. I probably think about things too much, sometimes without doing too much. I’ve been told that it’s kind of a habit somewhat normalized by plenty of us in the world today.

It’s an odd thought though to think a lot yet to do little about it. The truth is I’m getting better at doing things with those thoughts. What I’m discovering is that there’s actually a useful purpose behind some of those thoughts. One of those thoughts has been where writing steps in and creates something of those thoughts.

So the other morning an Instagram post from Jedidiah Jenkins @jedidiahjenkins got my attention. Jed is a guy who I found out about via my brother Andrew. Jed is a writer and Instagram personality. His book ”To Shake The Sleeping Self” sits here at home.

I’ve not read it yet but I see it sit there every day waiting to be read. I so badly want to read it because I can tell that from what Jed says on his Instagram feed that his words and indeed his thoughts are going to be so worth tapping in to.

So I mentioned Jed today because his latest Instagram post was something eerily similar to the things that I’ve been seeing in the past 4-5 months. Writing has been fun. Jed questioned how we know we should be writing?

For him and to a lesser extent I, it comes back to how your stuff is received. It’s one thing to put it out there and be brave enough in doing so. It’s another thing entirely to have it out there and creating any sort of impression on people. For it to make ANY sort of difference on just one person makes it a worthwhile experience and a purposeful exercise.

To have seen the ways in which things I’m writing have affected people has been an eye opener. Generally a lot of the feedback has been positive and the encouragement written about has been appreciated. I’ve also found that my words have been timely for others. Something that was needed and sought after.

I’ve learned within this time that these words aren’t just my words, they become your words and your friends words. Essentially they are words that are there for anyone they connect with.

The power in the words we write or even speak is not lost on me. It really does bring home the importance of the saying ”choose your words carefully!”.

My journey has only been 4-5 months long. It’s only just begun. I have no idea where the journey takes me or what it means but the lessons I’ve learned along the way already have been valuable. They have taught me deep, profound things about life.

At this point today I feel encouraged. I feel as though I simply need to remain focused on the things that I am doing. As a thinker, this is not easy.

Why?

Because my mind wants to think about what happens next? Next week. Next month. Next year. But I’m learning the value of simply letting things happen and embracing them. God tells us so often not to worry about tomorrow. I’m always drawn to Matthew 6:25-27

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

Matthew 6:25-27 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Matthew%206:25-27&version=NLT

It’s a reminder to me, and if not all of us that we shouldn’t give too much concern for what tomorrow holds, instead focus on today and put all your efforts in to today.

When I look back on time I see the ways in which things usually do work out. When I look ahead all I see is the unknown but then when I look back i see a path which was created.

Like climbing a mountain – the road up looks daunting and slow but then from the top you see where you’ve come from and the view from where you now sit. It’s so much worth the effort and the determination to get there.

And it’s there that maybe the lesson is found?

The challenge is to worry less about where you’re going to end up and more about where you are right now. I believe God’s got me where I’m meant to be right now.

My challenge is to dig into that place and find the purpose for my situation. To worry less about what comes next and more on what I’m going to do now. I’ve seen the evidence of what happens when I follow the idea that this life is a story created and I just need to play my part.

So it’s a nice thing to see that my own story has similar episodes to others. It encourages me. It encourages me to keep doing the things that I am doing and know that there is a purpose in them.

It’s also kind of quirky the way that things can inspire you. The thought of an Instagram personality inspiring anyone is so modern day. If anything it shows you the value that does lie within social media when it’s used for good.

So when this ”thinker” thinks back over recent months he begins to see that it’s those thoughts that are coming alive – one tiny spark at a time. The challenge though is constant; to continue pressing in to those thoughts…..one day at a time.

Dear Friend – part II

Dear friend,

Life. It isn’t always fair. It isn’t always easy. But we do it anyway. We do it because….well we have to. We do it because inside ourselves a voice tells us to keep going. It tells us to keep fighting. It tells us it wants better. It tells us it wants more than this. It tells us we deserve better than this!

There is joy in the little things in life. Maybe we need to be reminded of this? There is something captivating about life and its offerings.

Friend, this morning I’m reminded that one of the keys to happiness is finding what makes you feel alive and acknowledging this. There are episodes all around us, opportunities each day to take this in.

Even if it’s just the morning coffee or tea ritual. In that moment you will find something of you that comes alive. Hold on to that feeling and remember it.

Maybe it’s just an opportunity to laugh with a friend. Hold on to it! Laughing is such a positive emotion. You need it. We ALL need it.

I’m reminded this week of how important we all are to each other. I’ve seen the value in being there for others. We don’t coexist by chance. Sometimes we need to be the words or examples for other people. What we say and do does matter! It matters because it has the ability to impact more than just ourselves.

Friend, like I said. I’ve seen the value of being there for others this week. But I’ve also seen the value in you. I said you are not defined by your adversity. It is true that you are greater than this.

Your value is measured in those that are closest to you. Only they know the true value of yourself. They say that we ourselves are our harshest critic and that it is our closest friends who’ll speak the greatest values of who we actually are.

Friend, today is another chapter. A new chapter. A new opportunity to continue your story. Stories change over time. Plot lines take on new directions always!

Remind yourself that your story is far from finished. Remind yourself that with each sunrise comes a powerful new opportunity, then when sunset comes be thankful for what was and don’t worry about what wasn’t.

Friend, take hold of what you can, be the difference maker today. Life is what you choose to make of it.

Friend, your story matters. You are more than you realise. Listen to your heart and quieten the noises around you.

Dear Friend – part I

Dear friend,

This one goes out to you. You are not one, but in fact you are many.

Your adversity is not a simple thing. It is not a quick fix. It may become a new day but that new day still feels like the others. It plays on your mind. You see it everywhere, even in the littlest things around you.

Your adversity isn’t just your pain though. It is also your challenge. Your challenge to overcome. The God I know doesn’t put you in positions that you’re not capable of overcoming. You are strong enough to overcome this. You are strong enough to push through it and break through towards better things.

Friend, whatever your adversity is – illness, broken marriages, past failures or addiction. Perhaps it simply a weakness or the loneliness of being separated from those you love? Remember the truth about yourself. That you are better, you are stronger than all those things. You carry a strength within you that allows you to overcome it.

If adversity feels like it’s on your doorstep I hope you see that it’s not bigger than you. Use the things that you have learned in the past. It’s not about learning from mistakes, it’s about realising there’s an opportunity to become a better version of yourself.

Friend, today keep doing what you’re doing. Even if it seems you’re barely moving forward. You’re gonna make it, you’re probably closer than you realise. Keep hold of the hope you have and know you are closer than you were yesterday.

Friend, you’re adversity doesn’t define who you are. You are much greater than this.

Please, remember this.