The mindset

I often wondered what it was like to find a level of peace that existed beyond what I initially knew. It’s easy to say to someone “Cheer up!” Or “Look on the bright side dude!”. But when you feel that way it’s not always easy to simply pick yourself up and feel better about certain things or situations. On occasions there are but what’s more likely is that you will put on an act to look as if you’ve moved on, all the while you feel a sense of carrying that burden with you, it remains. It just sits in your back pocket waiting to come out again at a later point.

We’re really good at storing unnecessary things within us. We hold grudges. We hold disappointments. We hold bad experiences. We hold a lot of things that carry negative weight within us. It’s crazy that we do!! Why do it!?!? It’s doing no good for us so why focus on it? Why let it absorb so much energy? It would be so much better if we could just flush it away and know that it’s done with.

So how do we do that?

The truth is we’re flawed characters. We don’t have all the answers. That is how we end up where we are in the first place. We make decisions emotively. How we feel determines how we react. It feels as if we are built with defensive mechanisms within us. They seem to stem from our flawed personalities. We react in a imperfect manner. It’s proven in those moments we look back on and realise we didn’t react the way we should have or even would like to have.

I believe the key to difference starts in a similar place. It’s starts within us. It starts with our mindset. Our mind is our biggest weapon yet our most dangerous adversary. It can do both. Both brilliance and destruction. But there lies a real force in a mindset that is positive. There comes with it a real belief and determination to wherever you find yourself. A positive mindset is more proactive. It is more productive and it is far more healthy for us. I guess it stems from knowing what we want in life, or in that day or moment.

Ultimately though a positive mindset is the ability to think in a manner that chooses not to worry. It chooses to think in a forward thinking space. It determines a mindset that doesn’t let things get in the way. It focuses on a way and shuts out all thoughts around it that could unsettle those thoughts. It’s a mindset that requires strength and discipline because it’s obviously far easier to let our emotive selves control the way we think.

The level of peace I carry now stems from a shift in my mindset.

What did I do exactly?

Well first you need to identify your mindset and what dictates it. You need to figure out what it is that controls your thinking. Is it your job? Your family? Perhaps it’s your wealth or even your health?? But deep down there will be something that feels central to dictating the way you think and feel.

When you figure out what it is that dominates your mindset you have to ask yourself.

Is this a good thing? Or

Is this a bad thing?

I think it’s so important to fixate your mind on the good things in life . Things that make you happy, things that bring value to your life. Things that deep down inside of you feel right.

Equally though it is time to rid yourself of the things that you feel drag you down in life. This is your life, you decide what is good or bad for you in your life. Rid yourself of it. Don’t allow yourself to invest the time even thinking about it. Choose to say “No! I’m not going to focus on this.”. Choose to rid yourself of the negative energies in your life. Focus on the good and allow your mind to feel at peace. Your mind can have you sinking deeper by the day if you allow it to do so.

A healthy mind is wonderful basis to build upon. A healthy mind is a mind at peace, and a mind at peace is a mind that is making choices that deep down feel right and do good for you.

My mind feels at peace most of the time now, but I am human. That default mechanism has me emotively thinking some days but I am usually quick to slap that in the face and think with a mindset that is more positive for myself.

Perhaps a lot of that is to do with my Christian faith………….

Actually, it probably has a lot to do with that. Maybe faith has a lot to do with instilling a positive mindset?

If faith is the ability to trust in something you cannot physically see then that right there is a mindset that chooses to think outside our usual emotive ways. Instead it chooses to believe in a higher power greater than myself. It chooses to believe that what I feel or fear is merely my emotive state telling me otherwise. The challenge is always to trust the process.

Having God there helps a lot with this. I choose not worry about things that I can’t control. Instead giving them to God, and knowing that if I focus on what’s important then the rest will fall in to place. And it always does.

The old me would’ve let that fear or negative thought take control at some point. It would’ve highlighted to me how my reaction was always a certain way. A way that didn’t really help me with anything. Now though it is different. It starts with the mindset that sees me looking forward and positively. And with it a reminder every time of how much better, easier and enjoyable life is when you look at life through a positive lens.

So friends it’s a simple equation. The choice is yours. It’s like a fork in the road. Your mindset will control you. Which direction you want to send it is up to you.

Left or right? East or West? In the dark or the light? It’s your call. Even if you feel you’re in a good place right now let it reinforce the value of a positive mindset and be thankful you’re able to enforce it.

But perhaps it’s best put this way. Don’t think of it so much as a case of simply trying to find the good in any situation. But rather learn to look for the good. Even in situations which leave you feeling bummed or hopeless. Desperate or sad. Try and find something of value, something of good. It will help. It will help even if all it does is encourage you to think and react differently.

Understanding your heart

I have learned a lot from my own heart in the last 18 months. I feel like there was a journey that needed to be taken. I felt like soul searching wasn’t a cliche or throwaway line to be used, but more that it was a path that was in front of me and that the choice was mine. To go down the path. Or to watch from afar.

To go down the path was just a start. It was nothing more than a choice.

What was down that path?

What things would I see?

What things would i learn?

What lessons would impact me?

And perhaps most importantly what would I become of the impact?

Who would i discover inside of me?

Was I someone new? Different? A better person? Or just a better version of the one who already existed? Like a refined version.

The thing about the path, or rather the journey of my own heart is that you do learn a lot about yourself. Like any path you see things. You experience things. You feel things. It’s a journey that makes sure it impacts you. Hopefully for the better. For me i feel like it has definitely been a good thing.

A valuable thing in fact.

Not everything you learn is a good thing. There are things that seem hard, or harsh. There are things that will challenge you along the way, but those things exist to better you because by now we all know that we can overcome all things.

See, we are stronger than we realise. Our minds doubt what we are capable of. They tell us lies, they slant the truth or lead us to perceive things differently to how they really are. But it’s that same mind that holds the key. The key to whatever it is we’re searching for.

Perhaps that thing is our heart?

One thing I’ve found and learned is that it’s one thing to feel your heart but it is entirely another thing to understand it. Our heart is more than just a heartbeat that allows us to live. Importantly it’s an expression of who we really are.

When you begin to understand your heart you begin to understand yourself. I now see that. Your heart can be hidden if you let it. What people see of you isn’t always your true self. It kind of bugs me that we do this. That we reflect an image of ourselves that isn’t really us.

Why? Why even bother with the stupid smokescreen???

I wish i knew. I suspect it’s got a lot to do with our flawed personalities. That we’re too easily controlled by insecurity. That the image we present is just as valuable as the real us. It’s a crazy lie.

The search for one’s heart, our own heart – is a journey that forces you to critique yourself. You only find it when you reach a point where you discover who you really are and what it is that makes you tick. Only when you identify with your identity do you really understand yourself and therefore – your heart. When you reach that point life feels easier. It feels secure. Life feels as though you finally found the map to the trail that your life is.

The challenge therefore has to be to stay true to yourself. Forgetting the expectations placed on you the challenge is first to seek your heart.

To find it, reflect on it. To ask questions of it. To spend time alone just meditating on wherever the process takes you. Find places that relax you. Find places that don’t distract you. Take a walk or a drive and just find a place that allows you to switch off.

I’m reminded of a quote from author John Eldredge who said;

There is is something else I am after, out here in the wild. I am searching for an even more elusive prey….something that can only be found through the help of the wilderness. I am looking for my heart. ( Wild at Heart – John Eldredge)

The bottom line is that our hearts are more vital, more influential and more defining of ourselves than we perhaps ever realised. If our heart feels good, we feel good. If we understand our heart, we feel a sense of peace within us. It’s that vital!

But damn! It is elusive. Like in John Eldredge’s “Wild at Heart” the experience of finding your heart, and therefore yourself isn’t an easy one. It isn’t about any one moment. No lightbulb moments here.

If anything the experience tells me that it’s more likely to be a journey. It’s more likely that a combination of time, experiences and reflection are going to help. But the journey probably will be wild. Not least because in order to learn about yourself you need to confront yourself.

That’s not the easiest thing to do. But it may just be the best thing you do. So friends – be bold, be strong and remind yourself that you carry something so special, so desirable within you – your heart.

Learn to seek your heart. To listen to it, to understand it better. Take the time. Be patient with it because if you do will discover something magical of it.

From the heart


I completely fell for this quote when I read it. John Eldredge is a name I’ve only discovered in the last 12-18 months but already he feels like a trusted advisor. One day it was suggested to me I should look his name up and source out his books. One in particular was “Wild at Heart”. I was told it was a bit of a game changer. That it will be the best thing I’ll ever do. So i did it. Cue the following……

So what is it about this quote??

Caring for our own hearts isn’t selfishness. It’s about looking out for yourself. It’s about positioning yourself in a way that ensures that you are where you need to be, at least from a heart point of view. I wrote last time about the heart check and determining whether your thoughts, your actions and therefore your heart are in the right place.
I think its more than okay to be selfish in this regard because what you feel inside of you will reflect outwardly towards others. So if your heart is in a good place you are far more likely to reflect that heart on to others and it will be in a good way, a positive way. Chances are it will be done in a loving way.

But what happens when you feel inside that your heart is not where it needs to be? You feel discontentment. You feel edgy. You feel the sense of comfort is missing. Little things bother you and the bigger issues nag at you like you’re sick in the stomach. In these moments it’s okay to stop. To admit that you’re not happy. It’s about dissecting why you feel this way and what you can do to improve things. Sure, there may not be any bright, quick and easy solutions but small steps are just effective.

I completely agree with the sentiment that our hearts are allowed to be selfish places. Our hearts begin to love when they are in the right place. They can invest in things, grow relationships and fuel a fire deep within you and when that place is a good place then the heart is growing the way it was intended.

I’ve learned that a lot of what I do starts from the heart. I think it’s important to remember that for ourselves. The good things we do start from the heart. But be wary because we do let ourselves down sometimes. We say things or do things that we are not proud of. That doesn’t mean our hearts are in a bad place. It simply means we’re human and prone to mistakes. Our hearts are stronger than this though and with the right drive and determination we can move on from these moments.

I’ve also learned that there is a real power within us when we love. A heart that loves is truly at peace in that moment when it loves. There’s a contentment, a desire that can’t be broken – almost like a shield that protects that love from the forces designed to bring it down. It’s something we all want yet so many of us envy those who carry it.

But the truth may be that we all do carry it?

The truth may be that we simply haven’t allowed ourselves the chance to really, genuinely begin to love. See love doesn’t discriminate, it doesn’t judge, it never boasts. Sometimes it doesn’t need words to be verbalised – it just does. Love is more than words, it is more than the sum of what can ever be offered. What you DO will ALWAYS count for more.

When they say that actions speak louder than words I feel that the phrase is well worn out. It’s been used for how long now?? It’s not that it’s lost it’s truth, it’s just that it’s a statement that probably isn’t as effective as it once was. But it’s truth is well worth remembering. “Doing” means to actively involve yourself in an action and when you DO something it has the ability to be impressionable on others, so make it count and make it a positive action.

I think it’s important to remember also that you control your heart. You can feel it inside of you when it’s in that happy place. You can feel it inside you when you’re discontent. So look out for yourselves. Surround yourself with people you know make you feel good. Surround yourselves with people you love and show you how to love. This is how we begin to love and this is how our heart was designed.

Reflection

It’s been a while since I’ve written. Part of that was intentional, to take a short break after unloading for like 9-10 months, but i wasn’t expecting the break to be this long. It was open ended actually. I’ve been dabbing in the process of creating ideas and that’s been about it the past few weeks.

I’ve felt the need to stop and rest. I’ve felt the need to assess and to consider whether the season of writing on specifically encouragement is over? Or maybe it never really ends? Perhaps it’s just chance to look at other things and write about them as well?

I chose the picture here for its reflection. Everything here looks still and perfect. The dark clouds are ominous but the surrounds are beautiful and take centre stage. The reflection here is pretty cool. It reminds me that you can see life in different ways when you reflect. The image of life will be similar but it will look slightly different as you interpret it differently.

For me the chance to reflect has been a chance to consolidate. It’s been a chance to simplify and remind myself of the things I want to be doing and the way i reflect in the eyes of others. Sometimes we move in life without thought as to what we’re doing. Like on autopilot or autocue. We do things because we do things. Sometimes we need that health check or as it was termed to me recently “the heart check”.

The heart check figures to determine where your heart lies. Do the internal decisions we make match up with the external declarations we make?? It’s a great question to ask ourselves!

The reflection we see always gives us something to look at, something to react towards. It’s gives us a place to determine what we see through our own eyes.

What do you see when you reflect? And does it match what you desire internally within your heart? Does your heart then match with the things you declare externally each day, week? It’s a question well worth asking ourselves.

As for me, my heart sits in a good place. My reflection is not far from where I’d like it to be. Sure, there are things to improve on but they are small things & its more the reminder to keep following basic principles

Photo cr: @vibfi

Thankful yet Grateful

We spend a lot of our time thinking about things that we’d like to change. We worry about where we’re heading in life. Is it where we hoped we’d be? And if it’s not we then worry about how we’re ever going to get to that place. I don’t think we’re ever satisfied! We always want more. Always believe there’s a next step to come.

Perhaps though we’re looking at things through the wrong lens? Maybe where we hoped we would be isn’t where we’re truly meant to be? What we thought was important suddenly seems a little less significant with the benefit of time or hindsight. Or maybe the older we get we learn to value things differently? Perspectives change over time and perhaps that’s part of the process?

Perspective though is a wonderful thing. Because among all the hopes and dreams we aspire towards its easy to lose sight of the things in our lives we should be thankful for. A thankful heart is a wonderful place to be in. Because in that moment everything is pushed aside and you are reminded of what really matters. It is a simple place but not always a place we remind ourselves to be in.

One of things i am thankful for occurs on one Sunday each month within my church. We meet downstairs for lunch afterwards. There we have so much fun. We joke, we share honest conversations. We encourage….we do a lot of things but mainly we are people who are showing a willingness and a value towards each other in that room. It feels very right every time we do this.

On this particular Sunday the question was put to us “what is something we are thankful for today?”. We went around the room, not one person had anything they couldn’t be thankful for. For some the things they were thankful for were simple things. For others there were bigger things. But for each person who spoke you could sense the value of what they were thankful for. It was a real nice place to be and a reminder that we are always in need of things that bring us comfort, support and opportunity.

Being thankful for something is an appreciation for a moment you find yourself in and realising the benefit or good that comes from that situation. The word thankful can also be used as grateful. Gratefulness is where you find an appreciation for your thankfulness. It’s like the moment you realise that what you were thankful for was actually something deeper, more significant to you and you gained a deeper appreciation for it. Gratefulness.

You can be thankful for the people you meet, or the food provided for you day to day. You can also be thankful for having great friends. But what if those great friends are there for you, look out for you, support you when you need it most? That there is something to be grateful for.

For me the friendships I’ve collected in life all mean something different to me. Each of them matter. They all play a role weather they believe it or not. They’ve all impacted me positively. That is something I am most thankful for.

There are then other friendships. Some of them are family. Others are like family, just not by blood. These types of friendships are deeper, more like carrying an unspoken bond. These are relationships in which not only am I thankful for but also grateful.

These are relationships in which there is more than just an appreciation for the friendship. There is respect. There is compassion, empathy, love, care, concern, hope and encouragement all rolled in there. If gratefulness was a river bed, well then this river would be overflowing!

The challenge for us all here is to remind ourselves. First, to remind ourselves to be thankful for big things and little things. For day to day things. To remind ourselves that our opportunities are provided for. But also there is a challenge there to find the things to be grateful for in those moments. Be thankful for family yet grateful for the time you are able to spend with that family.

Learn to appreciate the things that you are thankful for. Being thankful or grateful starts with the mind. It is an attitude. It is the ability to be mindful of your scenario. I think it also helps us to remain humble and honest of ourselves. It can have a way of also keeping us grounded. In fact a thankful heart probably teaches us more than the odd valuable lesson.

I want to finish with this quote:

“When asked if my cup is half full or half empty, my only response is I am thankful I even have a cup”.

Your story…..

“Share your story here”.

These are the words that greet me every time I open up my WordPress to begin a new piece.

Stories are worth sharing. They have value.

Sometimes they are long. Sometimes they are short. Sometimes the stories we tell have little impact and then other times a simple component of your story can hit like a ton of bricks.

That’s the thing about stories. They impact us. Stories are like encounters which stir up emotions. They have the ability to touch a part of us that feels hidden away and before you know it that story has uncovered the emotion you felt deep inside of you.

Stories also inspire us. They inspire us in ways that remind us that there is more to living than simply being alive. Stories inspire us to reach new highs or tackle obstacles in front of us. They remind us that all things are possible if we give it a chance.

Stories inspire us because a part of it touches us. They have the ability to touch us in profound ways. Kind of like finding a stack of keys and stumbling upon the right one which opens a door, stories have the ability to unlock our minds.

Stories become examples to us. They transmit an experience that in the best of times reminds us how beautiful life can be and in the worst of times sadly a reminder of how fragile life can seem.

It’s not just there that stories go. They shine a light on things and reveal things. They remind us of simple things and complexed things. That life isn’t always straight forward, that life doesn’t always make sense. But it also reveals that life is full of hope and reason. It reminds us of how life was intended to be enjoyed and appreciated.

What of your story??

I love the quote that “Your story is important”.

Your story is unique. It’s different for everyone. What you’ve learned, experienced, felt, thought, seen, touched and heard can be viewed in a different light to every one of us.

Your story is effectively your life. From the day you were born till this current day your story has been playing itself out. I hear so many people downplay their lives and their opinions. They will talk about the the things they’ve experienced as being unimportant and say things like “people don’t want to hear about that!?!”.

The truth though is that people DO want to hear about it. People NEED to know about it. We are living, breathing examples that things can be achieved or overcome. We are walking, talking advertising billboards for the fact that life and the people we do life with need us to share our experiences.

Our stories are far more significant than we give them credit for. The story of our lives reveals a lot about the character of who we are. Our experiences feed our story and therefore develop our character. They can reveal our toughness, or our selflessness. They can reveal our determination to succeed and our drive to the highest ascent in life.

Because stories are real they unfortunately can also reveal pain and hurt, distrust and our struggles. Those are all hard places to be but out of those situations your story can still bring hope and inspire those around you.

People need reason. They need to know that they don’t do this alone. In times of struggle knowing someone who can relate to it always helps a little. So don’t ever think that people only ever want to know about your good days. It’s okay to be honest and to admit to others that things aren’t always great.

For me I’ve found that my story has a value in being shared with the people around me. I’ve never really known a life without worry. Never really lived a life that didn’t look into the future and wonder what of?

But I’ve learned to cast those concerns aside the older I’ve got. Maybe it’s age? Perhaps it’s just time? Or perhaps it’s just I got to a stage where I trusted God fully that I stopped worrying about the things I couldn’t control. I found that when I looked back on my life I have always found myself in the right places and always been safe. There was nothing to worry about. Never has been!

My story has a chapter these days that desires those around me to live with that same confidence. To know that the fears and concerns that enter our minds are just that. In our minds.

I want us all to appreciate the things around you that mean the most to you. To enjoy those things because they’re in your life for a reason. Don’t ever take them for granted. For the friendships you form are not by chance. The opportunities you have are not just your livelihood. They go beyond just that.

My story, or rather….my hope, is that you embrace your own story. The good bits and the bad bits. Use the good bits to capture those around you and the bad bits? Well, use them to remind people that even in amongst the hard moments in life that there is a way out if you stay determined, if you choose to accept the challenge and turn things around. There is most definitely a corner to turn and a better road ahead. You just have to believe it and you will see it. Your story is whatever you make of it.

Your story is important.

Your story matters.

Your story is someone else’s hope and reason.

Your story is someone else’s comfort.

Your story DOES have a purpose.

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.