Shut Up & Listen!

shut up and listenI have been in highly competitive environments all of my adult life. I have been around people who are kind yet ambitious. People who have high confidence and never make others feel less than; and I have been around others who are highly educated and successful, but they don’t talk about what education they have nor boast about how successful they have been. These people are loud, quiet, jolly and reserved, but the one quality that impressed me the most was the emotional intelligence they demonstrated in how to genuinely and authentically connect. I call them selfless people.

Then there are others. They have to make sure you know how popular they are, what they have done, and just how successful they have been in doing whatever it is they have done. They compete too, but they compete with everybody they meet, even if the others are not consciously competing with them.  If they are quiet, it is only to think of how they can impress you with their accomplishments.

Princess DianaI watched a documentary about Princess Diana. I have always had a special place in my heart for her (don’t ask me why; I just do). One of the things that came up from the people who were interviewed for this documentary was how they felt being with her.  These people were not all royals are the “upper class.” They were people in hospitals, on the streets as homeless or those impacted by landmines in Bosnia, all spoke of how she connected with them.  Many of these people were touched by her even after she was no longer the Princess of Wales.  Clearly, she was famous and well-connected, yet, these people felt she cared about them and brought attention to their causes nor her own. She listened.

Then I think of Jesus. What do you think of when you think about Him?  Do you think of someone who was always talking? Probably not. Don’t you see Him as sitting and listening to others? Quietly asking questions and showing an interest in the person He was talking to? I do. I believe He met people where they were and cared about them.  He didn’t find them and rush in to condemn them.  He did not go around telling people who he was and just how vital he was, quite the contrary, he did the opposite. When He restored sight to the blind or healed a man of leprosy, many times we read that He told the person he restored not tell anyone.  He didn’t come for that. He came to do what His Father had sent Him to do.

I can’t help but think of some of the greats throughout history, their stories carry the same storyline, selfless acts rather than acts that pointed to them as an essential person. I also think of the following scripture found in Proverbs 27:2 that says, “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.”

I have been in many meetings, conferences, and forums where I have met “important” people.  I usually sit and watch.  Most times I stay quiet because I think when I shut up and listen, I learn a lot about others.

Recently I was at a function with quite a few people present.  As one person began to share a personal struggle with our small group, I just sat and listened along with a couple of others. As the person described their excitement about a new process they were developing, another person in the group hijacked the conversation and begin to talk only about themselves and about all they had accomplished; promptly shutting down the accomplishments of the other person. Throughout the evening, various people had an opportunity to share a little about themselves and right away you could tell the ones who were outward focused and those who were inward focused. Ironically, the ones who said the least about themselves were probably the most successful. Guess what else? They were also the ones who listened to others.

Keep It To Yourself….

keep it to yourself.2Like others, I am bothered whenI hear things like “that person doesn’t like you” or “she has a problem with you.” Look, Whatever!  Yes, I will admit it, it bothers me. I have learned to push back when someone tells me that someone feel that way about me. I push back when I have felt the animosity from a person first hand also.

You see we all have someone who do not like us. Wow, you thought everyone you met like you? Well, they don’t. What a revelation, but it is true.  The most popular people have folks that find something wrong with them. The most unpopular do too.  What makes the world go round is to recognize early if you can that we are all different and we may not like the same things nor can stomach some of the people we have to interact with.  That’s just reality and it’s okay.  My problem is with my friends and pseudo-friends.  I love you but….let me tell you a couple of things. You probably think you are doing me a favor by making sure I know that someone does not like me.  I get it.  However, please do me a favor.  Keep it to yourself.

That’s right, keep it to yourself. You are not helping the situation at all and if it bothers me to hear, I can imagine how it might destroy someone who is not as confident as I am.

You may think that you are just saying something either to help me (or to be mean to me pretending to help) but don’t. My life is full, filled with happiness and joy and on a positive trajectory. I am winning.  I don’t want to be brought into a negative space.  Honestly, I don’t believe that is your intention at all; at least I hope not. But that’s what happens when hurtful words are used even when those words are no intended to be used as such.

keep it to yourselfLook, even the best people who are positive and optimistic can be brought down, albeit for a little while, with those comments or opinions you are passing on.  Now let me ask you something. Do you feel good about yourself when you pass on that “stuff?” I bet not.

Okay, so maybe you didn’t know this. Soooooo now you know. Also know this, “Haters gonna hate.” That’s just a fact of life. I have always believed and stated when a person is focused on me, they probably want to be just like me. Of course the hater will say that’s not true. But to all my haters, yes it is.  I can’t say that I blame you though.  If I were you, I would want to be just like me too!

Haters Gonna Hate!

haters gonna hateThe first time I heard the term “Haters gonna hate” I laughed out loud.  I had to think about what the phrase really meant.  You know what I mean? Sometimes we hear these catchy phrases and begin repeating them without really knowing what they mean.

“Haters gonna hate” does not mean that they truly hate others. On the contrary, what the phrase means is people who are jealous or insecure, will always have something critical to say or imply about someone else. The term really only means that if one is a negative person, all they do is find fault, be critical or just plain and simple, have nothing good to offer. I chalk it up to them having low self-esteem. They will never admit it, but I bet they are always comparing themselves to others. Just think about it.  A “hater” has deep insecurity. They put on pretenses that they are confident and strong, when in fact, they are not.  Many times what’s lurking right under the surface is the question “Am I good enough?”  They may be really good at many things, but they seem to zone in on what someone else is good at or what someone else is getting credit for, and it bothers them. Just watch someone who you think may fit these descriptions: They brag to show what they have. They evaluate their clothing, hair, car, home, my goodness, anything to someone they are secretly competing with. The person may not even know that they are in a competition, but the hater knows. Actually, it takes too much energy for me to deal with haters, so I choose not to do so. Why? I can’t change them and neither can you. So, you should not waste your time trying. In fact, you should not give your haters a second thought. I am not joking with you!

karmaLook, haters want you off your game! The truth is they want to be just like you but they will never admit it. They want to look like you, be popular like you, be your size, do the things you do and be good at it like you are.  They may smile in your face and say all the right things to seemingly show support, but all the while, in the back of their minds, they resent you for some reason.  No worries though. I am going to tell you how to deal with them. Because if you would recognize who you are dealing with up front, you can head off your shock when they finally reveal their true colors to you. Here is my advice:

  1. Don’t watch for them, they will show up.
  2. When they show up, don’t be in shock. Tell yourself, LaSharnda said they exist.
  3. Do not waste your time with them. Be kind, professional, and aware, but do not hang out with them. Don’t be fooled into a sense of security with them. They only want something from you because they are not your friend.
  4. Always speak well of them. Even when they are not speaking well of you.
  5. When they do something to undermine you, don’t get even. Laugh.  I am serious. Laugh at the situation.  If you get bogged down thinking about what they did, they win.  You are now distracted, unfocused and vulnerable. You are not winning!  The reason they secretly resent you is because they see you as a winner.

vengenance is mineMy grandmother always said “what’s done in the dark, will come to light.” I couldn’t stand it when she said that. However, she was right.  Whatever it is that someone succeeds at doing to you or even if they try to do something to you, just remember, you don’t have to worry. If you are a Believer, the Bible says, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”(Romans 12:19)..

If you are a non-believer, (I wish you were a Believer), but this is for you, Karma is a B—- and remember, “What goes around, comes around.”

 

 

Have You Tuned Out?

I don’t know about Encourage-One-Another1you, but if I don’t watch it, I can easily find myself criticizing everything.

How about you? Can you get on a roll if you don’t like something? Me too.  I  have listened to myself get on a roll if something irritated me.  To think of it,   when I start, I can just keep going and going and going. I think that’s why the word, “whiner” came about.  We just keep whining and whining until no one wants to listen. In fact, I know that’s why kids, spouses and others close to us learn to tune us out.

If you think about it, when we whine, our emotions are not “good feeling” emotions. They are stressful emotions.. They come in the form of irritation, anger, frustration, fatigue, being unforgiving, intolerable or just down right —I want to be nasty today.   I used to tell myself if people would hear how they sound, they would stop, but I am not so sure anymore. I am convinced there are those who love experiencing negativity; they just like to complain or condemn and discourage.

I block out complainers and I make it a point to try to hear myself when I get on that train.  I wantuned-out-2t to catch myself and stop to right away. I don’t want to be a person who becomes the crier of bad news and the person who is the Debbie Downer in every
situation. I don’t want family or friends to think of me as the one who is always negative. I pray to be a positive person and to be a person who can help bring joy to others.

People have a lot to deal with in life and most times, they know when they haven’t made the right decisions. They know when they could have done better but chose to do otherwise. I don’t think they need me pointing that out. I learned this from having a son.  I want to uplift him and help him. I want him to always feel that he can recover from anything; from any failure. Heck, I have.  I don’t want anyone in my sphere of influence to ever feel totally defeated, I don’t care what they have done.
You know, Jesus encouraged others. He didn’t tear them down. He didn’t look at those who was already beating themselves up for their mistakes and beat them down more.  Rather, Jesus strengthened and encouraged.  That’s what we are supposed to do too according to Romans 15:1 “We who are strong in the faith ought to help the weak in order to build them up in the faith.”

If you know you have a habit of becoming negative, stop yourself. If you have tuned out and can’t hear yourself speaking negative, get a true friend who can gently point it out in you and bring you back.  If your words would change and become more positive, I bet your entire life will reflect that too.

 

Embrace Joy!

joyThere is so much sadness in the world today.  The lost of some very popular celebrities are in the news. People are experiencing pain with relationships and there seems to be an overall sadness in the air.  Some people who I have talked with recently are really struggling with being joyful.

It occurred to me that if I am not careful, I could find myself beginning to feel and act as sad and down as others.

I have reflected on some of the most recent conversations I have been a part of.  What came to mind as I thought of some of the recent losses was how to pray for those who are experiencing pain. I have prayed over and over again. What struck me hard one morning as I was praying was this thought, “Watch it or you will find yourself sad too.”  That was the Holy Spirit.

watchyourthoughts“Watch it” is important to remember. You see the scriptures tell us to “guard” our hearts in Proverbs 4:23. I believe we are told that because if we are not careful, instead of embracing “joy” in our attitudes, we can end up on a downward spiral of sadness that so consumes us that we no longer look like joyful, happy and powerful people of God. We look like people who’ve been defeated!

In Philippians 4:4, we are told to “rejoice in the Lord, ALWAYS.”

Already, I can hear some say, “You can’t always be happy.” Well, maybe not, but that does not negate what the Word of God tells us to do. I totally understand that heartaches and disappointments can get the best of any of us, but as one person put it recently: “I think that sometimes our attitudes can cause certain things to come to us.” My response to her? “You know I agree with that statement 100%.” I do believe that we can attract negativity, which includes sadness, depression, anxiety and other anti-joy stealers or we can attract positivity, happiness, peace, love, patience, and other joy-creators.

We all face “stuff.” We just do. However, we can have joy in the midst of our struggles and pain. That’s what the Word of God says.

                                          “When anxiety was great within me,
                                          your consolation brought me joy.'”

Psalm 94:19  

Stop Second -Guessing Yourself

confidently2Have you ever made a decision only to go back to it over and over again wondering whether you made the right one or not? I have.

Like you, I have made so many life decisions. Especially when it comes to my professional life. I have always been driven to succeed. To me, I take a no hole bars approach to my life. I take an attitude of “the sky is the limit” approach.

Earlier in life, I would just make a decision without thinking of the consequences and go for it; many times it worked out. I think God knew I was young and silly, so He sent angels to watch out for me (at least that’s what I have told myself throughout the years). Later in life I learned the importance of praying before I made a decision. I had heard others say that people do things and pray about it afterwards, asking God to bless it, when they should have prayed about it ahead of time to see if it was God’s will.  That made sense to me so that has been my practice ever since hearing it. On the big important things, it was especially critical for me to stop and pray first before moving forward.

Once I have prayed about it and waited to hear from God, I feel good about moving forward. Here’s the problem though. Suppose you prayed and felt that you heard from God, so you moved forward believing it was Him only to find yourself going back and forth re-thinking or even regretting your decision?  What if you made the wrong decision? What if you didn’t hear from God as you thought you did? What if?

Let me help you with this issue.  I went through this just recently. I made a life-changing decision that would affect not only me, but my family. I prayed and prayed and made my decision only to question whether I had made the right one.  Early one morning during prayer as I talked to God about my insecurities, what came to me was this:  “Stop second-guessing yourself.”

Hmmm. It think it came to me from the Holy Spirit because I was saying to God that I had prayed and prayed and felt I had His answer and now I don’t know.  When I looked at other elements of my decision, I thought to myself well this change puts a dent in my 5 year plan, yet, I wanted to go with the decision I had made. I needed  to make sure God had blessed it.  As I sat in my “prayer chair” again, the words resonated in my mind, “stop second-guessing yourself.”  I smiled because I accepted what I was hearing.

The word TRUST carved into a stone wall. 3D render with HDRI lighting and raytraced textures.
The word TRUST carved into a stone wall. 3D render with HDRI lighting and raytraced textures.

Many times you will make the best possible decisions you can with the information you have. You do your best to do what’s right. What happens is people who don’t want you to do something or maybe they want you to themselves, will speak things into your life that make you second-guess yourself. On the other hand, your mind will play tricks on you and have you question your decision and if you are not careful, fear will consume you. When that happens, tell yourself what is written in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love and self-discipline.” If you have to say it over and over again, do that.

Anxiety is natural when you are making major life-changing decisions.  The question becomes, do you want to live a life that is full and purposeful or will you allow fear to stop you from fulfilling your destiny? When you make decisions, always pray about them first, wait to hear from God and when you believe you have and He says it’s okay, then move.  If he says no, then stay.  If He says okay and you are fearful to move, ask yourself, “Am I telling God that you don’t trust Him?”  I am sure you don’t want to say that, but your actions are.

Stop second-guessing yourself. Trust God and trust yourself.

 

Value or Disrespect

 

sassysayings56I don’t mind giving advice, but one area that I hate to give advice is in the area of dealing with abusive people, especially mentally abusive bosses. Some of the stories I hear infuriate me and the boss can be so terrible that I find myself wanting to punch them! But I would never do that and that would not be my advice to you either.

I don’t want to ever advise anyone to give up on anything, yet, I struggle telling anyone to stay with anyone who treats them like crap.  I want to fight for what is right and I like working hard for what I get. I get a kick out of the struggle. In fact I have a saying that reads “If it were easy, everyone would be doing it”.  I believe in tenacity, diligence, dedication and hard work. If you want something out of life, you got to do your part. One of my mottos could be that  diligence pays off. Yet, I want to tell the person who feels inadequate because of the actions of another person to leave.

It is easy to sit in a chair and write pretty advice.  It is easy to say what you should do once I have crossed over my own challenge of having to deal with a nasty boss.  So I won’t write the pretty advice but I will be straight up with you.  If you have a boss who is mentally abusive, who depresses you, dishonors you, disrespect you and you don’t think that person will ever change, leave.

That’s my advice. Leave.  Maya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time”, and I agree with her. That lady was one wise woman.

You see I have had wonderful bosses who were positive, supportive and saw to it that I was developed and given opportunities. I have also experienced cunning and unethical bosses too. I have never, ever had a boss yell at me, cuss at me, talk to me as if I were stupid or talk down to me. I think God made sure that I didn’t because I don’t know how I would have handled them in my early years.

I have told you on many occasions how destructive words can be.  When you stay with a person, whether that person is a spouse, friend or boss, who has little interest in uplifting you or in making your life better, why are you staying with them? You don’t rely on others to make you happy; that’s not what I am saying, that’s your responsibility.  What I am saying is that disinterest or detachment from you is one thing, but disrespect is quite another.

We stay with spouses and friends longer in bad relationships, because we have vested relationships with them. We do not have that same investment with an abusive boss. I get that it is hard to walk away from a job when you need the money, but it is even harder to walk away from a marriage when one depends on the support of a spouse, but people do it everyday and find support.

I am not saying to just quit your job when you have an abusive or narcissistic boss. That’s a decision that only you can make. I just want to remind you that you are valuable and you are important. It doesn’t matter if you are the janitor or the CEO. And just so you know, even if you are dependent on a person for a job, that does not give them the right to disrespect you.

I can’t tell you what is enough, I can only tell you that you are enough. “For we (you) are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that (you) we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10.

 

Stop Complaining…

change-the-worldI think it was Gandhi who said “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  This quote really resonates with me because I truly believe that we can change things if we would try.

You might say, “But I don’t want to change the world.” Well, shut and stop complaining. That’s right, stop it. I don’t know about you, but I get tired of hearing folks complain about every thing. If the weather is hot, they want it cold and if it is cold, when will it be hot. It is always something. In fact, there is always something that we can complain about!  What annoys me is that those who are constant complainers, never step up to do anything. Except complain!

I am no different that others, at times; I complain too.  That’s when I have to remind myself that I need to stop. If whatever it is that I want to complain about persists, I tell myself, “ok, what can you do about it? Can you add anything positive to it?” Guess what? My perspective of the situation changes. So instead of sitting on the sidelines and pointing out all that is wrong in the world, step up and do something to help the world.

.I have always had a special place in my heart for people like Gandhi. People who step up when others draw back. I admire those who don’t have much but are willing to give what they have.  People who don’t look at their resources as  being limited, rather they look at the condition of others and they take what they have, as limited as it may be, to help. Listen, small acts become major movements of social change.

Many see Gandhi as a great person, but I see him as so much more.  I say that because our definitions of what or who is great can be based on the superficial.  However, people like Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, and others like them, are great because of their willingness to make a difference in the lives of others, thus changing the entire look and feel of the world.

great people

How about you?  Do you see yourself as being put on this earth to do something significant? Do you ever feel that you want to do something but you just can’t? You just don’t know where to begin? I bet at times these people felt that way too, but guess what? They did something anyway. If you are like most of us, you want only the best. We want the comforts of life. We want nice homes, big homes, nice cars, luxury cars, higher education, we want to marry well or simply to be independently wealthy.  We want it all. There is nothing wrong with having the good things in life; nothing at all. However, having the niceties isn’t all there is to life.

If you think about the nice things you have, one day they will be gone, or you will be, and then what? Nothing. I have talked about the value of positive attitude and the purpose of life many times.  I don’t believe that our purpose has anything to do with how much material stuff we accumulate over a lifetime. I do believe however, that being able to accomplish our purpose starts with the right attitude, which is a direct result of having the right heart. With the right heart, we can make a huge impact on the world.

Hmmm, maybe if we looked more at the lives of noble people, rather than at the lives of the super rich and famous, maybe  those noble lives will spark a flame in each of us that will help  us believe that we can make a difference too.

Love Without Conditions…

loveI read someone’s post recently that listed a whole bunch of things for his reader’s consideration. He said that someone asked him what advice would he give to his children.  He listed so many considerate, loving and well-articulated things he would tell his children;. Clearly he loved them.  But out of all the things he listed, what resonated with me the most was “love without condition”.  During the time I read his letter, I had just received mail from someone telling me of an issue in their family with a teenager.This parent was clearly upset and so totally disappointed with what had just happened.  I had already responded to the friend and then I read this guy’s post.  I immediately thought about the situation that had just been described to me and although I had pretty much said the same thing, the phrase “love without condition” would not leave me alone.

I began to think about it.  I pondered it and asked, What is “love without condition” anyway? Well, immediately Jesus came to my mind. He is the only person that I can think of who ever loved without condition. He loved humanity so much that He died for us. Yet, there are so many in this world who refuse to believe it. They say that this is just a story that someone made up.  That Jesus was indeed a good man, but there is no way that he is the Savior of the world. My simple response? But He is. You might say, prove it. I can’t. I just believe.

I believe that Jesus is the ultimate example of unconditional love. He reached beyond His little home town, His little team of disciples, He reached beyond His own people, the Jews, to embrace and include people that nobody else would  even dare sit with. Hey, but Jesus did. Jesus didn’t mind being around hookers, drunks, the lowest of the low, He didn’t mind sitting with women or people of different races, because He loved without conditions. He forgave regularly and He knew how to meet people where they were without condemning them. He loved them without conditions.

You might say, well, there are conditions, you have to change your life to be a Follower of Jesus; to be a Christian.  No, that’s not true.  I was messed up, like many others, and He accepted me as I was and then as time went on, my life began to change because I wanted to change.  Unless you have lived in some secluded & remote place where you have never had to interact with others or you have only been around people who are exactly like you, maybe you don’t know that. But even you and those like you, are not perfect. When you met Jesus, you were not then and you are not now! Yet He still loved and continues to love you.  In fact, the Bible says, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

I am not going to even pretend that I have mastered, nor that I am anywhere near loving unconditionally, but I hope that each day I get a little better at being loving, patient, & kind,. I hope that step by step I can become what we are told to become by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 :4-7 when he says, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Hey, that’s a picture of what unconditional love looks like!  And unconditional love is not just for the people we like, it’s for everybody no matter color, gender, creed or (wait for it….!) sexual orientation.  We are to love people and let God handle the rest. Look, don’t judge me because I believe in loving others regardless of where they are. Hey, my sin and your sin may be different, but it’s still sin.the-new-commandment

Luck or Faith?

God's favor

I hear people say, “It was just my luck” or they say “I was lucky” and I don’t say anything, but I do wonder. I wonder if they hear what they are saying.  I have said before that if we would take time and consider what we say, we probably would rethink our comments. I have also said many times before that we have to be careful about what goes into our minds, because eventually it comes out of our mouths.  It’s really important to consider the impact of what is taken into our thoughts because they will end up as actions.

But going back to my original thought about luck. Luck means that success or failure is brought on by chance rather than through one’s own actions. To be clear, you think whatever happens is just a chance thing. That’s fascinating to me.

What’s fascinating is that it is easier for a person to say that they have, or had, luck on their side rather than to say that God blessed them.

It seems to be a trend that it is hip or cool to say one does not believe in God.

Now listen, I don’t care to get into anyone’s business; if you don’t believe, you don’t believe, end of story. However, I just don’t get how it is easier say that one believes in luck rather than in God.  I do believe that it is every Believers responsibility to tell others about Jesus, so I am not saying that I don’t care about that, I just don’t believe that I have to be bothersome, judgmental or pushy in doing so.

divine-beingsBelieving in luck is as ridiculous to me as me believing in God may be to another. I know that some will argue that God is not real and that He is just something or someone I have made up to believe in because I and other Believers have to be dependent on something other than ourselves. Well, I don’t have to convince anyone that I am pretty independent but I am also totally dependent on Christ.  I have no room for luck. I believe everything happens for a reason and ultimately what happens to us ties back to God’s grand plan for each of our lives. I believe that being on this earth has absolutely nothing to do with luck and everything to do with God’s purpose for my life.  Guess what? According to Jeremiah 29:11, He has a plan and purpose for your life too.  Argue if you will, but too many things have happened in my life that convinces me that a divine hand is in it all.

As much as I believe in a divine God, I also know that I have free will. I can choose to do whatever I want. When I do that, things happen that have nothing to do with luck either, it has to do with a decision I made.  Sometimes it works out and sometimes not.  I am thankful that I have never doubted that God exists and controls all things. As the scripture says, “All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord.” (Romans 8:28).  Hey, I love Him!

So, when you say, “It was luck” or “I was lucky”, no problem, that’s your right and your choice, but please show me the same grace, respect and patience when I don’t believe that and when I say how much I believe in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Accept me for my beliefs.  One of which is I was placed on this earth with a purpose in mind and trust me, I am going to live it happy and out loud.  My life on this earth is not by chance, by luck or coincidence, it was because the God of the universe decided on me before I was born (Jeremiah 1:5).  It’s because I know what the scriptures say about all of us, I have confidence in me.

Luck or Faith? You decide. I have…