Thoughtful Thursday: Walking In Faith

The path ahead of me is very narrow and obscure with many treacherous twists and bends in the road. The thought to forge ahead when there are no guarantees that the walk will be smooth and pleasant is extremely scary. It takes a lot of guts and a strong-willed mindset to travel down a path where you cannot see where it leads. Time and time again, I wonder if the path I have chosen is where I should be headed or if a fork in the road ahead will result in even more strenuous challenges ahead. I worry. I doubt. I lose all of my hope and faith. Why? Because the rebel within me emerges when I find that the path I have chosen does not lead me to the end of the road as quickly enough as I would like to get there.

And then I hear His whisper, “Patience, my child. You will get there in time.”

Yes, I hear this countless times. But do I really listen and take heed?

No.

Admittedly, this path is not an easy one to travel. When certain things don’t go as I had planned, I feel unsure and unconvinced that my plans are consistent with God’s will. When I feel defeated, I lose any faith I have in myself and in His plans for me. I question myself, “Am I following the right path, the one that He wants me to follow?”

As I stand on this path feeling weary, I ask for the Lord’s guidance relentlessly to help me move forward in life and to not dwell on the past, to look ahead and not behind me where I have already been, to make choices that will serve me better than the ones I have made in the past. But when I don’t hear a clear answer from Him, I feel discouraged.

Actually, I am not being attentive to the answers He wants me to hear or see.

His way of answering my prayers is by the signs that are manifested in my everyday life. Sometimes, I ignore these signs and other times, I am careful to follow His lead. The signs remind me of why my journey is so important for me and how I can make this journey more fulfilling for myself. And to get there, I must choose faith over fear.

I must walk in faith.

One. Step. At. A. Time.

As I was perusing Courage 2 Create today, I started to ponder the following quote on this blog:

Whereas Hope is the belief that things can get better, Faith is the knowing that things will get better.”

And I began to tell myself these very words:  “It is not enough to hope that things will get better. It is not enough to believe that things will get better. I have to KNOW that things WILL get better.”

So I look at the path behind me that I have traveled thus far only to reflect upon the chaotic times that did in fact become easier and calmer, the then-turbulent problems that are now so trivial and the journey that has transformed me from who I was to who I am now. And I recognize that it has only gotten better.

Indeed, I stumble on my journey through the darkest valleys, the raging waters, the heaviest storms and the most dangerous fires that I encounter. But God continues to encourage me along, lighting my way to keep me from sinking. Sometimes, remembering this is all it takes for me to pick myself back up and walk along in faith because I KNOW something wonderful is waiting for me in the end which will make all the difference.

Thoughtful Thursday: A Leap of Faith

In every facet of my life, I encounter fear. It gets the best of me.

As of late, I have been paralyzed with the fear of losing a dear friendship. This is a profoundly divine friendship with my big brother whom I visited daily and with whom I exchanged many thought-provoking conversations in the recent past. These everyday exchanges became somewhat of a normal routine for me and sometimes the only moments of solace that I would actually get to experience. Last month, I chose to leave the company for which we both worked. The thought of not being able to see my brother day after day was beyond disturbing but it was a truth that sooner or later I would need to accept. I feared that our friendship would soon dissipate if I did not do everything in my control to nurture it.

Control. This can get the best of me, too.

In my desire to control and maintain an atmosphere of our friendship similar to what it was like prior to my parting, I became irritated and perturbed when my methods of trying to connect with my brother failed.  As a result, I began to doubt my trust in him. My faith wavered when I noticed that our friendship was not continuing the way I would have hoped for it to. In the very few conversations I had with him over the last several weeks, I acted out of fear and anger as I sensed that he did not view the need for growing our friendship through my lens. And there I was, too weak and weary to even focus on my faith in God that he would make things right.

Last Sunday when my brother and I finally connected on the phone, he asked me to take what I would call a gigantic leap of faith – a leap that would mean fully accepting, believing and trusting that he cares about me and our friendship without having to demonstrate or prove it constantly. And that everything will all fall into its own place if there is faith. All I could think was this:

He was asking for too much. And NO way was I going to do that. How could I carry on patiently without knowing that he was okay? How could I be okay with not hearing from him daily when that is what I was accustomed to for so long? 

This was going to be a difficult leap and one that was way out of my comfort zone. Not knowing daily how my brother was doing or what was troubling him and not hearing his voice would require a tremendous amount of patience and courage on my part. I was just not ready for that leap; I was not ready to let go. As always, he was very considerate and did not impose any of his notions upon me. He gave me some time to think about whether or not I can take this leap. And he would still be content if I just could not.

At that point, I was in a state of utter confusion and deep introspection. Though I absolutely knew that taking this leap was the best course of action for the growth of our friendship, I questioned any faith that I had in myself. Did I value and love this friendship enough to take such a huge leap? Was there another life lesson to be learned from taking this leap? I could only pray to God diligently and ask him to lead my way.

Over the last few days as I pondered the choice to take the leap or not, I happened to attend one of the most unique and inspirational sessions presented by Cherie Cross on accepting and appreciating human differences as well as our own humanness. The key messages that I learned from this particular session were that people are not out to get you, that you should express your love to the people in your life and believe that they are doing the best with what they can and finally, that what they do or don’t do is NOT PERSONAL; it’s just their style!

Cherie ended the session with a very touching excerpt from Og Mandino’s book called The Greatest Salesman in the World:

I will greet this day with love in my heart.

For this is the greatest secret of success in all ventures. Muscle can split a shield and even destroy life but only the unseen power of love can open the hearts of men and until I master this art I will remain no more than a peddler in the market place. I will make love my greatest weapon and none on whom I call can defend against its force.

My reasoning they may counter; my speech they may distrust; my apparel they may disapprove; my face they may reject and even my bargains may cause them suspicion; yet my love will melt all hearts liken to the sun whose rays soften the coldest clay.

I will greet this day with love in my heart.

And how will I act? I will love all manners of men for each has qualities to be admired even though they be hidden. With love I will tear down the wall of suspicion and hate which they have built around their hearts and in its place will I build bridges so that my love may enter their souls.

I will greet this day with love in my heart.

And how will I confront each whom I meet? In only one way. In silence and to myself I will address him and say I Love You. Though spoken in silence these words will shine in my eyes, unwrinkle my brow, bring a smile to my lips and echo in my voice; and his heart will be opened. And who is there who will say nay to my goods when his heart feels my love?

I will greet this day with love, and I will suc­ceed.

Interestingly enough, just when Cherie stated the last line of this excerpt, I received a text message from my brother stating “I have faith that you will make it work.” I could not stop the tears from rolling down my cheeks. There are no coincidences in life, but rather signs that God has a way of revealing in the right place and at the right time, in His own time. My only thoughts at that moment were that I must let go of the fear that I have about our precious friendship dissolving and surrender to God’s love.

Love is a four-letter word but one so powerful that when offered with the goodness of your heart, it can change the world. I must act out of love for my brother and not in anger, desperation or a need to be right. It is NOT important for me to be right, but rather to get it right – to shower unconditional love in this friendship that will take it a long way, to be understanding of situations that warrant it, to refrain from taking his actions or inactions personally, to be forgiving when mistakes are made or when plans change and to completely trust him knowing that although he may not be able tend to my desires continually, that he really DOES care.

I presume that God is calling me to jump with all my heart and all my strength, and to have faith that He is already there on the other side waiting to catch me; that He will come through for me in the end.

So I eagerly wait to tell my brother this: “I, too, have faith that I will make it work.”

Thoughtful Thursday: Truly Great Friends

People in my life, the friends that I call my family – they sometimes stay; they sometimes vanish. I try to give my best, my heart and soul to the people I love. And when they are not actively present in my life, it’s painful to leave them and let go, especially that one person, a dear friendship that changed my life the most. I often find myself reminiscing the beautiful memories of that friendship, savoring the jovial conversations and the smiles that were once exchanged, even the times when the smallest deed was appreciated. That friendship will always be a part of my existence because I would not be what I am today if that particular friend did not cross my path. So I reckon that it would be wise to let go and take a moment to pray for that friend because I was destined to meet this soul who will remain a blessing until the very end.

Thoughtful Thursday: Living My Story With Passion

Why do I do what I do?

It’s all about passion and living a life of purpose. I don’t ever have to work a single day because I truly love what I do. Each day is filled with profound learning experiences — those that help me grow and in turn allow me to produce even more creative results. The endless desire to make a difference drives me to jump out of bed each morning; it’s what makes me come alive and break free. Knowing that I can enrich even one person’s life is immensely gratifying and fulfilling. Each one of us is bestowed with unique gifts that we willingly offer to the world — for me, leading with these gifts is living my story with passion.

Why do you do what you do?

Thoughtful Thursday: I Tried So Hard

Sometimes I need to say these four words to myself. Out loud. Especially in those times that I have tried and failed. Though it doesn’t come easy to me, I need to praise myself for trying hard…to fully acknowledge and believe that I gave it my best shot even if the outcome was not what I had hoped…to honor myself for doing what was right and making a difference. To have tried is to have learned…and succeeded. And that is what matters in the end.

My Beautiful Life

Yesterday, I sat in utter disbelief — dazed and very sad as my friend’s 34-year old brother was laid to rest. Although he was not someone I knew very closely, he was still someone whom I saw mature along with me and my friends. My heart hurts beyond measure for my friend and her family — for the parents who are saddened to have outlived their son, for the young wife who has been in a complete state of shock of losing her soul mate and for the sister who lost her one and only sibling.

During the funeral service, I pondered deeply about all the relationships I have in my life — one of a sister and what it would be like if I lost my brother or sister, one of a wife and what it would be like if I lost my husband, one of a mother and what it would be like if I lost my child whom I bore for nine months. While I mulled over this, tears quietly slipped down my cheeks. I realized then that my loved ones and my relationships with them are vital to my being and that my life wouldn’t be the same without them.

Losing someone to death is one of the most difficult things to cope with no matter how young or old the deceased may be and no matter how long you knew the person. When I lost my grandfather very unexpectedly two weeks before my high school graduation, I was devastated and my sorrows were immense. I found it very tough to walk on my graduation day because I knew how much my grandfather wanted to see his oldest grandchild succeed in this endeavor. Even 15 years after his death, I still mourn while wishing to visit him more often at his grave and wonder what it would be like to have him around, for him to know what I have accomplished, for him to see all the roles I now play in my life.

I really do live a beautiful life but most of the time, I don’t acknowledge it nearly enough. I gripe and whine profusely at times. I find myself wishing that my life would be different and that some people around me would change. What I don’t often remember is that the people in my life, the personal relationships that I have cultivated are my reason for being, my true essence. These are the gifts that I have been bestowed. It is through such tragic events that I’m reminded to make a much more conscious effort to appreciate the life that God has given me because at any given moment it could end.

A New Beginning

Perfection is my enemy. For as long as I have been living, I’ve been on a quest for perfection, trying to be the most perfect wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and so on. And for the last few years, I’ve been in pursuit of the perfect time for a new beginning, to start a new chapter in my Life Book. Sometimes I let the precious moments escape my life while I wait and plan for the right time, that perfect moment.

Agitated. Apprehensive. Frightened. Tearful. Excited. Overjoyed. A whole slew of mixed emotions came over me during the last couple weeks as I impatiently awaited an unplanned life-altering answer. I anxiously contemplated the extent to which my personal, family and work life would be transformed by this one answer. I just was not sure if I was completely ready for this sort of roller-coaster experience. On Friday night, I hit my absolute emotional low while I lay in my bed sobbing in deep introspection over the new chapter that I so yearned for but was not granted, at least not for now. My soul became very disheartened as I detested playing the waiting game all this time, only to receive the answer that I did not seek. Questions swirled around my mind in an attempt to understand why I even embraced the idea of a new beginning in my life. Why was I so afraid of facing this change at the outset? And finally when I became willing to accept the much-anticipated metamorphosis of my life, why did it not materialize?

Then it suddenly hit me. The Higher Power was not ready for me to start the new chapter in my Life Book just yet. He knows when it is and when it will be the right time for me. And it will be in that moment that my spirit will know I’m ready for a new beginning. Perhaps the past two weeks of deliberating my wants and unwants was God’s way of getting me prepared for the right time. Perhaps I was destined to experience the few recent mystical signs that have unveiled my true desire and the significance of this new beginning. The divine signs that have brought me inner peace are gentle reminders that God will deliver His best when it is best. I was simply not ready in my heart until today. 

So I will continue to play the waiting game yet again…peacefully and patiently this time with high hopes that I will soon journey into a beautiful new chapter of my Life Book.

Knowing The Difference

Life throws me so many curveballs when I least expect it. One day can be almost perfect and another day, BAM!! I will feel like I have been shot to hell wondering where I went wrong. And I think to myself: “Wouldn’t it be nice if my life had a pause button?”

I have learned a valuable lesson this week with my never-ending struggle of knowing the things that I actually have control over and those that I do not, which I cannot change. A few recent situations led me to harbor some unresolved emotions which invaded my mind and soul leaving me incredibly frustrated, defeated and despondent. Today, I realized once again that I need to stop. I’ve reminded myself countless times that I have absolutely no control over other’s perceptions, beliefs and behavior — I simply cannot change them; instead I can adjust my attitude and feelings towards the situations, and just let it be.

It is during this on-going battle of my internal struggle that I find myself repeatedly murmuring the Serenity Prayer and trying to remember its essence.

God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference. 
 

Time after time, the wisdom part is what I stumble over the most — knowing what I can change and what I  cannot, knowing what I should do and should not, knowing when to keep going and when to stop.  I think that knowing the difference is a life-long process as life is full of trials and tribulations that everyone experiences in their own way. Through these constant distressful moments, I strive to be braver and stronger than the times before, and to face turbulent situations with impeccable courage. I realize that there are times when it is best for me to just close my eyes and let everything go. I need to let the Higher Power have control.

When the going gets tough, it is often difficult for me to remain positive. I cannot control what will happen tomorrow or a week or a year down the road — the only thing I have control over is this very moment. What I can control are my reactions to and thoughts about certain situations. I am the one who decides whether my glass is half-full or half-empty.  In this moment, I would rather enjoy the opportunities I have to better myself and my relationships, and to cherish the little things in life instead of wasting time worrying about uncontrollable circumstances and further weakening myself. I can already feel an overwhelming sense of peace and calmness through understanding and accepting this yet again.

Nothing is always perfect, not everything will go my way. Sometimes, there is a greater plan in play. Life will continue to throw these curveballs at me but I have to be sure to hit them out of the park. I have a lot to be thankful for today, especially for knowing the difference.

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