Love is Not…Easily Angered

I used to be irritable to a fault:  Everything and everyone irritated me.  At the end of the day I found myself angry for reasons that seemed important at the time.  But when I sat down and prayed, God (love) helped me identify the root cause of my anger and to develop a different perspective.  I remember listening to a sermon from a preacher in which he reminded the congregation that it was not in God’s will for us to fight every battle that presented itself.  What appeared to be an attack on me was simply a distraction from my true purpose.   More importantly, my negative attitude only alienated the people who were dear to me.

Anger definitely has its place.  But I encourage you to do what I have learned to do. Store up your anger for what is important in life: like when someone in your household deletes one of your DVR recordings to make space for their own.  Or when you ask for light butter on your baked potato, but when you get it, there is a thick dollop of the artery blocker perched right on top of the potato.  Now that is a reason to start flipping over tables.  Ok, I’m kidding (not really).

I will put my facetiousness to the side and get back to really addressing anger.  I am not saying that it is a bad thing.  In fact, anger is an important emotion that lets us know we have been harmed in some way and need to be healed.    But keep in mind that anger is typically a secondary emotion used as a defense mechanism when you cannot handle or understand your feelings.  If you are easily angered, take some time to sit down with someone who you trust, respect and can be objective so that you can sort through your feelings.  This does not have to be a drawn out therapy session.  The goal is to practice identifying your true feelings, which will, in turn, help you make choices from a place of pure love.

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Love Is Not…Demanding or Self-Seeking

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. – 1 Corinthians 1:4-5

It was nearly a year before I realized that I had ignored a critical section of the scripture reference above: Love does not demand its own way.  Was it a mere oversight?  I think not.  I think my eyes intentionally glossed over this part of the scripture because it is my biggest area of weakness.  Let me start off with a story that my mother loves to tell to substantiate my capacity for over the top demands.

At the tender age of two I took one glance at the sand in the play pit, decided it was dirty and outright refused to walk in it.  The problem was that the slide, which I had deemed to be acceptable, was in the middle of the play pit.  I was so demanding that my father carried me up the slide and then raced around to the front before I made my way down so I would not touch the dirt.  I had my role (princess) and he had his (princess defender).

While I doubt I am still as big a brat as I was back then, it was not too long ago that I genuinely believed the world and those who directly impacted my life were supposed to act a certain way.  And by certain way I meant the way I deemed most fitting (Man this sounds even worse when I put it in writing but I must tell the truth or there will be no growth).  My mother was supposed to drop what she was doing and pick up the phone when I needed her (yes I know I’m almost 30 years old).  My friends were supposed to be excited to see or hear from me the same way I was excited to see or hear from them.  My man had a laundry list of things he was required to do on a regular basis, which was too long and too personal to include in this book.  But I think you all get the point.

When one of these cherished loved ones failed to perform their duties as I saw fit, it bothered me.  No…it pained me.  My psychological response ranged from sadness, to disappointment, to boiling rage.  For example, if my friend did not make it a priority to spend time with me, my spirit would be pained with feelings of sadness.  Being sad was not a bad thing.  The issue was that I was focused solely on myself and my demands for attention.  Maybe she was busy.  Or maybe she just did not want to talk.  Regardless, I had to learn that I was not the center of every action my friends and family took.   Ok there…I said it.   God…thank you for helping me to believe it – eventually.

Love is selfless and expects nothing in return.  Anytime you expect something in return you are doing it out of fear and not love.  Love allows you to freely give of yourself because you know that God has already given you everything you need.

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Love Is Not…Proud

Boastfulness and pride are two sides of the same coin you flip to convince yourself you are worth something.  On either side lies a false existence.  With boasting you decrease the value of others.  With pride you increase the value of yourself.  When you walk in pride, it is like stepping into that house full of mirrors you find at the state fair.  When you look forward, backward and to each side – all you can see is you.  And you get so wrapped up in yourself you do not realize you are stuck in a maze with one true path (cough, cough – love – cough, cough) and about fifty dead ends of delusion.    Our pride can lead us so off course that we forget who we are and what we really want out of life.  Even worse, it can poison a beautiful relationship faster than anything else.

  • The cheating spouse – pride
  • The friend who will not apologize – pride
  • The husband who will not admit when he has made a mistake and is too stubborn to listen to his wife when she knows she knows what she is talking about – pride

Ok, sorry.  That last one was a little personal…and maybe a bit proud in and of itself.  So I will add one more

  • The wife who knows she knows what she is talking about and instead of praying about the situation, chooses to nag her husband until an argument breaks out – PRIDE

There are endless examples of choosing pride over love.  You may maintain your pride, but you will certainly lose the moments, relationships and life you should be enjoying.

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Love is not…Boastful

There is a fine line between confidence and boastfulness.   Confidence is emotional security that exists independently of external validation.  It is a self-assurance that you are right where you need to be – saying or doing exactly what you need to say or do.  Boastfulness, on the other hand, is an emotional imbalance.  It is usually accompanied by a big, neon Look-At-Me-Being-Great sign desperately crying out for the attention of others (If you’re guilty of this, your denial should be starting in 3…2…1).

This is when the art of self-awareness becomes most critical.  Take the time to examine the roots producing your boastful thoughts, words and actions.   You really want your credit when it’s due, don’t you?  I know I do.   But if we can humbly use our talents to simply bless others, our obnoxious longing for validation will actually be fulfilled.

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Truth

“Nothing can happen – I say to you, nothing can occur – in your life which is not a precisely perfect opportunity for you to heal something, create something, or experience something that you wish to heal, create, or experience in order to be Who You Really Are.”

– Conversations With God: Book 3

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Love Is Not…Jealous

You know you are jealous when:

  1. You find it difficult to support or encourage others
  2. You are insecure
  3. You suffer from the “Me Too” syndrome and either copy or do your best to upstage the people in your life
  4. You tear down others faster than you take your next breath

The bad thing about jealousy is that it is sneaky.  It saunters up behind you and taps you on your left shoulder – only to dart away as you turn around to see what just pricked you.  The next thing you know, it is walking beside you as you approach your Honda Civic that is parked right next to the luxury SUV.  All of a sudden it starts speaking for you through backhanded compliments to your best-friend or petty gossip about the co-worker who just got your promotion.

Before you get defensive and try to justify your actions, just stop for a moment and accept that you are guilty of being jealous from time to time.  I am sure we all have been at some point so this is not about beating yourself up.  This is an opportunity to identify a potential area of emptiness in your spirit.  As you commit to filling your spirit with truth and love, you will find the strength to discard your favorite pair of emerald-shaded glasses.

Every now and again it is easy to look at other people and wonder why they have the things I think I want and deserve.  Then I think to myself “I don’t know what they had to go through to get what they have right now and I don’t want to know.”  The jealousy begins to dissipate once I begin to contemplate the myriad of life events both good and bad surrounding the person I am coveting at the moment.   Then I am left with myself again.  And myself is pretty awesome…don’t be jealous.

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Love Is…Kind

When I think of loving kindness, one word springs to the forefront of my mind: mercy.  Showing mercy can range from helping someone pay their bills to simply saying hello to a lonely person.   It can turn the ugliest situation into an opportunity for healing, peace or happiness.  Simply stated, you provide relief.  Your soul warms the soul of another and you create a divine connection regardless of how minute or grandiose the act of kindness seems to be at the time.  And it is so beautiful.

Sounds exquisite, right?  Well, it can be hard work.  It is hardest when you are in need of a little kindness yourself and no one seems to be in a giving mood that day.   But I had to remember that what I do to others, I do to myself. That is why kindness is equally extolled in a multitude of religions:

 Buddhism

“Kindness should become the natural way of life, not the exception.” (Gautama Buddha)

Islam

“Be kind, for whenever kindness becomes part of something, it beautifies it. Whenever it is taken from something, it leaves it tarnished[i].” (Prophet Muhammad)

Christianity

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. (Luke 6:35)

My aversion to extending kindness became increasingly evident as I meditated on love.  It all boiled down to whether or not I felt the person on the receiving end deserved my kindness.  I believed I had been so unjustly victimized by many people that I found it difficult to give unless someone gave to me first. Not only did I find it difficult to be kind, I found it effortless to be mean most of the time – especially to someone close to me who had disappointed me.  The best example of this is the way I treated a man I once claimed to love.  Anyone who has ever been in a relationship can understand what it feels like to be disappointed by your partner.  Sometimes our issues would lead to arguments, but most of the time I used my silence to be cruel.

One day tragedy struck…and literally overnight…I found myself alone.  No family, no friends, no man – just me.   I had no one to be mean or kind to that night.  Whenever I think about it, I am reminded of how quickly things can change in our lives, yet the world keeps spinning.  Time keeps moving.  The present moment keeps turning into history.  How many of those moments were filled with kindness from one soul to another?

God made it a special point to set aside kindness as a fruit of the spirit because it makes us better human beings.  Kindness is our life line!  Think about a time when you were desperate.  No one owed you anything.  But someone was kind to you when you needed it the most and as a result, you survived.  Do not hesitate to harness the power of kindness and pay it forward.  It is probably the best boomerang you will ever throw.

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Love Is…Patient

Love is:

Patient

God bless anyone who has a natural proclivity towards patience because it has got to be one of the most painfully annoying maturation processes I have ever experienced.   It has taken a few years, but I have finally come to accept that when you love, you are willing to wait.  Not only are you willing to wait, you can wait confidently knowing that the power of love will keep you positioned to give and receive more love into your life.

It is no coincidence that patience is the first to be listed as a manifestation of love.  It is that important.  You need patience to love yourself and to love others.   When I was researching patience I came across this quote from the Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius:

“All men are made one for another: either then teach them better or bear with them.” 
― 
Meditations

It is so easy to give up on people at the first bump in the road.  Ok maybe it’s not just a bump.  Maybe it is more like Mount Everest.  But we all have areas in which we can improve.  So if your loved one is not immediately open to constructive feedback, pray about it and be patient as he or she continues on their journey of growth.   We are all worth the wait.

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Love Is

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.  1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient.  Love is kind.  Love endures.  Love is slow to anger.  When you look at the scripture above, love appears to just be a lot of hard work.  We find ourselves asking “What’s in it for me?”  And seldom do we see patience, kindness, perseverance and all the other aforementioned attributes as avenues to a life filled with passion, free of heartache and overflowing with the warm tingling sensation that lets us know love is in the air.  The thing about love is that everyone just wants to feel it.  But there is so much more to experience than just a feeling.  Many fall into the trap of merely reducing love to an intense sensation rather than a conscious, deliberate set of decisions we make every day to demonstrate the power of God to others.   Open your heart to this type of love and you will experience it on a new dimension.

Notice that when the Bible talks about what love is, we see more actions such as endurance, kindness and patience.  When it talks about what love is not, we see more negative feelings such as pride and jealousy.   These negative feelings usually arise from voids or insecurities within us.   The good news is that they can be healed and you can be restored to the amazing, loving person you naturally are. If you remember that love is an actionable pursuit of godliness, you will encounter a freedom that empowers you to love unconditionally instead of reacting to what someone does or gives to you.  And consciously engaging in the actions of love is your true source of power.

My next few posts will examine these actions and negative feelings one by one.

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New Day Resolution

During my hour long commute back home today I had waaaaay too much time to think about my life.  Unfortunately, all I could think about were the circumstances that did not please me.  If I wasn’t analyzing why certain events took place and how I could have done things differently, I was analyzing how things could go better in the future and why they should go that way.

I’m not going to share them because I’m embarrassed that I spent so much time dwelling on them.  But I will share the outcome of my musings: I am going to stop asking how and why.  Both questions have become depressors for me.   Earlier today I was the queen of analysis paralysis.  I could neither enjoy nor maximize my current reality because I had such an unhealthy focus on trying to understand the past and future.  But after a glass of wine and a plate of pasta, I found the strength to abdicate that crown.

So now I am no longer allowed to ask myself how something will happen in the future and why something happened in the past.  This is my New Day Resolution and I feel better already. I am so blessed.  Beyond blessed.  And to stay blessed I need to stay in the present moment because right here..right now…I am simultaneously experiencing and creating the life I desire.

Why wait until the new year to make a life changing resolution?  Today is already a new day.

Feel free to share your New Day resolution and how you are taking charge of your life today.

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