What does it mean to be a Strong Man!!

When you think about that phrase, it’s a bit of an oxymoron, because a strong man doesn’t necessarily mean a guy with muscleA Strong Mans who has great physical strength. I read several articles last week that started me thinking about masculinity, and as I grow older, what does it mean to be a strong man. You can find the full article by Bryan Reeves on “Women are not defective Men” to get more insight about what my general theme is. As I go deeper into my 30’s with each passing day, I find that many of the things which peeked my interest when I was younger are no longer enough. Having an intellectual connection is more fascinating, and far more intriguing. I’ve talked regularly in-dept about a book I read earlier in the year “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. I read an article on The Daily Love yesterday that got me thinking again, for an agreement to be effective, everyone involved has to follow it. As I get older I’m beginning to see that there are many wrong beliefs about what a Man should be, and they lead to statements like:

  • Good men are strong and powerful.
  • Real men don’t cry or show emotions.
  • The Man is supposed to be the provider.
  • The Man is supposed to be a hero, to come in on his white horse to save the damsel in distress.

To many Men money, power, prestige, family (wife and children) are a measure of your man hood. While those things are important, they don’t give the full picture, and what about communication, love, honesty, vulnerability. Why are those things not on the list?

As I was thinking about those things, and as I read Bryan’s article, it was clear that there is so much that men are not taught. To be a functioning and healthy adult (I use the word healthy, because there are many other ways) you need to learn certain things. Going back to what I said about agreements, if we’re not taught these things, and we believe the wrong beliefs that we are taught, then we’re doomed to repeat the same bad choices. As a man there are so many pressures that plague us, and yet in many cases, there are more incentives to perpetuate the wrong beliefs.

So how do you get on the right track. It starts with acknowledging some truths:

  • We’re all human, and that means that we’re capable of emotions, yes even us hard exterior men. Suppressing our emotions in effect is invalidating the gifts we were created with.
  • We must learn that people are different, and that thinking differently or having different values are not right nor wrong. We see the world differently, and that’s ok, it makes us unique not broken.
  • On a level we’re all broken, we all have flaws, it was built into our DNA. While having flaws isn’t an excuse, it’s good to remember that when dealing with others. Sometimes against our best efforts we make mistakes, give others opportunities to correct their mistakes. After-all we’d like the same treatment if the roles were reversed.
  • Learn to embrace our emotions, we were born with 6 senses, if they’re telling us something, we should probably listen. It’s like seeing a wild animal coming towards us with teeth gnashing, and saying “hey you must want to lick me!” By allowing ourselves to feel, we deal with the issue in the moment. Suppressing doesn’t make the emotion go away, it only bottles it up, and it WILL come back, and perhaps at a most inopportune time.
  • Learn to embrace our male and female selves. Men are confident and have a rugged bravado, women are gentler, kind, and caring. Each was made differently, but they were made to combine to produce pure LOVE. By embracing each other’s best qualities, we are able to achieve a more perfect harmony.

To be a well functioning adult male, I must do away with the old mole. I’m not Ryan Gosling, but he’s not be either. So I’ll stop tryingAverage Man to be what I’m not. It’s ok to be me, as I get older I become wiser, well that’s my hope anyway. I must learn to embrace my Male energy, and learn to be in harmony with the mesmerizing and fascinating yet mysterious female energy. I don’t understand it, but perhaps that’s the point. Men are conquerors, and when we do we move on. Perhaps our women are supposed to be a mystery, it keeps us longing and coming back for more as we learn and explore her mysterious deity.

Is it a Good idea to push the Easy Button!!

Easy Button

 

I’ve been on a particular theme for the past few weeks now, and it seems it’s not time to let go of it just quite yet. It’s the notion that I have to be willing to put in the work to reap the benefits. Not surprising the sermon from church added a few more layers to my flow of thoughts.

Have you ever been in a challenge that was so tough you didn’t think you could get through it on your own, and you finally asked “God please help get me through this!” But to your dismay the problem still persisted, and in some cases it got worse before it was finally over? It left you feeling drained and completely exhausted, do you find yourself asking how come you still had to go through the problem. So a few questions for you to consider, because for me I think it’s a matter of perspective. When faced with challenges, do you believe that they are there to cause you to fail? Do you believe that sometimes you face challenges because it’s building you up for something greater to come? When you asked for help to get through the problem, did you actually want to get THROUGH it or AROUND it.

Dictionary.com defines through as: in at one end, side, or surface and out at the other; from one to the other of; over the surface of, by way of, or within the limits or medium of.

For a Biblical perspective, we read in Isaiah 43:2

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;  when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. – ESV

Sometimes if we’re not clear of our intentions it’s easy to have a misunderstanding. From the 2 references alone above, we see that getting through a challenge means that the challenge will persist, but you will survive. In contrast going around something means that we avoid it completely. When we ask to get through a challenge, do we actually mean we’d like to get around it? I know that with myself included what I’d like to do is get around the challenge, but also gain all the benefits as if I had endured it. Do you find that you sometimes adopt this philosophy too?

For me with every new challenge I face, it’s my belief that it’s preparing me for something, or perhaps there’s a lesson to be learnt, we just have to be open to it. In the past week I feel that I’ve increased my overall satisfaction and happiness with my life because I changed my perspective.

  1. I’ve stopped looking for the Perfect … I’m learning to embrace what’s actually in-front of me. If it’s something I don’t like, then move on to something else. Don’t get too hung up on what I don’t have.
  2. Understand that if I desire something specific, that I will have to work to get it.
  3. Remember that sometimes things don’t happen in my timing. Take for example the universe, I know there is debate about how long it took to create it depending on who you talk to; but it took time to make everything we see. Sometimes things may not come when I expect them to.
  4. Everything happens in due time. You don’t learn how to ride a bike the very first time you get on. It takes time patience and practice. If I want to become an expert, I can’t expect to do so without putting in a lot of time and devotion.
  5. Recognizing that I will always have support and guidance, I just have to be willing to accept it. No matter the obstacle, I have faith that if I’m to overcome it, I will have the help I need. Sometimes some challenges aren’t meant to be conquered, they are supposed to humble us.  

Life is messy and complicated, the future isn’t guaranteed, but what is guaranteed is that there will be challenges. We live in a world of opposites, having a positive attitude doesn’t mean you won’t have a negative attitude from time to time. Similarly once you find happiness, it doesn’t means that you can’t be in despair or pain anymore. Remembering that helps you to get in the right frame of mind, to know that things will always get better. As someone who writes, I see so many stories of others who have chosen to not let bad things effect them. I read a story last night about a young woman named Sara, here’s The Story of Sara Fry. Sara has transcended her illness and is literally living life to the fullest, if anone has the right to complain, it’s Sara. Yet she is choosing to not let an illness stop her from Living, we should all take a page from Sara’s life.

If I could be granted one wish in life, perhaps it should be to have courage like Sara Fry.

 

 

I’m Ready to go ALL IN!!

All In

The last post I wrote really had me thinking about my past. Not to worry I’m not in a regret mode, but I feel this immense sense of clarity and I thought I’d share it. In case you didn’t ready my last post, here’s an excerpt from a article written by Mike Rowe:

 “A Fan Asks Mike Rowe For Life Advice…”

Stop looking for the “right” career, and start looking for a job. Any job. Forget about what you like. Focus on what’s available. Mike RoweGet yourself hired. Show up early. Stay late. Volunteer for the scut work. Become indispensable. You can always quit later, and be no worse off than you are today. But don’t waste another year looking for a career that doesn’t exist. And most of all, stop worrying about your happiness. Happiness does not come from a job. It comes from knowing what you truly value, and behaving in a way that’s consistent with those beliefs.
Many people today resent the suggestion that they’re in charge of the way the feel. But trust me, Parker. Those people are mistaken. That was a big lesson from Dirty Jobs, and I learned it several hundred times before it stuck. What you do, who you’re with, and how you feel about the world around you, is completely up to you. Good luck – Mike Rowe

As I mentioned earlier, this has been on my mind for the past few days. Today even though I had a long day, and I was outside basically roasting in the sun. By the time I left work I was super excited and happy, and I had no idea why. I think I’m in the beginning stages of letting go. Letting go of the notion that I must search for the “perfect job” or “perfect relationship”. What I’m doing isn’t bad, many people would be happy with the jobs I have. I was finally starting to listen to what Mike said, to stop wasting time looking for the perfect job, and to work hard at what I already have. I’ve always known that intrinsic motivation is the best factor to job satisfaction. I should know, I conducted my own original research for my Undergraduate degree. Complete with interviews, I went the qualitative research method, I didn’t opt for surveys, it didn’t tell me enough about peoples motivation. Anyway I’ve done the research, so by now I should know how to motivate myself, but yet I struggled for years. The good news is that I’m at a stage where I’m doing things differently.

Aside from my career, I’ve also been thinking about relationship, that’s actually what I wanted to study, but my Academic Advisor din’t sign off on that one. As with my job I’m starting to let go of the notion of finding the “perfect” relationship, while I’m not talking about settling for who ever comes along first. What I’m talking about is being willing to put in the work with someone who’s willing to work on a relationship. The bad part is that I’m now realizing that my ex was quite willing to do that. It’s a bit sad that I didn’t realize it at the time. I’m not going to beat myself up about that anymore, I’ve learnt so much during the past year. I’m more in touch with others around me, and I’m letting go of many of by wrong beliefs I held on to, and I’m not sure if I would have accomplished that with my previous path. While it hurts, I also feel that the growth that has come from that experience is really valuable.

What the future holds, only time will tell. What I do know is that I’m willing to go ALL IN now. I’m Jumping inwilling to put in the work to get the kind of future I want. Settling isn’t in my DNA, I’m too much of a perfectionist for that, but I am willing to make several concessions. Life is a constant ebb and flow, sure there are things out there that are perfect, but that’s not everyday life. Even the most beautiful flower dies, and is reborn again. I have to be willing to let go, and in letting go I can open myself up to all that life has to offer.

How about you, how can letting go and jumping ALL IN change your life? Are you still struggling to find that “perfect …” What’s keeping you from getting it? Perhaps it’s time to change your perspective!! Have a blessed day, and I hope my Positive Vibes can emanate throughout the universe and find you where you live. I feel that I have plenty to go around today.

As one Season ends, so another begins!

Starts and Finish

I started to do something different before bed this past month, I’ve started to let music play as I slowly drift into sleep. Aside from being relaxing it’s a good way to calm my mind, and to shift my thought to other things. As I was slowly drifting off last night the DJ was talking about something that made me sit up and listen more closely. I’m paraphrasing here,Life is a constant cycle, death doesn’t mean the end, even the seasons change, so we should learn to acknowledge that some of the struggles in our life will change to triumphs.  As I said it made me sit up, because she was right, although life is sometimes a struggle, in most cases it’s not a perpetual struggle.

Death doesn’t necessarily mean the end, sometimes in their death people can also bring us amazing stories that are the catalyst forWinter to Spring change. Take nature for example, the death of a plant sometimes means it’s a chance for re-birth. A plant may die, but then it’s seed is reborn into another plant. Or perhaps the winter is brutal, and is the coldest in history, but eventually comes the Spring, and flowers bloom again. I feel that this represents the constant struggle many of us face in our daily lives. Sometimes situations are so brutal or heartbreaking, but eventually the Spring comes, eventually there’s a new beginning. This past year has been interesting for relationships, I’ve seen many relationships around me end, and I’ve even ended one myself. As one relationship dies, we emerge as a new person on the other side. Just as the old plant died off, and a new plant emerged, it’s got some of the old characteristics, but it’s also a plant that’s different. Our past relationships are not who we are anymore, we’ve learnt great lessons from them, and the parts of us we don’t like, have now been transformed into a new creation.

As the weather gets better, I see people starting new relationship, a part of me is jealous, but then I realize something important too. Life is about living, it’s about going out and being bold, and not being afraid to fall on your face. It’s also about having the right people around you; it’s about having the right people on the bus. So while Spring is in the air, and new love and relationships are being sparked, I commend those with the courage to step back out there. Those who are bold and are willing to be vulnerable, often are the ones who get to experience true happiness. There’s a certain kind of confidence that’s attractive about someone who’s not afraid to live. When you’re not afraid to explore, to make mistakes and find new adventures. There’s something about you that makes others want to be like you.

Life Elbert HubbardI like that quote because it gets at the larger point of my message, no matter what you’re facing, something else will come after that. It’s up to you what happens next. As life throws you hurdles, will you let them crush you, or will you step over them and continue to move. One of the valuable lessons I’ve learnt this past year is to continue to move forward. Of-course life is sometimes hard, but those who are truly happy have figured out that it’s not about what life throws you, it’s what you do with it after it slaps you upside the face. Here are some tips I’ve learnt form “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz:

  1. I will be Impeccable with my word– I’ll use my words to speak truth and to build people up. I will not use my word to speak lies or bad things to myself or others.
  2. Don’t take things personally- I will not let the things others do effect my behavior, especially negative things. Recognize that sometimes others are hurting, and they project that hurt onto me. So that’s why it’s especially important to not take every single action from others as a hit against me personally.
  3. Don’t make assumptions- There’s an old saying “when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me. Misunderstanding are a central part of life, we all see life through various lenses, it’s inevitable that we will sometimes not see things the same way. That’s why it’s very important to ask questions, if you’re not sure of someone’s intentions, ask them what they meant. If someone says or does something that’s hurtful, tell them, it’s very likely that they didn’t even know they hurt you.
  4. Always do my BEST– Life is hard, and some days you’re not at your best. Learning to accept my limits and recognize that I have them free’s me from blame. When I say doing my best, I mean doing the best that I’m capable of. So if today I feel like laying in bed all day because I’m tired, that’s ok take the rest. When I’m rejuvenated tomorrow, then I’ll have the energy to do more, rather than doing 10% today and maybe 30% tomorrow; instead I’ll have the energy to give 100% tomorrow.

Tomorrow starts a new day, how will you define tomorrow? Are you still thinking about yesterday, is it stopping you from going out and living? Yesterday may have been a brutal winter, but eventually the spring will come. Don’t let your past define you, learn from your mistakes, and let them transform you into a new creation. As we celebrate Easter this weekend, I know that not everyone is religious, but Easter isn’t about Easter Eggs! It’s a celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Even if you’re not religious or believe in God, there can be a valuable lesson to learn there. Death doesn’t have to be that, it’s also an opportunity for re-birth, for the resurrection of a new creation. So how will you be re-born, how will you change from one season to the next? Life is about living, let’s all go out and live tomorrow.

Taking a Stand to find My Happiness!!

Happy

 

A friend of my recently told me that he really like the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, and I can say that I get it, that’s how I’ve been feeling lately. Knowing that despite everything that’s going on in my life, I’m putting my faith in God; I’m confident that he will see me through. Last week I had a conversation with my mom about some of these thoughts that are circling in my head. Although I don’t put all my energy and effort into these things, not having my own family, a stable career, or own a home; I feel as though I’m somehow lacking. Whenever I talk to my family from my home country it seems family, career, and children are very important. What you do when you have those things doesn’t seem to be a concern. Despite not buying into that definition of what success is, I have to admit that it does cause me to doubt myself. I’ve not accomplished those things, so does that mean I’m not successful? For me it’s more important to be an emotionally healthy adult, and to live a life like Jesus. Family, money, and career are only part of life, a very secondary part. I’m glad I had that conversation with my mom, she assured me that she understands my priorities in my life. That made me extremely happy. The older I get, the more I realize how wise my mom is, and did I mention all around awesome!

As I contemplate why I’m feeling stuck, and feeling like I haven’t achieved enough, I take time to put those thoughts in the right category. The conversation with my mom revealed a lot about my faith. She told me about time after time when we prayed for our needs to be met, and almost instantly God answered our prayers. Even recently, I wanted to take a class that my church was offering, but didn’t have the money. It was going to enhance my Spiritual Gift and help me to be a better resource for those who are hurting or in need. I prayed that I would somehow get the funds to take the class. On the last day to sign up, I received a check in the mail, apparently my employer didn’t pay me everything, and sent me a check. Many of the stories my mom told me, there was time after time when God showed up. I laugh because I think after time and time again of seeing God show up, how can I still doubt him.

The apostles said to the Lord, “Show us how to increase our faith.” The Lord answered, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘May you be uprooted and thrown into the sea,’ and it would obey you. Luke 17: 5-6 NLT.

Sometimes as believers we struggle to understand what God’s word is saying, but just think that even his disciples who were withMustard Tree him also struggled. In a later verse Jesus explains that although a mustard seed is very small, it yields a big tree with plenty of fruit. So that’s what our faith must model, with just a little faith we must yield great big things. So what is Faith anyway? Faith is believing in something that’s not seen, having confidence that something will happen in the future. In contrast what’s doubt? Doubt is the lack of belief, even though there may be evidence that should convince you otherwise. Doubt is a funny concept, for example we may hear the enemy tell us, “see God hasn’t come through for you when you needed him, he’s not real.” So if God’s not real then the enemy isn’t real either, but no he would have you think that he’s real but God isn’t! We live in a world of opposites, good & bad, light & dark, up & down etc. So it stands to reason that if God the positive or faith isn’t real, then the negative or the devil/evil doesn’t exist either. Next time you start to have those kinds of negative thoughts about God, see what happens if you use that argument. I’m willing to bet that some of your thoughts may subside.

Many believers struggle with this central question. If God is real, why does he let me get tempted. I’m not quite ready to debate that topic, but I did find this verse today:

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. James 1: 12-15 NLT.

I think the verse says it all, we sometimes get too hung up on things and try to explain everything, so rest assured that God doesn’t tempt us; but yet we doubt. I’m not one of those people who feels sorry for myself. I’ve noticed a trend with emotions like shame, pity, and self-doubt. They put us in a state of in action, we don’t like the current situation, but yet we sit around and do nothing. In contrast self-confidence, faith, and hope puts us in a different state. Those emotions put us in a state of action, we want to get up and do something about our situation. We say “so what if my circumstances aren’t ideal” we get up and do something about it. So today I got up made a list of what I wanted to accomplish, and then I got up and did something about it. I’ll admit I did feel like just laying in bed a few times, then there was that voice “get up!” “Get Up!” “GET UP!” Ok I hear you I’m up.

So what about you, are you letting shame or doubt keep you in a state of inaction? Do you believe that you shouldn’t have faith because things didn’t go your way? Ask yourself what could I have done differently? Am I in a state of Action or Inaction? In order to actualize our dreams we must act. This is a cruel world we live in, nothing comes easily. As Christ followers, aside from his grace and love, we’re also guaranteed that the path isn’t going to be easy, that we will struggle. We are also promised salvation, and the hope of his eternal grace. As Christ followers we sometimes have to stand alone, to stand for what other people might think is a crazy idea. I made anew friend this week and she encouraged me to do something bold. Sometimes you have to “TAKE A STAND” you have to have faith like that little mustard seed. To have faith that God will come through for you, even though those around you who love you tell you know, you’re making a big mistake.

Will you TAKE A STAND with me, to not let the naysayers feed you with doubt and self pity. I’d love to hear how you’re taking a stand, send me your comments below.

Taking a stand