Today, some brief but pressing thoughts interrupted my day like flashcards begging to be sewed together as a blog post. So, here it is.
You know how I keep sharing reminders that you are meant for more than your career? I say that not to be poetic, but to gently nudge all of us out of the tendency to define ourselves and our worth by what we do, know, or have. Not sharing this as an expert or to try to judge anyone but it’s helpful to check ourselves every now and then to make sure we’re not striving to impress others (or ourselves) with what we have and more evaluate how joyful, refreshed and healthy we are.
Putting up appearances is basically acting, but even pro actors have work hours and off days. In secondary school I was somewhat of a comedian; making others smile and laugh brought so much joy to them and me. It was also a subconscious tactic to avoid having to think about home life then, which was a lot less appealing to say the least. As you can see from the blog description I almost gave up on life (literally) when I was a teen.
I think about the extremely wealthy guy (as in from a millionaire family) who struggles with mental clarity and finding anything at all to be thankful for. And another, recently divorced, who’s always partying but his eyes don’t sparkle anymore. There’s the elderly lady from another country who is so rough that her tenants have to muster up the nerve to swallow fearful tars just to ask a simple question. The nicely-dressed woman who was about to head home and end it all that day in town or the brilliant corporate woman confessed that her job requires that she acts tougher than she truly is.
Then, there’s the confrontational globe trotter who publicly hollers ‘girl power’ yet privately undermines other women. I think of how many men are working hard to provide financially during the day and would love to come home to a bright smile, clean house and warm meal without being made to feel like he’s some sort of neanderthal or cave man. And how many women are feeling alone, burnt out, taken for granted, mistreated or economically ‘intimidating.’ Or children who are busy jumping educational hoops to please parents who are always critical and never satisfied.
We all have our tendencies and challenges in this fallen world.
Sometimes the ‘coping mechanisms’ or behavioural patterns we each come up with don’t actually work. They just become habits to ‘get us through the day’ when really and truly every breath we take, every thought we have and every muscle we move is all by grace. Sometimes these habits set like a bone that looks healed but in fact, is still broken but is now almost welded in place…functioning…but not well.
Ironically, the idea of ‘not feeling’ can make us feel a false sense of strength or ’emotional immunity’, but beyond that it can be a pre-cursor to developing a hard heart, if we’re not conscious. Hardened hearts and a numb state of mind have led to a lot of the decay in the world today.
What comes to mind when you think of the word ‘work’ – this one is for the ladies. I love to work, but I don’t define work as something that has to be done outside of the house while wearing store-bought clothes and having to wear my hair in a style that others are comfortable with. Housecleaning is work, so is gardening, cooking, sewing, writing, fixing, making something and for any other singer/songwriters here, recording.
When you love what you do it can be exhilarating, but there is something special…humbling about those moments when we serve without any expectation or monetary compensation. Whether that’s making your beloved’s daily meals, caring for your family, helping a neighbour, being there for a friend, encouraging a stranger or seeing and filling a social need without any celebration.
Being clothed in compassion sounds and is beautifully inviting, yet it means that we open ourselves up to feeling empathy towards others, even when it’s not at a ‘convenient’ time or to a particularly-pleasant person. Sometimes that quality makes the empathetic easy targets for emotional snipers and hateful vipers. But the Most High is always there to help, to lead, to provide, to catch every tear, to refresh, sustain, strengthen, to shower with perfect love…and to remind us that it’s our calling and a part of the fabric that makes us a new creation…compassion. Think about the amount of times, you may have been called to press pause on business to reach out with compassion to someone in need right then. Even while encouraging others, armour is important. Every day seems to come with reminders to guard our mind and heart while walking in love.
I think about how many troubled teens, displaced people, overworked employees, busy bosses and some of us are privately struggling with personal, emotional or health challenges – relational issues – financial ups and down – this global fiasco – daily motivation – a sense of purpose…embracing the love we were all made with and for…
It’s in times like these that I could write a billion posts – well, not a billion but you get the idea. Instead, I prefer to be purposefully quiet…to pray more and speak less.
But in case you are that someone today whose heart is growing a bit cold…or you’re holding back tears ’cause you’re trying to put on a ‘good face’ for someone else, or your family or work colleagues, I hope you can set aside some quiet time to top up on the unconditional LOVE you were made with. Ponder on the mercy that woke you up this morning…take a deep breath and remember that it’s gifted, spend some time observing the magnificence in creation, whether it’s the rolling of the waves, sand under your feet, abundance of trees dancing in the breeze or walking through a field of flowers. I could share all the encouragement in the world but that will expire…but God’s love never fails.
Little note: If quiet time is new for you, the first day – the first week, and maybe even a little longer than that is likely to feel awkward…kinda like how most of us singers feel when using a headset mic for the first time and have no clue what to do with your hands. Tears may fall. You may realize your job is influencing your attitude, or the other way around. You’ll probably discover a lot of issues you’ve been tucking away under emotional debris and some habits that could do with healthier replacements. You may even feel ‘bored’ or idle…but be purposeful. Busyness can be a distraction. Be patient. You’re not doing this on your own. Ask God for help. And if that is new for you too (like how it was for me a few years ago) start by softening your heart.
P.S: I’m not a counsellor, life coach or a medical professional and encouragement shared here is solely based on my own personal journey. If you are struggling with chronic depression or any kind of diagnosed behavioural challenge, compassion to and prayers for you. He can heal it all and no one is beyond His reach.
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