I am a frequent visitor and reader of several blogs – I love to read in just about any form, so it’s easy to pick up information, opinions and things to discuss in the various media where words are expressed. One of my favorite blogs is found at Black and Married With Kids. They posted an entry February 8th by Minister Edward Lee entitled “Faith of Our President…a Man, a Husband, a Leader” which I found very inspirational.
The post mentions President Obama’s recent speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, where he stated publicly (again) that “Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour” is part of what drives him, centers him, and restores him in doing the hard work of governing this country. I am heartened and impressed yet again by President Obama, who has endured a LOT of questioning about his religious preference, accusations that he is a Muslim (as if that is a bad thing), and questions about his status as a U.S. Citizen, depending on where people think he was actually born.
The principles laid out in the blog post focused on three distinct points, which I’d like to expand on a little:
1. Service to the least of these. This is a time-tested principle that means we must look outside of ourselves and help those less fortunate. The President has encouraged service in many different ways – from volunteerism, to donating to causes close to your heart and your family, and even just spending time visiting or talking with friends, loved ones, and elders. Mr. Lee’s article describes President Obama’s assertion that “this need to serve those depending on him is what keeps him from being overwhelmed by the enormity of the responsibilities, daily weight of his office and constant attacks by those that oppose him.”
So who is depending on you? What service outside of yourself have you devoted time, attention or resources to? Perhaps you don’t even know how much of a help you are being to someone else – just by offering your friendship, a kind comment, or time to hear them out on an issue of concern to them. While we are working on improving our self-esteem and self-confidence, don’t be afraid to pass on what you have learned – it could make a BIG difference in the life of someone you know.
A young lady, who I’ll call Hope, spoke to me recently about sharing her experiences and lessons learned with her cousin. Hope had been involved in some difficult relationships – at one point even leaving her family when she was still a teenager to run off with a guy she felt she was in love with. The relationship did not last and she could have been in a very bad position, but she swallowed her pride, called her family, and accepted their help to get back home. She has since re-built the trust with her parents and is in school, living a good, albeit still challenging life. She recently talked to her cousin and found that the young lady, who I’ll call Patience, had been through a similar circumstance. Hope was able to help Patience because she was unafraid to share her experiences – the good, the bad and the ugly – and the lessons she has learned.
Don’t be afraid to share what you know with someone who may not have traveled the path yet – you might make it possible for them to avoid a difficult situation, or to help them move forward knowing they are not alone!
2. Humility. In President Obama’s speech he said “None of us have all of the answers” and “the full breadth of human knowledge is like a grain of sand in God’s hand.” It is sometimes hard to admit we don’t have all the answers, and that someone else may have information or experience that we don’t have.
My suggestion above to share your knowledge now goes a step further and I encourage you to find mentors and use the experiences of others to learn the lessons THEY have to teach you. No one knows EVERYTHING – but there are a LOT of people who know SOMETHING – the same something that you want or need to learn, and are willing to pass their information on to you.
One of my former pastors used to pray for “ears to hear, and eyes to see”. It’s important to be willing to hear the advice others are offering you – especially when they have been through similar circumstances – so that you can learn from them. You do not have to walk the path to self-improvement, greater self-esteem and better health alone. There is inspiration all around you, if you can just open yourself up enough to hear what is being said.
Having eyes to see means that you can take the written accounts of others’ experiences into account as well. Use a search engine to find essays, blog posts, special reports and websites that will have good, applicable information that can help you solve a puzzle or even avoid a knotty problem. Be accepting of information, and be discerning enough to know when something SOUNDS like a good idea, but will not necessarily work for YOUR specific circumstances.
3. Walk closer with God. However you define your religious or spiritual practice, you should stay connected to it. Don’t get into a habit of neglecting your religious or spiritual life. I cannot and will not tell you that you must follow the same path that I do, but getting ON a path is something I will strongly encourage you to do.
Lee’s article mentions: To rise above the quest for riches, position and power, as the President said, “that every so often we would rise above the here and now, and kneel before the eternal.” Kneeling before the eternal acknowledges that there is something greater than ourselves, and gives us something to strive for. Being willing to proclaim your faith – whatever form that proclamation takes, and whatever faith walk it describes – lets those around you see what you stand for, what principles guide you, and gives additional insight into who you are.
Publicly proclaiming your faith to friends and family not only gives them certainty as to who you are and what you stand for, it gives them security. We all know people who seem to twist in the wind – following whatever trend-of-the-moment seems to be hot and popular – and those people are ones we hold back on trusting, hold back on helping, because we don’t know where they stand.
Taking a stand – for your health, your physical well-being, and your religious / spiritual well-being will do a couple of things for you. First, it gives notice of the foundation on which you stand – and that can be very freeing! You speaking about your commitment out loud puts your own subconscious on notice of your intentions, and the universe then aligns to make your commitment real and physical.
Next, it can shield you from a lot of alternative nonsense. For instance – if people around you know you as someone who only speaks positively about others and that you do not wish to hear (nor will you pass along) negative gossip, pretty soon they stop coming to you with that kind of information and you no longer have to proclaim your distaste for it. The negative simply stops coming…and while this may not happen immediately, if you stay consistent in your message and your principles, you can be sure that eventually those around you will realize you are serious and they will either support you or leave you alone (which is sometimes exactly what you want).
My mother said to me many times, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” I don’t know who said it originally, but it’s something I’ve tried to practice throughout my life. I have chosen to take a stand – to stand for better health through weight loss, increased self-confidence and self-esteem through coaching and positive reinforcement, and to stand for physical fitness and strength through exercise and resistance training. I have chosen to stand on the principle that I can control my type II Diabetes through smart nutrition and exercise, and I have chosen to stand for a positive and healthy outlook on life, which I will share with anyone who has “ears to hear”.
So what are you standing for? What principles do you openly promote and commit to and share with others? And if you’re not yet doing this, what’s stopping you?