Saturday, April 27, 2013

Living in Faith and Courage

Someone asked me recently, "what made it possible to change from living in fear to living in faith and courage?" This is an extremely good question.

When I was living in fear, I was allowing myself to be ruled by self doubt, which was fueled by false perceptions. These false perceptions were not limited to just myself, but the world, as well as my role within it. I had truly believed that I was insignificant and easily discarded. Please note the past tense tone of that last statement.

Because I felt that I was insignificant and easily discarded, I feared that my entire existence didn't matter. I believed that I was one hundred percent replaceable in every way. Fear was a natural result. This childhood fear definitely lingered well into my adult years.

I would come in and out of this phase and thinking periodically, but it was never a lasting feeling. With such strong limiting beliefs, how on earth could I matter in the grand scheme of things? In what possible way could I bring any value to the world at all?

Then there was a series of events that completely upended this fear-based line of thinking. 

SITUATION: I had a talk with God one day and I asked, if I was so replaceable and insignificant, then why am I here? I believed God to be a kind and a loving God, but if I was here on earth without a purpose or any meaning, then that was just simply cruel.

RESULT: God found a way to let me know that I was of value, but more importantly I believed it. Here's how He did it.

The way in which I learned that I was of value and significance was during the time I was watching my father-in-law slowly die. God spoke to me in my heart during this time. I am not sure that I can describe it, but it was powerful and undeniable. Here were some of the thoughts I was having.

My father-in-law was prone to melancholy and depressive thoughts, yet he had impacted so many lives for good - more than he had impacted them in negative ways. I then thought about others that had "impact" and "value" in the world both on a grand scale as well as in my own personal life. 

Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln, and Oprah Winfrey are truly great people - but with some pretty big issues and faults. But they persevered and continued forward to the best of their ability. They persistently and consistently worked hard to live good lives. Their best efforts changed lives for the better.

On a personal note and as further proof, there's Mrs. Wasden who was my fourth grade teacher. Because of her example I learned to love reading and writing. She is a good woman, with a beautiful light to share with the world. 

All Mrs. Wasden cared about was God, her family, her students... ginger snaps and root beer flavored hardtack candy. Yet, when in her presence, you were made to feel as though you were the top priority - even in a crowded room.

As I reflected on these experiences, they became a serious ongoing boost to my faith. If my imperfect melancholy father-in-law, Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Oprah Winfrey, and Mrs. Wasden can impact even one person to change their life for the better, well then...that was a life well spent.

When you have faith-uplifting experiences like this, it creates an energy and courage within. When this happens, the world seems to change right in front of your eyes.

SITUATION: Because of the increase in faith and courage, I felt more daring to try things, to be more involved, and more than that - to believe that my contribution to a variety of events in life actually mattered. 

RESULT: All the sudden I felt a surge of energy, an almost "unleashing" and urgency to live life fully. Why? Because someone out there needed me. Someone out there could have their life changed for the better, just because I had the words and maybe even the actions at the right time to be the linchpin to their unleashing. 

Wham! Bam! All of the sudden I can see that I am in no way insignificant. Of course I matter! Of course I have value! Now that I understand this, how could I have fear? How could I not have courage? 

It was at this time that I first heard Gandhi's quote, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." He said it so simply. It was as if it could happen, just like that. Just all the sudden, "be the change."

I've since discovered that it is possible to all of the sudden just "be the change." Your habitual doubts and historical behavior are an ongoing obstacle, but it is possible to change them as you create new habits. It requires practice, but it is possible.

Friday, April 19, 2013

To value or not to value? Why is this even a question?

In his 2008 TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) presentation on "Why we make bad decisions," Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert said something that really resonated with me. He said, "Comparison only changes the value of what's in front of us." He then of course continued explaining the science behind making choices.

In the scientific information presented, the data was from how comparison changes the value of monetary things like entertainment, equipment, cars, and the like. Eventually he broadened the application of it.

The entire time though, that line repeated in my head and I was applying the impact to my personal life.

"Comparison only changes the value 
of what's in front of us."

Every time I think about it, I'm left emotionally stunned.

The concept is applicable to everything, but the image that seems to stick in my mind, with regards to this quote, is me watching and admiring beautiful people while simultaneously conjuring an image of me in my mind's eye. Once I have the image, the comparison begins.

So in this example of comparison, it is my own personal value that decreases. I say decreases because very rarely is it anything different.

In reality though, the value of any person isn't any more or less than another. You are more than a body, a profession, or where you live. We are all of great value to someone. Why not love ourselves for who we are, just as we are. Why not love ourselves? After all, someone else does.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Poetry Corner: Great Expectations

While waiting in a car in the Utah State University campus parking lot, I wrote the poem shown below. My friend had just run into a building to pick up something and she didn't want to pay for parking, so I waited in the car in case I had to circle the building.

Originally, I dedicated this poem to my friend. I really admired her. She was a dear friend, and someone who crossed my path at the right time for sure. By the time I completed the poem, right as she was walking back to the car, I realized something that startled me.

In that moment, I hoped that some of the amazing attributes that I loved in my friend would one day rub off on me by association. 

I realized in that very moment that I could actually conceive of the possibility that one day, in the not too distant future, I might like me too. 

This was the first time I honestly entertained the idea that I might actually have the potential to become this kind of woman. This was a very powerful thought, so powerful that it was the catalyst for real change in me.

I originally entitled the poem, "Silent Adoration." Over time, however, I felt it was appropriate to rename the work to match my new feelings.

Great Expectations 
I stood alone
staring into my shadow
hoping to see the image
of a friend I know

The epitome of womanhood,

I stood still
hoping my shadow would become 
light -
hoping my shadow
wasn’t really “just me”

I stood alone
I stood still
I stood in prayer
to see the image of a friend
in me

By Diana M. Bateman
1996 ©