Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Giants

Giants. We all have them. They come from gossip, labels, experiences.

They come from fears.

Each of us has our own giants. We’re all afraid of something. Sure, you can be afraid of spiders, millipedes, birds, or whatever. But those aren’t giants. Giants are the fears that reside deep within us. The fears that hold us back or push us to do something we aren’t comfortable with.

All too often, giants are relational fears. I would go so far as to say 99% of giants are in some way related to, well, relationships. Because to be human is to be relational. I could live alone on the most secluded mountain in the world, and I would still have relationships. Being in relationship is part of our make-up. We can’t escape it.

And you know what else is with me on that secluded mountain? My giants. There’s a reason I’m alone, secluded. I’m afraid of something: letting others down, getting hurt, etc. Whatever it is, it’s a relational giant.

All of our worst giants include ourselves with other people. And these giants build walls around our hearts. Big, thick, sturdy walls. And we let them, because what the giants tell us make sense: the walls will keep us safe. And they’re right; those walls will keep us safe. But those walls will also keep us prisoner.

The giants don’t build gates into the walls–they’re just solid circles of the hardest stone. So while those walls keep us safe, they also keep us trapped within our own fears.

Everyone has giants. Mine? I’m terrified of ending up alone, losing everyone I love. At one time, this giant kept me from getting close to anyone. Sure, it kept me safe, but I still felt alone. Exactly what I was afraid of and didn’t want to happen. I was too afraid to speak up for myself and let others know who I was. I was too afraid to tear down that wall.

I was afraid to become a giant killer.

A few weekends ago, I attended Taylor University’s Professional Writing Conference. Jim Watkins gave a keynote session that addressed this very issue: I am a Giant Killer.

And Jim Watkins is right: We all need to become giant killers. We need to stand up to the fears holding us back, whatever area of our lives the giants hold on to. We need to take those areas back for ourselves. This can be anything: a career, a job, a hobby, a relationship, or even a personal confession.

We may never be fully rid of these fears even if we do kill these giants. But if we acknowledge that they’re there it can do a world of good. If we can acknowledge our own deep fears, we’ve already made a huge step in the right direction. Because while we may never be able to fully eradicate those fears, if we know what they are we have more power to combat them and move forward in our lives. We’re no longer held captive by them.

This theme runs through our world: our arts, books, conversations, music, TV, stories, paintings, movies. They all ask the same question: What are you afraid of?

So don’t be afraid to be a giant killer. Dare to discover who you truly are at your core–the you without fear.

Advertisements

This ties right into our last post about gossip. I mentioned within and at the end that if you have a problem with a friend, go to them and talk it out. Don’t bring in others or post to social media about it.

When we have a problem with a friend or someone we love, it can cause problems with the relationship. Especially if it goes unresolved. But the only way it can be resolved is by talking it out with that person.

Guys, this is hard to do. We don’t want confrontation and conflict in our lives. We want to be happy and have the best relationships there could be, right? Sure, we do. But life can’t happen without conflict and confrontation.

We will all have arguments with friends. This can have many different appearances: we disagree with something they said, we’re worried about something they’re doing, we’re worried what they’re not saying, we’re hurt because of something they did or didn’t do/say, etc. There are so many reasons for conflict between two people. But things only get worse if we bury the problem or talk to someone else about it.

To keep friends and strengthen friendships, we must reprove one another in love. This can sometimes be called “tough love,” and it is. It’s tough for one person to hear, and it’s tough for the other to say. We don’t want to hurt our friends; we want them to be happy and have fun. But the fun can’t truly happen without the conflicts and confrontations that go into having a solid relationship.

Whenever we have a problem with a friend, we need to talk to them about it. If we don’t, it will either fester inside of us, causing a division between friends, or it will be let out some other way, spreading into gossip and/or rumor, thus destroying a friendship.

Guys, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Relationships are hard. But they’re hard because they’re worth it. To have a solid relationship with someone is something that everyone wants–someone to go to, someone we know will be there when we need them. But in order to gain the trust, you have to go through the hard stuff together.

Relationships are in the world so that we can strengthen one another. We’re supposed to reprove one another, point out one another’s faults. But we’re meant to do this in love, not animosity. Not for power, satisfaction, or to cut someone else down: In LOVE. We point out one another’s faults to make each other better. We hold each other to our own values.

When we love someone, we don’t sit by and watch them suffer. We sit them down and tell them what we see, what we think the problem is. They may be mad at us for “butting in,” but we can help them just by doing that. Give them some time to think it over. They’ll eventually come back and say that you were right. Although sometimes, they’ll be too stubborn to admit it.

Yes, reproving one another in love can lead to lost friendships. I’ve been there before. But if we don’t do it, we’ll never feel we can trust one another, and there will be a divide that we feel growing larger every day. We have relationships to help one another through life. If we don’t reprove one another in love, we’re not fulfilling that role.

But the only way to reprove one another in love is to always, ALWAYS go to the person it centers around first. If they won’t listen, maybe others see it too. If a friend won’t change their ways, that’s when you get a couple more to help you talk to them. After that, there’s not much more any of you can do to help them.

The hardest part about reproving one another in love is that the person you’re reproving has to want to listen. They have to want to change what you’ve pointed out. You can’t force that on them, and neither can anyone else. Yes, you may lose a friend. But you may also form a stronger trust in that relationship because you were honest and they were willing to listen, talk it out, and change if need be.

Don’t put others down. Reprove them in love. Strengthen them. And let them strengthen you.

Gossip Divisions

Gossip. A word we hear and–sometimes–instantly dislike. Sometimes, we want to have others “gossip” about us–all good things, of course. But “gossip” doesn’t at all equate with good. Dictionary.com defines gossip as “idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others.” Not a positive definition.

When we gossip about others, we tend to talk about information they never wanted public. Or we’re spreading an untrue rumor. Along with the gossip, then, we give our own opinions. Opinions that can be unfair and untrue because they’re not founded on facts and true knowledge of a person. In gossip, we judge and label others.

We can all start gossip. It’s easy. Have a problem with a friend? Maybe we’ll post on Facebook or Twitter something they don’t want shared with the world. Or we’ll call them a name that doesn’t at all pertain to them. Or we’ll just rant and let other people take it from there. Gossip is easily started and difficult to stop. And if something’s put on the internet, it’s out there for the whole world to see: No takebacks.

We have to remember that gossip hurts people. Sooner or later, whoever it is the gossip or post is about will hear about it. And, chances are, they’ll hear everyone’s opinions, too. And that hurts, even if it’s just a rumor. But especially if it’s something they’d told someone in confidence. Because now the whole school/group/world knows.

We don’t have to spread gossip. It can stop with us. Maybe we can’t entirely stop it, but we can keep it from spreading to that one person we could tell. Sure, maybe they’ll hear from someone else. But we won’t have spread it. Better yet, if it’s gossip about someone we know, we can talk to them about it. We can warn them of what’s going on, so they can (maybe) prepare themselves for what’s to come. And we can stand beside them as a friend.

The root of the problem, though, is that gossip starts somewhere. And lots of times, it starts from an argument or some animosity between two people. It can even start from the carelessness of a friend, though the friend doesn’t intend for it to happen. Don’t let it start with you.

But it can be hard sometimes. If you’re angry with a friend, you want to rant about it. You want to tell someone. Well, write it down. Tell yourself. Don’t let anger at a friend drive you to post something false or private of theirs on social media. And don’t let it drive you to verbally tell anyone those things either. Take time to cool down. Sleep on it. Then, go back to your friend and try to talk it out. Be wise, and don’t burn the bridges of friendship with one angry outburst.

But, it can also start other ways. When a friend tells you something in confidence, seeking advice, but you don’t have the wisdom to help them, you’re tempted to go to someone else to get help and advice. But you need to be sure that’s okay with your friend, first. After all, they told you and only you for a reason. And if you do need to seek someone else’s advice, choose an adult you trust and make sure it’s okay with your friend that you talk to that adult. Don’t go to a peer, who may not have any more advice than you. That peer may go to one of their friends, and on and on. Then, the information is spread, your friend finds out, and they’re angry at you. It can lead to big problems, and losing a friendship.

Don’t let gossip create divisions among you and your friends. If you need help with something your friend told you, ask them if you can talk to a trusted adult. And respect their answer. If you’re angry or have a problem with a friend, don’t rant on social media or to another friend. Take time to cool down, and go talk it out with your friend. Chances are, you’ll be able to save the friendship.

Judging Labels

We all judge people. It’s a part of our human nature, whether we want to do it or not. We could even try not to judge others, but we will do it anyway. We can, however, choose to look past those judgments. To get to know the person we’re judging. More often than not, we’ll find our own judgement was wrong.

There are many things we use to judge other people. We do it at a glance every day. And when we judge someone, we put a label on them. We find one or two words that “describe” them.

But a person can’t be defined in just one or two words.

When we label someone, we put them in a box. And when we interact with them, if we ever do, we expect them to stay in the box with that label. And sometimes expectation is all it takes to beat a person into staying in that box, into living up to the label that may not describe them.

We judge others and label them using many factors, taking things in at a glance. Mannerisms, clothing, posture, cleanliness, manner of speech, and even skin color. All theses are things we use to judge and label others. And others use these things to judge and label us.

But these judgments are based off of our own perceptions and preferences. They’re not fact. When we judge others, we bring in our own experiences and tastes. Things we’ve learned, beliefs we have or have adopted.

There’s always more to a person than what we judge them by.

Each of us has a soul, a past, a story to tel. If we judge before we know a person, we could miss out on a great story, a great lesson, a great friend.

We can’t expect ourselves to stop judging others. It’s human nature. But we can get ourselves to look past those judgments and get to know the person we’re judging. We don’t have to get to know every person we come across. That’s not feasible. But we should always remember that there’s more to a person than meets the eye. Appearances aren’t everything, and they can be deceiving.

 

After all, isn’t there more to you than what can be seen with the naked eye?

 

I’ve fairly recently watched a documentary on Netflix — “A Girl Like Her”. If you haven’t watched it, do. It’s a testament to a lot of the problems among teens and pre-teens in the world today. And I found it powerful.

 

Everyone reacts to situations differently. And everyone deals with different situations. But there are ultimately, from what I’ve observed, two ways of personally dealing with any given situation — internalizing and externalizing.

Internalizers encounter problems by pulling into themselves — especially when it’s something they don’t want to make a big deal of (for any reason). They don’t like to talk about it. Externalizers recognize the problem, but they tell others about it in some way — usually in no plain terms relating to the issue. They put it out into the world through their tone, their words, their actions–some way.

The documentary I mentioned above is a great example of this. It follows Jessica and Avery — two girls who go to the same high school and who used to be friends. But then Jessica attempts suicide and is left in a coma. The film crew are already at the school for another reason, but pick up on this thread of how and why a girl at such a renowned high school, that has just won an award for its greatness, would attempt suicide. Avery, the popular girl of the sophomores, agrees to show the world what it is to be popular–and the pressures that go with it. A hidden camera reveals much of the happenings between Avery and Jessica, and lent much to the impact the movie had on me.

Be forewarned, there are SPOILERS ahead if you’ve not seen the documentary. I recommend that you go and watch it before reading, as I do not want to take away from the messages by analyzing parts of the movie and personalities.

This documentary is ultimately about bullying as it is today. Because the documentary is my example, that’s the context I’ve used in this post. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t many more ways internalizing/externalizing can manifest. This is one context, as observed by me. However, this can be a common manifestation among teens and pre-teens in our world today — it’s an important aspect to helping our children grow up healthy and feeling loved.

Jessica and Avery. Of the two, Jessica is the internalizer. She pulled the problems she faced into herself, keeping quiet about what was happening to her. She didn’t even want to talk about it with her best friend who knew what was going on. And because this is how she processed the problem, Avery’s words started to eat at her. Jessica started to believe what Avery said. That’s part of the reason she attempted suicide–she believed Avery. Another part of the reason was because she felt trapped–“It’s never going to stop,” she said so many times. She couldn’t see how it could get any better; she only saw it getting worse. And because she’s an internalizer, she didn’t tell anyone how she was really feeling, and there was no one to encourage her and combat what Avery said.

There are probably more factors involved–I can’t pretend to know everything about Jessica. I’m not her. And I’m not saying that what happened was Jessica’s fault, because it wasn’t. When you feel as trapped as it seemed Jessica felt, you truly believe there’s no way out and that no one will understand–and you’re afraid to tell someone, for fear that they’ll confirm your fears.

Avery is the externalizer. In a sense, she recognizes the problems she’s facing internally. I say “in a sense” because I’m not sure Avery really thought about them and recognized that they were problems–but a deeper part of her did. Though the problems were internal, Avery’s reactions were external, and they weren’t always good. Avery dealt with lots of pressure from home–pressure to be perfect, to be as her controlling mother wanted. Avery didn’t want her mother controlling her life, so she tried to control where she could–at school. I got the sense that she felt invisible at home, so she did what she could to get the attention she so craved at school, no matter if it was good or bad attention.

Avery’s external expression of her hurt was by bullying Jessica–controlling someone else’s life and getting the attention of the school, even though it was negative attention. Everyone knew Avery’s name, and that’s what she wanted. But Jessica attempting suicide isn’t entirely Avery’s fault either.

Both of these girls are very, very hurt. Though they expressed the hurt differently, you can see it in both of them. They had different hurts from different situations as well. A line stuck out to me from the movie, from a parent at a meeting with the school board: “Hurt people are the ones who hurt people.” It’s something we all need to remember. Why did Avery hurt Jessica? Because she was hurting, though she tried to hide it behind her actions. Avery took her hurt out on others, those outside of herself–externalizing. Jessica took her hurt out on herself, listening to the voices in her head that repeated what Avery told her so often–internalizing.

There is so much more to be said on this documentary, so many things that I saw through it. We will continue to talk about internalizing and externalizing, and other issues I noticed from the documentary that are a huge part of our world today. There are so many hurt people out there, but for the sake of time we will leave this here for now.

Next time, we’re going to look at judging others–whether we think we do or not.

And remember–everyone’s hurt by something in some way. Everybody’s been through so much in their lifetimes, no matter how young or old. These two girls are sophomores–and already there’s so much hurt seen here.

 

What do you think? Are you an internalizer or an externalizer?

Me? I’m an internalizer, and always have been. I was able to connect with both of these girls through different things–I may call Avery a bully, but until I know her, I can’t begin to understand what she’s going through. I’ve learned much. What have you learned?

Powerful Stories

Stories, when told well, are one of the most powerful forces in our world. They inspire us. They can help us discover ourselves, help shape who we become. And they can help us rediscover parts of ourselves, too. Even when we don’t know we’ve lost ourselves.

Here’s an illustration from my own experience: with a Harry Potter school event approaching, a friend mentions re-reading the series. I think it’s a great idea and decide to as well–I haven’t read them in years. Spring break is only a couple of weeks away, so I should have plenty of time. I borrow book 1 and begin reading. Then a week before spring break, my boyfriend and I break up–and we’d been talking of marriage in the future. As I continue reading the series, I’m readjusting my lifestyle and thinking patterns, processing our whole relationship.

Stories are one of the most powerful unseen forces on this planet. Rereading Harry Potter, I found aspects of the story I never realized were there. I’ve read those books numerous times and I still discover something new every time I read them. This time, I realized truths about relationships and found comfort in that it took Harry months to get over Cho, to look at her and feel no pain or longing. I was reaffirmed in the power and strength of friendship.

And I rediscovered my inner child, a part of me that makes me who I am and greatly influences my perspective of the world. I lost that part of myself while I was dating, even as I grew in other areas of who I am. I rediscovered my passion for reading YA novels and my reasons for wanting to write to that audience.

And another story only reaffirmed many of these things for me, especially in my writing. By now, I’d started to settle back into being single and learned again to be just friends with guys. I graduated and said goodbye to many wonderful lifetime friends, found a summer job, and moved into my own apartment.

Whisper of the Heart has one of the cheesiest endings ever, but it’s the middle of the movie that inspires me.

Mr. Nishi: Wait a minute, I’ve got something to show you (retrieves a rock from his cabinet). I think you’ll like this (hands Shizuku the rock) – take a look.

Shizuku: It looks like a rock.

Mr. Nishi: It’s a special kind of rock called geode. Hold it close to your eye and look inside – that’s right, like that. (Shines small torch beside stone, which lights up the green crystals inside)

Shizuku:(gasps) Look at that!

Mr. Nishi: Those crystals are called beryl. There are pieces of raw emerald still inside.

Shizuku: Aren’t emeralds worth a lot of money?

Mr. Nishi: Sure, but they need to be cut and polished first. When you first become an artist, you are like that rock. You’re in a raw and natural state, with hidden gems inside. You have to dig deep down and find the emeralds tucked away inside you. And that’s just the beginning. Once you have found your gems, you have to polish them. It takes a lot of hard work. Oh, and here’s the tricky part – look at the crack in the geode.

Shizuku: OK (looks inside the top crack)

Mr. Nishi: You see the big green crystal there, you could spend years polishing that, and it wouldn’t be worth much at all. The smaller crystals are much more valuable. And there may even be some deeper inside, which we can’t see, that are even more precious …

This movie helped me realize that I’ve started to uncover the gems hidden inside me. Stories and relationships can do that, guys–uncover the gems inside us.

Stories often have more power than we realize. And the most powerful ones never leave us, but live on within us. Sometimes, revisiting a story we know well is what we need most. It can help us rediscover parts of ourselves.

And maybe we’ll learn something new, too.

 

What are some of the stories that have shaped you? Have you ever rediscovered a part of yourself through rereading a novel or series? Please share your thoughts below!

Hello friends! Sorry I haven’t been posting lately. I just finished college, so everything with graduation, pinning down a summer job, and moving in to my first-ever apartment got a little crazy and time-consuming. Honestly, part of it was just my priority of spending the time I had left with my college friends. But I’m back, and I hope you all will continue to read. Thank you for sticking with me, even through these stretches where I haven’t posted. I am trying to get the posts up no matter what.

Moving on to the topic for this week, I want to talk about inspiration. Specifically, what inspiration is and how we can inspire others. It’s something so many people in our world talk about. It’s a question we often get asked: “Who/What inspired you to be a (insert hobby/profession/job/passion here)?” But what is being inspired? And how can we inspire others?

Most of the time we talk about inspiration, we talk about a person. Even if it’s a thing, such as a story, it’s connected to a person. That’s just how our brains work. But the person isn’t what inspires us–it’s the story behind the person that does. And because we connect the story with that person, the story that inspired us has a face. Think of all the ‘based on a true story’ movies out there, such as The Gabby Douglas Story. Why is Gabby Douglas so inspiring to so many gymnasts? Because of the story behind her success. And Gabby gives a face to that story, so it’s often said, “Gabby Douglas inspired me.”

Those that inspire are those that have shared their stories.

We can even be inspired by those whose stories we don’t know. Why? We can see the story behind their actions, their success. We can see in how they conduct themselves how hard they’ve worked to get where they are, that maybe they had to go through rough times to get there. It’s all connected to the story.

And we can inspire others too. Maybe the world won’t hear our stories, but someone out there will. Besides, there’s not a soul in this world, not one human being who can inspire everyone else in this world. (Except Jesus, but to keep the length of this post from getting out of hand, we won’t got there today.) Why? Because there are so many different personalities, so many different experiences that make each of us who we are. And none of those experiences is going to be exactly the same. Not one, even with 7 million people on this planet.

So how do people inspire nations? They don’t necessarily inspire entire nations. Not every single person in the nation is inspired by one individual. But many people within the nations can be inspired, and that’s where the saying comes from. “You’ll inspire nations.” Yes, maybe you will, maybe you can. But what you’re really doing is connecting with the people similar to you, those that feel as though something about you is the same as something about them. There’s a connection there, and no one can connect with everyone.

But we don’t have to inspire nations. We can inspire the few people we have around us, inspire our communities, but we have to share ourselves first. Maybe people will wonder about you; something in your actions may inspire them, even a little. But if your actions inspire someone, think of what the story behind those actions can do. Not only for that person, but for others around them, others around you.

You can inspire people right where you’re at. Sure, you can get your story out onto the internet and inspire others around the world. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about putting your story out in your own community, even in your friend group or at your school. I know it’s scary sharing with peers and with people you don’t know. It’s hard to be vulnerable with them. Just start small, with your family and friends. Start with those you trust, and work your way outward in small, concentric circles. You won’t regret it (eventually. You might just after you do it, but you will come to be glad you did it).

And maybe you will inspire someone you never thought you could; maybe you won’t know who you’ll inspire. But I promise you, there is someone out there who will be inspired by your story. Maybe not right now, maybe not where you are right now. But someday, there will be someone. Even if you don’t know it.

As I finished up college, I lost a close friend coming out of my first dating relationship. But I gained much more than I lost. I gained new friends, and I learned much about myself. And I was inspired by his story, though I never told him that. He may never know that he inspired me to confront myself, to face who I was and figure that out. To believe in myself. And I’ve talked to friends, had them write some of their favorite memories with me. I’ve only read one so far, but I can tell by what he wrote that, in some small way, I might have inspired him a little. And I’ve had other friends say similar things to what he wrote.

Some of these people, I’ve never told my story to. But I’ve inspired them, even if it’s only one small area of my and their lives. And maybe if I’d shared my story, I could have inspired them more. Maybe I could have learned their stories and been inspired in return.

This is a big part of what relationships are about, friends. You can inspire each other in the everyday things of life, in the smallest portion of your stories. You can inspire others farther out than that, too.

But it all starts with sharing your story. You never know how powerful it might be.

 

What do you think?