Last night my wife and I went to a presentation/story telling session on homelessness in our community. There were 4 different people, that either were, or currently are, experiencing homelessness. It was an eye-opening look at homelessness from the perspective of people who have (or are) living it.
The first person to speak said that the 2 primary causes of homelessness are a lack of empathy (the feeling that no one cares or understands) and/or broken relationship. The other speakers, knowing it or not, confirmed this statement through their stories about how they became homeless.
If you would have asked me before the presentation, what I thought the 2 main causes of homelessness was, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have picked a lack of empathy or broken relationships. I probably would have said something like drugs, or mental illness. From what I heard last night, it seems like those things came a little further downstream.
Suppose lack of empathy and broken relationships are, indeed, the primary causes of homelessness. If so, doesn’t it seem like human connection and compassion would go a long way in preventing homelessness? It seems like the most important place for these antidotes is in our homes, and with our families and friends. It also seems like there are no boundaries with regard to where human connection and compassion would not be beneficial.
The presentation not only changed my perspective on homelessness, it also gave me much to think about regarding what I do with what I heard. I’m thankful that others are willing to share their story, in order to provide a perspective, I might not have.
Here’s a simple thought that can yield significant results: when you’re stuck, ask for help.
Whether it’s a problem you’ve got that you’re trying to solve, some expertise you need that you don’t have, or wisdom you lack that you need, seek help from those who have the knowledge you do not.
Why should we spin our wheels trying to solve something when we don’t have to?
I had a lot going on this week. Between work, family stuff, and other events I had scheduled, I could see that I wasn’t going to have enough time to do everything without being frazzled at the end. And even if I didn’t get everything done, it wouldn’t be done well, because I left myself with no margin.
So, Tuesday evening, I made arrangements to cancel my participation I an event that I had for the upcoming Sunday. Doing so freed up time during the week I would have spent in preparation, in addition to lightening the load on Sunday. I’m grateful for the time I was able to free up to spend on the other things I need to do this week. I’m also grateful for the reduced stress and for not having the sense of being hurried through the week, that I would have experienced, had I not created some margin.
Is there anywhere in your day, your week, or your life where you could use some margin? If so, begin looking for ways to create that margin. Once identified, take the steps to make it happen.
I was really impressed with something our pastor did in church last Sunday. As I was reflecting on it later in the day I thought, “I should send him a hand-written note and tell him how much I appreciated what he did.” That’s a good intention. However, as the week got busier, I could feel my intention slipping to the back burner toward inaction. If I didn’t do something, the likelihood that this intention would ever bloom into realized action, was not looking good.
So last night I just decided (and actually followed through) that I was not going to do anything else until I got the note written and put it in an addressed envelope with a stamp. As I type this, the note is in the care of the USPS and on its way to the recipient.
When we have a good intention, we should honor that intention by taking the necessary action to bring it to life. Not only will be feel good about following through on our good intention, we’ll hopefully be blessing someone else as well.
I made a focused effort this year to be more consistent with my journaling, and it seems to be working! I’ve been writing 6 days per week since the beginning of 2023! All I needed to do was weave journaling into a part of my daily morning routine. Who knew it was that simple?
One thing I’ve been doing to start my journaling is to write 3 things that I’m grateful for. I’ve heard a lot of people suggest that, so I thought I’d give it a try. It’s amazing after a few weeks how many things you have to be grateful for. We all know that, but it’s different when you actually see them written down.
I’ve enjoyed recalling things I’m grateful for when I journal in the morning. Not only is it a good reminder of how much I have to be grateful for, it also points me in the right direction mentally every morning. When I start my day with thoughts of gratitude, it feels like I’m setting my mind up to be grateful all day, which is right where I want to be.
It’s so easy to find an excuse to get out of doing something you don’t want to do. Have you ever thought of looking for excuses to do what you know you should be doing?
For example, maybe you go to the gym every morning when you wake up. However, on this particular morning, it’s dark, cold, and rainy out when you wake up. The easy excuse to get out of going to the gym is, “It’s cold and wet outside, but it’s nice and warm in bed. I’m going to skip the gym today and go tomorrow.”
At this point, you could also look for an excuse to go to the gym, regardless of the weather. Your excuse to do what you know you should do, might be, “It’s kind of crappy out, but I’m already awake, and I’ll feel good once I’m done. There really isn’t a good reason not to go.”
Looking for excuses to follow through, instead of mailing it in, is a way to reframe the discussions we often have with ourselves when we’re trying to take the easy route. Often times we just need to give ourselves a little pep talk, or light a fire for ourselves. And often, a good excuse is just what we need.
Think, for a moment, of all the things that people can have differing opinions about. The list is endless! Topics range from volatile ones like pollical leaning and religion to more innocuous ones like music preference, being a morning or evening person, or your favorite flavor of ice cream.
Now think of the people you know. How many of them do you have the exact same opinions on every topic with? Zero? Yeah, me too.
With so many things to be divided over, it’s important that we are mindful of what we actually allow to drive wedges in our relationships. Do we really want to shut someone down or vilify them over minor differences? Do we really want our radars up looking for reasons to be divided, versus looking for what unites us? Do we want others looking us with an eye toward division?
Leading with an eye toward division comes with a high price. We miss out on opportunities to learn more about others. In some cases, we drive wedges between those closest to over insignificant differences. What a sad realization it would be to look back on such a life, and see all the division we’ve created, because all we were seeing were differences versus people.
What foundation do you build your life on? What grid do you run your behaviors, decisions and actions through? For me, that foundation/grid is Scripture. More specifically, the Bible.
When I didn’t have a specific foundation or grid, what usually guided my decisions, behaviors, and actions was emotion. Defaulting to emotions didn’t work too well for me, because my actions were based more on what felt best in the moment rather than a foundational values based decision.
Even though I have Scripture as my foundation, I still need to choose to follow it and apply what it says in my life. Although it can be challenging, I’ve found that Scripture provides me with a very solid foundation for making wise decisions. A much more stable foundations than emotions alone.
We all like it when things are going well and life is comfortable. Who wouldn’t? Things are going well, no major issues to worry about, you just live each day. That sounds good to me! However much I enjoy it when things are going well, when I look in the rearview mirror of my life, I’ve noticed that most of my growth has occurred when things aren’t going well.
My family is currently dealing the with passing of a close relative, which has been the opposite of “things going well” and “comfortable”. What I’m finding during this season, is that this is where I really get to put into practice the things I say I believe. This is where I get to apply my faith I subscribe to when things are going well. This is where faith gets stretched and tested.
For me, these events over the course of my life have deepened my faith. That doesn’t mean these events have been easy or trouble free. Quite the contrary! Yet each time I’m guided by my faith, and each time I’m more confident that my faith will see me through the next time.
This week’s post is simple: If you need to ask someone for forgiveness, do it immediately. I had a choice to do that this week.
This week, a great friend of mine pointed out a behavior to me that falls well below my personal standards. It wasn’t terribly easy to hear, but I could recognize the truth in what he said. As I pondered his words later that day, I got the Holy Spirit prompting that I needed to ask this friend for forgiveness.
We have a choice when we know we need to ask for forgiveness. We can either do it (obey the prompting of the Holy Spirit for Jesus followers) or make excuses why we don’t need to seek forgiveness. In these situations, our excuses not to seek forgiveness are usually just lame excused to protect our pride.
I am blessed that my friend gave me forgiveness. When I think about it, had I instead chosen to protect my pride (which is easy for me to do!), it could have cost me a dear friend. In my book, that was far too high a price to pay.
I tell you that to encourage you to seek forgiveness when you know it’s what you need to do, so that you don’t wind up making a relationally costly mistake.