Galatians 1:10

I often enjoy retelling situations from my life that prove valuable as I continue along this growth path (my fancy way of admitting I’m getting older). Perhaps, one of the most enriching lessons I’ve received was via a conversation with a friend of mine. We’ll simply call this friend by his first name for now- Ben. I’ve written about Ben once so far (The 95% posted on May 18th). One thing Ben shed light on for me about five years ago was a bible verse that is still a staple throughout his everyday walk- Galatians 1:10. As I continue praying each day to be guided by The Holy Spirit to discern how best to elevate my spiritual connection, certain situations seem to arise that remind me of past lessons learned. We don’t always learn particular lessons all at once, rather we need several scenarios to comprehend over time. Perhaps we don’t have the spiritual or mental capacity to fully grasp certain teachings at different life stages, so we need repetition to “beat it into our heads” as we evolve.

I remember years ago talking with Ben about this burning desire I’ve had since childhood to be make sure everyone around me was always happy. I used to have such a horrific time with anyone being upset at me, disagreeing with me or not being pleased with my “performance.” I constantly felt (mostly unknowingly- almost like it was programed) that if I could only make everyone else happy I would have the internal fulfillment we’re all searching for. Boy was I wrong. This is one trait that has created much conflict (internal and external), a plethora of anxiety and probably helped in the creation and destruction of multiple relationships. What I’ve since realized through identifying my own brokenness and my ensuing journey of healing (still on that train), is that the more stake I put in trying to appease others the more I realize that’s simply an impossible mountain to climb. No long term internal fulfillment can ever come from pleasing others, regardless of the relationship. Sure, you can be a great impact to others, yet I believe the true fulfillment comes with spiritual awakening- walking with The Spirit as we learn what really matters most in this world. I’ll get into other areas of struggle I’ve had similar to this topic around putting too much stake in other “worldly things, feelings, situations” later, but for now I want to stick to this simple lesson learned from Ben.

Galatians 1:10- Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” NLT

We are typically conditioned from our past experiences in many ways. Some even believe generationally we are hard-wired based on experiences and ensuing traits that evolved from our ancestral bloodline. I can certainly reflect about my ancestors and think of a few ways this makes sense for me, once again we’ll revisit later. I reflect on the environment I grew up as I rationalize where this need to please was imbedded within my unconscience self. Whether being the constant “new kid” in school, the unsettling “home” in my adolescent years, the desire for perfection to please my dad/coaches in sports, the performance based school system (lacking much individuality of course)- I can see how these factors helped create a “people pleaser.” Performance based thinking to win the approval of others was simply safer throughout childhood for me. The more of my environment I could control based by being a good kid, saying the right things, or simply performing well, the better life seemed to be for an evolving young mind. I believe I liked control and predictability because being out of my comfort zone, or worse being in potential danger, were less settling options (childhood wasn’t always blissful for me).

Ben had his own childhood, which he still uses to impact hundreds of thousands of people with his passionate message and faith-walk to this day. Even Ben, “Mr. 95% Joy,” consistently has to remind himself that his purpose is bigger and more divine than any one person’s perspective that reacts to his message. We all have people in our lives who expect us to perform (expectations typically don’t lead to a happy dynamic btw), and a tragedy occurs when we put this performance of life at a higher priority than serving God and our true self, or in the way of loving ourselves all together. Jesus scarified himself for us, not so we could figuratively sacrifice our true selves for everyone else all over again. I’ve experienced and seen countless examples of how serving people FIRST can lead to a lot of pain and lack of authenticity. I still struggle with this lesson, as I believe we all do in certain facets, yet I often quote this verse above during these struggles because my good friend inspired me to do so. “I am for God first, not people” is even one of the “I AM STATEMENTS” I consistently read as a reminder to myself.

I pray anyone struggling on the hamster wheel of trying to please others can take solace in surrendering that to God. Perhaps reminding yourself of this particular verse can help free your spiritual side to experience a life more destined and fulfilling for you, the life He wants you to have. Hopefully us “people pleasers” can impact the world in a bigger and better way by shifting our order of focus. Thank you Ben for enlightening me with this verse several years ago, as I truly feel God made an impact on me through your discernment. My gift to you will be continuing to share this important message with others throughout my life.

IG: @surrender_project

Insecurity Running the Show

I was sitting at Chipotle yesterday, which is admittedly one of my favorite “easy” food options on a busy day. This particular day I was sitting outside within earshot of a few other tables. I can honestly say it didn’t take long for me to wish I had brought my headphones. I often tune into podcasts throughout the day as I continue craving ways to connect more on a spiritual level along this journey of life. This particular day however, I didn’t have them. I then naturally assumed that their must have been a reason I didn’t have them and couldn’t help but overhear much of a conversation that was taking place a few tables away….

Two people, one voice. That’s what I heard for 15 minutes as I sat there eating my meal. I couldn’t tell the dynamic of the two and could only assume they were both in their thirties, one man and one woman. The man faced away from me and really just seemingly stared down at his food most of the time as he took bite after bite, hardly looking up. I’m not sure he said a word the entire time. The woman hardly stopped talking. Either of them could’ve been talking, so this has nothing to do with any stereotype some of you might be thinking here, but more what she was saying that struck me so heavily. I’m not sure if I’ve heard as much gossip and talking down about other people within a 15 minute window since adolescence, at least that I actually paid attention to. I found her demeanor very boisterous with both her words and facial expressions. The cinematic impact of “drama” in the conversation was inescapable to detect, even for another human being sitting two tables away. I caught just enough to realize what was happening and the fact that the conversation mostly deflected any attention from herself. I admit, I cannot know what I do not know. I simply call them as I see them and this particular conversation struck me. I left Chipotle almost feeling bad for her, despite the theatrical act she put on while talking nonstop about what everyone else was doing wrong. I found myself asking what would possibly make a person project such negativity onto others? My guess, simply insecurity in who she is and how she feels about herself.

We all talk about others, yet when we speak from a place of shaming, degrading, judging or offering our unwarranted opinions of how someone else lives, aren’t we being a little arrogant? I also think doing so behind others’ back (gossip) actually only hurts ourselves. We are the only ones who actually have to sit and listen to it. I don’t know what that girl has been through, and quite frankly it’s none of my business. She simply got me thinking and I don’t judge where she is on her journey. I also don’t think this gossiping aspect of self is something she’s even aware could be harming her spirit. I do believe that deflecting attention from ourselves by putting negative energy into the world about others is not the frequency I want to live from. I admit, I’ve done plenty of gossiping in my day and if we’re honest with ourselves we are all a tad guilty (at least). Big scheme of things though, I felt sorry for her. Sorry that she felt the need to “be right” in so many situations with so many others. Sorry that her ego was that much in control of her voice, her feelings and her life. I don’t want to live that way and I choose to put positive and non-judgmental energy into the world the best I can. I think I’ll simply pray for more people and do my best not to gossip. I think this is work worth doing.

Today I’m surrendering gossip and judgement, and will continue to work on this due to enhanced awareness via a conversation overheard on a Chipotle patio. Would you care to join me?

The Walking Wounded

One focal point I’m finding myself intrigued by is our misguided decision making based on underlying past experiences and therefore “conditioned” responses. I’ve sat in a counselor’s office plenty and realize that many of my perceptions are in-fact shaped from my past. I don’t think that’s news to those who have even the slightest level of psychological awareness. I get it, my emotional reactions stem from a response pattern hardwired since childhood. I find it fascinating that we hold onto the past so much. I cannot explain over the past few years how much life I’ve spent literally reliving previous moments over and over again in my head. I already lived them once, why keep living them? Have you ever stopped to think about what percentage of these moments that you’re “reliving” are the really happy times? I’m guessing 10% at best, at least that’s the case for me. The craziest part is that I’m reliving these past events, but often times find myself still not learning from them. I’m just feeling the miserable pain of mistakes, guilt, hurt or pain over and over again. Perhaps I’m just a gluten for punishment, or perhaps I’m just human. I used to wonder why I do this to myself; why most human beings do? I have developed my own little tagline for a syndrome I feel has infected the majority of the human race, at least from my experience here in the United States. This tagline is something I refer to as “the walking wounded.” You’ll hear me refer to this quite often in my writings as I interact with people and subsequently write about these interactions on my journey.

Here’s a brief example I’ll leave you with. I was walking into the grocery store recently and noticed a gentleman who seemed very perturbed. I was approaching with my eyes intentionally viewing my surroundings so he was hard to miss (one of my being present/awareness tactics you’ll soon realize I’m constantly working on). I noticed the man and his overall demeanor being extremely frustrated. I could only imagine what possibly happened at the checkout counter inside to set him off. I walked past him with a content smile on my face as I heard him mutter to himself “now where’s the fuc*ing car?!” I started thinking about what his life must be like, and also what he’s been through to get him to this place of such negative energy. I do believe we’re all very much a product of our past experiences, parenting styles, overall upbringings, successes, failures and so much more. The question I have is why so many choose to stay in those past experiences? I’ve spent much of my life guilty of this behavior and still have to consciously choose to stay in the moment to avoid what I like to call the “reverse rear-end mind collision.” Analogy- it’s like I decide to throw my car (my mind) in reverse to intentionally hit something behind me (typically a nerve, a negative feeling or just run myself over in general). The way to avoid such an ill-advised mental trafficking maneuver you ask? I have to choose to look in my personal review mirror when it rears its’ ugly head and ask “what can I learn from that situation, or what haven’t I already learned that I’m supposed to?” I figure if past experiences continue to present themselves then perhaps we still have unfinished business. I believe there is a lesson to learn, a person to forgive, or maybe even an opportunity to forgive ourselves. This gentleman helped me tagline “the walking wounded.” Something good came out of that moment for me at least, and I must admit I do hope he found his car.

Many folks that I interact with spend much of their time acting out from past hurts, mistakes, regrets, failures or traumas. This breaks my heart for all of us because our true spirit cannot shine through our past, only the present. I will continue to explore this subject in many future posts. I look forward to explaining my theories a bit deeper about our wounds not only creating impulse reactions and emotions, but also how they affect so much of our major decision making abilities as well. For instance- perhaps you’re in a place in an area of life today because of decisions you made long ago? Perhaps these decisions were made from a brokenness that stemmed from wounds that were never healed? Perhaps if/when healed, your decisions would’ve been different because they stemmed from your true authentic/spiritually connected self? Perhaps….