Today I am reminded of the Gift of Differences on the journey. We are all so perfectly unique that there are bound to be differences in our thoughts, beliefs, and values. An experience today made me acutely aware of this.
I have been part of a Facebook group over the last couple of weeks that split due to divisions. Even in a love-based, spiritual group, we each have past experiences, backgrounds, and environments that have contributed to how we think today. One person noted that our differences in beliefs is why there are so many denominations within Christianity. People are very passionate about their spiritual beliefs or lack of them. Feelings can get hurt and anger stirred. This can happen even with very well-meaning people.
There is a strong need in the world today for all of us to love, listen to, and accept others whether they believe the same as us or not. The type of love that Jesus taught is big enough to encompass everyone. We can choose to agree to disagree. We can let the differences remain without trying to persuade others that we are right and they are wrong.
We can learn from those who think differently and we should. Perhaps we don’t have all the answers either. Admitting to ourselves and others that we don’t know everything is a sign of maturity.
Let’s be willing today to consider the perspective of another. Let’s honor each other as we give thanks for the Gift of Differences on the Journey!
The next gift on the journey is the Gift of Helping Others. In college I realized that I had a heart for people who were hurting or lonely. I loved visiting seniors in nursing homes. I visited a retired dentist who was unable to speak due to a stroke, but enjoyed showing me pictures. I took snacks and juice around to residents at another facility. These activities brought me great joy.
I was given the roles of Chaplain and Resident Assistant my sophomore and junior years. However, my lack of self-esteem got in the way of really being there for the other girls. I reasoned that they “had it together” more than I did and that there was nothing I could offer them. Besides, most of them had boyfriends and I did not. What could I possibly know of their issues and struggles?
Toward the end of my junior year, I sank into a very deep depression that eventually led to alcoholism. I went through such darkness during those years that ironically later assisted in my ability to help others. I could empathize with people who had clinical depression and those who were alcoholics and addicts. I got sober through Alcoholics Anonymous and learned that what I had experienced would enable me to assist those who had less sobriety than I did.
Although I did help others from time to time, I was very emotionally needy. However, during nine years of intense psychotherapy, my inner wounds began to heal and I grew more capable of reaching out my hand to another soul. The joy of helping others returned and I sought employment that enabled me to make a difference in people’s lives. In fact, that is one of the main reasons I am writing this blog.
No matter what difficulties you have endured on your journey, there is redeeming value in the thought that they have prepared you to help others who have suffered as well. Helping others feels good and is truly a special Gift on the Journey!
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul…
Psalm 23:1-3a (NIV)
Today I am so thankful for the gift of God’s provision on the journey. I have a Shepherd to help meet my needs. I can rely on Him to provide for me when I don’t know how I’m going to make it on my own. Despite having worked in therapy for many years to become the somewhat independent adult woman that I am, it still comforts me to know that God has my back.
I have struggled financially all my life, but I have never gone hungry or without clean water. I can’t explain why there are starving children in the world. I can only testify that my Shepherd has provided for me through family, friends, and even strangers. Today I am fortunate to have a loving fiancé to help out as well. I am looking forward to returning to the workforce after having been laid off in December of 2016 due to illness. I am also trying to think more positively about finances and focus on abundance rather than lack.
Perhaps you are struggling with providing for yourself or your family. Maybe you have enough food and clothing, but have other needs that are not being met. After you have done what you can, remember that you have a Shepherd who is watching out for you and wanting to guide you to green pastures and still waters. I pray that He will meet every need that you have.
I give thanks today for God’s Gift of Provision on the journey!
At some point along the journey, you may find a particular symbol that is especially encouraging and inspiring to you. Maybe it is a type of animal or insect. Maybe it is a cross or praying hands or angels. It could even be a song, a favorite Bible verse, or a certain number. You can have one or several symbols and it may even change at different points on your journey.
I have had multiple symbols…from swans to angels to blue butterflies. It is like a secret code between you and God…a special language of the soul.
Once you choose one, pay special attention to when, where, and how often you see or hear it. When you do, know that God’s spirit is encouraging you in your life. You may be amazed at how many times your symbol shows up.
Join me in gratitude to God for speaking to us each in a special way. I give thanks for the Gift of Blue Butterflies on the journey!
Today I am especially grateful for God’s gift of Jesus to help us on the journey. He has traveled the road before and knows how to help and guide us. He understands our struggles and loves each of us individually.
Just knowing ABOUT Jesus is much different than feeling his overwhelming unconditional love. He is just waiting for people to invite him into their lives so that he can be their companion on the journey.
I have recently heard of people having visions of him that were extremely meaningful and life-changing. I prayed before bed last night that I would have a dream of him. My real desire was that he would come to me in a significant way. I had no dreams of him, but he did answer the intent behind my prayer.
I visited a church today that had a banner on the wall with a picture of Jesus as he appeared to someone in a vision several months ago. Later I received some Jesus Scripture cards that I had ordered through the mail much sooner than expected. One of them has the same picture of him that I have hanging on the wall in my bedroom! It is called Lost No More by artist Greg Olsen (pictured above). Both of these pictures are incredibly special to me. I believe that Jesus answered the prayer of my heart and showed me he is with me through these pictures.
My prayer for each of you is that you are able to feel the great love Jesus has for you and gain solace and strength from this beautiful Gift of Jesus on the journey.
I am so thankful for everything that I have experienced in life, because it has given me the next gift on the journey…the Gift of Growth. It’s difficult to think this way when we are going through the “bad” times, but later on it is possible to acknowledge the value in each situation.
For instance, if I had not been depressed, I would not have had the multitude of counseling sessions in which I developed a greater understanding of my own thoughts and feelings, as well as those of others. Even my alcoholism led to positive learning through Alcoholics Anonymous, increasing the strength of my spirit in sobriety after surrendering to God. It introduced me to people I would not otherwise have met, broadening my understanding of their struggles and encouraging empathy and compassion within me.
I have heard the idea of earth as a school. That seems to fit how I feel. I think God is each person’s individual Tutor. Sometimes we have to go through certain lessons more than once in order to learn what we need to learn. He stays with us through all the ups and downs, never giving up on our potential to learn, change, and grow.
Thinking this way makes life exciting! What will I learn today? How will I mature? Think back on your life and see how much you’ve grown. Then perhaps you can join me in giving thanks for this Gift of Growth on the journey!
I have been blessed today by seeing words of support for others, God’s love, peace, encouragement, and acceptance on Face Book. They were words that heal the hearts and souls of those who read them.
I also had a significant conversation with a loved one in which we spoke with gentleness and respect for each other’s thoughts and needs. I feel that healing took place through spoken words in this instance.
Both situations remind me of the power of words and the potential for healing through them. Certain Bible verses, song lyrics, and quotations can be soothing and inspiring.
In addition, we have the opportunity to let God heal others through our loving words. That idea inspires hope, but also suggests great responsibility. Let’s think carefully about the words we speak and write. We never know the impact they may have on the lives of others.
I hope that you are healed by the words you see and hear. We are so fortunate to have the gift of healing words to help us on the journey.
The journey sometimes gets lonely for each of us, but God has provided a very special gift…the gift of companions. We don’t have to travel alone. We may know God is with us, yet need contact with other physical beings. God has blessed us with friends, family members, and even our pets as companions on this journey.
We don’t have to do everything ourselves. Since God gives each of us different talents and abilities, there are others who can help us in areas where we struggle. Sometimes we don’t want to give up control or feel uncomfortable asking for help. However, the choice to ask is ours.
Even social media can provide the assurance that we are not alone in how we feel and think. Facebook and Facebook groups are available to assist us in connecting with people of like mind. We simply need to reach out and share.
I hope that this blog can be a gathering place for those who want to connect through comments. May you feel welcome here as you enjoy the gift of companions on your journey!
Some days on the journey our minds, bodies, and souls feel tired and worn out. That is when we need to allow ourselves to experience the gift of stillness. We need time alone to recharge our batteries, enjoy peace and quiet, and listen within. By listening we may become more aware of our thoughts and desires and perhaps gain inspiration from God regarding important life decisions. In the quiet, we can also find rest in the peace that His presence provides.
I tend to go to other sources for answers I seek, while all along God is waiting for me in the silence. He wants me to stop…stop thinking, stop talking, stop reading, stop listening to other people…and be still. In Psalm 46:10 in the Bible, God says, “Be still, and know that I am God…” He wants to guide me on my journey, if only I will set aside time to listen after praying and trust Him with the answers. Proverbs 3:5-6 states, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
If you are struggling today with any situation, know that God cares enough about you to guide you. Try getting still and just listening within. You may gain answers, but you almost certainly will gain peace. This is a great practice to do each day. I hope that you take the time to enjoy this gift on the journey.
Difficult times on our journey can often produce the gift of creativity, particularly for those with various types of depression. There is a need to dig deep and express what is going on inside. Most of the poems I have written took place in a dark time in my life. Writing them helped to free my thoughts and heal my emotions.
If you are going through depression or difficult feelings right now, try to write, draw, or do anything creative. You may be pleased with the results. Not only will you have what you have created, but you will feel the fog and heaviness lift from your mind and body.
God’s handiwork in nature is brimming with creativity. Since we are made in His image, we have the ability to create as well… not only works of art, but by co-creating with Him, even our steps on the journey of life.
Enjoy this gift on the journey!