Indestructible Beauty

As I approached the exit of my workplace, I noticed the wind and rain was especially boisterous.  I was initially hesitant to proceed, because I didn’t have my umbrella, but then I decided to “man-up” and make a mad dash for my car.  “Here goes,” I said to myself in a futile effort to psych myself out before I tore the door open and began my sprint to my car.  The rain was cold and the parking lot was a muddy mess; as rivers coursed across the pavement.  Upon approaching my car, I saw a peculiar-looking object lying on the ground.  I slowed my pace, as my curiosity got the best of me, so that I could make sense of what I was seeing.  Much to my surprise, right there on the pavement in the mud and rain was a single, solitary red rose.  I assumed someone had dropped it as they were en route to their destination.  As I gave pause in the rain to take in the scene, the writer in me was immediately awakened.  Prose and poems permeated my mind because of the paradox I was beholding.  From this paradox I would like to lift some simple truths to share with you. 

 

Your Beauty is Indestructible

Have you ever thought about what makes a rose (or any flower for that matter) so beautiful?  Roses have the unique ability to captivate us with their visual and aromatic appeal.  No matter the setting, climate, or variety roses are simply beautiful, and their beauty is indestructible.  When I saw the rose lying on the ground in the rain, it caught my eye.  On such an ugly day (from my perspective) surrounded by such ugly conditions (rain, mud, broken pavement) this rose was still beautiful.  The harsh, external conditions didn’t diminish the innate splendor and appeal of the rose.  In fact, I would venture to say, the beauty of the rose was heightened, because the surrounding conditions were so obscure.   

You may be in an ugly situation today, with mudslides and potholes all around you, but your life is like that rose.  You’re amazing because God made you that way.  According to Ecclesiastes 3:11, God makes all things beautiful.  God is working on something in you, and even though you may not look like it right now, you are a masterpiece in the making.  Some of the most beautiful gems start off as dirty, undesirable rocks.  However, with the right amounts of pressure, heat and time precious jewels are born. 

 

The Beauty of Connection

We are in an age where almost everyone is obsessed with physical, exterior beauty.  Unfortunately, this obsession has perverted the true ideal of what beauty really is.  Furthermore, one may ask, “What determines beauty?”  I believe out connections enhance our intrinsic beauty.  You can tell a lot about a person based on their connections.  It is vital to know what connections give you life and fulfillment.  These are what I refer to as essential connections.  Three of my essential connections are as follows:

God

Family

Writing

I won’t bore you with a long list of what inspires me, but I encourage you to spend time discovering what those connections are for you, and the power and beauty they usher into your life. 

One solemn fact that later dawned on me about the rose in the rain was there was no connection.  Even though the rose possessed residual beauty, I knew what the ineluctable fate of that rose would be:  Death by disconnection.

In much the same way, when we fail to connect with our Source (God) and what gives us life, we wither.  Our beauty fades when we remain disconnected from our creator and our purpose.  Psalm chapter one illustrates what proper connection looks like.  When we remain connected to God through meditation and communion, we become productive and flourish in our seasons.  Remember, your life is a stunning bouquet designed to reflect God’s beauty.  Your external circumstances will never be able to destroy your intrinsic glory, because your beauty is and will always be indestructible.

I would love to hear from you.  What are some of your essential connections?  Who inspires you to pursue greater? 

As always, thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

BE

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The Chronicles of Marriage: Mastering the Art of Aloneness

Welcome to Wisdom’s Quill.  For the month of February, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I will be focusing on love and relationships in a series of posts called: The Chronicles of Marriage.   Please enjoy this first post, and please stop by next week for part 2.

So, it’s Valentine’s Day and you’re single…How are you handling that?

Your answer to this question can determine the time you have left in your single-state.  If you view being single as a negative condition, it creates an aura around you that attracts negativity into your life.  Instead of sulking in your singleness, desperately searching for Mr. or Ms. Right to show up and magically sweep you off of your feet, why not try your hand at mastering the art of aloneness? 

Yes…singleness is an art which, as it turns out, can be very sexy.  You have the power to be magnetic in all areas of your life, from your appearance to your personality all by focusing on, and developing the one person that you can actually control…YOU. 

Interested?  Fabulous…keep reading.

 

The Purpose of Singleness

Being alone affords you a powerful opportunity to learn all about yourself without the liability of another person along for the ride.  What do you like?  What are your pet peeves?  What are your strengths?  How about your weaknesses?  If you don’t know the answers to these questions, how can someone else truly get to know you on an intimate level?  When I say intimate, I’m not talking about sexually.  Rather, it’s about going beyond the surface of who you are.  You should have layers that make up the “whole you.”  Layers make you interesting, and those layers should reveal different aspects of who you are as a whole person.  These parts should intrigue and affect people every time they discover a new layer.  Ever peel back the layers of an onion without being affected? 

 

Alone, Not Lonely

There is a difference between being alone and being lonely.   Loneliness is a negative emotion experienced as a result of a perceived void.  It’s an emotional flag that something or someone is missing.  Sometimes, this is a natural response when you lose family members, employment, or anything else of great value.  In essence, it’s a phase of the grieving process. 

Loneliness is different.  According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word “alone” actually originates from two words: “all one.”  It simply means “all in one” or “unaccompanied.”  Think about it this way, when you’ve mastered being alone, you become self-sufficient, and everyone that God brings into your life will benefit from the wholeness that you bring to the table.  You have everything that you need already within you.  Spend your singleness developing yourself.  Just because you’re alone right now doesn’t mean you have to be lonely.  Get out and get involved in new activities as an exercise in self-discovery.  Take on new responsibilities and learn new hobbies.  Responsibility increases your attractiveness immensely.  Who knows, you may even bump right into your future mate while you’re out there living life and having fun doing so.

 

Adam, The Garden of Eden, and Aloneness

Food for thought: 

God initially created Adam alone.  Adam never asked God for a wife.  It was God’s idea to bless him with Eve, a mate suitable for him (Genesis 2).  Before Eve came along, Adam was just hanging out in Eden (which, by the way, means “delight”) doing a little farming, naming the animals, and just delighting in his work, when all of a sudden…BAMThere was Eve.  Aren’t you happy that God knows what we need even before we do.  I believe when we spend our singleness discovering and delighting in those things that we are passionate about, it brings life to us and others who are around us.  That’s why I love going to concerts and experiencing the arts.  There’s nothing like observing people in their element who are passionate about their art. 

Your Garden of Eden is within you when you learn how to delight in being yourself.   

 

Love Thyself

Just to clarify, in no way am I saying that if you are single now, you should spend the rest of your life alone.  That’s totally unrealistic.  On a certain level, interaction with others is vital for you to learn certain facets about yourself.  I believe that it’s the plan of God for you to ultimately share your life with that special someone if you desire to be married.  The greatest expression of love, is to love yourself enough to allow God’s love to flow through you to others.   

Remember:

“The secret of attraction is to love yourself.  Attractive people judge neither themselves or others.  They are open to gestures of love.  They think about love, and express their love in every action.”–Deepak Chopra

Let’s talk.  In the comments section, list some interesting things that you have recently learned about yourself.  What were you doing when you discovered those new things?  How has it affected you?  Looking forward to hearing from you…and as always, thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.

BE

How Your Perception Impacts Your Success

Picture this:

My wife and I are at Starbucks (in a long line of course) in the airport waiting for our order, and right next to us is a woman patiently waiting for her order as well.  As I take a second glance, I noticed she was smiling.  Reflexively, I smiled back at her as she spoke to both my wife and I and asked how we were.  This small interaction led to a longer conversation that brightened the rest of our day.  As we walked away we recounted how nice it was to encounter such a nice person.  As I continued to think about our interaction, a question began to form in my mind:

“When did pleasant people become an endangered species in our society?” 

Think about it.  When was the last time you randomly encountered a nice, genuine person?

Exactly…it takes a second to recall, doesn’t it?

If we’re honest, it seems normal these days for people to walk around in a dark cloud of depression, self-loathing and self-pity.  Let’s not even mention the people who are just plain mad…at everyone.  They go to sleep angry and wake up angrier.  What caused this mass deterioration and dysfunction?  I believe it can all be summed up in one word…Perception.  Yes, our perceptions are the blueprints for how we look at life, and everyone had a different blueprint.  Think of it as our point of reference.  It’s the way we process everything around us as we look through the lenses of our personal experiences and biases.  If our lenses are dark, then our outlook will be dark and vice versa.  What if I told you the reason why you are not producing the results you desire in your life could be the result of your outlook?  One of my favorite quotes from Leonardo da Vinci states, “All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions.”  Whether it’s work, home, relationships, or all of the above, how you view life can determine what you produce in your life.

Perception vs. Perspective

Ladies and gentlemen, I have good news and bad news.  First, the bad news (sorry):

Perception and perspective are two different things.  I know you’re asking, how is this bad news?  Well, the main reason is because so many people confuse the two.  They think the way they see and interpret things is the way things really are.  Have you ever encountered a habitually paranoid person who believes that everyone wants to harm them in some way?  How about a person that constantly feels that they have been purposely omitted from a communication or event because no one likes them.  Although these may seem extreme, they are examples of faulty perceptions, and are more commonplace than you think.  The difference between perception and perspective is the fact that perspective is the ability to place a singular event into its proper contextual construct.  In other words, seeing things from the proper point of reference within the framework of what really matters to you.

Here’s a little exercise that reinforces proper perspective.  So you wake up in the morning to encounter Murphy’s Law at work in your life.  Everything that can go wrong does go wrong.  You overslept, the kids are fighting in the car, you’re stuck in traffic because you left home later than usual (you get the point).  You finally make it to work, late of course, so you’re not in the best mood due to your dreadful morning.  However, when you walk into your office you discover that one of your co-workers was just diagnosed with cancer, and another co-worker’s mother died the night before.  Remember that dreadful morning of yours?  Doesn’t seem so dreadful now, does it?  That’s the power of proper perspective.

Now, I promised you some good news, didn’t I?  Here it is:  Perceptions are malleable and can be altered pretty quickly.  In turn, when your perception is positively altered, it places you in a better position for increased productivity.  I like to call it fruitfulness.  I came across an interesting fact that I’d like to lift from an article entitled “Well-Being, Success, and the Gallup Student Poll” conducted in 2009.  High school students who reported consistently experiencing a joyful outlook had better academic records overall.  This proves that people with an overall positive outlook are happier, which could be a precursor to success and impactful results.

Perception and Maturity

Did you know fruit trees only produce fruit after they have reached a certain level of maturity?  Just like fruit trees, our productivity is connected to our maturity, because in most cases our perceptions are rooted in our level of maturity.  Many times our actions are influenced by our perceptions, whether good or bad.  Arising from our actions are the consequences of those actions.  If we’re honest with ourselves we will admit that when we were younger and immature, we made some pretty dumb decisions that we would later live to regret.  What makes us see those actions for what they are (dumb)?  Could it be that time and experience placed those actions in perspective?  Our actions are the seeds that carry the genetic material that produces the offspring of consequence.  That’s why I believe that maturity is the force of proper perspective.  As we mature, we tend to focus more on the consequences of our actions.  Until we mature completely, we will always struggle to maximize our productivity.

So if you are struggling with negative perceptions, here are some effective tools that always work for me when I find myself in a bit of a conundrum.

  1. Diet–   You are what you eat, and food affects mood.  Try to make healthy eating a lifestyle.  When you eat great, you feel great, and when you feel great, you produce great things.
  2. Exercise–  Research consistently shows that exercise improves and hones all of our bodily functions, including perhaps the most important of all…brain activity.  When we’re sharp mentally, we pay attention to detail, which is a guaranteed gateway to increased productivity.
  3. Quiet Time–  Whether you pray, meditate, or just take a short nap, time spent in quiet solitude can relieve stress and change negative perceptions throughout your day.  I encourage you to take advantage of breaks in your day to silently recharge.
  4. Connect–  We all thrive on social interactions with others.  You may not be an extrovert or a social butterfly, but connection with like minds and significant others can greatly reinforce priorities and ideas that really matter to us.  There is nothing like spending time with the people we love to help bring proper perspective.
  5. Travel–  A change of scenery can go a long way when trying to change negative perceptions.  Never underestimate the power of “vacating the premises.”

Be encouraged today and remember, trees produce fruit; fruit contains seeds; seeds produce trees.

What will YOU produce today?

Thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.

BE