Contentment Meter

The school bell has rung, class is now in session.

Are you content with where you are in life? Have you been taking advantage of the opportunities being afforded to you? How do you react when things are not quite going your way?

Is this you?

These are some of the questions that have been mulling around in my head.

I was a military dependent. For those who don’t know, that is the spouse and/or child of a person serving in the military. I would consider myself extremely comfortable being around all types of people. I have lived in Europe, cities across the United States of America; have resided in small and large cities among many races and cultures. I promise I have a point to this story.

Fast forward to adulthood – I have met many people who are not content in the town they live, quality of life or work situation. It is normal to feel this way from time to time, but should not become a habitual emotion.

The Town and Quality of Life

If you are complaining about where you live, do not allow it to determine your overall happiness. Take advice from me, the place I remember having the most fun was a small town where we had a few stores, and drove 50 minutes to the nearest mall.

Do you want to know why it was fun? It was because of the community we built with those around us. In Proverbs 18:24, it says, A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

If you want friends, you have to show yourself friendly to people. It is the relationship built with others, that determine the quality of life in a town. For example, take a large city. There is always a lot to do in a city that never sleeps.

Have you ever lived in a large city? Have you known someone who has, were unhappy and decided to move to a smaller town? My answer is yes to both. A remedy to enjoying yourself in a large or small city, is building a community around yourself. That could include finding hobbies you enjoy, joining a church, an organization, meeting new people and building relationships with like-minded people. It is not about where you live, it is the community you build, that creates a good quality of life for you and your loved ones.

Work Situation

If there is discontentment in the workplace, it could be one of two things. The first thing could be that you are working outside of your capacity, and there is another position and organization better suited for you. The second reason could be that you are being tested, and gaining new skillsets that will help you progress to the next level within your same organization/system.

You have to pray and reflect on which reason fits your situation. There is a solution for both areas: apply and end up switching positions and/or organizations, or be patient and continue applying within the same organization/system until the door opens for the next level.

Our Town

This brings me to a play titled, Our Town by Thornton Wilder. The play was set in the small town of Grover’s Corners. It talks about the different roles people play and how they went through their days. Eventually tragedy hits, and one of the characters passes on and is allowed to come back to earth to relive an experience and chose to come back on her 12th birthday.

According to the synopsis, She joyfully watched her parents and some of the people of her childhood for the first time in years, but her joy quickly turned to pain as she realized how little people appreciated the simple joys of life. The memory proved too painful for her and she realized that every moment of life should be treasured. 

Takeaways

Do you feel discontent with your town, quality of life, or work situation?

Remember the following:

  1. If you want friends, show yourself friendly.
  2. Unhappy with your work situation? Remember it may be a trial, do your best to build your skillset for your next level, or try applying to something completely outside of your current field.
  3. Take the time to appreciate the simple joys of life.
  4. Every moment should be treasured.
  5. Build community around yourself through relationships with like-minded people.

P.S. Your town and contentment is what you make of it.

The school bell has rung, class is dismissed.

Double-Minded Island

The school bell has rung, class is now in session.

I am back from my hiatus on Double-Minded Island. Double-Minded Island is an Island shaped like a hand and is a place people end up who are in the valley of decisions.

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On the island, as I was reflecting about life and where I wanted to go from this point, a memory of a time come to mind. It was a little over 12 years ago when I had been applying to different alternative teaching programs around the U.S. and internationally. It was a very confusing time. I had been praying for clarification because every opportunity that came appeared to be a good idea, but as we know, not everything that is “good” is of “God.”

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One day, I was visiting an old building that I used to rent for a business I owned. The new owners had made the building into a used bookstore that I frequented from time to time. As I stood in line to purchase a book, a man came behind me that looked like a character from a Canterbury Tales novel, beard and all.

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As I was standing in line, taking my wallet out for payment, the gentleman behind me asked about a picture in my wallet of a family member. After providing some insight about that family member, he went on to ask me had I been trying to make a decision about moving lately? I was surprised because I had been trying to decide on whether or not to move. He told me to hold out my hand, he wanted to use it as an analogy. He held up my pointer finger and said, “This is your who, the middle finger is your what, the ring finger is your when, the pinky finger is your where and your thumb finger is your why.” He went on to say, “Never make a decision to do anything, unless the why makes sense. The why functions like your thumb and without it, you won’t grip very well, or hold on to anything for long.” He told me praying about it will help me make sound decisions.” Afterwards I thanked him, and he mentioned he had to go walk to the store up the road to get medicine for his wife. It was super cold outside that day, as it was mid-October, so I was surprised he was walking. After I paid, I went outside to make sure he was ok and there was no sign of him anywhere.

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I got into my car and sat there thinking at how much God must really care to send a stranger to tell me something like that when I really needed hear it. As I prayed and reflected on the positions I vacillated between, I thought about my hands, my fingers and my why. As I did this, things became much clearer. I began to ask myself, “Why do I really want to go to these places?” I began to realize a lot of the why behind me going was not for me, but for others.

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We end up on Double-Minded Island because of discontentment. Discontentment usually comes from comparing ourselves to others. It can start small, walking by someone and noticing their designer watch or bag. Surfing through Instagram, FB, or Twitter, and seeing smiling faces on vacations in nice restaurants, waterskiing and so on. It could even come from chatting with a friend and hearing about a really great experience they’ve recently had. All of these happenings could lead to discontentment and unhappiness in our own lives.

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I am glad I had that memory after my hiatus to Double-Minded Island because it reminded me the importance of knowing my why behind each decision I make. If you are trying to decide between a decision, and end up on Double-Minded Island and remember:

Pointer Finger – Who

Middle Finger – What

Ring Finger – When

Pinky Finger – Where

Thumb Finger – WHY

This will get you back on the Boat of Contentment, which is a much joyful and peaceful place. I leave you with these last words of encouragement.

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Rejoicing in Trials

James 1: 6-8

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But he must ask in faith, without doubting, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That man should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Wellness Tip:  Take vitamins. If you feel like you aren’t getting the nutrition you need from your diet, don’t hesitate to supplement it with specific vitamins to stay healthy and illness free.

Life is too precious to remain stuck in an unpleasant story, so go ahead and close that story book and began a new one.” ~Dr. Kamina Fitzgerald

The school bell has rung, class dismissed.

The Informational Web of He Says, She Says

The school bell has rung, class is now in session.

I find this saying a bit humorous but can remember the time when I first experienced the he says she says monster myself; it was in the 1st grade.

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It all began when I changed schools and started my new 1st grade class. I have always enjoyed school, but my joy decreased when I encountered two boys and a girl whose main objective was to pick on me each day. I will call them the bully gang. Our classroom behavior data was tracked by the color of the sticker we received at the end of each day. A green sticker was good, yellow was ok, and red was bad.

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One day I saw the bully gang over by the behavior charts messing around with a sticker. A few minutes later, they ran to the teacher, and told her I had moved someone’s sticker. I could not believe my ears; this was my first experience with a blatant lie! I truly wished at that time my teacher had a lie detector test.

The teacher came to me, and asked why I had touched the stickers? I noted she did not ask me if I did it, but why had I done it? This bothered me, but I told her that I had not touched the stickers. She went on with her accusations saying that three students had seen me, and because of that, I had a choice between a paddling or moving my own sticker to yellow. I knew that if I chose to move my sticker to yellow, I would not be able to get a special prize on Friday out of the treasurer box. Instead, like a martyr, I chose the paddle.

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While receiving a paddle in the hallway, my neighbor’s class was walking by. My neighbor and friend, Louie, saw me about to get a paddle. I knew that was not good, but just wanted it to be over with. Later that evening, Louie told my parents that he saw me about to receive the paddle in the hallway. I wanted to disappear!

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My parents ended up having a conference with the teacher. I thought they would give her a piece of their minds, but I was wrong. They simply let her know that in the future, she needed to call them before paddling me. Afterwards I was punished for receiving the paddle.

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Finally, my day of redemption came. The bully gang was about to move a sticker again, and blame me for it, but the teacher was watching them. In case you did not know, teachers really have eyes in the back of their heads.

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The bully gang moved a sticker and ran to the teacher to tell that I had moved it, but she stopped them in their tracks. She told them she had seen them and did not appreciate what they had done. I felt good because she had finally caught them red-handed!

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After that experience, I experienced more he says she says (and even some she says she says) situations throughout my life, but I would like to share four reminders that help me cope when tangled in the information web.

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  1. Ask the tale bearer, “what were they saying at the time?”  – If someone approaches you with information that another person has said about you, do not let your immediate reaction be anger. Evaluate what was said and ask the person who shared the negativity, what were they saying when the conversation took place? You should inquire about this, because the person telling you the information, was [probably/most likely] talking about you as well.
  2. Find out the information from the source – When you hear something about yourself or someone else, do not take it at face value, go to the source! I have cleared up so many petty situations that could have ended terribly, by choosing to go straight to the person in question. When I took the time to do this, I would always find out that the story was embellished or misconstrued. If you say nothing at all and just believe what you have heard; you could end up losing a good friend/co-worker/relationship. So, it is beneficial to go to the source. The only time you do not need to do this, is if you choose to not believe or react to the information in question.
  3. Do not continue to pass the information to others – He says she says situations usually end up being blown out of proportion because instead of going to the source, the person continues to share the story. Do not do this, you may or may not be passing along untruths that could create irrefutable damage to a professional or personal reputation.
  4. You were not there – Remind yourself, when hearing a tale about someone, or something they have said, you-were-not-there. Meaning, you did not witness it with your own eyes or hear it with your own ears. You honestly only know what you were being told. Evaluate the why behind the talebearer, they may be trying to make that person look bad in your eyes. Ask yourself could they be jealous, upset or just not like the other person? What is their motive in sharing the negativity with you about that person? Once you gather the answer to these questions, you will have your reason behind this mode of gossip.

When it comes to, he says she says, I would like to leave you with these last three lines:

  1. Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you. ~Matthew 7:12
  2. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. ~Galatians 6:7
  3. ToForgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. ~ Lewis B. Smedes

Wellness Tip: Turn off devices before heading to bed. Leaving it on has been linked to trouble falling asleep.

“Teachers are expected to reach unattainable goals with inadequate tools. The miracle is that at ties they accomplish this impossible task.” ~Haim Ginott

The school bell has rung, class dismissed. 

Taking the Scenic Route to Your Career Destination

The school bell has rung, class is now in session.

I would like to share a personal story about my experience in career development. One of my former high school students accepted a teaching position. Before he did, he asked how I knew I wanted to be a teacher. Instead of answering the question straight away, I gave him a story instead. Sit back and relax, it’s story time!

The summer before entering undergrad, my time was filled with private cheer and tumbling classes in order to prepare for my first collegiate cheer camp and practices, they were intense.

Note: This is not my team from college but this is a similar pyramid we had to do

Declaring a major was NOT in the forefront of my mind. Honestly, if you’d asked me what I wanted to be at that time, I would have said either a Dance Studio Owner or Archeologist, yet somehow I ended up attending an institution noted for their PGM Program (golf).            

When I met with my freshman Advisor, I told her that I wanted to be an Archeologist, and she sweetly informed me that there were no such majors at the college; but I could try the Geology program instead. After taking my first class on rocks, I considered changing to Education. Only one other girl on my cheer team was an Education Major and she was always teased that teachers did not make a lot of money. Newsflash: she was from Jersey, where teachers made a lot of money because they had a Teacher Union. Nevertheless, peer pressure got to me and I decided to switch my major to Psychology instead of Education.

As I sat in Dr. Campbell’s psych class and listened to him drone on and on about the history of Psychology, I decided to schedule another meeting with my Advisor. The poor woman was always so kind, but I bet she was getting quite tired of me. I told her that I wanted to be a Psychologist, but the class was not interesting to me. She nicely informed me that I would need at least a master’s degree in order to practice Psychology, so if the classes were not interesting, I may want to consider changing my major to something else. One of my friends told me maybe I should consider Business Administration. Are you all noticing how “my friends” were guiding my career decisions? eye roll.

I decided to switch to Business Administration, but I had to declare a minor, in which I decided on Health Care Administration. I was then placed with the Health Care Advisor and clicked with him instantly. He told me how I would have the opportunity to add a license so that I could teach Business at the middle and high school. Even though the idea intrigued me, I still did not get the teaching certificate. I performed exceptionally well in my Business and Health Care courses. Once I reached my senior year, completed my internships; one at hospital and another at a private imaging clinic, I felt this sinking feeling I had made a mistake.

I digress by saying throughout undergrad, I always kept a part-time position at an early childcare facility, even though I was a full-time student and on a cheer/dance team. I loved working with students. When it was nearly time for me to graduate, and after I had my first job offer in my major, a nagging question entered my mind. How on earth did the Childcare Center and Circuit City pay more than what was offered to me by a Private Health Care Imaging Company? I was extremely insulted that I had spent four years plus an arm and a leg in school, only to be offered a part-time position, working from 7pm to 11pm, making less than I was already making!

I didn’t even ENJOY working at the Private Health Care Imaging Company. Please do not misunderstand me, I am not trying to sound like an entitled spoiled brat. I am making a point that I was sold a bill of goods in college! I was told that choosing a certain major that PAID WELL, was more important then choosing what you truly wanted to do. Because I chose the option I thought “paid well”, I was supposed to be guaranteed a good position.

Instead, I ended up spending the first year after undergrad in an MBA Program, while working in group homes with high risk children, then an after school program. It was during the time I was working in the after school program that my former cheerleading coach from high school saw, and told me the high school I had graduated from was in dire need of a Business Teacher and Cheer Coach (optional). She mentioned that four Teachers had quit during the first semester and that they needed someone to start the next month in January. I was a little frighten by the possibility, but she told me she thought I could do it. She set up an interview with the Principal (who ironically happened to be her former high school cheer coach) and I was offered the position.

Let me tell you, as I sip my tea, the salary was more than what any of the health care facilities were offering me, and was more than what I was making at that time. Not to mention, I had the holidays off. This was huge because in childcare, there were hardly any days off. I started teaching high school, coaching cheerleading and it felt really organic for me. I have always loved working with young people (in church, group homes, babysitting, and in childcare), so I had finally found my niche!

One of the teams I have coached.

Do you know if I had went ahead and majored in Education during undergrad, I would not have had to go on such a wild goose chase? I would have most likely found a teaching position right after graduation, been able to start paying my student loans, and establishing myself. Because I did not do this, and was not able to find a steady job after graduation, I had to put my loans in deferment. For those of you who do not have experience in this area, your loans will indefinitely capitalize during this time period. Which means that interest will multiple and could end up equaling nearly the same as the principal.

            In conclusion, after I continued with my education, I was blessed to have professors who retired as Instructional Leaders, Principals, Assistant Superintendents and Superintendents. They taught me that it was not about chasing money, but doing what you loved. When you chase money, it will run from you, but when you do what you love, money will follow.

            Back to what I was originally talking about, my former student asked me how I knew which career I wanted to do, and I told him I have always liked working with children, so the natural thing to do was go into education. I just ended up taking the Career Scenic Route to get there.

            Moral of the Story: Do not listen to your peers, or to other people about certain positions not bringing in any money, it simply is not true. What sense did it make for me to have to work odd jobs making less, all because I chose a major I heard would bring me more money, when in reality I would have been better off in the long run with the major presumed to bring in less?

If I had majored in Education, I would have found a teaching position right out of college which is the norm compared to majors “rumored” to be more lucrative. Those may be lucrative, but finding a position can be tough. In these cases, student loan companies do not care whether you find a position or not. They will defer your loan but at your expense. I will talk more about student loans in the future because I have experience in that area and would like to help others avoid the mistakes I have made. 

The school bell has rung, class dismissed.

            Wellness Tip: Avoid artificial sweeteners (saccharin, acesulfame, aspartame, sucrose, neotame, high fructose corn syrup, and sucralose). Sweet and Low, and Splenda are artificial sweeteners and also contains some of these ingredients. This should be avoided because it can cause weight gain, increase desire for sweeter foods, induce blood sugar disturbance potentially leading to chronic disease, decrease good gut bacteria and immune response, has been linked to some cancers and is not found in nature.

“A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.” ~Max Lucado

No Fishing in the Sea of Forgetfulness

The school bell has rung, class is now in session.

Over a year ago, I wrote a post about the Spirit of Anti-Progress. If you would like to read it, there will be a link at the end of this post.

Another enemy of progress that I would like to focus on is self-condemnation. The root word of condemnation is condemn. The definition is below:

Key words that stood out from the definition are:

Disapproval

Punishment

Criticize

Castigate

These are severe words that have a negative connotation attached to them. Imagine if you constantly subjected yourself to self-disapproval, self-punishment, self-criticism and self-castigation. How far would you go physically, mentally or spiritually?

Progression IS

Progression is seeing a goal in front of you, kicking the ball into the direction of the goal, and scoring! Progression is seeing the goal, missing sometimes, but doing your best to win the game. Progression is also taking the strategies learned from your losses, and using them to play better the next time.

Progression IS NOT

Progression is not entertaining self-loathing thoughts on a regular basis. Progression is not telling yourself that you are incompetent every other second because you made a mistake. Progression is not perfection.

The failures of yesterday happened either by accident, or on purpose. The failures may have been the result of something out of your control. The good news is that it does not have to define who you are today, or what you will do from this point on. Everyone has made mistakes in their past, even done or said things they were ashamed of; the key is to not allow the feeling to carry on into the next day.

There are two encouraging scriptures I would like to share: The first passage points out that when God forgives sin, He no longer remembers it, and the second passage says that God cast all of our sins into the depths of the sea. This occurs whenever we repent of our wrong-doing. The Sea of Forgetfulness is a metaphor relating to these two passages of scripture.

Hebrews 8:12 (KJV) 
12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. 

Micah 7:19 (KJV) 
19 He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. 

These passages should bring us comfort because if God forgets our transgressions after we repent to him, why should we continue to condemn ourselves over them?

It is toxic to repeatedly play negative thoughts about your past, yourself and others.

Toxic Thoughts

Allowing negativity in your mind will eventually brew an environment of anti-progress. Why? Because in order to progress, you have to be in the mind frame of goal setting, and developing steps towards those goals. Continuous thoughts about things that have gone wrong yesterday, is an enemy to progress.

Takeaways

Get out of your head. (Stop letting your imagination run away from you, not everyone is against you. Sometimes you may be wrong about your conclusions of another person. Do not let your negative self-talk, conversations rule your mind so much that you lose sight of what is happening in the world around you.)

Monitor what you put in your ear and eye gate. (In the age of Social Media, we have to be aware that most of what is displayed is negative, or meant to invoke a negative response. Be mindful of what you read, listen to and watch. If it does not add to you, it may be taking away something valuable.)

Do not dwell on past failures. (Learn from them, and carry on.)

Surround yourself with people who support/build, instead of tearing down. (You have heard of the ole English Proverb, Birds of a feather flock together. It is only ok to keep people in your close friend circle if you all are planning to fly in the same direction. Otherwise, politely keep them in the outer courts.)

We all have failed at something, but that does not mean we have to remain at Camp Failure. Stop the self-condemnation, you have too much to accomplish in your life to focus on yesterday. It is time to start thinking about your next steps right now!

When I was a teacher, I remember having students compare and contrast SMART Goals vs the Regular Goals, and it was a game changer for them. Try using it towards your next goal, it will make a huge difference.

SMART Goals

The school bell has rung, class dismissed.

Wellness Tip:

Get enough sleep (and wake up with water)

The body restores itself and regenerates naturally when we sleep. Wake up with water. Your liver works hard at night! Rehydrate in the morning (before having coffee) with one to two glasses of warm lemon water.

“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do. “ ~Pele

Relevant Post

Neighborly Deception

The school bell has rung, class is now in session.

I was studying a chapter in the Book of Joshua, and came across a lesson that would benefit everyone who reads it. Essential Question: Have you ever had an enemy in your life? How did you handle them?

Joshua had many surrounding enemies. It was not because of anything he did, but was because God continued to give him victory over his enemies in battle. Victories can produce jealousy.

The enemies of Joshua and the Israelites were so upset, that some decided to joined together in order to construct a frontal attack on Israel. Note: A typical strategy of an enemy, is to find others who do not like you, and join with them to make their attack even stronger.

The second attack strategy is what I would like to focus on. There was another group of people called the Gibeonites, who decided not to join the others in their head-on attack. They wagered on the use of a different approach, deception. They conspired a plan to pretend to be ambassadors from a far away land and seek sympathy. They took with them moldy bread, wore old patched up sandals and garments, and placed old sacks on the backs of their donkeys.

When they arrived at Camp Gilgal, the group told Joshua and the leaders that they were from far away, showered them with compliments, and asked to please make a covenant with them. Note: Be careful when people seem to want to gain your agreement about certain matters rather quickly, especially when you have not had an opportunity to learn the motives or intentions behind their request. Use discernment.

6. The Gibeonites said that even though they were from far away they had heard about how God was helping the Israelites win all of the land. They asked if the people of Israel would make a special agreement to never hurt the people of Gibeon. The Gibeonite Trick 6.

Joshua asked the group how he could make a covenant with them without knowing exactly who they were or where they were from? For all he knew, they could have been from their enemies’s camp. Joshua knew that God charged him to destroy his neighboring enemies, especially since they were secretly plotting to attack Israel.

The Gibeonites went on to reassure them, that they were not neighbors, but from far away, and had heard all of the great things God had done for the Israelites. Although they were lying about themselves, they were telling the truth about God, and knew it would be pointless to oppose Israel. Note: The Gibeonites did not join the others in their planned ambush against the Israelites because of the Israelites’s reputation for overcoming their enemies. Instead, they decided to pretend to be from far away so that they could obtain a covenant of protection. They even mentioned that their clothes and sandals were worn, and their bread was very moldy in order to make it appear they were from far away. Note: This was a falsehood, they were not from far away, but were willing to stop at nothing to get what they wanted.

Joshua and the leaders took the Gibeonite’s provision, and did not counsel with the Lord about any of it. Joshua made peace with them, and let them live. Note: The main issue here is that they did not seek the Lord about these people. They accepted the deception hook, line and sinker. They chose to walk by sight and not faith, taking everything at face value.

Three days Later, the Gibeonite’s deception came to the surface. The Israelites decided to pay the Gibeonites a visit, but could not harm them because of the covenant they made to the Lord. Note: Even when a bad oath is made, it was a mark of godliness to honor an oath to God. To prove the importance of the oath; years later, King Saul harmed the Gibeonites, and brought famine on the land for his disobedience.

Because of their deception, the Gibeonites were made slaves, but left unharmed. Their motive for lying was the fear of being annihilated. The main takeaway is to seek Godly counsel when making decisions. When your enemy feels desperate, instead of attacking you like a normal enemy would do; they could decide to form an alliance with you based on deception. While the outcome would not be good for them, it would not be great for you either. Note: We do not know everything, and must be sure to not fall victim of our own intellect.

Walk by faith and not by sight.

The school bell has rung, class dismissed!

The Second Black Sheep

The school bell has rung, class is now in session.

I would like to talk about the black sheep, but not in the way one may suppose. I want to talk about the other black sheep.

Did you know there are two types of black sheep? The first black sheep is considered to be a rebel, and menace to society. They usually stand out because they like to purposely break the rules.

The second black sheep is the opposite, but treated like the first. This is an issue because the second black sheep is not a bad sheep. The question posed is, “Why would someone purpose in their heart to ostracize and label another individual a black sheep? When does this take place and how is the behavior recognized?”

Why would someone purpose in their heart to ostracize and label another individual a black sheep?

Some of the reasons include, but are not limited too, misinformation, jealousy, and the crab mentality.

Misinformation

The second black sheep is often classified as such, due to a misleading narrative. There is often a story, or two that went around about them that had never been verified, like the telephone game played as children. Once the information was shared several times, the storyline became nothing more than embellished untruth.

Essentially, resulting in the white sheep’s transformation to a black sheep.

Remedy – Go to the source and inquire about the information, so they can confirm or dispute it. Unfortunately, most people do not do this, but instead perpetuate the information for days, weeks, months and sometimes years.

Jealousy

The second way a black sheep is created is by the Green Eyed Monster, named Jealousy. If a person becomes envious of a certain aspect in another person, they usually begin to think about it in their hearts and minds. The next action is usually to start having “innocent” sidebar conversations about the potential black sheep, in order to gather a “support system” of people who feel the same way they do. The sideboard conversations eventually become a norm, and voila, the second black sheep is born.

The Crab Mentality

This is a mentality that some people have, who aim to reduce the self-confidence of others who are achieving certain goals for themselves. The crabs not only identify this person as a black sheep, they also spread false information about them to others in order to create teams against the black sheep nominee. The opposite of this behavior would be to mentor, pour into, and lift up, but ordinarily does not occur.

When does this take place and how is the behavior recognized?

Some of the places this behavior is recognized is in the home, church, work, civic organizations, among family, and friends. Anywhere there are people, there will be a risk of being labeled as a black sheep.

While it is not a pleasant position to be in, it could be God-Ordained. I have read throughout the Bible about people who were doing all of the right things, but were still treated like a black sheep. These people were always being used by God because society had written them off due to misinformation, jealousy and not wanting to see them elevated.

I have some pertinent information to report, God’s plans and purpose for a person’s life cannot be stopped by anyone, but that person. He said as long as we are obedient to him, and walk according to his ways, no-one can pluck us out of his hand.

This should bring much comfort, because if you are feeling like the second black sheep right now, you probably have a really important calling on your life. Be encouraged and stay obedient to God. Focus your eyes on him and not man.

The school bell has rung, class dismissed!

Six Questions to Help you Identify Your Calling?

Hope Deferred: The Butler and The Baker

The school bell has rung, class is now in session.

When Joseph was in prison after being falsely accused, much time had passed. Eventually, new occupants arrived from the royal court to the prison, the Butler, and the Baker. Both gentlemen had done something terribly wrong to offend the King of Egypt (Pharoah) and were thrown into prison.

Joseph was given the title, Captain of the Guards because of his moral reputation and trustworthiness. This may sound like an oxymoron for a prisoner, but if you knew the history of Joseph, you would certainly understand. To learn more about him check out the overview of his story at the end of the post.

One morning, both the Butler and the Baker woke up feeling troubled. Joseph noticed and asked them what was wrong. They told him that they both had dreams that disturbed them and wanted to know what it meant. In those times, dreams where considered divine messages and needed interpretation. Being in prison, they did not have access to any of the professional pagan dream interpreters that were normally assigned, so they were vexed about it.

Joseph told them it was God who gave the interpretation of dreams and that God will interpret their dreams. By sharing this, Joseph is showing his humility, belief in God and that God is fully in control.

The Dream

Joseph asked the Butler to share his dream first and the Baker second. After the Butler shared his dream, Joseph said, “The three branches represent three days. Within three days, Pharaoh will summon you to the palace. Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer.” Joseph went on to ask the Butler to please remember him to Pharaoh. Three days later, the Butler was restored to his job in Pharaoh’s court.

After the Baker shared his dream, Joseph said, “The three baskets also represent three days. In three days, you will be summoned to Pharaoh’s court. Pharaoh will lift up your head to be hanged and your body will be impaled on a pole and the birds will eat away at your flesh.” The dream interpretation came to pass for both men. One was restored and the other was hanged.

The Butler forgot to mention Joseph to Pharoah.

Days turn into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years since Joseph had been in prison. It appeared that all he could count on to happen were setbacks. It started when he was younger, after deciding to share his dreams with his brothers. The dreams made them so jealous and upset that they alienated him, threw him in a pit, and eventually sold him into slavery to Egypt.

God’s favor was still on Joseph’s life. His godly, moral character and intelligence caught the eye of his employer and he was promoted in the House of Potiphar. After resisting Potiphar’s wife’s advances, he was thrown into prison because of her false accusations. (Genesis 39, 40) While in prison, he was elevated to the title Captain of the Guards, but after helping the Butler, he was still forgotten yet again.

Do you feel as though you are in a dark prison right now in your life, or that God has forgotten you? I have good news, if you are a Disciple of Christ, and are faithful to Him, He has not forgotten you.

Joseph remained faithful to God throughout all of his hard times. He had many ups and downs, setbacks and false accusations. He continued to live according to the commandments in the Bible and because of his steadfastness; God’s hand remained on him, even when he felt alone. God’s hand is also on you. Whenever you feel that you have made one step forward, but three steps back, remember Joseph.

Years later, Pharoah had a dream that none of his professional pagan-dream interpreters could understand. Pharaoh was quite troubled and threaten to execute his sorcerers if they did not provide the interpretation he needed to hear, by a certain time.

The Butler remembered Joseph.

Joseph was summoned to Pharaoh and asked to interpret his dream. Joseph told Pharoah it was God who gave the interpretation and went on to interpret the dream. (Be sure to give all glory to God) To see what Pharoah’s dream was about this click here.

After Joseph was able, through God, to interpret the dream, he ended up being promoted as second in charge in Egypt. Pharoah also recognized Joseph’s God as all-knowing. When you are feeling forgotten, know that is all a part of the process.

The school bell has rung, class dismissed.

Overview of Joseph’s Story

Guard Your Ear Gate

The school bell has rung, class is now in session.

Have you ever heard the old adage Misery Loves Company? If you have observed a miserable person, they usually do not like to be alone. Let me preface this by saying I am not talking about when someone feels miserable or sad in general; I am talking about those who like to perpetually remain in that state.

So, why don’t people who are constantly miserable like to be alone? Because they normally feel compelled to share it with others. The two types of people they look for are those with a miserable disposition like theirs, and a Good Listener.

GooD Listeners BEwaRE

Good Listeners are people who are:

  • Fully present, when people are sharing information with them.
  • Do not listen to respond, but listens to process and understand what is being said.
  • Do not interrupt, and usually react in the moment.
  • Ask follow up questions and talk less than they listen.

It is no wonder a Miserable Person, seeks out Good Listeners. The very nature of a Good Listener makes the Miserable Person feel somewhat justified in what they are complaining about or doing because the Good Listener usually will not criticize, interrupt or make them feel bad.

humorous illustration of woman and her mental vampire toxic friend

As time goes on, if the Good Listener begins to offer friendly advice that is contrary to what the Miserable Person would like to hear, the end of their communication is inevitable. Guard the Ear Gate, it is ok to listen to people, but if the majority of their dialogue is full of self-pity and negativity, close the gate, like your well-being depended on it, because it does.

Fellow Miserable People BeWaRe

The other person that Miserable People seek out are Fellow Miserable People. Because they are always miserable, and have driven people who are happy and content away; they begin to observe their surroundings, looking for family members, associates or co-workers who would be willing to join forces with them.

They listen intently and watch, in order to identify someone whose countenance is constantly down and always complaining about this or that. This is not talking about the occasional complaint or disagreement, but the person who is like this the majority of the time.

Misery Likes Company Dating Agency. Yup, this was the place.

Fellow Miserable People please BeWare. Your misery may be temporary, but if a true Miserable Person latches on, it will be like falling into a quicksand of negativity. The more one tries to move, the further they will sink.

Advice to the Miserable Person

If you are constantly feeling miserable, it stems from something and it would be wise to start from within to find out the origin of the misery bondage. Ask yourself, When did I start to feel miserable all of the time? What event took place to contribute to this state of mind? Did it develop after constantly entertaining the conversation of a Fellow Miserable Person?

I want you to realize that MISERY is a state of bondage, it is not healthy for your well-being and is within your control to be set free. Take those negative thoughts captive and bring them into the obedience of Christ.

Stop looking for people to share in your negativity and take it to the Lord in prayer.

Most of the time, when that dark cloud floats over your mind, it will completely take over your senses. It will fog your thinking, and make you feel victimized, and downtrodden. If you do nothing, but seek out Good listeners and Fellow Miserable People, you will start to deteriorate mentally and physically and will eventually being devoured. Good Listeners and Fellow Miserable People are human beings, and can do nothing to set you free, but I am here to give you hope and tell you there is Victory in Jesus Christ.

He can break the strings of Misery.

The school bell has rung. Class dismissed!

Relevant Post

https://schoolspiration.com/category/emotional-vampires/

https://schoolspiration.com/category/choosing-friends-in-adulthood/

https://schoolspiration.com/category/he-says-she-says-web/

https://schoolspiration.com/2020/07/26/rejection-redirection/

Ostracism: The First Form of Social Distancing

The school bell has rung, class is now in session.

William’s argued that if ostracism persists for an extended period of time, individuals will become resigned to their fate and ultimately experience an acceptance of atrophied need satisfactions: Alienation (need to belong), depression (self-esteem), learned helplessness (control), and unworthiness (meaningful existence). Research on chronic ostracism has received little experimental study, but qualitative evidence suggests that consistent exposure to ostracism can lead to extreme consequences.

— Williams, 2009

Ostracism, also known as shunning, has been used by groups as a form of social control for others who are perceived to be different or problematic. Researchers from various social sciences argue that shunning has served as a useful social tactic throughout time. This is because it normally strengthens the group by motivating the “problem member” to obey the social norms set by the group.

Have you ever been a victim of ostracism or been a willing participant? It does not feel good to be on the receiving end, and can produce an unexpected end for some. Previously, I shared a post from one of my blog friends that discussed suicide. One of the contributing factors to suicide is ostracism. Indefinite ostracism has been described as social death for tribal and ancestral humans because it severed social connections necessary for survival in hunter-gather settings (Boehm, 1986Williams, 2009)

A series of studies asked participants to relive either an autobiographical memory that involved a physical injury or a social injury (i.e., betrayal by a person close to them) that had occurred within the past five years (Chen et al., 2008) I want to share one of the participant’s story below.

I was in the eighth grade and five of my best friends for no knowledgeable reason, drew a very mean and hateful picture of me and had everyone in the eighth grade class sign it and write crude and provocative remarks. They then handed it to me with the whole class in the cafeteria watching and laughing. I spent the rest of the day in the principal’s office crying, while he called everyone who signed it into his office one by one. It was the worst betrayal I have ever felt, and I never forgave my group of friends really. I never was close to them again after that, and soon found other friends, but never became as close to others because of this incident. I felt like an idiot and foolish for not knowing that my “friends” were like that and that I had no idea what was going on. I also felt extremely hurt, like I was a loser. I felt like never having friends again. I also felt very confused, I had no idea what I did to deserve this. I was also very depressed and lonesome.

— Anonymous

The difference between experiencing physical and social pain is, that when recalling social pain; it feels like the person is experiencing the pain all over again. Whether the social pain is experienced in person, through text, or online, the effects are still the same.

Ostracism Cues

There are a variety of cues that could indicate one is being ostracized, each situation depends on the setting. In school, it can be like the student above, having a group of people she thought were her friends, make fun of her, while encouraging others to join. In the workplace, it could consist of suddenly being left out of things that one would normally participate. In an organization, it could mean no longer being included and made to feel like a stranger among the familiar. Ostracism may vary in different environments, but the common foundation consist of groups that socially distancing themselves from others.

Ostracism occurs naturally among humans as a way to protect group members from going against the rules, but it is not a healthy practice. Maturity gives people the ability to handle listening to different opinions objectively, while agreeing to disagree. The term, agree to disagree, is often said but lacks authenticity. Instead of agreeing to just move on from the disagreement, the usual response is ostracism, shunning, and/or deletion from the circle.

This is not an indictment on people who end relationships between friends or associates, because that can be quite necessary, especially if the person is draining your energy. As I have spoken on before in a previous post.

https://schoolspiration.com/category/emotional-vampires/

This is an indictment on those who have shunned others without a cause. Separation can take place without negativity or slander; it could happen gracefully without ruining the person’s need satisfaction. To speak ill, taint the reputation of, or make someone feel less than just to follow the herd, happens often because those in the group do not want to be shunned. Everyone has experienced it, but if it has become a natural occurrence in your life even now, it is time to reflect on why.

Reflect and Ask Yourself – Why do I have to make someone feel small in order to feel good about myself? Why do I have to discredit someone because they have a different opinion from me? What is in me that makes me not be able to stand up for someone, in the midst of my peers?

I have a secret. Peer pressure does not end in grade school, it is on-going even in adulthood. The question is, how will you choose to handle it going forward? Your actions matter and can determine the outcome. We are in the time of social distancing, but I wanted to bring awareness to the first form of social distancing, Ostracism. This is actually within our control.

The school bell has rung, class dismissed.

Reference

Boehm, C. (1986). Capital punishment in tribal Montenegro: Implications for law, biology, and theory of social control. Ethology and Sociobiology, 7, 305–320.

Chen, Z., Williams, K. D., Fitness, J., & Newton, N. C. (2008). When hurt won’t heal: Exploring the capacity to relive social pain. Psychological Science, 19, 789–795.

Williams, K. D. (2009). Ostracism: Effects of being excluded and ignored. In M.Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (pp. 275–314). New York: Academic Press.

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