Who you’re not

Do you know who you’re not

I realize this is a weird question. Experts and amateurs alike focus more on discussions around discovering who you are than discovering who you are not.

However, it’s vital to know both. 

You’re more likely to be counterproductive, pursuing things that are not related to your purpose, if you never discover who you’re not. For those who are Christians, you’ll also see more results in your spiritual life by knowing who you are and who you are not.

The topic of identity gets a lot of attention in our culture because our fast paced culture doesn’t allow much time for introspection and reflection. If you’re not moving at full speed, someone else might get ahead of you! 

Never mind the fact that life is more a marathon than a sprint….

By learning who I am not, I am freeing myself up to be who I am.

My focus is getting sharper.

My purpose is becoming clearer.

I compare myself to others less and less.

I don’t have to be you and you don’t have to be me. Isn’t that awesome?

Take my advice. Spend some time getting to know yourself. Then get busy chasing your dreams and helping others.

Know who you are, know who you are not. 

 

 

Help a sister out

Every once in a while I throw a post up about needing some help.

Help!

One of my goals this year is to improve my writing skills. I’ve even signed up for a few classes on writing through WordPress.

After only a few lessons, it’s obvious that my writing is too simplistic.

Let me back up a bit…

I approach blogging differently than others. It’s rare that I sit down and write out 5 or 6 posts in a day. In fact, I’ve never done that! Not once in my life have I been ahead when it comes to blogging.

Honestly, most of my posts are written in about 30 minutes.

Why am I telling you all of this?

Because it’s come to my attention that I need to be more disciplined in my approach. The reason I don’t do series is because my brain goes in too many directions.

And this WordPress series is kicking my booty….these people are legit!

I studied English and history in college, so I used to write 5, 10, 15 pages or more on a single topic. Though, most of the time, the paper took me a whole semester to write.

Yes, I am blogging everyday, but I have not been that focused!

Here’s where your help is greatly appreciated.

  1. What are some subjects you’ve been wanting me to cover, but I haven’t?
  2. What are some previous posts you really liked, but wanted me to get more in-depth?

Answering these 2 questions will help me focus more and grow as a writer and a blogger. I also want to use your responses to try out the new ideas I’m learning from the writing workshop.

A life with no strings

unityPeople know when you’re a phony.

I know that I can tell when someone’s treating me more like a project or a prospect. It’s the fastest way to shut me down.

And it’s also an area where I have to be careful…

One time, my friend Holly Beth called me out on my general distrust:

Not everyone is out to get you, Audra.

Her comment helped me see that I was approaching situations all wrong. I had allowed things from my past to warp my perception of others.

The change wasn’t overnight, but it got me going down the right path. In fact, my problem with perception was something I discussed with my counselor last year. Her suggestions helped me even more to change my view.

I used to only see the strings attached to what others were saying or asking of me. My counselor wanted me to identify every string that I saw in a conversation.

The assignment was to give a name to each string. Then I had to examine it and see if there was any truth to it.

I saw a lot of strings that week and many of them were only my perceptions. The other person’s motives were pure! It was me with the problem.

 No matter the filters you have to set up to protect against faulty judgments, sincerity is easy to pinpoint. Finding out you’re nothing but a project or prospect is the quickest way to lose what little influence you may have in someone’s life.

In a world of posers, you don’t get many do overs.

This is why it’s important to be yourself. Period. When you’re okay with you are, you won’t get caught playing pretend.

 

 

 

 

BFFs and such

One of my best friends lives in Canada. She’s actually more like my sister, which is awesome because I always wanted a big sister growing up. 

You know the cliche that friends are the family that you choose?

I wholeheartedly believe it to be true because I have a small group of friends who have become my family. 

We’ve weathered many storms together and I know who to call whenever I need prayer. 

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you know my personal stance on the idea of doing life alone:Just don’t do it!

We need family. 

We need friends. 

We need a community. 

The Bible says that loners rage against all sound wisdom. 

I’m so blessed to have great friends. The Lord has always put people on my path to encourage me and challenge me towards spiritual growth. 

Friendship matters. And all of the cliches and warnings from your elders are true. 

You really do become like the people you hang around. 

The thing about advice

Beware of “If it was me” statements. 

You know the ones I’m talking about…

  • If it was me, I wouldn’t go there. 
  • If it was me, I wouldn’t do this or that. 
  • If it was me, he/she wouldn’t have gotten away with that behavior. 

I am bad about making these blanket, hypothetical statements. 

There’s nothing wrong with different temperaments and personalities. Being different is not the enemy. 

On the other hand, doing stupid, sinful things is a problem and I’m not condoning bad behavior. 

Not everyone, though, is asking for my advice and not everyone cares what I think. 

Sharing these kinds of thoughts in conversation with others can quickly morph into gossip and criticism sessions as well. 

Just be careful with your words. 

I can’t stress this topic enough because it’s of utmost importance. 

Being rude and tactless is not an effective tool for anyone who wants to have a place of influence in another’s life. 

I’ve also seen these rash, unfiltered comments slam shut the door of the gospel. 

Every word counts, every word is powerful, and every word either builds or destroys. 

Think about that the next time your mouth gets away from you. 

Heart language matters

I saw the importance of communication today.

For many years, Mr. and Mrs. Lee have rented a storage unit whenever they move.

Mrs. Lee is deaf.

I remember the first time I met them, which was the first month I started working at Storage Depot (before I started learning sign language). My boss had to write back and forth with Mrs. Lee about pricing and unit sizes.

heart languageFast forward to now, 11 months into my learning sign language. I was able to interpret for Mrs. Lee and she came to life! She talked and talked! It was so cool to see the power of communication in action.

Knowing someone’s heart language is important, especially when you’re on the mission field.

Each of us was born with an innate desire to be known and understood. Language barriers are the biggest deterrents to connection.

I’ve received a TON of help from the deaf community because week after week I show up and try. Even when I completely mess up, my friends kindly and gently encourage me and teach me the right way. Who could guess that my bumbling efforts would be so well received? I certainly didn’t expect it!

For many of my deaf friends, though, their own parents never made an effort to learn sign language. One of my friend’s mom started learning sign once my friend was grown. As my friend shared the story with me, there were tears in her eyes.

“This is what I’ve always wanted.”

Heart language matters. If you want to make an impact learn a culture’s heart language.

And this is true of any culture–not just deaf culture.

So, for all of my friends who feel drawn to a certain country or culture, take this advice from someone who has seen the difference: Language is key.

The opportunities in your reality

Did you ever watch The Brady Bunch movie?

It was a spoof from the ’90s that was not that great, but made me laugh nonetheless. In it, Mike Brady gave Bobby some great advice:

“Wherever you go, there you are.”

I’ve seen this “advice” plastered all over novelty items. (I also googled the saying and found out it’s the title of a meditation book. Go figure.) What a goofy thing to say, right? We all know that…..or do we?

Recently, I was part of a conversation where a friend said, “Do you know what I could be doing?” and then went on for about 10 minutes about a job he could have.

I told this friend,  “You’re right and I agree. But here you are, so what are you going to do?”

There’s nothing wrong with dreaming or wanting to better yourself. Just remember that improvement starts right where you are. The weaknesses we possess do not magically disappear with a new opportunity.

The more I listened to my friend, the more I understood that the root of the problem was not feeling appreciated. Maybe an elevated position, a better job would do the trick. These people would appreciate me. These people see my true potential.

Once again, there’s truth in these thoughts. There’s nothing wrong with getting praised and honored for good work. Just be careful that praise and accolades aren’t the primary motivators. Applause is momentary–and it’s fickle too.

Motivation really is everything.

What are you looking to gain from an opportunity?

Be honest.

Answering this one question will show you the motivations of your heart.

Like I said earlier, the messy parts of ourselves–the things we want to leave behind–won’t disappear. You can’t just move on and not leave the new address.

Look around. There’s a lot to learn, a lot to do right, where you are now. Don’t be afraid to dream, but don’t ignore the opportunities in your current reality either.

When comfort doesn’t come

I struggle with being assertive.

Being nice? Having fun? Keeping things light and fluffy?

Welcome to my comfort zone or my discomfort zone, depending on the day.

Lysa TerKeurst says it best:

Having a comfort zone doesn’t mean you’re always comfortable.

I’m being stretched in this area at work. Accountability in the work place, especially for those of us in management positions, means holding meetings to discuss progress.

Guess who’s the bearer of bad news?

Yeah. Fun-loving Audra.

And most of the time it’s not terrible news. Managers are just trained to notice things that are not going well–and then come up with strategies for improvement.

I’ll be really honest with you. I have to pray a lot when receiving instruction and correction. When my thoughts are allowed to go off alone, I take it personally–and even my controlled thoughts find me vulnerable.

Receiving instruction with grace is always a choice I have to make.

This is one struggle that can send my emotions and relationships into a tailspin. One of my goals for next year is to deconstruct this area and come up with a battle plan.

IMG_1566For now, though, I’m sitting in a hard place. Things have gone wrong and all I can do is clean up the mess.

Can I give you some advice?

Don’t ignore warning signs.

Don’t put off conversations.

Pretending everything is okay, will be okay, can be okay is not helping.

Which brings me back to being assertive in the workplace…..

If management teaches you anything it’s how to conquer fear, especially when your fear pops up as a subject in a meeting about your personal performance.

Here’s what I’m learning as I face up to my insecurities about giving/receiving instruction and correction:

Dealing with a problem is always uncomfortable. Stop waiting for comfort to come along. It won’t.

A Woman’s Wisdom

A proverb a day keeps foolishness at bay. 

The book of Proverbs is full of great advice and wisdom. The wisest guy in the world (Solomon) shared with us the things he learned. 

I think Solomon’s a wonderful example of what to do with God’s gifts–use them to help others. 

Sure, he was human and had a lot of wives. Still, though, it doesn’t discount his contribution. 

I’m excited to read A Woman’s Wisdom: How the proverbs speak to everything by Lydia Brownback. 

  She talks about the role of wisdom and all the things we can learn from Proverbs. 

Check it out if you get the chance. 

I just started it, but it’s been great so far. 

Good friends are noticers

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” (Proverbs 27:6)

It’s hard to think of wounds being a sign of love.

But wouldn’t you rather a friend correct you, to notice and care about the decisions you are making?

This is a silly illustration, but it’s  a classic:

Having a piece of spinach stuck in your teeth all day, but no one tells you.

What’s the first thing you say?

Why didn’t you tell me?!?!?

Ouch moments are great tests of character.

Nothing says “there’s still room for growth” like your mistakes being noticed.

When facing an ouch moment, I have to battle three things: embarrassment, anger, and pride.

I have to filter all of these feelings–as well as who’s doing the noticing–before responding.

Please don’t read this and think I’m talking about rolling over and letting someone squash you like a bug.

Remember what the proverb said?

Faithful are the wounds of a friend.

Friends correct out of love. They are lovingly pointing out your mistakes–not rubbing it in your face or shaming  you in the process.

Friends are trying to help you.

If all of your friends are kissing your cheeks and telling you how awesome you are….well, read the rest of the proverb, okay?

In a healthy friendship, each person grows.

Here’s another proverb:

As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. (Proverbs 27:17)

If I’m not careful, I can resent correction. My natural inclination is to believe that others are out to get me.

But that attitude is destructive, which is why I have to beat it down daily.

Meaningful friendships are worth more than gold.

We need to give our friends permission to notice things –even the not so great things.