Living Beyond Expectations

All of us have had expectations of others, and we’ve had others place expectations on us. I remember that when I was younger, I was fascinated with doctors.  I would ask my doctors a lot of questions. I thought for some time that I would one day become an MD. After working at a nursing home one summer, and after not doing as well in college as I’d hoped, I came to the sad reality that becoming a doctor wasn’t something I had the stomach to do. My less than stellar grades were a part of it, but I always felt helpless as people got very ill or passed away. I would grieve the deaths of my nursing home patients as if they were family members, so I knew it would be too much for me to continue in that field.

When I broke the news to my family, they did not take it very well at first. The disappointment was palpable, and with no clear Plan B, I was uncertain of what the future held for me. I tried to find other ways to earn approval, since what they had hoped for would not become a reality. I tried to be the model daughter and granddaughter. I tried to be patient, respectful and responsible. The pressure started affecting me, and I could feel the weight on my shoulders.

This heavy weight of expectations spilled over into my romantic relationships, where certain criteria was expected to be displayed by my suitors. I cried for a very long time after letting go of someone who meant everything to me.

Do you realize the significance of the role that expectations plays in our lives? Our decision-making process typically includes, “What would my children think?” or “Would Mommy approve?” or “Would my boys laugh at me if I did this?” There are moments when we feel the desire to get away from the litany of expectations, spoken or unspoken. Things like, “We value education here. Everyone MUST have at least a Bachelor’s degree in this house.” Or, “No babies before a wedding.” Or, “Don’t you know what our name means in this family and in this community?” Those who don’t fit in are left floundering and struggling. Many times, the misfits are so uncomfortable that eventually they leave the nest to start their own lives, separated from people whom they’ve loved but who now struggle to love them in return.

Many have gone to tremendous measures to “keep the peace” or to preserve the family name, or to minimize ridicule from friends, even when their hearts were beating to a different drum. Joining in on a bullying session with friends so they don’t turn on you. Or, agreeing to an abortion because of the family rule: no children without a wedding ring. Or, hiding secret passions or pursuits that you know your crowd wouldn’t understand.

Well…..It’s been years since I had to break the news to my family that I wouldn’t become a doctor, and I believe that was the best decision I had ever made. I had the ability to pursue whatever career path I wanted, but I was not passionate enough about medicine to continue. Now, all these years later, I’ve found my voice. My keyboard has been my passion outlet, whether it’s through blogging, posting on social media, editing books, writing books, or encouraging a friend. My keyboard has helped me meet people I would not have met otherwise, and has open doors for me. My passionate writings and posts have inspired many people around the world. I’ve received inbox messages and phone calls that testify to this.

So here’s my advice: Don’t allow anyone to take away your voice because of expectations. Our lives aren’t meant to be lived in cookie-cutter mode. We are meant to live like snowflakes, as no two flakes are alike. We are uniquely created to live out our purpose. And, if you are unsure of your purpose or where to begin that journey, I wrote a short book that can help you. Visit HERE to order your copy. Then get a pen and a notepad, settle down, and begin the journey.

It’s never too early or too late to shrug off the expectations of others and pursue who you were created to be.

See you “there!”

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Boundaries and Relationships

I’ve spent a lot of time evaluating personal boundaries and relationships of all kinds: family, romantic, work, etc.

One thing that has stood out for me as a key item is the importance of erecting and maintaining personal boundaries. When I think of boundaries, I think of a house with a picket fence or wire fence around the yard – with a gate. Boundaries keep things that belong inside, inside; and what belongs outside, outside. I also think of our bodies; our skin is a boundary. Skin keeps things covered and prevents unwanted and harmful things from getting inside our bodies.

So, boundaries act as barriers. Things can go in and out of boundaries, but on a regulated basis. If something breaches a good boundary, there will be some type of consequence. If we refer to my examples, the fence with the gate is the main access portal into the yard of that home. Then, after you access the yard, you will still need to get through the door to gain proper access inside the home. If someone decides to jump over the fence, or tear it down in some way, then break the door down (or break in through a window), these are unwanted and undesired methods of accessing the yard and home. The owner can call the police, or they may have a dog in the yard that can help the intruder understand that proper access is necessary when crossing the boundaries. Breaching good boundaries will have consequences. Also, for the skin: if someone gets cut, the blood comes out, but platelets (which includes white blood cells and clotting agents) immediately start to work to “plug” the cut. In this way, the breach is repaired to prevent further damage to the body.

As we review these examples, let’s look at our boundaries. It’s necessary to place boundaries around ourselves, our hearts, our personal lives, and our finances. We cannot be all things to all people. There is a limit to what we should allow in our presence, or what we should accept from others. Respect, kindness, fairness, consideration, etc., are attributes that we should offer, expect, and receive from others. When they are not received, we must first evaluate the situation, and then with wisdom and tact we must address the breach if it continues. If the breach continues, we must find ways to minimize or eliminate the source. This is how we maintain our boundaries. If we allow others to cross our boundaries in “illegal” ways continually, then they will be ignored and trampled. This is no different than someone’s home being robbed repeatedly; the thieves know that the owner is not being vigilant and will repeatedly attack their property without fear of barriers being erected to stop them.

So, if your heart is trampled  repeatedly by someone who says they love you, and you accept it over and over, you must find the courage to stop the breach and close the wound. If there are issues where your rights are being dismantled before your eyes and you allow it, the person or institution will assume that you are guilty of what you are being accused of, or that you feel powerless to change the situation and will not fight back. You are the only one who can reverse that tide.  If someone is misusing your funds, or stealing from you, set up measures to stop it – or reverse it.

There are so many ways that we allow boundary breaches and then we pretend to like the outcomes that occur as a result. Sometimes we may feel helpless, as victims of abusers often feel. But here’s the thing: an abuser can only misuse someone who allows them to do so. Although it may be difficult to leave an abuser (of any kind) or stop their unwanted behavior, we must be bold, wise and strong and walk away. If it’s a situation where you cannot leave immediately (e.g. a hostile work situation without another means of income), create an escape plan and act on it as soon as possible.

Just know this: strong boundaries are important and necessary for healthy, long-term relationships of every type. Without good boundaries we will be bleeding into the streets, and our belongings (literally & figuratively) will be misused and abused by those who have no right to access them.

If you’ve discovered that your boundaries are broken and they seem to be destroyed beyond repair, get help from a professional. Everyone deserves to be respected, and hearts deserve to be protected from those who disregard boundaries.

Pursuing What Counts in 2013

This blog was first launched on December 29, 2010. Two years of triumphs and tragedies have passed since then, and I am thankful that I am still here to share this special moment with you – the end of yet another year.

We’ve seen significant changes financially, spiritually, socially, in politics, and in our communities all around us. We’ve buried many children due to violence, like the recent Sandy Hook Elementary School horror in Newtown, Connecticut (USA) and Trayvon Martin’s untimely death in Florida. Some cities like Chicago, Illinois (USA) have buried over 500 people in 2012 due to violence alone. Wars have erupted in the Middle East and in other world regions as governments and regimes fight for various rights or privileges. People crush each other any moment they get a chance (on social media, in the workplace) because of the fierce competition that is now ensuing.

What about our futures? What type of world are we creating for the generations coming up behind us? Are we proud to show our children how materialistic we’ve become? Is having all the latest gadgets, clothes, shoes and cars the only way to show that we’re “really living”? Do we make the effort to extend ourselves to help others, or are we content with the “us four, no more” mentality?

When we are at work, can anyone say that we genuinely care about their well-being, even if we are managers? Or is self-preservation the name of the game?

What about our church circles? The shame and embarrassment seems unending when news is broadcasted about our issues. Are we willing at all to step aside and allow God to take full control of our private appetites so they do not boil over and become public disgraces?

We need a revival of our souls. We are thirsty and are reaching for things that will never satisfy us!

2 Chronicles 7: 14 – 15 (NKJV, Holy Bible) states:
“….if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place.”

I have such a spiritual hunger and thirst deep within me now that I cannot truly explain. I’m at a place in my life now where dressing in the latest labels and designs are a nice-to-have and is not required. Driving the latest model car means nothing to me now; I’ve done that twice before. Living in the “right” zip-code means very little; I’ve done that before too. What I NEED, more than anything else, is more of GOD. He speaks to me in the small things and in the big things. His care is evident. His love is precious. He speaks to my soul in ways I cannot describe adequately. Dreams, desires and ministries are birthed when we submit our lives into His hands.

As we embark on a new journey that begins in just a few hours (less than 12 hours), let us stop the busyness, step away from our electronic devices for some time and give God our undivided attention. He longs to commune with us. His presence gives us unexplainable peace of mind. His presence brings divine revelations on how to proceed in our lives. His love envelops us and heals us of past hurts and disappointments. These are not just cute sayings; these are REAL results when we stay and pray. Meditation on the Bible is vitally important in growing and developing us as living examples. Reading biblically-grounded books help as well. Take notes as you meditate, read and reflect. Allow God to push you into your next place of blessing (or testing).

I want to worship God with ALL my heart, mind, soul and spirit. I want to worship Him as I approach a new year with new challenges and new blessings.

Will you join me?

I wish a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2013 to you and your families!

Erecting Boundaries as a Christian Single Woman

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:23, NIV)

I recently experienced some situations that allowed me to see clearly that my heart was unguarded. The Holy Spirit began to enlighten me of the broken fence in my life – one that invited certain types of people to walk across the lawn of my heart, leaving their unwanted tracks behind.

Continue reading “Erecting Boundaries as a Christian Single Woman”

Real Love Hurts

I am learning about love and what it should look like. After taking a long journey down an undesired path several years ago, I am cautious about opening up my heart to others. Many will agree that we need to be cautious about opening up our hearts to others. Even in Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) it states “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

But I wonder, will I be able to receive or show love when I am so cautious and closed?

Continue reading “Real Love Hurts”