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Selfishness

The older I get, the more I realize how much selfishness influences us, myself included. I have come to the conclusion that selfishness is a root of all sorts of evil and problems in every aspect of our lives. Our whole society is saturated in this culture of selfishness. “Just look out for #1” we often say, not considering the cost and implications of such a statement. Looking out for “#1” may make you happy, but in doing so, you may have to run over everyone else to get what you want. We even advocate that by telling people to never let others keep you from what you want. While I understand the principle, I think we have taken it too far. We hurt people and take from others to appease OUR own desire for happiness while not even considering theirs. We’re worried about what WE look like and the impression WE’re making instead of reaching out and helping people. We envy others’ successes because we are more concerned about what their success says about US and whether WE are successful or not rather than being genuinely happy for them. We meet people every day that need our help, and instead of being concerned about them, we just pass them by because WE just don’t want to give up OUR time, money, or energy to help. We don’t tell a friend what they need to hear, maybe it’s a hard truth or just honestly answering a question and giving your opinion, because we’re more worried about the consequences for US instead of what would happen if we didn’t tell them. We put others down and brag about ourselves because WE want to look good instead of encouraging others because we care about them. We lie to, cheat on, and divorce from our spouses because WE want to be happy. We continually over-sexualize people in advertising or in our everyday life, strangers on billboards or everyday in the streets or on the job, because WE want some sort of sexual gratification and to feel good instead of considering how dehumanizing that is to others. We “hook up” with others and even rape others because WE want gratification instead of considering their wants and wishes. We murder others because WE want revenge rather than their forgiveness. We get angry when things don’t go OUR way or we don’t get what WE want, not realizing that that there are others out there who want or need something different. We get angry and look down on others when they don’t act the way WE would, but we don’t even understand where they have been or what they are going through. We get upset when OUR feelings are hurt or when WE are suffering in some way, not realizing that we may inadvertently do that to others more often than we realize and we pass people everyday going through worse things yet we never know. We don’t do anything about others’ problems because we want to keep OUR time, money, and energy for things that WE want. We only hang out with people that will make US look good because WE want to be in the “in-crowd” and don’t even notice those outside our “circle.” We do nice things, not because we genuinely care for others, but because it makes US look good or so they will return the favor and we’ll get something out of it. We fight for attention because WE want to be noticed instead of looking to give attention to others. We are kind to our superiors, not because we genuinely care about them, but because WE want to get ahead or gain some favor in their eyes. We care about others only because of what they can do for US, not because we care about them. We want relationships with other people so WE can be happy, not realizing that true happiness comes from making OTHERS happy.

Because of our selfishness, we cannot even comprehend what love truly is. In reality, all those things listed above are a reflection of love for OURSELVES, rather than a love for others. Love at its core is putting someone else BEFORE yourself - putting their wants, needs, desires, happiness above your own. Love is making someone else more important than yourself. Love is also ACTIVE. We say all the time that it is a verb, but we often don’t understand what true love really entails. We think it’s romantic stories of happiness ever after (which in and of itself says that we don’t see love as anything other than a skewed version of romantic love), when really, it is incredibly deeper than that. Love is SACRIFICE. Sacrifice is giving up something we value for something else that we deem as more valuable. It’s giving up our wants and needs to meet others’ wants and needs because they are more valuable to us than ourselves. It’s putting aside our happiness for the happiness of others. It’s giving up our time and effort that we need for someone else. It is fundamentally UNSELFISH. Love forces us to get past ourselves and to be invested in and totally consumed with a compassion and care for other people. Love is giving up something you really want to do, maybe it’s a dream you’ve had since you were little, for someone else’s wants and dreams. Love is being there when you’d rather be somewhere else. It is doing the things that are inconvenient. Love isn’t contingent on feelings or emotions or even the other person’s actions or choices. Love is a conscious choice that we make everyday, whether in friendship or marriage, to act in a caring, respectful way regardless of what the other person does, to give without expecting anything in return, and to put them before yourself. Love isn’t easy or natural, and it’s definitely not always convenient, but it is the most powerful, humbling, and life-changing thing in the world.

We as a society are confused and horribly mistaken about love. It is incredibly sad to me that we live in a world that constantly questions others’ motives when being kind or loving because so many are insincere. In reality, this life has never been and will never be about us. “Look out for #1,” sure, but realize that #1 is serving God, and in serving God, we serve other people FIRST - BEFORE we serve ourselves. If you move your focus from yourself to others, you will make others more happy and in turn, yourself more happy, as well.

"How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness…"

The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them — words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it.
This perfectly describes how I feel right now.  I just don’t have the words to say how much you mean to me.  So I just keep putting it off…just like cleaning out my office.  I don’t know how to deal with leaving, so I just don’t…  I hate this.

To Men and Women

The longer I live, the more I see and realize about our world and culture.  Some things can be very good and inspiring, while other things are not so much…  One of the things I have started to notice more and more is how the different sexes treat each other, and it really, really makes me upset.  So here are my honest thoughts.

Men, women are not objects.  We are human beings with thoughts, feelings, hopes, fears, and dreams just like you.  When you are nice to women only to get something from them in return (read sex), you are being nothing but selfish.  When you are friends with women or approach women only because of your physical attraction to them, you are treating them as nothing but objects for your eyes and pleasure.  When you are out and looking for attractive women to look at, you are seeing those women, not as people, but objects.  We go to stores to look at things to buy.  We should not be shopping for people - that is called slavery.  Slavery was the ownership of people who were considered property or “things”.  Women are not your property to show off to others how attractive they are.  We do that at dog shows with dogs.  That is incredibly dehumanizing.  It is also incredibly shallow to only have anything to do with people we find physically attractive.  The truth is, we as women can’t help whether you find us attractive or not.  We’re born with what we have and can’t do much about it, just like you can’t.  How would you feel if only the women who were physically attracted to you talked to you?  Or if the only reason I was friends with you was so I could sleep with you?  It is dehumanizing and nothing but selfish and it needs to stop.  Both men and women need to do a better job of valuing people for their character, something we must work hard for and create ourselves, and not our looks over which we have little control.  Start appreciating people for who they have become, not for what they look like on the outside.  Once you do, you will find that your life will be overflowing with truly beautiful people, inside and out.

Also, being a man does not give you the right to be vulgar or insensitive.  Being vulgar is very much related to the previous point (especially sexual jokes) because if men viewed women the way they should, they wouldn’t make a lot of those jokes.  It’s not very becoming or flattering from a woman’s point of view, and all it does is perpetuate the notion that women are only good for sex (objects).  ”Boys will be boys” is a horrible philosophy.  Because you are a boy does not give you the right to say or do whatever you want and not have any consequences.  Boys are just as capable of controlling themselves as girls are.  And I know it may not be considered “manly” to have feelings or care about other people, but it’s human.  We all should care about other people and consider other people before ourselves, regardless of our gender.  Being a man doesn’t give you a trump card.  As a matter of fact, Jesus was a man and He went so far as to die for those that he loved.  Not only did He die for them, He lived for them as well.  He was the most loving person to have ever lived.  He even told people that He loved them!  And He is no less a man for doing so.  Being kind and considerate to others, especially when they are not kind and considerate towards you, requires true strength of will and heart. 

Also, it really bothers me when men just write women off as crazy.  Some women are crazy, and so are some men, but not all women are crazy (and not all men are).  Let’s face it, you writing off women as crazy is just your excuse to not try to understand women.  I think society has done a big disservice to the genders by portraying men as easy to understand and women as complicated.  Women really can be understood, just like men.  It just takes work…just like understanding men, or anybody for that matter, takes work.  People, in general, do not always make sense, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try.  If you at least try to understand women better, your life will be so much better.  

Now…  Women, men are not stupid and not all of them are jerks.  Men are just different than women.  TV tends to portray the males of any sitcom as stupid or incompetent, especially fathers, and this couldn’t be farther from the truth.  While I’m sure men like that do exist, men are very intelligent and capable.  Men process and think about things differently than women do.  Just because you can articulate your thoughts and emotions better than he can does not make you more intelligent or capable.  Also, just because a man struggles to articulate his emotions, does not mean he doesn’t have them or feel them just as deeply as you.  You have practice doing that with your girlfriends, he doesn’t!  Give him a break (and some time to gather his thoughts)!  Men are also not all jerks.  Men are very sweet in their own way.  Most any man would do anything to make a woman happy or put a smile on her face.  However, I understand very well that it doesn’t always come across that way.  Sometimes men do some pretty boneheaded things (from our perspective), but they usually don’t mean them the way it comes across.  Men don’t process things the way women do.  While men tend to take things at face value, women tend to look for meaning behind things.  I have been hurt many times by things that men have done that they never intended to come across that way.  They were trying to save money or time, not tell me that I was invaluable or disrespect me.  They come at it from a different angle, and it’s not usually the emotional side.  That doesn’t make them a jerk, it just makes them different!  I’m saying all this to say, give men the benefit of the doubt.  If he says he loves you and he’s still around you, he really does mean it, even if he does some seemingly “boneheaded” things sometimes.

Also, being a woman doesn’t give you the crazy license.   Yes, women can be more emotional than men, but that doesn’t mean you use it to your advantage or not exercise self-control.  I absolutely cannot stand it when women cry or are emotionally manipulative in other ways to get what they want.  That’s what babies do (albeit with completely pure intentions).  Women being emotionally manipulative is the same as men being manipulative to get physical.  (Also, emotional pornography like Twilight, Notebook, etc. are just as damaging to women as physical pornography is for men.  And as a side note, expecting a man to be emotionally perfect is just as ridiculous as a man expecting a woman to be physically perfect.  It just doesn’t happen.)  Being passive aggressive and ostracizing people and emotionally attacking people is just as bad as beating someone up and just as damaging.  We shouldn’t tolerate it more than we tolerate physical aggression.  Being a woman also does not excuse emotional tirades or outbursts.  We must exercise self-control!  It also does not excuse oversensitive feelings or emotions.  We need to learn not to take everything so personal or make such a big deal out of the simplest of things.  They may not have meant it the way we took it (see previous point).

Also, you are not your body.  Read it again:  You are not your body.  You are what’s inside of you and who you choose to be.  You do not have to show off what you have in order for some guy to like you or be attracted to you.  You do not have to show any cleavage or show off your rear end or wear the tightest clothes.  If it’s not for sale, don’t put it on display.  If you do put it on display, do not get mad when men stare or treat you like a piece of meat.  The truth is, you are not a piece of meat for men to gawk at!  Have more respect for yourself than that and dress the part.  You shouldn’t want to turn men’s heads, but their hearts.  Let them be attracted to who you are on the inside, not what you have on the outside.  Do you want him to love you for what you have (your body) or who you are?  Until you realize this, only the men mentioned in the second paragraph will go for you because that’s what you are portraying.  You are not being helpful to men who are trying to see you as a person when you are only showing yourself as an object and encouraging them to view you and other women as such.  And we as women should never use our looks to get our way.  That is nothing but shallow and manipulative and disrespectful to yourself.  Don’t sell yourself short.  Your value doesn’t come from how many men look at you or find you attractive.  That’s not love; that is nothing but lust.  Your value comes from your character and the fact that God sent His Son to die for you.  You are not valuable for what you look like, but who you are.  Dress like it and act like it.  

There you have it.  My thoughts.  Take them for what you will.  As a whole, both genders need to be less selfish and more considerate and understanding of others.  Easier said than done.  In reality, we can really learn a lot from the opposite gender.  I’ll leave you with a quote I read a long time ago that I’ve always loved:

"The best people we have ever known are those who marry both the genders within themselves."

The Final Victory Lap

So…I am about to embark on my final year at WKU…  My LAST year…ever.  I can’t believe it.  It hasn’t settled in yet, and I’m not looking forward to the day it does.  Despite one person, I absolutely love what I do.  I could do this for the rest of my life and be completely content and happy.  I love coming to work and having the opportunity to help and get to know Dr. Schallert and Dr. Bright.  They are such great guys, and I have learned so much from them - as teachers and people.  I just think of this job as a small way to “thank” them for all they’ve done for me.  I just try to make their lives a little easier and less stressful.  I hope I help some.  

To be honest, I’m scared.  Terrified.  Not so much about what I will do after this, but I’m scared of losing what I have now.  I love my friends and professors like Dr. Schallert, Dr. Bright, and Dr. Cipolla at WKU.  They have become wonderful mentors and friends to me…but I’m scared I will lose that.  I’m scared I’ll lose my friendships with them and other students.  I’m still scared of losing friendships with the people I graduated with.  I miss them a ton.  I know I’ll miss it here at WKU.  I have had the time of my life here and I couldn’t be happier.  I poured my heart and soul into WKU and gave it all I have and then some.  I don’t want to lose the people and the memories that mean so much to me.  

If there is one thing that gets to me more than anything, it’s goodbyes.  I can’t stand them.  Just saying the word makes my heart skip and melt.  I wish I could keep everyone I love in my life with me forever, but unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.  I know we will still see each other down the road, music people always find a way back to each other, but will it be the same?  Will we still be able to talk for hours like it’s nothing?  Will you still confide in me and trust me?  Will we run out of things to talk about?  Will it be…different?  Will you still want to talk to me?  Maybe I’m just scared of change…  I love the way the relationship is now, and I don’t ever want it to change.  If it does, only for the better.  I know I will miss seeing everyone often and going to talk to them whenever.  I’m just terrified of growing apart…of trying to keep the conversation going like old times, but you can’t find the words to say.  How do you make up for lost time?  How do I still keep in touch?  I don’t want to annoy you.  I struggle with this in all my relationships it seems like.  Maybe I just worry about it too much.

When I know a goodbye is approaching, because I’m so terrified, I have a bad habit of distancing myself from them, whoever it is, so the goodbye doesn’t hurt as bad.  (Maybe that’s why it’s hard to keep the relationship going afterwards…)  I’m not doing that this year.  I’m living this year with my heart wide open, taking advantage of all the time I have left.  I’m not shirking back to protect myself (even if that means crying some…which I hate with a passion).  These people, my friends, deserve better than that.  I will just have to work on making sure it’s a relationship worth keeping and maintaining, and trust that it’s a strong enough relationship that it will last across time and distance.  Trust that it’s a relationship we both will mutually enjoy revisiting and maintaining, hoping that our paths intersect later.  

It’s moments like these that I am so very thankful that God has blessed me with such wonderful people to want to hold on to and to miss.  I am so blessed!  

Here’s my completely vulnerable, honest post for the year.

"We must place the beauty in our hearts right there next to loss and pain and whatever else it is we have in there, and we must pass it on.  We must love…  Shamelessly and fully without any "but this might not last."  With acceptance and duty and honor and grace." (Jennifer Pastiloff) 

Have you ever fallen in love with someone? It can be anyone - a significant other, spouse, teacher, preacher, elder, friend, co-worker, boss, classmate - anyone. Not a romantic or physical love, but in love with who they are - their personality, character, mind, and heart. Their smile. Their laugh. The sparkle in their eyes. How they listen. The tone of their voice. Their sense of humor. How they care for people. Their ideas, beliefs, and philosophies. What they stand for. Their enthusiasm and passion. Their work ethic. Their insight. Their mannerisms. The faces they make. Their intelligence. Their big heart. Their faith. Even hearing them say your name. Seeing them puts a smile on your face and in your heart. You thoroughly enjoy spending time with them, regardless of what you are doing. They make your heart swell up with so much love that your chest feels so full that you can barely breathe and you really think your chest is going to burst wide open. You just can’t help but let that love spill over on everyone else in your life. They fill your soul with joy. These people are like sunshine - beautiful, warm, and illuminating. You love them for nothing they can give you, only for who they are. That is beautiful. Love is beautiful, and love makes things, people, and life beautiful.

Trust

"Love and trust are two very different things.  You should love your enemies, but don’t let them babysit your kids"  (Dave Willis).

I once wrote an insightful post about trust and honesty on here, but it somehow got deleted before posting.  I often think about writing it again, but I don’t trust this thing anymore…  Maybe once school is out.

Teacher’s Pay?

So after everything that has happened in our country within the past week, I, and I’m sure many others, have been contemplating many things.  One of those things that has been up for debate is that of teacher’s salary.  Hearing the stories of teachers saving the lives of their students warms my heart.  To think that someone could love kids not their own enough to lay down their life for them is nothing short of incredible.  And to know that these same people put their lives down and sacrifice everyday for these kids?  Teachers truly are special people.  I don’t think anyone would question that.  These people deserve far more respect and appreciation than we could ever give them.  How do you thank those who dedicate their lives to changing young people’s lives?  I’ll tell you right now, money isn’t enough.

I know there’s a lot of talk about how teachers should be paid more, and I completely understand the reasoning.  Don’t doubt for a second that I think teachers deserve it.  I have heard it said that you can tell someone’s priorities based on how they spend their money, and I think the same can be said about our country.  Looking at teachers’ salaries compared to other professions, it is obvious that our country doesn’t value the role of teachers in our education system and all of our lives.  However, I know that some people want to raise the salary of teachers to make it more competitive with other jobs. I understand the reasoning.  We want to attract the brightest, most talented students to be teachers.  No doubt.  But have we stopped to consider the consequences?

What would raising the salary do?  Teachers would get paid more, yes, but what about those coming in to the profession?  What kind of people would it attract?  I am going to be honest, I have never met a single teacher that chose the profession based on money.  You may say, “Well that’s obvious!  Look how much they get paid!”  True, but I can tell you this, that even if teachers were paid more, even considerably more, those same people would still say that they didn’t enter the profession because of money.  Those people could care less about money!  What they care about is helping young people and making a difference in their life, and that to them is far more rewarding than anything money could give them.  Teachers are the most kind, generous, humble, genuine, selfless people I’ve ever met.  They were not drawn to the teaching profession by the size of their wallet but by the size of their heart.

If we raise the salary for teachers, would we still be attracting the same kind of people?  Would we still get the humble?  The kind?  The generous?  The tender-hearted?  The selfless?  The ones that value people over money?

Maybe there is a little bit of (unintentional) wisdom in the way we pay teachers.  I would want my kids to be taught by those people who have their priorities straight, who value people over money, who are kind, generous, and selfless.  By people who truly care and love people.  I would not want any children to be taught by those who only entered the profession lured selfishly by monetary gain.  True teachers enter the profession, not seeking what they can get out of it, but what they can give.  

Every teacher I’ve ever met would do the exact same thing those teachers in Connecticut did.  What they need isn’t necessarily more money.  What they need is love, support, encouragement, and appreciation, and that starts with YOU.  I know that would mean more to them than money ever could.

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