Just Because I Can

head buttNo one likes to argue. No one likes conflict. Or at least that’s what we think. That’s what we tell ourselves. But it’s not true. In fact, often we feed on conflict. We like to argue. We like going contrary to everyone else. Why?

God has created humans in an incredible way. We are complex, full of emotion and depth that I don’t believe anyone will ever completely understand. And one of those characteristics is our rebellious side. Yes, we all have one. Even the most compliant person has a part of them that wants to resist. Rebellion makes us feel independent and strong. We’re standing against something. And in some ways, that’s really good. If that rebellious nature is channeled right, it can make us stronger and better people.

Unfortunately, there’s a downside of our rebellious side. When we find that we have the strength and gut to be contrary to others, we then start exercising that just because we can. We feel good being different and strong and independent, so we want more.

Now, this is different from a good healthy critical mind. It’s really important that we are careful about what we believe and what we think. But sadly what can happen is we can move from healthy critical thinking to always looking for a bone to pick. This has happened to me. At times I’ve found myself intentionally looking for problems in what others are saying not because I want to be cautious in what I believe and not because I want to have an intelligent conversation with them, but instead just because I want to find something wrong just so I can be a little rebellious. I want to argue just because I can.

We express this tendency in many different situations. It may be in a dinner time conversation. Maybe a text. Maybe it’s Facebook. In fact, today I was tempted to respond to a Facebook post I disagreed with. But I didn’t. And part of the reason was because I knew that deep down I just wanted to disagree because I could. It wasn’t really because I wanted to engage in a discussion on the issue. I just wanted to be a little rebellious. I might have been right about my opinion, but my motive was wrong.

Let’s admit it, it’s fun sometimes to go against the status quo. It’s fun to shake things up. But don’t let that feed you. Don’t rebel just for the sake of rebelling. Don’t start an argument (as orderly as it might be) just for the sake of criticizing. Have a purpose. And be honest with yourself. I’ve found that sometimes I’ll create a purpose for myself just so I feel good about arguing. Basically I’m lying to myself, telling myself that I have a good reason to be critical and rebel a little, but in reality I just want to argue because I can.

calvin_arguingNo one likes people who are always correcting everyone else. No one likes people who always have to bring up something contradictory whenever they’re in a conversation. Don’t be that person. Choose your battles. Choose the ones that matter, the ones that you actually care about. The ones that don’t fuel your desire to rebel just because you can.

Be the kind of person that people enjoy conversing with because you can disagree respectfully but you’re not out to disagree for the sake of disagreement. Be uplifting. Be encouraging. Be wise in choosing to be contradictory.

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Decision Time

Making decisions is just a part of life. Some decision will be bigger, some smaller. But they’re all important. Here are a few thoughts on making decisions and not regretting it later.

  1. Be practical. Take a look at the facts and be honest. Facts aren’t everything, but they provide a whole lot of insight into situations. By viewing the issue from a pragmatic perspective, you’ll be able to weigh the facts and look at the pros and cons from a balanced view.
  2. Get advice. Don’t try to make decisions on your own. Proverbs 15:22 says that “Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established.” Talk to others to hear their thoughts. You may not necessarily take their advice, but talking to them helps you think through the issue and also see things from perspectives that aren’t your own.
  3. Feelings do matter. Just like facts aren’t everything, neither are feelings. But it’s true that gut instincts are important to pay attention to. How do you feel about each option? What does your gut tell you?
  4. Talk to God. Ultimately, a decision isn’t really your own. It’s God’s. Read His word and talk with Him. I recently spoke with my uncle to get his advice on a decision I needed to make, and he told me that God will not hold me accountable for the results if I follow what God tells me. If you make the decision God tells you to make, you’ll have no regrets.

Once you’ve made the decision, stand confident in it. If you’ve chosen the path that God has directed you to, go forward knowing you’re doing the right thing.

Decisions are exciting and challenging at the same time. But don’t view them as obstacles; view them as part of the journey!

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Image courtesy of jev55 on Flickr – http://www.flickr.com/photos/jev55/

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Deeper than Dreams

What do you really want? Really. What is it that burns deep inside your soul? Deeper than your dreams, deeper than anything else?

I’m a big believer in following the dreams God has given you. But when determining the direction of our life and the next steps we should take, sometimes I think we tend to only focus on the dreams, and not go deeper.

What if we went deeper?

What is it that drives you? What’s more important to you than anything else in the world? What values do you hold above all others? That’s what’s going to help you find where God is taking you. I have a lot of dreams. And I believe that they’ve been given to me by God. But I’m realizing that if I only focus on the dreams and only seek to fulfill them, I could get really lost. Overvaluing one dream. Undervaluing another. But when I step back and go deeper, I find direction. When I go to the most fundamental, foundational passions that God has given me, that’s when the pieces of the puzzle start coming together.

And the cool thing is that the pieces come together in ways I never imagined or dreamed! That one dream that I thought was super important and was going to look a certain way changes and become less “important” and takes on a different form. And that other dream that I wasn’t sure about at all starts taking shape.

What do you really want? What’s the deepest passion that God has given you? Find it, and follow it. Be ready for your dreams to take different shapes or change levels of importance. They might look different. But that’s the cool part. You’ll find God working in your life and orchestrating it all. It’ll be scary. But you’ll find purpose, satisfaction, and peace in life.

Go deeper than your dreams.

The Time We Have

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine shared this video with me. It’s incredible how a video that’s less than three minutes can communicate such a powerful and challenging message.

I found this video sobering, because it really put things into perspective. What am I doing with the time I have? It’s a really good question to ask ourselves. But it’s a tough question to ask. And the even harder question to ask is, “What am I spending too much time on?” It could be anything. It could be your favorite TV show(s). It could be reading books. It could be texting. It could be social media. The list goes on. That’s not to say that the item is bad in and of itself (it most likely isn’t). But is it worth the amount of time you’re spending? Could part of that time be used for something better?

Ultimately, the question is this: Is what I’m spending my time on going to matter for eternity? Is what I’m doing with my time honoring my heavenly Father?

God gives each of us a certain amount of time on this earth. Each minute of each day matters. What are you investing your time in?

hourglass

What’s Your Dream?

In my last post, we looked at how we shouldn’t live life waiting for it to begin, but instead how we should live our lives now. And since the Disney movie Tangled provided such a great foundation for our discussion, I’m going to use another concept from the movie in today’s post.

tangled

The plot line of Tangled may at first just seem like a classic romance story and really “silly.” There’s this girl who has this dream. She meets up with this guy and gets him to help her fulfill her dream. They have lots of adventures and then (spoiler alert!) end up getting married and living happily ever after. But wait just a minute, it actually goes a whole lot deeper than that.

Let’s go back to the beginning of the story. Two people, each with a dream, meet through a set of odd circumstances. They both want to fulfill their own dream. Rapunzel wants to see the floating lanterns and Flynn wants to get rich and live an easy life. Rapunzel has the upper hand (or should I say hair?) in their interaction, so Flynn agrees to help her. But the reason he agrees is not because he really wants her to be happy, but because he wants the crown back so he can get on with his dream. Rapunzel isn’t interested in giving the crown back to him except as a means of bribing him to fulfill her dream. That’s how it starts.

Now lets fast-forward to the scene when Rapunzel and Eugene (not Flynn anymore) sing “I See the Light.” Take a look at some of the words in that song:

Rapunzel sings:

All those days watching from the windows
All those years outside looking in
All that time never even knowing
Just how blind I’ve been

……….

All at once everything looks different
Now that I see you

And then Eugene sings:

All those days chasing down a daydream
All those years living in a blur
All that time never truly seeing
Things, the way they were
Now she’s here shining in the starlight
Now she’s here suddenly I know
If she’s here it’s crystal clear
I’m where I’m meant to go

What did each of them realize? What they realized was that their own dream, the one they were so focused on, really didn’t matter. Why? Because they had discovered a new, better, dream. Why better? Because their dream was about someone else, not themselves. Before, Rapunzel wanted to see the floating lanterns for herself. Flynn wanted money for himself. It wasn’t about anyone else. Their dreams were self-centered. But then each of them realized that life was so much bigger than themselves, that life was about others! This is perfectly illustrated when (spoiler alert!) Rapunzel is willing to go with Mother Gothel forever as long as she can heal Eugene first. So she’s wiling to sacrifice herself for someone else. And then Eugene is willing to die to set Rapunzel free. Both of them forsook their own dream and their own comfort for someone else. Sure, in this case it happened to be a romantic story too, but that’s beside the point.

So what’s your dream? What are you living for? Is your dream about yourself, something you want? Or is it something bigger than that? Is it about others? Is it about fulfilling God’s purpose for your life? Is it about loving others? Is it about giving up what you want so that God can work through you as He chooses?

God gives us gifts, passions, and dreams for a purpose. But I think that we sometimes take those gifts, passions, and dreams and only want to use them in a certain way, the way we think is best. But I challenge you to give those gifts, passions, and dreams to God. Let Him use them as He will. It quite possibly won’t be how you expected. It might be hard for you, uncomfortable. It might mean that you must give up a dream that you had. It will definitely mean being selfless and focusing on others. But place it all in His hands. Let Him give you a dream. And then fulfill it with all of your heart! Don’t expect a story and ending like Tangled; expect the story and ending that God has planned for you, even though it might not make sense and even though you may not be able to see it yet.

What’s your dream?

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When Will My Life Begin?

Today’s post is a little different. I’m going to be using a Disney princess song to examine something that we all face and relate to. Believe it or not, Disney movies can be pretty deep and provide some interesting insights into life! Even though I’m using a Disney princess song, we’re going to go deep. This post comes straight from my heart. I pray it encourages, inspires, and challenges you.

Recently, I’ve been giving a whole lot of thought to my “life plan.” What is next year going to look like for me? How about the next five years? Ten years? I’ve also had chances to talk with some of my friends about their thoughts on what their future will look like. This all got me thinking about life and making the “transition” from young person to adult


Tangled-Look-out-the-window

While the song “When Will My Life Begin”, sung by Rapunzel in Disney’s Tangled, may at first appear to be just another classic song sung by a classic Disney princess, there’s much thought-provoking material to be found in it. The song describes how Rapunzel looks at her life, how it’s always the same, never going anywhere, and she wonders when will things change, when will her life will really begin.

Honestly, I think this is a question that many of us young people ask ourselves. Especially for those of us who are soon to graduate from high school or college. We look at where we are. We look at the opportunities we have, the relationships we’ve built. We wonder what kind of transition will take place, and when it will happen. “When am I going to do something different from what I’ve been doing all of my life?” “When am I going to ‘move on’ in my life?” “When will my life begin?”

The first reprise of “When Will My Life Begin” says this:

I’ve got my mother’s love
I shouldn’t ask for more
I’ve got so many things
I should be thankful for
Yes, I have everything- except, I guess, a door

We think that in order for life to begin, there has to be a transition, an opportunity where we move from one part of life to the next. But I have an idea, one that I think will encourage and inspire my peers, including myself. What if we shouldn’t be waiting for life to begin? What if it’s already begun?

In the second reprise of the song, Rapunzel sings this:

Look at the world – so close, and I’m halfway to it!
Look at it all – so big – do I even dare?
Look at me – there at last! – I just have to do it
Should I?
No.
Here I go…

These lines suggest not yet having “arrived.” Analyzing this song in the context of the movie is a whole different topic, but what about its application to us? Looking at how it applies to our lives, I’d suggest a slightly different perspective. God has placed each of us where we are for a reason. If we are living according to His will, His plan for our lives, then we’re right where He wants us to be right now. And if we’re right where God wants us, then why are we moving? What is there to “arrive at?” In fact, we have arrived! Because we are where God wants us to be.

I think we have a tendency to think that the future is when life will really start, when we’ll do great things. But the future is always a day away! We shouldn’t life our lives waiting for our life to begin. It’s already started! Instead, live your life in the center of God’s will. Live it doing what He’s called you to now. Sure, there will probably be changes later down the road, but that shouldn’t change who you are or how you view what you’re doing now. Don’t wait to start your life or to do big things. Do what God calls you to, regardless of how you perceive the size or the importance or the relevance. It matters to Him, and that’s all that should matter to us.

That’s really comforting. While we may look at where we are in life and wonder how it’s supposed to work, we can be confident in our heavenly Father, knowing we’re following His plan and that His plan is perfect. You don’t have to ask when your life will begin! Don’t wait for it to begin, because your life has already begun! You’re living a life for Christ!

Choose Your Battles…… How?

The phrase “you have to choose your battles” is common. It basically means that you can’t address every problem you encounter, so you have to choose the most important ones and let the rest go. There’s a huge amount of wisdom in this. But how do you choose your battles? How do you decide whether or not something is worth “fighting” for?

Here are a few factors to take into consideration when making a decision regarding whether or not to address an issue or to let it be:

  1. Is it a moral issue? If the answer is no, then it’s most likely not worth addressing. If it’s not an issue regarding right and wrong in God’s eyes, then there can’t be an absolute regarding the issue. Therefore, to address the issue would actually be unwise; you’d be arguing using your own personal preference instead of absolutes. That’s not to say that personal preference isn’t important, but your personal preference isn’t the only one that matters.
  2. Who/what does this issue affect? For me, if the issue is one that only hurts or affects me, then I’m less likely to address it. Not because I want to be the holy martyr, but because I want to be outward-focused, esteeming others above myself (Philippians 2:3). So I’d rather invest my time addressing issues that affect others, not ones that affect myself. I don’t consider this to be a hard and fast rule, but just an important factor to keep in mind.
  3. How will this affect my relationships with those involved? This one is tough. I don’t believe for a moment that we should never offend anyone or do something that might stress or break a relationship. But a good question to ask is, “which is more important: my relationship with this person, or this issue?” Sometimes doing what’s right means breaking or straining a relationship. However, sometimes we can get so caught up in “being right” that we forget that we may hurt people in the process of seeking what’s right when it’s really not worth it and wouldn’t honor Christ.

Ultimately, though, the decision must come from God’s wisdom. Proverbs 2:6 says that “the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding” (NKJV). When choosing which battles to fight, pray hard and follow God. The three factors I shared may help, but won’t give you the right answer on their own. In reality, there really isn’t a clear-cut method to determining the answer apart from heeding the voice of the Holy Spirit. And that’s the way it should be.