How do you know who you are supposed to be or what you are supposed to do with your life?
I feel like everybody goes through a moment where they experience a sense of self-doubt during their life. The path for finding your purpose in life and who you are supposed to become can be easy for some. For others, it can be challenging finding the right path to fulfill your sense of purpose, to feel as though you are achieving significant value in your life as well as attributing value to the lives of others.
The standard of purposefulness varies among every individual. We all want our lives to have meaning and to feel as though we are needed in some way. We are all on different paths but finding your sense of purpose is something that can add a sense peace in your life.
While you are growing up, there is one main question that is constantly asked throughout your life. “Who do you want to be when you grow up?” As a little kid the answer seems easy, but as we grow up, realization hits and we begin to see that life can be difficult and not everything in your life will always work out. Having strength and support in your life are ways that have help me realize that even if I feel as if I do not have a complete sense of purpose now, I will be able to in the future.
Helpfulness…the quality of giving or being ready to give help
“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” --Barack Obama
When I first hear the word “helpfulness,” I automatically think of the words: giving, hope, and empathy. All three of these words make up what helpfulness means for me. Hope and helpfulness go hand in hand. In this difficult time, it can be easy to lose hope. Whether it is the pandemic, the election, or life just getting to you, it can be easy to become defeated.
If you are anything like me, losing hope can mean losing a need to be helpful or putting other people first, above your own feelings. I don’t mean this in a way of acting selfishly in an intentional way, just in a forgetful way. As a society, we can get into our own head and get so worked up over the needs of ourselves that we forget the best way we can be true to ourselves is to be helpful to others.
Being helpful can mean many different things depending on the individual. That is one of the beauties of the English language. Living a full and rewarding life to me means giving to others, being a shoulder for someone to lean on, or showing a smile or providing a sense of relief to someone even if it is only for a small amount of time. Just listening to someone and hearing them out can be helpful to some people or going out of your way to make someone else feel a tiny bit better. There does not necessarily need to be a physical action.
This has been a very trying year so far. I think especially today, just listening and trying to understand someone else’s perspective can be helpful in a huge unexpected way.
One of the quotes on the Living52 website this week is, “Be helpful. When you see a person without a smile, give them yours.” I also want to expand on this and say, “By giving someone your smile, they could pass it onto someone else who really needs it too.”
Getting up and starting the day is a reward on its own nowadays. Helping someone else to do the same can be huge. You never know what is going on in someone’s head and doing this could be a game-changer.
Paint splashing into unknown shapes on a canvas, unusual spices in a dish, unheard melodies springing off the guitar, an unseen plot twist in a screenplay, and unexpected words printed on paper. Creativity is the “un” in everything.
When I hear creativity, I feel a wave of childlike energy surrounding something I’ve never experienced. For a moment, creativity feels like a light and playful word. It’s so flexible and subjective, you could throw it around at a suburban playground or casually pluck it into your conversation at the museum.
Creativity is easy peasy stuff, right?
We found a way to use it in our ranking system, creating (no pun intended) a metric for others and ourselves.
“She’s so creative, I could never do that.”
Time out. How many times have we all said this? The next time this plays in your mind, drop the latter. Spread the love, this tiny downplay of yourself adds up, and you are an incredible human. I digress. Let’s carry on.
Reality is, there’s no denying some people do create some rad stuff. So, where does this creativity come from?
What so many artists, musicians, chefs, speakers, and a plethora of creative creatures have discovered is creativity is less about what you’re doing. Creativity is letting go of what you’re supposed to be doing.
Undoing what we have been conditioned to do, unraveling old ideas, and unloading the constant fear of acceptance from everyone around us. Creativity is undoing the tapestry of woven ideas and rules we’ve collected over the years. There’s a hefty dose of rebellion in creativity.
The true pinnacle of creativity isn’t about everyone praising you when they like it, it’s about not giving a shit if they don’t. Pleasing others shouldn’t drive creativity. Nothing new is born from prior expectations. When the fear of fitting in is gone, creativity will find you.
Today. Let go, unravel, create, and be well.
This week's blog writer is Carrie Presley. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a BBA in accounting, and worked in the corporate field for 14 years before entering education. Presley's unique teaching style infuses creativity into the traditional mathematics classroom and has led her to be awarded Teacher of the Year in both Oklahoma and Texas. She lives in Houston, Texas with her husband Pat and two boys Paxon and Scout.
“Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” 1 Timothy 6:18-19
When you hear the word “generosity,” what is the first thing that comes to mind? When I first started thinking about it, I thought of being generous with money. I, like many of you, ask myself often what I would do if I won the lottery. While I know I would keep some of the money for myself, I also know I would give most of it away. Church, charity, missions, my parents, my children. I know this because I want to do it now. I have the desire to pay for everything for everyone all the time. There’s just one problem…I never buy lottery tickets, so I have to be wise with the resources I do have. However, I have found being generous is so much more than how much money you have to give.
One definition of generosity (the first one, actually) listed on my dictionary app was “freedom from meanness.” To me, that means being generous is the equivalent of being kind. Opening a door for someone. Helping carry groceries. Picking up a mess you didn’t make. Doing something nice for someone who just isn’t always nice or simply offering a smile to someone you meet on the street. Kindness is simple and costs nothing to give away.
Spending time with someone is another act of generosity. A great example of taking time for someone is taking time to listen to them. I used to work in an assisted living community for people with Alzheimer’s and related dementias. Often times, people with dementia will lash out in anger because they don’t know how to tell you what they are feeling. I did not work on the front line providing hands on care, but I would often find myself walking quickly through the building trying to get to my next appointment or get the next task marked off my list. Occasionally, I would stop when I would see a resident upset. Even if I could not understand what they were saying, nearly every time I took the time to listen to them, they would eventually calm down. It had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with the fact that someone took the time to listen to them, to validate their feelings.
Our world is so busy. We barely take time for ourselves, let alone anyone else. We have to be intentional. Listening requires a small amount of time, it is free to give away, and it could change the entire course of a day for another person.
Another definition of generosity is “readiness or liberality in giving.” I truly believe generosity begins in your heart. It means giving without hesitation or reservation. For many, this is probably the biggest roadblock when it comes to being generous, myself included. As humans, we want to overanalyze something till we are blue in the face. We know the right thing to do, but we can find a hundred ways to justify why we can’t or shouldn’t. I won’t give money to the homeless man on the street because he’ll just take it to buy alcohol. Maybe. So give him a meal instead. She is always so rude to everyone so why should I be nice to her? Why not? You might be the only one. I really don’t have time to sit and listen to him tell me about the same thing all over again. You will if you’ll set your phone down for a few minutes.
I get that choosing kindness and generosity isn’t always easy, but the way I see it, if you’ve done your part, what they choose to do with your act of generosity is on them.
We all have a still, small voice that speaks to us at critical moments. As a Christian, I believe it is God leading me to do the right thing, to make the right choice. When I was younger, there were many times I wondered how I was going to pay a certain bill. I would pray and ask God to make a way for me, then, just in time, someone would randomly give me money. He has sent someone to listen to me when I needed it. Someone has smiled at me when I’ve been in a crummy mood. God has never – not once – failed to provide for me at just the right time.
What if someone else is praying that same prayer and YOU are the answer?
Take some time today. Slow down and pay attention to your still, small voice. Choose kindness. Choose generosity.
And when you do, know you are storing up treasures in heaven far greater than anything you could imagine here on earth.
Candace Meiler is a 2003 graduate of Oklahoma Wesleyan University. A lifelong Oklahoma resident, she grew up in northeast Oklahoma but currently calls Shawnee home. She and her husband, Chad, have five children in their beautifully blended family. When Candace isn’t busy kayaking, writing, crafting, taking care of her family, following her kids to their sporting events, driving her land checking on their heifers (“the girls,”) and relaxing with her husband on their back patio, she spends time at her actual 8-5, Monday to Friday job. One of her favorite quotes is “My life may not be perfect, but it’s perfect for me.” If you’d like to read more of Candace’s writing, you can follow her blog at www.CandaceMeiler.com.
I typically drive into the city several times a week for a variety of reasons. On more than one occasion, my drive time becomes an opportunity for my wife and I to catch up on things we missed out on while being apart. There was a time, however, when I was fairly uninterested in being on the phone for any lengthy duration while driving.
It is tiresome to steer with one hand while holding the phone up to your ear with the other. After a few minutes, you have to brace your elbow up on the car window ledge to prop your arm up. This is so we don’t have to draw upon that phone holding strength on our own any longer.
I might should confess another reason I was uninterested in being on the phone while driving. Music, audiobooks, podcasts, sports radio, I love to listen to things! I know that you too, dear reader, have had your cruise control set on 70MPH while rolling down I-40, singing at the top of your lungs to Phil Collin’s “I Can Feel It Coming in the Air Tonight.” And just as you belt out, “Well the hurt doesn’t show, but the pain still grows. It’s no stranger to you and me,” you unwittingly take both hands off the wheel to air drum along with the most epic intro drum fill to ever come three minutes and forty seconds into a song.
Suddenly, the phone rings.
You are not only left without getting to sing “doo doo da doo doo da doo doo ba dum bum” along with the drum fill, but you were also scared halfway into the next lane because you never changed from the factory ring tone. Heart pounding and out of breath, you answer the phone, “Hello?”, in the calmest, and normal tone possible.
Things are different, now. Among other things, the ability to have hands-free calling has eliminated the crick in the neck we used to get trying to hold the phone with our shoulders. Without the action of lifting and talking into a physical device, and straining to listen through the devices tiny little ear speaker, you could almost forget the person you are talking to isn’t right there next to you. If hands free helped address the need to hold the phone, then it was a loving relationship with my bride that changed my perspective on the rest. Since I know how much I love to be engaged in good listening materials while driving, how much more do I love listening to the voice of my wife as she shares her thoughts, her stories and her ideas and ambitions. Investing in who she is as a person should be and is as compelling as any true crime podcast.
Being able to feel like my wife is next to me as we talk makes it easy to carry on the conversation for the entirety of a drive. Sometimes, we talk about several things. Sometimes, we have enough to say about one subject to fill up the drive, the walk up and into the house, and all the way into the same room she’s in by the time I hang up. Sometimes, we just stay on the line in silence for several minutes at a time before picking up another topic, being contented by just knowing we’re together even when we can’t see each other.
What should we call this? Experiencing the fullness of relationship, or “relationshipfulness”? What about the fullness of human connection, or “humanconnectionfulness”?
What if you were able to have this kind of relationship with Jesus? You’ve already been singing along to Phil Collins since 1981, “I’ve been waiting for this moment for all my life, oh Lord,” so that’s a start!
Do you know that God is with you even when unseen? You can talk to God as though God were in the seat next to you. And there never has to be a beginning or an end to your prayers. Prayer is an ongoing conversation within a loving relationship with the Lord. This is part of experiencing the fullness of prayer, or prayerfulness.
Prayer does not require a specific location. Imagine telling your spouse that you are only able to communicate with them when you are at home together at the kitchen counter? The lack of time and opportunity to meet in that space would cause you to not experience your relationship in its fullness. In the same way, our loving Savior is waiting to hear from you whether you are on a walk, mowing the yard, or on your knees at the altar of a church. It is not where you pray, but that you pray.
Prayer is not reserved for a certain time of day. Imagine telling your children that you are only available for them from 5:30 - 7:00AM on odd days when it’s not a leap year. I’d venture to guess that not only do your children need you more often than that, but you probably need them just as much. God loves you and desires a two-way relationship with you. One where God demonstrates love through blessings and grace. One that also calls you to offer the gifts and skills that God gave you to love and serve others. The best way to find out what that specific calling is for you is to ask! “God show me the places my gifts will best fit and help me recognize your nudges.” It is not when you pray, but that you pray.
Prayer, private or public, does not require owning a bible nor is it necessary to be able to speak as though you were reciting poetry at the Mozart Festival. There’s nothing that says “I love you,” to a friend quite like putting on airs and saying rehearsed formalities that are over their head. I know my friends would sniff out insincerity in no time. God knows your heart and mind. You were created to be exactly who you are. You do not need to pray any differently than you would talk to your best friend. It is not how you pray, but that you pray.
Prayer does not require you to go through some religious leader or head of church in order to talk to God. No one is so holy or has such authority as to play gate keeper between you and your heavenly parent. You have direct access! How impersonal would it be to have to go through your child’s teacher to have a conversation with your very own offspring? It would violate all kinds of boundaries to need to go through your spouse’s boss to let your very own life partner know you plan on putting the household on a cabbage soup diet.
Prayer is as casual and accessible as hands-free calling. From the time you wake up and thank God for a beautiful morning to that moment you start to drift off while thanking God for another day, there is an open line of communication with the one who created every star in the sky and every hair on our heads.
At times, prayers, like popcorn, will pop into our thoughts quickly and consist of several people and situations that are on our hearts. Other times, we have enough to pray about on one topic to fill up the whole day. Sometimes, we pray by pausing in silence. The spirit within us prays on our behalf for the things our mind may not know how to pray for. Even in the silence there is peace from being engaged in the salve of prayer.
We often get too busy to pray. There is always something of more importance we must do or focus on. Facebook to scroll through with posts we’re dying to comment on. Work that has piled up and can’t wait for a few extra minutes. A documentary series on the exotic world of big cats and a man who may or may not have been fed to Tigers. But, as we fall more in love with God and grow more conversational with God, we will desire to pray often and without pomp and pageantry. When we learn to pray at random, before, in the middle of or following any circumstance, knowing God is always listening, we start to recognize God’s presence and blessings all around us.
A still small voice can be felt, can be heard, in sudden memories playing like old home movies across your mind’s eye or new ideas that sweep across our frontal lobes. In music that strikes a chord within our core. In the laughter of children and the greetings of neighbors. Are you listening? That voice whispers a love story from the very creator who knew you before you ever took a breath of air. When being in prayer is a part of all aspects of your life, it becomes the car window ledge propping your arm up. Experiencing the fullness of prayer means we don’t have to draw upon that holding life together strength on our own.
So, sing for fun, sing in prayer or at the top of your lungs! God is listening, maybe singing along and undoubtedly playing the best air drums Phil Collins could ever imagine.
This week's blog writer is Tate Monroe. Tate is the Director of Adult Discipleship and Student Ministries at Shawnee St. Paul’s Methodist Church. Tate also has a passion for community development and serves on non-profit boards and advisory committees in Shawnee. When the opportunities arise, Tate loves performing on the stages of Shawnee Little Theatre and Lincoln County on Stage. You may have seen him most recently in a custom-made lime green spandex jumpsuit and disco silver platform shoes in the role of Harry in SLT’s production of Mamma Mia. Tate has also taught theatre workshops for children at the Mabee–Gerrer Museum of Art.