Monday, August 23, 2010

Attitudes Are Contagious

Juanita and I currently have 2 beautiful boys: Isaiah aged 6 and Noah aged 2. It is quite clear that little Noah admires his big brother. Everything that Isaiah does, Noah tries to copy him. Isaiah is very artistic as he loves to draw, colour, and do art craft work. He has his art box and every now and then, he pulls it out and makes something out of nothing. He loves to create. Noah thinks that it is so cool, so he pulls out his own paper and pen and sits next to Isaiah. All he does is scribble and goes “Look everyone!”, and we usually reply saying “Awww, that’s good Noah!”. Isaiah just shakes his head and laughs.

They are typical brothers; one minute they love each other and really care for each other, the next they are the worse of enemies and are scrapping and screaming at each other. One time Isaiah got so angry, he advised Noah (in a loud screaming voice of course) to “Shut up!”….added with a bit of “Loser!” in the end of the sentence. Since then, Noah started saying those words as well. And nowadays, every time Noah disagreed with our requests, he would tell us to S-up and call us Losers. Ha, funny to think about it now - this little, cute, innocent 2yr old, but not so funny during the time. Can you imagine us in the shopping centre – “Noah, don’t do that please.” … and all you can hear is this loud voice going SHUT UP DADDY (or MUMMY)! LOSER! LOSER! People would be staring at us and we just feel like melting. Deep-down inside you feel like doing what Homer (Simpson) does to Bart…”Why you little!!!”.

“Attitudes are contagious. Is yours worth catching?” – Author Unknown

When I was growing up, I was troublesome. My parents can vouch for that. I don’t remember how many times I’ve tried to run away from home. And I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve had a screaming battle with my parents, and brothers as well. I can’t tell you why that was or what started it all. Maybe I needed to feel loved? Needed more attention? But then again, I’m sure my parents and brothers tried to show me love and gave me heaps of attention. I think maybe I just needed to snap out of it and mature. I don’t know. All I know is that I feel ever so bad every time I think back and realise how awful I treated the people around me, the people who love me the most. But hey, you can just apologise and move on and make it right from then on. Have you ever noticed that when you are in a good mood, that everything around you feels so positive and beautiful? And when you are in a bad mood, it feels like the whole world is falling on top of you? Just think that you have complete control of your emotions. There are only 2 ways to go about it: happy or sad. Which one will you choose? I know it is hard sometimes to snap out of it when someone's just called you a nasty name or has made negative comments about you. What I would suggest that you could do, is find your "quiet space". For me, it is sitting somewhere where I can see the sky, put on my iPod and listen to Christian music, and just chill out. For you it could be the same, or could be going to the mall and just window shopping, or maybe read a book somewhere quiet? Whatever or where ever it may be, make sure that you use that time wisely. Make sure that you put a real effort in going back to your positive state. And please....don't vent so that everyone else can see it. This will give everyone else the impression of a person whom you are truly not. If you need to talk to someone about it, then do it quietly. Do you have a friend who you can trust who would listen to you and make it better? Remember, God didn't make you a bad person. YOU are NOT a bad person. Sure, you have had bad experiences in life, but hey, everyone else does. It is how you deal with the situation that matters.

I wasn’t really aware of my behaviour and attitude when I was growing up, I just had this huge chip on my shoulder. And I could tell that no-one wanted to hang around with me as I always set this negative vibe. I would always hear people around me whispering to each other saying how grumpy I was. My brothers would always say that it was “Joey vs. the World”. Which is true! Or WAS true. Nowadays I’m a lot more aware of my surroundings and I try to project a positive environment for when I am at home, or at work…or wherever it is. Maybe it was all a part of growing up, a journey. That is what life for me is all about. Life is a journey, and not a destination. It is about learning what is right from what is wrong. It is applying what you have learnt and making it better next time. And foremost, it is sharing your experience with others, especially with my kids.

1 Peter 2:12 - "Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us."

Friday, August 20, 2010

Peer Pressure

Have you ever been in a position where you know that something is not right, but you go along with it anyway as that is what everyone else is doing? Or that you are forced (maybe unbeknownst to yourself) to be in a situation where deep-down inside you know that it is not right?

Back when I was in High School, they used to refer to it as “peer pressure”. Does that ring a bell? I used to hang out with this group of kids in High School who were considered the cool group. Zillmere train station used to have this shed on the platform and us “cool” High School kids used to have a smoking session in there after school, while waiting for our train to come. We got busted by one of the teachers, and the next day, I got sent to the Deputy Principal’s office and I got the cane. Any of you not aware of what it is, let me put it simply….its a big stick that they used to whack you with on your palms. OUCH! Nowadays, that method of disciplining is not allowed in schools here anymore…or maybe there are still teachers out there who secretly do it, haha, I dunno. My point is, I was not aware that I was a victim of peer pressure! It wasn’t anyone’s fault, certainly not the other kids’ fault, but mine. I loved hanging out with those boys! I loved being part of a “group”. I loved being accepted….who doesn’t? But deep-down inside….I knew it was wrong…but I went along with it anyway. Sound familiar? Maybe because that is the exact line I used in my first sentence. Or maybe…you ARE in that situation.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t turn back time and change anything, as I truly believe that we all have a purpose. And that our lives have already been mapped out even before we realise it. That whatever we do, WE ARE MEANT TO DO IT. What for? Maybe to teach us a lesson? Maybe to be a better person in the end? Or maybe “all of the above” so that we can then share our experiences with others. What a gift?! To be able to tell your story and then inspire other people at the same time.

Let me share you this. And sorry for being blunt. God gave us a brain. And has given us one of the best gifts of all…FREE WILL. He has given us the gift to think for ourselves, and not let others do the thinking for us. If you know that something is not right, ASK QUESTIONS! Search for the truth! Look at the bigger picture. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own little world that we forget what is happening outside of it. I reckon you should think outside the square. I always tell people that the truth will set you free. But I have learnt the fact that people sometimes get so blinded by their own little…and I mean LITTLE…world that they can’t actually see the light at the end of the tunnel. This is an actual fact. Have you ever heard of stories of people falling so in love that they forget about everyone else around them? Including stories about a partner (boyfriend, husband, girlfriend, or wife) who is abusive towards the other person whether physically or mentally, BUT YET he or she still loves the other person? Even though everyone else around them says so otherwise? It brings me back to my all-time favourite movie – The Matrix. Just when Neo thinks that his life is what it is and there is nothing else, he gets introduced to a whole new world that he never knew existed.

Sometimes you just have to stop….and think. Trust your instincts! There’s nothing wrong with being a follower, just be an active follower instead of a passive one. And if you are scared to ask questions as you may upset other people, then that is a clear indication that there is something wrong with your relationship. A relationship should be open to criticism, discussion, and improvement. And it certainly should be a place where you can voice out your opinion without being attacked by your peers (whether verbally or physically). And if people act negatively towards your opinion or decision, then it’s their loss. All you can do is pray for them.

1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 says that “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

There are so many things in that passage that I can use to prove a point…but one that strikes me at this very moment is verse 6 where it says that LOVE REJOICES WITH THE TRUTH. Rejoice….to feel happiness…to feel joyful…to be delighted…to be content….isn’t that what LOVE is all about? Isn’t that how a friendship should be? Sure there are times when you have your differences, but with love, it should be sorted out in the end.

Let me end by sharing a quote from our beloved POPE JOHN PAUL II – “The truth is not always the same as the majority decision.”

God bless you and your family always. Regardless if you know about God or not, He still loves you anyway! PEACE!