I can sometimes feel a bit down when reading the news headlines and learning more about the terrible and dark things going on in the world. I’m sure each and everyone of you can relate. We weren’t ultimately made for a reality like that, our hearts yearn for something complete, loving, perfect and whole. Our hearts yearn for comfort from within, and an everlasting comfort, for a Love that goes beyond what we see day in and day out around us.
It got me to thinking that while so much bad is going on in the world, each and every one of us can make a difference, even in the smallest of ways, each day of our lives. We can make a difference by sharing kindness, encouragement, Truth and love.
You can make a difference in your blog, in how you treat the person you are with in this moment, of how you treat the people you encounter in your day.
It might not seem much, but it can be. So make a difference today ❤
Have you ever looked at the news and felt overwhelmed by what is happening in the world? Have you ever felt overwhelmed by what is going on in your own life, and in the lives of those around you? Have you ever wanted to make a change, an impact in people’s lives but just not known where to start?
I’m sure we all feel like that from time to time. Some of us feel it very often. At times many difficult things converge and we can’t see past them. We might be having a challenging time personally as well as dealing with tough issues in our jobs. At one point I was working in the field of researching violence against women, and at the same time facing certain challenges, and I would feel overwhelmed by the constant stream of news and negativity and the state of the world. Some people term this compassion fatigue, or for those working to help other people, ‘vicarious trauma’.
Life can get heavy sometimes, but do we just throw our hands up in the air and give up? Or do we reach our hands up for help and strength from the True Source of help and of grace and Love?
Many people in this world want to make a positive difference. We face our own injustices and that creates a ‘fire in our belly’ to want to overcome them and then to reach out and help others who are suffering. But sometimes it can all get too much. I’m amazed by the people who tirelessly campaign to help other people, by doctors, nurses, emergency service workers and many others in vocations that serve to help others for the greater good, oftentimes at great risk to their own lives and safety. Many people sacrifice a lot to help others.
Yet what of us living comparatively less challenging lives in terms of what we do day in and day out and the risk we face to help others? What of those of us who still face the feelings of overwhelm in a broken world gone wrong, and in desperate need of Grace and Redemption? Do we just give up, do we allow ourselves to get exhausted, to think it’s all too big a problem so what’s the point of trying anymore?
The point of trying is what is in front of you.
Who is in front of you.
Jesus Christ said that ‘What you do for the least of these….you do for Me’.
Do you realise how valuable that person in front of you is? How valuable you are? You may not be able to solve the problems of the world, you may not be able to be a humanitarian on the front lines of changing this generation at great cost to yourself. You may be an extraordinary person in an ordinary seeming life, just like most of the rest of us. But you are extraordinary. And so am I. We all have this stamp of humanity in us and we all are made to be vessels of Love in a dark and hurting world (and this Love is of God, in Christ Jesus, Who if we let Him in will truly set us free).
Don’t give up. Don’t get so blindsided by the bigger picture that you fail to see the tapestry being woven right in front of you. What is in front of you matters. It may seem like a small offering in the grand scheme of things, but it matters.
So next time you feel overwhelmed or like there’s nothing much you can do to make a change, think of how truly important that one conversation is. That smile. Taking the time to sit and listen to someone who is in need. Giving something to someone in need, even if it seems like a small offering. Reaching out, praying, listening, and simply being. Being with your children, your loved ones, putting down your electronic devices and giving them the attention that they are worthy of that will bless your soul also.
There is a tapestry being woven right in front of you, and you are part of that process. You can choose to create or to tear apart or to leave things unattended to, never allowing a beautiful picture to form because you failed to participate, to contribute, to try.
Don’t worry about the whole world, simply tend to what is in front of you, and you will make a difference. And while we all play our part, in the littlest of ways, we contribute to something beyond ourselves, and surely that should be a source of hope and inspiration.
Most people have a cause or purpose that is close to their heart. At the core of all of mine is the desire to live for the Glory of God because of His great love in laying down His life to forgive me, heal me, cleanse me, give me new life and make me His forever.
You could say that is the centre of the ‘wheel’ out of which come several other ‘spokes’.
Some of these other spokes include involvement in my church and various initiatives to help others; being there for my family and friends; nurturing and building up younger people where and when I can; writing my book; personal development; recovery. It also includes the desire to inspire other people, to encourage people to overcome mental health challenges and lead a better quality of life, to build people up, and to help those who are struggling with things such as bullying, PTSD, depression, anxiety and so forth. This is just one part of my life, but an important one, and one which my blog is a key avenue for reaching out with advice and encouragement, guidance, tips and tricks, sharing personal experience and sharing hope. Why is it important? Because people are important and my story of struggle has led me to one of being an encourager, of speaking ‘life’ through my words, and I am thankful that this blog platform gives me an avenue of opportunity to do that.
There are many other causes and things that are close to my heart or that I care about and seek to be involved with in some way or another, even if my efforts are little. At one point in time, and linked to the work I was doing about a decade ago, my ’cause’ or passion was focused on praying for and raising awareness about victims of human trafficking, and also other ‘spokes’ related to the persecuted church, environmentalism, reaching out to older vulnerable people, and homeless people, and being involved with international human rights charities. Each spoke had its own little place, nothing grand or deserving of any fanfare, just humble little parts of a bigger ‘wheel’ with God at the centre. Each for a season. And the wheels will go around in their time again and perhaps those seasons and ’causes’ will be revisited as a focus of attention.
I have a number of friends who are equally passionate about various things. Some friends work abroad as missionaries, others are passionate about taking up the baton of challenging human trafficking, for others their focus is veganism and have set up charities and groups to further their cause. Some due to their own health challenges are seeking solutions for others in similar circumstances to them, campaigning and advocating for the use of certain treatments. Others want to raise awareness of autism because of their experiences of being parents of an autistic child. Some are keenly involved with environmental causes. Others in raising awareness and fundraising for dementia, Alzheimer’s, cancer, stroke and so forth, because of how these things have touched either their lives or the lives of their loved ones or friends. Some people make their passion, their ’cause’, their charitable inclination into a ‘religion’ of sorts. For me, all these things are a part of a much bigger purpose and to be submitted to God and His plans, purposes and direction.
Whether or not you believe in God, you’ll be aware simply from living in this world that there are many people who want to make a change for the better. In your own life you may think of examples of how certain things have been important to you in terms of social justice, human rights, environmental protection, animal welfare, and so on and so forth at different times in your life. Some people seek to make a change through their jobs, through politics, through joining a group, or giving to charities. The point I’m making I suppose is that there is so much need in the world, and so many people we know have their own particular focus, which is positive in that many people are ‘doing their bit’ to make a change, and that way different changes can be made by a diversity of people all doing something. We can’t all be the same, and we don’t always even have the same focus as we did a few years ago, or that we might have a few years from now. Priorities change, and there are times and seasons in our lives.
While you may be surrounded by passionate people who want to make a difference and who may feel like their cause is of most urgent importance (I personally believe that, underpinning everything else that is temporal, praying for people’s eternal salvation and sharing The Truth of Jesus Christ is of utmost importance), your focus may be different to theirs at this moment in time, and that is probably a good thing as it encourages learning, growth and development. Everyone is building their own part of the wall rather than everyone focusing on bridging just one gap to the detriment of the rest of the structure.
I have a variety of friends who have approached me at different points to get involved with the things that they are passionate about. These might be small things or potentially things that may involve more time and commitment. I wonder if you are the same? These requests might come in the form of signing a petition, attending an event, writing for a website, giving time, money, ideas and so forth. It’s great when we can do our bit, but we can’t do it all and it’s important to know that it’s ok to focus on what is important in our lives without feeling the need to be pulled in all directions.
Everyone has a part to play and everyone will play their part (even if it is just one small scene in this time of their lives) better if they are focused. If many people are asking many things of you don’t be afraid to take a step back to assess your priorities in this season of your life. You are only meant to carry so much. The desire to inspire is wonderful, but acknowledge that the priorities and causes of other people in your life may be different than your own, and that’s possibly a good thing. Keep focused on the part that you were called to play, and inspire others as you go. x
This time of year can be quite lonely for some people, and I touched upon this in an earlier Winter Survival Guide post about not facing loneliness alone.
One might be faced with the conundrum of whether to retreat from the social aspects of this season for fear that it will make you feel more out of place and alone, or whether to step out of your comfort zone to embrace potential new opportunities.
Others might be looking forward to all of the chances to connect with friends old and new.
I’ve been on both sides now. I know what it is like to feel alone, lonely and with few friends, or to be struggling with anxiety and while wanting to be and feel part of something, at the same time wanting to retreat from the overwhelming social pressures that can get too much for a friendly yet sometimes introverted soul. I also have more recently enjoyed the blessings of genuine friendships including a wide range of friends from work colleagues, people I’ve met through other friends, and people I’ve met through Church.
Wherever you find yourself on the social spectrum at this point in time, I’d like to encourage you that this time of year may be a good one for you to take a step forward and to make some positive connections.
At the weekend I attended my local church for a Remembrance Sunday service and although this is the place I usually go to worship, I know that it is very welcoming to anyone and everyone to come in. Even if you’re not a church goer, or don’t have any particular faith, you may feel comfort and connection in going along to an event or service depending on what you are comfortable with and hopefully meeting genuine, gentle, kind, caring and loving people. At this time of year there is sure to be much you can get involved in.
For example, my church has been involved with a Christmas ‘shoebox appeal’, (Samaritan’s Purse appeal) where individuals fill up decorative shoeboxes with toys, stationery and such like for children across the world who otherwise wouldn’t get gifts at Christmas, along with the cost of postage. The church is a collection point for people to drop off their boxes, and then they will coordinate with the charity to fly these shoeboxes to different countries across the world to bring love, joy and gifts to children who might not receive anything. We pray for the children and although it is a Christian appeal, it is open to anyone and everyone to get involved and contribute. My friend at work (who is an atheist) lovingly filled up a box and I took her contribution to church. Other people got together at the church on a Saturday to decorate some of the shoeboxes and to help pack them up. Maybe something like this, no matter what your beliefs are or are not, is a chance for you to get involved with your local community, meet caring people and even if just for an afternoon, build up a sense of connection.
My church is also hosting things like a quiz night, crafts afternoons, and a community choir, in addition to the various services which visitors may feel more comfortable attending around Remembrance Sunday, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year.
If you prefer something that isn’t faith based there are also many other things you can get involved in such as helping out at a homeless shelter (although in my city many have a Christian foundation), soup kitchen, joining a team to take hot food to homeless people, or you could attend live music, craft workshops and a host of other events that will bound to be proliferating around this time of the year.
It may help you to feel more connected, even if just for a little while, if you are facing a lonely season, and even if you are not, it may be a wonderful opportunity to make new connections and participate in some new and exciting experiences.
We all need each other, and this time of year can often make it easier to reach out so why not take that step?
If you are already well connected, and perhaps involved in for example a Church, community centre or charity, why not reach out to those who may need some support, invite people in, and show some kindness and community spirit. Create activities that are accessible for all and that will help people feel more involved and connected no matter where they are coming from.