1 Samuel 16:7 - But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
You wake up in the morning, get dressed and ready for work, then you take one more look in the mirror. Yes, you even look like a success story. The world is in the palm of your hands. You just have to reach out and grab it. Then it happens.
You’ve made a plan. It looks good on paper, so you believe everything will head in the right direction and you’ll achieve your goal. But things go sideways. The people who said that they would invest in your idea drop off the face of the earth. You try to do it on your own, but only end up in debt with your family angry at you because you placed all of their futures banking on your idea but the plan failed.
Those plans you made have indeed caused a domino effect on your finances. One domino hits upon another and there’s a great crash. What’s more, you’ve lost your confidence in making wise decisions to try to regain the finances you had, to live the lifestyle your family is used to. But no amount of bargaining with your creditors has succeeded, and you find yourself headed for bankruptcy.
Those plans failed, your finances followed close behind and now you’re having trouble making decisions even at work. You try to hold your head up high, but you begin to slip behind in each of the tasks that are your regular responsibility. And your boss notices. He starts by showing you where your mistakes are happening. Then he moves on to threats that if you don’t turn things around he will fire you. And you guessed it, you get fired.
Your plans went down the tube, your finances ended up in a dumpster, you lost your job and now because of all of the stress you’ve been under – your heath begins to fail. You have high blood pressure. From time-to-time you suffer from chest pain, but tell no one. You gain a few pounds. Then your left arm hurts and you feel a crushing feeling in your chest. It’s a heart attack. Your wife tried to warn you to take better care of yourself, but you didn’t listen.
All of the steps above don’t just affect you. They affect your wife as well. But you stopped listening to her advice; even her concerns about where your life is headed. It doesn’t matter. She’s had enough, and you’re served with divorce papers.
Not only your wife, but other people around you fail you. They jump ship. They turn away. They now think that you’ve failed in every way imaginable, and instead of being there for you, they walk away. Now you experience a pain in your chest that has nothing to do with a heart attack. It has everything to do with a broken heart.
You walk into your bedroom later that night. You take a look at yourself in the mirror. You no longer look like a success or like you hold the world in your hands. You wonder if your life is even worth living any more.
Forbes.com, in their article, “Five Ways to Make Peace With Failure,” provides some ideas that can make it possible to turn your life around. One of their ideas is to not make it personal. Separate the failure from your identity. Another idea is to release the need for approval of others. The article gives the example of how Walt Disney was fired from his newspaper job because “he lacked imagination.” Think about that one. What if he had given up on life and decided he wasn’t going to try something else?
Plans may fail. Your finances might fail. You may lose your job. Your health may fail. Your marriage may fail. People may fail you, but God is the God of compassion and His love for us never fails. So the next time you look at yourself in the mirror don’t think about how much of a failure you are, but remember how God sees you – you are more than a conqueror because of what Christ Jesus did for you.
Romans 15:7 - So accept each other just as Christ has accepted you; then God will be glorified.
It feels sometimes like the world has stopped giving validation. The simple words, “I’m proud of you,” provide a stepping stone that can give someone the strength and courage to continue to press on in the tasks being performed.
So, when was the last time that you heard someone tell you they were proud of you?
I know for me, sometimes it has not been days since I’ve received validation, but more like years.
Compliments also, have almost vanished. Oh there are those who dish out compliments, but most of the time the person saying them is looking for something in return. Or, the compliments are not given in sincerity, but almost flippantly.
Another way that validation is slipping away is because of the lack of two words, “Thank you.” Appreciation for something done for us is a lost art. Some parents will teach their children to say, “thank you,” but most skip that part. To tell someone thank you teaches a child, and an adult, how to be more grateful people.
We are a world in which the opposite of, “I’m proud of you,” reigns. So many times people criticize, complain, and tell others that there’s nothing they do is right. A child learns from watching their parents take each other for granted and in turn their life becomes predestined to instead of validating others, but to hurt another person’s spirit.
There are always ways in which we can find a reason to validate another person. And as a bonus attach a smile to the validation. It may be just what an individual needs. Perhaps we can’t change the whole world all at once, but becoming people who validate each other can go a long way.
How can we break this cycle and create a world where people validate each other?
In the first place, we can learn to be proud of ourselves. There is a good pride that we can foster. One that doesn’t try to puff themselves up by telling other people, but by recognizing the many ways you make a difference in the world. Notice what you’re doing and try not to be so hard on yourself. Everyone can find at least one thing that they do well. Let your mind rest on that and tune out the people who are constantly putting you down.
Wikihow.com posts the article, “How to Be Proud of Who You Are,” which provides some concrete ways to validate yourself such as, remind yourself that everyone has flaws and standing up for yourself.
Then once we are validating ourselves on a regular basis, it can become easier to valid others with, “I’m proud of you,” “you look beautiful today,” and, “thank you for helping me with this project.” By validating someone you will find yourself more accepting of other people, and it will become easier to notice when someone is doing the right thing instead of the wrong. Select the link below to find an article on psychologytoday.com titled, "Understanding Validation: A Way to Communicate Acceptance," for more ideas.
And, just as the Bible verse above says, when we accept others then Jesus will accept us. That acceptance will bloom into validation and produce a garden of taking one step forward to making the world a place where again, “I’m proud of you” becomes an everyday occurrence.
Job 12:13 - To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his.
Many times, as we sit in a doctor’s office waiting for the doctor to come in, we feel anxious. We become unsure if what we’re experiencing is bad enough to see a doctor.
Having self-respect with others is an important part of who we are. We may seek out those who will tell us the truth, but do it in such a way that we won’t feel we are less of a person.
These things can also be true of your relationship with your doctor:
And that’s where the rub is – our self-respect as a patient is a fragile thing. It’s easy to break off the bird’s wing leaving it unable to soar once more.
Try to remember, you aren’t just taking up a physician’s time. They are paid to see us not the other way around. We are in affect the employer and they are the employee. Rise up and find respect in the fact that their job is to help us become well.
These situations are not only for the one who is seeking a medical doctor’s help, but also for our mental health. Sometimes mental health is more difficult to treat than an injury or illness we’re seeking relief from.
Though you may be seeing a mental health doctor for referral to a therapist, or are there for medication review, it can sometimes make you feel your issues aren’t that important.
What if it’s something big like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or a bipolar condition? It’s important that we convey our symptoms and ask for help. So how do we approach an appointment and still keep our self-respect?
Mentalhealth.fitness posts an article titled, “Bringing it up: 13 Tips for Talking with Your Physician About Depression.” The article contains suggestions when talking to your physician about mental health issues such as recognize that, although you may feel uncomfortable, you are sharing a legitimate medical concern to get the help you need.
It’s important that you remind yourself when speaking to your primary physician that you are worth their time, and taking this step, though it may be difficult, will make all the difference in your self-respect as a patient and your healing journey.
One more thing, God will give you the wisdom that you need to express your needs to a doctor and can give the doctor that same wisdom and the understanding that you need as their patient.
Proverbs 10:9 - The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.
In the ever increasing drive social media places on us to look good and successful when we aren’t, we may find our integrity slowly burning off like morning fog.
We say what we don’t mean.
We don’t do what we said we’d do and make up excuses like, “I know I let you down, but I’m just too busy,” and our promises fade away.
We hide secrets in the basement of our minds fooling other people that we are of good moral character when in fact -
Steal what isn’t our own
We make light of important matters
And it all leads to our character being tossed aside in the name of profit and success.
We may think that what we’re doing doesn’t affect others, it does –
Our marriages suffer as cheating on your spouse becomes more than just a one
Our relationships with our children suffer as we break our promises to make
time to show up at their soccer games or watch a school music program.
Our relationships with our parents, siblings, and extended family suffer as we criticize and put down their life, because they aren’t making the big bucks.
Our jobs suffer as we steal someone else’s ideas and projects and put our names on them.
Our loss of integrity doesn’t just stop there – it affects us internally:
We’re the ones who know what we’re doing even if we may fool others for a time.
Our internal monitor moves into the red zone as now our health begins to decline.
And finally what we think about ourselves is no longer hidden by the fog but is pushed into the burning light of just how far we’ve fallen.
Is there a way to gain back our integrity? Read the article on wikihow.com titled, “How to Improve Your Personal Integrity,” and find suggestions such as being truthful with other even if it gets you into trouble and be honest with yourself.
No one said that a life of integrity would be easy. It may take some time before others trust you again, but it’s worth the effort to try. If you do, as the Bible verse above says, you’ll become a person of integrity who walks securely. And you won’t have to carry around the burden of wondering when you’ll be found out.
Job 30:15 - Terrors overwhelm me; my dignity is driven away as by the wind, my safety vanishes like a cloud.
Dignity: the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect; a composed or serious manner or style; a sense of pride in oneself; self-respect. (Google.com definitions)
As you sit on the table in your physician’s office clothed only in a paper gown, it feels as if you’re exposed. Vulnerable.
As you are directed to a small area in the pre-op area of a hospital, you’re handed a small cotton gown to change into. You place your garments in a bag after which you pull a draw string to close. Your feet dangle over the side of the bed awaiting your turn for surgery. You know in your mind that it’s trained surgeons who will be operating on you, yet you feel as if your dignity has been stripped away just as your clothing was.
You curl up into a ball like an unborn child within her mother’s womb. You should’ve been more careful. Why did you trust that man who you met for drinks. But here you are. All honor, respect, pride in oneself has been taken from you. And, there’s no going back from here.
You walk toward your local shopping mall and see a man lying up against an outside wall. He’s homeless, and lost in a world that only thinks of him as less of a person.
You walk into the room. It’s divided only by a curtain. You approach the bed and find your father lying on a bed; eyes glossed over; all hope gone. He only has a gown to wear and the only furniture in the room is a small cupboard to hold the only belonging he could have with him. When I looked into my father’s eyes, I saw such sadness and sense of shame. Is this how his life is going to be lived until he passes away? No honor. No dignity.
Dignity is something that people don’t really talk about, yet something that we’ve all experienced the loss of in our lives at one time. With some events, like the trip to the doctor or hospital, the feeling of lost dignity only lasts until you return home.
But for the woman who is raped, that loss of dignity can be lost for a lifetime. With the homeless man his loss of dignity cuts him to the bone just as the chill in the air does. At one time, he was somebody’s child; perhaps a brother; or, perhaps somebody’s husband or father. But, nobody seems to think of him in that way when they look at him. They only see a nobody.
And with someone like my father, who spent the last weeks of his life in a care home, he never had the chance to gain back what he lost.
With each degree of lost dignity, what you think about yourself has been marred and tarnished. Is there a way to gain back your self-respect, your dignity?
Thehopeline.com has some ideas on building a healthy self-respect for yourself in their article, "How to Respect Yourself More," such as don't speak to others badly about yourself and don't let anyone force you to do something they want and you don't.
In addition, let’s talk about the Bible verse above. This was written by a man named, Job, who had lost his family (except for his wife), wealth and health. Job felt that everything had been take away from him. Even his dignity had been driven away. Thankfully the story didn’t end there. Job withstood his time of extreme pain and God healed him and showered on him more blessings than he had before he was afflicted.
The same can be true of us. We may not gain our riches back, but we can regain our dignity and receive strength to make it through other tough times.
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.