5 Lessons From My 80-year-old Self

On the heels of writing some tips to my 18-year-old self, I was thinking of what advice I could use now. If my older self,

photo by Andre Delhaye via compfight

photo by Andre Delhaye via compfight

say the 80-year-old Kevin, could give me some guidance on navigating life from here on out, I wonder what he would say? I wonder what lessons, tips, and words of wisdom he’d share.

He’d probably start by saying I know less than I think I know right now. Then he’d say my future is bright and I become filthy rich (OK, wishful thinking there).  Most of all, he’d probably focus on regrets he has and how I can change my life to avoid them. So here are five things my 80-year-old self would tell me to live a fuller life:

SPEAK YOUR MIND

You tend to be cautious, young Kevin (yes, you’re still very young). You speak up when needed, but you’re guarded with your words. You’re diplomatic by nature, which has been helpful in gaining friends, bridging gaps, and defusing conflicts. Yet, your opinion needs to be heard more — unfiltered and direct. It will catch people off-guard, and it may hurt some feelings, but as long as it’s done in truth and love, it’s worth it.

BE SILLY

There’s nothing more beautiful in life than being able to laugh at yourself. It’s more natural for the youngest and oldest among us, but it’s something you need to rediscover and embrace. Laughing is one thing, but being able to make a complete fool of yourself — and awaken the silliness in others — is a moment you’ll never forget, trust me.

TAKE RISKS

You’ll never regret taking a risk. Do they all pay off? No. Is there embarrassment or discomfort in the moment? Yes. But looking back, taking a risk was always the right decision. Risks always result in either the outcome you desire or a lesson learned. The only thing that holds you back is fear. And you’ll find out what you fear most about risks never happens. The greatest risk of all is the risk not taken.

SPEND TIME WITH PEOPLE YOU LOVE

You’ve been telling yourself to do this for years, and you’ve gotten better at it, but remember this: You can never spend too much time with the people you love. No one ever reached 80 years old and said, “You know what, I think I spent too much time with loved ones.” Take every second and every minute that they give you. Too many people let work, school, church, chores, sports, Scandal, and social media get in the way of real relationships. By the way, Facebook, Instagram, and Olivia Pope won’t last that much longer anyway. If your loved ones are really loved, prioritize time with them.

SAY ‘I LOVE YOU’ OFTEN

Those three words mean the world to people, Kevin. They don’t part your lips enough. The people you love — which include pretty much everyone — need to hear it. You’ll regret not saying it enough. Your words are sincere. You only say what you mean. If there’s anything people should remember about you, it’s that you loved them.

Enjoy the journey, young Kevin. You’ll be OK. Oh, and get off Facebook!

What do you think you’d regret most at an older age? What are some changes you can make to avoid those regrets?

 

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Living in Faith Every Day

The following is an excerpt from the forthcoming book “The Past is in the Past So Let It Pass: For Women” by Nadia Atkinson. It’s a compilation of testimonies by 16 women about their journeys in finding Christ.  

“…For I will surely deliver you, and you shall not fall by the sword; but your life shall be as a prize to you, because you have put your trust in Me,” says the LORD.’ ”

Jeremiah 39:18 NKJV

Tell me what was your life like before Christ? nadia's book

Before Christ, I lived a life with no direction. I believed that the only person that guided my life was me and those around me. I hung around people who lived a negative lifestyle, and even had those people around my child. I lived a promiscuous and dangerous lifestyle, and at the time, it was fun. I didn’t do drugs, but I allowed myself to be around them and allowed them in my home. I was 19 years old with my own apartment thinking I could do whatever I wanted, never thinking about consequences, or the danger I was putting my daughter in.

What drew you to Christ?

There had come a time when I had hit rock bottom. I was about to be evicted from my home and I needed help and none of the so-called friends that I had around me every day could help me, nor could any of my family members. Everyone had an excuse as to why they couldn’t help me. It was then that I realized that I could only depend on Christ. I don’t remember exactly how it was resolved, but it was from then on I decided I would never put my faith in man again.

What made you decide, the day you were saved, that that was the day to dedicate your life to God?

I became saved when I was young. I attended church on a regular basis due to my mother and stepfather making it a requirement. I said the words and I prayed the prayer, but I never really took it seriously. In my mid-twenties, I was dating a gangbanger who I thought was a great guy but had the bad boy thing going for him that I loved. I never thought that I would ever see that bad boy side of him. One day I decided I was going to check his voicemail on his cell phone, and I did. It was easy because men never use passwords that can’t be guessed. Well I told him I did, and I don’t know what he thought I heard, but there was something on there that he didn’t want me to hear. I confronted him about a girl’s message that was on there, but he didn’t care about her message, he was just angry that I checked his messages. He threatened to kill me, and knowing that he was capable of doing just that, I was scared. He knew where I lived with my daughter and he knew where my family lived. I left my home for about a week. I was staying at my best friend’s house who just so happened to live across the street from a church.

The following Sunday I attended one of the services at that church. I prayed and I cried like I had never prayed and cried before. I promised God that I would change my life if my life was spared in this situation. I dedicated my life to Christ that day and I meant it with my whole heart.  When the service was over, I felt a weight lifted off me, but I wasn’t going home just yet. I went back to my friend’s house and she told me that while I was gone a lady knocked on her door to get help because she was having car trouble. Now my friend lived in an apartment complex, so the lady could have knocked on 10 others doors that were around my friend’s house. My friend welcomed the lady in to make a phone call. Before the lady left, she told my friend I don’t know what’s going on, but know everything is going to be fine, and then she left. Till this day, my friend has never seen the lady ever again. When she told me what happened, I felt like it was confirmation from God that He heard my prayer and my cries. I went home that night and never worried about the situation again.

If you could save someone by telling them one thing God has done for you in your life, what would it be?

God has spared my life in many ways. There are so many things that could have happened in my life due to the lifestyle I was living such as diseases, homelessness, incarceration, and the list goes on. I am disease free, never have been without a roof over my head, and never been incarcerated. Only by the grace of God was I spared, so I take every chance I get to tell someone to go to God and He will see you through.

 

Nadia is a small business owner in NJ who is God-fearing, trustworthy, and a student of the Word of God. She loves reading, writing, praise and worship, food, the beach, learning about our universe, spending time with family, giving advice, and being in love. You can order her book here.

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The Blessing of Hope

By Kevin Howell

photo by Michael Yan via compfight creative commons

photo by Michael Yan via compfight creative commons

There’s a misconception of what it means to be blessed.

Blessed is a common word used in church, and we often invoke it when things work in our favor:

“I was blessed with a job.”

“I was blessed with a car.”

“God blessed me with a house.”

“God blessed me with a spouse.”

“God blessed me with ____,” (you can fill in the blank).

Though those things can be considered blessings, they are not the primary example of blessing according to scripture. To be blessed means to be fortunate, well off, or happy. And though the aforementioned things certainly make us happy, we can create a culture within the faith that ties the idea of being blessed solely to receiving some sort of gift from God (or someone else).

So, if you don’t have a job, a car, a house, a spouse, or other things you desire and see others with, then you’re not blessed? Maybe according to modern-day church culture, but not according to Jesus.

I’m no theologian, but when I read the words of Jesus, I see a much different definition of blessed, none clearer than in Matthew 5.

Those whom Jesus described as blessed aren’t people we would considered blessed in our culture: poor in spirit, meek, those mourning, and the persecuted. Furthermore, Jesus didn’t call people blessed based on what they had or received, He called them blessed because of what they will receive.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  (Matt. 5:3-10)

The blessed shall be comforted, shall inherit the earth, shall be filled, shall obtain mercy. Being blessed is based on a hope. Not on something you possess, but on the hope of Christ and His promise. It is a matter of faith in Him, realizing Jesus Himself is the blessing. It’s not the gift, it’s the One who gives. Therefore, being blessed is independent of what you receive.

Even if we look at our forefathers (men and women) in the faith, we see blessing isn’t based on what they had. I think we’d agree the Apostles and other disciples of Jesus were blessed — they walked with Jesus after all. But Paul nor Peter never said they were blessed because of what they had. They were blessed because they were in Christ, children of God. Even during persecution, even during lack, even during trials, they were blessed because their blessing was based on hope, not their current circumstances.

The hope they had was in Jesus and the kingdom of heaven. It’s the same hope we have today. The hope of peace, provision, and all the kingdom of heaven is composed of. As singer David Crowder put it, “It is the hope in a rescue that has come, the hope in a rescue that has found us, and the relentless hope in a greater rescue that is still coming.”

So regardless of whether you’ve been given the things you’ve been believing for yet or not, you’re blessed if you’re in Christ. And you have a hope and bright future in Him.

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What to Do When Your Faith is Weary

By Kevin Howell

photo by Pedro Moura Pinheiro via Creative Commons

photo by Pedro Moura Pinheiro via Creative Commons

I can’t front, 2013 has been a pretty good year. Real good in fact. By no means has everything gone right, nor have I received everything I’ve prayed for (and honestly, I can’t say I’ve prayed as much as I should have this year either), but I’ve been blessed tremendously and unexpectedly.

Life is good, not perfect, but good, as I like to say.

But I understand that’s not the case for everyone. For some of you, 2013 has been trying. There have been unexpected challenges, not blessings. You may have lost a job, a loved one, income, a relationship, a business, a dream, or suffered a setback in your health. Or, 2013 might be the continuation of years of struggle.

We have all been there at some point in our lives. In those times, it’s not easy to believe. It’s not easy to trust God. Not because you lack faith, but because your faith has grown weary. Weary of believing but not seeing results. Weary of waking up to the same circumstances morning after morning. Weary of barely holding on to hope.

Getting weary in your faith is not a sin. Pretty much every patriarch of the faith became weary in believing at some point. God expects it, which is why He said even the young grow weary (Isaiah 40:30). Weariness is actually a part of the faith process. If something is worth believing for, we’ll get exasperated with it at some point.

I can’t say a breakthrough is around the corner for you because I don’t know. What I do know is God is faithful. He was faithful before you experienced the setback, and faithful the moment you took the hit. He is unchanging. Our circumstances change; He doesn’t. He keeps His promise (His Word). So if He promised you good things, to give you the desires of your heart, health, peace, and a bright future, He hasn’t abandoned those things. Even if there’s no light in the tunnel. Even if you’ve become weary.

Like I said, He expects us to get weary at some point. Our faith, no matter how strong it is, is imperfect. Abraham is considered the father of faith because he believed God’s promise and was declared righteous. But Abraham’s faith wasn’t unshakeable. He experienced doubt and weariness. God didn’t hold it against him though because the promise was based on God’s faithfulness, not Abraham’s (Romans 4:13-15).

Abraham waited a while to see the promise fulfilled, but it was fulfilled. There will be ups and downs and seemingly endless valleys in life that test our faith. But in each circumstance, we’re never alone. Thankfully, we have someone on our side we’re on the side of someone who “neither faints nor is weary… gives power to the weak and those who have no might He increases strength” (Isaiah 4028-29).

Sometimes we can’t see our circumstances getting better. Our minds and our spirits don’t have the strength to envision it. Weariness does that to you. But even when you can’t believe in your vision, your dream, or the outcome you want, just believe in Him. Believe in His goodness and hold on to the fact that His promises are unbreakable. And soon, He’ll renew your strength and revive your faith.

When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do. And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples.” Romans 4:18

 

Kevin is the founder and editor of Transparency, follow him for random tweets about faith, life, old school music, sports, and observations from Starbucks @kevbhowell.

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The Beauty of Broken Dreams

By Kevin Howell

photo courtesy of creative commons

photo courtesy of creative commons

Last week I wrote about finding purpose in past pain. It’s a process I’m going through while reading Don Miller’s book, Storyline: Finding Your Subplot in God’s Story. One section of the book discusses the importance of finding a redemptive perspective to our suffering and negative experiences.

The process has brought perspective to my life, it’s made sense out of confusing situations, and revealed how I’ve grown over the years and the person I’ve developed in to.

But it’s also been humbling. I’ve had to come face-to-face, again, with stupid mistakes, forgettable memories, dogging regrets, and perplexing experiences.

Reliving the pain isn’t something I hoped to do. I’m the type of person who can bury experiences pretty well. I know we never really forget anything completely, but I’ve ensconced some things deep enough that they stay out of my thought stream. I’m sure psychologists would call this unhealthy, but screw them, it worked for me thus far… so I thought.

There remained some enigmas in my life, and, though it didn’t stop me from moving forward, it left me bitter in some areas and put a hidden strain on my faith.

Broken dreams will do that to you.

When the relationship I prayed for ended… when the promotion I’d been believing for arrived, then was ripped away, it stung. Not because of the outcome, but because of the effort. I did what I was “supposed” to do. I followed the formula correctly. I prayed for it, I trusted God, and I received it. But the formula didn’t include the X factor — when things fall apart. Accepting that things fell apart wasn’t difficult. Not knowing why was torture.

There may not be a why anyway. And the whys matter much less than the what-nows. Where do I go from here? How do I move forward? What have I learned?

In examining the perplexing and painful experiences, I’ve found it true that not every negative is turned into a positive. But we can learn from each experience. We can take something positive from it.

Did I have to endure the disappointment? Probably not, but I did. And my faith has endured. Yes, it was challenged, but it has endured. I learned life isn’t about my happiness. There will be conflict. One of the purposes of life is character development. If there’s no conflict, our character doesn’t develop. We don’t grow; we don’t change. I’m grateful God wants me to grow, so He allows conflict in my life. He wants me to develop more than He wants me to live happily ever after.

Life isn’t a fairly tale. It’s nonfiction. Sometimes the stars align and things still don’t work out. But we still have a happy ending, because God is the author of our story. One of my mottoes is “life is good, not perfect, but good.” I think it’s better that way. We learn to trust God even through inexplicable challenges.

What have you taken from disappointment and broken dreams? How has the conflict you endured developed your character?

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No Time for Fear

By Kevin HowellNo time for fear

“We’re sad, but we’re not afraid. Not before; not now.” - Bob Goff

Another tragedy has hit America. Just four months after the Newtown, Conn., shootings, and nine months after the Aurora, Colo., shooting. This time it was bombings at the Boston Marathon. This time it looks like some form of terrorism — whether international or domestic. Either way, it draws a response we have seen before:

Shock.

Sadness.

Anger.

Sympathy.

And in some cases, fear.

The latter is the reaction that the perpetrators desire. They want us to live in fear. In terror. Scared to enjoy life. They want fear to disrupt our normal routine. To disrupt our purpose.

But when I look at people who inspire me, people throughout history with the courage to stand for something, they faced death, terror and threats on the regular. They did not fear.

Jesus, King David, the Apostles, Martin Luther King Jr., Jackie Robinson, Benazir Bhutto, Aung San Suu Kyi; they did not let fear run their lives. Primarily because they had a greater purpose that was too important to abandon. But also because they were too focused to be bothered by the threats.

They were driven by noble causes. I’m sure they heard the threats and knew, in most cases, their lives were truly in danger. But they also knew ain’t nobody got time for that. They didn’t have time for fear. They couldn’t waste time in fear; they had stuff to do. They knew life is much bigger than fear.

The beautiful thing I’ve noticed in America since the 9-11 attacks is the same resiliency and sense of purpose. We have stuff to do. Lives to live. Races to run. Flights to take. We will not live in fear. We weren’t afraid before the Boston bombings, we’re not afraid now.

We can apply that same resiliency to our personal lives. Without a doubt, we face setbacks, trying situations, disappointments, stress and frustrations. But those are no reasons to fear. Those are no reasons to stand down. No reasons to give up, stop dreaming, or stop believing.

You were built to last. Built to endure. And built to overcome. In 2 Timothy 1:7, Paul writes we were “not given a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” The Spirit within us empowers us to overcome. It makes us resilient. It gives us all we need to defeat fear. Even when things catch us off-guard, we stay focused because our purpose is bigger than the fear we face.

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Why Christmas Matters, 365

By Kevin HowellChristmas Matters

The story of Christmas is quite remarkable when we think of it. God came to Earth to live among us in order to rescue us from darkness. He came in the most unassuming, non-threatening way — as an infant.

The celebration of Advent reflects on this phenomenon. Remembering the wait for the arrival of the Savior, celebrating His life, and anticipating His return. It’s a celebration rooted in hope. As David Crowder put it: “It is the hope in a rescue that has come, the hope in a rescue that has found us, and the relentless hope in a greater rescue that is still coming — one that has not yet arrived but is no less present.”

Yet, in the midst of our hoping and waiting, we don’t remain idle. Advent reminds us that He has arrived. And just as He initially came in unassuming fashion, He has remained, on Earth, in an unassuming way: In us.

Every morning, when you and I wake up, is Advent. He arrives in your family, your community, your school, and your workplace through you. The hope of rescue is embodied in us.

Just as He lived, sacrificed, and rescued us from darkness through His light, we do the same today. It’s clear there is plenty of darkness around us. The mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., is a representation of the type of darkness we face. In each nation, neighborhood, family, and individual, there is darkness that needs to be dispelled. The darkness of depression, divorce, poverty, fear, anger, abandonment, resentment, and unforgiveness is among us and even within us.

But there is a light of hope in us. A hope of rescue emanating from our spirit. It’s the same hope the Wise men witnessed when they brought gifts to the Christ child lying in a manager. The hope that Emmanuel, God with us, had arrived, and somehow, things were going to be OK. We carry that peace. We carry that comfort. We carry that hope. Every day, Jesus enters the world again, through you. God is with us.

God himself put it this way: “I’ll live in them, move into them; I’ll be their God and they’ll be my people.” 2 Corinthians 6:16

This concept was explored in a talk by author Don Miller at Willow Creek Community Church. Watch it here.

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Hope Undiminished

By Kevin Howell

Christmas season is officially here again, one of my favorite times of year. Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. Yes, as a kid, I enjoyed putting together my wish list for my parents and waking up Christmas Day to ambush the gifts under the tree. But as much as the gift-giving and receiving part, I just enjoy the festivities and atmosphere of the season

  • decorations at the mall and stores
  • Christmas music everywhere you go
  • Christmas lights
  • Nativity scenes
  • egg nog
  • holiday drinks at Starbucks

But more so recently, I’ve anticipated the season of Advent. It’s a beautiful time to dwell on Christ. To reflect back on first-century Jerusalem waiting for the coming of the messiah, and to look ahead, longing and anticipating the Second Coming of our savior.

It’s a season of hope. And hope is something we will always need. Hope is something that never gives up. It trusts. It anticipates. It confidently expects.

Hope has significance in the life to come – as we anticipate and long for Heaven, a place absent of pain, strife, fear and frailty – but also in the here & now. There are deep longings in our hearts – expressed and unexpressed – that we are trusting God for.

Unfortunately, the wait can diminish our hope. It can shake our trust. Advent reminds us of God’s faithfulness. He has come and He will come. And all the promises He’s made, and all the things we trust Him for will also arrive.

Every Christmas as a child, I woke up with eager anticipation to unwrap what was under the tree. I was never disappointed. I may not have gotten everything I wanted, but I was never disappointed in what I was given. Advent reminds us our hope will never be lost. It will never be for naught. Don’t let your hope diminish, He is coming.

What are you hoping for? What does hope mean to you? Share your story either in the comments or email editor@transparencymag.com and we’ll publish them during the Advent season.

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A Hardened Heart Takes Time

By Yodit Kiflehardened heart

Anger. Unforgiveness. Pain. Resentment. Bitterness. These aren’t just fickle emotions, these are emotions birthed from the unfortunate experiences that we have encountered in our lives.

These are emotions that have been built layer upon layer in our hearts, forming a chasm between our perceptions and God’s reality. They have the ability to take deep root within us, affecting the way we think, the way we see our lives, the way we see our relationships, and most importantly, the way we see God.

YOUNG AND RESTLESS

I remember a conversation with a young boy that broke my heart and left me with such a burden. As he shared his heart with me about his life, I couldn’t help getting so angry at the enemy for manipulating the things that this boy went through and planting a strong seed of defeat in him. The words he spoke claimed defeat rather than victory. They claimed doubt rather than faith. They neglected hope and sadly embraced the impossibility of change.

I couldn’t judge nor could I truly relate to what he experienced. But the only thing I could do was listen and respond through the lens of love.

It was obvious life for this young boy had not been easy. In fact, he had every right to be angry. He had every right to feel bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, and all that he felt and had become. What he felt was real. What he experienced was real.  Yet what made me so disheartened was how the enemy had caused him to believe that he couldn’t be better. He couldn’t do better.  And no one could change him — not even God, as he told me. His heart had become hardened.

And in that moment, God gave me this scripture: “And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them, and I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19).

He helped me realize a hardened heart doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years of being let down. Years of being mishandled by people, years of harbored anger and unforgiveness.

A HARDENED HEART TAKES TIME

There are so many people we may come across in our lives and look at their inexcusable behavior and instantly label them as just another misguided soul — judging them in our minds, but not realizing that they didn’t just wake up one day and decide to be the way they are.  They didn’t ask to feel the way they feel, think the way they think, or respond the way they respond. No, they have experienced life perhaps more harshly than we have. Time after time, they have been let down by those they trusted and now they have locked the keys to their heart to keep them from receiving the love of God and love of people.

A hardened heart takes time.

Maybe it’s you. Maybe you have been misjudged and misplaced because of the emotions that held you captive. You have been hurt and mishandled. You know that you didn’t just wake up one day and come to the point you are at, but the enemy has made you believe that this will just be the way things are and nothing can change that.

But God…

Only God can take that hardened heart and turn it into heart of flesh. When given the permission, He can come in and chip away at the bars placed around our hearts and our minds and revitalize the heart of flesh so it can receive the love and grace of God. He can pull out the deepest roots of anger and turn it into joy. Only God can renew our dry spirit and make it alive again.

With the heart of flesh He gives us, we will come to believe we can trust again. We can love and be loved. No amount of devastation will hold us hostage by the enemy’s devices.

Yes, a hardened heart takes time, but a heart of flesh can only take God.

 

Yodit Kifle is a young woman passionate about God and the things of God. She started a ministry called WITHIN — www.thewithingroup.ning.com — focused on connecting young women to embrace sisterhood and encouraging them to become all that they are called to be. Connect with her: withinministry@gmail.com

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Simple Inspiration

By Kevin Howell

olympic inspiration

photo by Getty Images

I truly didn’t expect to get caught up in Olympics fever for the London Olympic Games, but it’s taken over me. I even watched the Opening Ceremonies, which I never do.

Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy the Olympics, being a big sports fan. I just didn’t get caught up in the pre-Games hype this year, save for track & field because of my infatuation with Lolo Jones.

But I’ve been drawn in. Seeing the world come together to compete is beautiful, and seeing the passion and drive in each individual athlete is inspiring. Each of them has a story of a four-year (or more) journey, and seeing them fulfill their dreams does something within you as a viewer. As inspiring as Ryan Lochte, Dana Vollmer, the May-Walsh volleyball duo, and Gabby Douglass and the U.S. gymnasts have been so far, I’m not compelled to do a somersault on a four-inch wide balance beam, or swim a 200-meter backstroke.

But when I think about people I see or interact with day-to-day — you know, “normal” people — they inspire me in a practical sense.

INSPIRATION AROUND US

They inspire me with their words and their lives… with their innocence and their faults. They are not particularly spectacular at anything, except being themselves and simply living genuinely. They inspire me to dig deeper in my relationship with God, love freely, care more, work harder, take risks, have fun, laugh at myself, dream bigger, and soak in life.

They are friends who I’ve seen deal with crazy trials of life such as unemployment, divorce, depression, or death of a loved one and still stay strong in their faith. Still have a smile on their face. And still, somehow, have an unyielding hope things will turn out for the best.

It’s people like the guy I see at Starbucks each week studying for grad school. I don’t know his name or much about him, but I watch him take breaks to interact with almost everyone in the coffee shop, striking up random conversations, and taking an interest in people. His actions inspire me to get out of my comfort zone, peek out from behind my laptop and engage with the community around me.

It’s my nieces and nephews, ranging in ages 2 months to 11 years old. The innocence in their faces, sense of adventure in their hearts, and the free, unrestricted love they give reminds me that life is simple. Just have fun, love, and appreciate your blessings. I complicate life with worries and insecurities.

All around us, every day, are inspirational figures. We tend to ignore them because they aren’t accomplishing great feats. But the truth is, our perspective is skewed. We often look past the seemingly mundane because we’re in awe of the spectacular. But there’s inspiration in the simple things. Let the amazing athletes in the Olympics inspire you to look at the people in your life who are simply amazing.

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