The Book of James

I have read the book of James like 100 times. Fine, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but it has been a lot. By now, almost the entire book is underlined, because different passages spoke to me at different times. It is always said that the Bible is a living book, meaning that God speaks to you through it – so it will never be the same twice, and the book of James is a continual reminder of this for me. 

Keep in mind that you are listening to someone who has never read the Bible in it’s entirety before. And by that, I mean like at all. Like it’s pathetic. Like I just read the book of Mark (the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection) for the first time last week. I know the story – I went to Easter services, but I never actually read the text. I am working on this…. Don’t judge me.  But for me to read a book of the Bible over and over again, it means that there is something pretty spectacular about that text. 

The book of James is what I like to call my little guidebook to being a good Christian. It is chock-full of advice and lessons. Some of my favourite verses (today) are:

You must be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry – James 1:19

 

If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their time of distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you – James 1:26-27

 

So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless – James 2:17

 

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honour. – James 4:7-10

 

I could pretty much quote the whole book as my favourite, no joke. But these verses are ones that are standing out to me right now. Partly because I am spending a lot of time in the scripture right now, making sure that my life is on track and that I am honouring God in all that I do and say. 

Despite having read the book of James over and over again, there is always something new I find when I open it up. Which is why I’ve decided to step it up from reading the word of God, to studying it. I am going through, verse by verse, reading it, paraphrasing it, and analyzing it. I have a journal that I write whatever thoughts cross my mind in, and I have to say, it has been life-changing for me. I have always struggled to hear God’s voice. To know what He is telling me, but when I am journalling, I quite often write something and then re-read it and think “where did that thought come from?!”. This three page book of the Bible may take me a month to get through, but I have no question it is going to give me some of the clarity I am looking for.

The Bible is a living book… It is the most efficient and accurate way to get to know God. Let Him speak to you through His word. Just because it was written in a different time, doesn’t mean the message doesn’t still apply. Look for the lesson in each parable. Don’t speed-read, let the word absorb in you. Let it change you.

If you strive to be like Jesus, study the book of James. It will lead your way.

 

Gossip Is Lazy Conversation

I am not quiet, I am careful.

I am not a cynical person, and I do not assume the worst in people, however one lesson that I have learned several times, is that some people ask questions not because they care but because they’re curious. These are the people that ask you what’s wrong and then immediately share it with people when you leave.

Lately I have been noticing a lot of this going on. Not all negative or super personal things, but just conversations about people who are not in the room. And it makes me uncomfortable.

When I am in a room and everyone is talking about someone who is not there, I am going to assume that they talk about me when I am not in the room. Maybe they’re talking about good things I have accomplished. Maybe they’re talking negatively. Maybe they’re just repeating something that I said. It doesn’t matter which of the above it is, it doesn’t make me want to confide in people.

If I sit in the room and don’t contribute to a conversation, it is because I either have no interest in contributing to the gossip that is occurring, or I don’t want to give the people in the room ammunition to gossip about me with.

That is part of the reason I kept this blog anonymous for so long. And the entire reason I deleted all of my posts once the link for it got out.

Lately I have noticed myself starting to pick up these gossiping habits. I’ll vent to a friend about another friend, and justify that it’s okay because they don’t know each other. I’ll explain that my day was less than ideal because of something a co-worker did, but again, the person I am speaking to doesn’t know them, so it’s okay.

It’s not okay. I understand venting – I have certain people that I will vent to about something that is going on in my life. Sometimes it is because another person’s actions have angered me so I need to release that anger. Sometimes it’s just talking out loud to figure out how to best fix the situation. And sometimes I just need advice. But I know when I do this that it ends there.

When you’re in a group setting, whether it be with friends, a committee or board, or a club/group that you belong to, it is not okay to talk about people who aren’t there. Unless you are stating a fact (i.e. John was going to approach business X for project Y) then there is no room for it. Anything that includes opinion or judgement (i.e. John was going to approach business X for project Y, but I doubt he got it done because we all know he needs 19 reminders to actually complete something) is not acceptable in a group setting.

“He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from troubles” – Proverbs 21:23

If it is not your story to tell, don’t tell it. Talking about other people when they’re not there – joking about something that they have done or would be doing if they were there, gossiping about what you saw on their Facebook, or discussing their personality is lazy conversation. It’s easy. It’s non-personal. It helps you feel connected to the people you’re with. But that doesn’t mean that it’s your place to be having that conversation.

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25 Things I Learned Before 25

1. Your parents are your greatest resource
Despite being highly independent and wanting to learn things on my own, my early 20′s have been all about realizing that my parents may actually know more than I give them credit for. Whether it’s 100 phone calls home asking Mom for help with cooking for a dinner party, or calling Dad to get business advice, my parents are always there for any questions I may have – with no judgement.

2. There will be days you’re not crazy passionate about life – and that’s okay
I’ve always maintained that I will never stay in a career that I am not passionate about, or partake in activities that I am not passionate about. Sometimes this passion fades… Sometimes it’s all about survival… And that doesn’t mean your life sucks. It just means you have to refocus, hang on, and the passion will come back. If you lose passion for everything in your life – odds are it is something more than just your career or just your hobby. Hang on – it will get better.

3. People will not go out of their way to make you feel like you fit in
Whether you join a new club, church, or small group…whatever it is…. don’t expect everyone to go out of their way to include you. If you sit awkwardly in the corner and don’t try to engage people, they’re not going to engage you. It’s up to you to approach people. Some people you won’t mesh with right away, others you will… Just keep introducing yourself and making an effort and you will eventually find your group.

4. Some traditions will time themselves out, and it’s best to let them do so
Whiskey Wednesday was one of my all time favourite traditions… Friends, whiskey, and some of the most ridiculous conversations I’ve ever been a part of. However marriages, kids, careers, and life have made it more complicated than fun anymore… If you have to fight to keep a tradition alive, think about whether you’re gaining anything from it anymore, or if it’s time to retire it as a great memory.

5. Movies can inspire you… regardless of how ridiculous their premise is
The best grades I ever got in my life were the year after Legally Blonde came out. That movie, despite it’s complete lack of realistic circumstances, inspired me to become a lawyer. A few legal studies classes made me realize it wasn’t my dream, but for a whole year I was inspired by a blonde “bimbo” who ended up in law school to chase a guy. And that’s not so bad.

6. Some people will never be happy for you. And that isn’t your problem.
There are some friends that it doesn’t matter what you start, what new adventure you go on, or how big the changes in your life are, they will have something negative to say about it. “It’s just a phase”  “That’s a stupid idea”  “You do the weirdest things”  If it makes you happy, ignore them. They’re projecting their negativity over their inability to change on you.

7. Most people want to give back – they just don’t always know how
Granted, if they tried a little harder, they could find a million ways, but at the end of the day, most people want to do good in their community. Given the opportunity, they will step up. Just post something on Facebook or Twitter asking for a recommendation – people are pretty quick to recommend somewhere or someone they had a good experience with. This isn’t because they get anything from it – it’s because they want to help.

8. Random gifts from the heart are the best gifts
My family doesn’t do much for Christmas and Birthday’s anymore… We’ll all adults and buy what we want anyways. But randomly, my mom will buy me gifts that she knows I need. Like a fan when it’s 36 degrees in my condo and I keep forgetting to pick one up. Or a humidifier because I don’t have one. Or a football cake pan because she saw it and thought of me. Those gifts mean so much more because they’re unexpected and meaningful.

9. A good song can indeed fix even the foulest of moods
It doesn’t matter how my day has been, what’s on my mind, or how stressed I am, the second Good Vibrations or Don’t Stop Believin’ come on the radio, for the next 3-5 minutes, I don’t have a problem in the world. Every. Single. Time.

10. People’s words don’t always represent who they actually are
Sometimes I am shocked by the words that come out of my mouth… I don’t know if it’s nerves, social awkwardness, or just straight up stupidity, but sometimes I say things that are so against who I am and what I stand for that when I think back on it I just want to facepalm. While I am a huge believer in guarding your words, sometimes mistakes happen… Don’t judge people on one statement.

11. When you say you are going to do something – do it. Regardless of whether you want to.
There is nothing more frustrating than when someone commits to something and then last minute either has a change of heart or a better offer. If you say you will go somewhere or do something, suck it up, put a smile on your face, and do it. If you’re unreliable, you will become known as the flake. And nobody wants to be “that person” in the group.

12. Hugs are essential for survival
I am biased on this one – I have studied the impact of physical touch extensively. Human beings take comfort from physical contact… Hugging someone will make you bond closer with them, be more comfortable around them, and make you both feel better. Just make sure the other person is okay with it first, please.

13. You actually are what you eat
What you are consuming can make a huge difference on how you feel. When you start eating to fuel yourself instead of to fill yourself, you’ll find you have increased energy, decreased mood swings, and feel better about yourself.

14. Shit happens
Sometimes, shit just happens. Whether it was unavoidable, because you weren’t paying attention, or just because you were lazy. It happens, we all experience it. Acknowledge it, correct what you can and move on… You can’t change it. Don’t let it ruin the rest of your day, week, month, or year.

15. Debt happens fast
One minute you’re speed shopping through Bed, Bath, and Beyond and the next minute you’re staring at your credit card statement trying to find the error. Build a budget. Track your budget. Stay within your budget. No matter how much you NEED the slap chop.

16.  Sometimes you need to release your inner child
Someone told me I was too old to want to check out the new trampoline park when it first opened… As if. It’s okay to follow the desires of your inner child – whether it be a trampoline park, jumping in a pile of leaves, or destroying perfectly good friendships over a game of Monopoly. Some of the best memories of your life will be when you let your inner child take over.

17. Sometimes the best way to find yourself is to start new
When I graduated University, I packed up and moved across the world for a year. Nobody there knew my background, my personality, or had expectations of me. I got to start new and become the person I wanted to be with absolutely no resistance. And this person changed weekly as I discovered who I was and what I stood for. By the time I came home, I had a deeper understanding of who I am as an individual

18. The things that scare you the most will be the most fulfilling
I know you see this on a thousand different motivational posters, but seriously try it out… Once a month do something that terrifies you. Whether it’s skydiving, buying a new vehicle, approaching a stranger, or signing up for public speaking. You don’t have to do it again, just try it once. Your world will become a whole lot bigger very fast.

19. The peacefulness of nature will reset your soul
It is really easy to feel overwhelmed these days… There is never a second of the day where you’re not accessible, or surrounded by noise. Take time to enjoy nature. Turn off the phone (your Facebook will be there when you get back, I promise), put away your iPod and leave the camera at home. Just enjoy nature. The quiet and the peacefulness of it. You will walk away recharged.

20. Speaking of cell phones, remember life before them? That is what time with friends should be like.
There is nothing that makes me cringe more than when I see a couple on a date and they’re both playing on their phones. Or a group of friends sitting around the table checking their Facebook and Instagraming their meal, not talking to each other. When you are with someone, they deserve your undivided attention. As you deserve theirs. Put away your phone, and converse with the person in front of you. The others can wait.

21. Disney will give you unrealistic expectations about love
Prince Charming will find you, chase you down, and make you fall in love with him through his romantic gestures and kind words. And you will live happily ever after. This is what Disney has taught us we will find. And what we deserve. Realistically, Prince Charming is a bit harder to find than that… I don’t know about you, but if I lose a shoe, I am out a shoe. And that is the end of that story. If you do find your Prince Charming, there will be days he could have walked right out of a fairy tale. And days you want to kill him. He’s human… That’s life. Don’t expect him to always be a Prince if you’re not always a Princess. And ladies, lets face it… We all have our Evil Stepmother moments. Love is hard. Don’t give up because your life isn’t Disney.

22. Your early 20′s are about exploring and trying new things, but over-committing will leave you burnt out and not enjoying any of it
In addition to my full time job, I started training 4 times a week, and joined 4 boards. For 6 months, every night was running from place to place and sitting through meeting after meeting. All my love for all the things I was involved with became exhaustion and feeling like it was work. Yes, your 20′s are about burning yourself out, recovering, and starting again, but make sure to pay attention to how many hours are in a day and making sure there are enough to do everything you committed to.

23. Friendships will change, but it doesn’t mean they’re over
Through high school and probably university, your best friends were your life. You were in school together, you spent most evenings in the library or coffee shop studying together, and your weekends were laying on the couch watching movies saying that you should be studying. Then you graduate, one of you gets married or moves in with a significant other, and the other person moves to second place. Just because things are different, doesn’t mean that you’re not still important to each other. You may have to fight to keep the friendship alive through the initial transition, but you’ll find your place in each others lives again.

24. Sometimes a “sure why not?!” answer can lead you down a path you never expected to tread down
When a friend called me and asked me to sign up for a Spartan Race with her, I thought, “Hey why not… Should be fun!” Then I found a trainer and started strength training for it… Almost a year later, I am in love with weight lifting and am finding myself on the journey of getting stronger, healthier, and pushing myself more than I ever have. I never would have started down this path if I hadn’t said “sure why not” for that initial invitation.

25. The key to happiness isn’t behind a locked door that requires a complicated sequence of dance moves, followed by a password, followed by fighting a three headed dragon to get to – it’s gratitude.
If this is news to you – research the Law of Attraction and give it a try. If that sounds like too much work, just take a few minutes every day and recognize everything you have in life…. Even the little things. Be grateful for shelter, for shoes, for food. Give thanks for a family that loves you, friends that support you, and mentors who push you. Appreciate the education that taught you to read, the rights that allow you to vote, and the freedom to express your opinion. Be grateful for everything you have, and you will find yourself having more to be grateful for.

The Little Extra

“This is Megs… She helps out here sometimes.”

Helps out here sometimes?! Are you effing kidding me?!  That was the first thing that came to my mind as I calmly stuck out my hand and said, “it’s great to meet you!”

I was volunteering over 40 hours a week into this organization at this point in time. I was supposed to be in charge of one area of it, however had been covering a lot of the admin end of things to help out. All things that go on behind the scenes that most people don’t see. I did it because I loved the organization, I believed in what they were doing, and I knew they needed help. But it was a thankless job… Very few people knew exactly how much effort I was putting in every single day. The sacrifices I had made in both my personal and professional life.

I knew it shouldn’t have bothered me, but there was a point where I just wanted people to see what I was doing. See how much I was putting into helping with their success, and get the recognition for it.

I think anyone who volunteers a lot feels this way. For the first little bit, you walk on water. Everyone is dazzled by how great you are, and sing your praises all the time. And then they get used to it. And stop recognizing what you’re doing. In some cases, get upset if something that you do as an extra doesn’t get done. Pretty soon, you start to feel like you’re doing a lot of work without any recognition.

I was just starting to feel this way when I came across a Joel Osteen podcast where he talks about this.

My companies value statement is “The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is the little bit of extra”. And that is how I was raised. If you met anyone in my family, you would see that we all go above and beyond in every single aspect. From our clients, to our friends, to our community… We all give everything we’ve got. And that will never change.

But usually I am okay with no recognition – I am not a spotlight type of person anyways… I’ve always preferred to work on the set rather than be in the play. However this summer, my inner diva grabbed a hold of me.

Joel Osteen spoke about doing things for recognition… If you’re waiting for the world to recognize you for how great you are, you’re going to be waiting a long time. Because 90% of people aren’t paying attention to what you’re doing – they’re waiting for the world to recognize what they’re doing. But it’s not their recognition that we should be looking for.

There are a lot of people in this world who do amazing things and are highly recognized for it. Celebrities, political icons…even mega church pastors. Those people give a lot, and receive a lot of praise in return. However there are a lot more people that do even more, and get no recognition for it. The janitor who gets down on her knees to scrub all the baseboards every week even though nobody would ever notice if she didn’t. The teenager who stops to pick up the garbage on the sidewalk, even though it wasn’t him who dropped it. The retired couple who still get up at 5 every morning to go serve soup at the local soup kitchen. These people don’t do it for the praise… They don’t expect applause every time they do it, even though they deserve it. They do it because it’s the right thing. They give the little extra to improve the big picture.

These are the people that when they get to heaven, they’re going to get a standing ovation from Jesus. They’re the ones that He is going to recognize the most.

I have often felt that I have no real talent… Yes, I am great at sales. And I have never met a vacuum that I can’t repair. But I have never had a talent that I felt has a use…. Some people can sing, others can inspire thousands through their words… Some people are natural conversationalists that can make anyone feel welcome, or amazing artists. I, however, can not do any of the above. But I do have a willingness to do the extra. And these small acts, if done, can build up to bring more to the world than the major talents can.

Andre Olivier said, “Giving the little extra should be the badge of the Christian”.

As we head into 2014 and start to set new goals, and return to work, keep in mind that one of the greatest things you can do is “the extra”. Whether that means staying late and helping a co-worker who is falling behind. Or volunteering somewhere without any praise or recognition. Or even picking up litter you see in the street, or escorting someone somewhere instead of just pointing in the direction they want to go.

God puts obstacles in our lives and watches how we handle them… Whether or not we put in the little extra. Always give more than people expect. You may not be recognized for it today, but one day, Jesus will be standing there waiting for you, and will give you a standing ovation. And I don’t know about you, but for me I would trade in every award that is offered on earth for that moment.

In being extra and doing extra, you become extraordinary.

15 Year Old Me’s Bucket List

I found my old Bucket List today!!! I will admit, I am impressed with how many I have done without having looked at this list in almost a decade. I think it’s time to starting working on it again! Maybe with a few edits and additions along the way!

  1. Watch the launch of a space shuttle
  2. Open my home to someone who needs it
  3. Be a member of the audience in a TV show
  4. Send a message in a bottle
  5. Write a fan letter
  6. Shower in a waterfall
  7. Ask someone I’ve only just met to go on a date
  8. Sleep under the stars
  9. Go up in a hot-air balloon
  10. Attend one really huge rock concert
  11. Run a half-marathon
  12. See an active volcano
  13. Meet Bill Nye
  14. See the 7 Wonders of the World
  15. Touch an iceberg
  16. Visit Ireland
  17. Go to a drive-in-theatre
  18. Get a tattoo
  19. Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge
  20. Visit all 7 continents
  21. Compete in a rap battle
  22. Go whitewater rafting
  23. Find Range Road 1
  24. Drive across the country
  25. Get baptized
  26. Drive a zamboni
  27. Learn to juggle with at least 3 balls
  28. Ride a mechanical bull
  29. Scream at the top of my lungs in the middle of nowhere
  30. Dance with a stranger in a foreign country
  31. Try to speak after inhaling helium
  32. Attend a service in the Vatican
  33. Throw a dart on a map and travel where it lands
  34. Go Skydiving
  35. Go Bungee Jumping
  36. Get Jenny Paul Brandt’s autograph
  37. Ride a unicycle
  38. Go horseback riding on the beach
  39. Pick up a hitchhiker
  40. Move to a foreign country
  41. Read the Bible
  42. Surf
  43. Learn to play the guitar
  44. Ride in a helicopter
  45. Go to Oktoberfest in Germany
  46. Kiss in the rain
  47. Kiss the Blarney Stone

The Sea of Life

You’re in a boat, at sea. You’re coasting along, bobbing away in the light waves. The waves pick up… become rocky. The current pulls, the storm rages. What kind of boat are you in? How does your boat fare against the cruel weather?  Is it a little tugboat, getting tossed around, or is it a tanker pushing through the waves, continuing straight for your destination?

I was asked this question by my pastor. Only the sea was my life. The waves were my struggles. And my boat, my boat was my inner strength.

When I was asked this question, I was in a canoe. Without paddles.  I felt strong – I felt like I was in control of my life, but when a wave hit, my boat skidded off course and I got soaked.

When I was in Junior High my phys ed teacher was all about fitness testing, and like all the other girls, I couldn’t do a chin up. And to be honest, I didn’t care. My teacher gave us this analogy that if we fell out of a boat and were unable to do a chin up, we wouldn’t be able to pull ourselves back in. So really, by pushing us to do chin ups, he was just saving our lives.

I had an easy solution for this… I am terrified of water. I just stayed out of boats!

When I was reading the book of Isaiah, I was stopped by chapter 7, verse 9. “Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm”. Immediately these two conversations came to my mind.

The sea is my life. The waves are my struggles. My boat is my inner strength. And my ability to do a chin up is my faith.

I have been strength training for about 8 months now… For the first time in my life, I am actually aiming to be able to do a chin up. And I’ve learned that it is not as easy as just “learning to do it”… It has required a lot of effort. I started on the rings, jumping. Then moved to the bar with bands. Then lighter bands. Eventually I will be able to get rid of the bands and do it on my own. But after 8 months of working towards it, I am still not there.

Faith is like this… Faith isn’t something that you are just born with. It’s not something that you can wake up one day and just have, and life will be glorious from that moment on. Faith is work. It’s studying the Word. Challenging the Word. Forming your own beliefs and opinions. Trusting when you don’t want to trust. Making sacrifices.

For the last few months, my personal sea has been in the midst of a hurricane. I have been dealing with the ramifications of making a huge investment in a down-turned economy. I lost my best friend, which has caused my friends to all turn on each other, leaving me in the middle. My family has been going through some major issues that are weighing on all of our hearts. I have to make some incredibly difficult decisions for my company that will influence a lot of people, and not in a good way. It feels like every time I start to sort things out, another wave comes out of nowhere and knocks me back down.

The number of people who know what I have been going through: 0.  Because I traded in my canoe for a tanker.

“I can do anything through Christ who gives me strength” – Philippins 4:13

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand” – Isaiah 41:10

“The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm” – Exodus 14:14

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” – 1 Peter 5:7

I have spent a lot of time in the last few years working on strengthening my faith. I took time alone to learn what was important to me. I spent time at my church to worship with others. I have stepped outside my comfort zone. I have made sacrifices that I didn’t want to make. But most of all I have studied what it means to have faith. I have focused on trust and hope and grace. And while I can’t do a literal chin up on my own yet, my metaphorical one is as strong as it has ever been.

Every day I am faced with fears. Fears of not being able to pay my bills. Fears of letting down the people around me.  I am faced with pain. The pain of loved ones gone. The pain of watching my friends and family struggle. I am faced with difficult choices. Choosing to take care of myself or people who need help. Choosing to risk getting close to people again or remain distant to protect myself.

But I have learned to handle these fears. I have learned to hand them over to God. The minute I don’t know what to do, or how to react. The minute I don’t think I can hold back the tears when visiting my cousin in the Stollery, or look at my friends mom in the eyes as she tells me about the drug addicts she is fighting to save because she couldn’t save her own son. It is these moments that I call out to God and rely on Him to get me through it. I rely on Him to speak through me… To offer the comfort or the strength that these people need me to have.

My chin up is strong, which has strengthened my boat. There are waves that hit and come overboard… They soak the deck of my boat, but they don’t move it. Because I can see my destination now. I know that I have been called to help people. I can feel it so strongly in everything I do, and everything I think. It is my passion and my fuel… Every day is focused on it.

“Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm” I can’t help people if I am not strong myself. I can’t be their anchor if I don’t have my own. And the only anchor that is strong enough to hold us still through the storms of life, is God.

I am far from a perfect Christian. I have made choices that should be unforgivable. I swear like a trucker some days, forget to talk to God most days, and have an addiction to tattoos – both mine and other peoples. But I am anchored, strengthened, and given my direction by God and my faith in Him.

Whatever you are going through, however big the waves that are coming at your boat may feel, never forget that you are only one prayer away from a tanker. God will never leave you out at sea, alone in your struggle. All you have to do for His help, is ask.

The picture Jesse made for me <3

The picture Jesse made for me <3

 

Maybe For Me…

A couple of weeks ago my receptionist and I had a conversation about how people perceive me. She pointed out something I had never seen in myself… She said that people are drawn to me because I am so authentically and genuinely myself. I say what I am thinking, but am never disrespectful. I am not afraid to admit my failures, and am usually the first one to bring them up. I laugh at myself, and motivate myself. People feel like they can be themselves around me, because I don’t ever pretend to be perfect.

After she pointed this out to me, I started to see it… Everywhere except in my gym.

I don’t know what it is about that place, but the minute I walk in there, it’s like the weight of the world settles on my shoulders. In my job, I deal with people all day. And one thing I have learned about sales is that you’re a kind voice on the other end of the line. People will open up to you about their automobile issues,  dislike of the weather, and childcare problems. They’ll tell you about their health issues, marital problems, and heart breaks. They will hold nothing back, but because to them, you are someone they can unleash their problems on and not worry about being judged or treated differently. I am not a person, just a voice.

The problem with this is that I am a person. And I can’t leave their problems at the door. When at the end of the day I have heard 12 stories about what my clients are going through, I am tired. I look at my life, and I am so incredibly blessed. Don’t get me wrong, I have my own issues and struggles, but I have incredible faith. I don’t stress about anything in my life, because I know that it will work out in the end. I have no question that what I am going through is part of a bigger plan, and it is giving me a perspective or a talent to to use to help someone with at a later date. But I can’t imagine facing what some of these people go through without that faith.

I walk into the gym, and my heart breaks for the lady who has to sell her family farm which she raised her family on because her husband of 60 years just passed away.

I walk into the gym, and I feel the stress of the family who is living their dream running a small tack shop but are barely making their mortgage payments.

I walk into the gym, and I feel the frustration of the young mom who had a flat tire on the way to drop her kid off at daycare, making herself late for work and got yelled at by her boss.

The fact that I cannot be myself has bothered me since the I started attending my gym. I don’t know if it is unique to this gym or if I am just noticing it now because before I used to just throw in headphones and do my own thing anyways. But it has made it hard for me to connect with the people I train with. While they’re all chatting about their days and whatever else is going on in their lives, I am trying to solve the worlds problems.

Today the thought occurred to me that maybe this is my way of dealing with the burden others put on my shoulders. Maybe that with every lift, or every squat I am burning off a piece of that hurt, frustration, or fear. By the time I leave the gym, I am ready to face another day of listening to it because I have already handed over the problems of yesterday. Maybe even though I am anti-social for an hour a day, it is my way of making sure that the negativity I face in every day life doesn’t start to impact my life. Doesn’t change the way I view the world, or the people in it.

Maybe for me the gym isn’t about making deep connections with the other people there… Maybe I just need a place to strengthen myself, both physically and emotionally.

“A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body” – Proverbs 14:30