George Washington Carver once stated, “Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.” Over the course of the centuries education has changed, developed, and evolved. As a society we are becoming more aware of the benefits of education, both at an early age and at later stages in life. Continual learning past the traditional high school, college, and even post-graduate levels is essential for living a healthy and fulfilling life.
Learning is Life!
As a husband of a special education teacher and a former educator myself, I am attune to the importance learning holds for a person both professionally and personally. Having earned a Master’s in Theology, I once thought myself to be an expert, or master, in that particular field–the study of God. My vocation as a father proved this arrogant premise to be contrary to what I once believed. Children–my three incredible adorable and sometimes obstinate offspring–are in fact good teachers in the school of life.
“Knock, knock who is there?”
Eight o’clock at night arrived in my household. Both my wife and I were scrambling to get our older children to bed. My son and daughter finished their evening snack of a cheese-stick, clothed in their pajamas, and teeth brushed. We prayed the Guardian Angel prayer before shipping them off to the bedroom. I thought we were in the clear when I heard my daughter asking, “Daddy, can I get a book? I don’t have one in my bed!” Begrudgingly, I harped, “Yes, go quickly into the living room and pick one off the shelf.”
Oddly enough–or maybe not so oddly– my daughter grabbed a joke book filled with riddles, knock-knock jokes, and other corny puns. As I tucked the blanket around her, my daughter insisted I read a few jokes. I conceded and read a couple knock-knock jokes. Her eyes lit up and dimples appeared in the corners of her smile. Reflecting upon this seemingly mundane experience now, I realized that laughter is okay–even during bedtime routine. My children taught me that lessening my serious demeanor will not kill me. Instead, laughter enlivens my spirit. New life is breathed into me as I gaze at the humorous antics within my home.
Keep Your Promises
Our oldest son is a “rules kid”. What do I mean by this? He is quite bright, detail-oriented, and observant. I am convinced he possesses a photographic memory. My children taught me that the stakes for making–and breaking–promises exponentially increase when you become a parent.
During the hustle and bustle of daily living, I sometimes say things to assuage my son’s persistent pleading. I am not proud of it. As a member of the human race, I suffer from original sin as much as anyone. My promises do not always get fulfilled. Oftentimes, I fall short of the expectations my son and daughter have for me. What parenthood has taught me is that I need to be honest when I break a vow. I need to continually strive to be better at keeping my promises. Most importantly I have learned that children are fairly quick to forgive– I have learned forgiveness is key to becoming a better father.
Joy in the Little Things in Life
Our youngest son was recently diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Daily life is frequently tough as he struggles to communicate his needs and wants effectively. Meltdowns and tantrums occur regularly. Despite his struggles and limitations, my son teaches me everyday to look for the simple joys in life. For instance, he finds an inordinate amount of joy in anything containing or resembling the shape of a circle. If we go grocery shopping, his eyes light up whenever we pass a helium-filled balloon or whenever he gazes up at the round light bulbs in the store ceiling. Similarly, at house he plays with the same toy cars and trucks without getting bored. Although he has a social-communication disability, in some ways my son has a special ability– to see joy in the seemingly mundane.
Fatherhood reminds me of the words of Aristotle, “The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.” Personal growth and learning take time and oftentimes are painful. By focusing on mere snapshots of my parenthood journey I fail to see the fruit that family life fosters. I am incredibly grateful for the life lessons of humility, humor, and joy that my children taught me. I pray that I continue to strive towards being an open and honest student!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on March 4, 2019.
Trapped indoors during winter provides ample opportunity for restlessness to set in and I begin to lose focus. Failure to see things with clarity is the difference between a fulfilling day versus a lukewarm attitude.
According to Hall of Fame baseball manager Tony La Russa, “There are always distractions, if you allow them.” How exactly does one NOT allow distinctions? Daily interference attack us in the forms of fatigue, hunger, negativity, annoyances, work/family obligations, the list goes on and on! While distractions will continue to exist I discovered three simple ways to boost your focus— and overcome major distractions.
Write Down Your Goals
An incredibly simple and easy remedy to listlessness and lukewarmness involves creating a list! Make a list of your daily, weekly, or monthly goals and habits that you want to work towards. Your list need not be lengthy.
This weekend I suffered from an intense lack of energy when it came to my dreams to become a professional freelance writer. Thinking about the countless “to-do” items made me sink into a feeling of being overwhelmed and inadequate. Making a small list of my goals for this week and checking them off greatly boosted my focus.
One Step at a Time
Along with creating a list, it is so, so important to remind yourself to slow down. Distractions cause us to think we need to accomplish our goals ALL AT ONCE. That mentality could not be further from the truth. All of the various advice I received from authors, bloggers, and freelancers on Youtube advise of the need to develop a plan carefully and not to skip any steps in the process.
Reflect on Daily Successes/Failures
Dolly Parton stated, “I thank God for my failures. Maybe not at the time but after some reflection. I never feel like a failure just because something I tried has failed.” Some of my greatest “failures” or at least what I considered “failures” at the time became successes. Only after distancing myself from the activity of the day, that is, reflecting at night do I truly recognize how to be thankful and learn from the successes and especially the failures.
I hope these tips helped to boost your focus. If you have any other ideas for things that helped you fight off distractions throughout the day please list them in the comment section. Please share these tips with others fighting daily distractions.
“I have wandered all my life, and I have also traveled; the difference between the two being this, that we wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.” — Hilair Belloc
“Always remember, your focus determines your reality.” — George Lucas
Life is going to throw you curve balls. Be prepared to adapt. But what if life sends that elusive knuckle ball? Preparation can only go so far in these types of situations. Today, I felt like a hundred knuckle balls were aimed at me. I had a bunch of tasks I wanted to accomplish. So far, I have missed. There was a thunderstorm last night. This woke up and scared my three-year-old and nine-month-old kids.
Working the night shift, I did not expect to get much sleep anyway. To make matters a bit more complicated was finding out my five-year-old was running a fever. 1 sick kid + tired 2 kids + 1 tired sad = a knuckle ball kind of day. So far, I have found a way to make through the morning (and hopefully the rest of the day) with in the most graceful way possible for me.
This post is the compilation of 10 tips for content creation in 10 days. Originally, I posted these content strategies on LinkedIn, but I figured why limit myself to one platform when other content creators would benefit from some of the tips that worked for me.
💡Tip #1—Complete tasks using chunking, micro-chunking, or nano-chunking depending on your schedule and ability for the day
Breaking up a task (writing, reading, email follow-up, lead research, etc) into manageable bits of time helped get me to achieve something. Something is better than nothing.
I pause many times or step into another room to center myself whenever parenting gets too stressful. It actually took me at least 3 Nano chunks (1-2 minute time segments) to complete this first tip! Placing a time barrier between you and the overwhelming into definitely helps.
💡 Tip #2 Focus on one goal or group of goals at a time
Some weeks or seasons of your life are more challenging than others. Maybe you left ended such a season in your own life. Perhaps you are in the calm of the storm. All I know for certain is that you will encounter resistance again in the future. I am in the middle of the stress tsunami.
Sharpening my focus to specific areas of my work has helped prepare me to better weather this storm. Below are just a couple examples of my focused goals for today and the rest of the week:
Post at least once a day on social media
Do creative/free form writing for at least 30 minutes sometime this week
Read at least 5-10 minutes a day
Begin to carve time in my schedule to listen to podcasts about marketing
I know I cannot achieve all 4 goals every single day, but my goal is to focus on and name the specific goal and at least be consistent in my approach to working towards it. Consistency is an investment that you rarely see a return on in the present. What tools/resources/advice have you implemented to help you focus your goals?
💡Tip 3—It is okay to adjust your goals
Earlier this week, I mentioned this has been a ‘knuckle ball’ type of week. Challenges kept coming at me, yet there was no pattern to them. Monday and Tuesday, I kept swinging and missing. I almost gave up and shut down for the week.
Instead, I adjusted my productivity goals. Dealing with sick children and an erratic work schedule I realized this was going to be a less productive period. I maintained consistency but limited the frequency of content produced. See it is easy to give up when life sends you knuckle balls. I used to have an all or nothing (home run or strikeout) mindset.
If you can’t give it 110% everyday what is the point in trying? Realistically it is not always possible to be at or over 100%. You may get sick. Family obligations supersede work goals. That balance may not happen all the time.
Consistency is what will help weather you through these trials. Hit for average not power: Are you more of a power hitter with your work goals or a person who shoots for average/consistency? How have you endured a ‘knuckle ball’ week?
💡Tip 4—Rest is Necessary in order to improve productivity
I have started taking off most of the weekend (starting last weekend) from social media. I am realizing more and more that it is not realistic for me to post daily and comment often on others’ posts. I am a parent to special needs kids first.
This week drained me of all my mental stamina. It was a week of regression for my three-year-old. I know a lot of people only post the positive stuff and shy away from the real challenges of life. But I am not your normal connection. I am being honest here.
Don’t give into the pressure to create content like a machine. Rest. I am going to cut back on my overall social media a bit as I rest and strategize how I can be more efficient with creating content and still focus on my family.
Have you ever been so worn down from life’s challenges that you had to limit or eliminate your social media activity?
💡Tip #5 Clear and consistent communication overcomes the toughest of situations
Whether you work remotely, in the office, or odd hours it is important to keep your boss and peers at work in the loop. Any transition point in a project or process requires extra diligence. Find how your co-workers prefer to receive information (email, text, in person, phone call etc) and flex to their preference.
Communicating in a variety of ways not only allows you to work well with others but shows your ability to adapt. Always provide a short recap of the main points of a meeting of phone call. Ask clarifying questions to check for understanding especially if you are working on a complex process.
💡Tip #6—Dedicate time every work to work on your craft
Carve our 15 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour. Whatever time segment works with your schedule make that the goal you aim for. Call this your “base goal” a non-negotiable on the absolute minimum amount of time to work daily. With my topsy-turvy work schedule and raising young children my base goal is 5 minutes daily.
Make a stretch goal on days you have more free time. What I mean is add extra “x number of minutes” to your base goal these days. Ex: Wednesdays and Saturday’s I don’t work any of my part-time jobs. So, I up my stretch goals a lot—to an hour.
Not hitting your stretch goals should never cause you worry or anxiety. This is bonus time. Achieving stretch goals should invoke gratitude.
Do you set daily or weekly goals? If so, why do find it helpful? If not, what is stopping you from setting up goals?
💡Tip #7—Getting feedback from your audience will help improve your content
You could be a superior writer interweaving complex ideas together in a beautiful way, but it you are not generating content that resonates with your audience it is ultimately a selfish and futile work.
J.K. Rowling began her Harry Potter series not for herself, but as a bedtime story for her children. She know the kind of content that would be easily picked up by kids. J.R.R. Tolkien was inspired to Roverandom to entertain his son after losing his favorite toy. Selfless acts of creation blossomed into classic tales that continue to give joy to readers today. One way to get feedback is to simply ask.
What kinds of questions do you have about content creation? Do you prefer standalone posts, or would you like to see a content series based on a theme? What prevents you from engaging with certain content on LinkedIn?
💡Tip #8—Getting feedback from your audience is only as important as your consistent execution of that feedback into content
It is important to listen. That often involves follow-up questions or noticing the engagement on the content you implement will go a long way towards fostering a solid relationship between you and your audience. I did get feedback on whether people wanted to see a series based on a theme or standalone posts. The verdict was it was a bit of both. I plan to continue the unique posts but will be creating more of a themed content series broken up in the course of a few days or a week.
What are some of the obstacles in your way of implementing the feedback once you got it from your audience? For me it is time and family obligations—my nine-month-old is teething still and having trouble sleeping through the night. What are some strategies or tools that helped you implement feedback promptly and consistency?
💡Tip #9—Higher priorities will bump your content goals down the queue sometimes and that is normal
Full disclosure: My 10 tips in 10 days has been a misnomer as a couple days I had to miss because of dealing with regression in my autistic son’s progress. Yesterday, was challenging as we painted our living room (thankfully we had some family come up for help). But any deviation from our schedule big or small incites a meltdown unless we uber-prepare him. The latest meltdowns were like wrangling a squid with the tenacity of a wolverine and the sound of a jet engine. Some days it takes me entire mental stamina to maintain a sane semblance of composure. I was 100% drained.
Don’t get down if you miss a day so long. Consistency does not always mean creating daily, but generating, on average, a repetitive and predictable schedule. The weekend often mean family comes first and this was the case yesterday.
How have different and higher priorities impacted your content creation and productivity of your work recently?
💡Tip #10—Content is versatile across platforms
There are so many different types of social media and communication platforms today to publish your material. Audio, written, and video. As I previously mentioned, originally these tips were created for LinkedIn, but realized I was limiting myself to only a single audience if I kept this content solely on one platform.
Combining the ten tips did not take up too much time. I basically had to update the format to read as a blog article (I included headings and ensured I broke up the paragraphs in a readable fashion) and proofread for consistency. Finally, I added images to help break up the text and improve reader experience.
Creating content can definitely be daunting at first. The key is dedicating time daily,a even if it is only 5-10 minutes, to work on your craft, develop a consistent schedule, implement chunking or breaking up tasks throughout the day, reassess your goals often. Learn to love the process of creating content as this will help you greatly in achieving your end goals!
If you need engaging content for your website to improve traffic and boost your brand please send me a link to your website in the comments below along with any questions you have about content creation. I will randomly select three comments to set-up a free content creation consult call! The deadline for comments to be included in the drawing is November 15th.
The Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote, “The soul is healed by being with children.” This Sunday, I experienced the truth contained in that quote. It was the first class for Religious Education at my parish. Going into my third year of volunteering as a catechist, I was comfortable with the subject matter, but I was a bit nervous about teaching third and fourth graders for the first time ever. Previously, I taught high school and middle school students.
Begin with the Trinity
The starting lesson was on the Holy Trinity. While that teaching is the most essential belief of Christianity it is also the most misunderstood and easy to fall into heresy. How could I explain this doctrine to younger students without getting too theological or technical?
In hindsight, I always am reminded that it was pointless to worry. Everything turned out fine. St. Paul wrote, “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God” (Philippians 4:6-7). I have since bookmarked this passage. Although I failed to petition God for aid before the lesson, I am expressing my gratitude in Him using my students as instruments to remind me of wondrous truths contained in the Mystery of the Holy Trinity.
God Welcomes Us
Entering the prayer room, the students and I sat before the icon of the Holy Trinity (above). This famous religious artwork was painted by Russian artist Andrei Rublev in the 15th century. Another catechist acted as a prayer facilitator. She asked us to gaze at the iconic (no pun intended) image and asked about things that stood out.
One of the students raised her hand stated, “It looks like there is an empty seat at the table.” When asked who the seat is for, the fourth grader replied, “Us! God is welcoming us to the table.”
Her simple statement goes to the heart of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 237, The Trinity is a mystery of faith in the strict sense, one of the “mysteries that are hidden in God, which can never be known unless they are revealed by God”. Only by inviting us into the life of God will be able to know God.
You Don’t Have to be Old to be Wise
Another thing the children taught me is that wisdom does not come from old age, but rather it is a gift of the Holy Spirit. St. Lucy described it best, “Those whose hearts are pure are temples of the Holy Spirit.” Children’s hearts and intentions are free from prior motivation. The excitement and wonder of a child are something to be celebrated not stymied or stamped out. I have been struggling a lot with seeing the purity in my own children. Instead, I selfishly mistake the energy as causes for messes, extra noise, and an inconvenience at bedtime!
Watching the elementary students talk about the icon of the Holy Trinity with wonder and curiosity made me realize my pride and impatience at my own children. Our three-year-old with autism spectrum disorder had a week of regressions. Mass was basically a zoo with uncaged animals. He had several meltdowns and slipped the holy water at the entrance.
I should have been angry. Frustrated. Defeated. But somehow I did not let that accident before me. Later during the Mass our son finally calmed down. Walking over to the holy water fount after communion he dipped his hand in the water (thankfully he did not spill it again!!). “Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Amen!” he said with a grin on his face.
The Holy Trinity is the most central mystery of Christianity. How could I be mad at my kid when he expressed that important doctrine with such joy. Wisdom is given by the Holy Spirit. Often those less “educated” or “less worthy” will teach the prideful. It happened to me with my students and son.
A third aspect of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity my students taught (or reminded) me was a different way to look at the Holy Trinity icon. One of the other things the students noticed about the painting is that all three persons of the Trinity had a halo. The catechist asked, “Why do you think they all have halos?” Quickly, one student quipped, “Because it would not be fair. They would not be equal if only one or two had a halo.” Another simple and profound observation. But it cuts to an important part of the teaching of the Holy Trinity— equality matters.
Christians profess belief in One God in Three Divine Persons not three separate gods. The Catechism teaches, “The Trinity is One. We do not confess three Gods, but one God in three persons, the “consubstantial Trinity”.83 The divine persons do not share the one divinity among themselves but each of them is God whole and entire” (CCC 253).
This image below is a common diagram used to explain (as best as humanly possible)
All analogies will fall short. This mystery of the Holy Trinity was revealed by God through Sacred Scripture and confirmed at the Council of Nicaea through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I urge you to spend time in prayer before the icon of the Holy Trinity.
Reflect on the Mystery of the Holy Trinity this Week
Ask your local parish if you go get access to view a copy of this image. If possible, you could purchase this icon as part (or the start) of your home prayer chapel or icon wall. Or simply print off the image from the Internet if you are pinched or time and cannot get access to an actual painting of the icon. Bring your Bible and spend time in Eucharistic Adoration pondering this wondrous Mystery of the Holy Trinity. Ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom, understanding, patience, joy, gratitude, humility, and amazement. I am grateful for the gift of my students and my children who reminded me of the greatest gift— the Holy Trinity!
Memory is a profound thing. Certain images, events, and facts stick with us over time and become housed in our long-term memory. Remembrance is the act of recalling past events through memory. Much of the Catholic Church’s sacramental life is founded on memorializing events from the Gospels. During the Last Supper, Jesus stated, “Do this in memory of me.”
When I taught New Testament at a Catholic high school, I unconsciously created a memory regarding the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10. I united my love of literature with love of scripture by referring to Zacchaeus as “the hobbit of the New Testament”. Students chuckled at this provisional quip. The former tax collector was described as a short man who needed to climb a tree to view Jesus’ arrival in his town. J.R.R. Tolkien once described his creations as,
I suppose hobbits need some description nowadays, since they have become rare and shy of the Big People, as they call us. They are (or were) a little people, about half our height, and smaller than the bearded Dwarves. Hobbits have no beards. There is little or no magic about them, except the ordinary everyday sort which allows them to disappear quietly and quickly when large stupid folk like you and me come blundering along, making a noise like elephants which they can hear a mile off.
Linking the minor character in Luke’s Gospel to hobbits helped forge a permanent memory of Luke 19:1-10 within me. In the years following this mnemonic device, I frequently recall the life of Zacchaeus and Jesus’ mercy whenever I see anything related to The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings. Below are three things I learned from “The hobbit of the New Testament”
Persistence pays off
Zacchaeus could not initially see Jesus as he entered Jericho. Instead of letting his short stature prevent him from seeing the Messiah, St. Luke tells us, “So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way” (Luke 19:4).
Imagine a grown man scurrying up a tree or pole to see a local celebrity, politician, or other important figure. In today’s age of social media I bet someone would certainly go to Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube over such strange behavior. Climbing up a tree indicates not the strangeness of Zacchaeus, but rather his persistence and recognition that Jesus was someone important! The short man in Luke is definitely a role model for me in showing that my faith life is a constant work in progress.
Jesus Chooses the Imperfect
Along with Zacchaeus’ persistence, the tale of the hobbit of the New Testament demonstrates that Jesus loves the imperfect and calls the sinner to follow him. Not only did Zacchaeus struggle to physically see Jesus among the crowd, he also had an occupation despised by his fellow countrymen—he was a tax collector! According to Luke, the crowd hated Jesus’ invitation to Zacchaeus by stating, “When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner (Luke 19:7)”
Personally, I need to be reminded that Jesus dined with sinners— the spiritually infirmed. I struggle with the sin of pride. I battle with being judgmental. Luke 19:1-10 gives me perspective that God’s love is ultimately above my total comprehension. God’s love is transformative as well. The “hobbit of the New Testament” was changed after his encounter with Jesus. “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over,” Zacchaeus stated (Luke 19:8).
Do not let Limitations Prevent You from Growing
A final point Jesus’ encounter with Zacchaeus taught me is that spiritual growth is possible despite my limitations and past failures. Jesus welcomed sinners and culturally ostracized groups with grace and forgiveness.
Oftentimes, I use my limitations—my low patience with my kids, my OCD, and struggles with pride—as an excuse to put off growing in my spiritual life. Zacchaeus’ transformation in the presence of Jesus gives me hope that I am able to change too.
J.R.R. Tolkien once said, “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.” Certainly that is true for his Lord of the Rings trilogy where the bearer of Sauron’s ring is the simple hobbit Frodo. Zacchaeus, like, the hobbits of Middle Earth, provided change in the course of the future—for sure my future! I took to Zacchaeus, a figure who was not only physically limited, but spiritually limited who saw something transformative and attractive in Jesus.
Scaling a sycamore tree, Zacchaeus did not let the possible danger of falling or others’ perceptions of him stop him from gazing at our Lord. I ask for fortitude from the Holy Spirit to allow me to boldly seek Jesus just as the hobbit of the New Testament intrepidly sought after God.
I feel that as long as the Shire lies behind, safe and comfortable, I shall find wandering more bearable: I shall know that somewhere there is a firm foothold, even if my feet cannot stand there again.” –J.R.R. Tolkien
Concluding a fast-paced morning at work, I headed to the lunch area to heat up my lunch. Famished and tired from the busyness of the day, I reached into my pocket for my cell phone to call my wife. Instead, I pulled out a green hot wheels car named Ballistik— I forgot to send this toy with my youngest son when I dropped him off at daycare this morning. Not being able to reach of my wife, my thoughts wondered as I waited for my macaroni and cheese to cool down.
The mind is an interesting place. It is the gathering place of ideas, thoughts, dreams, concerns and sorrows. Today, my mind meandered about my son’s early childhood therapy he started receiving at the beginning of August. The plastic toy car reminded me of the immense strides that he has made toward improvement on his developmental delays. My son is a joy of my life. His high pitched giggles and funny mannerisms infuse life into me daily. I was experiencing a brain barricade when it came to writing. I lacked motivation, inspiration, and endurance to pen my thoughts. Toy cars, farewells, and door knockings unexpectedly lifted me out of my stupor.
Playing with Toy Cars
Infants typically begin playing with toys around 5-6 months. My son was a unique case as he only played with toys cylindrical or round in nature. He has a fascination with circles—currently he goes into our bathroom and nearly dives headfirst into the empty tub looking for the round drain cover! Don’t worry. I made sure to disinfect it in time.
My child has idiosyncratic interests that make him a distinct, and cute, individual. To get back to the topic of toy cars, the reason why it is significant is that this past week was the first time I captured him playing with cars. He played with them as toys instead of flipping them to look at their circular wheels or chucking them in the kitchen! Progress is visible.
As a father of a child with autism [my oldest son was diagnosed a couple years ago], I noticed hints of autism spectrum disorder with my youngest. I want to give him the best tools to succeed in life and to improve his communication as well.
Goodbyes Can be a Good Thing
Regarding, farewells my son was not able to communicate verbally during tantrums he banged his head against the ground. Since the start of his therapy, I have noticed a tremendous growth my son’s social-communication skills. Last week he waved good—bye for the first time. Since then, he has been waving to our daycare provider upon my picking him up. These seem like simple achievements, but to a parent of a child with a developmental delay I was overjoyed with my 18 month old’s budding skills!
Knock and the Door will be Answered
Jesus tells us, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). Knocking on educational “doors” was a common experience that past few months as we sought after help for our son. Through the grace of God we got therapy to help him improve his communication. Continual asking for help was a sign of our hope in the Lord to provide for our child in need. Patience and persistence bore fruit in the form of my son knocking on doors recently. His tiny knuckles clinking the side of a front door was one of the most beautiful sounds I heard this week.
If you are experiencing a stressful situation with anxiety or struggle with communication the best way is to continue ask for help. Ask professionals, your friends, and ultimately God for help. It will take time, but do not be alarmed—help will always find those seeking aid and refuge from worry!
***For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened***
According to Thomas Paine in The American Crisis, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Written almost 300 hundred years ago, the American philosopher words remain fresh and relevant to our age as they did back in the time of the American Revolution. Facing deluges of stress, busyness, and changes in the workplace, I experienced difficulty in tough times. Last week the stress drowned me. I let anxiety overwhelm me.
Probably the best thing I did for myself [and my family] was to receive the Sacrament of Confession. Here I obtained the graces for a clean start, a theological re-booting of my system, and aid to face the adversity this week. Along with Divine assistance, I also had a counseling appointment where I received additional help to stay even-keeled as I boarded the “ship of life” and sailed out against the sea of stress. Below I discovered [actually re-discovered] three practical tips that guarantee you will overcome adversity.
As a perfectionist I often struggle to admit I need help. My drive to succeed and do the right thing is both a blessing and a curse. In the storm of adversity, sometimes I am not able to keep afloat by myself. Jesus Christ said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7). To ask for help means to submit yourself to the possibility that you may not have all the answers. Being uncertain about something or not a sign of weakness. Rather, seeking help demonstrates a powerful humility–a mighty weapon to wield in the face of adversity.
Own Up to Failures
Similar to the first point of asking for help and demonstrating humility, acknowledgment of my limitations provided another bulwark against adversity. According to Mahatma Gandhi, “It is wrong and immoral to seek to escape the consequences of one’s acts.” His words carried real weight for me this week. Working for the banking industry involves balancing regulatory compliance with superb customer service to our clients in order to treat them with dignity and respect.
To be honest, I feel like an actuarial acrobat most of the week. A situation arose where I placed more priority on company risk prevention then serving a customer impacted by Hurricane Irma. I felt guilty–even though I really did nothing morally culpable nor illegal. Still, I realized I could have provided our client a better experience. So, I took initiative to actively solve the issue by simply calling him back to inform him of the complete breakdown of disaster assistance our company provides. Almost immediately, I gained a strength to persevere with mettle despite encountering other stressful situations that day.
Learn, learn, learn
Albert Einstein once said, “A true genius admits that he/she knows nothing.” Despite, being a professional physicist, the German genius gave us profound philosophical wisdom in this quote. Throughout my life I encountered people I consider to be “learner yearners”. In other words, people who commit themselves to life-long learning and study. The common thread among “learner yearners” is that they seem to deal with adversity in a calm and controlled manner.
Adversity will always pester us and follow us in our earthly existence. The key is donning an educational attitude and seek opportunities to learn. Learning leads to perspective. Perspective leads to patience. Patience is the virtue that allows us to disable adversity’s assault.
The great English prime minister Winston Churchill stated, “The price of greatness is responsibility.” More colloquially put, “With great power comes great responsibility,” attributed by Ben Parker [uncle of Peter Parker/Spiderman]. Facing turmoil and adversity head-on seems brings a sense of joy and peace. This seems counter-intuitive, but from my personal experiences so far that has been the case. A habit of seeking help, taking ownership of my failings, and continual learning leads to overcoming of adversity!
***”It is wrong and immoral to seek to escape the consequences of one’s acts.”***