Thursday, 26 December 2013

You Don't Just Need a Friend...

 I, like many people have experienced some really rough times over the years and some good times too.  This past year hasn't failed to deliver on both good times and bad, although it seems like more of the latter.  When keeping your sanity seems like the most important goal in your life, you know you're in trouble and while you pray and you hope and you try to keep things together, whether or not you like it, you depend on others to help.  But it's times like these when you don't just need a friend...

There are advisors, colleagues, partners and spouses; there are acquaintances and networks, support groups and associations, peer groups and drinking buddies, gym partners confidantes and friends; and then, there are best friends.

If you're a best friend yourself then you know one thing above all; you didn't choose the role, it chose you and that makes it the greatest honour and the greatest burden.

Source: Google images

If you have a best friend you'll know, because that person will tell you like it is, good or bad, but will never fall off your gift list.  That person will listen when you whine and instead of hurrying you along, will offer you a drink so you can whine some more - "Get it off your chest", your bestie will say.  That person will leave their work station and miss an important deadline because you're having a baby and they wouldn't miss that for the world.  That person will make sure you know what's good about you; make time for phone calls way too early in the morning; suffer total inconveniences for you; back off when you need to clear your head and be right there waiting, almost magically when you are 'ready to talk'.  

They'll call just at the moment when you're about to say something that would get you fired; invite you out just when it's the last thing you want to do but absolutely the best thing for you.  That person will call you as soon as that job opportunity you've been hoping for shows up in the newspaper or wherever.  That person prays for you when you're not around, orchestrates rescue parties when you're feeling down, makes a meal just so you can sit, talk and eat; calms you down; gives you perspective; fights your fights with you and walks your most difficult journeys alongside you.  In all of this doing and giving, this best friend has time for his/her own life.  Now that's totally magical.

Trust me, when life throws you lemons you don't just need a friend, colleague or partner, you need a best friend.  When life makes a turn for the better you don't just need to celebrate with a spouse, gym buddy or acquaintance, no one will appreciate it like your best friend will.  Your best friend is a priceless gift from God. So if you have a best friend, give thanks, be a best friend back, then give thanks some more.  I do, but then, I have the best best friend ever.

Giving thanks for you, +Kim B, voted Best best friend  by me.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Love is a Decision

There is love and then there is LOVE.  

I love smooth dark chocolate, I love my home made burgers and I absolutely love sunshine ray yellow on me.  These things make me happy. But then I love my son; I love to see him happy, I love to see him flourish, I love to see him smile and I love to see others recognise him for all that he is and can share with the world.  I'd give up dark chocolate, home made burgers, sunflower yellow and a load of other things to experience the joy of him.  In fact I've already given up a lot of what I 'love' for that .  I'm not saying that I liked giving things up, but I'm saying I would do it and did it. I'd make and I've made those decisions.


It might be a tough pill to swallow but when you make the decision to love, you make a decision to give in to a force that commands your self-sacrifice.  More than likely it's going to be much more than your favourite food, clothes or hobby that you will have to give up.  Sometimes a complete adjustment is required and no matter how evolved we may think we are, we don't look forward to complete adjustments.  We like things the way they are or the way we 'always pictured they would be'.

Maybe we instinctively know that true love is sacrificial.  It is as exceedingly demanding as it is tremendously rewarding. But being petrified of the sacrifice part means that so many times we deny ourselves love; we run the other way looking for euphoria - you know, the 'high' you feel when you take a bite into that favourite food, like me and my dark chocolate.  We desperately want to control the balance between loss (sacrifice), and feeling on top of the world in a series of euphoric moments. But while love is a decision we can make, it isn't a force we can control.  It demands to be in control and it will stop at nothing.

Relentless in its pursuit for our souls, this thing we call love instructs the impossible and drives the questionable, but inevitably it insists on self-sacrifice.  We have to lose ourselves to gain ourselves in love and we have to lose ourselves to the service of others.  But what ultimately compels us to love is the self-fulfilment that is born out of the labour of self-sacrifice.

Our real challenge is discerning whether we're answering the true love call or trying to simulate the ultimate feelings of euphoria and fulfilment.  We can definitely get addicted to the feelings that love generates and sometimes we try to recreate or create scenarios just to have those feelings. In those cases we are self-serving; we really just by-pass the love call to get to 'the good part' and the 'feel good' outcome won't last long. 

The truth about LOVE is that it is a response to the call serve others in spite of obstacles, in spite of what you have to give up.  This is the beginning of the true love journey.  If you have problem with that you have problem with love.

Are you ready to make the love decision?

Friday, 6 December 2013

'Me' Is Not Enough

In memory to my former Sunday School teacher Ms. Cicely Brown and Nelson Mandela freedom fighter - two people from a different time and space who knew and exercised the power of 'we'.

If you really think about it, there's so much about how we live today that is focused on 'me'.  I touched on how being 'me-centred' can end a relationship in '6 Things Relationship Gurus Don't Tell You', but this topic is worth some more Straight Talk.

Seems to me that we humans need each other; that it's natural for people to need people.  We're born into families, we make friends, we go to school in classes, we work with colleagues, we worship in congregations, we govern through organisations, we live in communities.  What we are and what we do is about people. So how come we make so many decisions without considering other people and how it will impact on them?  I'll tell you how come.

1.  We don't really 'Get' what Love means

We use the 'l' word so much for everything from how we feel about a piece of chocolate, or a pair of shoes to how we feel about our first born.  We do this without realising that love isn't just a feeling, it's a decision - more on that in another post.

2.  We're blind to the true success Harmony creates

We get busy working towards our own achievements and making a name for ourselves. Really, what's happening is that we want to revered in our peer group, seen as better than the others.  Can you blame us, sometimes being just one of the others can be boring right? And after all we are still individuals.  But when we constantly have to be 'one up' on other people, we create unnecessary rivalries and imaginary differences.  Seems that as much as we humans need each other, harmony, working beautifully together in spite of our differences, seems like an alien concept.

3.  Having Compassion makes you look stupid

Unless of course you're getting good PR.  Compassion is fine once we're being photographed and captioned as the 'cheerful giver'.  But step away from the cameras and the concept of caring for others in need is pretty stupid, seeing as how we have enough of our own problems.

4.  We've forgotten the 'golden rule'

Remember, 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you'? Ring a bell? I know I had to memorise this rule and recite it as a child.  The premise couldn't be more straight forward, you would want people to do good to you so do good to people.  It's supposed to be one of those simple guides to help us make better decisions.  I don't know about you, but maybe the golden rule is just too simple to remember because while I was hurting people I forgot all about it.

5.  We're oh so self-righteous

In any given situation we can see clearly all the reasons why 'I am right' which of course makes 'you wrong' or why 'the way I do things is better' which means 'your way is not good enough'.  Ignoring an overall point of view in favour of being 'right' causes conflict, whether we choose to be aware of it or not.  It's good to have our principles, but it's even better to take a look in the mirror and recognise that the thing we share with other humans is imperfection.  We are all wrong sometimes. 

 My point in all of this is that we won't know how to make good decisions unless we exercise true love, compassion and self-sacrifice. This is not a new concept, in fact it's pretty old, centuries and centuries old and key to many religions.  But sometimes we just don't get it until we've messed up one time too many, then the light bulb goes off and we connect the dots:  "Hey sometimes 'me' is not enough, other people make my life more important too!"