The Importance Of Vision In My Life

Nature

Where there is no vision, the people perish - Proverbs 29:18a

Recently I’ve been thinking about my own view of the world.  I confess that I see the world as I’d like it to be, not the way it actually is.  I learned from past experience that if I look at the world exactly as it is, then I have no hope for myself or my future, and I end up spiraling down into a depression that eats away at me with very little mercy, because I see so little good through that perspective.  I’ve had to build fantasies in my head with positive ideas of what my future may hold, even if some of those ideas may look a bit unrealistic to a lot of other people.  They’re a comfort when I’m struggling to hold onto hope for my future.  I’m only twenty.  I like to think I’m going to live for eighty more years, and thinking that fills me with hope.

I’m fully aware that I may be lying to myself when I say I have eighty more years to live, but sometimes a lie like that is necessary for people like me to get through life with perseverance, hope, and feeling encouraged.

You have so much to enjoy and to be and to do” – Frodo from Return of the King

Everybody has these fantasy perceptions of the world, whether they’re aware of it or not.  Some are aware and some are not.  I’m one of those people who is aware and intentionally keeps it, because I know that it’s better than constantly seeing the world for what it actually is.  I can’t live like that, because I’ll never be able to feel relaxed or be without fear.  I would feel constantly overwhelmed, hopeless, and feel worthless.  I need a vision to live for, and whether or not that vision may be realistic of what my future truly holds, it’s important for me to have one.  And who knows, maybe my visions will actually come to pass.  It’s an exciting thought.

Last year I wrote a letter from the future, sent to me by a person I hope to meet some day, and it gave me hope.  It helped me continue on, and I still have it with me that I go back to once in a while.  It helps me to know that where I’m at in life right now isn’t where I’ll be forever, but I must be content with the fact that where I’m at in life right now is where I’m supposed to be and where God means for me to be.  Having dealt with depression before, I know how easy it is to lose hope, but I know that with effort and a desire to pursue my passions, I can eventually get to another place that God has already prepared for me and I will look back on this time now and realize that it was necessary to go through the things I’m going through right now.  I’m excited for my future, and with God having that future in His hands, I have every reason to be. Below is a dialogue exchange from Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick that I found to be very encouraging in continuing to move forward.

My life will get better?  You really believe that?”

It can, if you’re willing to do the work.”

What work?

Not letting the world destroy you.  That’s a daily battle.”

Narrowing The Scope To What Isn’t Always Seen

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This is the first time in a long time where something I was talking about with someone else became a topic I wanted to bring up in a blog post.  This morning, I was telling a friend that people should actually narrow their focus range.  What I mean by that is that they should focus more on the things going on in their own neighborhood then what’s happening behind the curtains of the government or the terrorism of ISIS.

Those are big things that I never really wanted to talk about on my blog, but I’ve mentioned them now so there’s really no going back.  Yes, I’m saying that a lot of people (even Christians) have their focus range way too wide and are more concerned about issues that they ultimately can’t control.  This makes sense though.  People are afraid of things that they have very little to no control over.  They share their opinions about these large things whether other people want to hear them or not, and they debate about them and write stories about them, but at the end of the day, where is it actually taking them?  People say we need to be “aware” of the issues they talk about or write news articles for.  While I agree that people should be aware to an extent (after all, it’s better than having your head completely stuck in the sand), I don’t believe it’s healthy to be hyperaware, as some people are. Regardless of what people think they’re doing by consistently sharing facts and opinions on ISIS for instance, it still invokes fear, and prevents people from having the motivation and the confidence in life, and it can burden them with constant stress and worry.  Believe me, I know this from personal experience.  I had to stop reading about ISIS altogether at one point because it was tearing me down with doubt and feelings of hopelessness, rather than building me up.

It’s one thing to talk about what’s going on out there, but if we can’t do anything about it, what exactly is the point?  People can talk and debate about government issues and the ISIS terrorists, but what exactly is the point if they’re not going to do anything about it?  Since these wider issues are things that we can’t really do anything about, why not narrow the scope so that we can pay attention to the things that we can do something about?

By narrowing the scope, I mean pay attention to the people around you who may need help.  When I went to Royal Family Kids, I was surrounded by abused and neglected foster children who live in the area that I live in, and it opened my eyes to something that I didn’t see before in my day-to-day routine.  It showed me that people who are hurting or need help are all around me.  We can see ISIS, and we can recognize political and economical problems, but we don’t always see what needs our attention when it walks right by us.  We need to open our eyes to the people around us that are hurting.  This really cuts deep to share this, but I myself have felt like that kind of person that needs attention.  I’ve walked down streets surrounded by other people and walked around in stores feeling torn down and depressed, with so much on my mind about my future and what’s going on in the present.  I’m not saying that you need to stop every person you come across and ask him if he’s okay, but I am saying that if you recognize that someone needs help or you feel that someone is having a very hard time, try to help that person in some way.  The way you help might be a small gesture, but it will make a world of a difference to the person.

Other issues around us can be related to school bullying and the people who are without homes or proper shelter.  We have the ability to donate to good causes meant to benefit different things around the world.  We can volunteer for causes in our area like food drives or even well builders.  Wells have been built in places like Africa thanks to donations.  This is to list a few things that we’re capable of changing that goes a little bigger.

As a last note, I personally want to help those who battle with depression and suicidal thoughts.  Depression can potentially come from having heard things in the news that is terrifying and discouraging.  I’ve been through that.  We need to be an encouragement to people, not explain to them more ways that the world can be a pretty scary place.

What I Take With Me From Royal Family Kids

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After my mom got back from her first experience at Royal Family Kids, it was honestly the only thing she would talk about for a while when she got back.  It wasn’t long until she announced that she was going to be the camp director for a Royal Family Kids camp in the area and I half-consciously agreed to be involved, having honestly no idea what I just agreed to.  It was one of those things where I thought what Mom was talking about sounded kind of cool so I felt like doing it (I know, it’s a camp where abused and neglected foster children can feel loved and valued, ‘kind of cool’ sounds like an insult but understand I didn’t really get the whole concept at the time).  I didn’t even really think it through before I told my Mom I’d like to be a part of the camp.

I wish I had enough time in this post to tell you some good stories from my experience at camp last year, but since this is a blog post and people wouldn’t read this post for that long, I will tell you what has impacted me the most in the previous camp I was in.  I can certainly tell you though that when I went to RFK in 2014, I wasn’t expecting to come back and bawl my eyes out.  I wasn’t expecting to be as deeply moved and heartbroken as I ended up being when I came back.  Now, when I say this, I’m not trying to discourage anyone from participating at camp.  It was an emotional experience, but it was also a very rewarding one.  It’s one of the most meaningful things I’ve ever done in my life because I spend a week away from home and everything else to hang out with neglected foster children and make them feel loved and cared for.  I get to make them feel like they can have hope for a good life and hope that they are worth something.

In a way I think I got to learn what it’s like to have a son.  This year, I was assigned to be a counselor for a young boy that I will never forget.  I drew a poster board for him with his name and the Biblical meaning of his name and got to hold it up when he arrived in the bus with the other kids and give it to him for him to hold onto, and eventually take home with him when camp ended.  I sat next to him and stayed there with him for almost a half an hour while he cried so that at least he knew that I was there for him.  I got to tell him that I loved him when he felt scared and angry.  I got to make him smile and make him feel special.

On the last day of camp, we have a Royal Family Kids poster that the kids and their counselors take turns signing their names on.  I made sure to take a picture of the part of the poster that has my camper’s name signed and my own name signed underneath it.  That picture is actually my laptop wallpaper now.  I look forward to next year’s camp, and whatever God has in store for me then.  I’ll be honest, I’m a little nervous that Mom will assign me to two boys next year.

Experiencing Royal Family Kids

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Last week, I volunteered as a counselor for a camp called Royal Family Kids.  For those of you who don’t know, Royal Family Kids is a camp for abused and neglected foster children.  The essential goal is to give the kids that go some of the most fun they’ve ever had.  We basically treat them like royalty, and we make sure to create new memories with them that they can cherish, which is a great change of pace from the crap they go through in their lives.  Hands down, Royal Family Kids is the best thing I’ve ever done in my life and I’m only twenty.  Why is that?  Why do I call it the best thing I’ve ever done?

I call it the best thing I’ve ever done because I get to watch over a child and care about him.  I don’t lash out, or hurt the child, or yell at him, or tear him down with words.  My job is to treat the child with the best care possible and make him feel loved and cared for.  For five days, I’m supposed to make the child feel like the most special person in the world.

I call it the best thing I’ve ever done because with the way I treat the child, hope is inspired in the child.  The child feels loved, therefore he has the assurance that he can be loved and that he deserves to be loved.

I call it the best thing I’ve ever done because I get to make the child smile, which is something he probably doesn’t get to do often in life because he has very little in his life to smile about.  I get to make the child smile by speaking words of encouragement to him.  The child gets to smile from experiencing fun things like swimming, rock wall climbing, playing frisbee, and doing other things that he deserves to have fun with at his age.

I call it the best thing I’ve ever done because I get to tell him how special I think he is or how valuable or how amazing he is for no reason other than to just let him know he is special.  The child is so used to hearing negative or hurtful comments from others that words of encouragement is such a powerful and life-changing way to change his perspective on himself and life.

I call it the best thing I’ve ever done because I get to help throw a surprise birthday party for the child, who may not have ever had a birthday party before or even had his birthday acknowledged by anyone else.  I get to make the child feel good that he exists in the first place, because we celebrate the child’s very existence at camp.

Finally, I call it the best thing I’ve ever done because I get to let the child know that even when he seems alone, God is always there with him and loves him and cherishes him more than he can possibly imagine and more than I can.  It was an honor to be a part of the camp for a second time, and God-willing, I’ll continue to do it because it will always have a special place in my heart.  It wasn’t easy, and sometimes it was very rough, and it hurt so much to watch the kids leave to go back to their lives where they will resume experiencing things that they should never have to experience.  With that being said, I’m going to end this with my own quote.

In order to mend someone’s heartsometimes it means getting yours torn a bit in the process.”

 

 

From The Perspective Of Someone Who Overthinks

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If you don’t know me personally enough, I’ll tell you that I’m someone who overthinks things and overanalyzes things.  I wish I can say that being an over-thinker can be a blessing, but from my experience it’s typically not.  I know that people can have the tendency to overthink things from time to time, but my overthinking is a habit.  It’s a large part of me that I work on trying to contain week after week.  Here’s how overthinking things affects my life and how it can potentially affect yours as well.

To start off, when I’m referring to overthinking things, I’m talking about how someone can look at a friend’s facial expression and wonder why that expression is being used and if it has anything to do with something you’ve said or done, or it can be when something in your life happens like getting a promotion at work, winning a prize in a contest, getting a girlfriend or boyfriend, and you’re wondering why it happened when and what the event could potentially lead up to.

1. Overthinking things can lead you to make conclusions about things that are way off from what they actually are.  This is something that I have unfortunately fallen victim to many times, which is why you’d think that after being proven wrong about something after the hundredth time, my mind would start taking a couple steps back but that’s not the case for me.  When I realize I’m wrong about something, my mind just moves on to think about something else and then eventually overthinks again.

2. Overthinking things can take your focus off of other things in your life that’s very important to think about and focus on (but not overthink about).  When your mind is so bent on overanalyzing something, it typically focuses on that one thing and excludes mostly everything else, which obviously includes things that are very important for you to think about.  Trying to figure out the meaning behind a friend’s expression twenty-four hours after it happened is really not worth it when you have to think about how you’re going to manage your day working a job and paying taxes.

3. Overthinking things can change your mind about certain people which can lead you to dislike people or think differently of them that contradicts who they really are.  Misreading an expression or a certain action committed by someone else can cause you to think differently of them than what you originally thought.  This can also affect the way you treat the other person too, typically in a negative way that the person doesn’t deserve to be treated.  To me, this is one of the more heart wrenching aspects of overthinking in my life, because I end up feeling kind of ashamed of myself or guilty for thinking one way about someone or something later on down the road when I realize that my thoughts on the subject at hand were wrong.

4. Overthinking things for long periods of time will cause you to think about the subject again even years later.  This is another thing I’ve done.  To this day, there are still things I remember from several years ago that I still don’t feel completely satisfied about, and that’s because I overthought about those things at the time and those  thoughts were never officially put to rest because they didn’t come to a satisfactory conclusion in my mind, so they’re almost like echoes in my head that makes me stop what I’m doing and think again.

So how can overthinking be officially stopped?  The short answer is: it can’t be.  At least not “officially”.  If overthinking is something you have the tendency of doing, then that means it’s a part of you and will probably always be a part of you, but that doesn’t mean it can’t at least be tamed to a certain extent.  A lot of things that happen in your life are exactly what it appears to be and there’s really no use trying to decipher the event.  If you’re overthinking about something, that’s usually a sign that you can’t find an answer to a question you have, and you’re not going to find it through overthinking because it’s only going to loop around back to the same question you had.  Life is full of things that sparks questions but we can’t waste that life constantly trying to find the answers to those questions.  Remembering that will help us be able to move on.  You probably won’t be able to relax about it right away, in fact it’s highly unlikely, but you can at least learn to continue living your life and keeping your eyes open to other things that come your way.  It’s one of the most intriguing things about life, watching it unfold.

 

Take Off The Earbuds And Sing In The Rain

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While doing some writing today, I was starting to feel really anxious.  I was home alone and the house was quiet.  A steady rain was turning on outside and some sunlight leaked out between dark storm clouds.  I didn’t like the idea of going out in the rain, but I didn’t want to be at home right now.  I was feeling too anxious and didn’t feel like sitting.  So, I left without worrying about the rain.  It was slow and going off and on, so it wasn’t very annoying while walking.  The slow rain actually felt really good in the humidity.  I had my hood over my head and I took my iPhone with me but only to see any texts that anyone sends me.  I didn’t listen to music like I typically do while I go walking because I wanted to listen for God or maybe I might hear something that I normally wouldn’t hear if I had music on.

I had dinner at McDonalds while the rain continued to switch off and on outside.  I felt like by leaving home for a little while, I left my anxieties behind with it.  It felt good to be outside in the city instead of alone at home.  When I left McDonalds, the rain started to get heavier.  I was holding a cup of Dr. Pepper that remains unfinished upstairs.  The rain then came down in buckets and I was getting quickly drenched under the downpour.  Even sticking underneath the trees wasn’t helping.  Thunder began to crash and I realized that things were only going to escalate from there.  I started running.  Rainwater gathered and leaked through my pathetic excuses for tennis shoes and water sprayed my glasses.  I started to laugh.  Any remaining anxiety I felt was coming off, although it’s possible I was releasing that anxiety through my laughter.  Even as I was running, I took occasional sips from my Dr. Pepper and I said out loud ‘I guess this was something I needed’.  Then I started breathlessly singing ‘Something I Need’ by OneRepublic.  I got back home drenched and feeling alive.

Why am I sharing this story?  Because I love taking advantage of moments like those when I’m feeling anxious or alone.  I’ll be honest, I’m normally not a fan of getting drenched, but I decided that since I was going to get drenched on the way home whether I liked it or not, I decided to have fun with it.  When you take a circumstance like that and decide to have fun with it, it makes one heck of a difference.  I kept the earbuds off and pulled myself out of my head and inserted myself into the real world, and you know what?  It’s not that bad.

As a side-note, I know a friend who’s going to think: So that’s what you did after I left the house?

Five Ways To Know That I’m A Writer

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I did not take this picture!

Every writer has his own quirks, like every person.  Except a writer’s quirks seem more, well, quirky.  So how do I know that I’m a writer at heart?  Here’s a list to break it all down:

1. I know I’m a writer because my mind won’t quiet at night, giving birth to a lot of late nights where I’m just thinking about stuff - For instance, just last night I was up until two in the morning just thinking about stuff.  I’m the type of guy that always feels like I need to say something.  I have a desire to express my opinion on different stuff, which is definitely not always welcome in our culture.  That’s why writers have to take time to figure out exactly how they’re going to make their opinion known, and that requires a lot of thinking.  But even though thinking is important, doing something is important too.  If we think less and do more, we’ll get more accomplished.

2. I know I’m a writer because I’ll take pictures of random stuff without really giving it much thought - For instance, just last night I stopped while walking back home to take a picture of a street light in the dark of night.  Odd I know, but that seems to be a habit I’ve picked up lately.  Sometimes writers will do things like take pictures or go on walks or suddenly take random notes when they feel inspired.  Taking walks without listening to music helps to clear your mind so that your mind will be more open to ideas.  Sometimes taking pictures of different sights like certain aspects of nature or parts of a city will help draw inspiration.  It just depends on what works better for the person.  It’s different with every writer.

3. I know I’m a writer because I tend to skip meals to write or do things to get inspired to write - For instance, today I’m writing this instead of eating lunch.  Don’t worry about my health, it’s fine I promise.  This is an example of showing that a writer is so passionate about writing that he’ll spend time writing during a time when he would normally be doing something else.  There’s something absolutely beautiful about the life of a writer, because with a writer’s life comes a passion to tell stories or write articles that will hopefully make an impact on other people, and he won’t stop until his work is finished so that he can present it to other people.

4. I know I’m a writer because I analyze real life situations and other people - It’s true.  I tend to study other people and real life situations, that’s one reason why I also love psychology.  One important factor about writing is that you’re supposed to write what you know.  A husband who writes might analyze his wife’s personality to help him create a character in a story.  I know that may sound weird to you, but it’s true, and in a way you should actually find that a little flattering.  That means your writer friend or whatever the writer is to you finds you interesting enough to study and apply what he learns to his writing.

5. I know I’m a writer because I’m too emotionally tuned for my own good - When I’m happy, I’m typically overjoyed.  When I’m sad, I’m typically depressed.  My mood can vary depending on the moods of everyone else around me and the state of the environment around me.  When someone feels emotional pain, I will most likely feel that pain too.  I feel an overwhelming joy when someone is happy, as if the same thing that’s happening to that person is happening to me too.  It helps me collect a history of personal experiences to incorporate the feelings those experiences give me and others into my writing.

By the way, I did actually get up in the middle of this post to have some lunch.  Just to clarify though, I have skipped meals to write or collect inspiration to write before.