Friendly Fridays

One of the things that I love about having my own website is that I get to have a platform to share my thoughts and ideas with the rest of the world. However, a lot of “my” thoughts have been greatly influenced by my interaction with a lot of great and wonderful people I like to call my friends =) I’m thankful that I have such a diverse group of people who are smart, kind, and absolutely amazing. This new addition, “Friendly Fridays”, is a way for me to highlight the writings of some of these amazing people. So, don’t be surprised if you get a random message from me asking you to be a guest blogger because I really think that what you have to say is important to the world.

The friend who wrote this inaugural piece to “Friendly Fridays” is someone who I met in university. I asked this person if they were willing to write something for this website and the rest as they say is history. Of course, when you ask someone to be a guest blogger, the question of “so what do you want me to write about?” pops up. For me, I wanted this to be a place where people can write about anything they want to write about, provided they write something that is encouraging and uplifting. Here’s the thing. We live in a world full of negativity. In many ways, I want this website to be a virtual safe place where people who believe in different things, have conflicting opinions about issues, can come together and treat each other with respect and love. Plus, I’m giving you an opportunity to say something. The idealist in me would like to think that you would use this opportunity to say something good. I want to know what motivates you, what your passions are, or hear about the way you overcame struggles and became victorious over your problems. I want to know your story.

And so, with that in mind, this person sent me this article. I remembered reading it for the first time and going, wow, I did NOT know that about this person. This article tackles a fairly controversial issue from a very vulnerable point-of-view. Irregardless (yes, that’s a word!) of where you stand on it, I hope that you are inspired by it. I know I was. Due to the delicate nature of this piece, the author has asked me to withhold their name. However, don’t let the “anonymous” fool you into thinking that this is not real. Coz this is real. And raw. And just plain amazing.

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I just finished watching October Baby: a film about a girl with many health problems who discovers that they are all due to a failed abortion. She goes on a search for her birth mother and  is rejected. The only way she is able to move on with her life is to forgive those that hurt her. The message is that life is beautiful; that is a message that I firmly believe.

One of my secrets – that few people know – is that my parents could have aborted me. Before my mom found out that she was pregnant, she had to have an x-ray. For some reason, they forgot to put the protective shield over her abdomen. When my mom discovered that she was pregnant, the doctor was concerned that the baby would be born with birth defects due to the x-rays. The doctor gave my mom and dad the legal and medically accepted solution of abortion. My parents refused because they are Christians. They believed that life is precious and a gift from God.

When my mom was close to delivery and in a great deal of pain, the nurse refused to listen to her. Instead, she gave my mom an epidural. The baby shot back up the birth canal and both my mom and the baby almost died. They were only saved by the forceps that the doctor used to deliver the baby. And that is how I was born.

I’ve only ever told a few people about this story. Mostly, people who know me really well are just glad that I’m alive. One friend had actually been through a similar experience. Her father (and his family) wanted her mother to abort her because she was a girl. Her mother refused and was divorced. She is one of the most gifted, brilliant people I know, and is presently doing her PhD in cancer research.

One reaction that I didn’t expect was the question: “So, is anything wrong with you?” On one hand, I understand it. On the other hand, who are they – or who is anyone – to judge what is “wrong” with a person? I do have things wrong with me; for one thing, I have blood vessels very close to the surface of my skin from the forceps. I’ve been asked why I don’t get surgery to remove them; I reply by telling them my story. My story reminds me that my life is a miracle.

Despite my appearance and some health problems, I’m still worthwhile, wonderful, and special in my own way. And no one that I know of would ever wish that I had never been born, or declare that I am unworthy of life.

Sometimes I wonder if maybe all the medical problems I have are due to that one x-ray. I wonder if the miracle of my birth hasn’t been overshadowed by a mistake. And I ask myself, couldn’t God have stopped it from happening? But God doesn’t make mistakes. And when I think about my life, my family, my friends, and life in general, I know that none of it is unplanned. God blessed me with life, and now I have the opportunity to bless others.

So, I’m passionate about life. And things that threaten life – mainly abortion, suicide, and abuse – they hurt me. One of the biggest lies I’ve ever encountered is the one that my life is my own; what I do with my life won’t hurt anyone else. It’s a lie. Abortion hurts everyone; so many of my friends have been hurt by having abortions. I wish many times that I could have stopped them. My cousin’s suicide in my second year of university left me vowing to never have a friend feel like they have no one to turn to. Even right now, I’m living in a community where people hurt themselves and each other on a fairly regular basis. There is an incredible lack of self-esteem or value of human life. It’s sad and it blows my mind. I want them to see that they are special; God has a plan for each of them, regardless of what parents, nurses, doctors, or even themselves, think. Because God made them; that fact makes their lives precious, planned, purposeful…

And beautiful.

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The power of the tongue

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With a new year upon us, I think it’s always important to take the time to reflect on the past year and think of how we can forge ahead in the new year to come. One of the things that I am ever so mindful of, and I really want to implement in 2013, is the power of the tongue. This is what I mean: I am a firm believer that the power of life and death is in the tongue. The words that we speak over our own lives and the words that we allow other people to speak in our own lives have tremendous impact on how we live our lives. I know that personally, I am very good at negative self-talk. Words like “you’re such a failure”, “you won’t make it” or “no one can ever love you for who you truly are because you’re worthless” are unfortunately, a major part of my vocabulary. Who needs enemies when you clearly are your own worst enemy! Studying the Sacred Scriptures has helped me realize how wrong this is. Hatred, either directed towards self or others, should never be tolerated nor condoned. In the same way that these negative self-talks have profoundly affected me and given me a warped sense of self, it is the positive affirmations from others that have helped restore my heart and my soul. I remember when my friend told me that she thought I was wise and how my actions do not go unnoticed. Or when another told me that he appreciated me for who I am. I still remember when I got an e-mail from my professor who I asked to be my Ph.D. thesis supervisor and was talking about doing future collaborative projects with me. I remember thinking “I can’t believe he wants to work with me!” I guess I’ve looked down on myself for so long that I was astonished that someone would want to work with me.

I admit that it’s hard to believe the positivity that other people say about me. However, I am working hard to receive the good words that they have spoken over my life. I am also working hard to make sure that I eliminate saying negativity over my own life. I find it way easier to encourage others than to encourage myself. That needs to change this year. I will be making a more concerted effort to celebrate my mini-victories as I work towards my end goal. I need to re-conceptualize what success means to me because it will definitely NOT look like what others view as success. I want to make sure that I am running my own race and not get so focused on running the race that others want me to run in. At the end of the day, I am accountable for the things I have done and not what others have done. I am responsible for myself and what I do with the time and talents God has given me. It does me no good to get sucked in to ideas of conformity to others’ expectations, as good as they may seem. The words we speak over our lives can be our destiny. Let’s make sure our destiny is one full of love, hope, and redemption.

Encouragement of the Day

“If I obey Jesus Christ, the Redemption of God will rush through me to other lives, because behind the deed of obedience is the Reality of Almighty God.” – Oswald Chambers

Encouragement of the Day

“We make ourselves a ladder out of our vices if we trample the vices themselves underfoot.” – Saint Augustine

Encouragement of the Day

“We do not need the grace of God to stand crises, human nature and pride are sufficient, we can face the strain magnificently; but it does require the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four hours in every day as a saint, to go through drudgery as a disciple, to live an ordinary, unobserved, ignored existence as a disciple of Jesus. It is inbred in us that we have to do exceptional things for God; but we have not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things, to be holy in mean streets, among mean people, and this is not learned in five minutes.” – Oswald Chambers

Encouragement of the Day

“In general, Jesus doesn’t spend a great deal of time qualifying his points and making sure that everybody understands him clearly according to the recent political correctness. I am afraid liberal people are just as trapped in political correctness as are conservatives. Liberals often want you to say what
will be inoffensive to any ego, and their false self is easily offended. (If you do not offend any ego whatsoever, you are supposedly being Christian!) In fact, Jesus offends the rich, the arrogant, the superior, the righteous, and the supposedly orthodox.” – Richard Rohr