A Story from The Costco Gas Pump

As anyone who gets gas at Costco knows, the wait is long and people’s patience often wears thin. I’m third in line now, with the two cars in front of me each pulling up to their respective pumps.

The first guy gets out. He’s young, black, and wearing a mask.

The second, I’m frustrated with because he’s taking much longer to get out of his car. I see his door open and two feet slowly touch the ground, one and then another. He’s at least 90 years old, white, and contrastingly, not wearing a mask. 

The first guy is noticing him too. He doesn’t exactly look steady.

Then the first guy begins emphatically waving down a gas station attendant. I know he’s seeking help for the older one because I watch him peek around the pump for an attendant and then quickly back to the guy. As we both now wait for assistance, he appears to keep his eyes on the older gentleman, as if standing at the ready, should he need some help. 

My own eyes start to well up. The first guy isn’t in a rush to get gas and get gone, like I am. He’s present, and caring for a fellow human being. He doesn’t care that the guy is white. He doesn’t care that he’s not wearing a mask. He cares because he sees a man in need. 

If I were a news journalist, perhaps my headline would be, “Young Masked Black Man Comes to Old Maskless White Man’s Aid at Costco Gas Pump.” 

But do any of these details really matter? In today’s times, yes. They shouldn’t. But because we’ve been so increasingly divided over the past 18 months, we rarely hear these stories. We see them all the time, but we barely acknowledge them, and we certainly don’t hear about them. Sadly, these stories don’t sell. 

I think they should, though. Because to me, this story is what America (and humanity) is all about. 

How Else Do We Bring Glory to God?

How else do we bring glory to God, 

if not by having hope in a world sown with fear? 

…If not by remaining calm in a sea of chaos 

…If not by knowing peace in the midst of uncertainty, 

how else do we bring glory to God? 

If we don’t offer kindness in a society full of hate 

…If we don’t act with gentleness in a world that pursues power 

…If we don’t call upon His name, sing His praises, and dance in worship, 

how else do we bring glory to God?

If we don’t use whatever gift we have, with all the strength God gives, to serve others, 

how else do we bring glory to God? 

Stillness

Learning to sit with conflict and uncertainty is a skill, much like riding a bike.

When you feel like you’re falling, steer into the fall. Lean into it instead of away, and you’ll be alright.

Have you ever tried making decisions when you’re upset or uncertain? It’s extremely trying.

Sometimes, the best thing we can do for ourselves is to stop making decisions altogether. To learn to just sit and listen to the still, small voice that’s says don’t run. Don’t lean away. Take each day as it comes. One at a time. Lean into the not knowing. Carry on, because everything is going to be okay.

When You Start to Feel, Do.

Recently I have been reading, Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite passages from her book, ones that I find especially wise and/or inspirational.

The below is paraphrasing but I think her point remains.

“When you start to feel, do… When you start to feel unloved, go find someone to offer love. When you start to feel unappreciated, go find someone to appreciate and acknowledge. When you feel unlucky, make yourself write down two recent blessings.”

The point is, to not let yourself wallow. This strategy of, “When you start to feel, do” is fascinating and new to me. It seems to be based on the underlying premise that we’re all connected, a belief which I hold dear. It makes sense to me as a concrete and tangible way to sidestep wallowing and overthinking ourselves into despair.

When you start to feel, do.

Control vs. Letting Go

There are really two ways of going about our day to day lives.

Either we’re striving and trying to maintain control (a fruitless effort, by the way, which leaves us exhausted). Or we’re relinquishing control to God, and trusting that He will bring us what we need each day.

There’s a distinct and noticeable difference between how good our days are, depending on which mode of being in which we’re acting.

When we’re striving, the people around us can tell. It says to them that there is something more important which we need to accomplish. Something more important than being present with them and letting God work. When we’re trusting God with all of our needs and desires, we’re at rest. And people around us can see this, too. They wonder how we’ve found such peace within the whirlwind of our daily lives. We’re a living testament of what it’s like to know God.

What it really boils down to, is that all of our striving and trying to gain control, makes the statement: “I don’t trust God.” And that hurts Him.

He’s already proven to us His goodness, grace, and love. Why would we not trust Him to take care of us on a daily basis?

Life becomes so much easier when we learn to let go, and let God. With every single aspect of our lives.

If you want to write, read.

The number one advice I have for other people interested in become better writers, is to read.

I find it fascinating that whenever I’m going through a dry spell in my writing, I’m going through a drought in my reading.

The opposite is also true. As soon as I begin reading a new book, the creative inspiration and ideas begin to consume me in such a way that I have no other choice but to write.

The two activities are directly and positively correlated.

Reading serves as mental stimulation. It provides us with renewed inspiration.

As a general rule, we are readers first. And writers second.

So if you want to write, read.

A Woman being pursued is most beautiful

Have you ever noticed how a woman is most beautiful when she’s being pursued? When she’s falling in love…

This is because that’s when a woman’s most important questions are being answered. At the core of every woman are the questions of, “Am I beautiful? Am I captivating? Am I worth fighting for?”

When a woman is being pursued, she lights up from inside because her questions are being answered. Yes, you are beautiful, captivating, and worth fighting for!

Think of Toula in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. When Ian finds her and begins to romance her, she comes alive. There’s a new shimmer in her eyes and her beauty begins to radiates from within.

Contrastingly, when a woman feels unloved and not worth pursuing, her inner light dims. She goes about her days hiding her innate beauty, believing that she’s not beautiful or worth it.

What if we could have this glow that comes from our most important questions being answered, regardless of our circumstances?

We can.

In fact, as women, we’re supposed to.

We were designed to be beautiful, radiating, captivating, and worth pursuing.

And guess what? The God of angel’s armies is totally and completely in love with us. He’s pursuing us everyday. He thinks we’re captivating, beautiful and worth fighting for.

The Creator of the universe has already answered all of our most important questions!

If we can truly understand and internalize this truth, then we become free to share our beauty with the world and our inner radiance will never go dull again.

Women of the world, we’re beautiful.

 

New Year Resolutions

New year resolutions are a funny thing. They’re usually abstract goals with no real objectives attached to them and thus, they rarely stick.

I think we should call them new year habits instead. Because this is what we’re really after, right? To rid ourselves of old habits that no longer serve us and form new, better and healthier habits in their place.

We’re creatures of habit. Whether we want to go to the gym more, eat healthier, or spend more time with friends, if we want the change to be long lasting, it needs to become a habit.

Research says it only takes two weeks to form a habit. So if we do something every day for two weeks, it’ll likely become a routine part of our life.

This is my hope for you, for everyone, and for myself. That we form new habits. Habits that will serve to further our goals for the year ahead.

Happy New Year!

To Whom Much Is Given, Much Is Expected

I’ve never understood when artists are greedy, and yet I meet so many who are. It’s ironic since essentially artists are in the business of sharing- their talents, struggles, joys, and journeys. But if the main motivation behind sharing your talent is because you expect money in return, then your passion is money, not music. And you’re in the wrong business. I strongly believe that as artists, we’re given gifts and it’s our duty to share them, even if that means holding three jobs down to be able to do so. In the end, you have to know and believe that your gift alone is a treasure worth far more than any amount of money. And to whom much is given, much is expected…

The Pattern of Personal Growth

Have you ever noticed how your greatest moments of personal growth occur?

There’s a pattern to it, I’m convinced.

First, a challenge. A challenging life circumstance or situation. Something comes at us sideways when we least expect it. A loss. Break up. Health problem. We don’t feel equipped to handle it, yet somehow we do. We’re faced with an obstacle and we pull through.

But we haven’t grown yet.

Next comes vulnerability. We share our experience of this challenge with another person. In all of our raw honesty, we open ourself up to another. We share in our weaknesses and by doing so, we experience vulnerability.

Then we reflect. Only after a difficult challenge and shared vulnerability, can we pause to really reflect about what exactly we’ve just been through. What we’ve grown through. How we’ve grown. And in our reflection, finally, our great moment of personal growth arrives. Clothed in compassion and humility. Void of all judgment. An “Aha” moment.

Challenge. Vulnerability. Reflection. In that order.

I believe that all of our greatest personal growth experiences follow this pattern.