What I Do Is Not Who I Am

In one of my older blog posts, you may have read several self-affirmation statements, or what I like to call “I Am” statements. If you’ve read through my list, you’ve probably noticed that in some of those statements, I list down some of the things I do, or how I see myself. For example, “I Am a mom,” “I Am a writer,” “I Am an advocate,” and the list goes on. These are all still true and they are valuable ways of reminding myself that I have self-worth that is not based on others’ views of me. However, these are things I “do,” or more accurately WHAT I see myself to be. These statements do not tell WHO I am as I see myself. The other statements I have made tell the story of who I am and they say that I am more than just what I do. A few examples of this are “I Am loving,” “I Am humble,” “I Am caring,” or “I Am sensitive.” Get the idea?

I bring up this point of what we are versus who we are for a reason. The main reason is that on this Memorial Day weekend, we want to remember and honor those who we are grateful for and who may or may not have gone before us in this life. I’ve listened to many a eulogy at funerals and memorial services, and more often than not, the person paying homage begins their tribute with WHAT the person has done in their lifetime. This is then followed by how the person felt about them. It is in this heartfelt dedication to the deceased that we get a glimpse of WHO he or she was because of how they showed themselves to us. Who we are as individuals is so much more than what we have done in this life, although what we do points to who we are on the inside. This is the second reason I bring up this point. Our identity as a person is not defined by WHAT we are, but rather WHO we are.

There is a danger in relying on the WHAT of our existence to define who we are as an individual. When we define who we are based on what others or what society tells us, for example, we place our personal identity in the hands of external factors. In Melissa Crutchfield’s article “Who Am I? A New Way to Define Identity,” she shows the potential disconnect (see article at https://www.cru.org/train-and-grow/life-and-relationships/who-am-i-a-new-way-to-define-identity.html). Placing our identity, and how we define who we are, in the hands of circumstances is dangerous because situations change… LIFE happens.

If we define who we are based on our careers, or our marital status, or what we have done in life, we allow for those circumstances to dictate our view of self, our self-worth. So if we lose our job, or our marriage fails us, we then find ourselves in a sticky situation of losing the foundation of our self-identity. Our foundation is shaken and must be altered when we place our identity in the hands of the external or on others. Crutchfield tells us that a stable sense of self cannot fully exist when we place our identity in the hands of the external. Having a strong sense of self-identity, on the other hand, can lead to a greater value on our self-worth.

In my The Last Prophet book series, we see several of our main characters go through transformation of finding self-worth and self-identity in the hands of others into finding their identity and worth in who they see themselves to be. It is empowering for the therapist with rejection issues. It is empowering for the over-extended and over-achieving graduate student in media studies to learn how to place her self-worth on who she is as a person rather than what she does as a woman. It is empowering to the former addict who felt that being the attention grabber was the only way the world could see him to finally see that his value was based on whether he liked himself. It is liberating for the internet media star to see that her ability to be a mother and social media diva are based on her tenacity and love for life, and not on the number of “likes” or “hits” on social media sites and YouTube.

When we confuse who we are with what we do, we also run the risk of believing the perpetual lie that we must continually be better than someone else. Better house, better job, better-looking spouse, more possessions, more money… and the list goes on! Believing the lie that we must have better or more is a constant battle that we will never win. We never win because it is a lie. When we buy into the lie that what we do (or what we possess) defines who we are, we will never choose happiness because we are too busy choosing to let the external give us our identity. Stop the madness, I say! Believe instead that no one else was created to be YOU. Who YOU are is something YOU define, and that is a choice of will. To quote Dr. Seuss, “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.”

To give you an idea of what all this means to me, this is how I define WHO I Am…I AM Divine Love Image

I Am serene.

I Am sensitive.

I Am humorous.

I Am understanding

I Am empathetic and empathic.

I Am honest.

I Am lovely.

I Am faithful.

I Am loved.

How do you define who you are? What are your I Am statements? Comment in the space provided.

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The Greatness of Being Average

I’ve always considered myself to be an “average” gal. I’d even go so far as to say I’m relatively plain and ordinary. While I’m not ugly, I certainly am not a stunning beauty. I earned good grades in school, but I didn’t win any scholarships through my academics to send myself to college. I play two musical instruments and sing in choirs, but I know I won’t be getting any record deals in the near future. I came to see myself as just being… here. As an average person, I used to think that I was too mediocre and ordinary to make a huge difference in the world. Growing up, it was always the celebrities, the latest scientific discoveries, even the rich and famous who were seen as extraordinary or special. I never saw myself as special, and certainly not capable of getting a second look.

That same mentality carried over into adulthood, even after I’d married a tall and handsome man and had two adorable little boys that girls go gaga over. My husband and my sons are good-looking males, while I felt as if I was easily ignored for my lack-luster appearance. I was a plain Jane surrounded by gorgeous Gretas. I became the type of person who preferred to blend into the background and camouflaged into the scenery. I felt safe and comfortable there. It wasn’t until I had a chat with one of my former students about how she was feeling about herself. I’d spent a good hour with her talking about how she saw herself.

Jennifer* had come to see herself the same way I had seen myself all those years – plain, forgettable… you get it. In talking with her, I told her that I disagreed with her own self-estimation. Jennifer was not plain, but rather pretty in appearance, especially when she smiled. She was also a hard-working and intelligent student with aspirations to pursue the field of sports medicine or psychology in college and she had the academic records to do so. Above all, Jennifer was loved by her family, friends, and even strangers she extended kindness to on a daily basis. Jennifer was average, but in her own way she was extraordinary through that “average-ness.”

I watched this young lady as her shoulders slumped, and then I heard my voice tell her something I should have taken as sound advice for myself. “Average doesn’t mean you don’t have value,” I said. I continued to tell Jennifer that she may not have been destined for fame and fortune, but she possessed a greatness in what she did in each and every ordinary day in her own way. The same holds true for each of us. In fact, being average means you are able to do just as much for the people in your personal life, if not more, than someone who is famous and well-known. I began thinking of it in this way…

When I was a child, the people I heard about who I loved watching were famous folks on television. BUT, when it came to the ones I admired or who inspired me, those were the everyday people in my life. They were teachers, choir directors, volunteers at my school or church… in other words, “average” folks. Yes, they did everyday, simple things and were very ordinary people like you and I, but what they taught me, what they said, how they treated me, and how they treated others made a much more lasting impact on my life than any rock star, actress, or historical figure ever could. Why? Because they took time with me as part of their day, and included me as part of their life. They did a very simple and average thing, and made it extraordinary.I AM Divine Love Image

Kay Warren, wife to famous Christian Pastor, Rick Warren, said it best when she said that God loves to use average people all the time (see her devotional contribution at http://proverbs31.org/devotions/devo/god-loves-to-use-average-people). Trusting in our Creator, or Higher Power, that we are created on purpose and for a purpose means that even being average can be an amazing thing. We may not be on television or the radio as a celebrity, but we can make a lasting impression and be someone special to one person. When we begin to see ourselves as valuable and worth existing, even in our ordinariness, we then begin to realize that we already possess a greatness and power to do great things (albeit in our own circle as opposed to the bigger circle of the entire world).

Such situations of the average life becoming extraordinary are written throughout my book series, The Last Prophet (Books One through Four). Take an average, hard-working, and compassionate therapist such as the main character, Dr. Sophia Randall, and place her in situations where she can make an impact on the people she encounters in her life (people of all walks of life), and you have given her the opportunity to make her average life memorable among those she helps. Her career may be one of being a quiet helper in a clinic, but her encounters with her patients show how this seemingly unknown woman become the chosen last prophet in the fiction series.

Trust that even as an average person, you can do great things, one life and one person at a time. We may not see those moments happen, but we can still plant the seed for something beautiful to bloom by simply being. Being is enough. Who we are is enough – more than enough. So it really is true that ordinary is extraordinary to the one who believes they matter. Average is greatness for the one who acts with great love and intention out of goodness.

How will you shine greatness in the average life? What ways can you make the ordinary extraordinary? Comment in the space provided.

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* Names have been changed to protect identity

Our Presence When Words Fail Us

Last week I had the arduous task of tackling a stack of items inside my “file it later” drawer at work. As I was filing, I came across several items, photos, and articles that had me taking a long walk down memory lane. Among them was an email I printed from a friend who, several years ago, had lost her husband to a rare form of brain cancer, Glioblastoma Multi-forma (GBM for short). My friend Melinda* had moved to Milwaukee from California in order to be with her new husband, John*, and after 10 years of marriage, her love and soulmate passed on. I remembered the many messages we’d exchanged and updates she’d given on John’s progress through Chemotherapy.

When she’d finally lost her beloved after suffering for well over a year, I didn’t know what to say. I did know for certain, however, that a message was not enough and I needed to talk with her over the phone. Being so many miles apart in her grieving hours, I felt somewhat inept and had no idea how to comfort her. Fortunately, she had already done a lot of her crying in silence. When her voice came over the phone we talked about John, and about her life with John. I was not physically in her presence, but I offered her what I could through my attentive ear and listening heart. I “stayed” with Melinda for a good two hours on the phone. I realized on that night I spoke with Melinda, that I gave her something that my words could not possibly done to comfort her – I gave her my presence.

Over the years, I have done the same for others who needed my presence. These past two years specifically, I gave more of my presence to my dad who suffered two heart attacks and the rejection of part of our family. When my dad had his first heart attack and no one could be at the hospital with him on Mother’s Day, I traveled for well over an hour to be with him at UCLA Harbor Medical Center. My dad was weak, unable to speak with all the tubes and catheters connected to him, but what he was able to do was hold my hand. In turn, I also held and squeezed his hand. The only words I knew to speak were, “Dad, I’m here.” I was there. The gift of my presence spoke volumes to my dad, especially since I chose to see him on the day meant for my own family to celebrate me as a mother. My words failed me, but my presence to my dad told him what he needed to know – that he is loved by his daughter and he is not alone in his healing.304737_4014893424896_536202511_n

One might wonder if words are necessary in times when physical presence alone is needed for comforting or consoling an individual. In these two examples alone, I am convinced that (for me) being there and sitting with a person sometimes says all you need to say. Helpguide.org’s number one tip on assisting a grieving person is to listen with compassion, which in itself means to sit with them, or be present to them (see full article at https://www.helpguide.org/articles/grief-loss/supporting-a-grieving-person.htm). My favorite piece of advice is to be willing to sit in silence.

When a grieving person doesn’t feel like talking, it is not advised for us to push, especially if they don’t know what to say. Often, comfort for them comes from simply being in your company, your presence. Just as important is offering eye contact, squeezing their hand, or giving a reassuring hug. Physical, and emotional presence, and human contact with another is consoling to one who is still in shock in their grief or mourning. The same is true for those who have just had a major illness strike them, leaving them unable to care for themselves. Such was the case for my dad. Again… when words fail us, our presence is powerful.

In my book series, The Last Prophet, having another’s presence, with or without the use of words, is a powerful tool in comforting, consoling, and reassuring souls that may be hurting. It is true for our main character, the prophetess, and for each of the characters she encounters as part of their healing process. One does not have to be eloquent and have an extensive vocabulary when they eventually do use words. As stated earlier, sometimes simply stating that you are “there” is more than enough. No other words need to be conveyed to show that you are there. Your touch, your voice, your presence… these are enough.

Who do you need to be present for today? Who will you be “there” for when words fail? Comment in the space provided.

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* Names have been changed to protect identity

The Benefits of Storytelling

Having worked in the field of higher education and counseling for the better part of 25 years, I’ve learned a few things here and there. The most important is my style of connecting with people. It is little wonder that my love of writing and publishing books first came when I realized I had a special gift of storytelling. As a counselor, higher education administrator, and autism mom and advocate, I have learned this special art form and discovered how powerful it can be.

My students and staff have come to know me as the storyteller. Church friends and fellow ministers often joke about how I have a story about almost everything under the sun. My only response to them is that I have had a lot happen in my brief 40+ years of life. Everyone’s favorite story so far seems to be the one where I believed I was Mexican the first 10 years of my life only to be rudely awakened one summer and discovering I was actually full-blooded Filipino. Another crowd pleaser was the time when I was 22 years old I thought I should learn how to ski only to injure myself before even getting on the ski lift (which, by the way, I still do NOT know how to ski and that is the end of that story).

Have you ever wondered why listening to a well-told story helps you to remember? Or even better, why we are hooked on stories when a person is telling them from first hand experience? I believe it is because stories, both good and bad experiences from them, bring us together. Through stories we share a connection. There’s more to listening to and loving a good story. Actually, as human beings, we actually can feel a story. According to Jeremy Adam Smith’s article The Science of the Story (see full article at http://www.dailygood.org/story/1308/the-science-of-the-story-jeremy-adam-smith), experiencing a story can alter our neurochemical processes and stories can be powerful enough to shape human behavior.11001823_585385718263256_3114437338239748662_n

Our very bodies can tell us that we are reacting to a story in many ways. Take for example a thrilling chapter (or several) from the latest book in The Last Prophet book series by Claire Gager (ahem… yours truly). If you ended up reading a chapter where the archangels are in a heated battle with demons, and you can visualize all that you are reading, chances are your brain will release oxytocin and your body will feel the equivalent of an adrenaline rush. In the same way, you can also experience great sadness from a tragedy that occurs. You may sympathize with the main characters who have just lost someone they love dearly, and a part of their experience as fictitious characters touches something in you that makes you tear up.

Stories are powerful, and they have the ability to alter our mood in both good and bad ways. I choose to focus on the lesson to be learned from a story I have to share. The stories we tell ourselves can also change the way we view our lives. Human beings are social creatures. We were not created to live in isolation. This is why stories are important. When we share stories with one another, we are sharing a part of ourselves and opening ourselves up to others to let them into our world as well. Doing this brings that connection I spoke of earlier.

How many times have you heard someone tell of a recent incident that occurred (a story), and you found yourself saying, “Hey, that happened to me too!” That, my friend, is a connection made. You have just shared something and discovered a commonality between the two of you. Or, do you remember a time when someone shared a tragedy that happened (another story), and you felt so badly for them you even teared up a little and sat with them until you both stopped crying? Again, another connection made, and possibly a new friend made. Sharing and telling a story draws us closer to others, and can lift us up (or knock us down). What we choose to tell in our story is within our control, and we can control what we send out into the Universe.

What kinds of stories do you have to share? What stories affect you most? Comment in the space provided.

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The Sisterhood of Success

The other day I overheard a conversation between two women at work that made me see an ugly green monster. I’m sure you’ve seen it too. That monster usually goes by the name of jealousy. As experienced and accomplished as I have become in my own right, that ugly green monster sometimes rears its ugly head. The two women were young, and one of them recently completed her Master’s in Public Administration. The other woman asked if her friend was going to pursue a doctoral degree, and her friend promptly replied that she planned on it so that she could finish all her goals before she got married and had kids. She added afterwards that she didn’t want to be tied down, since she would feel like she had not succeeded in all she had wanted to. This last comment is what made me see that green monster.

I was tempted to turn around and tell this young woman that I had also done all those things AND I was married and have children. I wanted her to know I had accomplished them as well. I stopped myself from turning around in the hallway and unleashing my verbal list of qualifications on this poor lady, especially since I wasn’t supposed to be listening in on their conversation anyway. Why was it so important to toot my horn? I had to ask myself this, and it bothered me that I couldn’t figure it out. God has a funny way of showing me answers to my why questions. I often compare myself to others, falsely believing that if another woman is accomplishing something then that meant there would be nothing left for me. That simply is not true.

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The Reading Corner, Book Two

As author of The Last Prophet book series and other fiction book titles, I have had to learn to be happy for the success of other fellow authors. We all have a passion for writing and sharing the stories inside of us. If one author succeeds, it does not mean that others will not. It simply means that some people liked what they read. Someday that success will come to us other authors. In the meantime, it serves no purpose to feel jealous or to feel like a failure. I like to refer to this bond with other authors as the Fellowship of Writers. I took it one step further after listening to several women who are also successful. I call it the Sisterhood of Success. Instead of comparing ourselves to other people, it would be much healthier to compare ourselves to an earlier version of ourselves. Rather than looking outside of oneself, we should look inside and to our past self to make the comparison.

In an article by Sonya Derian for Tiny Buddha (see full blogpost at http://tinybuddha.com/blog/stop-comparing-yourself-to-others), Derian gives reasons why we should stop comparing ourselves to others and instead focus on being a better version of ourselves. One way to begin focusing on ourselves is to ask:  How have I continued to become a better or improved version of myself? By asking the question how, it forces us to see the steps or the process we have gone through to be the best person we could be. Derian also states that no amount of affirmations or compliments will be meaningful to us, until we are able to be okay with ourselves. Essentially, we have to love ourselves and be okay with who and what we are before we can expect others to feel that way about us.

So instead of comparing myself to other women, I am choosing to be proud and happy with myself, and choosing to cheer on and affirm my sisters in their successes. I lose nothing from cheering them on, just as I gain nothing from shooting them down. We are all just trying to be okay with ourselves.

Much like the young woman earlier in the week, I also have an advanced degree, and several years ago I had begun my doctoral degree. However, life happens, and I found myself unable to fulfill that dream of a doctorate. When my life became “full” with two autistic children, an unemployed husband, and aging and sickly parents, I had to make several sacrifices. Did I want a doctorate? Yes. Did I need it to be successful in the career and the life I lived? No, but it would have felt really good to tout it in front of people who judged me. When that ugly green monster of jealousy reared its ugly head, I had to quickly check myself. Why was I feeling jealous? I knew it was coming from a place of self-criticism.

No, I didn’t complete my doctoral program, but I gave it up in order to be the best mom and wife I could be while having the career I have. Am I as free to travel, go out to concerts, or be as spontaneous to just “leave” whenever I want? No, but I am living an adventure in and of itself with both of my autistic sons, and we are creating lasting memories as a family. Did I compromise my dreams? Yes, but I traded them in for something even better, and I know this to be true whenever I hear my children laughing as they play or give me hugs. Compared to the woman I was 20 years ago, I am even more successful than I could have dreamed of, and I am a better person than I was 20 years ago.I AM Divine Love Image

I Am patient; more patient than I could’ve ever thought I could be. I Am strong; stronger than I was as a younger woman without a family. I Am accomplished; my success is not determined by material goods or fame, but rather in memories, my reputation and integrity, and the joy in my heart. I Am happy; happier because I live a lot simpler life despite troubles that may come my way. Because I am able to affirm and be okay with myself, I am able to contribute to the Sisterhood of Success, and be content with hearing others’ successes.

Do you need to stop comparing yourself to others? Are you the person today you wanted to be 3, 5, or 10 years ago? How will you affirm others in their success? Comment in the space provided.

To follow Blogs by Claire simply sign up at https://authorclairegager.wordpress.com, or subscribe to the monthly updates on my author page at http://starofsolitude.wix.com/authorclairegager. You can also follow Author Claire Gager at one of her social media sites:

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Listening to a Heart Speak

Over the years, I have had the privilege of working with thousands of young adults and teens, serving in the capacity of an advisor, a counselor, and a mentor. One of the skills I learned very early on was to listen with more than just my ears. You may be thinking, “Um, aren’t ears necessary for listening to a person?” True as that may be, there is something more that we as human beings are blessed to be able to hear and listen with: our hearts.

As a counselor and advisor, I was trained to look for body language as it coincided with a person’s words. Growing that skill served me well as I counseled teens or college-aged young adults who were dealing with feelings of low self-worth, or identity crisis. As a mentor, that skill translated into even better understanding of those I trained in the field of advocacy and showing them how to look for actions that matched words. However, as a friend, family member, and parent, I learned from those I helped in my personal life how to listen with my heart.

The other day, I had a conversation with a young woman whom I had befriended three years ago. She is a young woman with a physical disability who has overcome a tremendous amount of obstacles in her brief 30 years of life. She is someone I admire for her resilience, perseverance, and strength. She truly is someone with the will and determination to survive and to thrive. Currently, she is a college student who is completing her last two classes in Human Development and Education, and I know her personal experiences and education will serve her well.

She and I were having what I considered a relatively light conversation when the topic of the relationships and the future of her family (i.e., her parents, siblings, and niece). My friend, Leanne*, has learned how to be mostly independent and function without little or no assistance from anyone. The rare occasion when she does need assistance she has become comfortable with explaining her condition and what she needs help in doing at that moment and time.

In our conversation, she mentioned an annual event that she would be attending with her family in Las Vegas, Nevada. Leanne mentioned that the last time she went to this annual music event with her brothers, she needed some assistance with getting ready for a night out. My friend had asked a relative who had come with them last year if she could help her get ready. Her brothers, although older than her, have never had to care for their sister physically and found it difficult to understand why Leanne needed to ask for help. They were embarrassed, but later felt remorseful for their reaction when they saw the level of and type of assistance Leanne was asking for from their relative.

In our conversation about this memory, Leanne explained that she worried that her siblings would never understand what it meant to have to take care of a child with disabilities. I tried to make sense of the comment and it didn’t hit me until the subject of her niece came up. Leanne’s niece is 2 years old, going on 3 years old very soon. Zaira*, Leanne’s niece, is non-verbal in communication, but has learned to communicate with her mother and all other adults through sign language. Leanne’s sister is a young single mom who is working hard to support her daughter. Other than Leanne, there has never been another relative or sibling with a disability. While Leanne did not mention her concerns over her niece’s inability to speak and her sister’s lack of experience in caring for a disabled child, Leanne’s heart was asking for advice, and possibly intervention.

Our conversation ended with me giving her several pieces of advice on how to begin working with Zaira, as well as an offer to mediate between Leanne, her parents, and her family. While I may not be an expert on disabilities, I am an experienced mediator and counselor when it comes to families in crisis. If I had not learned how to listen with my heart, I would have missed the things Leanne was not saying with her mouth. My friend had allowed me to see a piece of her heart and let me in to a private place so that I could help her somehow.

How does one learn to listen with their heart and not just their ears? Several website articles will most likely say it’s simply a matter of listening to your gut-feeling, or not to neglect your intuition. While that is good advice, complete with step-by-step instructions on how to meditate and hone in on your heart’s voice, it shouldn’t be so complicated. This is especially true when the heart you wish to listen to belongs to someone you care about. The best piece of advice I had seen came from Karen Ehman in her devotional on March 13, 2017 (see full article at http://proverbs31.org/devotions/devo/how-to-hear-a-heart-drop). In Ehman’s article she proposes a few simple and easy ways to learn to listen to another’s heart speaking. More than just listening, but also learning to respond.

  1. Learn to pay attention and live alert to others. This means you have to put yourself in a state of mind and body that is fully present to the person you are listening to in front of you.
  2. Responding to the other person with a thoughtful gesture that reassures your sincerity. You can do this by a reassuring word, a gentle hand on the shoulder, or by sending a handwritten note if the environment does not lend itself to speaking or physical closeness.
  3. Notice, respond, and echo your heart’s response to the person. This final step takes the first two, and completes it with a course of action you will take to show the other person that they are not alone.

In my book series, The Last Prophet, our main character, a therapist, has learned this skill of listening to hearts speaking. Dr. Sophia Randall developed this skill not just from her training, but because she herself has learned the importance of being fully present to a person. When our attention and focus is not torn away by technology or worries (e.g., cell phone, things we left behind unfinished at home or at work, etc.), then we are able to give our whole self to hearing with our ears and listening with our heart. This holds true for anyone, not just those of us who counsel.10570282_10153119467343957_4641436977236615416_n

After my conversation with Leanne several weeks ago, I continued to listen to her heart speak to me. Now, she feels more comfortable with me and just tells me directly what her concern is. In those instances, when she lets her heart speak instead of her words, my heart is also all ears.

Whose heart is speaking to you today? How will you respond? Comment in the space provided.

To follow Blogs by Claire simply sign up at https://authorclairegager.wordpress.com, or subscribe to the monthly updates on my author page at http://starofsolitude.wix.com/authorclairegager. You can also follow Author Claire Gager at one of her social media sites:

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*Names have been changed to protect identity.

 

What Disappointment Teaches Us

Let-downs. Broken promises. Betrayals. Call it what you will, but one word can sum all these up in the very feeling we get: Disappointment. It can be an ugly feeling, eating away at our very core like a gnawing sensation from our stomach. As unpleasant and unhappy we may feel from disappointments, there is (believe it or not) a silver lining to this grey cloud. Most of the time, that silver lining comes in the form of actual lessons we learn from the experience. I have a very recent example of such a situation.

Over the course of 10 years, I had developed a friendship with someone I met at work that I had hoped would blossom into something beyond collegial camaraderie. We met approximately once or twice a week and chatted about life, our jobs, and family. We worked in different departments, but our offices were close and I figured why not make nice with the person sharing our same floor space in the building. This friend happened to be a commissioned officer in the National Guard, and was actually working for the university as a Military Science assistant professor, and Army recruiter. I learned a lot in those 10 years, not just about my friend, but about how the U.S. military works.

Two years ago, my friend told me he would be reassigned to a different institution, but that he was not willing to go. A month after he told me this, he mysteriously (or not so mysteriously) stopped coming to work. Rumors among his immediate colleagues began to surface that he had committed an act of insubordination to his commanding officer and was given a choice to retire (a nice way of saying “forced retirement”). While there was no evidence of the rumors being true, what was disappointing to me was that my friend never once confided in me that he would not be returning. Even more disappointing was that he cut all ties in our communication.

No replies to my text messages. No replies to my emails. Forget social media, since he was so old school that he didn’t like touching computers and barely learned how to operate his new iPhone that his wife bought him. He just vanished. I was disappointed that I felt more strongly about our friendship than he apparently did. I also felt betrayed. The lesson I learned, my silver lining, is that I learned something from him over the course of 10 years, and it was not time that was wasted in the long run.

Each of us can and have learned from the disappointments in our lives, even more so if that disappointment ends a relationship like my experience showed. An article written by J.B. Cachila in the Life section of Christian Today points to some lessons we can take from disappointments, but from the standpoint the prophet Samuel of King Saul (see http://www.christiantoday.com/article/3.lessons.that.we.can.learn.from.samuels.disappointment.with.saul/89085.htm for full article). These lessons, are still applicable today in any situation and for any person (royals and otherwise):

Lesson #1:  Feeling Sadness over someone who has disappointed us is natural and completely okay… but don’t stay there. Mourn if you must, but remember that tomorrow is a new day and with each new day is a new beginning. Self-pity and woe will not serve you or help you move forward.

Lesson #2:  The show must go on. Just because someone has not followed through or something fell through (e.g., a broken promise), things still have to get done and life continues on. You (and me) continue to exist beyond the sting of disappointment. Put your big girl pants on and walk on like a boss!

Lesson #3:  Do not beat yourself up for someone else’s failure. Recognize your role in what you can control, and change THAT. But do not blame yourself for something that you did not do. Likewise, do not give more power to a situation you cannot change.forgiveness_2

Disappointment and lessons learned from it can happen to anyone. In The Last Prophet, Michael’s Mission (Book Two), one of the main characters experienced great disappointment in how he handled a situation with the prophetess, Sophia Randall. Sophia’s guardian protector, Gabriel, felt sadness and disappointment in a particular situation and felt very cast out. Though he poured his heart out before the Tabernacle, it took the encouragement, reassurance, and reality check of his brother to help see the guardian protector through and to profess the truth to the prophetess about their future and the mission they shared.

While some of our disappointments may not be as monumental as the main characters of my books, they still happen. If you are reading this blog, then my guess is that your survival rate from disappointments you’ve experienced in the past has been 100%. The human spirit is incredibly resilient, and able to move beyond set-backs. That is all they are… set-backs, with little or no lasting permanence. In the words of Friedrich Nietzsche, “That which does not kill you will make you stronger.” Enough said.

What lessons have you learned from disappointments? Comment in the space provided.

To follow Blogs by Claire simply sign up at https://authorclairegager.wordpress.com, or subscribe to the monthly updates on my author page at http://starofsolitude.wix.com/authorclairegager. You can also follow Author Claire Gager at one of her social media sites:

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Email: claire_gager@hotmail.com

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