There is this mean-looking guy who works at my local grocery store. He works in the produce department and mainly works the evening shift which is usually when I go grocery shopping. He’s probably in this late 40’s and has a lot of tattoos all over his arms. He’s a little shorter than me & not a very big man so he doesn’t look menacing or anything like that. At first glance he appears to be very “scruffy looking” and just not the type of person you’d want stacking the same fruit that you’ll eventually be putting in your mouth. He never looks up and when I look at him he doesn’t crack a smile, let alone speak. He is definitely not the poster boy for customer service.
I’ve asked him for assistance once or twice before – mainly to find out when the new fruit would be unloaded or to figure out which fruit is currently in season – and he was pretty curt with me every time. I’ve never done anything to him & felt like the way he spoke to me was rude enough to bring it to his manager’s attention.
Last week I was in the grocery store picking out my usual assortment of fruits for my smoothies when there he was – the rude produce guy. When I looked at him to see if he was going to snub me for no reason, I was surprised to hear him greet me. Over a mound of oranges, he actually spoke to me. I couldn’t believe it! Was he talking to someone else around me? Nope he sure wasn’t, he was talking to me! After I said hello back I told him how taken aback I was by his greeting to which he explained that he hadn’t been himself in a while and was just now starting to feel better.
At this point in the conversation, I’m intrigued and want to know exactly what he’s talking about. It turns out that his mother recently passed and he was grieving her greatly. He went on to say that he just couldn’t seem to get past it and was doing the best he could just to show up at work every day and to keep himself together. He said he wasn’t a mean person by nature but he had no reason to smile since his mother died. Then he flashed me the biggest smile I’ve ever seen in a grocery store!
Boy, did I feel bad! Here I thought that he was a disgruntled fruit-man who hated his job, hated his life and could go “postal” at any moment. Clearly I was wrong. He was just a man that missed his mother. His rough exterior was a mere facade for the pain he was feeling on the inside. You can’t fault anyone for that.
The moral of this story is that you can never judge a book by its cover. You never know who is going through something so be nice to as many people as you can!
1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short – enjoy it.
4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don’t have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.
7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first pay check.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye, but don’t worry, God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.
18. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It’s never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ‘In five years, will this matter?’
27. Always choose life.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.
35. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative of dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have, not what you need
42. The best is yet to come…
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
45. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.
*Composed by Regina Brett (Cleveland, OH)
“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he…” (Proverbs 23:7, AMP)
TODAY’S WORD from Joel and Victoria
Your imagination is extremely powerful. God created you as a visual being. Choosing the right images in your mind’s eye is important because your life will move in the direction of your most dominant thoughts. The way you see yourself in your mind’s eye, over time, will drop down into your heart and become your reality. If you’ll create a picture in your imagination of the way God sees you, then your life will move in that direction. You have to get your mind into agreement with God’s Word by meditating on it.
Every morning, you should wake up and picture yourself succeeding; picture yourself healthy and whole; picture yourself and your family not only being blessed, but being a bigger blessing to others. If you’ll keep the right images in front of you and always submit yourself to God with prayer and thanksgiving, you’ll see yourself the way God sees you and experience all that He has in store for you!
A PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I come to You today giving every area of my mind and heart to You. Search my heart and show me what images I need to change to be in agreement with You. Thank You for equipping me with everything I need to live a life pleasing to You in Jesus’ name. Amen.
— Joel & Victoria Osteen
Not so many years ago, married men had the freedom to live by one set of rules away from home, and a different set at the hearth. Because they held the power to distribute resources however they wished, they could decide what and when to share them. As women have become legitimate wage earners with more powerful voices, they have challenged their chosen partners to participate in a whole new kind of connection that does not accept automatic hierarchy.
In the last few decades women have slowly driven their point home. The millennial men, who are their current counterparts, are freer thinkers and they have responded in kind in their relationships as well. These men like their women strong and feisty, and have willingly accepted the responsibility to connect in a more vulnerable way. They get it that it’s sexy to help make a meal or take the kids away on a Sunday morning so their wives can sleep in. They are the androgynous guys that their women have asked them to become.
You would think that the women in these new relationships would be ecstatic. They’ve got a guy who wants to work out together, share parenting, support their parallel dreams, and make their family collective central to both of their lives. They’ve established an equal relationship of coordinated teamwork, and the guys don’t seem to miss their old need to posture for power over intimate connections.
Well, guess again. Fifty percent of marriages are still ending in divorce, and women continue to be the gender that initiates those endings. In the past, their reasons for leaving most often had to do with infidelity, neglect, or abuse. Now they’re dumping men who are faithful, attentive, and respectful, the very men they said they have always wanted. Why would women who have accomplished the female dream suddenly not be satisfied with it? Why are they leaving these ideal guys, and for what reasons?
I am currently dealing with several of these great husbands. They are, across the board, respectful, quality, caring, devoted, cherishing, authentic, and supportive guys whose wives have left them for a different kind of man. These once-beloved men make a living, love their kids, help with chores, support aging parents, and support their mate’s desires and interests. They believe they’ve done everything right. They are devastated, confused, disoriented, and heartsick. In a tragic way, they startlingly resemble the disheartened women of the past who were left behind by men who “just wanted something new.”
You may think that these women are ruthless and inconsiderate. Those I know are far from that. More often, they still love their husbands as much as they ever did, but in a different way. They tell me how wonderful their men are and how much they respect them. They just don’t want to be married to them anymore.
Perhaps it would be even more honest to say that they don’t want to be yoked to anyone any more. At least in the traditional ways they once embraced as ideal. They feel compassion for their prior mates, but liberated in their new-found right to create a different way of feeling in relationships. In short, they want to live their lives with the privileges men once had.
I think I understand what is going on.
In the last twenty years, as women have found their voices and value, they have been asking more equality in their relationships. They were ready to take leadership and to disconnect from dependency. In exchange, they wanted their men to adopt nurturing and vulnerable characteristics. At first, there was an expected backlash. “Men are from Mars” and other media presentations became the cry for holding on to the differences between men and women and to keep them from blending.
Nevertheless, it became more and more apparent that quality people of both genders would be happier and more fulfilled if they could combine power and nurturing. Men would develop their feminine side and women their masculine. No longer would it be that the bad boys were sexy and the good women were virtuous. Now quality men needed to add chivalry to their power, and women to claim their ability for independent thinking and leadership. They could imagine a relationship where both were equally blended and free to be the best they could be. “She” and “he” became the new idealized “we.”
As the trend picked up energy, more of the die-hard “men’s men” started to see that the androgynous males were stealing the great girls from under their hard-core posturing, and began to wonder if their “take-no-prisoners” attitude might benefit from a little revising. Women saw their newly developed mates as their best friends, so wonderfully malleable they could take them anywhere and know they would fit in. Men no longer had to “understand and handle” their women, nor did women have to orchestrate “connection.”
Then things started to go awry. Perhaps these androgynous couples over-valued adopting the same behaviors in their relationship. Maybe the men got too nice and the women a little too challenging. Oddly, the androgynous men seemed to like their new-found emotional availability, while the women began to feel more unfulfilled. Her “perfect” partner, in the process of reclaiming his full emotional expressiveness, somehow ended up paying an unfair price; he was no longer able to command the hierarchical respect from her that was once his inalienable right.
How can a man be a caretaker and a warrior at the same time? How can he serve his woman’s need for a partner who is vulnerable, open, and intimate, while donning armor to fight the dangers that threaten his family and place in the world? How can he stand up and be a man amongst men, loyal to the hunting band that covers his back, while taking the night feeding, while not appearing less than a man? Did he blend his male energy with his female side, or did he learn to be more like a female at the price of his innate masculinity?
The women I have treated who have left their husbands for more “masculine” men believed that their new relationships would be able to both excite and nurture them. Sadly, that has not always happened. The veritable saint with balls is as elusive as ever.
When things haven’t worked out as they thought they would, several of the women I am now working with are re-thinking their decisions, wondering if they left too soon, or for the wrong reasons. They want to reconcile with the men they have left behind. Their husbands are torn between the understandable desire to reject them and still wanting them back. Ironically, because these have nurtured the feminine side of their natures, they are also able to forgive in a way few men have been able to do in the past.
But because they have no interest in returning to the “bad boy” mentality their competitors brandished, they are faced with a challenge most men have never had to confront. How do they hold on to their vulnerability and capacity to nurture, and blend it with the strength and power required of a self-respecting leader of men?
None of my reuniting couples ever want to lose each other again. They’ve left the old ways behind and know that going back to what was will not work anymore. They intensely want to create a new kind of connection that blends the beauty of traditional roles with the freedom to move between them, and to blend the best of the past with an as-yet-unwritten future.
It must be a parallel path. Both men and women must separately find their own balance between their need for independence and their desire for ongoing commitment. As integrated individuals in their own right, they would then have the capacity to create a relationship that is more than the exchange or sum of the parts. Committed partners who are willing to fight for that innovative solution will find the way.
*Article originally published on the Huffington Post.