|“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and hope.”
-Jeremiah 29:11-January 2010- I remember sitting down in my office getting ready to write my goals for the coming year. I recall thinking to myself, Chad you are on top of the world.
The moment is so vivid and real in my mind that I can even now smell the aroma permeating from the French bakery below.
In my mind, I was successful. I had done it! Achieved what I thought was the American Dream. I had come to America young and filled with passion. A vivacious desire to be successful. I worked hard, married a beautiful American girl and we had a healthy lovely daughter.
I was making more money than I had ever dreamed possible yet I constantly desired more and more.
My arrogance had reached a tipping point.
Sometimes the things that seem so overwhelming and bad in our lives, like spending 12 months in captivity away from everything and everyone you love, truly are our biggest blessings.
We just don’t know it yet.
Sometimes God just needs to get our attention. He can’t do it while we so wrapped up in our busy, noisy and activity driven lives.
God promises that He will bring us out of our captivity, just like He brought the Jewish people out of their Babylonian captivity.
We need to stand strong in our faith, keep believing, then He will take what seems to be the messes of our lives and turn them into our greatest successes and testimonies.
As wise old Ben Franklin used to say:
“If you argue, rankle and contradict, you may achieve a victory sometimes, but it will be an empty victory because you will never get your opponent’s good will”
It was early morning. The sun was just peaking over the mountains, which created the most breath-taking sunrise.
A small group of guys and I were standing in the TV room. There is a structure of command when it comes to the TV and what channel will be watched. The person who has been here the longest is considered the captain of the TV remote and they choose the channel to watch if they are present.
Mornings are normally devoted to Fox News so I like to catch a quick snapshot of what is going on in the world.
This particular morning, I happened to walk into a heated discussion on the topic of ” President Trump, his nominee’s and how he was handling important issues.”
I had learnt one thing early in my life that was to avoid political and religious arguments as you would avoid rattlesnakes and earthquakes.
As the intensity of the conversation grew, both sides became more firmly convinced than ever that they were absolutely right. Both groups became more stubborn the longer they argued.
Suddenly the CO walked in and announced: “Chow time” meaning it was time to head to breakfast. Perfect timing.
Everyone dispersed, feeling that they were victorious in asserting their intellectual viewpoint and by so doing, shot the other groups argument full of holes.
On the contrary, everyone left feeling more convinced that they were correct in their opinion of the situation.
“A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still”
Comes to show, the way to get the best out of an argument is to avoid the argument completely. Even when you will loose….
” Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of the ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all.”
– Romans 12:16 –
When we live in harmony with people around us, it does not mean we have to be exactly like everyone else. It means we find a way to work with them so that our lives can be pleasing to God.
“A deep, driving desires to learn, a vicarious determination to increase your ability to deal with people”
The challenge of communicating with people that speak a language you have no mastery over. This was the situation that I was currently in.
Initially it was overwhelming, but I started scanning my memory banks, trying to recall information on dealing with people and technics to use to help bridge the lack of verbal communication.
Suddenly it came to me:
“Become genuinely interested in the people around you.”
Work on getting to know people more extensively. Study what makes them smile, what angers them and what are their mannerisms.
What is the code of conduct within the housing unit? How are everyday activities handled? What are your duties and responsibilities?
Once you understand this framework, it becomes easy to operate within the guidelines and people will recognize that you respect them and the code of conduct of the living environment.
When you are in an environment such as this, criticizing and complaining causes resentment, which is a hurdle to your ability to fit in and will only isolate and make it more difficult to communicate and assimilate to your new environment.
The power of a smile breaks down so many barriers. I find that keeping a smile on my face brings down walls that the lack of verbal communication may create.
Smiling, showing a genuine interest in people and knowing their names, is how I am overcoming my 1st challenge of not speaking Spanish. With that said, I have began to learn basic Spanish so that I can have better and more enriching relationship, while living in this environment with my fellow inmates.
“This man had a very beautiful and lovely young cousin, Hasassah, who was also called Esther.
When her father and mother died, Mordecai adopted her into his family and raised her as his own daughter.”
Esther had many obstacles to overcome. Poverty, being and orphan, in the natural world,
her future looked helpless and hopeless.
It is right here when things seem so hopeless and there is nothing you can do to change
the situation that God steps in and says, what’s helpless and hopeless to you, is what I will
use for your good and MY GLORY.
We need to dare to believe that we can do something great in our life’s regardless of the
current situation. Just Believe!