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How to Integrate Attitude, Pride, Humility, and Respect Into Your Life

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We need more than just the desire to live productive and meaningful lives – we also need humility and respect – for ourselves and others.

Whether in our business or personal lives, we need to believe in ourselves and take pride in who we are. But, without humility, we lose respect for others and eventually, for ourselves.

In this blog post, we’ll look at the traits of attitude, pride, humility, and respect, and discuss how we can integrate them into our lives.


Our attitude is a way of thinking or feeling that is reflected in how we make choices, and how we act and respond to others and to the challenges we encounter.

Our attitude affects our relationships, marriage, work, and social activities.


Pride is that feeling of deep satisfaction or pleasure we get from our achievements or from the qualities or possessions we admire. It’s that sense of personal value or worth and is based on the standards we have for ourselves – our dignity.

However, when we take pride beyond that, it becomes hubris, meaning we consider ourselves better than others.

Hubris is excessive pride or self-confidence. We see it exhibited in arrogance, conceit, haughtiness, self-importance, egotism, pomposity, and superiority. It is having a “better-than-thou” attitude. Hubris makes us forget the people who helped us along the way; instead, we take all the credit for ourselves.

In the Bible, pride is named as one of the seven deadly sins and is defined as feeling superior and smarter than other people. A prideful person is arrogant and disdainful.

When kept in check, however, pride can be a positive thing. You have self-respect and can feel proud about your achievements and about doing good. You can hold yourself in high esteem.

Holding oneself in high esteem is not bad in and of itself. Pride is used to maintain standards.

False pride, on the other hand, is when a person has difficulty accepting others, apologizing, forgiving, or letting go of grievances, especially between people we like or love. Pride says, “I’m okay; you’re not.”


Humility is the opposite of pride. It means having a modest view of one’s importance. You can feel good about yourself and your accomplishments and still be humble. Humility is a value opposite of narcissism, arrogance, hubris, and other forms of pride.

Humble people exhibit higher self-confidence in various situations. They also know their limitations. They are more helpful than people who are conceited or egotistical and can put the needs of other people before their own.

Humility is a character trait that must be cultivated. We don’t learn humility – we become humble people.

We develop humility when we spend time listening to others, practice mindfulness, and focus on the present instead of the past.

  • Humble people are grateful for what they have.
  • Humble people ask for help when needed and seek feedback from others.
  • Humble people take time to review their behaviors for prideful language or action.

An attitude of humility is one of the most significant predictors of someone who is respected.

Humility allows us to cope with anxiety better. We have higher self-control and excel in leadership. We are better liked and respected and become more successful in life.


When we respect someone, we accept them as they are and for who they are.

We appreciate and value them as friends and colleagues. We admire their abilities, attributes, and achievements – basically holding them in high regard.

We show respect by listening, encouraging, congratulating, and saying “thank you.”

Respect is an unspoken way of communication that builds strong relations between people. Respect is an attitude we develop as we nurture interpersonal relationships. It avoids judging others simply because they have a different point of view. We can listen, disagree, and find ways to respectfully bridge our differences.

We demonstrate respect when we treat people with courtesy and politeness. We listen before expressing an alternative point of view. We encourage others to express their opinions and ideas. We think before speaking and we practice compassion.

Without respect, relationships will struggle. If we show respect, we will cultivate respect in return.

Do you respect yourself?

We often have mixed feelings about ourselves. We want to feel good about who we are. Yet, at the same time, we feel stupid or hopeless whenever we goof up or make unwise choices.

When we’re constantly angry, we have difficulty respecting ourselves. Because we aren’t comfortable with who we are, we tend to be reactive. When others upset us, we immediately go on the defensive and attack.

We become a prisoner to what others might think or say. We believe that the world determines whether we can be successful.

We ask ourselves, “How can I respect myself when I constantly make mistakes?”

Can we feel okay about ourselves – can we respect ourselves – even when we make mistakes?

Can we respect ourselves and still be humble and repentant when called for?

And, at the same time, can we respect the rights of others?

Yes, we can.

What it Takes to Achieve

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If you can imagine a better life, you can create it.

If you believe you can, you will find the strength and resources to make it happen.

To achieve, you must first believe you can.

Just like you, I have struggled with the enormity of problems over the years and have been discouraged, thinking I would never find adequate solutions.

But I did. Now, every time I am challenged with what seems like an overwhelming task, I remind myself that I can think through options and find the solutions I need. I can reach out for advice, support, and assistance and then take that next step.

When faced with devastating odds, we are often flooded with apprehension: How will I do this? How will I survive?

Self-doubts dominate our thoughts. Fear, anxiety, and uncertainty keep us frozen. Consuming terror and panic can take over and leave depression in its wake, draining our energy reserves.

What does it take to achieve?

To achieve, we need to take a risk and step out into the unknown.

In doing so, the greatest obstacle we face is often ourselves – what we say to ourselves when faced with overwhelming odds.

When life throws us a curve ball and existence as we knew it has suddenly been turned upside down and inside out, we may feel like a top spinning out of control.

In the blink of an eye, what we treasured has been snatched away from us. Often, one set of adversities is followed by several more.

We ask ourselves, “How will I ever recover?”

A personal story

Years ago, my husband and I drove home in silence from a large medical school hospital, trying to absorb the enormity of what the doctors had just told us. For five days, doctors had performed intensive tests, trying to find the reason why our ten-month old son was unable to hold up his head. Words such as cerebral palsy, little-to-no intelligence, and quadriplegic were spoken to us as casually as if they were a weather forecast.

Struggling with the enormity of what we faced, when I arrived home, I got on my knees and prayed. I knew I couldn’t ask God to simply make everything go away and return to normal – my son obviously had a serious condition.

But I could and did ask God for strength, courage, and wisdom to raise our son and find ways to make his life and our family’s as normal as possible. I will never forget the incredible sense of peace and confidence I received. As I rose from my knees, I knew we could do it.

We not only received strength and courage, but many other unexpected blessings. Through a series of revelations we learned that Don did not have cerebral palsy, nor was he mentally challenged, and he was not a quadriplegic.

He had been born with missing and weak muscles in his neck, along with other muscle weakness in his body. Although the diagnosis was less severe, his life was going to be a challenge for him and for us as parents.

Two things to do when in crisis

I share this life event because I learned that the first course of action in any situation and crisis is prayer.

And the second is to take that strength and courage and step out with confidence, determination and a “Yes, I can” attitude. It enabled us to raise our son with the independence and freedom he needed to live a full life as a very talented and gifted artist.

Without a “yes, I can” attitude, it would have been impossible to allow Don to take the falls and scrapes and bruises he needed to gain that inner strength and confidence to become autonomous and self-reliant. We would have made him an invalid.

It meant trusting in God and believing in our son. And throughout his life, Don never let anything deter him from creating the successful life he had as a conceptual artist.

“Yes, I can” is a mindset that takes whatever life hands you and uses it to achieve.

It allows us to move forward with confidence. It frees up our energy to be creative, proactive, resilient, and flexible.

God gave us peace and strength and turned that initial shock into a will to make life happy and normal.

In everyday life, we are often challenged with how we can go beyond the usual routine. As we begin to gain confidence, we are able to handle unexpected tragedies, conflict, or losses more effectively. So wherever you are in life right now, you can begin to put into action a more positive thinking self.

Life is not fair. It is unpredictable.

It is never easy to apply an “I can” attitude to every aspect of our lives. It is a skill we develop over time. Eventually, it becomes a habit that enables us to continue to achieve throughout our lifetime.

Our Ability to Create

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Not everybody feels they have the ability to create.

I disagree. I believe we all have the ability to construct something positive from whatever materials we have to work with.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth . . .

—Genesis 1:1

When we look up at a star-studded sky or watch the first rays of the sun rise above the curve of the earth or stop to appreciate a panoramic stunning display of clouds colored by a setting sun, we are silenced and awed by the beauty we see. It is God’s masterpiece revealed to us every day in some way.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness . . .”

—Genesis 1:26

And then God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life . . .

—Genesis 2:7

Did we receive some of that ability to create when God breathed life into us?

I believe we did. Okay, not everyone can create great cathedrals with spires rising to the sky or intricate carvings or giant monuments.

But every day we are creating something of importance.

We are creating relationships as we reach out to one another with care and concern.

We are creating tolerance as we look at one another as individuals with the same troubles and worries as we do.

We are creating safe and warm environments within our homes where our children know they are loved.

Are these not as important creations as towering skyscrapers or driverless cars or phones that talk to you?

Molding a lump of clay

A number of years ago, I attended a weekend course on art therapy. The teacher was an art therapist who used different forms of art expression to help clients work through grief and loss.

We were given a lump of clay and told to shape and mold it according to how we felt.

It wasn’t important how it looked. What was important was that we allowed ourselves to use the clay as an expression of what we were feeling and experiencing.

As a therapist myself, it was intriguing to see what people could do and how something as simple as molding clay could not only be healing but create amazing meaning.

At the end of our weekend course, our teacher showed us slides of art her clients had done in her art therapy classes. There were collages and quilts and wall hangings that were stunningly beautiful, as well as molded objects.

I doubt any of her clients would have considered themselves an artist. But out of their hearts and souls, they gave themselves permission to express who they were at that moment in time.

Children allow their instincts to create to come out in their play. Clay and crayons and building blocks become tools for their imagination.

The same instincts that are in children are the same creative instincts that are in all of us. We just need to release them.

To create means to bring into existence.

Give yourself permission to be creative in how you structure your day, design your garden, try a new recipe, play with your children or grandchildren, or how you might help a neighbor in need.

Find creative ways to reach out to those who are hurting.

Create a way to bring about healing from division. What will it take to bring your family together again?

Perhaps it is creating time to show expressions of love. Tell that child what a great job they did in drawing their dog or Mom or Dad.

Ask them about the clay images they have made or the towering building they have built with blocks.

Ask an elder what they experienced in life and encourage them to share their life stories. You will discover not only the triumphs they have made in difficult situations and how they created a life out of nothing, but what they learned in the process.

If you have a creative flair with flower arrangements, share it with others.

If you have a creative flair for writing, write.

Join an art class or writing group. You may surprise yourself.

Allow yourself to be you: unique – creative and special. And encourage others to use their creative talents.

I do not know what you were handed in life to work with. But I do know that God has given each of us the ability to take that inner spark of creativity and build on it.

We can take whatever we are given and create something positive from it.


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What does it take to build a cathedral?

Or to turn your home or business into a piece of art, distinctive and unique, but inviting?

And when wars or flood waters smash and destroy what you have built, how do you take the remains and rebuild?

What does it take to start over? What would be different? What would be the same?

On a trip I took overseas a number of years ago, I went on a river cruise. As we visited towns and cities, guides took us to see spectacular and colossal churches, buildings, and bridges that had either survived or were rebuilt after wars.

Pictures on walls reminded us of the bombs that turned buildings into mounds of rubble.

And then as we walked around these cities and bridges that had been rebuilt – sometimes resembling the original – sometimes with modifications – we could only marvel.

Wars not only destroy buildings, but also lives.

There are times when our lives resemble a war zone, with competition, rivalry, hostilities, and conflicts spinning out of control, leaving us feel like a casualty on a battlefield.

We know that cities and bridges can be rebuilt, but how can our lives be rebuilt? What do we do when our expectations are trashed and the world we thought we would have forever no longer exists?

It’s then we ask,

“How do I begin again? What is the first step I need to take? Can this be an opportunity to build something even better and more durable and rewarding? If so, where do I start?”


The human spirit is incredible. We can accomplish so much more than we ever thought we could. We can recover from the worst tragedy and move on. We are resilient.

Our imaginations can create plans to build the most intricate and beautiful structures and statues and emblems of faith and hope.

Rise up and rebuild

History teaches us that even when such creations are destroyed, people rise up and rebuild. We see the results of that all over Europe. Can we not envision the same for ourselves when our lives have been broken or smashed?

Sorting through the wreckage of a life that has been tattered, torn, and left in shreds, it might seem that there is nothing that can be saved. Tragedies, losses, and huge life upsets are like that. They are never easy to work through.

But what I have found in my own life is that when everything seems to have been turned inside out and upside down, that is when I discover some amazing things:

  • I learn I have more resilience than I ever thought.
  • I learn that my imagination can create new and wonderful ways to do things, even better than before. I can take old dreams and make them come alive.
  • I discover I am more competent than I thought, and confidence begins to grow.
  • I learn to trust in God, accept His wisdom and strength, and turn to others for any help I need.
  • I learn to accept responsibility for myself, my choices, and my actions.

It is where I can really grow.

It is in just such circumstances where I finally became honest and genuine. I have accepted my weaknesses, along with my strengths. It is where I came to realize what is really important and valuable in life.

No matter how many times I read or hear about ways we can improve or recover from a major loss or marriage, I have found it helpful to hear it again – perhaps in a new way – perhaps as a reminder when the going gets tough.

Yes, I can!

Each time I look at the pictures I took during my river cruise in Europe, I am reminded of the grandeur, work, diligence, and determination it took for people who lived during that period of time and earlier. To build anything requires a “Yes I can” attitude and a willingness to try and work to reach our goal.

Now it’s time to apply those same principles to my life.

I can pick up the pieces I need, develop a new design, and make the choices necessary to take the stones of the past and rebuild them into something longer-lasting.

Where to begin

Ask yourself honestly what it is you want to do – to become – to live.

When you have answered that basic question, move on to the next one: What obstacles would I face?

Then ask, “What steps do I need to take to reach my goal?

Knowing what you want isn’t always as simple as it seems. But only you can answer that.

As you reflect and explore, you will discover some old dreams are no longer important, and what you need at this time in life is different than when you first entered the world. In reflection, you can both add and eliminate.

Take the time to explore where you want to go, what you want to do and who you want to become at this time in your life.

What it Means to Love

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Love. We use the word so casually – almost superficially – sometimes even flippantly.

“I just love this dress!”

“I love chocolate ice cream.”

“Don’t you just love those people?”

We use the word so glibly, and in the process, often reduce it to levels of lustful desire or small talk.

But what does it mean to love?

“I love my spouse. I love my kids. I love . . .”

How do we express that love that we profess? How does the other person know we really love them and aren’t just repeating words?

We say we love God, but often we simply exploit Him for our own purposes. We throw Him in the trash when we are no longer interested or group Him together with all the other superficial gods we create to make us feel good.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son to die for us.”

—John 3:16

In the Bible verse quoted above, love brings together God and our world. Yet people don’t want to be reminded of God. Or, they believe that if He existed, He certainly wasn’t a God of love but one of punishment and stern reckoning.

Yet scripture tells us He loves us so much He would die for us. People are being killed every day in the name of some god. But would a god of hate die for us? I don’t think so.

Scripture gives us a more detailed definition of love in St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails . . .”

—I Corinthians 13:1, 4-8a, NIV

Love: We have diminished it – tarnished its value, while desperately clinging to the hope that we are wanted, needed, and loved.

We need to both receive and give love. We cannot live without it. Here are some meanings for love. Add to the list what love means to you.


  • Gives.
  • Reaches out.
  • Lifts up.
  • Cares.
  • Sacrifices.


  • Listens.
  • Is patient.
  • Forgives.
  • Offers grace, mercy, and understanding.


  • Needs others.
  • Sets boundaries.
  • Is never cheap.
  • Is given freely – cannot be earned.
  • Offers purpose and meaning.

Love is a gift. No payment required.

In fact, if we have to pay for it, it no longer is love. It has lost its value; it is diminished. The gift of love cannot be bought or bartered for or earned in any way. It is just that – a gift.

We can’t manufacture love or find it in our halls of justice or science labs. Love is a gift freely given.

We often associate the value of a gift with how much it costs. The higher the cost of sacrifice made by the giver, the more value it has to the receiver. When the son of God died for us on the cross, that was the greatest sacrifice of all.

We all want to be loved.

It is a need as necessary as the air we breathe and the water we drink. Who wouldn’t want love in their life?

I love people. I love the interaction, the give and take, the sharing of suggestions and ideas.

I love hearing their stories. I don’t always agree, and I don’t condone behaviors that are destructive or hurtful to others.

But if we begin with the premise that we are all imperfect, we can extend grace to get to know others better and seek to understand where they are coming from. In the process, we set appropriate boundaries and remain firm about them.

So often we think we can only care for someone when they love or care about us first. But if we want to find ways to share and receive love, we need to be willing to reach out, listen, be patient, and forgive when necessary.

Caring begins with little steps.

We do it without asking for anything in return. It is a belief – a principle we live by – to love rather than to hate.

Hate destroys.

Love opens the doors to understanding and reconciliation.

Turn Your Gravel Pit into a Beautiful Life Garden

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A gravel pit is created when bulldozers and huge earth-scooping machinery remove the earth to extract gravel and other ingredients needed to build roads, make cement, and gather building rocks, etc.

After the earth is removed, what remains is a huge scarred and pitted hole in the ground with unstable and crumbling sides, water seepage from underground springs, stagnant pools of rainwater, discarded pieces of rock, and other unusable mounds of earth.

You’ll almost always find scattered debris, discarded by individuals who consider this a worthless piece of land; a place to throw away pop cans, beer bottles and candy wrappers.

What do you do with old gravel pits that have outlived their use?

Well, one lady who had the skeleton remains of a large gravel pit in her backyard decided she would find a way to turn it into something beautiful.

The Birth of Butchart Gardens

In the late 1800s, Robert Butchart began excavating limestone from a quarry behind the home where he and his wife, Jennie, lived. He used it to manufacture Portland cement in a factory he built at Todd Inlet on Vancouver Island. When all the limestone was extracted, all that remained was a huge, ugly, expansive hole in the ground.

But Jennie was not willing to let it lay there discarded, ugly, and debased. With the help of architects and landscapers, topsoil from neighboring farmland was brought in and a beautiful design created.

Paths were designed, ponds dug, trees and shrubs and hundreds of blooming plants planted. Leftover rocks were strategically placed in new locations, enhancing the gardens.

And so began the stunning reversal of desecrated land that today is known for its spectacular beauty.

What was once an ugly and desolate pit is now a beautiful sunken garden whose paths wind around serene ponds of water where ducks and swans float between lily pads and tree branches gently caress the water’s edge.

Artfully placed flowers, shrubs, and trees draw you into a world of beauty and a panoply of color. At night, thousands of strategically placed lights turn it into a fairyland.

The world-famous Butchart Gardens is visited by thousands of tourists from around the world every year. What was once an uninviting and inhospitable place has now been turned into a showcase. In fact, it is so spectacular that people come to see the exquisite beauty and splendor throughout the year, during every season.

While this is a nice success story, what has it got to do with us?

We can use this same analogy with our lives. Many people feel their lives have been torn up and left violated and sullied.

What remains are giant holes, unstable lifestyles, underground seepage of toxic messages, and huge boulders of doubt and shame that keep them blocked, unable to move forward with a perception that their life holds little worth or value.

Our Personal Gravel Pits

Everyone has elements of a gravel pit.

There may have been violence or abuse in our homes, tragic and lonely childhoods, or just careless living.

Within our gravel pits we find old losses that have not been grieved and messages from the past that continue to poison our self-esteem and worth. The walls of our heart resemble the scars from claws of the digger that scooped out our core values.

Pools of disasters, calamity, and catastrophe continue to leach into our hearts and rob us of joy. We build sturdy walls or fences around our pits so nobody can see our feelings of shame.

And we are left feeling desolate, abandoned, lost and lonely.

In our attempts to reconstruct the pieces of our lives, we often get overwhelmed so we give up and believe that life will always be an ugly gravel pit.

We don’t talk about our pits because we don’t want people to see our ugly side and reject us.

We run away or deny our past because it makes us feel repulsive and flawed.

But even while we try to distance ourselves from it, it continues to sneak up on us and impact everything we do.

When we identify and understand how events can leave us feeling scarred and flawed, we need to also understand it is not a place where we have to stay.

Turn Your Gravel Pit into a Beautiful Life Garden

Just as Mrs. Butchart took the gravel pit in her backyard and created a world-renowned garden, so we can take our lives full of pain, disillusionment and broken dreams and turn them into places of comfort and joy and beauty.

We can turn unattractive and hopeless situations into satisfying, productive and pleasing futures.

We don’t scrap it – we use it.

It becomes the backbone – the template for a new beautiful garden of hope, light, joy, energy and strength.

Where do we begin such a daunting project?

The same place Mrs. Butchart did. She didn’t cover up the hole; she used it as a springboard. If she had just filled the hole with dirt, it would not be the beautiful place it is today.

It takes a vision and a desire to examine our pits and remove rubble and contaminated waste.

It takes insight to see that what was once an unwanted rock or obstacle can now be turned into a piece of art.

It takes a vision, a blueprint, and a willingness to take that first baby step.

Turn your gravel pit into a beautiful garden. You can do it!

Moving Through the Seasons of Life

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“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven; a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…”

—Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 (The New Oxford Annotated Bible)

Ecclesiastes describes moving through the seasons of life so succinctly. Throughout life, we will experience different seasons, with their unique expectations, challenges, and rewards. Each of the four seasons – winter, spring, summer, and fall – offers something distinctive for us to enjoy.

In spring, we marvel at the tiny green shoots rising out of a still, cold earth to become wonderful flowers. Leaves appear on trees.

As summer unfolds, flowers are in full bloom and gardens are producing food for our table.

As autumn takes over, the leaves of trees begin to change to beautiful colors of red, yellow, and orange. Eventually those leaves fall to the ground and become compost for another season.

And with winter, mounds of snow form beautiful shapes, covering and hiding what lies below.

Each season has its own revealing features and beauty. Each season has its opportunities and variations.

Human seasons

Just as the world goes through seasons, we also go through seasons – from early childhood to adulthood, to middle age and old age – maneuvering through the challenges of creating, building, and letting go as we transition from one season to another.

It can be difficult to let go of something we are enjoying, like the nice warm days of summer that will be replaced with rain and possible snow.

We don’t want to give up one to gain the other.

We want life – not death.

We want laughter and joy, not weeping and mourning.

Yet both are necessary in order to live life to the fullest.

After the death of my husband, I went from a season of being happily married to a widow struggling to move on. That change of season involved a major unwanted move and the need to begin again – start a new life – a new season.

Whenever you suffer a major loss, you are not only working through grief, but struggling to create a new identity and way forward.

Learning to Live Again in a New World, by Marlene Anderson | focuswithmarlene.comIn my book, Learning to Live Again in a New World, I wrote about entering that new season in my life. As I shared my personal story, I also shared my training as a cognitive behavioral therapist that helped me live again. I wrote,

“Learning new skills requires determination, struggle, and hard work. It seems at times that we are pushing and pushing that proverbial stone and it doesn’t move. But then, one morning, we wake up and find ourselves sitting on top of it! We haven’t moved it; we haven’t gone around it; we have climbed to the top and are on our way over and beyond!”

I believe it is only when we go through major struggles that we discover who we are. When we’re mentally, emotionally, and spiritually wounded, we often retreat from the world to find solace and direction. But to continue with life, we cannot stay there; we have to move back into the world.

In our retreat and solitude, however, we can arrive at a place where we lay our burdens down, give up the struggle, and rest in the comforting arms of our Lord. When we stop struggling, we gain peace and hope for the coming days.

No matter what season of life you currently find yourself – whether recovering from a loss or experiencing the pain of divorce or a life that has been fractured by anger and misunderstanding, or perhaps a chronic illness that forever robs you of the life you knew –  you do not have to stay there forever.

Hope carries us forward, even when the world is darkest. Believe that there will be an end to pain and that there will be better days again.

When I was newly grieving the loss of my husband, hope was believing that there would be an end to the grief, and that there would be good days ahead. And while I gave myself permission to retreat and mourn, deep down I knew that I could not – would not – remain there.

As tough a journey as it would be to move beyond that ending, deep down, I knew that in the process of grieving and letting go, I would make some new discoveries about myself that I might not otherwise know.

I remember writing in my journal when I was ready to take charge of my life again:

“This morning as I sit from a new vantage point, I am captivated by the view extending before me, the options available to me. As I remember the dark, deep, and narrow canyons, I am reminded that even there, patches of blue sky could be seen. When I had looked up, those canyon walls expanded, and I felt the power and love of my Heavenly Father as I received a new surge of energy and hope. And when the way out of those dark canyons of grief and sorrow began to disappear, God gave me toeholds, branches to grab hold of and hang on to until the path became clear once more.”

As I reclaimed my life, I began to pick up the pieces and rebuild, creating a new me. Making that transition from what we love and cherish to an unknown future can be both daunting and intimidating.

Sometimes in our haste to get away from what was destroyed or lost, we miss the insight, understanding, and wisdom we are gaining.

As you continue from an ending to new beginning, hang on to hope, especially when the going seems rough.

You will make it through this.

You will enjoy happiness again.

You will live life with purpose and meaning once more.

Hope: A Gift We Can’t Refuse

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“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

—Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

When everything around us seems to be crashing and we think nothing else could possibly happen, it invariably does.

Problems have a domino effect – one problem creates another and so on. At such times, we cry out to God for strength and hope. Having hope is so important that I wanted to share my thoughts about it with you again.

Throughout scripture, we read stories of God gracing His people with faith, hope, and trust. Scripture says something good and desirable can happen, even in the worst of times.

 “But those that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up like eagles; they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint.”

—Isaiah 40:31

Hope! It is a gift I cannot refuse.

It is the conviction that God will be there with me through all things. He catches me when reality doesn’t match my expectations and I begin to fall. When reality has dashed my dreams, I need to turn my fear of falling into floating with the confidence that God is with me, ready to set me safely on the ground.

Hope encourages

When encouraged, we gain confidence. Within confidence, we find courage.

Hope motivates

With encouragement, we become motivated to look for solutions to tough problems and difficult life situations.

Hope energizes

When we’re feeling helpless and hopeless, our energy is drained, and depression settles into every cell and fiber of our body. Hope changes that in an instant. It allows us to focus on what we can do rather than what we cannot do. Hope literally changes the chemistry in our body.


Hope expects

When we’re hopeful, we expect a different outcome. We don’t worry about whether the earth will keep rotating, or whether the sun will come up in the morning or go down at night. We know that when the sun is hidden in the clouds, it still exists.

Hope expects that tomorrow can be brighter than today, that our pain will recede, and that we will experience joy again. Hope says that when the world seems dark and we think we have been locked in a prison of despair, we can place our expectations on God for help in our time of need.

Hope believes

When we place our expectations in God, we believe that He not only exists, but that He loves us and will never leave or desert us. He gives us the strength to endure. Hope believes God’s word that says He cares personally about each of us, and that His love is so great, He was willing to die for us.

Hope never gives up

Hope doesn’t quit. When we are exhausted and think we can’t do anything more, we hear God whispering to us, “I am there with you. Try again – one more time.”   We feel His arms carry us. We hear His promises in our ear and feel His strength flow into us. He intervenes in our lives.

Hope surrenders

We begin to experience hope when we surrender to the knowledge that we do not know it all, will never know it all, and need God to survive. Hope relies on something greater than us. We recognize that we are not sufficient unto ourselves.

In that surrender, we let go and let God. The focus is no longer on making something happen but on surrendering to God and adjusting our responses. As we look for and find blessings in all things, we find peace and hope.

When we celebrate Easter, we are celebrating that story of hope that reveals life after death, a new life beyond the grave; a hope of salvation made possible by God. Within our tragedies lies new hope and new life as well.

With hope, we can overcome anything.

God Gives Us Hope

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“I cry out in the night before thee. Let my prayer come before thee; include thy ear to my ear. . . I’m standing my ground, God, shouting for help, at my prayers every morning, on my knees each daybreak. For as long as I remember I’ve been hurting, I’ve taken the worst you can hand out and I’ve had it. . . I’m bleeding, black and blue. ”

—Psalm 88 (New Oxford Bible and The Message)

In those frantic days between good health and the rapid advance of a brain tumor that took the life of my husband, I found the inner strength I needed to deal with our crisis within the book of Psalms. The psalmist spoke the words my heart was experiencing. He articulated my pain, tears, and cries for help, both before death and later, as I grieved my loss.

In my book, A Love So Great, A Grief So Deep, I shared my story and described hope as a “double-edged sword.” Others shared stories of loved ones who survived, and I was stirred to believe my prayers, too, would be answered and my husband would survive, even though deep down, I could not ignore the symptoms before me.

I went on to say:

“Hope is the effort to fly with wings not yet grown. If I don’t hope – don’t try – don’t struggle, there will never be the possibility of flying.”

In order to fly, you have to exercise your wings.

In order to fly, you have to be willing to let go of your fear of heights, and free fall, spreading your arms to catch the updrafts and float.

In order to fly, you must believe and have hope that you can. Hope was a gift God gave me. Whether my husband lived or not, I knew that God was there with us and would hang on to me when his life was gone.

In Authentic Happiness, Martin Seligman wrote:

“Optimism and hope cause better resistance to depression when bad events strike, better performance at work, particularly in challenging jobs, and better physical health.”

Optimism doesn’t just happen – it is learned.

We cannot live without hope. We might get bruised and bloodied in the process, but to live without hope is worse than struggling – it is flapping our wings and going nowhere.

And yet, flapping our wings can help make them stronger.

I want to soar like the eagles. I always have. I just never knew it required such a workout to get started.

eagle soaring

Hope is an expectation – a wish that something good can happen – will happen. It allows us to keep going. It motivates us to keep believing that there is the promise of a better tomorrow.

Even when our prayers are not answered in the way we want, God gives us hope for another day – another possibility. He gives us strength to endure. He gives us peace in the midst of sorrow.

“… but they who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not  be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

—Isaiah 40:32

We want to live happy and fulfilled lives. We want to believe there is predictability, an end to sorrow, and the possibility of a new tomorrow.

Even in death, we want to know we can let go of our loved ones and believe we will not only survive, but will be able to create a new life. We want to believe we will see them again.

In today’s world, change is happening so quickly that it is difficult to keep up. We plan, but then tragedy strikes and changes our life forever.

At such times, as it was when my husband so unexpectedly got sick, we are left with uncertainty and wondering, “Now what do I do?”

You not only have to grieve your loss but create a new beginning. In order to do that, you need to believe you can. You need to believe that God will give you what is needed. Because hope is the expectation that it will happen. “I will make it through this. I can do this.”

Wikipedia defines hope as an “optimistic state of mind based on an expectation of positive outcomes…”

In the Bible, hope is not just a wish but “the confident expectation” of what God promises us.

We hang on to that hope because we know He is faithful. And we know that with that hope, we can develop both resilience and confidence.

Why It’s Important to Define What You Believe In

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There is a spiritual side to all of us, whether we believe in a God, are a Christian, an atheist, or agnostic.

If you look online you will find numerous definitions and descriptions of spirituality. Basically, it is a recognition that there is more, something greater, than just us.

What do you believe in?

What do you believe and why? Perhaps you never considered the importance of asking yourself this question. And yet our beliefs influence every aspect of our life – the decisions we make, the people we hang out with, and the lifestyle we choose.

Are you able to define what you believe in and the value you place on those beliefs?

Core beliefs and values are often acquired haphazardly as we grow up. Many are just some versions of the beliefs held by family and friends. As adults, we rarely take the time to examine or question what we believe and why.

And yet, it is those deep core beliefs we hold of ourselves and our world that impact how we think and respond to life.

Because they were put in place when we were too young to evaluate, we often hold many biased beliefs. It is these distorted beliefs that influence our judgments of self and others.

In his books, A History of Christianity and Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Nineties, Paul Johnson wrote, “I must believe in God… belief in God makes me a better person than I would otherwise be. Without God, mankind quickly degenerates into the subhuman.”

“Man without God is a doomed creature. The history of the 20th century proves the view that as the vision of God fades, we first become mere clever monkeys; then we exterminate one another. While it is a terrifying prospect, the restoration of that vision of God can arrest it. Society as a whole will be less self-destructive if it stands in awe of moral rules which cannot be changed at the whim of congresses or parliaments or central committees, but which owe their authority to God. Only a belief in God will make society decent, but we do not believe in God for that reason. Purely social religions are the route to idolatry. We must truly believe. It is part of our struggle to be human. But in this struggle, God himself will help us.”

To survive as human beings, we need a belief in something greater than ourselves. Christianity is the only religion in the world that offers us the gift of salvation, grace, and love that we find within Jesus Christ.

We can’t earn it – we can’t work hard enough for it – it is a gift. And within that gift God extends to us through His Son, Jesus Christ, a love that transforms our lives from our heart outward. It is where we learn how to live as God had intended us to live.

Purposive – Optimism – Values

I believe it is through our need for spirituality that we find a larger purpose for our life. Purposiveness can be defined as “finding meaning in life.”

Without a sense of purpose and meaning, we would have little optimism or hope for our future. Victor Frankl wrote that man’s search for meaning “is the primary motivation in his life.” 

In Authentic Happiness, Martin Seligman wrote,

“Optimism and hope cause better resistance to depression when bad events strike, better performance at work, particularly in challenging jobs, and better physical health.”

Optimism doesn’t just happen – it is learned.

The science of Psychoneuroimmunology teaches us there is an interaction between the brain, endocrine system, and immune system and to this degree belief becomes biology.

Optimism is a biological phenomenon that creates a definite physiological response within an individual. It reduces anxiety and stress and its accompanying physical symptoms. Other studies reveal that when optimism was used as a prime coping strategy, people were less anxious and had fewer physical symptoms (Witmer & Rich, 1983).

How do we develop the skill of optimism?

In studies by Maslow, we learn that having a definite philosophy of life and religion are as important as sunlight, calcium, or love is to a person. We cannot live and survive without strong ethical and defined moral standards.

Valuelessness is the ultimate disease of our time. It leads to vague illnesses: apathy, alienation, hopelessness, and cynicism, which lead to psychological, physical, and social illnesses.

Having a meaningful purpose in life helps us develop optimism. Understanding the value of our beliefs will enable us to develop a moral compass to guide our behavior. Morality guides behavior that can maintain our well-being, along with giving respect and compassion to others. Religion and optimism go hand-in-hand.

Dr. Sydney Sharman, author of Psychiatry, the Ten Commandments, and You, wrote:

“Almost half of all patients consult their doctors because of non-organic disease, and almost all of them really do need to consult them or someone! If there were ten times as many qualified and experienced psychiatrists as there are at present, there would not be enough to cope properly with the volume of work.”

The Ten Commandments are just as relevant today as they were when first set down on tablets of stone; they offer the basis for the prevention of and cure for many of our neuroses.

Sharman’s thesis was that the Commandments are fundamental laws of life, and are not just a code produced by an ancient religious and political leader.

If you have never given much thought to what you believe and why, perhaps this is a good time to do so.

Changing your focus includes evaluating what you believe right now. Those beliefs influence everything you do.