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Trapped by Our Wounds

Many of us are overwhelmed by the wounds that we have. Just like tragedy, which we discussed last week, wounds are inevitable. We’re going to have them…all of us. The question or issue is…how do we allow them to impact us? 

Sometimes the things that hurt us are obvious, i.e., tragedies, accidents, painful relationships, or confrontations with other people — these things are all external and it’s easy to recognize them as the source of our hurt. Other wounds are much less obvious. They are often the scars caused by our own emotions sustained over a period of time, i.e., anger, sadness, anxiety, doubt, or fear, perhaps related to the hurts we’ve experienced, perhaps not. Emotional health demands that we become aware of these wounds so we can start the process of healing and moving forward. 

Trapped by Resentment

Resentment toward those who have hurt us can deepen and exacerbate our wounds, with most of us having experienced holding a grudge. Many are trapped and overwhelmed by resentment, it often consuming us. As pointed out last week, there’s a painfully true saying that resenting someone else is like swallowing poison and waiting for the other person to die. In reality, when you harbor resentment, the only person it really hurts is you. Even if the other person knows of it and feels its repercussions, the impact on them pales in comparison to the impact on you. Our resentment can negatively impact not only our view of the situation, but of the world we live in and the people around us.  

For quite a while, I was overwhelmed by my wounds and resentments, almost in disbelief that these seeming “injustices” could have happened to me. My first wife’s long struggle with alcoholism, the failure of our marriage, her death, the loss of my business … I experienced a range of emotions — sadness, despair, doubt, fear — and I remember being angry and bitter almost on a constant basis. It was real. It was penetrating. It hurt, sometimes almost physically. My resentments over these losses consumed me for a while. I felt very isolated, embarrassed to share the details with anyone. It was the most depressing time of my life. 

There is no question that people wrong us, hurt us, sometimes very deeply, whether with malice or not. But when we let this fact get in the way of us living with peace and joy, we only hurt ourselves. 

So how do we get out of habits of resentment and hurt? It is said that the first step in solving a problem is recognizing that there is one. We need to recognize the issues that plague us, many of which are the types of wounds referenced above. Self-discovery is an important step in healing. So is research and study in helping to find solutions. Healing might also require reaching out to someone like a friend or mentor, even a therapist. Our fear in facing our wounds can be massively diminished if we don’t try to go through it all alone. 

Time Heals all Wounds 

There is at least partial truth to the saying that time heals all wounds. It was true for me. As time went on, the pain diminished and healing began to set it. That said, time alone would not have moved me past my many resentments. It was critical that I take ownership of my role in each of the painful circumstances, recognizing that I bore real responsibility for what had happened to me. And that difficult realization took time. My old wounds of low self-esteem and low self-worth, having been unresolved to that point, added to the pain of these new wounds and fostered a lot of resentment. It wasn’t until I started the challenging process of fixing myself that I could humbly acknowledge my role in my circumstances and start to heal. You can do it too!!!

I look forward to continuing to accompany you on this journey. As always, please forward any questions, comments, concerns, or prayer requests to me at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com

God Bless you on your Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!

Remember…God made you for Greatness!!!

Mark Joseph

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Weekly Blog

Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

Johnny Lee sings a song called, “Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places.” Viktor Frankl once wrote, “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” Matthew Kelly has an expression I love: “We can never get enough of what we don’t really need.” All three quotes relate to us having false gods and chasing false happiness. I refer to them as the 4Ps…Prominence, Possessions, Pleasure, and People. 

Prominence 

We all want to do well, to succeed. Many want to stand out. That could mean business or career success. For others, it might be more about social standing or popularity. Still others want notoriety for excelling in a field or doing good deeds. Prominence makes us feel respected and admired, held in high esteem, and most importantly, loved. Social media plays into this as well, since most of us only put our best selves forward. 

The drive for prominence can also manifest itself in superficial relationships, where we’re really using other people instead of truly befriending them. Maybe we desire to be prominent to them individually, or to impress others by the relationship. 

 

Possessions 

Look at the houses we live in, the cars we drive, and the things we wear. It’s a universal issue, no matter our sex, race, religion, age, or socioeconomic position. No matter the income level or the neighborhood we live in, we value stuff. One indication of this is the amount of personal debt most people have in the U.S. Many live way beyond their means. Cars and trucks can now be financed over longer and longer periods of time. The amount of electronic gadgetry that most of us have is over the top. Then there are all our other physical possessions … the list is endless. 

I’m not suggesting that we should go without a house or a car, but instead understand why we buy what we do. Is it for functionality or status? 

Pleasure

When we don’t know that we’re made for greatness, we rely on distraction and entertainment, anything that provides us with pleasure. Far too many people equate pleasure with joy or happiness. They’re not the same. Joy is long lasting, independent of substance or circumstances. Pleasure, on the other hand, is only experienced in the moment. Once the act creating the pleasure is over, the pleasure is gone. It is fleeting. 

People

Whether we realize it or not, many of us turn other people into false gods. They may be professional athletes, actors, musicians, politicians, dignitaries, the wealthy, very successful, or those that hold prominent positions. But they can also be people in our own life. In my adult life, I didn’t look to the “rich and famous” as my false gods. For me, the people I looked up to (often with envy as well as admiration) were the local business owners and executives in my hometown. I wanted to be a successful business guy more than anything in the world because of what I thought it said about me, and the people I idolized most were those I could reach out and touch. 

There is hope! But we have to stop looking for fulfillment in prominence, possessions, pleasure, and people. Only one thing can fill the God-sized hole in the center of our chest…and that’s God Himself.

As always, please feel free to contact me at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com with questions, comments, concerns, challenges, or prayer requests.  

God Bless you on your Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!

God made you for GREATNESS!!!

Mark Joseph

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Weekly Blog

We’re All Overwhelmed

Can you identify with the hamster on the wheel in the glass cage, watching the world go by around you? Take me for example…for the longest time, I was trying to make that wheel go faster and faster. I couldn’t catch my breath. I couldn’t find a way to jump off the wheel. Didn’t know if anyone saw me on the wheel. If anyone else was on the wheel with me. If anyone would catch me if I fell off the wheel. I couldn’t keep up; I was massively stressed, exhausted, frustrated, and deflated. I was overwhelmed. 

We’re all overwhelmed. Here’s what I also figured out…I was just as overwhelmed when things seemed to be going well as when things turned bad.

An example of the good times – for over 10 years, I worked every Sunday, 7AM-Noon, meeting my family for 12:30 Mass, believing I wasn’t missing any family time. I was crazy. I used to travel 2-3 days per week. When in town, I’d work from 6-8AM at my desk at the house, then taking the kids to school. I would race to the office for a frenetic pace of meetings and phone calls, working through lunch, going home late afternoon/early evening. 

I would eat dinner on the run, running the kids to their practices and events. I coached many of their sports, so I’d often be on the field with them. I’ve always been an exercise enthusiast, so I always got in my exercise, typically late at night (lots of sleep deprivation). I had business meetings some nights, other meetings other nights; we had a social life. There was always too much to do and not enough time to do it. I was overwhelmed, but because I thought I was in control I didn’t notice. In fact, I was energized by it…I was important because I was busy (so I thought). 

Then there are the bad times, where we have relationship issues, challenges (i.e., COVID), and experience the busyness of everyday life. We’re stressed, frustrated, deflated, exhausted, and very aware that we’re overwhelmed. 

We have the Internet, wifi, social media, smart devices – not only do things move much faster, but there is no way to disconnect; we have no downtime. In the background we’re concerned about our careers, our compensation, needs of our families, college, retirement, paying for houses, cars, vacations, etc., whatever allows us to keep up or get ahead. 

I’d suggest that it afflicts everyone…whether you’re in high school or college, newly graduated, just starting out, advanced in your career or retired; single, married, empty nester or house full of kids, young, old, wildly successful or not. And most believe that once they reach that pinnacle of success, what society says will make them happy, that everything will be good. Believe it or not, just the opposite is true; it often intensifies. 

Does at least some of the above apply to you? You aren’t alone. Join me next week, when we begin to unpack why we’re overwhelmed. Be assured…there’s an answer to this dilemma, how we live lives of peace, joy, and fulfillment. 

As always, please feel free to contact me at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com with questions, comments, concerns, challenges, or prayer requests.  

God Bless you on your Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!

God made you for GREATNESS!!!

Mark Joseph

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Weekly Blog

Leadership is Critical…Some Helpful Tips

Have you ever noticed how a change in leadership can immediately change things…for better or worse? Although examples exist in other places, it’s often most stark in the world of sports. Remembering back 40 years (this year), having won our high school football championship two years in a row, upon my graduation and the resignation of our head coach, a new one was hired for my brother’s senior year. With a comparably talented pool of players, the results didn’t come close.

Why is that? You often times see it in the opposite direction, where a head coach comes in and takes a team that has been struggling, and hardly changing personnel, then excels. As I stated in my August 5, 2020 blog, Great Leadership Doesn’t Just Happen, “It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about a large corporation or small business, the federal government or a family, a not-for-profit, including a University or a Church, or any small group, inside an organization or otherwise. A dynamic, thriving organization always has a great leader. You can count on it”.

In part #2 of that series, I indicated the changes in me that took place, all rooted in my spiritual journey, that have made me the leader I am. In this post, I thought I’d provide some practical tips to leadership. I saw a presentation years ago, where leadership was pointed to as the following acronym:

  • Lead by Example
  • Educate
  • Attitude
  • Discipline
  • Empowerment
  • Receive and Respect Input
  • Sacrifice
  • Humility
  • Initiative
  • Plan, Prepare, Practice 

There’s a lot of truth here, all good things to keep in mind. I’m intentionally not including a lot of commentary on the above or what follows. Please think/pray through it. 

I also strongly believe that our journey as leaders starts from within. It’s based on:

  • Our identity in Christ – understanding and internalizing His unconditional love and forgiveness
  • Personal prayer life – we have to be in relationship with our Savior – spiritually and practically 
  • Honesty, Integrity, Transparency, Accountability – all based on our character (our identity in Christ)

The following are the things I’ve lived by as I’ve grown in supporting my team(s) as a leader:  

  • Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care
  • Love them, love them, love them
  • Affirm, affirm, affirm
  • Be invested in helping them be their very best professionally and personally 
  • Always be willing to do what you ask of others
  • Celebrate successes – individually and collectively
    • Personally
    • In writing
  • They need to know you have their back 
  • Collaboration is critical…people need to be part of developing the solution
  • People don’t need to be agreed with; they always need to be heard
  • Address challenging issues quickly and charitably
  • You can say anything as long as you say it softly
  • If struggling with addressing an issue, identify it and use it 
  • Always over-communicate, especially vision and plans
  • Don’t be distracted in your personal communication; zero in on person in front of you
  • No favorites – hold everyone to same standards; morale suffers otherwise

As always, please feel free to contact me at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com with questions, comments, concerns, challenges, or prayer requests.  

God Bless you on your Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!

Remember…God made you for GREATNESS!!!

Mark Joseph