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Weekly Blog

Our Challenging Times…Three Things We Can All Do

Regardless of whether you’re on the political left or right, or right down the middle as an independent, we can probably all agree that our country is facing challenging times. In talking to folks, although the above is the consensus, it’s typically followed up with:

  • “There’s nothing I can do” (or)
  • “What can I do about it?”

As indicated in previous posts, I’d suggest taking that question to prayer, like we should all things, asking God to speak into our challenges and our lives. That said, there are three things that all of us as Christians can and should do, assuming we want to make a positive impact on those around us and the broader society…yes our country.

Those three things are indicated in the:

  • Great Commandments – Mark 12: 30-31 or Matthew 22:37-39
    1. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength”.
    2. “The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”
  • Great Commission – Matthew 28:19-20
    1. “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.

I heard a Priest once say that hardly anyone confesses sinning against the First Commandment, which is “I am the Lord your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me”. The fact is that in abiding by this Commandment, including how it is stated in the positive above (“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength”), the other 9 Commandments are much less an issue. I don’t say this because they’re not important. I say it because if we truly love God and do so before all else, the degree to which we sin is far less.

In abiding by the first part of the Great Commandments, we’re happier and healthier, helping those around us to be the same.

Many of us know the Golden Rule as “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Jesus tells us this in Matthew 7:12. Stated in the positive, as Jesus expressed in the Great Commandments, we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. What kind of world would we live in if this were always first and foremost in our minds?

The Great Commission speaks to our call, not a mere suggestion by Jesus, to share the love of Christ, to share our faith with others. Jesus makes the point that He’ll be with us every step along the way.

So many in our society, as evidenced by the dramatic decline in practicing Christians (including Catholics), don’t know the love of Christ. Statistically we’ve gone from 75% claiming themselves as being Christian in the 80s and 90s to just 50% today.

What would happen if we could change the above trend? Think about it. Think about the impact it would have. In summary, love God, love others, and share our faith. What would our country look like if we all did a lot more of that?

The next time you think “there’s nothing I can do” (or) “what can I do about it?”, do the above. Again…Love God. Love others. Share our faith.

As always, please contact me with comments, questions, concerns, challenges, or prayer requests 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

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

Tragedy…What a Blessing

It’s said that we can all expect two things as part of life…death and taxes. I would adamantly argue that there’s a third…human tragedy, suffering. No one can escape it. Life is messy and it’s part of humanity, the human condition. 

It can strike as something global like war, terrorism, or a natural disaster. It can be something more personal like separation or divorce, death of a loved one, a major health issue, addiction, a rift in the family, a horrible personal failure, unresolved conflict with a friend, loss of property, or a financial crisis. 

If it sticks around long enough, it becomes personal. If it’s personal long enough, we often develop resentments. Not sure if you’ve heard the expression, “resenting someone else is like swallowing poison and waiting for the other person to die”. I’ve tried it and believe me, it doesn’t work. 

Every single one of us can point to a tragedy, either personally or in the lives of those closest to us. Many ask the question, “how does an all-loving God allow pain and suffering in our lives?” Pointing to me as an example, in addition to most who I know on this journey…it’s to bring us closer to God, to create a greater good. A couple expressions come to mind: 

  • No pain, no gain
  • No Cross, no crown

I just recently heard that we have to be emptied out, i.e., tragedy and suffering, to be filled up. 

Think about it. When things are going tremendously well, you don’t have a need for anyone else, including God. But when things get tough, that’s when you can’t do it alone. If severe enough, it brings you to your knees, often leading to an encounter with Jesus Christ, internalizing His love, and experiencing conversion. That’s what happened to me and praise God. It rocked my world and changed my life forever. 

 

Don’t Miss the Opportunity to Grow

If we allow it, tragedy can be a wake-up call, an invitation to accept the reality of our limitations, to reject the things that leave us feeling overwhelmed and to start moving on the path to lasting fulfillment. The fact is that we can’t control the future or stop bad things from happening. What we can control is the way we live in the present, and the way we accept all the things that happen to us, good or bad. The healthy response is to live joyfully in the moment and to actively engage with others on the journey. 

Some sayings we hear are truer than we know. Examples are “What doesn’t destroy us makes us stronger” or “God only gives us what He knows we can handle.” It is in our tragedies, our defeats in life, that we learn our biggest lessons. My greatest tragedies have resulted in my greatest opportunities for growth.

This may come across as odd, but I’m thankful for the tragedies in my life. If you know my story, you know that they were dramatic. You see, I believe everything happens for a reason, according to God’s grand plan. We may not know why in the moment, but God helps us in making a ministry out of our meses. That’s true for me and true for most I know on this same faith journey. As such, I live in a place of gratitude, knowing I wouldn’t be who I am today without those experiences, albeit very difficult. I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today, if not for my significant struggles.

Praise God…it’s never too late to be the person you want to be, the person God calls you to be. 

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

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

Remember….God made you for Greatness!

Mark Joseph

Categories
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