Thursday, January 7, 2016

For Gold Is Tested In Fire

It's been some time since my last post. In fact, I'll be honest. I'd given up on this blog for the most part. I got discouraged because it didn't seem to be bearing fruit, and I quit writing for it because I just seemed to be wasting my time. 

I figured that if it didn’t matter to anyone else, it shouldn’t matter to me. Today, I realized how wrong I was. I forgot what I learned from Sirach chapter 2.

Sirach Chapter 2

"My child, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials.
Be sincere of heart and steadfast, and do not be impetuous in time of adversity. 

Cling to him, do not leave him, that you may prosper in your last days. Accept whatever happens to you; in periods of humiliation be patient. For in fire gold is tested,and the chosen, in the crucible of humiliation. Trust in God, and he will help you; make your ways straight and hope in him. 

You that fear the Lord, wait for his mercy, do not stray lest you fall. You that fear the Lord, trust in him, and your reward will not be lost. You that fear the Lord, hope for good things, for lasting joy and mercy. 

Consider the generations long past and see: has anyone trusted in the Lord and been disappointed? Has anyone persevered in his fear and been forsaken? Has anyone called upon him and been ignored? For the Lord is compassionate and merciful; forgives sins and saves in time of trouble. 

Woe to timid hearts and drooping hands, to the sinner who walks a double path! Woe to the faint of heart! For they do not trust, and therefore have no shelter! Woe to you that have lost hope! What will you do at the Lord’s visitation? 

Those who fear the Lord do not disobey his words; those who love him keep his ways. Those who fear the Lord seek to please him; those who love him are filled with his law. Those who fear the Lord prepare their hearts and humble themselves before him. 

Let us fall into the hands of the Lord and not into the hands of mortals, For equal to his majesty is his mercy; and equal to his name are his works."

Changing My Attitude

The last few weeks I've been struggling to find my way. The assignment I had came to an end, and I couldn't find a new one. Things I thought would work out didn't. So, one week into January and I'm unable to pay rent, I'm low on food, I have no job, and no prospects. Nobody else in my household has jobs or income either. 

So I did what I do when problems creep up. I went on a walk and I talked to God. Except this time, instead of complaining to Him about the way things were, I took the advice given to me by a business mentor of mine, Vic Johnson. I began to play the Gratitude Game with Him.

Playing the Gratitude Game 

The gratitude game involves speaking out loud and with complete emotional conviction gratitude for the things you want as if you have already received them. It’s designed to help your mind visualize you living the life you want to be living so that your mind will begin to figure out how to get there.

I began by thanking God for what I wanted as if I already had it in hand. I told Him how happy and grateful I was for finally owning my own business making $100,000 a month. I told Him how good it felt not to have to worry about food, rent, electricity, or how I was going to pay the bills anymore. 

I told Him how thrilled I was to have paid off all of my debts and to be living a debt free lifestyle. I also told Him how amazingly excited I was to have been able to make a cash purchase of land in the city of Denver, and to be able to start work on building my dream home there. I allowed myself to see the things that I was talking about in my mind's eye and to put all of my energy and emotion into it as I was talking. 

Then, I began to express my gratitude for the suffering that He’d allowed me to go through because it was the key to helping push me into doing the work that planted the seeds of this success. That’s when I started to feel my eyes welling up with genuine tears of gratitude, because I realized the truth of the words I’d just stated.

Suffering and the Seeds of Success

The fact that I didn't have rent money on January 1st or a job led me to think about writing a book about blogging, since it's something I know how to do and is a useful skill that other people might be willing to pay me to learn. That, in turn, led me to start working on that book.

I realized that a lot of my prayers have been answered this way. For example, if I hadn’t been suffering and hurting financially, I would never have published my first book because I wouldn’t have been desperately seeking answers on how to build a business without a big marketing budget. I would never have started the writer’s group in Elko where I met so many dear friends.

I realized that my suffering has always pushed me to let go of my fears and try something I wouldn’t have otherwise. And, as I was walking along thinking about all of this, I received another epiphany.

The Everyday Catholic Mistake

I started Everyday Catholic because I felt God calling me to share my story with the world and I figured that if I blogged every day about my life it would make it easier to do. So that’s what I did. Only it didn't seem to be doing anything.

Eventually, I would do some research into getting blog traffic, and take some action, and I saw some improvement based on that but it wasn’t getting the results I wanted and I didn’t know why. When things didn't work, I allowed myself to get discouraged and to give up.

What I was missing that writing the book on blogging helped me to see clearly, was the answer to why God wanted me to share my story. What were other people supposed to be getting out of reading these blogs? I never asked myself that. I not only didn’t have a clear vision of why they were reading, I didn’t have a firm idea of what message I wanted them to get out of reading my blog.

Empowered by the work that I’d done on blogging over the last few days, I knew exactly what I needed to do to resuscitate Everyday Catholic. I knew where my mistakes were, and just as importantly, I realized that fixing them wasn’t hard. It was simply going to be a lot of work.

My problem wasn't my content. It was the fact that I never decided on a target audience or a theme for my blog. I was basically throwing content out there with no real direction or point. I also realized that Everyday Catholic was not a lost cause. It was fixable, and it was worth fixing because it was the perfect vehicle for doing what God equipped me and called me to do: bring messages of hope and let God people know how much He loves them.

My Commitment To You

As of today, I am bringing Everyday Catholic back, and although I will be sharing real stories about my real life, those stories aren’t for me. They are for you, because that is who Everyday Catholic desires to serve.

It is for you who are going through the dark night of the soul, when just the thought of praying leaves you exhausted and you can’t feel a single bit of the love that God has for you. It is for you, those who are holding on to hope by a thin thread of faith.

It is for you, those who are wondering if they somehow were forgotten when God was busy passing out blessings. It is for you, the one who is wondering if God really does love you as you’re dealing with suffering and are surrounded by sorrows. It is for you, the one who is trying to hold on to hope’s flame while you’re surrounded by people who don’t have any.

I know what it’s like to be where you are, and together you and I will make it through this. Here’s to making 2016 a year of hope.

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