There are certain immutable truths about life that no one can escape.  You can’t have love if you do not give love.  You can not succeed without effort or a plan. And you cannot have joy if you are focused on yourself at the expense of others.  I’m often pained by the reality that I encounter so many people that violate these and many other basic “laws of nature”.  I’m not talking about the laws of nature that apply to the animal kingdom…kill or be killed, survival of the fittest, etc.  I’m talking about the things that make us higher beings than mere animals, the things that define our higher selves and elevate us to the status of children of God.

The reality is that we are only children of God.  We are not God, but rather made in his likeness.  We’re all flawed, deeply flawed.  Our ability to exhibit a God-like nature is very much dependent upon the choices that we make on a day to day basis.  We choose to be selfish or to be selfless.  We choose to follow through on our promises and commitments or to abandon them.  We choose to face our faults and problems and work on ourselves or we choose to run from them and pretend we’re not the problem.These crucial choices not only define our lives here and now but the direction of our souls in the life to come.  There is no question that dealing with our problems and weaknesses is a painful and difficult task.  But what is the alternative?  I think one of the biggest mistakes a person can make is to at some point decide, consciously or subconsciously, to not face life’s realities because they are too hard, too difficult or too painful.

I sometimes see postings on social media with statements about “haters” or people who are supposedly creating drama or problems for the person posting.  They are generalized statements that intend to paint the picture that they are simply constant victims of others jealousies or negativity.  Every time I see this I know that there is something not only very wrong with the person making these statements but that they’re digging an even deeper hole by blaming others for the problems they continually find themselves in the middle of. The only thing to do if this keeps happening to you is either stop hanging out with the wrong people or change yourself.  The truth is that if you’re hanging out or keep running into the the type of people who cause you strife, maybe there’s something about you that is attracting the wrong people or perhaps simply you’re forced to deal with good people (i.e. family, co-workers) who are calling you out on your issues.  

Solid people with strong character don’t have these problems–unless they are fighting for justice against the unjust.  They sense the character of others and associate with people that have good hearts.  The other point is that when people of high character encounter people who create problems they are more likely to either simply rid themselves of those people quickly or extend a hand to help them–not defend themselves, get angry or point fingers.Personal growth and overcoming not only life’s struggles but our own inner demons begins with self-reflection.  The minute you begin examining yourself and looking in the mirror rather than looking outward to solve your problems is the minute you begin to grow and overcome.  And the minute you become honest with yourself about your own shortcomings is the minute you can begin to have empathy towards the shortcomings of others and start developing real connections with other human beings.The only thing to do if this keeps happening to you is either stop hanging out with the wrong people or change yourself.  The truth is that if you’re hanging out or keep running into the the type of people who cause you strife, maybe there’s something about you that is attracting the wrong people or perhaps simply you’re forced to deal with good people (i.e. family, co-workers) who are calling you out on your issues.  

Solid people with strong character don’t have these problems–unless they are fighting for justice against the unjust.  They sense the character of others and associate with people that have good hearts.  The other point is that when people of high character encounter people who create problems they are more likely to either simply rid themselves of those people quickly or extend a hand to help them–not defend themselves, get angry or point fingers.Personal growth and overcoming not only life’s struggles but our own inner demons begins with self-reflection.  The minute you begin examining yourself and looking in the mirror rather than looking outward to solve your problems is the minute you begin to grow and overcome.  And the minute you become honest with yourself about your own shortcomings is the minute you can begin to have empathy towards the shortcomings of others and start developing real connections with other human beings.Yes this requires not only humbling yourself and accepting blame but also an ongoing concerted effort of self-reflection, a retraining of the mind, self-discipline in changing behaviors and tremendous patience.  But, again, what is the alternative?  The answer is misery, discontent and spiritual death.  And consider this…every time a person refuses to accept fault for their own problems they disempower themselves and give greater life to those problems, making them increasingly more difficult to face and overcome.

People in this situation tend to look for things around them to compensate for their own lack of joy or peace, but it never works.  A new job, a shopping spree, different friends, a better relationship, moving to a new town… They will always find that the issues they failed to address and work on not only still exist but have become bigger and more deeply entrenched.  And when the thrill wears off from that temporary fix, the despair will return and with even greater force.

But here’s the thing…when a person decides to fight back against their inner demons and work on themselves, immediately a seed of life sprouts within their heart.  And if they continue to water that seed they have the joy of watching it grow and feeling that growth from the inside out.  Soon they begin to see the potential of what that seed might become as do those around them…a powerful tree with deep roots that provides oxygen, shade and shelter to all those who come near it.  

So let me ask you this: in your own life which path will you choose?