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  • Jillian "JiJi" Emmanuel

about growth: looking inward.

Originally written: October 17, 2016

This year has been an interesting one. Many highs that I never even thought possible, balanced with several lows. In spite of it all the really low lows, I am still blessed. I am still grateful. I continue to choose to see a silver lining even on the bleakest of days. There is always something to be grateful for. Especially growth.

Growth is...beautiful, admirable, necessary (to me), but hard and sometimes extremely painful. The pruning, the going through the fire to come out pure as gold, the what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, the going high when they go low, the sometimes you’ve got to cry before you smile. THE LOOKING INWARD.

A question I’ve asked myself throughout the years is who am I and who do I want to be? About a two months ago, I wrote down the words, “I want be healthy, whole, and loving.” I want to live loved. I want to do my best at loving others the way God loves me. Doing that-- having that unconditional, agape love (which was recently highlighted at my friend’s wedding), is probably the most difficult thing to do as a human being. It requires a lot of selflessness in a very self-centered world. I’ve really been looking inward and want to note a few things I’ve learned over the years and and continue to learn.

Your way is not the only way. Our upbringing has a lot to do with the way we view human relationships and the world. Every person has their own version of the “best” way to do things. Know that sometimes there are many great ways to do the same thing. We’re so used to going about things the way we’ve done them for our whole lives (for me, 33 years) that we lose sight of the fact that other people also have been doing things their way for their whole lives. It doesn’t give us the right to completely discount one another. Being open-minded and flexible can get you further along than you think. I’m not encouraging a compromise of moral values and your spiritual/religious beliefs. How “my way or the highway” are we though? I encourage you, look inward.

To truly love means to truly forgive. Forgiveness is a difficult, difficult thing especially when we feel justified in why we’re holding onto hurt and/or resentment. When a person wrongs us, it’s easy to treat them disdainfully. It’s easier to hold on to the fear that they might hurts us again because we’re protecting ourselves. Truthfully, sometimes we just want to be resentful. We might feel that forgiving them means we aren’t holding them accountable for their wrongs. On the contrary, (and we hear this all the time) forgiveness is for us. Unforgiveness is unhealthy and an extra weight that we really don’t need to carry. But, but, but. We’ve got egos, our own definitions of forgiveness, and sometimes we’ve not even forgiven ourselves. You cannot sustain a healthy relationship (w/ whomever) if you don’t forgive. Extending grace goes further than holding contempt. I encourage you, look inward.

You can only control you. For those of us who like to anticipate what’s next and who pride ourselves on being in control of our lives, know that you will never be able to control everything. Circumstances will arise that are beyond your control. People will do what they want in spite of your efforts to get them to “see the light.” Sure, we may have the power of influence, but at the end of the day we can only control ourselves. Time after time, we see people making efforts to get others to fulfill their own agendas, only to fail. The lesson I’m finding in this is that it’s important to take responsibility for your own actions. Remember that sometimes a person’s behavior is based on nothing short of that’s just who they are. It’s a “them” thing and there may be nothing you can do about it. This is also a lesson in not taking things so personally. Ego, ego, ego. I encourage you, look inward.

A lot of what’s being unconvered is how egocentric we can be as humans. It’s hard work to be a little humble and really take a good look at ourselves. Each one of us has something that we can change for the better. How much more fulfilling could life be? I encourage you, look inward.

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