In the course of your life, you may face ridicule or criticism for your spiritual beliefs, career choice, personal preferences, relationships and your dreams. Such negative reactions can wear you down to a point where you feel powerless to explain yourself and your choices or refute the false perceptions of others. Moreover, you feel as if you are losing your grip on what matters to you in the turbulent ocean of other people’s words, which can make you stumble over the doubts they raise.
Regardless what song the piper plays, don’t simply follow. Don’t settle. Contend for what’s important to you.
Spiritual beliefs. You don’t have to be a bully or a bother to others. When the appropriate opportunity presents itself, share what you believe, how it has changed your personal life and altered your outlook on life in general. If you saturate your mind with the doctrines of your faith and infuse them into every aspect of your daily life, you will be equipped to contend for your spiritual beliefs, if it becomes necessary. At home, at work or at play, ensure that your attitude, words and actions bear witness to our spiritual convictions regarding honesty, dependability, compassion and responsibility.
Individuality. The world – parents, siblings, relatives, friends and the media in all its forms – constantly clamours, inveigles and sometimes demands that you forsake the essence of who you are for the image, the life and the pursuits they want you to adopt. You may come across people who systematically nit-pick at what they see as your flaws. They may whittle down your resistance and grind you into their mould. Others may not be aware that in their relatively innocent ways, they are either enticing or forcing you into the personality or lifestyle of someone unlike who you really are and who you want to be. If you value the person you are, tend for your individuality. Regularly assess the people and circumstances in your life to see if they enhance or endanger who you are and who you aspire to become. Contend for those aspects of your character that are important to your individuality. Resist the calls to change and adopt attitudes, behaviour and images that run cross-grain to your authentic self.
Your relationships. At some point, even the best relationships are strained under the normal stress of daily life. If you don’t nurture the relationships that are most important to you, you will not only grieve and hurt the people involved, but lose them entirely. Do the daily work it takes to keep them fresh, vibrant and passionate. Don’t take anything for granted. Be the first to offer a compromise when there is an impasse. Keep your heart open so that those you love are always sure of where they stand with you. Contend with the threats and attempts to weaken or destroy your cherished relationships.
Your dreams. With all their wide and sweeping visions, with all their detailed plans, with all the power they hold to keep you focused, determined, motivated and passionate, your dreams are delicate. And, if you do not actively contend for them, negative circumstances, negative people and your own negative thoughts will dim the vision and overshadow your dreams. Set a guard over your dreams and contend with every enemy that threatens to dismiss or demolish them.
Have you fallen victim to the critical and discouraging words of people who disagree or dislike what is important to you? Don’t resign yourself to living as a victim. With integrity, grace and passion, contend for what’s important to you.
(Published in the Womanwise Magazine’s Wright Words of Wisdom column on March 3rd 2013)