There’s No Crying in Sales

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A new job always comes – for me – with a mixture of trepidation and excitement. Normally I have a ‘freak-out’ moment the first day. I go home a sobbing mess sure I can’t possibly do the job I’ve just taken on. This time I skipped the first day freak-out and have apparently decided to save it for the third week. Ever tried looking calm and collected while you feel like you’re about to lose all the contents of your stomach? Yeah, I’m not very good at that.

I kept hearing Tom Hanks’ in A League of Their Own… “There’s no crying in baseball!” There’s no crying in sales, either. Not if you want to make it, at least.

It’s a competitive job where some of the coworkers seem to not really care (or want) you to make it. I’ve never been in a job like this before. I’m used to teamwork, not psychological games where it feels like the people you work with want you to fail and give up.

To make matters worse, I wasn’t even trained for this job. I was just thrown into it with the promise of training that I hadn’t received yet. I’ve been winging it with no real idea of what I’m doing. Part of this is my fault, I know. I need to be studying at home on everything I can get my hands on, but that’s difficult after working for nearly eleven hours every day with laundry, cleaning(which I’ve sorely neglected to get done), and a puppy I need to take care of waiting for me when I get home. Not to mention that I’m pretty much emotionally exhausted by the time I get home, as well.

Yep, on Tuesday morning of this week I was sure I’d made a big mistake. But what could I do? I need a job and I had one so it was either suck it up and do my best or quit and continue in the long line of failures that I’m trying to break free from.

I texted my dad asking for prayer that I’d be able to overcome the anxiety that had my stomach ready to turn itself inside out and my mind spinning in circles and he texted me back with a reminder that I desperately needed.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

I should never worry or be afraid. God is with me. Whether I do fantastic at this job or fail miserably, God is with me. Whether I have the start of a life-long career or get fired tomorrow, God is with me. Whether I soar high or crash and burn, God is with me.

I have to let go of fear and trust in Him. While I may still entertain ideas of being completely humiliated out of this job, does that really matter? God is with me. If this job doesn’t work out, I’m fairly sure He’ll take care of me. That isn’t an excuse to not do my best, of course. It is an understanding that will allow me to not be guided by the fear of what may happen.

Now it’s just a matter of living by it and letting go of old patterns of habit, which is never an easy thing to do. But even that is covered by the promise that God will always be with me. So I don’t have to break down in tears (which would only give my coworkers more fodder) and I don’t have to lose my lunch to a rolling stomach (which is a waste of money).

I went into work with that mindset Wednesday morning and the first thing I was told was that we’re starting a training program. And boy was I relieved. All that stress and worry from Monday and Tuesday was a complete waste of time and energy.

Are you struggling with fear or doubt? Take strength and courage from this, God is with you. What more do we really need?

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Taking Back Tomorrow

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I’m going to start this by saying I’m not laying blame on anyone for anything. These are simply facts as I understand them, and I’ve come to realize certain things about myself that I wanted to share.

There was a time when I believed I could do anything. I always loved telling stories, but it didn’t hit me until much later that those stories could be written down, so my dreams as a child looked a bit different than they do now. I wanted to act, or perhaps dance in the ballet. I taught myself to walk on my tiptoes and do pirouettes; though I’m sure they looked pretty awful. The next logical step in my mind was to ask my mom if I could take lessons and so that’s what I did. And she told me one of the worst things you can tell a ten-year old.

“You’re too old for that.”

She was full of helpful advice. I wasn’t very pretty, but I wasn’t ugly, either. I wasn’t the smartest but I wasn’t dumb. My voice was okay if I sang country (she hated country music). I’m sure she meant well and it was probably the way she was raised, but it’s only recently that I realized how big of an impact that had on me.

On top of ‘advice’ she gave me, I was bullied constantly in school until I moved to a small town and attended a high school that was too small for social groups. You either got along with everyone or you were an outcast. And we all got along fairly well, thank the Lord.

All that to say, on recollection, my mother probably did the most damage to my way of thinking about what I was capable of. When other kids tell you you’re not good enough, smart enough, or pretty enough, it hurts; when your own mother tells you that – no matter how kindly – it leaves a scar for life.

As I said at the beginning, I’m not trying to run my mother into the ground. I loved her then and I still love and miss her now. We all make mistakes. No parents are perfect because no people are perfect. And I’m almost positive that I wouldn’t be a very good mother at all. I’m simply stating facts. What is, is; and what was, was. No matter how good or bad, it can’t be changed.

The point to all of this is that sometimes we have aspects of our personalities that are either good or bad and we have no clue how we came to have them. For me, I’ve always wondered why I was so self-conscious and lacked confidence. Now, I have a better understanding of how I came to be the way I am, and that helps some.

I believed I couldn’t do anything not because I couldn’t do anything, but because I’d let it seep into my head that I couldn’t. I’d never actually tried. I was too afraid of failure to try, and I’ll never get anywhere like that.

So I threw myself out there a week or so ago and left a job I hated for one that – so far – is a million times better. I’ve never worked in sales before and I’m excited about learning and trying new things. Although the hours are long and the job competitive, it has its perks. Another bonus to this job is that I can still write and network while not with customers. I could never do that at any job I had before.

It’s amazing to think about how much time I wasted believing I’d always have to work jobs I hated because I couldn’t do anything else. Sometimes the most frightening thing to do can be doing the thing we want the most. For me I’ve had to stretch far out of my comfort zone in the last couple of months. And in doing those scary things (starting a blog and going for a job unlike any I ever had, to name a couple) I’ve taken back tomorrows that I thought I could never have. It’s true, anything is possible.

Have you made a leap of faith into taking back your tomorrows? What have you done and how is it going?

A Fire in the Bones – guest post by Mike Dellosso

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I’m honored to have the priviledge to host a guest post by Mike Dellosso, author of Scream, The Hunted, Darlington Woods, Darkness Follows, and his newest release, Frantic, which is now available!

One of my favorite people in the Bible is Jeremiah. This guy was called by God as a young man to preach, promised God would be with him, would give him the words to speak. All he had to do was be a mouthpiece. If you know Jeremiah’s story you know things didn’t work out so easily for him. Everywhere he went he was rejected. He preached for years with not a single convert. He was thrown out of towns, laughed at, mocked, ridiculed, tormented. The poor guy even admitted he was a household joke.

And finally, he was discouraged . . . in a bad way.

So discouraged, in fact, that he accused God of tricking him, of forcing him into preaching. He said, “You are stronger than I am and overpowered me.” Jeremiah even contemplated giving up, handing in his name badge and giving God his one-minute notice. His desire was to never speak of God again, to never even speak His name. It had only brought him trouble.

But he couldn’t. No matter how badly he wanted to run from the mockery and rejection he simply couldn’t. In his own words:

But if I say I’ll never mention the Lord or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can’t do it! (Jer. 20:9, NLT)

I talk to a lot of discouraged writers and I ask them all the same question: Why do you write?

Many of them give me the same answer: Because I can’t NOT write. They’ve tried. Rejection has come in waves, knocking them down each time they try to get their footing. They’ve written stories, submitted them everywhere imaginable, only to face more rejection and discouragement. They’ve promised themselves they would write no more, turn in their keyboard, burn their tablets, get rid of every pen in their home.

But they couldn’t. Why?

Because the story in them was put there by God. The desire to write is His desire for them. He kindled that fire in their bones and though it may flicker and fade it never burns out.

If you’re one of those writers, here’s my advice. Keep writing. You were called to write. But understand, you may not be called to be published or read in the way you think. God may have other plans for you. Be open to that. And really, if your writing never makes it past your family and friends but you are a blessing to them, isn’t that enough? Aren’t you still being used by God to minister through writing?

Ask yourself this: If I work for a year on a story that only one person reads but it changes that one person’s life, was it worth it? Think carefully about your answer, it reveals everything about your motivation.

Mike Dellosso is the author of 5 novels of suspense. His latest, Frantic, just released February 7 and is already getting great reviews. Mike lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and four daughters. He blogs regularly about matters of faith and life at www.mikedellosso.wordpress.com. Keep up to date with what’s going on in his world by “liking” his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/mikedellosso.

Enjoy what you read? Leave a comment and ‘like’ Mike’s facebook page, and you’ll be entered to win a free copy of Frantic!

Accepting Trials and Avoiding Temptations

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I’ve been guilty of this so many times. I come to a difficult situation and the first thing I pray is for deliverance. I face a temptation and ask God to give me strength to get through it. Anyone else notice the problem with this?

It’s backwards!

The definition of trial is: A state of pain or anguish that tests patience, endurance, or belief (definition found here: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/trial).

The definition of temptation is: something that seduces or has the quality to seduce (definition found here: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/temptation).

As you can see, trials and temptations are not the same thing. Let’s look at a few verses that talk about trials and temptations, and how we are to deal with them.

Trials

James 1:2-3 – Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet various trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

1 Peter 1:6-7 – In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

James 1:12 says, Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Temptations

James 1:13-15 – Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

1 Corinthians 10:13 says, No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Trials inevitably come; temptations for the most part come when we are pulled away to our own desires. Sometimes temptation can come out of the blue, but there’s always an escape, as 1 Corinthians clearly says.

We are to stand the test, remain up under the trial. This is how we grow and mature. We are to flee temptation so we aren’t caught and made to stumble.

So how do we know the difference? A trial is something that draws us nearer to God because most of the time we have nowhere else to turn when faced with it. A temptation draws us away from God. It isn’t edifying.

However, a temptation may not always be glaringly obvious. For an alcoholic or an addict, temptations can be clear: a friend we used to drink or do drugs with, for one example. It’s best to completely break ties to these people. That can hurt, I know, but it’s the best for our continued sobriety.

The not so obvious? One of my personal problem areas in the past was Samurai Jack. Now, it’s a cartoon and I don’t think there was anything wrong with it, but I couldn’t watch it. Why? Because the first time I did was when I was on acid, and every time I even saw a preview for it, that’s where my mind would go. That was a while back and isn’t really too much of an issue anymore, but there are still movies I can’t watch and songs that I can’t listen to – again, not because there’s anything wrong with them, but they take my mind back to when I was drinking. If I dwell on things like that or let them into my mind, it’s only a matter of time before I start thinking heavily about drinking or drugs, and that leaves me open to temptations that could lead me back to the lifestyle I’ve left behind me.

We have to be honest with ourselves and know what our stumbling blocks are so we can avoid them. This is imperative to grow and stay on a path leading away from a less than desirable past. Our goal should be to bear up under trials – with the support of our brothers and sisters in Christ – and to flee temptations – which we’ll get the strength from God to do.

Do you recognize the potential temptations in your life? How has God provided escape for you in the past? Feel free to share in the comments.

(All Bible verses were used from the ESV)

Dealing with the Public

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Most of the jobs I’ve had have been in retail, outside of a couple of jobs in a warehouse and sawmill. I don’t think there’s a working person who doesn’t know that it can be a stinky deal working with the public. The public can be difficult, nasty, and downright cruel at times. While I’m grateful to have a job, it does have its drawbacks. But something – the Holy Spirit probably – hit me last night with a character flaw: I don’t love the public. A heavy conviction for someone who’s been praying for God to teach me how to love Him the way I should. Jesus did say if you’ve done it unto the least of these, you’ve done it unto me. (see Matthew 25:40)

I love my family. I love my friends. I get along fine with people who are nice to me. But what about the person who glares at me because the price of cigarettes went up? Or the person who gets mad because they went over the twenty dollars they paid for their gas but ignored me when I said that I couldn’t set it to shut off because they were already pumping? What about the person who takes twenty minutes trying to figure out which lottery tickets to buy and what the last drawing’s winning numbers were while the line builds up behind them? Do I love these people?

I have to be honest, I don’t act like it. I get frustrated. While I’ve never openly be rude to a customer, I’m pretty sure they’ve recognized my tight smiles for the fake smiles they were. And it hit me yesterday that that was unacceptable.

“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same… But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and evil. Be merciful, even as your father is merciful.” -Luke 6:32-33, 35-36

Jesus makes it very clear how we should conduct ourselves with people who may or may not respect us. Sometimes it’s really hard to keep a real smile on my face while customers are being ungrateful and harsh, but I don’t have the right to return the same feeling toward them, even if I don’t voice it or they never know. God weighs the heart and He knows our intentions.

So my new resolution for work is to start trying to look at every customer and see them as God sees them. And if I truly want to love Him, that requires that I love others. For all I know, He might have placed me back at the gas station simply so I could learn that lesson.

I’ve also realized, though, that it isn’t a lesson simply learned once. It’s going to take a lot of prayer and practice.

Feel free to comment with your own experiences with the public. How do you handle rude customers or difficult situations with the public in general? I’m not above asking for advice.

The Dangers of Enabling

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Adrian spared a glance to his friend. “You know, one day you’re gonna wake up and look around you and realize that your life isn’t as awful as you think it is. One day you’re gonna realize that there is something worth living for. And I hope you don’t have to wind up in a jail cell before that day comes.”

Ian shrugged. “Honestly? I couldn’t care less.”

He looked back to the road. “I know. That bothers me worse than anything else. But if it comes to that, I promise, you’ll care then.”

“What would you know about it, little Mr. Sunshine?” He pulled a pint from his pocket, and Adrian jerked it away from him.

“Not in my car; especially not while I’m driving.”

-excerpt from Something Called Redemption

 The topic of enabling has been brought up with me a lot lately. For those who may not know, enabling is any action on the part of someone that in turn allows or contributes to an addict’s/alcoholic’s behavior.

Many enablers believe they are helping the person they love. They don’t want to see them go hungry or have nowhere to live. They can’t stand to see them hurting or upset so they try to keep them happy. The reality is that their actions are continuing and perpetuating the addict’s behavior. Even something that seems innocent can have devastating consequences the enabler doesn’t see coming.

A few examples of enabling are: loaning money, driving the addict to ‘a friend’s house’, allowing them a free place to stay with no responsibilities, allowing them to threaten self-harm or harm to others if they don’t get money and/or drugs/alcohol, paying bills for them, not enforcing any rules, acting as if their behavior isn’t a problem, and many more.

Each case is different. I know of someone right now dealing with an alcoholic and one form of the enabling going on in that situation is always answering the phone when the alcoholic calls. A phone call doesn’t seem like it’d do any harm, right? In this case, it is. Those phone calls are the last link he has to anyone who cares and he uses them to exert his control over the person he calls. He feels justified in his actions because the calls are taken seriously.

Many times enablers don’t realize that their actions can actually help the addict/alcoholic on their road to complete destruction. Look at it this way, there are many different ways for someone to hit bottom, including but not limited to overdose, alcohol poisoning, or accidents and fights that result from being high or drunk. Would you rather your loved one hit bottom in an emergency room or when they realize they have no money, nowhere to live, and no true friends left to turn to?

I know it’s painful to have to hurt those we love, but many times it’s the most loving thing we can do. Forcing a ‘rock bottom’ scenario could lead to a quicker recovery. Take it from someone who’s been there, I’m so thankful that I didn’t have anyone to enable me when I finally quit drinking. At the time I was frustrated and angry, but now that I’m nearing my two year mark of sobriety I’m extremely thankful.

The answer to enabling is simple and yet difficult. Stop. No more handouts. No more money. No more free rides. Do whatever it takes to force the addict to really examine their situation. Be firm, but also do it in love. Remember, they’re blinded by their actions. Make sure they know that they’re loved. Make sure they know that should they choose to get help, they will not be alone.

James 5:20 says: let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

The best way to truly help someone in the grips of addiction is to pray for them, offer help to them, and refuse to be any part of continuing their downward spiral. Enabling is NOT the same as helping. But remember that the choice is ultimately theirs. You can’t force them to sober up any more than you can force someone into salvation. But you can do your part to lead them to the right path.

If you know an addict or alcoholic please examine how you relate to them and make the decision to be a part of the solution, not part of the problem. I happened to stumble upon A Mother’s Heart a week or so ago and found a woman who truly understands the heartache but importance in putting an end to enabling. Susan J Silva is a great source of encouragement to others who are dealing with a loved one in the midst of addiction and I highly recommend her blog.

Do you know an addict, alcoholic, or enabler? Please, leave your comments, questions, or maybe even advice. I’d love to hear from you.

Crazy Love by Francis Chan

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Crazy Love by Francis Chan was released a few years ago, 2008 to be precise. I realize I’m a little late in getting to this and perhaps everyone but me read it a long time ago, but it impacted me so I wanted to get my thoughts out on it.

I can, and quite often do, read through a book in one sitting. This was one book where I couldn’t put it down at times and then other times I had to. It was overwhelming, to say the least. I’ve read other reviews which seemed to sway from one extreme to the other, either loving or hating Crazy Love. Fortunately, I didn’t read any reviews of the book before I bought it. I just bought it and read it, and I’m very glad I did.

Yes, parts were very difficult to read, but I didn’t get the feeling I was being condemned. I felt like I was being sifted or sent through the furnace. That’s a time for being purified. Of course it’s going to hurt, but the reward on the other side is far more valuable than a little pain now. And there’s a very inspiring and uplifted chapter listing amazing true stories. After reading those I felt as if I truly could live a life completely devoted to God.

My final vote on Crazy Love? It rekindled my fire for God and my desire to truly know Him. The apostle Paul knew God very well, yet he still said his desire was to know Him. If Paul never had enough of God, then I don’t think I ever want to have ‘just enough’ of Him, either. I want every day to know Him more and more. And Crazy Love helped me find a Biblical focus for drawing near to God.

For more information about Francis Chan, check out his site: http://crazylovebook.com/index.html

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