Ep 141 Why is it foolish to mistake silence as weakness?

I came across this meme the other day that said, “Don’t mistake my silence for weakness.” This statement really resonated with me. I’ve definitely been in my fair share of situations where I’ve had people make the unfortunate mistake of doing this to me.

Now, depending on where we meet, I completely understand why you may feel that way. Regardless of whether I’m in a social or work related setting, I like to kick back and assess the situation before I start talking. I prefer to sit back and relax while I learn more about the people involved. Then if I feel comfortable with the folks I’m around, I’ll join in the conversation. If I feel like we’re not going to have a ton in common, I minimize my comments in order to keep the peace. 

Guess what? I’m not shy. Now those of you who know me, you’re probably laughing and immediately thinking absolutely not, but others may be thinking, “Hmm, you could have fooled me?!” 

It never ceases to amaze me how many people automatically associate silence with being shy or even worse…weakness.

The sad thing is that this couldn’t be furthest from the truth. As with everything in life, you have to have a balance, but in many situations, silence, especially on the job, is a strength. 

Have you ever been in a meeting at work with someone who wouldn’t shut up? I’m not talking about the folks who have a legitimate question. I’m talking about the people who love hearing the sound of their own voice. They make comments to demonstrate how “smart” they are, ask questions that either don’t pertain to the topic at hand, or could easily be answered if they just took that extra second to think instead of asking that dumb question. Many people truly believe this is the only way to get noticed or receive some unofficial praise from their boss. 

However, what our talkative colleagues  don’t seem to realize is that they are having the exact opposite effect. People will start to ignore you. If you’re constantly talking that means you’re not listening. You’re too busy focusing on what your next profound comment will be so you don’t allow yourself the opportunity to truly listen and immerse yourself into the topic that is being discussed. Which means that you’re more than likely going to miss out on some valuable information that is being shared with your team.

It’s been my experience that folks who tend to be quiet people have a higher level of demonstrating discernment.  They know how to pick and choose their battles. Their goal is to add value not noise. They don’t have anything to prove.  When they ask a question or make a comment, it really is because they are truly seeking to understand that person or that topic. They know that listening is active, not passive. Every fiber in your body is going to want to divert your attention to thinking about the point and/or concept that you want to convey, but this is the wrong way to have a conversation. In order to have a truly powerful conversation you need to listen to what the other person has to say and then respond. It takes time and energy to be an engaged listener, but it’s well worth the endeavor.

The amount of information you pick up when you’re focused on listening to truly understand instead of just appearing to be listening is gold. So much can be learned from not only what that person is saying but also through non verbal cues like their body language and facial expressions. I don’t have a poker face.  So my face will immediately let you know whether we are aligned on whatever the topic of conversation is, but again, these are things that you will miss if you’re too busy talking.

Unfortunately, one of the many consequences of talking  too much is that it reduces the time you have left for you to put your words into action. When you’re working you really don’t have a lot of time for idle conversation. You are well aware that actions speak louder than words. Quiet people tend to be more focused on working towards their goals and not talking about them. When I’m at work, I work. I work to live not live to work. My job funds my life but it is NOT my life. I don’t mind engaging in conversation, but you’re not going to find me chit chatting at the watercooler, trying to fit in to cliques, or sucking up to managers so I can climb the corporate ladder. Why? Doing those things will derail your self-esteem and take precious time away from me getting my work done. My goal is to make sure I perform well on the job so I can have money to create content and participate in hobbies or passion projects.

I limit my time on social media, listening to the news, and immediately remove toxic people from my life. All of those things I just named are nothing but noise that left unchecked can really derail you from discovering and developing the talents and gifts God gave you so you could live an extraordinary life. How you live your life may be the only Bible others around you ever read, so why not write chapters that inspire others to do the same?

Now, I realize that life is not full of roses. There isn’t a person on this earth that has not been in a situation where they were treated unfairly. I’m actually going through this right now with my dream condo on the lakefront. You can learn more about that in a prior episode called, “ Are you causing good trouble?”  I want nothing more than to tell these people off in-person, but doing so would cause more harm than good. 

 I’ve expressed myself in writing rather than engage in verbal confrontations. By the way, I’m not one of those people that goes back and forth. I pray about the matter, say what I have to say and then leave it alone. 

I’m saving my time and energy to search for alternative ways to gain the peace and justice I seek. Arguing with fools that are a couple fries short of a Happy Meal accomplishes nothing. 

The Bible says in Prov 23: 9 Do not speak to a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words. I know arguing with these people is an utter waste of time. In my case, it would be incredibly naive to mistake my silence as giving up or as weakness.  It’s quite the opposite. Silence in this instance is actually demonstrating strength. It’s much easier to be a hot head and lose your temper than it is to remove yourself from the situation until you have your temper under control. 

In Ecc 3:7 God already told us that there’s a time to keep silence and a time to speak. The struggle of knowing when to keep silent is real. If you’re able to have a peace that surpasses all understanding then take comfort in the fact that you’re on the right track (Phil 4:7). 

Thanks so much for listening to today’s episode. If you enjoy listening to Hustle in Faith and would like to support the show, please consider sharing it with your friends, leaving a review, donating, or making a purchase at  StarenguCrew, our new fitness apparel shop.

Be sure to connect with us on Facebook and Pinterest. Remember, if you’re everything to everyone then you risk being no one. You never know who will inspire you in the next episode!

Ep 140 How to combat allergies and improve your nutrition

In today’s episode, we’re speaking with one of my English students named Chris. He is a Protein scientist from Germany. Chris has been on the show before and I’m so happy to have him here once again. We will be discussing a variety of topics today ranging from how to deal with allergies training our immune system, and so much more!

Thanks so much for listening to today’s episode. If you enjoy listening to Hustle in Faith and would like to support the show, please consider sharing it with your friends, leaving a review, donating, or making a purchase at  StarenguCrew, our fitness apparel shop.

Remember, if you’re everything to everyone then you risk being no one. You never know who you may inspire. See you in the next episode!

Ep. 139 Are you causing good trouble?

The past couple of weeks have been crazy for me. I recently purchased my dream home right on the lakefront in Chicago. It’s in a quiet, peaceful area of the city. I’m not a party animal by any means, I’ve always been an old soul. So chilling on my balcony listening to the waves from the lake or having the option to go for a swim during the day is icing on the cake. 

I moved into my dream home only to quickly discover that the Unit above me does NOT have any sound proofing insulation in her unit. Meaning, I can hear everything that she does. Walking, talking, running water, you name it. By the way, in case you’re wondering, soundproof insulation is NOT something that would be checked for in a home inspection. Home inspectors only check for visible damage. Plus, if you see this building, combined with the amount of money that I pay in mortgage and HOA fees you would NEVER assume that this would even be an issue.

I was angry and upset when I discovered this problem. Especially because this person let’s call her Karen because that’s exactly what she is and you’ll see why in a moment, Karen decided to throw a party that went until 4am. Now I work from home. You have to be absolutely insane to throw a party knowing full well that your unit is not soundproof. 

I wrote a letter to the President of the HOA board, that the Unit above me was violating the board’s own bylaws because her unit is not soundproof and wanted to know how we were going to resolve this situation. Now, the real irony in this situation is that Karen is also on the board. So needless to say, she, like many of the Karen’s in the world, believes that rules apply to everyone else but themselves.

So Karen had the audacity or should I say caucasity to respond to my complaint by telling me that I should come upstairs whenever I feel that she’s being too loud. Not that she’s going to get the insulation installed as the condo rules state, but that I’m supposed to inconvenience myself and allow her to determine my peace and happiness regarding what is considered acceptable noise level. Again, going by her insane rationale, I would be running upstairs every 5 minutes because I can hear her walking, talking, etc. 

By the way, I already knew that Karen’s “suggestion” for me to knock on her door and tell her when she’s loud was nothing more than a setup. Karen’s are tricky like that. Instead of her doing the right thing and installing insulation that should have been done years ago, she was hoping that I would be an idiot, knock on her door, thereby setting the scene for her to make a false claim to the police that I’m harassing her.   She’s definitely the type that has the cops on speed dial and would rival Amy Cooper’s white woman damsel in distress act. I’m not even trying to go down that route…

I’m pretty sure Karen has probably said
this at some point in time in her life. 😂
https://www.instagram.com/p/CN_KD_VABGe/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Everyone on the board are friends, so clearly I’m going to most likely have to seek remedies outside of this insane condo board composed of idiots in order to get this situation resolved. Trust me, I am extremely confident that this situation will get resolved in my favor. However, I can’t help but shake my head in frustration because this would never happen if the situation were reversed. I’d be in jail or automatically fined by the board. Yet, I’m the one who has to jump through all of these unnecessary hoops so I can receive the justice that I seek which is to completely enjoy the peace and comfort of my own home.  

I’m in a David and Goliath situation.  I’m new to the building. Based on the looks I get whenever I enter the building, some still haven’t gotten the memo that Black people can own property now, so me living here is probably really confusing for 90% of the folks that live in my building. So needless to say, in my short time living in my dream home I’ve already been labeled as a trouble maker. All because I won’t let people walk all over me as a doormat.

For those of you who truly know me, you’re probably laughing. You know I’m really laid back, super chill. I’ve been told I’m funny, kind, patient and helpful so it’s ironic that I’m being viewed as a troublemaker.

I remember thinking to myself. “At least, I’m causing good trouble.” Then, I immediately thought about one of my favorite quotes from civil rights activist John Lewis said, “Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” Just in case you’re not familiar with the phrase “good trouble” it means to stand up for your rights.

This is exactly what I plan to do, but it got me thinking, “How many of us are causing good trouble?”

I’ve never purposely set out to get into trouble but if it finds me, I’m not running away. I’m going to fight back. I haven’t always been this way. There was a big chunk of my life where I would be smiling on the outside but crying on the inside. Mainly, because I was too busy worrying about what other people would think if I decided to stand up for myself. 

Throughout the years and due to a variety of unpleasant circumstances that I’ve experienced, something in me just snapped. I just knew  that I could not go on living this way. People are going to talk about you no matter what you do, so like my mom said, “Make it count. Regardless of what you decide, you’re bound to upset someone so make sure that whatever you decide to do is in your best interest.” I can’t recall the exact moment but I think it was in my early thirties when her advice finally started to click for me.  When you cause good trouble, the bullies/Goliath’s feel threatened. Their entire definition of success is based on whether you fear them.

I’ve learned that living a life causing good trouble can be scary at times. However, the damage that allowing Goliaths (aka bullies) can cause will greatly diminish your life. Trust me, I’ve experienced both sides of this coin and I’d rather live a life filled with good trouble. There’s so many benefits to living a life filled with good trouble.

One of the beauties of living a life filled with  good trouble means that you can hold people accountable for their actions. I truly believe the majority of the chaos that you see in this world is due to the fact that so many miserable people aren’t being put in their place. They insist on viewing themselves as a victim and will blame anyone or anything other than themselves. Oftentimes, bullies feel powerful not because they are right, but because they think that there is safety in numbers. They don’t realize that those people who support these bullies out of fear will leave that bully alone the moment that someone who causes good trouble exposes that bullies insecurities.

Another one of my favorite benefits of causing good trouble is that it empowers you to make decisions that protect your sanity. There have been countless times throughout my journey through the corporate world where I’ve just wanted to scream. Regardless of how hard I worked and even if I achieved my goals, I still felt invisible. It was a slap in the face to see that success in the corporate world often relies on who you know instead of what you know and whether or not you’re viewed as a “teamplayer.”  

That last phrase by the way is code for, “How much nonsense are you willing to put up with on a daily basis to prove that you fit in?” The most frustrating thing about both of the aforementioned is that neither one of the things I just mentioned have ANYTHING to do with you actually doing your job. 

It’s just plain frustrating for someone like me because I’m more quiet at work. I’m big on living a drama free life so one of the best ways I’ve learned to stay out of office politics is to stay to myself at work. It’s less of  a headache for me. After working hard all day, my favorite way to unwind is to exercise or work on my passion projects. 

My willingness to make good trouble has allowed me to last but not least work on projects that use my creativity to help inspire others to achieve their goals. I can personally attest to the fact that there’s no such thing as making it to the top alone. God has blessed us with a variety of talents. We may not get to use them on our 9 to 5 but that’s why it’s important to reclaim your time after work so you can discover or develop talents that can position you to be a blessing in someone else’s life. 

If you need a boost, or push, I’m more than happy to help but only if you’re willing to step out in faith and into some good trouble.

Thanks so much for listening to today’s episode. Don’t forget to check out the Prayer and Gratitude Journal for Men and Women of Faith that is available for sale on Amazon and StarenguCrew, our new fitness T-shirt shop.

If you enjoy Hustle in Faith’s content, please consider becoming a supporter by donating or purchasing a Prayer and Gratitude Journal for Men and Women of Faith or Tshirt from StarenguCrew in order to help offset the cost of producing this show.Be sure to connect with us on Facebook and Pinterest. Remember, if you’re everything to everyone then you risk being no one. You never know who will inspire you in the next episode.

Episode 138 Go For It! My Dream Home

I recently purchased my dream home! I wanted to share three major lessons that this situation brought to my attention.

Thanks so much for listening to today’s episode. If you enjoy listening to Hustle in Faith and would like to support the show, please consider sharing it with your friends, leaving a review, donating, or making a purchase at  StarenguCrew, our fitness apparel shop.

Remember, if you’re everything to everyone then you risk being no one. You never know who you may inspire. See you in the next episode!

Episode 137: Why Half-Truth Can Cause More Trouble Than Ignorance

The reason Satan is a master at manipulating people is because he uses a small amount of truth, God’s word so that his lie can be more believable. In other words, Satan twists God’s word with his own words. This is what he did with Eve in the garden.  Satan did not tell Eve a complete lie.

Satan uses our limited understanding of God’s word to distract and confuse us. This is why I say settling for a small amount of God’s word is sometimes worse than having no knowledge at all. It is our small amount of knowledge that makes it easier for Satan to twist things up in our mind.  

Even worse, settling for a small amount of knowledge gives us false confidence. Then we end up refusing to listen to wise godly counsel.  When we don’t take time to examine our circumstances, this can cause us to become overly confident and ignore the big picture. This will cause us to step directly into a life of pain and suffering.

When we solely rely on the small amount of knowledge that we possess, we are not functioning with a full understanding of God’s word. This causes us to misread our circumstances and our direction from God. During one of the low points in my life, I did just that. I was fully convinced that my circumstances would automatically change if I changed my scenery.  

So, I decided that I should move abroad. To make a long story short, I wanted a change because things were not going right in my life. I was working dead end job, after  dead end job for managers that were a couple fries short of a happy meal. I wasn’t allowed to be creative and my voice wasn’t being heard.

I am the type of person who takes pride in their work and thrives off of challenges. Needless to say, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see why I felt like I needed a drastic change. What I fail to realize is that – a change in scenery was not what I needed. 

During a series of Bible lessons, my mom helped me to see that a change of scenery would not alleviate my issue. Here is the thing, instead of putting forth the much-needed work to align my distorted emotions to God’s word, I thought moving abroad would alleviate all my problems.

I remember times when I would argue back and forth with my mom about how strongly I felt that I should move abroad. I was dead wrong. Now, I am not saying that moving to a new country is wrong, but what I am saying is to examine your motives for doing so. Mine would have been completely for the wrong reason.

I was viewing my ability to move abroad as an opportunity to “escape” from my miserable life. My mom took God’s word and helped me to face my real problem, which was me. My problem was deep-rooted inside me. What I needed was a complete overhaul in my mind. After letting God’s word actually guide me and not distort my emotions, I learned that living abroad was NOT the answer to my problem.

What I needed to do was bloom where I was planted, which is exactly what I did.  Life is good! By taking time to actually study God’s word and not rely on my distorted emotions, my mom proved that moving abroad would not have solved my problem. The thing I failed to realize was since my problem was from within, moving abroad would just mean that my problem would move abroad with me. Like most of us, I was looking for a quick fix.

Instead of dealing with my distorted emotions, I thought I would find happiness by permanently changing my scenery. I am sad to say, I personally know people right now that are going through what I went through. They failed to realize that their psychological problem is going to pack up and go with them. Running away from internal problems is not the answer.

Living abroad would have been a huge mistake for me. My hysterical state of mind would have led me down a dead-end street. In fact, I personally know people who made that very same mistake I almost made.  Thanks to God giving me a wise, godly mom, she was able to walk me through my psychological problems, which was simply a case of distorted emotions.  I was searching for fulfillment in ALL the wrong places. 

I have to admit, it also took me a while to realize that living abroad (changing scenery) is not the answer to my emotional problems. Changing my scenery is a whole lot easier than changing who I was inside. If I had listened to my distorted emotions, which gave me false confidence, I would have made the biggest mistake of my life. 

Not thinking straight, I failed to realize that it takes a long time to get established anywhere, even in a new neighborhood.  Imagine trying to get established in another country.  In my case, the setback would have been enormous. My health problems alone would have derailed that move.

The way my allergies and my weak digestive system are set up I would not last long if I couldn’t get my vitamins and/or access to healthy food. False confidence and laziness make us behave like teenagers. As you know, we all at that age thought that we were invincible and of course we had all the answers. 

As a teenager, we can overlook this ignorant and prideful state of mind. However, if we expect to receive God’s blessings, we cannot become complacent in this childish mentality. It’s this teenager’s state of mind that leads us away from God.  We start to think that “I” have all the answers. “I” am my own person. “I” know what I am doing. “I” don’t need to seek God’s advice. And the “I”s goes on and on and on until we start reaping the negative consequences to our actions.

It is our childish, self-centered attitude that makes us easy prey for Satan. When our emotions are telling us to go full force ahead, we don’t take time to stop and evaluate what we’re truly getting ourselves into. Even worse, when God sends us godly counseling, we are so filled with false confidence whereby we refuse to listen to that person’s warnings.

I was stubborn. I remember arguing back and forth with my mom. What she taught me was to align my emotions to God’s word. Only through this process can we separate facts from fiction. Sadly, many of us are where I was, looking outside of ourselves for solutions and direction. The reason we look outside of our “self” is because we are too impatient to thoroughly examine God’s word so we can get clear, direct answers to our circumstances. Our destructive thinking and laziness make us easy prey for Satan to lead us down dead end streets. 

To avoid our emotions becoming distorted, we need to listen to Heb 5:12-14, which warns us not to remain as immature teenagers. According to Hebrews, “. . . by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God.” It continues to say, “. . . everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness . . .”

In other words, when we settle for a small amount of truth, we do not take time to understand God or gain clarity regarding our struggles. Through a series of Bible study classes, I finally figured out what God wanted for me.  What He truly wanted was for me to see that I was putting way too much emphasis in trying to find fulfillment in all the wrong places, like a 9 to 5.

Thinking that a job was going to make me happy was delusional. Especially when I was working in roles that didn’t appreciate my talent and was robbing me of time that I could have spent working on my relationship with Christ. To make a long story short, once I completely overhauled my schedule and state of mind; meaning, putting God first, everything changed.

I felt like one of my favorite songs, “I can see clearly now” by Johnny Nash. It’s like all those clouds that were following me around finally disappeared. Spending time with God led me down a path that allowed me to pursue a variety of other ways that I could demonstrate my creativity.

However, the most important aspect that still blows my mind is that I’m teaching English from the comfort of my own home to adults overseas. I’m so blessed because I feel like I know someone in all of the countries that I want to travel to one day when my bank account cooperates with me. Guess what?

I didn’t have to completely turn my world upside down and live abroad to feel like I had a purpose in life. God showed me that I could accomplish everything that I wanted right from the comfort of my own home. The problem was my hysterical state of mind caused me to not know the sound of God’s voice. God was waiting until I calmed down enough so He could show me other ways that I could demonstrate and enjoy my creativity besides a 9 to 5.

I have to admit, it takes a lot of work to align our emotions to God’s word. Like me, most people just want to move to a different location in hope that a new scenery will solve all of life’s problems. This is what happens when we allow Satan to enter our mind and convince us that running away from our problems is the answer. 

What we fail to realize is, our psychological problems are not going away. The problems are just going to pack up and go with us. Knowledge of this fact is why I created a system for myself. Whenever I’m dealing with a situation that has an unusually negative overtone or I’m continuously faced with obstacle after obstacle that doesn’t seem to have any end in sight, I make sure to stop, pray and ask God to guide me towards the right decision.

This opposition could be God telling me no; wait, not now, or do not do it this way. I learned that sometimes God uses opposition as a means to protect us from ourselves. He definitely protected me. If I had moved out of the country, this would have been a colossal mistake.  My problem would have never gotten solved.  

Running away from our problems does not help us to grow in grace (2Pet 3:17).  Spiritual growth is what we need to erase our psychological issues. Looking back at my own problems, I know that it is our lack of growth that keeps us from developing our senses so that we can discern between good and evil. 

When we settle for a small amount of truth, we don’t take time to understand God or gain clarity regarding our struggles. This is why we are unable to know the sound of God’s voice from our own internal, distorted voice.  All of which keep us from our goals or purpose in life. 

Finally, false confidence is one of Satan’s biggest scams. Due to Satan’s victims feeling good about their decision and/or situation, many people walk directly into a life of pain and suffering. All because it felt good. Although living abroad would have been a colossal mistake for me, nonetheless, I truly enjoy traveling abroad. I cannot wait until this pandemic is over so that I can go and visit all the people that God brought into my life without me ever having to leave the comfort of my home.

Thanks so much for listening to today’s episode. If you enjoy listening to Hustle in Faith and would like to support the show, please consider sharing it with your friends, leaving a review, donating, or making a purchase at  StarenguCrew, our new fitness apparel shop.

Be sure to connect with us on Facebook and Pinterest. Remember, if you’re everything to everyone then you risk being no one. You never know who will inspire you in the next episode!