How to pronounce התנ״ך (Tanakh in Hebrew)

How to pronounce התנ״ך (Tanakh in Hebrew)

So I started learning Hebrew.

In my excitement I installed an assortment of apps from which to learn and practice.  One of them is the Bible in Hebrew (as it’s ultimately my goal in learning Hebrew to be able to read the Bible in its original language.)  The app is called Hebrew Bible but on my phone it appears as התנ״ך.

As of earlier this afternoon, my Hebrew skills allowed me to sound out ha-ta-na-[something that looks like quotation marks]-kha.  For some odd reason it was driving me absolutely crazy that I didn’t know what those two quotation marks meant.  I had just started learning the letters within the last few days and hadn’t bothered learning all the vowel marks.  Were they two י (yodh)s??  Two “ee” sounds??  Did that turn it into an “ai” then??  So now it’s ha-ta-nai-kha??

After googling “hatanaikha hebrew” and as many spelling variations as I could to no avail, google was finally like, Did you mean: tanakh hebrew?

I hadn’t heard the word “tanakh” before so I checked into it and it turns out it is the canon of the Hebrew Bible.  Fun fact: it is actually an acronym for its three books: the Torah, Nevi’im, and Ketuvim.  I was also able to confirm that somehow התנ״ך is pronounced tanakh.  But what’s with the ה in front?  (Hebrew is read right to left for anyone extremely confused right now.)  And how do the quotation marks make an “ah” sound?  Couldn’t they be done without?

More googling.  “Hebrew quotation marks” and variations thereof eventually led me to this amazing discovery:

The gershayim״⟩, is a Hebrew symbol symbolizing that a sequence of characters is an acronym, and is placed before the last character of the word.

I instantly remembered that fun fact I had discovered earlier and this sentence gave me all the rest I needed to know.

Except there’s still a “ha” in the front!  What is this??  Oh well, I gave up.

A few hours later I was going through some hebrew lessons on youtube and I got to this lesson which answered the remaining question!

Mystery solved!  But gosh, it was difficult to come to this answer.  I imagine there must be other people who decide to learn Hebrew, happen to install the same app, see the title, and are confused.  Only to google it and find nothing.  So, friends, I decided to write the answer here in my very own little corner of the internet.

If you are someone who happened to google this question and came across this blog post, please let me know in the comments!


11 things everyone should learn how to do (before heading off to college)

You’re about to meet people from all different walks of life.

You’re about to see people doing things you do not approve of.

You’re about to do things your parents do not approve of.

And you’ll probably wear some awful outfits and take fewer showers than you should.

This.  Is college.

(The following are the things I learned/wish I learned while in college.  They might not all be relevant for freshmen but you should definitely know them after a few years.  I have broken them down into 4 categories: living on your own, finances, life decisions, and learning/studying.)


Living On Your Own:

You’re moving out of your parents’ house.  Scary.  Exciting.  Now you’re about to live with a bunch of strangers.  Chances are you’ll have more than one roommate throughout your college career.  Whether its in the dorms or in an apartment, these are the things you’ll be glad you know when you find yourself living away from home in a new city.

Cook something healthy.  If you’re a freshman, you might just eat at the campus dining hall all the time.  You might have a kitchen in your dorm room, or you might just have a microwave.  But if you’re lucky enough to have a kitchen, take advantage of it!  Learn to cook yourself some basic entrees.  Vegetables, pasta, and if you’re really daring, chicken or something else substantial.  This is a great thing to learn before you move out of your parents’ house.  Its also a great way to bond with your mom in the last few months you live with her.

Clean up after yourself.  Now that you’ve made yourself a fabulous dinner, please don’t leave the dirty pots and pans in the sink.  I got into so many squabbles with my roommate because I never cleaned up after myself.  Be smarter than I was.  A great way to solve this problem before you have it is to come up with a cleaning schedule with your roommates and assign tasks for yourself.  Just make sure everyone respects this agreement and actually follows through with their commitments.  Even if you live on your own, you’ll feel  a lot better without junk all over the place.  College can be chaotic enough without living in chaos, too.

Tolerate other people, be willing to compromise.  You might find that you and your roommate like to live pretty different lives.  One of you wakes up early, the other stays up late; one of you likes the place clean and the other couldn’t care less.  Be prepared to sacrifice a little – afterall, you’re sharing a small space with this person for a year: its best to be friendly with one another.  Your first or second day moving in together is the perfect time to fill each other in on your likes, dislikes, and pet peeves.  Work something out together so you can both be happy and both do well in school.  Be supportive of one another, and respect any agreements you establish together.

Get yourself up reliably.  You wont succeed in school if you sleep through your finals.  (Yes, this happened to me.  Luckily (?) it was a small school and my teacher called me and woke me up and asked if I was planning to come in that day.  Oy.)

Navigate your city via the bus system.  You’ll probably want to go explore your city without getting lost.  And when you have an apartment off campus, it will be good to know how to get to your classes, and how to get to them on time.  Buses are often late, so look at the schedule and see if you’ll need to get on the earlier one just to be safe.  Navigating bus systems is a great skill to have outside of college, too.  After living in LA and getting around there, I feel confident that I could go to any major city and figure out how their bus system works, even if it varies from LA’s.  (P.S. If you live in a big city, there’s probably an online schedule of all the bus routes, and maybe even a handy-dandy trip planner.  Check it out!)



Finances don’t have to be scary.  And chances are, you have your parents to fall back on during the next couple of years anyway.  Take this time to try and be financially independent and learn some things about money before you really have to be financially independent.

Pay your bills.  If you’re living in a dorm, you might not get any bills (unless you pay your own cell phone bill or something, but if that’s the case, you’re probably used to doing that back home anyway.)  Once you get an apartment, you will have utility bills and probably a credit card to pay.  You’ll need to keep your desk organized so you don’t misplace or forget these.  Online bill paying is an easy solution to this.  Also, you should know how to do some simple math so that you can divide your utilities by 2 or 3 if you split them with your roommates.  General financial awareness is a good practice to get into.  I love using to manage my money.  It keeps me from overdrawing my account and also provides some organizational tips like creating a budget and saving up for future goals!  (And its free to use and safe.)

Understand student loans.  This is a big one.  I am now out of college and I still don’t completely understand them.  But let me tell you what I do know: college is expensive – very expensive.  And if you are between the ages of 18-21, chances are you do not have much money.  Because I got loans and didn’t have to pay anything out of pocket while in college, I was sort of in a comfortable state of denial that I would ever have to pay for my education.  Living ‘without paying rent’ was fabulous.  Getting ‘free’ meals on campus was fabulous.  Finishing school and getting a huge bill was not fabulous.  Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.  I don’t in any way mean to discourage you from going to college.  I’m saying to go to college – just make sure you’re informed.  Take a minute and think about the reality of paying tens of thousands of dollars in a few years.  Will you have a job by then?  Maybe.

(I don’t mean to be a downer but ask anyone between the ages of 21-30 who has been to college, what they think of student loans.  Chances are they’ll have some stress associated with it.)


Life Decisions:

College is often thought of as a time to ‘find yourself’.  But its also a time to party like crazy and get into some situations that you can look back on and laugh about when you’re 40.  While I encourage you to have fun, I also encourage you to take a real look at yourself and what your goals are for college, and where you hope to end up after these 4 years.

Think really hard about what you want to do with your life, and the value of college.  Now that you’re possibly questioning whether or not you want to pay for college, I will advise you to think long and hard about it.  What do you want to get out of college?  Do you expect to learn a ton of stuff and become super smart and prepared to be an adult?  Will you finally feel ready to be on your own once you get that degree?  Will it change everything?  Will it give you confidence?  Will it guarantee you some jobs offers after graduation?  Be careful.  I had a totally inaccurate expectation that college would teach me everything I needed to know and that I’d step out a mature, responsible, and prepared member of society.  Then, before I knew it, I was about to graduate and felt as though I had learned nothing, wasn’t at all prepared to get a job (emotionally nor in terms of skills/ability), and felt only marginally more mature that I did in high school.  Needless to say, I had gotten myself into a situation where I owed a bunch of money on student loans, and didn’t have much to show for it.  Again, I don’t want to encourage you not to go to college.  In fact, I strongly encourage you to go to college.  But meet with your advisor and think about what you’re getting out of school.  Maybe you should change your major?  Maybe after a year or two, you’ve gotten all you can out of college and its just time to leave?  The mistake I made wasn’t going to college – it was staying in college for longer than I should, because getting a degree was “the thing to do”.  If it stops working for you, its no longer the thing to do. Be honest and keep checking in with yourself to see that you’re on the right track.  For you.

Stand up for yourself, don’t put up with BS.  Throughout your college experience you will undoubtedly encounter some difficult people and difficult situations.  Its important to realize that its all BS and that you don’t have to put up with it.  Colleges have a ton of students to keep track of, so cut them some slack if they mess up your room assignment or class schedule.  Just not too much slack.  If your college does something to screw you over – may it be difficult teachers, outdated requirements, inefficient departments and staff, etc – do stand up for yourself and try and fix your situation.  Be polite, but firm.  At the end of the day, you’re the one paying for your education, and thus they work for you.  (Again, be polite.)


Learning, Studying:

I’ll assume that you know some basic general study skills by now, such as keeping yourself and your papers organized, having a system to remember deadlines, etc.  (If not, there are plenty of tips online.)  Here are some study tips more unique to college:

Be resourceful, internet-savvy.  Know where your campus library is.  Know how to do basic google searches to find information.  Understand that Wikipedia is generally not an accepted resource for research papers.  You might want to check into the MLA standards (how to properly/legally cite your sources for academic papers).  And feel free to go to said campus library and ask the librarian for help.  Or your teacher.

Have good study habits, be able to self-teach.  I was surprised when I got to college to find that I was expected to read the textbooks in order to learn the material that was on the tests.  Very different from high school.  Honestly, in some of my classes, the teacher didn’t even seem necessary.  She would give a lecture that was like a general overview on a few chapters – only the basics.  I thought, “wow, this test is going to be easy”.  But no – the test wasn’t on any of the basic stuff.  It was all from the textbook.

Note: Beware though, because for some classes, you will not need the book at all.  I spent so much money buying books that I literally didn’t open once.  Also, and this is key: do not open (unseal) your textbooks until you get to class.  I’ve had classes where we get to the class on the first day and the teacher says to disregard what the website said, we don’t actually use the book, go ahead and return it.  (The students who already took off the plastic wrap just lost out on like $50.)  If there is any way you can find out from previous students in that class if you’ll actually need the book, that’d be great.  Also, you could try not even buying any books until after the first day of each class, where they’ll probably go over what you’ll need.  Just make sure there will be enough books left by then or you’ll be out of luck.

And actually, I need to make point number 12.  Buy your textbooks used as much as possible.  Often, the school bookstore sells them both new and used, but they’re still ridiculously expensive.  Try for great deals.  Or Amazon.  Or just Google Shopping results.  See if you can buy a previous edition, too.  99% of the information will be the same, so it should work.  Only downside is some of the exercise problems at the end of chapters might be different, so your homework might end up being different from everyone else’s and you could lose points.  So this will work better for certain kinds of textbooks than others.

I hope you found this post useful and have a fabulous time at college.  Good luck!

And for those of you who have already been to college – did I miss anything?

11 life experiences everyone should have

(a.k.a. my life story, haha.  Be prepared to learn a lot about me!)

These are some experiences that I have had that have greatly shaped my life.  I can’t even imagine who I would be had I not had some of these experiences.  They have changed me so much and have molded the way I think and see the world.

This list may be a bit different than the typical “11 life experiences everyone should have” or “11 things to do before you die” type lists, but I have benefited from them, and would suggest that either you try and have them, or just absorb the lessons I have learned from them.

In no particular order:

1. Be a waitress

Or work in the service industry somehow.  When I was a little kid, I remember being impatient with waitresses sometimes (if only in my thoughts).  I had no idea how difficult the job is (and that’s before even factoring in all the rude customers.)  I have since been a waitress in a nice restaurant, a bartender in that same restaurant, and a cashier/server in a coffee house/more casual restaurant.

It is my belief that until one has been a waitress, one does not know, understand, appreciate, nor respect what it means to be a waitress.  You may be different and not need to experience this occupation for yourself, but I know my mentality completely changed once I lived it for myself.  Now when I go out to eat, I’m much more tolerant of delays in bringing food, or of a scatterbrained approach to our table.  I tip generously (because I know how it can make or break your night when you get an awesome table or a mean table.)  But beyond those things, its my change of attitude toward servers, and toward people in the service industry in general.  I have a lot more respect for them, their job, and their place in their life.  I’ve had coworkers who had kids and a mortgage, and weren’t making much more than minimum wage.  Its a tough place to be in.

2.  Get sick from alcohol

This one is two-fold.  Firstly, its just an interesting feeling and an interesting right of passage, in a sense.  But secondly, this experience taught me compassion.  Feeling nauseous, and especially feeling nauseous in public, late at night, when you’re an hour away from home because that’s where the nearest club is… is not the best feeling.  Feeling nauseous at a friend’s sleepover when you’re not in your own bed and aren’t familiar with the house and are trying not to wake anyone… is not the best feeling.  And even feeling nauseous when you’re safe in your dorm room and really didn’t have much to drink at all, yet somehow… is not the best feeling.

There seems to be a lack of respect towards people who do not handle alcohol well.  The concept of being a “light-weight” isn’t usually desirable.  I’ve had female friends look to the floor as they admit it.  What, your body doesn’t respond well to poison?  Imagine that.

The thing is, I have gotten sick when I hadn’t even had much at all.  It wasn’t that I overdid it or couldn’t handle it.  And that’s what made it even more annoying.  I would see these people binge drinking and being perfectly fine the next day, and I couldn’t even get tipsy before feeling ill.  And I have a few friends who have had similar experiences.  As for me now, I’ve stopped drinking certain things, or combining them with certain foods, etc., and I am fine.  But I am definitely compassionate when I hear friends share their stories.  …Or when someone succumbs to peer pressure on her 21st and just does too many shots.  Oh, to be young again.

3. Break up

This is something that everyone will go through, most likely.  But until its happened to you (and you didn’t have the confidence of, “whatever, we’ll be back together in a week anyway” to get you through it), you won’t understand how painful it can be.  Its not so much a pain, really, but more of a… discomfort.  Like, a really, really uncomfortable discomfort.  The kind that changing your position or doing something else wont take away.  The kind you just have to ride out and hope it will change eventually.

I had had break ups before, but wasn’t really phased by them.  My friends would tell me of their heartache and I would advise them very matter-of-factly – in a loving way, sure, but not a very patient or compassionate way.  I now understand that logic can’t shake you.  And you probably don’t want to be shaken, because you just can’t handle anymore hard-hitting truths right now.  You don’t want to feel better.  You just need to sort of wallow in your sadness and maybe be in denial for awhile.  And the next time a friend goes through a break up, I’ll know that.

4. Go to college

I am so, so grateful I went to college.  (I am almost as grateful that I didn’t graduate from college.)

There are so many ways to get one’s college fix: start freshman year in the dorms, live at home,  take a gap year, go to community college, take classes online, jump straight into a career and start college when you’re 40…

The road I took was to go straight to college at 18, and live in the dorms.  And for me, that was perfect.  I’m not even talking about the classes, because that’s not really what college is about.  I’m talking about the scariness of moving out from your parents’ house; moving into a hallway full of girls and its like a pajama party all semester; walking to meals together and commenting on the food quality; meeting new friends and seeing how people so different from you (you mean not everyone is the same?) could end up at the same place at the same time.

Had I taken a gap year or anything else, I wouldn’t have been a freshman with all the other freshmen.  And that would not be the same.  (And I know, because two years later as a junior I had transferred to a new school and was in the dorms with freshmen, and not only did I not fit in but I didn’t care to try, as they were, of course, only 18-year-olds.)  Yes, it is my opinion that freshman year as an 18 year old in the dorms is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  Even coming second semester is too late.  The newness and bonding has already been experienced by everyone else.

There are tons and tons and tons of life experiences, and I don’t hope to make you sad upon reading this if you missed the freshman dorm experience.  But for me anyway, that was a one time thing.  But luckily, there are many more opportunities to meet and bond with people, and experience something totally new and different, all together.  Hopefully I’ll have some more as well.

5. Make a big move

When I was 19, I moved from Iowa to Los Angeles.  One of my best friends from high school (back in my place of origin, northern California) had just gotten into UCLA, and on a whim, suggested I move out there with her to be roommates.  Also on a whim, I agreed.  It was scary (although not nearly as scary as it could have been, since I wouldn’t be living alone, and since my parents were paying my share of the rent) but boy was it thrilling!  And it showed me that I could do it.  Now the idea of moving across country (or maybe even to a different country) sounds like something I could do, maybe even by myself.  It taught me that I can navigate a strange new city, coordinate bus route schedules, do my own grocery shopping and cooking, pay bills on time, and keep an apartment [relatively] clean.  So many firsts for me!  Oh, and I got my first credit card, then, too.  Again, my parents were paying for things, but I’m still impressed that I was able to pay the bills on time and do all those things myself, even if it wasn’t with my money.  I learned a lot of responsibility that year, and gained a ton of independence.  Most importantly, it was a tremendous deposit into my personal bank account, as it taught me just how much I can do for myself when I’m the only one there to do it.  And the fact that I had a roommate and my parents’ money made it feel like a safe amount of adventure.  So now, a few years later, I think I could do it on my own, living on my own, financially independent.  Confidence, that’s what it gave me.  Confidence.

6. Deal with a culture shock

Travel.  Immerse yourself in the study of a new religion.  Make friends outside your social circle.  There are so many ways, big or small, to achieve this sense of total chaos and absurdity.

For me, it happened when at age 16, my parents and I moved from California to a small town in Iowa where everyone practices a specific type of meditation.  My parents had meditated since before I was born, so it wasn’t completely foreign to me.  But I had no idea how much of a lifestyle was built around this practice, and how fully it was lived by the residents in this small town.

When we arrived, I was about to be a junior in high school.  Previously I went to a public school, played tennis, was bad at math – pretty typical.  In our new home, there was the public high school, or the private high school which was specifically for meditator kids, complete with school uniforms and weird classes about the ancient Indian philosophy behind the teachings, including meditation.  It was my choice, but I chose to go all out with this new, crazy Midwestern move we did, and go to the “different” school.

From reciting memorized qualities of nature, to reading the Bhagavad-Gita in its original Sanskrit, my classmates the first day literally freaked me out.  Oh yeah, I’m remembering now the school-wide (K-12th grade) assembly we had, where everyone sang a kindergarten-esque song about the nature of the ancient texts, complete with hand motions.  (Am I freaking you out, yet?)

While I felt completely out of place, I was astonished (and still am, thinking back) at how quickly I picked up all the little phrases to memorize (many in Sanskrit as well), and I learned to read Sanskrit in only a few months.  (We didn’t speak it or understand what we were reading, we just learned the characters and their sounds, and were able to read through the texts in a sort of chanting way, for its soothing affects.  Although we did take a few semesters of a Sanskrit grammar class where we learned basic words and sentence structure, etc.)

Anyway, over the next three years, I became very interested in this ancient Indian philosophy and even opted to attend the local college, which was in association with the meditation movement and my high school.  Since then, my interests have drifted, but so much of who I am is because of moving here and going to those schools and learning this whole new set of teachings, laws of nature, and way of life.  I learned about yoga and organic food.  My paradigms were shattered and my values changed.  My world view and judgements of others changed (in some ways for the better, and in some ways for the worst.)  And even now that I am very different than I was back in my first few years here, when I was immersed in it at school, the person I am now couldn’t be here without those years.  I met my friends because of it.  I met my boyfriend because of it.  Everything I do now, and the way I think, is affected by who I was in California, plus who I became while out here, plus who I have become since drifting from the meditating-me.

I literally can not even imagine who I would be today had I stayed in California and finished high school there.  I probably would have gone to some college out there to study music.  I probably wouldn’t have lasted long.  Beyond that, no idea.  Completely different values.  Way more shallow.  Naive.  I can’t even imagine.

7. Read Secrets of the Millionaire Mind

I honestly believe that everyone should read this book.  Yes, you.

This book is geared toward people who want to become millionaires (which surprisingly isn’t everybody), but I learned so much about myself from reading this book, and I would love it if everyone had that opportunity.  There are exercises at the end of some chapters, where you answer a few questions and figure out your “money blueprint”.  Basically, its how you think of money and therefore how you earn/spend money, and therefore what’s holding you back from being a millionaire.  And, it helps you figure out why you have those thoughts on money in the first place, and how to change them if you so choose.  And that is what I think is so incredibly valuable about this book.  I have friends who have different spending habits from me, and I always think about how different their money blueprint must be from mine, because their behaviors are just so different.  You’d think that money is easy – you earn it, you save some, you spend some.  But there are so many subtle variations, and often we end up spending it unnecessarily, due to some quirk in our money blueprint that’s messing us up.  Fascinating.  Do check it out.

8. Learn how you learn

There are different learning styles.  Some people learn/remember best by reading, while others have better luck when someone tells it to them.  Others still have success from hands-on projects.  Some like to work in groups, others alone.

There are two things I have learned about myself: I do not remember things (or even pick them up in the first place) when they are read to me.  If I read something aloud, I have no idea what I just read.  If you read me a story, I’ll get distracted and make you back up a few times.  Knowing this about myself, and accepting it, has made things easier.  I know what works for me and therefore I set myself up to succeed.

The second thing I learned about myself is that I learn best when given the whole thing, starting from the absolute basics.  If I feel as though I’ve missed a step, the puzzle is incomplete and I can’t move on from there.  I think that’s why I was so bad at math: we moved a few times and I was put into different classes, I signed up for a more advanced class out of pride, and when we moved to Iowa, they had a completely different order to the subjects (geometry, algebra, statistics, etc.) so my California math years were little help once I got here.  There were so many holes in the picture, I might as well have not learned anything.  My training as a bartender was similarly sporadic, and I was basically set up to fail.

If I don’t have the whole picture, I have absolutely no confidence.  I can not get by on guessing.  Unless I know all of it, I might as well know none of it.  But, the good thing is, that now I know these things about myself.  So when I undertake a new project, I know what I need to do to learn it successfully.  Knowing this, and accepting myself in that way, will continue to help me for the rest of my life.

9. Realize that you’ve been scarred, and accept it

“I think everyone has scars.”

My friend’s realization last night hit home for me, too.  I’m not alone in this.  Everyone has insecurities and has been shaped positively or negatively by their childhood.  Its the sort of thing I know (like, logically, in my head, I know this), but find it hard to believe.  That confident guy?  He has insecurities?  He was teased as a child?  No way.

My friend went on to tell us about a guy she knew in high school.  He was very outgoing and friendly – everyone liked him.  Then she overheard that he was actually really insecure, and afraid of what everyone was thinking about him.  He said he was outgoing out of insecurity.  Not out of confidence.  Totally counter-intuitive.  While shyness is my defense mechanism, I guess being outgoing was his.  Makes me wish I could trade.

But it also makes me see that despite what we may assume, or how we may judge a person, we all have scars.  We all have insecurities.  She fears judgement just like you fear judgement.  Reminds me of this saying here, which is something I try and keep in mind since seeing it.

The aftereffect of this is that once we realize we’ve been scarred, maybe we can figure out the cause, and then we can accept it.  And I do wish you good luck in that.  Know that I’m right there with you, trying to overcome.

10. Feel really good about yourself

This is a great feeling!  However rarely or often it may happen for you, cherish it!  Knowing and remembering this feeling may just be what gets you through the other times.

11. Meet a really kind, genuine person

These people stand out.  They’re just so nice.  They give without expecting anything in return.  They have nice things to say.  They smile.  They make you feel like you matter.  They radiate love at all times.

When I meet this type of person, it sort of wakes me up.  It inspires me to be like them.  It makes me feel loved and sort of feel like I’m doing okay in the world.  Like things aren’t so bad.  Like if only I could become so loving, that maybe my life would be so much better.  And maybe I could make other peoples’ lives so much better.  Interactions with these people truly are a gift.

I hope you enjoyed my list!  If you write a post like this, please do link to it in the comments so I can read yours!

Joyce Meyer – Leaving the City of Guilt, Part II

In Part 2, Joyce makes gives commentary on how we do something wrong and hold on to that guilt, and then do something else wrong and hold on to that guilt on top of the other guilt, and continue in this pattern until we’re dragging so much guilt behind us where ever we go.  What a burden.  What a waste of time and energy.  It wastes our time because we spend time thinking out it, and worrying about it, and what does it accomplish?  Nothing.  We expend all this effort, trying to sort it out in our heads to make sense of it and get some sort of closure so we can move on from it, but yet it never happens.  This is not the way I want to live anymore.

“Perfection involves growing.  I’ve not arrived but thank God I’m on my way… So stop thinking about what you’re not, and think about the progress you’re making.”  This could probably be applied to everyone.  We all spend time thinking about what we’re not.  A little of this is a good thing, because self-awareness is important if we ever expect to grow – we need to first know where we are and what we are and what we are not.  Its only when we dwell on this and acquire guilt from this that leads us to problems.  So instead, think about the progress you’re making.  Think of where you were a year ago – are you in the same place?  Some of us may be tempted to answer yes – I still live in the same town, I’m still at the same job, I still live with my parents, I’m still the same person.  But if you look harder, you will probably see that you’ve grown.  Well, I did learn a few new skills.  And I’m more compassionate now than I was then.  Being in the same place on the outside is not the same as being in the same place on the inside.

After reading Romans 6:10-11, Joyce says that we should put aside our lists of what we think we are and aren’t allowed to do – ie that which we fear God will get angry with us for doing – and that the closer you are to God, the more you’re going to instinctively know what is right and what is wrong, and, the more strength He will give you to do the right thing.  This, she says, is how to be victorious over sin.  So basically, don’t dwell on sin itself but rather live a holy life through God, thus getting the strength to overcome sin in the first place.  And you will grow.

When Joyce was living in guilt, she not only worried about her past but also what sins she might keep doing.  I really related to that because I have a lot of fear about potential future mistakes I might make.  I feel like I for some reason wont be in control of myself later in my life.  Like somehow I’ll make a decision I know I shouldn’t make, yet I wont be able to help myself when the time comes.  I don’t know.  Its not a very rational fear, but then, most fears are irrational.

Here are some of my favorite lines and concepts from part 2:

“When we go to God in prayer, we don’t go in our name, we go in Jesus’ name.”

Pray confidently, fearlessly, and boldly in your time of need.

The Bible says that we shouldn’t sin, but that just in case we do, Jesus has covered it.

To Paul: “You need some of my tapes.”  LOL.

And again she reminded me that God wanted to form a relationship with me despite already knowing everything about me.  Which is always encouraging to hear.

What did you think of this two part video?  In what ways have you grown in the last year?  In the last 5 years?

Joyce Meyer – Leaving the City of Guilt, Part I

This video was immediately appealing to me because I often find myself feeling guilty, which is often accompanied by depression.  Its not that I’ve done anything particularly horrible –  I just feel really, really badly whenever I do something even remotely horrible.  And I don’t let myself forget it.  It keeps coming back.  This is due in large part to the fact that I don’t control my thoughts (something that I’ve been researching more lately and trying to work on, as I think it is one of the biggest benefits I can give myself right now.)

I don’t know much about Christianity and have never been a religious person, but there is something undeniably appealing to me about Christians and their faith.  In the last 6 months or so I have been researching Christianity and reading blogs and articles by Christians, especially women.  I like what I read but there is so much more to learn.  I’m currently reading the Bible (do you know how big that thing is?!) and I’m following Joyce Meyer on twitter which is how I found this video today.

For me, my guilt isn’t so much because I feel I’ve disappointed God; its more that I’ve disappointed myself.  Or my parents.  (Which feeling is worse?  I couldn’t tell you.)  But I still found tremendous benefit in this video with respect to guilt, and also just to learning more about God and the Bible.

“God is not the least bit surprised by you or your behavior…  He knew everything about you when he invited you to come into a relationship with Him.”  This thought is comforting because having a relationship with God seems like a big deal and like something that should be earned or deserved.  And if we aren’t perfect (but who is?) then we can feel like we’re a disappointment to Him or not worthy of a connection.  I’m not sure if that’s how I feel or not, quite honestly, but it’s nice to know that He already knows everything about me, because in that is a sense of acceptance.  Because He knows me, and yet still chose to form a relationship with me, He must accept who I am and what I’ve done and where I’ve come from.

Joyce points out that if we keep the burden of guilt, we have no energy to learn and grow and serve God.  Now, even for those who aren’t religious, this can apply.  We have no energy to grow and learn, and do what we should be doing (whether its serving God or serving yourself or serving others).  The feeling of guilt holds us back from living our lives and accomplishing goals and experiencing joy.

Joyce goes on to share a humorous story about going on a “guilt trip”, which is a pretty universal experience.  The author went on this trip knowing it wouldn’t do any good.  How many of us actually think feeling guilt will do some good in our lives?  Yet does that stop us from doing it?

“Jesus has done everything for us that he’s gunna do – he’s waiting for us to believe it.”  This line really spoke to me because it made me realize that I’m waiting on something more to happen before I cement my feelings on Christianity.  What am I waiting for?  Jesus has already done all that he’s going to do.  And yes, there is much more of the Bible that I can read, and I can continue to form opinions as I do so.  But this line really calls people to action, which I love.  There comes a time – and the time is now – to make the decision to change your life.  The Bible is right there. If you want to go with it and change your life in that way because it will bring you positivity, then what are you waiting for?  If you want to go in a different direction, then what are you waiting for?  The point is, pick something and take action.  Stop wasting your time feeling guilty or doing whatever else it is that’s holding you back from being awesome.  Fear?  Fear of failure or rejection?  If its depression, that can be hard to kick.  But fear can be just as hard to kick.

“Guilt enters as a thought, creates a feeling, and we live by that feeling… If you’re smart you’ll say, ‘I don’t care how I feel, this is what I know’.”  That right there is the key, I think.  Right now I am letting myself be controlled by my feelings.  I need to change what I know so that I can have something better to stick with instead of getting stuck in a bad mood when negative thoughts come up.  And that is why I need to finish reading the Bible.  Hopefully it will have some answers for me :).

I also liked the point about asking and receiving forgiveness.  It’s easy to ask for it, but the real strength in that kind of prayer comes from trusting God enough to actually receive His forgiveness.  Because in that, you are completely letting go.

Note: This video was part 1 of a 4 part series.  Look forward to her other videos on fear, insecurity, and worry – which I plan to watch and write about soon.

Now, here’s some non-Christian-related words that I feel convey the same message to stop holding yourself back with guilt:

Believe in yourself.

Ready.  Fire.  Aim.

Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you’re right.

The only thing that makes it a part of your life is that you keep thinking about it.

*A few of those came from the pins I have collected on pinterest – feel free to check them out and many, many more that relate to this very subject.  And please share in the comments some of your most inspiring!