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Heart of the House

Musings from the CEO’s Desk

Authenticity is a Collection of Choices…

“I’ve come to know that it’s not fear that gets in the way of close relationships. It’s the armour we wear. When things are challenging, do we lean in, to vulnerability – the courage to be seen – and get curious? Or do we protect ourselves in ways that move us away from our own values and truth?

Struggle is universal, and yet in our culture of perfectionism, we aspire to be ‘seen as together’, and are constantly comparing ourselves to others. There is still so much shame about reaching out for help. Many of us are willing to extend our hands to help someone but often reluctant to reach out ourselves.

Vulnerability is the driving force of connection. It’s courageous, tender, and it’s impossible to connect without it. But in our culture, it’s been turned into a weakness. We are told to be ‘strong’, and we’ve toughened up, hardened up and protected ourselves from the risk of being hurt. But the problem is that when we shut off from our own vulnerability, we may be shielded from hurt, but we are also shielded from love, intimacy and connection. Without vulnerability, relationships struggle. Vulnerability is openness to experiences, people and the uncertain. Scary at times but always brave. And yes, occasionally we get hurt. Relational pain is unavoidable if we are human. But to shut vulnerability down, we are also shutting down the possibilities of joy, closeness, gratitude and connection.

Daring belongs to every one of us. It’s a choice we make about how we want to live. When we believe ourselves worthy of connection, we are more likely to move towards others, quick to love and forgive, open to the love, affection and influence of others. We live grateful for every moment. It doesn’t mean we always get what we hope for in relationships, but our potential for shame is less. When we reach out, and it isn’t reciprocated, we are less likely to blame ourselves for our own ‘unworthiness’. We become people others want to spend time with, we give and receive openly, abundantly, honestly and with love and gratitude.

Often, I am asked why we set Destiny Haven up to be like a family environment? Early on, we were accused of being unprofessional and that our ‘clients’ would not remember they were in a treatment program to get help. Almost 14 years on, I look back on the many mistakes we made in the early years, but grateful we have lived every day of our lives with the most beautiful and courageous women. When they arrive, many have never experienced safety, love, healthy relationships, family mealtimes, open-door policy whenever they want to talk about something. Most have tons of armour built around them to protect them from the many years of abuse and rejection. But slowly, as the team live alongside them, they watch how we do relationships and begin to realise that being seen is truly beautiful. Allowing themselves to show emotion is safe.

Learning how to relate to each other in healthy ways when there is conflict is a gift that makes that relationship stronger. Learning to be vulnerable involves facing imperfection, rejection, making mistakes, criticism, honesty, not having it all together and not winning in order to become authentic. And authenticity enables us to forge deeper connections and to begin to realise our own worth. I’m grateful for every single woman that God has brought to us. Each one has taught me more than I could ever say.”

Janine Epere

CEO Destiny Haven

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What Makes a Tough Person?

Difficult situations and hardships occur for everyone. Yet some people handle them better than others. What is the ingredient of “tough” people that enables them to succeed and survive through tough times when others are overcome by them? They have developed mental toughness that helps them push through and face adversity successfully. We all know people who seem to give in to discouragement and unbelief. We see it every day. Those who face challenges and simply give up.

I never thought I was a tough person, but looking back I can see that I had to become tough while remaining soft to others, if I ever wanted to achieve the dream God had given me. What do I mean by remaining soft? I became tough in terms of resilience, while remaining soft towards the needs of those I have spent my life helping. When I think of the people I admire that I would consider to be over-comers, there are qualities that are common.

  1. They face life with pervasive optimism that allows them to see the most formidable challenges believing they will do more than get through, they will thrive. I believe that looking for the best in others, while living with the fact that people will betray, let you down and fail you enables me to continue to believe for those who can’t yet believe for themselves.
  2. They have thick skin and don’t let circumstances or peoples’ words and opinions control them. They handle criticism and have a high tolerance for short-term feelings bad feelings and disillusionment. You have to know who you are and not be swayed by the hurtful things people say or do.
  3. Tough people have proper perspective in life. Anything in life worth doing will involve high pressure situations. Discomfort is a sign that you are doing something significant. Keeping your perspective realistic ensures that you don’t give in under pressure.
  4. Tough people have a realistic perspective on life even in difficult times and unfairness. Setbacks in life provide us with comeback opportunities. Keep your eyes on the goal.
  5. The difference between those who live as over-comers and those who are overcome is the powerful concept of ‘possibility thinking’. Winners dare to dream, understanding that failure is an event, not a person and they never quit even when things seem impossible.

Probably the most important thing I’ve learned about tough people is that they have a capacity to reach out in kind compassion to others, knowing this is how to find more substance to our own souls. President Kimball said, “In serving others, we find ourselves…the more we serve…the more substance there is to our souls….we become more significant individuals as we serve others…indeed it is easier to “find” ourselves because there is more of us to find”. We all have a profound influence on every person around us, one we may never comprehend fully in this life.

I believe that it is the people and relationships in our life that matter more than the opportunities or circumstances that may come. People within our influence may be struggling with something that we cannot see. Tough people reach behind them to help others become over-comers because they desire to see others succeed. In reaching out to others we discover strength beyond what we think you are capable of having. Reach outward.

 

Janine Epere

CEO Destiny Haven

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Choices and Consequences

Our lives are the sum of our choices, a result of the decisions we’ve made in every area – relationships, finances, work and how we spend our time. Even when you don’t choose, you’re making a choice. The unchanging principle of sowing and reaping – choices and consequences – is one that should guide every decision we make, because a harvest will eventually result from whatever action we take.

It’s relatively easy to identify and resist the big temptations, but the truth is that the big issues of life usually begin with small choices. Often the most difficult decisions are the small, incremental ones, those that seem harmless enough in the moment. And sometimes the smallest decisions can change our lives forever. I don’t think anyone wakes up and thinks they will settle for less today and see what happens. However, if we are not deliberate about the choices we make, it doesn’t take long for our lives to look less than we hoped for; for compromises to be made and regrets to creep in. We make our choices and our choices will make us. You’ve got to live intentionally and accept the consequences of every deed, thought and word throughout your lifetime. The dreams God places in our hearts can never be accomplished unless we are intentional about good choices that will propel us forward toward those dreams.

Janine Epere

CEO Destiny Haven

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To Heal One Needs to Trust

Some learn early in life to hold their pain deeply – buried underneath layers of self-protection… The only thing that will ever uncover that kind of pain is unqualified commitment, love and acceptance… In this environment, trust has an opportunity to be born, and if trust is born, healing can occur over time – even from the most horrendous experiences. Treading softly in the lives of others is a conscious decision to love. To be kind is to be considerate, and involves a gentleness and understanding of the incredible grace we have had heaped upon us by a loving God. Kindness is a very intentional response to someone’s need. Imagine how different our lives would be if we were kinder to each other; if we showed compassion and indeed, self-compassion. Encouraging people and letting them know you believe in them and that you will journey with them no matter what or how long it takes, empowers them way more than our best intentioned advice. Tread with care in the lives of others.

Janine Epere

CEO Destiny Haven

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We Won’t Reach Everyone, But We Will Reach No One If We Don’t Do Our Part

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” – Albert Schweitzer

I love this quote that reminds me of the many people who have helped me out of the darkness, out of hopelessness. It speaks about those who have found me when i had lost my way, and guided me back to the light, rekindling life.
This light isn’t specified, but I believe it applies to the multiple aspects of ourselves – From beliefs to courage, from hope to love, from certainty to faith, we can lose the light. It truly is a dark and dismal place to be…in the dark.
However, this quote reminds me that there were people out there who can and are willing to help. And it implores us to show our gratitude to those who have helped us back on the path and relit our light. And, in having amazing people champion me back time and again when I feel I’ve come to my end?
From my years in the dark as a heroin addict, to a seemingly impossible dream; from believing we were finally living the dream, to having someone do their damndest to destroy it, I’ve ended up in some very dark places with my light almost completely out.
However, each and every time, there have been those who helped me find my way, and to relight my light. They took their own time, investment and belief in me …they have encouraged me to keep moving forward, believing in the dream God planted in my heart. Perhaps you have even been the recipient of this gift in your lifetime. Remember what it felt like to you, and imagine what it would have been like without those who stepped in to help you.

Sometimes, on rare occasions, you can actually help yourself. However, most of the time it takes outside intervention. It may be someone we trust, and sometimes, even a complete stranger.
In any case, this quote urges us to show our gratitude towards those who help us. Take a moment to consider how you have treated those who have “lighted the flame within” for you – those who have helped you come alive again, reignited you to faith and trust.
If we look outside ourselves, and consider what we can do to help others who may have lost their way, those who are without light and are in need. Have you ever seen someone who looked lost inside?
It’s a fairly distinctive look, a person who has lost the spark, or some significant dream or hope – The question is what can we do to help? The simple answer is we can try, we can put forth some effort. But the reality is they too must put some effort in or nothing will come of it.
I admit, in my own life, times I might not have noticed some attempts to help me, as I was unready to receive their gift. So sometimes, our best efforts will be for naught, if they are unready or unwilling.
However, I do not believe that such a possible outcome absolves us of our duty to our fellow humans. That’s like saying you shouldn’t try because you might fail.
Even if all you do is get their attention, and get them thinking about trying to find their light again, you have done a great thing for them. Sometimes, with proper motivation, they can fight their way back. Other times, it leaves them receptive to the next person who tries to help them.
Whether you are the benefactor or beneficiary in this quote, there are most definitely reasons for celebration. Both parties should feel good, and be grateful for having helped, or for having been helped. We won’t be able to reach everyone, but we will reach no one if we don’t at least do our part.

Janine Epere

CEO Destiny Haven

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