Inclusion: The Importance of Being Like-minded (a continuation of the Visions of Love Valentine's Day Editor's Note, read first for understanding)

Phillipians 2:2  Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.

I never wanted to be in the "in crowd" (also known as the "cool crowd" ), until I went to high-school. Smoking cigarettes, swearing and wearing the latest trends never meant much to me until I got to High-School. In elementary and middle school, I was the girl with the two pig tails, high waist jeans (more like regular jeans I wore over my waist), and glasses. I was comfortable in this setting and no one could tell me different. Until I got bullied.

 I moved to a different street from where I grew up in Boston, MA , coming out of middle school, and the "cool kids" on that street thought my clothes were awful. They teased me, called me a “nerd” , and even beat me up one time and I got tired of it. After middle school, I was no longer going to be "that person". I found some fitted jeans, straightened my hair, and got a job to buy my own clothes aside from the clothes my mother bought me. Going into 9th grade, I was no longer Noelani the nerd, but Noelani "the cool girl" who everyone liked. I hung out with the kids who skipped class and stayed outside for not 1 but 2-3 lunches. I strutted my stuff and no one could tell me anything; not even the teachers.

Being "cool" didn't last long though. I was cool until my sophomore year of college and got into trouble many times until then. Being in the "cool" crowd, my grades went down (only for a short while though because education has always been important to me), I got into relationships I had no business being in, had a few fights and a got a bad name. I didn't like the name I had made for myself and had to change up quick because being "cool" came with a bad representation. Now that I am older , I realize that it is better to be alone and have no one like you for being yourself, then being "
down" and in the drama. My grandma said " being cool never paid the bills, and if people don't like you, that's their loss". She was right, but at a young age that was hard to swallow. I couldn't understand why being "cool" meant many  
"friends", but being myself meant a handful. I see now that sometimes being in the "in crowd" can mean that you do everything everyone else is doing to be “in”. To be yourself is different and that is what makes you stand out.

The definition of like-minded is - having a like disposition or purpose of the same mind or habit of thought. Growing in my relationship with God and as a value of my mom's , I learned the importance of the this term. Within the last three years I lost some "friends" and gained some, and though it hurt me to lose some; the ones that I have are meaningful.  The people I surround myself with or who are my friends are people that accept me for me, who don't judge me, correct me when I'm wrong, and are there for me at low points. We even share many of the same thoughts and beliefs . I never learned anything in the "cool crowds" but trouble. 

Phillipians 2:2 says then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.
God want us to be around people of the same mind. People who love one another, care for each other and put thy neighbor first. This is the type of environment I want to be apart of, live in; and the attendees of  my "Visions of Love" event were just that. I hope that in the future , you can join others and myself who are like-minded, striving for positive change and unity at a Living, Loving, Encouraging Event. For those of you who always feel left out or curious as to why you don’t fit in, you are always welcomed. It is here where you will understand  the importance of being around Like-minded individuals. I can assure you , you will never feel left out.

Be Encouraged,