Yesterday, I listened to one of my kids rant about their school, the wicked teachers, awful students & deplorable work. I don’t mind listening and sometimes I’m good at listening, which is good because my kid needed a listening ear. After about 30-45min of this content, I felt it was time for some objectivity so we had an interesting chat. I applauded their willingness to acknowledge a few of their shortfalls, but I also pointed out that from this child’s perspective, the lion’s share of the problems belonged to everyone else. This kind of thinking was allowing my kid to frame themselves as the victim & that’s no bueno. Being a victim often leaves us powerless & inert, wallowing in self pity. Seems to me that this kind of thinking runs contrary to how God has designed us, back in the Garden of Eden with power & dominion.
At the minimum, we have authority & power over our attitude & the choices we make about our perspective. Let’s be careful about how we think because our thoughts affect our words, attitudes & actions!
It seems to me that life is more about practice than perfect. When I keep this in my thinking, I don’t get so easily discouraged. Indeed, it seems to me that the journey to success are various sizes of incremental improvements. Some increments are big & some improvements seem infinitesimal. Furthermore, I often learn more from my failures than success, particularly when I think of failing as a verb & not just a noun.
I’m currently sitting in the Angola consulate to finish my visa application & this is always a jittery experience. It’s stressful in lots of ways because it’s a really complicated process & even when I’ve done everything right, there has been an occasion when my application was denied.
So I can get stressed out as I wait or I can chose to trust God. These words, “trust God” are easier said than done. But when there’s nothing more that I can do, then I need to actively chose, even moment by moment, to trust God.
Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to coach our mental game & help us get better at trusting God 🙂
“That was practice,” I said with a smile to the Post Office guy when I swiped my credit card too soon. I was shipping a book to someone & was in hurry because of all the things I needed to accomplish that day. The Post Office guy chuckled & I was glad he saw the humor in my weak explanation for being impatient.
There are lots of things I’m not good at such as being patient, planning, follow through and loads of other stuff.
I’m not ok with just accepting these shortfalls, nor can I afford to dismiss them as irrelevant. The other way I try to let myself off the hook sometimes is by rationalizing that these weaknesses are too big for me to overcome.
Maybe you have some weaknesses that might seem insurmountable to you as well. Here are two things for your encouragement:
Think in terms of practice – the way we get better, even in small ways, is by practice, a process of continual improvement.
With the Holy Spirit living in us, nothing is impossible!
Let’s keep focused on the Helper & keep practicing!
Living in America has the very subtle & sneaky attempt to be blinded by glitz, glam, image, shiny, trendy and veneer. Whether we realize it or not, our culture bombards us with airbrushed faces, glimmery white teeth, body images that are almost physically impossible and lots more. If we aren’t careful, we can be seduced by image and forget that substance, character and integrity are very important.
With this in mind, I find it very interesting that the person who heralded Jesus’ arrival was the antithesis of image conscious – John the Baptist was very earthy and for that matter, so is Jesus. The Son of God, robed in splendor, glory and the ultimate glitz put on our skin, lived among us and was often mistaken for a mere man. May the Holy Spirit help us to reveal Jesus through our daily and earthy living 🙂
These are a few of my favorite things: peaches, pho, fresh coffee, clean sheets, snuggling with my kids, a good read, a heartfelt conversation, prayer, . . . . . And one generality that holds true for all of these things is “staying fresh”. For example, I recently bought like two boxes of peaches because I know that we are coming to the end of peach season & I ABSOLUTELY LOVE peaches. But the problem is that these peaches are getting “tired” – not as good as when they’re at the peak of freshness & season. Pho is another example of keeping stuff fresh – whenever I bring home leftover pho & it sits in the refrigerator, it gets gross.
I think this is also true in our relationship with Jesus. A stale, old and tired walk with Jesus can get pretty ugly. So here are a few ideas that could be helpful in keeping fresh with Jesus:
Bible reading: change your translation from time to time
spiritual conversations: talk with a friend about Jesus and what you like about Him
take a bath: sometimes we need to wash off some dirt & road wear;
fasting / prayer: periodically, it helps me to do something extra (fast a meal or a few days, take a lunch to pray, look for someone for whom to pray
time: it always takes my breath away when I consider that God considers my presence to be a present ,)
Sometimes I think that we mistakenly wait to do something until we understand it better. There can be good wisdom with understanding stuff, but if we aren’t careful, our efforts to understand can undermine our obedience to God. For example, in Genesis 12 God told Abram to go to a land that God would show him & Abram set out. I’m not entirely sure that Abram knew the destination that God had in mind, but he was obedient to get moving, nonetheless. We don’t always have to understand to obey 🙂
Boom!! Bang, clang, crash, slam!! I have three wonderfully active, energetic & frequently LOUD children. Most of the time I really love all of the volume, most of the time. But I also like the still, shhhhh, hush when one of them gets near to my ear to whisper something quiet, important & close to their heart.
Usually when a person whispers, it’s because they want to say something for a limited audience rather than a shout to the world.
God shouts LOVE to the world & whispers in quiet ways to beckon our attention, nearness & presence. Shhhhh, come close – God’s whispers invite you to be near in every moment of this day
A few of my kids went to school this morning after a heated conversation. Both had tears in their eyes & it rips me up as their mom to see this tension and strife. Which makes me wonder how God “feels” when we are yucky with each other. The truth is that any relationship worth it’s weight will have to work through conflict. So here are a few pointers to help with this challenge:
benefit of the doubt: assume the best rather than blame the worst
double standard: be mindful that you don’t just the other person by actions but ourselves by intentions
breathing space: sometimes a “cool down” can bring some clarity and options that aren’t available when we are in the heat of a conflict
be generous: seek to understand before being understood
forgive well: practice makes perfect
conclusion: sometimes the best outcome is to agree to disagree without being disagreeable 🙂
Seems like we all juggle lots of things: kids schedules with sports, practices, dr appointments, work responsibilities, relationship stuff, . . . the hustle, bustle & rustle of everyday living.
In all of these things, let’s be mindful to nurture in our hearts our relationship with Jesus. Lots of things want your attention so we must daily chose to fellowship with Jesus beyond the quickie “help!!!” requests. While these are important & good, our hearts are designed for deep fellowship with Jesus so lets yield to our design & align our values, focus & time to nurture the deeps with Jesus!