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!
I hate the word “fail” – it almost makes me have a visceral gagging reaction, borderline puking. Thankfully, if I take a minute to pause, evaluate and collect myself, I don’t puke. But if I’m not careful, I can easily throw things into the “failure” column and in a nanosecond find myself back to mental wrestling mat, almost down for the count. As God & I were talking about this whole failure thing this morning, I was reminded about how Jesus looked hanging on the cross, beat to a bloody pulp and possibly personifying the ultimate failure. He was betrayed by his friends, completely helpless, physcially obliterated and even yelling at God, “Why have You forsaken Me?!??”
Hanging on the cross, Jesus looked more like a failure than anything I’ve ever experienced & yet from God’s perspective, perhaps Jesus had never been more successful in His earthly existence, up to that point. Let’s be careful that we don’t frame failure in the context of defeat, permanent or hopeless. Jesus rose from the dead and living in our hearts, we have resurrection potential every day.
Be sure to pass this along to anyone you know who is struggling with seeming defeat or failure 🙂
How’s that for a stupid question!?!! I don’t start anything with the intent to fail & I most certainly do not like to fail, full stop. But some of my thinking about success has been changing & I’m becoming more aware that many of my ideas about success have been more influenced by my American culture rather than the Bible. My culture says that success is all about being bigger, better, more, power, stronger, wealthy, popular, image driven, new, hip, trendy & all things glitz & glam. In the American culture, success isn’t about being broken, serving, homely, unpopular or tarnished, some of the things that Jesus personified & taught. The more I think about success from a cultural versus a biblical perspective, I have to conclude that my culture and the Bible don’t always agree. The important part of the disagreement is the side on which I chose to live. If I have to chose between being successful based on the Bible or on my culture, I’m going to side with the biblical definition of success 🙂
I’ve always thought it was cool how superman could see through stuff like walls, metal chests & more. He could see through things that had substance.
In a similar way, I’d like to see through the immediate to the ultimate. Sometimes I get fixated on the temporal: budgets, pressure, bad grades, trying to get in shape & more. I’ve found it immensely helpful to look beyond the immediate struggles & keep my eyes on Jesus my ultimate passion. Yes, there are deadlines, struggles, pressures, disappointments & more. But if we ask God to help us see through the immediate to the ultimate, then the immediate can receive the proper perspective adjustment & become less overwhelming 🙂
Packaging & image are important ingredients in the modern world. It seems to me that we frequently make lots of snap decisions about situations & people based on our “first impressions.” The tragedy of this mindset is that we can easily overlook people and things that have great substance & investment. Perhaps the religious leaders in Jesus’ day made this mistake & didn’t take the effort to know Jesus beyond the superficial assessment they made of His ministry (not including Nicodemus).
What’s in our hearts has more lasting value than transitory & superficial images.
I purposely waited to make this post until after Valentines Day, because for some people, Valentines Day is a painful reminder that they’re single. For other people, it’s a day to celebrate love & not just romance. If you think about it, it’s better to be single than hooked up with a yucky person or someone who is evil but pretends to be good.
The choices that we make are very important and how we see our lives and the world around us are very much active choices that we make, whether we realize it or not. And how we see our lives is a direct result of what we allow in our hearts. So the grand conclusion of this meandering blog is that we must be careful what we allow into our hearts and thinking (Proverbs 4:23) because these inputs help to shape the way we see & interact with our world – mental hygiene my friends 🙂
We’ve all heard the geometry postulate that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. With this premise, it’s logical to think about the things that we want & make a direct beeline toward these desires. For example, if I want to serve a salad for dinner, I need lettuce, so I go to the grocery store to get the lettuce so I can make the salad. Done.
It seems to me that having a close walk with God is an interesting adventure that doesn’t always seem to follow the same “straight line” thinking. It seems to me that being close to God is a daily journey that takes some unexpected twists and turns. Growing close to God isn’t always a straight line journey – so let’s be open to how God leads us to be closer & closer to God day by day.
I was reading over the weekend about how Jesus healed a guy who was born blind. Before Jesus healed the guy, His disciples asked about why the guy was blind and Jesus replied that the man’s blindness was to give an opportunity for God’s glory to be seen and magnified. This is an interesting perspective: that the weaknesses we have can serve the purpose of letting God be glorified. With this mindset, it seems like we should let our weaknesses be more obvious & less obscure so that God can get the most leverage and glory from such weak areas. With this in mind, I’m starting to rethink the value of my strengths and talents, particularly as they relate for the opportunities for God to be more glorified 🙂
Sometimes I can get discouraged when I look at things in incremental or small ways. For example, when I’m trying to get in shape, I can easily get discouraged with one workout – it hurts, I wish I were more fit, etc. But when I look at the big picture (no pun intended), I can find some encouragement that I’m trying, growing & on the right path to get better, little by little.
This is also true with God, who sees the overall scheme of our lives with precision clarity & not just the small & seemingly incongruous puzzle pieces that can so easily frustrate us. Ultimately, we can rest in the truth that God is working all things to good as we continue to love God & stay true Their (Trinity) purposes & designs for us!! Be encouraged dear friend! 😀
My dad was a collector & where other people saw trash, my dad could see treasure – that’s one of the reasons that he was a great pastor. The Sunday after he died, my mom did a message that’s been extremely practical for me. She talked about how we have “this treasure in earthen vessels.” It’s been super helpful for me because sometimes I can get frustrated with people for various reasons. But from mom’s message I was challenged to consider if I tend to focus more on the crack pot & less on the treasure. Furthermore, it’s been my experience that when I treat people as worthwhile & valuable (treasures), they often act less foolish & more valuable.
So here’s my challenge for us: look more for the treasure & less for the trash 🙂