I have started attending a leadership course in church and this week we discussed our “Sovereign Foundations” – what God has done for us. Seeing those twists and turns, those trials and joys over the last 31 years of my life and really feeling thankful for where He has lead me.
It is with that in mind that I thought I’d share 3 things that I remind myself to do every day to continue to change my life:
[funny thing is that today’s sermon was on some of this, too. I wrote it before I went to church]
1. Let Go of the things you can’t control.
All I can really control are choices about *my* behaviour, actions, words and attitude. Many an hour i have spent interfering where I had no right to, especially when it comes to other people and their decisions. Micro-managing, scheming a plan to “help” or offering unsolicited advice is one of those tendencies i choose (again and again) to live without. I constantly have to drop things and let them go as “not my domain”. You see, I recognised a trend in my life that had me avoid my own faults in favour of becoming hypersensitive to the faults of others. Realising this, was an eye-opener. A feeling of not having control was actually coming from me avoiding myself and so i projected my insecurities and my feelings on to others (while feeling very proud that I was being helpful and getting to appear very wise).
Since this is something that does raise it’s head still, I have to remember, before I reach those pruning scissors out to anyone else, to pick up a mirror and take a long hard look at myself.
Things happen and people do and say things I would rather not deal with all the time. I can either accept them or fight against them. Now, this is not the same as being a doormat, but it’s about accepting you cannot change the circumstance that is before you, whether it’s good or bad. If you meet a situation with denial or anger, you are trying to change it, reject it, or reject the people who are part of it. Have you ever had a conversation with someone while you have a wall up? Perhaps you are feeling protective of yourself, perhaps you are trying to pretend all is well, when things are not. Are you holding on to resentment? Are you offended or defensive about something? These are the chances you have to accept reality. Open up to yourself and accept things are the way the are, then set about filtering your reactions and feelings through your moral framework and settle your attitude, words and actions so you can deal with things wisely. There is no need to let reactions control you.
Take a step back, a pause and a breath before anything else.
My moral filter is Christ. But to align myself with Him, I have to know Him better. To know Him, and accept His way as better than mine, i have to let go of my pride and realise that I am no better than anyone else.
You see, my morals are not my own; they are His. What is mine, is the freedom to choose; my way or God’s.
Do you ever sit and nod your head automatically and feel a rise in you as you never seem to get a word in? Or do you ever start thinking about all the things you need to get done while someone is pouring their heart out to you?
I confess, I have 🙁 Shutting off because I think I can’t wait to have my say or get on my way.
Yet, one of the most hurtful things to me is when people don’t listen to me. I do think of myself as a good listener, but i fear that is just me stroking my own ego. Just because you don’t have much to say (i can be a quiet person), doesn’t mean you are therefore a good listener.
What are people *really* saying to you? What is hidden behind the words or actions (or inactions) of people? Fear, anger, unforgiveness? When you zip your lips, pause your mind and focus on your ears, a whole new world opens up. And you get the privilege to really get to know people.
Whose need are you listening to: Theirs, or yours?
If you have a word to say, ask them “why?”.
3. Be Thankful
For most of my adult life, I never really valued who i am, what I’ve got and how I have been blessed. My life was about chasing something I didn’t have: perfect teeth, boobs (of the “right” size”), a six pack, enough likes on Facebook, the right man etc etc.
All I can say is that I could have had all of these things and still not been happy. I think the main reason for that was that i was not appreciative of what I ALREADY HAD. When you reflect about what you have, you immediately feel an amazing sense of peace and can see how blessed you *are*. For a brief moment, you may acknowledge your value to God. You might even whisper: “Look at what He has done for me!”
Reflecting back on how I felt when my last engagement ended; feeling I was back to square one and seeing no hope, I forgot to remember how Joy can be found in remembering how God made things right for me after every heart-break and devastation before.
See how things have come together in the past. “Mini-miracles” like these are memorials – like promises of wonders yet to come (not my words, but from a song) 🙂 That is something right there to be joyful and thankful about!
He is making a master-piece out of your life, too. Take a moment now and reflect back on how you got to where you are. If you are sitting thinking: “my life sucks, how is this good?” – ask yourself why you think it sucks: are you looking back and seeing a tapestry weaving together a great story with hope, or are you wishing forward to the unknown and coming back feeling empty?
Have hope (a sense of knowing that things work out for a greater good), yes, but stop living your life by looking at where you want to be – that always brings impatience and misery when you have to return to the reality of now. What if that wall you keep getting to and keep turning from is actually a door?! There is often something we repeatedly do or don’t do that stops us making progress. Often, it is a failure to admit that even the bad stuff is helping you (and letting that fuel hope) or fear to try something different or fail to recognise/admit your own responsibility for where you are. Naturally, we want to wish it away, or live in our dreams … but what if we stopped and examined what we were learning and take a real step in a new direction by seeing where we are. Be THANKFUL that you even have the ability and freedom to do that! Every second, we can either be imprisoned by our disappointment and wishes or we can be freed by gratitude and hope.
All three points tie in together and work side by side to help free you from the bondage of future-thinking, controlling behaviours and speculation. The truth is, we have no idea how things will be weaved together. We get to look back at what has been woven so far, but we lack the transcendent perspective on the full work to see how it will end up. That is information only the artist knows.
We do, however, have the chance to get to know the artist and realise that He is good. If He is good, then His work is also good.
My faith in that brings me joy no matter what life throws at me.
These 3 exercises help my wandering mind come back to a state of wonder.
Have a wonderful day!