There are things we have control over and things we don’t.
Learning about my own boundaries (or lack of them, in some cases) is a very good thing. Sometimes it takes an intense situation to recognize where a problem is and, oftentimes, the problem is with me. I want things to go a certain way and they aren’t going that way and then what? I have to decide my next move.
I am not in charge of everything, but I am in charge of my behavior.
First I need to figure out if I really should be calling the shots on a particular thing. Then I need to determine if “my way” is truly the best way. There is usually more than one way to get somewhere.
It’s a lot to sort out and it’s a lifetime of learning for me!
We each have unique gifts and I trust God is refining all of us in His time. I know He is refining me. He is working out those details in my character and in my life. I still have a lot to learn and I do have to do my part, but I also need to trust that God is working out the details, weaving together the different aspects of my life to create something beautiful. It might not be my idea of perfection, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t beautiful.
Jesus is the pioneer and perfecter of my faith!
Unfortunately, it is so easy to get caught up in what we want and are looking for. It is way too easy. Boundaries are healthy and important and we all have a lot to learn about being healthy in relationships, but if the focus is always on us and our ideas, the results will not be eternal.
Instead, let us fix…“our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” [Hebrews 12:2-3 NIV]
It’s nice to feel situated. It is a relief to know things are settled – an old bill, the future (at least in theory), and our hearts.
When I am unsettled and stressed about something, I can get anxious.
How will this play out?
Have I covered all the bases?
What have I forgotten?
What if all my efforts are in vain?
Am I doing enough?
Am I enough?
Have you ever had your mind entertain those types of questions? It can be in human relationships or jobs or even in my relationship with God. Sometimes things “feel” unsettled even though God assures me that they are.
It is important for me to know and remember that God, through Jesus, worked out my salvation. The “bill” there is settled.
“‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” [Acts 4:11-12 NIV]
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. [Romans 12:1-2a NIV]
Even though Eccelsiastes 1:9 tells us “there is nothing new under the sun” I am seeing some things I didn’t imagine I would see in my lifetime. I know that makes me sound like an old person. I don’t feel old but I am saddened and shocked by some of the ugliness I see these days. There has always been ugly behavior and I can’t focus on it because I will get disoriented and discouraged. The patterns of this world are sad.
I am in control of what my mind feasts on. If I am looking for the ugliness, I will surely find it. And if I am looking for the beauty, I will surely find that too. I believe we will find what we look for. That critical person you know who is always looking for the wrong in the world? They will surely find it. The person who hunts for the good in every person? They will surely find what they are looking for.
If I am going to get caught dwelling, let me dwell in positive and encouraging worlds and stories and with positive and encouraging people. Some of my spots for encouragement and beauty are:
Heartwarming stories of love, sacrifice, and perseverance
Sometimes we get the opportunity to redo something we haven’t done well but more often than not we are left with an experience that helps make a better decision in the future.
There is a lot of wisdom to be gained from experience if we pay attention. I have some regrets, of course. I think if we are honest, we all do. Some of my regrets relate to missed opportunities, relational foibles (relationships are my Achilles’ heel), things I have done, and things I wish I wouldn’t have done. And there are some things that I wouldn’t change because, while they may not have been fun to go through, they helped shape and mold me into the person I am.
As I learn and grow, I also change. And so I might look back and think “Oi! I wish I wouldn’t have done that!” It also developed something in my person or strengthened my relationship with God or brought something (or someone) else into my life that I really treasure. Things are so crazily interconnected that it isn’t always to isolate a decision or a path and wish to eliminate the difficulties it brought and not also see how the experience could be a blessing to someone else in some way.
God can do that – take a bad move and make something good come out of it.
Have you ever thought about forgiving yourself? Have you walked the process of giving all of your past, all of your present, and all of your future to God and asking Him to use it all?
the stupid stuff
the evil stuff
the selfish stuff
the reckless stuff
the “I was clueless” stuff
the “I can’t believe I did that” stuff
the “I sure caused a lot of pain to the people I love with that activity” stuff
I always wondered why the chemical process to curl hair was called a “permanent” but it really only lasted about three months. No wonder we are a confused society.
There are times when things are permanent, of course. Sometimes that can be a relief and sometimes it is overwhelming. It depends what it is and it depends on our perspective. Sometimes I get all cozy and comfy in a place – so much so that when it is time to move along, I might stomp my feet a little. I liked it “here”.
But it is all temporary, particularly in light of eternity. The relaxing beach vacation, the place you live, the job you have, the routine of your day…it can change so quickly.
So, for the moment, see who and what is around you. Don’t fret about the future, don’t get stuck in the past, find things to enjoy about where you are and what is happening around you right now. You are in a place where God can teach you so much.
Be present. Be teachable.
We will only be here for a moment.
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. [Philippians 4:5-7 NIV]
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Romans 8:38-39 NIV]
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. [Colossians 3:1-3 NIV]
Yea, yea, yea….some of it may have to do with the choices we made and all that, but sometimes we have done some of the exact same things and yet one of us is living out some challenging consequences and the other is not.
Sometimes where we are has nothing to do with our own choices. In fact, many times it has nothing to do with what we have done. We might experience the benefit or the consequence of someone else’s doing.
We didn’t choose the family or circumstances we were born into nor did we choose our ethnicity or our race. We had no choice about whether we were born into poverty or crazy wealth or a barely functioning family. We didn’t even choose the country we were born in.
And yet all these factors play into our early years, which, in turn, can create a path for our lives.
Life is hard and it definitely isn’t fair.
Some “advantages” aren’t actually advantages but it takes some time to sort that out. And sometimes what we think we see isn’t accurate at all… our own perspectives are often skewed.
Good deeds go unrecognized. Bad behavior appears to be rewarded. Illness doesn’t care if you have the sweetest heart or the most meager of bank accounts or even if you live in a remote village, away from any modern medical services.
I can’t dwell there.
Loss and death and disease are universal and trusting in God’s provision and comfort is the only way I survive. Sharing God’s love and compassion in practical ways is one of the ways I cope and move forward in a positive direction. If I think too much about the injustices of life on Earth without a plan to give and serve, I dwell. If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by your situation, I have included some Bible verses that are good to memorize. If you are going to dwell anywhere, God’s Word is the place to do it:
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.” 2 Corinthians 1:3
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4
“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Romans 12:12
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4