Where I have been can inform me about where I am going. Of course, it isn’t always a sure thing. And that is a good thing.
If I come from a place of pain and I don’t process it properly, I might look for and anticipate pain in all parts of my life. If I come from a place of safety and security, my discernment might not be developed enough to perceive danger. Of course, personality tendencies play a role here, too. We all know a Tigger-type personality. And, we all know those who view the world like Eeyore does.
Focusing on the negatives typically produces more negative. Experiences, both good and bad, leave their marks on us. How we process them is important. Those negative situations in my life can trip me up so keeping my mind and heart focused on God’s Word helps me be oriented!
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. [Philippians 4:8-9, NIV]
This will be a two-part PrayerPoint because we will be at the Grand Canyon later on today and I am sure it will provide some further insight.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
Have you ever found yourself trying too hard? There are times in situations that you overwork yourself or take on more responsibility for something, just to make it work. And, in the end, it doesn’t really work and you are exhausted from the attempt.
My Achilles heel is relationships. When I perceive I have made a good connection with a person, the relating comes easy and is very comfortable, even if there are years between seeing one another face-to-face. But there are some relationships that are challenging. As the years have gone by, those are rarely friendships I have initiated, of course. The challenging ones are the ones where I have people in my life because of life, not because I have chosen to be in relationship with them. It might be a work colleague or another volunteer in a church or civic group or a family member and the connection takes an inordinate amount of effort.
It might be okay to surrender the relationship. If you decide to stop working so hard to make it work it is possible the other person will then step in and make the effort. Or not. And then, is it really a relationship worth pursuing?
There are relationships we have to be in and there are relationships we choose to be in. I pray you have a few solid relationships where you can be carefree and encouraged and know you are loved and appreciated. If you have a majority of relationships that are so exhasuting they throw you off kilter, it might be time to consider giving up one or two. Instead of working as if you are the sole contributor to the relationship, “give up” and see if the other person picks up the slack and also invests in it. If they let it go too, it might be an indication that it is time to be done.
Life is short. Be deliberate about where you spend your time and energy. And while all relationships go through bumps in the road, if you are always thrown out of alignment when interacting with some specific people, you might need to rethink how often you want to go down that road.
The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction. Proverbs 16:21
It isn’t fair to say this rule originated in Bronxville, but I saw it here first.
When everyone is lined up at a traffic light and it turns green, the first person in the cue to turn left does not need to yield to the cross traffic. They turn in front of the car that is going straight as soon as the light is green.
That has not been an understood driving right anywhere else I have ever lived.
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When I get to a new place, I try to figure out the unwritten rules. There usually are a few. At first I might notice that something is different and I can’t quite put my finger on it. Then, as time goes on and I observe more, I might be able to decipher it. And then I have to decide if I want to be a part of this new place and their rules.
Whether or not we are conscious about this process, I think it is fairly common but most noticeable when you are the newcomer to a situation.
Every town, organization, church, family, and relationship has rules. Some are formally written out but it is always hardest to figure out the unwritten ones. It takes time. And sometimes we get caught up in a system before we are able to discern whether or not it is healthy.
If you are in a situation that seems a little off, spend a little more time observing, pray for discernment, then decide if you should stay or go.
The other day I made a very public mistake. You may not have noticed it. I certainly didn’t notice it because if I had, I would not have done it. I am not a perfectionist by any means but when I share information I want it to be accurate, properly spelled, and all that.
Almost the entire day had gone by and finally someone pointed out that I had made a mistake. Actually, I had made several. (Oh how I hate when that happens!) Immediately, I got to work to correct it! And, sadly, it took several tries. For whatever reason, the initial person to point out the error was not able to assist in the correction. However, another person stepped in to stick with me through the process with a lot of patience, she was very pleasant and helpful.
I want to be that kind of person!
A complete stranger stepped in to work with me. How thoughtful and kind! And I wondered, “Am I the one who just points out mistakes or am I the person who will patiently stick with someone as they get it together?” Good question! Sometimes I am both!
I have noticed in myself that there are times I have a lot of compassion for others and there are other times I am so incredibly impatient. Sometimes it has to do with the kind of day I had or the amount of free time I have to help another person. And, sadly, sometimes it has to do with the person I am in conversation with or, at the very least, my perception of the person.
Sometimes I am so stingy with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and gentleness!
But when I am on the receiving end of correction, am I approachable and teachable? Am I willing to listen to what someone has to say and consider it? Naturally, I am more willing to hear from someone I know and love and I know knows and loves me. But there are times a complete stranger, or even someone I don’t particularly like, has valuable insight for me. Can I hear it?
I have to practice receiving correction with grace and humility because it is not my inclination. My first response is usually to be a little defensive but I have been working on that. There are numerous opportunities for me to improve on my response. What can I say? I am a work in progress!
Heavenly Father, give me your discernment when someone shares advice or correction with me. Lord, grant me discernment when I am inclined to share advice or correction with others! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!
On the Road,
p.s. Can you tell I am having too much fun with Canva?
Recently, Don and I traveled 5500+ miles together. We all over in the southwest United States… in the country, in small towns, in the mountains, and in several large cities. We were in places where there were many people and cars and also places where we rarely saw a person or house. We also experienced quite a variation in air quality.
When I am out in nature and it is a beautiful sunny day, I just want to take a deep breath. The crisp, clean air is so refreshing. But I really don’t love to head toward a city where there is a layer of smog. Once you are “in town” you might not notice it but it is very obvious from a few miles away that the air quality is compromised. Who wants to breathe that in?
There are places that have a toxic environment and it isn’t about the physical air quality but involves an unhealthy spiritual atmosphere.
Have you been in a place where creativity is discouraged? Manipulative behavior is common? Glad-handing and flattery are ever present? Responsibility is shirked? Incompetence is rewarded? Or an elephant is in the living room but everyone is too afraid to mention it?
Sometimes it is the result of a person or two who come in and are “allowed” to change the atmosphere. Other times it is entrenched in the culture of the institution. The family or workplace lost its health somewhere along the way.
Polluted air can impact your physical health. A toxic home or work environment can also take a toll on your physical heath…and emotional health…and spiritual health. But what do you do with it when you are aware of it?
The most important thing to do is pray!
Pray for your own spiritual protection and the spiritual protection of others involved.
Pray for others to come to an awareness of the unhealthy atmosphere.
Consider how you contribute to the health of the system and pray for a healthier contribution.
If you are sucked in, BACK UP! Take a good look at what is going on.
Ask others for their insight. You might be overreacting but you also might be onto something.
Pray about your involvement overall.
If you have to maintain some connection, pray about your level of engagement.
Heavenly Father ~ Help me discern how I contribute to unhealthy environments by either getting sucked in or staying silent on the sidelines. Give me courage to behave in healthy ways. Amen.
I know most of the things I should be doing but I am so overwhelmed with everything I have to do that I would love a sure fire formula for a few battle areas. Do you ever feel the same way? I know when I am desperate I am not as discerning as I need to be and it is then that I fall prey to deception.
If every formula depended on only me, maybe, just maybe they would work, but considering my level of distraction, I don’t guess so. While I am not against suggestions, I think it is important to remember that many of the “formulas” for weight loss, obedient children, a better marriage, success in school, etc do not take into account that people and their wills are also a part of the equation. Some of these ultimate formulas are ultimately frustrating and keep us chasing our tails!
If you find yourself in a desperate spot, hoping that someone else’s perfect formula will help you out of a crazy situation, think again because if you pursue a plan without any discernment on your part, you might make things worse. There isn’t a perfect, sure fire plan for most things because we are dealing with unique people and complicated lives and culture. You cannot control every variable and you should not try.
There may be some things you can control and there are many, many more things you cannot. Amazingly, God allowed us to have our wills and He continues to work in, with, and through our mistakes and struggles to bring His message of love and grace to a hurting world. If we do a little more releasing of things we want to control, God can move in and have some wiggle room to transform a situation. It might not follow a formula someone recommended to you but are you comfortable enough with God to let Him lead you in a way unique to your situation? Following someone else’s formula isn’t always the best plan–but following God is!
Dig into His Word and seek His face. You might consider what those around you have to say but listen with discernment. When you adopt a formula, you are taking the lead. It is hard for God to lead when we are in the way!
Throughout my life, I have had many people hand me their “lenses” and I tried to make sense of the world by using their view. Occasionally I spent a great deal of time trying to adapt to the philosophies presented to me and trying to view the world their way. It just doesn’t seem to work for me.
The older I get, the more time I try to view the world from God’s perspective.
What does He say about the world?
What does He say about forgiveness?
It might seem easier to adopt the mindset of someone else you trust because it is hard work to think, pray, and study. But I have run into enough untrustworthy people in my life that I don’t often take someone’s word for it. Dig in! Don’t borrow someone else’s viewpoint. It is important to consider what is behind someone’s beliefs and it is often necessary to be compassionate as you listen, but don’t buy into everything you hear or read. God will grant you discernment if you ask.