Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Always and Never

...two words I try to avoid.

Somewhere a long the way I was taught to avoid thinking in extremes.  Recently that lesson has become more important than ever to me.  I tend to veer in the directions of these "universal quantifiers".  By doing that, I not only limit my thinking, but I unknowingly give myself permission to feel those in extremes.   Life is not only made up of black and white, but of an abundance of colors in between.  However, as with every rule, there will be some exceptions.

1.  Things will always change.  God tells us in Ecclesiastes 3 that there is a season for everything...a time to laugh, a time to cry.  There's a time to grieve, a time to dance.  Based on that scripture alone we know that life changes; jobs, marriage, friendships....  I could go on forever naming them and even then I'm sure there could be more examples that could be added.  Change in and of itself is not a bad thing, but grasping the reality that it is inevitable is absolutely helpful.  Trusting God with your life and constantly holding on to his promises is what will get you through the good times and bad.

2.  Your decisions will always affect those around you.  If an adult decides to skip work for the day...fellow coworkers will probably have to work harder to make up for it.  If a youth decides they'd rather not do their section of a school project...the entire groups will suffer the consequences of that zero.  It doesn't matter what the decision at hand is.  The rewards and/or consequences have a way of trickling to others, whether it's fair or not.

3.  There are always things to be grateful for.  Even in the darkest of days there are things we can choose to be thankful for.  It could be that you're healthy, that your children are healthy.  You could be grateful for the beautiful sunrise or the restful sleep you had.  Our gratitude does not have to be felt over the big things.  For me, it's more often than not over the small, simple things.  No matter what your blessings are, gratitude is always a choice that only you can make.

 4.  There is always hope.  Depending on our age and maturity level, we will all hope for different things.  Whether it is a student hoping for straight A's or an adult hoping for the next promotion, it's there.  Discouragement, pessimism, depression, and anger are all killers of hope.  They are brought forth by the enemy.  Optimism, encouragement, and hope all come from our Savior.  By embracing those thoughts is the same as proclaiming there is no Savior.  He is the one who provides us with hope and because He does exist there will always be hope for you.

It is a light within us that pierces the darkness of doubt and discouragement and taps into the light
(hope) hope of all creation - even the Savior.
John H Groburg.

5.  Always, always forgive.  I have been under the impression for as long as I can remember that forgiveness is a feeling.  If you don't feel it, then you don't give it.  I have been terribly wrong.  Forgiveness is a decision.  It requires very little of us, but the choice to give it is such a wonderful blessing.  It frees us from the snares of anger and bitterness.  It releases us into the freedom of knowing that we are trusting our God.  He knows the pain we experience and every tear that falls from our eyes.  He will deal with any and every *** that comes our way.  His presence changes things.  When we embrace Him and allow him to take over, our love will grow deeper and the anger we feel evaporates and gives way to forgiveness.

1.  Never assume someone knows how you feel.  I am notorious for doing this.  I simply assume Mike knows that I love him...that I respect him.  Regardless if he knows or simply assumes, he needs to hear it from me.  I can not simply assume that my children know how much I love them and how I cherish each one of them.  They need to hear it.  Don't ever let a day go by where you fail to express your emotions.  Whether it's love, appreciations, frustration, or disappointment.

2.  Never get so comfortable that you become complacent.  Complacency happens when we get so accustomed to our routine that we stop growing as people.  We stop working on our marriage.  We stop working on our friendships.  We become too satisfied.  I realize that may sound a bit peculiar, because we want to be satisfied and many of us thrive on routines.  The problem develops when we stop trying to become better people.  We settle with average.  We settle with the, "that's it?" mentality.  Complacency encourages doing the absolute minimum.  There is a time for everything, so this type of mentality may be helpful for a season, but not for a lifestyle.  We need to continue setting goals and reaching them, only to have another goal lined up after that.

3.  Never forget that you too are flawed.  We are all fallible and fantastically human.  We will all make mistakes that we will have to atone for.  The mistakes and bad judgement calls are not so much the problem.  The problem comes in when we begin thinking we are better than those around us. Only after that is when pride settles in.  Our lives are a process.  Through every painful and humiliating decision and every hurtful and heartbreaking interaction, we are growing.  Our mistakes are what help us gain wisdom and craft our lives.  Everything that happens to us, good or bad, provides us with the strength, knowledge, and even confidence to live the life we are meant to live.

4.  Never stop trying to improve yourself.  Every day presents a new opportunity for growth.  Just as the flowers reach for the heaves, we should to.  The closer we get to the Father, the more we will desire to be like Him.  Will we ever be perfect?  Absolutely not.  However, Ephesians 4:25 says that we were created to be more like God, truly righteous and holy.  Not "holier than thou" but honest, committed, and morally pure.

5.  Never give up.  The thought of giving up is one that I have all too often.  I tend to get tunnel vision and am unable to see the big picture which is this, life is precious.  Satan does his very best to convince us that we are worthless and that things/situations/circumstances will never get better.  That is why he is knows as the king of lies.  His primary job is to kill, steal, and destroy.  If we are not careful and allow ourselves to become ensnared in his lies, he will kill our dreams, steal our joy, and destroy our happiness.  As long as there is air in your lungs, do not give up the fight.


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