Camouflaged Problems

“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”  Proverbs 28:13

 

I am not one to hide my emotions.  It is usually written on my face.  Meanwhile, if you ask me “how are you?”  I respond with, “I’m fine, thank you.”  Understandably, you don’t want to tell the cashier at Target that you are anxious beyond belief or you are scared about the security of your husband’s job.   We feel we shouldn’t burden others with our problems.

 

But when we don’t seek help, it costs us.  Our physical and emotional health.  Sometimes our relationships with others.

 

I was reading an email ad from a very popular craft store.  There was a sale on plastic bins for organizing.  Their ad title was “Camouflage Clutter!”  The minimalist in me freaked out.  I thought, there is still clutter inside those bins, it just doesn’t look as bad.  You are just taking your problem and hiding it.

 

Many times, I don’t want to face my problems.  In dealing with crowds, I would leave an event early.  In order to fly on an airplane, I would take something to relax me.  Instead of dealing with a difficult person, I would avoid them entirely.  I would buy a bigger clothing size instead of taking care of myself.  Sometimes, I will not even try something because I was so afraid of failing.  Not a good way to live.

 

God wants us to be prosperous and well.  He wants us to rely on Him in life’s difficult situations, instead of on our own strength.  It was difficult, but I had to face my problems and take steps to overcome them, instead of succumbing to them.  First step was finding a good therapist.  I found not one, but two!  I also decided to try meditation.  I was so reluctant for years because I was fearful of worshipping something else other than God.  But I found a meditation app (called Headspace) that wasn’t like that and it has helped me greatly.  And lastly, I became more gentle with myself and my thoughts.  

 

At some point, I decided that I want to feel better in my daily living.  God equipped me when I was ready.  Everyone is difficult in their healing.  My hope is that one day soon, we all discover that way.

 

Lesson Learned: Don’t cover up problems, expose them for their lies and seek healing.

 

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, I am so thankful that you know me better than anyone.  Show me your ways Lord.  Heal my wounds and equip me with the strength I need to fix these areas.  Give me patience for the time it may take.  Guard my mind, heart and soul and restore every area in my life that needs it.  Help me to forgive and establish boundaries.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Don’t Take it Personally

“Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you.  Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.” Ecclesiastes 7:21-22

 

I admit it, taking things personally is something I am fantastic at.  It is usually followed with the response, “what is that supposed to mean?” This is not something I am proud of doing or admitting.  But I am learning to pause and take a breath before responding to the matter.

 

My coworker was telling me a story about another lady was which she was working.  She explained how the other woman was mad that she was not getting a response from another person after numerous email attempts.  She told my coworker how she wanted to tell the person off and end all communication.  My coworker advised her not to because she would never know when this person may ask for her business and there was no harm in continuing the correspondence, even if it was one-sided.  She told her, “don’t take it personally.”  

 

When my coworker said that, it resonated in my life.  I would have reacted the same way as that lady did.  Anxiety gives you that gift of escalating things quickly.  I decided to practice my newfound revelation on my current situation.

 

I was wanting to meet with two people from another church.  It took a lot of emails to get a hold of these people.  After several emails, I would get one response and it was brief.  I would immediately respond back, just to have a response a few days later.  I was supposed to meet with one of the ladies but was told this was something I could do by email from the other person.  More days passed, no response and I was anxious.

 

The day of the meeting, I emailed both again.  But this time, I asked if everything was okay.  I got a response a few hours later by phone.  The lady apologized for the delay.  She explained to me that something serious had been going through her life.  She was served divorce papers and it was out of the blue.  So she was dealing with lawyers and being in court besides working a full-time job and taking care of her kids.  I knew I wasn’t exactly her priority and that was okay.  I told her I would pray for her (and I did) and we could reschedule another time.

 

We deal with a lot of stuff in life.  While I believe outright rudeness is unacceptable, sometimes I need to give grace to people in situations I have no control over.  How many times do we habitually sin and God is right there to forgive us when we ask?   I am thankful He doesn’t write us off when we don’t respond to His call.

 

Practice (and grace) makes perfect.  I intend to think first and give grace when things aren’t progressing the way I would want.

 

Lesson Learned:  Don’t take things personally, give some grace and carry on.

 

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us.  Show me Lord how to show grace and not take offense to every little thing.  Give me discernment in this matter.  Help me forgive others’ mistakes, because you forgive mine.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Imitating Jesus

 

“If we say we are His, we must follow the example of Christ.”  I John 2:6

 

This morning, I was listening to the radio and a singer was talking about the birth of his daughter.  He said prayed that he would not mess up that relationship.  He asked God to remind him to treasure his daughter everyday and to know it is an honor to be her father.  

 

Of course, I immediately felt convicted.  

 

I thought about the times when I get mad at her making a mess or dropping and breaking something expensive.  But then I heard the saying, “WWJD-What would Jesus Do?”  An oldie but a goodie… If Jesus saw my daughter, He would love and speak over her encouragement.  You can still discipline and show love.  I’ve just been showing anger and disappointment.  

 

At church my pastor also reminds of showing the love of Jesus.  When he wants us to greet others, he says, “If Jesus were here, He would give you a hug.”  I want to think like this all of the time.  But it is hard sometimes to do this.

 

Every time I want to write a post for this blog, the fear comes up.  I am disappointed and impatient in how very few people seem to read this blog.   Everyone is just too busy.  It could be that it is just junk and that is the sad truth.  Then something keeps encouraging me to keep going.  In the last two days, there were 2 articles and a video that I came across regarding dreams you wish to accomplish.  I think God is trying to tell me something- just keep doing it, but as He would.

 

When I want to write but I can’t think of anything, I will pray for the words that God would want people to read.  If I encounter a problem, pray to God how He would want me to handle that situation.  Life is complicated, but Jesus makes it more clear and simple.  We can do a lot on our own, but with God it is usually the right way.

 

Lesson Learned: Imitate Jesus not the world.

 

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for taking on the burden of every problem.  I need your wisdom and encouragement Lord.  Give me discernment for every issue at hand.  Show me how you want others to see you through me.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

What We Need is What We Already Have

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” Philippians 4:11

 

We live in a disposable society.  The newest version of whatever comes out and we are drawn to it like a moth to a flame.  Marketing and advertising agents create discontent in our lives, so we can buy their new products.  At what cost?  More debt?  An adverse environmental impact?  Junk we don’t need to impress people we don’t like?  I don’t what any of those.

 

I remember appliances lasting 20+ years.  Now it seems if you get 10 years out of them, you are considered lucky.  Cell phones?  Forget it.  It seems when your contract was up in 2 years, your phone is ready to quit as well.  My husband hardly uses his cell phone.  He gets calls, emails and texts and checks the occasional football score, but that is it.  I am lucky if I can make it the end of the day before I have to plug it in.

 

This past November, our cell phone contract was finished.  I was itching to get a new phone.  But as technology changes, so does the cell phone carrier’s way of billing you.  Now they charge you monthly just to have that specific phone besides the call, text and data.  My husband’s phone was practically new.  My phone still looked and operated just fine.  When we looked into the costs, we decided we are going to keep our phones until they disintegrated.   We also asked the carrier to adjust our billing rate since we are month-to-month now.  We were able to lower our bill $40 a month for the exact the same service.

I was stoked to say the least!

 

Many times, we are discontented because someone else has something better: their relationship with God seems more holy, their relationship with their spouse seems happier, their kids are more well-behaved, they have a nicer home.  We see their edited pictures on social media.  Little do we know, it took 20 times to get the picture just right.  Not real life.

 

I realized that I already have what I need most of the time.  There is nothing wrong with new stuff.  I like it as much as the next person.  As long as I can afford it and there is a true need for it, there is nothing wrong with having it.  But when I already have gently worn shoes and clothes, do I need more?  Do I need a new phone and computer that works just fine, even if there are 5 new models that came out since I purchased it?  No, of course not.

 

I hope that God continues to show me, I already have everything I need.  May I give to those who are truly lacking and appreciate my blessings.

 

Lesson Learned: There is someone who wishes they have what I already have.  I am thankful for my current life.

 

Prayer:  

“Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for my life as it is already.  I pray that my life does not harbor any discontentment.  Thank you for the country I live in.  I thank you for everything I take for granted.  Help me take care of all in my life.  In Jesus’ Name.  AMEN!”

Change of Focus

“You blind Pharisee!  First, clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.”  Matthew 23:26

 

As the new year approaches, New Year’s Resolutions cloud my head.  I don’t want to make one, because sadly, I break them by the following week or the next day.  However, I decided that I do need to make a resolution, not just for this year, but for life.  My resolution is to change my focus.

 

This past holiday season was a little on the exhaustive side.  It felt very overwhelming.  I had a horrible attitude towards things and people.  That in turn, made things uncomfortable for my family.  There was a fight brewing between me and my husband that would have ruined Christmas.  He did nothing, it was me feeling angry in general and taking it out on him.

 

I texted my go to friend when I am in panic mode and told her my feelings.  Her response was almost, Jesus-like, in which she asked me a question rather than giving advice or joining me in my anger.  I listened to the questions and prayed.  I haven’t been praying much, because I have been feeling so helpless and angry, I had no words to pray.  But this time, I asked the Lord to help me have a pleasant time.  I heard, “change your focus and it will”.

 

In an instance, I felt the heaviness lift and my mind felt clear.  I apologized to my husband and told him things will be fine today.  He looked at me with an “are you sure?” expression and said, “I hope so.”  I am glad to say, the day was fine for all of us and I didn’t have any urge to complain or react in any anger.

 

Being negative all the time, isn’t something that goes away instantly. It does take a lot of practice. It is like undoing a really bad habit.  I know I have to give myself some slack because I have been this way for so long.  When I am around people who are angry or miserable about their own life, it spreads to me like a virus and I start feeling the same way.  

 

That is why that bible verse Philippians 4:8 is so valuable:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

 

Let many good thoughts and praise ring in this new year!  Happy New Year!

 

Lesson Learned:  When things feel like they are going wrong, let my focus change.
Prayer:  “Dear Heavenly Father, may I learn the value of the Philippians 4:8 verse.  Let us all be able to meditate on that verse for this new year!  Forgive me for staying negative on issues.   Holy Spirit give me the right words to pray.  Change my heart and mind’s thoughts when I feel angry or anxious.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”