If you’ve ever been to a funeral, you know that we have a tendency to remember the positive things about people and forget their faults once they die. The reverse is true, sometimes, while they’re still alive. What if you started doing this?
It’s sooooo easy to focus on what’s wrong with your life. Sometimes it seems the older you get, the more your dissatisfaction grows. What started out as Measles becomes a full-blown case of appendicitis of the soul. If you’re not careful, the pain is so bad, you can’t think of anything else. It can begin with your unruly kids, or your jerk boss, or your horrible house and your insensitive spouse. Before you know it, you meet the enemy and he is you! That’s right. The problem isn’t your kids, your boss, your house or your spouse. You’re your problem. And the problem is you’ve gotten to the point where you focus on everything that’s wrong with your world.
So, when is the last time you focused on everything that’s right in your world? I’m not saying that there aren’t issues in some of those other areas we’ve looked at, I’m just saying that when we face difficulties, we can forget about how good of a life we really have. For example, aren’t you glad it wasn’t your funeral I just attended today?
Call it positive thinking, call it glass half-full, call it whatever you want. If you’re always completely focused on what’s wrong with your life and not what’s right, you’re going to be miserable. Now, if you’re not actively seeking to provide for your family and you’re just waiting for someone else to do it, that’s another story. But if you’re genuinely seeking what’s best for you and your family, you’ve got a lot going for you.
People say the Christian life is hard and it can be. I get that. Though the Christian life is all up hill, God has given us the resources to thrive. We have Jesus himself, the Holy Spirit, God’s Word- the scriptures, prayer and friends to encourage and strengthen us. The problem is we can get to the point where we neglect some or all of these things. Then life gets hard indeed. If the Christian life wasn’t hard, you’d never grow.
Speaking of the scriptures, the apostle Paul wrote, “I have learned whatsoever state I’m in, therewith to be content.” Philippians 4:11. Talk about the art of appreciation! Paul was writing from a Roman jail and explaining what true joy is. Maybe just after he wrote this sentence, a rat ran under his chair! Yet, Paul was able to say “I’m content”. That’s not to say Paul preferred prison over the penthouse suite. But God can turn your prison into a palace if you’ll only focus on what’s right with your life and not what’s wrong.
Right about now you may be thinking, “he just doesn’t get it, that’s not going to make my problem go away.” Your right. I’m not saying to think positive and all of your problems will go away. What I’m saying is your problems aren’t going to go away unless you change. And part of that includes your mindset. If you just keep focusing on all of your problems, you’re going to miss out on the power. Don’t ignore your problems, attack them. And that begins with a heart of thanks and appreciation for what you have that’s worth saving.
If you don’t think this is a prevailing mindset, think of the last conversation you had with someone. As you talked with them, did that person strike you as someone who was truly appreciative and thankful for the opportunity to live. Or, did they strike you as someone who feels like they need more? Listen, it’s o.k to want more. But you’re not going to be more joyful with more if you’re not content with what you have right now. Once you get more, there will always be more to get.
Likewise, chances are you’re not going to get less. By that I mean, your best years of health may very well be behind you. In the future, there may be more Dr.’s appointments. More funerals. More bills. More grandchildren. Chances are your life is going to get more complicated, not less. Chances are you’ll have more problems to solve, not less.
Right about now, you may be wondering if it’s all really worth it. I’m here to tell you, yes! If you’re 22 or 92, you have a lot to be grateful for. The fact that you’re even able to read the words on this page, puts you in good standing.
I just started painting with oils again after twenty years and it’s been amazing. There are a lot of lessons. Here’s one thing I’ve learned. It’s frustrating but insightful. I’ve been painting landscapes, and without fail, there are parts of my painting that come out amazing and others not so amazing. The next painting I do, I completely flub the part I did well and perfect the part I painted poorly in the last picture. So, what do I do? I turn off the inner editor and think to myself, there are many people who would be happy with this, flaws and all.
Friend, your life may not be perfect, but there are plenty of people who would love to have it, flaws and all. It may sound funny, but I pray that as you work on fixing some of the mistakes in your own life, God teaches you more about the art of appreciation. No matter what you’re going through, and how many times you feel like giving up, you have a lot to be thankful and appreciative for. So next time you feel like throwing in the towel, why not change your mind and focus on what you’ve got, not what you want?
While we’re at it, would you join me? Lets start focusing on what other people around us are doing right and encourage them. What if we just constantly looked for opportunities to encourage people who are doing the right think and stopped policing for people who are messing up? I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to do a lot better when I’m loved than when I’m criticized. Love you folks. Have a great week!