In 'One Thousand Gifts' Ann Voskamp describes when her son threw toast at his brother, and says something very deep:
'What compels me to name these moments upheavals and annoyances instead of grace and gift? Why deprive myself of joy's oxygen?...Isn't it because I think complaining, exasperation, resentment will pound me up into the full life I really want? When I choose - and it is a choice - to crush joy with bitterness, am I not purposefully choosing to take the way of the Prince of Darkness?'
We have a choice in how we respond to situations, to those little things that can make us so mad or upset. I remember once having a mini-revelation as I walked through the school playground feeling angry and resentful. I suddenly realised that if I wanted to, I could decide to cheer up.
It's just that I didn't want to, because I liked feeling sorry for myself. I finally persuaded myself to cheer up anyway, and did - just like that.
She goes on to say, 'In His presence is fullness of joy. He is in this moment. The well is always here. God is always here - precisely because He does care.'
We can choose our attitude, and as she beautifully points out we can find joy, because in God's presence is joy, and He is with us at all times if we are saved - 'I will never leave you nor forsake you'.
In the other book I've been reading, 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People', Stephen Covey says this:
'Anytime we think the problem is "out there," that thought is the problem. We empower what's out there to control us... It is so much easier to blame other people, conditioning, or conditions for our own stagnant situation. But we are responsible - "response-able" - to control our lives and to powerfully influence our circumstances by working on be, on what we are.'
So what I am taking from these thoughts is that what happens to us, or what we are going through, doesn't determine how we respond - we can choose how to respond.
It is definitely a lot harder, and takes effort, to choose joy, love and forgiveness (and in my case self-control!), rather than discouragement, bitterness and resentment. But we can do it, and we will be blessed when we do, because it is what God wants us to do.
We can also do what Stephen Covey says and be proactive to work on the problem. We might not be able to change someone else, but there are often things that we can do ourselves to help. I hope to write soon on how to figure out Biblical responses to situations, as that is not always that easy!
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