Doubling Down

This week’s post has a bent toward those of us who are Jesus followers.  Be forewarned.  😊

My family has been facing some challenging days recently with the passing of a significant family member.  Without going into details, a common question my siblings and I have been asking is, “How should we respond to some of the challenging behaviors of others?”. 

For me, the answer has been, “Double down on Jesus”. 

As a Christian, my goal is to follow Jesus’ teachings as laid out in Scripture, and align my life as closely as I can with Him.  That’s easy to do when things are going well, but it can be a different story when life gets challenging, and Jesus’ teaching feel totally contrary to how the world tells us we should respond or behave. 

When I find myself at this intersection with Jesus and the world, I pose some form of the following question to myself: “Jesus gives us very clear instruction on how we’re to behave as followers of His.  I either believe what Jesus says, or I don’t.  So, which is it?” 

This is the point where I double down on Jesus.

I decide that yes, I DO believe what He says, and, yes, I WILL align myself and my actions with His teaching.  Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t always easy. To the contrary, it’s often very difficult.  However, Jesus never promised that we wouldn’t have difficulty or troubles.  He did promise that He’d be with us when we face them.  I have also found Him faithful in carrying us through difficult times, when we choose to follow Him and be obedient to His teaching, event when it’s difficult.

I’ve also realized that I don’t just need to double down on Jesus when times are tough.  I need to double down on Jesus every single day by spending time with Him, reading my Bible, and applying what I learn. 

Because I either believe what He says, or I don’t… and I do!

Smile Because It Happened

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”  ~Dr. Seuss

I came across this quote last week and it’s such a great reminder about perspective and also about how to handle ending. Since endings are a part of every life, it feels that this quote from Dr. Seuss is applicable for all of us.

There are a number of things that come to an end:

  • A season of life
  • An event
  • A place we enjoy visiting
  • A business we enjoy frequenting
  • A friendship
  • A life

To be clear, some of the endings on this list are more impactful than others, and deserve tears as part of the healing process.  That said, I think that remembering the experience or the person lost with smile, and gratitude for the experience, helps us move forward in away that allows us to remain open to new people and experiences yet to come.  What a shame it would be to close ourselves off to trying new things or getting close to people because we are afraid of the tears that may come with loss.

Dr. Seuss’s quote also reminds me that I don’t have to wait until something is over to smile about it.  I can do so even while it’s happening.  😊

When It’s Time To Wait

We’re getting ready to do a bathroom remodel, and as part of any home improvement project, I like to get people that will be doing the work lined up and scheduled early.  For this project, I’ve had a hard time doing that because we’re waiting to know when fixtures will arrive, because the work can’t start until they do.  I was telling my wife that I feel like I’m not getting anything done or moving the project forward.  Her response was simple and accurate.  “We can’t line people up until we have all the fixtures, so right now, our job is to wait.”

She’s right.  Worrying or trying to “do” stuff won’t make things arrive any quicker.  Our next step can’t be taken until everything arrives.  Therefore, since we’ve picked out and ordered what we want, our job is done for now. 

Once I thought about her comment, I felt much better.  I can’t cause something to happen that is beyond my control.  We’ll be able to move ahead when everything arrives.  In the meantime, we just have to be patient and wait. 

Small Steps Forward

One reason I think life is so interesting is that there is so much to learn and improve at.  From our skills in the workplace, to hobbies and interests, to character improvements, to relational skills and even spiritual growth, we have a neve-ending source of areas where we can improve.  And while I am energized by this thought, at times, I also find it rather frustrating. 

The source of this frustration, for me, comes when the improvement happens slower than I would like.  Yes, I know improvement takes time, but still, I often wish it came a little (or a lot!) quicker.

That’s why the following comment I read last week resonated so much with me.  It said,

“We change not in giant leaps, but one small step at a time.  Your have the rest of your life, so be patient with yourself.”

I love this statement because it reminds me that my real goal in life is continuous improvement versus being an unachievable form of perfect right now.  It also reminds me that progress adds up over time.  Therefore, if I’m a life-long learner, which I am, I’ve got a lifetime to get better.

That thought is a good antidote for alleviating my frustration at a perceived slow rate of progress.  All I really need to do is continue making small steps forward.

A Quick Thought On Answered Prayers

I’m amazed at how often answers to prayers come through other people.  From kind words, to words of encouragement, to generous acts, to numerous other things, other people are often the chosen vehicle God uses to answer prayer. 

What’s particularly interesting about this, is that we not only receive God’s blessings through others, but WE can be a vehicle that God uses to answer the prayers of others!  How cool is that!

The next time you feel like you should say something kind to someone, or take an action that benefits someone else, not matter how small or insignificant it may seem,  don’t hesitate.  Do it right away.  You just may be the vehicle that God wants to use to answer someone’s prayer.

Checking The Mirror

I’m sure you’re familiar with this routine.  As you’re getting ready in the morning you look at yourself in the mirror and compare that image with the image you have in your mind of what you should look like before your start your day.  You see disheveled hair, so you fix it.  You see toothpaste on your face, so you wipe it off.  You take one last look on your way out the door to make sure the image of how you’d like to look and how you actually look align.  The mirror does an excellent job of telling us when our appearance is falling short what we expect for ourselves.  It’s great feedback!

While it’s important to have mirrors to ensure we look presentable before we leave the house, I think it’s even more important to have mirrors that reflect back to us how well we’re living up to the standard we’ve set for ourselves.

As a Christian, I’ve decided that the standard I’ve chosen to live by are the teachings of Jesus, as found in the Bible.  So, in order to know whether my life is a reflection of what Jesus teaches, I need compare how I’m living my life to Jesus’s teaching in the Bible and see if my reflection matches.  If my life aligns with Jesus’s teaching, then I’m on track.  If not, I’ve got work to do.  Either way, the mirror of the Bible when compared to my life gives me feedback and informs me where I can make changes.

So what standard are you trying to live your life in accordance with?  What mirror do you need to check your reflection against?  Whatever it is, just be sure to check your reflection regularly, receive the feedback it’s giving you, and make corrections as needed. 

Done over a long period of time, this habit will move your life in the direction you want it to go.