What's Right With Your Life?
By Laura J. Bagby
CBN.com Sr. Producer
I discovered recently that I was sick. In fact, I had been deathly ill for some time, largely unaware, with something much worse than a physical ailment and much more virulent. It was the kind of illness that not only infected me, but has the potential to infect all of us at one time or another – if we let it.
When you have this insidious and all-pervasive malady, you don’t often recognize the symptoms until you have thoroughly wallowed in it, choked on it, told everyone you know about how horrible it is, or completely feared it.
It’s the disease known as seeing your life incorrectly, seeing your life as more or less half empty, unpleasant, and frustrating. It’s that mumbling and complaining attitude the Bible tells us not to indulge in.
We spend our time evaluating what was wrong, what is wrong, and what could go wrong with our current life. And as we age and have to wait on the Lord for many more things, we can tend toward this despairing mindset. We wonder why certain gifts from God keep getting delayed or why we can’t overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles or why everyone else around us seems more blessed and happy and successful than we are. We are sapped by self-doubting and self-pitying thoughts like “Why don’t I have a spouse – is God mad at me?” or “I wish I made more and saved more money during this tough economy” or “I can’t believe I haven’t learned this particular life skill yet” or “I deserve better… way better!”
Thoughts like these can leave anyone feeling angry and deflated – basically all wrung out and bent out of shape. It leads to blaming, shaming, depression, and inactivity. We yell, stick our heads in the sand, bury our talents, and hope God’s answers show up with the pizza we just ordered. But that’s completely unlikely. For one, God is way more creative than that! Don’t box Him in like that slice of cheesy Italian pleasure you just ate; He defies corners. And two, why would God reward a lazy, untrustworthy person? If you need proof, return to the parable of the talents. Yikes! Enough said.
If I sound harsh, remember that I am first talking to myself. I have found that justifying a sick spirit is very easy to do, particularly as a thirty-something single – when I choose to indulge in such behavior. I can dish out statistics of doom relating to marriage and fertility, job security and retirement funds, building friend networks in a highly transient culture, or any number of other topics. I might even take my sad lot in life to the streets and spout out just how miserable I really am.
Oh, how deliciously easy it is to bash our lives! Ever wondered why that is? I am guessing it dates back to Adam and Eve, but I see at least three reasons why involving ourselves in such behavior is irresistible. Maybe we feel justified for groveling and for doing nothing to change our ‘plight’ (guilty!). Maybe griping garners a crying shoulder or a sympathetic pat from friends and loved ones (guilty!). Perhaps we indulge in such bad thinking and behaving as a backhanded way to motive us – after all, if we love our lives where we are, would we want to change, let go, or leave? But if we concentrate on hating it so much, we surely will muster the strength to do what we should have been doing all along (guilty! – believe me, this doesn’t work at all). Three strikes and I’m out! How about you? The mind and emotions can play tricks on us, keeping us trapped in a less-than-joyful life.
But the beauty of our lives is this: although we can’t change everything about ourselves and our circumstances, we can choose to love the things we can’t change by getting a mind and attitude adjustment, and, in many cases, we can change the things we don’t like in our lives by being proactive.
Two Steps to Living Your Life Again
I love being around people who ‘have a life’. They are out doing things. They are happy and smiling and a joy to be around. They have found a secret that I had recently forgotten about – our response to our lives and our circumstances is the key. Look at this quote from Paul: “… I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11, NIV). Contentment can be difficult for many of us to nurture, but it isn’t impossible. Here are two ways to be comfortable with your life and yourself again.
1) Love the life you have by getting a different viewpoint.
How about being your own spin doctor? Political analysts, marketers, and media specialists do it all the time to get you to see life their way. Well, you can do the same for your own life – only this time you are going to put a positive, biblical spin on it.
I am sure that right now if I asked you to, you could write down all the horrible things about your dating life, your job, your family, your living arrangements, and so on. But what about what is right? I dare you to rethink that situation that has you bogged down.
Don’t tell me that thinking positively is some form of denial or that you are some kind of wunderkind realist and you are telling it like it is. There are two sides to every coin. I am not asking you to lie about your situation or your problem. I am simply asking you to use a different filter from which to see what is currently going on.
And if you need help with this, as I did when I got waylaid by my life, ask God to show you what is right with your life. He might adjust your attitude. He might help you see that your trials are His way of preparing you for bigger responsibilities and challenges in your new season to come. He may be pinpointing a character flaw that He wishes to work on. Or He may turn your whole thinking upside-down and show you that your life isn’t half as bad as you originally thought.
OK, maybe making a list of all the good stuff off the top of your head isn’t working for you. Then try this exercise. Imagine that you will be moving away to a new life in two months. Now, what about your life will you be giving up? What about it will you miss? It’s amazing what a little pressure, the thought of change, and perhaps future loneliness can have on life as you know it. Sometimes this exercise helps us to see that we are living the life we want now – we just didn’t see it right away.
Reframe your thinking daily by renewing your mind with God’s Word, and use your prayer time to share what you are thankful to God for before you go into one of those tantrum tirades about everything that needs fixing.
It’s that old cliché “be thankful.” It sounds trite, and it might make you instinctively engage in several eye-roll sessions at me, but it does really work because you are forced to focus on the good in your life. As a man thinks, so is he, as they say. Well, think good thoughts and suddenly life doesn’t look half bad.
With practice, you will be able to think about more positive things. I am rooting for you! I have tried journaling those blessings, and that has helped tremendously when I have been tempted to throw a pity party and need reminding about the great things God has done in my life.
2) Create the life you want by being proactive.
If you don’t like certain things in your life, instead of complaining and moaning about them, how about trying to change them for the better? For instance, do you need more friends? Don’t cry about the fact that all your friends moved away. Why not find another group to join at church or enlist your talent in a class or community function? Yes, it will take more effort initially to go from moaning to action. It is easier to jabber on about your horrible life, after all. (I totally know about that!) But your friends, spouse, future spouse, and kids will really thank you for making a positive change. And you will be doing yourself a service too, enjoying things again.
This ‘create the life you want’ statement used to really irk me. It would make me instantly feel overwhelmed and far behind all those really together people who seemed to have a corner on the successful living market. This was the kind of statement that I deemed was reserved for those who got the superlatives like “most likely to succeed” back in school . I used to sigh that now I had to compete against all those successful people. But it’s really not that complicated to come up with an action plan to better yourself. Anyone can do it.
You can be a goal setter. As a sanguine soul who breezed through many years of my life, I know. Drifting sounds pleasant and it can be worry-free for a time, but then there comes a time in your life when it really does pay to buckle down a bit and come up with a plan.
I mistakenly used to think that planning my life was somehow less godly. I had grown up with the predestination idea and God’s sovereignty so long that I didn’t realize that I had been given quite a bit of latitude to have dominion over the earth – that Adam and Eve mandate God talks about in Genesis. I didn’t realize that God might actually have an expectation that I would make plans and that would be a very good, godly thing.
But then I read this passage in Scripture: “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed” (Proverbs 16:3, NIV). This verse is all about activity.
If you feel intimidated by this concept of being proactive, do what I have done: seek the Lord about it. Partner up with Him. Ask Him what kinds of things you should be doing. Ask Him how to get from point A to point B. Pray with an open Bible before you. If you are willing to listen and then willing to commit to His suggestions, He will open the way for you. Ask Him to give you the discipline and the initiative to set a course and stick to it.
You never know what God might have in store for you. This time you will be expectant about your future and thankful for what He has already done in your life. And the best part is you will be able to cure that negativity sickness once and for all!
More articles by Laura
Laura J. Bagby produces the Health and Finance channels. She writes inspirational, humor, singles, and health articles.
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