Source: Flickr/Jamie Henderson
“Attitude of Gratitude” seems to be a popular catchphrase lately. It truly is a powerful way to shift your mindset. My latest adventure with improving my mindset started with a Bible study I was attending. We were all given bracelets that said “Gripes be gone” and were challenged to wear it for 3 weeks. We were told to switch the bracelet from one wrist to another each time we complained. The whole point was to make us aware of not only how much we complain, but also to be aware of the things we complain about. We were also to start a gratitude journal to help us change our thinking from a negative, griping thought life to one of thankfulness.
Week one really had me thinking. The complaining rolled off my tongue naturally. As the basket of bracelets were still being passed around I felt the need to comment that purple was not my color. We were told to place the bracelet on our right wrists and I stated quietly that I wanted it on my left wrist. I was off to a great start! Over the next couple of days I found myself justifying my complaints. “I was just stating a fact!” There’s a fine line between stating facts and complaining and it was interesting to hear myself teeter on that line. I also learned how many times I had conversations with others where I “just needed to vent.” What a great way to disguise a whine-fest! I also found that I complain most at my kids’ sporting events. I fussed about things that were unfair to my child, or how other kids played, or how the umpires were calling the game. Because of the bracelet I caught myself most of the time. I worked on rephrasing what I wanted to say. Instead of saying that it was unfair that my son was sitting on the bench for more innings than other kids, I reflected on the positive life lessons we could teach him through this.
In weeks two and three I got better at rephrasing things and finding things to be grateful for. I started my prayer time with gratitude and verbalized gratitude more often throughout the days. Towards the very end of the challenge I was so used to how the bracelet felt on my wrist that I kind of forgot about it. The gratitude habit stayed but I’d like to find ways to catch myself complaining and re-frame it more often.
I’d love to hear about ways that you work on being more thankful and complaining less.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Do I worship idols? I want to say of course not! But idolatry is more insidious. An idol is actually anything that I put ahead of my worship of God. God has created needs within me that can only be met with Him. If I attempt to satisfy those needs with other things, that is idolatry. When I think of it that way, then yes, I have put other things before God and I am guilty of idolatry. I have been guilty of worshiping food among other things.
One of the things that comes to mind when I think about idol worship is food. Food has definitely been elevated to an unhealthy place in my life. I have turned to food for so many reasons.
Food is my comfort.
Food provides peace.
Food gives me pleasure like a drug.
Food answers an unidentifiable need.
Food is something I feel I deserve when I have done well or when I have a rough day.
Food entertains me when I am bored.
God wants to be the answer to all those needs. He wants me to turn to Him first to be my peace, my comfort. He wants me to delight in Him. He wants me to tell him about my day and to cry out to Him when I need help. Instead, I have turned to food. Food is an empty god. It provides momentary pleasure but long-term problems.
I remember telling my husband as I took my first bite of fresh, warm pumpernickel bread at Outback Steakhouse that it was like a drug. I actually had a physical rush from eating it while we waited for our dinner. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying good food. The Bible talks a lot about food and feasts. It’s just that I need to put it in it’s proper place. I have elevated it to a place in my life that it doesn’t belong. This behavior started at a young age and I’m challenged to peel apart the layers and figure out how to use food as fuel and enjoy it in the way that God intended. Do you struggle with your relationship with food?
Source: Flickr/Porsche Brosseau
I enjoy music and especially songs with great lyrics. Sometimes I feel like I can express myself better with song lyrics than I could using my own words. The song Greater by MercyMe has been rattling around in my head this week. The lyrics really strike home with me on days when I’m not feeling like I’m good enough.
“Every day I wrestle with the voices
That keep telling me I’m not right
But that’s alright
‘Cause I hear a voice and He calls me redeemed
When others say I’ll never be enough
And greater is the One living inside of me
Than he who is living in the world”
Sometimes the voices are from others but most of the time the voices are in my own little head. They whisper loudest when I’m playing the comparison game. When I’m paying attention to the voice that says:
It’s not fair.
I’m not one of the cool kids.
I’ll never be thin/fit/pretty.
I never finish anything.
I’ll never get ahead.
And on, and on…
When those thoughts start I have a choice. I can listen to them. I can let them drag me down into a pit of unworthiness and despair. Or I can choose to listen to a better voice. The voice of the One who loves me. Even though I can’t fully comprehend this love I can let it sink into my soul and pull me up to a better place. A place where I can begin to believe that I have a calling and when I walk in all that He has for me I will never be a loser.
“There’ll be days I lose the battle
Grace says that it doesn’t matter
‘Cause the cross already won the war
I am learning to run freely
Understanding just how He sees me
And it makes me love Him more and more
Take a listen and let it sink into your soul.
Do you ever find yourself experiencing more than one season at a time? It sure has been that way here in Northern California recently. One night in December we got 5 – 6 inches of snow. It is usually chilly here in December, but it rarely snows. Even when it has snowed in the past, we didn’t get much. This was quite a storm. The temperatures hovered around 22 degrees for the next few days. I remember one comical moment when my husband told me how cold it was and all I could say was, “WHY?” I know the question didn’t make any sense, but neither did the weather. We had to go out and buy heavier jackets for our kids because we just weren’t prepared for temperatures that low. By the next week the temperatures were right around 70. I remember marveling at the fact that the boy who needed a jacket the previous week was now heading to the store with me in a tank top and shorts.
I was reminded of this situation when I was listening to a sermon from Elevation Church about seasons. Just like our weather can be like more than one season, our lives sometimes feel like two seasons at once. We can be dealing with the death of one family member while celebrating the birth of another. Sometimes things are going great in one area of our lives and terrible in another. A person may be having great success in business and the future looks bright, but when that person goes home he has to face the failure of his marriage.
The beautiful thing is that God is with us through it all. There is something to be learned in each season if we strive to do more than just “survive” it. Sometimes I breeze through the nice seasons and I don’t take the time to learn and grow and be grateful. Then I try to just get through the tough season and hope things get better soon instead of taking the time to learn and grow and be grateful. Each season of my life has something to teach. Each season is an opportunity to grow. This year I want to start paying attention to life. I want to see lessons in everyday events. I want to learn and grow and be grateful in whatever season I find myself.
How do you weather the seasons of your life? I would love for you to leave a comment and let me know!