Tuesday, March 11

What I Wish Christians Would STOP Saying!

I've seen this title on several blogs lately. It's catchy, and it definitely stirs the curiosity enough to WANT to read. At least that's what it did for me. I stumbled across a couple of these blogs, and I just HAD to read and find out if I was guilty of speaking incorrectly.

I'm thinking of 2 blogs in particular that I read and quickly discovered they were simply bitter spewings aimed at believers who thought and spoke differently about circumstances. I mean... How dare anyone think or speak on their own?!?! The audacity to speak words that I wouldn't speak myself! This was the tone of the blogs that I read. Obviously, I'd like to spew a bit as well.

I'll abstain!

It's HARD!

So, don't be dismayed by the title. I'm only poking fun a little. And, while I AM going to dig into a popular Christian phrase, it's NOT for the purpose of saying, "I'm right," and "You're wrong!" No! I really don't know. I've just heard this phrase all of my life; from adults, from pastors, from peers. You know.... I've probably said it MYSELF a time or two. Here it is...

"God is NOT concerned with whether or not you are happy."

I am very perplexed by this phrase. Believe me, I COMPLETELY understand what is meant by this phrase when spoken by well meaning Christians. That is why I know I've said it before. Recently, though, my thoughts on the matter have changed a bit. And, I honestly feel like we send a mixed message when we speak this phrase to others.

In one breath, we say that living the "God life" is the only way to happiness and joy. Everything else is false happiness, temporary fulfillment.  I'd agree with this argument 100%. When I see or hear of a person who has made a terrible choice in life thinking that it would get him/her to a greater sense of happiness (the I'll be happy when theme), I am so sad for him. He doesn't "get" happiness. No created thing or activity will gain happiness for you, me, or anyone else. This chase isn't after happiness at all, it's chasing after a lie.
No. Happiness is found only in walking with the LORD. True happiness has nothing to do with my surroundings, my possessions, or my circumstances. It's a state of mind dictated by my spiritual and emotional health. I believe Paul described it best in Philippians4:12 & 13, 

"I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." 

So, if you're disagreeing with me right now, I'm positive your stand is that these verses describe "joy" not "happiness." How sad that we've determined they are two different things. We've given the word "happy" over to the world! But, I don't believe it belongs to the world. I don't think it describes ANYTHING the world has to offer. 

"How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord. How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, who seek Him with all their heart." Psalm 119:1-2

This is only one example. But, the word "blessed" in these verses is 'esher', and it's meaning (straight from my concordance) is, "blessed, happy, a masculine noun meaning a person's state of bliss, How happy!" 

So.... It seems that, according to the Psalm 119, "happy" is the result of living blamelessly, walking in the law of the Lord, observing His testimonies, and seeking Him with a whole heart. Therefore, I believe God VERY MUCH cares about my happiness. I believe He cares very much about the happiness of each of His children. 

Now, I'm not a theologian! These are just my thoughts. But, while I'm at it, let me speak just one more. When we carelessly say to someone who's made the choice to live sinfully, "God's not concerned with whether or not you are happy, He wants you to follow Him," we MUST be careful. To me, that sounds very much like I believe there is happiness to be found OUTSIDE of Him. I don't. I believe that a true believer living in sin is NOT happy at all. Looks can be deceiving.

I choose to believe that God IS concerned with my happiness. He was SO concerned with my happiness, He went to the extreme to ensure I COULD be happy... in Him. And, now that we've gotten that definition of happy figured out, GO. 

Live happy! 

This world could use a little more of it.  

Monday, March 10

In Search of the Meaningful

Several weeks ago, I read an article in the Live Happy magazine called, "The Science of Post-Traumatic Growth." We've all heard of PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder. But, this article's title caught my eye. And, I was so curious. I had to read the entire article and find its meaning.

There were several things within the article that I agree with COMPLETELY....

"Post traumatic growth is a response to a seismic event that rocks your world to its very core. Your psychological house isn't merely rattled, it's leveled. Your core beliefs are shattered. It's not that trauma itself that leads to growth but the process of rebuilding, of creating new anchors in a life that has become unmoored."

I don't know about you. But, I GET this! I know what it feels like to have your world rocked to its very core.



But, I also agree completely with the thoughts that followed...

"If heart-wrenching loss is part of the human condition so is its flipside: being propelled by the crisis to make positive, meaningful life chanages. People experience growth in five broad areas;"

They have a deeper appreciation of life. Yes!

They experience new possibilities for themselves. Agreed!

Their relationships are closer. Absolutely!

They feel more spiritually satisfied. Very true!

They experience a greater sense of personal strength. How does this happen?

Are you following? I've just described events that cause worlds to be shattered, leveled, traumatized. Yet, the outcome is a greater sense of personal strength. That seems ironic. But, I can speak to its truth.

Today, my life consists of SO MANY things that I would NEVER have attempted prior to the event that shattered my world in 2011. Every single area of my life is an area that I would never have considered without a greater sense of personal strength. I'm beginning to realize that there are numerous things I never attempted, because I was afraid that I might fail. And, more times than not, my activity was dictated by my assumptions of what others would think about me.

I won't pretend to be totally free from those fears and concerns. However, my life's work is a clear indicator that I am moving towards freedom and away from the bondage of fear in many ways. The company that I've chosen to join, Nerium International, is causing me to jump (not step lightly) out of my comfort zone DAILY. I don't want to lose readers who think I'm going to turn my blog into a sales spot. But, I just want to say that I've been given the opportunity to be part of a caring team focused on making people better. Most days, I DO still fear that I will be perceived by others in a negative light. But, mainly, I'm governed by a deep desire to share the love of Christ with as many people as possible. And, if being bold and courageous in a business that I never would have chosen for myself is the vehicle that I have to make my desire a reality, then I will gladly accept.

See, after a traumatic experience, life takes on new meaning, or at least it did for me. There's an immediate awareness of what is important in life and what simply wastes time. This awareness brings with it an intolerance, of sorts, for the time wasters. I believe the danger, at this point, is the real draw to turn away from everything because there's so much in the world that isn't meaningful.

But, so much in this world IS meaningful. And, the true way out of the trauma and into the strength is to realize that YOU possess the ability to bring about MORE of the meaningful. Everything in life becomes a mission.

Dribbling a miniature basketball becomes a strategy to share love with as many children as possible and relationship marketing becomes the tool to invest in lives, build people up, and change the world through investments in others. God doesn't waste anything! Even tragedy can become useful in His beautiful timing. We just have to keep plugging in to LIFE. And, soon, a very special realization is bound to occur....

Even though I can NEVER change what happened to me, my marriage, and my family, I may be able to help others with the lessons I've learned from it.

At that point, life takes on PURPOSE. The tragedy is still a tragedy. But, it's useful. It's been productive. And, in relationships, it can continue to be useful as long as the Lord opens doors for it to be shared... no matter the venue. 

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Colossians 3:17