Mindful Monday: On Monday's I'm going to share what's been on my mind. I by no means have any of this figured out, I'm just thinking out loud here.
Instead of waiting to learn patience or being impatient that I'm not yet patient (yeah, I'll let you figure that out), how would it look if I took active steps towards patience? I think the key here is being content. In Philippians 4:11-13 Paul writes "...I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
So often we think "I will be happy when____" When what? When I get the job, when I figure out my life (does that ever happen?, I doubt it), when I get a promotion, when I meet the right person, when I have a bigger house, when I buy a new car, when I make more money, when I loose weight, when I have more free time, when I settle down, when I retire, when I accomplish x, y and z, etc. But will those things really satisfy? No, you will always want just a little bit more and then, surely then, you will be happy. Nope, still not going to work. So what's the secret?
Instead of focusing on what I'm waiting for I need to be content with what I have now. Because really, I have so much. I tend to be a glass half empty person, but when I remember to slow down and really look my glass is clearly overflowing. When I focus on what I don't have I miss out on all that I do have. Slow down, look at the beauty around you, enjoy the ride, be patient, be content. That doesn't mean I have to set the bar low, settle for the short end or wait aimlessly. It means waiting expectantly, being hopeful and excited for what is to come. It means being joyful and thankful for anything and everything, especially the here and now.
In high school my class chose 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 as our class verse. "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." I even gave a speech on it for graduation. But what sticks out to me right now is the "this is God's will for you" part. I've always focused on the be joyful, pray and give thanks parts and just glossed over the last phrase. (Yep, there I go again focusing on the action part related to what I can do instead of the God's will part) Stop and read it again, "this is God's will for you." Wait, haven't I been asking (over and over) "God what do you want me to do!? / What is your will for me?" If I stop and listen I'll see He's already given the answer, before I even asked.
He wants me to be joyful, no matter what the situation. To pray (talk with Him) all the time, and to be thankful in every circumstance. Sounds like being content, doesn't it? Do I have this all figured out? Am I good at it? Absolutely not. I need continual reminders, as in multiple times a day. It is so easy to fall back to the wanting and glass half empty perspective. I'm human, I can't do it. But look at the verse we started with, the very last part of Philippians 4:13. Right after Paul talks about being content in every circumstance he writes "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength."
We are not content, joyful, continually praying and always thankful by our own strength. We can only do these things through God, he gives us the strength, the ability to be content, joyful and thankful in any and every circumstance. When I find myself having a hard time being content with life right now, I need to ask (pray) continually for God's strength. Through Him I can be thankful for life just as it is now, not "I'll be thankful when___" Right now I'm thankful for the opportunity to be learning all of this. So next time I start complaining about my half empty glass (and I will) remind me of what I just wrote.
Food for Thought: "Be confident. Too many days are wasted comparing ourselves to others and wishing to be something we aren't. Everybody has their own strengths and weaknesses, and it is only when you accept everything you are - and aren't- that you will truly succeed." -unknown