Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “People only see what they are prepared to see.”
How do you see the world?
In this time of fear and darkness and suspicion, it can be easy to see the world as depressing and scary. You watch the news or read the headlines and brace yourself, preparing to see the worst, right? I get it… I do — it can be pretty dark out there, but can you still see beauty and goodness and hope too?
You can if you are prepared to. So, I ask again, how do you see the world?
It’s so easy to get discouraged, isn’t it? Life hits us hard and trials last too long and we just get worn out trying to stand firm in faith. Or, sometimes we are in the thick of doing good, serving God and it just seems like progress is slow, our confidence is low and discouragement is high.
I’ve felt discouraged for both reasons lately. I’ve felt overwhelmed and under-qualified to rise to the demands of ministry. I’ve fallen into a confidence crisis and just plain felt defeated. And, at the same time, my sweet Dad has been in the hospital, fighting pain and infection. My mom is worn out caring for him and instead of things getting better, they just seem to get worse. As soon as we see some progress, the next day, his fever spikes and our hope deflates. It is just downright discouraging.
One of the most treasured things I own is broken. But, I still love it.
Here’s the back story:
In college, my friend Tony broke up with his fiancé – or maybe she broke up with him — I never really knew for sure. But, what was for sure is that the jeweler wouldn’t give him his money back when he returned the engagement ring. Bad for brokenhearted Tony. Good for supportive friend Jennifer!
Is every conversation you have with your family members or co-workers perfectly calm, controlled and pleasant? (I know, I know, you’re laughing!)
Married women: ever had one of those conversations with your husband where you get heated, he gets heated and then…bang! A full-blown fight explodes.
Moms: ever had one of those conversations with your teenager where you get heated, she gets heated and then…bang! A full-blown fight explodes?
Working women: ever had one of those conversations with your co-worker where you get heated, she gets heated and then… bang! Hopefully a full-blown fight doesn’t explode, but inside, are you an inferno?
Conflict happens. When your ideas or plans or perspective bumps into someone else’s ideas or plans or perspective, crash… conflict. Right? The result is often hurt feelings, resentment and stress. We all experience conflict; it’s just part of being a human.
But, can we be honest? There really are some dear souls in our lives who seem to create conflict. They just plain rub us the wrong way! I call those dear souls sandpaper people! So, what do you do when that sandpaper person rubs you the wrong way?
Would you describe yourself as balanced? Okay, stop laughing! Few of us have achieved balance. I stress myself out just thinking about it!?! I could write a book called Stressed Out: How I Achieved It While Seeking Balance!
I’m just not balanced enough to write a book about balance, but I know Someone who did.
We boarded the ship, plopped our bags in the cabin and raced out to the balcony. There I stood, leaning against the sea salt-dusted rail with my 2 BFF’s Joan and Paula. The breeze was magnificent and the fragrance of the fresh sea air was invigorating. We just stood there silently, breathing out the stress of life and inhaling the peace that only the ocean brings. We didn’t say a word until Paula spoke.
“I love the ocean because it ‘rights’ me.” She captured just how I felt with those simple words. The ocean does seem to “right” us — it puts us in our right place, doesn’t it? It reminded me of what David wrote; “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers; the moon and the stars, which you have ordained; what is man that you take thought of him and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8: 3-4)
Do you ever look at your life and wonder, How did I get here? When did I become this insecure or envious or threatened or defeated — or whatever place you find yourself that you really don’t want to be?
Oh girl, those are “mine” fields! And, when I find myself stuck in one of them, it’s because I’ve become a faulty bow.
Let me explain! When we are bent on going and getting our own way, we “… are like a faulty bow” (Hosea 7:16, NIV). It’s a poetic way of saying we can easily become misguided and land where we don’t want to be.