Thursday, 13 August 2009
From a Greek prison cell, the apostle Paul wrote, "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation" (Phil4:12) It's not what happens to you or what goes on around you that ultimately shapes your character and state of being. It's how you choose to respond to it. Things or people around you may be frustrating, but is your response to it more stressful or less stressful for you?
Here are a few of the ways we can make life more stressful for ourselves...
*Regularly complain about circumstances. Make a decision to stop complaining. Find a solution or accept the situation as is. In fact, my church is going to go through a 'Complaint-Free' programme. We see how destructive complaining is and are determined to fight the habit.
*Always expect the worst in people. Instead why don't we commit to a P4-8 standard for our thoughts.
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, 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 on these things.
*Blame others for your unhappiness. This gives us an excuse not to take responsibility for our own happiness. Don't give your power away to others.
*Feel sorry for yourself. "Why me?" The truth is, everyone has to deal with something. Ask, "What's the lesson here? How can I come out of this better?" Choose to allow circumstances to strengthen your faith rather than diminish it.
I think a major key is to respond rather than react. A reaction is automatic. It doesn't require thought and is generated by external happenings. A response is inspired - generated internally by thought, contemplation and prayer. It means that despite the external, you choose to answer button-pushing situations in a way that honours your desire for peace in your life.
Your decision to change doesn't mean that others aren't accountable for their words and actions. It simply means that your happiness and peace are not determined by what they do.
My challenge is to choose joy despite what happens around us.