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Posts Tagged ‘Choosing Our Attitudes’

 

No doubt it’s happened to you too: a shift of life-circumstances occurs in an instant and suddenly your world is shattered. Maybe it’s a job transfer or termination. Maybe it’s the break-up of a long-term relationship or marriage. Maybe it’s an accident or life-altering medical diagnosis.  Your thoughts wrap around the event and its consequences with such ferocity, you can think of nothing else.

We know focusing on “what ifs” and “if only-s” is counter-productive. And as people of faith we know God has our best interests at heart. But we hurt, and we wonder what God is up to.

The next time cataclysmic circumstances overtake me, I want to be better prepared, starting with a new perspective.  I want to view obstacles as opportunities:

 

“What is the difference between an obstacle and an opportunity?

Our attitude toward it.

Every opportunity has a difficulty,

And every difficulty has an opportunity.”

–J. Sidlow Baxter

(pastor, theologian, author, 1903-1999)

 

The trouble is, attitudes are not easily adjusted. How do we change our perspective? Perhaps such strategies as these will prove helpful:

 

  1. Be intentional about word choices.

We can call our situations opportunities as Reverend Baxter suggests. Challenges are adventures as we live out God’s plan for this circumstance. And we can change the D of Disappointment to an H for His appointment*—an appointment to learn, grow, and mature (James 1:2-4).

 

 

  1. Consider the circumstances from God’s point of view.

According to Charles Spurgeon, what seems a crushing burden to us is a matter of small dust to God. I need to focus on how great he is compared to the smallness of my problem.

 

 

(“Great is our Lord and mighty in power,”

His understanding has no limit.”

–Psalm 147:5)

 

Such scriptures need to be front and center, posted in attention-grabbing places like inside the refrigerator, on the steering wheel, or in the sock drawer.

 

  1. Let purpose impact perspective.

When our daughter was in high school, she joined the track team one spring. Heather never won a single race.  But she didn’t consider herself a loser, because instead of running against the competition, she ran against the clock. Every tenth of a second she shaved off her time, she considered herself a winner.  Her purpose for running was not to become a track star; it was simply to be with friends and get a good work out.  Her purpose impacted her perspective.

 

 

God has purpose in our circumstances—to produce tremendous benefit in our lives and in the lives of those around us. We can choose to embrace his purpose (even though we may not know what it is) and allow it to impact our perspective.

 

  1. Look for the blessings.

 

 

(“When I am in the cellar of affliction

I always look about for the Lord’s choicest wine.”

–Samuel Rutherford–

pastor, theologian, author, 1600-1661)

 

Rutherford wasn’t referring to material blessings, although God certainly bestows those, even in the midst of pain or trouble. The Lord’s “choicest wines” include his peace (Isaiah 26:3) and joy (Psalm 16:11) that defy explanation as difficulties assault.

But, we must look about. Will the blessing arrive through a special scripture or other reading? Perhaps through a song or the comment of a friend? The possibilities are endless because our God is infinitely creative. Our part is to be attentive.

 

  1. Focus on God himself (Isaiah 41:10).

 

 

By his power the whole universe functions as a cohesive whole. Out of his infinite wisdom, every creature is provided for. And because of his loving compassion, every person may enjoy eternal life through his Son, Jesus. God is able to do all things! He will not fail to see us through all our troubles (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

 

 

One of the first explorers to sail around the southern tip of Africa experienced whipping winds and driving rain during that portion of the voyage. He named the area Cape of Storms.

When Vasco de Gama traversed the same promontory in 1497, he renamed it Cape of Good Hope. His focus was not on the turbulent waters under and around his ship but the treasures of India ahead.

 

Vasco de Gama

 

In life, we can focus on the storms of difficulty and pain.   Or, we can center our hearts and minds on the life of good hope Jesus provides here and now, as well as look ahead to the glorious eternity of heaven.

The choice of perspective is ours. Will we choose to view our challenges as obstacles or opportunities?

_____________________________

 

What helps you achieve or maintain a positive perspective when adversity strikes? Please join the conversation in the comment section below!

 

* His Imprint, My Expression, Harvest House Publishers, 1993.

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.wikimedia.com; http://www.pinterest.com (2); http://www.pixabay.com; http://www.azquotes.com; http://www.youtube.com; http://www.wikimedia.com (2).

 

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woman-brushing-teeth

Getting ready to leave the house in the morning is such a chore, isn’t it? The routine of washing, brushing, flossing, primping, rolling (the hair!), fluffing, spraying, etc. gets SO tiresome.

While I completed each chore the other morning, Barbara Johnson (popular speaker and author of Women-of-Faith fame) came to mind. In one of her books, So, Stick a Geranium in Your Hat and Be Happy! (Word Publishing, 1990), she describes how Fresh Start laundry detergent, Joy dishwashing liquid, and Dove soap help renew her mind as she progresses through each day. Her thoughts actually echo scripture:

Every day is a fresh start with God (Lamentations 3:22, 23).

The joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

The Spirit (symbolized by a dove) cleanses and refreshes us, as we keep in step with him (Galatians 5:25).

Just those three statements alone are enough to spark an attitude change.

I wondered, what might my a.m. toiletry products offer for inspiration?

As I got ready that morning, I took a closer look at those products. Here’s what I found and the ponderings that followed:

  • Butterflies dance across the Kleenex box, signifying the beautiful, new life we have in Jesus. Thank you, Lord, for your beautiful gifts of peace, joy, hope, and strength–all because of your presence in my life.
  • “7 in 1 / Complete,” claims my moisturizer. Seven is symbolic of perfection in scripture. In fact, the apostle John mentions the seven spirits of God in the Revelation (5:6). And our God is perfectly complete—in power, wisdom, holiness, and more. When I consider that his complete perfection is lavished upon me, my heart is filled with praise!
  • The Dial hand soap dispenser promises its contents offer deep cleansing. That’s enough to prompt another prayer. Father, cleanse my mind of negativity and impropriety today. Thank you for your generosity of forgiveness and fresh starts.
  • The brand name of the contact solution I use is Replenish, reminding me that every day I need my spirit replenished. Stress, anxiety, and fear can deplete my strength. But praise God, his Spirit of power, love, and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7) can equip me to seize the day!
  • The shower gel includes scents of lemon, grapefruit, freesia and “clean woods.” Each fragrance is delightful and refreshing on its own. And, of course, each one was created by God. Interesting: God not only made beautiful things for us to see, he included scents for us to enjoy. And though there must be thousands, he gave us the capacity to mix them and thereby create millions more. Thank you, Lord, for giving us the ability to create. Not that we can make something out of nothing as you can. But within the parameters you have set, we can design, combine, and build. Thank you for the precious gift of crafting that brings us much joy.

Before I knew it, the contacts were in, the face was on, the hair was (fluffed) up.

Better yet, my attitude was in check, positivity was turned on, and my heart was looking up.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

What products do you use whose names or claims have the potential to renew your mind?  Share with us your discoveries in the Comment section!

(Photo credit:  www.downeyfamilydenistryblog.com.)

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(This post is in response to a friend who asked, “Could you write about how to deal with those little aggravations that cause such trouble in our marriages?”  Here are my thoughts!)

Tremendous trifles–that’s what my sociology professor called the irritating habits of spouses that can drive us crazy.  Things like…

  • Allowing odds and ends to pile up on the kitchen counter, and never putting them away
  • Leaving lights on in vacated rooms
  • Hitting the snooze alarm five times before actually getting up
  • Checking messages during a dinner-date
  • Rarely being ready to leave the house on time

Tremendous trifles present choices, don’t they.

1.  We  can  choose our attitudes.

Will we dwell on the negative or will we focus on the positive qualities of our spouses?

Paul’s advice about our thought-lives (Philippians 4:8) can be applied to how we think about our spouses:

“You’ll do best by meditating on things noble…the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse” (Philippians 4:8, The Message).

Years ago, I completed a Bible study on marriage,  specifically written for wives.  The author recommended writing down all the positive traits of one’s husband.  I surprised myself by filling a page with more than a dozen qualities I admired about Steve.  As I wrote, my heart filled with refreshed love for the generous, thoughtful, hard-working man God has given me.

That familiar scripture above is accompanied by a promise, which also applies to marriage:

[Meditate on the best], “and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into most excellent harmonies” (v. 9, also from The Message).

Doesn’t that sound like the perfect marriage?  Two people blending together in perfect harmony!

2.  We can choose our responses.

Will we complain every time a light is left on?

Or, might the best choice be to just turn off the lights ourselves?

Yes, flipping a switch is a no-brainer for some folks, but for others—the creative and/or problem-solving types?  They seem to struggle with such mundane matters. Turning off the lights just isn’t in their skill-set, no matter how much they may want to remember.

So if saving electricity is important to you, it may be wise to flip those switches yourself.

Your motto can be:  “Love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8b)!

3.  We can choose to discuss the issue.

Does that mean we blast away when the pressure builds?

Or, will we ask the Holy Spirit to guide the conversation and provide wisdom and grace to share honestly but kindly?

Begin with a careful choice of time and place.   It’s best to discuss important matters when both parties are well-rested and well-fed.  A private location is also a must.  Perhaps the corner booth of a pleasant restaurant would offer a setting conducive for  heart-to-heart conversation.

And then limit the discussion to one matter.  An overload of negativity will sabotage the discussion.

Try a praise-then-prompt approach.  That’s a teacher-tip I learned in college, but it works in any conversation when you want to present a serious request.  Share with the other person at least several traits you appreciate.  Then ask if it would be possible for him/her to turn out the lights!

Each choice above gives us the opportunity to express our love the First-Corinthians-Thirteen Way.

Love is patient (when the clutter-pile grows),

Love is kind (when the mirror is splattered),

It is not rude (when she finishes your sentence),

It is not self-seeking (when he wants to watch a football game),

It is not easily angered (when the cupboard doors are left open–again),

It keeps no record of wrongs (when she leaves the sponge in the sink–again).

Love always perseveres.

It takes perseverance for a stable, mutually fulfilling relationship to grow.   Happily-ever-after marriages  don’t just happen.   They are created carefully, moment by moment–in the choices we make.

(photo and art credits:  www.homelifesimplified.com , http://www.lifestyle.ca.msn.com , www,jagran.com , http://www.justalittlebreezy.com )

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