I’ll accept this week’s blog hop topic #4: Stress can cause us to overlook the many blessings God has poured out into our lives. Make a list of five things God has blessed you with. Once you have listed five, try for five more…then five more…then five more. You can add to this list whenever you have something new to add. (I’ve done this separately in my journal).
But, in my usual Oprah or Anderson Cooper 360 fashion, I’d like to put a little spin on today’s blog hop just to challenge your thinking about this stress less living Christian life.
From the time I was old enough to think for myself until the year 2000, I was a devoted agnostic who firmly believed that Christians were absolutely crazy. And quite frankly, I could not see their God alive in them because each “church person” I met was full of drama, stress, high anxiety, worries, worry some more, worry some more, they gossiped, complained, whined, and often! (Not the loss of a loved one or job, a devastating medical diagnosis, or a moment of weakness of the flesh. I mean a habitual lifestyle of seeking out and finding the negative in life and then telling everybody about it. Then inviting me to church on Sunday.) I did not and could not understand the purpose of paying 10% of your income to what looked like a country club membership which yielded little, if any, results. I really could not see this unknown God living within the Christians I knew. So why bother going to church? Or getting to know their God? He obviously wasn’t doing much for them. Clearly Christianity “didn’t work”.
Having that viewpoint prior to being converted to Christianity has always been there in the back of my mind challenging me to be focused on the blessings in my life regardless of what is thrown at me from the outside world, the enemy, life in general, and often times from the consequences of my own bad choices. Don’t get me wrong, I have experienced very difficult times and my fair share of hardships and have blogged about them all. Those things are there. But, now when I face them, I try to balance them out, and I’m far different than I was BC (before Christ). If I spend 15 minutes brainstorming or venting about a stressful situation, I spend 15 minutes listening to praise and worship music and giving thanks to God for what is RIGHT in my life and turn the anger and worry list into a prayer of sorts. I’ve noticed that once I start the praise and thanks, it actually seems quite unnatural to return to thinking about the problems. After all, “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” Matt 6 :27. Nope, it’s simply wasting the time that I’ll never get back.
We have 4 kids at home. 6 kids total. And let me tell you. We can give, give, give, do, do, do, help, pay, etc. for them but there are days that they only point out what they DON’T have and what they still need or want. I think we treat God that way at times. Well, I won’t speak for you but I know that I have. I think He can bless our socks off and we will accept the favor and blessings all day and yet still complain about the things that aren’t exactly the way we’d like them in our life.
I saw a quote recently that I loved and it was “it’s not about me in a different set of circumstances, it’s Christ in me during those circumstances.” When we are Debbie Downer, glass half empty, self-medicating, always anxious, barely getting by emotionally, constantly worried, does God even look real to others? But when non-Christians see the power of God in our lives DESPITE our circumstances – like trust, hope, faith, patience, forgiveness, love, restoration, etc. – then our God just might seem real to them.
And finally, so hopefully I will remember it down the road, my other favorite quote in Chapter 1 was the spin on the serenity prayer. “God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the only person I can, and the wisdom to know that person is me.” I try to see the positive side of the process of being changed. Pruning hurts sometimes but the blooming growth afterward sure is beautiful.
I pray that God will give our group peace, joy, love, and hope so that we will truly be salt and light to a dark and dying world. That people will see God in us and want what we’ve got.
Let’s make God look good!