A question only you can answer: How is Life Treating You?

Perhaps the better question is, "How are you treating life?"

That is, what label do we paste on our days?

Blog. pensive%20woman%20resized. 7.23.10We seldom realize that's what we're doing, but it's true--and it becomes a habit.

A bad habit, because it gets easier and easier to fixate on what's "wrong" and subsequently miss what's right. (Or am I the only one who ever does that?)

This colors how we look at everything, maybe most of all, the people in our lives.

Finding fault and complaining starts early. Think how siblings squabble and wail, "It's my turn." 

Nobody has to teach kids that annoying practice. Isn't it odd how that kind of attitude seems to lurk within each of us? 

The angst of the younger generation ramps up in the teenage years, with endless complaints to parents: "You always ..." or "You never ... "

During those years children and teens could not fathom the internal struggles a mother or father feels. All along they live with uncertainty, nobody ever certain they are "doing it right."

Labeling saves time

Think about it. Once we label a person we don't have to think. We just plug in what we always "knew" about them--or thought we did.

Those old impressions lodge in our minds and too often we won't let go. It's more comfortable to hang onto old thinking than to take a fresh look. At ourselves.

This same pitfall dogs married couples. The person we fell in love with and married turns out to have a few faults. Yet that's the one who stays and keeps on loving us through all the highs and lows, the good times and the hard times--which happen to everyone, by the way.

Even those we judge to "have it all together."

Cause for celebration  

If we're honest, at times any one of us is not that easy to live with--even in a strong marriage. True?

But do we celebrate? Nope. More often we nag and nit-pick about small habits that bug us. We whine that we don't feel appreciated for who we are and how much we give and we are the ones who deserve to be celebrated. 

(How do I know this? Do you need to ask?)

We may exhibit selective sight with our adult children, as well. We focus on all the ways they need to change but remain blind to their strengths and good points. As for praise, forget about it, because we know they could do better. 

Often our Inner Critic carries that over into all of life  

We pick out things we wish were different and easily ignore what's good. We look "over there" for happiness and forget to look at what and who is right there in front of us.

Most of all we forget to look within ourselves.

Too often I would have to plead guilty. How about you?

But hey, old habits are hard to break. Right?

Time for a change

I've never forgotten one sermon that jolted me out of that rut.

Our pastor had the ushers hand out index cards and told us that he had found a short formula to be helpful in his life because it opened the eyes of his heart. That Sunday he decided to pass it on to us.

He suggested an experiment. Starting that day each of us was to promise ourselves to make this our personal practice. No questions would be asked. No reports of progress or lack thereof. This was to be personal.

His "formula" stuck in my memory because it's uncomplicated and short. I wrote it on an index card and taped it to my bathroom mirror as a reminder.

Did it bless my life? Yes it did, although I confess sometimes I slipped up often and some days didn't remember to try. 

Here's the simple formula:

1.  Leave the past at the cross of Jesus Christ, once and for all.

2.  See the good.

3.  Speak the good.

4. Ask God to develop this attitude within me.

U-turn required

Whatever the date and time or stage of life we're in right now, it's worth giving it a fair trial, don't you think? 

According to the news and the "experts" it sounds as if everything is up for grabs. Some of us feel we're floundering and just hanging on from day to day.

This simple formula sorts out what matters most in making a good life. It reveals the emptiness of the flotsam we're flooded with every day, on every side. It reminds us to stay on track by fixing our attention on what we as individuals can control.

This list serves us in the same way a level serves a carpenter: It helps us stay balanced, today and in the future.

You and I cannot change the world, but we change our world

Living by that pastor's formula takes us a long way toward that goal.

For specifics, many people hold up the Proverbs 31 woman as an example of how we should live. I believe most of those principles apply to both sexes in a general way. 

If the criteria in that chapter sound too daunting, focus on verse 26 for starters. 

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

Doesn't that make a worthy checklist for both women and men?  

It's not hard to see how speaking kindness and appreciation would add life and light to our lives--and the lives of our spouse, our children and the people around us. This is doable for any of us. 

Whatever our age or life situation, one truth applies to every one of us: 

God gives us life. It's up to us how we live it.

Here's to being good learners,

Lenore


June 21, 2021

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